Music Reviews



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Artist: NORDVARGR
Title: Awaken
Format: CD
Label: Code 666/Eibon (@)
Nordvargr (the mind behind MZ.412, the now defunct Folkstorm, Toroidh, Hydra Head 9 and the eponymous project, plus probably a few more) has been particularly prolific over the last few months. I really can't count all the recent releases of his, considering the several different projects, an anthology ("Enter Nordvargr") and a massive ltd boxset containing I can't recall how many cds... crazy. "Awaken" has just been released - in a limited edition - by Eibon, this time teaming up with Code666 (www.code666.net), an Italian label mostly active in the post-black metal field (Aborym, Void of Silence, Thee Maldoror Collective, Ephel Duath...); one more sign of the rising connection between extreme metal and some forms of industrial and electronics. "Awaken" (8 tracks, 55 minutes) plunges you deep in a pit of anguish and despair. Obsessive dark ambient drones with a Lustmord feel, but pushed to even more extreme territories; cold and oppressive, powerful and obstinate in its solipsistic nightmares, dissolving and absorbing filtered voices, painful samples of screams and rattling noises, sparse orchestral parts and military drummings. Closer to the brutal approach of industrial noise and power electronics rather than academical ambient music, "Awaken" is a realistic representation of a total absence of light.
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Artist: Android Lust
Title: The Dividing
Format: CD
Label: Dark Vision Media
Distributor: Dark Vision Media
The latest from Shikhee and her band of merry men dives, as you could tell from my interview with her (my first ever!), into more organic territory versus the infamously cold and desolate world of AL. At times compared to Oneiroid Psychosis, this can be quite misleading, as her atmosphere is not as dense or as desolate as that of Oneiroid, but more danceable. Live drumming is the most obvious addition to the sound as well as untreated vocals this time around (I actually found her distorted vocals quite charming! uuurrrgh). I’m still bigger on the older work of AL, but this is not a bad choice, though. If you complained before about them being too cold (which I love about them), then this is a good start to converting you over to their sound. My favorite on here is "Another Void" which is the darkest track on here, following with Shikhee’s innocent sounding screams of pain. Rating: 9.
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Artist: MIRIAM
Title: Scents
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records
Distributor: Decadance Records
Hehe I always love data tracks, esp. when they have videos on them, as is the case with this one (do download a Quicktime Player if you don’t have one though). Add to that it being a video with yet another deadly gorgeous Italian lead singer (they’re everywhere around me nowadays. I’m not one to complain though ;-) ! ), all set to a gorgeous black and white Euro style video, and I am a happy man. Their sound to me is akin to La Floa Maldita, which is no small compliment considering that LFM is one of my fave groups. The classical style of playing though in this is just as apparent, if not totally by sound. And the lead singer’s voice has a cool, relaxed tone to it, not trying the harpy call of a lot off ethereal style singers. Track 4,"Space White Roses" is my favorite on the CD, with a laid back ambient feel to it, ala Chandeen, and it’s whispered and reverbed vocals. Even some sax in this already healthy mix. Track 5, "Daphne" has more of the same cool night ambience, with some sax and sensual vocals layered on top of it. Pretty good CD,overall. Rating:8.
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Artist: PULCHER FEMINA
Title: Shadows Of The Lovers
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records
Distributor: decadance records
This artist does the perfect to me, combining the pop elegance of the new styles of modern synthpop, and combining it with the ambient qualities of the synth at the same time. My roomie and I played this in the car, since she has a thing now for synthpop (esp. Spock), and she was saying the voice of the singer was too low for the songs. She would have preferred Marian Gold, but I say the guy’s vocals do a great job of making the music much more emotional. This is a more emotional version of synthpop, not a floorfiller CD though it could do a great job at that. The synthlines on this CD remind me of sound effects on the old videogame "Guardian Legend" (my fave game!), very simple, monologue yet very trancy. The synthlines on my favorite song on here, "Take Me’ are ones I had to hit the rewind buttons on again and again walking down the street. This group is to me par excellence of when the modern synthpop style is done right, not to mention being produced by Volker Lutz, who is in another fine example of futuristic synthpop, T.O.Y (formerly Evil’s Toy). No boom chukka, no whining about tenderness, and just pure trancey melancholy done via synth. I cannot sing this CD’s praises enough, even with my reservations about some of the new synthpop out there like Beborn Beton (grossly overrated outside of their live shows). But I’ll let the proof be in the pudding on this one. This is definitely one of the finer releases of the year so far, and I think this man may well take the now experimental futuristic synthpop’ sound to it’s realized state. Rating: 10. Also recommended is the latest T.O.Y. CD, "Space Radio" and Evil Toy’s "Silvertears". For more synthpop info ask our resident synthpop expert, Mauri. I’m gonna have to pass this one to him, he’ll flip! PS, don’t forget the gorgeous Italian women on the lyric sheet (never underestimate the power of Italian women!).
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Chamber
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring Records
Distributor: Cold Spring Records
After hearing the name of the record company, I started to think of Cold Springs, the section of Cincinnati where I stayed for a good while. Thankfully it has nothing to do with that place!Anyhow the first track, done by Ignis Fatuus (is that the guys name, b/c that does mean "absorbing fire" in Latin?), has an epic march rhythm to it, kinda of reminding me of the beginning track to the new Arcana CD (I only got to track 3 on that CD b/c it got cracked in the mail, but damn do I ever recommend it from the tracks I’ve heard so far!). Kind of reminds me of the Braveheart soundtrack just a little bit, except a bit more rhythmic. Folkstorm I have heard of before, but I always thought by the name they were a death folk group. But the track on here sounds very quiet and slow, done by electronic reverb, and no signs of death folk here. Track 3,"Cortege", done by Mark Snow sounds like it could have easily came from a Cold Meat Industries sampler, which in my terms is a compliment. It is the kind of music where I start to think of cryptic monasteries at night, with moss guiding the raindrops down the pillars at night. Slow, operatic, just how I like my classical tracks. And to all our surprise afterwards is the appearance of our Croatian friends, Laibach, with a new working of the classic "Die Liebe" ("Love" auf Deutsch), their most famous tune. And perhaps their most chaotic, much to the surprise of lyrics that chant angrily in German "Love is the greatest inspiration, the all-sleeping". The mood of this CD, and perhaps the sound of the label, is akin to Cold Meat Industries. Very dark, classical music done with godloads of atmosphere, all very skillfully done. This is music you have to wait until nighttime to listen to, though, not the type to listen to on a sunny day searching for bunnies to take pics of. Well, maybe for those autumn days out on the countryside and dusk has set. But on the same hand the sound has that Cold Meat Industries ambience of evil sound about it in some artists (Megaptera is a great example), exemplified in tracks like Band Of Pain’s "November 1970" (yeah I know the name is kind of corny) and it’s nether worldly musical limbo. But after that Benedikt Middler (any relation to Bette?) and his gentle Baroque rhythms soon bring you back to the surface. My fave would have to be Von Thronstahl’s "Mitternachtsberg" ("Midnight City") and it’s dense-as-lead Das Ich-type sound. Overall a pretty solid buy and something great for gothic and opera fans alike... ... ... .Rating: 10. Also this is free when you buy two Cd's from the Cold Spring folks. :)
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