Music Reviews



Artist: phoenix/NEBULIN
Title: Distanza
Format: CD
I like industrial but it is sadly often a boring and watered down genre. Meet phoenix/NEBULIN, a band that does something to alleviate the problem a little. Blending the driving guitars of industrial metal with the teflon textures of the electronic side of the genre, p/N's "Distanza" finds a happy level of the two and fuses them together into a fairly sleek industrial construct. Juxtaposing rocky, heavy moments with softer, more electro stretches, and topping it all off with some rock-n-roll female vocals, p/N puts together some industrial metal that really can get you jamming and forgetting all those other generic acts that make me dispirited at the state of music. One thing that really helps is the infusion of melody. You find a lot of melody on the EBM side, naturally, but that's often little more than watered down vocal trance. You find some great energy on the metal/guitar side, but it's often sorely repetitive. "Distanza" presents a meeting ground of the two with melodies that are exactly what's needed to keep this cocky but sometimes moody dose of industrial going. Nice move from an underground band.
Artist: m/n/m/l (@)
Title: vicissitunes
Format: CD
Like science fiction in a soundbite, m/n/m/l's "vicissitunes" is a collection of strange soundscapes that call to mind the confines of a dark spaceship under the influence of suspended animation - nothing is awake but the ship ... and it's talking to itself. Be it extended, flowing electronic tones, pulsing warbles of computerspeak, high-pitched noises like beeps stretched out, soft techy whirling noises or ... or whatever, m/n/m/l will take you to a place far out from earth, on a journey past "2001: A Space Odyssey", or at least somewhere nearby, only more minimalist. Like being in the darkest, sparsest confines of the universe, the soundscapes herein will surprise you and maybe even carry you away ... if you're open-minded.
Artist: m/n/m/l (@)
Title: Perpendicular Twist
Format: CD
Perpendicular Twist by m/n/m/l presents a pretty captivating and very eclectic collage of sounds. Creating an atmosphere that is sometimes dark and sometimes almost playful in a fantasy way, PT's minimalist experimental compositions exist in a different world and are more than happy to transport you there if you so desire. As they fade in and out of your consciousness, the sounds range from a sharp edged blade of dark electronica to seemingly random bursts of soft air mixed with the call to attention of a small ringing bell; from subterranean smooth rumblings to slow but spritely synths. The overall effect is homogenous but varied, a contradiction of sounds that lull you in and leave you floating. A nice piece of underground experimental musical musings.
Artist: Invisible Asps (@)
Title: "Songs from the Pandemic"
Format: CD
Eclectic. Now there's a word to stick to Invisible Asps and their deliriously strange but understated "Songs from the Pandemic." A warning right off. This ain't for everyone. Now, if you have esoteric tastes and enjoy musical experimentation, then Invisible Asps may be an artist for you to consider. In a round-about way, this is subdued industrial but that comes nowhere near giving your mind a mental taste of the music herein. Heavy on the ethno elements, the music of Invisible Asp is a place where so many bits and pieces coalesce that it's surprising that the end result is so organic and seamless. The listener will find himself running the gamut from soft but dark beat and synth driven music calling to mind the early work of Trent Reznor to experimental acid jazz to crunching industrial guitars (but not really of the metal variety). A wide span of styles, wrapped around an industrial center, fuse in subtle ways to create an intelligent and challenging listen for the music fan with ... with eclectic tastes.
Artist: Hmmm...
Title: I Only Want Love
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: IS Productions
Let me start off with an example of what to expect (or why you should drop all expectations) when you listen to Hmmm...'s CD "I Only Want Love". The example I'll use is the song "TrainedMonkey". This little ditty starts out as almost weirdo indie political rock then drifts in a rather non sequitur way into some industrial sounds (not industrial music so much as industrial sound, mind you). From there you find yourself in some blaring brass that calls to mind the soundtrack to "The Matrix." Following that is a stretch of quiet doings that sound like experimental sound samplings. Then Hmmm..., non sequitur lovers that they are, throw at you for the song's final stretch a bit of happy, smarmy kiddies singing "La la la la la". You get the idea. If you're not watching the track number display, you're apt to think you've changed tracks more than once when you're still in the same song. Hmmm... also seems fond of pieces of unusual music enhanced with semi-spoken word ramblings over the top. And, they like .... Jesus, it's hard to get into it all, you know? It's obvious Hmmm... set out to be as experimental as possible in terms of the styles they blend together. They can be downright poppy or they can be downright weird. And it's all in the name of social commentary (and fun, weird music, of course) as the listener can detect an edge to the attitude. These guys have something to say and they're gonna say it ... strangely. This is one of those bands that will either click with you or it won't. It weaves from one style to another and sometimes the weirdness comes from hearing a relatively "normal" style in a strange context. But it can also be very dark and odd. For open-minded ears only.
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