Music Reviews



Artist: Aenima
Title: Sentient
Format: CD
Label: Middle Pillar
Distributor: Middle Pillar
Putting the CD in and hearing the opening vocals of "Lilith", all I can do is simply stand back with my jaw hung open, knowing I’ve seen something that has passed my musical comprehension and imagination. Carmen’s vocals are that dream blend of Portuguese folk singing meets ethereal atmosphere. Think of Portuguese folk great Tonicha meets Dru from This Ascension, all over top of very controlled and meticulous guitar lines and drum lines. The drum lines pave on with a patter, like an artist painting in full detail with one bristle on a brush head. And the guitars strum along softly in an never overbearing way, bringing to mind some of Opeth’s best moments. All of this makes for a very entrancing mix and every song just rolls along like a lullaby, with Carmen’s angelic vocals stealing the show. Her vocals are some of the finest ever heard in my life, and all I can think of upon hearing them is that feeling I got hearing the Cocteau Twins for the first time ever. That exact same feeling where all you can do is just stand back and at the end say "D-A-Y-A-M!" as you hit that repeat button. This girl could sing about folding towels and I’d sit and listen attentively to it! The atmosphere of the whole CD shifts between a thin gossamer of melancholy and rises up to a skillfully controlled level of joy, not to surpass a certain point to becoming too epic and ruining the flow. Everything about this CD oozes constraint and thoroughness, like they spent days just making sure one note was perfect before moving on to the next.Extremely skilled and powerful work from this new group, a very rare accomplishment even from veterans decades their seniors. This is one of those few bands that is music not for the sake of music, but music that simply transcends music itself! Easily the best CD I’ve heard so far this year, and very well might remain so at the end of the year, unless they put out another one! Rating: 10.
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Artist: Sonar (@)
Title: - Volt Control +
Format: CD
Label: Daft (@)
Distributor: Tristol / EFA
Everytime I write a review about Sonar I feel obliged to let those who have been living under a rock know that Sonar is Dirk Ivens (of Dive, Absolute Body Control as well as ex-Klinik and ex-Blok 57 fame) and Eric Van Wonterghem (of Monolith, Absolute Body Control as well as ex-Insekt and ex-Klinik fame) and for the sake of information I will (just did) repeat myself. While still «looking for a definition of danceable industrial», Sonar very knowledgeably master the art of meshing together power electronics, industrial, noise and, in some weird way, trance (it's the repetitiveness of the hypnotic beats). As in Daft's and Sonar's tradition this all-Belgian "- Volt Control +" release also comes with a stunning hi-tech art work. And this time, there even is a ROM-track with a video of Sonar live at Infest '03 (in Bradford, UK), just one of the many stages Sonar have proven their potential (US and European tours with Noisex, Holocaust Theory, Converter, Black Lung, Electronicat, just to mention some of their live activity). Unfortunately the press CD-R Daft has sent us (besides not wanting to play in a regular CD player) does not include the video track so I can't comment any further on that. Great power-industrial record by the way.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Richard Dorfmeister presents a Different Drummer selection - A Decade in Dub '92-'02
Format: CD
Label: Different Drummer (@)
Distributor: Caroline (US) / EFA (Europe)
Lately, since I have gotten in touch with the fine people at Rooftop promotions in Los Angeles and have been living in one of New York City's Jamaican neighborhoods, I could swear I am unconsciously growing dreads with all these releases from Select Cuts and other masters of the dub verb. Certainly to be acknowledged among the masters is Richard Dorfmeister (of Kruder & Dorfmeister and Tosca fame) as well as Birmingham's label Different Drummer (which, just to clarify, doesn't have anything to do with the synth-pop label A Different Drum, also covered on these pages). Different Drummer celebrates 10 years with their "A Decade in Dub '92-'02" selection of cuts skillfully worked and shaped by Dorfmeister, who presents a tracklist featuring Frankey Valley, Noiseshaper, G-Corp, Overproof Soundsystem, International Observer, Painted Van, Phase 5, Rockers Hi Fi and Cakemaker & Dubfeathers. The CD opens with my favourite type of dub (the one that is much more electronic music than reggae and just uses the long delays and such) and proceeds to become a fairly well-balanced offering of both type of dubs, unfortunately (for my personal taste) leaning towards the latter more than the former. Farda P also contributes vocals on occasion.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Wild Dub (Dread meets Punk Rocker)
Format: CD
Label: Select Cuts (division of Echo Beach) (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Back in the exciting good old days of London, there was a time when, «two decades after large scale Caribbean immigration began from the newly independent islands, yesterday's colonies and the first generation of Black British youth» and their dreadlocks clashed with the cynical white punks and their pin covered leather jackets and crest hair. They all became mates and the same generation who would sign and scream "no future" now quickly started contributing to a new future (the future of dub that is) by taking advantage of King Tubby's pivotal studio accident to come out with their dub version 7" vinyls to create a new subculture, well documented by this sampler (which I think was compiled by Don Letts - if not he selected the tracks for the follower "Dread meets Punk Rockers Uptown - Social Classics Vol.2" - and released by German Select Cuts -Echo Beach division- known to be very attentive of the dreadbeat movement). An impressive tracklist, including The Ruts, The Clash, Generation X, Basement 5, Killing Joke, 4 Be 2, The Slits, Vivien Goldman (produced by dub mastermind Adrian Sherwood and Sex Pistols member John Lydon - what a great team and perfect example of what we are talking about!), Red Beat, PIL, The Pop Group, Stiff Little Fingers and Grace Jones; will amuse, entertain, make you love it, make you remember (if you got the age) and make you groove, whether you are Jamaican, British, American, European or Iraqi for that matter (if only the Bush government could take the "punk meets reggae/dub" as a lesson for civil co-existence and interaction, and would use a CD player to rock the Iraqi's world instead of killing them for fun and profit...).For a great introduction to the history of this subculture, the way it originated and how a "Dread meets Punk Rocker" situation did not turn into an ugly riot (or a hospital bombing...) and instead created some great "Wild Dub", look no further than this CD's booklet where great liner notes by Vivien Goldman (New Musical Express journalist at the time) will walk you through it all, adding some very interesting notes about the chosen cuts. Also available as 2xLP.
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Artist: SubSonic Symphonee (@)
Title: Images
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: KDP Music Group (@)
Distributor: Automatic Distribution
SubSonic Symphonee is an Australian 8-piece who give us a little teaser preview of their forthcoming album "eXtreme eVolution" with this "Images" single, featuring the title track in six versions plus a video clip."Images", the song itself, is a pretty good electronic piece, with nice editing and a fast pace. A little bit of rough and lead guitars giving it that heavy edge, nice sounds, strong hammering beats, melodic and untreated vocals (a refreshing change), parts with female vocals and loops or darker synth layers... The end result is a pleasing example of a well done blend of electronics, techno, dark, synthpop and goth-metal.After the original and the radio edit, there are four clubby remix versions by Robert Cross, Dj Acid Reign, Dj TonyC and Dj Killavirus. With the first three remix versions you can totally get it on in venues with busy dancefloors and folks that love pounding beats. The last remix version is more into a sort of minimal trip-hop/dub thing of its own.
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