Music Reviews



Sep 30 2002
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Artist: IC 434 (@)
Title: The Banished
Format: CD
Label: Body Records (Daft Records) (@)
Distributor: EFA / Trisol
It's been quite a long time since last time I got something from Daft records (or their sub label Body records, in this case) and it's been quite a long time since a band has been compared to Cat Rapes Dog and Project Pitchfork, so it is with great pleasure and curiosity that I put on "The Banished", by Belgian Dj and electronic artist Geert de Wilde, here under his moniker IC 434, name of a galactic fog. This is his 3rd full length album and presents hard hitting edgy industrial-dance drumming, minimal but punchy power electronic textures, overall saturation, dancy techno-rave lines and buried distorted vocals according to the book of true electronic body music of Mittel-European origins. The commercial catchy lines of the dancefloor clash with the brutal noise fierce here. Beat is the key here, fast and slow but always pounding, along with the analog synths and the digital sequencing. Instrumental compositions but also interesting lyrics in some songs and sampled vocals in others (like in "Our Great Nation", where a war-making US president Bush practically declares war right after September 11). And it was with great surprise that I found out that there is one more electronic band (along with Australia's Eye, but sadly not many others) who cares about animal rights and who sings about it in a song. My hat goes off to that!
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Artist: BRAVE (@)
Title: Searching for the Sun
Format: CD
Label: Dark Symphonies (@)
Distributor: FAB
Formerly called Arise From Thorns, the all new band Brave is one of those outfits walking the thin line between dark and metal, which is the very music the Dark Symphonies label is known for anyway. After their self-released EP "Waist Deep in Dark Waters" (and other releases as Arise From Thorns), "Searching for the Sun" is a full length work of love that delivers beautiful melodic songs played with a prog vein under a dark light. In some magic way, powerful guitar riffs and knowledgeable drumming are able to share the tracks with enchanting female vocals lovely merging with bright acoustic guitars and keyboard-strings orchestrations; even occasional nice synthetic atmospheres find their way through the light... The band is quite technical as well (the guitar player clearly loves Satriani but is able to keep his guitar playing almost un-affected by this influence, or else it would quickly become cheesy; and the drummer too plays well, with a nice touch and right in the pocket) which of course makes it all even more enjoyable. Engineer Kevin Guitierrez has performed a nice job a Assembly Line Studios, except sometimes I would have given the bass a little more presence and fullness. Think 3rd and the Mortal if you like, but there are many other bands from the same area that could be mentioned. The album is diverse and beautiful in its calm movements and its guitar-intensified dark-metal compositions. This album is a great pleasure to listen to and even comes with catchy "rock" tunes that could have a commercial potential. In conclusion, a good example of the best of both worlds.The artwork is by The Soil Bleeds Black member Michael Riddick.
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Artist: Edward Artemiev
Title: Three Odes
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Distributor: Gamma-Shop, Groove.nl (NL), Cue (D), Eurock.com (US), DWMmusic.com (US), Marquee (JP)
Artemiy's father Edward Artemiev's "Three Odes" is a collection of old works including an Ode originally and especially composed, recorded and used for 1980's "Moscow Olympic Games", an Ode written (but remained unused) for the film "Urga -Territory of Love" (1990) directed by Nikita Mikhalkov and and Ode recorded in 1997 for the opening ceremony of the "Teffi" prize (Russian nomination for best production in TV-industry). Edward's unbelievably vast cinematic experience leaves the stage to a bombastic mixture of classical and opera music, space electronic and prog rock. The grand symphonic sound of the State Orchestra of Cinematography, the State Russian Choir, the State Moscow Choir and the Children's Choir of Moscow Choir College; with the additional support of four singers (one of which is a tenor); together with the work of the modern sounding Boomerang group; plus the lofty avantgarde electronica of one of Russia's pioneering fathers of the entire electronic movement, make for a highly ambitious batch of compositions that bring together influences spanning from the past two centuries to the past two decades (Rick Wakeman, Vangelis, ELP, Tangerine Dream, Rondo Veneziano). I don't understand the Russian lyrics, but at times it sounds extremely patriotic and proudly nationalist (texts are by Pierre De Couberten): I say this just to give you an aid as to what the movements' pace is like. If you know Edward Artemiev for his calmer electronic pieces often used to score film soundtracks (among the most popular ones are some Andrei Tarkovsky's) or if you are looking for another example of the electroacoustic sound that Electroshock records has grown to be known for, then you might wanna check this out before you spend your money, as this is not your average Artemiev Family sound, and even though it ultimately is electroacoustic in it's nature you are better off thinking of it as an electronically face-lifted classical/opera music on the rocks!
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Artist: Artemiy Artemiev & Karda Estra
Title: Equilibrium
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Distributor: Gamma-Shop, Groove.nl (NL), Cue (D), Eurock.com (US), DWMmusic.com (US), Marquee (JP)
At the time of writing this is the latest of Artemiy's and Electroshock's releases. The prolific Russian has teamed up one more time to bring us the gift of collaborative sound experiments. The signature of English trio Karda Estra reads as ghostly woodwind arrangements, loops and quite gloomy sonic environments. I can't hardly localize Artemiev's style really, proof that his experiences and his eclectic background allows him to get deeply involved in the vibe becoming one with what is being done; not that we needed proof of his abilities, but it helps to understand what "Equilibrium" sounds like, because the only thing here you can really trace back to Artemiev, I think, is the Siberian coldness. I never had the pleasure to listen to a Karda Estra work, so I don't know if they usually are that murky, but the instrumentation they use definitely allows for some really interesting combination of influences: electric guitar, bass, keyboards, acoustic percussions, vocals, woodwind, oboe, cor anglais (english horn), breathing loops and other loops. Clearly the band has contributed a lot of this to these spatial overtones to "Equilibrium": epic background layers made of vaporous loops and looooooong mono-tone low-key sound-floors dotted by hidden percussive beats of a peaceful and slow pace; cymbal washes, soft bass lines; delicate, dressy and heavily effected guitar parts (think chorus, delays, reverb) that duel with recurring synthetic lines making for a progressive break; and last but not least floating wind/wood/breath instrument solos and formless vocal material that aids the ethereal cloudiness sweetly. Sometimes it almost sounds like older Pink Floyd suites, and the slowly drifting flow of psychedelia and new-age trippiness contributes to a frame that knows no time and not barriers. Another band I thought of was NYC's Zoar, but I am sure you can come up with a lot more bands to reference this sound to. Richly mysterious and beautifully powerful as in some of the best hypnotizing electro-acoustic ambient around.
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Artist: Stanislav Kreitchi
Title: Voices and Movement
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Distributor: Gamma-Shop, Groove.nl (NL), Cue (D), Eurock.com (US), DWMmusic.com (US), Marquee (JP)
Stainislav Kreitchi's electroacoustic musique concrete proposal comes as a concept album about the excitement of our imagination and how voices (sounds) and movement (rhythms) complement each other in every auditory perception. The entire full length CD with its 7 tracks is played on the legendary ANS synthesizer (whom Electroshock has dedicated vol. IV of their "Electroacoustic Music" compilation series), keyboards and ovaloid. To enhance the perception of nature surrounding you, found sounds, human voices, field recordings and themes from Star Trek and other movies are pasted in digitally. The interesting part is that the opening track "Rhapsody in Rorschach" (where the Rorschach test focuses on visual stimuli to instinctively create pictures in our imagination) is the mother composition that branches out into four fantasies: "Winter" (with its cold bells, long pads, eastern women's chants, glacial sounds); "Spring" (with its watery samples, heavily treated singing birds, more female choirs and more, as in nature waking up and coming back to life); "Summer" (with its intense field recordings, where the field are actual fields, with buzzing insects, lots of birds, wind, reverberated ritual chants and traditional breath instruments, occasional pounding indus beats etc); and finally "Autumn" (with its many bells, windy sounds, low frequency notes, deep male choruses and so on). The other two tracks, "Ruins in the Waste" and the self-titled track, show a tiny bit more musicality, with orchestral breath instruments sounding like french horns, but the abstract structure of these compositions is way beyond and far away from what you would normally consider musical anyway. Strangely, not much of a general rhythmical structure is allowed either, even though the rhythm is supposed to be half of the theme behind the record. In the last track, in particular, water, adult voices, babies crying and steps on a ground covered in stones recall the graphical theme of the booklet and the cover, where on a shore big coloured stones laying on the sand and getting wet with the waves, visually represent what is supposed to equally excite our imagination. Also car sounds, public sounds, more steps (strongly separated in an unreal stereo image), cinematic orchestral music pieces and hiss at different frequencies (who knows if coming off of the recordings or actually part of the experiment) color the atmosphere and contribute to the picture.
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