Music Reviews



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Artist: Midnight Syndicate (@)
Title: Vampyre: Symphonies from the Crypt
Format: CD
Label: Entity Productions (@)


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Vampyre is a slight departure from previous releases only in the sense that after producing Gates of Delerium which is heavily FX oriented the band wanted produce a more music oriented CD. That does not mean that Vampyre is completely devoid of effects because it is not. However what you do get is a stronger focus on the electronically produced symphonic sounds produced like only Midnight Syndicate can. These symphonies are haunting and ominous with a sense of impending dread which has become somewhat the trademark sound of the music of Midnight Syndicate. Midnight Syndicate has found a unique nitch in the music consumer market by focusing on the Haunted Attraction Industry. They have become a major staple for professional haunts worldwide and major Halloween productions. Their music is also loved by Halloween aficiandos, horror film/music fans, and gothic music lovers worldwide. Since it's creation the band's goal has been to create music that aids the listener is transporting themselves to worlds of their own creative imaginings. As usual, their most recent release comes with the same promise. Vampyre while having less FX involved in the compositions is not any less creative or thought provoking but instead proves that Midnight Syndicate can accomplish their goals without the heavy use of FX. Their musical compositions are dark, brooding, and imaginative enough on their own. This release, as the title suggests, focuses on the nightmare world of the master of the undead, the Vampyre. While powerful are foreboding these creatures also have tendencies toward depression begin caught in a life without end. Walking for eternity and stalking their prey in the night their unlife can be either ecstasy or damnation. Midnight Syndicate aptly capture the mood of this creature in their compositions, sometimes sounding full like a film score and at other times like a lone creature tinkering with a cathedral organ or harpsichord and still at others capturing the internal longings and defeats that a life such as theirs could bring them. Basically, Midnight Syndicate have once again proved their status in the industry and of their talents. It's simply amazing what these guys can do musically in creating imaginative music. However, after speaking with Ed from the band I can promise you the next album will contain more FX for those who love them.
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Artist: Various Artists / Cass
Title: Spundea Presents Cass
Format: CD
Label: Mute Liberation Technologies (@)


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Unusual DJ talent Cass continues his legacy of Spundea Presents Cass which features artists from the Spundea Recording label as well as the DJ's own talents of mix and composition. While there are other DJ mix compilations out there this one is unique in a few ways, one of which caught my attention was how Cass mixed his own Future Sound of Pornography, a track which he says is an ex-girlfriend (Miss Kiss) talking dirty to him with a bottle of wine in her hand, spread over tracks three through five creating an unusual mix event. Cass's style seems to be a lean in interests toward deep, progressive and tech-edged house, breakbeat and techno. Cass starts you off with a bit of minimalistic house music by Jeff Sharel then picks up the pace a bit with the Detroit styled track "Restless". This ends sort of dreamily but Cass gets the beats going with some overlaying into Bushwacka!'s "Smashed". This then bleeds into "Panikattack" by Plastikman which frankly I found while this is an excellent track, especially with Cass' additions from Miss Kiss it does not sound very much like what I'm use to Plastikman sounding like. The mixes on all these are so smooth you almost never know when you're going from one to the next where as most DJs 'pop' a track in Cass blends them seemlessly. By the way, the vocals by Miss Kiss are VERY explicit! Only an audiophile could capture something like this so nicely. "Panikattack" gets a bit trancy with some chaotic sounding beats with the Miss Kiss vocals overlayed on top of it. The tempo picks up again but with some nice ambient moods from Nu Mood Orchestra. "Microgroove" keeps somewhat the same tempo but is less ambient and more straightforward dance music. "Found" is driven mostly by it's bassline but is the type of track that I absolutely love to hear in those late night hours on the dancefloor when you get into that solid dance-trance that could go on endlessly. As for house music styles "Ladyshave" by Gus Gus is some great prog-house with traditional smooth house music vocal stylings. Cass brings back Bushwacka! to create a bit more of a pounding rhythm for us and increase the trance. I personally like all the ambient and additional stuff in the background. The main vocal sample reminds me of a 90's techno track by Awesome Three if I remember the name correctly. The bassline on "Because" sounds similar to the one we all know from The Matrix but more subtle. Some of the keyboard work later in the track sounds like something you might expect from Bill Leep of Delerium. "Backwards Retro" is driven by a vocal sample and some heavier keyboard work, a bit of an aside from most of the other tracks. "Please" is the best track on this side with some heavy house and I'm assuming the Marc Almond used here is the musical pieces which sound like his solo works which have that sort of 'musical' feel to it. This is also the most upbeat track and most interesting. Overall I find that this side contains lots of great music but which is too ambient and mellow - though dancey - for my taste for the dancefloor but then again I'm an EBM head. However, since I do like house, trance, and ambient quite a bit this is an excellent CD that runs smoothly and has lots of interesting switches which are masterfully compiled. Disc two begins quite a bit differently that the first with a very experimental electronica sound from Charlie May, half of Spooky. While it does have some ambient portions it continues with some harder beats and a much more upbeat atmosphere. This upbeat tempo continues with Dark Globe's "Mondo Scuro" which has some rather clever breakbeats. This track is much more to my personal tastes. Experimental with an element of chaos but maintianing a solid rhythm. This is followed by house music by Si Brad that has an interestingly experimental electronica sound, almost more like IDM-house with a touch of lounge if that's possible. "Moving With Me" continues the house style taking it a bit 'deep' with a bit of a dub flavor. "Shake It For Me" keeps the rhythm pumping. A very nice bump-n-grind with vocoded vocals, funky. "Be Wiz Me" still maintians the tempo driving us further into funk territory. It's got a very disco bassline. Still not dropping the tempo we move into more experimental techno territory with the hard driving "Locked In, Locked On" by Hairy Butter. This is sort of semi-hard beat trance with some trippy samples and noisy rhythms. "The Search" takes it down just a bit with some bizarre sci-fi sounding interludes so they can pump you back up again. The next one is by the DJ himself, Cass, performing "Mind Rewind" and contians some interestingly experimental interludes especially about three quarters of the way into the track where it practically disolves into synthetic noise and buzz tones with rather odd looping and effects but drops back in with a really nice dancefloor bump. "Spatialize" is by Excession which I understand is Grant Collins who was originally part owner of Fire. Great breakbeats and addictive dance rhythms. This is one of those tracks you can't help but move to and is rather non-genre-specific as far as electronic dance music goes. Awesome track! Next is "All The Freaks" by Cass & Slide which begins with a tripped out vocal sample of the song title and a truly funky bassline that would make Bootsy Collins proud. Disappointingly Cass ends with "The Game" which just doesn't have the power nor energy of the last two tracks but I'm assuming he wanted to break it down for us a bit before ending the release. This last track is some Deep Dish house music by B16. Overall Cass has produced an interesting CD set of some great underground dance sounds which takes you through various moods from the more laid back to the more upbeat. Definitely an interesting listen to say the least and practically a requirement for anyone into the undeground DJ music scene.
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Artist: Speedy J
Title: Loudboxer+
Format: CD
Label: Mute Liberation Technologies (@)


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This much anticipated follow-up to the 2000 release A Shocking Hobby is a trance heavy Tresor-styled electronica release with Industrial and Noise influences like only Speedy J can mix them. Loudboxer takes you from one track to the next smoothly like a DJ mix disc with no breaks. Lots of hard beats and heavy trance. In fact to be honest at first I began asking when is it going to 'do' something when I listened for the first time only to realize that Speedy J had already created such a trance-heavy mix that I was listening to the most subtle intricacies he had incorporated into the themes. "Inter Zil" is the first track you'll hear any voice on and it is a heavily synthed vocal speaking about these effects of how subtle tones can create mental 'shapes and patterns' and sounds like something from a Plastikman disc but the thought is very much what this album is all about. This track is also the first actual 'break' in the beats and is instantly followed by the heavy pound of "Kreck". One thing is for sure, Speedy J does not follow normal patterns or song structures and creates some highly innovative and original electronica that is mind boggling at times to say the least. As for this album just when you think it is becoming rather repetitious Speedy throws you a 'loop'. His musical form is not about the obvious but about subtleties and the intricate structures they can create on their own without following standard formats or methods. Very subteranean while maintaining an aire of industrial harshness. The live track is rather unusual and displays just how chaotic he can be at times as well. Personally I think this album should come with a warning stating, "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while listening to this CD".
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Artist: SECOND VIOLIN (@)
Title: Hospital Fugue of Mad Nurse + Victoria
Format: CD
Label: Zeromoon
Two cd-rs, both dated 2001, from this experimental noise trio also responsible for many other projects (like V.) and collaborations spawning from the active Zeromoon headquarters. Second Violin is Adam Bohman (voice), Zan Hoffman (tapes, sampler) and Jeff Surak (prepared violin, the neck), aided on "Victoria" by Rinus Van Alebeek (probably responsible for the spoken parts in German). Both works share certain basic characteristics, though "Hospital Fugue..." is in my opinion more coherent and better assembled. SV have a quite original sound which is a blend of chaotic industrial noise, minimalism, ambient, impro and eclectic experimentation, sided by spoken/recited tracks. Manipulated string sounds and electronic loops often manage to create minimal, but well crafted pieces like the two "Dinner music on an empty stomach" ("First course" and "Second helping") on "Hospital Fugue..." - there's an hallucinated feel of gratuitous dada craziness throughout, which could remind (as a spirit, not as a precise sound) of some Nurse With Wound record. Sometimes the improvised parts become a bit tedious, though, as in "Victoria"'s last track, really really long and exceedingly solipsistic.
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Artist: EX NIHILO
Title: L'ARGENT EST L'ART DES GENS DE SATAN
Format: CD
Label: EX NIHILO SUISA+
The Laine Gebel's one-mand band "Ex Nihilo" has a total retrospective conception, completely focused on the electro-goth fisrt school born between the half and end of the 80's from the wedding of the Christian Death's macabre perversion with the DAF and Nitzer Ebb's first synthetic pulsations. So you will find grandiose keyboards cascades, possessed and wicked voices, deacadent melodic bass lines and all other classic ingredients that made the history of this genre.It's a pity that the production has a poor quality, because although the album is not original and fossilized on old ideas however it sounds enjoyable, funny and sufficiently various.I prefere when Ex Nihilo hit on the accelerator, reaching the emphasis of the furious EBM and approaching the Hocico's devilish attitude. Surely i think this cd is more appreciable and honest than several releases of idolized and famous EBM bands that make up a perfect hit single for the charts and then repeat the same versus for ten songs!
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