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Artist: Iannis Xenakis
Title: Eonta
Format: CD
Label: Chant du Monde
Distributor: Harmonia Mundi
Those wanting to investigate the startling sonic galaxies of Iannis Xenakis must navigate a constellation of releases on dozens of small and smaller labels. Where, then to begin? Here. Chant du Monde has reissued a superb out of print recording of Xenakis' early chamber and orchestral music: "Eonta"," Pithoprakta" and his breakthrough piece of 1955, "Metastasis," conducted by its dedicatee, Maurice Le Roux. These three works are essential Xenakis: the terrifying banshee brass of "Eonta" (with longtime Xenakis champion Yuji Takahashi on piano), the layered strings (each of the 61 string players have their own part) of "Metastasis," and "Pithoprakta," whose ferocious eruptions can still - after forty-seven years - teach (or inspire?) makers of Black Metal a thing or two. Along with the indispensable CD "Electronic Music" on EMF, this disc is the place to start with Xenakis. One reservation: given the CD's short (39 minutes) running time, this should have been a mid- not full-price reissue, but it's worth it nonetheless. Recorded in 1965, there is some hiss, but overall the sound is fine.
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Artist: CRONACA NERA
Title: Maniac series n.1
Format: CD
Label: Butcher's House (@)
34 minutes of power-electronics hysteria from the deranged mind behind Butcher's House productions and Macelleria Mobile di Mezzanotte. After a split cd with the above mentioned MMM comes this incredible cdr which immediately reveals him as one of the best Italian noise acts (ok, not that there are too many!). Overdriven synth patterns, waves of white noise, disturbing manipulated vocals... you know the deal, but Cronaca Nera has a truly malicious sound, in your face and really fucking violent! Cross Slogun and Atrax Morgue and you get close to the point. You can guess the lyrical content: bizarre sexual tastes, serial killers, yep, sex & death. I honestly find this much better than MMM's "Profilo ottimale delle ferite" cd on Old Europa Cafè; okay, MMM is more varied and has that sick humour, besides offering a great live set, but this material is just so much stronger, especially sound-wise... The "Maniac series" was a hoax, but I definitely hope to hear more.
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Artist: MURDER CORPORATION/POSK
Title: split
Format: CD
Label: Anaemic Waves Factory (@)
Good MC stuff here. Recorded in 2001, his 5 tracks come from the brutalization of Akai S01, VCO, shortwaves and PC. Track 1 is all bursts of black noise and silences, gloomy and desolate in its minimal form - death electroacoustics? Track 2 and 3 are more standard overdriven synth patterns à la Atrax Morgue, track 4 is a menacing shortwave wall of sound. While repeating some well-known tricks (but who could discover something new in power electronics, by now?), MC manages to create that sense of nihilism and aggression that only good industrial possesses. After their full-length cdr released on AWF some time ago, P.OS.K. (a trio featuring Piero Fragola, visual/sound artist also member of the brilliant Key_On collective) offer 6 new tracks of hysterical power electronics/harsh noise, heavy on high-pitched distortion and shrilling drills. Sort of Whitehouse (see the feedback "ambient" parts and the destructo vocal puddle babbling some probably offensive delirium) meet Japanoise. Gives a genuine headache & madness feel, and could be a perfect soundtrack for some pathological mondo footage. Nice layout: is that a wound?
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Artist: VVAA
Title: Better undead than alive
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Code666 (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
A massive double-cd making a balance of Code666's increasing rooster, expanding from black metal to various fields of undeground extreme music. Definitely not the usual cheapo label sampler with ultra-known tracks and mediocre packaging, "Better undead than alive" comes with lavish booklet (the Code666 guys seem to be heavy into Lynch and old noir movies), a multimedia section on disc 2 with cd-rom information on all artists, a Negura Bunget video and a full Aghora live set on mp3 format. What's more, every project is represented with a remastered album track and one or two exclusive unreleased tracks. Thus, lots of stuff to sink your teeth into - even a devote label fan will find several motives of interest in this. As for the music, Aborym (with a techno remix of "Love the death as the life"), Diabolicum and Ephel Duath offer excellent examples of their bastard hybrids of black metal and electronic paranoia; along the same lines are the brilliant tracks by Void of Silence (more dark-industrial) and Thee Maldoror Kollective (crazy extreme post-metal/electronic assault). More extreme metal, minus the electronics, by Handful of Hate (great old-school BM), Negura Bunget, Atrox and Abortus; a kind of folk-epic-metal for Enid. Manes have allegedly shifted from their "true Norwegian black metal" to a kind of electro-EBM-d'n'b-wave... the label quotes Radiohead, Kathatonia and Aphex Twin as possible paragons, I'm just quite puzzled. I'll let you discover the rest of the sampler, just visit the Code666 site and you'll find all info you need. A shame there are no tracks by Nordvargr, since his recent cd co-released with Eibon was very good black ambient. Anyway, an impressive "business card" from a passionate and professional label.
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Artist: RAFFAELE SERRA
Title: Digital Avatar
Format: CD
Label: AFE (@)
A true veteran of the Italian electronic/ambient scene, with renown works like "Kodak Ghost Poem", "Ritual in transfigured time" and "A tapestry for the sorcerers", Raffaele Serra has been collaborating over the last few years with Andrea Marutti (Amon, Never Known, Lips Vago, Spiral...)'s AFE, now a kind of official label for his releases, like the most recent one, "Europe Endless". This work, released last year with the usual professional care (AFE's cdr's could undoubtly be mistaken for "official" releases), is explicit from its very title and layout: a blend of Oriental spirituality and modern technology, a sort of heartfelt prayer from an Occidental man of today. The opening track, "Morning Glory", and the closing one, "River of No Return", embrace the whole work with a frame of ritual ambient textures reminding of Steve Roach or Vidna Obmana; ethereal drones bearing light and shades. The rest of the work, while sharing a common atmosphere - like a sort of "unquiet trance", if you pass me the oxymoron -, is definitely more rhythmic, with remarkable tracks like "Water-Lily" and "The Glass Key", or the more serene "Wooden"; I can only say they reminded me A LOT of the works of the Portuguese duo Ras.Al.Ghul, possibly for a common "spiritual sense" as well.
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