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Artist: VENUS FLY TRAP (@)
Title: Mars, Totem, Pandoras Box, Luna Tide, Dark Amour
Format: CD
Label: SPV Poland


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I know the Venus Fly Trap since the early days as Alex Novak has been a member of Attrition and my older brother was into them. I listened only to their live album and few other things but this time I had the possibility to span through their whole discography as this five CDs gather almost all the songs the band produced during the 1987/1997 period.
Let's get into the details:

- MARS contains "Morphine", "Desolation Railway" and the MLP "Mars". Listening to these releases I heard echoes of Teardrop Explodes, Three Jones and various influences that go from post punk to psychobilly. This CD contains also the original versions of "Morphine", "Catalyst", "Desolation Railway" and a live version of "Step Inside"

- TOTEM (like the following PANDORAS BOX) has got the tracks coming from the Danceteria label period and includes "Rocket USA" 12" (1989), "Totem" (1990) and "Europa" 12" (1990) along with the "Europa" remix and the live versions of "Shadowplay" and "Rocket USA" plus the "Rocket USA" video clip. With this the atmosphere goes darker with echoes of Bauhaus and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. If you thought that "Rocket USA" is a cover of the Suicide song, you got it... Last note: on production we have got Kevin Haskins

- PANDORAS BOX contains "Pandoras Box" LP and selections from "Achilles Heel" 12" and the live album "Jewel". Always with Haskins on production the single and the album sligtly move away from the previous one leaving goth influences and starting exploring psychedelic rock with punk/funk tiny influences (as Gang Of Four did) but without missing their dark vein. Here you can also find the video of "Europa"

- LUNA TIDE includes "Shedding Another Skin" (1992) and the "Luna Tide" album (1994). To be precise I don't see any tracks from the first one as being a compilation of singles all the tracks are already on the other releases. Anyway, with this the new Venus Fly Trap's sound comes out and we can say that the dark period is definitively over. The tracks have got mainly rock and punk influences and the songs are guitar oriented. Sometimes (like on "Urban Sprawl Pt.1) the old influences come out. To be honest this is the album I enjoyed less

- DARK AMOUR is the last one and contains the album with the same title along with a song titled "13 o'clock". Luckily dark atmospheres are back along with some electronic arrangements and a sort of dark tension is noticeable. Songs like "Passport To Dark Amour" and "Pulp Sister" are direct and catchy and I prefer the band to sound this way: less rock or psychedelic and more direct and twisted

Wow... it has been difficult but I hope you got the picture. If you want my advice, I'd pick up TOTEM and DARK AMOUR... Enough said. ;-)
Nov 20 2002
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Artist: ANGELS & AGONY (@)
Title: Forever
Format: CD EP
Label: Out of Line
Distributor: Audioglobe
7 tracks for this 35-minute CDep by the Dutch trio Angels & Agony. The layout is not really captivating, and I still wonder about the sense of cramming 4 not-so-different versions of a song on one ep, but anyway, enough bitching: the music is good, melodic electro-EBM with lots of wave influences (i.e. melancholic, slightly retro atmospheres), with competent song composition and an equilibrium between catchiness and good taste, which prevents them from slipping into radio-friendly kitsch crap. The title track is especially well done, but the other songs ("Stormhead", "Lost" and "Ohm") manage to stand on their own without passing for mere fillers.
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Artist: REGIVAR (@)
Title: Colonna sonora per un film immaginario
Format: CD
Label: S'Agita Recordings (@)
"Colonna sonora per un film immaginario" ("Soundtrack for an imaginary movie") is Raffaella Graziosi's debut as Regivar. With a background in photography, Raffaella has been one of the main promoters of the brilliant Oltre il Suono webpage and forum (http://web.tiscali.it/oltreilsuono/); now her 1999 recordings see the light on Logoplasm's S'Agita Recordings, with the usual care for visual presentation (this time it's a minimal layout on cream marbled carboard) and a limited edition on 150 copies. "Colonna sonora..." is a fascinating work mainly based on synth waves and loops, with a kind of free-flowing stream of different fragments and atmospheres; at times concrete sounds (a rewound tape, drops of water...) crawl in, contributing to the feel of mystery... I like to think of this cd as a kind of intimistic sci-fi soundscape: the sense of wonder, subtle bewilderment or trascendental peace is all there, but moving within an inner universe... Sharing some "poetic" similarities with her label-mate AAL, especially in his more "cosmic" side, and I'll repeat myself for the 100th time by quoting Tarkovskij as an ideal counterpart for these dream-like sounds...
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Artist: PANKOW
Title: Life Is Offensive And Refuses To Apologise
Format: CD
Label: Minus Habens (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
It's five years that we had no news from Maurizio Fasolo and Pankow. Since their early years he's been the main person responsible of the band's sound and direction, since the post punk years (see for example the recordings of the "Gathered" and "Free" compilations) and the early electronic experiments as a duo with Massimo Michelotti (Neon's singer older brother) arriving to the electronic incarnation you all well know with Alex Spalk as singer. After years of silence (the last self titled album which had Limbo's Gianluca Beccuzzi on lead vocals has been released on 1997), the terrific news came: at the end of November 2002 a new album will be released by Minus Habens (which released years ago their "Walpurgisnacht" 12") and it sees Alex Spalck on vocals and lyrics again! I'm holding the promo in my hands and I assure you that the fourteen tracks of LIFE IS OFFENSIVE AND REFUSES TO APOLOGISE will make you forgive them for their long period of silence. Violent, nihilist and minimal this new album sees the band (which sees two new members along with Alex and Maurizio) dealing with industrial influences, working in this way on their own roots and sounds re-assembling them into fifty three minutes of absolute tension. Lyrics are in English and German (as usual for Alex) and mixes no sense with everyday life. Melody is mainly given by vocals as the other elements are rhythmical ones: treated noises or distorted synth sounds with ambient background sound sometimes. We can say that Pankow are back to their distinctive sound of the "Freinheit Fuer Die Sklaven"'s days for a perfect come back that will make you realize who the masters are.
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Artist: [The User] (@)
Title: Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers
Format: CD
Label: Asphodel (www.asphodel.com) + Staalplaat (www.staalplaat.com)
Oops, Architect Thomas Mcintosh and sound artist, composer, multi-media person Emmanuel Madan did it again! After the Montreal duo took over an old grain elevator last year, mic-ed it and broadcasted its sounds creating a buzz in the international press and critics, they are back with another by-product of their fervid creative imagination. "Symphony #1 for Dot Matrix Printers", [The User]'s 3" on Staalplaat recordings, was reviewed by Chain D.L.K.'s contributor Fabrizio "Fa" Cristallo about two years ago (maybe less), but now "Symphony #2 for Dot Matrix Printers" sees the light as a full lenght CD released by Staalplaat in Europe and by Asphodel in North America.The genius idea behind this project was to feed fourteen old crappy dot-matrix printers (Juki, Epson, Panasonic, Raven, Star Micronics Gemini, Fujitsu and Citizen) some ASCII code that would make them produce different sounds, and coordinate those sounds via custom written ASCII files transmitted through a custom serial protocol to early nineties personal computers orchestrated by a similarly obsolete file server.The genius of course is also to be found in the political statement of re-appropriating office machinery for purposes of cultural production, or of taking a modern-day ruin and turning it into an instrument of sound, like they did with the above-mentioned "Silophone" project. Not to mention the political statement that their name alone is, remarking how today's technocratic society employs the term 'user' to objectify and 咬educe individuality to an abstract and generic ideal. This reduction is employed wherever abstract rational methodology is applied to situations involving real people. Once this reduction is made, it becomes much easier to treat the faceless, formless 'user' in an inhuman fashion. In our society we employ the impersonal term 'user' to justify the infliction of neon lighting, plastic cutlery and Muzak on a huge majority of our population? How about that?The CD (at least when bought from Staalplaat, I am not sure about Asphodel) comes inside an old 5-1/4" disc and does not contain any sound sources other than the actual printers, whose execution is partly automated, partly improvised live. The sound is great in its variety and its complexity, unveiling multiple shades of sounds ranging from the classical rhythmical dot-matrix moving head printing (whose movement is intelligently and trustfully recorded with two mics to preserve the great hi-fidelity stereo image, going from one side to the other) that serves as a beat, to the hum of the machines (serving as a background), to other low drones (that I personally have never heard my old printer do), to shorter sounds (acting like punctuating ambient experimental textures and sophisticated musical apparel).For those of you who just don't get it and want to pretend to forget your narrow-minded stupidity with booty-shaking music, or for those of you who do indeed get it but wouldn't mind some of that booty-shaking stuff yourself, you may wanna check out the LP version of this, as it does come with [the User]'s very own interpretation of booty-shaking edits. Unfortunately I myself haven't had the pleasure to hear their version of booty-shaking, but I trust it to be interesting and challenging enough, and won't comment any further.These are the new minds that music needs to get out of the stagnating and molding situation. These experiments are the true essence of experimental music. I don't have a problem with noise, but my day would be a lot more exciting if more people would go beyond pointless noise and use their creativity to challenge themselves and others, break boundaries and push the envelope! This is fantastic stuff!
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