Music Reviews



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Artist: Roman Leykam | Frank Mark
Title: Experience Space
Format: CD
Label: Frank Mark Arts (@)
Rated: *****
The label by Frank Mark bravely keeps on walking on his stylistic path by a plenty of releases, the last of which mostly focused on Roman Leykam outputs, so that a collaboration of Roman with the owner of the label is somehow surprising. On "Experience Space", they keep on squeezing electric guitars, synth-generated guitars, fretless bass (very nice the one that Frank forged in "Telepathic"), a set of recognisable synths and midi (yes, you read it well, MIDI...and one of the most recurring MIDI instrument is a really obsolete trumpet) by an impressive set of setups and effects, but they reached a balance between more traditional declensions of ambient meditations, cosmic music, and synth artifacts. Many tracks keep on resembling something in between the demo songs or pre-sets of some workstation or synths (particularly some stuff I heard by Yamaha, Alesis, and Oberheim engineers) and those CDs that get attached to the exercise books of some more or less improvised new-age guru and such a matching is somehow inspired by the (more or less modified) vocal sample, included in some tracks, sounding like guidelines in tracks like "Indelible Memory" or "Tumult of the Senses". Other ones sound like dadaist games on electric or synth guitars or minimal wandering of a Pink Floyd or Ozric Tentacles fan after trying opium, but lovers of these sonorities will be undoubtedly delighted by the number of strategies they explore over the 65 minutes of the release. Very nice artwork (featuring many pictures of sculptured faces and masks).
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Artist: Nervenbeisser
Title: Zeitenwandel
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Nervenbeisser (Nerve Biter) is an NDH band from Germany (where else would you find NDH bands?) and 'Zeitenwandel' ('Change of Time') is their sophomore album after their 2005 debut ('Geschlechterschlacht'). Nervenbeisser aren't your typical NDH band though as there are definite goth-electro-industrial elements incorporated throughout. Also, the metal doesn't surface as much as you'd expect. Still, they are balls-to-the wall HARD...most of the time. The album begins with a recitation in Deutsche (of course) over dark industrial ambient background...setting the mood I guess. First real song - "Verkehrte Welt" has a bouncy/loping martial beat similar to Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People," but that's where the similarity ends. There's a catchy crowd-rousing chorus ("HEY DU!"...and lines in German that follow) and that's the first clue that this album seems primarily made for live play, fist-pumping, and short attention spans. Although there is some diversity in form, there's not much in style, and that's what works against Nervenbeisser throughout most of 'Zeitenwandel.' Take the title track for example; it starts out with some nice atmospherics leading into a catchy bass and synth line combo but all too soon falls into cliched aspects of NDH that only get deeper as it chugs along, in spite of its electro elements. Live, I'm sure it's what the crowd will eat up, but listening to it at home gets wearisome. Olaf Seider's vocal style ranges from guttural growl to raspy scream (most notably on the chorus of Glucklich Allein") and the latter is really difficult (for me) to take. The one thing this band does manage to do effectively is come up with catchy hooks, be they vocal or instrumental, for this type of music anyway. Take for example "Goldener Kafig" where there is really nothing memorable in the vocal department, but this dumb little repetitious airy synth riff will stick in your brain. To a large extent these songs seem crafted more with a bludgeon than a scalpel, and maybe that's a hallmark of Neue Deutsche HÄrte. On one hand, I think these guys are somewhat enamoured of Rammstein, but on the other may have aspirations of Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly or even KMFDM. It's hard to tell whether or not this merging works. I think only the band's fans can be the real judge, and from what I'm seeing, their following is growing. Final track on the album ("Alles Steht Still") is a mostly acoustic ballad where the band shows its sensitive side. Actually not bad, and a nice break from being pummeled. It will be interesting to see where the band goes from here. Will Nervenbeisser play more to their NDH roots, or will they explore and expand into something quite different?
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Artist: ghost and tape (@)
Title: Vár
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
The title of this new output by Danish producer Heine Christensen aka ghost and tape is the word for 'spring' in Old Norse (very similar to 'Voar' and 'Ware', old Scottish words used in Orkney and Shetland and in Northern Isles and South-Western Scotland respectively), whose meaning is not strictly related to the season, but could also refer to a 'new beginning'. Discovered through an album released by Akira Kosemura's imprint Scholes, randomly found in a shop in Tokyo (where headquarters of Home Normal is), Ian resembles that he was initially attracted by the artwork, but when he listened to its musical content, he noticed a strong consonance with Home Normal's ethos and policy. In Ian's own words: "I’ve always admired people who take their time with their music for they appreciate the finer details and seem to understand music as a timeless quantity.[...]‘Pure and forceful with mystifying, beautiful patterns.’ I don’t think you could get a more apt description than this to describe such a work. This is ambient music as its most thoughtful and tender; so carefully crafted and worked, with purpose in each and every twist and turn.". The description could sum the sound you'll find in this album up; its general vibe, elongated and occasionally lulling tones, gentle melodies, whose symbiosis with field recordings of natural settings, evoking a strong sense of peace, are not a harmony in the strictly academic meaning of the term, but they asymptotically tend to an idea of harmony, that smells of ancient pagan beliefs, green magic and awakening natural energies, strongly rooted in some Germanic old culture (as testified by the reference to the goddess 'Eostre' - the English word 'Easter' seems to come from the name of this name, as well). Even if I won't say the sonic strategies explored by Heine are really groundbreaking in the ambient scene, the purity of its sound makes it a really delightful listening experience. A rare quality nowadays.
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Artist: Thomas B
Title: Augmented Place EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Free Love Digi (@)
Rated: *****
When I introduced the debut EP by Onism QI - the collaborative project by Quentin Hiatus, Ghast and Thomas B -, I omitted to say that a remarkable fingerprint on the sound of this project has been given by the last of the guys listed, Thomas B (real name: Tommy Brinson), as you can easily guess while listening to this recent output on Free Love Digi. Even if its dynamics don't show the same dynamics (particularly in tempo variations) of Onism QI, you could notice many similarities of the sci-fi sonorities explored in this EP. This aspect is mainly noticeable on the more experi/mental (and my favorite ones) tracks of the four ones included in this digital EP: check the opening "Significance" - its pattern based on claps and finger snapping and the way by which melodic elements gradually rises - and the closing "Augmented Place" - where you can notice that any ring added by Thomas B on the sonic chain makes it more and more involving -. Besides its sonorities, the hip-hop (or I'd rather say ill-hop, to use a label which was popular to describe this kind of experiments on hip-hop tempo in the late 90ies/early 00ies) oriented tracks, both "Straat" and "Tangible" are maybe too predictable and 'static' than the other half of the release.
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Artist: Onism QI
Title: Null Explodes EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Free Love Digi (@)
Rated: *****
One of the main advantage of digital releases lies in the fact that even if new stuff is added to a discography, some release doesn't become totally unavailable, so that even if a new EP (title "Intelligent Life") by the collaborative project Onism QI (grouping together Quentin Hiatus, Thomas B and Ghast) has been announced, the one I'm going to introduce is not really obsolete. The opening track of this EP ("Null Explodes" is the debut release by Onism QI), "Fear Death Love", is a sort of electric mantra, boosted by a sort of otherworldly moaning, snapping fingers and a mid-tempo, that becomes more and more hypnotising, whose magic get highlighted by the amazing playing on pitch by these guys, who increase BPMs when the listener could expect a deceleration and vice versa. The tempo got stabilized on mid-levels on the following tune, "Patroller", whose dynamics is based on menacing sonic entities, crackling percussive noises and occasional computational stirring, and a mid-tempo features "MB", the lovely song sung by Matthew Cassidy, whose voice could vaguely resemble the (computer reshaped?) modulations by Sascha Ring (Apparat, Moderat). Last but not least, the amazing sci-fi cracking of "Meta Realm", which makes you think that there's a more serious just than a drum N bass project behind Onism QI... maybe the foundations of a newly enlighted mankind! Check it out!
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