Music Reviews



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Artist: The Process Void (@)
Title: Dreams of Departure
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The Process Void is Sydney, Australia based musician Alex J. Wise who has been producing music and experimenting with sound since 1995. He calls The Process Void electro post punk, melodic dark and cryptic, but I find it to be more cold wave synthpop. Interestingly, this EP was co-produced by Claus "Leæther Strip" Larsen, and mixed and mastered by him as well. Hmmm...didn't see that coming. Wise claims his previous two album ('Arcane Matter' and 'Staat Des Zerfells') had previously been reviewed here at Chain D.L.K., but try as I might, I couldn't find those reviews. No matter, for the present we have 'Dreams of Departure'. When I first put this CD on I really didn't care much for it; sounded like dreary retro cold wave to me. It somewhat reminded me of Human League's first two albums, albeit with less panache. There is some vocal similarity to Mr. Oakey but sort of filtered through a John Lydon screen. Strange how it grew on me with more listenings. While none of the five tracks on this EP are great, they conjure a certain nostalgia to the late 70s/early 80s early synth bands I still remember well. (Remember the 'Some Bizarre' compilation album? This would definitely have fit on it.) The music is mostly simple synths and drums (drum machine likely in most places) in the same vein but the last track (title track, "Dreams of Departure") is the most different. Subbing guitar and bass for synths, as well as using real drums, this track has a more PIL/Killing Joke vibe. While there's nothing groundbreaking here, 'Dreams of Departure' will provide a sentimental sojourn for those that miss Factory Records bands and early cold wave synth music.
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Artist: Vestfalia\'s Peace (@)
Title: Loneliness
Format: CD
Label: Swiss Dark Nights Records (@)
Rated: *****
From Pescolanciano, Italy comes darkwave band Vestfalia's Peace, and their third release, 'Loneliness.' The band is comprised of Duccio Del Matto: classical guitar, electric guitar, chorus; Gianni Caldararo: vocals, bass, lyrics, chorus, mix; Salvatore Pallotta: drums; and Eugenio Auciello: electric guitar. They formed in 1997, in a very tiny village in Molise, Italy. Their first works (1999-2000) were strongly goth/new wave oriented, but around 2003 they styled themselves as more of a melancholic darwave act. They cite the band And Also The Trees as a major influence, which is fine by me as I'm a big fan of AATT's earlier work. Instrumentally Vestfalia's Peace does seem to be very influenced by that band, as well as The Cure. Vocally though is a different story. While AATT's Simon Huw Jones has a distinctively melodramatic style that just draws you in, the vocals in this band are whisper soft and often overridden by the music. The opener, title track ("Loneliness") is so indistinct as to be totally forgettable. There's a woman (Gina) also contributing supporting vocals (on a few tracks), but often it sounds like she's singing in another room. The second track "Wet Ferns Shine" is better than the first with slightly perked-up vocals, but not by a whole lot. Most of the songs on this album are quite mellow and don't cause much of a stir. Obviously the band suffers from a lack of distinction, especially in the vocal department. It's not that the vocals are bad by any means, (they are actually quite pleasant and melodic) it's just that they are very subdued and don't make much of an impact. On the musical side, the ban's sound is consistent but overly reliant on flanging and reverb. It gives the music a kind of shoegazer quality too often in my opinion. As for the songwriting, it's average with nothing was outstanding on this album. Track 9, "The Peasant" showed promise at the outset but didn't evolve into anything I'd consider compelling. Overall this is atmospheric but amorphic darkwave, which is sort of a shame because I had high hopes for it. Maybe adding a strong vocalist to the band might help. A lot of great darkwave come out of Italy, but sometimes, not so much.
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Artist: Angelo Bignamini
Title: Decay
Format: Tape
Label: Luce Sia (@)
Rated: *****
Practically without any liner notes, this tape from Angelo Bignamini documents a single track in two part where both of them has three distinct movements. While this release was developed from tape loops and effects, the composer tries to avoid the typical rhythmic cage using noisy sound source which creates a sense of development rather than one of stasis. This elements is perhaps at the core of the decision of naming this release "decay" as it makes full use of the typical noise elements added by tape to sounds in the process of aging.
The first side of this tape, "Decay Pt. 1", starts with grain of noises creating an irregular rhythm while in the background a sort of loop emerges. As this mass of sound stops, an interlude introduces the listener towards a second part with cleaner sounds even if based in a rhythmic pattern based on echoes while, sometimes, noisier elements emerge from the background so, even if it could be classified as a noise track, it's at moments able to hypnotize the listener.
The second side, "Decay Pt. 2", starts with a fade in and a couple of loops creating a complex rhythm out of simple ones; just prior that the track became trivial a single loop is used as a bridge to a part where noise generators gradually have the key role. The final part of this release is for a tape loops of considerable meditative effects as the first loop is gradually juxtaposed by a second tape which adds noise and movement closing the opus in a complete silence after the final eruption of noise.
This is a complex and demanding release which requires a certain commitment to be fully enjoyed as it avoids all simple tricks to amuse an audience giving them what it's expected, even if it's aided by its relatively short duration. Fans of experimental music will enjoy this release and play it until the tape is consumed but the others could be really disappointed. Take care and listen.
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Artist: Forest Walker
Title: UV Sea
Format: Tape
Label: Constellation Tatsu (@)
Rated: *****
The listener could be instantly absorbed by the very first seconds of this release, ignited by "Desert Lighthouse", the longest track of this tape by Los Angeles-based composer Forest Walker Christenson, whose only connection to a lighthouse (according to my senses at least) is a bright sound whose fading in/out could resemble the movement on a spot of the beacon of light. Together with this sonic element, there's a slight noise that resemble the noise of a pencil on paper, whose combination with the general atmosphere of the track could let you think the author made a sort of ambient hymn to the creative act, even if Forest prefers to say that his work focuses on "the deconstruction of mythologies of sound". Since the above-mentioned suite, it's clear that Forest draws some meme of the sound he forged for this release both from his remarkable experience in sound engineering and editing for movies and performative arts and from some iconic figures (somehow like myths!) of ambient music, such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich. For instance the dim lights on the mechanical tapping of "Amendment of Fundamental Axiom" is something that could be placed in between Steve Reich and Tor Lundvall, and I would say the same for "Saved Video of a Postcard" (or better its first four minutes, as the climax turns towards so-called space ambient in the last two ones)), the track that opens the B side, while the highest sense of detachment and visionary sight gets reached on the sumptuous "Realtime Lapse" diluted over 12 peaceful minutes. This ultraviolet sea is something that could temporarily freeze the reality surrounding the listener.
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Artist: Riot
Title: Destroyer EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Skalator Music (@)
Rated: *****
Besides having been overused in many meaningful leaflets and slogans of Femen, no-global, anarchic or similar groups (some of them shuffling the cards in order to manipulate or deviating dissent), the word 'riot' was chosen by Portuguese producer, DJ and musician Rui Pite' for his moniker in the drum'n'bass scene, where he entered by means of a collaborative track ("Control Of People"), pushed by talented Swedish producer Mikal into the catalogue of the renowned Metalheadz label after shaking the ground of Lisbon music scene (and some other clubs out of Portugal) by means of jungle/dnb collective Cooltrain Crew - the first drum'n'bass crew in Portugal, as far as I know - and acclaimed band Buraka Som Sistema (w/Joao 'Branko' barbosa). I could imagine that such a tag (I saw the word 'riot' matched to any kind of things - name of nostalgic pop-rock clubs, brands of crappy chemical drinks and even slogans for tampons) was maybe chosen as it vaguely resembles his real name (Rui and Riot), but I won't say this recent output on Portuguese label features an astonishingly revolutionary sound. By the way, the making of this guy is enjoyable. Some moments could look like a showcase of en vogue ways to frame sounds over mid-tempo rhythmical patterns (such as the female vocals over pokes on synth preceding the stabbing percussive eruption in "Section 9" or those almost disturbing synth clips that ignites "Contradiction" and potentially reaching the red light on the master of your mix by itself), but the way to combine the percussive elements in the mentioned tracks displays a brilliant grasp of the subject. My favourite moments of this release, as you can easily guess, are the other two tracks: even if both the title-track "Destroyer" and "The Weapon" could sound like parts of the OST for a sci-fi video game, they nicely manage to balance jump-up rhythmical streams with acceptable dosages of neurotech ("Destroyer" in particular) and "epic" (mostly "The Weapon"... vaguely resembling some stuff by Fanu) sonic hooks.
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