Music Reviews



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Artist: FELSENREICH (@)
Title: Am Ende der Zeit...
Format: CD
Label: Expander Records
Distributor: Triton
First full length release for this German quintet, after the 1999 EP "The Death is Behind You" and the compilation appearance "The Wisdom" in the Astan music magazine sampler. Felsenreich play mildly complex goth-rock with some symphonic arrangements here and there (see the eponymous track, opening and closing the work); the voice has some Bauhaus resemblance, while the music is more in the vein of Garden of Delight. I can say they're good musicians and I guess it's a well done work for its own genre, but honestly, I haven't been thrilled at all by their performance. Plus the programmed drumming doesn't fit with the more aggressive and rocking tracks, giving them a bad "plastic-sound". I really think they should give a more definite identity to their sound, as ideas and technics are good, but still out of focus. Or possibly it's only a problem of mine with goth-rock...
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Artist: Psyche (@)
Title: Endangered Species
Format: CD
Label: ArtOfFact Records (@)


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This is a club heavy collection of Psyche tracks and remixes including a remix of "Goodbye Horses". The first track on this release to grab my attention is "Memento" which starts out with a Depeche Mode like bass grind. It's got a nice groove to it and a dark synthpop feel to it combined with the smooth vocal harmonies Psyche are known for. The mix of "The Hiding Place" on this disc is doen by Massiv In Mensch with the influence of the bouncey dance beats with heavy technology and slight trance feel like their latest album Die Rein. This is a very nice track indeed as it features two of ArtOfFact Records top bands coming together. The first mix of Renegades sounds like a live mix (or at least it has lots of crowd noise on the intro). It's begins with piano but quickly moves into a thumping deep dub rhythm.
The track I found most interesting is the Tokyo Club Mix of "Goodbye Horses" as the original had some interesting melodies but this club mix takes the song to a completely new level. There's just something about the beat of that single that screams gay disco but I love it anyway.
Dropping the pace quite a bit and modifying the overall tone and structure the song "Eleven" reminds me of Art of Noise when ambient. That's the only way I know how to explain it. It has that same pipe-like sound combined with ambient piano and environmental textures. A beautiful piece! This is probably my next favorite next to "Goodbye Horses" though they change the entire song about midway through as it evolves into a much more upbeat rhythm and percussion thing with a choral sound added in then replaced by a nearly standard techno drive. This is a very intersting mix of styles and textures and completely unexpected. I like surprises (5 points guys).
The original version of "Damaged Soul" I think is clear enough and outshines the mixes. Lastly, I don't know what that synth effect is on "Prisoner To Desire" but I love it. The vocals at the beginning sound so 1980's though. Of course it was done in 1987 but included here anyway so I guess it's forgiven as it is still interesting if not a bit confusing.
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Artist: Butterfly Messiah (@)
Title: Priestess
Format: CD
Label: Fossil Dungeon (@)
Distributor: Fossil Dungeon


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Butterfly Messiah are an amazing duo from Tampa whose music combines strong Darkwave and Ethereal elements with Industrial and dance music to create an otherworldy and dark sound. The members are also openly pagan and their views are evident in their music as well. The CD is, I think, the first official release by the band released on Fossil Dungeon. The CD jewel case has a silver mirror like look to the inside where the disc sits as does the disc itself and a beautiful yet dark insert booklet complete with band photos and lyrics.
From the first time I heard Butterfly Messiah as was at least as impressed with them as I was The Changelings except their music also combined cold electronics with lush ethereal qualities and dark spirituality. This release opens with a track from their demo EP Synthesis called "Land Beneath the Waves" but this is the only previous track you'll find on this release that I am aware of. All the other tracks are brand new for this CD however the first track does sound a bit cleaned up in the studio.
"The Wicked" begins with industrial-like twitch beats and a brooding bassline. Shannon layers her Projekt-like ethereal vocals on top of the mixture. The chorus is a combination of whispers and what almost sounds like taunting. This is just a sample of the combination of sounds you'll hear with Butterfly Messiah. "Introspection" has a sort of funky beat but the backing effect is a breathy vocal chantlike sample. Here Shannon trades the vocal spotlight with Robert who performs more of the harsher bits while Shannon blends in almost ghostlike later in the track.
Butterfly Messiah are the first band I've heard to successfully combine the softer elements of Ethereal based music with the harder beat oriented elements of industrial. "Visitor" is an excellent track with a distinct Gothic Rock feel to it while "Ring The Bells" begins with an almost old Cabaret Voltaire feel to it which soon turns into an electric guitar buzz more cold and hard than Christian Death. However one of my favorite tracks is "Eternal Undone", a song with a definite pagan theme. Robert's vocals are hard and cold - nearly mechanical - while Shannon sings beautifully muse-like, element in contrast holding successful union of rhythm and timbre. The changes in this song are very interesting as well - sometimes very cold while at others very ghostlike and dreamy.
Shannons layered recordings of her singing on "When Autumn to Winter Resigns" has a very madrigal effect to it and sounds much like it was recorded in a wide, empty chamber. "Reverie" is more of a smooth guitar and synth piece with vocals that has a very This Mortal Coil sound to it.
Butterfly Messiah continue to be a band that I have strong desire to watch their career and they have proven that good music really can get it's start on MP3.com and make it's way to a decent label.

© Copyright 8/2002 TG Mondalf. All Rights Reserved
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Artist: BAD SECTOR (@)
Title: Retrovirus
Format: CD
Label: AFE (@)
I don't think I have to introduce Bad Sector, since Massimo Magrini's creature has been a relevant name in experimental ambient for quite some time. This release, on Amon/Never Known/Lips Vago Andrea Marutti's AFE, was issued in 333 copies and is probably sold-out by now, but you can probably find some copies in several mailorders... or maybe ask for a re-press... "Retrovirus" collects a series of tracks from 1987 to 2000, and shows Bad Sector's typical ability to build menacing dark ambient tracks using a variety of different sources (here, for example, a phasing sequencer, a bowed copper wire, vocal samples etc.) with a great sense of structure and composition, but also at the same time a distinct "emotional" and visionary quality which is often missing in realeases of this genre. The atmosphere is almost always gloomy and tense, which fits with the apparent virus theme, a relevant exception being "TCGT [scatter]", a perfect piece of soothing cosmic music. Very well done digipack sleeve in pro-printed cardboard, and adequately abstract-looking scientific graphics.
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Artist: KLUSTER COLD (@)
Title: The Third Secret
Format: CD
Label: AFE (@)
I had never listened to Kluster Cold before, and it's been a nice surprise. Released by Andrea Marutti (Amon, Never Known, Lips Vago) on his personal label AFE, and mastered by one Maurizio Pustianaz (wonder who he is, eheh), "The Third Secret" is a little jewel (7 tracks + intro for 28') of retro electronica/EBM, with Kraftwerk being the most obvious reference. Carlo Ponte seems to have interiorized the best and most peculiar characteristics of the German ensemble: catchy synth melodies coupled with aseptic and danceable drum machine beats, but most of all a romantic and nostalgic atmosphere which now seems to be frozen in paradoxically distant times. Retro-futurism? The real folk music of 20 years ago? Most songs are instrumental, and work perfectly without a voice. "The romance of tar" is present with a nice vocoder version and an instro "flare-up version", and the fact that both stand perfectly well on their own can only mean the track is really good! "The soldier" has an upbeat rhythm and quasi-spoken female vocals, while "The soldier's theme" features the melodies in an ethereal, beatless version. But the instrumentals are cinematic enough to suggest a story of their own, from the more serene, bittersweet atmospheres of "Remember" to the darker and slightly obsessive "As fear comes back". The layout is remarkable as well, with elegant vintage-looking graphics, evocative black and white pictures and a fold-out poster too. This is one of the few cds I wished they lasted longer...
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