Music Reviews



Artist: Smalts (@)
Title: It's Good to be on a well-run Ship
Format: CD
Label: Korm Plastics (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Dutch band Smalts formed 20 years ago with a line up that included three members of their original band Minny Pops (whose material will be re-issued on UK LTM label shortly) plus a new drummer and that is still the same line up today. "It's Good to be on a well-run Ship" is a concept album dedicated to the victims of two years ago tragic and controversial disaster of Russian submarine Kursk and their families. The entire CD booklet is written in both English and Russian and comes with pictures of the sub, victims and mourning families. Musically they move between psychedelic electronic and post wave vanguard rock inspired by their former band, the Residents, the Legendary Pink Dots, Velvet Underground, Vadergraaf, Studio Pagol, Pink Floyd, Barry Adamson, Brian Eno and so forth... You'll find apocalyptic atmospheres engraced by ethnical percussions (track 5), introspective pinkish experimental vocal-centered acoustic ballads (1, 3, 13), almost out of context ethno-dub (2), electronic floors with ethnic passages (4, 8, 12), typcally Russian-inspired music with Russian words (6), very modern eastern-flavored electro-acoustic suites (7, 11), modern folk music soaked into electronic music and treated as dub music (9), interesting and challenging blends of blues-inspired funktronics (10). Very variegated and eclectic album with a noble intent and a theme that deserves more attention and more action than what has been done (or better say, not done...).
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Artist: Axoe
Title: Telegraphic
Format: CD


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Telegraphic is the new debut album by the new synthpop band Axoe featuring Evan Sornstein of the band Battery. Battery was known in the 90's for their signature melodic industrial and powerful female vocals. For Axoe Evan has teamed up with vocalist Patrick O'Connor to create new electro-pop. Axoe draws on a combination new wave, synthpop, smooth ebm, and 'new romantic'. One thing they are not is copycat of previous new wave and synthpop bands of the past. Axoe brings their own unique style and musical blend to the genre with a heavier lean toward the 'new romantic' mood I think. Telegraphic is an impressive release especially considering that this is self released by the band and not with the help of a label. Of course with modern technology this is becoming easier all the time. However, Axoe is not about to forget their friends and lists individuals like Shannon (Metropolis Records), Kevin Archibald (Dystopian Records), David Friede (Cohaagen Music), David Richards (NinthWave Records), and Todd Durrant (A Different Drum) in their special thanks; all individuals who are strong forces for the promotion of new and independent music and excellent people as I've come to know them myself through my work here and with Latex Records. One of the things I really like about this CD is the subtle variance they use to create the variance of mood which always makes for a good release. While much of the album has a 'romantic' feel to it I especially like the synth work on "Waiting" where there is a bit more of a grind to it. Oddly they do this without losing the melodramatic mood at all. This sounds like an album I expect to grow on me more with every listen sort of like Hednoize's "Searching for the End". However unlike the mentioned release Axoe has a much softer and 'moody' sound that is unique to them.
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Artist: Dan Burke & Kevin Drumm
Title: Mort Aux Vaches
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
When two experimental veterans like Dan Burke from Illusion Of Safety and Kevin Drumm team up, you know it's gonna be some weird shit! The two have toured together last year and, in the process of doing so, recorded an improvised session at the VPRO radio's studios. The CD envelopes around the almost silent with hard to hear rumbles, hi pitched sibilant glitches and all sort of other analog and digital waveforms, but it also peaks into sheer industrialisms at times with balancing moments that can easily sound like the sound of a battle being fought somewhere, in the distant European fields of WWI and WWII... The record's primary sound sources include a guitar, but you won't hear anything resembling a conventional six string instrument in here. One track, fifty seven minutes.
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Artist: Behind The Scenes
Title: Homeless
Format: CD
Label: Bloodline


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Behind The Scenes' 2000 release Homeless is Gothic Rock like I haven't heard in quite some time. Upon first impression you get solid rock-n-roll riffs and bass line with just enough electronic ambience to give it body but not to overrun the overall rock feel of it. Deep and dark like Sisters of Mercy with 'spidery' lead vocal somewhat reminiscent of Peter Murphy but with a smoother and more melodious style befitting of genre mainstays Clan of Xymox. With that being said - what else is there?
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Russian laptop artist Coh (which means "sleep" in Ivan Pavlov's native language) became a name know to the scenes with his 1998 release on Carsten Nicolai's Raster Noton records. Throughout the years he did pretty much stick to Raster, to Austrian Mego records and to Idea records, plus a couple of detours, among which a collaboration with two Coil members that came out on Coil's label Eskaton. Sleepy is one thing Ivan and his electronic-noise music is not and makes you not. His laptop drives out warm, textured, wrapping and atmospheric electronics. Noise is pumping throughout the entire and only track of this almost fourty minutes long CD but it is not fiercely scratching your insides, like some noise records do, or unconsciously and caninely caressing the top shelf of your hearing capabilities, like other glitch music records do. In this "Mort Aux Vaches" (recorded in 1999 for his Paradiso, Amsterdam, live set and issued with a wood-looking plastic wrap-around cover) Ivan sets noise in motion and keeps it rolling under the surface serving as a floor of wilderness, above the surface as a reminder of the power that lies beneath or in the middle of it all as the natural origin of all sonic creations and of all throbbing rhythmics. Overall murky but raw and Sevenish I highly recommend this record for those who enjoy creative laptop artists and can appreciate the departure from the usual improvised buzzing, hissing, glitching material and the approach of rather well thought out and designed musical structures where electronics teams up with all of the above to reach for a higher level...
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