Music Reviews



Oct 10 2002
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Artist: Cycloon (@)
Title: Scent
Format: CD
Label: Dark Dimensions (@)


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This is one strange release. There are similarities between all the tracks but the differences are more extreme. This mini-album by Cycloon contains six previously unreleased tracks besides the Nine Inch Nails "Happiness In Slavery" interpretation which was originally intended for a tribute release by Orkus Magazine. There is also a bonus Video clip. "Scent" is the first single to appear from the follow-up release Zeitseize. Cycloon is the solo project of singer Axel Kleintjes from Page 12. This is definitely a project full of surprises. The first track combines heavy Noise influences with throbbing EBM beats and as a starting track if you have not heard Cycloon before you begin to wonder what's up and where this is going especially since the vocals on this track slightly remind me of early TKK from I See Good Spirits, I See Bad Spirits. The second track begins with a nearly dub and ambient sounce effect style, some vocal sampling and added Industrail beats and very dark and harsh vocals. Further into the track you begin to hear some rather strong Skinny Puppy influences, especially in the vocal overlays, polyrhythms, and breaks. The attached video for this piece is a collection of industrial, mechanical, war, sexually charged and haunting images combined with very litte live outtakes. The following track picks up the pace and becomes more of a club oriented sound, as if we weren't doing well already, and they pound it to the floor. There is some rather slight Synthpop influences here as well but this track is just as dark as any of the others so far. An interesting turn is taken with the industrial dub-n-Noise sound of "Acivated". The "Happiness In Slavery" interpretation is just that and NOT a cover. This makes for a bizarre instrumental and the sound and style of the original is nearly unrecognizable. Default Set begins with some heavy atmospheres and samples that sound reminiscient of Pinhead from Hellraiser but then drop into some Noise and Klang styled rhythms. If you like Power Noise whith danceable rhythms here ya go! Lastly, Megabite is some heavy digitalia industrial with Gregorian Chant. Never underestimate the power of machines is the unspoken message here I believe!
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Artist: KNIFELADDER
Title: Organic Traces
Format: CD
Label: Operative Records
Knifeladder's full-length on their own label Operative, after their split cd with Shining Vril on C.A.P.P. and some compilation appearances. KL is John Murphy (drums, percussion, loops and vocals), Andrew Trail (electronics, samples and vocals) and Hunter Barr (bass and electronics). Members' backgrounds consist of names like SPK, Current 93, Death In June, Der Blutharsch, Kraang (Murphy, now also active with his ritual-ambient project Shining Vril), Infant Skull Surgery and Altered States (Barr), Inertia and Ministry of Love (Trail). "Organic Traces" opens with the breath-taking assault of "Red Drum", immediately delivering some of Knifeladder's trademarks: pounding bass, hypnotic electronic loops and samples, raving vocals, heavy tribal drumming… Reminding of past greats like early Swans or God, it was surely the best way to start the cd… While keeping these main elements as the sound canvas of the whole work, KL skilfully avoid repetition by dosing different nuances and atmosphere, from subtler ambiences like the half-whispered "Faultline" (with some Coil and early Clock DVA resemblance) to obsessive magmas ("Dervish"), often shifting within the same track: listen to "Scorched Earth", beginning with enthralling string loops and solemn vocal lithanies and evolving to a hail of percussion and frantic sax laments. A really individual and accomplished work, standing out with a sound of its own and not really fitting into any easy underground niche or sub-category… I just hope it gets the attention it deserves.
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Artist: RONIN
Title: Ronin e.p.
Format: CD EP
Label: Bar La Muerte (@)
Bruno Dorella has been one of the most active musicians and producers of the Italian independent circuit (but not only of that, actually) over the last few years. His label Bar La Muerte has proven to be corageously eclectic, with a series of high-standard records ranging from no-wave to electronica, from mutant pop to chamber music. Active as a musician with - among others - Ovo (no-wave/grind/improvisation), Lava (power electronics/industrial, now defunct) and Ventolin Orchestra (noise), and as a collaborator with Brusaschetto, Rollerball etc., he now presents his most personal creature Ronin. Aided by members of Alba and RUNI, and by Jacopo Andreini (Nando Meet Corrosion, E-Neem, Bz Bz Ueu, Enfance Rouge, Frigorifero Produzioni and a thousand more) on drums and sax, he has written a handful of songs which will probably surprise many listeners. Think of (lots of) Morricone, Badalamenti, Calexico, Godspeed You Black Emperor, some Aerial M… Melancholic melodies, epic and nocturnal atmospheres delivered with a gentle touch... A sort of mariachi band ("Ronin Theme") colliding with an Eastern European ensemble ("Canzone d'amore moldava"), but also an incredible solo track ("Nada") with a guitar playing which is both essential and moving. All this in just 3 tracks + outro. I'm stunned. This is close to perfection, and I wonder where the full-length cd (just recorded, with the addition of cello and upright bass) will carry them.
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Artist: Plastic Assault (@)
Title: We Score
Format: CD
Label: Bloodline (@)


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Plastic Assault utilize heavy EBM styled rhythms with harsh samples and vocals to create an image of shock and violence. Released on the German label Bloodline Plastic Assault would be of high interest to fans of the harder side of Front Line Assembly and bands like Stabbing Westward's Ungod album. The first track "Crackhead" sounds like it could very easily have fit on the FLA album Caustic Grip due to the vocal and sample style as well as the ever riding bouncy synth bassline. It's also reminiscient of earlier FLA as well (aka Initial Command, Total Terror, etc.). This continues through much of the album as Plastic Assault focuses on a little used but highly loved form of early dark EBM which personally I feel should have affected more industrial oriented groups. Sounds of ambulances, military commandos, police ham radio and live arrests, shotgun blasts, screams of terror, cheering crowds and other sounds of chaos, angst, aggression, violence and fascism fill this amazing album. Strangely enough there is a purely Punk-rock sample at the beginning of "Pesticide" but I couldn't say who the band is but it's amusing all the same. It's wonderful to hear another artist expand on the original sound that Bill Leeb created but he himself as left in his past. I've always thought that this style of music would catch on somewhere, somehow and it's nice to see somebody doing it still.
The track "Devotka" sounds more like a DSBP Records band or something like Any Questions? or Eye Kandy with it's heavy use of metal guitar sampling combined with synthetic tones or harshness. Heavy, dark, and aggressive this band succeeds where many have failed in their attempts to create similar audio structures. "Strangled" sounds very much like something from FLA's "Hard Wired" album. I hope to hear more form Plastic Assault in the future.
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Artist: FR/ACTION
Title: Crimes Of The Future
Format: CD
Label: Cohaagen (@)


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I listened to this CD a month ago when I received it and I liked it even if I wasn't totally thrilled. It was a particular thing to listen synthpop and e.b.m. matching together and I didn't figure why people from Ganymede and Nukleon got involved into such a thing. Well, at this moment while I'm writing this review, I'm listening to it again and I assure you that I'm bloody digging this stuff! The album is a sort of concept album with lyrics that talk about vigilantism, street crime, and nocturnal urban decay. It's strange to imagine Charles Bronson as an electro addicted but a thing is for sure: tracks like "Vigilante" or "Guardian" are a blast. The rhythms are always pumping and the melodic lines are well built and never too simple. FR/ACTION took away from e.b.m. evil vocals and replaced them with synthpop finest tunes adding also bleeping synth lines and everything in need to make of this album a must for your days that need a "musical booze". "Walking alone, city lights at my back / My senses are sharp as theyíre under attack / 44 Magnum is close by my side / A feeling of hate and a feeling of pride"...
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