Music Reviews



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Artist: Circa Tapes
Title: Love And Venom
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Medical Records
A richly textured concoction of dark synthwave, Adam Killing (of Kill Memory Clash)’s third solo album as “Circa Tapes” is a moody collection of slightly muddy-sounding, sinister-ish dark electropop that’s quite enjoyably indulgent. Sometimes Cabaret Voltaire-style vocals float over the pop of slowly evolving layers of synthetic loops, light drums and moody pads.

There’s no problem locking into some solid synth grooves here, though the songwriting and structuring does sometimes feel a bit languid. Some pieces, like “SLS”, take the synth work in a more techno direction and leave you wondering what a reworking would sound like with thicker, more club-orientated drums and structures. “Carravo” sounds like it’s desperate to break into a slab of deep house.

A handful of interludes, such as “Alucarda” mixing imitation choral sounds with filmic soundbites, have an almost tongue-in-cheek feel to them.

The modern and brighter production touches, particularly on the bass elements, are what make this sound like a 2017 release rather than something truly backwards-facing. It still has a very introspective, almost shy tone, as though “nervous dark synthpop” ought to be the beginning of a new genre.
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Artist: Lucio Morandi (@)
Title: Academy Of Secrets
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Humanhood Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Lucio Morandi sounds like a new name in the experimental music genre but this recording was made in 1991 as an alias of a prolific sound artist more commonly known as Minóy. Stanley Keith Bowsza passed in 2010, before this, in his time releasing material he released many tapes under his own label Minóy Cassetteworks and many other well-known labels of the late 80's and early 90's.

After his death, a lot of the material that was unreleased was handed over to Phillip Klingler, who may be better known as the recording artist PBK. The material from this digital release was found in one of the boxes and remastered by PBK in 2017.

The release is titled Academy Of Secrets and is broken down into the following parts.

Tracks 1-4 History Is Constructed Through Reproduction. What Is Unreproducible Is Unknown:

This part of the release contains what could be a soundtrack to a Horror or Sci-fi film or TV show from the late 80's or early 90's. Orchestral sounds with some digital effects and some excellent dreamy ambient interludes. This music could easily have been used in more recent shows like Stranger Things or some of the recent 80's inspired movies like The Void.

Tracks 5-9 Giovanni Della Porta And The Hidden Laws Of Nature (Independent Of The Laws Of God).

On this part of the release, a similar but much more menacing noisy theme is apparent through out tracks 5 through 7. Track 8 begins noisy and ends in much more chill ambient / orchestral environment. Track 9 continues where 8 left off and finishes up the release nicely.

Minóy is one of those artists who has a large catalog and was very well established as an excellent musician in the field. With the project Lucio Morandi he has shifted things a little bit into a more orchestral approach. This release is an excellent introduction to the project and I hope that PBK has more releases hidden in his box of tricks.
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Artist: 15 Degrees Below Zero (@)
Title: Our Urgency
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
15 Degrees Below Zero is the work of Michael Addison Mersereau, Daniel Blomquist, and Mark Wilson (who also records under the name of Conure). This band grew out of the ashes of Imperial Floral Assault Unit, so this group has been performing together since 2000, and as 15DBZ since 2004. This shows in the finely crafted music that they have created on this disc. “Our Urgency” is a track of processed guitar and synth drone, which becomes more and more unstable over time. But this is not chaos; rather, it is the illusion of chaos, as they build a maelstrom of sound to a beautiful conclusion of noise, static, and feedback. In some ways it reminds me of Terry Riley’s minimalist work “In C,” where things shift ever so slightly to become something entirely different. “attempt_3” is a short track of noisy bass drone and peaceful synthesized bells/chimes. It’s like listening to a roughly running truck engine in front of your grandmother’s house on a windy day as her windchimes randomly hit the notes. “attempt_1” is longer, at 7 minutes, and sounds little like the previous “attempt.” There is a heavy, low end rumble that sounds like the earth’s tectonic plates have worked their way into the composition, with bits of metallic grinding. This then gives way to a much more sedate droning ambiance, as a keyboard plays out quarter notes over the endless drone. It’s like listening to someone play the piano in your dreams. Everything is foggy and you can barely remember it when you wake up, but you know that something happened there. This is well worth picking up. Hurry, because it is limited to only 42 copies.
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Artist: Loss
Title: She, Zombie
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
For those who have not been paying attention, Loss is the work of Inner Demons Records founder Dan Fox. His work tends to be highly emotional and complex, and this release is no exception. “She, Zombie” opens this up with a grinding sawtooth wave drone and a bass line over a woman’s voice on an answering machine repeating, “I’m sorry, please don’t leave me,” followed by a barely intelligible “I just want to see you.” This is an exercise in slow moving repetition, as more and more lines draw together into the composition. About 6 minutes in, there is a male voice spoken word segment about a drug addicted woman. Phrases like, “I was the second most important thing in the universe …. in my universe, she still came first,” highlight the kind of co-dependency hinted at in the opening machine message. This is brought home as the answering machine message returns, but slowly morphs into what sounds like both male and female voices saying the same phrase over and over again, until it is distorted beyond recognition. For those who have followed Loss and are used to the heavily distorted vocals, this is a track with depressing moments of clarity. “Dead Dreams” is the other track on this disc, and has more of a harsh beat feel to it, but with the lush synth work that one would expect from Loss. It works as an interesting upbeat contrast to the haunting feel of “She, Zombie.” Overall, this is a great addition to the Loss discography and well worth picking up. However, you will want to do this quickly because it is limited to 42 copies. This disc weighs in at around 21 minutes.
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Artist: Cordis Cincti Serpente (@)
Title: Noo Yuggoth (Redux)
Format: Tape
Label: Industrial Ölocaust Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Cordis Cincti Serpente seems to be the dark ambient project of Adrian Marcado from Bari, Italy and 'Noo Yuggoth (Redux)' is a 13 track album on 2 C60 cassettes, limited to 31 signed copies also with a booklet. There is not a lot of information to go on about this project. The only previous release under this name was in 1989, a self-titled C46 cassette, again limited to 31 copies with the participants being Giovanni Lisi and Ivan Iusco, the latter being the owner and founder of Minus Habens Records. I get the impression that Adrian Marcado could be a pseudonym for one or both of the previous participants. In any case, 'Noo Yuggoth (Redux)' is touted as "an exploration into Lovecraftian's Metaphysic" as you might expect from the title. Not difficult at all to believe as so much dark ambient music these days taps into H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. I warn you though that this is not all smooth sailing into the void to play with the Outer Gods. After a somewhat placid, yet disturbing dark and pulsating voyage on "Dvr'n Dbr'h," The first shock comes at the beginning of title track "Noo Yuggoth" with a piercing high pitched feedback tone that had me throwing my headphones across the room in order to avoid eardrum damage. Not cool!! Not cool at all. After that super-shock the rest of the track is rather calm but strange in a warpy-wobbly world. Monsters or wild beasts seem to be lurking everywhere in "Ft'ath aga" as their growls and groans will attest. " Ish' Nishg' urh'raTth" is comprised of backwards voices and bubbly, burbley electronics making a rather weird, creepy impression. "A'Ahzmuth" sounds like astral cats caught in a cosmic wringer with lots of variable feedback manipulation. It went on a little too long for my taste. On "A'AAAhZ'Pha" there are slow, low transmissions from beyond zapped by some kind of electronic device. "EheD'Z" sounds like the beast feeding on corpses, mindlesly devouring all within its reach. This is the lengthiest track in the work going on for an astounding twelve minutes! "Z'eed'erth" is only 1:35 but might well be the most disturbing track of all. It has an undercurrent of uncompromising evil to it. The watery grave of "PnaaTha" is almost a relief as a sort of placid respite, as much as you could have on an album like this. On "m'Fung" you will swear that Tulushuggua has deigned to have a personal conversation with you. "LL'Sh'drth" is the embodiment of cosmic horror from beyond; the kind of space music that pours its nightmarish content into every crevice of your being. "N'oz y'ggth" is supposed to be a reprise of "Noo Yuggoth" but it is rather different- more like a swarm of killer bees than anything else. The name Cordis Cincti Serpente is taken from Aleister Crowley's Holy Books of Thelema (Vol. 1 - Liber LXV: Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente), an account of the relations of the aspirant and his Holy Guardian Angel. I believe this release is obviously not intended for the masses, but rather that small cult of Lovecraftians who may even work in Magick. That indeed is a limited market, but it seems the artist was more interested in doing the work than profiting by it. For a discriminating esoteric clientele only; difficult but rewarding for those acolytes.
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