Music Reviews



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Artist: Mother Of Mars
Title: Seed 2 Sky
Format: 12"
Label: Ransom Note Records
New York-based duo Vito & Druzzi, formerly (or possibly still currently) members of The Rapture, offer up their debut release under the name Mother Of Mars, and it’s a pair of ten-minute long, slowly evolving and arpeggiating synth-electronica which mixes tones of late-era Tangerine Dream or Jean-Michel Jarre with an extremely gentle house kick and some slightly African-tinged percussion elements.

The track structures are akin to minimal progressive techno but the sawtooth-tinged synth washes build into a sound that couldn’t be described as minimal, reaching an almost prog-rock noodling climax at the end of “Hera In The Valley”. While the first track is quite euphoric, second track “Seed 2 Sky” is subtler, with a little extra tension, though this washes away in favour of soft synth pads gradually, and a slightly vague synth lead line that has further hints of Jarre.

It’s a lush pair of tracks with an exceptional polish, a really exemplary piece of electronica that shows that it’s possible to layer these synth stylings in a way that sounds fresh rather than only an 80’s retro affair. It’s a sign that Mother Of Mars is definitely a name to keep an eye out for, here’s hoping there’ll be an album.
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Artist: Carl Michael Von Hausswolff
Title: Still Life - Requiem
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Touch # Tone
Solely using data from emission spectroscopy on physical objects, pitch-shifted into human hearing range, “Stll Life - Requiem” is one single thirty-one minute piece that’s been divided into two purely because of the limitations of the vinyl target format.

The result is a slowly undulating and very gently glitchy analogue hum and drone that feels like it owes as much to the variations in the electric innards of the recording equipment or the power supply than to the objects being analysed, though I’m sure scientifically this may be unfair. The most intriguing thing about this is how there are some higher-pitched elements that seem to have very short patterns that border on melody.

There’s a lot of ebb and flow here- louder, more harsh-edged parts at times, barely audible near-flat waveforms at others (including near the beginning of the first part, where you begin to wonder whether you’ve accidentally paused the playback as you haven’t heard anything for a while).

Putting aside the science, it’s a very well-formed and interestingly textured undulating drone piece that’s really rather relaxing. The purity of the concept is to its credit and it’s a very enjoyable listen that becomes quite mesmeric when it has your attention.
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Artist: Exo_C (@)
Title: Laboyatta
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Exo_C is the bicephalous entity by two young noise-shapers, exoterrorism (Belgium/HK, having some tapes on tape-label ThirdTypeTapes in his short discography) and French performer Eduardo Ribuyo aka C_C, born (and already gone?) on the live stage of "On fait du l'art!", a performative space/lab led by the same-maned artistic community in Lausanne (Switzerland) on 22nd October 2015. The brutal mating ritual of these two entities gave birth to an amazing performance, that Kvitnu described as "a noise poetry of distorted sonic perfection" and I could describe as something in between techno - but not so danceable to be proper techno - and industrial - but too well organized to be exclusively labelled as industrial -. I could say Exo_C's sound is extreme, as the regions of the sonic spectrum they like to manipulate are the extremities (stomach-hitting very low frequencies and hyper-piercing high frequencies), while everything that lies in the middle gets wisely sliced, shredded and annihilated. The performance (available on CDr or digital release) consists of 9 parts: a relatively long "Intro" (a sort of warm-up of their resounding machines), an "Outro" (you can't turn hard-boiling machines off too abruptly!) and some numbered Up, Dub and Song, whose succession feature its own logics. All Ups sound like a rudimentary preparation, all Dubs a set of slowly intrusive organizations of the electromechanical hits they forged and all Songs (my favorite moments of the Exo_C industrial process) the stages where the cycles of their forging become more fluid. Head-nodding stuff!
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Artist: Roman Leykam | Frank Mark
Title: Experience Space
Format: CD
Label: Frank Mark Arts (@)
Rated: *****
The label by Frank Mark bravely keeps on walking on his stylistic path by a plenty of releases, the last of which mostly focused on Roman Leykam outputs, so that a collaboration of Roman with the owner of the label is somehow surprising. On "Experience Space", they keep on squeezing electric guitars, synth-generated guitars, fretless bass (very nice the one that Frank forged in "Telepathic"), a set of recognisable synths and midi (yes, you read it well, MIDI...and one of the most recurring MIDI instrument is a really obsolete trumpet) by an impressive set of setups and effects, but they reached a balance between more traditional declensions of ambient meditations, cosmic music, and synth artifacts. Many tracks keep on resembling something in between the demo songs or pre-sets of some workstation or synths (particularly some stuff I heard by Yamaha, Alesis, and Oberheim engineers) and those CDs that get attached to the exercise books of some more or less improvised new-age guru and such a matching is somehow inspired by the (more or less modified) vocal sample, included in some tracks, sounding like guidelines in tracks like "Indelible Memory" or "Tumult of the Senses". Other ones sound like dadaist games on electric or synth guitars or minimal wandering of a Pink Floyd or Ozric Tentacles fan after trying opium, but lovers of these sonorities will be undoubtedly delighted by the number of strategies they explore over the 65 minutes of the release. Very nice artwork (featuring many pictures of sculptured faces and masks).
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Artist: Nervenbeisser
Title: Zeitenwandel
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Nervenbeisser (Nerve Biter) is an NDH band from Germany (where else would you find NDH bands?) and 'Zeitenwandel' ('Change of Time') is their sophomore album after their 2005 debut ('Geschlechterschlacht'). Nervenbeisser aren't your typical NDH band though as there are definite goth-electro-industrial elements incorporated throughout. Also, the metal doesn't surface as much as you'd expect. Still, they are balls-to-the wall HARD...most of the time. The album begins with a recitation in Deutsche (of course) over dark industrial ambient background...setting the mood I guess. First real song - "Verkehrte Welt" has a bouncy/loping martial beat similar to Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People," but that's where the similarity ends. There's a catchy crowd-rousing chorus ("HEY DU!"...and lines in German that follow) and that's the first clue that this album seems primarily made for live play, fist-pumping, and short attention spans. Although there is some diversity in form, there's not much in style, and that's what works against Nervenbeisser throughout most of 'Zeitenwandel.' Take the title track for example; it starts out with some nice atmospherics leading into a catchy bass and synth line combo but all too soon falls into cliched aspects of NDH that only get deeper as it chugs along, in spite of its electro elements. Live, I'm sure it's what the crowd will eat up, but listening to it at home gets wearisome. Olaf Seider's vocal style ranges from guttural growl to raspy scream (most notably on the chorus of Glucklich Allein") and the latter is really difficult (for me) to take. The one thing this band does manage to do effectively is come up with catchy hooks, be they vocal or instrumental, for this type of music anyway. Take for example "Goldener Kafig" where there is really nothing memorable in the vocal department, but this dumb little repetitious airy synth riff will stick in your brain. To a large extent these songs seem crafted more with a bludgeon than a scalpel, and maybe that's a hallmark of Neue Deutsche HÄrte. On one hand, I think these guys are somewhat enamoured of Rammstein, but on the other may have aspirations of Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly or even KMFDM. It's hard to tell whether or not this merging works. I think only the band's fans can be the real judge, and from what I'm seeing, their following is growing. Final track on the album ("Alles Steht Still") is a mostly acoustic ballad where the band shows its sensitive side. Actually not bad, and a nice break from being pummeled. It will be interesting to see where the band goes from here. Will Nervenbeisser play more to their NDH roots, or will they explore and expand into something quite different?
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