Music Reviews



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Artist: Enmarta
Title: Sea of Black
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This project is shortly described as 'combining ritualistic elements, fine texture work, throat singing and live viola' and, interesting enough, this means that it layers melodic pencils upon a dark ambient canvas. This way, this album avoids that sort of déjà vu which is the main problem of this scene.
After the field recordings of a sea, "Enmarta" introduces the listener in an apparently conventional dark ambient setting but, after a barely audible line, an harmonic chant enters to shift the musical palette in another direction. "Dark Asylum', after a first part with rhythmic field recordings, evolves juxtaposing lines of synth. "Aesthetics" is almost a piece for violin with a drone as texture. "Nekrosis" uses drums and violin as an almost inaudible elements as they are buried into the soundscape. 'Putrefaction Chamber" is almost static track with sudden moments of quiet noise. "Ecstatic Paradigm" closes this release with lines of synth slowly evolving in the final drone.
As it stays at the border between a dark ambient album and a melodic, post-rock in a certain sense, it's a release that is a sure pick for fans and should be heard by whom is convinced that some project at least try to create something new. Truly recommended.
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Artist: Metatron Omega
Title: Gnosis Dei
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
Metatron Omega is a Serbian project inspired to Eastern/Western esoteric and religious traditions so it tries to enact the musical space that is typical of the use of resonances and harmonics of this traditions. The main characteristic of this release is that, instead of slowly evolving a drone, they lasts usually less than a minute and are mixed rather than layered so it's as closed as structure as open in the musical outcome.
The initial track, "Apotheosis', is based on a sequence of drone and some field recordings while "Godhead Emanation" uses some distant voices in the middle of the track. "Eye of Providence" sequences the drone to the point to have almost a proper track. "Ordo Draconis' returns, only in the first part, to the typical use of resonance to fill the musical space. "Hierosgamos" uses bell's samples and field recordings while "Hypostasis" and "Transfiguration" close this release trying to focus on sound aesthetic rather than musical development.
As all tracks are based upon the same musical structure, this release starts to be a little too predictable in the second half; however the careful production exalts the choice to use drones to move sound rather to simply expose it. A nice release.
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Artist: SuperImpose (@)
Title: Edinburgh
Format: 12"
Label: Wide Ear Records (@)
Rated: *****
Named after the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh where they recorded it on live stage - at Reid Concert Hall on March 2013, to be precise -, SuperImpose, the bicephalous project by German trombonist Matthias Muller - I already introduced his name when writing about Foils Quartet - and jazz drummer Christian Marien - the first time I heard his hits occurred three years ago on "Nulli Secundus", another interesting release on Portuguese label Creative Sources where he performed together with Andreas Willers and Meinrad Knee -, recently submitted this impressive live recording for Swiss label Wide Ear to my aural attention. Their session was splitted into two long-lasting (approx 18 minutes each) parts, whose experimental grip turns the listening experience of their interplay into a possible games of association of ideas and images they could evoke, where they keeps on exploring the boundaries between sound and noise, lack of rhythmical structures and rhythm. They don't render an embryonic or primeval stage of sound, but it seems they explore the stages that immediately precede sound. For instance, the first ten minutes of "Part 1" could give you the idea that SuperImpose translated the biological growth of some mysterious entity, so that the disarticulated percussive joints and the noises that Muller make by dampening breath and restricting modulations within his trombone could sound like the somehow ponderous steps towards a proper phrase or sound. Check it out to tickle your imagination.
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Artist: RI:SA_sys (@)
Title: Self-Deception
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
RI:SA_sys is the Industrial rock project of Sami Jokinen of Finland. Formed by Sami and Riku S. in 2006 during their Miksen.net-era, the duo produced seven releases, none of which I've ever heard. Now it's only Jokinen on 'Self-Deception', as he takes you on a tour-de-farce through his twisted psyche on this album. Beginning with the old-school industrial "the activity", Jokinen conjures groups such as SPK, Cabaret Voltaire and early Skinny Puppy. A mechanical swamp of dreary machines inhabits "manufacture" and I'm reminded a little of John Lydon's vocal histrionics in PIL. It's a mess, but a glorious one. "Upstream" is a stuttering techno-punk number with a lot of breakbeats, twisted vocals, and frenetic energy. The creepy industrial soundscape of "in practice" seems to have what sounds like the Frankenstein monster chasing a flock of geese towards the end. "pride" starts out with a beat on what could be the crappiest drumkit ever before it kicks into a vicious hardcore punk groove, contorted and distorted with filtering. It alternates back and forth with minimal electronica and the punk aspect on verse and chorus respectively, if you could call them that. The dichotomy of the capitulation and assault is oddly compelling. Toward the end there is some processed vocal rambling and manipulated dialogue samples that may only make sense to the composer. A kind of synth ambience opens "the substitute" while Sami begins the lyrics sotto voce before emotionally wailing his words in despair. The rest is a somewhat low-key, gloomy, industrial soundscape. For a minute or so, a low rumbling is the chief element of title track "self-deception" before submerged woozy synths appear with a fragmented synth melody line on top. That's about all there is to that one. "alone pt. 2" (did I miss pt. 1? I don't recall any pt. 1 on this album) is partially reminiscent of Controlled Bleeding. The last listed track on the album is "the lie" which begins with just a repeating synth line and some distant bells in the background before it launches into a messy guitar-drum-bass assault over the top. That stops and the aforementioned synth line and bells play on while Jokinen emotes vocally in varying shades of intensity building up to the chaotic climax with everything going full blast. The recording isn't stellar here but the fervor certainly is. There are two more tracks, both untitled. The first is a beatless electronic industrial soundscape. The second begins sparsely with a little piano but semi-tribal drums move in and then it builds into a stomping maxi-minimal post-rock instrumental of controlled chaos. Another piano break backed with some feedbackish ambience, then the drums return and it's back to the full-blown instrumental. Once more the piano returns, then it's all over. Hmmm...not sure what to make of all this. No doubt there's talent here, even if 'Self-Deception' is scattershot and and a bit low-fi. I sense this is somewhat intentional, and a byproduct of the tortured artist searching for meaning in a world that makes no sense. You may not share RI:SA_sys's vision completely, but the music hits enough nerves to get your attention. CD is limited to only 100 copies
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Artist: It's A Synth (@)
Title: Curiosity
Format: CD
Label: Target Records (@)
Rated: *****
It seems as though there's been a lot of synthpop coming out of Scandinavia lately, so it's not surprising to find that It's A Synth is from Copenhagen, Denmark. They're a duo consisting of Andreas Fog-Petersen -what else but synths! and Casper Clemmensen - vocals. While this isn't their first foray into music, 'Curiosity' is their first official release, and WOW!, is it ever a doozy. Right from the get-go these guys draw you in with "Bring It On," a medium slow neo-psychedelic synth stew that latches on to your psyche and won't let go. "...I will always find a way to get to you and numb your senses, Feeling so underrated, they..never will speak the truth...it's underestimated...yeah, they all dismiss you..." It's a bit dark, but not typical of this album. Casper's vocals are perfect for this kind of thing. "Endless Endeavor" peps it up for the dancefloor and Casper employs a little vocoder assist for this tune. Now the pop portion of this synth band kicks into high gear and drills directly into that happy portion of your brain and implants their infectious hooks. Unless you really hate synthpop, they've got you. And so it continues with the anthemic future-poppy "Almost". I can picture a huge crowd waving their hands in unison in time with the beat. These guys have lucked on to the magic formula that most synthpop bands strive for, namely to create music that you just can't get out of your head. And the weird thing is, it's so bloody simple. Fog-Petersen's synthwork is very good, but not ground-breaking. (Is there any more ground to break in this genre?) Clemmensen has the knack for writing melodies that are uber-appealing. "The Last Cell" isn't the greatest track on the album, but lots of synthpop bands would be satisfied to come up with something as good as this. Even when the band doesn't seem to be trying hard, as on "Pen to Paper", where the hook has only the words "there is a reason, there is a reason, there is a reason, there is a reason, there is a reason...ahhhh" it will melodically bubble up in your brain long after you've heard the song. I thought after this they might be spent, but no; wrong on that account. Blam, blam...two more infectious tracks - "Somehow" and "Piece of Me". After that "Steps" attemps the same formula, but isn't as compelling as anything that preceded it. "Moving" is much better with an old-school psychedelic chorus - "How will I find you?" repeated anon. The last track, "Spirit" is a bit heavy-handed with it's pounding staccato beats and really only serves to sum things up in a grand finale. As far as tunesmithing goes, It's A Synth makes bands on the order of Fischerspooner sound lame, and that's no small feat. I have heard the future of synthpop, and definitely, It's A Synth.
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