Music Reviews



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Artist: Mindstrip (@)
Title: Polymere
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
From Berlin, Germany we have Mindstrip, a trio consisting of Marco Dames - vocals, electronica; Chris Kobilke - Guitar and vocals; Dirk Wisny - electronics, bass. 'Polymere' is their debut album released on the Echozone label, and the pseudo-scientific hype the label provides about the album (polymers being macromolecules composed of many repeating subunits...musical components reorganized within every new song resulting in polymerization, etc., etc,), as well as the strange futuristic CD cover of the band communing at some sort of alien roundtable, don't effectively describe what this is. What it is is more along the lines of romantic adult synthpop, more akin to latter day Depeche Mode and OMD than any kind of experimental futuristic electronic outfit. These guys are tunesmiths (songwriters) first, and electronic musicians second. Not to say the musicianship isn't good; it most certainly is for this style of music. The synth electronics employed are quite effective for the compositions, although not terribly innovative. Kobilke weaves his tasteful guitar throughout the songs, never obtrusively or even boldly. It's more of a soft rock approach that supports rather than dominates. It is also unusual on a debut album to have such an abundance of memorable hooks present as there are on Polymere'. Right from the get-go on "Anybody Out There" there is the heralding of a certain melodic sophistication. This comes
to fore early in "Lose You" where the hook is the first thing you hear. "Beautiful Liar" is a bit more subtle but even more engaging. By the time you get to "By the Way" they've got you hooked, and that hook is as good as it gets in pop music. "Black Swan" is a nice change
of pace with guest vocalist Melanie Ritter in a duet with Marco. (Other guests include Oliver Fulster - cymbalon on a few tracks, and Simone Dames - backing vocals on a few tracks.) Most of the best tracks come early on 'Polymere' though, with not much being as compelling as "By the Way" and "Beautiful Liar". One ballad, "On the Run" misses the mark
completely, in part due to a sophomoric arrangement, and a lack of enthralling melody. The rest of the songs aren't bad, but the album does run out of steam a bit thereafter. Vocally, Marco's voice is a sort of melange between Sopor Aeternus, Human Drama and Wolfsheim, not a bad thing at all, and he certainly succeeds in the emotiveness required for the material. Although Mindstrip is not presenting anything really groundbreaking on 'Polymere', it's a very enjoyable listen that should give them enough cred in the commercial market. I would have liked the band to have come up with a track or two that pumps it up a bit, but perhaps that's not there style. There seems to be a good chance though that the next one could be a killer.
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Artist: Németh
Title: Koi
Format: 12"
Label: Sonotope
Rated: *****
This interesting experiment of derivation and re-morphing of a soundtrack, whose breaking of the initial matching with images is the sparkle of the compositional process, comes from Stefan Nemeth, one of the three brilliant heads behind Radian. The connection with the experimental short movie 'Koi' by Tina Hochkogler aka Tinhoko has not totally dissipated, but Stefan rather tried to re-adapt the soundtrack he forged for a movie, whose introduction ("a rhythmical arrangement of residual thoughts and images of a short moment") could fit the idea behind this sonic tidbit, to the perception and the interpretation of the menmonical traces those images left on its consciousness of the observer/listener. This is the reason why the original soundtrack sounds like somehow cushioned and "uterine". It's like an OST composer has decided to make something for the "follow-up" or even the eureka moments which follows the enjoyment of a work of art in order to keep the enchantment intact! Have a listen of both versions of "Koi" in order to understand Stefan's output.
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Artist: rodach-schlothauer-weiser (@)
Title: Fuzzylogics
Format: CD
Label: Timescraper (@)
Rated: *****
Self-confident people often use their face to intoduce themselves on a picture: a model or a product spokeperson do that for money, politicians show dazzling smiles and fake teeth for their puppet shows, so that I think that it's by far better when a musician puts his face on the cover artwork, particularly when they're remarkably experienced like these three gentlemen. I'd say 1957 was a a good year as they were all born when Lennon and McCartney or Simon and Garfunkel began to co-sign some songs or they would probably prefer to remember those year as the period when Berthold Brecht and his wife Helen Weigel were working at Berliner Ensemble as two of the three musicians of Fuzzyogics - Burkhard Schlothauer (electric violin), one of the founder of minimalistic Wandelweiser composer grup and long-lasting member of Zeitkratzer Ensemble, and Michael Rodach (electirc guitars) - used to play there in 2005. Even though they could fell they've already reached their apex, I won't say they are at the twilight of their artistic paths after the listening of this awesome record. Do not expect something revolutionary or miracolous, but I'm pretty sure that they are aware their way of being revolutionary lays in their absence of aim as they just dive into music, which sounds mind-blowing for its androgynous equidistance from any kind of labelling. More or less distant echoes of classical music, jazz, progressive rock, dub and even blues or country (check the cradling metamorphosis on "Work On!" if you don't belive me) harmoniously clot on pleasant sonic cauldrons, which often smell like de-harnessed reveries or mystical flights ("I have a Dream", "Pulse Streams", "Sirene"), dadaist profiling ("Last Exit") or untiring rituals ("Miles Groams", "Pulse Streams"). Smartly fuzzy!
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Artist: Thomas B (@)
Title: Sugar and Spice EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Free Love Digi
Rated: *****
Formerly known as Tommy Tarzan, a moniker by which he mainly signed some jungle-oriented stuff, Thomas B decided to explore the boundaries of bass-driven music and provides a couple of good tracks on Quentis Hiatus' imprint Free Love Digi which taste like ginger candies as you can guess from the guessed title of this resounding tidbit. The sweeteners of the first track "Poblano" are some airy vocal samples and a girly scream - the most mischivious listeners could surmise it could mirror Jane Parker as a legacy of Tommy old moniker! - over a peaceful chilling dub movement, while the spicy element is the buzzing of a low frequency as well as the recorded small talk - I ignoreits source - where two people speak about the state of radiophonic music, whose main aim is making money. The two flavours are even more amalgamated on the following track "Nectar", where hi-hats of the previous track fade out and a slightly brushed minimal groove bears the brunt of soft sonic sprays and an entrancing bass worm. An appetizer, "The Middle", is available as a free download on Free Love Digi's website.
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Artist: Gomila Park
Title: Ununoctium
Format: 12"
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
This new radioactive element in Raster Noton's periodic table Unum Series is a Swedish lanthanide by Gomila Park, the collaborative project by Palma de Maiorca-based producers (and Dabid Bowie fans!) Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Martin Rossel. The very first sonic monads of the opening "Leibniz" - they tributed the title of two of the three tracks of this release to the notorious philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and the pioneering mathematician Ramon Llull, who laid the foundation of the binary system and the digital age, according to their perspective - could sound like a possible remix of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" by Trent Reznor and the stomping match between distorted guitar and a syncopated steamroller keeps on feeding such a creeping (but really endearing!) diffeomorphism before sliding into the awesome gargling by means of a sneaking analogue sequence and heavily sliced vocals (including loud snores, hysterical laughters, buzzes and fits of coughing!) on "Ramon Llull", whose captivating sound could let you hope some flu bug will turn humans into analogue synths sooner or later. The metamorphosis into an electromechanical chrysalis got wisely completed on the final "Calculus".
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