Music Reviews



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Artist: Elandor (@)
Title: Loveless Mind
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
This is the fourth full album from the Frankfurt, Germany band Elandor, and it should have been their breakout release, but somehow isn't, even though it has its moments. Elandor is fairly steeped in the 'Neue Deutsche HÄrte' genre, but it seems as though on 'Loveless Mind' some of the band wants to go in a different direction, perhaps a more progressive one. Take for example drummer Jan Ulzhöfer who seems to be the busiest percussionist I've ever heard in this genre. He's not only a power-player, but also all over the drumkit. Many prog-rock bands would dearly love to have a drummer like this. The interesting thing is that he also plays keyboards on this album as well, which are also integral to Elandor's progressive leanings. As for guitar, Daniel Hawranke seems to be firmly steeped in the metal aspect of the band. Vocalist Markus Kühnel with a potent baritone voice seems like he could go either way, but maybe a little more comfortable in the metal mode. Bassist Steffen Wust seems rather of the traditional school, and nothing really stands out with his playing. Now here's the weird part - the band added violinist Indra Suss, but doesn't utilze her the fullest. (She's does add a nice touch when you can hear her though.)

Usually albums from a band like this open strong putting their best material upfront and save the weaker tunes for later on. Not the case here though. The album opens with "The Unforgotten," a mood-setting instrumental of primarily piano and synthesizer backed by percussion. It's more noodling than powerful. Title song "Loveless Mind" has some nice synth work in it and a bit of drama but no good hook. The followup- "Ohne Dich," sung in German, is the first you hear of Indra's violin, is slower paced and has a good hook that German audiences might appreciate more than English ones, being the mono-linguist louts we tend to be. "Obscura" picks up the tempo and pricks up the ears as well, being very gothy and well-arranged. Where the hell is Indra's violin though? Nowhere to be found on this number. A pity. "Rising Fear" is typical goth-metal and Markus really kills on this one. Even Daniel cuts loose for a spell. The band seems to be getting into their better material now as Markus tells "Tales of Hearts" using the upper range of his voice, and keyboards become more prominent. Once again though, Indra seems to sit this one out.

At last, in the ballad "Her Song" (sung in German) we get to hear Indra's sweet violin, and quite a bit of it too. That's the most remarable thing about this song. "Desire" has some nice synth in it but otherwise seems fairly ordinary. Keyboard intros are becoming the norm for this band, so it is no surprise that "Withering Pureness" opens up with one. In fact, the keyboard work saves this song from just so-so. No Indra, even though there was opportunity. "Cold Funeral" is an emotion-fueled waltz that calls out for Indra's violin but alas, there is none that I detect. "Shattered Hope" is a frenetic prog-rock song in disguise, and a pretty good one at that. Don't hear any violin though. The snappy synth intro on "Redemption" once again find the band in proggy territory charging hard toward the finish line. Most of the band seems to be up to the task. Finally, we see "The Light," another proggy song that is largely Jan's work, but no violin, unless it's been buried in the mix.

So now I'm still wondering what the focus of this band is. It was produced by Markus, so I have to give him credit for all the good of it and blame for all the missed opportunites; the under-utiliztion of Indra Suss and the hesitation of not just blasting off into more progressive territory. When you have some really nice melodic content but can't come up with uber-memorable hooks, where else is there to go? This album really should have rated four stars (it's actually pretty good) but I'm taking it down half a notch because I don't think it lives up to its potential.
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Artist: Quentin Hiatus (@)
Title: Saiyan Spirit EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Free Love Digi
Rated: *****
After looking at the cover artwork and checking the title of this new tidbit on his own imprint Free Love Digi, I should ask to the appreciated producer Quentin Hiatus, one of the most forerunning at the moment in the scene of bass-driven music according to many ear responses, if he or his beloved son is a fan of well-known manga series and anime Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama. Well, he could even have some mysterious connection with some of the inhabitants of Nappa or maybe Vegeta - if you followed that manga, you should say what I'm referring to -, but what really matters to all the listeners, who are thirsting for new sonorities, are the secret weapons and the sonic spells he cast on the two track he included in this release. Named after a solitary and kind-hearted character appeared on Dragon Ball Z, wielding a magical sword and an ocarina, "Tapion" is the first set of chopped electronic beats, flashing bolts and brilliantly executed cuts and could be attached to a muted off vision of the above-mentioned series. The second track "Saiyan Spirit" moves towards more chilled, but likewise whimsical, directions over impressive knots of synth-chords, bumpy chaining and fluffy electronic reverberations. I would label it as a Kaio-ken imbued continuous Kamehameha of Qigong bullets, indeed! Hasshu-ken!
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Artist: Ernesto Diaz-Infante (@)
Title: Tunnels
Format: CD
Label: Kendra Steiner Editions (@)
Rated: *****
As most releases from this artist, Tunnels has a personal reason: impressed by the news of 32 Palestinian tunnels discovered during the 2014 Isreal-Gaza conflict, Ernesto Diaz-Infante decided to compose a peace conceived as a mantra of peace healing the horror of the desperation represented from their creation.
From a structural view this is a further development of the strumming technique already enjoyed in the previous release so it sound as centered on a single chord with slight variation and resonances so sometimes the chord sound pure and sometimes some notes escape from the harmony cage and even the pulsation of the strumming varies. The effect is something that progressively changes while remaining static and could be quiet resignation or clear headed rage.
It's a release that could sound repetitive or boring at first sight but at a closer listen is full of details and … emotions. It's one of the purest form of music of static along with loop music. Absolutely recommended for fans of minimal music.
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Artist: Kallee & The Lunar Trio
Title: Nushtur
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This release is perhaps the first release from this obscure project whose almost no information is available. From the album's liner notes this release "induces trance based on low-pitched, repetitive melodic phrases emerging from sonic magma" and, more precisely, is along the path of some minimalism based on the development of a fistful, even less, melodic cell so it's something at the threshold between hypnosis and boredom.
The first track, "Nox", is based upon slight modifications of simple melodic phrases so it's more hypnotic than repetitive. "Nox-Lunaris", instead, is a track from low pitched and barely audible frequencies which ebb on the two side of the audible spectrum. "Nox-Lux" closes this release with a crescendo of a melodic cell which slowly evolves.
An uneasy release to decipher as it's as hypnotic as almost undeveloped as too relying in a form tied to a repetition sometimes too predictable to be effective. While fans of repetitive music could rather enjoy this music, the others could be disappointed.
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Artist: Andrew Chalk, Ralf Wehowsky & Eric Lanzillotta
Title: Yang-Tul
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
This is a reissue of a vinyl only release on Anomalous Records in 1998. The three artists involved are real prime movers of post industrial music: Ralf Wehowsky, well known as a member of P16.D14, and Andrew Chalk are active from the '80s while Eric Lanzillotta is best known as the founder of the label which published this release and other key releases in the '90s, even an AMM release (At the Roundhouse).
The first side of this release is from Andrew Chalk reworking the sound materials of Ralf Wehowsky: A fluctuating complex waveform opens "Wycha" which is juxtaposed by a fluctuating noise; their dialectic stands until a drone begins and stats to overwhelm them but not completely.
The other side is from Ralf Wehowksy reworking sound materials from Andrew Chalk and Eric Lanzillotta: "Chalawy", is opened by a deep bass interrupted, after less than a minute, by the emerge of a drone acting as a background for a bunch of samples adding a sense of evocative landscape as noisy as relentless.
It's a work of subtlety and mass where sonic details and slow developments are close to noise and meditation is close to action. There's no need to use a bunch of word to describe the reissue of a great work. Absolutely recommended.
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