Music Reviews



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Artist: Melorman
Title: Out in a Field
Format: CD
Label: Sun Sea Sky Productions (@)
Rated: *****
Originally released in 2009 on the Symbolic Interation label, 'Out in a Field' was Melorman's (aka Antonis Haniotakis) 2nd release. Since then he's had a couple more, 'Waves' which I reviewed a while back being the last I am aware of. Stylistically 'Out in a Field' does not differ a whole lot from his later material. Dulcet synth tones and electric piano, occasional strings and light programmed rhythm are the modus operandi here, creating a gentle, soothing ambience; active yet passive. Perfect music for contemplative and/or relaxing times. To a degree I like this Melorman release more than 'Waves' which I perceived as being on the adventurous side in places. You really can't go wrong with this one if you enjoy mellow ambient with melody, simple but effective, a pleasure to listen to, and worthy of replays.
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Artist: Elektra (@)
Title: Suicide Siren
Format: 10"
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
For a somewhat new recording artist, Elektra Dekker (aka Elektra Goncharova) has a lengthy bio that practically reads like a novel, only a small portion which I will recount here. She is a multi-talented artist: composer / dancer / choreographer / photographer / writer / and (occasional) model. She was born in the former Soviet Union, on the Day
of the Revolution. Elektra is fluent in many languages, trained in many styles of dance, music and art since an early age. A back injury at the age of 5 forced her to give up her dream of becoming a ballet dancer, even though her talent was already recognized. Yet she danced flamenco in front of Dutch Royal Family at one of most prestigious concert halls of the Netherlands - live for prime time television. Musically she was trained by highly respected vocal coach Setske Mostaert. Elektra has released records that were all recorded, arranged and produced by her as well. Her debut album 'Helios Selene' received a lot of attention in the press despite the fact that it was an Indie release with basically no promotion at all. She is a also a descendant of an old Russian noble family. Now she resides in Haarlem, the Netherlands. There's a lot more to it than that, but you get the idea. She is also an incredible Russian beauty as you can see from the cover of the record jacket. Perhaps that's why there is a poster of her inside!

So let's get to the music. 'Suicide Siren' is a 6-track EP (three songs per side), with the title track on both sides - side A with verse lyrics in Russian, side B verse lyrics in English. Of course, "Suicide Siren" is the most memorable track on it. The song incorporates string synth, piano, bass and programmed rhythm all by Elektra with some help from Niels van der Weiden. Elektra has a wonderful voice, not far removed from vocalists such as Sarrah McLachlan and Jewel. The song is a favorable, slightly exotic (due to the Russian lyrics) danceclub friendly tune with a touch of melancholy. I'm not wild about the percussion track, but that's just personal taste. This song could benefit from a remix, and I don't say that often. "Stranger Danger" begins with an orchestral tremolo string arrangement and incorporates classically inspired piano. The song title is the hook, and although nicely done, doesn't have enough meat on the bone to make it a standout pop tune. However, I am hearing a touch of Madonna in Elektra's voice. Now you may think that's a bad thing, but I don't. (Now don't get me started on defending Madonna; suffice to day that I respect her as an artist, despite the media hoopla.) "Immortal Beloved" could have been taken out of the Kate Bush playbook. It's a wonderfully emotional tune and I actually like it better than the title track. Once again I hear shades of Madonna in the ballad "Tragic Love". "No Matter What" really shows the power of this singer. It's a neat piano-based number with a theme of empowerment and self reliance.

From what I've heard, a good deal of Elektra's previous material is a lot more experimental, so I believe this EP could be her commercial gambit. Successful? Well, partially. It certainly showcases what she's capable of, but won't rocket her to fame and fortune. Perhaps the next one though will be the clincher. In any case, I'm sure we haven't heard the last of Elektra; I sense that her time is gonna come. Available on vinyl with a download card for the digital version which includes a couple of extra tracks (which I haven't heard yet), or just in digital download format for a little less. I'd opt for the vinyl.
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Artist: I.corax
Title: The Cadaver Pulse I & II
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Stellar Mansion, the series that Aural Hypnox is promptly updating by means of re-releases from members of the Helixes collective, had another surprise for dark ambient lovers in store some months ago, the first two obscure official outputs by I.Corax, the brainchild by Anti AIH Haapapuro and Jaakko JKV Vanhala. Both pulses of the cadaver got assembled by heavily processed different sounds (human voice, animal noises, field recordings, wind and bowed instruments) that render deeply immersive and visionary sonic journeys whose effectiveness on listener's imagination got enhanced by the fact that the six tracks of the two parts - the darker "The Cadaver Pulse I: Sealed in a Radiant Larval Maelstrom" and the more etheric "The Cadaver Pulse II: Mothelix Liquescent" - got merged together for continuous listening. Far from being a listening experience for necrophiles in spite of its title, the dark arcane nuance of the sounds, its esoteric "dress" where organic sounds have been painstakingly distorted and triggered as if they were filtered by mind altering drugs as well as the references to hymenoptera of the subtitles that fittedly describes what you are going to listen in some way reminded me the so-called Monarch Mind Control project, a sub-program of the notorious CIA's MK-Ultra program I've read about after the case of Paolo Ferraro, a former Italian judge which got tossed out of the magistracy as a result of his investigations into a sect within Sovereign Military Order of Malta which involved military high-ups, famous psychiatrists, politicians and judges and supposedly performed this kind of programming in order to enslave weak-minded people, named after the monarch butterfly, but such a linking outlives the purpose of I.corax's stuff. I hope that some of the 500 copies of the box-set which includes six offset printed insert cards and a fou panel booklet - are still available for your aural pleasure.
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Artist: Paranoid Android (@)
Title: Humanoid
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Beside being a song by Radiohead and a custom ROM for the mobile device by the same name, Paranoid Android is a synth & guitar band out Germany. I don't know how long they've been around but as I understand it, 'Humanoid' is their third album. Members are Guido Vortex- electric guitar & vocals, and since keyboardist Mark E. Carter left, Andy N-Droid on keyboards and Programming. (Actually, this is a cute way of saying that the synths & percussion are all programmed and sequenced by Mr. Vortex.) The promo pic shows a robot mannequin playing synthesizer, but I don't think this outfit has the technology to pull that off live. First track, "Save Me" showed real promise. Beginning with a woozy synth bassline, claptrap rhythm, and elongated fuzzy guitar with the occasional quirky analogue synth squiggle, the likes of which Brian Eno used to do when he was with Roxy Music, it seemed to be on the right track. Vocals here are a little reminiscent of the colder side of Bowie and Peter Murphy, and the song has a good enough hook to make you want to hear it again. Unfortunately, it's a slow slide downhill after that as none of the rest of the 12 tracks on this album measures up to the first. Second track "This is Not Me" wallows in miasma and throwing a phase shifter on the whole thing doesn't help. Title track "Humanoid" could have rescued it if the chorus hook was stronger, but it falls a little short. After that it seems as though Mr. Vortex has run out of really good song ideas. Although there are different lyrics, guitar riff, synth lines, etc., it all seems like a rehash of what went before. Part of the problem is Guido's voice, which settles into this coldwave state and static phrasing which can get kind of boring. (Maybe a vocoder would have been a better idea?) Things don't much pick up until 11th track, "The Gambler" which has an okay guitar riff and passably memorable chorus and quirky lead guitar but by then it's too late, not enough to save the day. For all of it's low-tech 80's style synth & guitar pop, this cyberpunk outfit needs a bit of retrofitting. Suggestion - listen to DEVO until you decipher the code.
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Artist: Red Sun Revival (@)
Title: Embers
Format: CD EP
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Red Sun Revival is an alternative/gothic rock band formed in London, England in 2011. The line-up consists of vocalist/guitarist Rob Leydon, guitarist Matt Helm, bassist Panos Theodoropoulos, and violinist Christina Emery. 'Embers' is the band's followup to their 2012 debut album titled 'Running From the Dawn'. It's gothic rock/darkwave all the way. There is a passing similarity to Fields of the Nephilim, but I think RSR really has their own sound, although it's been culled from numerous influences in the late 80's-early 90's. The band presents a very full, rich sound, nearly orchestral, yet without an orchestra. On first listen, I didn't care much for Rob Leyden's voice; it's low, somewhat raspy and hoarse, and to me sounded too affected. I suppose the first time I ever heard Nick Cave or Carl McCoy I must have thought the same thing too, but after subsequent listenings, I've gotten used to it and it's grown on me. There is something about their sound that reminds of early-to-mid And Also the Trees as well. In order to really get a sense of where this band is now, I had to go back and check out tracks from 'Running From the Dawn'. 'Embers' continues on in the same vein as 'RFTD', but seems even stronger, more confident, a clear indication that the band has grown. What was rhythmically a bit stiff on the debut album has loosened up and become more dynamic courtesy of former Nephilim drummer Simon Rippin. The opener, "Mistakes" is a very powerful number, full to overflowing, and carries a hint of prog-rock in it, especially in Helm's soaring leads. Great beginning. 'Broken' tones it down a notch but still has a lot to offer sonically. It would make a nice B-side. "Surrender" sounds like the kind of song Leonard Cohen might write if he were in a gothic rock band. 'Embers' is the slowest track on the EP and there is a certain shoegazer element to it in its languor. Lyrically, Leydon wallows a bit in regret and the bittersweet taste of events of the past. Hopefully he can sweep those dusty, haunted cobwebs away for the next release and come out of the corner swinging for a knockout.
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