Music Reviews



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Artist: Max Cooper & Tom Hodge (@)
Title: Fragmented Self - Part 2
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: FIELDS
Rated: *****
If you enjoyed the first part of "Fragmented Self" by Max Cooper and Tom Hodge I spoke about some days ago, I'm pretty sure this second part will be the proper cherry on top of a pear-brandy soaked cake for many listeners whose ardrums and minds have been titillated by its pedecessor. There's only a new track by this guessed musical twosome, "Amorphous Romance", whose remarkable crescendo departs from a delicate raw solo piano by Hodge whose both rhythmical and "dramatic" accelerations got gradually ramped up by well-broken electronic particles, aerostatic light breezes, seraphic laments and a delicate pitapat by Cooper's machines, which manage to emphasize the abstract beauty of the track. The piano melody seems to have been completely absorbed by processing machines in the stunning d'n'b-oriented remix by British producer Jermaine Soul. "Von der Klippe Fallen" from their the first part of "Fragmented Self" is going to come as a bonus track for all those ones who are going to buy this release on iTunes.
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Artist: Annie Hall (@)
Title: Random Paraphilia
Format: 12"
Label: Detroit Underground
Distributor: Complete
Rated: *****
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, the notorious classification of mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, which can be considered the sacred book of psychology, psychopatology and psychiatry, described paraphilia as the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects. You can expect somewhat manic or morbid sonorities from an album which quotes paraphilias in the title as well as related matters to name its tracks, but Madrid-born, but Detroit-based, dj and producer Annie Hall, partner of Detroit Undergroud multidisciplinary arts collective boss Kero, manages to evoke a sort of poetic abstract related to this supposedly mental disorder by means of mellow edulcorations of electronic-hop lumps of fractured rhythmical patterns and compressed percussions, which could resemble some stuff by Funkstorung on the initial "DSM-5" or "Bandit 28930", a track which features Shadow Huntaz on mic - Annie's style is somehow analogous to Shadow Huntaz's excellent output "Dark Matter" -, some lovey-dovery sprains of abstract and glitch-IDM sonorities by producers like Metamatics or Solvent on the planed excrescences of "Foihtreiu", the delicious contrasts of "Symphora", where electromechanical evulliences reaches their pinnacle and got smoothed by liquid synth pokes and entranced vocals by Annie herself, and the sweet strictures of "Sada Abe", which sounds like the romantic sonic portrait of the notorious Japanese assassin, who strangled his lover Kichizo Ishida before cutting off his privates, which she held inside her handbag. Annie's sonorities cannot but stimulate Richard Devine's flair, who put before high-compression treatment "Bandit 28930", the most cacophonous episode of the release, as well as the panache for acidulous processing by Valence "MusSck" Drakes, who gripped and unraveled "DSM-5", while Gerard E.R.P. Hanson marvelously highlights the elegiacally melodic segments of "Sada Abe" on his surprising remix.
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Artist: Movement Ten (@)
Title: Build Them And They Will Come
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
Second full-length album for this British Alternative/Electronica-duo released only 10 months after their promising self-titled debut. Movement Ten surely like to keep alive in the eyes and ears of their fans instead to restart from scratch again. But although both of these releases have been out in between a short time period, there are significant differences between them. This new album starts with an energizing track entitled 'Get Down' in which the minimal arranged bass-line and rhythm section receives some Brit-Pop-like support through some roaring guitar riffs. A good kick-off. 'Black And White Living' then switches to a complete Electronica-based sound-design. It could be a well-done Synthpop tune, but somehow it misses musically a bit the target. Mostly because the synth-arrangements are too minimal produced and could need a bit more inspiration. Next is 'Halo' and the band has already announced this one to be a possible candidate for a single release. 'Halo' has a straight and danceable structure and reminds with its strong early 80ies affiliation on some British Post-Punk and New Wave-pioneers like Joy Division or Wire. But asides of this I tend to say, that 'Ghost Road' could be a better alternative, since it turns out to be the softer, but easier recognizable tune. If the monotonous drum-patterns could bring in a bit more brilliance, this track would be ideally working for airplay. Another favorite is 'Behind Me' with its hypnotic synthesizer-play and some oriental-sounding insertions - maybe one of the tracks which offers the most maturity of this productive duo. 'Never' then returns to the straighter side of this duo and adds quality guitar riffs to the monotonous bass-lines. It has some similarities on the starter 'Get Down', although the starter sounds more refreshing. With a try to test some Techno/Trance playgrounds through some 303-like bass-line sequences and typical TR808/909 rhythm patterns Movement Ten return on the all-Electronica sound-outfit - sorry, but this one sounds helpless and a bit too much off-topic for them. Since the last two tracks do not add any more valuable content to report of, this album leaves me a bit unsatisfied. 'Build Them And They Will Come' sounds surely darker oriented than expected, but it actually misses a bit of the pioneering impact of the debut. The vocals are still sounding well in the mix and deliver all needed emotion, but musically the tracks of this new album are too one-dimensional and leave too seldom already discovered paths. It even strengthens this globally unpleasant impression thanks to the fact that the ultimate 'smash hit', which could have been easily discovered on the debut ('Gravity' / 'FTBIA') is a miss here. Where has their ease and cheerfulness gone? Movement Ten can deliver better.
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Artist: Noir
Title: Darkly Near
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mail-order
Rated: *****
Athan Maroulis as being vocalist of Spahn Ranch ' well, that has been a big and prominent name of the late 90ies. Who can not remember those classic tunes like 'Locusts' or 'Heretic's Fork', which have made their way into the history books of dancefloor classics? Spahn Ranch albums like 'The Coiled One' and mostly 'Architecture Beta' have been genre-bending and Athan and his colleagues may have been a bit ahead of their times. While things have slowed down around him and Spahn Ranch after 2001, he now returns into the Electronica music genre with his new established project Noir. A first debut single out this all new album has been already released with 'My Dear' ' I must admit, that this one hasn't impressed me that much. It was a relative unspectacular produced Synth-/Electropop tune which missed catchiness to keep in the ears of the audience, although prominent remix contributors like Tom Shear's Assemblage 23 and/or Ego Likeness did a good job to hi-jack this tune a bit.
The same feelings I had after consuming the first 4 tracks of this new album. 'My Dear' starts this album and I still think that this track is one of Athan's weakest so far. Also his cover of The Cure's classic 'A Forrest', also available on the teaser single release, has already been covered with much more devotion before ' just remember K-Bereit's version on Machinery for instance. I was about to rate this album as a simple, mediocre Electropop-album, which only stands the contest because of Athan still awesome sounding vocals. Then comes track 5, 'The Voyeurs', and moreover track 6, 'The Tragics', which made me to correct this rating. Maybe it is because Athan's voice has its best moments with slow, ballad-like tunes, which offer tendencies to explore Ambient-like soundscapes. Maybe these both ones represent the best Athan's Dark Goth-side of his Black Tape For A Blue Girl membership? Back on the straighter, more Electropop-compatible side of the mirror, also 'Timephase' is well-balanced and features some nice EBM-related percussion sets and some interesting effects on Athan's voice. With a strange and bizarre sounding Downtempo-track entitled 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' this album ends all in all satisfying after 10 tracks. As for a final result, it needs to be said, that these aren't the days for innovation. Spahn Ranch is a part of the history and remains alive and kicking in our minds ' here you'll get the voice on returning and it offers some beautiful moments.
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Artist: Psykkle (@)
Title: Mother Monoxide
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
Another review I should have written months before, but also another release which picked me by the nuts! Psykkle, so far for me a relative unknown force in the world-wide scene, although they already released a first album entitled 'Rock Bottom Paradise', consists of Evan Collingwood (sounds, machines, production) and his prominent main vocalist Gerry Hawkins of Cryogenic Echelon. 'Mother Monoxide' is their second album and represents a full-scale 16-track Dark Electro-release which offers some surprising style variations thrown into the mix. The globally Dark-Electro sound-outfit receives successfully support by Dub-Step, Trip-Hop and IDM styles mostly concentrated to take impact on the rhythm section. It is the overall very Cyberpunk- and Sci-Fi related attitude making this album a special gem. If you look out for an album with non-stop violent dancefloor-compatible Harsh EBM assaults, then you'll go wrong with this one. The few tunes totally suitable for the floors of darkest clubs around can be counted with one hand (examples: 'Nanonet', 'Breathing In'). Also their already discovered track 'City of Nodes', which has been revamped previously by several foreign remix contributors (Revenant Cult for instance'¦), rather follows the globally tone of this album. 'Mother Monoxide' lives and celebrates its cinematic outfit as it would be a matter of course. Also Gerry's well inserted harsh and nightmarish-sounding vocal performance, which has been mostly manipulated by multiple vocoder-effects, offers a perfect symbiosis to the layered and richly textured Dark Electro sound-design. Good stuff, not to underestimate!
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