Music Reviews

Artist: B/B/S/
Title: Coltre/Manto
Format: 12"
Label: Midira (@)
Rated: *****
The "draft" of this great album by B/B/S, the awesome collaborative project by Aidan Baker, Andrea Belfi and Erik Skodvin, comes from an idea by Midira label-owner Dimitri, who organized a concert at Christuskirsche, Bochum, an evangelist historical church, whose specific acoustic features made it an imaginary part of the line up as well, and wisely asked to Christoph Scheidel a live recording of the concert, which provided the sonic material for later studio mastering by Martyn Heine in Berlin. The two long-lasting tracks of this astonishing record depart from ambient drones which gradually advance by turning into a crossbreed between primordial krautwave and improvised soundscapes, but whereas the sharpness of electronic fibers by Erik, guitar artifacts by Adrian and vivacious tribal-like augmented drumming by Andrea sound like moving and joining together like ethereal exhalations on "Coltre", they got fledged before getting warmly cathartic and somewhat mystical on the beautiful "Manto" on the flipside. The relaxed but intensely vibrant atmosphere that this record manages to render could let you envy the lucky people who spectated B/B/S concert, but it had been a good thing that someone had the idea to record it!
Artist: Tri-State (@)
Title: Light the kHAOS within
Format: CD
Label: self-released in collaboration with Electro Aggression Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
A comeback of a German trio as well as the kick-off for Electro Aggression Records to start a spring offensive - here comes out a new, powerful and mystic device to conquer more and more the hearts and minds of the international-based EBM-/Dark Electro-audience! To make that clear: 'Light the kHAOS within' is kind of a self-released album by the band; E.A.R. collaborates and helps out with contacts, distribution, promotional efforts and such. So if Tri-State can be counted to be a real E.A.R.-signing artist lies in the eye of the beholder.
But no matter how the things have turned out internally, because what finally counts lays now in front of me in a well-designed black-colored digi-pack. I have to admit that the debut 'Synopsis' of this Eastern German project released more than 10 years before has been an episode I've never discovered. So I was quite unfamiliar with the works of this band-project as well as with their relevant data out of their biography.
They can look back on their highly praised debut released in 2000 by Pandaimonium and later licensed to the Russian Irond label. A breathtaking live performance at the 11th WGT in Leipzig brought them highly attention and their future seemed to be bright. German press has compared them in a row of prominent German idols like Placebo Effect, yelworC, Putrefy Factor 7, Kalte Farben, and/or Abscess. All promising names and of course comparisons, on which one can be proud of. But it all went down the drain because in 2002 they stopped all activities related to their musically career. Too bad, so they had to start with a slightly changing of the band formation from scratch again. As it often happens with the latest E.A.R. discoveries, also Tri-State had their slot on the old school Electro/Industrial-bible, the legendary 'Old School Electrology Vol.1' (4-CD box-set). Adding to this a promising contribution to the Sonic Seducer 'Battle of the Bands' contest in 2012 has increased the hopes for a possible comeback to take form.
But no matter how their career has taken course, because their presently provided music is a perfect soundtrack to delve into deepest, Dark-Electro-based scenarios, which will leave you highly impressed! What they call 'Symphonic Dark Electro' isn't their form to install orchestral Neo-Classic elements, but it is their vision of layered Dark Electro which often results in a comparable, bombastic manner! Of course the always influential Puppy-an factor celebrated in every second note takes a huge sponsorship to their sound outfit, also the vocals and its kind of processing could win any 'Let's-sing-like-Ogre'-contest. But it still matters a lot, if one decides simply to copy, or if one decides to rebuild structures and to install own ideas and modify the whole melange to form something with authenticity.
As this comeback has taken a long time in between, plus also the fact that the making of this album has lasted 5 years, you can be assured, that you won't get to hear the first bloody steps of a greenhorn switching on a synthesizer for the first time. 'Light the kHAOS within' is an epic, complex produced Dark Electro-masterpiece hardly to discover these days. The opener "rE-spawned" is kind of a revamped track originally released on their above mentioned debut and this one already set a quality standard. Nevertheless I have found the most promising pearls with the rather Downtempo-like, but extremely cold-melodic pieces like "ranDOM FAILures PreferRED" and/or "belle EpoQUE". These tracks are standing eye to eye with classics like "Worlock", "Testure", "Blood In Face" or "Slashed Open". A track like "geneLAW" also proves their ability to write sentimental, heart-touching lyrics (here: the horrific experience of a stillborn child).
As I am sure that almost all press colleagues have written highly praising reviews before, I too come to the conclusion, that this thrilling arranged Dark-Electro-album is a true masterpiece from the first to the last note. It is for sure another proof for E.A.R. to sign with the best horses of up-to-date artists based in this special music style. Get this awesome piece of Electro music as this is a must-have item!

Artist: Martijn Comes (@)
Title: Infinite Spaces and Beyond
Format: CD
Label: IO Sound (@)
Rated: *****
Some sizzling synth-driven frequencies, frothy dilations and sonic meteroids on the opening track "Memory Field" fire up the engine of the musical starship by experienced Dutch sound artist Martijn Comes. Careful and erudite listeners will supposedly recognize many well-known musical astral bodies while watching out of its portholes, such as the electronic archeostructures by The Orb, the psychedelic extrusions by Future Sound London, Pete Namlook's intergalactic overdrives or some acts of synth-pop, ambient-dub and techno-ambient, but they will soon surrender to the attractively elongated "fields" by this gut, who managed to wrap his overdrive of electronic dub, techno-throbbing sponges, fluffy ambient by catalytic orchestral stoles and sometimes unpredictable dynamics: for instance, the cathedral-like space organs of "Silent Field" will let you foretell the follow-up of the track just after Martijn adulterates it by a pitching, which fosters a sort of alchemical transmutation into a progressive techno combustion or the marine inputs in the beginning of the final "Ultrasonic Field" has no apparent connections with the magnetic gargling plain chant and the ancestral radiofrequencies at the end of the suite. Martijn wisely turns each track into adventurous listening experiences by occasional aerostatic interruption and gorgeously cadenced mutations, which become proper sonic traps on the almost mystical suite "Electric Field" and on "Mirrored Field", which could resemble to some late 90ies techno-trance dry stuff such as Dr.Numa, Zen Paradox or Koen "Starfish Pool" Lybaert. This breathtaking sidereal journey has been asterfully mastered by Taylor Deupree.
Artist: Pinkdraft (@)
Title: 2010
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
The sonorities, that this quartet made up of Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Nuno Torres (alto saxophone), Nuno Morao (percussion and objects) and Travassos (analog electronics) explores on this record, could maybe inspire odd images: after the breaking of the sonic eggshell on the opening track "Luminous Vacuum", the following "Wrong Obstable" could let you envisage a fatal exsanguination which got caused by a stuck zipper caught on chin or pubis, while the amazing "The Missing Train" seems to render the last ditches by an artificer, who tries to deactivate a time bomb which got bottled inside a receptacle whose cork was stuck. Likewise I'm pretty sure some listeners could imagine some ham-fisted attempt of drawing a musical box out of a suction pipe while listening to "Blended Strangers" or a surreal journey inside a twin bell alarm clock on "Heavy As A Floating Mountain", but the most interesting aspect of Pinkdraft is the theatrical way by which they wisely interposed reductionist audiomatics in betweeen improv and post-free jazz ramparts, where Travassos piercing electronic frequencies played a very important role as it seems to highlight (sometimes by slithering on the threshold of silence) the dramatic purging of this record.
Artist: Jonathan|Christian (@)
Title: Beautiful Hideous
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Jonathan|Christian is Jonathan Mooney, former keyboardist of the New York based band The New Creatures (now living in Los Angeles, California) and Swedish artist Christian Granquist, having spent some time playing with the power-pop trio Day Behavior and now the keyboardist of Stockholm electronic band, The Atom. (Granquist is the vocalist of this project.) 'Beautiful Hideous' is the debut collaboration of this trans-continental project, and it's already garnered quite a buzz. When I first popped the CD in to play it blind (as I often do, without reading any accompanying material to get a totally objective sound experience) I though I was hearing a new Peter Murphy solo album. Closer listening made me think 'that's not PM, but it does sound uncannily like him'. But not always. Sometimes Granquist sometimes sounds a bit like Bowie, like on 'Before The Dark' a romantic gothy power ballad. Some of the lyrics are even sung in French. In fact, the whole album has a romantic-goth bent to it. The music isn't just keyboards and a drum machine; it sounds like a full band including guitar, although the keyboards are predominant. Very well-produced too. It's a grand style these guys have latched onto, as good if not better than anything else currently out there in this vein. Granquist's lyrics are superb, full of appropriate imagery, pathos, and high drama. It works very well with his voice. Mooney is a most effective composer for this kind of material too, as well as an excellent arranger and player. If there is a word for this album, it has to be 'atmospheric'; there is definitely a brooding mood throughout. Nowhere is that more evident than on their cover of Duran Duran's 'The Chauffeur'. Rather than sing the lyrics, Granquist chooses a recitation for most of it until the end, turning the song into something more'¦sinister. (Although I do like DD's video of the song, it might even be better with this version.) The one thing I wish they had done is a real uptempo rocker. I know they might have thought it would be a mood spoiler, but I don't think so. There are a couple of remixes on the album- one by Attrition's Martin Bowes ('I Walk This Earth Alone'), the other by Bryin Dall of Thee Majesty, 4th Sign of the Apocalypse, Dream Into Dust, A Murder of Angels, Loretta's Doll, etc (title track 'Beautiful Hideous'). Although neither are radically different, they do offer another perspective on the songs, and both are quite enjoyable.

If there is one track on the album that's an attention grabber (if not a hit), it's 'Fallen' with its killer chorus. That song alone should have big labels rushing to sign these guys, but you know big labels these days, a bunch of bitchy little girls. I'd be very interested in hearing what the follow-up to 'Beautiful Hideous' might be. I'd also be interested in seeing of there are any tours planned (a tough thing for trans-continental projects like this). I'd see them if they came to New York. So would a gaggle of goth girls I imagine. How could they resist the tragic romance of Jonathan|Christian?
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