Music Reviews



Jan 22 2015
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Artist: Dicepeople (@)
Title: End of Line
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Dicepeople is a progressive audiovisual collaboration between Matt Brock (music) and Rafael Filomeno (visuals). 'End of the Line' is the third album from this London-based team, and the first I've heard. It is augmented by a variety of contributors that Kyrea and Roger Gaywood, plus Hemiola, Atashi Tada, and S. J. Harris. I almost passed on reviewing this because what they sent me was a cheaply reproduced replica (poorly printed CD cover, CD-Rom) of product with no track listing. That was easy enough to find on the Internet though, so let's proceed.

'End of Line' is the kind of dark electro pioneered by Front Line Assembly. In fact, at times the resemblance is uncanny. Wait, hold that; take FLA and borrow certain elements from Bill Leeb's other project, Delerium, and you get a better picture. A critical element borrowed would be the female vocals, essential to the Delerium ouevre. They're in abundance on 'End of Line'. Lyrically, there is a similarity to FLA as well. Take 2nd track - "Dissolution" for example. Every word plays a thematic quadrisyllabic rhyme off 'dissolution - exploitation, degradation, condemnation, isolation, dissolution, desolation, insurrection, revolution, etc., etc., all the while textured, multi-sequenced riff patterns build in the music. Vocals by Atashi are quite melodic (even with the minimalist lyrics) and effective, and when her backing vocals are wailing toward the end, it's really reminiscent of Delerium.

Strong electronic atmospherics such as those at the beginning of "The Doll House' are another FLA hallmark. Kyrea takes the vocals on this track, and they're pretty atmospheric as well. The woozy synth lines lend an aura of the psychedelic. Things get a bit industrial on 'Singularity' a slower, loping track with heavy percussion and and richly warped electronics. Kyrea's spacey vocals fit this hallucinatory track to a tee. Dredging up 60's style psychedelia and retrofitting it with cyber-tech of the modern age is quite an accomplishment here. Dementedly drenched in reverb, but still, nearly perfect. Her vocals on "Hurt" remind me a bit of the band Client, but sung more in Leeb style circa 'Implode' and 'Epitaph'. 'Morphia Melancolia' sounds like broken carnival music with an industrial edge and contains a recitation by S. J. Harris. "Death Drone" is nearly entirely comprised of atmosphere and ambience with the occasional sequenced synth and percussion segments. Final track, "The End of the Line" takes the melodic vocal elements of Delerium and combines it with the more spoke-sung FLA style vocals. It's really good though, and possibly the most memorable track on the album.

You might wonder why I've chosen to compare Dicepeople with Front Line Assembly and Delerium as opposed to other electro-industrial acts. Truth be told, Leeb's projects are the only ones out there doing this kind of thing so well, and if it has to be compared (for point of reference), it might as well be compared to the best. That's not to imply Dicepeople are any kind of Front Line Assembly or Delerium clones; they most certainly are not. Their sound is completely their own, it is only aspects that are similar. 'End of Line' is a really good album, not great, but really good. There are flaws (too much reverb for one, especially on some of the vocals) but nothing too critical. The album is available in digital download format only (to my knowledge) in high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Worthy.
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Artist: Rooie Waas (@)
Title: Nu
Format: 12"
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
Rooie Waas is a Dutch electronic outfit from the Netherlands consisting of Gijs Borstlap ' vocals / cacophonator / weird sound generator / drum programmering; Mikael Szafirowski ' weird sound generator / synths / drum programming / vocals; Gerri Jäger ' shakers / drum programming; and Ofir Klemperer ' Korg MS20, with guest musicians on this album - Yedo Gibson - saxophone (on one track); Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti - vocal (on one track). 'Nu' is their second album, the follow-up to 'Het is maar een constatering' (2012).

What the #$!% did I get myself into here taking on this review? Merely opening the shrinkwrap of the LP and putting it in the turntable I consigned my fate, and now I have to follow through even though I cannot pretend to comprehend, much less like this, yet there is a fascination for what this band is trying to accomplish, and likely succeeding on some level. To schluff Rooie Waas off as an avant garde electronic group would be doing them a disservice. Putting it plainly- this is anti-synthpop; there seems to be no other word for it. Stilted beats collide with crazy, off the wall synth sounds, with vocals in their native Dutch. It's hard, minimal but effective. Imagine the Kraftwerk of old discovering hip hop while on PCP, or Yello on crack. (The drug metaphors are not suggestive that this is "drug music; it most certainly is not!) This doesn't even begin to convey the weirdness of Rooie Waaas. Fuck the melody and tidy sequencer arpeggios, this is raw baby, very raw.

I'm at a loss for getting anything out of the lyrics as I don't speak Dutch and am too lazy to get them translated, but maybe that's okay because they sound even stranger with my lack of comprehension. The phonetic articulation and phrasing seems to indicate that this is a Dadist sort of thing, deconstructed for the people and spit out back at them in a primal way. It's not easy to take, but that's the point. The album is available from Blowpipe in (red or black) 12" vinyl accompanied by a download key card for high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Or, if you prefer, CD digipack with the same download option. Got to hand oit to Blowpipe for their multi-platform release options. However, I'd first recommend previewing the album (free preview!) on Blowpipe's site so you'll know what you're in for. Eschewing my own personal musical tastes, four stars for artistic merit.
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Artist: Hyperbubble (@)
Title: Attack of the Titans (Original Soundtrack)
Format: CD
Label: Pure Pop For Now People (@)
Rated: *****
Hyperbubble is an international visual and performing arts electropop/synthpop duo from San Antonio, Texas formed by Jeff DeCuir and Jess Barnett DeCuir, but you might already know that. They've been around since 1997. 'Attack of the Titans' is their sixth album, and it is the soundtrack to a movie by the same title (not to be confused with the Japanese manga series, 'Attack on Titan'). Unlike their previous 'Drastic Cinematic' album which was a soundtrack for a movie that didn't exist, 'Attack of the Titans' is an actual mini movie, or film short, and only seems to be available on Vimeo (vimeo.com/81349550). It was made for the 213 San Antonio 48 Hour Film Experience and is much shorter than Hyberbubble's CD soundtrack clocking in at 4:24. The film is done with puppets and children, and is pretty hokey; I've seen much better D-I-Y efforts on YouTube. Fortunately, Hyperbubble's soundtrack is much better than the amateurish "movie". The "Theme From the Attack of the Titans" is only 45 seconds long and has the manic nostalgic charm of themes from 1960's marionette-acted TV shows such as "Supercar", "Fireball XL5", "Stingray", and Thunderbirds" while sounding like none of them. This is the only track that has what could be considered song lyrics. Further on down the line we get dialogue samples from the movie, a track that sounds pretty industrial (1950's style alien tension with requisite wobbly theremin), synthpop instrumentals (sequencing and quirky lead lines), lots of programmed drums and percussion, more dialogue samples, a march tune, more frenetic synthpop instrumentals (the one with wordless female vocals I really kind of liked), etc. One track I thought was pretty neat was "Sky Smasher" with a Pink Floyd style spacey groove and vocoder vocals. Sort of like a minor version of Yellow Magic Orchestra. Likely the best thing on the album. The rest is more kitschy, 2-bit sci-fi oriented instrumentals. General impression- it's okay, but nothing that really made me want to put another quarter in the slot for a replay. I checked out their earlier material (hadn't heard it before) and found it much more appealing. Must be the POP element which is lacking here for the most part. I'm guessing they'll get back to that for their next release.
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Artist: Claude Speeed
Title: Sun Czar Temple
Format: 12"
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
According to Planet Mu's words, the brilliant Scottish producer Claude Speeed ended up on label's long-range radar since his "Infinity Rework" of Kuedo's "Work Live & Sleep In Collapsing Space" in 2012 and after the approaching to planet's surface on the rocket of his debut album "My Skeleton" that Glasgow-based label LuckyMe launched in 2014, Claude finally entered in label's orbit by means of its follow-up "Sun Czar Temple". The igniting energy supply of this sonic satellite comes from the sun or, to be more accurate, by Solar Parallax distortion, whose "monolithic slabs" radiate cosmic energy from the opening track "Traumzeuge", whose tender vocals, floating piano and quickly fading warm guitar phrasing will let listeners swim into the previously poured dazzling light. Listeners can only but working like photodetectors by grabbing beams of leaking lights on the following "Dr.Liz Wilson" whose sweet bunches of sinewaves, hidden drums and rising tones are really cathartic. In the middle of the EP, we find Claude in the middle of an empty forest where he recorded some field recordings, the peaceful background for loops of tape hissing and day-dreaming chords and a sense blissfully happy isolationism spurts from the following "Fret" as well and the stunning sluice of "R U Sorry?", proper sonic kiss after so much diving into light.
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Artist: µ-ZIQ
Title: Rediffusion
Format: 12"
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
I'm in two minds about whether saying this release by Mike Paradinas (I want to believe that our readers don't need any introduction of this legendary British producer) is a futuristic retrospective or a forward-looking projection of relatively old stylistical elements. An attractive MILF could easily sort the issue out by a simple and catty clarification: classy beauty lasts forever and knows no age! The uplifting chord progression of "Taxi Sadness", the lullaby-like synth whistle fancied by angelical choirs and computational sparklers of "Rimmy", the dreamy beatless bubbling of "PRG", the glowing coldness over a poofy hip-hop movement of "Blem", the nostalgic sequence of drifts and decays of the metallic melodies which got wisely spread on bouncy bass and drums on "Smeester" and the awesome closer "Tambor" - my favorite moment of "Rediffusion" -, where the metallic clockwork seems to follow the merciless precision of the hand of a clock while some sneaky synths emphasizes the irreversible sense of decay: all these heart-rending plugs of this release got inspired by childhood memories of kids TV and the contemporary one-hour lasting post of a mix of 70's and 80's TV themes prove how wisely Mike can play nostalgia card, which I hope it isn't his last one.
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