Music Reviews

Artist: Fred Und Luna
Title: Im Tiefenrausch
Format: LP
Label: Compost Records
According to the press release, “Fred und Luna are two mannequins living in a fashion boutique in Karlsruhe, Germany. They serve as muse for musician, lector, poet and photo/video maker Rainer Buchmüller.” It’s a concept that’s more than a little reminiscent of Kraftwerk, and while there’s certainly a Kraftwerk influence in the music here- spotted in the steady mesmeric light electro beats of “Rutsch Ins Grune” or the plinky-plonk melody of “Polytonikum” for example- musically it seems to owe more to the lighter side of 90’s electronica and chill-out, and which invites comparisons to other artists, usually in a good way.

It’s a collection of six-to-eight minute synth mostly-instrumental works built from steady soft rhythms and long single-note basslines, topped with lush chord pads and delicate, minimalist melodies, it often seems to recall some classic Global Underground tracks, or even the softer side of the Underground Beats series. At its most wistful, such as on track “So Weit Wie Moglich”, there are Tangerine Dream-esque elements as well.

The steady, relaxed travelling rhythms of “Im Element” are an endearing highlight, while the slightly quirky house of “Canacananda” brings to mind Juhl Krøse. The fourth side of the LP wanders into slightly jazzier territory- the super-casual mostly-spoken German vocal on “Nichtmusikalische Stadt Unter Schritten” (as on earlier track “Blues Im Gepack”) reminds me of some Yello, and works well with some forgivably louche keys and an utterly lovely low stepping bassline. The piano on “Dolcefarnientex” is both a feel-good comfort and the album’s most unique-sounding moments and the saxophone on final track “Das Ist Halt So” tells us that the descent into electro-jazz is complete!

While it might not be awash with originality, nor with attention-grabbing dynamism, what you get here is a confident 78 minutes of lush and laidback electronica, perfect for backgrounds, walking, or otherwise steadying the heart rate, and it accomplishes that job very well.
Jan 31 2019
Artist: Pedro Vian
Title: s/t
Format: LP
Label: Modern Obscure Music
For his second LP Pedro Vian notes that he does not like “the overproduction of music”, and while that might potentially have been used as an excuse for something undercooked, here the simplicity of the instrumental downtempo electronica, built with a restrained use of layers and only a smattering of effects, is to its credit.

Icy synthetic melodies and pads dominate, while gentle, light-footed and sometimes unusual-sounding electronic beats, like the brooding post-dubstep of “Similar Faces”, are sometimes foregone in favour of more ambient pieces like “Platja”. Other tracks, like “San Morits” or the slightly edgier “Acid Brut”, are a little closer to house and contenders for inclusion in the most mellow and minimal of DJ sets. Some of the shorter tracks serve more like interludes, like the gently discordant “Desmai” which wraps up the first side of the LP nicely.

Highlights include “Seneca”, on which the soft vocals of Laia Nada guest to warming effect, and the strangely named “Tribute to Ligeti”, which doesn’t sound anything like the Gyorgy Ligeti drone I’d justifiably been expected, but instead is a lovely steady rolling house number to close on.

It’s a really nicely moderated and marginally introspective electronica LP with a nice balance of consistency and breadth, and really very pleasant.
Artist: Spookshow Inc. (@)
Title: Visions of the Blinded World pt. I & II
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Thunder of the Distant Planet Records
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
We already introduced this multi-international Electro-/Metal-Crossover-project almost 5 years before with its debut "Visions of the Blinded World pt. I". So this new double-CD is the follow-up release presenting again the reworked debut album plus the new and second chapter of their "Visions" release series. Spookshow Inc. is a productive trio consisting of the Norwegian-based mastermind Lucky Spook (composing & production) and his two Lithuanian-based comrades Soltex (vocals) and Sharaz (drums / bass).
Musically relying on idols like Rob Zombie, Skinny Puppy, Die Krupps or The Prodigy this trio creates a multi-facetted outfit which is a bit challenging to describe properly. And with all respect to their wide-ranging musically horizon, any comparion to the before mentioned global players would be unfair.
While the second part of their "Visions" trilogy has been produced between 2014 to 2018 and mastered in Vilnius, LT, it is also worth to have a detailed look back on the first part. Part I has been received two new bonus tracks with "Seven Trumpets", a true epic Industrial-Metal gem and "Lizard Eyes", which also allows some relaxing but still thrilling moments. Two further tracks received a rework treatment, "Game of Delusion" has received a new chorus, while "Dead Shot Baby" has been extended and revamped in collaboration with the US-based Subliminal Mentality. Still all good and quality stuff presented on here and the more I listen to it the more it becomes familiar.

Nevertheless my main interest belongs on the new second part of "Visions of the Blinded World". While continuing their musically expression into the wide field of Industrial-Metal music, it it obviously and easily recognizeable, that Spookshow Inc. have developed in their style. To me their newer tracks come out more matured and their more experimental textures somehow are fitting better and better. "Virtual Insanity" starts of with pumping breakbeats and Soltex' angry vocals. "Devil's Triangle" also warms the Industrial-minded heart with its grinding guitar riffs, while "Mindgame (feat. XRC)" leads into a more darker, experimental-oriented outfit with some chirpy acoustic-guitar inserts. Yes, their more experimental-minded tracks, which also vary between tempo and mood, show their real talent and potential behind this project. "Prison Planet" is another bright example which slanders between mysterious sample-work, various different rhythmic elements and multiple vocal inserts. "Falling Down pt I" is to my surprise featured on this newer second album, while the part II of this track was to me one of the highlights on the first "Visions of the Blinded World" album. As for naming another highlight, "Match of the Century / A. Crowley vs. A. Einstein" describing a virtual chess game between the both protagonists comes easily to mind.

"Visions of the Blinded World pt. I & II" in its beautiful-styled DCD package isn't your typically Industrial-Metal album to use as your daily background noise. It is much more! It is a challenging adventure into quite different moods which this music style has richly to offer and it needs a bit time and attention of the lsitener to be able to pick-up only a glimpse of the content. A fabulous spookshow, gentlemen, keep it on!

Artist: Kuhzunft
Title: Slotmachine
Format: 10"
Label: Gruenrekorder
Thirty tracks on a 24-minute, 10” release is not a misprint- although in principle it’s 90 tracks, in a way. Thirteen different artists have collectively offered up 90 sonic ideas, all given single-word names and all but one of them between 45 and 50 seconds long, and Achim Zepezauer as Kuhzunft has grouped them together into packages of three layers that are run concurrently, each package forming one of the 30 named tracks. It’s claimed that this is completely random- hence the slot machine theme- but at times you do suspect that a bit of curation or pre-planning has taken place, on the grounds that some of the tracks work very well together.

The sonic packages include some more traditional instrumentation- piano, harp, guitar, keyboard, and so on- and some truly leftfield elements involving warped found sounds, electronics and post-processing.

Notable results include the nicely mellow and buddly “Pearleaf Ploff Colorida”, the slightly Planet Mu-ish “Loving Coffee-Chirps Invasion” and the dark prog-rock-ish “Cry Come-out Flying”. “Lucky Godly Mantra” certainly sounds like an avantgarde trio that were performing in the same room, though I can believe (just about) that it wasn’t.

Others, like “Rain Pipe Love-Story” with its harsh piano and glitch-meets-rain sounds or “Deadline Planing Port”, are more abrasive clashes of ideas where the less-than-a-minute running time is probably a form of mercy.

It’s a quirky concept that seems to put both some of the fun and some of the genuine experimenting back into experimental music, and yields an interesting and frequently but not wholly successful set of results.

The idea of mashing together three words also brings to mind the what3words navigation concept, leaving me wondering whether any of these three sets of titles might accidentally (or perhaps deliberately!) point to a specific area on the surface of our planet. Later, if I get time, I’ll check...

UPDATE: After posting this review I was contacted by the artist, who pointed out that while the 10" release is not random, there is a website where several hundred of these short sonic layers have been collected, and you get the chance to listen to genuinely random overlapping elements over there, with many thousands of possible combinations. The 10" documents the website, I'm told, and not the other way around.
Artist: VV.AA (@)
Title: Merry And Bright
Format: CD
Label: Zaftig Research (@)
Rated: *****
For a while, ever year Brett Lunceford would release a Christmas compilation on his label Zaftig Research. I believe the last one for a while was in 2008 then it came back in 2017 and now we have the 2018 version to review. I am not usually very good about reviewing compilations because it is tough to break down every single track but I wrote a short little blurb here about each one as I went through them, some two times to get it all in.

Conure: The Return of Ralphie is more sapling from A Christmas Story layered and chopped into an ever-growing noisy nightmare, excellent as expected from Conure!

Darmkwadraat: Electric Snow is a digital soup of synthesizer bleeps and bloops with a noisy edge on top. Great stuff from a pretty new act who as far as I can tell only has one release on Lage Landen Lawaai, which puts out super limited tapes. Lots of fun!

Dead Shall Not Have Died In Vain: Jingle Construct is the track I provided for this compilation, so I will not be reviewing it here ;-)

Goose: Sugarplum Dreams contains a beautiful winter landscape of drones and bells, you can hear the wind in the background and some bells jingling nearby, excellent mood music. A brief version of Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy shows up at the end.

Praying For Oblivion + Skullwall: Stockholm Syndrome brings together two harsh noise masters with a track of layered chaos. Both projects released a collaboration at the end of 2017 and much like this split they bring in the sound from each project and mix together very well.

Jan-M. Iversen: Christmas Morn brings a beautiful drone piece that is so intricately layered and musical. If you know how prolific Jan-Morten Iversen is you will not be shocked by the talent behind all of his music.

Orange: No Presents For Christmas is another one of Brett's projects, this time though he brings in the Power Electronics to punish our ears, good old school dirty vibes.

Narishkeit: The Ant Eater. Narishkeit appeared on last years Christmas compilation and they also have a release on Inner Demons. This project from the Netherlands has not been super productive but what they are putting out there is pretty great. The project has some mystery behind it but hopefully, we will hear more from them in the future.

Phog Masheeen: It Will Be Christmas In Hell is a weird loungy track with spoken/sung "lyrics" on top of it. I have not heard any of their other work to know if it is like this but it is odd and I'm not sure if I like it.

Weeping Wall: Five Minutes With A Ten Dollah Ho Ho Ho brings a "noise" track that I wouldn't call harsh at all, it is like a broken digital sounding wash of static. Not many changes in the track but I dig it. I can't find much about this project out there, hopefully, more will turn up soon!

Survey Control: Salamajarvi National Park is an excellent stark track that sounds like someone floating through space attempting to make radio contact with someone out there. Gorgeous outer space drones! Sounds a bit like Bad Sector maybe?

Stolen Light: Boxing Day where Brett brings in the layering of noise and recordings from home maybe? Layered professionally and masterfully.

Bardoseneticcube: Ambioz is another classic ambient sci-fi sounding track as would be expected from this project. Never disappoints!

C/A/T: A Letter To Santa sounds like what we have come to expect from Ben Arp after all these years, classic Rhythmic Noise, I am happy to see that Ben is working on new material again!

Collapse: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Revisited, the first part of that track name "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is a John Lennon song but I am not sure if that was the inspiration for the title. Collapsist is a project that I believe uses modular synths. Excellent repetitious waves of synthesizer sounds!

Overall this is an excellent compilation from Zaftig Research, I know Brett has more planned for the label which is very exciting for myself being a fan for years.
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