Music Reviews



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Artist: Seba
Title: Mesmerism EP
Format: 12"
Label: Secret Operations (@)
Rated: *****
The clicking sound of a clock and the first offshoots of hypnotist's magnetic fluid begins to hit listener's sensorial sphere and while seconds sound like weighing and weighing like eyelids, serpentine sonorities menacingly swirl while self-control fades out. Likewise the quintessential hypnotist starts a session by asking its interlocutor to look into its eyes, the renowned Swedish dnb producer Sebastian Ahrenberg aka Seba sounds like asking its listener to listen to his tunes, even if the sneaking ill-fated atmosphere of the track might be associated to the mass hypnosis of the planet by some liberticidal institutions, who are subjugatinbf people's thought in a more or less underhand manner. Seba keeps on letting his pendulum oscillate on the following "Physickl" by soaking the synth-driven lightweight opening into pre-mayhem acid pools, while the liquid funk which featured most of his acclaimed recent album "Identity" is more recognisable on "Life Is", which could be ideally considered the break point of the above-mentioned kind of mesmerism by means of an ethereal celebration of life and spiritual freedom. The final "Science Fiction" sounds ike on collision course with early Photek-like "scientific" stuff and ends with a bang an EP, which clearly displays the possible future steps of Seba sound, whose pristine nucleus seems to have not been really contaminated by these interesting deflections.
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Artist: Emotikon (@)
Title: Remixes
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Emotikon is back with an album of remixes of material from their self-titled debut album, with mixed results. If you recall I reviewed that not too long ago, rather positively. For those who missed that, Emotikon is a Dusseldorf, Germany based duo consisting of the Japanese Mine Voss (vocals) and the German Tom Tron (synths, keys, guitar, programming) mostly in the synthpop genre. While many artists prefer to put their remixes in the hands of DJs and capable remixers, Emotikon chose to do it themselves. This may not have been a brilliant idea for a remix album; it's more of a reimagining for the most part. For those who follow my reviews (yeah, the three of you), you know that I generally frown on remixes. They're rarely as good as the original, more geared for the dancefloor, and add a lot of, '¦crap. There are exceptions of course, and sometimes on those rare occasions, supersede the original.

My first impression of Emotikon's 'Remixes' was 'Oh brother, this is not the direction I expected this band to take. This kind of blows.' Subsequent listenings have softened me up a bit, although not a whole lot. Opening with a Bossa Nova Remix of 'The Eye in the Sky' came as a bit of a shock. It kind of sounds like muzak, or maybe a lounge band. Funny, because I like real Bossa Nova music, but this was ersatz at best. The French House Remix of 'You Are' was better, taking some of the coy innocence out of the original but adding more motion and dancability. The Rock Remix of 'Where Are You From' substitutes guitars for synths and falls flat in my estimation, ending rather abruptly. 'Too Old' gets the disco treatment with a 1990 Party Remix. Never was a disco fan. The Chopstick Remix of 'Still Thinking of You' was not much more than okay, with the guitars making it sound rather ordinary. At least some of the synths were still present. 'Big Bad Dragon' is given a Kaiju Dance Remix, but it's hard to beat the original. There's another Bossa Nova Remix on 'True Love' and this is just awful, with frequencies clashing with the vocals. 'When Does My Life Begin?' gets a Robotik Remix sapping all the cuteness out of the original with too much portamento synth, robotic voices and a superfluous guitar break. The Space Remix of 'Money Isn't Everything' soups up the synths but when it comes time for the rap break, it no longer sounds like a spoof. Be that as it may, it might be one of the better remixes on the album. If you're going down the remix road, I guess you gotta have a Dub Remix, and Emotikon reserved that for 'The End of the World'. It's okay, but nothing earthshaking, clip-clopping along.

If you haven't heard Emotikon's debut album, I suggest you get that before investing in this. And if you're thinking of putting out a remix album, put it in the hands of the remixers (the more the merrier). At least that way you can exercise plausible deniability.
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Artist: Life in Sodom (@)
Title: The World I View
Format: CD
Label: Nutrix Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Port St. Lucie darkwave band Life in Sodom has been around since 1990 and 'The World I View' is their twelfth release (counting 12's, EPs and full CDs) and I give them lots of credit for surviving this long in a music industry that usually chews you up and spits you out much worse for the wear. I also applaud them for releasing actual physical product and not just digital downloads. To be perfectly honest, I never heard, nor head of them until I received this CD. The core band is Gerrie Brand ' (male) vocals; Virginia Fuillerat ' (female) vocals; Daniel Heinze ' bass, guitar. LIS is also augmented on this album by Looch ' keyboards, synth programming, project engineer; Michael Vullo ' drums; Eddie De La Cruz ' drums; H. Brand & O Brand ' children's voices.

The first thing I noticed when I first listened to 'The World I View' is that Gerrie Brand has a very Euro-sounding (often) baritone voice. It makes me think that these guys could be from anywhere (except the U.K.), and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they were more popular in Europe than their native U.S. The band reminds me a bit of And Also the Trees and Human Drama without as much melodramatic vocal angst, and maybe even more like Deine Lakaien. For some frame of reference, I checked out some of LIS's earlier material (YouTube can be a wonderful thing sometimes) and by comparison, 'The World I View' finds the band losing a little bit of their darkness and raw edge, while gaining maturity and better production. Also, with Virginia handling more lead vocals, there is nice varied contrast in the content.

Although the Brand-penned tracks are good, the standout track on the album is George Harrison's 'Don't Bother Me' from 'Meet the Beatles!' (or 'With the Beatles' in the U.K.) and I've always loved this kinda moody first Harrison-penned Beatle track. Virginia gets the lead vocal with lyrics adjusted for the opposite sex. Pretty cool to hear a dark version of the song, not slowed down or morose, just a little spooky with creepy string-scraping and electronic percussion. Other notable tracks include the powerful 'Idle Eyes', the introspective 'Could I Be the Fool', the dual-angsty 'All My Tears Run Dry', the flamenco-esque 'Hold On', and the Spooky Mix of 'The Hollow and Haunted House' from their 2011 three-track CD single by the same name. The rest of the CD is pretty good too, but the aforementioned seemed the best.

Mention should be made of Looch's production and programming, especially in the string and orchestration department. It's effective without being overbearing; very tastefully arranged. This could be the album that really puts Life in Sodom on the map, especially if Virginia becomes a full-time member because it's going to be hard to pull off some of the songs on this CD live without her.
Mar 02 2014
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Artist: öhm (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Artoffact Records (@)
Rated: *****
öhm is the project of Chris Peterson, who had worked with bands like Front Line Assembly, and Craig Joseph Huxtable and they craft that sort of electro-industrial sound that is as aggressive as danceable. Instead of proper EBM, this seems more pop oriented as the beats, even when fast, are not so martial and features more curated vocal lines and the synth is not forced to double the rhythmic structure.
So 'When Robots Fuck' opens this release showing the mastery of the producers: noises and melody collides with the underlying beats as a structural cage and the filtered vocals construct an almost pleasant mood. The rest of the album oscillates between more pop oriented tunes as 'Car Crash', 'Apparition' and 'Detroit', a dark-oriented track where the synth and beats create an evocative texture, and more dance one like 'Divinity' or '4am'. An atmospheric track like 'Aurora' reveals the desire to construct a musical journey rather than a non-stop throttle based on beats so it's not strange than, after aggressive track like 'Brute', 'My Kingdom' closes this release with his ambient-oriented soundscape.
This album would't probably end in any end of the year playlist but will stand more on the stereo as it will please fans of synth pop, EBM and electro and it's enjoyable and well produced. It's really worth a listen.
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Artist: Cooly G
Title: Hold Me
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
The sensuality of Brixton-based singer, rapper, producer and dj (and semi-professional footballer!) Merrisa Campbell aka Cooly G emanates from her external appearance, her voice, but above all (...and this is what really matters) her stylistical make-up. It exploded on her recent album "Playin' Me" and seems to gush from this tidbit as well: even if it sounds less vocal focused, "Hold Me" keeps Cooly G's followers hot by three amazing tracks, where her voice got agglutinated to very captivating sonic solutions. The smoky atmosphere of the title track rest on subcutaneous basslines, soft electronic scalding, elegant dubbed rhythmical patterns; the following "Oi Dirty", where Scratcha DVA's wonky imprint sounds quite clear, focuses on amazing smidgens of flexible basslines and minor percussive surgery on sizzling breaks, while "Molly" - the only one with no vocals at all - gradually browns a seemingly static house grid by rising saturations of acid-synths, swishing discharges and a one-note bass kick. Great bass-driven hocus-pocus!
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