Music Reviews



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Artist: Halo Manash (@)
Title: Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Aural Hypnox decided to give birth to a new re-release series, Stellar Mansion, by refiling a really immersive listening experience that Halo Manash, an audiovisual, multi-medial-sound and performance group from Northern Finland which considers itself as a vehicle and a bridge between the world of being and non-being we spoke about on the occasion of the release of their intriguing album "Wesieni Wainajat", recorded in September 2008. In spite of the fact they have not used any electronic camouflage or overdubs, but just acoustic instruments, Halo Manash provides a remarkable assay of ritual music, which immediately let listener steep into a sort of gradual transubstantiation with the natural forces that could be evoked and aroused by the rebalancing contemplation of the somewhat surreal sylvian calmness of polar woodland while circling polar flares surround the icy land (September is one of the period of the year when it's easier to admire the breathtaking show of northern lights). The sonic vehicle for this entrancing experience is the measured tolling on bells and other widely reverbered percussive instruments as well as by other sonic entities and forgotten calls which resurface from caches of the sonic flow in the wake of toll's contrails and sound like whispering guides over the introspective journey that "Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus" inspire. These "voices" reach the acme of magnetism by degrees over otherwordly gongs, strange cracklings, frozening flute whistles and other obscure poltergeists where the evoked ancestral boreal entities that quickly cross listener's minds in the previous steps of this rite seem to got fully rendered on the eeriely suggestive final "Pimeys On Ninquin Walkeus/Puuxi Tullut".
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Artist: Dance Of Atoms
Title: Atom & Eve
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Does humor belong in music?
That depends.
If your beats storm, and your synths rage, a little bit of tongue-in-cheek can be permitted.
Dance Of Atoms are an enigmatic duo of producers, known as Atom Man and The Phantom Of Funk, hailing from somewhere in Texas. They play a blend of '80s New Wave and aggressive electro rock, updated with every sub-genre of electronic music of the last 2 decades. They've been compared to everyone from Gary Numan to Depeche Mode to early Lady Gaga, to give you an idea of how many disparate sounds and styles you will find on this short afterburn of an EP.
A good portion of Atom & Eve's 7 tracks are straight-ahead electro club fare, without a hint of pastiche, delivered with adrenalized intensity. The closest style I could compare it to would be electroclash, which is to say epic, trancy club fare delivered with punk rock abandon. Anybody who's lost themselves in the grooves of The Faint, LCD Soundsystem or Fischerspooner will find something to love here.
It is in the songs "The '80s", with its cheeky mention of Swatches and Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and their dismembered cover of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" where the band show their satirical side, and why that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Another One Bites The Dust" sounds like it's been riffed on by Devo, before being swallowed by Skrillex chaos and wub-wub dubstep wobble bass. While this sounds like a questionable amalgam, it is in the detailed way it is all spliced together that this band shines, and shows themselves to be serious musicians.
It's in the details where Dance Of Atoms differentiate themselves from the imitators. These are no preset-hackers: there's thousands of synth sounds on this short EP, and each one seems carefully chosen and placed. On top of that, their beats are muscular and fierce, begging to be blasted through powerful PAs. And while they do frequently coast along in a forceful 4/4, they frequently switch up the rhythm to complicated polyrhythms, sometimes reggaeton, sometimes pummeling rhythmic noise. The one thing you can be sure of, you will not get bored listening to Atom & Eve.
My one complaint is that it sounds as if the band mixed and mastered the EP themselves, and things can become a bit overloaded and jarring at times. There's a myriad of elements, and they're all clamoring for attention simultaneously, fritzing out the speakers. When Dance Of Atoms return to the studio to record a full-length, I beseech them to please find some pleasing reverb, and take the edge off of some of these corners.
Atom Man (I'm assuming it's him) proves himself to be a fine front man, with a wide vocal range. Sometimes he delivers a romantic Bernard Sumner croon, before breaking into some Gloria Gaynor pyrotechnics. A lot of people accuse electronic music of being cerebral, detached and unemotional; Atom & Eve should rest their case.
All in all, Atom & Eve is a promising debut from a burgeoning act. They've got mystique. They've got studio acumen. They've got chops. They've got passion, but don't take themselves too seriously. All to the good, I say. They're off to a fine start!
Atom & Eve is only available for streaming via the band's website at http://www.thedanceofatoms.com, getting a physical release, plus the usual digital channels, on July 7th. So get a head start, and drop some of these tracks on your clubbing mixtapes.
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Artist: Mekanik Disorder
Title: Out Of Context
Format: CD
Label: Caustic Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
Nearly 4 years in the making, the Spanish one-man project of Cesar Cruz returns with an all new album again signed to the hard-working Caustic Records label. Already the attached band photos as well as the cover artwork show us the difference. It seems that Cesar has had a time period of consciousness. The debut "Cold & Strong" has shared impressive Industrial-like photos of a huge telescope in black/red color contrasts, while this new one shows a sunny and peaceful landscape with an endless street. Cesar nowadays has belt on an acoustic guitar and the whole scenario looks more relaxed. Also when it comes to detect the changes in his music, Cesar now offers a wider direction and a development. He's still a kid with his roots in the 80s, but nowadays he offers musically more diversity and some unexpected elements. Especially the New Wave-style has gathered more and more meaning in the music dimension of Mekanik Disorder, while Cesar still shares his love for early Synthpop- and EBM-structures on this whole album. This can be pretty much noticed with the title-track, on which he pays respect to some Belgian Wave-heroes like Poesie Noire or The Neon Judgment. Of course the guitar got not shown on his new photos, it got inserted too. Also his known ability to use different languages (Spanish, English, Dutch, and German) for his lyrics has to be named as being advantageous. 'Als Liebe nur ein Spiel war' has surprisingly catchy moments and I tend also to spend applause on 'Deadpoint' with its galloping bass-line sequences, although - and I still need to insist on this - he could produce it a bit tougher. But no matter and despite all further minor things I could mention here, Cesar has produced a quite valuable album with sedating tunes which drift a bit away from the angry and more minimal EBM structures of his debut. It needs a bit time to grow on you plus it maybe won't stand any fight with the Anhalt-EBM troops, it nevertheless offers a portion of diversity which is often a miss at comparable releases.
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Artist: Christian Vialard
Title: Neukalm
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Grautag (@)
Rated: *****
This new brainchild by self-taught sound artist Christian Vialard, who recorded Neukalm with Fred Bigot in Berlin suburbs of Neukolin and on the shores of French Riviera, certainly melted many different sonorities and stylistical hooks to dark-wave, 80ies new wave, industrial, synth-driven electronic rides and even some ambient techno and IDM acts of the 90ies (B12, Richard H. Kirk, Link, The Higher Intelligence Agency...and you could even have the impression to listen an imaginary remix of Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" by Neu! on the amazing "Lidel2"!), but this is not the most relevant aspect of this sonic creature. Besides the pun of the title, "Neukalm" could be considered as the sonic translation of the same drug before, during and after its effect in eight different modifications within a distressing and alienating urban environment. Each track sounds like departing from the fatalistic contemplation of self within such an ordinary condition before the magic pill alters perception, boost sociability or even unleashes feelings of somewhat tropical bliss. When this temporary fugue from "reality" vanishes, even its ephemeral remembrance got absorbed by initial statements as if each track is a trompe l'oeil on the wall of an urban building which renders a temporary illusion of open space without demolishing it, which fades away as you turn the corner. "Neukalm" acts as a sedation or a strategy for escapism while being aware that such a getaway is hopelessly fleeting...
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Artist: Faures (@)
Title: Continental Drift
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
I remember that when peer-to-peer became popular, it inspired an impressive number of electronic music projects based on the reciprocal exchange of sound files over Internet. Faures slightly changed this scheme by involving three musicians from three different places of our spinning sphere: Rene' Margraff aka Pillodriver from Germanu, Samuel Landry aka La Berger from Canada and Singapore-based Fuzz Lee aka elintseeker, who has sparkled the idea for this release from his belief that both personality and character of a person got heavily influenced by its environment so that he tried to test the combination of three different ambient musicians from three different continents. The analogy between this sonic drift and the notorious theory of continental drift has been sealed by the semantic transposition of a quote by structural geologist Hans Cloos, whose descrption of the geological matter could provide a comprehensive description of Faures style: "It let them float and drift, break apart and converge, Where they broke away, cracks, rifts, trenches remain; where they collided, ranges of folded mountains appear". Some atmospheres - particularly the ones of the three parts "Asthenospheric Movement" - are closer to past stuff from Machinefabriek and Olan Mill, while some in-between delicate sonic popovers brought me back to some "ecologist" phases of 90ies ambient music such as Solar Quest's "Orgship" which came to my mind while listening the inflations of sonic spheres on "Orogenic Uplift" or the plucked guitars sliding over the placid convections of "Isostatic Uplift", which recurs on that stage, while the masterly work of filtering sounds reaches its acme on the spellbinding anti-gravitational forces of the final "Magnetic Striping".
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