Music Reviews

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Electrofunk Resistance
Format: CD
Label: Dominance Electricity
Rated: *****
After some months of silence Dominance Electricity, Germany's home of electro funk, is back with a new album compilation featuring twelve new tracks which will satisfy your wish of rhythm, vocoders and cool synth sounds. "Electrofunk Resistance" is the title of what will turn into your preferred compilation of this period. The album which is available into cd, digital and black or transparent blue double vinyl, has on the cover a nice sexy robot painted by a famous Japanese illustrator called Hajime Sorayama (drawing which is available on the blue vinyl set as deluxe poster) . The album starts with Principles Of Geometry's "Americhael", a track that starts with a 70s dance touch, just to turn into an electro dancefloor killer with stops and go. The track has also a bit of the modern electro French sound we already know very well. Datasette, from UK is next with a pleasant surprise: a cover of one of the dance floor hits of the early 80s... New Order's "Blue Monday". The UK combo did a great work with the track by mixing original synth parts with new upbeat beats, catchy vocoder vocals and a new electro bass line. Casio Social Club vs Xs Night are here with a track which isn't available on the digital format. "More Love" has all the characteristics of Justin's sound we already know, thanks to the releases he did for his own Mullet Records: 80s electro with boucy bass lines, smooth catchy vocals, nice synth pads and leads. Sygaire, member of Jazzanova, is here helped by Defcon and Capitol A for "The Latest", a song that recalled me Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's tracks. The Artificial Arm is here with a new track titled "Get Down (To The Sound) ". This is a nice electro tune based on few melodic parts which are well alternated by using different synth sounds with the add of sensual female vocals. Fendaheads are next with "Oxygen", a tune with funky guitar chords, bouncy bass lines and catchy vocals. Dynamik Bass System, with "Evolution", dispatch loads of 808 beats, vocoder vocals, hypnotic arpeggios and synth stabs as usual, delivering a cool song. Roko Dragonbreath from Netherland is next with a stunning track titled "Planet Europia". This song is a blast! It has all the cool electro elements: catchy melodies, robotic vocals, blasting drum beats and a chorus that will stick into your head! From Australia we have DJ Sing feat. Andre Kaman with "Let's Do It". The track is a nice electro tune with funk vocals, synth solos and cool melodies. It sounds pop and energetic. The last time I reviewed Diamondback Kid, was for their release on Binalog Productions. After that, they released two EPs on their own label. "Lost Souls" is a good mix of robotic syncopated sounds, mid 808 beats and cool melodic vocal inserts. A track that you'll want to listen to again soon after it's finished. From New Zealand we have Reggie Blount with "Shining Star". This song has a sensual touch thanks to whispered female vocals and to its nightly atmosphere. The down-sampled filtered/clean male vocals and the female one give a great . From the U.S. Biepang with "Neon Parallels" is in with a great tune which mix jazzy atmospheres and robotic craziness. Try to think about Dopplereffekt on drug while listening to Miles Davies. This was the closing track and Dominance Electricity did it again! They produced a great compilation full of cool sounds and songs. Support them!
Artist: Marcus Intalex
Title: Cabal/Mud
Format: 12"
Label: Ingredients Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Ingredients manages to hire another reputed and versatile dnb master chef for his delicious menu, Marcus Intalex, who serves two tasty and quite different titbits: on "Cabal" (side A), Marcus grafts sinister trembling sounds and modulated breathing from a snorkel (or maybe a gas mask, considering the post-apocalyptic atmosphere and the perceivable sense of impending doom of the tune!) on a spluttering rhythimical pattern, which sounds even more hypnotical and immersive when this Manchester-based producer operates a sort of synch-mode between beats and a very deep sub-bass (if you have a graphical audiometer, you can verify they "chorally" shakes the same sinusoid in many moments of the track, which sounds close to some "futuristic" stuff he released on his own label Revolve:R), while on "Mud" (side B), he seems to insert some biotech enzymes within a pool of stagnant sonic waters, in order to make some sounds which he used to spread out (particularly those ones he co-signed with Lee Davenport aka ST Files) live again, so that the title seems to refer to such a nearness to his roots. Tear it off with your eardrums!
Artist: Sonik Foundry (@)
Title: Explosive
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah Records (@)
Rated: *****
Have these guys been listening to too much Combichrist lately? It certainly sounds like it. Unfortunately Sonik Foundry isn't ballsy enough to be in Combichrist's league. 'Explosive' was obviously designed for the dancefloor and live performance as it's a stripped-down mean-machine of (mostly) four-on-the-floor EBM, with only an occasional foray into the melodic. On opening track 'Beat It Down' Nikademus implores the masses with a growl to 'Get Off Your Ass Down To The Floor...Stomp Your Feet Like You Never Did Before...' whatever. It's beyond cliché. Speaking of cliché, there's so much use of portamento on the synths that it really gets old quick, song after song. Maybe it's becoming their signature sound or something. The mod wheel gets quite a workout too. What melodies there are are mostly simplistic sing-song, and there isn't much variety in the synth sounds either, making a lot of the tracks on 'Explosive' sound similar. The material here probably works better live, but on disc it comes across as heavy-handed, calculated and contrived.

There are 3 remixes on this album - 'Fuse' (Assemblage 23 Remix), 'Slipping Away' (00tz 00tz Remix), and 'Severance Pay' (SINthetik Messiah Remix) and I liked them all better than the originals ('Severance Pay' was on 'Parish of Redemption'), mostly because they're more inventive than the originals, and actually made the songs sound rather creative. Knowing how much I usually don't care for remixes, what does that tell you about 'Explosive' ? It's really too bad these guys had to head down the path of least resistance and opt for the lowest common denominator in EBM music. 'Parish of Redemption' showed promise but there's no redemption here. Not very explosive; more like a dud.
Artist: Rumpistol/Red Baron (@)
Title: Floating
Format: CD
Label: Project Mooncircle (@)
Rated: *****
'Floating' is the collaborative project of Danish electronic artist Jens B. Christiansen (Rumpistol) and LA based vocalist Red Baron. It would be easy to characterize this as post-dubstep meets white soul, but it's really much more than that. In fact, 'Floating' is something completely different. Rumpistol's brand of electronica has always had a certain playfulness and sentimentality to it, and here it melds very well with Red Baron's soulful vocal style, but in much grander fashion. If anything, the music is more elaborate and filled with more sonic delight than ever before, definite ear candy. Gorgeous and unexpected arpeggios, inventive and complex rhythms and more sounds than you could ever catalogue flowing through the speakers take electronica to new heights. On the level of melding commercial pop with experimental electronica, it is a groundbreaking achievement. How much you like it though is going to depend on how much you care for Red Baron's vocals. At times he sounds Lennon-Bowie-esque, but sometimes with processing on the vox it sounds a bit boy-bandish. There is no doubt though that the melodies are compelling, although I prefer the voice untreated. At times it sounds like an acid-drenched tour-de-force up and down the pop radio dial, and nothing is ever exactly a straight-up song. 'Floating' is an intriguing piece of work, with a dreamlike quality unlike anything I've heard of late. Although there were some pieces I liked more than others, I found myself returning to re-listen to this CD more than others that were up for review in this batch. The production is stellar, and Rumpistol pulls out all the stops in its execution. 'Floating' obviously must grow on one over time, and I guarantee you haven't heard anything quite like this before, although elements will seem familiar. Maybe this is the future of pop music, but for now, it is still a theoretical work in progress, although perhaps light years ahead of its time.
Artist: VNDL (@)
Title: Gahrena: Paysages électriques
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
VNDL is Philippe Vandal, from Montreal, Canada. Philippe started producing electronic music in October 2009. Influenced by Access to Arasaka, Amon Tobin, Richard Devine, Gridlock, Apparent Symmetry, Mormo, HECQ, just to name a few. Prior to 'Gahrena: Paysages électriques' he's had a couple of other release ('Something for Someone', 'Tryptyque [123]') but is still a relative newcomer on the electronic music scene. VNDL's modus operandi is IDM/glitch electronica for the most part, and glitchy it surely is, yet tonally rich.
Entering VNDL's world on the opening track, 'afternoon.afternoon,' it sounds as if you've stumbled into a warped workshop of broken guitar parts overrun by termites. The next track, 'crunx' employs processed string (presumably guitar) scraping, plunks, harmonics, rattling, tinks, plinks, dropped bass tones, soft kicks, electronically processed sounds, etc., and eventually some beatz, assembled in semi-random fashion. It's an auditory hodge-podge collage of elements that come across like some warped arcade game. Title track 'gahrena' begins with an electronic insectoid buzzing, then morphs into manipulated, echoed tremolo guitar and crunchy bits of noise. 'bragg' enlists the aid of Nebulo (another Hymen Records glitch artist) with atmos drone, some semblance of a rhythm track and squiggly electronics. 'nikohn' had too much guitar noodling for me although some might find it atmospheric. Later, the Offthensky Remix of the track expands the atmosphere, and I liked it better than the original. 'novar' has a cut 'n' paste glitch rhythm with gauzy processed guitar. 'gaze' is obviously VNDL's concession to shoegaze music with shifting, gauzy, hazy walls of processed guitar. 'recycle theory' is kind of dark and mysterious until the cut-up beat takes over, although 'recycle theory'(part 2) is smoother audial paste. 'night at slaeg' features Polish glitch/IDM electronic music producer Pleq (Bartosz Dziadosz) in a rather smooth bit of aural ambience where even the glitchy elements sound buttery. After spending about an hour in VNDL's world, you might leave feeling a bit exhausted. He throws a lot at you, but it's intriguing enough to want to come back for more. 'Gahrena: Paysages électriques' is heady, abstract experimental stuff, and by no means minimal. If you're looking for a challenging listening experience, this would be it.
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