Music Reviews



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Artist: Benoit Pioulard (@)
Title: Hymnal Remixes
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Lost Tribe Sound (@)
Rated: *****
Remix albums are often a mixed bag. The quality is determinate largely based on the material that is being remixed and the skill of the remixer. I have not heard much from Benoit Pioulard, nor have I heard the original material from the album Hymnal, so I have no real point of comparison. According to his biography, Benoit Pioulard, also known as Thomas Meluch, 'has been fascinated by natural sounds and the textures of decay. He began playing piano before his feet could reach the pedals, and for more than a decade has sought to create a unique sonic environment by combining remnants of pop song structures with the lushness and unpredictability of field recordings.' Sounds like a good start, so let's see what the remixers have done to this. This album consists of two discs, the first being the more mellow of the two and the second being the more experimental tracks.

Fieldhead opens the first disc with a rendition of 'Mercy' that consists mainly of peaceful ambience. Most of this disc takes a similar approach, such as Field Rotation's remix of 'Censer,' which is reminiscent of Orb. There are some exceptions though. William Ryan Fritch's remix of 'Margin' is one of the more experimental numbers on this disc, with Weird warbling vocals over syncopated strings and a beat that suddenly kicks in with a strange sense of urgency. The Green Kingdom Remix of 'Litiya' is reminiscent of 1990's shoegazer music, with lightly reverbed guitar and calm vocals. Zachary Gray's remix of 'Margin' is nice and catchy, but didn't really seem to fit with the rest of the disc with its almost poppy guitar and song structure. The Graveyard Tapes remix of 'Foxtail' closes out the disc with slow thudding drums and distorted soundscapes that contrast with vocals that are only slightly chorused.

We put in the disc and The Remote Viewer remix of 'Hawkeye' lets us know that we are going a bit more experimental than the previous disc. Nothing too out there, but this is not quite the mellow listening that we had earlier. Many of the tracks, such as those by Segue, Widesky, and Loscil lay down heavy, shimmering drone with varying degrees of noise hiding beneath the surface. Once again, there are some exceptions to this formula. Radere's version of 'Foxtail' is one of the standout tracks on this album, with a beautiful wall of drone that completely opposes the mellowness of the previous tracks. James Murray's rendition of 'Gospel' is a contemplative, instrumental track that sounds almost like soundtrack work. Benoit Honore Pioulard provides an interesting retake of 'Reliquary,' with dissonant ambient compositions that never really get noisy ' just sort of grating, which seems at odds with the lulling, peaceful rhythm of the music.

I'm not sure if this would be a good introduction to Benoit Pioulard's work, as all of these are remixes, but I found them to be strangely coherent for a compilation of this kind, a coherence that goes beyond the source material. As such, it sounds more like a unified album than the collection of alternate takes that it actually is. Disc 1 weighs in at around 44 minutes and Disc 2 weighs in at around 53 minutes. Limited to 450 copies.
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Artist: The Loved One
Title: The Radio Fantazias
Format: CD
Label: Metaphon
Rated: *****
The Loved One is the brainchild of Dryden Hawkins and has been around since 1976. He even had a track on the first compilation from Some Bizarre Records. It seems that this is a re-release of an album originally released in 1994. What we have here is quite like what the title suggests - radio transmissions that blur together and interfere in interesting ways. But there is a specific time frame evoked here, which is the radio of the space race. According to the label, 'All of the Radio Fantazias were composed from one set of shortwave radio passes recorded from 1981 to 1986. These electronic variations were composed using the shortwave as the only source material.' There are plenty of analogue bleeps and bloops to be had, with theremin sounds mixing with bits of voice that has been ripped away from the context. Some of the highlights include 'Radio Fantazia No. 3,' which features a slow, grooving beat and snippets of distorted voice, reminiscent of Rothkamm or a 1950s science fiction movie. In other places, they mix it up a bit, as in 'Radio Fantazia No. 5,' which sounds like it is channeling Muslimgauze with middle-eastern tinged music that sounds like it comes to us over shortwave radio. Bits of female vocals intertwine with digeridoo and droning ambiance. 'Radio Fantazia No. 6' likewise takes a shift, going more dark ambient and less analog for spacey drone. If you like stuff like Bob Ostertag's "Attention Span," but found it a bit too disjointed and noisy, this may be your fix. Turn the dial slowly. This album weighs in at around 36 minutes.
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Artist: Vomito Negro (@)
Title: Death Sun
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mailorder
Rated: *****
I think it is unnecessary to introduce this Belgian cult-project a bit more detailed, isn't it? Gin Devo strikes back with his famous EBM/Electro music-project and offers a completely new album signed to Scanner / Dark Dimension label-group in Europe, but thankfully too with a license deal to Metropolis Records. I call this release as being one of the best license deals of the last 6 months! 'Death Sun' picks up the ideas left after their last years' marvellous album 'Fall Of An Empire'. The musical approach of this project is essentially based on the EBM sound outfit so popular in Europe in the mid-80s. If you count Front 242, The Klinik, and/or A Split-Second to be the most prominent names out of the Belgian EBM-heydays, you have to add Vomito Negro in the same row. And also for this new album counts still the same successful formula: no usage of software-based synthesizers, only hardware equipment has been used to record this album. The result comes out as wanted: it's purest, massive produced EBM/Electronica-music with the dark mood so typical and genre-building for Vomito Negro, if you remember your beloved collections with classics like 'The New Drug', 'Human', 'Shock' or 'Dare'. Gin Devo's music impresses with the machinated pressure through hammering sequencer loops and tough kick-and-snare works with the typical raw and Punk-like kind of the EBM heydays. This album kicks of with haunting instrumental tune called 'Time' with sinister sounding synth-pads in a Downtempo-like, Dark Electro-vein. 'Stain' animates for the first time the dark audience to storm the floors in the clubs with its cold and repetitive bass line sequences and the dramatic sounding vocal performance of Gin. 'Fighting The Force' also doesn't take prisoners and impresses with its monotonous song-structure and the tormented vocal performances. 'Obsession' is still danceable, but lesser drastic produced, more subtle with the exception of the pummelling percussion section to the end of the track. 'White Lights' with its slightly distorted rhythm-section proves once again the originality of the musician Gin Devo and actually no one using software plug-ins will be able to copy this in a satisfying manner. Same counts for the noisy soundscapes in 'Nairaland' woven into a Klinik-al rhythm section. Deeply impressed I was also with the closing tune 'Angel Fire', an epic sounding Dark Electro instrumental tune with a repetitive kick and snare-work. Crafty and powerful produced, this album doesn't leave any wishes open if you want to find a well-fitting soundtrack to bring back the tough Belgian EBM heydays. Forget whatever you have heard lately out of the Harsh-EBM camp, because this one here is more intense and most importantly more authentic produced than any of the recent up-to-date stuff. Excellent work!
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Artist: THYX (@)
Title: Super Vision
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mailorder
Rated: *****
Since the Austrian Electro-/Industrial magicians of Mind.In.A.Box are quite bonded thematically to the ongoing story-board of the main protagonist Black and his adventures in the Dreamweb (story written by A. Gruber, www.agruber.com), it may has become a bit boring for the mastermind behind, Stefan Poiss So this MIAB side-project has come to life and has been named after a song written by Poiss about 15 years ago. This song and its name have a deeper meaning for Poiss, because this name stands for a synonym of a specific kind of soundscape he has once discovered. So now he hunts after this soundscape under THYX and tries hard to re-create what he once discovered. 'Super Vision' is already the third album on this hunt in a very short time-line. Of course, Poiss cannot at all wear off all of the sound ingredients which have made MIAB that famous and highly recognized. Also under THYX he produces his well-known formula with a futuristic sound-design, with bombastic synthesizer layers and also the often with MIAB discovered vocoderized vocals. So THYX is more than a valuable copy to MIAB and you can be assured to get another high-quality release out of the Austrian sound-stable. Musically Poiss services a wide playing-field and entertains with genre-bending changes. 'Robots Don't Lie' is a decent sci-fi storyboard with wobbling synthesizer-leads and a straight beat-work. Another great tune to satisfy the dancefloor-junkies in the dark clubs can be discovered with 'Forgotten', while the charming pop harmonies of 'Our Only Home' have to be mentioned too in the highlight-listing of this overall marvellous album. 'Für Immer' combines different vocal performances into a darker than usual sound design. This list of highlights can be continued endlessly while it only proofs that Strfan Poiss still enjoys his being in creating unique soundscapes for the after-world. If you've been impressed with MIAB before you will also love THYX. 'Super Vision' is a top-notch Electronica album and another lecture for all the poor wannabes out there providing keyboard-music with factory preset-sounds.
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Artist: Orange Dust
Title: Always Under Attack
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Vermin Street
Rated: *****
Orange Dust is a breakbeat/dnb project from Australia. The work ( 'Always under attack' released by Vermin Street) is a 6-tracks album plus a remix by Hitori Toke. The album seems, paradoxically, both a little bit wimpy and a little bit contorted. For instance there is a track ('Drive of unloving things') that is full of useless samples effected in a very messy way, and the structure of the song is completely misleading. One may say 'well, this is a feature of the genre'...but it is not the kind of messiness that you may find in, for example, Venetian Snares. I mean that it is difficult to make sense of all stop 'n' go, samples and strange rhythmic part. Another example is 'Wizard eyes' that, although it is a very good track (the melody is amazing and the voice sample is finely tailored), sometimes samples and insertions are overused and they make no sense at all. In 'Dead Broke' there are plenty of scratches and my impression is that they are out of time. But I see where the guy wants to go and actually 'Salvador and the knife' is a fantastic track, in which the messy aspects and more melodic parts are arranged finely. There are then some track a little bit wimpy. This depends on the mix, in the sense that the drum section is not captivating, although the guy has a good command of rhythm. However, drum machine does not impact on the listener as it should in this genre. I'm not a native speaker, so I don't know how to explain this concept as a native speaker would do: I say that it is not powerful. Examples are 'Moth' that, after a short intro with (I suppose) cello, it explodes in the usual dnb manner, but the drum sounds doesn't do its job. It is the same for 'Misunderstood Machine': the drum machine is quite flat and the song is pretty boring. I think there is a lot of potential in Orange Dust, because the guy has a really good command of softwares. However (in my opinion) he has to improve substantially the mix part and (just sometimes) to 'lighten' a little bit songs from samples and insertions.
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