Music Reviews

Artist: AutopsiA
Title: AutopsiA Live at Divus Prague
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
'Ritual ambient' music tends to evoke only a limited range of rituals. Very often, it honours its roots in dark ambient by producing atmospheres suggestive of mysterious, perhaps forbidden occult gatherings; group or solo chanting, throat singing, thick drones reverberating as if from concealed, underground chambers and sluggish, primitive percussion. There need not be a sinister tone to these kinds of evocations, but one is often richly executed, the music revelling in ominous invocation or worship. It can make for excellent music. However, doesn't sticking to these tropes greatly oversimplify the complexity and diversity (and musical potential) of ritual as a cultural phenomenon? Must we always represent the sinister in the same way? As for benign ritual, one might suggest it is already covered by familiar styles of ambient and new age music. Yet, it seems to me there's a very diverse and fertile gap waiting to be filled.

This live recording by Czech outfit AutopsiA makes use of elements from the darker, more standard interpretation of ritual ambient. However, while the same aesthetic prevails throughout, it isn't particularly loyal to the cliches of this sub-genre. Opener 'Gate' elicits the dark rituals as described above with chants, coarse brass drones and a dense overall murk. Yet from this point, it begins finding other ways to articulate this theme. The second track 'Archipelag' begins with a post-climactic quietness, restlessly populated with hiss and a muffled trombone motif, but culminates in dramatic brass swells that remind more of the Mt. Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble than Herbst9 et al. 'Weltuntergang' enlists brazen orchestral loops as its centrepiece. There is still a familiar climactic grimness here. Then 'IV Essays (1)' turns things positively psychedelic, with meandering organ and synth melodies that seem to recall the wacky intoxication and disorientation of low-budget 60s and 70s horror films. Finally, in contrast to the first piece, the sound sources of 'Radical Machine 3.0' are altogether synthetic: drum machine, spacey pads and a few bleeps for good measure. Equally mysterious and uneasy, but more equivocal; not as unscrupulously grim.

Whether this is the complete live performance or a collection of excerpts, Live at Divus Prague follows a clear path across different ways of conveying similar circumstances. While most of the tracks themselves fail to develop a great deal, they are individually brief. Particularly when heard as a whole, they don't disappoint.
Artist: Candor Chasma (@)
Title: The Key
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafe (@)
Rated: *****
Named after the unexplored canyon of Valles Marineros on Mars, the biggest one on the Red Planet, Candor Chasma, the collaborative project of Sardinia-based sound artists and musicians Simon Balestrazzi (T.A.C., Dream Weapon Ritual, Sarang, A Sphere Of Simple Green) and Corrado Altieri (Uncodified, Monosonik, TH26), despatch their second sonic transmission on Old Europa Cafe after their debut album "Rings", by digging brightly obscure industrial sonorities out of a fascinating conceptual framework, which ideally retraces the most meaningful moments of the adventurous life of Madame Blavatsky, the Russian noblewoman who co-founded the Theosophical Society together with Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge and remarkably influenced Western occultism. Named after some of the most important stages of Blavatsky's biogrphy - from "Hyde Park (August 12, 1851)", where she met Mahatma Morya aka "M", the mysterious initiate that she already met during her childish visions before meeting him in person on the day of her 20th birthday, to "Adyar (1882), a village nearby Madras in Southern India where the founders of the Theosophical Society bought a farm which became the headquarters of the group, from "New York (1877)", where J.W.Bouton issued the first sold-out edition of "Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology", the masterpiece of esoteric philosophy by Madame Blavatsky, to "Calcutta (1855)", the first place she visited in India - the eight tracks of this sonic journey condense abrasive analog noises, electric discharges, otherworldly resounding entities, field recordings, vocal samples and subcutaneous piercing pricks over a captivating crossbreed between power electronics and industrial canons, whose psychedelic intensity gradually grows and reaches the mesmeric acme on the two parts of "S.S.Eunomia" and "Adyar", where this electronic duo seems to give voice to the spirit guides that supposedly opened the gates of the high spiritual gardem and the psychic realms that Madame Blavatsky let espy by means of her life and her rich literary production.
Artist: Godhead (@)
Title: The Shadow Realigned (remix album)
Format: CD
Label: Warrior Records (@)
Rated: *****
Godhead is a band I'm sure you've probably heard of, and likely even heard at one time or another as they've gotten quite a bit of exposure. If not, they're sort of an alternative melodic metal band that flirts with gothic-industrial. On this remix of their 2006 'The Shadow Line' album the flirting has gone full-tilt into goth-industrial territory (for the most part), which seems to be sort of a trend lately with some metal outfits. If nothing else, it's a way to get a review here on Chain D.L.K. (we don't do regular metal) and maybe pick up a few rivethead fans in the process.

Godhead is led by Jason C. Miller (lead vocals, guitars), a pretty talented guy with a great set of pipes for melodic metal and a knack for songs ideally suited for the genre. I should make it clear that I don't care much for alt-melodic-metal, so my previous acquaintance with the band is nearly nil. Remixers on this album include: Jason Miller, Ben Moody (Evanescence), Michael Wandmacher (aka Khursor), Ashburn "Creature" Miller (Orgy), Bryan Konietzko aka Ginormous (animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra), Jamison Boaz, Joe Bishara (Insidious, 11-11-11, Dark Skies, The Conjuring), Team Cybergeist, Shok (too many music production credits to even begin naming), and Psyclon Nine. A little familiarity with 'The Shadow Line' album may be in order, and you can find them easily enough on YouTube, so go check them out first (I'll wait)...Done? Good. Now without further ado, let's get into the remix tracks.

1. The Gift (Robotic Beehive Remix)
Synths replace some guitar and bass, autotune on voice (awful), vocal harmonies stripped away; move the track closer to the goth-industrial, but comes off more like edgey synth-pop.

2. Through The Cracks (Sweet Kill Remix)
Strong synths and and upfront drums, more open spaces allowing this track to breath and cook, and not messing with the vocals makes this remix a stronger effort than the original.

3. Unrequited (Ben Moody Remix)
Ben Moody turns this track into a strange electronic fantasia, but only messes with the vocals peripherally (some effects here and there). Actually, kind of a killer remix.

4. Hey You (Ginormous Remix)
Choirboy intro and all the metal completely stripped out of the track. Synths replace guitars, basic heavy programmed rhythm replaces drum battery. A little plodding but Nine Inch Nailsish. Metal fans won't like it, but I think it's okay.

5. Trapped In Your Lies (NeonGenesis Remix)
Very busy synthwork, dull, stilted drum programming, and very little of the vocals makes this an exercise in bad prog-rock geared for the dark dancefloor. I don't see how Jason let this one pass. Next.

6. Inside Your World (Dark Moon Remix)
The original was a power ballad. This beast of a remix turns the track into almost something completely different- very heavy exploding with dark energy. Best remix on the album so far.

7. Goodbye (Khursor Remix)
In the original, this breakup opus alternates between seething with anger and angst. The remix morphs the cliched material into a cool piece of cinematic cybernetics. If this was actually how Godhead usually sounded, I very well could see myself listening to them regularly.

8. Another Day (Shok's Other Way Remix)
Shok's remix picks up the pace of the drudgy original and makes it come alive. Good use of stuttering electronics and nifty crunchy percussion breaks make a big difference. I don't know if Godhead fans are going to like this one, but I do.

9. Once Before (Arritmic Remix)
Burbling electronics and a dancey beat take an average rock song and make it sound pretty cool. Good club fodder.

10. Push (Creature Remix)
A strange sort of cyber-ambient vibe with a beat, almost minimal with only snippets of the original vocals makes this one of the more experimental remixes on the album.

11. Your End Of Days (Jamison Boaz Remix)
Where the hell have I heard this song before? I know I've heard it somewhere... anyway, the Jamison Boaz Remix makes it sound just a little creepier. It's sort of a toss-up between this and the original.

12. Fall Down (Joe Bishara Remix)
One of Godhead's more mellow tracks off 'The Shadow Line' is given the shoegazer treatment by horror movie soundtrack composer Bishara. Keven Shields, eat your heart out.

13. Unrequited (Team Cybergeist Remix)
If Depeche Mode tried to become a hard rock band, they might sound a little something like this.

14. Trapped In Your Lies (Psyclon Nine Remix)
Well, it started off promisingly enough with a neat dark ambient opening, but Psyclon Nine decided to keep the vocals up front and put the band in a box. Sounds "phoned-in". Disappointing.

15. To Heal
One of the three non-remix tracks on the album, "To Heal" is a previously unreleased Godhead originial. It's kind of a slow-boiler straddling the line between melodic metal and something a little darker. Though there are keyboards, there's nothing really electro-industrial about it. Better than some of the songs off 'The Shadow Line' though.

16. God Of Thunder
Maybe a little better than the Kiss original, but that's mostly due to Jason Miler's voice more than anything else. Kiss is the last band on earth I'd want to pay any homage to though.

17. Never Let Me Down Again
This Depeche Mode cover shows what Godhead might sound like if they tried to become a synthopo band. (Recall track 13, turnabout is fair play.) Not bad actually, just don't expect a whole lot of synths.

Overall, 'The Shadow Realigned' is an interesting, if uneven album with its high and low points, fortunately with more highs than lows. Don't expect this to be a harbinger of a new direction for Godhead though. Jason Miller likes to experiment and deviate from the well-trodden melodic metal path now and then, but more than likely he'll return to the fold in order to keep the fan base he's got.
Artist: Joshua Bonnetta (@)
Title: Strange Lines and Distances
Format: 12" vinyl + DVD
Label: Experimedia (@)
Rated: *****
December 12th 1901. The first transmission of a wireless signal, the morse code for S (2 short dots), crossed Atlantic Ocean from Poldhu Cove in Cornwall, UK, to Fever Hospital in St.Johns, Newfoundland by means of the pioneering Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi. There have already many musical and non-musical works which got inspired by that historical moment, but this one by interdisciplinary artist Joshua Bonnetta focused on the somehow artistic Marconi's belief about sound: the Italian marquis was sure about the fact that sound never completely disappear and a proper receiver could be even able to amplify aged sound which got "broadcasted" in the past. Joshua's audio-visual work could be considered the temporary objectification of such a technological reverie as his author combined hypnotical and dream-injecting emission of short and long radio frequencies with otherworldy transmission, archival material and field recordings, which got grabbed on the two poles of that historical communication in a couple of long-lasting sonic suites, the first of which seems to highlight the interference of human transmission over natural "emissions", while the latter attacks with holy sonorities which evoke the "sacredness" of that scientific discovery before the sonic sphere begins to get saturated by a tangle of radio frequencies. Such an entrancing historical remembrance and a masterpiece of hauntology got completed by a DVD-video, which looks like bridging the transmitting and the receiving points on our planet.
Artist: Costanza Francavilla & Alex Infascelli (@)
Title: Bushwick17
Format: 12"
Label: ZerOKilled Music (@)
Rated: *****
There are many evidences about the widespread obsession with the 23 enigma, other ones has a sort of devotion for their own lucky number, but besides sporadic fans of Heaven 17 or East 17, I've rarely heard about people who like number 17 till the moment I've read some notes around this collaborative release by Los Angeles-based movie maker Alex Infascelli, who gained a considerable notoriety for having signed a number of videclips of many well-known (mainly Italian) musicians, and Italian versatile artist Costanza Francavilla, whose name got known by many music lovers for having been partner-in-art (and according to some rumors, a proper personal muse) of Tricky, who referred to her "the female version of me". Out of respect for their beloved number, they recorded a 17 minutes lasting improvisation in Bushwick, NY, with no overdubs, effects or any other frills by means of a couple of microphones whoich got placed in front of the wall of their performative space where Costanza played synths and Alex built entrancing guitar drones and occasional out-spurts on drums, but listeners could hazard more than one guess around the connection between what they recorded and 17. For instance, you could read 17 according to the typical way to mask other meanings by different typefaces (the most known is AK47, which could be translitterated as "a key for this heaven") so that you could read that number as "one-seven" or "one's heaven" or consider other "esoteric" meanings - the angels or demonds which can be evoked are 17, knight templar were 17, which represent the radiant power of divine knowledge according to other numerologists -, which could have some connection with the somewhat mystical halo fo their improvisation, or 17 could be coniderd their favorite moment of the day (5PM), their personal tea-time! The general atmosphere could recall the sonic rendering of a ritual to get closer to the divine or to some undefined source of inspiration, where the opiate sonorities gradually absorb the sudden drumming explosions, which get slower and slower as if they got anesthetized as well. The end of the recording is a little bit abrupt, but they had to exactly stop recording after 17 minutes...
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