Music Reviews



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Artist: AEC (@)
Title: Sex.Drug.Sequence
Format: CD
Label: Solid.Grey.Sky.Recordings
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
Tyler Newman as being the founder of Battery Cage and one half of Informatik doesn't need any more detailed introduction. He and his female partner Stacey P. have lately decided to bring the AEC project back to life after the debut 'Hate Life' back in 2001. Was this debut the step after the Battery Cage-debut 'Product' pretty much influenced by the recent Electro/Industrial sounds as well as internal band- and downtime-problems of Battery Cage in those days, the project regained activity with the addition of Stacy in 2003. Signed and brought to us by Tyler's very own label Solid.Grey.Sky.Recordings label, this new album isn't at least that new as expected. 'Sex.Drug.Sequence' has already collected dust in their store for more than 9 years until both now found the right time and inspiration to release this album out. So this album rather reflects what was up-to-date in 2004 and it is pretty much inspired by the danceable Synth-/Futurepop-sound in those days. But however the things have turned out around this album, it a refreshing and vital sounding one, which has enough attractive spears in the holster to entertain. 'Supernatural' is the ideal opening and stomping tune with heavy Techno-beat works and Tyler's emotional voice ' add some Metal-guitars and this one could find a slot to Battery Cage's 'World Wide Wasteland' album. 'Pain' then introduces Stacey for the first time doing the co-vocals during the chorus. Her talent shines even better through if she provides some solo performances like on 'The Strength Of Steel', 'Still', or the very melancholic sounding 'Final'. 'Manipulate Me' maybe represents the most the intention to produce a Futurepop-related album, although I don't call this a highlight. Brilliant programming skills, catchy melodies and perfectly intonated vocals of the both protagonists can be heard in between 'Still', 'Cold Glass' and 'Move Together'. Here you can hear the best and most representative moments of this highly recommended album. A 'thump-up' also deserves the remix contribution of Epsilon Minus on 'Supernatural', which adds a more relaxing note to the original. This is a perfect-as-can-be sounding album in this specific genre whose compositions provide an always entertaining and diverse sounding listening experience. Some of the songs allow dancefloor-action; while others let you sink deeply into a melancholic mood. It only leaves open one final question: why does this album composed in 2004 sound so much more refreshing, so much more dedicated than any genre-comparable album of the present times? This must belong to the talent of the musicians behind'¦
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Artist: Leaether Strip (@)
Title: Æscapism
Format: CD
Label: Emmo.biz Records (@)
Distributor: Emmo.biz
Rated: *****
The legend returns for another new studio album: after his demise from the Belgian Alfa Matrix label, Danish Mr Dynamite Claus Larsen has found a new home with the German Emmo.Biz label. His intention to slow down and to stop his activities for a while, well that has at least taken only a few weeks until he felt the need to compose again.
So this new album includes 15 tracks all composed between August 2013 to January 2014 and it reflects newly all facets we have discovered from Claus during his long-year career so far. Be it this danceable, energetic side with tracks like 'Sanctuary', 'Humanity-Equality' or the bashing 'Suicide Summer School', or be it introverted, slowed-down and very personal sounding tunes like 'Hired Man' or 'I'm Not The One', which rather remind on some early 80s Synthpop-/New Wave-tunes. This album also features humorous stuff with 'Strong Boys', which reflects the daily life of the young Anhalt-/Old School-EBM youth ' with a German vocal insert by Rummelsnuff and an evil, sarcastic grin of course. Also worth to mention is the Dark Electro pearl 'Extinction Protocol', a collaborative track with Canadian Decoded Feedback.
As expected, Claus remains faithful in his style with his known sound-dimension and his synth programming skills. It's unfair to compare his latest works always and ever with his classic recordings like the 'Solitary Confinement'-album, because some of the here featured tracks are throughout able to rival with like 'Adrenaline Rush' and/or 'Strap Me Down'. An album like 'Solitary Confinement' cannot be written day by day and this has to be accepted by all criticism around. I think that Claus has his very own kind to express himself, but nowadays in a wider musically spectrum. He now touches all styles between Synthpop to EBM to Electro-Rock but still with his very own sense of 80s-nostalgia. Under this point of view you might be pretty much entertained with this new album.
Additionally to this new effort Claus will re-release the album 'Untold Stories' in a new 2CD edition. This album is one of his very melancholic efforts, which he has self-produced and self-released without promotional and distribution help.
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Artist: Kemialliset Ystävät (@)
Title: Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa
Format: 12"
Label: Dekorder
Rated: *****
When you'll press play and listen the opening track "Alempana Kuin Enkelit" and the following one "Aristorotat _ Risuilla Tayteyssa Salissa" of the amazing new album by Finnish Jan ANderzen-led hyper-psychedelic super-group Kemialliset Ystavat, you could fantasize about a division of an imaginary Willy Wonka industrial group which works in the carpentry sector by means of an harmonious enslaving of Oompa-Loompas who got reskilled after the risk of social turmoil when a ferocious round of layoff got pre-announced and trained giant beavers with diamond-cut front-teeth, whose importance for the launch of hybridized cherry and sporuce pine Xmas tree which got thought for keep on celebrating Xmas in springtime (check cover-artwork!) got praised by a schizoid supervisor! You could surmise that tracks like "Roiske Ruudukolla" or "Nijura" got based by a possible flow chart to describe logical sequence of cognitive processes by Tim Burton's Pee-Wee or other weird characters or that this weird agglutination could came from a laboratory experiment which combined genes from Terry Riley, Raymond Scott, Esquivel and Negativland, but you could also perceive paranoid or nostalgic break within the weird whirligigs of bleeps, synth-spurts, honky-tonky strokes, field recordings, vocal samples, toytronic melodies, crazy arpeggiators and ebullient hodgepodges of sonic entities which manage to make such a listening experience even more adventurous and emotionally overcharged. That's a very funnily popping sonic medley, folks!
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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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