Music Reviews



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Artist: T'ien Lai
Title: Da'at
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
Imagine you are walking alone in a desert street before passing through a dimensional gate by which you jump over a magnetic storm where otherworldly entities are trying to communicate by means of old radio broadcasting, synth refrains and attuning photons in order to have a vague idea of the listening experience that has been radiated by this Polish duo made up of Lukasz Jedrzejczak and Kuba Ziolek, who named their project from T'ien Lai (Japanese expression meaning "heavenly music"), the brand of cigarettes that Frank Frink, a secretly Jewish worker who got fired from Wyndham-Matson Corporation for having expressed his anger in the disquieting novel "The Man in the High Castle", where the visionary American writer Philip K.Dick imagined how daily life would be under nazi-fascist imperialism after an imaginary victory of the second world war. Their five neural heterotopies immediately hang on listener's eardrum by stunning electric discharges and dissonances which often unpredictably unfold in sonic clouds and heavenly soundscapes which sound like stripped epiphanies, whose revelatory effulgence sometimes meet modern simulacra and bugs of what a situationist could have named a contemporary trapping code, which sometimes look like mirages in a cognitive desert. Besides the references to Qabbalic symbolism and mystical beliefs - for instance the title of the album refers to the meeting point of the ten sephirot of the Tree of Life -, the description of their strategy for alluring audiences is eloquent when they invite them "to take part in an urban rite of liberation and disorder, within which kitsch and folk art intertwine with sanctity and truth, creating an unbreakable relationship". I cannot rule out the possibility you receive a visitation by Meyrink's Golem or green faced divine emissary (or alternatively the fiend who sometimes takes possession of Madonna's wit after she got sampled from some old radio broadcast on the overture of "Gloria") as you reaches the final dark-ambient psychedelic pool of "Tzimtzum III".
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Artist: Atropine
Title: Recurring Nightmares
Format: CD
Label: EK Product (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
With a fair look back on Norway's Electro/Industrial scene two decades before there we had Apoptygma Berzerk with the earliest releases, Angst Pop, Remyl and the 7-members collective Anstalt with their uncountable side-projects (Industrial Heads, Defcon 4, Teutonic Knights, etc.). The duo of Atropine consists of ALX and Cthulberg and has been a companion project to Anstalt. Already established in those heydays, but mostly they've been well hidden under the radar of the international-based audience. Both members have been more or less involved in Anstalt, but unfortunately never been that prominent. Too bad also that Atropine couldn't enter a slot on the legendary "Sex, Drugs and EBM" compilation of the Norwegian Tatra Records label in 1993. So after a few tape releases and two self-released CDR's mostly reserved to their local audience, there has been silence in the Atropine-camp for nearly 14 years. Musically this duo rather represents the darker and more aggressive side of the EBM/Electro/Industrial genre, although they still try to integrate some cold-melodic synth-pads. They actually seem to think about the course of action in the EBM genre lately and with their understanding they are able to offer us a diverse sounding official debut album, now newly signed and released by the Italian EK Product label. The connection of this Norwegian duo to the Italian-based label fits pretty well not only because of their veteran status. Atropine are true kids of the so-called second EBM wave and so they are acting. If it needs to throw some prominent names for comparison sakes into the ring, I would name early X Marks The Pedwalk meets Dive meets Absent Minded in a row. Already the opening tracks are demonstrating, that the sound environment of Atropine includes more than your usual floor stomper tune. "Glass Jaw" with its aggressive vocals and various noise-samples stalks slowly into your nightmares, while the more than 7 minutes long "Remaining Limb" impresses with part-wise hilarious voice-samples dealing on "delicious" things like necrophilia. The next tune "Retch Trigger" is ideal food for marching the floors of all dark clubs, although their brilliant synth layers and its cold melodic content are transforming this track to be one of the most attractive pieces. The album then turns a bit closer to that more experimental-minded Dive-like influence with mid-tempo tunes like "Coercion" or "Contrite". Dancefloor-compatibility returns with those pummeling tracks like "Luminax" and "Churn", while we find in between the to me best tune with "Bonesaw" - this one grabs you by the throat with its oppressive synth-arrangements and bizarre drum-patterns. Finally a remix of the Columbian EBM-project Struck 9 on "Churn" concludes this album. It needs to be said that this album features for the most part re-recordings of the tracks already released on their CDR "Master Raze", but of course completely revamped and mastered. But don't think that this alters the good quality of this release - it's rather the opposite. They named their album "Recurring Nightmares"? That's wrong because Atropine have produced a nightmarish sounding EBM album full of diversity and intelligent ideas!

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Artist: Severe Illusion (@)
Title: Deliberate Prefrontal Leucotomy
Format: CD
Label: Complete Control Productions (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
It's new to me that the both Severe Illusion peeps are going to study brain surgery. Their last year release 'Psychosurgery', a 5-track-EP physically available in a hard-to-get limited edition of 100 exemplars, fits thematically perfect and can be seen as the ideal preliminary degree examination. 'Deliberate Prefrontal Leucotomy' now represents their examination and delivers an ongoing conceptual release on 8 tracks. The musically expression of Fredrik Djurfeldt and Ulf Lundblad has changed rather in minor dimensions to their earlier works, but that was to expect. Compared to the last studio album 'No More Alive Than You Deserve', this new opus sounds harsher and more grinding; just like the right soundtrack to one of the most perverse themes committed in post-modern psychiatry. Their ability to spread salt in open socio-critical wounds is unbroken and I have to admit that to read about the theme of leucotomy and especially the 'ice-pick lobotomy' performed by Walter J. Freeman in the 1940's in more than 3000 cases has been shocking. The chorus of praise for Severe Illusion is well deserved, as they often tap our minds on barbaric past things of mankind, which nowadays fall often into the abyss of oblivion. The music delivery the typical harsh, cold, and noisy attitudes this duo is so well known for. 'Louder Than Words' and 'Postsynaptic Receptor Disruption' are both mid-tempo tracks with monotonous bass-lines and the hefty distorted vocal performance. 'Discontinuation syndrome' then offers some voice-samples based on the conceptual theme thrown into a noisy thunderstorm - it's a more Powernoise- / Experimental-minded tune than all other tracks available here. 'Hole' differs a lot to almost all tracks on 'D. P. L', because it is a lighter, very dancefloor-compatible tune with flute-like synth-pads. The most exciting track I discovered with the raw and nightmarish produced 'Tardative Dyskinesia' - already the starting metallic clanks leave scorch marks in my ear-channel! The one and only complaint on this fine and absolutely authentic sounding album is once again the far too short playing-time. C'mon guys, you've got more disturbance-stuff in your holster than to stop after 33 minutes only! It is nevertheless a must-have album filled with oppression presented in all 8 tracks.

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Artist: Bene Gesserit (@)
Title: Benefit
Format: Tape
Label: Insane Music
Rated: *****
Member of Chopstick Sisters, Cortex, Human Dance, Human Flesh, I Scream, Japanese Genius, La Maison Du Jardinier, Ornament & Crime Arkhestra, Pseudo Code, Sic and Subject, Alain Neffe is mostly known to be a member of Bene Gesserit along with his wife Nadine Bal, who was also into Ornament & Crime Arkhestra and Chopstick Sisters. Alaine and Nadine also run the label Insane music since the early 80s and released different volumes of the "Insane Music For Insane People" compilation series (as I'm writing I have into my pile of stuff I have to review #26) and album by Pseudo Code, Cortex, Human Flesh, I Scream and Le Tombeau. Some weeks ago I received a promo of Bene Gerrit's latest release titled "Benefit". It is a tape standard j-card with an additional false "Hell Bank Note" added in front. Hand-numbered to 200 copies and hand-stamped with a red Chinese "Insane" stamp it has also orange fluo case with stickered labels. It has been released to raise some money for the group helping them to get new recording studio equipment. It contains eleven unreleased tracks of the band but I don't know when they have been recorded but this is of little concern, because Bene Gesserit music is without time as it is capable to sound experimental and catchy at the same time. We have the upbeat noisy guitar "Stinking Ãlrich", the oriental crazy atmospheres of "Deborah, Romina, Martha, Sabrina, Tatiana, Barbara", the syncopated organ/guitar arpeggio based "Happy Like An African In Belgium", the pop 60s sounding "Bon Bon", the sampled violin/filtered vocals/dub drum based "The Gnashing Gnome" and the reversed sounds/organ based "It's Friday". What amazed me most is the theatrical feeling (thanks to Nadine's vocals) and the way they are able to mix different influences sounding, at the end, just like Bene Gesserit. If you want to help them into making a new recording studio, for 12 Euros you can have a tape with great music and a CDr (just in case you don't have a tape deck anymore). From Belgium with love...
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Artist: Lyke Wake
Title: The Black Light
Format: CD
Label: Aseptic Noise
Rated: *****
Active on the second part of the 80s, Stefano Di Serio released under the Lyke Wake moniker different tapes and one split album with Ivan Iusco's Nightmare Lodge on Ivan's label Minus habens. After those releases Stefano put the project on hold for twenty years and came back on 2011 with "Mother". His sound has been always characterised by long fluctuating sounds which tended to create a meditative/dreamy effect on the listener. Always in balance from dark ambient (before the genre was named that way), cosmic music and industrial, Lyke Wake's journey into synthetic sounds lead Stefano to new worlds. On his latest CDr self released album "The Black Light", we have one hour suite where he explore his inner world using a ship made of long synth pads, light noisy waves and evolving melodic patterns. We pass from spacey atmospheres to a slow church organ arpeggio and suddenly we fall into a nightmarish intermezzo made of noises, drones and synth pads. After a short pause the atmosphere gets tense more and more. We have this path another time just to end with a chaotic mix where we have atmospheric pads and noises that went crazy. Nice one!
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