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Artist: Empire State Human
Title: Soul Of The Machine
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: House Of Analogue
Rated: *****
Lately Aidan Casserly is really active and he's always forming new musical projects but despite this Empire State Human, his main band, is alive and kicking and "Soul Of The Machine" is their newest album. Containing ten new tracks, the album alternates romantic ballads, dark mid tempos and dancey instrumentals (like "Spacelab One" and "Chameleons"). As usual Aidan's voice is the the characteristic element of E.S.H. music (to me, he sounds like a mix of Marc Almond and Billy MacKenzie) but also the synths arrangements and the melodies composed with Lar Kiernan have the right weight on the formula that is making of "Soul of the machine"a nice album which grows with each listening. On this one I miss a little the melody catchiness of some of their old songs like "Film Star", "Leap Of Faith" or "Chase The Ace" as well as a sort of dance influence anyway the tracklist of "Soul of the machine" is well balanced and works pretty well. Not their album I prefer the most but E.S.H. are always a band worth following and they are already working on new songs...
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Artist: Ten Kens (@)
Title: Namesake
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Coming from Toronto, Canada, Ten Kens self release their third full length titled "Namesake". Already released as digital download the last year, the album finally has an extended physical release edition with four bonus tracks coming from the same recording sessions. Now containing fourteen tracks, "Namesake" is a powerful dark psychedelic noise rock voyage recorded, produced and engineered by Ten Kens' own Brett Paulin and Dan Workman. Born from a period of isolation, the album sounds obscure and inspired. Check the way the songs evolve turning from dark folk ballads to psychedelic noise monsters where out of control distorted guitars bleed their chords on heavy drumming and distant chants. Sounding like a pagan ritual, tracks like "Bliss"or the hypnotic obsessive "Gently Used" will sure catch you like a spider's web catch a fly. Having shared stages with such bands as A Place To Bury Strangers, No Age, Deerhoof, The Joy Formidable and Surfer Blood, Ten Kens are ready to start their to widen their US and European tours. If you love bands like Codeine or late Slint be sure to check them!
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Artist: Theologian (@)
Title: The Chasms of My Heart
Format: CD
Label: Crucial Blast (@)
Rated: *****
Funny thing, in my bookstore I carry a small variety of the kind of CDs we review here at Chain D. L. K. but in a town as conservative as Corning, N. Y. I don't get much call for this kind of music. A customer asked me if I had any black metal, and I told him no, but I did have some dark ambient and noise. The he asked me if I had any Theologian. I told him I had it in my review pile but it wasn't for sale. He was a little disappointed but bought something else along the same line anyway after I played a bit for him and left a happy camper. Now I've recently reviewed some noise CDs and wasn't anxious to jump back into noise right away but his request sparked my curiosity.

I discovered that Theologian is Lee M. Bartow, or Leech from Navicon Torture Technologies, a project I'm familiar with having reviewed the 'Pure~Skin' album a few years back. I thought there was something familiar about this'¦anyway, being that the album was released November of 2012 (too many releases to review here, not enough time) I figured I might as well check around and read some other reviews, something I don't usually do. I found that 'Chasms of My Heart' had practically universal acclaim, and many of the reviews were much better and more in-depth than I could possibly muster. Still, I have to say something that may not already have been said, and present my own perspective of what Theologian is doing on this album.

First, 'The Chasms of My Heart' is a powerful album that transcends a lot of the stuff that many noise/power electronics artists are putting out these days. It's not power in the sense of volume, brutality, or sonic elements, but rather in the refinement of craft and sense of purpose. There is a focus here that many in the genre seem to lack. The opener, 'Abandon All Hope' employs blended tonal black noise drones, a ritualistic, distorted industrial beat, and chanted-sung distorted vocals. You won't be able to understand them. You don't have to; it's all in the feeling. There's a pain there that can't be healed. You will feel it.

You may not associate the title of 'Starvation is a Legitimate Weapon of War' with what you are hearing but it's one brilliant piece of homogenized noise ambience. No disruptions, no diversions, just a pure sonic roar dying down to a whisper in the span of four and a half minutes. 'My Body is Made of Ash'¦I Live as Ash' is subdued, yet so rich in content you can't help but be impressed; sort of the perfect blending of noise and power electronics, and yet, there is something innately musical about it. And when the industrial percussion loop kicks in with the white noise rise, it will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. Very 'machine tribal'. 'We Can't All Be Victims' begins with simmering ambient noise drone then a repetitive electronic rhythm, and a squall of noise that is likely guitar generated. Black shoegaze? Maybe, but not slow enough. Higher tones emerge as it intensifies. I swear I hear voice in there too somewhere. More ritualistic overtones on the beat-oriented 'I Don't Exist' with intermittent buzzy drone tone and a nice helping of black ambience. It crackles with energy and distortion. I approached 'Bed of Maggots' with some trepidation due to the title, but here is where Theologian's brilliance really comes to fore. Beginning with an atypical filter resonance modulated sequenced synth riding a crest of noise over low dark ambience, it builds into somewhat of a roar that morphs into a laser-like focus of noise and electronics that sear the soul. 'Title track 'Chasms of My Heart' has a percussion loop that's like some bizarre parade march with sustained vocal wailing somewhere in the background. It's hard to tell the voice from the electronics here. The atmosphere here is richer and thicker than I could possibly describe. Final track 'Every Road Leads to Abandonment' is an explosion of heavy, crushing beat, searing electronics and rich noise. Yet there is an eerie musicality embedded in it.

I have been leaving certain sonic elements out of the descriptions giving you only the barest sketch, for what purpose would there be in revealing all? That's for you to experience. If nothing else, 'The Chasms of My Heart' has convinced me that there can be creativity and depth in the power electronics/noise genre, not simply'¦well noise. What Lee has created here in his Theologian project is quite extraordinary. Other artists in the genre take note; this is the standard by which your work ought to be measured.
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Artist: P.O.P. (@)
Title: Täbriz
Format: CD
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
Both the title tracks which refer to different kinds of Persian carpets, the finest ones in the world, and the bizarre sound experience this collaborative project by Hannes Strobl (bassist and composer of Denseland) and Reinhold Friedl aka Zeitkratzer rendered could surmise not only the elegant motifs of Iranian carpets, but also their weaving. The incessant movement of rods, shuttle, heddle, lathe, treadles of a loom, the asymmetrical knotting and the gradual braiding of the motif could be evoked the strictly interconnected elements, the rolling variations and repetitions, the rubbing and the striking on expanded piano strings, the clenching of electric bass' strings and the other impressive and wisely inoculated sounds which suddenly insinuate into sonic sphere. That's the way I decoded what P.O.P.'s explicative manifesto names the acoustic cryptogram in order to let listener understand the meaning of the programmatic anagram (P.O.P. stands for Psychology Of Perception, but such an abbreviation has a richer aftertaste by far within the fences of a wider thinking cap about the perception of arts), but the motifs that eack listener could draw from P.O.P.'s slowly mutating patterns could be totally different from mine, so that "Tabriz" could be considered as a somewhat original sonic work by an eulogizer of subjectivity in the translation of sounds into mental images and emotional projections.
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Artist: Seaworthy + Taylor Deupree (@)
Title: Wood, Winter, Hollow
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
Enhanced field recordings, or I'd better say, musically enhanced field recordings. That's the way how we could synthetically define the awesome upgrade to this mic-driven sonic science by Taylor Deupree and Australian musician Cameron Webb from the delicate electroacoustic post-rock band Seaworthy, who decided to break another unwritten rule of this kind of collaborative project as well: instead of edit reciprocal samples and sound files exchanged by Internet, they preferred to work together in person, so that Mr.Webb booked a flight and left Australian summer behind his shoulders to reach New York's extremely cold winter. They started to grab sounds by microphones and hydrophones from Ward Pound Ridge, a 4000-acres wide historical park nearby Taylor's studio, whose rich fauna and flora didn't get sedated only by hard winter, but also by Hurricane Sandy who violently hit that area by scattering litter and broken trees. After three days of recordings, they started to build this album by juxtaposing bells, melodica, analog synths and above all Webb's entrancing arpeggios on a nylon guitar, whereas real-time mutual interaction highlighted the emotional side of the album, whose sound succeded in emphasizing the enchanted illusory stillness of that place and its emotional hints as wall as the seemingly distinct contrast between the typical sounds of a frozen landscape and its absorbing poignant emotional warmth, which sounds like rising from the initial bluesy notes of "Wood" till the somehow harrowing contemplation of "Hollow".
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