Music Reviews

Artist: Richard Pinhas & Oren Ambarchi
Title: Tikkun
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
The brilliant phiosopher and musician Richard Pinhas, the man behind the legendary French rock band Heldon - when he founded Heldon in 1974, Richard was an assistant professor of philosophy at Sorbonne as well as a lover of science fiction, two branches of human knowledge which heavily influenced his musical outputs -, join his sonic forces with Australian ground-breaking guitar player Oren Ambarchi, a proper prodigy in the enhancment of guitar sound with equalizer and the stylistical flirtation with krautrock (have a listen to his excellent "Sagittarian Domain" in order to have a recent evidence of the fact my words are not shallow praises), for one of his two simultaneous releases. The complementarity between Richard and Oren techniques and aesthetics got already successfully tested on Pinhas' recent album "Desolation Row" and get enhanced by the contributions from drummer Joe Talia, Pinhas' son Duncan, Merzbow and Eric Borelva and perfectly express the theme of this release, which refers to the idea of Tikkun ha-Olam, one of the most important concept of the Kabbalah according to Pinhas' personal interpretation: "the concept of Tikkun is immense, very very big and important, not only in the original Kabbalah but in all the paragnosis "jewish" theoretical concepts. It is about the spiritual creation of our world...a kind of parable... to repair something deeply broken is the point...and Tikkun is the concept that this operation or this process can be named". The three long suites which harmoniously melt elements from progressive rock, krautrock, ambient, psychedelic electronics and dub mange to evoke the spiritual yearning of renaissance behind this esoteric concept by means of effected guitar rides, whose balanced sequences prop the groove up like sharpened spines, smooth stridencies, refulgent drumming, where the almost metallic layering of the initial "Washington, D.C. ' T4V1" and the gradual melodic decay on the centrl "Tokyo - T4V2" prepare the ground for the psychedelic acme of the release, the final "San Francisco - T2V2", where electronic gurgles and scraped guitars coalesce with the punctual appearance of Talia's drums, which boost the previous stridency up to an almost mystical experience.
Artist: Drvg Cvltvre (@)
Title: American Psychosis (part one)
Format: 12"
Label: Shipwrec
Distributor: Clone
Rated: *****
Money management, media-driven mass manipulation, marketing could be considered the bedrock of contemporary socio-political and economical established "democratic" or "M-authoritarian" system as many people have already understood without getting high-brows. Once upon a time, some producers, who crossed techno zone and its neighborhood (I could mention Test Dept, Black Lung and many others), tried to translate their sonic outputs towards the building of such an awareness, but the massive media campaign, intended to demonise some kind of styles by means of the matching with drug abuse, reprobation and any possible kind of anomaly, quenched many pressure points. This poisoned drop by Vincent Koreman, a veteran of Dutch electronic scene - I still remember many of his releases on KK and Mighty Robot Recordings in the guise of RaX -, could bring you back to that interesting stage of 90ies techno, where some grey visions and technocratic paranoia (just another label/negative undertone...) from industrial scene got poured into basslines and drum machines like the glorious 303, the most audible entity in Drvg Cvltvre's sound, that managed to render this kind of IR-lighted dark adaptation to such an obscure perception of civilization. The first part of "American Psychosis" got ignited by "Acid Flash" - an eloquent way to describe what you are going to listen -, a collaborative track with Bournmouth's Chris Moss Acid, but what Shipwrec wisely calls Orwellian electronics reaches its acme on the gloomy sonorities and male voice, who ominuously repeats the title of the B-sided track "I'll Wear Your Face On A Chain".
Artist: Spookshow Inc. (@)
Title: Visions of the Blinded World Pt. 1
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
Hailing out of the deep, dark forests in Norway, here comes out a debut release well fitting into the Electro-Metal/Industrial genre. Spookshow Inc. is a 3-men collective consisting of Norwegian- and Lithuanian-originated musicians. When it comes to describe their music it is a bit challenging, because they can integrate quite different styles and influences to their arsenal. They definitively call 70s icons like Pink Floyd to their quell of inspiration, but also still active projects like Puppy, Prodigy, Paradise Lost, NIN or Rob Zombie got mentioned. Their often installed instruments and influences originated out of the Middle East maybe tend to astonish the listener, but it also confuse here and there. Their globally sound environment allows them to produce in an authentic manner and this album offers some directions seldom discovered before. First off, the awesome looking cover art is kind of brilliant. Themes presented in their lyrics like religion, art, war and post-apocalyptic scenarios of the modern world can be watched in their artistic valuable and eye-catching cover art. Also famous quotes of Voltaire, Edgar Allan Poe, Clive Barker, or Andy Warhol add the right mood and undersign the message to consume this album. But you'd be surprised if you expect the usual known Metal- / Coldwave-related formula to integrate roaring guitar riffs into the mix. Spookshow Inc. rather tend to play guitars in a classic Rock-/Pop-manner, mostly installed as an additional instrument to tease some nerves of the Electronica-only lovers. The vocals are kind of sinister installed, giving the whole mix a relative spooky outcome. The Electronica elements like synth-programming, chosen sounds, bass line sequencing, rhythm section, etc. could need a bit more dedication of the musicians behind. The tracks are suffering a bit under the fact that Spookshow Inc. definitely don't cook with the freshest water around. That's a pity because a bit more 'Industrial'-like influences would do well with their musically diversity. 'Falling Down Pt. 2' is definitely a highlight of this album with its scary voice-sample work. I tend to compare this album with the strange efforts of Noise Box meets Sister Machine Gun under the impact of a wider musically horizon. A fair produced album which needs a bit more-than-usual attention, but with a eye-catching artwork as reward.
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Artist: Xenturion Prime (@)
Title: Mecha Rising
Format: CD
Label: Progress Productions (@)
Distributor: Broken Silence
Rated: *****
Last years' news of the demise of Code 64 has been rather a kick into the stomach, since their last studio album 'Trialogue' was and still is one of the best releases of the Swedish Progress Productions in the last 2 ' 3 years. But here comes the cure like phoenix out of the ashes: Xenturion Prime isn't the working title of the new 'Transformers' movie, but the new project of 2/3 band members of the last Code 64 crew. Vocalist Bjorn Marius Borg and Hans-Olof Mattsson have agreed to keep the flame burning and continue under this new project name. Their first sign of life for this new project was the track 'Rise' released in December 2013, which could successfully enter Germany's GEWC-charts. So here comes their official debut album with 12 tracks and surprise, surprise, the stylistic components often heard and beloved in Code 64 are globally featured on this album too. 'Mecha Rising' impresses with its skilfully arranged Electronica sound-outfit and satisfies the highest demands. Mostly woven into a straight and danceable Electro-/Futurepop sound-environment, the excellent produced music also leaves enough space for the compelling vocals of Bjorn Marius who has impressed already on 'Trialogue'. Generally compared with the last Code 64 album I tend to say, that under Xenturion Prime they also allow a bit tougher styles to enter in the whole sound environment. They like to experiment with the vocals to produce different moods and already 'Rise' was a good example for this. This album features many examples to allow dancefloor action: 'Second Nature' and/or 'Vermilion' have to be named as they also leave scorches of catchiness in the ear-channels. Still attractive I find their obvious dedication to futuristic, sci-fi-related themes. So they often use Spacesynth-like, epic synthesizer-arrangements and their whole outfit sounds very opulent and bombastic, 'Radiant' has to be named as a perfect example here. 'Realms' then adds a bit rest and slows down the tempo in comparison to the rather action-driven other tracks and presents us vocoder effects on the vocals, nicely done! And at least, just if you think this album turns out a bit lesser intense than it started, the final tune 'Beyond Infinity' is another valuable diamond worth to mention. Albums like this won't be written that often and 'Mecha Rising' stands brightly out of the uncountable mass of mediocrity releases. Xenturion Prime is not only the valid follow-up project to the highly respected Code 64, this powerful project rather replaces it!

Artist: George Lazarus U-731 (@)
Title: By All Means
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Malignant Records (@)
'By All Means' is a new CD by Gordon Lazarus, also known as U-731, and Malignant Records. Released in February of this year, Lazarus is joined on this album by Andy Grant of Vomit Arsonist fame and John Stillings of Steel Hook Prosthesis. The result is a strongly drawn image of the power of totalitarianism as seen through the bleak lens industrial strength noise, distortion, menacing drones and spoken words from the speeches of historic personalities. The opening track, 'Forced Neurotic Displacement,' immediately sets the tone with the low drone of propeller-driven bombers heard slowly approaching and then passing directly overhead. A distorted voice is heard shouting out harsh commands amid the sound of explosions. There is the feeling of unstoppable violence and even the sound of the WWII-vintage aircraft is made more menacingly relevant by the high distortion ' it is as if we are looking back through the mist of time to experience the horror and none of the nostalgia. Track 7, 'Suo Gan/Last Rights,' is similar and incorporates the speech by Chamberlain announcing the beginning of the war over the invasion of Poland in 1939. This is accompanied by what sounds like a flight line of departing bombers. As the speech concludes there is the somber sound of women singing amid explosions and this evokes a very sad feeling ' the failure of civilization and the descent into total war. In the title track, By All Means, we hear the voice of Churchill, explaining the evacuation of Dunkirk, is interwoven with a speech by Adolf Hitler. The continuous buzzing drone establishes a kind of blurry equivalence between the two and there is the uncomfortable sense that we have inherited the evil which we sought to destroy. The historical theme continues into the 1960s with track 4, 'Aktion - Freedom Reaktion Resistance.' Here a cold war speech by John F. Kennedy is submerged in a sinister whirring roar that effectively translates the old fears of communist totalitarianism into a unsettling parallel to our present broken political system and reduced civil liberties. Perhaps the most effective track on the album is 'F.E.M.A. Care' where a female voice describes how certain present-day railway facilities have been changed in camps. There is a loud whirring, like some giant machine, accompanied by static so that not all the words are intelligible. But you catch bits and pieces: 'the war on drugs' morphs into 'prisons' that morph into 'concentration camps with gas furnaces.' Another voice is heard and the words 'CIA', 'martial law' and 'concentration camps' are repeated. Your mind begins to connect the dots and this produces a bleak vision of the future that is equally frightening and compelling. There are other tracks on this CD that use the same techniques, 'The Mechanics of Embalming' and 'Asphyxiant Collapse,' but these don't have the political punch of the others and come off as weaker by comparison. 'By All Means' is at its best when dealing with the history of totalitarianism and is an excellent illustration of the proverb that you must choose your enemies carefully because in achieving victory you will become them.
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