Music Reviews



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Artist: Forward Stategy Group
Title: Labour Division
Format: CD
Label: Perc Trax
Rated: *****
a lot of bleak but often majestic landscapes mixed with industrial decay

Hard-edged futursitic techno from Bristol, Uk and Edinburgh, Scotland. Bearing the stamp of 90s Industrial music, the album opener, 'ident', comes on with a synth-riff culled from the trailing edges of Nine Inch Nail's 'Closer', they blend meat combat-boot aggression with Detroit/Berlin's trance-inducing basslines, to suggest the sound of driving through gray pavement and flickering tunnels. Its post-apocalyptic! Its exciting! Its romantic!

Labour Division is the duo's first full-length, after releases on Perc Trax and Stroboscopic Artefacts, and being featured in Surgeon's DJ sets, Forward Strategy Division are primed to be a big deal. This year has seen an upsurge of industrial upstarts, the never-ending onslaught of Dominick Fernow's Vatican Shadow releases, or the recent monolithic Regis re-issues, (one of which i wrote about over here), it seems that ears may be ready to ingest these monochromatic soundscapes. Its not all Blade Runner, though; there's a solid Rave thump to these ten tracks. Its made for dancing, as well as driving. The beats are crisp and sound-sourced from analog. There is a real circuit-board grit to these recordings, that warms the human heart.
Patrick Walker, aka Isodyne, described their intention behind making this records as, 'creating a slightly detached commentary on growing up in Scotland through the 80s and 90s. For me, that would be; confusion, grunge and hard electronics'¦.' in an interview with Halcyonline, before going on to describe FSG's sound as 'glam meets giger'. Its pretty astute, listening to this record is like walking down a concrete tunnel, with industrial sonic bleed receding as you approach the beckoning sub-bass. You open a double-pair of gym doors to a smoky, strobe-lit room.
Forward Strategy Group's stripped-down Technophilia is never going to be a radio hit, although it should. Labour Division, for the most part, is short on melody and full of long-playing locked grooves. Its meant for modern-day trance shamen that like to let the light from the disco ball fall on their slitted eyelids, and dance like cobras. The beat drives you further and further up the spiral, leaving behind all cares and worries, with the grating synth leads scourging away each rising thought like a sandstorm. Mostly its all about the beat, with interludes of dark ambiance, 'Fading Centres,' and clever moments of modern montage, 'Industry & Empires' ' street city atmospherics. Labour Division is like an adventure in an urban jungle, full of chanting and dreams. Its menacing, but at least yr living.
Forward Strategy Group are off to a good start, and show the healthy state of Techno and Bass music across several continents. They continue the trend of assessing and cultivating the strengths of myriad genres, creating a hyper-evolved killing machine. Deadly efficient, and made to thrive. Start here, then dig through the rest of Perc Trax's catalog, read some interviews, and get a good introduction to the post-Industrial underground.
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Artist: Richard Barrett & Han-Earl Park (@)
Title: Numbers
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
You can easily imagine an accountant, a computer expert or an operational researcher in the act of falling prey of frightening hallucinations after a session of intensive work on numerical models, impressive balance sheets or other number-covered screed and their colossal equations or string while getting turned into ominous entities which paralyze their own maker in order to obsess, harass and torture him till death while listening to this amazing and fuzzy release by Welsh electronic musician and performer Richard Barrett (some well-trained listeners could know his collaborative project FURT with Paul Obermayer as well as his work within the Elision Ensemble) and guitarist, improviser and very talented performer Han-Earl Park. By means of an intricate web of sonic hiccups, scrapes, scouring, gluts, gargles and cuts, they build an acoustic lucid computational delirium, whose trajectory is impossible to outguess. Track titles ("tolur", "tricav", "ankpla", "uettet", "creens", "11......" have been taken from the final section of the below-mentioned poem) but arguably its bizarre performative approach as well, have been inspired by same titled extended poem by defiant English poet Simon Howard, first published as a digital issue on Mark Cobley's blog The Red Ceilings and then on paper by The Knives Forks And Spoons Press.
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anymore
Artist: Svart1/Raimondo Gaviano (@)
Title: Praha
Format: CD
Label: Mrtvaja Records (@)
Distributor: www.mrtvaja.com
Rated: *****
SVART1 is the pseudonym of Raimondo Gaviano, an Italian musician who lives and works in Sardinia. The title of his latest work that I present today is Praha.
Svart1 is a representative member of best music scene into this big island of Sardinia, located at the center of Mediterranean Sea, which has especially into experimental grey-area and around the electronic music, some known musicians and also many followers and fans.
This last work of Svart1, titled Praha, is a limited edition CD produced by a non-Italian label, the Mrtvaja Records, a small and independent Bosnian label, born in 2009. The Mrtvaja label produces really fine limited editions of works of experimental electronic and electro-acoustic music. Svart1, in this case, works for Mrtvaja Records but hi has realized various productions for others independent labels and also more self-realised productions. All the discograpy is visible on his personal website. Svart1 during his career have also many collaborations with other artists of the Italian and European electronic scene.
Gaviano, as I said earlier, working in Sardinia like many other electronic musicians his countrymen and also for this reason is really used to have a necessary great productive autonomy and often also move beyond the narrow confines of this island to interweave many contacts and collaborations with others musicians who working overseas.

This work Praha is an example of this easy "way of life" to migrate overseas for Sardinian artists. Praha contains a recent live of Svart1 recording in Prague (at the Cafe V Lese during March 2012 for an event organized by Arkham Productions (http://www.arkham.hys.cz/).
The Arkham is one of the most renowned cultural promotion agencies of that city and, on the same occasion, also the Czeck artists of the Seismic Wave Factory performed a live with the VJ's of the Fuck TV project (you can found some infos about those projects on http://www.industrialgallery.com).

This album Praha is a very good work for me. And his tracks are a perfect testimony of the genuine and sincere approach to the electronic music of our Svart1. A careful listening to this record reveals very positive for the mind as a persuasive mantra, at times more hypnotic, familiar and comfortable for discerning ears as a carpet of self-constructed rhythms that are never predictable or consistent.
For example, into the opening track, an audio sample of a simple running sewing machine turns into a cyclic pre-apocalyptic drone portends an impending flood. And all the work is a successful and enjoyable example of the best minimal noise with grafts of electronic ambient that are always expertly blended to work together without any mannerism.

A great job so this Praha, which I recommend, however, to hear before a random search on Youtube videos work by Svart1/Raimondo. Because the artistic research of Raymond Gaviano is never just or only music. And for this reason surely a single CD audio is not able to give a full idea of his works. For those, like me, who knows and follows it from many years it is difficult to separate these two aspects of sound and video image which, in this case, are always intimately linked.
The self-produced video by Raimondo Gaviano, run behind him during his live performances and are little masterpieces. Each concert, for the spectator, is indeed a beautiful multi-sensorial experience that is based on the close union between music and the video processing of extreme or dreamlike images that emphasize and amplify fueling our imagination in a growing fact of endless cinematographic references and citations.

Finally i recommend also you to not stop only at this album Praha, last work of Svart1/Raimondo Gaviano, because I hope, after this review, please you to go on the net, for a search around his other works.
Because Svart1 is a complete artist. A good electronic musician but also a great video maker and a fantastic manipulator of digital images. The post-industrial atmospheres that his work created for us, by masterly use of a thin, black and white very dry, or with a color change into a soft focus often dissolving in a strong light and dark, thwarted and diverted, are the best description possible of the ruined worlds that surrounds us and surrounding our post-industrial way of feeling this strange modern life. You have to see the work of Svart1 not just listen.
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Artist: Egyptology
Title: The Skies
Format: CD
Label: Clapping Music (@)
Rated: *****
Ancient civilizations, especially during times when the concept of civilization appears so ephemeral and "battered" by contemporary set of values, has always attracted interest by wise people and I'm pretty sure many electronic music lovers will be enthusiast for this brilliant archeological release by Olivier Lamm (aka O.Lamm) and Stephane Laport (Domotic, Centenaire), which opted for the name of their project as the one of the discipline of their glorious countryman Jean-François Champollion - maybe the most notorious modern egyptologist due to his deciphering of hieroglyphics from Rosetta Stone - and even if neither pharaohs nor mummies should hide synths inside their sarcophages or under their bandages, the fascinating and somewhat mysterious sounds coming from legendary relics of electronic music such as Roland MC202, Korg MS10, Juno 106, Prophet 600, Roland JX3P or Philicorda Organs justify this parallelism indeed. It's possible Olivier and Stephane don't anything about Ancient Egypt, but their retrospective oevre, an intriguing mishmash of references such as Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Isao Tomite, Klaus Schultze, Joe Meek and other ancestral pioneers of synth-driven compostions, which easily resurface from the abyss of many music lovers, is going to bring back to life not only their computational sonic explorations, but also the concomitant imagination, imbued with fancies and art-driven conjectures about the origin of mankind. 'There's a kind of hidden scenario which makes the album akin to narrative, with every track matching a different kind of cinematic sequence (frenzied chase, nocturnal wandering, urban jungle, a documentary on the movements of dunes etc.), almost like in a library music record' so these sonic egyptologist say while speaking about their musical unearthing, so that when they ignite spaceship engines on the first part of "Orbis", an authentic anthem splitted in five parts - "Matter", "Migration" (it looks like Queens' "Radio Ga Ga" remake by some Venusian band), "Terraforming" (the melancholic presence of a vintage synth French pipe horn sample makes it my favorite relic of the whole album!), "Horizons" and "Uprising" (another highlight of this record), when they tune some romantic splashing marches on Roland MC202-driven "Airborne Corridor" up or when they boost mental cosmic gallops with tracks like "The Skies", "Flying Over The River Meander" and "Egyptology A-B", they implicitly make relive some reveries or reraising issues, which could be labelled as "retrofuturistic" or "futuprimitive" nowadays. I'm pretty sure many listeners could enjoy it while watching Blade Runner or Koyaanisqatsi with muted volume.
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anymore
Artist: Europ Europ
Title: Mellowharsher
Format: 10"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Rated: *****
"Mellowharsher" is the newest 10" by Norwegian band Europ Europ. Formed in 1996 as an improvisation project, later it evolved into a band, with guests and friends who interact with the two core members. They started recording and releasing stuff on early 2000s mostly for the underground Norwegian label Etch Wear. The new E.P. starts with an intense track titled "Ants On Acid", which sets the atmosphere and the sound of the 10", as Europ Europ present themselves with an experimental sound made of crackling synth sounds, violin screams and dissonant melodic little loops. Also "Prescription Drugs" and "This Song Makes Me Cry" deal with something similar but they made me think about a psychedelic approach that made them focus their tracks on vocal laments and basic monophonic synth sounds. They sounded pretty much like a midway from a ritual and a psychedelic trip. "Starving For Compliments" is the one which convinced me more along with the opening track, beacuse it has a nice melody, a nostalgic feeling and a balanced formula. It sounds like a sort of electronic version of early Virgin Prunes. The following "Open Wound, Dagger Mind (French Version)", instead, is pretty much based on experimental noise standards and "Hero Pilot", the closing track, it's a nice experimental tune that mix analog filtered rhythms, synth noises and tiny melodies, giving the feeling to be near the breaking point.
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