Music Reviews



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Artist: We Will Fail (@)
Title: Verstörung
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
The surprising Polish label Monotype popped another gorgeous bundle of releases out lately. One of the most interesting one comes from graphic designer and audioperformance artists Aleksandra Grunholz, one half of duo Tirips and co-founder of the artistic group OKO, whose intent, according to her own words" was "to create something that doesn't leave the listener indifferent, something that affects him" and she reached her goal by acting almost like a scavenger inside the well-matched sound library that she collected over many years. She organized an impressive number of sonic synthetic material, field recordings and samples from old tapes into fourteen spellbinding tracks, where electromagnetic inductions seems to run parallel to hypnotic suggestion. The 4/4 sprays into a drone-like electric buzz on the opening track sounds let me think about an attempt to erase techno memories by means of those old electric machinery which were tested in some asylum as they were supposed to remove bad memories and trauma disorders, but following tracks are other than just another techno spin-off and sway over unpredictable rhythmical patterns, radio and noise interferences, mellow slow-techno movements, lulling mutant winding, industrial-wave nuances, multi-layered structures as well as a number of both stylistical and sonic clues which cross-refers to post-techno and some acts from grey interzones where electronic mongrels got displayed from pop-song casements. The explorative sonorities where you could have the impression of listening to gene mutation of previous stylistical code on "Verstorung" (German word for "disturbance", even if the English version of the title was "Gargoyles"...) sounds like mirroring the notorious novel by Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, whose haunting writing styles narrates the dark peregrinations of a doctor and his son over the austere rural Austrian landscapes where they meet many grotesque and disheartening characters, who are almost like landmarks of an unusually cathartic journey.
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Artist: Celer (@)
Title: Zigzag
Format: CD
Label: Spekk (@)
Rated: *****
When Tokyo-based writer, educator, photographer, Two Acorns label manager and lively musician Will Long, whose project became a solo-one after his former partner-in-life and partner-in-art Danielle Baquet regrettably passed away for a heart failure in 2009, introduced this release by making a connection with a cheerful event of his life, the moment when he heard the heartbeat of his first child with his new wife in summer 2013. Heavily influenced by minimalist electronic music of the 60ies and 70ies as well as by cosmic riding of a number of German kosmiche muziek forerunner, this 40 minutes lasting suite, which should have been released by Spekk before the delaying of the project let the initial inspiration and concept dissolve, is a sort of ballet between a basic synth-driven pulsing sequence and a secondary one which repeatedly fades in and fades out by weaving entrancing harmonies, which could let you think about a pèossible sonic rendering of the matching of DNA double helixes, if you like your imagination got driven by Celer's connection between the futuristic nuances of this lovely electronic suite and the new born life. However the gentle and somewhat cherubic pulsations, which could let you imagine an angel while making the Indian war cry by covering and uncovering its mouth with wings (!), and some moments of the record when synth-sequences sound like scattering over the infinite directrixes of outer space, could let you think about "Zig Zag" as an interception of a dialogue between angelical entities by SETI optical telescopes.
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Artist: Hieros Gamos (@)
Title: Fetish Remix
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Hieros Gamos is the side-project of Slovakian darkwave band Ľahká Múza whose latest album I reviewed very positively here recently. The name Hieros Gamos goes back to ancient Greek mythology and refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. Well, 'Fetish Remix' certainly is ritualistic! The primary difference musically, is that Hieros Gamos is much more based in electronics (synths, keyboards) than Ľahká Múza, which is guitar-based. That's not all- this is Fetish music with a capital F. There is costuming involved (in live performance), lots of it, if the photo galleries bonus material on this enhanced CD are any indication. You can expect a lot of elaborate BDSM fashion worn not only by singer Gundrun Snake and her musical cohort 677, but also in by the (mostly female) performers who accompany them. That's something you'll only get to experience live though, so you'll have to settle for the photo galleries for your visual stimulation.
Musically, the most comparable band I can think of is Die Form. Both Die Form and Hieros Gamos are electronic fetish-oriented projects and ritualistic musically, both have female lead vocalists. (Philippe Fichot does contribute some hoarse, whispery vocals, but it is Ãliane P.'s voice that really makes the difference in that band.) Both Gundrun and Ãliane have an operatic quality in their vocals, but Gundrun's voice is deeper and stronger. While over the years Die Form's music has taken on a more dance-oriented bent, Hieros Gamos is firmly rooted in the dramatically ritualistic. There is (programmed) rhythm, but not of the four-on-the floor dance orient variety. As with Ľahká Múza there is a strong martial element to the rhythms, but not always so. For example, 'Lacrimae Sirenarum' is in a playful 6/8. Well, as playful as Hieros Gamos can get.
The CD consists of nine tracks, six of which have lyrics, the other three with wordless vocals by Gundrun. It's nice that the lyrics are printed in this six-panel digipack in both their native Slovakian and also in English as it gives a better feel for what they're trying to convey- darkness, pain, loss, bondage, sorrow, lament. You get the idea. As with Ľahká Múza, Gundrun's two vocal modes are operatic diva and witchy woman. You can look at it as a dichotomy between the classical and neo-shamanic folk. Gundrun subscribes to both, sometimes (thanks to multi-tracking) at the same time! One track, 'Vyhladenie' ('The Annihilation') bore a remarkable similarity to early Dead Can Dance. Overall, the music on 'Fetish Remix' displays a nice amount of variety within the context of their own stylized oeuvre. There is severity, yet there is passion; simplicity in form, yet richness in atmosphere; despair tinged with hope, and a large dose of gothicness running throughout.
For what Gundrun and 677 were trying to achieve with Hieros Gamos on 'Fetish Remix' I believe they succeeded. I would have liked to have heard a couple of numbers with beats suitable for the dancefloor, and lyrics sung in English. This would likely be conducive to more exposure for the band in America. This album was originally released in 2006, but chances are good that you never heard it. If there is one band from this area of the world that deserves to be seen and heard in the West, it's this one.
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Artist: Stefano Guzzetti (@)
Title: At Home - Piano Book (Volume One)
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
The increasingly thready light texture and the abating intensity on "To Sleep For A New Day", the opening track of this balletic piano-driven release by Sardinia-based composer and sound designer Stefano Guzzetti made me think about a pianist who got whacked by his own reverie, the sudden thud at the end of the track almost validated my vision and such a vision got perpetuated by the rhythmical slackening at the end of each melodic phrase of the following "The Road To You", but on "Harvest", the third daydreaming movement, listeners are almost unwittingly absorbed by the graceful and often intensely melancholic weave by this musician. The following tracks follow a similar pattern where vivace inception fade out into lullaby-like movement where even the acutest pangs vanish. Both the most sullen moments and the most serene ones such the graceful "Little Dreams" and the sweeten harmony of "Haiku" seem to vividly arouse what titles evoke by means of essential digression on ivories whose stylistical mold sounds like a balanced crossbreed between the melodic pointillism by French impressionists and some Italian contemporary minimalist pianists such as Arturo Stalteri and Ludovico Einaudi. Maybe this release won't topple any conventional scheme, but its stripped-down form gathers substance correctly.
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Artist: Advance (@)
Title: Deus Ex Machina
Format: CD
Label: AnalogueTrash Records (@)
Distributor: Trashdigital / Bandcamp
Rated: *****
We welcome the new UK-based label AnalogueTrash in the worldwide playground of Electro/Industrial music and they like to introduce us their work with their first release, the debut of Tom Perrett a.k.a. Advance. This Scottish project can look back on some high-prolific gigs and has opened for prominent projects like Assemblage, Surgyn, Modulate, or Icon Of Coil. When it comes to describe Advance's music, it seems that Code 64 and/or Tom Shear's renowned A 23 project has left a huge impact on Mr. Perrett. Advance are without doubts counting to the Synth-/Futurepop-genre with the typical programming abilities, the lighter synth- and percussion-work, catchy melodies for the choruses and a capable, crystal-clear vocal performance. Indeed, Tom's well-sounding timbre is generally based in higher than usual slot, a bit comparable to Bjorn Marius Borg (Code 64). Lyrically you'll get a harder cake to bite: themes of a post-apocalyptic, not-so-distant future are the things which seem to surround Tom's compositions ' it needs to be admitted, that the music outfit based in a relative smooth Synth-/Futurepop style may doesn't fit to transport the engaged message here and there ' while this lays in the eye of the beholder. But asides of this his music deserves praise, because it delivers a flawless, near-to-perfection sounding synth- and rhythm work which will surely satisfy all friends and supporters of this music genre. Even if I find some of integrated Techno-/House-fanfares in tracks like 'Dead Technology', 'New Objective' and mostly in the unnecessary Tekkno-like instrumental 'Divine Machine' too repetitive and sinewy, there's actually not too much to complain. Some of his tracks surprise with abruptly installed breaks to slow down the complete sound environment, until the tracks restart but mostly in a faster speed than before ('Fractured Existence', 'Enter The Wasteland'). Well done produced Futurepop-music for a debut, it only needs a bit more personality installed into the music. It surely cannot be said, that Tom invents anything new. We had this kind of music often before, but if he can manage here and there to find a key to a musically more authentic outfit based on his brilliant timbre, the future seems to be bright for this project.
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