Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Joy - schole compilation vol.3
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
One of the most suitable Japanese word to translate "joy" or "delight" is "yorokobi", whose kanji transcription is made up of a couple of words, literally meaning "rejoice in beauty" or "take pleasure in beauty". Such a concept which involves both emotional and aesthetic aspect perfectly fits to the third compilation album by renowned Tokyo-based label Schole, which follows the successful self-named first compilation (sold out) and the second one titled "Note of seconds" and doesn't lose to deservedly celebrate its 5th anniversary by a bunch of 13 delicate tracks with different emotional declension of what we name "joy": the lovely melodic baldness of Akira Kosemura's "Joy" - that kind of song some listeners could use as a soundtrack for the videoclip of the first final recital at school of your little son, the first dance display of your daughter or a memorable country outing with your family! -, the subtle connections with French pop songs of the initial whistled "Beginning" by Mamerico, the gentle chromatic whirlgigs and the delighting cherafic choir of "Irodori" by Yoshinori Takezawa, the enchanting ascending clockwork of "Air" by [.que], the acoustic-guitar-driven representation of the spirited jollity of a group of pupils on "Welcome To My Playground" by Humminbert Stereo, the balletic intertwine of guitar, piano and female voice of "Evergreen" by Akira Kosemura, [.que] and Lasah, the explosions of ethereal tenderness of "Imagine Fun" by no.9, the exquisite pianistic cammeo of "Short Story" by Quentin Sirjack, the daydreaming musical box of "Day Light Dream" by Sawako and Daisuke Miyatani, the dissoluble listening pearls of the mesmerizing "Santiago" by Ghost And Tape, the perfumed drops of minimal chiming piano of "Incense" by Teruyuchi Nobuchika, the charming guitar ballad of "Light Dance" by Paniyolo and the folkish portrait of "Anne" by Haruka Nakamura. I'm pretty sure many listeners will easily enjoy these delightful musical miniatures, which anticipate forthcoming directions of the label as well.
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anymore
Artist: Front Line Assembly
Title: Echogenetic
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Rated: *****
Building upon the dubstep-dabbling introduced in their previous release, 2012's AirMech, a soundtrack to the eponymous real-time strategy video game, Front Line Assembly's 18th studio album, Echogenetic, reflects a blend of experiments in dubstep and FLA's classic electronic body music sound.

Each FLA fan has their preference and opinion on what constitutes FLA's best work, whether the early era of conventional, classic EBM (such as Initial Command and Corrosion), metal-influence and guitar sampling (such as in 1994's Millennium, and to a lesser extent, 2010's Improvised Electronic Device), albums bordering on techno, or the melodic, danceable EBM introduced in 1992's Tactical Neural Implant and heard in various albums since. Accordingly, every fan is likely to have a different opinion on Echogenetic. Dubstep-influenced beats and structure are heard throughout Echogenetic, such as in tracks "Leveled," "Deadened," "Exhale," and "Prototype." These elements are not omnipresent, thereby ensuring Echogenetic holds one's attention and remains listenable throughout.

The introductory, bass filled track is the dark instrumental "Resonance," which ends on a dramatic and sudden note to transition into "Leveled," which jumps right in with the syncopated beats that characterize the dubstep genre. Leeb's effected vocals in this track, and indeed, throughout the album, are rather reminiscent of Tactical Neural Implant-era FLA. "Leveled" stands out as a surprising track, its mood temporarily lightened in an otherwise dark song with around a minute of minimalistic keyboard in a major key in the middle of the song. This type of juxtaposition is not an uncommon element in FLA's music, and while a bit disorienting this early in the album, it somehow works and prepares one for more surprises later.

"Killing Grounds" sounds as though it could be the industrial music anthem for 2013. It is a pounding dance track with repetitive vocals and more sound- and vocal influence from Tactical Neural Implant, particularly in the breakdown. This track is among the highlights of the album, along with the hauntingly (no pun intended) sorrowful and beautiful "Ghosts," which incorporates synthetic strings and vocoded effects. The band re-visits the somber sound later in the dramatic "Exo."

"Blood" is undoubtedly the catchiest track on the album due to the hook in the lyrics of the chorus: "You've got blood in your eyes / you can't see past your lies / You are the one you desire / Because you've got blood in your eyes."

The title track is the most dubstep-heavy on the album. The album then concludes with "Exhale," another danceable track ready for gothic-industrial club play, and "Heartquake." Not the strongest track, "Heartquake" nevertheless literally winds down the album nicely.

Overall, Echogenetic is a very strong, well-produced, and riveting release, arguably among the strongest Front Line Assembly albums in the past decade. While dubstep has largely become stigmatized, particularly due to the criticism it has received since breaking into mainstream music since 2009, Leeb and his collaborators continue to be talented musicians who know how to work with trends without compromising the core sound and principles that made FLA one of biggest industrial and EBM bands to date.
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anymore
Artist: Hautville
Title: Le Moire
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: SPQR (@)
Rated: *****
Inspired by Greek Mythological figures of the Moirai (often known in English as the Fates, were the white-robed incarnations of destiny which the Romans called the Parcae), 'Le Moire' is a new MCD of the Italian band Hautville. Containing four new songs and a cover Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's song "Non mi Rompete" (Hautville's version is pretty similar to the original and has a nice atmosphere), the CD has as special guest on piano on "In Superficie" and "Caelum et Terra", Arturo Statieri of Pierrot Lunaire (they were an Italian prog rock band that did two albums in 1974 and 1977. They reformed and recorded a new album in 2011). First of all, I have to say that on this MCD Hautville found a new dimension and convinced me completely: they have found a right balance where the acoustic guitar and the heavenly voice of Simona are the main elements and synths, piano and drums, enrich the formula. Most of the tracks are mid tempos full of pathos where the 70s progressive influences are really evident and not only because of the Banco cover. Take "In Superficie", it has an haunting piano melody where dissonances and melancholy duet with Simona's voice just to explode into a wonderful prog rock opera. "Caelum et Terra" seems to be the natural following to that track and its based on guitar arpeggios, piano improvisation, synth orchestration and light drum beats. Really cool work and you haven't to be a prog enthusiast to dig it!
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Artist: The Bleeding Peasant Orchestra
Title: Sanctuary and Truce
Format: CD
Label: Corrosive Growth Industries (@)
Rated: *****
Checking around it seems it's been awhile since Chain D. L. K. reviewed anything from the U.K. based Corrosive Growth Industries label, perhaps because their last release by Initial Prayer ('Last Man in Europe') was in 2005. Corrosive Growth has to be one of the more obscure labels out there and this release by the Bleeding Peasant Orchestra is made up of undisclosed members, likely from the label's roster of artists. No individual credits on the CD or the band's website. No one-sheet sent with the CD, nada. That's really a shame because this is a marvelous work; something you could easily imagine being released by Cold Meat Industries.

The CD begins with 'Cathedral of Wounds,' a sort of low key funeral waltz with muted low percussion, measured acoustic guitar, melancholy wordless medieval choir (beautiful soprano female voices being dominant), atmospherics, and eventually, a poetic recitation by Brit-accented gent. Very cool. Next track, 'Ignorance,' is a trancey acoustic Middle Eastern style number with western (drum kit) percussion. Vocals are again recitation style ala David Tibet; a sussinct elegiac ode on the volatile state of affairs in that part of the world. Imagine a Current 93/Muslimgauze collaboration, and you might get some idea, but this is really excellently done!

After the somber, ambient 'Echoes of Life in a Poisoned Forest,' we are treated to the centerpiece of this album, 'We Serve (Austerity 2013)'. It's martial industrial with ominous low orchestral horns, military cadence and a distorted drone. The recited lyrics are worth quoting ' 'You want something that you can't have'¦ you want all of this'¦work hard, work harder still, keep going and you will be rewarded. Where once hope flourished, now ashes'¦the ruins of a promise'¦a deception'¦a mirage. We came into the machine, accepted the poison, ands lost everything, but still, we serve. What can you tell me about how it ends? Will there be more lies to keep us quiet? More laws to keep us down? Forge it all into the promise of riches, and tell us again that the system works; you just have to work harder. We shall be saved. Follow their leadership and comply with the new orders. Just need to trust in our masters once more. Don't worry, believe, behave'¦and work fucking harder!' Damn, this is well done!

'We Kept to the Rules (and look what happened)' is kind of a wistful, placid, ambient piece, but you get the sense that humanity has been swept away in the wind. 'Sunburst' starts out like cosmic space music but turns into this melodic ditty with mellotron in the lead, reminiscent of vintage Kraftwerk. Wonderful how it builds and expands. 'Cracked Wheels 16' is ambient music of a darker sort, with the thrum of some kind of alien machinery and the low moaning wail of something'¦unnatural, the piece ending with the words 'respiration stops'. In 'Pandaemonium (CGSF 2012)' there are gamelan-like bells, and a plucked string instrument that begins the three-note repeated basic rhythm. A Tibetan (style) horn blows an intermittent single note, and eventually other instruments and ambient noise creep in. Percussion embellishes the rhythm; a violin joins Philip Glass style, perhaps more minimally, rhythmically bowing a single note, then shifting to another. There is a good deal more than this, but you get the idea. When the piece is done, applause ensues, so I can only assume it was played live. Final track, 'Never Saw It Coming; Never Heard You Leave' is an odd track with a low orchestral one-chord loop and the sound of static or a scratchy record. Harold Budd-ish (or Eno-esque) piano emerges with a repeating melody that is supported by ambient synth tones, and that's how it ends.

From start to finish, The Bleeding Peasant Orchestra's 'Sanctuary and Truce' is an incredibly enigmatic album. I loved it all. I haven't heard anything that resonated so well with me in quite a while. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Dead Can Dance, Current 93, Death in June, and similar acts in the neofolk-ambient realm. Only thing is, this album defies categorization, regardless of what category I decided to put it in here.
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Artist: Luca Forcucci (@)
Title: Fog Horns
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The premise that half Italian half Swiss young sound artist Luca Forcucci made about this surreal release, the 14th chapter the prestigious Belgian label Sub Rosa added to his limited-edition Framework series, could let you surmise the initial title-track and the following two long lasting suites could belong to a sort of sonic document about sensorial hallucinations that tiredness could cause; he spoke about "twelve hours of flight and some sleep deprivation" before his landing in San Francisco. So Luca explained, "Because of or thanks to my state of consciousness, I heard a distinct and beautiful sound. It took me a while to understand if I was really hearing it or dreaming it: the sound of the fog horns". The field recordings of conversations by anonymous pedestrians, chirping birds, delayed noises of a train trip and other sonic clues intertwines with the sound of distant fog horns he listened after he landed in San Francisco in Spring 2011 and those fog horns have been turned into the cement of endoplasmic reticulum of sounds, including some hip-hop scratches by Le Gooster on "Fog Horns", which sound like unexpected reminiscences resurfacing from inner depths or frenzied parties, the occasional metallic hits of crockery, other hip-hop morsels and the mesmeric over-stretched cello by Michael Kott on the somehow disquieting and hallucinatory atmospheres of the final track "Winds". On the central track "L'Ecume des Jours", fog horns became the imaginary vertex of a mysterious building who got erected both in the spacial and the sonic dimension, whose architectural principles lay on the sound of crashing waves, puffed electric distortions and scorched reedy samples which chorally becames headier and headier by emphasizing the artistic metamorphosis of this device that warned vehicles of navigational hazards or boats of the presence of other vessels or other obstacles in foggy condition into a presence, which is both reassuring and unsettling as it succeeds in evoking an impending danger by means of his orotund heavy "voice" and his effect on sonic sphere which seems to be covered by a sort of camouflage mantle.
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