Music Reviews

Artist: Marlon Hoffstadt
Title: Human Interpretations Part Two
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Midnight Themes
After describing Hoffstadt’s album “Themes From My Future Self” was ‘short of unique selling points but well-made, smooth mid-set filler’, then the first remix package from it as ‘not one of the most diverse remix packages you’ve ever heard, for sure, but it rolls nicely’, I could fairly expect more of the same from the second remix bundle- and sure enough, there’s no surprises lurking here. But there is 26 minutes’ worth of steady, nicely-produced reworks of instrumental synth-house that happily take you on a steady walk, though not a passionate dance.

You get two versions of “Second Track”, with Eric Maltz’s version a nice combination of light bouncy bassline and jazzy echoing keys, and M Ruffing’s version works a similar mood but with some lightweight drum & bass-ish action.

Between that you get two versions of “Der Merowinger”. The mix by Matteo Luis & DCHM is my favourite of the pack, a combination of energetic rhythm patterns, some decidedly 90’s percussive elements and a well-managed slow evolution of elements in a conventional but entrancing fashion. The Pepe's Electro-Break-A-Rama remix has even more of a retro vibe with its perky Amen break and faintly junglist production touches.

Putting the remix origins aside it’s a nice collection of four light melodic instrumental house tracks, very DJ- and Summer-friendly. Overall, it probably edges it over the first package in terms of appeal, especially if you’re fond of the unabashed old school references in the “Der Merowinger” mixes.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Perfect Strangers Vol. 1
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Disco Halal
The grouping concept behind Disco Halal’s 4-track various artists EP is decidedly vague. Have these artists met? Was there a concerted effort for a uniform release here? Is that the point? It’s hard to tell. On face value it looks like a sampler, showcasing four different artists who’ve all contributed long steady instrumental house and electronica tracks with DJ friendly construction and progressive house tendencies.

Opener “Reflection” from The Organism is a strong number with a slightly synthwavey melody over a very steady foot-moving groove. It partners well with the final track, Mount Kismet’s “Prunes & Dunes”, another rolling synthfest. Both of them are instrumentals with faintly Eastern-sounding melodic patterns that are pleasant, bordering on sweet.

The more overt Eastern music sampled on the Kincaid track has, I’m sure, been sampled elsewhere, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on where I’ve heard it before, to no avail so far. It’s the core port of what’s otherwise a very straightforward tribal house workout, nicely measured but a little uninspired. Soft Metal’s “Mystic Trip To Al-Dzazir” is along similar lines, again built around an Eastern music sample, but with a brighter, poppier bassline and a more feel-good approach that’s somehow more endearing- particularly in the decidedly retro synth breakdown.

A nice package with a pretty consistent flavour, this material won’t blow you away with either power or originality but it’s got a tempered quality to it that’s hard to fault.
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Artist: The Exaltics
Title: Das Heise Experiment 2
Format: CD
Label: Solar One Music
Rated: *****
An alien who fell to earth, the creation of a new destructive weapon, two scientists who want to save their laboratory, an experiment gone bad and The Exaltics, an alien race that is surveilling the earth. This is the plot behind „Das Heise Experiment 2“, the new album by The Exaltics. The Heise experiment saga started five years ago with the first part released on vinyl by Abstract Acid. The eight tracks of that album were more influenced by acid, having a TB303 upfront sound. For the second episode, which has been anticipated by the three tracks (six on the digital version) picture disc „Das Heise Experiment 2 [The Prequel]“, released the last year by Solar One Music, besides the story and the music we have to talk about the different formats, first. The new album, which is number six, has been released on double 10“ with twelve tracks, CDr with thirteen tracks and a special metal box edition containing three splatter transparent green 10“ (with seventeen tracks) plus the CDr. Every format is sold along with the 26 pages comic book written by Nico Jagiella and drawn by the guy behind the Godspill nickname, Mehdi Rouchiche, most known for having drawn most of the Creme Organization covers. The thirteen tracks of the CDr I have are in balance from dark electro/techno and eerie ambient soundtrack atmospheres with a bit of experimental approach. On most of the tracks the rhythm is king and we have different layers forming a complex web where few melodic pads help into defining the horrific atmosphere. The effect created is particular, as for the old releases there’s melody but at the end of the track you won’t remember it. Another particular stuff, as for the prequel, on „Das Heise Experiment 2“ the titles seems to be codes but I don’t know what they are referred to. Also, as well on the prequel, we have a track in collaboration with Rudolf Klorzeiger, a.k.a. Gerald Donald, Heinrich Mueller, etc of Arpanet, Dopplereffekt, Drexciya, Der Zyklus fame (just to name few). Due to pressing plant issues this album had six months delay but it was worth the wait.
Artist: Timothy Clerkin
Title: Knife Edge Heart
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Ransom Note Records
Formerly half of Eskimo Twins, Timothy Clerkin continues his solo output with a 4-track EP that’s house music, but with a bright pop sensibility. The title track is straight-faced verse-chorus synthpop in a club friendly format, with steady house grooves, a walking-paced bassline, pads and the very welcome vocals of Natalie Reiss. It’s a catchy hook short of super-pop but it’s still a very polished and enjoyable affair.

Reiss also appears on second track “With You”, but this time with only two words to sing (bet you can’t guess from the title what the two words in the lyrics are), a more stripped back affair that sounds a little like a dub version of a full song but which still works in its own right, before the instrumental “Divisive” chugs along, walking a line between techno and synthwave that’s got an endearing feel-good quality to it.

The package is rounded off by a Gabe Gurnsey remix of “Knife Edge Heart” that twists off in an unexpected direction, foregoing most of the vocals in favour of a dubby, delay-heavy, glitch-decorated rolling drum affair that makes a strong companion piece which I’d only fault by suggesting that it runs out of ideas at the end.

Great walking-and-dreaming music for when your head can be in the clouds but your feet have to stay on the floor.
Artist: fri(G)id (@)
Title: The Terminology is Flawed
Format: CD + Download
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
For some time I've been losing my taste for harsh noise/power electronics, partially because it seems I've heard all that can be done with it, and partially because I find most of it just so fucking annoying. Then along comes an artist in the genre who's trying to put a different spin on it. Fri(G)id is the solo project of Simon Severe from New Orleans, a place not really known for industrial noise. As a project, fri(G)id has been performing in New Orleans since 2015 in basements, underground venues, theatres, houses and bars. 'The Terminology is Flawed' (2017) is the first recorded release by fri(G)id. It's 74 minutes of harsh noise with themes of sexual inner conflict. I can't say that everything on this album was interesting but it had its moments. "IntroEXTro" opens the album and all it is is a repetitive short screaming feedback loop with rapidly pulsing square wave. It has the hell manipulated out of it over time but still wasn't very creative in my estimation. "Strait Talk" (w/FatPlastik) is an assortment of industrial style noises with recorded voices talking over, under and around it. Now I'm reminded why I really don't like noise projects. Boring and annoying. I was about to give up on this thing entirely when "Mirror Mask" came on. There's a frequency in it which just resonates with my tinnitus and I wasn't sure if it was in my head or in my speakers. There's just so much going on in this extreme noise piece that I thought I was going crazy. You know, if something affects you, even negatively to this extent, it must be effective. "Winter" was an interesting track; a little under 2 minutes of women (it may have been only one woman with the voice processed and overdubbed) speaking in a stream of conscious manner on some strange, indecipherable topics along with repetitive fast-pulsing noise. "3+5" once again puts female voice(s) into the mix, with some backwards noise looping and other processed noise. Over time the noise gets heavier and more intense ending finally with the female voice saying "Im ashamed of what I became." too. The jittery noise on "Does it hurt?" is as grating as fingernails on a chalkboard, and there is some sporadic male/female dialogue interspersed. (Gender-bending mixed with circuit bending?) Although it was hard to make out the words, it seemed to have been of a sexual nature. I particularly liked the end though when the semi-rhythmic beats with intermittent metallic noise feedback was all there was left. "the Talk" begins with a female voice asking "Do you think you know everything about sex?" followed by buzzy noise and beats, which intensifies over time, interspersed with male and female voice talking about sex. You probably won't be able to make out much of the dialogue, but I can see this working on two levels - the subliminal, which only your subconscious mind is hearing, and the obvious, in which your conscious mind strains to hear most of what is being said. When it comes listening to people talking about sex, I think most people have this Pavlovian instinct to eavesdrop. I really don't know what "Efficacy (penis envy)" was supposed to be about, for the sonics seem to have nothing to do with the title. Perhaps the intermittent "drilling" sounds has something to do with it, especially as it picks up speed. I couldn't make out any of the painfully processed vocal toward the end, but maybe that had something to do with it as well. More tumultuous noise on "True Love Weights" with fairly distorted, loop-echoed processed voices, swelling into a repetitive echo-feedback mess. It ends with a female voice clearly stating that "This is a reminder that keeping yourself pure is important." I'll bet it is. I expected things to be a little buzzier on "Vagina Wasp," but I ought to know by know that in fri(G)id's world, you can't judge a track by its title. The (processed) voices in this piece are totally muddled, the noise- more processed static than anything else, and nothing much stood out about it at all. I think that by any standards 'The Terminology is Flawed' is an uneven album. Still, noise enthusiasts may find it interesting, even though it's not going to change my perspective on the noise genre. The CD comes with a bizarre little 8-page booklet which may (or may not) shed some light on the voice samples used. You can also get it in digital download or cassette format.
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