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Artist: Martin Philip (@)
Title: Butler
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I'm terribly late reviewing the newest Martin Philip release. I'm really sorry, but being a digital release and, for the first time, a free one, it kept being skipped after all the CDs I received (this is my policy: I can't review free releases, I'd be overwhelmed but since I reviewed other Martin's release I wanted to talk about this one, also). Anyway... "Butler" is a concept album where well crafted synthpop (perfect production and arrangements) meets an intriguing plot which talks about all the secrets, the expectations and the disillusion of a butler. Like on the previous Martin's album "Recumbent" also on "Butler" his guitar has a prominent place in the mix but as usual you'll find tons of melody and smooth atmospheres. Try to imagine that you're listening to a Pet Shop Boys album with no dance tunes and you'll have pretty much the idea of how this album sounds. In any case, here we don't have flaws: it's a very nice synthpop album, it has a intriguing story, it's for free and you can download wav files! Well done Steeves, you can say to Martin that you both reached your goal!
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Artist: Secret Soviet Army
Title: Brutal Poetic Wave EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Romance Moderne
Rated: *****
"Brutal Poetic Wave EP" is the first release for Nantes, France, based band Secret Soviet Army. Unfortunately I don't have any kind of info about them as also their webpage doesn't have any. The EP, released digitally by Romance Moderne, contains four tracks which show a band that is able to write creepy synth songs (check the opening "The Prince And The Prisoner", where a prince keeps locked into his castle some women, abusing them or "Deep Forest" where slowed down vocals are mixed to synth wobbles and obsessive synth lines), powerful minimal wave tunes ("Wastik" is based on dry drum beats and bass lines plus pads stabs and catchy lead lines) as well as catchy melodic hits like "Turn Your Body". They are preparing their first live but in the meantime check them here http://romancemoderne.bandcamp.com/album/brutal-poetic-wave-ep
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Artist: Ruble Gang
Title: Art For Real
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Romance Moderne
Rated: *****
Ruble Gang is a band coming from Moscow, Russia and their only available track, before the release of this digital single for Romance Moderne, was "Building Communism" on the double tape compilation "Forward Rewind: The Future Echo Tapes" released the last year by Aufnahme Wiedergabe. That compilation was gathering some of the best subterranean electronic new wave bands, with names of the likes of Martial Canterel, Makina Girgir, Lebanon Hanover, Human Puppets, Linea Aspera, etc. Influenced by synthetic wave of the late 70's and early 80's, Ruble Gang on the single "Art For Real" present two tracks: the main title and "Silver Plane". The main tune is a 4/4 mid tempo with catchy synth lines and Russian lyrics. "Silver Plane" has a similar bass line melody but it's more influenced by post punk and vocals are more nervous. Both the songs make the flag of analog synthesis proudly flying high and can also be used on alternative dancefloors. You can check and purchase them here http://romancemoderne.bandcamp.com/album/ruble-gang-art-for-real
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Artist: Survey
Title: Away / Delirium
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Protect Audio (@)
Rated: *****
A sort of sci-fi and more "spatial" version of "Grid Sheet" - already appeared on Protect Audio gun-room last March, whose above-mentioned VIP version is available for free -, whose initial bells could let you render an alien mutation of a dancing cow before blasting kick-drums and claps, vitriolic basslines and clipped sounds begin to wrinkle waves, sets the stage for this upcoming new psycho-pill by Survey, the massive Berlin-based which is shaking dnb grounds by a series of stunning hits this year. The gnarly introduction of "Away" evokes unearthly monstrosity, which terrifyingly burgeon over the following heavy bangs and deep growls of thunder echo, while "Delirium" immediately instigates movements of the body by dull drums and smacking hits from inside a puffy sonic sphere and sinister hums, which get gradually digested wheels of a wicked rhythmical clockwork of metallic hiccups, laser beams and noises of combustion, spread into an obscure vacuum, which performs phagocytosis on various hitting elements.
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Artist: Cass. (@)
Title: Loops & Farewell Sketches
Format: 12"
Label: Shhhh… (@)
Rated: *****
Cass. (yes, that's right, with a period at the end) is an electronic ambient, dj and sound artist musician from Osnabrück, Germany , and 'Loops and Farewell Sketches' is his first release. This was originally a self-released CD-R limited to 100 copies (one of which apparently I possess) but the demand was so high in the first weeks after its initial release that it was surprisingly sold out. Picked up by the Shhhh'¦ label, it is now available either as a digital download or on white 180g vinyl. The cover artwork was painted by Lea Seppä-Murto in 1979 when she was 18 years old, inspired by the beautiful landscape of her hometown Sammaljoki in Finland. 'Loops and Farewell Sketches was recorded in December 2012 and is comprised of sound sources varying from old, sampled, pitched, modulated and destroyed records, a large field recording directory that has been created over years, multiple effected instrument - and synthloops layered on the top of each other, and different small acoustic instruments.

On my first listen to 'Loops and Farewell Sketches' I found myself trying to analyze the sound sources and construction of the music too much and thinking ':this isn't all that great, just a lot of looping overdubs'. You can't do that with this music; it's not made to be critically studied, but rather lazily enjoyed in an unfocused way. This is very gentle ambient music, made to be consumed in the moment and likely forgotten until the next listening. The first piece, 'Aiiy' has looped flute and other orchestral elements, low drone, some (wordless?) sustained vocal in the background and a lower drone that modulates pitch occasionally. The way this all blends together is quite nice. Makes me think of a hot cup of coffee or cocoa on a cold day. 'Rustling and Pure' brings in some light percussion elements forming a minimal rhythm while a looped electric piano riff rocks gently back and forth. Once again there is slowly moving bass drone, and other aural elements you sense more than pick out as individual instruments or components. It's quite hypnotic if you let yourself go with the flow. 'Sans Peau' is little more than two elongated chords (played on what, I'm not exactly sure) but it drifts like a leaf slowly blowing in the wind. 'Falmer Sea Piano I' seems a little busier than the prior compositions with reverb-drenched soft electric piano and birds in the background but for all the notes being played it has the effect of a babbling brook. 'From Bay to Meadow' begins with windchimes and a steady tapping eventually being overtaken by an orchestral drone loop. Meandering celestial notes glide over the top, and bass and soft guitar emerge providing some structure and sense of rhythm. A lot of subtle changes take place in this piece that once again, you sense more than particularly hear. It ends with the chimes and tapping. At first 'Chatwin Cathedral' sounds like a beginner's group of acoustic guitarists playing the same figure over and over until you realize just how Enoesque this piece is. Wonderful! Speaking of Eno, for some reason 'Moth' reminded me a lot of his 'Another Green World' album. Last track, 'Ethan Veerbek' is another hypnotic looped piano-based piece with other soft electronic elements, some kind of clicking, and sampled dialogue (in German). I could have done without the voices but it was really brief. These pieces seem so simple to listen to yet undoubtedly complex in their construction. It's really amazing. The whole album is only 34 minutes which is even short for an LP, but it's so good, once you hear it you won't want to pass it up. Recommended, another bookstore favorite.
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