Music Reviews



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Artist: Skinny Puppy
Title: Weapon
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
The freightful description of a nation which has been put in chains by fear, the dangerous proliferation of weapons, the guessed portrayal of such a paralyzing dread in the guise of weapon-made giant spider, which sometimes seems to menacingly and malevolently sing through the throaty and knurling voice by Kevin "Ogre" Ogilvie, who seems to evoke the disintegration of the egg inside which it grew on the first song's refrain ("i've been out, so out of i/i've been hiding out/i've been hiding out of it/hiding so far out" says the initial "Wornin") to announce the advent of criminal age on the following song "illisiT", which speaks about the repressive function of terror in contemporary nations ("A police state invents you/Give me your name/.../Master and serf/A failed state connects us"), are elements of a conceptual album, where weapon itself becomes a sort of proper symbol of savage human nature, a justifiably misanthropic vision which got rendered in the manner that long-lasting fans of legendary Canadian band Skinny Puppy know, based on deformed words and double meanings (one nice example comes in the final strophe of "saLvo" where Ogre sings "i'm the weapon with a lot to say/freedoms end in armed displays/amend the bullet given life/a metal casing with more rights_than we bE guN"). But the element those fans are going appreciate the most is the stylistical partial reverse towards their primordial geometries, which got enhanced by unobtrusive melodies and electronic correctives, and I could surmise such a choice is not casual at all. Echoed by the quotation of some words by the so-called "father of the atomic bomb" (who refused any engagement for the development of H-bomb), the American physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer, who said "we knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent" before quoting some words from the Bhagavad-Gita ("Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" while recalling his involvement of such a damned tremendous discovery, the whole record sounds like an "I warned you, folks...this world would have become so scary...and now that foreseen future is present and it sucks and smells like shit (as the song "Terminal" seems to evoke by singing about satisfied flies...)" by these evergreen guys. "Weapon" is maybe the upgrade many fans of Skinny Puppy were waiting for after their re-union.
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Artist: Aidan Baker (@)
Title: Aneira
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
The title of this album is the welsh word for snow and has been constructed using only a 12-string acoustic guitar, manipulated and played with different tools and inspired from this peculiar winter phenomenon.
The album is made by a single long track based on the well known, at least from the followers of the genre, stylistic characteristic of this composer. The track start with a drone that seems created from the phase shift of at least a couple of loops, then gently a new drone alters the soundscape until another drone gently is inserted in the soundscape. So this is similar to a sky where clouds are slowly moving so it seems static but instead is continuously changing. The central part of this piece is centered upon small dynamic changes of volumes and spectrum until a sort of stasis and small noises begin to introduce the listener to the ending part of the track where the resonances of sparse guitar sounds change the sound palette with truly evocative results.
This album is another example of the qualities of this artist that works in a forms that perhaps has not peculiar sorts of progress or evolution but has a charm non easily describable with words.
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Artist: Cerebro (@)
Title: Television Sky
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: L-System (@)
Rated: *****
L-System gets its poker by the second release from one of its two co-founder, the digital business-focused blogger, author and entrapreneaur and electronic music geek Tray Smith aka Cerebro, who dispatched a couple of well-forged deep techno tracks. Both of them could vaguely resemble some gimmicky stuff which came out on labels like Heiko Laux's Kanzlemramt, Move D's Source or Great Stuff Recordings, but whereas the title-track "Television Sky" spill a somehow gloomy melody and pierce the ether by means of twinkling sonorities and padded chinks, the catchy throbbing pattern of "Peripheral" sounds less diversified and definitively more disco-oriented. The attached remixes of both tracks conveyed the above-depicted structure so that while Peripheral's remix by Sean Mc Clellan in spite of remixer's endevour on single percussive elements and the insertion of a vocal sample who sinisterly states "it's a deeper reality" sounds quite stagnant, Television Sky's one by Cerebro's label mate Taho sounds more cliffhanging by means of excellent dynamics on harmonic buzzes and spread-eagle melodic glides.
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Artist: Navicon Torture Technologies (@)
Title: Your Suffering Will Be Legendary
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' is a reissue of the two bonus CDrs (now CDs) that accompanied 'The Gospels of the Gash' limited edition box set by Navicon Torture Technologies released by Malignant back in 2009. As the limited edition is gone now (you can still get 'The Gospels of the Gash' sans bonus CDs) this was a necessary release, all things considered. 'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' comes in an 8-panel digipak, two CDs of mostly splendid dark noise-based music. I never heard 'The Gospels of the Gash' but it was apparently NTT's swan song, and I'm sure Lee poured out his blackened heart and soul into it. What we have here though is something very different- a collaboration with 18 other artists over the 18 tracks on this 2 CD set. They are (in order) Aun, Black Sun, Cenotype, The [Law-Rah] Collective, Inswarm, Covet, Autoclav1.1, Herbst9, Jarboe, Deutsch Nepal, Fragment King, Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester, Prometheus Burning, Steve Moore, Eidulon, Troum, and The Bird Cage Theatre. Obviously there is bound to be diversity, and that's what really makes this release interesting. You may not like everything on it, but there is more than enough to hold your interest and keep you coming back for more.

Although there is still plenty of noise, much of 'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' falls into industrial/dark ambient, and that's fine by me. First track ' 'Everything I Have Is Yours' (NTT + Aun) is slightly noisy dark ambient factory environment with some unexpected slicing drone musicality in the upper frequencies. 'Soul Eater' (NTT + Black Sun) has a somewhat harsh industrial environment with a raging voice repeating 'I EAT YOUR SOUL'. 'The Last European' {Damnation Edit} (NTT + Cenotype) begins with throbbing drones, then mournful strings with other electronic elements in the background. 'Cult of Doom' (NTT + The [Law-Rah] Collective) is a fine piece of metallic dark ambience that turns into buzzy, crackling drone about halfway through, subsiding before the end. 'Headwound' (NTT + Inswarm) is 2/3 brutal noise and the last 1/3 seething industrial dark ambience. 'I Won't Survive in a World Without You' (NTT + Covet) begins with dark ambient drone loops, then some delicately played piano notes. Over this you can hear emotionally upset pleading voices, then sad cellos. It's quite a disturbing piece; more trauma than you may want to handle, especially when those voices begin screaming. In 'An Exercise in Pain' (Extended Version) NTT + Autoclav1.1 begin the track with a sustained male vocal choir, then a rhythmic brushing noise loop kicks in and some higher sustained voice overhead with some low frequency electronics on the bottom. The loop fades and sustained voices persist. It's dark, but not hopeless. NTT + Herbst9 combine forces for 'Eclipsed by a Blue Star,' a classic dark ambient track, rich with industrial-ritual undertones and a variety of atmospheres. This is one of the tracks that makes this album so worthwhile. NTT + Hecate close the first disc out with 'Knowing No Mercy, They Rage Against Mankind'. Drones, mild and pounding rhythmic noise loops, a Lovecraftian dialogue sample, and plenty of other eerie sounds spill into the void.

Disc 2 begins with NTT + Jarboe's 'You are Worth Fighting for' ' organ drone and noises akin to gastric distress over which a metallic chittering and other well crafted noise and electronics swell into a surprisingly uplifting cacophonic symphony. 'Victvm Vermis' features NTT + Deutsch Nepal and it is as enigmatic and esoteric as you might expect with a collaboration between these two. NTT + Fragment King give you 'Gumrot' (Decaying Face Edit), a weird kind of hyper-dubbiness in the bass and percussion melded with Brancaesque hazy, shimmering overtones of what could be a guitar/electronics combo. 'In the Folds of the Flesh' (NTT + Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester) brings in heavy dirge-shoegaze guitar loop after a buzzy insect drone intro, but there isn't enough going on here to keep it interesting and it should have been shorter by far. NTT + Prometheus Burning combine forces for 'She Throws Me to the Dogs' and if you're familiar with Prometheus Burning, you probably know what to expect. Very heavy on the 'industrial band 'aspect. In fact, it's much more PB than NTT here with Nikki Telladictorian wailing away. Still, not a bad track, but much more industrial than dark ambient. 'Love Theme' (NTT + Steve Moore) is intense noise drone and electronic LFO driven oscillators for the most part, nice, but nothing stellar. 'Pillars of Flesh' (NTT + Eidulon) is rather low-key in its creepy cavern ambience, reminiscent of Lustmord. 2/3 of the way through though, distorted vocals rage over slow drums and you WILL feel the pain. NTT + Troum execute 'Sonnenaufgang,' in waves of staticy noise that intensifies into a buzz, then becomes low and muffled. This drone continues with more (phased) noise added, churning, and eventually subsiding. NTT + The Bird Cage Theatre close things out with 'The Moral of the Story Is Dreams Inevitably Lead to Hideous Implosion'. A low buzzy noise melody of sorts forms the base over which there is indistinguishable vocalizing. The track gets noisier and noisier with the noise overtaking the human element in this sonic blender. Noise enthusiasts should love this one.

Overall, 'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' is a mixed bag; there are a number of tracks I liked more than others, and some I just though okay, and although your faves may be different than mine, your conclusion is likely to be similar. No doubt that this proves that Lee Bartow plays well with others, and I wonder if there might be more interesting collaborations in the future. I'm recommending this for the variety, and the packaging design by Jorden Haley is really slick too.
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Artist: Sleepless Droids (@)
Title: Decision
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: CRL Studios (@)
Rated: *****
When I first received this I wasn't sure if it was legitimate product or just a band rushing out a handmade CDr to get review (as my copy is a handmade CDr) so I back-burnered it for later'¦much later. Turns out though that 'Decision' is quite legit as you can find it on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon (download) and elsewhere. When I got this, the band was called Sleepless, but apparently changed to Sleepless Droids. (Hey, are those the droids you've been looking for?) The project began in late 2011 as an experimental sound outlet for Australian producer Aaron Potter. Self-described as 'a hybrid of Electro-Industrial with elements of IDM and Drum and Bass'¦ combining layered electronics fused with raw human emotion,' it's not too far off the mark, although I'm not so sure about the raw human emotion part. 'Decision' is the debut EP, initially released just a month shy of a year on Halloween, 2012.

What we have here is five quality electro-industrial tracks with synthpop elements in the vocal/melody department. There is enough variety to be engaging, but not quite enough pizzazz to stand out from the crowd of an already glutted field. The opener, 'An Introduction,' with its martial beat and cooing vocal by Tessa Zintek Zinyk was a real attention getter, but had me expecting the music to be more along the lines of Collide. That's Tessa's only contribution here though; sort of a pity. Aaron sings on three of the remaining four tracks, and his voice is melodically pleasing (and undistorted, a big plus in my book), but it doesn't have that charismatic je ne sais quoi so vital to propelling a project of this type to the forefront. So in spite of the catchiness of some tracks, it may not grab you instantly. The synth and drum programming are competent and effective, but nothing you haven't heard before. To Aaron's credit though, there are some nifty production techniques and creative use of vocoder that give this EP a nice boost. Favorite tracks are 'Augmented' with a nice hook, and 'An Introduction' mainly because of the martial beat and Tessa's voice. My least favorite track was the instrumental, vocal sample-laden 'I Waited'.

As an initial effort, 'Decision' shows promise for Sleepless Droids, and it's better than a lot of fledgling bands in this genre I've heard over the years, but I think Aaron needs to up his game on the next release or risk getting lost in the middle of the pack in an already cluttered field.
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