Music Reviews

Artist: Chris Gavin (@)
Title: Nice View
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: L-System (@)
Rated: *****
The third delivery from L-System records got the signature of French dj and producer Chris Gavin, whose "Nice View" overlooks on techno scene by a possible attempt of sonic translation of the inner vascular motion of a metropolis: a sort of electronic marimba, which gradually becomes more and more audible, reversed woodblocks, an unceasing percussive pump, a subtle metallic whistle, harmonic chips, sudden catalytic ripples sound like everchanging tiles of a gigantic urban organism and the following track "The Present M" sounds likewise ripped from dynamic urbanscapes so that that M of the title could mean both "Music" and "Metro" due to the interconnection between garnered urban audible inputs like the noise from an underground rail, which got swallowed by rhythmic pattern, or the indistinct clamor by passengers, which sounds like a grave collective chorale, entwines with the glimmering concatenations which sonically mirrors the coloured reticulum of a subway map and overfill the sonic sphere by a sort of growing clew. The release include a couple of remixes by German producer Martin Roth, who pan-fried many percussive elements by adding monotonic chords and a mellow teeter-totter-like movement which gradually turns into a catchy deep-techno progression, and Anglo-Persian dj Omid Nourizadeh aka Omid 16b, who sublimates the urban particles of the original track into a lukewarm pad-synth cloud in the two awesome parts of the remix he signed.
Artist: Nyodene D/Sektor 304 (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD EP
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Here we have the teaming of two powerhouses in the industrial noise/power electronics genres from the Malignant Records stable ' Nyodene D and Sektor 304. I've just reviewed Nyodene D's 'Edenfall' and a while back reviewed Sektor 304's 'Subliminal Actions' so this should be an interesting experience, and for once I'm sort of on familiar turf. The CD is comprised of only 5 tracks and at only 34 minutes I'm more inclined to call it an EP rather than an album. Tracks 1, 3, and 5 were assembled by Sektor 304 using source material from Nyodene D's 'Edenfall' while tracks 2 and 4 assembled by Nyodene D using source material from Sektor 304's Radio Sonores Project.

Right away in opening track 'The Human Fractal' Sektor 304's influence is dominant with a creepy machine workshop environment. This is the assembly line of the damned, or maybe a zombie factory. Gotta love the low key ambient drone running beneath the presses, the metallic squealing, the zizzing and other factorial effluvia. Nyodene D steps up to the plate and hits a line drive on 'All Over All' with distorted vocal ranting backed by keening power electronics and industrial percussion. My only misgiving about this one is that it goes on way too long at over 10 minutes. Could have been half that length and more effective, but you'll get your money's worth. Sektor 304 is back in the driver's seat on 'The Shaft' and it kind of reminds me of one of the more unsavory auto repair shops I had the misfortune of going to. Drop 5 tabs of acid, take your vehicle to the worst auto mechanic factory in the city and hang around waiting for it to be done. Paranoia and regret soon ensue. Gee, it's getting pretty noisy in here'¦wonder what they're doing to my car. Oh my God! [sob]. Probably not what the artists intended this track to be, but I'm drawing my own conclusions.

Nyodene D moves to the fore again with 'Vulture (for Gil Scott-Heron)' and although the track doesn't reflect Gil Scott-Heron's music, his socio-political sentiments seem to have been right in line with Mr. Vilk's from Nyodene D. Gil Scott-Heron (for those unfamiliar) might well be called the 'Godfather of Rap' as his poetic spoken word performance over a blues-jazz-soul music centered around social-political issues, injustice, inequality, hypocrisy and class warfare. It's no coincidence that Gil Scott-Heron's first novel (1970) is title 'The Vulture'. With a buzzing electronic drone, visceral power electronics and percussion that sounds like bombs dropping in the background the tortured distorted vocals make an unmistakable statement even if you can't understand the words. The bombast will continue until morale improves.

Finally Sektor 304 wraps it up with 'Furnace,' a track with tribal industrial percussion, feedback wail, buzzy and slicing electronics and vocals you can nearly understand. It's a seething track full of controlled rage and one of Sektor 304's more focused efforts. In all, this split EP has a lot to offer and the Nyodene D/Sektor 304 collaboration is a potent one. I'd certainly be interested in hearing what these two projects might come up with if they combined their efforts again.
Artist: Melorman
Title: Waves
Format: CD
Label: Sun Sea Sky Productions (@)
Distributor: n5md
Rated: *****
Melorman is Antonis Haniotakis originally from Athens, Greece, but now based in London, UK I think. He's been making music since 2001 and 'Waves' is his fourth album, not counting singles or EPs, and the second one released on Sun Sea Sky Productions. This is the first I've heard from him though. As you might surmise from his project moniker, the music is mellow with a capital M. Melorman's brand of electronica is fairly simple in form, yet not minimal ambient, more like melodic ambient often employing some kind of bass and percussion. 'Waves' begins with a some floaty chords on the brief 'The Sky Out of Your Window' and gently layered and sweeping textures. The 'Glow' that follows introduces somewhat simple percussion propelling this musical skyship at cruising altitude yet anchoring it not too far from earth so it won't drift away, and this sets the stage for the rest of 'Waves'.

All of the synth tones Melorman employs seem to have been chosen purposefully to keep things low-key, and combined with semi-hypnotic simple melodies, arpeggios and chord figures it makes for a very placid listening experience. Of course, with that combination there is a tendency to move into New Age territory, but sometimes it can't be helped with this kind of music. I think that's what put me off the first time around listening to 'Waves' but the music is so subliminally emotionally evocative that I can somewhat overlook that. Melorman also keeps his percussion light and interesting without being too busy which is a very good thing; percussion overdose can absolutely kill a nice ambient-oriented work. (I've heard it done before.) There is also enough variety between the tracks to keep it engaging. The most upbeat track, 'Girls in the 70's' employs pulsing synth bass and a little bolder percussion but still doesn't spoil the mood. Made me wonder what kind of girls Antonis hung out with in the 70's. The only track with vocals on it is the last, 'Numbers' with spoken samples of numbers recited. Mathematician's ambient electronica? Maybe. A little out of place from the rest, but still not too obtrusive.

I've tried to think of a season 'Waves' is best suited for and at first I thought of Autumn because of the wistful character of the music, but actually there is something in every season that could be relevant. Perhaps 'Waves' is best suited for those contemplative times with a nice cup of tea and a reflective mood. The album sounds equally good under headphones or through speakers. This is another one of those albums that when I play in my bookstore, people ask about, and it certainly is nice that I have another album I can add to my ambient roster there. Also a nice break from all the noise/harsh electronic albums I've had been reviewing of late. If you really like mellow electronica you should give 'Waves' a try.
Artist: Nyodene D (@)
Title: Edenfall
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Well, here we go again, more noise/power electronics. Nyodene D is one Aaron Vilk, the project stared in 2008 as ambient industrial but soon shifted into death industrial/power electronics. 'Edenfall' is about the 10th release for Nyodene D, counting CDr and cassette and the first one on the Malignant label. 'Edenfall' features appearances by Shift, Sky Burial, and Rope of American war metal band Prosanctus Inferi and death metal band Father Befouled. This is one fuck of a noisy album, so if you're not up for a shitstorm of noise, you probably want to pass. There are vocals (indecipherable of course) but Aaron has graciously provided a libretto to his industrial noise symphony in the included booklet, so you can follow along if you wish. Actually, it's too bad that all of the vocals are so distorted; some of the lyrics are really poetic and deserve to be heard amidst this Sturm und Drang. Maybe if they were hoarsely whispered'¦

The first two tracks, 'Edenfall' and 'Damnatio Memoriae' were like having tons of molten scrap metal raining down upon my head. Chances for survival are slim. Things get a bit more interesting with 'Anasazi' with this really weirdly distorted Native American chant loop in the background, the power electronics a little subdued, and you can understand the lyrics if you follow along with them in the booklet. Still, it's pretty noisy, but what else could you expect? Definitely a weird atmosphere. 'Scars of Anthropology' seems to have more direction than the previous tracks, heavy on the power electronics noise drone, light on the scrapyard. The undercurrent is a heavily processed speech/lecture running throughout (probably not a TED talk), something about scientific experimentation on humans as you can divine from the end where all is left is that sample. Over this we have the ranted vocals, and without quoting them I can tell you that it's a diatribe against science, technology and war used for profit and subjugation in the illusion of 'freedom', 'safety' and 'progress'. Well, that all makes sense! 'Nihilation' with its moaning bass and muffled scream electronics might just make you queasy. Forget following along with the lyrics on this one; just read 'em. Suffice to say, it's the end of everything and we all went to hell in a handbasket. Final track, 'Borne on a Vulture's Beak, I am Carried into the Heavens' was the track on the album I liked the most. Perhaps it's because my ears weren't bleeding throughout the entirety of it. The dark ambience and electronics here are much more subdued compared to the rest of 'Edenfall' and the lyrics are almost decipherable without the aid of the printed word, but still quite electronically processed. It's a fitting conclusion to the album, kind of like a nihilistic prayer of the afterlife.

Nyodene D has made 'Edenfall' quite an artistic endeavor for a noise/power electronics project, and I'm sure most noise enthusiasts should appreciate it. For me though, there were places where it was just too much, as in the first couple of tracks. Okay, maybe I'm a bit of a noise wimp, but just because I can't get into 10+ minutes of violent metallic mayhem at a clip doesn't mean it won't work for you. Still, there's enough depth and variety on 'Edenfall' to make it worth checking out. Definitely not noise for the sake of noise, but noise as the expression of all that is corrupt, decadent and despicable in human society. Sometime you just need a ton of molten scrap metal poured on your head to feel it.
Artist: Didges Christ Superdrum (@)
Title: Alien Technology
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I'm pretty sure that Brian Johnson of AC/DC, who caught one half of this project, Shawn Bowen, while playing together with Kelly Shaefer for Neurotica and decided to produce their first album when he used to live in Sarasota (Florida), wouldn't be disappointed by the costume Shawn "Obishawnkenobi", talented didgeridoo player Jeremy "Lembonius" Lembo with the support on drums and percussion by Julius "Caesaronius" Mendoza and James "Bezl" Labonte which could someone think about four possible fathers of Iron Maiden's dummy Eddie. Jokes apart, this record by Didges Christ SuperDrum, which could be considered as a sort of side project of World Collision, shows a remarkable sonic understanding and complementarity of its columns and an interesting crossover between didgeridoo dance and ritual music and electronic rock song typical structure, whereas even if the conceptual framework, if we could call it so, draw on aquarian/new age beliefs, the ritual pep often got tempered by a shrouded and thought-provoking irony and vitriolic sideswipes against reigning capitalist contours, particularly on tracks like the clotted gore-spotted "Black Is The Colour", the appropriate venomous "Grind To The Slaves" (lyrics like "The ideology of ideocracy/You've been hypnotized/by your own demise.../.../The system that you foster/isn't built to last" could echo more some furious industrial or metal song than a ritual-oriented set), the non-confessional "The One True Devil" or the final sabbatical stage "Snake Oil" - one of the highlights according to my ear response -. All things considered, "Alien Technology" is a very good release, but I imagine that listening or taking part to some Didges Christ Superdrum's live exhibition (or I'd rather call it a rejuveneting rite of passage!), which features interpretative dances and fire manipulations by Skyedancer as well as some fluorescent body painting, could be head and shoulders above an ordinary listening by headphones.
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