Music Reviews



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Artist: The Truth About Frank (@)
Title: Cannibal Work Ethic
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I had never heard of this British duo, but I loved the name The Truth About Frank. It made me wonder who Frank was and what he did. This is an interesting mix of subdued but noisy sound collage and electronic beats. In many cases, I find that this is a symptom of a band that is still trying to find its voice. In this case, however, the different styles served to break up the album and keep it interesting. The music is an interesting mixture of disembodied voices and ambient soundscapes. Think of a mix between early Aphex Twin and Hafler Trio. Overall, this is certainly worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 38 minutes.
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Artist: Rainnair and ARC
Title: Incantation III
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
I had never heard of either of these artists, nor had I heard of the label until I got this in the mail. After listening to it, I'm not quite sure what to make of this disc. It isn't too bad, but it is an odd combination. Let's walk through the disc, shall we? Rainnair starts us off with some ominous spoken word and even a bit of a beat, then moves into a synth based set that seems to try to keep the dark undercurrents running. For example, Cthulhu Dreams sounds like it would be at home in a Lovecraftian movie. Moving on to ARC, 'Vinnie Sink (Fuzz as a Peach) starts us off with a simple beat and . . . vocoder? I didn't know that T-Pain was getting into the experimental scene. It didn't quite work. The remix, on the other hand, has a kind of old school 1980s Front 242 feel to it. The vocoder is present and accounted for, but seems to work a bit better in this track. Kind of made me nostalgic for the old Wax Trax stuff. The disc concludes with a slow, heavy beat and more digitally enhanced vocals. So the overall verdict? Rainnair was decent dark ambient, but I would say that labelmate StrykninY, who was also in the package from Pale Noir, would be a better bet. ARC was a mixed bag. This album is also pretty short, weighing in at around 23 minutes.
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Artist: Modern Stalking and ANDRAS (@)
Title: Incantation IV
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
Rated: *****
As with the other Pale Noir released I am reviewing in this batch, I had never heard of either of these artists, nor had I heard of the label until I got this in the mail. Like the other discs this is pretty lo-fi stuff, but this is much better than the Incantation III disc. Part of this is due to the congruence of the styles on the disc. Modern Stalking is some interesting soundscape stuff, with a fair amount of spoken word interjected into it. Sometimes the use of samples can be a debilitating crutch, but in this case it works pretty well. There is a wide variety of sounds and feelings here, with noise blending into a circus organ under the big top. Some of it becomes a bit too sparse and at times repetitive, but it's a good introduction. ANDRAS throws down some interesting synth-based tracks that kind of remind me of 1980's goth / new wave stuff. The label describes the band thus: 'If 80'²s era John Carpenter scored the soundtrack to the break-up between two tired junkies it might sound as synthesizer bleak as ANDRAS.' There are few vocals here, with the focus on the music. Overall, I am looking forward to seeing what happens with ANDRAS. Evidently the non-promo version includes a special spell wax sealed collection card. The first 15 orders will also receive a complimentary 11 x 17 poster of the cover art (but mine is 20 out of 50, so you may be out of luck on that front. This album weighs in at around 36 minutes.
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Artist: StrykninY (@)
Title: Shattered Forest 2008-2010
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
Rated: *****
I remember talking to James Keeler, the man behind the amazing project known as Wilt, about his love for lo-fi trashy noise. In some ways, I share his love for the flaws that are almost inevitable when there is minimal processing ' when it is done well. StrykninY shares this lo-fi aesthetic, but brings it to the realm of dark ambient. This is a bit more raw and rough around the edges than you are likely to find on such labels as Cyclic Law, but there is something interesting about this album. You almost get the sense that this is what you would hear if you saw this act live without the presence of prerecorded material. This is droney with just a bit of noise thrown in. Some of the tracks seem to get a bit too static, but overall this is one to check out if you like your dark ambient a bit more grating. It's limited to 50 copies, so if this sounds promising you'll want to act quickly. This album weighs in at around 54 minutes.
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Artist: ITT
Title: The Star Ruby
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
Rated: *****
When I got this package, my first thought was 'great ' black metal.' Look at the cover. Pentacle. Check. Song titles like 'Atrocity' and 'Invoke Necro.' Check. As such, I was pleasantly surprised. The label describes the band as 'Noise echos and ghost drones from this dark and bloody ground'¦ I' ' is a lo-fi hypersigil casting spells in various mediums. The name itself is a sigil for magickal workings, but if it must be pronounced it is eyedoublecross.' Well, it is definitely lo-fi. Almost too lo-fi. For example, 'Invoke Necro' becomes a bit repetitive with the delay and echo chamber effects and 'Catacombs' went on a bit too long with little progression. But other parts are pleasantly noisy and much better than I thought it would be. So sometimes you can't judge an album by its cover. If you like your noise droney and minimally processed, this may be worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.
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