Music Reviews



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Artist: Aelter (@)
Title: Dusk-Dawn / Follow You Beloved
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Crucial Blast (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Aelter before I received this in the mail, but in looking at the press sheet, they invoked one of my favorite bands of all time, Clan of Xymox, so I was quite interested to check this out. Evidently, this is a side project of Wolvserpent guitarist Blake Green and a reissue of two albums that were previously released on vinyl. According to the press sheet, 'where Wolvserpent blends this chugging Melvins-esque heaviness and haunting slowcore arpeggios with violins, pounding drums, and a propensity for extended hypno-dirges, Aelter dispenses with the drums almost completely and goes for a more cinematic approach using layered keyboards and gorgeous harmonized voices that reminds me of something you would have heard on Beggers Banquet or 4AD being fused to a malevolent black heaviness.' So let's see if it lives up to the hype. Dusk-Dawn kicks us off with a sparse, atmospheric guitar line. In some ways, I could see this act doing a collaboration with Locrian because each seems quite interested in the idea of repetition. This is not quite Clan of Xymox kind of atmosphere, but the sentiment is there. If you think that Clan of Xymox is a bit synth heavy and prefer guitar, this is where you will want to look. Follow You Beloved moves in much the same direction, but is a bit more complex and even incorporates vocals, although these are difficult to make out and seem to be more there for atmosphere. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I read the sticker on the cover declaring them 'an offshoot of Idaho chamber-doom sorcerers Wolvserpent,' but this is actually pretty good. Heavy without being too oppressive, dark atmospheres without resorting to cheesy horror samples. File under old CMI-era Arcana. Disc 1 weighs in at around 32 minutes. Disc 2 weighs in at around 38 minutes, so I'm not sure why they decided to go with a double CD, but that's what we have.

4 stars
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Artist: Wavefall (@)
Title: Future Rock 'N' Roll
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya (@)
Rated: *****
Even though front-freaks of this Russian project, Slava Busygin and Tat'yana Borisova, portrait themselves with the help of Sergey Kovalev during a successful armed robbery as reptile-like punksters, born after a drunken lay or maybe a gangbang between Kiss and some sexy crossbreed of a woman and a lizard - I hope any fan of David Icke isn't reading this review or I'll hold myself responsible for feeding paranoias about Reptilians which want to kill all these annoying lowermost descendants of stupid monkeys! - and the title they've chosen for their new album, there's nothing really so apodictic which could define a radical stylistical revolution. They just enhanced their electro-metal crossover by adding elements from rock'n'roll collective imagination such as guitar riffs, use of voice or just references within lyrics, which are able to evoke that set of values or cliches, whereas in their boiling soup you'll easily recognize techno-punk, vintage techno or EBM recipes from Prodigy or KMFDM cookbooks, just to mention the most immediate analogies. It doesn't mean their sound is not nice and somewhat seducing, as there're many tracks such as "Collider", "F.S.C.K.", "My Wild Imagination" and even the final epic ballad "The Whole World Is Mine" whose contagious creative energy could persuade many listener (I could include myself) to attend some of their explosive liveshows with tickets at reasonable prices.
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Artist: Trapist (@)
Title: The Golden Years
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
Eight years after their last release, "Ballroom" on Thrill Jockey, this intriguing Wien-based trio of eccentric virtuosos finally came back. Silence doesn't mean each of them idled away their skills: I spoke about "Hoard", a solo-release by Joe Williamson on Creative Sources as well as his collaborative project "Weird Weapon 2" together with Olaf Rupp and Tony Buck, while I enshrine both Martin Siewert's "(Fake) The Facts", an impressive project with three drone-like sessions played with Mast Gustafsson and dieb13, and Martin Dafeldecker's collaborative work with Otomo Yoshihide, Axel Doerner and Sachiko M on Neos jazz as well as his releases with Radian and "Too Beautiful To Burn", an entrancing collaboration with Martin Siewert, issued in 2003. Maybe my association could be influenced by the circumstance I'm delving into Chekhov's theatre and narrative techniques, but the first track of "The Golden Years" could be a reference to so-called Checkov's gun, a kind of "coup de theatre", based on an element in the narration which initially could be without any relevance, but whose importance will be clear later, so that the role of the gun in "The Gun That's Hanging On The Kitchen Wall" could be played by guitar: the initial guitar strumming by Martin Siewert looks like an alarm clock, which arouse drums and bass from sleep, and in accordance with this vision, drumming could reflect frenzied bustling with kitchenware about preparation of breakfast while bass echoes that buzz in the head, which is the obvious hangover from sudden and undesirable awakening. Then music evokes the logical change of scene, where the initial outburst of the awakening gets to its chagrin in the surrounding world, a sort of self-programmed suicide of desires and will, an inference which is in keeping with Chekov's tragedies, whose tragic end normally implies some suicide. Following tracks are likewise mindblowing: stretched dissonances, sloped melodies, gruelling sonic interferences in "The Spoke and The Horse" sounds like putting a spoke in an old and hobbling horse's wheel, whereas the following track "Pisa" follows in Trapist's footsteps left on the occasion of their exhibition at "An Insolent Noise" festival, held in that lovely Tuscan town, where they interchanged sonic instrumental crack-ups and swarms with moody melodies, which let listeners slide into the mindblowing atmospheres of the final track, "Walk These Hills Lightly", where bass gradually rises over other instruments by weaving a kind of dirge-like blues througout a web of shaded percussions, electric hums and flashes, very low electronic frequencies and occasional arpeggios.
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Artist: Collide (@)
Title: Counting to Zero
Format: CD
Label: Noiseplus Music
Rated: *****
'Counting to Zero' is the latest release by Los Angeles' electronic duo Collide. Here they have crafted a very smooth, intricately designed record of electro beats; darkwave synths and atmospheres; and smoky, seductive female vocals. There is nary a dull beat to beat found herein, from chill, trip hop loops to funky glitches to even the occasional huge distorted drum loop. They are expertly melded with a variety of interesting synths and sounds and peppered lightly with a select few distorted guitar/bass parts throughout. There are a lot of influences obviously at work here, from Nine Inch Nails reminiscent passages, to echoes of Tori Amos and even a few hints of Nocturne's first album. The biggest comparison I find myself making, however, is kidneythieves. In nearly every song I find myself coming back to this reference at some point, which is ok because I'm a fan of KT as well. With 'Counting to Zero' Collide have certainly gone a bit more in-the-pocket in that the record as a whole is more cool and calm than 2008's 'Two Headed Monster' which was a bit more raw and aggressive, though this isn't a negativity, merely an observation, as they have definitely grown since then. The arrangements are more solid, intricate and professional; the vocals more mature; it's an all around positive evolution. My personal recommendations: 'In the Frequency,' 'Clearer,' and 'Tears Like Rain.' While some of this record may be a tad laid back for me, it is overall a great record with very few lows, and plenty of highs, very well done. And not to mention comes with a poster, a button with a small card, a large 2 panel folded card with a note from the band, a full color post-card style card and a full color booklet with photos and full lyrics (you have the option of this being an autographed set as well).
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Artist: sink/sink (@)
Title: The Darkest Dark Goes
Format: CD
Label: Feedback Loop (@)
Rated: *****
These New Zealand-based newcomers, made up of songwriter Gareth Schott, "technician" and lyricist Callum Plews and talented singer Kimberly Schulke, delivers an interesting musical declension which could belong to the sub-genre known as "ethereal" by crossing various stylistical grounds such as indie-rock, ambient, post-rock, drone and experimental and showing a remarkable suppleness. In spite of the skull, standing out on their debut's cover artwork, and gothic-mannered title such as "The Darkest Dark Goes", their attitude cannot be associated to necrophiliac or obituary musical ailments, even though they often give voice to some paranoid dizziness and their music sometimes evokes somewhat peremptory tension-driven dramatization. It's not because their first song has been titled "Astronavt", but their opening recalled to my memory a song by almost unknown indie-rock band Transmissionary Six, titled "Rodeo Satellite", imbued with Sigur Ros-like proving dough towards the end and a similar flow has been followed in the final bright reverberations of "Sunset song" where some vocal pitches could let you think about Amiina, but listening will reveal many other surprising moments and influences as well: the track I prefer most, "Place That I Love", sounds quite similar to some recent stuff by Alison Shaw's Cranes, while the post-rock heartbeat and a certain gloomy touch become more recognisable in the noise-steamed "Gursky" - the gradual transmutation of Kim's voice towards darker tones while repeating 'Climb over my fence, take your indifference and save it for myself' is really nice -, whereas some folk-like guitar-driven ballads such as "From the year 1752" infers associations with some nice folk acts like Taxi Taxi!, featuring a similar use of female voice, and there're some occasional references to My Bloody Valentine, Arab Strap, Slowdive and similar sonorities. They're not plagiarist at all, but you know that it's sometimes easier for reviewers - I don't mean those promoters in the semblance of reviewers of course - to search for terms of comparison, but I'm pretty sure this band can develop a more personal sound. Premises are really promising and their freshness will bring them to fill many blank slates with interesting stuff. In the meanwhile, have a listen to this album.
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