Music Reviews



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Artist: Marcus Intalex
Title: Cabal/Mud
Format: 12"
Label: Ingredients Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Ingredients manages to hire another reputed and versatile dnb master chef for his delicious menu, Marcus Intalex, who serves two tasty and quite different titbits: on "Cabal" (side A), Marcus grafts sinister trembling sounds and modulated breathing from a snorkel (or maybe a gas mask, considering the post-apocalyptic atmosphere and the perceivable sense of impending doom of the tune!) on a spluttering rhythimical pattern, which sounds even more hypnotical and immersive when this Manchester-based producer operates a sort of synch-mode between beats and a very deep sub-bass (if you have a graphical audiometer, you can verify they "chorally" shakes the same sinusoid in many moments of the track, which sounds close to some "futuristic" stuff he released on his own label Revolve:R), while on "Mud" (side B), he seems to insert some biotech enzymes within a pool of stagnant sonic waters, in order to make some sounds which he used to spread out (particularly those ones he co-signed with Lee Davenport aka ST Files) live again, so that the title seems to refer to such a nearness to his roots. Tear it off with your eardrums!
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Artist: Sonik Foundry (@)
Title: Explosive
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah Records (@)
Rated: *****
Have these guys been listening to too much Combichrist lately? It certainly sounds like it. Unfortunately Sonik Foundry isn't ballsy enough to be in Combichrist's league. 'Explosive' was obviously designed for the dancefloor and live performance as it's a stripped-down mean-machine of (mostly) four-on-the-floor EBM, with only an occasional foray into the melodic. On opening track 'Beat It Down' Nikademus implores the masses with a growl to 'Get Off Your Ass Down To The Floor...Stomp Your Feet Like You Never Did Before...' whatever. It's beyond cliché. Speaking of cliché, there's so much use of portamento on the synths that it really gets old quick, song after song. Maybe it's becoming their signature sound or something. The mod wheel gets quite a workout too. What melodies there are are mostly simplistic sing-song, and there isn't much variety in the synth sounds either, making a lot of the tracks on 'Explosive' sound similar. The material here probably works better live, but on disc it comes across as heavy-handed, calculated and contrived.

There are 3 remixes on this album - 'Fuse' (Assemblage 23 Remix), 'Slipping Away' (00tz 00tz Remix), and 'Severance Pay' (SINthetik Messiah Remix) and I liked them all better than the originals ('Severance Pay' was on 'Parish of Redemption'), mostly because they're more inventive than the originals, and actually made the songs sound rather creative. Knowing how much I usually don't care for remixes, what does that tell you about 'Explosive' ? It's really too bad these guys had to head down the path of least resistance and opt for the lowest common denominator in EBM music. 'Parish of Redemption' showed promise but there's no redemption here. Not very explosive; more like a dud.
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Artist: Rumpistol/Red Baron (@)
Title: Floating
Format: CD
Label: Project Mooncircle (@)
Rated: *****
'Floating' is the collaborative project of Danish electronic artist Jens B. Christiansen (Rumpistol) and LA based vocalist Red Baron. It would be easy to characterize this as post-dubstep meets white soul, but it's really much more than that. In fact, 'Floating' is something completely different. Rumpistol's brand of electronica has always had a certain playfulness and sentimentality to it, and here it melds very well with Red Baron's soulful vocal style, but in much grander fashion. If anything, the music is more elaborate and filled with more sonic delight than ever before, definite ear candy. Gorgeous and unexpected arpeggios, inventive and complex rhythms and more sounds than you could ever catalogue flowing through the speakers take electronica to new heights. On the level of melding commercial pop with experimental electronica, it is a groundbreaking achievement. How much you like it though is going to depend on how much you care for Red Baron's vocals. At times he sounds Lennon-Bowie-esque, but sometimes with processing on the vox it sounds a bit boy-bandish. There is no doubt though that the melodies are compelling, although I prefer the voice untreated. At times it sounds like an acid-drenched tour-de-force up and down the pop radio dial, and nothing is ever exactly a straight-up song. 'Floating' is an intriguing piece of work, with a dreamlike quality unlike anything I've heard of late. Although there were some pieces I liked more than others, I found myself returning to re-listen to this CD more than others that were up for review in this batch. The production is stellar, and Rumpistol pulls out all the stops in its execution. 'Floating' obviously must grow on one over time, and I guarantee you haven't heard anything quite like this before, although elements will seem familiar. Maybe this is the future of pop music, but for now, it is still a theoretical work in progress, although perhaps light years ahead of its time.
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Artist: VNDL (@)
Title: Gahrena: Paysages électriques
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
VNDL is Philippe Vandal, from Montreal, Canada. Philippe started producing electronic music in October 2009. Influenced by Access to Arasaka, Amon Tobin, Richard Devine, Gridlock, Apparent Symmetry, Mormo, HECQ, just to name a few. Prior to 'Gahrena: Paysages électriques' he's had a couple of other release ('Something for Someone', 'Tryptyque [123]') but is still a relative newcomer on the electronic music scene. VNDL's modus operandi is IDM/glitch electronica for the most part, and glitchy it surely is, yet tonally rich.
Entering VNDL's world on the opening track, 'afternoon.afternoon,' it sounds as if you've stumbled into a warped workshop of broken guitar parts overrun by termites. The next track, 'crunx' employs processed string (presumably guitar) scraping, plunks, harmonics, rattling, tinks, plinks, dropped bass tones, soft kicks, electronically processed sounds, etc., and eventually some beatz, assembled in semi-random fashion. It's an auditory hodge-podge collage of elements that come across like some warped arcade game. Title track 'gahrena' begins with an electronic insectoid buzzing, then morphs into manipulated, echoed tremolo guitar and crunchy bits of noise. 'bragg' enlists the aid of Nebulo (another Hymen Records glitch artist) with atmos drone, some semblance of a rhythm track and squiggly electronics. 'nikohn' had too much guitar noodling for me although some might find it atmospheric. Later, the Offthensky Remix of the track expands the atmosphere, and I liked it better than the original. 'novar' has a cut 'n' paste glitch rhythm with gauzy processed guitar. 'gaze' is obviously VNDL's concession to shoegaze music with shifting, gauzy, hazy walls of processed guitar. 'recycle theory' is kind of dark and mysterious until the cut-up beat takes over, although 'recycle theory'(part 2) is smoother audial paste. 'night at slaeg' features Polish glitch/IDM electronic music producer Pleq (Bartosz Dziadosz) in a rather smooth bit of aural ambience where even the glitchy elements sound buttery. After spending about an hour in VNDL's world, you might leave feeling a bit exhausted. He throws a lot at you, but it's intriguing enough to want to come back for more. 'Gahrena: Paysages électriques' is heady, abstract experimental stuff, and by no means minimal. If you're looking for a challenging listening experience, this would be it.
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Artist: Simon Balestrazzi (@)
Title: La Montana Sagrada
Format: CD
Label: SantoS Productions (@)
Rated: *****
The crowning achievement of an astonishingly fertile year for the Italian sound-artist and former member of historical band T.A.C. Simon Balestrazzi comes as a dearly dedication to the most known mind behind Panic Movement, the Chilean-French film-maker, author and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky and particularly to his masterpiece The Holy Mountain, a surrealist "mystery play" about western esoteric background, which cannot be but perceived as a mystical and religious taunt by cultural guardians of the temples of official religions and ideologies. Without going into detail of "The Holy Mountain", who succeeded in shaking flattest cultural grounds, thanks to its good workmanship, which can be explained by the remarkable financial efforts it attracted (it seems it was financed by John Lennon who provided Jodo with one million dollars, even the final result wasn't widely distributed due to some disagreements with Allen Klein) as well, I think it's relevant the intellectual curiosity about the fact this release was initially close to find favor with Jodorowsky itself. According to Balestrazzi's words, his friend Alex Papa, owner of a small alternative bookshop in Bologna, had the possibility to meet Jodorowski with the purpose of submitting the attempt of rescoring The Holy Mountain by T.A.C. (under his own supervision) to him. Such an arduous collaboration, whose boldness is almost obvious if you consider it should compete with ritual music, composed by Jodorowski himself, and contributuons by Roland Frangipane and Don Cherry, was sinking into oblivion, due to some impediments, when Simon decided to take the project out of his drawer in order to get it into print through the small Italian label SantoS Productions. Thank goodness! Simon manages to evoke and stick to the mind-blowing visionary atmospheres of that movie as well as by some sonic hints to the original OST by an hallucinotary crescendo from the obscure starting track, "Opening Ritual" (you can try listeneing to it while watching that notorious sequence, which features his director playing the character of The Alchemist), to the final punching drones and the disquieting sonic setting of "Leopards Milk" by going through the oppressing sound on "Axon", the foreboding one on "Its Perfume Is My Blood", the occult alchemic soup of "In The Rainbow Room".
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