Music Reviews

Artist: Ultimate Soldier
Title: Cage
Format: CD EP
Label: Artificial Sun (@)
Rated: *****
Another new signing to the Artificial Sun label is the Russian one-man Electro/Industrial project Ultimate Soldier. Dmitry Ilyin is the man behind this Moscow-based project and I am relatively familiar with his works. He has released two full-length albums freely available via such prominent Russian Industrial communities like Infraschall ( and especially his track 'Damage' being featured on the 'Infraschall 3' compilation has caused higher recognition on this talented musician. Musically his early works have been poorly based into cliché-driven Hellectro-mediocrity, but at least with his second album 'Damage' he has proven more detailed and matured programming skills. The music has turned into an authentic EBM/Industrial outfit with deepest respect to the works of FLA, 242 and other veterans. 'Cage', the title-track describes lyrically the fury of uncompromising creations of our technology, represents this newly discovered style and it may has also had a helping influence, since Dmitry shares since years a deep friendship to the Australian Electro/Industrial project Novakill. It isn't at all a dancefloor-burner, rather a mid-tempo based track, which may exceeds the length a bit. You'll get rewarded on this EP with three original b-side tracks, 'You Can't Stop Progress', 'Under Control', and 'Programmed', from which I tend to rate 'Under Control' as being the best tune here.
Remixes on the title-track can be discovered by Type V Blood, Kos Klimenko, DTFN vs. Ill-usion, as well as three remixes by Craig Saunders of the already mentioned duo Novakill. EBM fans can't go wrong with this nice debut signed to the Artificial Sun label, while I am pretty much sure, that Dmitry is capable to produce a much more intense and genre-blending release hopefully soon out on a new full-length album.
Artist: Soncesvit (@)
Title: Tenebrae
Format: CD EP
Label: Artificial Sun (@)
Rated: *****
The fifth release by the uprising Russian Artificial Sun label surprises with this debut release by the Ukrainian one-man project Soncesvit. Consisting of Ivan Luza, this debut EP consists of only two tracks, 'Tenebrae' and its b-side 'Magma'. At least 10 tracks, you'll get 8 foreign remix contributions on the title-track, plus the two original versions of both tracks. 'Tenebrae' itself surprises with lyrics completely in German taken from a biblical poem after the Austrian poet Paul Celan, who was originally born in the Ukraine. The raw and attacking guitar assaults and the powerful rhythm programming, as well as the 'rolling-R-letter-like' vocals let this track become to one of the best tribute-to-Ramstein tunes ever! Till Lindemann would have a smile if he'd have a chance to listen to this limited CDR (101 exemplars only available). As for the remixes on 'Tenebrae', first and again to name are the Kaliningrad-based marauders of Type V Blood providing an excellent, raw and powerful assault. Distorted World, also an often discovered name on a remix list by the Artificial Sun label, are proving their sense to provide more calm tones and more silent moments to this powerful original track. Also the interpretations of T-U.bus as well as the Project E.V.A. & Heart Hunter remix have to be rated as being well-done by providing some new and interesting Electronica elements to the mix. The b-side 'Magma' is a rather Folk-Metal-oriented outfit, hardly comparable to 'Tenebrae', and it needs some usage by the listener to grow on it. The rating after this review rather counts for this release only, since it is an entertaining one. The artist and his abilities can be hardly rated after only two tracks, but as far as we know the release politic of Artificial Sun during the last months, a full-length album should follow soon.
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Artist: Pyrroline (@)
Title: Ruins Outlast
Format: CD
Label: Electro Aggression Records (@)
Rated: *****
Surely one of the most anticipated releases of this years' spring time is the second Pyrroline album 'Ruins Outlast'. While I always thought, what the fuck has driven this smart German Dark Electro-duo to exchange their handy, previously used band name from the not at all over-aggressive sounding Nordschlacht into Pyrroline, it can be said, that the talent of Arnte and Schmoun has survived in brilliance. Like already presented on their Nordschlacht-debut 'Silence, Beauty and Cruelty' in 2007, as well as on the Pyrroline follow-up 'Behind The Horizon' in 2010, this duo impresses with a perfect balance to embrace the fragility of sweet and smooth sounding synthesizer arrangements with the ominous, cold sounding aggression of a classic Dark Electro outfit. The name Mentallo & The Fixer in its typical 'Revelation 23'- brilliance is pretty fast taken as reference - and, what still surprises - this famous relation to the Texas-based idols isn't an obstacle for Arnte and Schmoun. Being deeply woven into the monumental synthesizer pads of the opener 'Disobedience' I get doubts, if not Pyrroline should have earned the praise instead of their idols. After the brute rhythm kick-off with its invading bass line sequences and the mostly whispered vocals of Arnte, the sweep synth-sounds are floating in after 2:09 minutes. Track 2, 'Effulgent', adds multiple percussion elements and reminds me personally on some all-time classics provided by Gridlock ('Halo') with their first recordings. What can follow up? Has this duo has already shot out their best bullets with the first two tracks? My doubts got immediately vanished with track 3, 'Precious Time', which is a layered produced cooperation with Michael Renfield (Soillodge / Noise Process). Next is 'Again', a bitter-sweet, nearly Synthpop-like tune featuring the awaited female vocal performance of Schmoun. But not only because of her talent, also because of the variation in the rhythm programming I tend to rate this as being one of the highlights on a top-notch Dark Electro-album full of highlights. 'The Round' then celebrates their skills to create a multi-layered soundtrack-like instrumental tune. It is still annoying to see/hear how many Sci-Fi related movies are coming out, but mostly poor supported by OST music related to Metal or Pop genres. 'The Round' would be an excellent example to re-think the current sound strategy.
These first 5 tracks are counting to the best starter tracks of an authentic Dark Electro album generally, so it is obviously that their next tracks can only follow-up and may loose a bit of intensity in comparison. They aren't at fillers and you'll get still some awesome tunes ('Ruins Outlast - Cultures Fall', 'Worlds Sorrow'). Track 12, 'Only Living' surprises as this track got originally composed by the US-based Dark Electro project The Holocaust Humanity. After the outro 'Ultranova', another example of their skill to create thrilling, multi-layered instrumental tunes, two remix works of the both best tracks 'Effulgent' and 'Disobedience' by Red+Test and Jihad conclude this remarkable release. Pyrroline are going to mark a standard in quality regarding releases by E.A.R. and musically they are standing side by side with their label mate Object. This is authentic Dark Electro music with heart and soul, featuring an aggressive and same-time fragile and sensitive arranged sound-design. More releases like this one and E.A.R. will be able to reach more and better recognition internationally.

Artist: Bvdub (@)
Title: All Is Forgiven
Format: CD
Label: n5MD (@)
Rated: *****
Bvdub, the project moniker of San Francisco ambient artist Brock Van Wey, has had so many releases on so many labels since 2007, I won't even attempt counting them. I suppose prolific doesn't even begin to describe Bvdub's output. (He's put out at least a couple more since this album.) Why haven't I run into this before? Frankly, I have no answer for that. 'All Is Forgiven' consists of three lengthy tracks ' 'All Is Forgiven' (19:04); 'Today He Felt Life' (31:32); and 'Peonies Fall For Kings (26:50). My first listen to the album was not a positive one; a cacophony of voices and orchestration on the title track just rubbed me the wrong way and I just couldn't get into the rest at the time. It was obvious I wasn't in the mood, wasn't getting it. I put the disc away for later consumption.

Returning to the disc in a completely different mood I found myself more in tune with the vibe. The title track begins with a little ambient synth (tones) to set the tone, slow percussion, meandering piano, and then the voices and orchestration. The latter are looped ad infintum, but not in any conventional way, sort of a swirling echoey stew that has no defined point in repeating. Voices are melodic with a world flavor and indecipherable lyrics. It's all very impressionistic and the only constant is the percussion, sort of a minimal drum machine track to keep things from getting too far afield, but even that falls away prior to the six minute mark. The voices temporarily recede and piano synth pads and some strings take over until the vocals return. Although there is some motion in the music, you almost have the feeling of being suspended in time for a while. Eventually a more electronic type of percussion makes its entrance in a stylized repetitive pattern. There seems to be the sound of a thousand voices all engaged in some strange dance. Voices recede and the orchestration (other ambient synth elements) takes over. Then it merges and blends, shifting, morphing, changing but remaining basically the same. This is a remarkable piece, nearly hallucination-inducing. The percussion ends before the track does while everything else keeps going and getting more intense until near the end we are only left with piano and synth pad, then a hugely echoed voice, then some stray strings, as if to say ' 'we are one, we are all, we are all part of this'¦together'

'Today He Felt Life' begins with some sleepy piano and descending melodic ethereal synth pad loops, then adds more synth loops, world voices, and a beat'¦just a kick at first, then hand-drum percussion while some bellish tone marks time every measure. So far, so good. I could listen to 30 minutes of this; hypnotic and trancey. But we're not even halfway through yet. Before the halfway point, the percussion exits but the loops remain. The percussion replaced by steady quarter-note bass thumps a little bit down the line. Nearly subliminal high-hat sneaks in on the upbeat and then eventually snare, and just about the time you notice it through the gauzy haze, it stops. There is some amazing stuff going on in these loops as they play off each other. In a sense they are contrasting and nearly conflicting, but they still seem to mesh very well together. The voices add an incredible dimension too, making the ambience sound alive, but from another, more ethereal plane of existence. Conventional percussion returns for a bit, then as soon as its noticed, flees like a firefly. I wasn't wild about was the extended piano ending. Although the melody goes nicely with what transpired previously, the progression struck me as rather new-agey.

'Peonies Fall For Kings' starts out almost like a song, with a distant echoey female vocal where you think you can almost make out the vocal, piano and drone synth pad. Then some type of funky but robotic percussion kicks in and betrays the laconic ambience and almost seeming to clash. Then the percussion stops and we're left with female voices, piano and synth pad. The female voices seem nearly angelic. The music and scene fade, replace by heavenly strings. Then a deep chambered soul singer emerges getting more increasingly more emotive, and that kind of turned me off, especially since I could make out the words. Sorry, this passage is not my cup of tea. When he finishes, a different kind of percussion holds sway and the ambience becomes soothing with 'oohs' from the subdued female chorus while other voices ghostly swirl in the background, but that guy is back again and he sticks around a long while'¦too long for me.

There is no doubt Van Wey is a master at what he does, and quite innovative in the way he does it. He's evoking feelings here and that's likely why I couldn't get into it the first time. It all depends on the feelings you have an affinity with that he evokes. For me, the first track really did it. The second, okay until the end, and last, not so much. Bvdub's music can't be all things to all people. I wouldn't doubt that I could listen to one of his other albums and love it all the way through, or maybe not at all. You may feel differently. No technical analysis is going to nail the feeling. It's something you just have to experience for yourself.
Artist: Pa Tronic
Title: Ute Pa Vift
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Anna Logue Records (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Skyttorp near Uppsala, Sweden, Patric Dimander and Anders Wagberg were playing together in early 80s in a rock band and they decided to dump their old drum player and to go electronic because he didn't commit to the band and was more interested in girls. They were active between 1983 and 1985 and they never had an official release out. Influenced by early Depeche Mode ("Kontroll" reminds me a little of "Boys Say No" for its atmosphere), Kraftwerk, The Twins, Heaven 17 as well as Sweden's own Page or Noise, they put all their efforts into making synthpop songs that, even if at times were sounding a bit imperfect (see the our of time manual drum pads solos on the early songs), were honest and fresh. Released thanks to a collaboration between Anna Logue Records and Dodsdans Rekords, "Ute Pa Vift" compile their rescued 1983/84 recordings plus two new versions of "Ute Pa Vift" and "Sol" recorded in 2011. In the early days the duo equipment was quite minimal and included a Roland TR-606, a SCI Pro-One, a Yamaha CS-01 and an Elka string machine. Later, they wanted to expand a bit more their "arsenal" and purchased a TR-909, a Korg Mono/Poly, a Poly-61, a Poly-800 and a Roland Juno-60. Singing both in English and Sweden, Pa Tronic's tracks mix synthpop freshness (check "Ta Mig", "Himmlen", "Kontroll" or "Mitt liv"), minimal cold wave ("The Future", "Hitta Ut", "Sol" or "PA1"), early e.b.m. ("Soker" or "Ute Pa Vift") and synth craziness (like their version of the traditional song "Tipp Tapp"). These tracks show a band that had potential but weren't able to record properly an album and this collection is a way to keep a track of those times. Well, we talked about the past of Pa Tronic and fortunately we talk about also the future of the duo, because they reformed in 2011 and did a concert in Uppsala on November the 11th and are preparing a new album. Thanks to the labels involved into this reissue, the first hundred purchaser of the release will get a bonus CDr titled "28 Tears Later", containing the recordings of that live. The concert is opened by "Slog Dej" a song that recalls a bit Front 242 just to follow with the powerful synthpop of "Tristessen". "Nattens Ãnglar" is a retro ebm mid tempo and then we have one of their "hits", "Sol". "Ute PÃÃÂ¥ Vift" is following and after that we have three songs that, as well as the first ones, aren't included into the LP: "Under Solen" (a powerful mix of synthpop and ebm), "I Varlden" (a dark synth mid tempo with catchy melodies) and "Slips Och Gele" (a dancey ebm track with bouncing bass lines and a bit of distortion). The album is closed by a demo version of "Ute Pa Vift" recorded in 1984. Nice release which you can check at this link
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