Music Reviews



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Artist: THE EXALTICS
Title: We are not your Friends (Annihilate The Planet)
Format: 12"
Label: Last Known Trajectory
Rated: *****
The Exaltics return to the place of "murder" remixing their own track "The Hunch" coming from their first Last Known Trajectory 12" "We're Not Your Friends". The limited single sided 12" contains two tracks. The fist is the "Annihilate The Planet" version which sees Robert reworking the original tune turning it into a fast acid electro track based on syncopated rhythms, fast bass arpeggios, his charachteristic synth orchestrations. If at the beginnig the remix play with mysterious atmospheres and electro elements, after a couple of minutes the acid sounds come in giving to the sound an evil twist. The second track sees Hadamard with his "Ravage Of The Planet" remix. On this one we have dark atmospheres, ambient drones, electro drum beats and melodic fluctuating pads. It sounds menacing and cool. This nice 12" is a limited edition promo only release which includes special photo print insert featuring a design by The Exaltics.
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Artist: Lumisokea
Title: Automatons
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Eat Concrete (@)
Distributor: Believe Digital
Rated: *****
What seems to be the main concern of this Belgian/Italian duo is to deliver pure sounds, regardless if these sounds are music, drones or noises. I mean i get the feeling that they don't care so much about the compositions (although they're both multi-instrumentalists and it's obvious that they have been classically trained-a fine example of what they can do compositionally is the charming "Second"), but mostly how to capture their build-from-scratch soundscapes with the maximum fidelity. In their debut album "Automatons" they surely manage to achieve this goal, of course with the help of Sam John (Precise Mastering) who's responsible for the state-of-the-art masters.
Koenraad Ecker and Andrea Taeggi (aka Lumisokea-means "snowblind" in finnish) play improvised electronic music, by combining acoustic instruments like prepared piano, harmonium and live percussion, with a series of glitch sounds that jump from their laptops. The result is an album full of imposing abstract soundscapes ranging from ambient to noise, that resembles more to a continuous live jam than a mixed in the studio work. And that's a good thing because you never get bored listening to it; everytime there's something new to discover in their complex structures, a fine little detail in their rich textures that you may have overlooked during the previous listen.
Eat Concrete does not compromise with anything less than top when it comes to the quality of a release, thus this album boasts a wonderful artwork (by Ninna Thorarinsdottir) and it is also available on vinyl, as a 4-track EP (with your purchase you also get a code to download the digital, full 8-tracks edition).
Very promising debut, strongly recommended!
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Artist: Download
Title: HElicopTEr + Wookie Wall
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Rated: *****
From the first few seconds of the opening "Propeller" you start shaking your ass. Yeah, it's cEvin and Phil with their twisted idm and they're in great shape! Uptempo rhythms surrounded by... a million layers of bleeps, noises, glitches, samples, pads, textures, oscillations and... oh, whatever! The sound is almost indescribable, amazingly crafted in its every little detail (although resembling with a mini-series of live studio jams), the pace is relentless, it leaves you breathless and sweaty (at least until the last 2 tracks, the beatless "Landed" and "Beati", a wonderful downtempo piece of electronica which features Dead Voices on Air's Mark Spybey on vocals), the aural assault is unprecedented. No favourites in this album, every track is ace, every track is a little bubbling seducer, a funky little beast, a crispy piece of Download's groovy insanity!
Released 2 years ago via Key's own SubConscious Communications, HElicopTEr (SUB40) was not only the group's (actually, since III, the duo of cEvin Key and Phil Western) 9th studio album, but yet another chance for some fuel to be dropped in the endless dispute between the traditional and the more open-minded fans of Skinny Puppy. A dedicated Puppy fan myself, i always found Download simply irresistible, definitely the group's most exciting side-project (although it's pretty apparent that it's Western who's mainly responsible for their incredible idm/techno sound) and i feel no shame to state that i really hailed their shift to more danceable stuff, since 1997's III. Dare i say too that i'm following SP since "Bites"...
The reason of this review is the recent re-issue of this album by Metropolis Records. It is now available also as a digital download, enhanced with 3 additional tracks which form the "Wookie Wall" EP, initially planned to be sold during 2010's "SubCon Beyond Fest" tour, but never materialized as a separate release. And, damn, these 3 tracks are great too (especially the chaotic techno of the last one, "Jark"). There's also a brand new cover by the one and only Simon Paul, responsible for many SubCon artworks, that somehow merges the original with the one that was designed for the EP (both by Simon).
The timing of this re-issue is ideal, because, after 4 and a half years, the brand new SP album is about to hit the streets (it's called "HanDover, it's really stunning and it will be out officially on Tuesday, October 25). Until then why don't you take a ride with HElicopTEr?!
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: The (Almost) Insanely Happy EP
Format: 7"
Label: EE Tapes (@)
Rated: *****
Boss of the Insane Music label, member of many bands such as Cortex, Human Dance, Human Flesh, I Scream, Japanese Genius, Ornament & Crime Arkhestra, Pseudo Code, Sic, Subject, etc, Alain Neffe during all the 80s has been damn busy and EE Tapes is keeping on reissuing his music digging into the archives to bring us classic and unreleased tracks. THE ( ALMOST) INSANELY HAPPY EP is the second 7" EP compilation dedicated to Insane Music and it contains three tracks by Subject and three by Human Dance of which three are unreleased. Subject were in balance from pop intuitions, wave atmospheres and minimal approaches to sound where bass guitar, guitar and a rhythm box were the core of the sound which on the dreamy dramatic "L'ultima storia" sees Mirella Brunello joining Alain Neffe and Daniel Malempre to sing in Italian a lyric about a lost love. Human Dance were less wave and a bit more ironic. Their "Jethro, C'Est Trop !!" has a flute part recalling the Jethro Tull and "Magikal Hystery Sour (The Beatles Were Not So Bad, After All !!)" sounds like a minimal pop soundtrack with clean guitars, organ and drum machine in evidence. "The Desert Call" experiment a little with middle eastern atmospheres and reverbs. This is a nice EP available in 250 copies of which the first 85 are hand-numbered and have two extra photographs, from a series of nine.
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Artist: Versailles (@)
Title: Sacrifice
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Nearly all-girl band Versailles (not to be confused with other bands named Versailles, of which there are a few) from Los Angeles consists of Dianna St. Hilaire- Vocals, Keytar, Programming; Stephanie Rose- Bass; Marie Ilene- Drums, with Shaun Richards on Guitar. From the nice color photo they sent with the one-sheet, these gals look like your typical goth-clubbers and the music on 'Sacrifice' doesn't deny that. It wasn't always that way for Versailles; from the sound of their previous albums, singer Dianna was labeled a "Gothic Tori Amos" and that's not far off the mark, as both 'Believe' and 'Broken Dolls' sound much more commercial and somewhat more polished than 'Sacrifice'. (There is good deal more piano on those albums too.) They've toured the U.S. with Ego Likeness, Voltaire, New Model Army, Bella Morte, etc., and maybe they'll be coming to a goth club near you someday soon.

What Versailles have done on their 4-track EP 'Sacrifice' is step back in time to the 90's (maybe even the 80's) with a more retro gothy synthpop sound. Gee'¦this sounds familiar'¦maybe a bit too familiar'¦in fact, this sounds a lot like'¦THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE, a female-fronted retro synth-poppy band from Toronto. But it's Birthday Massacre light. (Those folks can get loud and heavy more often than not.) While Dianna is no Chibi she still has a very pleasing melodic voice. The synth and bass are pretty minimal, and the drums, well, that sounds like a drum machine to me, and that's pretty minimal too. Guitar is consistent with early 90's goth.

While the songs are convincing on 'Sacrifice' I don't really hear any big hits. 'Take My Life' is probably the closest to what the Birthday Massacre have done (in concept if not execution), but my favorite off the EP was 'Game'. The song seemed to epitomize the sound of an era to me in its disaffected way. I could even imagine it on some indie film soundtrack. I'm a bit ambivalent about the production on 'Sacrifice'; on one hand it is very retro-sounding, but on the other, quite bass-heavy and seems to be lacking in power and dynamics. Still, at 6 bucks, if you're a sucker for gothy (mostly) female synthpop bands as I am, it's not a bad purchase. On future endeavors, I'd like to hear Versailles put a little more oomph and drama into their sound and write a hit song or two. (They're undoubtedly capable of it.) It's worth a trip to their website just to check out their photos (corset, ripped stockings, buckled platform boots, OH MY!). I think it's harder for bands from L.A. to make it than anywhere else as there is just so much competition there. Persevere, ladies, persevere!

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