Music Reviews

Jun 16 2013
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Artist: VV.AA.
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Electro Aggression Records (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
New edition of the mixtape series of the uprising Electro Aggression Records label! Released during the cold winter days, this was an ideal warm-up teaser for the spring activities of this label, which at least brought us 3 new releases so far. And just like the first edition of this mixtape edition, also this second part offers remarkable content which leaves the listener surprised and deeply satisfied in front of his home entertainment. This quality stuff is again freely available via the Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages of the label: 75 minutes of authentic Dark Electro music/old-school EBM, no doubts, this is another must-have download for fans and supporters of finest Electronica music asides the repetitive and still ruling Hellectro-/Terror-EBM formula. Technically again executed by Michael 'Soillodge' Renfield, who proves again his skills to mix every single track perfectly into each other. He actually leaves only the one question open: how long will it take until he himself takes part with an appearance under his R010R project?
This mixtape starts perfectly with the German female/male-duo Pyrolline and their track 'Decision'. This fine and melodic Dark Electro tune picks up the line which Mentallo & the Fixer have left after 'Revelations 23' and/or 'Where Angels Fear To Tread' and the track would ideally fit to find a slot on one of this classic masterpieces. To Avoid are one of those band projects, which are trying to find an ideal balance between old-school EBM and the Dark Electro hype of the early 90ies. With both appearances, one of them is their classic, 8 years old tune 'Last Resort Suicide' (this time remixed by Maschinensturm), they provide a satisfying result and prove activity in the underground. Besides of Pyrolline, also the German/Swiss duo tEaR!doWn is one of the new additions of the EAR label. Their sound outfit differs and rather reflects the Dark Electro movement of the second generation during the mid-90ies, mostly provided by labels like Celtic Circle Productions or Gothic Arts. Red+Test, already the winner of the first mixtape edition, receives another 2-track-appearance: 'Before The End Of Days' pushes the masses on the dancefloors and surprises with VAC-related sequencing works, while the second tune 'Unforgiving Landscapes' reanimates some of the harder moments of the obvious idol Mentallo & The Fixer ('Inhumanities', 'Disrupture', or 'Narcotic Calling' for example...). Object is of course represented too, but stands a bit in the shadow of Pyrolline and/or Red+Test. And if you're longing out for a more futuristic form of your beloved Puppy-an sound-design, you have to check out the appearances of One Eye Wanders. You actually need a lesson in effective insertion of vocal samples? Here you'll get a lecture! What else? Astma (expect a summer release by this Swedish project on E.A.R...) offers the straight, fast and adrenaline-pumping form of old school EBM with angry shouts, quite comparable to acts like Autodafeh or Spetsnaz. DRP, the Japanese EBM heroes of the early 90ies on Dirk Ivens' legendary Body Records label are sending out another kicking sign of life: Could they maybe an option for EAR and start a comeback after their legendary 'Electro Brain 586' in 1990? Instans, the side-project of Sweden's Severe Illusion seems to get a re-animation - both this Swedish projects got featured on here too.
The result of this second edition is nearly the same like after the first one: it's unbelievable that the listener gets rewarded with a free available 75 minutes long download-onslaught filled with so much quality. Again - no matter how often I repeat it - this isn't filler stuff and all projects provide their best abilities with heart and soul presented through their music.

Pyrroline - Decision
To Avoid - Feel It [radio edit]
tEaR!doWn - Sign from Above [EAR mixtape Version]
Red+Test - Before the End of Days
One Eye Wanders Orchid Hunter
Object - Urban Claustrophobia [original instrumental version]
INSTANS - Carry My Name
B.A.M.N. - apart [edit]
Terminal State - The End
Astma - Dead End [remix 2012]
DRP - Fuck Off
tEaR!doWn - Nerve Conflict [Illness mix by Mc1r]
Severe Illusion - Lobotomobile [early version]
One Eye Wanders - Nervesending [edit]
To Avoid - Last Resort Suicide [RMX by Maschinensturm]
Red+Test - Unforgiving Landscapes
Artist: Matthew Shaw (@)
Title: Lamorna
Format: CD
Label: Fluid Audio (@)
Rated: *****
The gracefully statuesque droning ambient of billowing strings on the initial "Rosemerrynwood" introduces this new "enviro-mental" sonic translation of the fey town of Lamorna and its enchanting surroundings, a place on the south-western part of the lovely British region of Cornwall, by Matthew Shaw aka Tex La Homa, one of the most interesting musician of the UK underground ambient scene and founder of Apollolaan Recordings, who's not totally new to both this kind of releases where the musician seems to experience and translate into sounds an enraptured enthrallment by surrounding landscape or a specific location as well as by resulting inner frames of reference and sonic sanctification of Cornish places (he already dedicated a couple of CDrs to Lanreath and Metherell). The embedding of field recordings for such a release was almost compulsary, but Matthew skillfully kneads and amalgamates them with other sonic elements so that he manages to vividly render both the immediately perceivable manifestation of the places he visited (Lamorna valley, the beautiful cove, the peaceful woods and the mysterious historical site of Boleigh Fogou, an underground structure from the Iron Age) and the inner awesomeness they inspire by means of wisely played bowed guitars, acoustic guitars, Moog Prodigy and various effects. I'm pretty sure many listeners will experience synesthetic emotions as if they were surrounded by ferns, bluebeels, foxgloves, woodland, stones and all other elements of that Corbish corner of heaven.I hope there are still some available copies (just 100 numbered ones have been printed) as the package that Fluid Audio reserved for this sonic jewel mirrors its poetic soul by including a natural Larch wood slice, pressed Viola flower, a rare poem by British Surrealist painter and author Ithell Colquhoun, local scent and a download code as well.
Artist: I Signori Della Galassia
Title: Iceman
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records
Rated: *****
Active between the end of 70s and the very beginning of the 80s in Italy, I Signori Della Galassia (The Lords Of The Galaxy) were a band coming from Savona, Liguria. Formed by six members Franco Delfino (keyboards, voice), Gigi Mosello (keyboards, voice), Manuel Gustavino (guitar), Bruno Govone (guitar), Sergio Babboni (bass) and Beppe Aleo (drum), recorded two albums: "Qualcosa Si Crea Nulla Si Distrugge" in 1978 and "Iceman" the year after. Their main hit was "Archeopterix", track released on single with "Vulcano" and released on their second album. This album, thanks to Medical Records, has been reissued after thirty-four years! Originally containing nine tracks, on this new version, the album has eleven tracks ("Luce" and "Eliane" have been released on single in 1980 and they were sounding a bit different from the album's songs as they were more pop like I Cugini Di Campagna). The music of I Signori Della Galassia is really multifaceted as it gathers elements of 70s space disco (check the opening "Proxyma Centauri", the particular gipsy melodies of "Oltre Il Cristallo", "Iceman", "Archeopterix" or "Tutankhamon") as well as 70s Italian prog rock (check the beautiful fluid atmospheres and the melodic arpeggios of "Sub") and 70s Italian pop (see Pooh or Latte E Miele for both). Initially they were seen as the Italian answer to Rockets (do you remember the silver space men coming from France that had different major hits like "On The Road Again", "Electric Delight" or "Galaxy"?) but their style was also referring to bands like Goblin (see the tracks "Puoi Sentirmi", "Fermate La Reazione" and "Vulcano" with their dark baroque atmosphere). Using only analog synths, guitars and drum the band created a unique sound which was kinda cinematic and powerful where catchy melodies, great space sounds and inspiration were the key elements. This is a great reissue!
Artist: Chris Abrahams
Title: Memory Night
Format: CD
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
The circumstance that New Zealander sound artist and pianist Chris Abrahams is one third of the avant-jazz band The Necks, one of the most innovative of contemporary scene, could be considered a biographical note or a certification of consolidated experience for this occasion, as this album sounds completely different from The Necks' stuff due to the musical register he explores on "Memory Night". He already carved out the most enterprising musical experiments by his solo works on the occasion of a couple of releases - "Thrown" (2005), where he built catching soundscapes by means of an acoustic piano and a Yamaha DX7, and the surprising "Play Scar" (2010) -, but both of them were more ambient-oriented. On "Memory Night", he succeeds in catching listener's attention by means of a totally and somehow challenging sonic strategy, based on the functional transfiguration of classical piano, which got turned into a generator of noises. Piano melodies distinctively resurface, as they sound somehow worn-out, and the moment when the melodic function comes out again from an agglutination of cryptic tolls, grave stretched ultra-low keys, fazing taps, oleaginous metallic rubbing, occurs in a track Chris wisely labelled "Strange Bright Fact" before that sudden doleful melody gets stifled by a noisy melee of animal calls to boot. It precedes "Stabilized Ruin", the moment when the mongrel, which derives from the melting of piano melodies, its visceral noises and electronic tumefactions, arise at last by means of glitch tangles of noises, bleeps, hiccups, soughs, regurgiutations and a sobbing intermittent piano melody. It demands a very attentive listening in order to catch the lightest shades of this engaging hybridization.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 70 Years of Sunshine
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
19th April 1943. It could say anything to most people, but the historical importance of that date for the so-called psychedelic culture has been acknowledged as a sort of proper celebration, known as "Bicycle Day". Some people who have a certain familiarity with that culture knows that the term "bike ride" stands for a LSD trip, due to the legendary bike ride by Dr.Albert Hoffmann, the Swiss scientist who was the first to synthetize and experience the powerful psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide, which he later called his problem child on his essay about that discovery. He cannot imagine the heavy cultural consequences of that discovery when he chased after Lucy in the sky of diamonds, as he regarded it as a powerful therapeutic tool more than a recreational drug, even if he later sided with LSD decriminalization due to the fact it could solve the contemporary psychological problems related to "materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life". Whether you agree or not, the contribution of Hoffman's discovery to artistical blossoming was very strong despite any possible more or less boorish or bigoted controversy and biases and any tribute to that accidental discovery makes sense. One of the most famous dedication came from Kim Cascone's seminal Silent Records, which released a double CD compilation, "50 Years Of Sunshine", on the occasion of the first half century from Hoffman's trip, featuring contributions from Nurse With Wound, Psychich TV, Pelican Daughters, Controlled Bleeding, 68000 and Timothy Leary himself, a psychedelic ablution which has been reprised by fertile Polish label Monotype for the 70th anniversary by a series of explicit hints at its predecessor such as the double cd format (while Silent's collection names each part as a "100 Micrograms" and "250 Micrograms", a reference to the minimum and maximum dosage Hoffman tested, Monotype refers to the possible psychic directions of LSD trip by naming them "Ascent" and "Descent") and the engagement of some sound artists and musicians who already took part to the first collection such as Kim Cascone, Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound), Andy Ratzen (member of Pelican Daughters) and the Swedish duo Carl Abrahamsson and Thomas Tibert aka Cotton Ferox, who appeared in the guise of "White Stains" on "50 Years Of Sunshine", but what has been called a 'much anticipated software update' sounds a little bit more diversified. Besides a bunch of serene immersive pools of ethereal frequencies such as the incense burners of Phil Legard's "Lifting The Veil", the frothy "Border Feather" by Chihei Hatakeyama, the astonishingly mindblowing alchemical suite "Scilla Im Scilla" by Rafael Anton Irisarri, the lissome quiet movement of "Stare Deep Into The Clouds" by Invisible Path and the synaptic ionization on "Owsley" by Ethernet, you'll enjoy the Orb-esque "Blue Sunshine" by Lord Tang, the liquid tech-dub of Makyo's "Octopi (Underwater Dub 2)", the oddball contribution by Legendary Pink Dots, who rendered a sort of tranquilizing guiding voice on their amazing "Don't Worry Dear, I'll Be Holding Your Hand" and the initial blissful lapsing of "Lost Milkyway" - one of my favorite track of the whole collection - by the inspired Acid Mothers Temple's leader Makoto Kawabata on the ascending segment of this journey. The lopsided clouded guitar lines of "Bloodbury 1988" by Andrew Liles marks the beginning of the glide path and paves the way to the flickering chimes of Rapoon's "Back On The Bus", the outlandish gardens of "Come Down" by Komora A, the hallucinated numbness on Darius Ciuta's "seR-V", the subtonal disquiet of Mike Rooke's "Sliding Spaces", the tonal dizziness of "It's Getting Near Dawn" by Lonely Crowd, the gloomy haze of Mystical Sun's "Echodyssey", the eerie swamps of Tomek Mirt's "Soul Disorder", the panicked piercing electronics of Ceremonial Dagger's "Synesthesia", the wise dub under hangover of "How About That?" by Cotton Ferox and the final resolution by Andy Ratzen on "No-One Plays Upon Your Mind". This collection is definitively something more than a simple act of devotion or a simulacrum.
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