Music Reviews



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Artist: Der Klinke (@)
Title: Square Moon
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Any panel of greyest or smoke-blackened new wave's followers will easily acknowledge the intrinsic value, the exact arrangement as well as the talent of this Belgian formation as Der Klinke shows fusionist skills off through a modern sonorous renovation of some almost godforsaken musical buildings, erected by many legendary Belgian predecessors, such as Front 242, The Neon Judgement, Vomito Negro or Poesie Noire, so that they ideally lenghten the so-called Cold Electro Wave, pierced by some plain rhythmical schemes belonging to EBM, which used to flood mainly European underground disco clubs and headphones between the end of the 80ies and the beginning of the 90ies, through a nowadays adaptation. The result is really interesting and could cause some problems to those reviewers obsessed by labelling of genres, especially when the band bridges the above-mentioned marching sounds with more danceable beats. Even if it's not plagiarist, they manage to hit nostalgic hearts, especially in tracks such as Clear Mind (featuring some drum sequences close to those voodoo techno beats by Vomito Negro or 808 State) or Square Moon, but they could also seduce many gas-masked and leather-blended dancers with tracks such as the foggy 3AM, the obscure "matsurized" techno march of Where It Ends (a track where they grabbed the gnashed voice by Gerd Van Geel aka CUVG, singer for the Belgian band The Arch) or those ones featuring the appearance of a former member of Der Klinke, the jazz singer Melissa Vanderville, who flushes her vocal chords for You, The Voice and Surrender. It seems like lyrics speak about personal stories or poetized pages of a diary, but there's some provokative hook here and there - I personally underwrite the one against cultural uniformation promoted by mass media in the song Radio ("The Radio/Is Your companion/towards an empty life...Go to concerts/go to parties/Meet musicians/Buy their records/But never/No never/Download music" , so Chesko Geert Vankerkhof sings about!) - as well as a nicely gloomy sort of lullaby for insomniacs, At Night, at the end of the record, my personal favorite track together with the above-mentioned Where It Ends, the misty-eyed title-track (I'd like to argue it's a love song by unwearing it from any possible esoteric meaning!) and the chronicly prosaic castle In The Dark. Go in for a dip before the (cold) wave ebbs!
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Artist: AIDAN CASSERLY
Title: The Naming Of Blue
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Ninthwave Records
Rated: *****
Dedicated to his beloved brother Neville, who passed away the last October, THE NAMING OF BLUE is the second solo album by Aidan Casserly, know also for being the singer of Empire State Human and the now disbanded The Garland Cult. The new album, which is released after one year and half from the fist "White soul", contains eleven new songs that mix synthpop, ballad, rock and ambient elements. The album starts with the touching choruses / orchestra of "Cloak & Daggers" just to follow with the first pop torch song "We're no sinners". On this song, piano, strings and guitar solos and the passionate voice of Aidan will make you wave your head and lighten your soul. "Sepia years" is a mid tempo ballad with Celtic melodies where strings, guitar and piano are the main instruments. "Steal for love" is the first tune to have dance atmospheres, this one has electronic sounds and sensual sax solos duetting with Aidan. "Boy song (for Billy Mackenzie)" is a mid tempo ballad dedicated to the memory of the Associates' singer and it mixes piano and synth pads. "Silent songs" is another piano / synths ballad which on its middle has a solo that turns it into a torch song. "River of souls" recalls me the desperate atmospheres of the third Marc Almond album "Mother fist". With "Sebastian and the dream" Aidan mixes dub atmospheres, synth bass sounds and harp solos just to make of it a dance tune after one minute. A catchy one for sure. "Marble" starts with ambient choruses and follows with house rhythms and leads. "Castles" is co-written with pianist Martin Watkins, who is famous for his piano and keyboard work with Marc Almond. The song is a ballad focused on piano and vocals with the add of soft wavy pads. The last song is a reprise of "Cloak & Daggers", this time based on strings and piano. I think that THE NAMING OF BLUE is the most personal album that Aidan did and after almost ten years of musical career he showed to the audience another side of his multifaceted soul.
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Artist: Andreas Gross (@)
Title: Autumn Inventors
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
The very first germs of this album by Andreas Gross were already listenable in the lovely mini-album Stone Thrower, issued by Echozone last year, so that after one year, I'd say finally, Autumn Inventors is the musical evidence they've luxuriantly sprouted. A sort of spring in spite of the seasonal references of the title garlanded by the guessed mixture of ethereal dark voices - I already appreciated Tabitha Anders' voice (even when Andreas Gross looks like playing on her gently melancholic frequencies by juxtaposing effects such as in Black String Girl, emphasizing salivary sounds on tracks as Silent Halls or the lovely cover version of The Sun by Soap&Skin or double voicing hers with the ones by Swenja and Jannika Schneider, acting almost as chorusing vestals) -, pop and wave suggestions with trip-hop, ambient, gothic and even medieval (have a listen to 1847, a track previously issued on the above-mentioned ep) sonorities, imbued in meaningful lyrics whereas some "gothic" themes have been better explained and conceptually defined. Not just generic references about a vague sense of loneliness or spiritual precariousness or even just an intimate report from psychotic journeys or devotional crisis (...as lyrics of songs like Heart Parasite could suggest: "The demons I hide/so deep inside/they always make you see/the blackest views in me"), but there're many bodies of evidence and quotes in songs such as Oberon (looking like an aware invocation to a non-existing deity, identified in the mythological king of the fairies in medieval and Renaissance literature) or Shady Fortune Hunters ("we all are/shady fortune hunters/laughing ourselves to death/always searching for saint cyril of jerusalem") whereas it's clear it's impossible to say they're just another kind of fellowship to the "dazed and confused" philosophy! Andreas Gross also included four excerpts from live gigs (Agnus Dei, Stone Thrower, False Prophets and Hail To The Employee), recorded two years ago for Jorg Tochtenhagen's birthday. I highly recommend to look for their forthcoming strictly limited DVD, entitled Obscure Sessions, in order to better appreciate Andreas Gross' vision of his own music.
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Artist: Leichenwetter (@)
Title: Zeitmaschine
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Less than six months ago, we introduced and appreciated Leichenwetter's Legende and I personally decided to relisten some of their past releases so that it was almost immediate to notice the significant improvement of their sound. The following step of a careful listener is quite logical and could consist of a sort of imaginary bookbinding of their past releases according to their renowned style and - abracadabra (or whichever hocus pocus you prefer!) - here it is playing in my headphones! Someone could malign saying it's too easy to do it if someone already wrote lyrics centuries ago...but that could be an unjust and hasty sentence they definitively don't deserve! The powerful and vibrant voice by Numen (there're many moments when his voice make listener's skin crawl such as when he roars Allerseelen by Georg Trakl, Schwanenlied by Gottfried August Burger or Im Nebel by Hermann Hesse) has been propelled by the female one by Nina twice (for the above-mentioned Schwanenelied, my favorite track, and Die Zeit Geht Nich, a great poem by Ottfried Keller...I've not premised they just sing German poems - mainly belonging to Expressionism, Sturm und Drang and Weimar Classicism - as I presumed you already know this feature of this German band...beware: they just use German - a detail I appreciated a lot -!), while their sound features more electronics side by side the massive epic guitar walls. Leichenwetter properly called such a maquillage Zeitmaschinee (Time-machine), even if it's quite controversial if they travel towards past glorious ages or if they just evoked past poets to let them live again in our ones...or just both! Intellectual (but not necessarily snobbish) musical surgery (or time travelling!), you'll easily enjoy!
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Artist: Vendemmian
Title: One In A Million
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
It seems Vendemmian managed to seize the white rabbit with the clock by ears after a long-lasting chase, grabbed neaby the musical coordinates of 80ies wave rock and roasted with delicious sweet potatoes and carrots as side dish on the red-hot pan of the genuine goth-metal spread by glorious bands such as Paradise Lost. After six albums between 1993 and 1997, they disappeared from radars for almost 12 years, then after their comeback album One More Time in 2008, they're trying to refresh a little bit their sound, a mission which is not easy to accomplish if such a sharpening has been made on blades wielded by many leading character of known past splendours of that scene. Many listeners could consider them old-fogeys, but the somewhat desperate declarations of love, who are going to be easily nibbled and digested by fans of notorious bands such as Sisters Of Mercy, Joy Division, Cure, The Mission or The Cassandra Complex, could be object of a sort of translitteration addressed to them. The chances of stimulating love amidst them could be one in a million (sorry for easy paraphrase!), but it's a chance the front-leader and singer Mark Douglas and Vendemmian Dave are going to take and these chances become higher especially when they let more danceable tunes off the leash, particularly in "lighter" tracks such as I'm Falling, Shine On (whereas lyrics such as "I never forget how I met you/drawn together in a moment/and everything's always right when you're with me/and I never felt this way before" act as spices in such a stylistical tensely past-tense soup!), the above-mentioned One In A Million or Innocent, the moving Innocent (looking like the ultimate pray to a deaf lover: "why will no-one listen to a word I have to say/I'm trying to tell you the truth please listen to me I pray/I write it down I spell it out but you turn your back away"). The way they bring this release to an end, the sad and whining Sea Of Colours, being a sort of honest act of awareness about some ineluctability in love affairs (a dark-gothic leitmotiv), sounds like a ray of light in a so pervasive nostalgic darkness...Even if this release doesn't include fireworks or surprising moments, it will be appreciated by many listener suffering from nostalgia....and arguably obsession as well!
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