Music Reviews

Artist: The Exaltics / Koova
Title: Combined EP V3.0
Format: 12"
Label: Abstract Forms (@)
Rated: *****
In only five years of activity The Exaltics have so many releases that has gained on the field the title of veteran of the electro scene. Only this year Robert Witschakowski released four EPs, of which some shared with well know acts of the genre (see the one with Gosub and another with Morphology). This release I'm gonna to talk about is a split with Koova, released by the label Abstract Forms. Side A has three new tracks by The Exaltics and it's opened by the short introduction "Cold Lights", a track which with its heartbeat like beat and deep bass pads sets the atmosphere of the whole side ...and for Robert, it is always as dark as possible. "With The Light Out" mix dark electro atmospheres with the characteristic techno TB-303 bass lines and upbeat rhythms, creating in this way a catchy effect. "The Last Resort" closes the side with a granular synth sound which mixed with spacey pads, syncopated bass drum beats and a bass sound similar to a contrabass. The whole creates a tense atmosphere which make the listener want for more. Koova is the project of the UK producer Gavin Pykerman and this is his sixth release, the third on vinyl. His side is opened by "Shift Register", a track which is based on echoed leads and simil metal beats. "Rtfm" is a mix of bouncy synth leads, robotic 808 rhythms and nice looping melodies. "Flux Tube" sounds neurotic and cold and it's a great track that reminds me some old Gosub stuff thanks to its analog dry electro sound. "Combined EP V3.0" is a great EP and it's a must for every electro addicted.
Artist: The Gate
Title: Destruction of Darkness
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Carrier Records (@)
Rated: *****
The Gate wield the power of Doom Metal with a New York thrash-jazz attitude. The unlikely trio of tuba, double bass, and drums makes for doom unlike anything you've ever heard. The glittering bronze bell of the tuba manifests marbled slabs of bass grit, with all the edge and bite that is a brass instrument. Destruction of Darkness is part classical, part jazz: part metal, part art.

Doom jazz is a relatively recent sub-genre, that shows great life and potential. It combines the mood, tempo and technique of many divergent styles of jazz, from COOL to FREE, with the bone-crushing plate tectonics of bands like Earth, Khanate, Sunn O))). They have isolated the power of the drop and distilled it to an alchemical singularity, honed and dangerous. The Gate are going for the same monolithic sound of the legendary Doom bands, but Destruction of Darkness is recorded like yr standard New York art affair, like John Zorn's Painkiller. or jazz assassins like The Flying Luttenbachers. The main difference is in how the record is recorded. Doom records tend to be extremely in yr face, the drums ane guitars are compressed like hell, and fall like anvils from heaven. Destruction Of Darkness is seeped in roomsound, which makes for a unique listening experience, but it has its ups and downs. The three long tracks breathe well, and convey an intimate sense of space. The sonorous tones of the bowed bass, especially on the epic second track Frozen Gods, deals particularly well with the breathing room, but the drums all throughout the record lose a lot of their power. Destruction Of Darkness, like another Carrier Records album i reviewed, comes off like a recording of an art event, the kind of thing you'd see at a minimal art gallery. It has a classical, documentary feel that is kind of raw and lovely, but defeats a lot of the intended goals. The interesting instrumentation alone makes it worth the price of admission, the wide phase arcs of the various low frequencies lazily twine around one another like drifting sand dunes. If someone is not versed in Modern Composition, or some form of improvised medium, you'd be best to shy away from this record. And metal heads! I recommend it, if only for the reason that it'd do you some good to listen to something without an exploded goat on the cover, for a change.

As we sit here, at the edge of the eschaton, all bets are off. Worlds are dying, daily, and we await expectantly to see what will come. One of the undecided questions is the role of the record label, and of the physical medium of music. What makes a band stand apart from the crowd? Are they worthy of yr time and attention? These are the questions i must ask myself, as a reviewer, and i return to you, the reader, with my results. It is clear, from the couple of records i've seen from Carrier, that every record they make is a labor of love. The sleek graphite cover, courtesy of Ben Garstein, makes DoD a tasty fetish item, the sleeve feels desirable in yr hand, and makes you want to play it. Since i was reviewing this on CD, i was able to listen on the CD player in my kitchen, and turn it up, and let the sprawling static tones fill my home. These songs are longform in the extreme. They make for excellent incidental music, or for times of introspection, but only play when you have time to really listen. Otherwise, it will just be line noise. And that's the thing, with every album that goes out into the air, every record label, every band. They all want a piece of yr time. They think what they are doing is the bee's knees, and feel that you would see it their way, if they could draw you in. It becomes the job of a journalist to curate and cherry pick, and to let you know if you will be getting their backpatch or logo tattooed anytime soon. With The Gate, they are doing extremely interesting thing, and any fan of jazz, classical, or slow crunchy metal will find something in here that hooks them. The way it is presented, however, as some chimera of avant-garde art record, mixed with New York fire jazz and colossal Doom, will turn of purists of each, and i'm just not sure who the intended audience is on this one. Its clear that Carrier cares, i just don't predict crossover success, any time soon. But for those that dig watching the permutations fly, in real time, will be banging their heads on the way to work, this fall.
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Artist: Atrium Carceri
Title: Void
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
The new album from this swedish outfit has been constructed, for author's choice, exclusively for digital release so the purity of sonic experience is supposed to be above all consideration. Apart for the usual track-by-track commentary and overall judgement it's necessary to state the impressive sonic experience of this release: it's one of the best well-sounding release I've heard this year. In this position category as novelty or experimentation has any citizenship as all the aesthetical work is done on the formal side of the musical output.
"Dear Diary" is the intro of the release made out of filtered spoken word and a soundscape. "Humanity's Cradle" is based upon small and continuously moving small noises creating an evocative mood that continues with the next track: "A Curved Blade". "Reselected" starts with cinematic noises that are colored with a slowly developing line of piano and synth as "Victorian Meltdown" that, instead, ends with a quiet line of piano and some small sinusoidal noises. "Passage" and "Endless Deep" are classic track of the dark ambient genre typical of the author while "Debt", the longest track of this release, is a constant changing stating from the first cinematic part to the ethereal of the second and the last noisier part. "Trembling" starts quietly and ends in darker territories while "Slower" is a drone intro to a dreamy line of synth. "Ancient Past" is a dark ambient soundscape whose final line of piano serves as an introduction to the last track of this album: "Reap" a short and quiet track giving a sort of rest to this musical journey.
Honestly this is not a release that will be considered as a milestone in the history of dark ambient, however, in times where release are done with some superficiality in the technical output, this will be considered as one of the best release of the year. A must for all fans of the genre.
Artist: Needle Factory (@)
Title: Goetia
Format: CD
Label: Unrepresented Music (@)
Rated: *****
After their 6-track debut release 'Jubilee' through D-Trash Records earlier this year, Manchester-based Electro/Industrial-duo Needle Factory returns with this all new 10-track album. Established by Freddy Morgendorffer and Johna Curtis in late 2011, this duo has caused some attraction through some intense live performances, so that the British Independent label Unrepresented Music couldn't resist to offer them a deal. 'Goetia' is the result of this collaboration and it is without any exaggeration a colorful, musically diverse sounding exploration between genre boundaries. This duo integrates Post-Punk Industrial influences of the old icons of Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire to their up-to-date sound-adaptation by blending between styles like EBM, Witchhouse, and TBM/IDM. The opening track 'Blind' with its distorted, lo-fi synth-arrangement is a good example, how they are capable to unite the rawness of Noise with calm, cold-melodic synthesizer-drops. Fx-manipulation on female vocals has become a stylistically hype at latest with Erica Dunham / Unter Null and Needle Factory are swimming often on this wave, as this track proves too. 'Die For Joy' and their pre-released, freely available teaser track 'Needles, Pins & Razor Blades' are standing for solid, club-oriented food, which will surely impress the dancefloor-junkies. The musically more striking tracks are starting with 'Drug Laws', as this track offers surprisingly a typical old-school EBM-like bassline programming. Their sense for calm melodies returns with a vengeance on 'Kiss The Blade', a ballad-esque, ominous, but beautiful sounding Dark Electro pearl. If it seriously needed any proof that Johna's voice sounds more effective without multiple fx-manipulations, you've found it herewith. Also 'Innocence' sounds really 'innocent' and rather inspired by melodic Electropop styles instead to evoke the noisy ingredients. 'The Falling' deserves a mention too with its crafty and attractive bassline programming. The title track, an eerie Downtempo-influenced tune with raw, experimental-minded drum patterns concludes this refreshing album. Needle Factory for sure haven't invented an own, authentic sound-style, but their attitude and their courage to break with conventions deserves respect. It at least results in a quite good and diverse sounding Electronica-album, which deserves support and attention. Good work, keep it on!
Artist: Wil Bolton
Title: Amber Studies
Format: CD
Label: Rural Colours (@)
Rated: *****
The appreciated sound-artist Wil Bolton, who used to sign his previous releases (mainly on the appreciated Boltfish) with his moniker CHEjU, should have been enraptured by amber jewelleries and peaceable temperament of Krakow citizens I could also witness about people living nearby Baltic Sea when I explored those countries over the so-called route of amber. I'm pretty sure that Wil read many documents about the beliefs concerning the supposed powers of this "stone" - the ones in Baltic jewellery, also known as succinite, is particularly beautiful for their colour gradations -, which is nothing but fossilized tree resin (sometimes containing accidentally "drowned" insects or plant material), but was believed to chase nightmares and headache and bear wisdom and altruism. On the four tracks of "Amber Studies", he seems to excrete sonic amber by means of effected guitars and thin ambient tones in order to absorbe surrounding reality and ordinary life (people talking, noises of carriages on the pavement or grabbed nearby restaurants or bars on the street and so on), supposedly recorded in the streets and places of Krakow Old City Center he mentions to name his tracks - "Rynek Glowny", "Ulica Kanonicza", "Ulica Grodzka" and "Plac Szczepanski" -. An entrancing way for frozening reality whose final result is prominently atmospheric and healing for your head ache. Just like amber supposedly does!
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