Music Reviews



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Artist: Sutcliffe Jugend
Title: With Extreme Prejudice
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Many horror movie fans complain about the fact current movies don't manage to scare anymore. Well, if they're not scared enough by a critical reading of financial reports, daily news, pop culture, media addiction or just ordinary life, they could reach their goal with this new frightening release by Sutcliffe Jugend, a renowned project led by Paul Taylor and Kevin Tomkins (former member of Whitehouse...in very truth Sutcliffe Jugend, whose name derives from the combination of Hitler Youth and the one of Peter Sutcliffe, a tranquil British citizen also known as The Yorkshire Ripper, who's currently serving a number of life imprisonment, recently confirmed by British High Court, for the homicide of 13 women and many aggressions, born as a sort of Whitehouse side-project). I'm not reproaching the result at all, quite the opposite! If it was not specified these psycho-thrillers, whom many music filing clerk have been considered one of the most violent exponent (as well as forerunner) of the so-called power electronics, recorded "With Extreme Prejudice" in Vortex Studios, someone could assume they've recorded it nearby a snuff movie set or in some frightening chamber of horrors, rented by John "Jigsaw" Kramer: vocals could often make listener's flesh creep as well as its wide gamut of disruptive atmospheres - astonishingly motley if compared to some past releases - since the initial title-track where after a sort of 1-minute lasting intro of unidentified crumpled sounds, the voice tears the stage up with a creepy alternation of piercing shouts and a dramatic voice-over which looks like a running commentary of a torture while some sinister sounds draw an obsessive whirl around the listener. Suspense is even more palpitating in the following tracks, such the unsettling narration of a meat lover (let's call him so) in "Lucky", the scary sonic collage of "I Have Kissed This Sick Sick World, Goodbye" (a possible sound track for The Ring-like videotape...), the claustrophobic sense of oppression evoked by other "narrative" tracks like "Oblivion" or "Death Of A Post-Christian Humanist", the disquieting pulses of "Fuckrage", the sensation of being tied on a ducking stool while a revolving saw blade gets closer and closer in "Bound" or the one of gradual constriction by the obscure sonic gluts of the final "Fall Of Utopia". Dreadfully absorbing.
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Artist: Industriegebeit (@)
Title: Wer Schoen Sein Will Muss Sterben
Format: CD
Label: Koerperschall Records/Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Almost in conjuction with the issue of last Ellipse's album I've recently smuggled in Chain DLK's server, this second rise under Industriegebiet moniker by the mind behind Korperschall Records corroborates my good opinion on Massimo's hyperkinetic creativity. Its stomping steps, the asphyxiating pumping in the groove of distorted drum machines' snarls, synth trumpets, sinister industrial noises, phat beats and other stylistical elements could lead to an easy association of other notorious acts of industrial dance such as Combichrist, Eisenfunk or Nachtmahr, but Industriegebeit's sound often hitches other sonic wagons such as hard techno, breakbeat and goa without disdaining the addition of funky breaks and psychedelic digressions insomuch as projects such as Eat Static (maybe because of braking noise and toytronic sounds in Erniedrigung recalled tracks like "Crash & Burn") and many other "ravenmeister" of that scene. Moreover he joins to the interesting musical flow which tries to vehiculate social exposure, current affairs related to the devastating bequests of the dying beast of capitalism and most morbid misapplication of liberalism by the humorous usage of samples. The title itself, "Wer schoen sein will muss sterben" (whoever wants to be beautiful has to die), might refer to the distinctive feature of some contemporary culture systems, where every aesthetic and even ethical say-so must go through a burial ceremony. This album is rich of sonic firebombs for dancehalls, being my favorite ones "Traum, der nie zu Ende geht", "Gott hat Urlab", "Herzblut" (it really seems Massimo made a sonic and rhythmical translation of recordings taken from interventricular or coronary arteries of a giant!) and "Auf den Tisch hauen". It's possible some devotional Kraftwerk fans - I refer to that kind of fan who thinks a musical track could be sacred that cannot be transfigured - can turn up their nose at that cover of Die Roboter, but its presence doesn't jar with the rest of the album.
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Artist: Bill Shute and Anthony Guerra (@)
Title: Subtraction
Format: CD
Label: Volcanic Tongue/Black Petal (@)
Distributor: Volcanic Tongue
Rated: *****
'Subtraction' is a CDr of poet Bill Shute reading some of his poetry accompanied by Anthony Guerra on guitar. Chances are real good you don't know who the heck Bill Shute is. Mr. Shute has been a rock music critic/writer from a good ways back, perhaps beginning with his DIY fanzine, 'Inner Mystque', and also wrote a column for Chris Stigliano's 'Black To Comm' underground punk fanzine, among other things. Shute is a Boston born, Colorado raised and currently Texas dwelling poet/publisher of some repute in the underground poetry scene. He's published numerous chapbooks of his poetry, has a hardcover book titled 'Twelve Gates To The City,' and runs Kendra Steiner Editions, a very small D.I.Y. publisher of contemporary poetry, based in San Antonio, Texas. (They also have a series of CDr releases of experimental music: drone-noise-ambient, electro-acoustic, free-jazz, higher-key psychedelia, etc.) Bill has collaborated with other musicians such as experimental ambient artist Derek Rogers with his poetry readings on CDr releases. Anthony Guerra is an Australian guitarist who has worked with Antipan, Green Blossoms, Vodka Sparrows, and other projects.

'Subtraction' was recorded in 2010 and 2011 and consists of six long poem tracks (well, one is rather brief). There is something intriguing about a poet reading his own poetry, something you can't get from reading the poems; just a sort of feeling. 'Marion, Texas' begins the session, and Shute's opening line imagery of this little Texas hamlet gives a good clue as what's in store ' 'Marion Texas'¦a train whistle'¦deep, textured, prolonged'¦.spreading and melting across the west side of Marion, Texas'¦like a cheap, yellow oleomargarine on burned day-old bread'¦' It only gets better (or worse for Marion) from there. Shute paints a melancholy picture of Texas suburban and rural life- economic destitution, social dissolution, and political disenfranchisement with the oberservational trappings of everyday life throughout these pieces. A surreal quality that can only be gleaned through the examination of the mundane.

For some reason Shute's reading reminds me of a skewed combination of Robert Ashley and Joe Frank. Shute's reading/vocal style is rather laid back and soothing but subtly expressive enough to convey the feeling, and that's what it's all about. Guerra's minimal guitar accompaniment with mostly minor key repetitive chordal phrases supports this throughout, and the only time is becomes a little off-kilter is on 'Kerrville, Texas' but it's not much of a digression.

All in all, I rather enjoyed this CD. I realize this may not be for everyone but we seem to get so few spoken word CDs submitted, and Bill Shute is definitely a modern American poet worthy of attention.
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Artist: Ellipse (@)
Title: Verlorene Zeit
Format: CD
Label: Koerperschall Records/Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
In spite of such a title - "Verlorene Zeit" means "wasted time" and refers to the concept this release revolves around -, lending an ear (or two) to Maximilian Wall aka Massimo's third album with his moniker Ellipse is not a waste of time. Maybe his ideas will not appear so bright or groundbreaking to experienced listeners, but I'm pretty sure some stylistical hooks and a certain indie aftertaste are going to please many young listeners, who are approaching to different genres and looking for both entartaining dynamics and lyrics of significance, so that it seems that Massimo blazes an eliptic trail around EBM, darkwave and techno in order to seed it with good guitar phrasing, various instrumental parts (there are many tracks with catching "orchestral" melodic hooks) and well-chosen female back vocals (Serathina on the mic), which succeeds in polishing the peculiar brutality of this kind of musical stuff without appearing too convoluted. Any insert isn't obstructive so that any song goes straight to the ears and body of the listener, which will be enchanted by the balance Ellipse's sound manages to hold between technology and a vague sense of classical beauty combined with a strong hook to the surrounding reality (maybe overcrowded by other kind of hooks, which steals our precious time, which could be devoted to the research of this balance, as songs like Fakeland, an occasion for Massimo to introduce a new voice of the scene, the one by Pete, whose project Pain Lavel should be launched soon, seems to suggest). I enjoyed tracks where he let pulse a dark-folk vein more ("Grenzwert", "Zeitmaschine", "Herzwalzer"), but there are many highlights such as "Wir schaun uns dumm", "Ich weiss nicht mehr wer ich bin", "Bleib bei mir" (the one entirely sung by Serathina) or "Geldsucht" which are ready to inspire wild dances and climb dedicated charts.
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Artist: Channel East (@)
Title: Window To Earth
Format: CD
Label: Codeline Records/Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
The first aspect of this release by Channel East, a nice synthpop band made up of David Herzig and Toni Tzschoppe, co-produced by Codeline and Echozone, which stands out, is the unusually sunny sonic wrapping, a blend of poppish disco songs, which often tap into trance or house backwater or drag in the huge tangle of disco platitudes, so that you could have the impression they make-do-and-mend, a hunch which could be fed in the first part of the album, where Channel East sound a little bit piddling for demanding listeners. If the first four songs of "Window To Earth" could not be considered strokes of genius - Eiffel 65 use of vocoder, rhythmical stuff which looks like alternatively sampled from Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown" or low-grade technopop or eurotrance in "Suffering To Me", "Thank You" or "Success", an arrangement of plastic flowers which winks at pop charts or gay friendly disco clubs, you'll have to wait till the fifth track to listen more interesting making up: "Way Of Life" is a pretty good song which could be considered a fusion of some old techno trance sounds and pop feelings (try to imagine a crossbreeding between Vacuum and Humate) and is one of the most interesting moment of this album together with the following track, "Window", where !distain left their distinguishable musical mark. Whereas "Still You" and "Tears Are Crying Enough" sound too conventional with those bells, synth brass and trumpets, the instrumental "Take Off To Skyline", where the only robot-like vocal presence evokes artificial heavens and the good dream-pop song "Send You An Angel" raise again the quality to higher grades. After the ironic/iconic "Disco Boy", a song which succeeds in putting a smile on some face, there are three remixes, the best of which is the high-sounding one of Document 9 by Assemblage 23, a possible hint to the direction Channel East could take in order to avoid an excessively prologend overstaying in musical territories in between mainstream and stereotype thinking, whose creative famine could scourge keener music people as well.
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