Music Reviews

Artist: Flint Glass, Polarlicht 4.1, Transistor
Title: Zoran's equation
Format: CD
Label: Funkwelten (@)
Rated: *****
Three monickers for two artists, french Gwenn Tremorin and german Ronny Jaschinski, teaming up together for this rather interesting project. The more two artists are different the more harmonization is difficult, the risk of an oil and water (un)mix grows bigger, but this is not the case. Tremorin and Jaschinski have managed to bring in their own influences and sound, mixing them together, preserving their own identity and giving birth to something new and most definitely interesting. The first has a more industrial/ambient/noise background, you can hear him in the deep drones and noises, in the whole gloomy mood, Ah Cama Sotz! or even Haus Arafna fans might be delighted. On the other rhythmic side there's a pretty much rarefied kind of IDM patterns and sounds. The mix works perfectly along the common path of inspiration by french science fiction writer Renè Barjavel's novel "Le nuits de temps". Remarkable are also the paintings used for the graphic artwork provided by Denis Khokhrin ( Mission executed.
May 17 2011
Artist: DYM
Title: The swarm
Format: CD
Label: Noitekk (@)
Rated: *****
Death to Your Modern hail from Toronto, Canada. This is their second release on Noitekk after 'Invilid' in 2008. It can be considered as an EP since it consists of only 6 tracks, but due to 10 remixes added the final length is ok for a double vinyl Lp. The cover is not the best piece of art around, probably all the efforts have been put into music and powerful production, a surely remarkable aspect of this release. DYM definitely try to make their sound a bit different from the average harsh EBM acts, mixing the usual harsh vocals and synth arpeggios with electro-industrial sounds, more 'symphonic' darkened parts and breakcore influences. 'For Catherine' is an instrumental track showing this will of 'experimentation'. 'Right to fail' is a dancefloor breaker hit that perfectly fulfill its aim. 'Swarm' has a very nice old EBM bass line. Despite those attempts it's not a record that will be remembered for its originality, a slight step forward for sure but also a loss of energy when trying to be different. The whole remixes first album follows, since I have not listened to the original I cannot say what's better and what's not, though I enjoyed the driving 'Touch' remix by C-Lekktor
May 17 2011
Artist: PFQ
Title: Future Songs
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ninthwave Records
Rated: *****
Coming from Dublin, Paul Quinn was in the early 90's the lead singer and songwriter of Irish synth-pop duo Biazarre. They did a double A side single 'A Better Place/The Colour Of Rain' which was a hit but they disbanded because in the days of Britpop was difficult to play only pop music that wasn't referring to Oasis or Blur. Paul studied acting, appearing in a series of best forgotten plays and theatre revues. Now he felt it was the right time to come back and prepared six new tracks helped by Gavin Murphy (musical director of 'Hallelujuah Broadway', composer Mind The Gap films) who co-produced it , Ciaran Byrne (engineer with U2, Cranberries, Chieftans, Sinead O'Connor) who mixed it, Bill Shanley (guitarist for Ray Davies and Mary Black) and Cormac Moore (bass player for The Camembert Quartet). FUTURE SONGS brings to the attention of pop music lovers four tracks of finest dance dreamy synthpop where Paul's voice make the difference. Behind the upbeat rhythms of "Like a laserbeam" or the epic melancholy of "Reach out to me" and the everyday drama of "Seventeen", Paul sings of the pains of growing up and loss, the conflicts and joys of family relationships and the discivery of the all-too-human failings of one's adolescent idols. He does it with passion and charm with the knowledge of a man who lived all these feelings. The two remaining songs a bit a different because "The girl I never knew" is a piano, strings, vocal tormented ballad and "Closer to God" a semi r'n'r song with soul influences. Try to imagine a mix of Billy Mackenzie and Bronski Beat and you'll have FUTURE SONGS, a nice new Ninthwave Records release.
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Artist: Psychomanteum (@)
Title: Oneironaut
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
The title of this album means dream (from the greek Oneiro that means dream) traveler. The substance of this record is a meditative drone ambient record made out of a structure of this kind: a bass drone as a canvas where field recordings, small noises and quiet synth lines painting these sonic dreams. The key quality of this album is the musical depth of the layers that reveal clear ideas for the musical direction.
"Ever deepening" opens this album with a deep high drone and field recordings. "Celestial body absent" is an imaginary soundtrack for a sky full of stars. "Inward eyes" is a noisier portrait of fears and nightmares. "Ascension of the subconscious" is a bon voyage with a ethnic influence. "Immum Coeli" is a carefully crafted dreaming soundscape constructed with heavenly synth and a glitchy beat. "Outward vision" close this record with a quite isolationistic dark ambient landscape filled with noises and ethereal synths.
This is an album anchored to the basic fundaments of this genre but is carefully constructed and mastered. A remarkable debut.
Artist: Past the Mark (@)
Title: Hakhel Tribulation
Format: CD
Label: Nu-Jazz (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Many who frequent this site undoubtedly know the name Marc Urselli, so it is an honor to get to review his new CD. Just before Marc was leaving for a trip abroad that he let me know he had a 'surprise' in the packet of CDs he was sending me for review. Having no idea what that was, I hoped it might be tickets to cover Wave Gotik Treffen, but'¦no such luck. So obviously this CD is the surprise, and it is indeed surprising.

First, a little background may be in order. Marc Urselli is a three-time Grammy Award winning engineer, producer, mixer, composer and sound designer, and co-founder of Chain D. L. K.. If you go to his website ( you will find a resume that includes work with a boatload of big-name artists, among them- John Zorn, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Sting, Joss Stone, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards'¦need I go on?

I know less about Bologna, Italy based guitarist and co-creator Vincenzo Pastano, but I understand he's a highly rated in-demand guitarist in Italy, currently playing with Italian pop star Luca Carboni, as well as his own band, Pulp Dogs, among other projects. So, Marc is in New York, Vince is in Italy, how's that gonna work out? Well, it took seven years to write enough material for this collaborative instrumental album, while they were busy with their own projects. Not only that, but they were never actually in the same studio together; this album was created via transferring files over the Internet, but you'd never know it to hear it.

My impression is that Vince supplied the guitar and Marc did most everything else, but there is a LOT of guitar on the album, so Pastano's contribution is a major driving force in the music. Now here's the caveat ' 'Hakhel Tribulation' is not Goth, Industrial, Synth Pop, Ambient, or Experimental. Calling it Electronica would be a stretch, although there are elements of electronica, break-beat and world music. Nu-Jazz Jazz Rock would be a better description, but since Chain D. L. K. doesn't have a category for that, it's going to end up in the Electronica category, for lack of a better place to put it.

As for the performance, the playing and production is top-notch. Considering the talent involved, how could it be anything other? Metaphorically, the album could be described as a cruise down the jazz-rock highway in a convertible, with side excursions of veering off into the musical hinterlands in an ATV. 'Hakhel Tribulation' is a pastiche of so many genres and influences that it's really hard to pin down. Stylistically, Pastano's guitar work is like a multiple personality disorder- at any given time shades of Allan Holdsworth, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Kitaro, Larry Carlton, Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny, Duane Eddy, Al Di Meola, Steve Vai, and numerous others emerge. Urselli's rhythm programming and backing tracks provide a superb sonic environment for Pastano's energetic and varied guitar style.

High points are the opening track, 'Oz on the Moon,' with its driving frenetic rhythm, and Holdsworth-meets-Kitaro guitar over a lengthy answering machine message I still haven't deciphered. Also- 'Tablasity,' where Marc makes good use of his tabla samples over a strong backbeat and spookier synth sounds and violin among other things, while Vince breaks out the Western twang guitar, which morphs into something much jazzier. (Who did the bass on this track? It's really good.) 'Big Red City Apple Souls' is another fave with some great guitar work (again in the vein of Holdsworth, with some other Beck, Vai, and I don't know what all else) and Urselli's rhythm on this one is slick too. It has a gritty down-'n-dirty urban vibe. This is one cool track. Love it! 'Tortellini Blues' is another burner with absolutely wild guitar and electronics, then shifts mood into something much softer before it heads back into the hinterlands. I'd love to hear a live version of this one. There is a lot going on here, an awful lot, ranging from absolute chaos to beautiful orchestration. Amazing!

Yet, there were a few things that didn't thrill me- one track -'Raggedy Beet Salad' with a reggae breakdown and southern-fried guitar licks I didn't care for at all. Other tracks had elements I felt did not serve the composition well - the heavy disco-beat throughout much of 'South Drowning Boot,' yet with stellar guitar work; the Pink Floyd space-sonics and voice samples on 'Dawn Moon Glow' invading a tender guitar lullaby. I suppose these are minor quibbles compared to the majority of the content.

If there is one thing Past the Mark might be guilty of, it's too much stylistic variety, although some may view this as a big plus. But if the goal was really to present a wide stylistic variety, I would have liked to have heard a real industrial stomper, and a super jazz-fusion number, replete with some unusual timing changes. I know Pastano and Urselli are capable of that, but here they've chosen to not to get too far afield of the mainstream. Whether this will ultimately work for or against them remains to be seen. In the right market with proper promotion this album ought to do pretty well.
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