Music Reviews



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Artist: Bloater (@)
Title: Radiac
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Bloater is the project of Steve Smith on guitar and Ken B. on electronics. From the liner notes, Radiac seems to be a nuclear and hazardous waste containment site, which places the song titles into a different light. It seems that their practice spaces were near Radiac and then Newtown Creek, one of the most polluted sites in the US. As they say in the press release, 'We are not environmental activists, but 'toxic Brooklyn' was a frequent topic of conversation while recording these tracks.' Evidently, this was created with no overdubs. Right off the bat, the listener is assaulted by the guitar squall and feedback of 'Theme from Radiac.' Likewise, 'Flatlands,' can best be described as pulsing and punishing. If you like crunchy, heavy, guitar based noise, you have a new group to check out. But it is not completely aggressive. 'Waste Management' reminds me, at times, of Lustmord's Monstrous Soul if it included guitar and feedback into the mix. 'Jettison' mixes the two approaches, creating an interesting soundscape. Overall, this was a pretty interesting album. If you like it noisy, but prefer to avoid an all out assault on the ears, this is a good one to check out. This album weighs in at around 46 minutes.
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Artist: Bruno de Angelis
Title: The Box
Format: CD
Label: XBDA (@)
Rated: *****
Bruno de Angelis also records under the name Mana ERG, which I also reviewed in this batch. Where ManaERG was pretty standard electronica mixed with samples, it seems that this is his more experimental project. This album seems to focus solely on the music without resorting to the use of samples. It is well compose but not overbearing, fading into the background without becoming dull. I could imagine this album in good company with the stuff that was coming out on Instinct Records back in the early 1990s. This is nice, peaceful, electronic ambient. Given the choice between the two projects, I would definitely side with this one. This album weighs in at around 41 minutes.
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Artist: The Truth About Frank (@)
Title: Cannibal Work Ethic
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I had never heard of this British duo, but I loved the name The Truth About Frank. It made me wonder who Frank was and what he did. This is an interesting mix of subdued but noisy sound collage and electronic beats. In many cases, I find that this is a symptom of a band that is still trying to find its voice. In this case, however, the different styles served to break up the album and keep it interesting. The music is an interesting mixture of disembodied voices and ambient soundscapes. Think of a mix between early Aphex Twin and Hafler Trio. Overall, this is certainly worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 38 minutes.
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Artist: Rainnair and ARC
Title: Incantation III
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
I had never heard of either of these artists, nor had I heard of the label until I got this in the mail. After listening to it, I'm not quite sure what to make of this disc. It isn't too bad, but it is an odd combination. Let's walk through the disc, shall we? Rainnair starts us off with some ominous spoken word and even a bit of a beat, then moves into a synth based set that seems to try to keep the dark undercurrents running. For example, Cthulhu Dreams sounds like it would be at home in a Lovecraftian movie. Moving on to ARC, 'Vinnie Sink (Fuzz as a Peach) starts us off with a simple beat and . . . vocoder? I didn't know that T-Pain was getting into the experimental scene. It didn't quite work. The remix, on the other hand, has a kind of old school 1980s Front 242 feel to it. The vocoder is present and accounted for, but seems to work a bit better in this track. Kind of made me nostalgic for the old Wax Trax stuff. The disc concludes with a slow, heavy beat and more digitally enhanced vocals. So the overall verdict? Rainnair was decent dark ambient, but I would say that labelmate StrykninY, who was also in the package from Pale Noir, would be a better bet. ARC was a mixed bag. This album is also pretty short, weighing in at around 23 minutes.
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Artist: Modern Stalking and ANDRAS (@)
Title: Incantation IV
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
Rated: *****
As with the other Pale Noir released I am reviewing in this batch, I had never heard of either of these artists, nor had I heard of the label until I got this in the mail. Like the other discs this is pretty lo-fi stuff, but this is much better than the Incantation III disc. Part of this is due to the congruence of the styles on the disc. Modern Stalking is some interesting soundscape stuff, with a fair amount of spoken word interjected into it. Sometimes the use of samples can be a debilitating crutch, but in this case it works pretty well. There is a wide variety of sounds and feelings here, with noise blending into a circus organ under the big top. Some of it becomes a bit too sparse and at times repetitive, but it's a good introduction. ANDRAS throws down some interesting synth-based tracks that kind of remind me of 1980's goth / new wave stuff. The label describes the band thus: 'If 80'²s era John Carpenter scored the soundtrack to the break-up between two tired junkies it might sound as synthesizer bleak as ANDRAS.' There are few vocals here, with the focus on the music. Overall, I am looking forward to seeing what happens with ANDRAS. Evidently the non-promo version includes a special spell wax sealed collection card. The first 15 orders will also receive a complimentary 11 x 17 poster of the cover art (but mine is 20 out of 50, so you may be out of luck on that front. This album weighs in at around 36 minutes.
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