Music Reviews



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Artist: Cynical Existence (@)
Title: A Familiar Kind of Pain
Format: CD EP
Label: Engraved Ritual (@)
Rated: *****
Cynical Existence is the solo dark-electro project of Fredrik Croona, ex-Menschdefekt and currently of the aggrotech/industrial Project Rotten. Not much of a fan of Menschdefekt...something just wasn't working for me there with their sound. Project Rotten seemed somewhat better to me, although there seems to be a harsher edge there. Although prior to receiving this CD to review, I never heard of either band before. (I live in a dark closet, don't you know.) On the first listen to 'A Familiar Kind of Pain' I didn't quite care for it. Old-school harsh EBM I thought, complete with raspy processed vocals...haven't I heard this a zillion times before? Leaether Strip, Hocico, Suicide Commando, et al, so many bands have been down this road before...it sounded so...90's...

But on the NEXT listening, I noticed something. There is an elegant simplicity here. Sure, those analogue synths are sounding familiar; it's the staple of industrial music we all grew up on to a great degree. And the music is oh so simple, but that's the beauty of it. What really makes it work though is Croona's vocals. He growls, he yowls, and wrings every shred of emotion he can possibly muster out of his tortured pipes. In fact, I don't know if I've ever heard this much variety in the harsh EBM vocal style. If this album (well it's an EP really) had come out in say, 1995, it would have been an absolute classic! Still, even now it stands up because no one is doing quite the exact same thing as this nowadays. Besides, the songwriting is top notch...direct and to the point. No meandering intros, no extended dialogue samples, just pure, delicious dark-electro.

Cynical Existence is well-suited for stomping around the dancefloor. It can't be helped, the beat is compelling. If your DJ ain't playin' it, you ought to tell him (or her) to get on the stick, or beat 'em with a stick, Punch & Judy style. I think Croona has hit on something special here, something so basic it's primal. The music is sinister and menacing even though the melodies can be a bit puerile. The controlled collapse remix of 'Dead Eyes (see no future)' really points that up with sing-song insanity. I preferred the original anyway, and really liked the use of vocoder as the followup vocal.

As I mentioned before, this is an EP (limited to 100 copies worldwide, 50 in Europe, 50 in the U.S.), but a generous one with 8 tracks and (thankfully) only one remix. If I were you, I'd pick one up before they're gone. I really hope Mr. Croona continues his Cynical Existence, and doesn't get fancy with it, because the world really needs a kick in the ass with a pair of stompy platform boots, and 'A Familiar Kind of Pain' goes a long way in reminding us just what our roots are in this scene.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Purple Sky EP
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: IM:Ltd (@)
Rated: *****
Have you ever seen a hyetograph or those maps of weather forecasts with the distribution of rainfall over time? If so, you could have noticed that most of them show different coloured areas whose chromatic spectrum ranges between pale blue (normally representing light drizzle) and red or purple (associated to heavy thunder showers), but I remember a 3-years old boy who made me laugh after he asked myself if those maps meant to say the sky was going to become flushed with purple! When I read the title of this good selection on appreciated French label IM:Ltd, named after the first song by talented Berlin-based producer Es.tereo, I immediately thought about that funny and innocent remark and I cannot but fall into a reverie related to atmospheric disturbances, even if the amazing tracks which have been included in the selection could be meant to bring your imagination somewhere else! The clicks on frothy ambient and dub sounds, rushing percussive spurts and organic catches on the above-mentioned title-track easily flows in the following "Transition" by French dj and producer Stephane Vallini aka Gunston, who speeds this mental enzyme up by means of a nervous hi hat, a deep rolling bass, a suspensive sonic blasting gelatin and eerie vocals, while the second disc starts with "Ellipse", a contagious track by Ukranian lone wolf Hibea, who ensnares the listener with mindblowing sparse drumming, catchy claps and clocks and an entrancing mysterious atmosphere, and ends with the sentimental crystalline breeze of the breathtaking "Above Time" by the talented and (artistically) incontinent Russian producer Dmitry Kuzmin aka Nuage, that you could associate to a kiss under a downpour in order to reprise the previous meteorological reverie. After such a reprise, I could associate Gerwin's "Lonely" - the first of the two bonus tracks for buyers of the digital release -, whose vocals recalled Goldie's ones on his notorious masterpiece "Mother" to me, to extremely corrosive acid rains whereas "In This Life" by Belgian producer Atmospherix could be the perfect setting for a brisk walking over pools and puddles in search of the rainbow's ends!
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anymore
Artist: F.ormal L.ogic D.ecay (@)
Title: CelebrAction
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Selenophonia (@)
Rated: *****
This box is an anthology of the first twenty years of this musical project. Apart for his collectable value, is a 2cd pack plus 1 mini cd and other gadget as poster, the track are divided with a clear criterion. The first cd is for the first experiment and the more accessible track, the second is for the more musically structured track and the third is a noise experiment. So it's not a classic best of anthology but it should be regarded as a collection of unedited tracks and weird experiments of the early period of this artist.
The first cd starts with a bunch of track based upon recognizable records cited with humor and/or honor, "Gilda" with his beats marks the passage from the first almost easy listening tracks to the experimental part of this box set. "Koji Tano Tribute" is noise experiment with the first idea that will properly be developed in the mini-cd. "Woodworms" deals with layered sound of insects.
The second cd is of a completely different construction as is based around the long tracks: "Fragment from a recycled Empternity" is 7 part reconstruction of "Emptermity" release and is an always searching for a balance experiment around dark ambient ("part 1", "part 4", "part 6") and noise ("part 2", "part 3", "part 7"). "Devocalizzi" is instead the personal visions of sound poetry of the author and is, as these are tracks for the first experimente, not completely focused in his direction but quite enjoyable. "inFORMAL" is a series of J. Cage inspired experiment around everyday sounds (220V AC, Telephone ring etc) treated with the sense of play of the most eccentrics page of the american composer.
The mini-cd is greatly noise-oriented and different from the previous cd, unfortunately these are the only survived track of a much longer track as, even if this is truly heavy music, probably also the best constructed of this release.
This release is impressive in the variety of the experimental languages explored even if there's not a true part of this release that someone could speak about a masterpiece. However, for all fans of experimental sounds, this a good introduction for the work of this artist.
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Artist: Andy Moor & Anne-James Chaton (@)
Title: Transfer/4 Inbound/Outbound
Format: 7"
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
The fourth and final release of the Transfer Series, focused on the themes of transition and transportation, which are viewed from a real (n one side of each 7" vinyl) and fictional (on the other side) perspective, opens with a sort of heartbeat so that it immediately could remind the association between rail networks and blood vessels with their complement of red and white corpuscles and coronary thrombosis (!), that some urban glamourish writers, poets and artists often retrieve, but "Inbound/Outbound", which has been dedicated to trains and underground by the talented English guitarist and composer Andy Moor (known for being member of the experimental Dutch band The Ex) and French sound artist Anne-James Chaton with the support of many guests, is far more haunting than the above-mentioned hackneyed metaphor: the dragged dub of the initial track "Metro" echoes the typical noises of a subway, whose amalgamation sounds visciously synaesthetic, Christine Abdelnoir's saxophone could be associated to an encephalic feeling during a journey on subway and the list of notorious metro stations of many metropolitan areas by voice of a number of guests (Carsten Nicolai for Berlin, John Edwards for London, Brodie West for Toronto, Dj Rupture for New York City, Mark Morse for Los Angeles, Denis Kaznachev for Moscow and Federico Bonelli for Rome), echoed by Moor like in a sort of litany, might be the reflection of a sort of daily liturgy or drama of people, who feel like trapped in this huge mesh, which appears so close to individual inescapable fate and the fictional dimension of personal realities. The fictional side of the release, "Not Guilty", got inspiration by notorious Agatha Christie's novel "Murder on the Orient Express", but the list of suspected murderers of Mr.Ratchett cannot but featured by a dreary and moody atmosphere as well as sonic clues which sound like recorded inside of a compartment of a coach.
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anymore
Artist: Spank Protest
Title: Anti-Orgasm
Format: 12"
Label: Noise Manifesto
Rated: *****
Paula Temple started in 2002 with the album "The Speck of The Future" on the Materials label and since then she appeared on different labels and she ran her own radio show Virtual Future Music, which won an award with BBC Radio One. She also co-developed the innovative live performance midi controller MXF8. Now she's back with the electronic producer and vocalist Stefanie B. under the Spank Protest moniker and they deliver on the Noise Manifesto label their first single "Anti-Orgasm". You'll be surprised to know that the main track is a cover of a Sonic Youth's track originally released on their 2009 Matador album "The Eternal". Being Sonic Youth a noise post rock band, you can imagine that this new version has very little to do with the original. Probably Paula and Stefanie took the squared hypnotic rhythm of the original tune as reference for their track and then built around it their idea of alienation. Now we have 4/4 obsessive beats, bouncing bass lines, light synth waves and repetitive synth stabs helping the detached and lightly treated vocals. The effect is good and the track could work really well on a sweaty dance floor. On side B, we have "Ask Yourself", a track which has a similar sound palette compared to the first one but it's too focused on the acid/hynotic effect created as we have three main elements which have been mixed and treated: the voice declaiming the title, the bouncing drum and the acid synth stabs. Nice techno single, good to party with. It will be released on early December. P.s. Digital version has also a four minutes radio cut of the main track but it doesn't differ too much from the first six minutes one...
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