Music Reviews



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Artist: Dead Voices On Air (@)
Title: From Afar All Spark and Glee
Format: CD
Label: Lens Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had reviewed some of Mark Spybey's recent output with Beehatch for Chain DLK, but I had not listened to Dead Voices On Air for years now. Like any band, some artists come to the forefront at a given time and others recede. So when I got this disc in the mail, I took the opportunity to go back to some of their older works as a comparison. With that in mind, I like where DVOA is going. Where Hafted Maul is a more raw, experimental disc, this is, in contrast, unbelievably polished. In fact, where the older work was certainly at home on Invisible Records, sharing the space with such acts as Lab Report and Pounder, this album would actually be quite at home on Hypnos. There is a peaceful vibe running throughout with lush synth tracks and beautiful female vocals on the title track. According to the press release, this was complements of 'American-Serbian singer Ivana Salipur on the title track, a homage to the Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic (1898-1993).' The swirling atmospheres are hypnotic and we still see a bit of the experimental vibe for which we know DVOA. Overall, this is an excellent addition to an already expansive catalogue. This disc weighs in at about 63 minutes.
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Artist: Organum
Title: Valentin
Format: 7"
Label: Equation Records (@)
Organum is the project of one David Jackman, who, according to his website has been releasing material for over 30 years. The first thing you notice with this album is that the packaging is fairly minimal, although there is a sheet of grey cardstock that has the word UNBEKANNTE emblazoned on it. I don't speak German, but Google tells me that it translates to stranger, unknown, or unknown quantity. Also, the album is HEAVY. You could hit someone with it. But you wouldn't want to because it's limited to 233 copies and you may not get another chance to get it. On to the music. According to the press release that came with the album, 'David Jackman (the force behind the project) wishes the audio to speak for itself so we will not attempt to describe the contents of this release.' Well, I'm a reviewer, and they sent it to me, so I will attempt to do so. Imagine a William Gibson novel in which he tells three stories at once in sequence. You can see them slowly moving toward each other until at the end it all makes sense. This record is kind of like that. Piano chords, crashing noise that sounds like a metal sculpture falling down, and a small chorus singing the same repetitive strain until it comes together with ambient hiss and incidental noises peppered throughout. The main issue I have is that side A and side B sound pretty much the same to me. Maybe the differences are too subtle for me to catch, but I didn't notice much difference. It's nice, but not quite worth the $11 for a few minutes of music.
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Artist: Meienberg
Title: Rapid Cycling
Format: 12"
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Meienberg, but evidently he is one of the heads of Everestrecords. I had also never seen a seedcard, which is a business card embedded with wildflower seeds that you bury and grow flowers with. The card has a link to download a digital version of the album, which is nice for those of us who would rather sit at a computer and write than go to the turntable and put the record on. The first thing you notice is the colorful album cover with an image of a large building on it. Only by looking at it from a distance do you notice that the lit up windows spell out 'Rapid Cycling.' Nice touch. On to the music. The label describes the album as 'a colourful kaleidoscope; the songs root mainly in electronic music but within that range they escape most of the possible labels.' Fair enough. This is pretty bliptastic. The songs pretty much blend into each other so nothing really stood out, but it is an enjoyable ride with a whimsical quality. The closest comparison I can come up with is Rothkamm. If you like your electronica a bit disjointed ' shaken, not stirred ' with plenty of bleeps and bloops, this might be up your alley. The sample track on the label website gives you a pretty good indicator of what you're in for. The album weighs in at around 28 minutes.
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Artist: Theologian (@)
Title: The Further I Get From Your Star, The Less Light I Feel On My Face
Format: CD
Label: Crucial Blast (@)
Rated: *****
When I opened up the package and saw this in here, I remarked to my wife that this would be a rather unhappy album. I have several of Leech's albums as Navicon Torture Technologies, but I must admit that his later albums, such as Church of the Dead Girls was a bit too dark and dismal for my tastes. I was correct in my original assessment ' this is not exactly feel good music. However, this is absolutely amazing. The epic 24 minute track 'In Times of Need, We All Go Against Our Natures' is worth the price of admission alone. The usual distorted vocals are present of course, but used sparingly and mainly for effect and atmosphere. I can understand now why Leech felt a need to move on from NTT and christen the project with a new name. This is much more subdued than most of the NTT work I have, but the claustrophobic atmospheres certainly hearken back to that project. In general, this is much less noisy as well (Although 'Bearing Bitter Fruit' brings in some heavy, pulsing machine noise and the untitled seventh track is also a bit noisy, although certainly not Masonna). According to the label, 'Theologian combines several different disciplines of industrial into a signature sound, a doom-laden hybrid of death industrial and power electronics and black ambience that's spliced with a constant melodic presence; the music is harsh, often hellish, but accentuated by an icy, desolate beauty that gives The Further I Get From Your Star, The Less Light I Feel On My Face it's unique, abyssal vibe.' If this sounds good to you, this is definitely one worth picking up. Overall, I would call this an evolution from NTT and look forward to hearing more.
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Artist: Yen Pox
Title: Blood Music
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
According to the label, this is a re-release that has been out of print for almost 15 years. My main exposure to Yen Pox has been his work with Troum, which was excellent. What was most surprising is that it doesn't seem dated at all, which is quite a feat in itself. Perhaps part of this springs from the fact that it is completely remixed and remastered. It also includes an unreleased track on disc one and a second disc containing the first cassette and 7' and compilation tracks. It comes beautifully packaged in a double DVD digipack. Quite nice. Now on to the music. From the very beginning, you get the sense that this is going to be a nice, dark journey. The tracks flow well into each other, fading in and out of your thoughts as your mind drifts along with the music. This is serious, wonderful dark ambient ' no cheesy horror movie samples ' just deep bass drone and a slightly disconcerting atmosphere. Disc 2 is a bit more experimental. For example, 'Dervish' sounds like a deconstructed orchestra warm-up/rehearsal session. When you hear it you'll know what I mean. Overall, this disc is a lot noisier and doesn't quite hang together like Disc 1, but that is to be expected when it is pieced together out of compilation tracks and other appearances. Still quite nice listening, but more demanding than the first disc. Disc 1 Weighs in at 77 minutes and Disc 2 weighs in at about 72 minutes, so you will definitely get your money's worth. This is highly recommended for fans of dark ambient.
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