Music Reviews

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Artist: VENUS FLY TRAP (@)
Title: Nemesis
Format: CD
Label: Big Blue Records
Distributor: Spiral Archive
Rated: *****
Seven years after their previous studio album titled "Zenith", Venus Fly Trap are back with NEMESIS. On this one we have Alex Novak on vocals and Andy Denton taking care of all the other stuff aided by Paul Cox at backing vocals. The album contains twelve tracks and one of them is a particular sixties electro wave version of "Human Fly", one of the first tracks composed by The Cramps. The duo mix guitar feedbacks and electronics filtering them through new wave, post punk and a bit of sixties psychedelia, succeeding into creating a sound reminiscent of hundreds tracks you listened in your past but skillfully blended by Alex and Andy whom dosed all the elements obtaining their own sound. Sounding now dark then epic and after that, acid, Venus Fly Trap made a fresh album that will take you for a ride through dark lands but with intermittent green flashes and pink lollipops. Try to imagine a bus where Sisters Of Mercy, Doctor And The Medics and The Sound have a jam session and you'll have the idea of how this album sounds. You can check some tracks at Venus Fly Trap's Myspace page.
Artist: Erode (@)
Title: Horizon
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Erode is the solo project of Alexander Dietz, guitarist from German metal band Heaven Shall Burn. Erode's 'Horizon' isn't anything like that, being more typical of music to be found on the Tympanik label- instrumental ambiences and industrialized rhythms. First track '10950' sounds like cinematic stately paced progressive rock due to the synths, soaring guitar and ambitious percussion. 'Detect' has this very cool, memorable noise percussion sequence, a strong bass line and layers upon layers of instrumental ambience and noise. Problem is, nothing stands out particularly except the bass and noise percussion. Whatever guitar or instrumental countermelody that's going on is buried in the mix. Almost as a remedy to that, Erode takes a different tack on 'Approach,' with brighter more defined percussion and instrumentation. It's very IDM, and the simple melody is clear and well-defined. 'Horizon' begins with the sound of lapping water and a filtered pad as the background for some environmental spoken word piece that sounds like it was lifted from a documentary film. A playful sequenced synth line joins the heavenly music for a while and then it fades on the chordal pad and a bit more of the spoken word. Eh. It does transition nicely into 'Overcome' though, a slow moody piece with droney bass, scratchy percussion and a bright, higher timbral synth background. About halfway through the 8+ minutes, there is a brief break before a transition into a full drum track and multilayered orchestration. Another break and we are taken back to the original minimal scratchy percussion and droney bass until the outro. 'Wither' is another track that makes use of an IDM beat and celestial synth orchestration. Nice work here. '-' is a little over a minute transitional mood piece into 'Annoy,' which begins with a thrumming bass, a steady buzzing drone and cosmic voices. A rhythm track emerges amidst warped, backwards-sounding strings, and after a millisecond break, the full-blown rhythm comes to fore with pulsing bass and phased strings. More synth string pads are layered on top briefly until the track comes to a close. Perhaps my favorite track is the next, 'Disengage,' with shifting moody ambient synth pads. About halfway through a rhythm track emerges bringing along industrial elements that sounded like a sequenced processed voice. Towards the end the orchestration builds majestically, then just stops. What the..??? The last two tracks are remixes, one of 'Horizon' (Kadrage Remix), the other called 'Brutal Romance' (Erode Remix), a track originally done by Deadlock. I wasn't much enamored of the 'Horizon' remix incorporating a rattling sound reminiscent of the 'Lost' smoke monster. It's much more electronic, retaining only shades of the original. As for the 'Brutal Romance' remix, I can't say I much care for Deadlock, but Erode does manage to turn the song into a club-worthy dance track. I know these guys are friends but the track seemed totally out of place on this album.

Still, 'Horizon' is a pretty good debut, and although flawed, manages to conjure some beautiful soundscapes and interesting rhythms. I'd be curious to hear Alexander Dietz's next effort with his Erode project. This one hints at possibilities that are likely to be more fully realized in the future, and when that time comes, it's likely to blow you away.
Artist: Lunar Abyss Deus Organum (@)
Title: Tryakusta
Format: CD
Label: Vetvei (@)
Distributor: Vetvei
Rated: *****
Lunar Abyss Deus Organum is a shamanistic ethno-ambient project from Russian composer Evgeny Savenko, also with releases under the name Lunar Abyss and Lunar Abyss Quartet. Since 2000, 'Tryakusta' is about the 25th release from Savenko under various monikers, and it's really quite a good one. 'Tryakusta' consists of a single track 42 minutes and 27 seconds in length that is the result of mixing together the recordings of three live concerts that took place on separate occasions in July of 2010. It's an interesting hodge-podge of field recordings, drones, and miscellaneous random elements and electronics that somehow coalesce into a unified work. There is a LOT going on here, as if one stumbled into some very active primeval jungle; chattering, chittering jibbering, whisting bird calls, buzzing and burbling, voices, and a multilayered wall of ambient drone. The amount of content is awesome, maybe even too much, but it all seems to fit together. There is a point around the 27 minute mark where it threatens to become overwhelming, but this passes and gradually subsides. 'Tryakusta' is quite an intense listening experience, extremely psychedelic and full of a wide variety of sonic expressions.

Possibly a reason why it sounds so good is due to the participation of Kshatriy (Sergey Uak-Kib) in the mastering of the album. As per usual with Vetvei releases, the CD comes in six panel folder with colorfully gorgeous artwork by Vresnit. If you're looking for something experimentally adventurous, LADO's 'Tryakusta' could be just what you need.
Artist: Rasalhague
Title: Rage Inside the Window
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Distributor: Malignant Records
Rated: *****
Rasalhague is the Dark Ambient/Industrial project by Kerry Braud of Indiana, and 'Rage Inside the Window' is Rasalhague's first full-length release, on Malignant Records no less. For the curious, the name Rasalhague comes from the name of the brightest (yet dying) star in the constellation of Ophiuchus (47 light years from earth), and originally comes from the Arabic phrase meaning "the Head of the Serpent Collector." It's been awhile since I've heard anything new from the Malignant label (not that they haven't been putting stuff out) but Malignant has always been known for quality Dark Ambient music in my book. What put me off from listening to this disc sooner is what it is thematically based on- the true story of little Danielle Crockett (aka, 'The Girl in the Window') from Plant City, Florida, who was kept isolated in squalor in a closet-sized room of a filthy house for years by her mother, Michelle. The details of the case are truly too disgustingly wretched to go into in any detail; you can look it up on web if you're curious. My preconceived notion of what might transpire on this CD envisioned screams, cries, weeping and all sorts of horrific exclamations and outbursts woven into the fabric of the music. Fortunately (and to my great relief), such was not the case for the most part.

On 'Rage Inside the Window' Rasalhague cooks up some of the best creepy Dark Ambient music I have heard in a long while. It really sounds like music of the abyss, perhaps the abyss of the mind. The atmosphere is low, slow and sludgy with occasional higher timbre drones and sounds slicing through the thick, oppressive murk. Rasalhague has obviously been well-schooled in the genre's predecessors, and know what works in this kind of atmosphere and what doesn't. Comparisons to projects such as Raison d'être, Lustmord, Desiderii Marginis and a host of Cold Meat Industry bands are inevitable, although there is some amount of difference in Rasalhague's execution. The sound is large, often huge and full without being cluttered, yet subdued in a sense, even when great slabs of muffled noise crash like waves of lava on the shore of Hades. The atmosphere Rasalhague creates on and 'Rage Inside the Window' is oppressive without being overbearing, a feat in itself. While no track in particular stands out on its own, the work stands out as solid, classic Dark Ambient, a tenebrious delight from start to finish.

Last Halloween I went to Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, an event where they set up a number haunted/spook/horror houses at Universal Studios. This CD would be perfect as background music for one of their horror attractions. It would even be great to play in the background while handing out candy to costumed trick-or-treaters on Halloween. (The little urchins might think twice about gaming the system and returning for a second handout in the same night.) If you're a Dark Ambient fan, this CD is a MUST HAVE. The CD comes in a very cool oversize six-panel digipak too, with suitably macabre artwork too. Well done!
Artist: JeFF (@)
Title: Torment
Format: CD
Label: Altsphere Production (@)
Distributor: Altsphere Production
Rated: *****
Maybe I've mentioned this before, but one of the most annoying tasks about doing reviews for Chain D. L. K. is gathering the essential info on the artist and label of the work I have to review. Some are very good about this, and others'¦pffft. It's usually the artists' email address that's a problem. They often leave it off the one-sheet, and sites like MySpace, Reverb Nation and Facebook are tricky about contact; you have to jump through membership hoops. Labels aren't any help either. Are artists so reclusive they don't want any contact with fans or the press? I didn't think so. Just put your damn email address on the CD or one-sheet. 'Nuff said on that.

According to the one-sheet, JeFF (from France) has more than 50 demos, remixes and collaborations since 2003. 'Torment' is JeFF's first full album release. On my first listen to this disc, it seemed plagued by a propensity for too much repetition on the main theme of each composition. The repetition comes in the form a bass line and synth counter melodies (Candlemass,' 'Funeral Day,); and chordal piano progression with some countermelody ('An Insect in the Head,' 'Psychocircle'). Over the course of time on these extended tracks ranging from over six to over 10 minutes, the CD lives up to its title- 'Torment''¦for the listener that is.

To be fair though, there are some positive aspects. 'Candlemass' has a dubby bassline with crunchy percussion with oddly intriguing synth counter-melody sounds over manipulated chanting monks and noise background. 'An Insect in the Head,' uses cymbal-heavy percussion and a cricket-synth counter melody and other more intricate synth lines as well as sax-like sounds, and moaning strings. There are breaks, but that repeated and unchanging piano note-chord progression just goes on, and on and on. 'Funeral Day' begins with some cool psych-ambience before the dubby bass appears. For those who like dub, you'll probably love this track. For me, it was kind of like later period Scorn with a more playful attitude. 'Psycedestreet' has a march cadence with a simple couple repeated notes of piano and an upward scale string progression. Even though there is plenty of repetition here, the arrangement and building is good and give a nice dramatic flair to the piece, and another string-synth counter-melody enriches it further. There is even a break with a reedy synth melody and demented piano-like countermelody where the beat changes into something I could hear Van Der Graaf Generator doing. There's more to it than that, but it seemed the most ambitious track thus far.

'Psychocircle' uses a minimal piano progression (repeated of course) and sing-song counter-melody and an adventurous drum track with some guy speaking in French intermittently. (All I could make out was when he mentioned the name John Wayne Gacy, so I guess you get the drift.) This struck me as a rather insanity-inducing piece. Last track, 'Housefly' offers a lot of heavy distortion punctuated by clashing cymbals and continues on that way for the first six minutes until a minimal mellotron string melody and minimal drums takes over for awhile. Then it's back to the distortion with some ring-mod synth and organ with drums. Eventually the distortion fades away leaving the rest with some electronic sonic effluvia. The second half of the piece wasn't bad, but the first half was a bit much to wade through.

I should mention that all tracks are rather slow-paced, giving them a labored feel. I should also mention that these pieces are SUPPOSED TO BE psychotic psychedelic instrumentals, and to that end JeFF succeeds in his intentions. However, the atmosphere JeFF is attempting to create is at the expense of the buyer/listener, and few may have the patience, fortitude and frame of mind to wade through these murky waters more than once.
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