Music Reviews



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Artist: Psyche
Title: The Influence
Format: CD
Label: FinalMuzik
Rated: *****
Born in 1982 in Canada, Psyche formed thanks to brothers Darrin and Stephen Huss . It took a while before preparing some tracks, going into the studio, but in 1985 they self released for their label Malignant Productions, the first album "Insomnia Theatre". The tracks of that album, recently released as three LP box by Vinyl On Demand, paid tribute to Suicide and to a style of minimal electronic which was also dealing with industrial music. Soon after, they got a deal with the French label New Rose, that reissued that album and released "Unveiling The Secret" the year after. Already with this one, Psyche introduced more melody and a sort of r'n'r attitude on tracks like "Screaming Machine" (tracks that is recalling me Alien Sex Fiend a bit) without losing its electronic industrial root. Anyway, something was going on... In 1988 New Rose released "Mystery Hotel", an album that was sounding more pop and which cointained four tracks that had a commercial success in Europe and Canada: "Eternal", "Insatiable", "The Outsider" and "Uncivilized". The year after Darrin teamed up with David Kristian and recorded "The Influence". Originally released by Animalized, label of the SPV group that had on their roster bands of the likes of A Split - Second or Front 242, the album was a sort of creative change for the band thanks to the use of samples performed with the Casio FZ1 keyboard. Containing tracks like "Misery" and "Haunted", which were in continuity with their past releases, on this album the title tracks and mainly the beautiful "Dark Pool", were offering a sound more atmospheric and more complex. They always used 4/4 hard beats, but on the background pads and rhythmic sounds created a tense atmosphere, almost horrorific (see also "Psyche Theme"). Mid tempo tracks with powerful sounds were also winking to pop atmospheres: "Salvation Stranger" or "Secret Angel" are good examples of this new attitude of the band. This new release contains also five bonus tracks: "Haunted (On Hill House Mix)", "The Sundial (Shifting Time)" (this is an acoustic version of the track with chilly sax inserts), "Misery (Acoustic Rhodes)" (another strip to the bone acoustic version a track with a folk wave atmosphere), "Salvation Stranger 2012" (this is a new re-recorded version of the original tune which now sounds like a mix of cyber electronica and dark wave) and "Goodbye Horses (Immortality Mix)" (a nice dreamy electronic pop tune). If you love the band, for sure, you won't miss this release.
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Artist: Richard Pinhas & Merzbow (@)
Title: Rhizome
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
Another release by Cuneiform landed on my deck with a certain delay is this astonishing collaboration by French trail-blazing guitarist Richard Pinhas and Japanese noisy sorcerer Merzbow. I already appreciated their sonic mongrel on the occasion of the issue of Keio Line, which occurred four years ago. The amalgamation between these the sonic elements sounds even more disorienting than its predecessor as there are many moments of the listening experience where it's quite difficult to discriminate between laptop and guitar, due to wise DSP by Merzbow who recorded in real time some harmonics by Richard while flooding sonic space by ceaseless billows of hisses, frizzling pulses, hypnotic fibrillation, wobbles, screeches and binaural beats interbreeding with performative technique by Pinhas, based on an overlayered and heavy orchestration of guitar loops, even if in some moments of the performance it seems exploring those reverb-driven primitive forms, which are going to be appreciated by Pink Floyd or Fripp's fans. In order to have a visualization of their sound, you could get the inspiration by its nice cover artwork, whereas a gentle geisha girl looks like threatened by a demonic freak of a piggy bear, arguably a metaphorical translation of the seemingly dissonant siege of harmony by noise, but I assigned different parts to playing elements while listening to their aural soundscapes: it seems to me that in the first moments of their performance (Rhizome comes as a recording of their live show at La Maison Francaise in Washington D.C. on 24th Septemeber 2010) Merzbow laser guns and other sonic weaponry have been set to remove any possible fastener or tier of the listener, which could thwart Pinhas'propulsion for listener's mental flights , and step by step they melt together in unison by emphasizing a sort of involving chorale. The listening experience has not weighed down with unuseful preciosities, as some tricks and the whirling assortment of sonic tricks make it everything but boring all over the four rhizomes and the additional one - the one I prefer -, which look like the highest level the gradual ascension their sound could reach. In spite of the delay, I think some copies are still available. They include a DVD, recorded live during the above-mentioned performance, a document which gives the possibility to have a visual approach to these surprising music minds.
Artist: Life in Sodom (@)
Title: The Hollow and Haunted House
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Nutrix Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Life in Sodom's single, 'The Hollow and Haunted House,' is a simple and catchy Darkwave song that is very well done, and fun to listen to. The lyrics recall that scary old house in the neighborhood that all the kids avoided and told stories about. The house is surrounded by rumors of all the bad things that happened inside. 'What did the Devil leave behind in the hollow and haunted house?'

The production is tight and professional and full of hooks. The CD single has 2 additional versions of the song ' an instrumental, and a remix ' with the original being the strongest version. The more you listen to 'The Hollow and Haunted House,' the more you want to hear more from the band.
Artist: Overmamba (@)
Title: Crawl Out
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Without having seen a picture of the band or having a listing of the band lineup, yet, I imagine onstage Overmamba is a single person with a computer, a couple of keyboards and a drum machine. He doesn't look at or acknowledge the audience. He just dances to himself while pushing buttons.

Listening to 'Crawl Out,' it's hard to get a feel for who or what Overmamba is. The influences are apparent and every song sounds like a different song by each of those influences. There's no identity. Nothing that says, 'we are Overmamba.' It's like listening to a cover band that plays all the obscure tracks by different bands. 'Crawl Out' sounds like a demo of an electronic artist trying to discover who he is.

There's not much in the way of songs here. The songs can be categorized as either trying to be clever, long and rambling, or short and incomplete. The short songs end before you get a chance to hear the chorus; the long songs have nothing that catches your ear and are cluttered with vocal gymnastics akin to a Goth R&B singer; the rest... imagine a Goth jam band. If it weren't for the singer you would think that you were listening to a different band with each song.

Sonically, 'Crawl Out' sounds like the demo a band makes before recording the album. The synths harken back to the classic FM synths you would hear in 80s electronic pop, which are great, but Overmamba makes them feel campy and amateurish. The production eventually gets cluttered with cheesy synth horns, hokey organs, orchestra stabs and thin, cheesy guitars.

After checking out the website I learned that my impression couldn't further from reality. Overmamba is two guys with 'supporting musicians,' that describe their music as 'an incredible hybrid between electronica, pop, new wave, dark and eighties vibe.' This is all music I like.

If I'm being hard on these guys, it because I really wanted to like 'Crawl Out.' There's a little something in each song that grabs me. 'Crawl Out' is an album that was released too soon. With the help of a producer and a songwriting coach this could have been a really good album. It will be interesting to see how they progress. With some help, I could see Overmamba evolving into a band like Indochine.
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anymore
Artist: Newclear Waves
Title: Newclear Waves
Format: 12"
Label: Desire Records
Rated: *****
Three years in the making and after producing a split tape and a split single with Opus Finis, two CDrs and different remixes, Newclear Waves, a.k.a. Alessandro Adriani, are ready to deliver their first vinyl album through Desire Records. Alessandro, is also knows as the man behind Mannequin Records, label that brought you two volumes of 80s delicatessen under the "Danza Meccanica" brand and different Italian 80s reissues (Degada Saf, Chromagain, Janitor Of Lunacy, Intelligence Dept. to name few) plus several electronic/wave releases of nowadays bands of the such of Led Er Est, Soviet Soviet, The Present Moment, Frank (just Frank), etc. Printed in 300 copies, black vinyl, printed inner-sleeve, four panels die-cut sleeve, the self titled LP contains ten tracks. Nine out of ten have already been issued on the previous releases (on the tape, the CDrs or the double vinyl compilation "Doppelhertz Vol. 2") but if you think that the tape and the second CDr have been printed in fifty copies and the first CDr in ten copies available at a live concert, we could think of them as brand new and in any case, they have been re-recorded. Anyway... Newclear waves base their sound on the warmth and richness of vintage synthesizer sounds creating a strong core of pusating bass lines and rhythms where stripped to the bones synth melodic lines are added. Also the vocals tend to be straight like a razor cut. No thrills or frills, just a bit melodic but sorta cold with a bit of filtering. It takes a while to find these atmospheres comfortable but step by step, beat by beat, you find the path to follow and then the light dissonances and the 4/4 rhythms start to lead you through nightmarish scenarios made of buzzing noises and crying filters. It's like being in front of a wall which is melting realizing that under the wallpaper there's the portrait of the old householder. If you love post punk, cold wave and minimal wave, you'll find all this like home... As last note; on two tracks we find two guests: Lou Chano of Der Noir, Ivs Primae Noctis and Tiresia Raptus on bass guitar on "The End Of The Cold War" and Oksana Xiu on vocals and synth on "Tishina". Cool one...
P.s.: You can preview all the tracks here http://newclearwaves.bandcamp.com/album/newclear-waves-s-t-lp-cdr-desire-records
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