Music Reviews



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Artist: Phil Maggi
Title: Ghost Love
Format: CD
Label: Idiosyncratic Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Phil Maggi, but evidently he, along with Yannick Franck, is one of the founders of Idiosyncratic Records. Before I put on the CD, but the sepia tone cover image seems meant to convey a time far past, hence the title of the album. Listening to this album is a lot like listening to different channels on the radio. It is all music but none of it is particularly jarring. There are some themes that run throughout. The album begins with staccato tribal drumming that makes way for a pleasant soundscape with disembodied voices. This isn't trying to be scary though. The voices are those of a home movie or children playing, rather than the spectral voices of poltergeists. The singing that is on these tracks is there more for atmosphere than to deliver lyrics. As such, the album works more as a soundtrack to a movie in one's mind, reminiscent of In The Nursery's Optical Music series. Overall, it was a pleasant listen. This album weighs in at around 41 minutes.
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Artist: Section 37 (@)
Title: The Kudos of Serial Killing
Format: CD
Label: Aesthetic Death (@)
Rated: *****
I really expected this to be power electronics along the lines of Slogun with the title. But when the album opened with something more like Consolidated or some other industrial hip-hop, I was surprised. The album then takes an abrupt turn into soundscape and spoken word, maintaining this approach into 'The Mind Bomb.' 'The Rogue Drone' takes us into the realm of industrial disco reminiscent of old Leatherstrip. 'The Profile' slows it down with spoken word over stripped down beats and minimal atmosphere. 'The Body-Bag Wrapper' kicks the rappin' beats back in and the album continues cycling through styles. According to the website, 'The concept being that each killer belongs to a style, or guild, and expresses his 'modus operandi' in his own style of music. - hence the album has a very eclectic style from metal to ambient to darkwave to Numanesque dance...with other stops in between. Each track is heavily sampled with real, and cinematic serial killers, stating their processes.' Overall this was a pleasant surprise. The title made me think that I was in for the typical yelling about serial killers in the typical manner. Instead this is a rather intelligent treatment of the topic in a way that is actually a bit more chilling for its subdued manner. The music is catchy and its variety actually adds to the charm by keeping it interesting. In a way, the listener gets a sense of the manic states of the killer with moments of clarity interwoven throughout. Well done. This album weighs in at around 61 minutes.
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Artist: Aelter (@)
Title: Dusk-Dawn / Follow You Beloved
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Crucial Blast (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Aelter before I received this in the mail, but in looking at the press sheet, they invoked one of my favorite bands of all time, Clan of Xymox, so I was quite interested to check this out. Evidently, this is a side project of Wolvserpent guitarist Blake Green and a reissue of two albums that were previously released on vinyl. According to the press sheet, 'where Wolvserpent blends this chugging Melvins-esque heaviness and haunting slowcore arpeggios with violins, pounding drums, and a propensity for extended hypno-dirges, Aelter dispenses with the drums almost completely and goes for a more cinematic approach using layered keyboards and gorgeous harmonized voices that reminds me of something you would have heard on Beggers Banquet or 4AD being fused to a malevolent black heaviness.' So let's see if it lives up to the hype. Dusk-Dawn kicks us off with a sparse, atmospheric guitar line. In some ways, I could see this act doing a collaboration with Locrian because each seems quite interested in the idea of repetition. This is not quite Clan of Xymox kind of atmosphere, but the sentiment is there. If you think that Clan of Xymox is a bit synth heavy and prefer guitar, this is where you will want to look. Follow You Beloved moves in much the same direction, but is a bit more complex and even incorporates vocals, although these are difficult to make out and seem to be more there for atmosphere. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I read the sticker on the cover declaring them 'an offshoot of Idaho chamber-doom sorcerers Wolvserpent,' but this is actually pretty good. Heavy without being too oppressive, dark atmospheres without resorting to cheesy horror samples. File under old CMI-era Arcana. Disc 1 weighs in at around 32 minutes. Disc 2 weighs in at around 38 minutes, so I'm not sure why they decided to go with a double CD, but that's what we have.

4 stars
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Artist: Wavefall (@)
Title: Future Rock 'N' Roll
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya (@)
Rated: *****
Even though front-freaks of this Russian project, Slava Busygin and Tat'yana Borisova, portrait themselves with the help of Sergey Kovalev during a successful armed robbery as reptile-like punksters, born after a drunken lay or maybe a gangbang between Kiss and some sexy crossbreed of a woman and a lizard - I hope any fan of David Icke isn't reading this review or I'll hold myself responsible for feeding paranoias about Reptilians which want to kill all these annoying lowermost descendants of stupid monkeys! - and the title they've chosen for their new album, there's nothing really so apodictic which could define a radical stylistical revolution. They just enhanced their electro-metal crossover by adding elements from rock'n'roll collective imagination such as guitar riffs, use of voice or just references within lyrics, which are able to evoke that set of values or cliches, whereas in their boiling soup you'll easily recognize techno-punk, vintage techno or EBM recipes from Prodigy or KMFDM cookbooks, just to mention the most immediate analogies. It doesn't mean their sound is not nice and somewhat seducing, as there're many tracks such as "Collider", "F.S.C.K.", "My Wild Imagination" and even the final epic ballad "The Whole World Is Mine" whose contagious creative energy could persuade many listener (I could include myself) to attend some of their explosive liveshows with tickets at reasonable prices.
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Artist: Trapist (@)
Title: The Golden Years
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
Eight years after their last release, "Ballroom" on Thrill Jockey, this intriguing Wien-based trio of eccentric virtuosos finally came back. Silence doesn't mean each of them idled away their skills: I spoke about "Hoard", a solo-release by Joe Williamson on Creative Sources as well as his collaborative project "Weird Weapon 2" together with Olaf Rupp and Tony Buck, while I enshrine both Martin Siewert's "(Fake) The Facts", an impressive project with three drone-like sessions played with Mast Gustafsson and dieb13, and Martin Dafeldecker's collaborative work with Otomo Yoshihide, Axel Doerner and Sachiko M on Neos jazz as well as his releases with Radian and "Too Beautiful To Burn", an entrancing collaboration with Martin Siewert, issued in 2003. Maybe my association could be influenced by the circumstance I'm delving into Chekhov's theatre and narrative techniques, but the first track of "The Golden Years" could be a reference to so-called Checkov's gun, a kind of "coup de theatre", based on an element in the narration which initially could be without any relevance, but whose importance will be clear later, so that the role of the gun in "The Gun That's Hanging On The Kitchen Wall" could be played by guitar: the initial guitar strumming by Martin Siewert looks like an alarm clock, which arouse drums and bass from sleep, and in accordance with this vision, drumming could reflect frenzied bustling with kitchenware about preparation of breakfast while bass echoes that buzz in the head, which is the obvious hangover from sudden and undesirable awakening. Then music evokes the logical change of scene, where the initial outburst of the awakening gets to its chagrin in the surrounding world, a sort of self-programmed suicide of desires and will, an inference which is in keeping with Chekov's tragedies, whose tragic end normally implies some suicide. Following tracks are likewise mindblowing: stretched dissonances, sloped melodies, gruelling sonic interferences in "The Spoke and The Horse" sounds like putting a spoke in an old and hobbling horse's wheel, whereas the following track "Pisa" follows in Trapist's footsteps left on the occasion of their exhibition at "An Insolent Noise" festival, held in that lovely Tuscan town, where they interchanged sonic instrumental crack-ups and swarms with moody melodies, which let listeners slide into the mindblowing atmospheres of the final track, "Walk These Hills Lightly", where bass gradually rises over other instruments by weaving a kind of dirge-like blues througout a web of shaded percussions, electric hums and flashes, very low electronic frequencies and occasional arpeggios.
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