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Artist: Modern Stalking and ANDRAS (@)
Title: Incantation IV
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
Rated: *****
As with the other Pale Noir released I am reviewing in this batch, I had never heard of either of these artists, nor had I heard of the label until I got this in the mail. Like the other discs this is pretty lo-fi stuff, but this is much better than the Incantation III disc. Part of this is due to the congruence of the styles on the disc. Modern Stalking is some interesting soundscape stuff, with a fair amount of spoken word interjected into it. Sometimes the use of samples can be a debilitating crutch, but in this case it works pretty well. There is a wide variety of sounds and feelings here, with noise blending into a circus organ under the big top. Some of it becomes a bit too sparse and at times repetitive, but it's a good introduction. ANDRAS throws down some interesting synth-based tracks that kind of remind me of 1980's goth / new wave stuff. The label describes the band thus: 'If 80'²s era John Carpenter scored the soundtrack to the break-up between two tired junkies it might sound as synthesizer bleak as ANDRAS.' There are few vocals here, with the focus on the music. Overall, I am looking forward to seeing what happens with ANDRAS. Evidently the non-promo version includes a special spell wax sealed collection card. The first 15 orders will also receive a complimentary 11 x 17 poster of the cover art (but mine is 20 out of 50, so you may be out of luck on that front. This album weighs in at around 36 minutes.
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Artist: StrykninY (@)
Title: Shattered Forest 2008-2010
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
Rated: *****
I remember talking to James Keeler, the man behind the amazing project known as Wilt, about his love for lo-fi trashy noise. In some ways, I share his love for the flaws that are almost inevitable when there is minimal processing ' when it is done well. StrykninY shares this lo-fi aesthetic, but brings it to the realm of dark ambient. This is a bit more raw and rough around the edges than you are likely to find on such labels as Cyclic Law, but there is something interesting about this album. You almost get the sense that this is what you would hear if you saw this act live without the presence of prerecorded material. This is droney with just a bit of noise thrown in. Some of the tracks seem to get a bit too static, but overall this is one to check out if you like your dark ambient a bit more grating. It's limited to 50 copies, so if this sounds promising you'll want to act quickly. This album weighs in at around 54 minutes.
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Artist: ITT
Title: The Star Ruby
Format: CD
Label: Pale Noir (@)
Rated: *****
When I got this package, my first thought was 'great ' black metal.' Look at the cover. Pentacle. Check. Song titles like 'Atrocity' and 'Invoke Necro.' Check. As such, I was pleasantly surprised. The label describes the band as 'Noise echos and ghost drones from this dark and bloody ground'¦ I' ' is a lo-fi hypersigil casting spells in various mediums. The name itself is a sigil for magickal workings, but if it must be pronounced it is eyedoublecross.' Well, it is definitely lo-fi. Almost too lo-fi. For example, 'Invoke Necro' becomes a bit repetitive with the delay and echo chamber effects and 'Catacombs' went on a bit too long with little progression. But other parts are pleasantly noisy and much better than I thought it would be. So sometimes you can't judge an album by its cover. If you like your noise droney and minimally processed, this may be worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.
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Artist: Sunday Strain
Title: Destiny.Done
Format: CD
Label: Wrotycz (@)
Rated: *****
I got this in a package with Contagious Orgasm and Kadaver on the same label, so I was pretty surprised when I put this in the player. For those unfamiliar, Contagious Orgasm is an absolutely amazing noise performer. However, this sounded more akin to mid 1990s Cleopatra Records gothic pop. I had not heard of Sunday Strain, but it seems to have been a side project of Llovespell (who I had also not heard of). The label describes the album as a 'sophisticated electronic music with admixture of pop elements and dark atmosphere.' The opening track, 'Temporary Files,' did not really sell me on the album. I began wondering if they had sent this to Chain DLK by mistake. However, it begins to get interesting as it progresses. By the time we get to the final track, 'Autumn Waves,' the sound is much darker and more ethereal. Overall, I found this to be a mixed bag. I get the sense that their next album will be much more interesting as they find their niche. This album weighs in at around 48 minutes.
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Artist: Rant (@)
Title: Land
Format: CD
Label: Schraum (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this duo, but this is their third album. Here's how the label describes the album: 'Merle Bennett on drums and Torsten Papenheim on guitar, explore the various possibilities of the duo: concrete statements and abstract sounds, exploding and imploding while never losing the thread. This play creates the perfect balance between precision and looseness, groove and sound, describing their musical world in form and colour.' Imagine if you took the multitrack recording of a typical song, and then broke it into its component tracks. Now slow it down and play them one at a time. This is kind of the feel that I got in listening to Rant. This is pretty stripped down improvisation, but there is a logic to it. I was particularly impressed with the complexity of the drummer here. But for the most part, I found this to be just a bit too sparse and slow moving. The complexity could certainly be there, but the guitar parts dominate with a simplicity that didn't seem to work (e.g., Luen). There are some bright spots, such as 'Orlando,' which is reminiscent of some shoegazer pop. This album weighs in at around 33 minutes.
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