Music Reviews



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Artist: System
Title: B
Format: CD
Label: Rump Recordings (@)
Distributor: VME
Rated: *****
Always busy with their personal projects (Opiate, Dub Tractor and Acustic) and after a new release under the Future 3 moniker, Anders Remmer, Thomas Knak and Jesper Skaaning are back with their first full length release as System: its title is B. The nine tracks of the album, as for the previous EP, find their roots into dub and electronic music but if on "Tempo EP" there was also a sort of jazz vein you could find between the melodic lines, B, is a mix of rich ambient sounds (do anyone named Brian Eno?), dub warm atmospheres and dubstep mid tempo rhythms with a bit of i.d.m. influences. So, while tiny melodic progressions paint a sort of melancholic canvas, complex rhythmic textures made of noises and bleeps strengthen the drum sounds. The whole result sounds like a two step record in slow motion which gives the right idea of the warm Jamaican weather transposed to Denmark...
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Artist: Sistol
Title: On The Bright Side
Format: CD
Label: Halo Cyan/Phthalo
Rated: *****
Sistol is one of the projects (along with Luomo, Uusitalo, Conoco, Vladislav Delay, etc) of Sasu Ripatti and ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is his newest release under this moniker. The eight tracks of the CD show Sasu focusing on upbeat sincopated rhythms, anxious atmospheres (check also the cover which shows a gun made out of medicinal blisters and syringes) and minimal techno structures. Also melody has a big part on the Sistol's musical scheme and even if repetition and sounds alternation is its core. In this way ON THE BRIGHT SIDE sounds more dj friendly (more than Sistol's first album which has just been reissued always by Halo Cyan/Phthalo) and multifaceted.
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Artist: Teiji Ito
Title: Watermill
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik
Distributor: Amazon, iTunes, Tzadik
Rated: *****
Composer Teiji Ito is one of the most unique voices of the 20th century musical avant garde. Born in Tokyo, his family emigrated to New York where he would remain for the rest of his musical career. Growing up in the big apple from the age of 6, he soon became part of the NYC underground (later known as the Downtown scene), where he worked with some of the most legendary artists on the planet in music, film, dance and theatre.

His early work can be heard in the films of Maya Deren, whose films Ito would begin scoring at the age of 17. As the story goes, it was here that he acquired an appreciation for ceremonial and secular drumming techniques from traveling to Haiti, where he would later pass away in 1982.

A little background to this album: Ito grew up in a working theatrical family, and this influence is clear in his music. There are hints of Kibuki theatre, borrowing rhythms from here as well as taiko drumming. He works primarily from the pentatonic tonal system, but draws from all sources to add an almost sound design-y element to his music. Its wild in context, causing the spaces to shift unexpectedly time and again through the course of the album. The sound is somehow always fresh and light, despite the various terrains traversed through its course.

Watermill, denoting name of this album as well as the ensemble, was written by Ito in 1972. The instruments alone are a formidable presence. To name a few: shakuhachi, calimba, sho, voice, koto, bamboo sticks, ocarina, wratchets, flutes, gongs, the list goes on. As mentioned above, also flown in are sound effects like dogs barking, jet planes, and unidentified noise. Nevertheless, it's cohesive throughout.

At times meditative and at others nightmarish, Watermill covers a wide variety of spaces and places. Impeccable and virtuosic performances by the Watermill ensemble make this one of the most definitive performances that might ever come available. And what makes this version worth owning is the connections to Ito and the piece itself performer- Mara Purl was in the original ensemble that premiered this work. Teiji's daughter also performs on the piece, which (it would seem) provides some legitimacy and endorsement to such a timeless endeavor by this underappreciated composer. Either way, this disc deserves a standing ovation.

Watermill is a truly authentic presence in itself. Highly recommended.
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Artist: In A Mindset
Title: Compartments
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Abstrakt Reflections (@)
Rated: *****
And another promising newcomer act, which installs cinematic Ambient-like synth arrangement combined with experimental and part-wise abrasive percussion elements. What surprises the most is surely the musically background of the German fellow Steven S., mastermind behind IN A MINDSET. I.A.M. has been started in 2009 and is therefore a relatively new project, but Steven has played previously in various Metal-bands (FTE, MORTHEIM) and he is still active in this genre with the project SERAPEUM. For hailing out of a relatively different music genre, he provides a really cleverly and matured kind of music work, which can be described as an Electronica/IDM-onslaught consisting of elements out of Dark Ambient and Neo-Classical influences combined with Industrial, Noise and Abstract rhythms. I tend to pick out again the often named US cult act GRIDLOCK as being a quell of inspiration, while I would too agree to name Steven's Neo-Classical influence with its bombastic tendencies ('Devastation P. 2' ' did I hear a real cello riff here???) as being the most remarkable difference. A quite good 5-track EP to hopefully soon more to be discovered stuff from this talented artist ' which fits quite well to the Abstrakt Reflection label-roster.

Aug 31 2010
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Artist: XMH (@)
Title: State Of Mind
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah Records / Danse Macabre (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
If you would like to introduce your music project effective to an international based audience, you have to invest more than ever before in promotional efforts to succeed. That means, there has to be more than the usual coarse of action like the usage of multiple accounts at those important communities like MySpace, Vampirefreaks, or at Facebook.
I like to describe those minor matters, because the release of the second album 'State Of Mind' of the Dutch-based trio XMH is a remarkable example, if multiple possible promotion channels got activated.
First, this album got released by the German label Danse Macabre Records around May 2010. The being of Benjamin Samson (vocals, programming), Isa Garcia (vocals, keyboards), and Pieter Sperling (keyboards, programming) at this renowned label offers the quite important fact, to get European distribution via Alive. To double this feature and to undersign the hope into the abilities of this act, this album got picked up by the newly installed German DJ- promotion agency M2C, which consists of Bruno Kramm (DAS ICH/Danse Macabre Records) and the female Hardbeat promotion-queen Jessica Schellberg. In short: this assures intense club play for XMH in Europe. And to match all of this: the US-label Nilaihah Records has worked out a license deal and takes care to service the North-American market. Asides the expected promotional onslaught to service all relevant North-American-based DJ's, magazines and online resources, this album at least should be available at every retailer like Metropolis, COP International, CDBaby, or Storming The Base for Canada. To sum that up, there are a lot of promotional activities and hopes of the responsible people behind this Dutch music project, which could help them to reach a lot of higher steps. Musically I don't have too much doubts, that this project won't reach a higher step in their career, as they are able to impress with some clever arranged synth loops and some programmed delicacies. They are talented in their kind and offer maybe one of the best works released during the last three months ' but what kind of music are they providing?
It is globally that kind of Harsh EBM/Dark Electro, which falls under that ugly moniker Hellectro. And seriously, I am disappointed in those parts, where XMH try too obviously to copy elements and synth arrangements, which have been discovered by thousands of other band projects during the last 6 years before ('Dictate', or the usage of dumb voice samples like in 'Komasaufen'). Massive DJ inserts may means to walk a relatively compatible path compared to the up and rising projects of the scene like SUICIDE COMMANDO, X-FUSION, or related. But XMH prove with some of their pearls available on here too ('Neon Venus', featuring Isa Garcia providing the lead vocals), that they are capable to offer a wider musically spectrum, than the usual repetitive stuff (check also out the accompanying guitar riffs in 'State Of Mind', or 'Tears In Rain').
A good and quality Harsh Electro album for sure, but with some tendencies to repeat some phrases, but after only a second full-length album, the complete sound dimension and abilities could be normally seldom pointed out. A Dutch band project, which still hasn't reached the end of the rope.
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