Music Reviews



Artist: The Rope
Title: s/t
Format: CD EP
Label: Late Century Records (@)
Rated: *****
The Rope's bio says that they play 'an atmospheric, yet driving style of music influenced by some of the darker post-punk bands of the late 70s and early 80s,' and I'd say that is a pretty dead-on description of the music on this CD. The Rope's music could easily draw comparisons with many bands from that era, but lean more to the more popular Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, The Cult, and sometimes even Psychedelic Furs because of Jesse Hagon's vocals.

The Rope opens with 2 very strong, tom- and bass-driven tracks, 'Silence' and 'Water to Wine.' 'Silence' has some nice atmospheric guitar melodies that run throughout which sound like a cross between Billy Duffy and Peter Koppes. 'Water to Wine' is a more 'in your face' track with nice synth leads and a four-on-the-floor chorus with strong hooks and vocal melodies, too. Because of the first two tracks, I predict this CD will spend a lot of time in my car accompanying me on fast drives with the top down. 'Jericho' is another very strong, driving track, a la Sisters, but The Rope breaks up the momentum and brings the mood down, but not the tempo, with the ballad 'Marie' as track 3. The CD ends with a live version of the song 'Eyes,' which reminds me of 'Maryanne' by Sisters of Mercy as if sung by Richard Butler.

I am enjoying this micro-trend of newer bands like Bravery, She Wants Revenge, Hypernova and The Rope that sound like they were spawned from the early 80s English post-punk and death rock scene. This is a very strong first release by The Rope and look forward to hearing more new music
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Artist: Lords of Acid
Title: Little Mighty Rabbit
Format: CD EP
Label: Metropolis Records
Rated: *****
Little Mighty Rabbit is a 3-song EP featuring Lords of Acid's first new, original recordings in over a decade. The title track, 'Little Might Rabbit,' is a fun track about a woman's obsession with her favorite sex toy. The song opens with synths kind of emulating a siren and then kicks right in to the song's chorus, which is driven by heavy, kick-ass drums and bass. 'Rabbit' features DJ Mea's sexist, and best vocal performances on the record (and easily the most memorable songs of the trio). 'Drowning in Ecstasy' is a more up-tempo, four-on-the-floor, anxious-sounding track with a deep bass groove. The anxiousness of the music underscores the lyric; a woman describing the kind of man she wants and the many pleasures she needs him to provide her. On 'Sole Sucker' DJ the tables are turned and DJ Mea plays the part of a dominatrix that taunts and humiliates her slave to a slow, noisy groove.

The Ep includes 9 remixes of 'Little Mighty Rabbit,' some of which hit, some miss. My favorite, and most creative remix, is the 'tweaker Mix' by Chris Vrenna and Jesse Hall. It starts off with a very dark and dystopian half-time, gets a bit disjointed and jolting, then comes together and builds into a 4/4 groove. The 'Bass To Mouth Mix,' with its pseudo Reggae dub vibe, by AK 1200 comes in a close second. But, from dance to hip hop to industrial there's easily a remix for everyone.

Little Mighty Rabbit is a fun record that delivers what the Children of Acid expect, and want from, Lords of Acid; dark, sexy songs with slamming danceable grooves about self-pleasure, sex, eroticism and S&M.
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Artist: Synoiz (@)
Title: Ambients
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: self-released
If the name is totally new to you, Synoiz is a one-man project hailing from Sunderland, UK. There are various released produced by this musicians and here I will review the album entitled 'Ambients'.

'Ambients' contain 14 tracks and as one may judge from such a title, the genre behind this release falls under the category of 'Ambient', however this is not one of those typical ambient projects that you can find around. Apart from soundscapes and scrapes or noises the album is overall packed with pleasant vintage synth passages, analog sounds, melodies, synthetic choirs, astral (sci-fi) sounds, synthetic percussive textures and electronic 'dance' beats. Therefore the classification could easily fall under 'Synthpop Ambient/Darkwave' (perhaps inspired by the 80's)

The album is quite varied and it doesn't throw you into immense boredom especially if you are a diehard listener of psychedelic peaceful sounds. Tracks like 'Forest', and 'Of Rolling Hills' may give you the idea of an epic soundtrack. However the track entitled 'The Open Sky' sounds rather mysterious and the way it is performed sounds quite suitable for a video-game

Moreover I shouldn't exclude mentioning the 'dark side' of this release. Tracks like 'Cooper', 'Shock! Horror!', 'Another World', and 'Moonlit Streets' represent the disturbing side of the album. Just imagine a sci-fi vintage horror movie perhaps this might give you an idea about what I am talking about. One can notice distant choirs, mechanical textures, drones, distant strings, electronic loops'¦ and other weird sounds that give enough vibrancy on these tracks.

Finally, apart from ambience and horror, there is the last bit I shouldn't exclude! Tracks like 'Darkling' and 'Andromeda (Rain In Tibet Mix by Anguaji)' stand more towards the percussive side. Darkling sounds more like an old school Gothic song with semi-harsh drums, whereas 'Andromeda' is more like a Chill-out song, both enriched with synthetic tunes and passages.

I'd rather say that Synoiz is a representation of a virtual clock maker where he ensures that all the bits and pieces are fit together thus delivering an optimal result for the audience. Somehow it reminds me of bands/projects like Apex Twin, A.C.T.U.S. or Fata Morgana (an old project owned by Mortiis). If you want to fill your room with some vibrant tunes while enjoying a glass of (cherry) wine, I would strongly suggest you to give a try to Synoiz, however I see such songs quite fit for a video-game. Whether you agree or not'¦.I leave it up to you to make the judgement.
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Artist: R21 Vs. GROW
Title: Broken Machines
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: CHP Recordings
Rated: *****
Released last June on Adam Wilson's (aka GROW) CHP Recordings, this 5-tracker brings together 2 extremely talented electro producers: Adam, who's also responsible for last year's critically acclaimed album "Calculating Immortality" (CHP 003), last January's tremendous single "We Are The Anunnaki" (CHP 005) and a series of dope remixes for various electro labels, and Dave Mott (aka R21 or DjR21), the "man-machine", an electronic producer who needs no introduction, having already under his belt a couple of nu electro classics ("Atomic Breakdown" on Devine Disorder Records and "Minimum" on Binalog Productions), a bunch of great singles and EPs on Swishcotheque, DDR and BP, contributions on compilations by Crobot Muzik and Shameless Toady, as well numerous remarkable remixes and dj megamixes.
"Broken Machines" is written, produced and mastered by Dave, while Adam wrote and sang the lyrics. It is a melancholic electro tune, driven by a typical R21 Kraftwerk-ish beat and built around an obsessive bassline and wonderful chords and pads. Adam's vocals fit perfectly in the mood of the track, taking Dave's music one step further. The result is a charming, captivating track of unique beauty which is flirting both with new wave and electro-pop, in any case a nice surprise by both the 2 artists who usually deliver strong electrofunk tunes. Could be a succesful Depeche Mode single (i just can't resist to imagine Gahan in Wilson's place-sorry Adam!lol)
Original version seems to me unsurpassed, though there's also a couple of interesting alternatives (the "vocoder mix" and the "commanGROW mix", the first one true to its title lets the vocoder do the job, while the latter is characterized by strong beats and "computer malfunction" effects). I could live without the club oriented, 4/4 "tech noir electrik mix", while the addition of the instrumental version is an obvious and welcomed choice.
Overall "Broken Machines" is a little gem, definitely in my list of 2011's top tunes! It is available at iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Juno and many other digital outlets, but i suggest you support CHP and buy via their Bandcamp (http://growchp.bandcamp.com/album/broken-machines)
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Artist: EUGENE S. ROBINSON + PHILIPPE PETIT
Title: The crying lot of 69
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
I love spoken words, nay, I love good spoken word performances and as you can easily imagine Eugene Robinson vocals alone on this recording were worth the price of the ticket. The fact is that Philippe Petit has done a great background work for Eugene, therefore the whole effect is a mix of weird sounds and deep as fuck vocals. The french electronic musician has melted together a mixture of concrete noises, jazzy horns, scary dark ambient drones and post contemporary assemblages. Robinson's vocals float on this odd ocean of sounds as an apparently self bored Buckowsky alike reading that makes you feel like you still a kid listening to some scary tales. The chapters of this recording speak about modern obsessions, about real things. Differently from his previous releases with Oxbow, Eugene's voice is much more relaxed (and obviously also the music follows that trajectory) like it was some thoughtful post-coital conversation. There's something very crude in the stories here performed and even if the music is never that heavy it feels really cerebral and like it was coming from behind the twilight zone, that's why here and there it gave me the impression this recording was hiding some early industrial, Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Hafler Trio influences. Despite the many parallels I've been drawing during this review, this cd has a strong personality and brings back to life the old spoken performance formula with a new restyled image.
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