Music Reviews



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Artist: JeFF (@)
Title: Torment
Format: CD
Label: Altsphere Production (@)
Distributor: Altsphere Production
Rated: *****
Maybe I've mentioned this before, but one of the most annoying tasks about doing reviews for Chain D. L. K. is gathering the essential info on the artist and label of the work I have to review. Some are very good about this, and others'¦pffft. It's usually the artists' email address that's a problem. They often leave it off the one-sheet, and sites like MySpace, Reverb Nation and Facebook are tricky about contact; you have to jump through membership hoops. Labels aren't any help either. Are artists so reclusive they don't want any contact with fans or the press? I didn't think so. Just put your damn email address on the CD or one-sheet. 'Nuff said on that.

According to the one-sheet, JeFF (from France) has more than 50 demos, remixes and collaborations since 2003. 'Torment' is JeFF's first full album release. On my first listen to this disc, it seemed plagued by a propensity for too much repetition on the main theme of each composition. The repetition comes in the form a bass line and synth counter melodies (Candlemass,' 'Funeral Day,); and chordal piano progression with some countermelody ('An Insect in the Head,' 'Psychocircle'). Over the course of time on these extended tracks ranging from over six to over 10 minutes, the CD lives up to its title- 'Torment''¦for the listener that is.

To be fair though, there are some positive aspects. 'Candlemass' has a dubby bassline with crunchy percussion with oddly intriguing synth counter-melody sounds over manipulated chanting monks and noise background. 'An Insect in the Head,' uses cymbal-heavy percussion and a cricket-synth counter melody and other more intricate synth lines as well as sax-like sounds, and moaning strings. There are breaks, but that repeated and unchanging piano note-chord progression just goes on, and on and on. 'Funeral Day' begins with some cool psych-ambience before the dubby bass appears. For those who like dub, you'll probably love this track. For me, it was kind of like later period Scorn with a more playful attitude. 'Psycedestreet' has a march cadence with a simple couple repeated notes of piano and an upward scale string progression. Even though there is plenty of repetition here, the arrangement and building is good and give a nice dramatic flair to the piece, and another string-synth counter-melody enriches it further. There is even a break with a reedy synth melody and demented piano-like countermelody where the beat changes into something I could hear Van Der Graaf Generator doing. There's more to it than that, but it seemed the most ambitious track thus far.

'Psychocircle' uses a minimal piano progression (repeated of course) and sing-song counter-melody and an adventurous drum track with some guy speaking in French intermittently. (All I could make out was when he mentioned the name John Wayne Gacy, so I guess you get the drift.) This struck me as a rather insanity-inducing piece. Last track, 'Housefly' offers a lot of heavy distortion punctuated by clashing cymbals and continues on that way for the first six minutes until a minimal mellotron string melody and minimal drums takes over for awhile. Then it's back to the distortion with some ring-mod synth and organ with drums. Eventually the distortion fades away leaving the rest with some electronic sonic effluvia. The second half of the piece wasn't bad, but the first half was a bit much to wade through.

I should mention that all tracks are rather slow-paced, giving them a labored feel. I should also mention that these pieces are SUPPOSED TO BE psychotic psychedelic instrumentals, and to that end JeFF succeeds in his intentions. However, the atmosphere JeFF is attempting to create is at the expense of the buyer/listener, and few may have the patience, fortitude and frame of mind to wade through these murky waters more than once.
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Artist: Hypnoz (@)
Title: A Score for Iron Blues
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Distributor: Zhelezobeton
Rated: *****
Instead of going outside on this sunny, crisp autumn day to work on clearing fallen leaves from my yard, I'm inside trying to tackle the backlog of reviews I have yet to do. My goal today is an ambitious one for me- five reviews, beginning with this one. Hypnoz is the project of Moscow suburbanite Dmitriy Zubov, and this is my first experience with it. Upon the initial listening to 'A Score for Iron Blues,' I was not left with an overwhelming positive reaction. Hypnoz uses a lot of distorted and feedback guitar as a main component to its compositions, and this just struck me as mediocre noise for the most part. I didn't find the playing all that inventive. Yeah, there are other elements ' ghostly voices on 'Believe'; drones and a protracted, distant sampled monologue on 'Good Angels'; liquidy lapping-water on 'Ut-Rest Ravens'; echoed looping and guitar-string scraping on 'Stone Ring'; and more echo looping with scratchy static sounds on 'The Black Windmill (Outro)' but the main component, the distorto-guitar improv just didn't do it for me.

Rather than concentrate on what I didn't like though, I'll speak to what I did like- 'Night On Earth' with it's modern beat poetry set over a subtle gloomy, creepy background ambience. (The best track on the album.) The recitation was provided by Jim 'Foetus' Thirwell, another reason the track was so good. 'Charms Water,' using a tremolo guitar and guitar drone (with other effects) and an electronically manipulated female vocal sample. 'Boat In A Fog,' a track that has this looped rhythm made from a note with echo tapped on a guitar string and some droning, and also 'To The Aid,' a track that comes the closest to anything conventional, with a repeated chordal guitar arpeggio progression and some droning noise.

Overall, what I liked was not enough to offset what I didn't much care for. However, if you're beatless industrial noise guitar, you'll probably end up liking the things I didn't, and visa versa. Maybe if Dmitriy decides to explore other terrain for his next Hypnoz release I'd be interested, but with only one excellent track on an album, I'll pass for now.
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anymore
Artist: eLan
Title: Next 2 Last
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Monkeytown Records
Rated: *****
Elan Stouffer is a guy living in San Diego who's also member of the WEDIDIT collective alongside Shlohmo, Groundislava, Juj & Jonwayne. Since the last year he had some EPs out on Fifty Weapons and Monkeytown Records. The latter is now releasing his first album which gathers different versions of his tracks already released on three Monkeytown Records EPs plus a second CD containing thirteen remixes made by Mindesign, HeRobust, Mike Gao, Byetone, Modeselektor, etc. On his tracks, Elan, is like redefining the style of his tracks looking for the right beat. Mixing samples, digital bleeps and minimal melodies, he created a sort of futuristic lounge music which passes from moments of tension (like on "Bleep Bloop Brrrrmmp" or "Dry Lemons", which is the one I prefer) to experimentations with house music. Often eLan music offer good moments where melody and rhythm look for each other without sounding pretentious or too experimental but his music isn't for an immediate fruition even if at first, because he focuses his tunes on few elements, it could seem so. Under the hood there's so much going on. Don't think only about the movement, there's a whole engine that has been tuned to achieve this result. It is also true that NEXT 2 LAST would need some track with a rhythm change, because almost all the tracks are mid tempos. About the mixes, to me the best ones are "Bleep Bloop Brrrrmmp (Lazer Sword Remix)" because it has a nice atmosphere that mixes techno tension and break beat influences plus "Saccharin On Top (Anstam Remix)" for the way it mixes dub and minimal techno intuitions.
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Artist: ENDE SHNEAFLIET
Title: Synthimental Love Songs
Format: 12"
Label: Trumpett (@)
Rated: *****
Do you remember the double vinyl compilation released by Enfant Terrible back in 2006, well, initially that was intended to be a three records compilation instead of a double. At the end eleven tracks didn't make it and Trumpett released them on CDr later. This new compilation that Trumpett is releasing on early November and titled SYNTHIMENTAL LOVE SONGS, gathers seven tracks unreleased on vinyl plus "Twistin' On The Tombstones", "Air Zaire" and "Voices Of The Dead" have been alreay released on "Trumpett Sounds" and "Trumpett Days" compilations while "Symphoy Romant (J. Tesla Schnitt)" is a previously unpublished edit of the full lenght version that featured on the rare and mythical Reminiscent boxset. The compilation opens with "My Mother Sells Tupperware", a great pulsating minimal wave track based on monophonic waves, tiny melodies and a deep bass line. "Panzerfaust 60m", sounds mysterious and cinematic thanks to effected drum machine beats and synth throbbing sweeps. "Poison" is an early industrial wave gem with dissonant melodies and cold vocals. "Lauda Und Reutemann" sounds nostalgic but it has pulsating bass sounds and robotic beats. "Symphoy Romant (J. Tesla Schnitt)" to me is a band's classic as it has a melody that will stick in your head, experimental atmospheres and cool analog synth sounds. I'd like also to mention "Voices Of The Dead (Snap Schnitt)", a dark track with distant distorted vocals, slow beats, sonar sounds and a damn cool cold atmosphere. This reissue is limited to 320 copies, so be fast!
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anymore
Artist: Live Better Electrically/Pip Williams (@)
Title: Sintax Error EP
Format: 12"
Label: Sheweytrax
Rated: *****
Ah yeah, those shrinkwrapped US import 12inches! What a feeling to hold one of these beauties, stare at the labels, read the credits, tear the wrap carefully only to pull out the record, smell it, spin it...
But... enough with the fetish side of things, let's get into the music of Live Better Electrically (LBE) and Pip Williams who are the people (equally) responsible for the "Sintax Error EP", the US import 12'' in question here ;)
There's a concept behind this record which is the growing wealth gap between the rich and the poor both in the States and the UK. Dave's (LBE) musical approach to this theme is exposed on side A, ie on the "Sintax Error" and "How Does It Feel?" tracks and it is characterized by a strong minimal techno feel, much in the vein of the first Underground Resistance releases. Dope stuff indeed! Phil (Pip Williams) takes the controls on side B for the highly infectious acidic electrofunk remix of "Sintax Error" (in my opinion one of the best remixes he's ever done!), the electro/techno remix of his robotic tune "Cold Love" and the absolutely motherfuckin' fantastic groovy number "Autonomix", a stunning piece of bouncy electronica which really achieves the impossible: your brain... dances like crazy while your body stays still and watch!!
I have to make a special mention to this decent Californian label Sheweytrax which is active since 1994 delivering vinyl that ranges from electrofunk to deep house and techno, helping the underground electronic scene to stay alive and kickin'. Keep it comin' guys!
Please go to sheweytrax.com and buy this fine record. Apart from the great music content it is also a collectors item as it comes in a limited edition of 200 copies worldwide ;)
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