Music Reviews

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Ekhnaton
Format: CD
Label: Silentes (@)
Rated: *****
This compilation, originally released in 1984 on vinyl by Multiple Configuration, in collaboration with the ADN label, has finally reissued in a completely remastered version on CD. EKHNATON collects tracks recorded by the most important and remarkable bands that were active in the experimental Italian scene during early 80's. "Simple Italian Research Vol. 1" was (and still is) the subtitle of an album which includes two tracks from each of the following bands: Maze 1066, Tasaday (whose "Implosione tra le pieghe dell'anima" has recently been reissued by Silentes), Evitaxal - which was a Roberto Marinelli's alias, active also as Laxative Souls - and the more well known TAC (TOMOGRAFIA ASSIALE COMPUTERIZZATA), band that are still active nowadays.
The first two tracks, by Maze 1066, blend sparse guitar parts, "musique concrete" sounds and strange electronics/synth sounds, with a jazzy touch. The sound is obsessive, mysterious and surrealistic, comparable to Biota and the first Mnemonist.
Tasaday was an experimental / noise/tribal/postrock/industrial music band, located in Brianza, Italy. Active since 1982 and formed by the blend of two bands named Die Form & Orgasmo Negato (changed in Die Form & Nulla Iperreale in 1983), the band chose the definitive name Tasaday in 1984. Their sound is mysterious and obsessive in the tradition of early industrial music. Evitaxal was an Laxative Souls's side project, active during the 1984/85 period. The sound is inspired by minimal/trance electronics and by the drones from the La Monte Young school. Marinelli mainly worked with raw electronics, distorted vocals, concrete sounds, self assembled electronic circuits and sample sources.
Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata, frequently credited as T.A.C., is a post-industrial, experimental and electronica group, originally known for making a crossover between experimental music and avant rock, using treated tape loops, custom built synthesizers and metal sheet percussion but also guitar, bass and drums. '¨The whole cd is an unmissable view on the first intuitions and experimental methodologies that shaped their times, leaving a permanent mark - in Italy and abroad - on the following generations.
Jan 02 2011
Artist: FLECK E.S.C
Title: Bruxia
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ghost Technology
Distributor: Juno Download
Rated: *****
Franck Collin also known as fleck E.S.C is a French producer based in tokyo and BRUXIA is his newest release under this moniker. Released digitally by the Croatian label Ghost Technology, BRUXIA's nine tracks will make you start 2011 with a blast. Catchy melodies, rich rhythm section, fat sounds, vocoder, electro and electronic influences make of this release a great one. The album whose title refers to the habitual involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth (usually it happens at night when you're asleep), opens with "Function 1", an electronic mid-tempo which mix suspended atmospheres, funky leads, syncopated rhythms and vocoder inserts. "Conspiracy" opens the dances with a truly rich intricate robotic rhythmical web of sounds, like it was a mix of Dopplereffekt, Kraftwerk and Drexcyia. "Alternatives" it's an amazing tune that will convince you in no time thanks to its cool synth sounds that being alternated and enriched with samples and catchy melodic lines. Franck's ability to pick up cool crisp analog synth sounds and to build a very well balanced mix will pop up immediately during your listening of this album. "Dr Spook" (a great robotic electro techno number with classic electro drum sounds, fat bass lines and bleeping noises), "Videodrome" (an electro mid tempo tune sounding mysterious and menacing) and "Dizzy flow" (a track that sounds like an ambient electro tune influenced by Detroit techno) are the evidence that this genre has so much to offer if you know where to look at. Thanks to Ghost Technology 2011 looks promising and BRUXIA will shine during all the year. You can check the preview here:
Artist: Undermathic (@)
Title: 10:10PM
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
It seems like the Tympanik label has gone on a releasing spree, as I have many more CDs from to review this time around than any other label. One thing you can be sure of, whatever they release is going to be interesting in some way or another, and such is the case with Polish composer Maciej Paszkiewicz's Undermathic project. This is expansive cinematic ambient electronic/orchestral music with dense rhythms and a broad sound palette. Right from the opening track, 'Big City Nights,' you know you're in for a treat. There is quite a bit going on in its dense layering, that it make take a few listenings to fully grasp the subtleties. It is dark, modern noirish and delicious, foreshadowing what's to come.

There is a futuristic Blade Runner-esque ambience running through some of the tracks'¦an urban Sci-Fi environment without many of the clichés you might expect. As Vangelis realized with his Blade Runner score, the sound is huge and sprawling, yet intimate. There is so much attention to detail that one can't but help marvel at the composer's compositional and studio skills. The rhythms are inventive, compelling and well-used; the melodic content intricate and never overly repetitive; the instrumentation elaborate but never cluttered. It is dramatic to the max, and captivates your attention even when it seems as though there is little going on.

The sequencing, where used, is marvelous. You barely even notice that parts are sequenced, they so natural and blended within the structure of the tracks. The sonic palette of Undermathic is unbelievable too. Obviously a lot of money was invested in sound software, and it shows. This is beyond orchestral; this is something else! Composers like Steve Roach, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Hans Zimmer could learn a thing or two from Undermathic. No theme is beaten to death or wears out its welcome on '10:10PM' Everything is continually evolving and transforming. The integration and the flow from one piece to the next is virtually seamless. It's dramatic and emotionally stirring, and even romantic in places. Game designers and film producers would do well to seek out Undermathic as the music so conducive to visual enhancement and story.

I am in awe of this album, impressed all over again with every listening. I hear no flaws, and there is not one iota I would change or do differently. This is THE album of 2010. You would really be doing yourself a disservice not to own it.
Artist: Autoclav1.1
Title: All Standing Room in the Goodnight Saloon
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Never judge an album by its cover, or in this case, the photo of the musician inside the tri-fold CD digipack. Tony Young (who is Autoclav1.1) certainly looks like your typical goth-industrial musician with a bird-nest hairstyle atop his bald pate, mirror sunglasses, piercing under lower lip, tats (hidden by the long-sleeved shirt in this photo), stompin' workboots, predominantly dressed in black; but the music of Autoclav1.1 doesn't sound like your typical goth-industrial. Au contraire, mon frère; this ain't no EBM/electro-industrial terror-fest. 'All Standing Room in the Goodnight Saloon' is cinematic mood music, despite the participation of such scene luminaries as Leaether Strip's Claus Larsen; Emelie Verbieze of Riotmilloo; Attrition's Martin Bowes; Andreas Davids who is Xotox; Rachel Haywire aka, Experiment Haywire; and Don Hill of Millipede.

For those unfamiliar with U. K. based music producer Tony Young's background, he has a number of releases going back to 2005- EPs, albums, remixes, compilation appearances, collaborations, live performances, etc. With such a prolific output, I'm surprised I haven't heard his work previously, but you can't keep up with everyone. Be that as it may, what I'm hearing here on 'All Standing Room in the Goodnight Saloon' sounds compositionally mature and well-crafted. Right out of the gate, 'Waxing' builds atmospheric tension enhanced by an evocative piano melody, dramatic strings and dense rhythm. It sounds as if it could be the theme of a mystery or thriller. 'Sealed Envelope' continues along these lines with a different piano melody, and bit more elaborate orchestration atop dense percussion as we go deeper into the world of Autoclav1.1. There are more breaks and shifts in this track but a definite continuity between this one and the preceding.

The third track, 'Conquer This Perception,' makes use of the vocal talents of Emelie Verbieze and Claus Larsen, more as atmosphere than a lead vocal track. Emelie gives a brief spoken word intro, and Claus croaks spoken word like some demon conjured from the underworld. There is more sequenced synthwork in this track, yet still the piano melody, string-pads and dense rhythm as the previous tracks and the tempos are very similar. For me, this is the first down-side to the album; no tempo variation so far, and the similarity in the structure of the rhythms employed tends to make it sound predictable.

A break comes on track 4, 'The In Road,' with it's heavily strummed acoustic guitar intro, heavier rhythm track and predominant use of synthesizer, creating a somewhat Western theme. Nice wispy, wordless female backing vocals too. The (spoken) vocals of Martin Bowes are underplayed adding only ambience to the track. Finally, we get a tempo shift on the slower 'Saturday's Steps,' or at least starts out a bit slower. It begins with some neat ethereal ambience with those wispy femme voices again, but picks up tempo and we're back into the melodic piano and string overlays with the dense rhythm track. A vocal sample of a child repeating a short phrase adds a bit of nuance. 'Let Me Sleep (Somewhere)' sounds like a continuation of previous track, only heavier, with an insistent pumping bass and some guitar towards the end.

'There's No More Isolation' might be one of my favorite tracks on the album, for although it uses many of the previous elements employed by Autoclav1.1, it all seems to come together here like magic. Andy Davis had a hand in the (additional) beats and electronics on this one, but I can't tell where or how. Rachel Haywire's only contribution to 'This Town' is the opening vocal phrase, 'This is a fictional slumber.' I like the bold distorted line guitar l which carries part of the melody. I'm reminded of William Orbit here. 'Some Subtle Inebriation' is backed with woozy filtered synth pads (courtesy of Don Hill, no doubt) synth voices and dense strings, but once again there is that sequenced simple piano melody, which is getting a little old by now.

'Alleine In Der Dunkelheit' and 'This Is For Love' threaten to wander into New Age territory, mostly due to the piano. Especially the last track that has a somewhat generic commercial quality about it. (It would make perfect background music for a Prius commercial.) I think more sparing use of the ivories would have been prudent. Deleriumesque rhythms permeate nearly every track too. I would have like to have heard tracks that used much more spaciousness and ambience and were less reliant on the rhythmic element.

Still, 'All Standing Room in the Goodnight Saloon' isn't a bad album; there are some very nice tracks on it. Unfortunately, too many of the tracks have such similar orchestration and melodic content that I can't really call this an eclectic potpourri. But it does make good background music.
Artist: Driver & Driver (@)
Title: We Are The World
Format: CD
Label: Staatsakt (@)
Distributor: Rough Trade
Rated: *****
Nitro's been filled in the engines of this German music drivers and they look not so interested in directions...they look more interested in being on their way in top gear running over any possible stylistical path, which they cross without caring about pedestrians and pursuers possibility to eat their dust. They just grind eternal stones under their caterpillar musical wheels leaving behind their shoulders a world sinking like a torpedoed merchant vessel by retracing those uneven road surfaces, partially paved by other memorable German musicians such as T.Raumschmiere, rich of junctions and ramps going towards hip hop, industrial, punk, noise, funpunk, techno, rockabilly and many more musical languages, wisely mashed up in a somewhat brutal way. It has alreaby been emphasized by my collegue Maurizio in his previous review of this issue both the impressive way of playing live drum by Chris Imler (one of these two drivers!) being a recipe able to add a roughly guessed grip to D&D formula and their connection with other past notorious duos like Suicide and DAF (...and tracks like the unruly Back to L.A. or Wohin whose playful melody reminded to me the intrusive jingle scored in a Coke tv adverts, glueing - somewhat ironically - the ideal friendship between German and American, a stylistical alliance highlighted by the use of both English and German even in the witty lyrics). So that it's not my intention to be repetitive or make a track-by-track commentary of it, but I cannot avoid in reccomending this energetic pill to you... don't miss it out!
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