Music Reviews



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Artist: Dirk Geiger (@)
Title: Autumn Fields
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Dirk Geiger, from Rottenburg Germany may not be a familiar name to those in the U.S. interested in IDM glitch ambient electronica, but in Europe I'm sure he is as he is the head of German label Raumklang Music, and also a member of the experimental electronic industrial band Kraftmaschine, among other things. Obviously Geiger is no newcomer, although I get the impression 'Autumn Fields' might be his first solo outing.

There are some very nice things, and also some unsettling things on 'Autumn Fields,' an album of ambient glitchy IDM electronica, a style that I seem to be running into more and more of at late with new releases, especially from Tympanik. The album opens up well enough with 'Gewitterregen,' with a thunderstorm and moody piano to set the tone. 'Autumn Life' brings in the ambience of automobiles on wet pavement, some placid Boards of Canada style synth-work, ambient voices of children (playground?), something that sounds like a repeating dopplerized horn in the distance, and this annoying glitch repeating sound of a stylus on record on a turntable that has reached the end but continues to skip. If it wasn't for that one sonic element, this would have been a pretty enjoyable piece. That's what I mean by 'unsettling'. That glitchy turntable effect comes and goes, and versus the music, it is arrhythmic, which makes it all the more annoying. I suppose the artist something in mind when he used it, but for me it seemed out of place.

'Noise Format' is good descriptive title for the next track as little buzzes, whirrs, bursts of white noise, cut up voices and radio samples, and other sonic effluvia combine for what sounds like alien shortwave radio tuning. Eventually an off-kilter percussion track emerges intermittently with other glitch elements and a hollow bellish drone playing against it. Interesting in an experimental way, but I thought it went on a bit too long. 'Night in Haskovo' begins with some deep, somnambulistic ambience with indistinct voices steeped in underground reverb before a percussion track is established. Geiger's rhythms aren't your typical fare; they're a bit askew, and that's one of the things that make this artist's music different. He's willing to take risks.

'Botanic Garden' juxtaposes low rumbling with ambient sounds of birds, footsteps, and glitchy noises, before a junglesque talking drum rhythm emerges. Minimal but effective synth carries the melodic element. It is interesting the way it morphs over time in the piece. 'Minus 10' uses echoed snippets of voices, high ringing tones and low percussion rhythm with a repeating hollowish bass pattern to propel it. The rhythm is steady while other incidental elements drift in and out, until the rhythm disappears towards the end. 'Winter Senses' is comprised of ambient roadway, gentle sequenced synth, string pads, low drone tones, high bellish tones, and other sonic elements from which a semi-glitch rhythm emerges. Ah, I'm beginning to sense a pattern here. There are parts of this I really like a lot. There is a part where the bellish sound plays against the low bassy part which is really cool. Nothing quite stays the same in the piece though as there is constant change. Still, it has a good flow.

'Overhead Projection' brings in the beat a bit more quickly than some of the other pieces on 'Autumn Fields,' still employing outdoor ambiences along with some brooding synths. The beat work on this one is the closest to drum kit percussion yet, but nothing you'd be inclined to dance too. Nice track. 'Itch Glitch' begins with ambient voices and atmosphere followed quickly by a glitch rhythm, which goes on a while, then stops and changes for a more tribal pattern. One thing I've noticed about Geiger's music is how he likes to play certain elements off each other that you wouldn't ordinarily find combined. A heavy truck passing by; heavenly sounding synths; glitchy rhythm patterns; tribal drums; it makes you change your musical perceptions. Not everyone is going to like this, but real IDM/ambient freaks are going to find it stimulating and challenging.

The last two tracks are remixes of previous tracks on the album; Svart1's 'Night in Haskovo,' and Access to Arasaka's 'Overhead Projection.' (I'll be getting to a review for Access to Arasaka's CD soon.) 'Night in Haskovo' sounds even darker, stranger and more unworldly in this mix. I'm really liking it a lot. The percussion is very different, a low lower and somewhat smoother, less glitchy and disjunct. 'Overhead Projection' bears little resemblance to the original, although it uses some of the elements, it is even darker still. The work on this track is sort of a foreshadowing of just how potent Access to Arasaka is in the genre. My only complaint is that it was too brief!

Although I wasn't wild about everything on the album, Geiger's 'Autumn Fields' is still an interesting excursion in ambient glitch electronica, and there is enough that is provocative about it that will stand up to repeated listenings, and challenge you a bit in the process.
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Artist: Aktive][Hate (@)
Title: In Terrorem
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
After the both quite entertaining demo recordings, still freely downloadable by the Portuguese label Enough Records, I was quite pleased to see this one-man-project signed to a label. 'In Terrorem' is therefore the official CD debut for this talented artist active under his pseudonym ISK. And it is a filled release, you'll get 74 minutes of Harsh EBM/Hellectro music, which offers still some interesting components asides that usual experience. First of, and quite important, Mr. ISK has discovered the existence of a guitar, as he throws in some supportive Metal-like riffs. Musically not surprising for this genre, but I cannot imagine, that I heard any guitar on his demo recordings. Tracks like 'My Own God', 'Phantom' or 'Knee Deep' are rather more representing the usual course, while 'FU' (Yes, the 'magically' two words 'F... You'), or 'Diseased' are raging wild with this Metal guitar support. 'Mixed Feelings' rather surprises with a more melodic design, also the vocals (... is there a prominent guest singer at work...?) got contrary performed between abrasive and natural sounding. Another tune, which breaks out of this music formula has to be named with the dark, piano-driven tune 'Sacramentum', a sad, rather Goth-like instrumental ballad, which you wouldn't normally expect from a band-project out of this genre. 'Play The Game' seems to one of the main tracks for this album and leads Mr. ISK back on the straight course. This tune got additionally remixed by TWILLIGHT FREAKSHOW and accomplishes this album. 'In Terrorem doesn't re-invent the wheel, as this wasn't to expect. But it is an entertaining produced album, which balances musically somewhere between the last CEDIGEST album and ISK's country-mates E.S.C. ' not the worst references, don't you think?
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Artist: Pixel Hero
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
Latvia's PIXEL HERO isn't a graphic-designer, but an Electro/Industrial-music producing one-man-project founded by Wormboy. Signed to the Sturm label group and community, I was quite curious, how this album would sound. Let's say, that PIXEL HERO is strictly dedicated to all forms of Electronica music based in the early 80ies, at times where Atari computer have been in use to create some raw noises and play some early video-games. Some titles out of the track list are proving this dedication, like 'Alien Caverns', 'Asteroid Deathmatch', or 'Nebular Car Dump' for example. Be it early EBM, Minimal, or at least rhythmically Powernoise music, I was also astonished, how raw some of these tracks are coming out: 'Orbital Bombing', as being the opener., spits out all of that pseudo-aggression, which can be found quite often in the roster of this fine Latvian label-collective. The more exceptional tunes can be named with those, which leave a bit the monotonous minimal path, 'Squad '99' is such an example, which offers some nice hooks and cool Hi-Q percussion inserts. If you have found some satisfaction with projects like SYSTEM (Progess Productions), NEON COIL (Klangdynamik), or the last MIND.IN.A.BOX-recordings, then you should be informed, that PIXEL HERO is the more drastically outfit in a relative comparable kind music/sound programming. So let's hope, that this story doesn't end abruptly after the twelfth track aptly entitled 'End Boss / Death of The Pixel Hero'...
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Artist: Nexus VI
Title: Apocalypse
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
NEXUS VI are one of those newly discovered, refreshing Electro/Industrial projects out of the Russian underground scene, who decided to agree a contract for their official debut release with the Hungarian-based label Advoxya Records. Previously discovered here and there via MySpace and placed on some compilations, this project seemingly consists of two men / two women, who prefer to hide themselves behind those notorious pseudonyms like Neuromancer, Cyanic, Nike, and Neurobitch. However, this all hasn't anything to do with their music, which is a diverse mixture, which balances a bit between classic Goth-Rock featuring angelic female vocals, and a rather raw sounding Electro/Industrial-related outfit. It doesn't wonder too much, if a Russian colleague-project like PURPLE FOG SIDE can be named for comparable skills ' it fits perfectly that PFS also appear on this album with a remix contribution on the track 'Agony'. Also worth to mention are those tunes, which combine the best all elements out their musically dimension, 'Made Of Fear' and 'Forgotten Hero' are worth to mention. 'Apocalypse' has its moments and can entertain with a few tunes here ' although this Russian quartet isn't (yet) able to offer a high-end quality album, which takes an international-based audience by storm. Still a lot of work and space for development ' but nevertheless a quite fair debut.
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Artist: Geomatic
Title: 64 Light Years Away
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Another new signing for the still refreshing Tympanik Audio label is the Dutch project GEOMATIC, which could earn a lot of good reactions by both, press and audience, with the release of the debut 'Blue Beam' on the French IDM/Electronica label M-Tronic. And already with the dramatic and bombastic arranged opening track 'Nanu Ano', this project celebrates an impressive piece of work, which is able to set standards. Just imagine the most complex Dark Electronica music normally provided by bands like ZENTRIERT INS ANTLITZ, REMAIN SILENT or MC1R, and you'll should able to know about this fantastic track. Fair comparisons to this bombastic tune can be also drawn on 'Shesqi', 'Drifting Away' and 'Above Horizon'. This rather Blade-Runner-like Electro-stuff gets a bit more calm, lesser raging and pacing, while it still impresses with its dark mood and the bizarre, at times 'oriental'-like, voice samples and synth drops thrown in ('White Hole, Dark Soul'). GEOMATIC somehow reanimate the ideal, that to listen to their music always means to consume something unheard and unexpected. Let the too early gone GRIDLOCK or ACCESS TO ARASAKA being godfathers for one or another arrangement or sound design, in addition to the above mentioned artists - but who cares? The title '64 Light Years Away' can be taken seriously, as GEOMATIC offers a fantastic sounding trip influenced by an undiscovered outer-space-like environment. The programming skills of this mysterious project are top-notch and are kicking a lot of those so-called 'high complex' productions out of the field. GEOMATIC aren't unrivalled in the stable of Tympanik Audio, but already with this debut for this IL-based label, they cementing a kind of exceptional state in this highly recognized label roster. Fucking awesome, keep it on!
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