Music Reviews

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Title: Kalachakra
Format: CD
Label: HR! SPQR (@)
Rated: *****
KALACHAKRA is the second album by Ballo Delle Castagne which after the 10" "108" have redefined their sound reaching a balance between progressive rock and psychedelia. The "kalachakra" is a tantric initiation and concerning Ballo Delle Castagne it is a further step into the spiritual path started with "108". Inspired also by Herzog's documentary "Kalachakra: the wheel of time", the four members of the band composed eight new tracks which pass from rumbling rock cavalcades to meditative piano suites enriched by female vocals and synth solos. Improvisation, powerful riffs and introspective atmosphere are the core of these recordings that also show very well the passion that the band put into these composition. In balance from a rock opera and a cosmic trip KALACHAKRA will convince you even if you aren't keen to the sound of the 70s. In my opinion the highlights of the album are the opening "Passioni diaboliche", the title track, "La foresta dei suicidi", "Omega" and "Ballo delle castagne".
Feb 21 2011
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Artist: Incubite (@)
Title: Toxicum
Format: CD
Label: Dark Dimensions/ProNoize (@)
Rated: *****
Incubite is the project of Neill Oblivion and Miss Meow, from Dusseldorf, Germany and "Toxicum" is their full debut album.

Formed in 2009 by Neill Oblivion, Incubite is a starkly EBM affair, with little or no pretension at being anything other than an aggressive beat driven dance-floor shaker.

When it comes to aggressive beats, Incubite provide a powerful stomp-fest of wall rattling kick drums, bowel voiding bass-lines and the usual combination of soaring leads and samples.

Unfortunately, where Incubite fall down, is that their prevalence toward the EBM cliche, means that they look and sound exactly as you would expect from an EBM artist.

The same Vanguard/Access Virus lead sounds that had been industrial favourites for so long, now carry a weary sigh as opposed to a cheer, and their overall style is unfortunately similar to a lot of Incubite's peers.

However, despite the lack of an obvious unique selling point, Incubite do what they do extremely well, and if you are prepared to look past the usual military imagery, and the all too familiar lead sounds, they do offer a very solid EBM experience, and will not fail to deliver stomp fodder in the nightclub.

For some that will be enough, for others that won't be the case.

The production quality on the album is very high for a debut, and will sit happily alongside Suicide Commando, Uberbyte and Noisuf-X when play-listed, and generally is not out of place alongside artists of that magnitude.

Ultimately, Incubite, at this stage at least, are not likely to move to the head to the pack, but they are certainly good enough to join them, and they will definitely be one to watch for in the future.

"Toxicum" is not a ground breaking album, but if you are looking for some EBM to expand your repertoire, or if you are just interested in the next wave of potential Industrial stars, you can certainly do worse than give it a try.

Artist: The Infant Cycle (@)
Title: Plays Fender Bass Guitars And Bird Cages Of Unknown Origin, Exclusively
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: The Ceiling (@)
Distributor: iTunes
Rated: *****
This is the last of the latest batch of releases I have been sent for review, and I have held off on this one not because I thought it was less important that the rest (of various genres and origins), but perhaps because I thought it was more important. Not necessarily better, more creative or whatever, but just important in an artistic way that many other music projects are not. Most music projects are done for two conjoined reasons (contractual obligations, promises of fulfillment, etc notwithstanding) ' expression of the artist and the commerce of the product. Expression of the artist is what makes (most) music interesting, individualistic, an extension of personality and the basis for commerce. If there is no expression in whatever form, there cannot be a product, and hence, no commerce. The commerce of the product, its salability and market potential depends on public taste (the trends, styles, affinity for certain musical forms and genres) the personality or personalities of the artists making the music, including charisma, appearance, etc, the advertising of the product, media exposure, live performance, and to a lesser degree, the critical reception of the product. (Music reviewers are usually the last in line in the factors that determine the success or lack thereof of a music artist's work.) To a great degree in popular music in general, the commerce of the product is equally important to its success or failure as is the product itself, often requiring the product to be tailored to meet the needs of such commerce. The result is more often than not 'tainted music' by such compromise, and is a good part of why so many music artists sound so similar to other music artists that have gone before them. Some chalk it up to 'influences' (whether it be a particular artist, group of artists, genre or genres, etc.) but the fact is, most are treading the path of what has been done before, with some variation/deviation to account for personal expression and individuality to establish their own 'sound'. And this is just what the general public want- a 'sound' they can identify with because it is familiar; because (and often subconsciously) it reminds them of something they already know. The unfortunate part is, that when the balance of artistic expression vs. commerce is weighted more heavily towards the commercial side, the artistic expression (or uniqueness thereof) must necessarily suffer in one capacity or another, regardless of public taste or critical opinion. The better known an artist is and the more success they achieve, the better the chances that artist's product is derivative, mediocre and ordinary. Although the opposite is not necessarily true (there are plenty of mediocre 'unknowns'), those artists who create against the grain of what is popular tend to have a purer artistic vision turning into expression, and are less concerned with the commerce aspect of the product.

So why is all this 'important' and what relevance does it have to this music review? The answer is simple, but requires a bit of elaboration. Here is a music artist ' Canadian Jim DeJong (and occasional collaborators) laboring under the name of The Infant Cycle who has been releasing music since 1994 (or maybe even earlier) in various formats, who has only been heard by those who delve deep into esoteric avant-garde noise/ambient music, and the occasional hapless music reviewer like me who finds a release by the artist in their batch of CDs to review. Up until now, I never heard nor heard of The Infant Cycle. I have heard, and heard of, plenty of other artists in the (sub)genre, but The Infant Cycle has managed to elude my perception for 17 years with well over 40 releases. This I find remarkable. Granted, most all of the releases are on small obscure labels with dubious distribution, limited quantities and little promotion to speak of (likely outside of word of mouth and the occasional music review) but somewhere, somehow this should have come to my attention before now. To me, this is the perfect example of artistic expression being weighted well over commerce, and the expression much more pure as a result.

So, what about the music, the reader must be asking in frustration, just get to the damn point already and talk about the music! Well, being unfamiliar with The Infant Cycle, I had no basis of previous work to compare this release with. Fortunately, there was enough prior material (just a fraction of the whole really) to listen to online to get a better sense of what was on this disc vs. some of the artist's catalog. The title of this one ' 'Plays Fender Bass Guitars and Bird Cages of Unknown Origin, Exclusively' I initially took to be more of a modus operandi of the artist than a descriptive title of the work, and I thought, 'Oh, here's a guy who only plays bass guitar and birdcages'¦how interesting could that be?' Well, it turns out to be very interesting in spite of the fact that it's not the typical modus operandi of The Infant Cycle, just descriptive of this release. Other prior works that I eventually heard by this artist ranged from long industrial droning pieces, to annoying tapping and clatter, to vaguely melodic metal machine music. This release, as a three-track CD single seems to be different though. It consists of three versions of 'shiny venus,' ' 1. [over], 2. [detail 1], 3. [detail 2]. They are all very different from each other. Version 1 (6:04) begins with a repetitive medium tempo rhythmic monotone bass guitar tapping with a light industrial ambience in the background that is almost like machine breathing. This 'machine breathing' increases in prominence, then abruptly cuts out to be replaced by a lighter more subtle ambience. When the bass rhythm cuts out it is replaced by nearly arrhythmic backwards bass notes which continue on, gradually fading until the conclusion of the piece. Version 2 (1:15) is a light, soft higher pitched near whistling ambience, and that's all. Version 3 (5:38) was the most immediately intriguing piece to me on the CD. It consists of dense, shifting slabs of sound processed to the hilt, undoubtedly with backwards manipulation and echo, a harmonically rich environment punctuated by a distant intermittent tone, like a pipe being tapped by a mallet, or the muted clang of rope and hardware on a flagpole in the wind. The closer one listens, the more one notices more auxiliary sounds such as the sound of the heavily reverbed noise of birdcages being struck. A phantom melody as a byproduct of all the processing seems evident as well. This is one complex and engaging piece.

As I have discovered, music by The Infant Cycle has been reviewed prolifically here at Chain D.L. K., perhaps more than anywhere else. Of course, all reviews are subjective, and whoever hears what, except when described in the most clinical terms, may not be hearing or relating what you perceive when you listen to the music. Most seem to agree though that what The Infant Cycle is doing in the realm of manipulating sound from various sources is somewhat unique and definitely challenges the listener on a number of levels, regardless of what the end result may be, which is often vastly different from work to work. So in that sense, the typical positive/negative assessment has little relevance except as applied to the parameters of the reviewer's own preferences and prejudices. In this reviewer's opinion, I am inclined towards the preference and prejudice of really liking 'Plays Fender Bass Guitars and Bird Cages of Unknown Origin, Exclusively'. For minimalist/isolationist stuff, it is intriguing enough to want to listen to multiple times. For those who say 'yeah, well it's only a 3 track single, probably not worth the $$, blah blah, blah'¦' I say there is more of interest here in this barely 13 minutes of music than a lot of stuff I've heard that was over an hour in length.
Artist: Chaim
Title: Alive
Format: CD
Label: BPitch Control (@)
Distributor: Rough Trade
Rated: *****
After the superb compilation Werkschau, I personally expected something different from the worthy Ellen Aillen's label, especially as a cadeaux for St.Valentine's day! It doesn't mean that BPitch doesn't love listeners at all, but to be honest the strong-willed Israelian "producer" Chaim Avital's debut album doesn't manage to seduce my ears at all. It's true that Chaim declared that most of tracks included in this issue are related to memories of parties he took part when in Tel Aviv, so that some of them could have fatally been influenced by some vintage house - even if I have to admit that some tracks sound like a blood transfusion from New York sonorities' strong veins into the emaciated body of Chicago house, still kept alive by the ventilating machines of an host of producers and djs such as Robert Owens, are interesting especially when refined with delicate melodies...check tracks like the initial Rain, Everything, Alive or the crispy and warm (Balearic) breeze of Runaway Frequencies, one of my favorite piece of the whole album in spite of the plenty of musical quotations, maybe cause it reminded to me some "Morriconian" soundtrack in exotic sauce! -, but sometimes I got the feeling he'sputting pressure on prodigious pupils to study harder. In some tracks, it appears that kind of glamouresque ghosts who recently haunted the sound machines of Bomb The Bass or even Unkle - tracks like Who Said What, featuring the nice vocals of Elisa Sednaoui, and above all Robots On Meth are bodies of such an evidence - or the ones haunting prestigious German techno club such as Cocoon - on the nice People Can Talk one of these ghost seems to speak...even ghosts need to be loved, lads! Should it be the reason why among brimful synth-brasses and forged claps, does Chaim insert the sample of a departing airplane?!?!? -, but this good guy could dare give more...
Artist: Demenz Durch Alltag (@)
Title: Digital Amnesia
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
An Industrial-music producing duo hailing very near from area and active as a band project for longer than a decade, but I've never heard of them before. DEMENZ DURCH ALLTAG consists of Uwe Rohlfs and Matthias Knake and are hailing out Bremen, Germany. 'Digital Amnesia' is their third release after two self-produced albums released back in 1999 ('Mind Mixing Machine') and 2002 ('Virtual Relations'). They are also active under their more Electronic-based side-project TRAUTES HEIM, from which you can find a review somewhere else on our website. Musically they offer us a form of a rather American-sounding outfit, as they mix guitar-samples supported Industrial-sounds with real bass playing (both are seemingly bassists...), dramatic male vocals, a fair amount of Powernoise-influences, plus the straight support of a drum computer. Somewhere between Post-Punk and some of the notorious acts out of the US-based Coldwave-Industrial movement like early CHEM LAB, REVOLTING COCKS, or CLAY PEOPLE mixed with the chaotic efforts of an underground act like BAJSKORV, that would be a kind of possible comparison to press them into a genre. Their angry and at times brutal outfit complaining lyrically about the dangerous influence of multimedia entertainment ('Nice Good Television') on the individual consumer offers a valuable message to be extracted. What could be improved is their relative monotonous kind of their drum computer programming, here's so much space for development to reach more diversity. However, fans longing for a raw sounding alternative in vein of the above mentioned bands should give them a try.
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