Music Reviews



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Artist: PULCHER FEMINA
Title: Darkness Prevails
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records (@)
Rated: *****
Personal project of Roberto Conforti, Pulcher Femina has released its first album on Decadance Records in 2000 having as musical references Wumpscut and VNV Nation. Ten years after, Roberto is releasing for the same label his newest and third album titled DARKNESS PREVAILS. About the title he says: "Often, this is how I perceive the world around me. In the absence of light, darkness prevails. An age isn't called 'dark' because the light fails to shine, it's because people refuse to see it". This is the main theme the thirteen songs are focused on, songs that musically are always influenced by Roberto's aforementioned loved bands (see for example how he used the punching rhythms and the synth leads arpeggios) but that are also packed with melancholic melodies and clean vocals. In this way he created a particular blend where 80's melodies meet 90's e.b.m. solutions. Try to imagine a Frozen Autumn/VNV Nation mix and you'll have pretty much an idea of how DARKNESS PREVAILS sounds. I'm listening to it for the third time in a row and I have to admit that I like how it sounds: now melodic/energetic and then melancholic. If you love e.b.m. and cold wave you have to check this one. You'll be pleasantly surprised...
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Artist: Last Influence Of Brain (@)
Title: Two Faces
Format: CD
Label: Aliens Production (@)
Distributor: COP International/DDT
Rated: *****
It seems, that after the split of their home-base Electro Aggression Records from their main label Vendetta-Music there wouldn’t be a free slot for this Slovakian Dark Electro act. Also to wait on the re-animation of E.A.R. via new distribution deals, wasn’t their intention. So this project has received the call of their countrymen of Aliens Production, which brings us this new studio album, which is by far better constituted, than their predecessor on E.A.R. Heavily inspired by the Dark Electro-sound of the so-called second wave of Electro/Industrial music, this third album of this project offers the veteran sound in vein of projects like early SLEEPWALK to their CCP-times and SPLATTER SQUALL, if someone out there can still remember both projects. Even if this new album is a step forward and expresses more own ideas compared to the predecessor, I still think, that this project hasn’t reached perfection. Like with SLEEPWALK during their early phase, LAST INFLUENCE OF BRAIN show multiple ways to present their ideas, but the result itself seems to be unready in parts. Some of the compositions still offer room for development and it could be a useful hint to them, to invest a bit more time, to reach a more layered sound. As much as their diversity can be discovered especially in the at times quite unconventional drum pattern programming, this album misses a bit the so-called "hit", which continues to lead their listeners to the dancefloors of the dark clubs. "Two Faces" is a true Dark Electro germ, which surely satisfies its listeners, it too offers varied programmings and solid patterns – while it doesn’t re-invent the light bulb of this music genre.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Miwak Twelve
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Hymen records (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
If a label reaches the target to survive 12 years as an active outlet for intelligent Electronica music, then this has to celebrated. The whole Chain D.L.K. team congrats the Hymen Records label to its 12th birthday and is proud to get invited. According to this happening and to celebrate this event with the listeners, Hymen has released the right gift. "Miwak Twelve" is the name of this double-CD compilation, which features mostly new and unreleased tracks of the projects out of the label roster, as well as of some contributions by guests of the famous partner-label Ant-Zen and from several other resources, which are standing in one or another relation to the label. See the full tracklist below and chose your favorite, as this compilation offers quality only. I therefore pick up only a few contributors, which left the most impression. Already the opener of CD1, created by the German project THE EMPATH, impresses with some spacey synth pads and tasteful IDM-related percussion inserts. SOMATIC RESPONSE out of Wales are a real institution for Hymen and active since the beginning of the label. They offer with "Takayama (Another Rainy Day)" energetic Electro bass lines and a hard-hitting rhythm work. Female mistress TONIKOM offers interesting bass lines integrated in a break-beat firework. BLACK LUNG is a project by the well-known Australian sound-wizard David Thrussel (SNOG), who offers here a striking and straight-forward moving noisy tune. HPC out of Norway offers the right balance between harsh Noise percussion elements and a well-thought form of Industrial ambience. ACCESS TO ARASAKA, well, we’ve reached one of my personal favorites during the last months offers an older tune originally released on the netlabel Illphabetik, about with the same intense sci-fi feeling well presented on the marvelous full-length album "Oppidan", out on Tympanik and Spectraliquid. Not to forget DRYFT, the sole effort by the former GRIDLOCK-member Mike Cadoo – somehow his synth layer programming offers a lot of similarities to his unfortunately too early gone cult project.
Quite a lot of well-done works for CD1, but CD2 shouldn’t stand in the shadow. COMBUSTION is a Brazilian project and convinces with an interesting sound-design, plus some decent female vocal contributions by Caro Roth. SNOG a.k.a. David Thrussel gets the expected additional free slot and performs his inimitable "The End Of The World". The Canadian sound-designer of BLACKFILM manages still a lot, to hide himself from the audience, but since his scary Ambient music with its dramatic orchestral inserts are sort of a lecture of "How-to-produce-opulent-arranged-film-scores", I see myself quite fascinated by the audio result – who cares, who’s standing behind this project? The AB OVO-musician Jérôme Chassagnard shakes with "Time Traveller" another superb tune easily out of his wrist, which fascinates with a famous synth-play. And Mika Goedrijk hasn’t to be missed, since his last EP on Ant-Zen was a marvelous output – "Sore Eyes" stands rather more for his darker and lesser aggressive side of his straight-oriented tunes. Also MARCHING DYNAMICS a.k.a. Shane Talada drops an "Almighty Bomb", until the classic Hands-recording act ORPHX lead us into their monotonous, quite KLINIK-like sounding analog-produced Electronic Ambience music. DEAD HOLLYWOOD STARS need to be mentioned too, since the legendary Mr. John Sellekaers (Metarc Studios) stands behind this project – you’ll get it, he of course has also done the mastering of this DCD compilation.
And if some of you out there still have doubts, that 12 years in this shark-driven music business aren’t reason enough to celebrate this with a compilation – well, try yourself to survive with a related project a single year! And be assured, that the Hymen/Ant-Zen clan will find enough good reasons to return with a similar impressive compilation to their 15th year of existence. Let’s move on!
tracklist cd1:
the_empath: at the heart of it all
slam52: frosd
somatic responses: takayama (another rainy day)
millipede: concevoir (gaztheque remix by aphorism)
defrag: the old growth
tonikom: the source
nebulo: sunurb
deru: between you and me
black lung: the hostmen of tyne
lowfish: wreckage
hpc: phoenix
access to arasaka: xt10.20zp9
architect: awake
dryft: vector step (elimination)
hecq: sleep through the day

tracklist cd 2:
combustion: building the house of vanity (feat. caro roth)
ginormous: arrive with eyes ablaze
snog: the end of the world (intimate mix)
crunch: karot (vent remix)
mad ep vs. bryce beverlin II: breakstuff
keef baker: sacrifice
blackfilm: se5
karsten pflum: capstone switch
abs6: premiers traitements
wisp: the bard (postlude)
jerome chassagnard: timeless travelers
mika goedrijk: sore eyes
marching dynamics: almighty bomb
orphx: intercession (edit)
bit shifter: easy prey
dead hollywood stars: back in town
end: jailbait rock
twenty knives: royal vomitorium
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Artist: Eurocide (@)
Title: Regen Aus Asche
Format: CD
Label: Remote Music (@)
Distributor: Sony Music
Rated: *****
This seems to be already the third release for this German Electro/Industrial duo, but I’ve to apologize, that I haven’t heard of them before. With Sony Music as being the distributor for their label Remote Music, this release already surprises with a non-expected professional background, which should help to spread the word and the music of them in large amounts. Hidden under the style description Dark Electro printed in the label info-sheet, this release unfortunately too seldom fits with the expectations. Friendly described, someone could come up with the idea, to rate "Regen aus Asche" as a well-produced album, which balances with the mentioned Dark Electro and genre-typical Hellectro efforts. And here lays the flaw, no matter, which of the both styles you personally prefer: this album walks too obviously on already discovered paths and the both members EC-HQ (voice, machines, visuals) and R.B.M. (lyrics, propaganda) are seldom able, to prove talent presented with own and authentic ideas. Mediocrity available in almost all tracks and often accomplished with quite platitudinous lyrics does seldom help to reach the forefront of leading acts out of this music genre. As a quite positive exception out this gray area, the last track "The Hideaway" has to be pointed out, since this one satisfies with the on the first 11 tracks before missed Dark Electro music content presented with a catchy synth-layer programming. Well, this album is technically well produced so far, but it misses identity – but maybe their next try with the right sense for some development and the courage for experiments could help them to leave the average playing field.
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Artist: Voide (@)
Title: Red Turns To Blue
Format: CD
Rated: *****
"Same procedure as last year, Mr. Almgren?" He may would answer: "Same procedure as EVERY year, Mr. Tater". Well, how to start a new year even more attractive, as to hold a new album of Sweden’s Electronica-expert VOIDE a.k.a. David Almgren proudly in my hands? His fourth and follow-up album to his last years’ effort "Humachine" is his most matured and stylistically most diverse work so far. It draws perfectly the right balance between the modern sounding hi-tech tunes of "Humachine" with the slightly harder tracks presented on his masterpiece "Evolution". Even better than this, he at least offers slightly different arranged versions of his successful and free downloadable summer tunes like "Lazy" (David doing some relaxing speech-vocals – does the content really fit with the snowy weather we currently have to bear???) , "Traffic" and the breath-taking "Into The Sun", a collaborative effort with the Australian female vocalist Pixieguts (Marie Craven). Since "Into The Sun" has been that unexpected well recognized by the audience, David has invited Pixieguts to offer her well-sounding timbre for some additional tracks available on here. There’s at first to name the opener "The Beat Of You" and it really astonishes, how well the rather cold and Trance-driven Electronica music flirts with the warm vocals of Mrs. Pixieguts. Both artists may have never met personally because of the huge distance between Sweden and Australia, but this track comes out that perfectly arranged, as would both produce music together day by day. Another favorite – again with Pixieguts providing the lead vocals – has to be named with the rather slow and rhythmically different sounding title track. The talent to produce ambience through his complex synth-layer sounds is one of the strongest talents, which David has to offer – I would encourage him to produce more tracks focusing on this kind to balance between Lounge and Dark Electro music. Typical and expected stuff out of David’s skillful hands you’ll get with tracks like "When The Skies Are Grey" and "Beauty For The Wicked" – rhythmically straight arranged Electronica, which supports a top-notch synth-play – this is a feast for ears and legs. Also available is a new version of his first collaborative effort "Love", providing the German actress Suzi Electric doing the lead vocals. Comes then the word on a real music experiment, "Necropolis", with its gloomy mood and a sick vocal performance including a nasty fx manipulation by Pixieguts. This composition may is intended to satisfy the rather Goth-minded part of the audience, but I guess, that especially these clients will find the synth-arrangements chosen for this track too lovely and not thrilling enough. A decision to give out this tune via a remix-kit to some dark and sick projects out of the harder Electro-/EBM-related styles may could come up with quite interesting and intense sounding results. Lots of new stuff to discover from David, at least 14 tracks and of 1 hour of refreshing Electronica music. And even if some of you have already discovered one or another of his free available tunes, it is nevertheless worth enough, to pick up this album too, since all of the free tunes got revamped. Completely convincing once again, there’s no end of the rope for VOIDE.
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