Music Reviews



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Artist: Murder by Static (@)
Title: Exsits
Format: CD
Label: Deadsix Communications
Rated: *****
Murder by Static "Exsits"

This is the fifth full length release from Murder by Static, the solo project from Chris Stephniewski. Not having heard any previous material from Murder by Static, it'll be hard to compare this to prior releases but I'd think it a safe bet that anyone into instrumental noise experimentation, glitch and ambient music would find a good deal to enjoy here. Pulsing, rhythmic and often very intense.. the best moments of this release definitely occur in the sparse yet very effective quiet moments. The release isn't without it's faults though. It's extremely tiring to listen to. At first it seems that there is a pretty broad pallet of sounds being used on the release but while listening through the whole CD it becomes there isn't a great deal of variety going on with a lot of the dominant percussive elements which in some cases get very redundant and honestly, kind of annoying. That combined with the entire mix being so "in your face", ear fatigue set in pretty quickly. This can be attributed to a few things... the sounds, the mix, the mastering... it'd be hard to place that on any one department but it does get in the way of enjoying the release as much as I normally would with something that simply wasn't physically tiring to hear. Stand out tracks: "Liris" and "Sylum Glaze".
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Artist: Gen Ken Montgomery
Title: Drilling Holes in the Wall
Format: CD
Label: Monochrome Vision
Rated: *****
What immediately strikes me as interesting for the concept of this album is the personal nature behind it. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it seems that references to life prior to it are becoming fewer and farther between. The title track of this disc, Drilling Holes in the Wall manages to capture a snapshot of the musical life and times that preceded the unification of East and West Germany.

Released on Russia's label Monochrome Vision label, this album is a collection of works composed between 1986 and 1991. All of the pieces seem to derive from various personal circumstances or environments in which the composer was subjected to. In the liner notes, the artist discusses how he was forbade to cross into East Germany with the instrument used on this album, a Casio MS-10. After being heavily modified into a bastardized synthesizer, the resulting sounds are of a rickety, crunchy, and crackly synth, but because of the dangling wires and modifications, make it look more like an explosive device than a musical instrument (photo included). After being denied entry to the neighboring country because of this, Gen Ken had to find alternative ways to make music on the other side of the tracks. The final work, 'Don't Bring Those Things,' is a prime example of the invention by necessity, created using borrowed instruments of friends.

Describing the sound of this disc is like trying to sum up a book in a single sentence. The sounds are all over the map, with some being textural and gritty, others being metallic and clangy. There are field recordings and the use of voice in a variety of ways. Icebreaker, track 4, was derived seemingly from recordings of an ice machine and to great results. There is also a heavy analogy synth feel considering the nature of the circuit bent electronics. But despite the 2 octave keyboard used to generate these sounds, the range of timbre could not be wider.

That being said, Gen Ken manages to provide a compelling slab of a constantly shifting electronic sound across this hour long journey. Perhaps the best way to describe the sound of this disc is to actually imagine the sound of the Berlin Wall being demolished, with all its hammering, shoveling, crumbling, toppling, and of course...drilling.

This disc serves as an excellent compendium of the work of Gen Ken Montgomery across a number of years, personal eras, and performance spaces. Recommended to fans of raw sound, analog synth music, and noise.
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Artist: SISTRENATUS (@)
Title: Sensitive Disturbance
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring Records (@)
Rated: *****
SENSITIVE DISTURBANCE is the third album of the Canadian combo called Sistrenatus and it sounds damn good. The seven tracks of the album tear down the barriers of industrial/noise/dark ambient music by mixing elements of each one of them with the only aim to create a tense soundtrack. For example, "Frequency Contamination" with its mix of synth waves, analog noises and metallic percussions is able to catch your attention immediately thanks also to its constant grew that brings in sudden power noise blasts here and there. "Rusted Earth" sounds like old good 80s industrial music but with improved sounds and at the end it turns into a death march thanks to distorted guitars and percussions just to fade into "Echoes From The Past" which expands this theme some more with the add of recitative vocals. "Lost Transmission" is another track where concrete noises are mixed with industrial sounds and dark ambient patterns but on "Forgotten" we reach the peak thanks to a perfect mix of melody, tension and crisp sounds. On this one, but generally on all the tracks of the album, Sistrenatus show their ability of balancing all the sounds creating a mix where everything is in the right place and for this reason their music sounds so effective.
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Artist: AD OMBRA
Title: Magna Charta Illusorum
Format: CD
Label: Rage In Eden (@)
Rated: *****
MAGNA CHARTA ILLUSORUM is the second album for Ad Ombra and on this one George D. Stanciulescu mixed industrial sounds, neo-classical structures/instruments and some modern classical music intuitions. Helped by Alexandra Damian (mezzo-soprano), linca Olteanu (soprano) and Andrei Apostol (additional male voices) he composed twelve suites where the initial martial orchestrations of "Templum Stygialis" and "Disquiet Opera" slowly blend into dramatic semi opera tunes. If on tracks like "... a coeur posthume" melodic chants are the main element on "Uranogeea" or the following "Mimes of the Occult" melody become an hidden element between the orchestra explosion of strings and the dissonant chants. On these moments it seems that George opted for a score born from improvisations where we have sudden changes of melody and atmosphere. "Heritages de l'Angoisse" is the track where the different influences are well represented because it starts with a harpsichord then we have a female/strings duet that after a while turns into a piano/samples industrial moment just to end like an industrial wave track with filtered male vocals and martial rhythms. The atmosphere convinced me but an occasional listener could be confused by the dissonant rumbles that take a hold on many moments, so check some track first.
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Artist: Synaptic Defect
Title: World-Wide Life & Death
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya Records
Rated: *****
Synaptic Defect is a one-man-project by Marc Tater from Beverstedt, Germany. Marc has got a long history of being involved in the dark electro scene; he was a co-owner of a label, currently he writes for the German gothic printed zine Zillo and not least for chaindlk.com.
"World-Wide Life & Death" is a follow up is his second album after "Mechanical Oppression", which was released in 2004 on BLC Productions. The album is over 75-minute long of Old-School EBM and this is no easy listening music. The rhythm lays the fundament for the tracks, often with more than just a little power-noise touch accompanied by samples and distorted vocals.
The track "Punish me" could serve a soundtrack for an SM-session. "Belief" seems to me to be the most fitting track to be played in a club because it is the most danceable one on the album, in my opinion.
The album criticizes the shortcomings of this world and the role the human kind has played in bringing them upon itself. The music is uncompromising, which is usually the case with solo artists and no surprise for an Advoxya Records release.
Synaptic Defect is a project that has much to offer to the listeners but it also demands some musical competence from them which is not uncommon in the underground scene.
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