Music Reviews



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Artist: Interface (@)
Title: Destination Focus
Format: CD EP
Label: Nilaihah Records (@)
Distributor: Nilaihah Records
Rated: *****
Interface- Long Island, New York Synthpop/Futurepop band that’s been around for quite a long time, since 1993 in fact. They sound kind of like Information Society, De/Vision, Psyche, Seabound, Neuropa, The Echoing Green, Underwater Pilots and a host of others in the genre. They’ve been on a number of comps (Cryonica, A Different Drum, Alfa Matrix, etc.), have half a dozen releases including this one to their credit, and an upcoming full album release in 2009. In 2005 they hooked up with Nilaihah Records, probably a good move for them. TTo their credit, hey seem to maintain a pretty active profile in spite of about 20 other bands having the same name.

On this 7 track EP, there are 5 versions of the title track- "Destination". First is the single version, then the "State of the Union Remix", the "Code 64 Remix", the "Mindless Faith Remix" and "North Star". The song is basically straight-ahead futurepop with a generically memorable hook- ("I will be your destination, I am the promised land, You will be my inspiration, you make me understand") and a strong dance beat. Vocals done in a clean, minimally processed fashion (a bit of chorusing). Typical elements in the single version- futurepop synths, sequencing, a dash of vocoder for accents. The "State of the Union Remix" is a bit heavier than the single version, eliminates the synth excepting the bass on the verses, and pumps up the synth hook on the chorus, and the vocoder. The "Code 64 Remix" begins with a strong synth bass, rearranges the synth parts on the verses (from none on the first verse, to a fuller sequenced pad on the second) before the first chorus, which is handed off to female vocalist Rachel Feder. She gets only minimal string and a hyperactive bass backing for her solo vocal. This is quickly followed by a Casio-like sequenced melody carrying back into the refrain with vocals handed back off to Interface’s Eric Elredge. Another Casio-ish synth counter-melody emerges briefly. This is probably the weakest track on the CD. The "Mindless Faith Remix" might be the heaviest remix but it’s so junked up with sonic effluvia that it sounds distorted. Call it industrial, whatever. It does offer more open spaces which might be a good thing for the dancefloor but (DJs be warned) shaky soundsystems are gonna cry uncle over this one.

"North Star" is nothing more than "Destination" without any chorus hook in it all and a lot of busy sequencing. "Inferno" reminds me a bit of Covenant in the beat and synth departments, and might have been pretty good if there was a song in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find one. Still, it might make good dancefloor fodder. "After Hours" is the final and quirkiest track on the EP, and offers something a little different than the 6 dance oriented tracks that precede it- mid tempo with a repeated vocal refrain about drifting away, swathed in a cloud of verb and echo and an off-kilter synth line.

So what’s the final verdict? First, if you’ve never read my reviews before, don’t get the impression that I don’t like Synthpop and Futurepop because I do, when it’s original and engaging. The problem is here, that the featured song here sounds a bit genre-generic and the remixes aren’t all that compelling. Passable dancefloor fodder, but unless you’re a DJ (and they usually get copies gratis) what’s the point? Yes, it’s competent and well-produced, but for 8 bucks (or more!) I’d pass. Maybe if it was half-price it might be worth it for the "Inferno" Covenant-style instrumental track. You could add in your own vocal track and send it back to the band. They might even be amused. Hopefully their upcoming 2009 full album will have a lot more to offer than what I’ve heard here.
Jan 13 2009
Artist: De/Vision
Title: Noob
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records
Distributor: metro
Rated: *****
I waited many years to see De/Vision and it was well worth the wait. De/Vision came to Chicago for the first time last weekend. It proved to be one of the most amazing live shows ever. The new album I am reviewing this time is " Noob " It is the newest one from the duo we so love and cherish and have danced to for many years on end. We open with Track 1, " What you Deserve " which is a instant club danse hit. Lead singer, Stefan sings to us in pure eletronic fresh clear form, " you deserve first class every day." Words of beauty and passion expressed so deeply with each beat. Love and dancing is the key to De/Vision and dancing their shall be. Next is Track 2, " Obsolete " a haunting eerie track very reminiscent of early Depeche Mode. Stefan sings, " You got to confess, that your life is a mess ." Very catchy puns that become words to remember and hold dear in true national/international anthem, which is the key to this band. They profess anthems that will be remembered for the hope of this dark future we know. Another memorable phrase Stefan sings to us, " Role model for another generation to take things on, disposable ones, running on repeat, an empty tape distorted background noise, a thrown away toy." Words that hit hard and ring true, something we can all relate to. Track after track tells a story of power, corruption and lies and tales of woe and lost love. Every track is a sure fire danse hit that burns a hole in our souls and dansefloors leaving it's mark and standing proud and true. Progressing on to Track 5, " Death of Me " which is a witty cool track that shines to me due to it's classic lyrics. Stefan sings, " I shine, I stumble and might be led astray, believe, believe, you'll be the death of me ." Slow melodic tune that chills us to the bone and shakes and stirs us. Moving on to Track 6, " Flavour of the Week " which is a fast moving track that is a personal favourite track of mine. Stefan sings to us, "You think you're perfect yes it's true, this world was made for me and you." This a electronic Gothic love song that pulls on our hearts strings and doesn't let go. Jumping a couple of tracks over we come to Track 8, " Love will Find a Way ", which I heard live last weekend that was truely amazing. Another personal favourite of mine that I have danced to and was truely lost in it's essence. Stefan sings to us, " Love will find a way, a way back home to you." A beautiful track that calls to us and completes us. Electronic goodness and positive vibes from across the waves and back again. The rest of this album is phenominal and shows great promise for more greatness to come from this band. Join De/Vision and join their oath and danse to the beat of love, truth and honour. ~ 4 stars Michelle Russo
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Artist: AKIKAZE (@)
Title: The Age Of Deception
Format: CD
Label: Syngate (@)
Rated: *****
Released on CD-r by Syngate in cooperation with Spheric Music, THE AGE OF DECEPTION is the seventh solo album of Netherland electronic sound explorer Pepijn Courant. Born as a piano player and drummer, Pepijn soon realized that piano didn't give him the wide sound possibilities of synthesizers, so as a youngster he started to save money in order to purchase a keyboard. In 1989 he started his personal voyage into electronic sounds by releasing his first tape "Music from misty marshes". From that moment he followed his instinct and mixing his classical studies skills and everything that was surrounding him (from nature sounds to oriental concepts) gave birth to Akikaze which in Japanese language is meaning "autumn wind". The new album which is divided in two main parts ("The age of deception" and "Critical incidents") contains seventeen tracks composed during the 1994/2005 period. These tracks contain a wide range of sounds and atmospheres as well as the use of acoustic guitar and live drums here and there. The album's theme deals with the human ability to survive to catastrophic life events gaining out of this process strength and experience. Spanning from ambient to pure electronic suites where synth oscillators are coupled to rhythmical patterns Akikaze's tracks have always a main melody which enrich the sound texture created by the instruments. Musically THE AGE OF DECEPTION finds its roots on electronic music of the late 70s/early 80s and if you are a lover of early Vangelis stuff, you'll be interested into checking this album.
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Artist: AXESS (@)
Title: Voices Of Dawn
Format: CD
Label: Spheric Music (@)
Rated: *****
Already member of Digital Dream together with Andreas Morsch then active with Pyramid Peak, German guy Axel Stupplich is also active as a solo performer under the Axess moniker. His passion for electronic music made him play ambient sidereal music since day one in 1985 when, inspired by the music of Tangerine Dream, Kitaro and Jean-Michel Jarre, he started to develop his sound. VOICES OF DAWN is his third solo album and contains seven tracks which are taking inspiration from the theory that claims that extraterrestrials were our ancestors. The tracks paint sidereal landscapes focusing on rhythmical patterns and synthesizer long pads sounds/arpeggiator progressions creating mysterious and dreamy atmospheres. To full appreciate the tracks you have to let loose yourself and allow these melodies cradle you toward new worlds.
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Artist: Edward Ka-Spel (@)
Title: Dream Logik Part Two
Format: CD
Label: Beta-Lactam Ring Records (@)
Distributor: Beta-Lactam Ring Records
Rated: *****
Considering the cultish following (albeit a sizable one) that the Legendary Pink Dots have, a solo release by their guiding light Edward Ka-Spel is bound to plumb ever deeper regions of terra igcognita and few who are Dots-ignorant are unlikely to even stumble across this CD by accident. That being said, it doesn’t take an LPD fan to appreciate DREAM LOGIK PART TWO, but it might help.

The first obvious sign that this is no average CD is its packaging; encased in a folding five-paneled double-side glossy container with bizarre art by Jesse Peper, this Ka-Spel release is an immediate attention grabber. I’m sure that in years to come, this CD will become a collector’s item just for the packaging. (The initial release of 400 numbered copies containing an additions CD, BURNING CHURCH, with the first 100 being signed already is. I never seem to be lucky enough to get one of those.)

It is said that DREAM LOGIK PART TWO continues along the lines of DREAM LOGIK PART ONE, but I was never fortunate enough to hear that recording. I can say that Ka-Spel’s psychedelic journey on this outing is like having Syd Barrett, (Daevid Allen’s) Gong, Boards of Canada and Autechre rolled into one oblique bundle. Ka-Spel dispenses pieces of cosmic intuition via both song and spoken word, in both introspective insight and playful tomfoolery all held together with the fabric of minimal electronics and acoustic instrument elements that set more of a tone, mood and ambience rather than act as backing tracks for vocals. Dots fans will feel right at home with Edward’s quirky lyrics, as on "The Modest Ambitions of Cedric the Centipede" – "... in talking licks I’m a millionaire, it’s five years since I brushed my hair, still haven’t got a stitch to wear... " Granted, this is the goofiest little number on the CD, but surely you get the gist. For the listener, DREAM LOGIK PART TWO is not unlike being a dosed-out Alice in a Psychedelic Wonderland; always curiouser and curiouser, envisioned through the kaleidoscopic perceptional lens of the plasticity of reality, and the relative subjectivity of meaning. I think Ka-Spel put a lot of work into this one, and is likely to be one of his more highly regarded solo efforts. I admit that on first listening, I was not attuned to its frequency. DREAM LOGIK PART TWO is a challenging experience that implores a subjective rather than objective audial experience. Perhaps an altered state of mind is the best way to appreciate this surreal recording. How you achieve that is strictly up to you. There is no doubt however, that it is a marvelous achievement, far superior to the last LPD album (PLUTONIUM BLONDE), and for a release on an obscure label like Beta-Lactam Ring, DREAM LOGIK PART TWO seems to be available in a good number of commercial outlets like Amazon, Looney Tunes, J&R, etc. I’d advise picking up a copy before they’re all gone.
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