Music Reviews



Impurfekt: Savior

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Mar 25 2012
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Artist: Impurfekt (@)
Title: Savior
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Impurfekt is the dark electronic music project of Aaron Russell, from somewhere in the U.S. (Seattle, or thereabouts, I think). Some of Impurfekt's influences are Velvet Acid Christ, In Strict Confidence, Massive Attack, Enigma, FSOL, Michael Kamen and Akira Yamaoka. Some of those influences can be heard in the music to a degree, but is always the way an artist chooses to incorporate these influences into the music that gives it a unique identity, for better or worse. We all hope for the better, but sometimes it doesn't always work out that way.

I see that Impurfekt has had several other releases going back to 2008 prior to this one, but I haven't heard them, so all I can conclude is that Russell isn't a 'newbie'. On 'Savior' Impurfekt presents a dichotomy of dystopian electro-industrial and moody trip-hopped ethereal dream pop. There is much more of the former than the latter, which is really too bad as this project's strength seems to lie in the opposite direction. This is due to a great extent to the dreamy vocals of Karra Russell (sister, I believe) and that Aaron gets everything right on the songs that feature her. But more on that later.

Aaron's strengths in Impurfekt lie in his use of quasi-classical elements (strings, orchestration), ambient elements and synthwork while his weaknesses are his vocals the lack of punch, power and inventivness in the percussion and drums, and sophmoric song lyrics. I'm impressed with Impurfekt's richness of sound and use of dark, brooding ambiences though. From the opening piano chord of 'Ashes' I had high hopes and the foreboding dark ambience that followed seemed to promise something truly chilling. The rapidly sawing basso ostinato strings promised even more'¦then the drums came in. Sounded like a drum machine'¦too bad. Aaaron's vocals are of the hoarsely whispered variety, common enough in electro-industrial music. Even VAC's Bryan Erikson doesn't have the greatest set of pipes, but somehow through processing power (and sheer malevolence) he manages to make it work. Aaron does use electronic processing on his voice but it still lacks the power needed to sell the song. Part of the problem is that his melodic ambitions seem to fall short of his vocal capabilities. This is evident on tracks such as 'The Brave One' and 'Stillborn' both laments which should be emotionally wrenching but just come across as rather wimpy. Vocally, he's much better on 'God Is The Devil' where the only lyrics are 'God is the devil'¦your god is evil'. This track is very much in the VAC vein in the synth department, although the percussive track lacks power. Maybe some of it is due to the mix, but I don't think Russell puts as much oomph into the rhythm programming as he does to the instrumental programming and orchestration. One case where the vocal processing is just too much is on 'Cyborg' where the vocoder is set to and not stun and nothing can be distinguished lyrically through the effect. To me that seems to take away from anything the song was trying to say.

Let's move on to the tracks I really liked. 'Shadow' is an excellent moody downtempo ballad with a nice repeating guitar (sound) line, a moving bassline and spacey string ambience. It's Karra's vocal that makes this track work wonderfully though. She appears again on 'The Day The Earth Stood Still,' another downtempo track with angelic synth voices, piano, lazy ambience and excellent orchestration. Karra's wispy voice drifts through the clouds of the music like an angel. This is what I wanted to hear more of.

As I see it, Aaron has a choice with Impurfekt; figure out a way to improve his vocals and pump up the rhythm if he wants to stay in the electro-industrial milieu, or scotch that side of the project in favor of going the downtempo route with Karra. I see from the website that Impurfekt has an instrumental EP out called 'In Loving Memory' which I previewed a little of, finding it quite different from 'Savior'. It's somewhat minimal but rather interesting. Reminds me of Eno's 'Music For Films' series. On the website Aaron hints at his involvement in a new project fronted by Karra, and this could be something to definitely look forward to. As for Impurfekt's 'Savior', it is definitely imperfect, but worth a listen (you can check it out on Impurfekt's website) for Aaron's instrumental abilities and Karra's voice. Aaron's artwork for the 'Savior' CD is rather nice too, with an appropriately bleak post apocalyptic cityscape.

Lakobeil: Strange Encounter

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Mar 19 2012
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Artist: Lakobeil (@)
Title: Strange Encounter
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Self-titled introduction, which portrays this strange character ("juggling with a carving knife/while on his bald head a tiny penguin slept/from his grinning mouth/he spewed out a great black spider/like a scream right into my face"...according to some b-side psychologists who try to interpret dream, a penguin represents disorientation, contradictions or ambiguity, while spiders are normally associated with paranoia, illusions or boring relations but I don't want to take a stab at this kind of "science" for fortune tellers...!) the author met in his dream, could be a little bit misleading for the grim aspect evoked by Andi Sexgang (a legendary voice of the primordial Batcave scene with his Sex Gang Children) of such an encounter, but I can ensure listeners that Lakobeil are not the umpteenth dogsitters of Cerberus, even though I cannot say their lyrics are totally lacking hints about religious stuff (maybe the most self-evident of the album, whose "sacrality" sounds highlighted by a church organ, alternated with electropunk outcrops, is "Sebastiane", supposedly referring to Saint Sebastian's martyrdom. After the above-mentioned intro, Lakobeil, who are not newcomers at all - besides being member of In My Rosary (as well as part of the darkwave band Griffin's Fall, a collaboration between IMR and Martin von Arndt), Dirk Lakomy has been producer of Derriere Le Miroir, while Tobias Birkenbeil is the main head behind German EBM band D.N.S. and has a remarkable experience as composer of movie scores -, exhibit a good paraphernalia of sonic cartridges, whose spinal cord is supplied with synth-pop and electronic new-wave blood, which sometimes containes traces of clashing dance ("Amygdala"), EBM's square waves and regular patterns ("0815" - a song who sounds like a self-ironic act of intellectual honesty -, "Contemplation" and many other ones), punkey syncopations ("Push it to the MAX"), instant electro-pop glues (such as "Sleeper" and "That's All" - my favorite song - with backing vocals by Stella B.). Lakobeil are aware they've not issued something revolutionary, but I'm pretty sure they know their sound is somewhat winsome.

[de:ad:cibel]: Self-fulfilling Prophecy

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Mar 10 2012
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Artist: [de:ad:cibel] (@)
Title: Self-fulfilling Prophecy
Format: CD EP
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
In spite of the decision of self-made promotion - people who knows music market dynamics knows quite well such a decision could be risky for the loss of press coverage, normally easier when bands or musicians commit themselves to the appreciated experience of many promotional agencies or departments inside better organized labels -, this EP by [de:ad:cibel] manages to gain some visibility due to the seducing combination of harder industrial danceand electronic body music mechanics lubricated with meaningful lyrics and sonic slices drawn by other stylistical torrents in flood or dragged out from their creek beds (I'm pretty sure their sound is going to be appreciated by many techno, neourofunk or grime followers beyond lovers of DAF, Hocico or Gridlok's styles), so that the relevant number of supports Daniel Galda's project managed to magnetize after the issue of Klondike on Echozone are going to be delighted by Self-fulfilling Prophecy (...and maybe many listeners will recognize themselves in the restless mutation into a drum and bass machine, which appears to be a sort of self-fulfilling damnation and philosophy as well!). I particularly appreciated the original version for its immediate catch on joints due to its quick drying cement on bass-driven stepping, but the release includes some good remixes, which tendentially highlights some aspects of the original song, being my favorite one N'Angst remix for the vocal treatment made on Galda's singing (supposedly a sort of reprise of those "million voices" mentioned in the lyrics) and Notstandskomitee's Bassmachine Mix, fiddling with overcompress distorted bass convulsions and schizoid electronic buzzes. "Self-fulfilling Prophecy" is already climbing some dedicated charts. We known it deserves these ascents.

JOHN FOXX AND THE MATHS: The Shape Of Things

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Mar 04 2012
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Artist: JOHN FOXX AND THE MATHS
Title: The Shape Of Things
Format: CD
Label: Metamatic Records
Rated: *****
"The Shape Of Things" is the follow up to "Interplay", which was the first John Foxx And The Maths album. The project born from the collaboration of Foxx with electronic composer and synthesizer collector, Benge (Ben Edwards), who is best known for his 2008 album "Twenty Systems". Composed just using analog synths the Maths isn't an archeological project as for John Foxx is like to be back to "the place of the murder", because he already used those keyboards on his early days (I saw a photo where he program one of those with notes of patches he did decades ago) and it's like he went back to find a new creative vein. "Interplay" already showed how well the duo interaction worked and if that album was sounding bright and energetic with some epic moments (like "Destination"), "The Shape Of Things" is like it's the darker sister album. Containing short instrumentals (like the opening "Spirus" or "Psytron" and "Astoria", to name few) which set an intimate atmosphere that sounds a little experimental, the first song "Rear-View Mirror" seems to come from "The Garden" or "Metamatic" albums. Foxx and Benge sure know how to create a gem alternating arpeggios to catchy melodic lines. "Talk" has a menacing bass sound and a fragmented rhythm line and John sounds like in trance. "September Town" is a nice mid tempo with bright atmospheres and prepares to the low frequencies of "Unrecognised", a passionate mid tempo a bit melancholic. "Modreno" is another experimental instrumental and after that the sound explodes with "Falling Away", another mid tempo where Foxx plays interludes of distorted guitar which work as counterpart to his calm vocals. Bright atmospheres are back with "Vapor Trails" and I find that the alternation of dark/bright/experimental sounds is working great and none of all the fourteen tracks of the album is a rip off. The CD contains also two bonus tracks: another version of "Talk (Beneath Your Dreams)" featuring techno producer Matthew Dear (now the track sounds even more dark with those 4/4 beats and drone sounds) and "Where You End And I Begin". Featuring Tara Busch, electronic composer also endorsed by Moog, the track is a nice dreamy upbeat tempo with Tara on vocals. "The Shape Of Things" is a great album and convinced me even more than "Interplay". It will be out on March 23rd, take a note!

Diamondback Kid: Action Reaction

 Posted by Evangelos   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Feb 28 2012
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Artist: Diamondback Kid (@)
Title: Action Reaction
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Diamondback Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
DBK's 'Action Reaction' is the 3rd release on his own label Diamonback Recordings. EP features 4 brand new tracks and 3 remixes by The Men Who Knew Too Much, Embryonik and the... truly yours ;)
Opening track 'Frontier' is a wonderful piece of electro, built around dreamy pads, clever hooks and solid beats, a perfectly balanced between a sweet dream and a nightmare sonic equivalent. 'Ghosts' is a strange hybrid of hip-hop, p-funk and... new wave. It also features a vocoded nursery rhyme and it's definitely the most charming (and interesting) track in this EP, along with the following one, 'Blue Sky', a new-wavish piece of nu electro, highly addictive after a few listens. 'Action Reaction' is the last of the original DBK tracks, a quite experimental electro-techno instrumental with a little theme that brings echoes of 808 State (at least to the ears of an old man like me-lol).
The Men Who Knew Too Much transform 'Frontier' to a haunted ambient track and this is perhaps the most attractive of the remixes. 'Action Reaction' gets the Embryonik treatment ie a strong electronic disco injection and the result is a truly great club track based in a Moroder-ish groove and built around George's analogue madness. Simply irresistible! Last (but not least ;)) there's a remix of 'Ghosts' by the truly yours and DBK (actually the man added a few but crucial for the consistency of this remix overdubs and i thank him very very much for this!). Take a listen and... review it yourselves ;)
Overall 'Action Reaction' is a truly great EP although not your average electro/bass release (and that's good, very good!). Variety, that's the key word and 'Action Reaction' is a real winner in this field. Available as a digital-only release by Wednesday, Feb 29, first on Junodownload (http://www.junodownload.com/products/action-reaction/1917574-02/), then, by the 7th of March, at all the digital outlets, including DBK's Bandcamp. Grab it!


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