Music Reviews



QUARTERSIZED: Questions

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 28 2011
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Artist: QUARTERSIZED
Title: Questions
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: What A Carve Up! (@)
Rated: *****
QUESTIONS is the newest EP by Quartersized and it is the first for What A Carve Up!, label set up to release in digital download format all the music produced by Ian Proudfoot with whatever moniker he'd like to use at that moment. The EP is opened by the main title, a track which include electro dub and ambient influences under the shape of a mid tempo horror cinematic tune. Also "Scare anyone" is based on the same atmospheres but with the use of syncopated tabla percussion as rhythmic instrument. "Desire" sounds like a slowed down blues with industrial dub influences, while "I had to laugh" is pure ambient dub with upfront bass guitar and synth distortions but it is the one that I preferred less because it didn't create the mysterious atmosphere the other three were capable to. Vocal samples and loops enrich the formula as usual. You can preview the whole EP at the bandcamp website and purchasing it for only 1 pound.

CHROMAGAIN: Any Colour We Liked

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 26 2011
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Artist: CHROMAGAIN
Title: Any Colour We Liked
Format: CD
Label: Anna Logue Records / Mannequin (@)
Distributor: Mannequin
Rated: *****
Chromagain formed at the end of 1982, just before one of the most successful independent concert held in Turin during the early 80s. The concert was "Rock contro il nucleare" and it has been held at the Architecture Faculty's courtyard for two days and it gathered many of the independent city bands: Franti, Blind Alley and I think also Monuments, among others. Chromagain's early line-up included Sivio Ferrero (keyboards and drum machine), Luca Pastore (bass, guitar, keyboards) and Riccardo Acuto (vocals). Acuto left after recording some demo tracks and after him, Dana (singer who later formed the Synthetic Sun), joined with Maurizio Gallero (keyboards). Dana left and formed, with Sivio Ferrero, Casino Des Images, a project that is still active. Davide Bassino (vocals) joined and with that line-up they recorded "Ethnicbox", a track for a vinyl compilation titled "Tracce" released by Shirak Records in 1984. The year after, they recorded for Supporti Fonografici their only MLP titled "Any colour you like". That release had five tracks which showed a multifaceted band, capable of playing new wave tunes with a dance attitude like the opening "Satisfied" and "Spot" (also Monuments opted for the choice of being influenced by dance music for their MLP "Age"), atmospheric synth ballads (like "Killing dome"), melancholic dark mid tempos influenced by the Joy Division of "Decades" and pure new wave synth pop songs like the closing "Season of steel". Recorded at the Monuments' studio TKS, "Any colour you like" gathered recognition around the Italian country but Chromagain decided to stop their experience just like many bands did during the mid eighties: disco music was the hype back then and maybe Supporti Fonografici (which was a label linked to the records shop of the same name) wasn't strong enough to face the change. Chromagain during the last twenty five years have been remembered here in Turin and I think that many people while growing up, recalled themselves dancing to the melodies of "Spot". Anyway, after all these years, thanks to Anna Logue Records and to Mannequin, you have the opportunity to have a close look to Chromagain's music thanks to the five tracks of their MLP plus nine other tracks (on the vinyl they are only three) coming from compilations and early demos (many with Riccardo Acuto on vocals). I'd like to point out the quality that their demo recordings already had: they were a bit rough but they showed a great taste into the creation of the atmospheres and into the sound mix. I'd like also to tell you that Chromagain weren't only music, they also had a visual side thanks to Luca Pastore, who was already active with his Lego Video studio. He worked at a video and made the artistic cover of the MLP, for example. He already started to work on other bands' videos back then (you can check on YouTube his videos for Blind Alley and Deafear) and he continued to do so producing many Subsonica videos (a really well known band here in Italy). Music wise he played bass guitar with Fluxus (they were a noise rock band with four albums on their back) and nowadays you can check his audio/visual project Sulle Uova on YouTube and his new band Maciunas. Also Silvio Ferrero played with different bands such as Loschi Dezi and later Munciausen Generescion and he also opened a recording studio called Bunker Studio.
Jan 24 2011
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Artist: MILLIGRAM RETREAT
Title: Falun Gong
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Holland, Milligram Retreat is a collaboration between electronic music producer Maurice Hermes and visual / performance artist Renée van Trier. We already had the chance to check their music on 'Kamp Holland' compilation but FALUN GONG is their debut album. Released by Enfant Terrible on vinyl (the first 100 copies have also a bonus two tracks 7"), the album contains eight new tracks by the duo. It starts with the industrial influenced analog noises of "Aim for the brain" (it recalled me early Nocturnal Emission) just to change atmosphere with "Emotion", a track which sounds like an obsessive minimal synth retro tune. This is the main element of Milligram Retreat: they take the past industrial / synth / experimental sounds and they make their own new ones by walking on the same path. So, if "Wife" is based on a two beats 4/4 rhythm, a distorted bass guitar riff, repetitive vocals and monophonic synth noises, "Separated" sounds like a Virgin Prunes first EP outtake (do you remember their twisted lullabies?), "Planemo" is psychedelic synth pop tune and "Orbang" a powerful industrial electro melancholic instrumental. Milligram Retreat sound classic but for sure, they don't sound old! Take a taste of their sound at Enfant Terrible's website.

Aktive][Hate: In Terrorem

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 22 2011
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Artist: Aktive][Hate (@)
Title: In Terrorem
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
After the both quite entertaining demo recordings, still freely downloadable by the Portuguese label Enough Records, I was quite pleased to see this one-man-project signed to a label. 'In Terrorem' is therefore the official CD debut for this talented artist active under his pseudonym ISK. And it is a filled release, you'll get 74 minutes of Harsh EBM/Hellectro music, which offers still some interesting components asides that usual experience. First of, and quite important, Mr. ISK has discovered the existence of a guitar, as he throws in some supportive Metal-like riffs. Musically not surprising for this genre, but I cannot imagine, that I heard any guitar on his demo recordings. Tracks like 'My Own God', 'Phantom' or 'Knee Deep' are rather more representing the usual course, while 'FU' (Yes, the 'magically' two words 'F... You'), or 'Diseased' are raging wild with this Metal guitar support. 'Mixed Feelings' rather surprises with a more melodic design, also the vocals (... is there a prominent guest singer at work...?) got contrary performed between abrasive and natural sounding. Another tune, which breaks out of this music formula has to be named with the dark, piano-driven tune 'Sacramentum', a sad, rather Goth-like instrumental ballad, which you wouldn't normally expect from a band-project out of this genre. 'Play The Game' seems to one of the main tracks for this album and leads Mr. ISK back on the straight course. This tune got additionally remixed by TWILLIGHT FREAKSHOW and accomplishes this album. 'In Terrorem doesn't re-invent the wheel, as this wasn't to expect. But it is an entertaining produced album, which balances musically somewhere between the last CEDIGEST album and ISK's country-mates E.S.C. ' not the worst references, don't you think?
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Artist: Pixel Hero
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
Latvia's PIXEL HERO isn't a graphic-designer, but an Electro/Industrial-music producing one-man-project founded by Wormboy. Signed to the Sturm label group and community, I was quite curious, how this album would sound. Let's say, that PIXEL HERO is strictly dedicated to all forms of Electronica music based in the early 80ies, at times where Atari computer have been in use to create some raw noises and play some early video-games. Some titles out of the track list are proving this dedication, like 'Alien Caverns', 'Asteroid Deathmatch', or 'Nebular Car Dump' for example. Be it early EBM, Minimal, or at least rhythmically Powernoise music, I was also astonished, how raw some of these tracks are coming out: 'Orbital Bombing', as being the opener., spits out all of that pseudo-aggression, which can be found quite often in the roster of this fine Latvian label-collective. The more exceptional tunes can be named with those, which leave a bit the monotonous minimal path, 'Squad '99' is such an example, which offers some nice hooks and cool Hi-Q percussion inserts. If you have found some satisfaction with projects like SYSTEM (Progess Productions), NEON COIL (Klangdynamik), or the last MIND.IN.A.BOX-recordings, then you should be informed, that PIXEL HERO is the more drastically outfit in a relative comparable kind music/sound programming. So let's hope, that this story doesn't end abruptly after the twelfth track aptly entitled 'End Boss / Death of The Pixel Hero'...


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