Music Reviews

XMH: State Of Mind

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 31 2010
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Artist: XMH (@)
Title: State Of Mind
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah Records / Danse Macabre (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
If you would like to introduce your music project effective to an international based audience, you have to invest more than ever before in promotional efforts to succeed. That means, there has to be more than the usual coarse of action like the usage of multiple accounts at those important communities like MySpace, Vampirefreaks, or at Facebook.
I like to describe those minor matters, because the release of the second album 'State Of Mind' of the Dutch-based trio XMH is a remarkable example, if multiple possible promotion channels got activated.
First, this album got released by the German label Danse Macabre Records around May 2010. The being of Benjamin Samson (vocals, programming), Isa Garcia (vocals, keyboards), and Pieter Sperling (keyboards, programming) at this renowned label offers the quite important fact, to get European distribution via Alive. To double this feature and to undersign the hope into the abilities of this act, this album got picked up by the newly installed German DJ- promotion agency M2C, which consists of Bruno Kramm (DAS ICH/Danse Macabre Records) and the female Hardbeat promotion-queen Jessica Schellberg. In short: this assures intense club play for XMH in Europe. And to match all of this: the US-label Nilaihah Records has worked out a license deal and takes care to service the North-American market. Asides the expected promotional onslaught to service all relevant North-American-based DJ's, magazines and online resources, this album at least should be available at every retailer like Metropolis, COP International, CDBaby, or Storming The Base for Canada. To sum that up, there are a lot of promotional activities and hopes of the responsible people behind this Dutch music project, which could help them to reach a lot of higher steps. Musically I don't have too much doubts, that this project won't reach a higher step in their career, as they are able to impress with some clever arranged synth loops and some programmed delicacies. They are talented in their kind and offer maybe one of the best works released during the last three months ' but what kind of music are they providing?
It is globally that kind of Harsh EBM/Dark Electro, which falls under that ugly moniker Hellectro. And seriously, I am disappointed in those parts, where XMH try too obviously to copy elements and synth arrangements, which have been discovered by thousands of other band projects during the last 6 years before ('Dictate', or the usage of dumb voice samples like in 'Komasaufen'). Massive DJ inserts may means to walk a relatively compatible path compared to the up and rising projects of the scene like SUICIDE COMMANDO, X-FUSION, or related. But XMH prove with some of their pearls available on here too ('Neon Venus', featuring Isa Garcia providing the lead vocals), that they are capable to offer a wider musically spectrum, than the usual repetitive stuff (check also out the accompanying guitar riffs in 'State Of Mind', or 'Tears In Rain').
A good and quality Harsh Electro album for sure, but with some tendencies to repeat some phrases, but after only a second full-length album, the complete sound dimension and abilities could be normally seldom pointed out. A Dutch band project, which still hasn't reached the end of the rope.
Artist: Candle Nine
Title: The Muse In The Machine
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Tympanik Audio isn't sparse, when it comes to release newcomer acts ' but to 99,9 % this is welcomed, as this debut release for CANDLE NINE proofs well. CANDLE NINE is also a nice proof, of the 'how-to-feed-the-masses-after-a-stunning-compilation-appearance' procedure, because 'Penumbra', featured on the last 'Emerging Organisms Vol. 3' compilation, was without any doubt the best participant. The music presented on this fine looking album (artwork by Mr. Justin PNEUMATIC DETACH Brink) consists mainly out of two quite different parts in the sound dimension of this Chicago-based, mysterious musician. There we have real ear-candy stuff for friends of icy-cold synth-pad programmings, as CANDLE NINE knows well and proofs to be an expert, how to produce moody Industrial ambiences through this. As for a merciless contrast, CANDLE NINE installs abrasive and brutal performed rhythm elements, which draw some relations to the works of acts like GRIDLOCK or APPARENT SYMMETRY. To unite the raw percussion work with the fragility of the matured synth-play, well, that's the biggest adventure, which CANDLE NINE solves with fortune. And this is at least the most thrilling point in this production for the listener. CANDLE NINE offers brilliant ideas, when it come to merge both of his different stylistic elements - with the usage of tempo-bending interruptions and an experienced fx-processing with reverb, delay and/or saturation effects, this tracks are becoming unique. Another good point worth to mention, is the rather straight and linear orientation of the tracks. Asides 'Penumbra', the track 'Kerrianne's Spine' would allow some movements on the dancefloors of the dark clubs worldwide. Two extra remix contributions by the renowned label colleagues of ACCESS TO ARASAKA and AUTOCLAV 1.1 do not alter the total positive impression of this album, in case of AUTOCLAV's remix on the track 'R5-D5-RB', I would like to congratulate Mr. Tony Young, for offering an upbeating and totally different sounding interpretation to the original composition. The muse may hides somewhere in the machine. Luckily Tympanik Audio was able to sign one of the most talented wizards, who's capable to release this muse out of the machine and to burn it onto this silver plastic circle - this is a top-notch album like a milestone!

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Artist: Gregorio Bardini & Gerstein (@)
Title: Arise of a Bleeding Rose
Format: CD
Label: The Eastern Front
Rated: *****
I remember reviewing a CD called "Eurasia" by the talented Italian wind instrumentalist and ex Thelema member Gregorio Bardini a long long time ago but that was the last time I had heard of him until my colleague and fellow Chain D.L.K. founder Maurizio Pustianaz mentioned him to me again. For those who don't know it, Pustianaz has been musically active as Gerstein since the mid eighties and has been sporadically releasing new music under different labels since. After his most recent collaboration with Cold Cluster, which dates back to 2005, he's been quietly working with Bardini on something that eventually turned into "Arise of the Bleeding Rose", released by the Israeli label The Eastern Front.
It's hard to categorize or describe this. It is first and foremost an electronic music record but it is very minimal and in a way a bit retro-sounding. The electro sound is very martial (check out the opener "Von Guten Maechten" and the title-track for example) and there are defined rhythmical structures made of big slamming timpani-like drums, rolling military snare drums and fast-paced hi hats... However all of that is counteracted by long synthetic pads which might echo Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Emerson, Jarre or Goblin... Maurizio's tense sequences and syncopated beats create an atmosphere of anxiety and a certain aura of darkness. Of course Bardini's flutes and the uniqueness of such sounds in this context deliver some kind of relaxation to the tension. His interventions add a sort of world music layer on top of the existing programming, and on pieces like "Il Male" the conjunction of all elements really create beautiful and, at times, even very asian sounding soundscapes.
After having heard the Gerstein/Cold Cluster collaboration I was aware that Gerstein was moving into a much more electronic and much more rhythmic place, but it would seem that this album marks a return to the darker vein that characterized his earlier productions. One thing that is certainly new to me I think, is that on this album Gerstein even sings in german (along with Bardini as well), which enhances the martial and teutonic aspect of it even more. I would even go as far as saying that (and maybe the german singing contributed to that) there is a certain EBM aesthetics, but it's nothing like the EBM clones you hear out there these days. That influence is more deeply rooted and much less obvious
The whole record is also interleaved with samples from english, italian and german movies.
If you think you are up for some original martial minimal-electro world music I would definitely recommend giving this a spin, after all if you have been reading Chain D.L.K. you have trusted the man's words about music for so long, why wouldn't you trust the man's music too?

Recoil: Selected

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 26 2010
Artist: Recoil (@)
Title: Selected
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Mute records
Rated: *****
Released in June, "Recoil Selected" is a double CD retrospective of some of Recoil's best material according to founding member Alan Wilder (also with Depeche Mode until '95) and Paul Kendall. Wilder curated this collection based on his personal favorites and it features singers such as Diamanda Galas, Joe Richardson, Douglas McCarthy, Samantha Coerbell, Toni Halliday, Nicole Blackman, The Golden Gate, Carla Trevaskis, Hildia Cambell, Siobhan Lynch and Maggie Estep. Recoil has always had the unique talent of creating timeless music. With a discography spanning from 1988 to 2007 (yet made of only five releases), it is still hard to pick out which are the older tracks from the '90es and which are from the last couple of records. "Soundscapes without boundaries and without compromise", as Wilder calls them, that perfectly stood the test of time and will please music lovers with the most varied of listening habits (Delerium, Pink Floyd, Manorexia, Clock DVA, Synaesthesia, Laurie Anderson and many other of his peers come to mind).
The first CD contains original classics while the second one features remixes. They will both be available as a physical double CD or as separate digital downloads.
This release will be supported by a "Selected Tour 2010" which promises to be a stunning collaboration of visuals, electronics and crafty synthesized arrangements.

Bionic: Closer To Nature

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 25 2010
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Artist: Bionic
Title: Closer To Nature
Format: CD
Label: Echozone
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****
Personal project of Dariusch Dalili, Bionic released only an album for OffBeat back in 1995. I don't know what he did in the meantime but his coming back album is really nice. Still having his roots on e.b.m. sound, Bionic offer to the fans of the genre a strong album with ten new songs where hard beats and melody are the winning couple. The CD opens with "It doesn't matter", a song that melodically and vocally reminds me of Sisters Of Mercy. Fortunately, tracks two, sounds more personal and based on 4/4 rhythms, clear vocals and cool retro e.b.m. sounds. Alternating dance atmospheres (check "Cold eyes"), new wave intuitions a bit of pop ("Somewhere"), Dariusch succeeds into packing a nice album that sounds fresh even if based on classic sounds. You can find also two nice remixes made by Accessory and Minusheart.

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