Music Reviews

Artist: Jennifer Choi (@)
Title: Violectrica (Music for Violin and Electronics)
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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Jennifer Choi is one of the most active and talented violinists in both New York's classical and downtown music scene. Her style is adventurous and grounded at the same time and her knowledge and understanding of the music and of the instrument position her as one of the leading virtuoso violinists on the scene, but also as one of the most open minded and daring players out there. She has played in countless places and on numerous records by improvised and classical music composers and luminaries such as Susie Ibarra, John Zorn (check her out in Zorn's latest master[card-]piece "Femina") and many others... Her latest work is a solo CD featuring interpretations of pieces by Alexandra Gardener, Randall Woolf, Padma Newsome, Susie Ibarra, Annie Gosfield and Ikue Mori, who also appears on the record as a guest and with whom Jennifer recorded three improvisations. As you might except from the sub-title, there is plenty of electronics (from ambient textures, to industrial-ish sounds, from soundscapes and layers to glitches and buzzes, from field-type background noises to sampled material). Her eclectic playing complements such eccentricity with passion and innovation, moving well beyond the standard bowing and the pizzicatos and experimenting with a whole new slew of sounds and noises that the instrument is capable of generating when in her hands. Highly recommended to those who want to hear some masterfully executed solo violin pieces but who aren't afraid to find out that there might be more than just violin after all.

C-Lekktor: The Silence Procession

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (5426)
Nov 16 2009
Artist: C-Lekktor (@)
Title: The Silence Procession
Format: CD
Label: COP International (@)
Distributor: DDT
Rated: *****
I have to give a band credit for even trying to put out a music product in these economically depressed times, especially with the abundance of technology available (both cheap and expensive) and the outlets such as MySpace, ReverbNation, etc. that make it easy for any yahoo with a bit of recording gear and access to the Internet to display their talent (or more usually) lack of it. That being said, just because you manage to land a contract with a label, even one as well-known in the electro-industrial genre as COP International, doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be the next big thing.

Such is the case with C-Lekktor. It should have been obvious from the CD cover, which features an image of a cyber-crucified skeletal Christ being adored by two bare-breasted babes that this was going to be about as clichéd as it gets. C-Lekktor is Markko (vocals, music lyrics), JMT (synths, music, lyrics) and Alekkx (synths, music, lyrics) who hail from Mexico. The Silence Procession’ is harsh electro-EBM in the vein of Hocico, Suicide Commando, Noisuf-X, etc. Of course, Hocico is the best-known Mexican act of this type, with a great and well-deserved reputation. But don’t go expecting C-Lekktor to be another Hocico; they’ve got a long way to go before they get to that level.

The CD starts out amusingly enough with an intro track titled, "Who the Fuck are You?" as a sampled female voice asks that question a number of times over an electro-industrial background of burbling synths and percussive stabs. I’ve been asked that question a few times myself, and after listening to this CD, I’ll rephrase the question and ask, "Who the Fuck do You Think You are?" "The real music starts with second track "We are Already Death," which begins earnestly enough with typical four-on-the-floor beats and an overlay of sequenced filter-modulated synths and sampled dialog swathed if effects repeating the phrase, "you know nothing about dying". Music intensifies and with more synth sequences added, then the vocals come in- it’s Gollum with a sore throat! I know one of the hallmarks of harsh electro-EBM is those raspy processed vocals, but I can’t make out much of anything of what Markko is saying, and it’s in English too. Every now and then a word surfaces; ... ."surrender... .we are... .confrontation (?)... " jeez, this is just too much work.

Aside from the unintelligible vocals (I admit that a lot of harsh electro-EBM vocals can be a bit difficult but after a little exposure you can usually get the gist) the music production has issues too. I think the band attempted to make their sound huge and symphonic by adding a lot of effects (to nearly everything except the bass drum) and too much compression. Instead of having the separation and spatiality this kind of music needs, it just sounds like a wall of sound. And I don’t mean that in a Phil Spector-ish good way. Even the dialog samples (of which there are quite a few, probably too many) are often swathed in echo. If this were a live recording, it might be forgivable, but it’s not, and things get lost in the mix.

The overall effect is that the music becomes tedious to listen to. The next track sounds like the previous, and so forth. There isn’t much breathing space given in this sonic stew and it gets oppressive quickly. Even the few changes of pace like in "Silence Remains," and "De La Gloria Al Infierno" seem suffocated in sound and effects. Don’t get me wrong, basically I like their sonic palette (I’m a sucker for synth music, even though I’ve heard these sounds many, many times before) but with better production I think it would really have crackled. C-Lekktor’s songwriting skills aren’t bad either, even though we’ve all heard bands like this so many times before. I just don’t feel they’re bringing anything new to the table.

And those vocals... they are problematic. I know they’re supposed to be conveying a sense of doom and dread, menace and malice, sturm und drang, whatever but I can only handle the incomprehensible monotone rasp of wraith for so long before I’m wanting to hear something different. It would have made a bigger impact if the band had a strong vocalist with the ability to carry off something more melodic and less reliant on harsh hoarseness. I think the rest of the flaws might have been downplayed in light of that, and with a strong fronting identity, The Silence Procession’ could have been a release to be reckoned with. I supposed club DJs might consider trying a track from the CD out on Goth-Industrial night. Let the politics of the dance floor. Who knows, you might even end up booking the band if they come your way on their next tour. They’re probably better live anyway.
Nov 15 2009
Artist: Roughhausen (@)
Title: SomeOne's Got To Pay
Format: CD EP
Label: TinderBox
In the sleeve-notes of this mini EP by the half Canadian half Taiwanese band Roughhausen, it's written that all songs have been mixed and mastered at The Sanctuary Post Production Studios in Tapei by JS (initials of Jeff Stoddard, the male voice as well as keyboardist and guitarist of the band, previously involved in renowned electro-industrial bands such as Front Line Assembly, Will and Decree) assisted by the bitches (a quotation as well... ).

Well, we've read some articles about the pretentious desire of acquiring American citizenship expressed by a lot of young Chinese people as well as youngsters turning into a plenty of bizarre imitations in figurative arts, music and lifestyle and we can't blame Jeff for appreciating the presence of cutie girls as it could arguably be delightful the assistance of some cutie girls and its potentiality of becoming a source of inspiration while recording an album , but SomeOne's Got To Pay runs the risk of being perceived as a dull reprise of notorious elderly mile stones of the American scene without adding nothing really original to it and pondering over old grudges; for instance tracks such [sic]fuk or U Better Run seems to lack real inspiration and originality as it seems a sterile ragbag of harsh sounds and quotations. The Lying MOFO Mix of Control is slightly more interesting with its danceable EBM geometric lines and some melodic nods, even if heavily influenced by Front Line Assembly, as well as the sculptures on walls of noises proposed by D.Boger on the Rise and Shine mix of An Awakening, which partially reminds to us some good samples of corrosive grooves such as the ones by 2nd Gen, but it's not enough to unveil a real artistic personality. Roughhausen show some skills and good gears to demonstrate they're just a band of wannabes even in this EP, but we think this house definitely needs improvements to be better rewarded for their appreciable efforts. According to a Chinese proverb, higher thoughts require higher language... Paraphrasing what we have seen on their promotional videoclip announcing a launch party in Taiwan, we're ready to be roughed up... So rough it up, folks!

Kommando XY: Welcome To Gestrikland

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (5421)
Nov 12 2009
Artist: Kommando XY
Title: Welcome To Gestrikland
Format: CD
Label: Electric Tremor (@)
Distributor: Black Rain
Rated: *****
Another new Darling for the short-haired old-school EBM elite-league hails out of a special landscape of Sweden, Gestrikland. KOMMANDO XY is the name of this outfit, consisting of Gustav Jansson (STURM CAFÉ) and Jocke Mohlund. The activity of STURM CAFÉ was rather limited during the past 2 years after the debut album released by the uprising Swedish label Progress Productions. This limitation happened because Gustav’s band-mate Jonatan Löfstedt has left Sweden to work for his daily income in Poland. Due to this circumstances, STURM CAFÉ had at least to call its quit during June 2009. But after listening to "Welcome To Gestrikland" I don’t have any doubts, that STURM CAFÉ won’t be missed too much. The music of KOMMANDO XY follows of course that minimal EBM-related structures already discovered from Gustav, but the vocals of Jocke are the sensation of this release. Jocke offers an angry deep-male bawling pretty much in vein of old POUPPEE FABRIKK. A track like "Gruvarbetare" with its most minimal arrangements (kick + snare + hi-q + bass line) available here, gets seriously pushed to a high appealing EBM stomper. As for a special property, all lyrics got provided in Swedish language. This duo likes to introduce us their area in the eastern part of Sweden and tips on problems and things of the daily life itself. I don’t understand Swedish, but a track relying on computer and console games "Genesis Does (What Nintendon’t)" can be easily discovered. Do I have to take some lessons? Well, I would and take this album as a reference! Get it!
Artist: Aphorism (@)
Title: Surge
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
This is a newcomer-project for Tympanik Audio and musically based in the wide field of IDM/Ambient/Electronica music. Tympanik strives the whole world in search of authentic sounding acts presenting this demanding music style. APHORISM isn’t an exception of this label dedication, although I had some initial problems by consuming this album. It may belongs that Tympanik has scored previously intense with acts like ZENTRIERT INS ANTLITZ, ESA or TOTAKEKE and in the first instance, APHORISM seemed to be dull and rather like a copy of the best horses in the label stable. But no, "Surge" has to offer some pearls to warm the hearts and ears of the interested listener. The tracks of Josh Pyle (music and production) and his partner Kris Rosentrater draw a well-done balance between melodic, but dark sounding pads and sweeps mixed with an attractive IDM-related rhythm programming, which often adds cuts’n’ break elements to keep it bizarre but interesting. The label comrade STENDECK would be musically an option to draw some comparisons. 12 original tracks are available, from which I tend to rate "Chrysanthemums For Carrion" (remarkable synth arrangement, a lighter-minded Breakbeat rhythm foundation and interesting breaks thrown in), "Msect" (featuring exchanging synth layers for the catchy main theme) and "Two Sides Of The Bullet" (includes authorized voice samples by Martin Luther King – no, not the often used "I Have a dream..." platitude) as being the best tunes on here. Three additional remix works by the beloved label comrades TOTAKEKE ("Negative Two"), the high-skilled newcomer ACCESS TO ARASAKA ("What We See Now") and TAPAGE ("Msect") completing this album. The whole talent behind this project cannot be discovered after only 2 – 3 spins, so give this one a chance to grow on you. You’ll get rewarded with an addictive IDM/Electronica-album of the upper class.

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