Music Reviews



Dec 06 2018
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Artist: Andreas O. Hirsch
Title: Early Carbophonics
Format: 10"
Label: Makiphon
The Carbophone is Hirsch’s own invention and the first one was only constructed in 2015, so there’s a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the name “Early Carbophonics”- but despite being an acoustic instrument built with a wooden base and carbon rods, the tone of the instrument, and of this 26-minute mini-album as a whole, is so close to the playful weirdness of 1960’s experimental electronics that it really does sound like a throwback to what might get labelled early electronic music.

In terms of intention, it references the African Kalimba or Mbira, and the layered rhythms in pieces like “Octopus Promenade” do have shades of traditional African music, while others like “Balfolk” sound more like Eastern European folk instrumentation reworked into mesmeric repetition that borders on analogue techno. “Castle Moat Robot” would not sound out of place in a Radiophonic Workshop retrospective, while “Full Moon Hula Hoop” sounds like an attempt to construct a more modern, faintly glitch-steppy piece but solely using a wood-toned instrument.

Will the Carbophone reinvent music and invite retrospective compilations fifty years from now? I very much doubt it. But is it a pleasant and strangely nostalgic attempt to build something solid and new that rekindles the spirit of musical experimentation? Yes, it is that. And does it work? In a rather sweet way, it does.

Gudrun Gut: Moment

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 05 2018
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Artist: Gudrun Gut
Title: Moment
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Monika Enterprise
Berlin new music legend Gudrun Gut’s new album is a 14-track pack of dark synthpop, rumbling and firm-walking electronics and understated German-language vocal performance that just oozes confidence and which, arguably, plays it all rather safe.

Highlights include the gradual acid builds of “Musik” where Gut’s vocal adopts a drawn-out sensual whisper. Unsurprisingly the nicely squelchy cover of Bowie’s “When You’re A Boy” is one of the album’s more memorable moments too.

Only a couple of tracks top the five minute mark, with some adopting an almost radio-pop structure (but not sound) and others more like electronic interlude sketches, like the really enjoyable little skit of “Shuttle Service”. Proceedings get a touch more experimental as they go along, with “Sein” an example of the dark spaces that are reached as a result.

It’s mixed by T. Raumschmiere, as shines through in elements such as the groove on “Baby I Can Drive My Car”. He’s been responsible for some far more energetic and impassioned affairs, against which this sounds rather self-assured and even middle-aged by comparison.

It’s a surprisingly mellow piece of “post-electroclash”, if that’s a thing, where the angry voices of over a decade ago are now settled in suburbia with calmer tastes, but not fundamentally changed underneath. It really works, and will certainly appeal as a post-club wind-down.

Jan Nemecek: Recurrences

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 03 2018
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Artist: Jan Nemecek
Title: Recurrences
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: -OUS
‘Power ambient’ is a fascinating made-up genre to label a release with, leading you on thoughts about what that could possibly sound like and how that could possibly not be a contradiction in terms before you’ve even clicked play. In truth this is definitely more ‘ambient’ than ‘power’, by far, but it’s still clear where the idea came from and it’s not an inappropriate fit. It’s a busy ambient with plenty going on, but still calm.

Digital sweeps and pads, with measured amounts of sawtoothed crispness and just hints of distortion, wash around over staple electronica sounds and processed textures. It’s more than a little reminiscent of old The Orb albums at times, particularly in the stuttering voice treatment on “I Pretend”, while other pieces like “Incidents I-II” are more akin to modern game music with a cinematic tension and open unscriptedness. “Foreverness” has that crisp digitally-pure-melodic downtempo flavour that feels a little done yet always relaxing.

It’s a sharp and intricate bit of electronica that pulls neither a lot of surprises, nor a lot of tricks from its sleeve, but it’s richly textured and varied enough to keep your attention throughout.

Mirexxx: Vault

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Nov 25 2018
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Artist: Mirexxx
Title: Vault
Format: CD + Download
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Belgian (Bruxelles) EBM/electro-industrial band Mirexxx is the duo of vocalist Stijn S. and synthesist/programmer Posse, and 'Vault' is their Echozone debut album after their 2017 EP, 'Inside You', and a couple of previously self-released mini-albums. This is old, old school stuff after outfits such as Klinik and Suicide Commando, just not nearly as good. Stijn rasps his way through ten tracks on 'Vault' with little variation. The synthwork seemed as if it was going the same route (little variation in sound and sequencing) but changed a bit in the later innings during and after the instrumental "Distraction," a welcome change of pace. Drum are all rinky-dinky computer generated sounds so I found nothing really compelling about the rhythm. One of the only things Mirexxx has going for them is that there aren't many artists doing this strictly minimal style of EBM these days, so there isn't much in the way of competition. Still, it's a long way from moving a cluster of black-clads in a dark club to getting people excited about your album, especially if the album gets kinda boring after a few songs. Misanthropic, dystopian lyrics included for those who don't grok rasp.
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Artist: Pharoah Chromium
Title: Jean Genet- Quatre heures à Chatila
Format: 7"
Label: self-released
This is a bold and powerful political 7” in which Elli Medeiros reads French-language extracts from Jean Genet’s essay “4 Hours In Shatila”, describing the massacres Genet encountered in Beirut in 1982. Underneath Medeiros’ straight and emotive reading, Pharoah Chromium lays down a pair of uncomfortable but not intrusive electronic drone environments, with gritty rumbles, odd whispers, occasional heavily processed guitar plucking and oddly plinky, almost stylophone-like improvised high melodic notes. It melds together into a powerful modern take on beat poetry without very much beat. It’s an expressive release that could easily have merited a longer exploration on its own, instead forming part of a larger project “Eros & Massacre” that, on the strength of this, is certainly worthy of attention for fans of politically emotive experimental electronica.


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