Music Reviews



VV.AA.: Extended Electronics Vol. 2

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 24 2007
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Extended Electronics Vol. 2
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Skizzo / NEO (@)
Distributor: Sony / BMG
Rated: *****
Well, this is the dream of any DJ: why wasting the whole free time on some club events, instead to press the "Play"-button of this DCD set and to share more important things like smoking, drinking, lurking for chicks, etc.? Regarding the fact that this compilation got compiled by Inga Uphoff and Sven Enzelmann of the German Club-promoter Hardbeat, it may gives you the hint, that this DCD set presents some tunes of their represented acts, which are mostly some so-called scene-leaders. The second criteria is fulfilled if these acts can look on some "extended" versions – the idea to create extended versions like it was presented richly in the golden 80ies. So this DCD set collects and unites some alternative versions of some remarkable club-tunes, and generally seen, this comp also offers a good choice and diversity of styles. That newbies or greenhorns wouldn’t get any glimpse of a chance to take part on this compilation was to expect – if this is to rate positive belongs on your personal preferences for sure, but I must wonder, what kind of "music" nowadays played in the clubs can grab attention by any audience. Some appearances here are that retarded, stupid, plain and that sort of repetitive that they're causing tooth-aching – well, I rather like to point out the most outstanding works here.
ROTERSAND are that sort of elegant produced Futurepop-acts and "Lost" is for sure one of their highlights. It seems to become a kind of art not to fall into cheesy Pop music and they’re an outstanding example for remaining in an own identity. Same counts for the Electro-/Wave-artist DIORAMA and their Extended Version of "Erase Me" –always tasteful arranged, it slows down the speed a bit. LADYTRON, although mostly very Pop/Alternative-oriented, can impress with smashing bass lines and cold female vocals. The factor "coolness" also counts for SEABOUND, "The Promise" offers once again their enormous programming skills and features a slight Dark Electro influence which drives this piece completely away from any redundancy. "Exit" of DISMANTLED is definitively to old to get featured here once again, since it was already available on the now three years old "Post-Nuclear"-album. I suppose that the only one reason belongs on the fact that DISMANTLED couldn’t produce any comparable quality tune since those days... even if this sounds very tacky. "Japanese Bodies" by LEAETHER STRIP is originally much older – a classic for sure – but Claus Larsen currently works hard to re-release his old back-catalogue and he revamps all of his classic recordings and presses them in a new and updated sound design. This "Free Tibet Mix" is refreshing – a must-have and definitely better constituted than the millions of :WUMPSCUT:-re-re-re-releases.
CD2 opens with [:SITD:] and their 2007-Version on their classic "Snuff Machinery" – fair enough arranged but nothing too spectacular. SUICIDE COMMANDO offers an alternative version of his last smasher "Bind, Torture, Kill" and it is appreciated to offer something exclusive. But the sound quality and a failed mastering without any dynamics is out of any discussion – especially for an international renowned act. Boredom comes along and rules with SOMAN, 32CRASH, REAPER and IMPLANT with their musically similar TBM-try-outs. Unbelievable that this music style can really grab attention with those plain arrangements – although that these acts have a lot of prominent guest singers on board (32CRASH = J.-L. de Meyer/FRONT 242, REAPER = Mark Jackson/VNV NATION, IMPLANT = Anne Clark) these acts are failing, what a shame! In between we’ll find DISTORTED MEMORY and FROZEN PLASMA, whose appearance can be called decent but not flawless. I’m thankful to hear something more dark and harder-minded, although DISTORTED MEMORY have a lot of better tunes to offer than a Club Edit of "God’s Wrath". FROZEN PLASMA can point with elegant synth textures and clear male vocals – the only complaint can named in the always and ever repetitive use of "drill-instructor-voice-samples. Best track – although originally more than 15 years old – is definitely "Die Totgeweihten" provided by the German legend DAS ICH. This is of course a new and revamped version – but a harsh one taking influences out of Powernoise and Dark Electro, congrats! With FORTIFICATION 55 the re-animation of some German classics continues in a – how surprising – updated Futurepop sound-design. And any original version on CAMOUFLAGE’s "The Pleasure Remains" would fit much better than this useless Alternative-minded collaboration with WET FINGERS.
I’m in a good manner and will rate this compilation with three stars today, although some appearances are useless like ice-bears in a desert. Also I need to accept the fact that this release is driven by a lot marketing strategies and to strengthen the good collaboration between the presenting labels and the promotion agency Hardbeat. But only a little bit more of the so-called "Independent-thinking" which would allow the compilers to include some "real" underground artists would turn this compilation to more acceptance from the base of the scene.

CD 1:
01 Rotersand - Lost (12" Inch Version)
02 Diorama - Erase Me (Extended Version)
03 IAMX - Spit It Out
04 Covenant - Brave New World (Alternative Radio Version)
05 Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (Vector Lovers Edit)
06 Grossstadtgeflüster - Ich Muss Gar Nix (Director's Cut)
07 Seabound - The Promise (Club Mix)
08 X-Perience & Midge Ure - Personal Heaven (Michael Bachmeier Remix)
09 Bermuda Triangle - Breathe Freely (Extended Electronics)
10 Boytronic - Diamonds & Loving Arms (Front Mix)
11 Melotron - Das Herz (Club Mix)
12 Purwien mit Witt - Alle Fehler (Clubmix von The Promise)
13 Dismantled - Exit (Long)
14 Leæther Strip - Japanese Bodies (Free Tibet Mix)

CD2
01 [:SITD:] - Snuff Machinery 2007
02 Suicide Commando - Bind, Torture, Kill (Extended Torture)
03 Soman - Mask (FMv9 Extended Remix)
04 32Crash - Lone Ranger (Punx Soundcheck Remix)
05 Reaper feat. Mark Jackson - Twisted Trophy Hunter (Caught Line Remix)
06 Distorted Memory - God's Wrath (Club Edit)
07 Frozen Plasma - Warmongers (Fuck Them All Remix)
08 Implant - Your World (Global Meltdown Mix)
09 Das Ich - Die Totgeweihten
10 Fortification 55 - Changing My Exist (2007 Mindworks Remix)
11 Camouflage - The Pleasure Remains (Camouflage vs. Wet Fingers - Club Version)
12 Trisomie 21 - Midnight Of My Life (Instrumental Mix By David Caretta)

Oct 20 2007
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: elffriede/soundrawing
Format: CD
Label: Transacoustic Research (@)
Rated: *****
I’ve just reviewed a couple of releases of this Austrian label, but I can truly say I love it, one was their "hearing" compilation and the other was a vocal based electronic release assembled by that Jörg Piringer featured here among the sound artists appearing on this sampler, last and most important this label put out the Vegetable Orchestra which itself deserve endless respect. While usually I’m quite skeptic concerning samplers I was so well impressed by the first collection put out by these dudes, I was quite curious and yes, my expectations haven’t been deluded at all since this work is damn good. This collection features a good number of electronic musicians to which the visual artist Elffriede asked expressly to compose music inspired by her funny childish, comics-alike drawings. Taken for granted the process of interpretation is quite subjective and also the fact that the Elffriede’s works are quite weird the compilation is homogeneous in a damn good way. The surprise is that this cd coming out in a 7" shaped packaging is filled of musicians I dunno except for Piringer, Murmer and Phil Niblock (sorry if I forget some other "big" name) but the ninety percent of the sketches/tracks are high quality material. The fact is that the abstract, nocturnal electronics feel is a constant thread joining the most of the songs plus the majority of the songs deal with what can be filed as "sound art". The last thing clearly explains why you have such an over-abundance of unconventional frequencies, field/electro-acoustic recordings well married with electronics and just a small dose of conventional or rhythmical tracks. As I pointed out at the beginning of the review, this’ a quite homogeneous compilation be it for the inspiration coming for the drawing or for the fact we live in massified alternative and experimental scene... well... I can’t say why, but what really matters as in the majority of sampler is that the whole cd offers both an interesting and pleasant listening. Sorry for being so boring but again Transacoustic Research gives sense to the adjective "experimental" and considering the incredible amount of cheap garbage passed as "research" or "experimental music" these days it gets five points more.

Last Influence Of Brain: Inner Wars

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 19 2007
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Artist: Last Influence Of Brain (@)
Title: Inner Wars
Format: CD
Label: Electro Aggression Records / Vendetta-Music (@)
Distributor: KDG Media
Rated: *****
The Slovakian act can also look back on a longer band history under different monikers and some first activities starting more than 10 years ago. Consisting of musicians from acts like KIFOTH and SAMHAIN, they could make themselves a good name with a first release entitled "Illusions And Reality" out in 2003 on the nowadays defunct Polish Black Flames label. So it has taken now four years until these guys could reunite for comeback – not surprising that E.A.R./Vendetta-Music had still an open ear for them, if you take a more detailed look onto the last releases. Also LAST INFLUENCE OF BRAIN can be sorted into the wide field of Dark Electro, while they don’t act too obviously to act like a PUPPY-clone - some exceptions included of course. "Inner Wars" lists 16 tracks at all, but you’ll find a 17th unlisted track as well – maybe a mistake with the tack list, or it is a real hidden track. This album starts marvelous with a great instrumental opener entitled "Return 0001" offering nice layered synth-pads – it needs to be mentioned that you’ll find 5 different "Return"-tracks, all of them offering a different mood. "Greed" follows and I tend to say that this piece is one of the outstanding tracks on here, although strongly infiltrated with the PUPPYan-influence. Unfortunately the following tunes can’t rival with the quality of both opening tracks. I had to realize that LIOB can act unforeseeable from track to track and at times their bass lines and textures are sounding plain and rather like a first testing on some new synths instead of well-thought. Some of the tracks like "Players" or "In Death" are concentrating too obviously to push the speed to reach some dancefloor-compatibility. Compared to the first excellent tunes they act like filling stuff. Other very good tunes have to be named with the rather mid-tempo-based tracks like "Why Are You Waiting", which is also available in a remix version created by Dominique Debert of BRAIN LEISURE, "In Our World" and "Return 0004". In these tracks there’s more "music" in form of some cold synth-layer sounds available – it seems that all efforts offering a different mood to the straight-oriented dance tracks do well here. "Inner Wars" is in all a decent Dark Electro-album and comes out with more than 74 minutes playing time – the term full-length album has never before insisted that strong by any other label before. But it’s also recognizable that three different musicians try to concentrate to include their very own personality and talent to form the sound of LIOB. This works mostly well, but some tunes can’t offer at all a coherent outfit.

BLUE BIRDS REFUSE TO FLY: Xenomorph Angel

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 16 2007
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Artist: BLUE BIRDS REFUSE TO FLY (@)
Title: Xenomorph Angel
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Two years after their previous album "Anapteroma" and after a line-up change (Eva H. and the band's producer George P. joined Kyriakos P. on vocals and guitars/keyboards respectively) Blue Birds Refuse To Fly are back and are ready to conquer a wider audience with their mix of melodic electro wave/synthpop. Since the first track "Crashed" I realized that this album was going to be a good one. This track has got everything you need to be entertained (if you join the genre and if you aren't afraid of a pop approach to it): dark and mysterious melodies, beautiful female vocals, great production and a mixture of energetic dreamy atmosphere. After a brief (less than a minute) second track, "Xenomorph Angel" brings you to a different level of the album, thanks to its electro/e.b.m. approach, where anger isn't considered and where catchy melodies capture your attention for four minutes of electronic melodic pleasure. The next songs, "Burning" and "Want you there for me" (a semi acoustic ballad) are a little more commercial but always having a really strong structure and production. Also "Oxygen" is a little more synthpop but the mixture of acoustic guitars and dancey/dreamy atmospheres are convincing. Melodic synthpop is in since "H.E.A.T." where the rhythms are less bouncing and atmosphere is a bit more seducing (an electronic version of Garbage?). The closing track "Elegy" sees a female/male duet for a particular ballad with acoustic guitars and distorted rhythms. Maybe this album could sound commercial for those of you who are used to e.b.m. music but this is a good one and if you aren't afraid of melody you should check XENOMORPH ANGEL.

DEAD JUMP: Scare Mix

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 15 2007
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Artist: DEAD JUMP (@)
Title: Scare Mix
Format: CD EP
Label: Advoxya Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
It has happened in spring of this year, that the Brazilian-based Electro-/EBM-musician Alex Ramos has announced, that his last release "Immortal" has been completely sold-out. For sure an enviable number of sales, even regarding the fact that this happened without the help of a professional distributor. To get out of the average mass needs efforts in promotion, and Alex has never failed in this. The predecessor "Immortal", also signed to the Brazilian Resistance Beat, was nearly a self-produced item, but available at almost every thinkable mail order resource world-wide. Alex could earn some recognition and acceptance because he has worked very hard for this – of course the talent has to be right-placed as well. So no wonder that his development wouldn’t be too long observed, Advoxya Records finally made the right decision to sign Alex. "Scare Mix" therefore marks the debut release of this Brazilian act on Advoxya. It is surely a kind of companion release to "Immortal", because it features several remix works of friends and more or less international renowned acts. Alex has composed 3 new tracks, "Scare", "The Man Behind The Mask" and "Burnout" for this EP, from which I tend to rate the latter to be the best one, while all of them show more development in his work. He’s very near to that form of style which people call Hellectro or Terror-EBM. Follows a surprise, because Alex has decided to o a cover version on MORTAL CONSTRAINT’s "Hollow Peace", a German Dark-Electro-classic back out of 1992. A bit dangerous for sure, if an Industrial act decides to cover an Industrial act, but Alex is able to include his own signature here – although he couldn’t resist to rip some samples of the original. It follows the remix section of this release and the rather undiscovered acts FATAL RAPTURE and DRAINED SCORN are walking pretty well along that Terror-EBM style. Same counts for the Infacted-recording artist PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE 0.1 out of Greece, while the Brazilian comrades of HATECH add rather chaotic and trashy guitars samples to their re-interpretation of "Save Me From All My Sins". The winner is an own reworked version of "Immortal (Self-Infliction Mix)". Both Advoxya comrades WAVEFALL and cB (CYCLONE B) behave rather ordinary, while the re-animation of Mexico’s legend DEUS EX MACHINA seems to be the sensation of this release. I don’t tend to rate their work on "Immortal" to be the best here, nope, but it’s good to see that they are still alive. "Scare Mix" is an uncompromising and very harsh release which documents once again Alex’ non-arguable talent. Get it!


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