Music Reviews



FRIGHTDOLL: Reference Version

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jun 05 2007
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Artist: FRIGHTDOLL
Title: Reference Version
Format: CD
Label: Frightdoll Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Personal project of a girl heading from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Frightdoll is one of the few solo woman projects of the e.b.m. scene (I remember of Yendri and Unter Null. Zombie Girl doesn't count because she's not alone). Being able to be there and demonstrate that a girl is able to create the same work a man is able to, despite the fact that we think we are a into a society where men and women are equal, isn't easy and on the musical world this is so true. I'm the first one who's picky about woman's vocals but don't ask me why. Instinct? Dunno. Musical taste I like to think, because I like women vocals into punk music but I'm picky when women sound all ethereal with those whisperings which wish to enchant the listeners. Anyway, we aren't talking about ethereal vocals on this case because the girl behind Frightdoll and behind her futuristic goth look, is able to create a good blend of future pop ("Unit" sounds also a little synthpop and it's a nice instrumental track as well as "Gravity" is a good electro dark pop tune) and e.b.m. Her voice is often filtered or slightly effected and her style is functional to her dark mid tempo songs. Composed using only virtual equipment REFERENCE VERSION is working well without no overproduction or particular tricks. The album grows with as the tracklist proceed and if the first three songs have similar atmospheres, from the fourth one Frightdoll style starts to reveal all its surprises showing a lot of influences and intriguing melodies. I liked her style, her sound and you could check her tracks at her myspace page here: www.myspace.com/frightdoll

SEVERE ILLUSION: Armed Evolution

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Jun 01 2007
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Artist: SEVERE ILLUSION (@)
Title: Armed Evolution
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
Since the last full-length album of the SEVERE ILLUSION side-project INSTANS has found a possibility to get released via the Hungarian label Advoxya Records, Ulf Lundblad and Fredrik Djurfeldt are now on returning with their main project. I hear already the tacky comments of some freaks like "why not releasing this through the DSBP label?" or related because of possible problems of availability. Well, I guess it depends on a "business" decision and DSBP has already confirmed somewhere else, not to release EP’s out of cost-wise reasons. At least and with respect to the last happenings, I’m very sure that Tommy T. will offer this item as soon as it is available in his mail order. "Armed Evolution" finally features nevertheless more than 61 minutes of new and unreleased tracks, several remix works by friends and label comrades, and a re-interpretation of a fan favorite recording, "Trust", originally released on their first full-length album "Discipline Isn’t Reward Enough".

The CD starts with the track "I Wish I was Dead" – a typically SI smasher with a really simple bass line, that "special" feeling and so the winning point lays as so often in the use of their distortion effects, in which also the vocals are woven in. "And Some Other Dead Stuff" is available in both, original and extendet version. SI are setting a crown on this track to their lately discovered tendency to simplify their arrangements – this is purest minimalism. Not that harsh like the opener, the vocals are also calmer provided, also the distortion effects are generally reduced. It follows the revamped version of their classic track "Trust". Compared to the original track I tend to rate this version as being darker arranged. Two more previously unreleased tracks rather provided in their current minimal arranged style follow, until the remix marathon starts with a contribution of the BLC recording act THE PAIN MACHINERY. The work on "I Wish I was Dead" really kicks ass – the only flaw I see in the fact, that the vocals got too much hidden in the mix – otherwise it could grab more attention. Three remix works on the track "And Some Other Dead Stuff" are following, provided by THIRTEENTH EXILE, the Advoxya-recording act MULPHIA and the US-based "Mattman", CAUSTIC aka Matt Fanale. From the idea to create a rather Dark Electro-inspired atmosphere I tend to rate the MULPHIA work as being surprisingly the best work here. Two more remix works are following on the track "Trust" (SPETSNAZ are doing what they can do best: providing NEP-like bass lines...), until you’ll get finally another unreleased track entitled "Eight Minutes Is A Long Time" – which at least is only 4 minutes long. This track is a strange sample-driven collage.

A SEVERE ILLUSION release is always a candidate to reach the 4/5 stars rating and this release isn’t an exception. But at least I have the impression that they’ve reached an end of the rope regarding their current dedication to reduce their arrangements and textures. I don’t criticize this development, since their style still remains authentic and unique in the world-wide Electro/Industrial scene. But at least I like to ask, how to jump out of a possible musically death valley?

May 31 2007
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Artist: THE BLUE VELVET (@)
Title: The Third
Format: CD
Label: Kold Finger (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****
I wasn't aware that in my town there was such a band and that they already released two albums before this THE THIRD. Formed by four members the band presents 13 tracks of industrial rock which, influenced by classic name of the likes of N.I.N., Ministry or Revolting Cocks, are able to show to the lovers of the genre a sound which alternates guitar assaults with treated vocals to others where synth sounds and samples widen the choice introducing tense moment of digital fear. The production is really good and even if The Blue Velvet don't innovate the genre (even if some industrial ambient solutions are well used) their proposal is worth a listening.

KIFOTH: Acerbity Torrent

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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May 31 2007
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Artist: KIFOTH
Title: Acerbity Torrent
Format: CD
Label: Electro Aggression Records / Vendetta-Music (@)
Distributor: KDG Media
Rated: *****
Well, another act with a deep personal meaning to me – KIFOTH, a hard EBM/Electro/Industrial duo hailing out of Slovakia are celebrating their comeback with a completely new album. Signed to the new Electro Aggression Records/Vendetta-Music label group, this act can look back on a glorious past. Formed in 1993, Mir Colon (vocals, lyrics, sampling and programming) and K-Head (composing, programming, sampling and acoustic performance) have started their career under the moniker KNEEL IN FRONT OF THE HANGMAN, they later renamed their music project into KNEEL IN FRONT OF THE EXECUTIONER. The abbreviation KIFOTH is therefore adapted from their first created band name, while KNEEL IN FRONT OF THE EXECUTIONER is still the valid term.

The info sheet likes to inform me about a first demo tape in 1995 entitled "First Time Public", which seems to be a recording of their first live performance in Bratislava. I guess that this event was a small festival powered by the legendary Slovakian Crewzine magazine on which among others the Powernoise act EINLEITUNGSZEIT and the Brazilian Dark Electro act MORGUE (later better known under the ridiculous name addition MECHANISM in Europe and a CD release on the defunct label Off Beat) made an appearance. I can remember that I’ve seen a video of this event. Nearly to the same time KIFOTH have recorded their first demo tape "Civillizative Collapse", which could grab some attention thanks to the help of the Crewzine mail order. But the best was yet to come and the year 1996 can be named as being one of the most important years in the career of KIFOTH. They could release their second demo "Ebola" and especially this tape caught euphoric reactions by the European press and audience.

Here it comes now to my personal involvement, because KIFOTH could make a first CD appearance accomplished with a band story in the German Vertigo magazine 3/96 thanks to my initiative. Their on this magazine compilation presented track "Possessed By The Right To Modify" developed to a small club hit in the Electro/Industrial scene around North Germany. And what nobody knows – this track caught first attention at the label Out Of Line. The non-expected success of "Ebola" went that far, that they could release this demo as a CD on the Slovakian Front Music label, later it got licensed to the German VUZ Records.

In 1999 KIFOTH could internationally release their first official CD "Spectaclebreakers" with the helping hand of the German giant Out Of Line. A tour together with HOCICO and CULTURE KULTUR followed and brought the band also to Bremen – for me the chance to see them acting on stage. The year 2001 then brought the second CD release on the Out Of Line label entitled "Fundamentum Divisionis" – but I somehow had the impression that Out Of Line slowly has lost interest in this act. After some further gigs and a horrible car accident by Mir Colon it got silent around this band. Their website was only part-time available and they needed a break to reconstitute and to return nowadays stronger than ever before!

First signs of a possible return was their remix work for GRANDCHAOS in the last year on the often mentioned "In Sedens" DCD set. The things have been worked out in the right direction, KIFOTH have signed a new contract to E.A.R./Vendetta-Music and the result is a new studio album nice packaged in a digi-pack and with more than 73 minutes of their musically dimension. KIFOTH offer like expected an energetic kind of EBM structures, combined with layered Dark Electro tunes and some slight integrated Techno influences ("Tyranny"). They may can be count as being pretty well based into a kind of old-school EBM, although their outcome is more diverse. Tracks like "Proper Behaviour", "Leaving" or "Circle" are standing for the faster and danceable side of the band and can cause some dancefloor action. But to me the more representative works are their mid-tempo compositions, their at times a bit classic PUPPYan-influenced tracks like the opener "Icon" or "Enslaved". Another outstanding work is their creativity by building complex rhythm patterns and structures, just check the slow starting "The Wrath", which later on turns into a galloping beast. The floating of this album often gets interrupted when they like to present one of their more atmospheric works ("Malice Monument" or "The Fleece"), they also like to present some goodies out of past days with "Jezis Kristus", which is a revamped version of a track taken from the Civillisative Collapse" – the rather chaotic touch of the original is also here recognizable. Also important to mention is the remix work of the Swedish act SEVERE ILLUSION on the track "Proper Behaviour", which turns this piece into an attractive minimal EBM smasher – nice work and interpretation.

Also this new release of the E.A.R./Vendetta-Music stable satisfies – it isn’t maybe that coherent and matured like the BRAIN LEISURE album, but I guess that a top-notch album like "Methods To Madness" won’t be written again in the next two years. KIFOTH themselves have worked out a fine album which I tend to rate as being their best work so far. Let’s keep the fingers crossed that we don’t have to wait too long for a new audio sign of life of them...

BRAIN LEISURE: Methods To Madness

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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May 29 2007
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Artist: BRAIN LEISURE (@)
Title: Methods To Madness
Format: CD
Label: Electro Aggression Records / Vendetta-Music (@)
Rated: *****
Second release after the GRANDCHAOS DCD remix marathon set for the new Electro Aggression Records label, a sub-division of the Denver-based label, store and mail order service Vendetta-Music. Responsible for the activities behind EAR is Nader "electrofreak" Moumneh, a relatively known supporter of the old-school EBM/Electro formula. And with BRAIN LEISURE aka Dominique Debert hailing out of France this label group could indeed pick up a fine veteran artist – this fact I tend to rate as a lucky chance.

This review here deals on this new limited DCD edition set, which features on disc 1 the new studio work "Methods To Madness" with a maximum playing time of more than 78 minutes (!!!), while on disc 2 you’ll get among other goodies several remix works by global scene-players like :WUMPSCUT:, DISMANTLED or VELVET ACID CHRIST, to name the best known acts.

Also time for me to admit, that I’ve passed the first BRAIN LEISURE demo tape "No TV Sketches, Realities Of Fight" back in 1992 – the even bigger disaster is the fact that the BRAIN LEISURE debut CD "Mindfire", out 1994 on the long out of business Danish Hard Records label stands also still on my virtual "wanted" list, uuuhmmmm. I even can remember the days when Hard Records has signed a lot of newcomer acts around this time (CONTROLLED FUSION, THE M.A.S., SPHERE LAZZA or a to that time totally unknown act called DECODED FEEDBACK to name a few...), whose releases where hard to pick up in Germany "thanks" to some unsolved distro problems.

Nevertheless I’ve followed and recognized Dominique’s past works. BRAIN LEISURE was one of the "Brain" projects in a collaboration of the French tape distributor FIRM, and luckily I still hold the debut tape of BRAIN DISTORTION "Schematiks" proudly in my hands – a harsh old-school EBM trio in which Dominique was responsible for the vocals. I should also mention the fact that I jumped to my CD/LP/tape collection after checking out the track list and the first listen of disc 1. It was about to have a look after some earlier BRAIN LEISURE works for a comparison. The compilation "French/Belgium Industries", out on the legendary Machinery Records, and "Blood & Computers 1" out on the French Paradise Movements are those nowadays hard-to-get items which are also mentioned in the release info sheet. I also would like to mention the marvelous appearance on Gothic Art’s legendary series "Art & Dance Vol. 5" with the pounding piece "Construct/Destruct", for sure one of the highlight on a comp infiltrated with a kind of "best of..." internationally renowned scene-leaders (CAT RAPES DOG, DIE FORM, NUMB, PLACEBO EFFECT, and, and, and...). The reason why I felt the need to listen to the earlier recordings belongs on the fact, that at least both tracks "Behind The Mask" and "Atmosfear" (...which got also released on the Brazilian tape compilation "Underground Resistance 1", out on New Will Productions) were originally released on the mentioned "Blood & Computers 1" compilation.

But be sure that only the content of the lyrics is similar to the now 14 years old recordings – like expected BRAIN LEISURE have not only taken a long time-out since 1996 – they of course have grown and are presenting nowadays a complex and multi-layered sound programming, which intelligent arranged kind surprises when it comes to talk on old-school EBM/Electro/Industrial. And all the wankers hanging out the whole day in front of a PC to invade some original electrofreak forum topics have to bow and ask for apologies, because nobody has expected anything like this. "Actions are louder than words", well, Nader Moumneh has never found any wiser words. This old-school surprise isn’t that kind of the expected short-haired old-school NEP-clone inspired kind of EBM – it rather falls under the authentic Dark Electro movement. BRAIN LEISURE have learned a lot - the days of foreground-recorded vocals or a musically fundament only consisting of ripping synth bass lines are over. Moody and atmospheric synth layer programmings often accomplished with several voice samples to reach a new dramatic perfection – these are the ingredients which lead the outcome of this act nowadays. Yes, Dominique has heard and inhaled X MARKS, PUPPY, LEAETHER STRIP and all that veteran-must-have-stuff which hasn’t to be missed in a collection, but if I have to start possible comparisons, I’ll name an intelligent arranged mixture out of EMPTY, early FORMA TADRE, HEAVY WATER FACTORY and of course FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY as possible references. You’ll got integrated guitar sounds here as well ("Eaten Alive"), which is just another proof what an open-minded musician Dominique seriously is. I can’t really decide, which track I tend to enjoy the most – a reason for sure is that this album sounds that coherent, matured and well worked-out from the first track "My Punishment" up to the last piano-driven ballad "I Am Two". A possible point of criticism for some people can be the fact, that the main CD doesn’t offer a piece, which would also find completely acceptance of the Hellektro/Terrorbanana audience, "Methods To Madness" is rather more dedicated to listen, to sink in – and finally to learn from – a fact I can’t find a flaw in at all.

Maybe that’s a reason why there’s a second CD offering the already mentioned remix works and so some alternative and at times more dancefloor-oriented stuff. Since I don’t know the recordings of Dominique out of his "Mindfire" era, I adore mostly his own works by offering revamped versions of classic tracks like "Beyond The Limits", "Never Trust A Smile" or the best piece here, "Deadful Hate". The remixers are clever chosen, besides the three above mentioned scene-leaders, you got some up-and-coming old-school EBM troops like IC434, both Germany’s TRIAL and TYSKE LUDDER, The French fellowmen of ESR and DEADCELL (aka Bruno of another French sensation, NEON CAGE EXPERIMENT), plus the always tasteful Swiss act BAK XIII. Add to this the two collaborations of the coming E.A.R. roster colleagues LAST INFLUENCE OF BRAIN and KIFOTH.

As mostly with remix works, only a very few can offer interesting aspects to the BRAIN LEISURE sound spectrum. VELVET ACID CHRIST are doing on the fine track "Resistance", what they can do the best – offering a moody and tasteful synth layer which has made this act so famous. BAK XIII finally concentrates on that element what has been missed so far by giving "Behind The Mask" a hard stomping bass kick. TRIAL, already grabbing attention with a great remix work on GRANDCHAOS, have nearly reached again their classic status – their always dark synth textures are a trademark. ESR finally has worked on "Eaten Alive", in the original version a typically FLA-inspired work with some guitars and D’n’B influences – for sure one of the most difficult tracks to work on. But Vincent once again proves his nice talent - the master of the bass line combined with the best sci-fi-inspired sound design hails out of France, so this contest is over. Almost all remixes can satisfy – with the one exception of :WUMPSCUT:, whose remix on "My Punishment" is rather an insult. I see the fact that a remix on BRAIN LEISURE takes thanks to the given multi-layered sound and complex arrangements some more time than a remix on a usual Electro track – also "My Punishment" isn’t an exception. But compared to the glorious remix works which Dominique has created for Rudy in the past, I would have expected a bit more effort from Rudy’s side- finally this remix can’t stand the quality of this release and remains here because "business-related" things.

This been said, you’ll now have to watch out for this release, which is a contender of the "best release in 2K7" contest so far. "Old school EBM is regaining ground". If some of you have ever had doubts in this, I like to recommend this release. Give it some rotations, let this massive and intelligent produced album grow on you, and you’ll come to the right conclusion. A must-have release which currently leaves seldom my discman!



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