Music Reviews

Artist: Hot Victory (@)
Title: Hot Victory
Format: 12"
Label: Eolian Empire (@)
Throughout Hot Victory, Caitlin Love and Ben Stoller toy with exuberant instrumental synth music. Somewhat unusually, they do so seated together from behind a variegated command centre of tangled drum kits, pads, samplers and probably more besides. The drum kit, augmented as it may be in this case, persists as the locus for each composition here, driving everything forward, determining structure. In other words, altogether it feels ideologically like the product of drummers ("[a] man and a woman, joined at the drums", as the press release puts it) even while markedly more than drumming is taking place. So although the duo consists of percussionists first and foremost, the palette isn't nearly as restrictive as it seems. It's more than adequate for the development of layered, muscular and entertaining tracks.

Notably, while rhythm (and the physical bashing out thereof) lies at the core of the album's dynamics, the pair never quite indulges in any kind of drum solo. With the other instruments and tech intertwined with the kits themselves, they apparently decline to isolate the traditional kit. Instead, perhaps they view and incorporate these additions all as part of the same expressive matter, all similarly valid and accessible to one carefully-positioned limb or another. There is certainly a considered, consistent, even playful alignment of diverse sounds at play, which can be really satisfying. Both rhythmically and texturally, entertaining use is made of speech and monster effects from the 1982 horror classic The Thing in the album's closer 'Labyrinthos'. Throughout and particularly noticeable during the fade-out, a rough synth note rattles briefly every few measures, leading out the drone. Strongly it echoes a Thing sample already heard; a bubbling scream from one of the film's monsters.

Vigorous and very tight, the substance of each of the six tracks (five on the vinyl version) follows something along these lines. 'Anasazi' derives its samples from the titular X-Files episode. 'Tetraktys' is a gleeful jam with a moist lead and arpeggios barrelled along by the percussion. Digital-only inclusion 'Harmony of Spheres' opens with a sultry synth brass line and ambience, rather flattering to Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, before the mounting energy of the kits leads it elsewhere.
Artist: Jules Verne Theory
Title: Exposure
Format: CD
Label: Ninthwave Records
Rated: *****
Time is out of joint, to quote Hamlet. The prevalence and availability of information and recording technology have made it seem as if we're living in every decade of the last 130 years, simultaneously. Want to spend yr hours surrounded by the 1920s? No problem. Want to pretend yr a quaker farmer from 1890? There's groups and communities for that, as well. What we're left with is a disorienting, but uplifting, atemporality.

The stage is set to finally realize a legitimate steampunk future, as the past rubs leather tweed elbows with the polished chrome future. This can be seen admirably in Exposure, the debut EP from the Jules Verne Theory.

Exposure is like a disco soundtrack for Captain Nemo shimmying on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise, as Italo good-times futurism meets Brad Fiedel Terminator beats, as stories of jetpacks and abandoned cities unfold.

There is great power and potential in this anachronism. We now have the ability to decide what reality tunnel we want to live in. Want optimistic futurist? What about corroded apocalyptica? Whatever makes you happy. We now have the ability to focus on what we like, and be surrounded by it, and hopefully ignoring the things we despise until they go away.

Of course, Jules Verne Theory are aware of the shadow side of this escapism, as the future they are envisioning is not entirely rosy. Like on "She's A Riot", where "every motion above ground is observed", while on "How I Get Things Done", "everybody needs something to distract themselves from getting things done." Like their namesake, Jules Verne Theory use the vernacular of classic sci-fi to critique and comment on the world.

Jules Verne Theory have the proper perspective to provide critique. While this may be their first EP, Richard Slee and Arron Clague have been in the music biz for ages. Slee's worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and done successful remixes for Heaven 17, while Claque is heavily involved with theater on his home of the Isle Of Man. Between them, they've seen dozens of styles and trends come and go. They should be immune from hype, and have the perspective of experience.

This is mostly true. Jules Verne Theory are not interested in fitting in to any trending genres. They're not making trap remixes of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea or dubstep remixes of La Voyage Dans La Luna (although Air had some success with something like the latter). Instead, they focus on classic electro-tinged synthpop to deliver their anti-gravity dance parties and detached social critique.

One wishes, however, that with the perspective of experience, that Jules Verne Theory had paid more attention to classic mixing and mastering techniques, as Exposure suffers from the loudness wars of 2014. It's hyper-polished, squeaky clean, squeezed and sculpted and compressed to stand out over car commercials and mall crowds. It's not a deal-breaker, but it can get a bit wearing on the ears.

One suspects that Jules Verne Theory's mission is to infiltrate the clubs with their steampunk grooves. Perhaps it is to offer some of that wisdom and perspective, or maybe something as simple as trying to increase awareness of classic sci-fi, both of which are good things. But surely subtlety and confidence are traits found in all eras. And isn't it the job of any good time traveller to try and correct the sins of whatever past or future they are inhabiting? Or bringing those insights back to the present?

I suspect Jules Verne Theory will be successful in their mission, and these sounds will find favor with the rivetheads, robo-jocks, and space cowboys. Here's to hoping, next time, they believe in themselves a bit more, and leave a bit more to the shadows and imagination.

Hadamard: The Ass In Bass

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
 Edit (8296)
Jul 07 2014
Artist: Hadamard
Title: The Ass In Bass
Format: 12"
Label: Solar One Music
Rated: *****
Active since mid 00's Janko Bartelink released since then eight 12"s and two digital albums under his Hadamard moniker for labels such Transient Force, Bunker Records, Mighty Robot Recordings, Black Montanas and Last Known Trajectory. On this new EP, Hadamard bring three old tracks that we already had the chance to check on the "Love Songs" digital album ("A Walk In The Park", "All I Think About" and the title track "The Ass In Bass") which was released by Transient Force back in 2010, plus "My Cool". If you had only the chance to check the "We Go Into Space" album or the first releases, well, since then Janko turned his sound into a mix of electro funk with a robotic approach. Try to imagine an harder version of Egyptian Lover with in front bass lines and beats with badass filtered vocals. On this EP he sounds like a 70s pimp who has been shot from the streets of New York right to the outer space and from there he shouts his needs for girls. The lyrics might piss off feminists as we have lines like "A beat with no basses is like a bitch with no ass", "I got titties and asses reflected in my glasses, bitches going crazy when the master passes" or "Every time I see you, you turn me on. Every time you walk in, until you're gone..." but I see it as a recreation of an era more than an offence. You know, it's like a blaxploitation movie on vinyl. Hadamard's "Ass in Bass" EP is the third part of SolarOneMusic's "Elektronische Werke Series", after Dynarec and Q-Chip and... it kick asses! Check it here
Jul 03 2014
Artist: The Exaltics (@)
Title: Some Other Place Vol.2
Format: 12"
Label: Clone West Coast Series
Rated: *****
Always prolific but having always quality in mind, Robert Witschakowski is releasing through Clone the second part of the "Some Other Place" EP series. While on the first volume I felt a bit of Miami electro influences (you know, that nice nightly atmosphere that you can enjoy on some Gosub tracks or on Morgan Geist's "Double Night Time" album, to name a few), on this second volume we find five new tracks which are in balance from techno and electro. The EP opens with a short introduction "Slip In" just to make space for "Some Other Place (Long Version)", where The Exaltics push hard the pedal on obsessive bass lines and dreamy pads. "Waves Of Fear" moves on the same field with hard beats, dark ambient background sounds, 808 upbeat rhythms (I think you know that TR-808 is a Roland drum machine used in the 80s for electro music as well as TR-909 was for techno). The attack continues with "The Way Out" and Robert has no intention to make prisoners as we have distorted drum, hypnotic synth arpeggios and different layers of pads and synth noises. The EP is closed by "Different Ways", a track that mix alienated atmospheres, dreamy pads and Detroit electro solutions. Another fine release to check and you can do it here

Severed Heads: City Slab Horror

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (8277)
Jun 25 2014
Artist: Severed Heads
Title: City Slab Horror
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records (@)
Rated: *****
Second Severed Heads' reissue on Medical Records, 'City Slab Horror' was released in 1985 always by Ink Records. On this release the band increased the electronic parts they started to use on "Since The Accident". Now the loops and the treated vocals are used to enrich the rhythm texture. On the twelve tracks of the album, Severed Heads added melodic lines here and there but always keeping the overall dark atmosphere. After a quick intro titled "Spasm", we have "Spastic Crunch", a tune base on obsessive drum machine beats, razor like guitar riffs, industrial synth stabs and treated vocals. Someway it sign the new course which follows with "Spitoon Thud", where we have vocal chants over hypnotic three notes guitar loops along with industrial like rhythms. "4WD" almost has a song structure with vocals and all. Rhythmic experimentation come with "Ayoompteyempt" and on "The Bladders Of A Thousand Bedoin" turns into an exotic voyage that went bad. "Now An Explosive New Movie" with Garry Bradbury on vocals, it's a catchy dark industrial song and it pairs with another dance friendly oriented song: "We Have Come To Bless This House". We can find the highest point into dance attitude on "Goodbye Tonsils", which is a particular one with upbeat hard beats, vocal recitative parts and a melodic hook. As for the previous LP, this one has been out of print for a long time and for this reissue has been remastered by Tom Ellard form the original source masters. Presented on high-quality 180 gram heavyweight bone white vinyl. Features bonus LP insert compiled by Tom Ellard with ephemera from the time. You can check it here

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