Music Reviews


 Posted by Marco Pustianaz   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 10 2006
Artist: SHINTO (@)
Title: Sekai
Format: CD
Label: Echokammer (@)
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****
"Sekai" is the fourth album by Hans Platzgumer and CaMi Tokujiro under the moniker Shinto. After meeting in Munich in 1998 the two set off for a joint Euro-Asian venture that has undoubtedly its own quirky originality. The electro-pop sound provided by Platzgumer is tempered by the melancholic disillusionment of Tokujiro’s lyrics – in Japanese – who casts himself as the storyteller/singer of dark tales of love and destruction. His voice is what contributes most to the feeling of "Sekai",which despite its poppy undertones leaves the listener with a sense of quiet despair. I find Tokujiro’s voice a double-edged blessing: on the one hand his bass, raspy rendition certainly gives a definite character to Shinto; on the other, it is far from the accomplished singing styles that Europeans are used to appreciate.
In "Sekai" Shinto have been aided by an additional drummer and percussionist, and the electropop texture is partly given an Oriental feel, for instance in the opening track featuring meditative flutes. But to tell you the truth I didn’t know what to make of this project at a first listening. Only after getting to know more of the lyrics and the stories they refer to, I started to develop a certain interest in Shinto. I learnt that "Hagoromo" alludes to a traditional Noh play of a fisherman and a dancing fairy. By browsing their site, complete with lyrics’ translation into English, I was able to delve into the political side of Tokujiro’s lyrics, tackling Chechen massacres, Guantanamo’s hidden tortures, as well as references to Japanese events, such as the 1923 earthquake, the plight of famous Japanese terrorists, the radical Aum sect and so on. Some of the lyrics and titles, moreover, are taken from the radical left-wing and anarchist tradition of Japan (Sakae Osugi... ). This is though what points to the CD’s weakness to my ears: I was more taken by the cultural and political stance of Shinto than by their music. Maybe it’s less a struggle for Japanese listeners who can relate immediately to the lyrical content... For me the listening experience has been alternately odd and bland.

LE∆THER STRIP: Walking On Volcanos

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (2803)
Jun 09 2006
Title: Walking On Volcanos
Format: CD EP
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
Claus Larsen returns with a new follow-EP to his last DCD album "After The Devastation", which got released at the beginning of this year. Some might think that Claus wants to make up what has maybe passed through the years in hiatus. His output tempo is currently unstoppable, think also on his side-project KLUTÆ and his releases in March/April. Here hides also a flaw behind this new EP, which features 6 new and unreleased tracks and two own produced remix works from his mentioned past album. I got the feeling that especially the new pieces drifting more and more into the gray area of averages. Both remixes, one for the heart-felting "Dying Is Easy, Life Is Harder (Abused)" and one for "Take Me Home Again", offer more interesting aspects through some fine sampling work and a dark melodic content. They hit almost all new tracks in quality, from which I would like to mention here "How Far Is It From Auschwitz To Guantanamo?" with its impressive politically message, plus also the sarcastic "I Love The Sound Of Acid Rain". Nothing also to say against the title track, nice melodic content walk in a line with calm and undistorted vocals. Two harder pieces forcing on speed and distorted vocals, "Hate And Fear" (Words Are weapons Mix)" and "Life Is A Kick In The Balls" (right said, Claus!), but... well, if Claus would do a second "Solitary Confinement", then these two pieces wouldn’t be under the first 50 tracks which would be chosen for this – this may gives you a hint how "strong" they are? Already the DCD "After The Devastation" had some time-outs for sure, but was nevertheless better conceived. Let’s keep the things a bit slower, Claus, we need you back in your best condition. The time will come...
Title: Your World Is Burning
Format: CD
Label: Accession Records (@)
Distributor: Indigo
Rated: *****
Andy LaPlegua tries hard to earn money by producing Electro/Industrial music. This is normally not very recommendable, moreover dangerous, but as far as the cow is able to give milk...who cares...? It is to mention that there are some nice "cows" placed in LaPlegua’s stable, other projects of him are ICON OF COIL and COMBICHRIST (both recording for Out Of Line). Under the PANZER AG moniker he herewith releases his second full-length CD. It is generally said his "American" version of Electro/Industrial music – this counts also for the artwork. So you’ll get also beside the expected portion of Electro inspired music, a full dose of real guitars sounds, some acoustic drums as well – and some real campfire romantic on tracks like "Among The Few" or "Not To Late" , this kind is definitively not my cup of tea. I have found only three pieces which made it for me, "Paper Angel", "Mother" and "Crash n’ Burn", all of them have a strong recognition and well filled in Electro ingredients. These mentioned tracks are also the ones we’ll surely can find on some dancefloors of the dark clubs. But most of the other stuff is really hard to pick up and drowns a lot in a too slow tempo. This is globally not the album which can grab too much attention by the mostly on electronic sounds minded European audience – it is still to hope that the good name Andy for sure has will help here. Check it in advance.

INSEKT: Teenmachine

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jun 09 2006
Artist: INSEKT
Title: Teenmachine
Format: CD
Label: Dependent / NTP (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
I should admit that I have never spent to much attention on the words of Bono/U2, describing INSEKT as his most favorite Industrial band. Also the latest efforts of this veteran act from the motherland of EBM, Belgium, caught never really my attention too much after their reunion. But INSEKT still remains also for me a well known name, but mostly for their first works released on the long out of business KK Records like "We Can’t Trust..." and "Stress". The classic "Music From Belgium" 5-Track MiniLP/MCD, which featured their legendary track "Bacteria" finally made them undying and gave them a cult status. That these talented musicians would leave their safe haven they had in Alfa Matrix, and would to the same time join Johan Van Roy’s new label NTP, the companion label to Dependent, well – this fact can be seen as almost sensational and surely not expected. So here we have the first audio result pressed on a silver circle, a new studio album with 10 new tracks plus two remix works by EBM acts like FUNKER VOGT and SPETSNAZ. Of course the music of INSEKT has grown, and the classic EBM structures have received some development or the band has added other musically influences taken out of up to date styles. That’s what I expected. But EBM is still alive and kicking here. Check out track 4, "Isolated", a rough and almost chaotic piece reminding strong on some SEVERE ILLUSION efforts. Track 7 "Give It Up / "Don’t Give It Up" features well worked out vocoderized vocals, although it slows down some tempo. Also their energetic "Bambifucker", which could enter successfully the Cyberl@b 5 compilation of the Alfa Matrix label, is available here – whatever it means to fuck Bambi??? The music is globally mostly rough and could win a stronger Punk-like attitude especially on the first few tracks. The sound-wizard Eric Van Wonterghem has again worked out a fine musically effort, while Mario’s vocals are stronger and more effective than ever before. This album grows with you, the longer you spin it. Good stuff.

Evestus: Wastelands

 Posted by eskaton   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (2789)
Jun 06 2006
Artist: Evestus (@)
Title: Wastelands
Format: CD
Label: D-Trash Records (@)
Rated: *****
From Evestus’s biography: "My biggest influences are Cartoons and videogames... screw that: FALLOUT! FALLOUT 2 changed my freckin life! The world I experienced playing that game is what I’m trying to bring to people through my music! I bring you the newwave of Electronic punk, Post apocalypse pop." That sounds about right. I must admit that I have a special place in my heart for the post-nuclear holocaust genre. I actually remember the drills and having to know where fallout shelters were (yeah, I know that this dates me a bit). The packaging is greatstraight out of 1950’s civil defense propaganda ("duck and cover" and the Civil Defense logo on the CD are nice touches). On to the music. Mad Max movies and other post-apocalyptic sources are heavily sampled in this album. This is beat driven, but if you are looking for hard and fast, you will be disappointed. In fact, "Health Guide – Featuring Stitch" is a nice swing track. "Visions of Before" is nice militaristic neo-classical with snare drum and synthesized strings. "Jet Flight part 2 – Bad Trip" begins with good harsh noisy beats, but then becomes more laid back. Overall, this is difficult to pigeonhole into a particular style, which is often a good thing. There seems to be a bit of everything here. That is not to say that the disc is random and inconsistent. The tracks all work together to make a cohesive whole. The samples also seem to work well with the music, creating a story rather than simply using them as a kind of shortcut as usually happens. This is a good album, but not terribly club friendly if that’s the kind of thing that you’re looking for. This is the first that I had heard from D-Trash or Evestus. So far, so good.

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