Music Reviews



ABSURD MINDS: Noumenon

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Feb 06 2006
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Artist: ABSURD MINDS (@)
Title: Noumenon
Format: CD
Label: Scanner (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****

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This trio hailing from Landau/Germany is maybe the most successful act recording for the Scanner label and they give us here just another example of a continuous good work on their known success formula. While I made my fun with their kind to win a "singing like Peter Spilles" contest in the early days, I recognize that this obviously intended sound of male vocals works well with their fat arrangements. It is Dark Electro in vein of IN STRICT CONFIDENCE or comparable acts without that scary and mystic feeling – maybe mass compatible Dark Electro? Anyhow – music and production are worth to listen to and flawless. For the vocals – well, that’s a kind of taste. ABSURD MINDS remain mostly in their one and only style globally. There are some hints here on this 14 new tracks, some alternative beat programmings on "Lord", or the use of some guitar sounds in "Stop The Fall" and "A Man Received The Answer 05". Especially the both last tracks I would call outstanding here, because also the Synth layers offer some more life and seem to be better worked out – while I am not sure if I really should advise them to concentrate more on guitar efforts... The one and only flaw is that this band cannot really surprise with anything else what couldn’t be compared with their earlier works. I would like to advise them to change something that can be called a real improvement. Try to compose different, change the kind of vocals – simply do something that nobody would expect from you. Globally a well done release which gets a few rotations, but nothing what can become my favorite. This release is also available as a limited DCD edition with 5 extra tracks, remixes of three album tracks, a remix of their classic "Damn The Lie" and a new unreleased piece called "No Saints, No Sinners".

SPIRITUAL REALITY: Fear Future

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Feb 06 2006
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Artist: SPIRITUAL REALITY (@)
Title: Fear Future
Format: CD
Label: Scanner (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
A new release on the Scanner label, out of the Dark Dimensions label group. SPIRITUAL REALITY is a German male/female duo presenting here their second full-length release. They already printed a nice style description on the sleeves of their CD, "Electronic – Independent – Pop". Well, that fits it for sure – I would maybe add a constant Futurepop feeling to almost all of their tracks here. The chosen sounds and arrangements do not offer any sense of experimentalism, almost all structures are known and can’t surprise – with the one and only exception named "The System (TRITOXIN Remix)" placed on the last position, track 13. I haven’t heard about this project named TRITOXIN, but this remix finally shows a harder and more experimental side falling into some Powernoise efforts. Nothing against their good sounding vocals which are their main used "instrument" and perfectly placed into the mix. But I would like to advise them to try at times something different. A lot of tracks walk on the same level – you hear them once, you hear them twice – but after this they are forgotten. Nice exceptions are luckily included here with "Lost In Lust", "The Way Is Not Clear" and of course with their best track "What Can I Do?" – it is one of the very few tracks which has the right balance between dancefloor attitude and slow melodic phases. There is also to mention the remix of the highly recognized band like MASSIV IN MENSCH on the good piece "The Way Is Not Clear" – but to destroy the given dark but melodious mood of the original with the replacement through some more dancefloor attitudes can’t end in a satisfying result. This isn’t at all a bad release – I recognize their good compositions, their tasty arrangements and the good production – but I do miss that surprising element which could help this duo to left the average behind.

Tuner (Pat Mastelotto & Markus Reute: Totem

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Feb 03 2006
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Artist: Tuner (Pat Mastelotto & Markus Reute
Title: Totem
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Unsung records (@)
Distributor: The Orchard, Soleilmoon, Burning Shed, DGM, Penn Music, JPC
Rated: *****
Except for the Young Gods and more live-d'n'b-oriented projects (such as the ones by Jojo Majer or Guy Licata), it seems to me that very few bands have understood how much a live drummer rocking out on his skins (instead of just swinging on the cymbals like many goth bands have done) can add to an electronic music project, making it more exciting, more powerful and more delivering. This record might not be able to change the course of events for the better in the future, but at least adds another great example of how effective the drum+electronics union really is.
US drummer Pat Mastelotto is certainly not new to this concept (he used to also play for King Crimson for more than 10 years), so when you pair up a guy like him with Germany's virtuoso touch-guitarist Markus Reuter (of Centrozoon fame), you'll pretty quickly end up with some kick ass good electronic-rock music. Contrarywise to what you might expect, this is not your average technical-abilities-showcasing prog-rock old-timers reuinion were skilled cats celebrate themselves with never ending solos and intricate fusion of rock tunes and jazz constructions. "Totem" rather focuses on composition and on conveying the message, whatever that might be, in an articulate, powerful and engaging way. Their mixture of avant-rock is heavily infuenced by the sum of the duo's experiences but sounds new and original all together. The multi-faceted talents of Mastelotto's versatile performances come out in the form of wild cymbal-heavy experimental drumming, drum-pad beats, square on the money drumming with powerful tom toms breaks (that might actually remind you of some of the afore-mentioned Swiss trio's stuff) and all of what's within the wide spectrum of a drummer's sonic and rhythmical palette. The space around him is smartly and un-obtrusively filled by guitar, bass, hammond parts, layers of electronics and even heavily-manipulated vocal parts, all written by Reuter in a way that complements Mastelotto's ideas while still showing Reuter's training without having to splatter out one single note of what you'd conventionally refer to as a solo. In fact you'll hardly ever hear anything like a regular guitar sound at all, since Reuter's prime pride is his touch-guitar, an instrument with an eight octave pitch range that he complements and interfaces with all his other electronic equipment (that includes what seems to be becoming every live musician's favourite digital performance software-based tool: Abelton Live).
Without getting too technical or too windy, I strongly suggest that you check out this Unsung Records release. The CD also features a video clip (directed by Renee Stieger) that showcases the most drum'n'bass (speaking off...) track on the record. Too bad that nothing of the duo's performance is included in the video.
Also make sure to check out www.patmastelotto.com and www.markusreuter.com.
A great example of musicianship and electro-acoustic rock-electronica.

Amen Orchestra: 17 waves

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Feb 03 2006
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Artist: Amen Orchestra
Title: 17 waves
Format: CD
Label: ArT-TeK Records (@)
Rated: *****

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From the beautiful front cover picturing a close-up of a violin with some russian lettering and an elegant western italic logo and album title, I expected something completely different, more along the lines of what Russian artists and composers in the Electroshock records roster usually sound like, instead ArT-TeK Records' artist Amen Orchestra caught me off guard with a fast-paced and crazed breakbeat-driven collage of d'n'b beats and pitch-ridden pads with an ear to classical music, which is used as inspiration, rather than medium. Russian artist Nizhny Novgorod delivers his version of clasically-trained electronic music programming with a shit load of stuff happening at once. Once you get past the frenziness you'll detect subtle orchestra arrangements (which in my opinion could/should have played a greater part in the greater scheme of things) and murky layers of droning dark-ambient influences, and, no matter what, you'll always be left with one of those super-fast-paced rhythm-noise/IDM albums that labels such as Hive or Daft records might have gotten you used to.

PRIDE AND FALL: Elements of Silence

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Feb 02 2006
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Artist: PRIDE AND FALL
Title: Elements of Silence
Format: CD
Label: Dependent (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****

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This Norwegian trio returns with their long awaited second full length release on the rising Dependent label. And some things musically have changed in between for the band. The still have a guitarist on board but the more I listen to this release I must really ask why. Late, with track 6 I can recognize the need to have him in the band – but before? Clear and clean produced Futurepop is the kind and style they do follow here. The track "Border", an energetic dancefloor filler – was already released as a download-only free available from the Dependent website and by the German Download portal Grenzwellen (www.grenzwellen.com). Technically here is nothing to find faults on. Krischan of ROTERSAND is again responsible for a decent mastering work, the arrangements are well produced and recorded – everything is smooth and catchy. But is it me, or does anybody else miss here something? Mostly all of the latest releases out on this label scored high and offered excellent stuff musically. PRIDE AND FALL do obviously follow the style which made VNV Nation big and successful, but finally I come to the result that there is still a big abyss between the original and the followers. Average is maybe the right word to describe this release as a whole – and the throne of (the older) VNV NATION is not in danger. Here is also space for some well worked out instrumental pieces like "Scarred", but also this can not really surprise. This CD walks on almost all tracks on the same decent level of quality – but it’s not that outstanding compared to several other Dependent releases.



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