Music Reviews



Virtual Space Industrial: Gehenna

 Posted by Ian Hall   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Mar 22 2005
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Artist: Virtual Space Industrial
Title: Gehenna
Format: CD
Label: Pandailectric (@)
Distributor: Alive
Rated: *****
Gehenna, the first full-length release by Poland’s Virtual Space Industrial [VSI], paints a dire picture of the future with its simmering mix of apocalyptic themes, highly charged electronic body music and thought-provoking samples. The album is named for a Latin word, meaning "a place of torment or suffering," and sure enough there are plenty of references to hell, including a number of thinly veiled suggestions that our world is headed quickly in that direction. The first track, "Holy Children," is mildly reminiscent of X Marks the Pedwalk in sound and feel, with its mildly processed vocals and smooth, catchy electro refrains. "Liar" slows down the musical pace and cranks up the vocal distortion. "Strange Films" grows from humble beginnings into a lengthy, deeply introspective examination of personal pain and anguish. "Traitor" lashes out angrily against the irresponsibility of those who would be guardians of the human race. "Return to Beginning" is a short, sweet musical interlude that connects nicely to the subtly evangelical "Rest of my Life." "Angel of Death" is fairly brimming with homily, Father and Son coming to kick our heathen asses for our dirty perversions. At least we’re given the courtesy of a decent dance beat during this righteous reaming! "Right Hand of God" puts war under the microscope, mocking man’s folly in the face of a higher power. "Love for a Moment" is lyrically cryptic, but pleasant nonetheless with its repetitive refrain. "Hope" injects a bit of their native Polish tongue into the mix with an incantation during the early part of the track, and chugs along on the rails of an arp refrain that is very similar to Evils Toy, circa Human Refuse. A much more languid pace drives the instrumental track, "Shadow of Death." The slow progression at the beginning of "Bad Dream" is something I’ve heard before, but I can’t remember the source for the life of me. It is quickly shed in favor of a fast-paced beat, evolving into the most solid dance track on the entire disc. The disc ends on a somewhat hopeful note, as VSI sing of a "New World Order."This album appears on Pandailectric, a German label, and follows an earlier EP entitled Angel of Death, which was released in 2002. Nice looking artwork and liner notes! The message isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, and there are some entertaining liberties taken with the English language, but the music is solid and the feeling sincere. Overall, it’s pretty damned good.

Duuster: Habitat

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Mar 17 2005
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Artist: Duuster (@)
Title: Habitat
Format: CD
Label: M-Tronic (@)
Rated: *****
France-based Dutch musician Duuster (formerly known as Element 11 on Unit/Possessive Blindfold records) mastered to put out his debut full lenght album at a time when people in the electronic scene were already aware of who he is and what music he makes, and that's mainly because he had left a mark in the scene with his previous split CD with CH.District, also released by the very attentive M-Tronic (most definitely one of the two best electronic labels in France, together with Parametric). "Habitat" gives further proof of Duuster's artistic maturity with a bunch of tracks that will make every heart that beats fast for the top-selling Warp artists beat even faster (and speaking of Warp, Funckarma also remixes one of Duuster's 11 tracks, and so do the americans Emotional Joystick, on Zod records). The sound is that signature IDM/ambient Autechre, Boards of Canada etc, the music is that of Duuster. Choose your chemical element!

The Azoic: Illuminate

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Mar 12 2005
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Artist: The Azoic
Title: Illuminate
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah Records (@)
Rated: *****
This U.S. duo's third and latest CD, Illuminate, is a very strong EBM/darkwave release that is also firmly rooted in Euro-dance. Most of the tracks are hard-hitting anthems with female vocals attractively and subtly woven in. The title track, "Illuminate," stands out the most. The last number is an interesting "medley" remix by cyberDJ of "Conflict," from Azoic's eponymous 2003 release on Nilaihah Records (the original mix is included on this disc as well, for some reason). "Ever" makes for a timely change-up midway through the CD. Its sinuous, sexy drum pattern is a welcome respite from the relentless club tempo of the first five tracks. It's my favorite moment on the disc--you can imagine stepping into a strip club for one song, before returning to the dance club.... For you '80s throwbacks, track number 8 is a nicely done cover of "Obsession" by Animotion, and as far as the overall flow is concerned it is an excellent choice.

Singer Kristy Venrick never strays beyond the bounds of good sense in her delivery, and at times makes tasteful use of the vocorder. Her lyrics display many personal themes--desire, obsession, devotion, loss of love and many emotions in between. Musically, Steve Laskarides's programming is fiercely competent, and the production is appropriately tight and professional.

Illuminate is full of good, solid, no-nonsense dance grooves that would mix well in any club setting (and no doubt already has, by this time). I'd say that if The Azoic can one day transcend the genres that this new CD pays homage to, they could be unstoppable. The otherwise excellent CD insert design could have used a little proofreading in the liner notes and lyric sheet.... Nonetheless, it amounts to a terrific dancefloor wallop to the ears, and is a must-have if you are already a fan. And your iTunes will love it, too.
Mar 08 2005
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Artist: Von Magnet (@)
Title: De L'Aimant
Format: CD
Label: Fairplay
Distributor: Orkhestra International
Rated: *****
You may probably think of Von Magnet as a sort of super-group, where great music originates from the joint efforts of the leader Phil Von (electronics, vocals, lyrics) together with Flore Magnet (vocals, lyrics), Mimetic (electronics, percussions), the collaboration of flamenco guitarrist Sabine Van Den Oever and the additional production of sound designer Norscq (Colder, Atlas Project). Even though this album is less exciting to me than some other things I love more, it deserves five stars for its originality and beauty. Phil Von has always been a precursor, a piioneer, a researcher, and all his love for experimenting with multi-cultural sonics show through his work in "De L'Aimant", an album that he describes, sings and promotes as "electro-flamenco". For once, the description is more than appropriate and not nearly exxagerated or showing off. You get the characteristically Spanish sounding flamenco guitars, the beautiful cajon percussions and other percussive patterns, the andalusian singing and all the warmth, melancholy, sweetness and intense passion that come with them All of this is matched to electronic textures and programming, lots of samples (italian voices, english voices, arab instruments and more), beats and layers of inspiring digital sound. While still re-inventing himself after 20 years of great music (remember 1987's "El Sexo Surrealista"), the Von Magnet music collective will provide you with awesome, passionate, inspiring, poetic and truly borderless music. Highly recommended!

NEON CAGE EXPERIMENT: Oscillations

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Mar 08 2005
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Artist: NEON CAGE EXPERIMENT (@)
Title: Oscillations
Format: CD
Label: Cortex Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Records
Rated: *****
A new band on a new label but if you take a look on the names of the band members you get it that this is not an amateurish output of just one new dark Electro/Industrial band. Ladies and Gentlemen, here we have the legitimate follow-up project of the two French legends of this music genre, STIGMA (was signed to Daft and Ant-Zen) and AXONAL WARFARE (Celtic Circle Prod.). After hearing this whole album I cannot believe that this should really be a debut – but so it is and it left me breathless! I am pretty much impressed how much ideas and different influences this talented band is able to handle After the excellent Powernoise starter "First" I expected an album very close to that old STIGMA sound but then the directory changes into a globally dark Electro sound with some similarities to SKINNY PUPPY (a strong influence of these Canadian masters can be heard especially on "Final Vision" with some "Worlock"-like vocals under a heavy use of a vocoder...). The track "Sharpest Tool" reminds me a bit on the latest angry INTERLACE output while tracks like "Our Judgement" and "We Two Are One" seem to be designed to feed that need to enter the dancefloors with some more genre-like sounds. To make the diversity of the tracks nearly perfect, both tracks "Surrender" and "Breaking Machines" feature some sampled guitar sounds. Also remarkable is the excellent vocal input of Laurent K. who doesn’t need a huge machinery to bring an excellent vocal performance. We have here a remarkable output full of diverse styles and very well worked-out sounds and ideas. Don’t hesitate to make your contact with the label and order this nice Electro/Industrial album! Great stuff here!


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