Music Reviews

Utopia Banished: s/t

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 22 2003
Artist: Utopia Banished (@)
Title: s/t
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: selfreleased
Utopia:Banished is a Deutsch one-man project spitting out some angry ass distortion-loaded music with screaming vocals and straight forward industrial attitude. It all starts out like a Sonar or Dive thing but then adds down-pitched sampled metal guitar riffs (that for the pleasure of those who hate guitars are kept low enough not to bother anyone and pretty much act like added pressure), frantic electronics, industrial beats, treated and over-driven vocals. Myself, on the other hand, I love guitars on electronics so when the second song is about to start (with an equally exciting power electronics intro as in the opening track) and the scratching 6-strings get a little more dominant and pounding, I enjoy myself in the reminiscence of some of my favourite German old school aggro-industrial bands, like Die Krupps. The constant EBM-ish screamed vocals contribute to the violence and make sure (if need be, not that it did) that reminiscence is never confused with copying. When the short riff mayhem is over Chris moves on to Reznor-like whispering, soft disturbed electronics, padded beats and aleatory tension in the air. It's foreseeable that he's just gathering forces to launch the next sonic assault, a more down-tempo song big on analog sounds. More KMFDM/F242/Cat Rape Dogs/Borghesia can be found here and there but Chris shows his skills in never being redundant and instead moving on to a frenetic drum'n'bass beat that will make you remember what year you are in. When the piano wraps it up it gets darker and holier, with choruses, big chords, treated vocals and samples working up against his usual screaming performances. I hope that with my references I didn't give you the impression that there's lots of nostalgia involved, it's just a matter of feel. This is modern sounding stuff and it's good stuff, which carries around a certain national vibe that you'll like and recognize only if you were around for the glorious days. If you weren't give this a listen and prepare for the re-birth.

Front 242: Pulse

 Posted by KlingKlangBedlam   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 21 2003
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Artist: Front 242
Title: Pulse
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records
Distributor: Metropolis Records
Ok, I realize how psyched up the scene is about this CD coming out, since it is the first F242 in over a decade (not counting "ReBoot" the live CD). But also realize some changes within the group, which may leave some of the hardcore fans who thought ReBoot" was just a phase a little disappointed. Gone are the hard rhythms of "Tyranny For You" and the industrial danciness of earlier work, replaced now with a much more technofied edge, loaded to the brims with MIDI in and erratic patterns. This CD is very... ... ... ... .unique... ... .unpredictable... .and is up to the hype that this is a CD that will keep others in the electronic scene scrambling to keep up. You have to remember most of this band’s peers are bands they inspired thoroughly, so not too many people can give F242 a run for their money outside of Frontline Assembly. Gone also are the most of the vocals of earlier work, this time relying much more on just base structure than anthem tracks. Also it seems as if half the CD is one track with some sharp turns and some time shifts, to the point where you wonder how track 1, "SEQ666" suddenly became track 5 "Beyond The Scale Of Comprehension". After that comes, ummmmmmmmmm "Song", where Jean Luc DeMeyer’s vocals pop in, and the olden industrial rhythms (yeah!!!!! Rivet stomp time!) in the chorus. Good old school F242 shining through! Then comes the slow track, "One", with it’s plecking drum line and subtle backdrop of multiple soundlayers, all over Jean Luc DeMeyer’s softened vocals, ala C-Tec’s "Darker". Still seems like he has that same emotional juice left from that project, which I’m anxious to see if it’s in Gaiden and MorF. "Matrix" pops into the foray with it’s laid back grooves, and simplistic analog synth lines all layered over top of vocals and subdued, dubbed layers of sound. I absolutely love the faded drum line on this one, it kind of reminds me of a tap dance rhythm!And just when you think you got the last track on here, and the hardened 242 fans start to sob... ... ... .. welcome to hidden track heaven!!!! It’s simply hidden track after hidden track of whole complete, thought out songs, practically enough for most labels to shove onto a second CD and charge more. All in all, over 20 tracks, and too many strong ones to name here in detail since I’ve blabbed enough... ... .. So, all in all, if you’re looking for rivet stomping gold like the old days, may wanna stick to your older stuff and C-Tec. But, all generic bands that have been passing themselves off as EBM, be prepared to be like sickle before the grain! This CD is an odd combo of that and thick-ended techno, with a hint here and there of industrial, but overall done with a severe addiction factor and a danceable factor that may just leave many newer so called EBM bands (and Future Pop bands that pass themselves off as such) either tossing out their instruments in surrender or starting to upgrade their synth and programming skills. The masters are back and the sound is like a million mile totem pole looking down on all others in electronic with a loud fuck you’! Rating: 10. Very highly recommended.


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 18 2003
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Title: Rapture
Format: CD
Label: Ground Under Prods (@)

Australia for us is kind a mistery. We think about it like a sort of mixture of Asia and USA with an unknown history and with misterious people and animals who reside there. Personally I know few bands coming from that land. I know also an Australian goth website (Aether Sanctum and that's a sign that goth and electronic music have a following there too. From Melbourne (what a coincidence, it's where my uncle lives) arrives Resurrection Eve, an electro goth duo which to my ears sounds like a mixture of the last Covenant and O.M.D. with a goth touch here and there. A thing is for sure, their second CD RAPTURE will be a pleasant surprise for a lot of people. Well produced with good melodies and a training dance background: these are the highlights of this CD which musically isn't innovative but will appassionate the lovers of melodic e.b.m.


 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Apr 11 2003
Title: Tripod
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: AFE Records (@)
A little 3" bastard featuring three remixes of "Tripod" and one of "Promis", showing AFE's good taste for underground electronica and allegedly starting a remix mania which will give birth to more releases of this kind in the future. I don't know the originals, but anyway, roughly, the 3" edit version of "Tripod" is a good track of obsessive techno-electronica, halfway between Aphex and Autechre; the DJ Lips' (aka Andrea Marutti, Amon/Never Known/AFE mastermind) "Sweep the Pod" mix adds layers of beats and melodies, while a034 (jeez, his debut cd may well have been my first review for Chain!) mercilessly delivers an amphetamine-soaked, hyper-cinematic version, with a fat bass to increase hysteria. Very good, very close to his style too. Finally, "Promis" is processed by the mysterious Spiral in a broken glitch version - sounds like a vinyl massacred by too many playings.

Freeform: Condensed (Finest Filets1997-2002)

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Mar 21 2003
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Artist: Freeform (@)
Title: Condensed (Finest Filets1997-2002)
Format: CD
Label: Nonplace (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Following Simon Pyke's own CDR label Freefarm's debut 100-copies limited edition release "Late Surfaces 1990-2000" (which collects unreleased material), "Condensed (Finest Filets 1997-2002)" is a Freeform tribute/retrospective/best of to be released by the German label Nonplace on April 8th. He's been making electronic-inspired music since 1995 (you'll find Freeform releases on Warp, Skam, Worm Interface and Quartermass) and his production embraces ambient/IDM as much as experimental and dub, to mention just a few of his music's aspects (check out "Phu Qouc" to get an idea of how "free" and abstract he can get, but don't be deceived by that because it'll be just one side). For that matter his moniker is not only a perfect art nickname but also a good description of the type of electronica he proposes. It's hard to pin point the time period the pieces are from, and I don't know if we are even supposed to, but it's easy to see how Pyke has experimented with a number of styles, shaping every one of his creations according to the particular vision his eclectic and multifaceted brain was focusing on and going after. Nonplace recordings' boss Burnt Friedman (Flanger, Nu Dub Players) has risen to the challenge of transposing the multi-dimensional world of this artist into one single CD by (re-)editing thirteen (only nine on the LP version) of his best cuts in a continuous mix. Very interesting record. Good entry point for getting acquainted with Freeform's music. Good collection for Freeform fans. Especially good buy for vinyl fanatics (since most of the tracks have never seen the light on vinyl anyway).

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