Music Reviews



CriBabi: Volume

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 08 2002
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Artist: CriBabi
Title: Volume
Format: CD
Label: Fidela (@)
In a time where the British wave is not catching up in the US anymore (thank god for that!) somebody did make it all the way over here (strangely enough, apparently without the help of some major record company pushing it some way), and as far as I can tell, this time it's because they deserved it, as opposed to just because they dress like losers, don't shave for a couple of days in a row and plagiarize Oasis and Blur. All the way from UK and Japan, here comes Cribabi (pronounced Cry Baby): well known producer/musician Andy Cox (formerly with Fine Young Cannibals and The Beat) and Yukari Fujiu (formerly with The Groopies, besides releasing two solo records on Pony Canyon records), who, let me tell you, is nothing like your average Japanese front-girl!
Although "Volume" is not your average Chain D.L.K. material either, it is an innovative piece of art, where genre-bending eclectic funky mixtures of pop, rock, electronica, ambient, blues, trip-hop convey with the eccentricity of a great female vocalist that sings totally catchy tunes ranging from hypnotic and moody to melodic and sophisticated and that can sound like Garbage, Imbruglia, Bjork, Etheridge, Portishead and so much more... you wouldn't tell she is a Tokyo's underground gem for that matter... She went to London to work with Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and ended up eating and drinking fish and chips in a pub, studying Cockney rhyming slang and getting sonically involved with Cox in his lo-fi Studio Zero (somewhere around Covent Garden's market, where the all street artists are...). Things like that only happen in London and in New York City...
This is an extremely multifaceted and changing album where dynamism and crossovers are an every-song occurrence. You really have it all here, lots of electronics, distorted guitars, acoustic guitars, Hawaiian guitar, bass, trumpet, sitar, harmonica, gamelan, metallic and wood percussions. Of course many of these acoustic instruments may happen to be sampled, but you get the picture! Of course Cox's presence makes sure that the rhythmical body of the opera is solid, consistent and un-compromised, even when it just comes down to a shaker, an egg and a splash... Of course the most thrilling and coolest beats to me remain the dirty r'n'b-vibe samples or the fast pace drum'n'bass-driven break-beatz...
The seventish-psychedelic folding cover comes in a never before seen plastic case that looks like a wallet plus the CD comes with an appetizing Macromedia/QuickTime PC/Mac presentation of the band, also including 2 video-clips (of which one in both English and French version), a bio, pictures and a taste of other Fidela releases.
The song "I'm the One", backed with "Beautiful Mistake" (which has also been garage-remixed by Dj Bad Cop), have been choosen as Cribabi's single, also available on Fidela records.
Next time you are in London and you are walking by a lake, be on the look out for a short Jap girl with a blue-white walking toy dog that responds to the name Oishi (I know a piano player from Tokyo with the same name!)...
This is global pop for the future (hopefully! ...'cause personally I am sick of the Manchester crap of the past years!)...
PS: Look out for a Cribabi givaway on Chain D.L.K. for your chance to get a free CriBabi CD!!!

Negative Format: Static

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 07 2002
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Artist: Negative Format
Title: Static
Format: CD
Label: Sector 9 Studios (@)
To those of you who remember their "Distant Pulses" (that we reviewed on an earlier issue), NF's new album will come as a pleasant surprise. Although it is not my preferred sound, I have to admit (and it is pretty damn obvious) that there is talent involved here. You can hear it from the composition of the pieces to the manipulation of the sounds. Definitely a club-goers' favourite, "Static" goes for obsessively hammering dance beats, groovy and sharp rave sounds ("Downfall"), electronic textures backing the structure, sporadic space-ambient scenarios with Kraftwerk-like vocoding ("Genocide mix"), cinematic soundscapes with a techno-driving force ("Gateway"), more Kraftwerkian electro-dance-pop in the catchy title track, volcanic lava cascades of bubbling analogue electro-industrial-techno - sort of FLA meet Jeff Mills (like in the amazing Aiboforcen remix - I got to hear this band cause this song is my kicker!), experimental-textured techno with ebm vocals ("Impant mix") and ambience d'n'b breakbeats (the sloppy but nice "End of Transmission" outro)...The three remixes of the title track by Informatik, Headscan and Implant plus one mind-blowing remix of "N.E.A.R." (from "Distant Pulses") by Aiboforcen spice up the sizzling sup and make it into a plate that has a lot to offer to the bouncing dance-hungy handbangers out there. All tracks between 126bmp and 140bpm, so be prepared! The madness goes on for 50 minutes, intro and outro included... if only CDs came with stroboscopic and laser lights! If you don't mind too much dance in your soup, this CD is a total blast!

God Module: Perception

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 07 2002
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Artist: God Module
Title: Perception
Format: CD EP
Label: Sector 9 Studios (@)
Released just a little over a month ago on Session 9 Studios (the same label that did the new Negative Format album, of which you can read in these very pages), God Module's "Perception" EP follows their debut "Artificial" and presents only three new songs backed with eight remixes, totalling eleven tracks.God Module is dance-ebm that in my opinion lacks a little in originality when it hangs in the same old cliches of punching filtered synth lines and sequences, distorted whispering vocals and steady beats.Following is a list of the bands who provided remixes along with what flavor they gave the remix and with their web url for more info: Infekktion (stomping industrial - infektion.de), Culture Kulture (rave-industrial - culturkultur.com), Dismantled (dark/ambient - dismantled.org), Parallel (techno/electro - another Sector 9 band), Cut.Rate.Box (ebm - cutratebox.com), L'Ame Immortelle (ebm-dance - lameimmortelle.com), Stomkern (ebm - stomkern.com), Grendel (industrial - industrialnation.nl/grendel).Indeed the remix war formula is an interesting way to get an EP together, especially when remixers get way personal about the outcome, but in this case it just didn't click for me... But then again, let's not forget it's always a matter of taste.

VV.AA.: The Resurrection

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 01 2002
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: The Resurrection
Format: CD
Label: WTII Records (@)


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WTII Records carries some of the newest top-notch electro, ebm, industrial, synth pop, gothic, and darkwave. This is the first compilation by this rising new label featuring some big names like In Strict Confidence who kick off the CD with "Kiss Your Shadow", Stromkern, Regenerator, Beborn Beton and Arcanta to name a few. There is lots of new and great talent on this compilation worth taking time out for. In Strict Confidence begin the CD with some great EBM that is a bit of an industrial/darkwave mix. This is followed by HMB a male/female duo whose unique combination of EBM, trance and techno put them in a class by themselves. It's said that they recently enlisted Dennis Ostermann (vocals and programming for In Strict Confidence) so who knows what will come of this project in the future. Melotron, a synthpop trio from Germany, is up next with their more EBM sounding "Tanz Mit Dem Teufel" (Dance with the Devil). You might a find a few mild similarities between Melotron and Beborn Beton. One of my favorites on the label is Stromkern. Their blend of electro/EBM is a sound that is rather fresh and new while still somehow familiar to fans of the original industrial scene memebers. They create highly energetic dance rhythms using modern technology and some interesting mechanical clicks and whirs they've created. Most recognizable is Ned Kirby's original singing style. Imagine an eclectic mixture of trip hop and techno combined with a little bit of noise and goth and you'll have Trigger10D. Sort of like the No Doubt of electro. The first to really catch my attention thanks to an earlier review I've done is Beborn Beton. I 'highly' suggest checking out that review for Tales From Another World. If you have not heard him yet and you are into electro, synthpop, industrial, and/or any type of dance music he is a must hear. This particular track, "Peach 2002", is actually one of his slower tunes but the smoothness of his style is very evident. If you like this wait to you hear his more upbeat stuff. Controlled Fusion could rightfully be considered an In Strict Confidence side-project with lead vocalist Dennis Ostermann collaborating with programmer Steffan Schuhrke. Controlled Fusion seems to signify a unity of fusing the sounds of the 80's with modern electro. Don't think this means it sounds like wave music because it doesn't. It's hard and busy. Regenerator are already becoming known for their blend of Dark Electro. This male/female duo is comprised of Patrice Synthea and Wrex Mock. Alfa-Matrix states, "Wrex's sombre melancholic growling vocals indeed always enter in perfect duality with Patrice's sensual breathy vocals. Her vocal performances confirm she has a greater vocal range than many of her contemporaries...Their music combines harsh electronics and dark themes with melodic vocals and synaptic soundscapes." What you get from them is a contrast of the lush and beautiful with harsh mechanics blended into syncronicity. State of the Union combines industrialism with the more accessible sound structure of EBM. State of the Union comes off as sort of EBM sounding Darkwave politicalism. Deceptio Mentis' "In Absence" is a highly vocoded transient dance rhythm with a riding hook. The band seems to combine elements of Trance and EBM in similar ways to DJ culture club tracks but with a more dark and industrialized feel to it. This unique style seems to set them up for airplay by trance dj's as well as industrial nightclubs. The compilation ends with Arcanta which sounds very much like something you would expect from Projekt Records. It has the tonality of Dead Can Dance and has been described as mysterious, majestic and intense. Founded by Thomas-Carlyle Ayres Arcanta combines wordless hymns and Sanskrit text with hand drumming as well as ambient electronic textures and middle-eastern instrumentation. "Combining elements of world, religious, and classical music, Arcanta has a style and sound that is truly unique."

Siderartica: Night Parade

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Sep 30 2002
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Artist: Siderartica (@)
Title: Night Parade
Format: CD
Label: Shadowlab
Distributor: E.N.D.E., Audioglobe, Triton
What starts out like a female-fronted power-noise album inspired by Dive, instead quite suddenly turns into an electronica record of intense emotional contents inspired more by 80es bands like Ultravox, but definitely not out of touch with the present. The beautiful Elena Fossi, also one of the newest members of the historical electro/dark band Kirlian Camera, further reveals her talent as a songwriter and musician with Siderartica, a three-piece project she heads, aided by her brother Andrea and by Andrea Savelli. The entire album is made with MC-505s, treated guitars turned into frozen harmonies and of course heavy sound processing and vocals (treated, reverberated, whispered, sung, spoken and even operatic): in other words this is not your average pc/mac-chopped-up-samples record! Actually no samples were used at all here, except in the album's only remix by Gianluca Becuzzi (aka Lamachina) which uses Alva Noto samples. Considering the material and the referrals of these sounds I am surprised no theremin was used, but we are not too far off from that anyway. The eleven tracks of "Night Parade" (9 original compositions, one remix and one Joy Division cover of "Atmosphere" - another influence of the Siderartica sound, if you will) delivers joy and sadness, great electronic music and glacial industrial-ambient soundscapes, pounding beats and minimal rhythmical patterns. All this graciously enriched by female vocals singing English, Italian and German lyrics (all printed inside the beautiful, blue-ish, thick and glossy booklet of the standard version). Unfortunately Elena didn't send us the 102-copies limited metal-box edition so we can't tell you anything about how that looks.If you are after the Kirlian Camera/Stalingrad influence you will get some, sure, and even though the cold siberian apocalyptic vision is mostly present and the ethereal vocals remind of KC's female and romantic touch, this is not necessarily as martial, as claustrophobic, as grand and as complex as the sound of the masters. I am not trying to oversimplify here or to file it under easy-listening pop music, not at all, I am just letting you know that you are dealing with a great project, a great sound, but also with a differnt sound, an original creature, and basically with the softer, smoother and more melodic side of this italian singer; not just with a KC clone (as if that would be of any interest to anybody anyway). Elena Fossi's debut is a great proof of musicianship. Get it while you can!


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