Music Reviews



Vomito Negro: Death Sun

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (8339)
Aug 06 2014
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Artist: Vomito Negro (@)
Title: Death Sun
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mailorder
Rated: *****
I think it is unnecessary to introduce this Belgian cult-project a bit more detailed, isn't it? Gin Devo strikes back with his famous EBM/Electro music-project and offers a completely new album signed to Scanner / Dark Dimension label-group in Europe, but thankfully too with a license deal to Metropolis Records. I call this release as being one of the best license deals of the last 6 months! 'Death Sun' picks up the ideas left after their last years' marvellous album 'Fall Of An Empire'. The musical approach of this project is essentially based on the EBM sound outfit so popular in Europe in the mid-80s. If you count Front 242, The Klinik, and/or A Split-Second to be the most prominent names out of the Belgian EBM-heydays, you have to add Vomito Negro in the same row. And also for this new album counts still the same successful formula: no usage of software-based synthesizers, only hardware equipment has been used to record this album. The result comes out as wanted: it's purest, massive produced EBM/Electronica-music with the dark mood so typical and genre-building for Vomito Negro, if you remember your beloved collections with classics like 'The New Drug', 'Human', 'Shock' or 'Dare'. Gin Devo's music impresses with the machinated pressure through hammering sequencer loops and tough kick-and-snare works with the typical raw and Punk-like kind of the EBM heydays. This album kicks of with haunting instrumental tune called 'Time' with sinister sounding synth-pads in a Downtempo-like, Dark Electro-vein. 'Stain' animates for the first time the dark audience to storm the floors in the clubs with its cold and repetitive bass line sequences and the dramatic sounding vocal performance of Gin. 'Fighting The Force' also doesn't take prisoners and impresses with its monotonous song-structure and the tormented vocal performances. 'Obsession' is still danceable, but lesser drastic produced, more subtle with the exception of the pummelling percussion section to the end of the track. 'White Lights' with its slightly distorted rhythm-section proves once again the originality of the musician Gin Devo and actually no one using software plug-ins will be able to copy this in a satisfying manner. Same counts for the noisy soundscapes in 'Nairaland' woven into a Klinik-al rhythm section. Deeply impressed I was also with the closing tune 'Angel Fire', an epic sounding Dark Electro instrumental tune with a repetitive kick and snare-work. Crafty and powerful produced, this album doesn't leave any wishes open if you want to find a well-fitting soundtrack to bring back the tough Belgian EBM heydays. Forget whatever you have heard lately out of the Harsh-EBM camp, because this one here is more intense and most importantly more authentic produced than any of the recent up-to-date stuff. Excellent work!

THYX: Super Vision

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Aug 06 2014
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Artist: THYX (@)
Title: Super Vision
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mailorder
Rated: *****
Since the Austrian Electro-/Industrial magicians of Mind.In.A.Box are quite bonded thematically to the ongoing story-board of the main protagonist Black and his adventures in the Dreamweb (story written by A. Gruber, www.agruber.com), it may has become a bit boring for the mastermind behind, Stefan Poiss So this MIAB side-project has come to life and has been named after a song written by Poiss about 15 years ago. This song and its name have a deeper meaning for Poiss, because this name stands for a synonym of a specific kind of soundscape he has once discovered. So now he hunts after this soundscape under THYX and tries hard to re-create what he once discovered. 'Super Vision' is already the third album on this hunt in a very short time-line. Of course, Poiss cannot at all wear off all of the sound ingredients which have made MIAB that famous and highly recognized. Also under THYX he produces his well-known formula with a futuristic sound-design, with bombastic synthesizer layers and also the often with MIAB discovered vocoderized vocals. So THYX is more than a valuable copy to MIAB and you can be assured to get another high-quality release out of the Austrian sound-stable. Musically Poiss services a wide playing-field and entertains with genre-bending changes. 'Robots Don't Lie' is a decent sci-fi storyboard with wobbling synthesizer-leads and a straight beat-work. Another great tune to satisfy the dancefloor-junkies in the dark clubs can be discovered with 'Forgotten', while the charming pop harmonies of 'Our Only Home' have to be mentioned too in the highlight-listing of this overall marvellous album. 'Für Immer' combines different vocal performances into a darker than usual sound design. This list of highlights can be continued endlessly while it only proofs that Strfan Poiss still enjoys his being in creating unique soundscapes for the after-world. If you've been impressed with MIAB before you will also love THYX. 'Super Vision' is a top-notch Electronica album and another lecture for all the poor wannabes out there providing keyboard-music with factory preset-sounds.

Xenturion Prime: Mecha Rising

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jul 23 2014
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Artist: Xenturion Prime (@)
Title: Mecha Rising
Format: CD
Label: Progress Productions (@)
Distributor: Broken Silence
Rated: *****
Last years' news of the demise of Code 64 has been rather a kick into the stomach, since their last studio album 'Trialogue' was and still is one of the best releases of the Swedish Progress Productions in the last 2 ' 3 years. But here comes the cure like phoenix out of the ashes: Xenturion Prime isn't the working title of the new 'Transformers' movie, but the new project of 2/3 band members of the last Code 64 crew. Vocalist Bjorn Marius Borg and Hans-Olof Mattsson have agreed to keep the flame burning and continue under this new project name. Their first sign of life for this new project was the track 'Rise' released in December 2013, which could successfully enter Germany's GEWC-charts. So here comes their official debut album with 12 tracks and surprise, surprise, the stylistic components often heard and beloved in Code 64 are globally featured on this album too. 'Mecha Rising' impresses with its skilfully arranged Electronica sound-outfit and satisfies the highest demands. Mostly woven into a straight and danceable Electro-/Futurepop sound-environment, the excellent produced music also leaves enough space for the compelling vocals of Bjorn Marius who has impressed already on 'Trialogue'. Generally compared with the last Code 64 album I tend to say, that under Xenturion Prime they also allow a bit tougher styles to enter in the whole sound environment. They like to experiment with the vocals to produce different moods and already 'Rise' was a good example for this. This album features many examples to allow dancefloor action: 'Second Nature' and/or 'Vermilion' have to be named as they also leave scorches of catchiness in the ear-channels. Still attractive I find their obvious dedication to futuristic, sci-fi-related themes. So they often use Spacesynth-like, epic synthesizer-arrangements and their whole outfit sounds very opulent and bombastic, 'Radiant' has to be named as a perfect example here. 'Realms' then adds a bit rest and slows down the tempo in comparison to the rather action-driven other tracks and presents us Mind.in.a.Box-like vocoder effects on the vocals, nicely done! And at least, just if you think this album turns out a bit lesser intense than it started, the final tune 'Beyond Infinity' is another valuable diamond worth to mention. Albums like this won't be written that often and 'Mecha Rising' stands brightly out of the uncountable mass of mediocrity releases. Xenturion Prime is not only the valid follow-up project to the highly respected Code 64, this powerful project rather replaces it!

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Artist: Hot Victory (@)
Title: Hot Victory
Format: 12"
Label: Eolian Empire (@)
Throughout Hot Victory, Caitlin Love and Ben Stoller toy with exuberant instrumental synth music. Somewhat unusually, they do so seated together from behind a variegated command centre of tangled drum kits, pads, samplers and probably more besides. The drum kit, augmented as it may be in this case, persists as the locus for each composition here, driving everything forward, determining structure. In other words, altogether it feels ideologically like the product of drummers ("[a] man and a woman, joined at the drums", as the press release puts it) even while markedly more than drumming is taking place. So although the duo consists of percussionists first and foremost, the palette isn't nearly as restrictive as it seems. It's more than adequate for the development of layered, muscular and entertaining tracks.

Notably, while rhythm (and the physical bashing out thereof) lies at the core of the album's dynamics, the pair never quite indulges in any kind of drum solo. With the other instruments and tech intertwined with the kits themselves, they apparently decline to isolate the traditional kit. Instead, perhaps they view and incorporate these additions all as part of the same expressive matter, all similarly valid and accessible to one carefully-positioned limb or another. There is certainly a considered, consistent, even playful alignment of diverse sounds at play, which can be really satisfying. Both rhythmically and texturally, entertaining use is made of speech and monster effects from the 1982 horror classic The Thing in the album's closer 'Labyrinthos'. Throughout and particularly noticeable during the fade-out, a rough synth note rattles briefly every few measures, leading out the drone. Strongly it echoes a Thing sample already heard; a bubbling scream from one of the film's monsters.

Vigorous and very tight, the substance of each of the six tracks (five on the vinyl version) follows something along these lines. 'Anasazi' derives its samples from the titular X-Files episode. 'Tetraktys' is a gleeful jam with a moist lead and arpeggios barrelled along by the percussion. Digital-only inclusion 'Harmony of Spheres' opens with a sultry synth brass line and ambience, rather flattering to Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, before the mounting energy of the kits leads it elsewhere.
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Artist: Jules Verne Theory
Title: Exposure
Format: CD
Label: Ninthwave Records
Rated: *****
Time is out of joint, to quote Hamlet. The prevalence and availability of information and recording technology have made it seem as if we're living in every decade of the last 130 years, simultaneously. Want to spend yr hours surrounded by the 1920s? No problem. Want to pretend yr a quaker farmer from 1890? There's groups and communities for that, as well. What we're left with is a disorienting, but uplifting, atemporality.

The stage is set to finally realize a legitimate steampunk future, as the past rubs leather tweed elbows with the polished chrome future. This can be seen admirably in Exposure, the debut EP from the Jules Verne Theory.

Exposure is like a disco soundtrack for Captain Nemo shimmying on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise, as Italo good-times futurism meets Brad Fiedel Terminator beats, as stories of jetpacks and abandoned cities unfold.

There is great power and potential in this anachronism. We now have the ability to decide what reality tunnel we want to live in. Want optimistic futurist? What about corroded apocalyptica? Whatever makes you happy. We now have the ability to focus on what we like, and be surrounded by it, and hopefully ignoring the things we despise until they go away.

Of course, Jules Verne Theory are aware of the shadow side of this escapism, as the future they are envisioning is not entirely rosy. Like on "She's A Riot", where "every motion above ground is observed", while on "How I Get Things Done", "everybody needs something to distract themselves from getting things done." Like their namesake, Jules Verne Theory use the vernacular of classic sci-fi to critique and comment on the world.

Jules Verne Theory have the proper perspective to provide critique. While this may be their first EP, Richard Slee and Arron Clague have been in the music biz for ages. Slee's worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and done successful remixes for Heaven 17, while Claque is heavily involved with theater on his home of the Isle Of Man. Between them, they've seen dozens of styles and trends come and go. They should be immune from hype, and have the perspective of experience.

This is mostly true. Jules Verne Theory are not interested in fitting in to any trending genres. They're not making trap remixes of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea or dubstep remixes of La Voyage Dans La Luna (although Air had some success with something like the latter). Instead, they focus on classic electro-tinged synthpop to deliver their anti-gravity dance parties and detached social critique.

One wishes, however, that with the perspective of experience, that Jules Verne Theory had paid more attention to classic mixing and mastering techniques, as Exposure suffers from the loudness wars of 2014. It's hyper-polished, squeaky clean, squeezed and sculpted and compressed to stand out over car commercials and mall crowds. It's not a deal-breaker, but it can get a bit wearing on the ears.

One suspects that Jules Verne Theory's mission is to infiltrate the clubs with their steampunk grooves. Perhaps it is to offer some of that wisdom and perspective, or maybe something as simple as trying to increase awareness of classic sci-fi, both of which are good things. But surely subtlety and confidence are traits found in all eras. And isn't it the job of any good time traveller to try and correct the sins of whatever past or future they are inhabiting? Or bringing those insights back to the present?

I suspect Jules Verne Theory will be successful in their mission, and these sounds will find favor with the rivetheads, robo-jocks, and space cowboys. Here's to hoping, next time, they believe in themselves a bit more, and leave a bit more to the shadows and imagination.


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