Music Reviews

Super Dragon Punch: Shatter

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (10195)
Dec 03 2017
Artist: Super Dragon Punch (@)
Title: Shatter
Format: CD EP
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Super Dragon Punch? What's that - a martial arts move? An alcoholic party drink with a kick? Nope. It's Belgian artist Jérémie Venganza with the debut release of his synthpunk/8bit/industrial project, an EP titled 'Shatter,' and it does pack a bit of a wallop. Venganza won last year’s Dark Demons Night, scoring an opening slot for Belgium’s illustrious BIMfest festival, so he's not coming without cred to the scene. Vocally, he reminds me a little of Dirk Ivens (Klinik, Dive, Absolute Body Control) but musically this is highly polished dark dancefloor EBM. His vocal style is more on the punky side than aggrotech or hellectro, which is great because I'm really getting jaded on raspy/distoro/screamy vocals that everybody and their sister has been doing for a spell. Synthwork is very competent but nothing you haven't heard before. The combo of Venganza's enthusiastic rough and ready vocals juxtaposed with slick electronics punctuated with club-heavy beats, good hooks and just the right amount of repetition to drive the point home is surely a "winner takes all" formula. There are four songs and four remixes of two of them for a total of eight tracks. From the outset with "Core," SDP exhibit an urgency with mad fervor that can't be denied. It's a controlled sort of frenzy that is bound to drive goth stompers and riverheads wild. "Pure" sacrifices some momentum in favor of expanding SDP's sonic palette and settling into a groove. Okay, but certainly not the best thing on this EP. "Howl" gets even more atmospheric and I hear an even stronger Ivens influence here with a touch of Suicide Commando. Good stuff, but it even gets better on "Inspire." I didn't pay much attention to the lyrics until this song. Here everything comes together in an ultra-dynamic way with engaging verse and a compelling enigmatic chorus- "I forget how it is to resurrect the needles in my chest...emptiness, staring back to me, turn it off me in my chair" whoa, that's something you don't hear every day. This is a killer track, and not one of the remixes can sabotage it. Speaking of remixes, Assemblage 23 is first up remixing the aforementioned tune. Tom Shear does a credible job, and although not radically different than the original, it does put the vocals more upfront without sacrificing the feel of the original. Terrolokaust remixes "Pure" turning it into more of a heavier industrial stomper with a lot stripped out adding in some squinky effects but makes it sound epic 2/3 of the way through. An interesting job on this one. The Iszoloscope remix of "Inspire" is a distorto noise beat assault that struck me more as novelty than anything essential. Last up is WOTTW's technoy remix of "Inspire." For me, this was the most interesting remix on the EP, which is saying something because you know I'm not a big remix fan.

Super Dragon Punch really has the potential of muscling its way to the top if 'Shatter' is an indication of what Jérémie is capable of. I think he has a handle on what needs to go into making compelling EBM (live though, a little more melodicism and a little less shouting in the vocal dept., as evidenced by the live YouTube vids) and if SDP can keep on cranking out great tracks like this, it will be unstoppable.

Amp: Q Factors (A Mixtape)

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (10173)
Nov 26 2017
Artist: Amp
Title: Q Factors (A Mixtape)
Format: CD + Download
Label: Ampbase
Though to the casual observer this would appear to be a diverse 10-track electronica album, the “a mixtape” distinction is here to justify this as a ‘bits and pieces’ collection of remastered and remixed material old and new, but not a ‘real’ album which is still forthcoming. But frankly if it looks like an album, walks like an album, quacks like an album… let’s review it as an album, albeit an album that’s almost absurdly diverse.

The opening “Drowning Mind” is a cacophonous bit of cut-up sample layering which gradually opens up into something that’s a sort of electronica prog rock of warped guitars, oddly time-signatured bassline and drum patterns that start simple and gradually get crazier. This set-up is revisited somewhat in “Waiting Room Blues”.

Tracks like “Hownow” and “Just Get It” use a similar palette with a more laidback and far more jazzy attitude, frittering around on the quirky side of lounge music almost. This is brought into darker territory with “D’Espoir De Mourir” which stays downtempo but adds just a hint of both industry and threat.

A little less appealing to my taste, “Loveflower” ups the guitar content with shades of UNKLE, and feels like a throwback to the 90’s guitar-based-trip-hop bands if I’m being generous (State Of Grace were one of my faves), or like a limp Noel Gallagher instrumental if I’m being harsh. It’s the slightly Delerium-esque vocal that makes this one worth a listen. Again this style comes around again on “Push ‘n Hold”, this time rounded out by a near-ambient intro and spoken-word male vocals that keep things rolling very nicely.

“Lost Love Cries” is particularly notable, taking a liquid drum’n’bass approach, the familiar arrangement of rolling bassline, mellow piano, crisp drums and melancholic female vocal but done to an extremely high standard and definitely a track for fans of soft d&b to check out. Final tracks “When & Where” and “Ombres Sur La Lone” drop firmly into ambient territory with lovely use of female vocal tones, a very comforting wrap-up- hypothetically, let’s say, a very good way to wrap up an album, if this were an album, which apparently it isn’t...

It’s difficult to know where to put this release. The closest comparison I can think of is Future Sound Of London, but that’s because their material (including under aliases) is so diverse as well that it barely qualifies as a comparison. It’s rich and deeply interesting electronica with a massive variety of sounds and influences and if this really is a prelude to an album rather than a ‘real’ album, it bodes extremely well for the material to come.

To highlight the ‘remix album’ status of the release, each track has a remix title, though I’ve only mentioned the central titles above for brevity.


 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (10168)
Nov 18 2017
Artist: COH
Title: COHGS
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Editions Mego
COH, more commonly found putting out instrumental releases, here gathers together 8 vocal tracks, some previously released, some unreleased. But rather than showcasing vocalists, these works include mostly quite modest, often spoken-word vocal elements into a soft-edged downtempo electronica of pulses, clicks and pads.

“Sleepwalker” is a particularly engaging oddity, a beatless and spacious arrangement with a lovely sub-bass pulse under Anna Yamada’s long pure notes, then an totally unexpected organ crescendo. “Alcohol”, with Noriko Taguchi, plays like a drunken child’s lullaby and final track, and “Curious Yellow” a sparse, melancholy piano ballad.

The sonic flipside of those tracks is “Love’s Septic Domain”, a darker and distorted affair with screaming and allusions to dirty hospitals, there to ensure you don’t confuse this release for a chillout album.

Don’t expect a pack of eight full-on pop performances, to put it mildly. Little Annie’s “46 Things I Did Today” is a beat poem set to blipping arpeggio patterns. Peter Christopherson’s whispered spoken-word on “Silence Is Golden” is barely intelligible under a bubbling bed of acid-tinged bleeps. Ann Demeulemeester is barely present on the light, piano-centred opening track “Exercise In Colour”.

It’s an interesting collection, diverse in a way that doesn’t necessarily imply incoherence, and should appeal to fans of Susumu Yokota et al.

Mother Of Mars: Seed 2 Sky

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (10166)
Nov 16 2017
Artist: Mother Of Mars
Title: Seed 2 Sky
Format: 12"
Label: Ransom Note Records
New York-based duo Vito & Druzzi, formerly (or possibly still currently) members of The Rapture, offer up their debut release under the name Mother Of Mars, and it’s a pair of ten-minute long, slowly evolving and arpeggiating synth-electronica which mixes tones of late-era Tangerine Dream or Jean-Michel Jarre with an extremely gentle house kick and some slightly African-tinged percussion elements.

The track structures are akin to minimal progressive techno but the sawtooth-tinged synth washes build into a sound that couldn’t be described as minimal, reaching an almost prog-rock noodling climax at the end of “Hera In The Valley”. While the first track is quite euphoric, second track “Seed 2 Sky” is subtler, with a little extra tension, though this washes away in favour of soft synth pads gradually, and a slightly vague synth lead line that has further hints of Jarre.

It’s a lush pair of tracks with an exceptional polish, a really exemplary piece of electronica that shows that it’s possible to layer these synth stylings in a way that sounds fresh rather than only an 80’s retro affair. It’s a sign that Mother Of Mars is definitely a name to keep an eye out for, here’s hoping there’ll be an album.

Sourin: Kakyou

 Posted by Tyran Grillo (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (10151)
Nov 09 2017
Artist: Sourin (@)
Title: Kakyou
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Sourin is one of many pseudonyms for Tomoya Shiono, a musician, composer, sound/visual artist, and producer based in Japan. Shiono has worked with mainstream artists and labels, but under the Sourin moniker cobbles together a self-produced mélange that sparkles. If pushed to compare, I might describe KAKYOU as an IDM version of Magic Arrows, combining as it does the latter’s lo-fi genius with the former genre’s penchant for digital detail. The result is a flash of pure joy in a time of musical shadows.

Immediately striking are the track names, drawn from the vocabulary of classical Japanese poetry. Whether you know their linguistic meanings, their evocations are abundantly clear in the listening. “Rikka,” for example, denotes the first day of summer, and sets the album on a path so sunlit that your ears will squint. As with all that follows, it weaves samples of voice and guitar with tasteful sequencers behind a clear-and-present drum machine. The rhythms are unrelenting throughout, but become eerily relaxing the more one seeps into them. Even the gentle beginnings of “Hikkyou” (After All) are but a prelude to an onslaught of kicks and cymbals, as Sourin populates the background with a painterly cross-section of signals.

The last three of the KAKYOU’s five tracks are difficult to render succinctly in English. “Kochi” refers to an easterly wind that blows along the Sea of Japan coast in spring and summer. Musically, it feels like its namesake, rushing with an almost video game-like quality over meticulously rendered topographies. “Sayakesa” refers to the brightness of the moon, and here takes that shine to deepest levels, while “Kusaikire” describes the strong smell of grass on a summer day. This one is indeed a vetiver bomb, fragrant and potent, and confirms KAKYOU as a warm body to snuggle up with in the coming winter.

Incidentally, the title of the album itself means “climax.” True to that concept, Sourin’s creations sit atop the precipice of their underlying narrative. Their energetic meditations reveal an organic, artisanal quality that feels handmade and tactile, and speak of a phenomenal touch behind it all. Throw this on with the confidence that no blizzard can make you shiver.

Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha