Music Reviews

Artist: A Place Both Wonderful And Strange
Title: The City Smells Like Cat Spit EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****

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Elegant and whimsical but dark and uncomfortable at times..."occult electronic" and "doom gaze" are perhaps the terms closest to being appropriate for the Brooklyn duo, A Place Both Wonderful And Strange.

After a successful East Coast/Midwest tour, the band releases their new digital-only EP, The City Smells Like Cat Spit on August 24. The EP features one original track, "Kristae" and 3 re-worked live & studio tracks, "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)," "Stone (Version)," and "Hex And The City (Resonata Remix)."

"Kristae" is a deeply haunting cut that evokes the image of a ghost-guided dusty LP, perhaps something out of Moby's worst nightmare. The standout track for us is "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)." Musically haunting in the backdrop but guided by the heavenly vocals of Laura. "Stone" starts off with a cinematic female spoken narration and then moves to a whimsically-nuanced, fluid and moving track that ends before you know it or want it to. "Hex And the City (Resonata Remix)" is a bit of a layered, complex version of the song showing the band's unique mix of electronica and trip-hop.

"Wonderful" and "Strange" they are indeed. But the band is much more than that. They are simply one of the most original, un-classifiable electronic bands out there right now. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. For now, The City Smells Like Cat Spit is a perfect blend of electronica, darkwave and post-punk and then some....

Tolchock: World of Tolchock 1997-2017

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 13 2018
Artist: Tolchock (@)
Title: World of Tolchock 1997-2017
Format: CD
Label: Energy Rekords (@)
Rated: *****
When I think of great EBM bands, there are a few that always come to mind- Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Leæther Strip, X Marks the Pedwalk, Suicide Commando, and Tolchock. If you're not familiar with the Swedish EBM band Tolchock, chalk it up to them getting little promotion (outside Europe) than the others, although they certainly deserved the recognition. I don't know if their 2015 re-emergence with the 'Elements of Rage' album made a big splash or not, but it was a very good album. Now we have a 20 year retrospective anthology of 14 tracks culled mostly from 'In The Name of Tolchock' (1998), 'Wipe Out - Burn Down - Annhilate' (2006), and the aforementioned 'Elements of Rage' (2015). This is great kick-ass stuff guaranteed to burn up dancefloors in dark music clubs throughout the world. Plenty of hooks, 4-onthe-floor infectious beats, effective synthwork, and edgy vocals. No slo-mo stuff here; this is an express train with no locals stops. 'World of Tolchock 1997-2017' make you realize just how well this material has held up over the years, while some of the earlier music by some of those bigger name bands sounds pretty dated now. Even though this is old school, it sounds vibrant and fresh. Songs such as "Kicks," "I Feel Sick," "A Practice for Hell," "Kiss of Death," "Power Money Salvation," "Man is Evil" and much more just have a certain simplicity and sense of purpose that blow away many newer acts that are trying to make their mark with this kind of music. Tolchock actually began around 1988 releasing their earlier (pre-In The Name of...) material on cassette with limited distribution. I would have liked it if they included some of that stuff on an additional CD with this compilation, since I've never heard any of it, and probably not a lot of people have. Still, this is the best introduction to the band you can get, and damn fine EBM to boot.

Steve Hauschildt: Dissolvi

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 03 2018
Artist: Steve Hauschildt
Title: Dissolvi
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Ghostly International
Steve Hauschildt packs a variety of moods and tones into a short album of plaintive synth-electronica and home-listening soft techno. Although it’s described in terms of alienation, solipsism and anxiety, for the most part it’s rather comforting- but an undercurrent of disquiet rumbles at times.

Warm pads infuse tracks like “Phantox” with a mellow layer that feels smooth and relaxing, and Julanna Barwick’s soft refrains on “Saccade” have shades of later-era Delerium. Longest track “Alienself” ticks along with sounds that feel at times a throwback to early 90’s trance (not to be confused with late 90’s trance).

Slightly less cosy layouts come from tracks like the counter-rhythms of “Aroid”, a hybrid of gentle electronica and a maths challenge that proves difficult to track and which fades away as though it was only an experiment. The title track, which closes the album, is more broadly cinematic and a crisp tops-heavy breakbeat pattern gives it an extra sense of urgency that unknits some of the soporific effect of the tracks that precede it.

It’s a plush bit of electronica work with rich atmospheres. It doesn’t particularly stand out in the electronica crowd but if you can’t get enough intricate instrumental soft electronica, you’ll enjoy this.

Aux Field: Square Landscapes

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 02 2018
Artist: Aux Field
Title: Square Landscapes
Format: LP
Label: kotärecords
Georgia-based Rezo Glonti’s latest album comes with sparse background information and lets the eight tracks speak for themselves as they blend synth-electronica and elements of the most atmospheric edges of synthwave. Despite being drum-sound-free this is mostly rhythmic stuff, a modern take on proto-electronica with quite a fresh outlook.

At times, particularly in the very charming unfoldings of “Unstuck”, this feels like Jean-Michel Jarre background music, and if you slapped a strong melodic hook on the top you could pretend it was J-M-J. The second half of the album, in tracks like “Memo” and “Paragraph”, has a slightly more experimental feel, making more use of raw sawtoothed sounds and analogue (or analogue-esque) sonics.

The pulsing and tension in tracks like “Underpass 90” has a decidedly soundtracky feel that feels like it’s calling out for visual accompaniment, further helped by the fact that across the 41-minute duration it spans a variety of moods, with “Expending System” [sic] one of the more melancholy moments and “Garden In The Frame” evocative of slightly prolonged preparations for battle.

If scrabbling to find fault I might say that this release never really grabs your ears fully in the way it threatens to do at times, and last track “Fieldhead, Dear Friend”, despite the perfectly-timed note change at 2:14, ends up just slightly limp as a finale, but these are minor points to what’s otherwise a top-class bit of cinematic sort-of-synthwave.

The Exaltics: Das Heise Experiment 2

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 26 2018
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Artist: The Exaltics
Title: Das Heise Experiment 2
Format: CD
Label: Solar One Music
Rated: *****
An alien who fell to earth, the creation of a new destructive weapon, two scientists who want to save their laboratory, an experiment gone bad and The Exaltics, an alien race that is surveilling the earth. This is the plot behind „Das Heise Experiment 2“, the new album by The Exaltics. The Heise experiment saga started five years ago with the first part released on vinyl by Abstract Acid. The eight tracks of that album were more influenced by acid, having a TB303 upfront sound. For the second episode, which has been anticipated by the three tracks (six on the digital version) picture disc „Das Heise Experiment 2 [The Prequel]“, released the last year by Solar One Music, besides the story and the music we have to talk about the different formats, first. The new album, which is number six, has been released on double 10“ with twelve tracks, CDr with thirteen tracks and a special metal box edition containing three splatter transparent green 10“ (with seventeen tracks) plus the CDr. Every format is sold along with the 26 pages comic book written by Nico Jagiella and drawn by the guy behind the Godspill nickname, Mehdi Rouchiche, most known for having drawn most of the Creme Organization covers. The thirteen tracks of the CDr I have are in balance from dark electro/techno and eerie ambient soundtrack atmospheres with a bit of experimental approach. On most of the tracks the rhythm is king and we have different layers forming a complex web where few melodic pads help into defining the horrific atmosphere. The effect created is particular, as for the old releases there’s melody but at the end of the track you won’t remember it. Another particular stuff, as for the prequel, on „Das Heise Experiment 2“ the titles seems to be codes but I don’t know what they are referred to. Also, as well on the prequel, we have a track in collaboration with Rudolf Klorzeiger, a.k.a. Gerald Donald, Heinrich Mueller, etc of Arpanet, Dopplereffekt, Drexciya, Der Zyklus fame (just to name few). Due to pressing plant issues this album had six months delay but it was worth the wait.

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