Music Reviews



Antivote: Visions of crime and pain

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 28 2015
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Artist: Antivote (@)
Title: Visions of crime and pain
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Antivote is a Dark Electro band from Zwickau, Germany, and 'Visions of crime and pain' is their debut album. Member are: Mirko Padubrin (Synths and Vocals), Ronny Lippold (Synths, Programming) and Sebastian Voigtmann (Percussion). In a nutshell, 'Visions of crime and pain' is a 49 minute exercise in low key dark electro gloom and doom. Think of :wumpscut: in mid-tempo EBM mode with a very depressed Rudy, and that ought to give you some idea. Mirko's vocals never rise above a hoarse whisper. Most lyrics are sung in English and are fairly intelligible, and of course, dystopian in theme. If for some reason you can't make them out, there is a nice twenty-page booklet with them in it you can refer to. The track with the most promise is "So far away" with good atmosphere and pacing on the verse. Too bad the hook did not deliver. This consistently plagues the album. "The childs of Carolagreen" has great atmosphere but fails in the hook department once again. For this kind of moody dark electro, you really have to the listeners more than nicely arranged minor chord progressions, if you want to be more than just "another one of those bands". Between Mirko's bland vocals and the lack of being able to pull off a really memorable chorus, everything begins to sound the same. Unfortunate, because there is potential here. I just don't believe they've realized it yet. While Antivote are a little reminiscent of early Project Pitchfork, they haven't got the pizzazz of that outfit. One thing is for sure, unless Antivote manages to come up with a killer track soon, they're going to end up being "another one of those bands".

Dicepeople: End of Line

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 22 2015
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Artist: Dicepeople (@)
Title: End of Line
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Dicepeople is a progressive audiovisual collaboration between Matt Brock (music) and Rafael Filomeno (visuals). 'End of the Line' is the third album from this London-based team, and the first I've heard. It is augmented by a variety of contributors that Kyrea and Roger Gaywood, plus Hemiola, Atashi Tada, and S. J. Harris. I almost passed on reviewing this because what they sent me was a cheaply reproduced replica (poorly printed CD cover, CD-Rom) of product with no track listing. That was easy enough to find on the Internet though, so let's proceed.

'End of Line' is the kind of dark electro pioneered by Front Line Assembly. In fact, at times the resemblance is uncanny. Wait, hold that; take FLA and borrow certain elements from Bill Leeb's other project, Delerium, and you get a better picture. A critical element borrowed would be the female vocals, essential to the Delerium ouevre. They're in abundance on 'End of Line'. Lyrically, there is a similarity to FLA as well. Take 2nd track - "Dissolution" for example. Every word plays a thematic quadrisyllabic rhyme off 'dissolution - exploitation, degradation, condemnation, isolation, dissolution, desolation, insurrection, revolution, etc., etc., all the while textured, multi-sequenced riff patterns build in the music. Vocals by Atashi are quite melodic (even with the minimalist lyrics) and effective, and when her backing vocals are wailing toward the end, it's really reminiscent of Delerium.

Strong electronic atmospherics such as those at the beginning of "The Doll House' are another FLA hallmark. Kyrea takes the vocals on this track, and they're pretty atmospheric as well. The woozy synth lines lend an aura of the psychedelic. Things get a bit industrial on 'Singularity' a slower, loping track with heavy percussion and and richly warped electronics. Kyrea's spacey vocals fit this hallucinatory track to a tee. Dredging up 60's style psychedelia and retrofitting it with cyber-tech of the modern age is quite an accomplishment here. Dementedly drenched in reverb, but still, nearly perfect. Her vocals on "Hurt" remind me a bit of the band Client, but sung more in Leeb style circa 'Implode' and 'Epitaph'. 'Morphia Melancolia' sounds like broken carnival music with an industrial edge and contains a recitation by S. J. Harris. "Death Drone" is nearly entirely comprised of atmosphere and ambience with the occasional sequenced synth and percussion segments. Final track, "The End of the Line" takes the melodic vocal elements of Delerium and combines it with the more spoke-sung FLA style vocals. It's really good though, and possibly the most memorable track on the album.

You might wonder why I've chosen to compare Dicepeople with Front Line Assembly and Delerium as opposed to other electro-industrial acts. Truth be told, Leeb's projects are the only ones out there doing this kind of thing so well, and if it has to be compared (for point of reference), it might as well be compared to the best. That's not to imply Dicepeople are any kind of Front Line Assembly or Delerium clones; they most certainly are not. Their sound is completely their own, it is only aspects that are similar. 'End of Line' is a really good album, not great, but really good. There are flaws (too much reverb for one, especially on some of the vocals) but nothing too critical. The album is available in digital download format only (to my knowledge) in high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Worthy.

Nanovoice: I Sell Sex

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 14 2015
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Artist: Nanovoice (@)
Title: I Sell Sex
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Nanovoice is German band comprised of Mils - rapper, singer, songwriter/composer, show design, video production & visual effects; Sklas- singer, songwriter, composer & booking; Velroy- producer, composer, arranger & audio engineer; and Phillah- rapper, singer, songwriter, composer, video production & visual effects. Music is in the EBM/dark electro vein, with (you guessed it!) the rap component. It doesn't help that I don't much care for rap, no matter what musical stripe it's paired with. Well, okay, I did kind of like Nitzer Ebb back in the day, and that was sort of rap electro...good dance music but it gets old quickly. Add to that most of the rap lyrics by Nanovoice are done in German, and now I'm truly lost. But then again, we have the juxtaposition of Sklas's melodic voice, which although not particularly strong is very pleasant. She is most often relegated to supplementary parts, or the chorus vocals in English. From what I've seen of the videos on the band's website there is a strong fetish-sex/BDSM component to their visual presentation which permeates a good deal of their music as well. (The CD cover should have been a dead give-away.)

From the material on 'I Sell Sex' it's pretty obvious Nanovoice is a Berlin dark, decadent danceclub party band, intent on shocking their audience. I don't think it's shocking anyone inclined to give it a listen though, they're preaching to the perverted here. The music is decent dark electro, mostly synths and programmed beats, with the occasional dialogue sample thrown in for good measure. There are a few slower, ballad-type numbers, but the band is best when upbeat. I do like Sklas's voice, and she's even the sole vocalist on a few tracks. At least that adds some diversity. There are tracks where Mils sort of speak-sings the lyrics rather than raps, and this makes it a bit more palatable. Some songs are pretty catchy, but they'd be a lot more catchy if I could understand more than the chorus.

Bottom line, if you really want to appreciate this album, brush up on your Deutsche. And if the band wants to reach American audiences, sing/rap/speak in ENGLISH, for we are a still a mono-linguistic culture und das ist nicht etwa in absehbarer Zeit ändern, mein Freund.

Der Klinke: The Gathering of Hopes

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 08 2015
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Artist: Der Klinke (@)
Title: The Gathering of Hopes
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Der Klinke is a Belgian band active since 2009. 'The Gathering of Hopes' is their third album. They're an electronic outfit as you might expect. They refer on their one-sheet and also their website to "coldwave", a genre name I haven't heard used in quite a while. To me, it's basically EBM/Dark Electro with some elaboration. Of course, you'll hear nods to Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Signal Aout 42, Neon Judgement, Portion Control, and a slew of other bands in that mode. Vocalist Chesko sings in that typical cold style when he isn't trying to be overly emotive, and when he is...watch out!! Hey, at least he sings in English and doesn't use distorted effects on his voice, a plus as far as I'm concerned. The synth work and percussion/drums are competent but not particularly innovative. Most songs are fairly standard geared for the dancefloor numbers with nothing in particular standing out. Decent club fodder. There are some exceptions though, both good and bad. First is "The Doll", likely the outstanding track on the album; great beat, nice groove, simple and straight-forward, good lyrics, an excellent dark dance number. Then there is title track "The Gathering of Hopes". The album cover ties into the theme of children being the future, and thus, "the gathering of hopes". Ches's overwrought and melodramatic vocals on this lumbering track are sure to be a target for the cynical, but I won't go there. "Follow Me" is a rather simple but effective low key (mostly) instrumental tune that has a bit of tension to it. I could see it used in some espionage themed TV show. Another instrumental, "A Tale From the Crypt" uses syncopated xylophone to conjure an image of dancing skeletons. Reminded me of Kraftwerk. Final track "Feeling Sad (R.I.P.)" is an all-purpose piano-based funeral dirge and eulogy - "I'm feeling sad...today, a great soul has passed away...nothing will ever be the same." Allrightee then. Conclusion- some of Der Klinke's work on this album is good for dark dance clubs, but if they ever want to make it out of their local niche, the band needs to up their game and songwriting considerably.

Plus Instruments: Trancesonics

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jan 02 2015
cover
Artist: Plus Instruments (@)
Title: Trancesonics
Format: 12"
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
It's always a delight to get vinyl to review, and although my stereo isn't what it used to be, the warmth of a record still beat the digital format hands-down, even with electronic releases. Plus Instruments is basically Truss de Groot (with occasional help from Jimmy Virani on theremin and moog here), with here quirky electronics and vocal stylings. Truss is from Holland (or, the Netherlands, if you will) which should seem obvious by her name. Plus Instuments has been around since 1978, and 'Trancesonics' is her 5th release, 11 tracks of eccentric, eclectic, electronic fun.

The album owes to electronic pioneers such as the Silver Apples, Suicide and perhaps even a little early Kraftwerk. You might be familiar with the term "minimal synth", a categorty somewhat obscure (and in some cases defunct) bands like Adult, Crash Course in Science, and XEX fall into, and to some degree Plus Instruments is part of that, when the synths aren't maximal and totally chaotic, which they often are on 'Trancesonics'. One of the main differences though is the vocal style, which for minimal synth bands is often cold and robotic (owing somewhat to that New Wave herky-jerkiness) but Truss subscribes to a more organic vocal presentation. There are times her voice reminds me of Dani Siciliano (not a bad thing), a singer not adverse to the experimental. Sometimes vocals are spoken, sometimes sung, but always effective within the context of the composition. There is even a hint of Siouxsie Sioux in places, but nothing ever seems dark and gothy.

There is plenty of rhythm in the tracks of 'Trancesonic' and it strikes me as dance music for the 21st century...maybe even the 22nd. Songs are hypnotic (as this much repetition would dictate) but ultimately quirky, even wacky at times. This is music to do your own thing to, whether it be spazzing out, bopping along, or just grooving to its peculiarity. The chaotic, yet controlled synths are a brilliant brew concocted by a mad electronic scientist, something that goes well beyond anything DAF ever dreamed up, yet ultimately playful. If this album came out in the 80's, it would have blown any other electronic band away with its raw energy. 'Trancesonics' is also available on CD, but if you're thinking of getting it from Blowpipe, LP is the way to go. Weird, but worthy.


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