Music Reviews



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
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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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Artist: Edvard Graham Lewis
Title: All Over
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
The second album by brilliant Wire bassist Edvard Graham Lewis that got simultaneously released with the just introduced "All Under" is a collection of songs which has been composed over ten years (from 2003 to 2013) in Uppsala, the lively Swedish city where he lives at the moment. In spite of the song form and the deviant pop core, Mr.Lewis unleashed his willingnenss to experiment by awesome bastardization of that form by means of more or less melodic trips over dark, industrial, synth-pop and electronica territories and meaningful lyrics where Edvard, to paraphrase the lyrics of the song "We've Lost Your Mind", lubricated his flicking tongue and occasional entrancing loops by means of delayed pale blue songs like "It's Hard" or "Straight Into The Corner" where he got closer to John Foxx's style or some stylistical refinement on "Bluebird" (the Twitter's one?), whose melody could remind the bassline of Wire's "Being Sucked In Again", the molten post-industrial raving of "Quick Skin" or the dark-ambient drifting on "Prism Buzzard, the one which has more similarities with the style that Edvard explored on "All Under". Contributions by many different artists such as Jan Lundquist, Andreas Karperyd, Howardamb, Linda Dahl, Jim Ascoft, Fabrizio Clemenza, Giovanni Romano and P.T.Kirk, maybe gave a certain heterogeneity to the album without puckering the delightful mood which sounds like a bridge between the past and the present of this musician.
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Artist: Skinny Puppy (@)
Title: Mythmaker (Deluxe) - remastered
Format: 12"
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Almost simultaneously to the remastered version of "Greater Wrong Of The Right", the first album that followed the reunion of cEvin Key and Nivek Ogre, the twin pillars of Skinny Puppy, Metropolis decided to re-release the second album astonishing album of that cycle. Fans of the anointed forerunners of industrial rock maybe knows the difficulties that Nivek experienced while working on it and the way they influenced the "simplified" sound of "Mythmaker", an epithet that Ogre himself described in order to highlight some changes of the archetypal Skinny Puppy sound by the integration of elements from modern electronic music and rock. Some critical voices in the press tried to resize the scale of these variations, but it seems that this matter didn't really concern their fierce fanbase as some occasional blinking to more cinematic stuff - some tracks of this album got included in the soundtrack of the fourth chapter of "Saw" - didn't really put dents in their creative energy and I'm pretty sure that some fans will acknowledge that tracks like "Jaher", "Politikil", "Ambiantz", "Lestiduz" or "Ugli" are some of the best songs that Skinny Puppy had ever made. Anyway here it is a window of opportunity to rooll this album up again...and again!


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