Music Reviews

Pa Tronic: Ute Pa Vift

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jul 22 2013
Artist: Pa Tronic
Title: Ute Pa Vift
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Anna Logue Records (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Skyttorp near Uppsala, Sweden, Patric Dimander and Anders Wagberg were playing together in early 80s in a rock band and they decided to dump their old drum player and to go electronic because he didn't commit to the band and was more interested in girls. They were active between 1983 and 1985 and they never had an official release out. Influenced by early Depeche Mode ("Kontroll" reminds me a little of "Boys Say No" for its atmosphere), Kraftwerk, The Twins, Heaven 17 as well as Sweden's own Page or Noise, they put all their efforts into making synthpop songs that, even if at times were sounding a bit imperfect (see the our of time manual drum pads solos on the early songs), were honest and fresh. Released thanks to a collaboration between Anna Logue Records and Dodsdans Rekords, "Ute Pa Vift" compile their rescued 1983/84 recordings plus two new versions of "Ute Pa Vift" and "Sol" recorded in 2011. In the early days the duo equipment was quite minimal and included a Roland TR-606, a SCI Pro-One, a Yamaha CS-01 and an Elka string machine. Later, they wanted to expand a bit more their "arsenal" and purchased a TR-909, a Korg Mono/Poly, a Poly-61, a Poly-800 and a Roland Juno-60. Singing both in English and Sweden, Pa Tronic's tracks mix synthpop freshness (check "Ta Mig", "Himmlen", "Kontroll" or "Mitt liv"), minimal cold wave ("The Future", "Hitta Ut", "Sol" or "PA1"), early e.b.m. ("Soker" or "Ute Pa Vift") and synth craziness (like their version of the traditional song "Tipp Tapp"). These tracks show a band that had potential but weren't able to record properly an album and this collection is a way to keep a track of those times. Well, we talked about the past of Pa Tronic and fortunately we talk about also the future of the duo, because they reformed in 2011 and did a concert in Uppsala on November the 11th and are preparing a new album. Thanks to the labels involved into this reissue, the first hundred purchaser of the release will get a bonus CDr titled "28 Tears Later", containing the recordings of that live. The concert is opened by "Slog Dej" a song that recalls a bit Front 242 just to follow with the powerful synthpop of "Tristessen". "Nattens Ãnglar" is a retro ebm mid tempo and then we have one of their "hits", "Sol". "Ute PÃÃÂ¥ Vift" is following and after that we have three songs that, as well as the first ones, aren't included into the LP: "Under Solen" (a powerful mix of synthpop and ebm), "I Varlden" (a dark synth mid tempo with catchy melodies) and "Slips Och Gele" (a dancey ebm track with bouncing bass lines and a bit of distortion). The album is closed by a demo version of "Ute Pa Vift" recorded in 1984. Nice release which you can check at this link

Mr. Kitty: Life

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jul 18 2013
Artist: Mr. Kitty (@)
Title: Life
Format: CD
Label: Engraved Ritual (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
I have nothing against people loving cats. Actually I like cats too. But regarding Forrest Carney, the man (cat?) behind Mr. Kitty, I have the impression that he may tends to overtax his dedication if you check with his photo works in bio and web resources. I also do not see too many common things with cats related to his smooth, surprisingly catchy produced Synthpop/Electronica music generally, but however, what finally counts is his music itself. And here it starts with all further surprises surrounding this release. First to mention is the publishing label: Engraved Ritual is best known to be a full-scale resource releasing Harsh EBM / Hellectro music (just remember Bestias De Asalto or Say Just Words...) - this all new release by this Dallas-based Electronica-musician differs to anything you've discovered of this label so far. Second surprise is Mr. Kitty himself - although 'Life' stands for his fourth full-length already, I have to admit, that his music as well as his project is new and undiscovered so far to me. His further, previous releases are all available to the "Name your price"-procedure via his Bandcamp web resource - what a good chance to pick up nearly the complete discography of Mr. Kitty. But back to "Life" and its content. 15 tracks in all filled with a darker minded of form of Synthpop / New Wave music, which draws pretty much relations to classic, renowned music-projects like O.M.D., Heaven 17, Human League and of course the almighty influencing Depeche Mode for the Synthpop-related side of the project, but also The Cure or Joy Division as being the quells of the rather Post-Punk / New Wave-related outfit of Mr. Kitty. For a few critics surely another unnecessary reanimation of the 80s inspired nostalgia, but it needs to by said, that Forrest proves on all tracks his compositional skills and he services surely pretty well the needs of the elders of us. Of course his chosen sound outfit fits pretty much in this direction. Synthpop-/80s-nostalgic fans will be completely satisfied with such smooth tunes like the starter 'Insects', 'Heaven', or 'Scars'. Personally I enjoyed the darker sounding 'Sacrifice' and the usage of some well worked out vocoder effects on the vocals as being the best and most valuable point. Also the last track, 'Father' with its heart-felting content and the intention to provide a track with an alternative rhythm foundation has to be pointed out. This album brings back a lot of remembrances of the good old past and Mr. Kitty offers excellence to produce in this style. It is also an ideal soundtrack for the younger generation to pick up a glimpse of the colorful, artistical variety this era had to offer.

Artist: Niton Cage
Title: Cage
Format: 12"
Label: Seja Records (@)
Rated: *****
A new release for the stubborn Netherlands-based Seja Records, again strictly limited to 300 exemplars and pressed on golden old vinyl only. Yes, here is another must-have release which brings back the warm-sounding analogue touch in times of digital coldness. I had the German duo Traffic AM a while back with a remarkable debut for Seja Records and this Niton Decay-project somehow consists of the same musicians. Officially labelled as being Traffic AM's vocalist Stefan Gonzer's solo effort, his partner in crime, Michael Kissing, has produced this first 7-track album. By checking the first tracks on the A-side of this release I somehow thought on a musically darker sounding Alter Ego-project to Traffic AM, especially after the ominous, sample-driven introduction tune 'Strange And Silent'. Also 'Don't Mind' and 'Deny The Decay' aren't hymns to celebrate a kids' birthday on a sunny afternoon, but clever sounding Downtempo-like Dark Electronica tracks with a constant Wave influence inspired by the golden 80s. The b-side then brings generally in more pace and a bit more of their New Wave influence, it could be said, the 3 tracks are coming very near to the cleaner produced Traffic AM project. 'Cage' is another well produced effort by these German protagonists. The fact, that this release comes again out on good old vinyl just helps to integrate the analogue warmth so evident for this style of music and it sounds much more 'alive' and edgy than the usual plastic Pop chart music effort.

00tz 00tz: Alter Eden

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Jul 15 2013
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Artist: 00tz 00tz (@)
Title: Alter Eden
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah Records (@)
Rated: *****
Well, well, well, what have we here - A dark-electro EBM project with a stylish Goth-Industrial couple from da Bronx (of all places) by the name of Nicky Phoenix and Krysta Veronica Button. Style aside, the music is heavy, driving, forceful and ideally suited to the dancefloor. I guess that's the reason for the 00tz 00tz name. Funny, when I used to go to Goth clubs, the sarcastic crowd I ran with always spoke disparagingly of '00ntz 00ntz music' as the stereotypical electronic dancefloor fodder that permeated DJ sets with not much more than sequenced synths and that kick 'n' hat beat. Fortunately, there's a good deal more going on than that here. I can't say that I'm knocked out by all of it but 'Alter Eden' sure does begin with a bang. Nicky's synth and rhythm programming is slick throughout, proving lessons from big-name EBM forerunners well learned. His vocals are of the harsh & raspy, somewhat distorted variety common to this genre; alternating sinister with rage when the music calls for it. Krysta's vocals are mostly electronically processed, usually done in speak-sing style. This works fine for the first few tracks as the duo trade off vocals, but by the 5th track, 'Reality,' which features Krysta's vocals, the chinks in the armor begin to show. It has a melodically simple but strong vocal chorus, and although she gets by, it could have been a lot more potent with a stronger voice. A little later on the 8th track, 'Ignorance is Bliss,' Krysta sings ''ÃæI'm drowned in your reflection'Ãæ' but she's really drowned in the vocal processing. There's an Ophelia-like symbolism to this, and to be perfectly honest, Krysta's vocals remind me a lot of Hamlet's Ophelia in a meandering sort of way. They're an acquired taste, to be sure. On track 11, 'Star,' Krysta dispenses with much of the electronic vocal processing (at least in the beginning) and I actually liked that a bit better.

There are a couple of remixes (aren't there always?) ' the Sonik Foundry mix of 'Living Hell,' and the Blood Step mix of 'Bleeder'. Sonik Foundry adds a prominent distorto-synth riff to the 'Living Hell' making it less like old-school X-Marks the Pedwalk the original sounded like, and strips the electronic processing off Krysta's voice at one point (I liked that) but not really a radical alteration. The Blood Step mix of 'Bleeder' is by far the more radical alteration, turning the track from a total brain-basher to more of a creepy mind-fuck with unexpected dynamic shifts and electronic tricks.

For pure dancefloor stompin' fun, 00tz 00tz has a winner here with 'Alter Eden'. For regular listening though, there are issues. Although I haven't experienced the band live, I imagine they're pretty kick-ass in a club environment. Whether they can turn some of their weaknesses into strengths though remains to be seen on the next release.

Ekman: M.S.P.

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 10 2013
Artist: Ekman
Title: M.S.P.
Format: CD
Label: Solar One Music
Rated: *****
Ekman is the personal project of Roel Dijcks, guy coming from Holland who released on the last two years three 12"s for Panzerkreuz Records, Berceuse Heroique, Abstract Forms and a tape for Belaten. "M.S.P." is the first album and has been released on CDr as a deluxe edition limited to 100 timber box for Solar One Music. Personally I listened to his tape released for Belaten and I have to tell that "M.S.P." sound is less rough and more electro oriented. The album opens with "Coriolis Effect" an hypnotic tune with bouncing bass lines, several sidereal synth lines and 808 drum beats. "Cosmic Acceleration" add to the formula filtered vocals and stop and go and sometimes it recalls me old Luke Eargoggle tracks. In balance from dark electro and Detroit techno, Ekman succeeds into catching the attention of the lovers of Drexcyia and Dopplereffekt playing with looped melodies, wobbling sounds, hypnagogic atmospheres. The nightmarish sounds along with the paced rhythms create a contrast which works just fine and keeps the attention awake while your mind wanders through space and time. Each of the nine tracks is a winner and if you won't find one of the limited edition boxes, you can purchase the digital release. It's worth the purchase!

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