Music Reviews

Body 11: Youth

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 14 2013
Artist: Body 11
Title: Youth
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Munich, Body 11 was the one-man project of Tim Stickelbrucks. They had only one four tracks self produced 7" EP out in 1988 and recorded some demo tracks on the same period which have been distributed only to friends but haven't been never officially issued. Medical Records is reissuing the whole recordings on high-quality 180gram 'milky clear' vinyl, containing ten tracks. Most of the tracks have a demo feeling where the urgency of communicate is overwhelming and the perfection of performance isn't the point but this isn't a matter of how perfect those tracks were as the late 80s e.b.m. was also like that: upfront vocals, distorted rhythms and in your face attitude. Most of the tracks gave me the impression to be inspired by Front 242 even if vocally tracks like "Marching" or "Under My Command" recall me Alan Vega's approach: you know, that sort of "I don't care" attitude. There are also synthpop oriented tunes ("Hearts" and the following "Fascination") as well as melodic e.b.m. ones ("You Better Leave Now"). The digital edition has an extra track titled "Nothing Happens" and it's a nice synthpop oriented one. If you are a fan of early Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, late 80s industrial (Wax Trax, Nettwerk) and early Skinny Puppy, you can check this release here

Controlled Collapse: Babel

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 11 2013
Artist: Controlled Collapse (@)
Title: Babel
Format: CD
Label: Machineries / Alchera Visions (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
I promised to start this review as follows: once more a review I should have written months before (cheers kr-lik!). Poland's most prominent Electro/Industrial project Controlled Collapse returns with this all new studio album and likes to invite us to their vision of 'Babel'. It's a musically journey through cleverly arranged EBM/Electro tunes, which are luckily far away from the early beginnings of this Polish talent. Once started as Poland's answer on Suicide Commando, it was in the early years (2003 - 2007) Johan van Roy himself taking care of this project and signed it for his NTP label under the Dependent wing. Controlled Collapse got established in 2003 by the young Electro-musician Wojciech Krol (a.k.a. kr-lik) as a solo-project, but nowadays he receives support from his brother Piotr as well as the two live-musicians Tomasz Krawiec (keys) and Paulina Lewek (drums). Somehow it is a pity for kr-lik to get reduced on the Harsh EBM/Hellectro formula, because he has already proven with the self-released follow-up album 'Things Come To Pass' in 2010, that he is able to develop regarding arrangements and compositions. Same counts for this new album, 'Babel' has several nice examples to offer. The opener 'Pain' with its edgy guitar riff inserts, the vocoderized vocals of kr-lik, and a typically US-Industrial related kick-and-snare-work marks a decent shaking-up tune for all those expecting the usual harsh introduction. The mid-tempo, very old-school-EBM-like track 'Numb' convinces with a deep-synthesizer badass-bass line (ha-ha), which reminds me on some earlier Croc Shop tunes ('Beneath'/ 'Metalwerks'-era). 'Change The World' counts rather to the more melodic pieces on here, while the speedy 'Dzien Sadu' with some biting guitar drops represents the only one tune with lyrics in kr-lik's mother language Polish. 'Fragment of Time' features a dual vocal performance Aleksandra Burska and it represents again the more catchy side of Controlled Collapse. Another favorite is 'Cube' with its tricky percussion elements asides the normal kick-and-snare-work. Also the cold, Dark Electro-like track 'Alone' with its sinister synthesizer pads as well as kr-lik's impressive vocoder fx-manipulations on his vocals should leave the listener impressed. Finally there's to mention 'My Fault' as being the one and only tune acting a bit like a blast of the past with some distortion fx-elements on the vocals, rhythms and a generally harsher EBM outfit. All in all is this new album not the soundtrack to discover new shores for the Electro/Industrial genre. It also won't win any imaginary 'produce-the-hardest-album-around' contest. But it generally services all needs and expectations you would have on a solid, crafty and still modern sounding produced EBM album. A bit more than this, because kr-lik provides diversity and shows different possible directions in which he and his fine project could develop. 'Babel' isn't definitely the end of the rope, so keep it on!

tEaR!doWn: Clouds Cover The Sun

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 11 2013
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Artist: tEaR!doWn (@)
Title: Clouds Cover The Sun
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Electro Aggression Records (@)
Rated: *****
Third stroke for Electro Aggression Records brings us this DCD set of a young German/Swiss duo. tEaR!doWn consists of the German Electronica musician Charly and his prominent partner, the Swiss vocalist Oliver Spring. Oliver has already made himself a good name in the international scene as being the vocalist of Sleepwalk for more than 15 years until his engagement ended surprisingly in 2007. tEaR!doWn has been established earlier in 2004 and the first recordings have been mainly instrumental tunes. In 2007 Oliver met Charly and they decided to add Oliver's vocals to the compositions. A first CDR entitled 'Mind!Kick' was the result and since these days they are composing together on new tEar!doWn recordings. Musically this duo works too in the field of authentic Dark Electro music, but differently than their label comrades. If it was obvious to name the inspiring quells of Object, Terminal State, and Pyrroline with Puppy, FLA, or Mentallo & The Fixer, the things are more difficult to figure out with tEaR!doWn. I am equally surprised because this duo stands for a Dark Electro sound with typical European influences of the mid-90s during the heydays of labels like Celtic Circle Productions, Cyberware, Hypnobeat or Gothic Art Records. Let's pick up names like Splatter Squall, Page 12, Fuze Box Machine and - I need to name them - Sleepwalk, to get an idea how the music of tEaR!doWn sounds. It's also obviously that this album deserves much more names to get compared with, but especially the comparison with Sleepwalk amazes, because Charly hasn't had further relations to them until Oliver joint his project. This album offers musically a wide spectrum and it is filled with lots of hidden effect-elements in its Electronica music. Their best ability is surely their intention to vary the moods of each single track. 'Sign From Above' is your typical floor-compatible smasher for some body movement, while the scenario changes completely with the only 90 bpm slowly tune 'Lost' with its opulent, flute-like synthesizer pads. 'Disploded Visions', a collaboration track with Nine Seconds, which is a project by Thomas Kowalzik (NoComment) surprises with smooth, nearly Electro-Pop-like structures. 'This Cold Room' marks their return to the hard and shattering EBM formula, while 'Burnt By The Sun' with its slow tempo and some well-known, sinister 'Babylon 5' voice-samples falls again into a completely different mood. So it turns out on all 14 tracks of the main album: Just if you think you have identified a typical signature of their sound, they come up with some completely different content.
The second CD entitled 'Torn Down & Reconstructed' out of this opulent DCD set stands for 14 track remix companion album and got compiled by the E.A.R. label manager himself, Nader Moumneh a.k.a. 'Il Grandre Padre Della Vecchia Scuola Elettronica'. Nader could once again hire a lot of promising projects of the old-school league and some of the remix works are standing itself for own and authentic sounding interpretations of the tEaR!doWn track. Seriously, to have names like Jihad, Amnistia, MC1R, Brain Leisure, Second Disease, or Mr. Al of Sleepwalk in the line-up to receive remix contributions, can make an Electronica-musician proud of. The results of their work, as well as for the further contributors (Soillodge, Framework, Pyrroline, Terminal State, Synaptic Defect, To Avoid, One Eye Wanders, and Red+Test) are breathtaking and you as being the listener can be assured to get quality interpretations. Since the music of tEaR!doWn and their composing style personifies a special era of EBM/Dark Electro music with typical European roots, they may do not fit with everybody's tastes. To me their album offers a lot of pearls from which some of them can be only discovered after several more spins than usual. The most diverse sounding album of the E.A.R. label so far.
Artist: Moderat
Title: II
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Mute Records (@)
Rated: *****
Moderat, the brilliant combination of Berlin electronic artists Apparat (aka Sascha Ring) and Modeselektor (aka Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary), have teamed up for an incredibly atmospheric, well-polished, and aptly-titled second album, II.

Any stand-alone Apparat or Modeselektor release is a treat. As forerunners in the contemporary and eclectic electronic music scene in Berlin, as well as former mainstays signed to the influential label BPitch Control, the acts have run the gamut of genres from IDM, glitch, hip-hop, electro house, minimal techno, to everything in between.

Apparat's solo releases and approach to songwriting, most noteably 2011's stunning The Devil's Walk, have tended to fall into moody terrain, particularly with longing vocals and lyrics, minimalist off-beats, and atmospheric vibes, all of which are cleverly and clearly demonstrated throughout II. Modeselektor have tended to focus their experimental techno more in mirth and fun, particular on the early (and very exclamatory) releases Hello Mom! and Happy Birthday! The combination of the two creates a nearly inexplicable, complex, and headphones-recommended experience.

While vocals on Apparat releases have typically only been those of Sascha Ring's and vocals on Modeselektor's tunes, when present, are largely attributed to a slew of special guests including Otto von Schirach, TTC, Puppetmastaz, and even Radiohead's Thom York, II contains several tracks that are either instrumental or contain chopped up, sampled vocals, yet never lacking in melody and addictive hooks. The tracks in which Ring soulfully sings are just as appealing ('Bad Kingdom' and 'Gita'). 'Let In The Light' reminds us that dubstep, despite numerous criticisms and stigma in recent times, can still be done while sounding new and refreshing.

A hybrid of a large number of experimental techno subgenres, II is the newest wave of Berlin's ' and beyond ' electronic music scene.

Autogen: Mutagen

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 06 2013
Artist: Autogen (@)
Title: Mutagen
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records / Sturm (@)
Distributor: 4iB Records
Rated: *****
I know that I should have written this review months before, but unfortunately I lost track in between, so this one comes out late. The debut release of Autogen out of Latvia promised to be one of the outstanding releases during the last months for the Dark Electro/Post-modern Ambient/IDM genre. It is an experimental Electronica project by Kaspars Kalnins, also known under his pseudonym Kaps. He is maybe better known for his involvement in the Electro/Industrial project Rosewater or as being the founder of the Latvian cult label Sturm. Kaps is surely one of leading forces behind any activity of underground-related music in this small Eastern European country. This debut album is a collaboration release between Sturm and the new Singapore-based 4iB Records, which concentrates to present Ambient / Noise / Martial-Industrial styles. Autogen has been firstly discovered with an appearance on the latest Sturm compilation 'Stürmer 4' DCD set ('Par Veelu'), 'Mutagen' now collects all tracks written in between 2008 - 2012. Ever since the establishing of Autogen, this project has been often active with rude live performances and has visited numerous industrial and fetish clubs in Latvia, Finland, Belarus, Hungary, Denmark, Lithuania, Estonia and also Bangkok in March 2012. The shows of Autogen are for parental usage only, they often display cruel scenarios of blood, gore and fetishism. The musically direction of this debut tends clearly into the field of demanding Dark Electro music. Projects like The Klinik, Mortal Constraint, or Disharmony have to be named to throw in possible quells of inspiration, although this album in its presented quality would also well fitting side by side with some highly praised signed to the US-based Tympanik Audio label. And so this album explores a wide range of dark and cold sounding Electronica styles and leaves out warmer and smooth sounding ingredients. The work of Mortal Constraint or Ingo Lindmeier's Polygon-project in its early recordings is surely witness for tracks 'Nevajag', 'Trakumá', or 'Súrums' in its existence. Massive applause for the rather deep drowning, stone-cold Modern-Ambient-like tune 'Vél Né', one of my personal favorites. That this album is also able to scratch some inner nerves can be discovered in 'Nederings', the ideal and raw soundtrack for your next dentists visit. 'Mutagen' is a brilliant collection of tracks full of creative sound-design with matured programming skill. No pseudo-aggressive Techno kick-and-snare-bawling on here, 'Mutagen' is rather designed to freeze your brain. A nice, cinematic, but also ice-cold sound-trip not to be missed. Get it!

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