Music Reviews



VV.AA.: EAR Mixtape Vol. 1

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 04 2012
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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: EAR Mixtape Vol. 1
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Electro Aggression Records (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
A mixtape released in times of that 'we-want-it-all-digital' age? Not a real tape of course (although it would be a nice idea to consider...), but a new promotional tool for the uprising Electro Aggression Records label. After the release of Object's stellar album 'Mechanisms of Faith', this 'mixtape' gives a fair overview of what is still to come from this label. Additionally it bridges the unpleasant long time until a next new output of this label will see the daylight of a release. And how top-notch this mixtape bridges! It is technically spoken a 2-track digital-release, in which 5 single tracks each got faded in/out and compressed to one track. So you'll get two megamixes if you like, although I don't like this description. Artwork and the length of these both digital tracks are fitting perfectly to create a real tape, but I guess that this is rather meant as a gimmick. Responsible for the technical execution is Mr. Michael 'Soillodge' Renfield; better known with his musically works under Noise Process and/or R010R.
This first part starts with the US-newcomer Red + Test and their track 'Casualties'. Mr. Lewis has surely heard classic Mentallo & The Fixer recordings quite often in the past, because this danceable track draws pretty many comparisons to these veterans at their 'Revelations 23' heydays. The combination of dark synthesizer-pads thrown into complex sequencer programming skills, distorted vocals and a good amount of memorability is still a well-working formula; also Germany's Object represents pretty much this style. Andy Malik has produced a new tune with 'Mind Collisions' and what else would you expect than another pure, layered masterpiece in best tradition from this wizard? You'll get it here! With Jihad then another veteran joins the forces of EAR and I guess there is no need to introduce Mr. James Mendez to experienced listeners of the authentic Texas-based Dark Electro-movement (Mentallo & The Fixer, their predecessor project Benestrophe, Mainesthai, or Fection Fekler). 'The Prophecy' sounds a bit antique compared to both, Red + Test or Object, but isn't this the charm and characteristic we all would like to hear from Jihad? The Dark Electro mood changes with the Swedish duo of EkoBrottsMyndigheten as they present an old school EBM-inspired tune. It is far away from being a pure, minimal NEP-cloning project, as 'INTE ok (IT Ed Edit)' proves by focusing on a more filled sound outfit, which buries out own ideas. This is definitely a good and promising sounding appetizer by this Swedish duo. The first part then ends with the marvelous German duo Pyrolline, the follow-up project to the highly recognized Nordschlacht. With them we are brilliantly return into the classic Dark Electro-style. Seriously, the layered efforts of Schmoun and Arnte once again will leave you breathless - they would be an excellent addition to the EAR roster. Astma starts the second megamix and feeds all needs for a harder Body Music experience with vibrating bass-line sequences and shouted vocals - although it could have been a bit straighter produced. Then the mood completely turns into silence - Red + Test with a second appearance presents us an instrumental, rather post-modern IDM-/Ambient-related tune. 'Reminders of a Refuge' is a dense and moody tune which proves once again how fucking talented this US-artist is. It's eagerly time for an official album release, Mr. Lewis! tEaR!doWn then presents us a perfect mutation between a straight, classic EBM tune with the catchiness of a Dark Electro track. Also the Czech project Terminal State is still around and works hard on a new full-length album. Believe it or not, but this appearance entitled 'Microspace' is able to rival with the best participants on here. Finally another instrumental tune closes this compilation: French mastermind Dominique Debert and his Brain Leisure project still stands faithful to the EAR label and his track 'Birth Machine' is a perfect example of a thrilling soundtrack-like tune. Seriously, if it comes to watch out for the next producer for an upcoming next chapter of a game like 'Airmech' (Front Line Assembly) or related, someone should consider Brain Leisure to be a capable candidate for this job.
Have I mentioned initially that this compilation is FREELY DOWNLOADABLE via the EAR Bandcamp web site? IT IS - go and get this must-have download goody and spread the word. A second chapter of this mixtape series is already in the works.

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Artist: Ashbed (@)
Title: If We Should Part
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Distributor: iTunes
Rated: *****
Sometimes the unspectacular looking releases have got the richest musically content to offer. Ashbed is the Electronic music project of David Tatlock, who hails out of New Waterford, NS, Canada. In his earlier years he has been often supported by Nightwaves zine-editor and Synthpop supporter (... and Chain D.L.K. author...) Gary Flanagan through some compilation appearances. Also some of Flanagan's reviews on his early demo recordings have been throughout positive, although Ashbed's music is for the most part far away of Gary's preferences. 'If We Should Part' is filled with haunting and dense athmospheres, the music combines darkest Electro with Noise, Dubstep and Ambient. Skinny Puppy gets often mentioned, but also Controlled Bleeding, Gridlock, Scorn plus I would add the ominous textures of projects like Little Sap Dungeon as being quells of inspiration for Mr. Tatlock. Mostly his tracks are drowning into Downtempo-like sick and noisy sound-walls. 'So It Goes' is such an example, which adds a monotonous Dubstep-rhythm to lead the track. 'In Between Dreams' stands for a clearer, more Puppy-an Dark Electro-inspired tune. Also thanks to the inclusion of vocals this one is a nice addition to fans of this beloved genre. 'Third Coming' then brings back the abstract, Experimental-infiltrated side of David, and this style still leads most tracks of this album. Also 'The Hidden' or the title-track are dwelling pretty much in obtrusive synthesizer sound-drops, plus the drastic rhythm section brings both near to a Gridlock-like experience. While I would recommend here and there adding a bit more clearance in his song structures, maybe too with a consideration to present more vocals like on 'In Between Dreams', I am generally quite impressed by the efforts of Mr. Tatlock. Regarding the above mentioned artists for possible comparisons it should be quite clear, that this album won't satisfy meaningless dancefloor attributes. Ashbed could need a bit more exposure by press and listeners for a better out-coming, while the talent is without doubts presented on here.

Velvet Condom: Stadtgeil

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Dec 02 2012
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Artist: Velvet Condom
Title: Stadtgeil
Format: CD
Label: Cymbeline
Distributor: Pale Music
Rated: *****
I already had the chance to listen to the second Velvet Condom's second album titled "Stadtgeil" as it has been already release by their personal label Cymbeline the last year on vinyl and digital format (which I bought). To tell the truth I didn't know them and Valentina Faith Guida, a dj from my city Torino, pointed them out to me when their "Menace" video was running on the screen of the place where we were drinking. I wrote down that name, because their mix of electro and cold wave intrigued me. The day after I checked their album and I realized that there was more to find out as the opening song "Funeral For My Love" is already different from the song I already knew as it's a bit more shoegaze sounding with cool dreamy atmospheres sustained by bouncing bass lines, noisy guitars and hard drum machine beats. Already by listening these two tracks, you can realize that the French/German duo is aware of how taking care of production: they are alternating bass guitar to deep synth bass lines while guitar riffs cross tiny melodic parts that will stick into your head. The album is balanced from electro wave hit singles like the aforementioned "Menace", the following "Rouge City", the dancey cold wave influenced "Samt Und Stein" or synth based sensual "Ice Disco" and noisy guitar shoegaze influenced tunes where Jesus And Mary Chain meets early My Bloody Valentine like on "Funeral For My Love" , "Separ-Hate", "Faint-Hearted", "A New Fall" (this one recalls me a by "Just Like Honey") and "Scars Shine". This new edition released by Cymbeline and distributed by Pale Music has as bonus track "Little Death", a song that has a bass line which recalls me Suicide, the guitar is building a reverberated distant wall of noise which on some parts sound almost rockabilly while the vocals are cold and and quite tense. For me this album is a must have. Check it!

2kilos & More: kurz vor5

 Posted by eskaton   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 02 2012
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Artist: 2kilos & More (@)
Title: kurz vor5
Format: CD
Label: Audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
Audiophob is one of those labels that have been consistently putting out interesting work, and this is no exception. I had not previously heard of 2kilos &More, which is a French duo from Paris created in 2003 and consisting of Séverine Krouch and Hugues Villette of Von Magnet. I listened to this several times to figure out how to review it and it occurred to me that it reminds me somewhat of Recoil's work (specifically Liquid) or the Golden Palominos. For me the standout tracks on the disc are the two featuring Black Sifichi, a spoken word artist out of New York. The first, 'User OK Feelings Rejected,' is an engaging story of racial prejudice on tour in the Southern states as a black man with a white wife and white bandmates. I'll note that this is not something that you would want to listen to at work. The second, 'I Decided to Lie,' is a bit of weirdness about a romantic interlude with a woman he seems to have just picked up. The tone of the vocals have a kind of malevolence that make it that much more interesting. Overall, this is pretty good IDM/electronica, but 2kilos & More are at their best as storytellers. The music blends incredibly well with the story to the point where it seems natural for the vocals and music to be together, which is quite a feat where often either the spoken word or the music seem forced into the mix. Dark and enjoyable and well worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 59 minutes.

Xisix: Ghost Knife

 Posted by eskaton   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 02 2012
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Artist: Xisix
Title: Ghost Knife
Format: CD
Label: Symbolic Insight (@)
Rated: *****
OK. It's time for a walk down memory lane, because this reminds me of some old school stuff. Start with a bit of 'Belief' era Nitzer Ebb with The Orb and a bit of Orbital thrown in for good measure. In some places it reminds me of Ipecac Loop. But towards the end it is somewhat reminiscent of the kinds of stuff Instinct Records was putting out in the late 80s to early 90s - think Cabaret Voltaire's 'The Message.' If you remember all of those, you're probably as old as I am. There are no vocals to speak of, but there are the obligatory random samples which sometimes seem to detract from the music (although the old 'I've fallen and I can't get up' made me laugh mainly because I remember the commercials from back in the day). Overall, it isn't too bad, but then again it isn't too exciting either. I could definitely see this making it into a DJ set and working well in the club. After a while it grows on you though. For me Raverobber (D Gross Remix) was one of the high points on the disc. Frenzyhole was a bit too much of a mashup with a bunch of familiar riffs put together a la Negativland, but not quite as clever. Overall, this was decent, especially in the nostalgia department. This album weighs in at around 55 minutes.


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