Music Reviews

Drew McDowall: Unnatural Channel

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 07 2017
Artist: Drew McDowall
Title: Unnatural Channel
Format: LP
Label: Dais Records
Rated: *****
Drew started his musical career in Glasgow with his post punk band The Poems, where there was also his then wife, Rose. After few years they moved to London and he joined Psychic TV and began collaborating live with Coil, becoming an official member of the band in 1994. He played in classic albums such as: "Astral Disaster", "Musick To Play In The Dark", "Worship The Glitch", "Black Light District" and "Time Machines". He moved to New York in 2000, so decided to part ways with Coil. He collaborated with Kara Bohnenstiel in the group Captain Sons And Daughters (CSD) and with Tres Warren (of Psychic Ills) in Compound Eye. In 2015 Dais Records released his first solo album "Collaps". The album contains five tracks of experimental electronic where idm, ambient and industrial intuitions meet. On May 26th 2017, always on Dais Records, Drew will release his second album, titled "Unnatural Channel". This new album expand a bit more the sounds of its predecessor by adding more rhythms and by experimenting some more with his modular synths. The album opens with "Tell Me The Name", a track which sounds like ocean waves made of throbbing sounds which suddenly blast off and when the apparent calm makes its way, buzzing sounds, and treated vocal samples soon after are joined by distorted industrial rhythmic patterns. After that, we have "Habitat", a track suspended between clanging sounds and synth strings and leads which sounds like coming from hell. "This Is What It's Like" plays even more with this dark atmospheres mixing mid tempo industrial rhythms filtered through an eco with whispered vocals. The main track is divided into two parts and if most of the first one creates a dark ambient atmosphere with some rhythms toward its end, the second one is sounding more industrial and rhythmic just to sound a bit like early Chris & Cosey at the end. "Recognition" sounds like a kraken fighting for his life while the short "Unshielded", with its synths rhythmic noises and the vocals sounding like a tribal chant, is like the recording of a ritual. I found this second album rich of ideas and sounds and more focused compared to the first one. I'm sure you'd gladly check it out if you already appreciated Drew's past collaborations. If you are totally new, well, if you like Autechre and industrial music, I'm sure that you'll be amazed listening to "Unnatural Channel".

Psyclon Nine: Divine Infekt (re-release)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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May 07 2017
Artist: Psyclon Nine
Title: Divine Infekt (re-release)
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Metropolis recently re-released one of the most impressive albums by Psyclon Nine. I'm one of those, who has never considered this band as controversial as some reviewers did in the past, when too many people still filtered anything surrounding them as rightwing, leftwing, communist or fascist, according to a blind and blinding watertight compartment-like vision of the world that came and keeps on coming in handy of well-known manoeuvres. In spite of the helpful clarification "No computers were used during the composition of this album", reprising some known messages that wink at animal rights activists, "Divine Infekt" is massively computerized: dating back 2003, it featured a higher dosage of synth-pop, aggrotech (particularly in the use of voice by P9's frontman Nero Bellum) and electro-industrial and just some traces of black metal (more clearly listenable in other outputs of the band). Specialists in synths will readily recognize the typical taste of some synth-squeezing such as the dynamics of the highly performative Nord Lead (maybe the 3 or the 4), the choruses on brass pads typical of EBM or the pre-delay of 30-35ms combined to some impressive sets of Pitch Shifter on the glorious Boss SE-50 to make the voice harsher. I won't say it could be considered still innovative from the technical viewpoint, but the content of its anguished lyrics could certainly be. This inflamed ring starts and ends on the title-track "Divine Infekt", whose refrain - a recorded voice repeating "We all deserve a life in hell" in a viscous web of synth-driven arpeggios and kicks - is the hypnotical motif of both the original opening version and the Aggrotech-oriented remix by Anthony Mather's band Tactical Sekt. A ring of fire, whose more interesting blazes are the more danceable "Clinik" (its medley "Bludgeon abortion/Lethal amputation/Onslaught of torment/Embrace the offering/Necrotic flesh/Design of tainted surgery/Cold steel blade/Neutralize mortality" could be echoed in your mind for a while), the brilliant synth programming that got forged for a genuinely provocatory song like "So Be It", the almost romantic "As You Sleep" (maybe the most melodic moment of the whole album) as weel as those songs (particularly "Clinik" and "Slaughter"), where you can hear the first bricks of the bridge joining electro-industrial and symphonic black metal, whose building would have been completed on their following album "INRI". Also available on a limited vinyl edition.

Alphane Reality Generator: Music for the Robot Revolution

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Feb 19 2017
Artist: Alphane Reality Generator (@)
Title: Music for the Robot Revolution
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Where to begin with this...perhaps quoting the artist's one-sheet accompanying this release- "THE RESISTANCE NEEDS YOU! The human resistance is close to defeat. Far closer than is commonly known. Our only chance was to send this warning back to 2017...23 years before the robot revolution began. This will give you time to prepare...or maybe even prevent it from happening this time. All the information you need is on this compact audio disc. Good luck human." Alphane Reality Generator is the brainchild of Andrew Rizzo, from Exton, Pennsylvania.

As you might guess, Alphane Reality Generator is an electro-industrial project. I am also assuming that 'Music for the Robot Revolution' is its debut release. If you like vocals ala vocoder and lots of clipped from sci-fi flick dialogue samples, you're gonna like this. If not, well, much of it has a beat you can dance to, as well as a booming bottom end. I suppose that considering the premise that robots revolted (and most likely took over) in 2040, vocoder vocals are to be expected. Somewhat better than the snarling, distorted type of vocals so often heard in the genre in my opinion. Problem is, it does get a little old after a while. Sometimes I'm not sure whether this is tongue-in-cheek, or serious. Perhaps a combination of the two. The synthwork ranges from arcade-analogue (old school game goofy) to the kind of sounds and style you'd expect to hear in electo-industrial music. Initially the beatwork is pounding and relentless. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with the "machines taking over" concept. As the album progresses though, the rhythms get more interesting. While there aren't any what you might call "hits" on the album, "Cubicle of Pain" is one of the stronger tracks. "Processing Bypassing" is what Kraftwerk might sound like if they if they decided to go dark-edge industrial. One of the weirder tracks on the album, "Wir Essen Kein Brot" ("We Do Not Eat Bead") indicates that robots may have a certain sense of humor both in the lyrics and music. Although I wasn't wild about the lengthy dialogue samples in "Abdicated Responsibilities," the music had good dramatic tension. For me the best track was the last - "Thick Cartilaginous Layer," reminding me a bit of Front Line Assembly's more pensive moments.

The one thing this album suffers from though is a lack of professional mastering which would have tamed some of the wild frequencies and brought out and enhanced those which needed it. Still, it's not a bad effort and there's enough variety to keep it from getting stagnant. Just how far Mr. Rizzo will get with Alphane Reality Generator remains to be seen; one-trick pony or a new luminary on the electro-industrial scene. I suppose that's up to you, the consumer to decide, but I will say that it's worth checking out.

Brume: Mother Blast

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 11 2017
Artist: Brume
Title: Mother Blast
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Grautag (@)
Rated: *****
If we consider the fact that most of the tracks included in this umpteenth release by French wizard of electronic industrial Christian Renou, who resurrected his notorious moniker Brume in 2008, have been composed in 2014 or are old tracks revisited between 2013 and 2014, could let you surmise this album was stored in some drawer before it could have been taken out of it at a moment when it could sound apter to the renewed fears of a forthcoming apocalypse. Nowadays the spectre of a nuclear holocaust got massively fed by a series of doomsayers and catastrophists, who seized the opportunity of spreading panic-inducing and tragic opinions related to the recent political facts, so that this time seems to be ripe enough for a release, that gives an X-ray to the more disquieting trace that mankind left on modern history. Christian always refused to be filed under some stylistic label by means of the same old argument according to which labels are just a tool of marketing (I don't entirely agree with such an opinion, to be honest, as labelling music is sometimes a useful way to give an idea to listeners) and he often succeeds in escaping any attempt of sticking a precise definition by melting techniques and references that belong to many areas (primarily industrial, electronic, dark ambient, musique concrete, but also some outputs by Richard Pinhas' Heldon, Boyd Rice or Death in June), so that I wouldn't mind such an idiosyncrasy is a hoity-toity symptom. Besides such a minor matter, Monsieur Renou masterfully focuses on a sort of soundtrack that could perfectly fit the waiting of a nuclear bombing inside a subterranean bunker since the opening "'Little Boy' Pilot", where he rendered the lucid insanity of Paul Tibbets, the American pilot who dropped the first atomic bomb (Brume included some vocal snippets by this ridiculously heroic US patriot, who showed no regrets for having killed more than 80 thousand people by invoking reasons of state), to the sinister squeaking and the roaring rattling electro-rock of the final "Panzerfaust" - many musical gemstones in between for the lovers of Brume's music such as the sadly evocative "Victorian Washing Machine" and "Ersatz-Stellungen" or the ominous kind of tragic tribalism of tracks like "Sluggy Tango" or "Wish You were not Here" -. The references quoted by Nicolas Moulin, label manager and founder of grautag, who released "Mother Blast" and considered Brume's seminal album "Permafrost" a source for inspiration for the artistic path of the label, are guessed: "Mother Blast could be considerate as the second step of Permafrost - with some updating, but not only- but overall, the eternal state of ultimate cold war music and its endless no man's lands, where rhythms are growing in sound layers like bunkers of Russian Test nuclear site « Semipalatinsk » or those witch haunting the Ireland of JG Ballard « terminal beach ».

God Destruction: Redentor

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Jan 23 2017
Artist: God Destruction (@)
Title: Redentor
Format: CD
Label: Insane Records (@)
Rated: *****
From Mexico City comes God Destruction, and their fourth album, 'Redentor' since 2009. My first experience with GD was on the 'Terror Night Vol. 2' compilation by Insane Records, and honestly, it was not a good one. It was the A.D.R.O.N. Remix of the title track on this album, and I think I described it as "a nasty piece of business with relentless machine gunning percussion and mental ward harsh raving vocals". Perhaps that was a bit harsh, but then again, so was the track. For this band, God Destruction is not just a name, it seems to be a way of life. Their motto is "God Destruction, praising the evil since 2009," and they mean it. This is true Hellectro - harsh EBM tinged with black metal. The album opens on the title track with gothic pipe organ, but quickly turns caustic and brutal. There's a lot more going on here in the original than the remix I previously heard. Although I can't make out what the hell the scratchy-screamy vocals are saying (a lyric sheet would have been nice) or even what language they're in, the delivery gets the point across. The band creates apocalyptic atmospheres without ever losing potency in cinematic side excursions. "The Machine" is driven by a relentless beat which is sure to kick your ass all the way around the dancefloor, and then some. There are actually two harsh vocalists in this band with different shades of malice. For what they do, they work well together. I'm not sure whether "Ratzinger" is a tribute to Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) or Wumpscut's Rudy; perhaps both in different ways. Clever, eh? A good club tune without a doubt though, especially made for heathens, heretics and hooligans. "Bullshit" offers more of the same with a different pacing. I am noticing now just how dirty and overblown God Destruction's sound is, as if they're compelled (maybe by Satan) to load up on EVERYTHING all at once. Granted, they do hold back a little on "Corpus Satani" but by then you're getting kind of numb. "Kakuma" (The Unholy Land) relies heavily on sampled dialogue and atmosphere to tell its story, but there is a fair amount of musicality to it. "Thunderthrone" begins promisingly with moaning horn and a rapacious riff, but somehow gets lost in the sauce tripping all over itself in an attempt to be epic, but comes across as more epileptic. "Exterminio" is full of organ and pounding beats but sounds more like filler than anything of substance. "Ultraviolencia" is quite a different story. A well-crafted hellectro-aggrotech number that really packs a wallop. "Rotten" is just a lot of rap-ranting over typical harsh EBM and it really left me cold. Final track before the remixes "Antevasin" begins with a series of processed guitar chords before the music, beats and vocals come in. This to me is the closest this band comes to sounding like Wumpscut, and it's actually pretty good. Low key when compared to the rest of 'Rededentor' but it does show these guys can sound quite musical when they want to. Not quite epic, but almost. The two remixes are "Redentor" by Nero Bellum of Psyclon Nine and "Ultraviolencia" (SIN D.N.A. Remix). On the former, Bellum allows for a 40-sencond scratch 'n' tap intro before steadily driving the track across the dancefloor like a Zamboni on steroids. The second remix is a stripped-down and chopped-up affair adding in a lot of sonic garbage that kind pof kills the tracks potency. Creative perhaps, but effective? Nah. 'Redentor' is kind of an uneven album in my estimation but there are still people who are going to really like it. Not quite up to the level of Hocico, but given time, this band could get there.

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