Music Reviews

Artist: Jennifer Choi (@)
Title: Violectrica (Music for Violin and Electronics)
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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Jennifer Choi is one of the most active and talented violinists in both New York's classical and downtown music scene. Her style is adventurous and grounded at the same time and her knowledge and understanding of the music and of the instrument position her as one of the leading virtuoso violinists on the scene, but also as one of the most open minded and daring players out there. She has played in countless places and on numerous records by improvised and classical music composers and luminaries such as Susie Ibarra, John Zorn (check her out in Zorn's latest master[card-]piece "Femina") and many others... Her latest work is a solo CD featuring interpretations of pieces by Alexandra Gardener, Randall Woolf, Padma Newsome, Susie Ibarra, Annie Gosfield and Ikue Mori, who also appears on the record as a guest and with whom Jennifer recorded three improvisations. As you might except from the sub-title, there is plenty of electronics (from ambient textures, to industrial-ish sounds, from soundscapes and layers to glitches and buzzes, from field-type background noises to sampled material). Her eclectic playing complements such eccentricity with passion and innovation, moving well beyond the standard bowing and the pizzicatos and experimenting with a whole new slew of sounds and noises that the instrument is capable of generating when in her hands. Highly recommended to those who want to hear some masterfully executed solo violin pieces but who aren't afraid to find out that there might be more than just violin after all.

Rammstein: Liebe is für Alle Da

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 16 2009
Artist: Rammstein
Title: Liebe is für Alle Da
Format: CD
Label: Pilgrim
Distributor: Universal
Rated: *****
This is quite the controversial album. Rammstein's sixth studio album in 15 years came out a few weeks ago in the middle of heavy promotional buzz and censorship. The first single from it is called "Pussy" (chorus goes "you've got a pussy, I have a dick-e, so what's the problem, let's do it quick"...) so it's obvious that they are trying to shake people up a bit by making this become their new anthem (and, maybe I am wrong but I am pretty sure it's also their first single in English). Germany marked the album as inappropriate for minors due to some of its lyrics and some graphic violence and nudity in the amazing cover art work of the 11-track version I have (a cleverly made 5-panel digipack that creates different scenes based on how it is folded and depicts some S/M scenes involving the band members with a style and colors that aim to look like an antique still life painting). Allegedly the band also promoted this album with a music video clip showing them engaging in sexual intercourse and made the video available on an x-rated site. The cherry on top of the pie is an overpriced limited edition collector's edition, which packages six dildos, a pair of handcuffs, some lube along with the CD in a sizable road case type metal box.
Obviously "Liebe is für Alle Da" (which means "love is there for everyone") is part of a well thought out marketing plan that probably left the only german band to ever reach stardom singing in German AND doing metal exactly where they wanted to be.
Strictly musically speaking the album packages powerful industrial metal although the band is increasingly less industrial and increasingly more metal (probably only the sounds of the drums and some keys are left as a testament of the more specifically industrial origins of the band). The band seems to have been acquiring a taste for faster beats and doesn't necessarily go for the big anthemic teutonic choirs any longer.
There are actually two versions of the album. The one I am reviewing contains 11 songs but there is an another version with the same title that contains 17 pieces, so if you are a fan I'd recommend going for that.
One last thing I have report about this CD is that it is one of these new CD types that will ONLY play in CD players and not in computers so you can't rip it, so if you want to put it on your iPod you better buy the digital version.

Roughhausen: SomeOne's Got To Pay

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 15 2009
Artist: Roughhausen (@)
Title: SomeOne's Got To Pay
Format: CD EP
Label: TinderBox
In the sleeve-notes of this mini EP by the half Canadian half Taiwanese band Roughhausen, it's written that all songs have been mixed and mastered at The Sanctuary Post Production Studios in Tapei by JS (initials of Jeff Stoddard, the male voice as well as keyboardist and guitarist of the band, previously involved in renowned electro-industrial bands such as Front Line Assembly, Will and Decree) assisted by the bitches (a quotation as well... ).

Well, we've read some articles about the pretentious desire of acquiring American citizenship expressed by a lot of young Chinese people as well as youngsters turning into a plenty of bizarre imitations in figurative arts, music and lifestyle and we can't blame Jeff for appreciating the presence of cutie girls as it could arguably be delightful the assistance of some cutie girls and its potentiality of becoming a source of inspiration while recording an album , but SomeOne's Got To Pay runs the risk of being perceived as a dull reprise of notorious elderly mile stones of the American scene without adding nothing really original to it and pondering over old grudges; for instance tracks such [sic]fuk or U Better Run seems to lack real inspiration and originality as it seems a sterile ragbag of harsh sounds and quotations. The Lying MOFO Mix of Control is slightly more interesting with its danceable EBM geometric lines and some melodic nods, even if heavily influenced by Front Line Assembly, as well as the sculptures on walls of noises proposed by D.Boger on the Rise and Shine mix of An Awakening, which partially reminds to us some good samples of corrosive grooves such as the ones by 2nd Gen, but it's not enough to unveil a real artistic personality. Roughhausen show some skills and good gears to demonstrate they're just a band of wannabes even in this EP, but we think this house definitely needs improvements to be better rewarded for their appreciable efforts. According to a Chinese proverb, higher thoughts require higher language... Paraphrasing what we have seen on their promotional videoclip announcing a launch party in Taiwan, we're ready to be roughed up... So rough it up, folks!

The M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab: Modern Expressing Machine of Revolutionary Youth

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 09 2009
Artist: The M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab (@)
Title: Modern Expressing Machine of Revolutionary Youth
Format: CD
Label: D-Trash Records (@)
Distributor: D-Trash Records
Rated: *****
Getting a new batch of CDs to review is always a treat, and gives me a bit of a tingle of anticipation, as well as trepidation for what delights and horrors await my thirsty ears. Thumbing through the pile, I saw some really cool and bizarre stuff, but no matter how tempted I was to take the easy way out and stay in my comfort zone, I knew I had to review this one first.

A bit of background on this CD- it is a collaborative project of Marc Urselli (yeah, OUR Marc Urselli) and Nicola "The Old Nick" Curri of 90’s era black metal band, Funeral Oration. Curri went on to become an art restorer, set designer and artist. Now all I really knew about Marc up until this time is that he’s my contact at Chain D.L.K. (and also a fine reviewer) and every once in a while he call me up and asks me if I’m ready for more CDs to review. My shock and awe began when I discovered he’s a well-known audio engineer and remixer, and has several Grammy Awards under his belt for doing just that. (Somehow Grammys and Chain D.L.K. just seem like opposite ends of the musical spectrum.)

Well, Grammys don’t necessarily give you cred in the Industrial music world, but those engineering and production skills come in handy when you want to put out a great album, and this is one GREAT album, all things considered. I’m not saying that because of my Chain D.L.K. connection with Marc, I’m saying that just because IT IS. The album was actually conceived (and mostly executed) nearly 15 years ago, but it has the power and presence to stand up to anything in the Industrial music realm today. I wondered why I never heard of M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab back then, and apparently it was because they only made it on to a few compilations and released a very limited cassette demo.

M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab is an acronym for Modern Expressing Machine of Revolutionary Youth, something that summarized their philosophy of music back in Southern Italy in mid-90’s. Other members of M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab included bass player Fabrizio Giannese and Dario Campeggio, but it’s Marc and Nick that are really responsible for this album. M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab broke up in 1999 when Marc moved to New York to pursue an audio engineering career. The album might never have seen the light of day if Marc didn’t rescue the original recordings from a dusty Italian basement and digitally re-master them.

So, what about the music on the album? Well, this is hard as titanium Industrial, something much tougher than Reznor and his Nails of Nine ever dreamed of. Urselli cites M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab’s influences of a whole range of groups- Die Krupps, Young Gods, NIN, Pantera, Sepultura, Faith No More, Einsturzende Neubaten, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Fear Factory, Legendary Pink Dots, Current 93, Das Ich, Psychic TV, Sigillum S, Christian Death, Sisters of Mercy, Pink Floyd, etc., etc. and it shows. Some more than others. The first thing that impressed me about this album is the drum programming. Not your standard stuff here. It is varied and often processed to perfection; complex rhythms (Front Line Assembly/Skinny Puppy style), loops, odd Neubaten-ish percussion, manic drumming, you name it. The synth and sampling work is very good too; somewhat old school’ because that was THE school n the 90’s when this was done.

Nick has an interesting vocal style, multifaceted and often manic. When he’s not ranting and raving Manson style (Charles, not Marilyn) which he often is, he’s nearly whispering David Tibet/Edward Ka-Spel gibberings in the quieter passages. And there are a number of them to break up the sturm und drang, which is a very good thing. Actually, there are a whole lot of influences at work here; it is more an amalgam of everything these guys absorbed and put into one sonic H-Bomb of a package guaranteed to blow your mind. It will definitely take you more than one listening to absorb it all, and it has a high replayabilty factor. Even the one track I wasn’t wild about at first, "Another Nail into the Cross," with its Christian Death martyr overtones seemed better the second time around. Nick reminded me a bit of the late mad magician Geoffrey Crozier. Few know of Crozier now (Google him, watch his YouTube video, and you’ll get the gist), but back in the late 70’s he was somewhat of a legend amongst the New York City underground music scene. I had the pleasure of experiencing his demented performances first-hand, and I tell you there is something of his energy and angst in Nick’s vocal on this CD. I think you need a certain kind of nutter on vocals to make this kind music work and leave the pack behind.

Modern Expressing Machine of Revolutionary Youth’ is a very strong effort which might have become a classic if it was released back in the day, but with the re-mastering, I’m sure it’s much better now than it than it might have been then. As with a lot of Industrial music then, there are sampled dialogue passages and sampled hard guitar, but they’re used sparing – no overkill. Not a lot of melodic content, but real Industrial music doesn’t need a lot of melodic content. If your complaint about so many Industrial’ bands today is their music is geared more to club play and the dance floor, then this is definitely for you. There is so much meat on the bones here, and nothing gets stale. Nick’s vocals and Marc’s synth/programming/production work hand-in-glove together. A perfect fit. Who cares if sounds a bit old school in places. Do you still listen to Hard Wired’, Land of Rape and Honey’, Too Dark Park’, Tabula Rasa or Embryodead’ and believe they’re brilliant albums? Then M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab is for you. The only other thing I can say is, it’s about fucking time.


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 04 2009
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Title: Pulsion
Format: CD
Label: Geometrik Records
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
PULSION is the newest Esplendor Geometrico which follows "Compuesto de hierro" (their previous studio album) and the 2007 live album "8 tracks and live". The new album brings to the attention of the lovers of industrial music nine new tracks (they have already performed live some of them) which are based mainly on rhythms manipulation with the add of vocal samples. The interesting thing about the samples is that they chose speeches of people of a radical Japanese party, Che Guevara, anti occidental words from an Islamic leader (but the band underline that they have used these sources without any political meaning) plus ethnic chants and music. Everything have been filtered, treated and encrypted into the personal Esplendor Geometrico sound to form a thick hypnotic hammering industrial sound. The album is also available on a limited vinyl edition of 500 copies.

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