Music Reviews

Sektor 304: Soul Cleansing

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Feb 15 2011
Artist: Sektor 304
Title: Soul Cleansing
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Sektor 304, so I only had the press release to go on. Here's how the label describes this album: 'With a solid foundation of rusty, oil drenched percussion, Sektor 304 adds layer upon layer of squalling industrial clangor, hammering metallic noise, grimy atmospheres, heaving masses of haunted factory drones, and threatening tribal batter, with a strong and commanding vocal presence.' This is one for the few times when I have seen a comparison to Einsturzende Neubauten hold up under scrutiny. After all, you have to love the fact that Sektor 304 lists 'metal junk' and 'power tools' under the more traditional 'vocals' and 'percussion.' And they aren't kidding. From the opening track, you get a sense of what you are in for. The percussion is heavy and the track is punctuated by the rhythmic turning on and off of an electric drill. This is real industrial in the sense that EN was real industrial - noisy, crushing, and loud. The vocals are distorted and harsh. Everything is getting the crap beat out of it. But that's only half the story. This album displays the power of understating things as well. There is a lot of good atmosphere here ' 'Pulse Generator' is a good example of this, with whispered vocals, quiet percussion, and ominous drones. In fact, some of this disc is downright peaceful. Quite a variety, which keeps things interesting. This disc weighs in at around 60 minutes.

Goatvargr: Black Snow Epoch

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 31 2011
Artist: Goatvargr (@)
Title: Black Snow Epoch
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
One of the first human being speaking about the "black snow" was presumably Anaxagoras: this notorious Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher on the basis of the diaphaneity of the water mantained even snow was black as black colour is tantamount to the absence of all colours. Likewise if the premises originating a concept is wrong and there is nothing mistrusting the opposite premises on the logical path, it's possible to be wrong in obtaining some results. This concept has fascineted a lot of artists and could be the conceptual framework of this Black Snow Epoch, the second sonorous calving coming from the reproductive session (just musical one!) between Henrik "Nordvargr" Bjorkk, a Swedish sound adulterator - maybe some of you have already listened something signed under other pseudonyms such as MaschinenZimmer 412, Hydra Head 9, Folkstorm or Toroidh (my favorite one, maybe for some musical nuances close to Raison d'Etre releases) -, quite famous for his artistic fruitfulness in the so-called "grey area" for being one of the first sound-artists dealing with the so-called "black industrial" music (something which some reviewer names "dark ambient" as well nowadays), whose nickname means "northern wolf", and the American noise artist Andy O'Sullivan aka Goat, whose researches are more noise-oriented as well, giving to birth this freaky creature called Goatvargr - you can imagine some bestial character, whose body is half-goat and half-wolf... -, which musically could stand as a sort of alternative path towards the thick woods of power electronics, black metal and cinematic ritual drones.

If you already have listened to their self-titled debut album, you'll easily notice this time the noise sounds more "organized" - just some parts such as the deafening Wall of Wolf tread on noises in a cacophonic way - as whereas this two beasts don't pummel each other, the atmospheric grips intertwined with heavily dragged metallic marches have been preferred so that they finally emphasized the suggestions and somewhat sinister fascination of this gloomy record, alternating the feral gaits of those animals and the disquieting glacial silence with terrific buzzing or quartering through voices which sometimes sounds human, sometimes turn into more brutish timbres (have a listen to the initial Goatsbane/Scapewolf - nice wordy trick for a title! - for a thorough sample of such a transmutation...) and reaching the highest peak in the almost solemn final anthem of A Black Drum Droning. By rewording sleevenotes printed on the booklet (you can turn it into a poster with the drawing on front-cover by French), "during the black snow epoch, the true hunters will pursue"...

Pixel Hero: s/t

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 22 2011
image not
Artist: Pixel Hero
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
Latvia's PIXEL HERO isn't a graphic-designer, but an Electro/Industrial-music producing one-man-project founded by Wormboy. Signed to the Sturm label group and community, I was quite curious, how this album would sound. Let's say, that PIXEL HERO is strictly dedicated to all forms of Electronica music based in the early 80ies, at times where Atari computer have been in use to create some raw noises and play some early video-games. Some titles out of the track list are proving this dedication, like 'Alien Caverns', 'Asteroid Deathmatch', or 'Nebular Car Dump' for example. Be it early EBM, Minimal, or at least rhythmically Powernoise music, I was also astonished, how raw some of these tracks are coming out: 'Orbital Bombing', as being the opener., spits out all of that pseudo-aggression, which can be found quite often in the roster of this fine Latvian label-collective. The more exceptional tunes can be named with those, which leave a bit the monotonous minimal path, 'Squad '99' is such an example, which offers some nice hooks and cool Hi-Q percussion inserts. If you have found some satisfaction with projects like SYSTEM (Progess Productions), NEON COIL (Klangdynamik), or the last MIND.IN.A.BOX-recordings, then you should be informed, that PIXEL HERO is the more drastically outfit in a relative comparable kind music/sound programming. So let's hope, that this story doesn't end abruptly after the twelfth track aptly entitled 'End Boss / Death of The Pixel Hero'...
Jan 21 2011
Artist: Merzbow/Z'ev (@)
Title: Spiral Right/Spiral Left
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
After 20 years of rumors of a forthcoming collaboration, recantations, postponements, these two blazoned masters of noise, who don't actually need any introduction having both of them an enviable curriculum and a remarkably tried experience in their field, have finally co-signed a collaborative release, even if the two long-lasting cochlear corrosions, tympanic drillings or, if you prefer, spirals are mutual mixing and shaping of each sonic code. A mission accomplished by Cold Spring's appreciated label manager Justin Mitchell.

If I exclude the inevitable sonic rampage for a while and their skills in making typhoons acting more as sorcerers than as callow blunderers from mastered or digital noises, an art whose secrets are deeply known by Masami Akita aka Merzbow, and from percussions often obtained from scraps, whose craftsman is the American (even if actually living in Peckham, UK, with Barbara Steveni, where he also mixed Merzbow's code on 20th August 2008, the first track of this emisymmetrical issue, whose first 13 minutes are really going to let your ears bleed) artist, musician and trusted pioneer of industrial music Stefan Joel Weisser aka Z'ev, one of the first aspect which has stricken me is the substantial stylistical homogeneity of both rehashes. The above mentioned first spiral is maybe the most difficult to listen for untrained ears especially for its tremendously harsh first part, where the blast of noises could sound more irritating than an imaginary suite for a quartet of hoovers, supported by a food grinder, a jackhammer and a jet engine, while the second spiral featuring some guitar modulations is definitively more bearable and enriched with urban field recordings, but it's practically impossible to appreciate it without considering the ritual core of this issue, putting it up as a soundtrack for an imaginary metropolitan hell, whose cyclic chants sounds as frightening as seducing. Even if not intended for the masses, this experimental release, whose package features graphic arts by Abby Helasdottir, is really stunning.

MZ.412: In Nomine Dei Nostri Satans Luciferi Excelsi

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Dec 16 2010
Artist: MZ.412
Title: In Nomine Dei Nostri Satans Luciferi Excelsi
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Released for the first time back in 1995 by Cold Meat Industry, IN NOMINE DEI NOSTRI SATANAS LUCIFERI EXELSI was the first album by MZ.412 after the name change from Maschinenzimmer 412 (with that name they released the albums "Macht Durch Stimme" and "Malfeitor"). Back then the four band members were still painting their faces and used different names (Henrik "Nordvargr" Bjorkk was often credited as Kremator, then there was Drakhon, Shaitan and Ulvtharm) and universally they were recognized as the inventor of black industrial, a genre that mixes industrial noise, ritual ambient and black metal atmospheres. This new reissue is the first of the Cold Spring reissue series that will release the five MZ.412 albums individually and on a limited to 300 copies wooden box containing also some extra material. All the albums have been remastered and have bonus tracks and also the design has been updated and the covers now recall the Deutsche Grammophon logo, due to the fact that we're dealing with classic material of industrial music. "Daemon Raging", "In Nomine Dei" or "God Of Fifty Names" now sound bright and powerful and I hear them like "opened". Now you can distinct every digital distorted sound, the samples and the drones and you're able to enjoy the experience at full. On this album you can find also three extra tracks of which two unreleased: the opening "Black Earth" (starting with light clanging sounds and distant tones, the track little by little grows mixing a ritualistic mysterious atmosphere to percussions, feedbacks and distant distorted vocals), "Surge 2" (digital noises with blasts and filtered vocals are the core of the track but some melodic lines enrich the atmosphere here and there) and "Infinite Hollow" (it sounds like an industrial mix of classic music thanks to the viola and orchestral reversed inserts just to turn into a pounding industrial battling soundtrack with metal percussions). This reissue is a must to rediscover a classic album. Don't miss it!

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