Music Reviews

Artist: ANBB: Alva Noto & Blixa Bargeld (@)
Title: Mimikry
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
The creative person should have no other biography than his works'¦ Even if I break the conventional rules of good manners, I decided to butt in when Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto, the renowned and talented equerry of Raster-Noton, and Blixa Bargeld, the expressive and deep voice inside the noisy jungle of industrial rattles by the legendary band Einsturzende Neubaten as well as guitarist for Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, were handshaking the mysterious identity of Ret Marut, signing himself under the pseudonym B.Traven (it's still disputed the real identity of this moniker, author of some novels and short stories issued in the beginning of the last century and mainly issued in German and then translated in English ' the analogy with Blixa's attitude in preserving German lyrics is immediate! -, showing a stern criticism against capitalism'¦) just to highlight not only the evidence that these composer doesn't need any introduction, but also to remark that their interesting musical and artistic paths don't really need boring biographies!

Those paths have cut each other in September 2007, when they performed together at Recombinant Media Labs Studios in San Francisco in order to take concrete form (maybe an inappropriate expression if you know some of their workouts) recently throughout a project named from their initials ANBB, anticipated by a sort of preliminary EP entitled 'Ret Marut Handshake' as well, which provocatively seems to eulogize an author without a reliable identity ycleped B.Traven (aka Ret Marut aka Hal Croves aka Otto Freige aka Bruno Marhut aka Hugo Kronthal aka Kraus Martinez aka Adolf Rudolph, etc etc'¦. The only certain piece of information about this writer is just his sex even if some researchers think that this author was a German/Polish rebel, who needed to hide his real name!) in our times, when identity has become a sort of obsession for the controllers of the NOW according to many contemporary thinkers!

Identity, or it's better saying Identitaetlichkeiten, its convulsive convolutions, its annihilation cycled with different mimesis and transmutations seem to be the conceptual framework of this interesting collaboration, based according to the melting musical personalities which signed it on the combination of improvisation and abstraction (a 'mixed' duality reflected even in the booklet containing lyrics, where words are transcribed together with sound punctuation, a bizarre notation used by Blixa during the recording process similar to the one normally used to draw electronic circuits and wave forms) and featuring many peaks of pure lyricism since the beginning: Fall looks like a wandering poem about the lost of identity, starting with a torn shriek, in different chapters and showing really catching and sudden change of setting, superbly interpreted by Blixa.

Filled with pathos, any track has a powerfully dramatic wit, where even single sounds and self-shaping noises play an active role like disclosing strokes of a brush with many expressive peaks, among which I'd like to mention the astonishing cover of One (originally written by Harry Nilsson) and I Wish I Was A Mole, an Old American folk song, already remade by Bob Dylan, treated in a really eccentric way, Once Again, a track tracing the route of a journey towards an undefined goal and an undefined sense of inadequacy (I bitterly smiled after hearing the nice trait of Italian people mood, sometimes resigning to their fate, when after his distraught complaint inserted the repetition of the Italian word 'pazienza', meaning patience'¦), the title-track Mimikry, the disquieting Berghain (maybe a track which is intimately connected to Einsturzende Neubaten's Weil Weil Weil'¦a sort of link with due respect for that astonishingly impressive and meaningful repertoire) and the final track Katze, featuring the mewing vocals and spoken word by the model Verushka, the spider-like fascinating woman pictured on the cover, famous for her appearance on Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up. I don't exaggerate if I say that this work is close to masterwork, folks!
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Stürmer IV
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
Latvia's most influential dark Electronica-label Sturm comes out with a new and awesome looking DCD set, which presents once again the who is who of this genre hailing out this small Eastern European country. By having a more detailed look and listening the label roster, it once again astonishes, how far away from any hypes and how diverse the provided music got spread. It seems to be quite natural for the responsible people behind this label, that the listener gets thrown into styles of abstract experimental Electronica side by side with Neo-Folk influences and harshest Powernoise efforts. A genre boundary is seemingly a foreign word for them, as this label has to offer a lot of undiscovered and never heard before music stuff. 'Stürmer IV' finally sorts and collects the most influential acts out this country, and it too collaborates also with artists, which have decided to release on their own, or are signed to other labels. As I mentioned above, the package of this DCD set is a feast for the eyes. It's a heavy-weight digipack-like packaging, but a bit bigger than normal in size, consisting of a robust, serrated black cardboard work. The silver-colored script, for example used for the track list, which got hidden as a special gimmick under both CD's, and the imprints are offering a glossy and beautiful contrast ' in short, to hold this DCD set in your hands suggests a rewarding feeling to any listener. Which form of a downloading procedure can rival with this? Musically you'll get a relatively strict separation of music styles by the choice between a black- and silver-colored CD.
Starting with the silver edition, you'll get the rather straight, harsh and rhythmic music assaults with band projects/artists like ROSEWATER, which are maybe the international most recognized act out of Latvia. All of you listeners, who have thrown them into the straight Hellectro-like drawer because of their contribution to Johan van Roy's NTP-label will be astonished by this dark and haunting instrumental tune, which is filled with ominous voice samples and opulent orchestral-like string sounds ' relatively unexpected from them, but atmospherically thick produced. HEZZEL is another fine solo project presenting with 'Magnets' a straight-forward moving track, which has been the title-track of one of the previously freely downloadable releases of this artist (signed to the Russian Absetzer / Alter-X Promotion group). TETSUO SHIMA sounds from its name like an uncompromising Japanese Noise-artist, but offers a steady slashing tune somewhere comparable to SONAR meets ARZT + PFUSCH. To produce rather distorted and rhythmic oriented tracks on the edge between the Harsh-EBM and very near to the Powernoise genre seems to be generally a specialty for most of the artists presented here, the tunes of NAV SAULES, NARKOSE-X ('Masturbators', how delicious'¦), or G-SHOWER (what a band-name'¦) are some excellent references for this dedication. Also PIXEL HERO are thrown into this harder kind, although this has happened because of the choice of the contributing track, as this project normally produces C64-related Electronica music following veterans like KRAFTWERK, or DEVO. Another highlight I would like to point out with SYMMETRY OF ASYMMETRY, whose track is a real, classic arranged Dark Electro tune with reduced noisy ingredients, but with a hopeless sounding male vocalist. Another 'thumbs up' also for CYBERPUNK for offering DIVE-like minimal Electro/Industrial structures. 18 tracks not only to warm your socks in your boots, it is also stuff worth to listen to.
The black and second CD edition of this DCD set then offers the more abstract and experimental-minded kind of music, featuring some more or less known names like SCRIPTA SENSUS, KNAUZERS, CLAUSTRUM, or ANTARKTIDA. The music ranges between the darkest Ambient tunes (SEASNSFDSPAIR, SCRIPTA SENSUS, CLAUSTRUM, MACABRO), to ominous Ritual-Industrial tracks featuring confusing voice samples (SVAMPKOKS, KNAUZERS, POSTS), to seemingly uncontrollable sound experiments (CLAUSTHOME offering some abrasive drone sounds, while ANTARKTIDA convince with percussive metallic noises thrown in a monotonous environment). Stylistically very far away from any norm, here you'll find that stuff, you couldn't imagine to experience it. The music presented here is well-suited to get checked out under a good pair of headphones, while you should be warned, that also this stuff presented on this black CD isn't suited for the faint-hearted listeners.
What a diverse sound experience provided by these 36 artists and pressed on 2 full-length CD's! This one is remarkable and a nice introduction to all newbies to check out the dark conditions of the Eastern European territory. To live a life in Latvia must be a hard one, as you won't find any tendency for lighter and smoother sounds, as styles like Synth- or Futurepop are generally left out at the Sturm label. Released under Strumamndat No. 29, this DCD set is strictly limited to 666 numbered exemplars and you should save your bucks to purchase it directly from the source.

CD 1 : Black
1 SeasnsFDspair - Tai ZiemÄ
2 Scripta Sensus - DvÄseļu Putenis
3 Swamp Koks - Murgs Visupirms
4 Veerot - Shvakais Uzpariht Marsch
5 Knauzers - MelnÄ SÄga
6 Claustrum - Melanhola
7 BÄdu VÄstnesis - Å Ä·irotava
8 Antarktīda - Katorga
9 Macabro - Black Moon Rising
10 Darba Dienests - PornodiÄta
11 Mortarum - Sonar
12 ApÄtijas Process - Slave Boy
13 Celmlauzis - Nelifts
14 Posts - AicinÄjums
15 Clausthome - Sieben.Drei.Zwolf
16 Meld - Mechabuddha
17 V.S.K.B. - Aiz Muguras
18 AutogÄns - Par VÄlu

CD2 : Silver

1 Rosewater - Cerihbu Juhra
2 Nav Saules - Noizexperience
3 Anacodaine - PieskÄriens
4 Hezzel - Magnets 5:01
5 Tetsuo Shima - Plumbum
6 Pixel Hero - The Warp / Raiders
7 Purva Pihschli - Disciplīna
8 G-Shower - Maizes Dziesma
9 Narkose X - Masturbators
10 Tec 17 - NeÄrstÄjams
11 Symmetry Of Asymmetry - Burning Footsteps
12 Lenoras SapÅi - Stigmata Plague
13 W.O.M.B. - Dead Undead
14 Cyberpunk - Trust Yourself
15 Ls Tur - Trachrakts
16 Thinner - Curriculum Vitae
17 Oyaarss - Holeage
18 Audioscope - Lasting

Machinist Noise Assault: Self Help

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (6077)
Nov 01 2010
Artist: Machinist Noise Assault (@)
Title: Self Help
Format: CD
Label: Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Machinist Noise Assault, but just looking at the liner notes and seeing that it was mastered by Thomas Garrison (Control, Exsanguinate), gave me some insight into what I was in for. As expected, this is pretty heavy power electronics stuff. Here's how the label describes the album: 'Lyrically, 'Self Help' is a scornful examination of various forms of self abuse/neglect, and severe internal struggle based around the concept of one being one's own worst enemy. Sonically, expect to hear densely layered power electronics, standing out from the usual 'Set it and forget it'-style of its peers with less focus being applied to outright abrasiveness, and more being put on texture, development, and atmospheric elements.' Although power electronics stuff tends to be boring at times because of focus on vocals at the expense of the backing noise, Machinist Noise Assault actually does follow through on the promise of focusing on atmosphere and creative soundscapes. Musically, this is ahead of many PE artists. Song titles like 'Shut up. Curl up. Die,' and 'Victim By Choice' does, however, go along the standard PE lines and does so in completely expected ways (screamed and distorted). Overall this is well executed, although I have to admit that no particular track stood out to me. The album is also nicely packaged in an oversized 7' foldout with lyrics (which is good because otherwise you would have a hard time deciphering the lyrics). I would recommend this for fans of Strom e.c. and Navicon Torture Technologies ' the former for the musical aspects and the latter for the lyrical content. This disc weighs in at around 41 minutes.

Anemone Tube: Dream Landscape

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (6067)
Oct 31 2010
Artist: Anemone Tube (@)
Title: Dream Landscape
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
I had heard of Anemone Tube over the years, but had not had a chance to check them out so I was quite interested to give this a listen. Anemone Tube throws down an interesting mix of noise and atmosphere. You can get a sense of the vein this artist runs in by looking who they have performed with: Inade, Svartsinn, The (Law-Rah) Collective, Hybryds, and Schloss Tegal are the ones that stood out to me. According to the label, this album is part of the 'Suicide Series' and 'is a concept album of fierce malignant power. In a poetic way Anemone Tube combines analytical realism of the phenomenal world with buddhist psychology and nihilist rhetoric influenced by the visionary authors H.P. Lovecraft and Yukio Mishima.' Although I quite enjoy noise music, I had a hard time finding the concept in it. For me, it is really enough to say that this is well constructed noise music that is not overly harsh. If you think that Inade and Schloss Tegal are not noisy enough but you think that Merzbow and Masonna are not atmospheric enough, Anemone Tube is definitely the band for you. Fans of Brighter Death Now, Inade, Strom ec, and Daniel Menche probably already have this, but if they don't, they should. The only issue I have with this is that it is rather short, weighing in at about 23 minutes.

This album is packaged with a bonus DVD that is a 16 minute collaboration between Brazilian video artist Gustavo de Lacerda and Anemone Tube. The work, entitled 1515, is a conceptual experimental film made in Rotterdam. The soundtrack is based on real-time field recordings made in Nanjing and Shanghai. Conceptually, the video sounded interesting. Take video of a wall at the same time each day and then edit it together. Like many things that sound good in theory the execution was not as interesting as the concept. The constantly changing shadow patters are a bit too subtle and slow moving to be interesting. Musically, however, I found this to be excellent. It serves as an interesting counterpoint to the studio recording that is at times brooding and subdued until it lulls you into a false sense of security, then unleashes a fury of noise.

This release comes packaged in an oversized 5 panel foldout that reminds me of the old Amplexus packaging. Quite nice. This release is limited to 500 copies, so you'll want to get yours before they are gone.

LPF 12: Inhibition Level

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (6039)
Oct 21 2010
Artist: LPF 12
Title: Inhibition Level
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Abstrakt Reflections (@)
Rated: *****
I don't know, how often I wrote this phrase, but: it is the year of comebacks! LPF 12 is a Northern-Germany-based one-man-project which has been highly active with its musically assaulting efforts somewhere between DIVE and harsher MENTALLO & THE FIXER in the years between 1993 to 1995. Those have been the days, where bands had to record demo tapes as being the most affordable medium, and LPF 12 has entered a lot of stock lists of tapes labels like Obscura Records, Side-Line, Catkiller, Crewzine, or Crippled Abortion Tapes. Also a few CD compilation appearances became reality and Sascha could enter a free slot on such highly recognized releases like 'An Ideal For Living (Gothic Arts Records)', 'Neues Elektro Blut Vol. 1 (Khazad-Dum/Side-Line)', or the 'Vertigo Compilation Vol. 1/1996 (magazine + CD comp./Celtic Circle Prod.)'. In 1996 Sascha stopped abruptly his musically path and he set LPF 12 in hiatus. It has at least taken 14 years, until he decided to re-animate his beloved project with a bang. He's seemingly a hyperactive musician, who isn't able to take off his nervous fingers away from his equipment to relax for a while, because since early 2010 he has now produced music to fill 5 (!!!) different releases available on different labels. After an own released downloadable EP entitled 'Vicious Circle' via his bandcamp website, he presents his album 'Inhibition Level' signed to the Abstrakt Reflections netlabel, and so his official second release during this year. Compared to his previously discovered label colleagues like APPARENT SYMMETRY and IN A MINDSET, Sascha's LPF 12 acts a bit like a bird of paradise. His rather classic Electro-/EBM-related background can be easily recognized, because Sascha's tracks are focusing for the most part on abstract produced rhythm patterns, while his above named colleagues are stronger in producing luscious and haunting Ambient-like moods. Another obvious ability contrary to his label colleagues is his usage of vocals with real composed lyrics. Sascha's tracks are straight and rhythmic-oriented arranged, although his stuff isn't compatible to any Harsh-EBM/Hellectro dancefloor attitudes ' he rather offers stuff which creeps over the eardrums into the brain. I tend to point out 'Break My Core' as being an awesome example, how to install experimental rhythm pattern with a handy composition line and raspy vocals ' a tiny masterpiece, which balances well on the thin line between Dark Electro and Noise. With the haunting 'The White Room' he also proves a good sense to produce a different sounding, rather Dark Ambient-related tune ' while he still can develop in some things in this playing field. Some remixes and collaborations with MISSRATENER SOHN, MC1R (Hey Nick!), MENSCHLICHE ENERGIE, or DECI?HER are featured too on this album, and especially the remix of the German fellow IN A MINDSET on 'Towards Nowhere' charms the ear-channel with intensely produced synth sweep sounds. 13 tracks in all and a lot of good things to report from ' LPF 12 hasn't reached any end of rope and will continue highly productive path.

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