Music Reviews



Led Er Est / Ancien Régime: Split

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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May 05 2010
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Artist: Led Er Est / Ancien Régime
Title: Split
Format: 12"
Label: Mannequin (@)
Distributor: Mannequin Mailorder
Rated: *****
Wrapped in glossy paper, with a minimal artwork in red and white, comes this stellar split LP between Led Er Est and Ancien Régime. Led Er Est is an all-analog trio hailing from Brooklyn and one of the pivotal bands of Wierd Records. Their style bridges the gap between the first Cabaret Voltaire's lo-fi approach on pop and a more straightforward europop attitude. “Ps 18” is an instrumental track with nasty synthlines and a perfect groove that will push your brain from side to side, if listened at the proper volume (a personal favourite). The second one is “Lonesome XOXO” and shows them dealing with a brighter kind of synthpop compared to the one played on their debut “Dust On Common”, which came out just 6 months ago. “A Darkness In My Soul” is a great cover, originally from Solid Space, one of the most obscure and underrated minimal synthpop bands (fingers crossed for a reissue...). “Ants” harks back into their experimental roots (well documented on their untitled tape that came out on Throaning Tapes) and the last one is another cold-pop gem called “Orange”. The b-side was a total blast to me, Ancien Régime is one of Italy's best kept secret! They are a young band from Rome and they play a dark post-punk soaked with lots of synths and vintage drum machines. The incisive singing flows perfectly in the mix with new wavey guitar and pounding bass structures. “Brief Encounter” and “When They Fall” are heartfelt anthems and i bet they both work fine when played live.“The Phantom Chariot” is a more brainy affair and takes a little more to get under your skin. Ancien Régime are a huge revelation and i have the feeling that this band is moving towards something big, let's just wait! Edition of 500, be quick.

TOURDEFORCE: Colours In Life

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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May 04 2010
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Artist: TOURDEFORCE
Title: Colours In Life
Format: CD
Label: Breakdown Records
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****
Mixing synthpop and electropop, Tourdeforce (band coming from north Italy - Bergamo), are delivering through Breakdown Records their debut album COLOURS IN LIFE. Filled with fourteen songs, the album is showing a multi faceted band where male and female vocals alternation create varied atmospheres: songs like "Modern affair" or "Dancing days" ideally refer to 80s European synthpop bands such as A-HA or The Twins, proposing upbeat tempos and catchy melodies; instead, when Roby (the female singer) takes the microphone, the tracks tend to sound different (and sometimes more intimate) and influenced by nineties electro pop (with the exception of "We're not underground" which reminds me of "People Hold On", the Coldcut / Lisa Stansfield's hit). The band is putting on the table a lot of ideas and influences and most of the times they succeed into creating nice songs. They'd need a stronger production but the seeds are there, ready to spring.

End: The Dangerous Class

 Posted by Andre Wiegand   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 27 2010
Artist: End
Title: The Dangerous Class
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
Some like it more quirky. It is truly tough to put a label on this act. Music-wise this troupe combines rockabilly, garage rock, metal touches, synths, organ, swing, chamber music, jazz, lounge music etc. You’re getting the picture? The band releases music since 2002. Unfortunately, I’m not in the position to tell anything about its past career, but surely it was not boring. Those New-Yorkers took 5 years to produce “The Dangerous Class” which is no surprise, taking in account the diversity of themes, genres and emotions expressed on the album. However I miss a clear direction here. Every track has a different mood: from jolly “Pills to make you fun” & “Everything in Excess” to the melodic, sort of old fashioned sounding and sad title track. Many of the numbers seem to me just to have been made for movie soundtracks: James Bond or something by Tarantino. The CD cover is more than minimalistic to be honest, but perhaps more than just one page and a track list are not always necessary.
The band speaks against criminalization of actions such as downloading music and taking drugs. There are little pieces sung by the band; almost no sung vocals as far as I noticed. This is a very, very interesting album for people who have to do with music professionally, but also anybody who likes diversity and is open-minded should check the album out. The End.

Act Noir: Shape A New Start

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 16 2010
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Artist: Act Noir (@)
Title: Shape A New Start
Format: CD
Label: Eibon Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
After the replacement of the hollow voice by Mark Benoit – it seems depending on personal reasons and different viewpoints – with the tartly crooning one but fitted to the band’s soundscapes by Gaetano Notarnicola, here it is the result of the second full length by Act Noir, through which the band keeps on franticly searching the junction points between quite different musical experiences, mainly dealing with renowned repertoires by Depeche Mode, Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, according to their own words, even if when you’ll listening to Shape A New Start, you’ll easily notice that these proactive lads moved the barycentre of their style towards the first two of the mentioned bands apart of some conceptual anchorage points close to the existentialist explorations and snapshots superbly emerged from Yorke’s artistic pathways.

Even if some of their influences are arguable and could be considered just a tool for better attract attention by music lovers, they managed to build a sound oscillating between electronic rock and synth pop, which perfectly fits the lyrics disclosing a vague sense of loneliness and daze combined with positive incitements to react, setting fires to lies and unreeling contemporary moods which some sensitive listeners could see as mirror of selves in a way that could remind the activity of a scrupulous diarist observing reality and impressing on the sheets of a personal diary as well as on stave (..have a look to Act Noir’s lyrics on their official site to have an idea of the literary tenor of their songs... there’s just a little mistake as lyrics of the lovely Set Fire are different from those reported on their website as the webmaster doubled the ones of See The Truth), analyzing sometimes modern obsessions and manias (especially on songs such as Shatterproof Beauty, Wrong Places and Redemption) as well as some problems of great topical interest (in Closed City, it seems they address words against people responsible for nuclear proliferation) in an easy-to-go and elegant way. Maybe they could not be associated to the above-mentioned references, but we cannot but highlight the evidence their genuine attitude expressed by these keen guys on this good workout could let them reach any eagerly awaited goals without walking on tortuous paths in order to shape a new beginning!

Vienna Skye: I Come From Other Worlds

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 14 2010
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Artist: Vienna Skye (@)
Title: I Come From Other Worlds
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Audio Assembly Productions (@)
Imagine Aqua’s Barbie Girl had been kidnapped by an alien troop arrived nearby the Planet Earth after having been attracted by magnetic frequencies launched outside troposphere by 808 State and Orbital during the flaming years of the primordial forms of acid techno... you don’t need to be graduated in Earth Sciences or Physics to know there’s a certain time delay in the universe and so understanding that as when we see the sky, it’s like admiring a photo of its past aspect, it could be the same for people coming from other worlds. Well, that baby singer annoying humans with obsessive toy-like lyrics could have been surgically operated on vocal chords after a lobotomy before having been kicked back to the recording studio of the video director, music producer and – dulcis in fundo – owner of the record label Audio Assembly Productions –MBJ after the lovely semblance of Vienna Skye in order to sing throughout modified teeny voice to the humans she’s no more so terrestrial!

Vienna Skye, born from the ashes of some successful dance acts of 90s (Ish, Velvet Vimoz), makes this fearful declaration to the scientific and musical community yawning on Earth with so childish and hypnotic modulations that the 80s synth-pop/trance tunes MBJ puts out from old drawers could sound as a time travel back to the ages you danced on first housey tunes while eating ice-creams in the waiting queue for some hitting merry-go-rounds!

This debut single includes the title track and two versions of Why Can’t I Fly So High (maybe because she still didn’t reached the right age according to martian laws for a driving patent!!!), the second one being my favorite one as well as related videoclips with some nice examples of computer generated filtering. Before saying it’s just the result of an alien abduction or an interesting attempt to reduce puffiness shadowing old techno-addicts’ eyes, it’s better to wait for a full length album. Better take care!


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