Music Reviews

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Title: Irish Recording Tape / The Transatlantic Tape Project
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Rated: *****
IRISH RECORDING TAPE is the first of the two Agent Side Grinder albums that Enfant Terrible will release the next month. How come that they prepared stuff to fit two albums? The fact is that one of the members of the band had to left for a year and half (he went to the U.S.) and their studio engineer substituted him, becoming one permanent member then. They did different live gigs and had a bass player joining them. With this new line-up they recorded eight new tracks which sound more melodic respect the ones of their first album but without losing that distinctive hypnotic approach they already had. Agent Side Grinder mixed post punk bass lines with early industrial electronic attitude and 80's synth electronic melodies (check the catchy "Life in advance"). IRISH RECORDING TAPE sounds like Joy Division meet Cabaret Voltaire at a late 70's Human League concert. THE TRANSATLANTIC TAPE PROJECT is the third album by Agent Side Grinder and as I told, it will be released along with IRISH RECORDING TAPE. It contains tracks recorded by mail by the band member that was in the U.S. and the rest of the band in Sweden. It contains seven tracks which sound a bit more experimental respect the ones you find on IRISH RECORDING TAPE. They are based on repetitions of synth patterns with vocals and drums. Sounding now obsessive and then atmospheric (like on "586-713") these tracks are perfect as soundtrack (check the effect of the spoken word along with the synth bleep extravaganza on "005-200"). A thing that I have appreciated on THE TRANSATLANTIC TAPE PROJECT is how the band used melody: it's always present, sometimes is dissonant and sometimes it sustains a creepy moment made of synth hisses and guitar percussive sounds ("008-199"). These two album are really different but are both good and show really well how Agent Side Grinder have been able to "grow" since the release of their debut album.

SYNTAKS: Ylajali

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
 Edit (5358)
Oct 06 2009
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Title: Ylajali
Format: CD
Label: Ghostly Int.
Distributor: K7
Rated: *****
Once Syntaks was the solo project of Jakob Skøtt but everything changed when he started to collaborate with Anna Cecilia adding her vocals to a track on his 2006 album "Awakes". After that experience he decided to grow Syntaks to a duo and then started to work on this album YLAJALI. Ylajali is a woman's name that is coming from "Hunger", a novel that the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun wrote in 1888 when he stayed by the inner City lakes in capitol of Denmark and few yards by where this album have been recorded. To talk about this album I was thinking to divide the musical experience from the emotional one (because in this case they could be different) but then since both of them are deeply linked I thought, what the hell, let's talk about whatever it come to my mind. The fact is that this music is almost "impalpable", it produces sounds but it's like a morbid flow of waves. Do you remember the early 4AD records where guitar arpeggios were hidden between tons of flanger and reverbs? Well, this is the same case. Jakob built a thick wall of sound using many layers that fluctuate and that are lead by Anna Cecilia's chants. No words have been used on most of them (only the closing Dark night" seems to have lyrics), her singing is like the sea nymphs that are attempting to seduce sailors. Most of the sounds used on YLAJALI come from filtered guitar, synths and electronic drums but they sound as a whole soft cotton ball. Hypnotizing and fluffy these slow tunes will revive your passion for old shoegazer music and if you were a fan of later Cocteu Twins you should check this one.

Division Kent: Gravity

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Sep 30 2009
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Artist: Division Kent (@)
Title: Gravity
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Even if the Swiss '“ from Zurich... - band (actually a duo made up of the enchanting femme fatal sometimes turning-into-a-lolita Andrea B '“ you could wonder on the powerful of her voice to sound like an erotic scratch on your skin.. if you like scratches as well! -and the skilled Sky Antinori) classifies itself as an electro band, it's easy to notice some echoes in the visceral structure of their songs from the windy territories of Trip Hop, Nu Wave and the crowded ones of Rock and Pop. Their chamaleontic style covers a wide range of styles in Gravity, their second full-length after their debut-album, Monsterproof, issued three years ago, even it's quite easy to imagine which musical idols Division Kent devotionally adore: for instance you'll recognize some Depeche Mode influences in tracks such as No Kryptonite (... well this album it's about Gravity, the attractive force of big masses on smallest ones and even Superman's not exempt from this force, folks!) , Gravity (how many references buzzing in my head! ... the melodic similarities between these song and The Secret by the Italian electro-cinematic project Gone, inspired by Hitchcock's plot, let me think about the idea of gravity as a metaphor of death in the movie Vertigo... but this track let go to the surface other listening such as Cranes or the Dutch band The Gathering of the How to measure a planet?-era), In The Headlights or Salty (a track which seems to be an hip-hop grime-like blow-piping on some excerpts of Violator... both for the sound treatment and for the song structures while a bizarre disco face is showed in tracks such as Offshore (could you imagine a Suicide Girlie version of Kylie Minogue?), a glamouresque French electro stress in the funny L'Heure Bleue (you could imagine something like a bloody punching round between Fischerspooner, Visage and Royksopp to have an idea of what're going to listen up... ).

The conclusive The Year Of Magical Thinking sounds like a further body of evidence of their affection for David Gahan & C., even if we cannot say Division Kent is a DM clone and the fact that they're a source of inspiration could be easily demonstrated in the 13 remixes collection attached to the regular album in which a plenty of musicians from different angles of the planet (as well as from remarkably different musical perspectives... ) enjoyed discovering and adding different dimensions, which could be appreciated both by clubbers and by listeners close to sound experiments. My favs among them the Booka Shaded "Joe And Will Ask? Remix" of gravity, the punchy boombap Justin Faust remix of Salty, the sun-drenched house tunes of Dunwich Remix of She's Going Places, the 80ies underwater glam Shook Remix of L'Heure Bleue and the tickling of After Midnight one of Pat The Pan Am Pilot. Paraphrasing some of the sleeve-notes of the booklet ("Waiting on a sign/Louder than words/So Likely/To trigger corrosion"), we wait for a sign better showing their musical personality without any recognizable influence. Stop listening for a while Depeche Mode and then throw the door-key of studios, folks!
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Septic VIII
Format: CD
Label: Dependent (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
Welcome back at the front-line, Stefan, and fire free for the new and 8th edition of Dependent’s legendary "Septic"-compilation series. Germany’s label giant Dependent is back for good after they’ve decided two years ago to stop all business activities due to the ongoing stagnation of sales and illegal file piracy. But it is still a dangerous situation – the awful situation of illegal file-sharing is still imminent and a promising tool against this hasn’t been invented so far, and to run a label in professional structures requires fully attention and a lot of right decisions regarding the label roster. On the other side – and I say this out of deepest conviction – it does so good to have back a rivaling pendant to the too-big-too-arrogant operating Out Of Line giant. Coming to this release, the name "Septic" and to participate with a track still has still a lot of meaning for an Electro/Industrial project. And so Stefan could easily collect again some cool and promising newcomer acts to offer them a free slot to publish their talent to a widely interested audience. Some veteran and well-sounding global players of course needed to be added too, as they get the possibility to promote upcoming stuff. The winner is for the most part the listener, who receives always a wide ranging diversity between the styles. As for a point of criticism, "Septic VIII" acts a bit too obviously as a pure label collection, more than half of the participants have been collaborated in some or another way with Dependent before. Although MySpace and consorts offer for the most part uninspired mediocrity - the point which Stefan often picks up and argues - there’s out there quality music, you only have to search for it a bit better. And the listener even nowadays doesn’t understand the drama of label politics, so the pleasant return of Dependent would have been also a chance to bury some old hatchets.
Now turning the attention to the music, the good things are starting with Sweden’s legitimate answer on SKINNY PUPPY, the duo of NECRO FACILITY, which offers an energetic new track. "Do You Feel The Same" draws a fine balance between aggression and melodic calmness with typical Ogre-like vocals, some guitar riffs and tasteful Dark-Electro synth arrangements. INFORMATIK’s "Temporary", in this case remixed by THE SYTHETIC DREAM FOUNDATION, is one of the winners of their self-arranged remix contest following their last studio album "Beyond". This cool interpretation gets not only rewarded with a free slot on here, it will be too available on INFORMATIK’s new album "Arena". Back for good also for South-Africa’s ACRETONGUE with a musically demanding Dark-Electro tune – just try to sing along to that tricky rhythm programming! No surprise, but still a breathtaking quality – as usual – from MESH ("Who Says" sounds rather edgy like their earlier recordings... ), EDGE OF DAWN and BIOMEKKANIK (solo project of Sweden’s Christer Hermodsson, who been part of S.P.O.C.K and producer of among others AND ONE or CAT RAPES DOG), as they all can be thrown into the lesser dark, but modern and refreshing sounding Futurepop-genre. Denmark’s ARZT + PFUSCH and their Lo-Fi - Electro/Industrial-sound is something, I’ve missed through the years – unfortunately they seem to have no interest to reach again their best days with notorious hits like "Boneloc" or "Skumfuck" – their new one "Constipated Disembowelment" is a quite uninspired tedious piece of Dark Electro music, which does nothing else but boring. And how can Stefan explain us the sense to prostitute himself and to offer free slots for those toxic brownfields like AERODRONE (a demo version??? I as a listener of this self-entitled highly anticipated compilation would feel of being fooled - yes, it’s the new project of Gary Zon/DISMANTLED) and VELVET ACID CHRIST (a whiny Goth-like acoustic tune with "real" vocals? Can that be called "back to the very early roots", Bryan?). But luckily this compilation turns back on track by offering convincing appearances of GHOST & WRITER (an interesting new collaborative effort by J.-M. Lederman/The WEATHERMEN and Frank M. Spinath/SEABOUND, EDGE OF DAWN), ENCEPHALON (yes, they’ve also been known guests on an earlier issue of "Septic"), and Germany’s personified Dark Electro god FIX8:SED8. Also not to be missed is a musically trip to the pure Coldwave-related genre with appearances of KMFDM vs. SKOLD and WE GOT THIS FAR.
"Septic VIII" is another tireless appetizer, which works well to introduce talented newcomer acts asides already discovered and renowned global players. What’s good on this has been said – what’s bad and doesn’t satisfy has been mentioned too. As much as I enjoy the wide-ranging diversity of the presented styles and the big effort Stefan has once again invested to collect this compilation, I personally miss a bit of his often proved pioneering sense. By collecting this album to celebrate the return of Dependent, he has missed a really big chance to break with some inner boundaries and to search for valuable contacts – collaboration and the exchange of ideas of how to promote this still sort of niche-music can safe the medium CD with better sales for a longer time. Some labels out of IDM/Electronica-scene seemingly have recognized this already. Therefore "Septic VIII" entertains in a similar kind as all other parts out of this compilation series too. But it looks a bit, that nothing has changed too much...

1. Necro Facility - Do you feel the same
2. Informatik - Temporary (Synthetic Dream Foundation Mix)
3. Acretongue - Dragonfly (nymph)
4. Mesh - Who Says? (Rough Mix)
5. Apparat - Arcadia (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix Edit)
6. Edge Of Dawn - Stage Fright
7. Biomekkanik - Pitch Black Ocean
8. Arzt+Pfusch - Constipated Disembowelment
9. acid.milch&honig - Was ich seh
10. Non Plus Ultra - Free Falling
11. Aerodrone - Ready To Love (Demo Version)
12. Velvet Acid Christ - Black Rainbow
13. Ghost & Writer - Nightshift
14. Encephalon - Scar On Scar
15. KMFDM vs. Skold - Bloodsport
16. FÏX8:SËD8 - Dormicum
17. We Got This Far - Sedona
Artist: Moldover (@)
Title: Moldover
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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There are VERY FEW people pushing the envelope today. Moldover is undoubtedly one of them, big time! He doesn't just do it musically, but he even builds his own instruments and delivers his music in probably the most original artwork/CD cover I have ever seen.
A few years back this guy pretty much single-handedly launched a new underground phenomenon known as "controllerism" (the art of manipulating sounds and creating or remashing music live using computer controllers and software) which then turned into a whole scene of people doing similar things. He then went on to build the Octamasher (an interactive music installation made up of eight unique keyboard controllers connected to one computer that allows anyone to get in on the fun and jam with any 7 other people). His first album (reviewed on these pages) was a masterpiece of live-remashing of famous rock, pop, electronic tunes, but Moldover wanted to move beyond that and create something that was all original and so this album slowly started to take shape. He's been working on it for years and it sounds fantastic!
Musically you can hear that he has a rock background and in this record he takes his previously instrumental-only/digital-only electronic music to the next level and adds live drums, live guitars and even does some signing. It's hard to say what's in his iPod... There's a broad range of influences at work here, probably things like Squarepusher, Tool, Linkin Park, Aphex Twin/AFX, Frank Zappa, Clay People, Venetian Snares, Boards of Canada etc... Moldover's music is as fresh, eclectic and original as it gets, with influences ranging from funk to nu jazz, from prog rock to metal, from glitch electronica to ambient, from drum'n'bass to dance, from darker dronier stuff to bright solar things. Generally it's safe to say that it is a very uptempo CD and except for the last tune of the record (sort of a Michael Manring guitar-only manipulation) and one other tune, it's a very hype and hip fast-paced piece of work. You just will have to hear it and you'll know how cool it is.
The entire record is made using Ableton + Reaktor and a self-built midi controller made of a bunch of ribbon controllers, knobs, faders, switches and arcade video game type buttons which you can see him play if you are lucky enough to catch one of his very cool live sets (you should!).
You can download all of the tracks from a bunch of different places online or buy a cheap $10 CD from his website, but if you want something unique you've got to get yourself the "awesome edition" (remember when I mentioned the most original CD artwork of all times?). If you thought that the David Lynch/Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse was original, Moldover tops that by housing a real circuit board inside a regular jewel case. The PCB traces create a maze artwork around the word Moldover and on the back they actually outline the titles of the songs. As if this were not cool enough to just look at, Moldover made this circuit board into an actual working instrument that he calls a "light theremin", made up of two light sensors, a trigger button, a blue LED light a speaker AND a headphone jack! So not only can you impress people by literally "playing" the art work of this CD, but you can even plug it in and rock out with it for real like Moldover does at some of his shows! I don't usually post links to youtube videos but this time is different: you've got to do yourself a favor and check this out for yourself so you know what I am talking about:
Friggin' awesome! Obviously the dude is from another planet.

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