Music Reviews



NG-Pro: The Place To Be

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 23 2009
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Artist: NG-Pro (@)
Title: The Place To Be
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Although already formed and active since 2000 I must admit, that I haven’t heard of this EBM/Electro/Industrial-act hailing from The Netherlands before. All of their releases have been self-produced so far and this album "The Place To Be" is their second full-length, accomplished by two additional MCD-releases. The fact shall not at all disturb you, because this trio consisting out of Niels, Gerwin and Bas is capable to work professionally without th helping hand of a label. "The Place To Be" is sort of a reference, how a self-produced album should be. A crystal-clear sound quality, well-done compositions, skillful arrangements and the belief into the own abilities. Pressed professionally on a real CD with a smooth looking cover artwork, this release satisfy higher demands. Musically the band surely doesn’t reinvent the wheel – they of course have patterns they like to follow. I tend to name their infamous countrymen of ANGELS & AGONY, VNV NATION and/or SEABOUND as being references, just to let you know, that NG-PRO plays in a wide field between Future-/Electropop and EBM. The tracks with the best worked out melodic synth layers get the vote as being the finest works of them, like the opener "Star # 9" or "Today". A track like "Ebriel" then turns more into the EBM direction and should be able to appeal to all fans of that genre. With tracks like "Judgement Day" and the funny "Pretty Lisa" they prove their sense for the effect of well-chosen voice samples. "The Place To Be" is an album to follow without hesitation and I keep the fingers crossed, that this album is only a take-off for them to some higher recognition of the international audience.

Project Blue: Duality

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 23 2009
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Artist: Project Blue
Title: Duality
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Urbcom (@)
Distributor: Rough Trade
Rated: *****
This is a newcomer project hailing out of Denmark and newly signed to the British Urbcom label. Martin Host is the sole brainchild behind PROJECT BLUE and he provides a first EP featuring 4 tracks. Musically his efforts are based into the wide field between Futurepop and harder EBM. The first 2 tracks "Pressure" and "Loveslave" are straight-forward moving tunes to keep the masses in motion. "Loveslave" also comes out quite rough through some overdrive effect manipulation on the repetitive bass lines, which provides a hypnotic impression. As for constructive criticism, both tracks aren’t high-end compositions and extracting their power and message only out of some repetitive shouts – well, Martin can do better. Both further tracks "Embrace" and Breakdown" are rather smooth oriented, but show his convincing programming abilities and are of course better and more in-depth compositions. Martin’s voice performance suits perfectly with this style of music and has still enough potential to sound unique into this overfilled genre. Hard to judge completely on Martin and his project after only 4 tracks, but let’s hope, that he can return soon with a full-length album.

Autons: Who do you think you are kidding?

 Posted by Sir Logla   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 18 2009
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Artist: Autons (@)
Title: Who do you think you are kidding?
Format: CD
Label: Zip
Rated: *****
What a big surprise! Not easy fill this band, you can think to an electronic Franz Ferdinand version, sometime it reminds to The Strokes and Muse too.Their particularly brand of synth indie-electropop is fresh and great.Brit pop and post-punk guitar band without the usual plagiarism.Great!

Interface: Destination Focus

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 14 2009
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Artist: Interface (@)
Title: Destination Focus
Format: CD EP
Label: Nilaihah Records (@)
Distributor: Nilaihah Records
Rated: *****
Interface- Long Island, New York Synthpop/Futurepop band that’s been around for quite a long time, since 1993 in fact. They sound kind of like Information Society, De/Vision, Psyche, Seabound, Neuropa, The Echoing Green, Underwater Pilots and a host of others in the genre. They’ve been on a number of comps (Cryonica, A Different Drum, Alfa Matrix, etc.), have half a dozen releases including this one to their credit, and an upcoming full album release in 2009. In 2005 they hooked up with Nilaihah Records, probably a good move for them. TTo their credit, hey seem to maintain a pretty active profile in spite of about 20 other bands having the same name.

On this 7 track EP, there are 5 versions of the title track- "Destination". First is the single version, then the "State of the Union Remix", the "Code 64 Remix", the "Mindless Faith Remix" and "North Star". The song is basically straight-ahead futurepop with a generically memorable hook- ("I will be your destination, I am the promised land, You will be my inspiration, you make me understand") and a strong dance beat. Vocals done in a clean, minimally processed fashion (a bit of chorusing). Typical elements in the single version- futurepop synths, sequencing, a dash of vocoder for accents. The "State of the Union Remix" is a bit heavier than the single version, eliminates the synth excepting the bass on the verses, and pumps up the synth hook on the chorus, and the vocoder. The "Code 64 Remix" begins with a strong synth bass, rearranges the synth parts on the verses (from none on the first verse, to a fuller sequenced pad on the second) before the first chorus, which is handed off to female vocalist Rachel Feder. She gets only minimal string and a hyperactive bass backing for her solo vocal. This is quickly followed by a Casio-like sequenced melody carrying back into the refrain with vocals handed back off to Interface’s Eric Elredge. Another Casio-ish synth counter-melody emerges briefly. This is probably the weakest track on the CD. The "Mindless Faith Remix" might be the heaviest remix but it’s so junked up with sonic effluvia that it sounds distorted. Call it industrial, whatever. It does offer more open spaces which might be a good thing for the dancefloor but (DJs be warned) shaky soundsystems are gonna cry uncle over this one.

"North Star" is nothing more than "Destination" without any chorus hook in it all and a lot of busy sequencing. "Inferno" reminds me a bit of Covenant in the beat and synth departments, and might have been pretty good if there was a song in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find one. Still, it might make good dancefloor fodder. "After Hours" is the final and quirkiest track on the EP, and offers something a little different than the 6 dance oriented tracks that precede it- mid tempo with a repeated vocal refrain about drifting away, swathed in a cloud of verb and echo and an off-kilter synth line.

So what’s the final verdict? First, if you’ve never read my reviews before, don’t get the impression that I don’t like Synthpop and Futurepop because I do, when it’s original and engaging. The problem is here, that the featured song here sounds a bit genre-generic and the remixes aren’t all that compelling. Passable dancefloor fodder, but unless you’re a DJ (and they usually get copies gratis) what’s the point? Yes, it’s competent and well-produced, but for 8 bucks (or more!) I’d pass. Maybe if it was half-price it might be worth it for the "Inferno" Covenant-style instrumental track. You could add in your own vocal track and send it back to the band. They might even be amused. Hopefully their upcoming 2009 full album will have a lot more to offer than what I’ve heard here.
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Artist: Intercity3
Title: Love The Way You Are
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Urbcom (@)
Rated: *****
This is the first official release of this London-based collective, which can look back on a promising compilation appearance with their track "Windows" on the 2-years-old Urbcom double-CD release "Recreation V. 2". "Windows" brought in unexpected success, so the call for new stuff was loud enough to release now this 7-track EP, again via Urbcom. Responsible for the machinery and controls is D. Escott, better known with his very own AWAX project, which too is related with Urbcom. For INTERCITY3 different vocalists got hired, like the both females Catasha Kin, a London-based singer, promoter and DJ, as well as the Brighton-based Liz Andrews (SWARF) and the Danish PROJECT-BLUE-musician Martin Holt. So from the vocal part, there’s quite diversity, but also musically INTERCITY3 can’t be thrown into only one cupboard. The music takes elements out of up-to-date sounding Synth-/Futurepop themes, inserts also Trance and House elements, but also harder EBM evoking an enjoyable Industrial ambience got included. A quite interesting sound outfit, since no track comes out in an expected kind. Best moments are offered with the nearly Indie-/Alternative-sounding track "Freaks", featuring an energetic D. Escott in front of the micro, but also both last track "Catch Me" and the nearly 7 minutes clocking "Supersonic Dreams", which offer impressive Electronica arrangements. Completely well done, entertaining and recommendable, I hope for a full-length album of this project.



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