Music Reviews



BRIAN CARES: FINGERPRINTS

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 01 2009
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Artist: BRIAN CARES
Title: FINGERPRINTS
Format: CD
Label: Bar 25
Rated: *****
Born in the 80s in East Germany Brian Cares is an artist or the Bar 25 roster and after several years of 12"s and E.P.s the next February he will have his full length out. Teaming up with Justine Electra, Raz Ohara and Jake The Rapper and Howard Katz, whom helped him on vocals, Brian's album is also the first release of the FINGERPRINTS series. The project is inspired by the format of a radio-show playing songs of no particular style but held together by the "fingerprints" of the producer and the participating artists. The nine tracks of the album are fitting really well the original intentions of the project: Brian made tracks that span from the jazzy house of the opening "Conclusion" followed by the electro soul of "No more play" just to pass through a particular electro latino spoken word titled "Saysay" with the charming vocals of Justine Electra. "Trust" instead is a mix of shoegazer pop song and house while "40 degrees" and "Dissolve", thanks to Raz Ohara vocals, seem a minimal techno soul cover of Prince songs: sensual and electronic sounds for you to dig. Electro/hip-hop is on with the cool Jack The Rapper performance on "Hey dj!". The bonus track "Sensational" is an electro mysterious one while the closing "The beginning" is a particular blues track with Howard Katz singing on treated beatbox samples. You can preview some songs on Brian's myspace page.

COLOR THEORY: The Thought Chapter

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Dec 29 2008
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Artist: COLOR THEORY (@)
Title: The Thought Chapter
Format: CD
Label: 11th Records
Rated: *****
Six years after his latest studio album containing original songs (the beautiful Depeche Mode cover album "Color Theory presents Depeche Mode" has been released in 2003 but I'm not counting it now) titled "Something Beautiful", Brian Hazard a.k.a. Color Theory is back with a new album titled THE THOUGHT CHAPTER. Well, the first thing that pops out while listening to the eleven songs plus the Death Cab For Cutie cover of "Photobook", which originally has been released on 2000 on their "The Forbidden Love" E.P., is that Brian thought a lot: if "Something Beautiful" was piano driven and more acoustic on THE THOUGHT CHAPTER the experience of covering DM songs affected his songwriting and his way of arranging a track. The album sounds more electronic and richer. The instruments are well balanced and the characteristic Brian's song gain in pathos sounding more effective. "Hypothetically" for example could be a perfect simple piano/vocals song but the choice of picking up a synth sound where the notes sound like a mix of an hammond and a synth open up the sound and when the piano plays few chords the atmosphere changes again. Also the choice of using different drum machine sounds widen the sound palette and also recording upbeat songs like the following "If not now when", "Behind the rhine" or the great "Zero crossing" has been a wise choice because Color Theory fans will felt rewarded for the waiting. Check some songs at Color Theory website and if you are fans of bands like The Lotus Eaters and you like also electronic sounds, this is your time to give to Brian a chance... P.s. I'd like to give kudos to the four Maya Klein's drawings because they match perfectly the atmosphere of the album
Dec 26 2008
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Artist: Apell (@)
Title: Reconstituted
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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I recall reviewing Apell's previous record "Beaver Street & Byond" a while ago and thinking it was a quite cool, fresh and original disc, so when I saw his new record in the pile, I was compelled to give it a spin. My feelings are re-confirmed and even though my exact memory of the previous record is blurry, I am pretty sure this one is a slight departure from it. "Reconstituted" is still as eclectic as it gets and very influenced by 70's funky grooves and bass lines. I can't help it but to think this would be great music for yet another Shaft remake or something like that. The spirits are high and even though he's an Aussie it would seem like he grew up on the streets of the city of angels.
Apell loves to mention two of his biggest musical influences (Brazilian DJ Amon Tobin and the colorful Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton) but obviously the amounts of electronic music, trip hop grooves, downtempo vibes and pop/rock hints and references (there's a cover of a Neil Diamond tune and one of a Beatles tune) are a pretty clear indication of the fact he's drawing from a lot of places and influences (Massiva Attack, Prodigy, Miles Davis, King Crimson etc).
Mostly an instrumental record, there are a couple of vocal tunes featuring his long time collaborator Rachael Hawkins and some Australian Idol 2007 dude singing about Bush.

MIDNIGHT RESISTANCE: Remote

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Dec 18 2008
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Artist: MIDNIGHT RESISTANCE (@)
Title: Remote
Format: CD
Label: A Different Drum (@)
Rated: *****
Keyboard player with ReActivate and writer/producer for a studio-company, Nicolay Frank founded Midnight Resistance at the beginning of 2007. Focusing his musical skills for this new project he released for A Different Dum his first solo album titled REMOTE. The album contains ten original tracks plus two remixes (Sidechain reworked "Second Skin", one of the best songs of the lot and People Theatre did a great version of "A tear in every moment", turning a classic modern synthpop upbeat song into an electro song that starts as a inspired piano ballad and ends as a sensual synthpop mid tempo) which show Nicolay's style made of dance attitude, melancholic electro ballads ("House of cards" is a great song with electronic ambient influences, dark wave guitars and good vocal melodies) and a bit of new wave approach to guitars. Alternating dance pop electronic upbeat songs and darker ones, Midnight Resistance succeeds into giving to the CD a balanced sound. Personally, I appreciated the darker ones most (see "Scar from falling down" for example), because I think that Nicolay gives his best with that kind of atmospheres as it seems to me that he arranged them in a better way using fading out sounds, increasing the power of the sounds where the song needed it, while on the upbeat ones he tend to lose the sense of melody focusing his attention on their dance potential.

Wanker of the 1st Degree: Retrograde

 Posted by Mark Lane   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Dec 14 2008
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Artist: Wanker of the 1st Degree
Title: Retrograde
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Primarily composed of instrumentals "Retrograde" is a 16 track collection of neo-new wave electronica that leans more towards being what the Icelandic artist Josef Karl Gunnarson can pull off than what his machines are capable of. It is this very manual over ride that gives the music that honest quality that those of us who lived through the first new wave found so beautiful in the music. His compositions are simple and melodic affairs with the occasional abstract and clever technical incorrectness. They remind me of a cross between early Human League sketches and those low tech mutant underground tapes that were so rampant in the 80’s. Even when he does sing it has a robotic quality in the delivery. If you are lost in gothic darkness the mood may not be right for you but if you have eclectic tastes ranging from The Residents to OMD you will find this very interesting. Often going off on boomerang tangents that take you away from the established arrangements "Retrograde" brings you back to reflect on the reflections you were reflecting on.


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