Music Reviews

VV.AA.: Vagform Volym 1

 Posted by Marc Tater   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Mar 09 2008
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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Vagform Volym 1
Format: CD
Label: Vagform
Rated: *****
Although there’s a label hint regarding the copyrights of the represented audio material, I guess that behind Vagform doesn’t hides a real label. It’s rather a collective project driven by Krister Petterson, the music-head behind the Swedish Cold-Electropop duo CHINESE THEATRE. The concept of this collection is a quite interesting one and differs from a usual compilation. This 1-CD compilation is filled with 19 possible appearances, but all featured bands present 3 – 4 tracks each. This guarantees a quite good introduction on all of them, since all bands here can be named newcomer acts or at least they haven’t seen any higher stages of an unexpected so far. It also needs to be mentioned that all bands differ to each other sound-wise and provide therefore a diverse sound outfit. But one thing all of the featured bands have in common: they all share a rather retro and analogue-driven form of electronic-based music. Things get started with a German project entitled AUDIOSCOPE, at least I must admit that I haven’t heard of them before. The presented music on their 4 tracks is a sort of experimental retro-EBM, maybe a bit influenced by the classic work of THE KLINIK. Comes then NORTHERN ELECTRIC, a Swedish Synthpop act heavily inspired by some works of the early Energy-Records acts like ELEGANT MACHINERY, DEAD EYES OPEN or PAGE. Their stuff lacks a bit of originality, while the typically Nordic accent of the singer brings a smile in the face of the listener. PROTOTYP, well, that’s already a small name in the scene, likes to re-animate the classic old-school EBM-formula. Somehow their tracks draw some inspiration out of POUPPEE FABRIKK and AMNISTIA, to name a currently on-top artist. Well chosen sounds, good hook- and basslines plus useful male vocals – well, they should soon be able to reach a wider and international-based audience. CHINESE THEATRE of course don’t have to be missed here, offering three additional tracks of their cold but smooth melodic Synth-/Electropop. As usual, their dedication to some 80-retro acts is recognizable on every track. As expected, next to PROTOTYP the winner of this comp. ADOLF FILTER out of Gothenburg are another Swedish act which strictly relies on analogue synths and production tools. Somehow they seem to be the Swedish answer here on the entrancing AUDIOSCOPE, their tracks, also featuring some live improvisations, offers a comparable hypnotic mood. Last but not, the Belgian project LIQUID G – yes, move your ass to your good old vinyl and demo tape collection, because Peter van Bogaert is still alive and kicking. And at least his stuff sounds that chaotic like the nearly 20 years before, it seems that the time has stood still for him. A bit more modern with his new side-project MAXX IMPACT for sure, but the mood is similar. So you’ll get 19 tracks in all on a filled CD full of old-school and analogue-driven Electro power. A must-have compilation for the veteran and die-hard EBM maniacs, while the kids out of the Hellectro/Trancewhackedgoregalore-camp better keep their fingers away from it.

Track listing:

01 - Audioscope - The Prelude
02 - Audioscope - Shut Up
03 - Audioscope - In All Conscience
04 - Audioscope - 100(1).000 Souls
05 - Northern Electric - The Captain
06 - Northern Electric - The Modern Mannequin
07 - Northern Electric - Fashion
08 - Prototyp - Beyond Belief
09 - Prototyp - Shine
10 - Prototyp - Solitary Confinement
11 - Chinese Theatre - Bit By Bit
12 - Chinese Theatre - Forever And Ever
13 - Chinese Theatre - Minimal Horror
14 - Adolf Filter - Printed Letters
15 - Adolf Filter - Tiny Girl
16 - Adolf Filter - Alla Ord
17 - Maxx Impact - Gangsta
18 - Liquid G - Welcome (Rapture Mix)
19 - Liquid G - They Control It

XP_DEVICES : starrust & ballast

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 29 2008
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Artist: XP_DEVICES (@)
Title: starrust & ballast
Format: CD
Label: DeVega
Rated: *****
Hailing from Genoa Xp_devices join the ranks of danceable melodic electronic music together with their town fellas Port Royal. Despite the fact they're coming from the same town and they both play melodic-electronic music they have nothing more to share with the Royals, these guys are way more french-electronics oriented. What does french electronics mean then? No old fart, no Metal Urbain and not even Plastic Bertrand... we're talking about Daft Punk, Air (even if their not as ethereal), Cassius, Luke Vibert, a little bit of Chemical Brothers and sure a spruce of Lcd Soundsystem. It all means you have the dance flavor, the analog keyboard sound a-la-eighties and a popular disco approach that's why I'm tented to add this cd features also an Italo-disco aftertaste a la Planet Funk, sure they're considerably different but I hope you get what I mean (and above all tip of hat to Planet Funk for having written a couple of chart-climber hits that were real killers). Well produced and with many guest-vocals even if the male singer in the most of the episodes is "Genoa's own funkster" Bobby Soul that many italian readers may remember for his past experiences with Blindosbarra. At the very first listenings I wasn't completely convinced but several plays later, thought it has its ups and downs, I've to say after all is a good product it just lacks of a that hyper-production like that which makes Daft Punk and all those bands we mentioned before major product. Anyhow "starrust & ballast" is a debut therefore I wouldn't be surprised if they could make it on a major as well the just have to refine the material here and there.

Miss Kittin: BatBox

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Feb 26 2008
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Artist: Miss Kittin (@)
Title: BatBox
Format: CD
Label: Nobody's Bizzness (@)
Rated: *****
Miss Kittin is a Parisian electronique chanteuse noire that makes minimal electronic sequences plus stomping 4/4 beats her sonic bed of choice and lays down spoken and sung words on top, and sounds very different, depending on which approach she chooses.
If you know the San Diego electronic band AntiQuark (especially their early incarnations with the female singer Maren on vocals), Miss Kittin might actually sounds pretty familiar to you at times, both in the song structures and in the way these artists modulate and phrase their vocals.
The whole album is almost a tad too minimalist in my opinion, especially when you consider that there are 13 tracks that pretty much draw from the same sonic palette.

The Greenmatics: Out Of Limbo

 Posted by Donovan Tate (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Feb 18 2008
Artist: The Greenmatics (@)
Title: Out Of Limbo
Format: CD + DVD
Rated: *****
Australia trio, The Greenmatics, find the solace of the simplicity of retro 80's for their ep debut. A classic for anyone who appreciate synth-pop/electro-pop. The good vibrations are picked up by female frontwoman Green. "I Love Technology" is the opening track. A catchy tune with Gordo's unique dark bassline feel. The next track is "Wait No More", another retro 80's vibe with a vintage synth sound. The modern tracks "Talk" and "Greentea" captures today's modern electro-pop, the way it's arrange. The beat on each track is indeed well striking performed tremendously because of the way Antanas plays the electronic drum set with an energetic thrust. You may think it's a drum machine programmed, but it's played live. Antanas plays a catchy beat that will have you dancing. The ep is very poppy with a sense of humor. The band is serious and mean business. All the while though, each tracks develop its own identity with synths, sequencers, bass, and beat all blend in one form.

Their dvd feature all four of their tracks in mp3 file, magazine and radio interview, bio and their videos "I Love Technology", which is directed by the band themselves and have an 80's effect appeal and the animated "Wait No More" on the level of a video game approach.

Nothing but club and radio hits this band is offering. Enjoy this cd and dvd and you'll be glad you did. This band is worth a listen.

MARY'S COMIC: Perfect Vacation

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 06 2008
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Artist: MARY'S COMIC (@)
Title: Perfect Vacation
Format: CD
Label: Syborg Music (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****
Personal project of Ralf Jesek of In My Rosary/Derriere Le Mirroir fame, Mary's Comic has been defrosted after been put on hold on late 80's soon after its creation (the project has been resumed on late 90's only to release a couple of tracks on "The Blisz Compilation"). PERFECT VACATION presents thirteen songs which have been composed in 2005, two written in 1987 and re-recorded in 1993 ("French hotel rooms" and "Like home") plus a 1994 home demo ("I'm a lie"). The album's songs are influenced by new wave, synth-pop and goth (see "Pernille" or "Welcome to"), everything permeated by a light melancholic touch mixed with personal introspection. PERFECT VACATION is like a personal diary transposed into music and if some tunes sound like an electronic transposition of The Jesus And Mary Chain's ballads, others like "Swimming" or "So sad" have an upbeat touch that make of them a nice example of danceable electro wave. Maybe the album needed a better production but I feel that, because of its nature, this is the way it had to sound...

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