Music Reviews

VV.AA.: A weevil in a biscuit

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 30 2008
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: A weevil in a biscuit
Format: CD
Label: Bearsuit (@)
Rated: *****
Funny, I was unaware of the existence of this label and in one month I happen to listen and review two of their cds, I've been positively surprised by Harold Nono solo work and this label sampler shows they've a good roster. Apart from Harold Nono it's the first time I hear the rest of the musician here featured with a track, what we have is basically melodic if not poppy music thought there's some weird "trait d'union" joining the ninety per cent of the artists on this cd. Electronic pop music? More or less that's the deal in many tracks even if there're some considerable differences but I've to repeat that it looks like the label has a clear distinctive physiognomy: for example take the first four tracks they're different but still have something similar and that means at Bearsuit they've probably assembled the tracklist to make the listening easier and flowing, I'm quite sure about it or well, that's my impression. The first track that put me on guard for some sensitive difference is the fifth, the composer moniker is Oldman and offers a weird mix of soft rhythms plus sexy vocals and some distorted guitar to make the difference, somehow it reminded me of New Wet Kojak. Kaboon Karavan, Harold Nono serve a couple of bizarre fragmented tracks that (above all in the case of Nono) are quite out of ordinary. Then, when you think you've finally identified the general sound of the label here we go with some strange but ethereal tracks like those of Pequena Fiera!, Limbic Somnus, Alfred Brown. With the last musician there's also a sort change of atmosphere of the whole cd, above all when you pass to James Ross' song whichh could have been part of Badalamenti's soundtrack for Twin Peaks... and what about Linda Bjalla?! Is it that far from Julie Cruise or Elizabeth Frase?. The compilation opens with some electronic music but approaching to the end it follows a song-writing route. Sonicbeat reminds me a lot of early Mum without vocals, while Hulk and Cahier are still really melodic like many indie-tronic artists but don't change the very substance of the sampler. It's a weird, melodic-oriented sampler, give it a try for they may have discovered the heirs of Plone, or Mum or the new answer to Hood and Postal Service among their ranks, interesting label and soft enjoyable sampler.


 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Mar 24 2008
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Title: AA
Format: CD
Label: S.K. (@)
Rated: *****
French rock is healthy these days or at least that an obvious impression since I see so many rock oriented bands coming from over there. This Clara Clara is another indie punk-rockish outfit that put it all on melody and sure on distorted fat indie rock, I say this since differently from many other french combos they’re not into the post/math-rock thing, infact while playing instrumental they’re closer to some weird mix of basic Trans AM but way less technical plus juvenile and more solar in playing their funny melodies. They use the voices but just to add more color to the canvas because it’s not real vocals, the first obvious reference to identify their style is instrumental punk-rock that reminds some indie band of the Matador roster from back in the days and I’ll name one band for all since they’re/have been really underrated but they were so damn good and their name was 18th dye. I dunno if you’re able to remember that wonder trio but this french band is so unclean in playing some punk-pop tunes they’re really close to that german trio. They use a keyboard or something with a strong organ sound but distorted bass is the driving force in most of the tracks therefore while the skeleton of the song is represented by an energetic rhythmic session many of the melodies are depicted by the keyboardist. At time it sound childish, it’s meant without any doubt, this a party band indie poppers may enjoy it.

VV.AA.: Weatherhead 3

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Mar 11 2008
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Weatherhead 3
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Hypervoxx/Telegrammetry (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Well, I’m quite late on this and I hope that the guys of the Miami Vice don’t get me for this. The Hypervoxx label, a division of the FL-based Telegrammetry, returns with this long awaited release, a new part of the "Weatherhead" series. Since the last year has been a very difficult especially in the private life of label chief B. A. LaRed, a release like this DCD compilation offers hope, that things will be running smoother in 2K8. Yes, this time the "Weatherhead" compilation has grown to a DCD set and the staff around B. A. had to do some hard decisions, since more than 110 projects/bands have reacted on the call and have sent in stuff for consideration to take part. So at least you’ll get a quite quality oriented sort of a newcomer-compilation with only a few familiar acts but dozens of talented unknown names. Some of the Telegrammetry/Hypervoxx-recording artists of course are included and all of them are doing their very best to offer new and exclusive stuff. Greece-based AKRON continue with their cinematic instrumental music on their new track "X-Revenge". STAHLSCHLAG, based very near in my home area, continue their drastically Rhythm/Noise installments with a new tune. "Acute Netzzerstörung" (is this title correct printed???) comes out quite in vein of the current acts out of the ProNoize roster and this seems to be intentional. E-THIK is another act worth to mention here, their "Machtuefall" (again the question: is this a typo?) is rather more dedicated to classic forms of EBM instead of productions out of the nowadays Hellectro rush, plus the male vocals offer decent distortion effects. Although a parade example out of the often criticized Hellectro camp, the best appearance available on CD1 got provided by MORDACIOUS. Somehow SO it has to be sound if you like to take a step into this genre – well worked out synth bass lines and textures, a constant good rhythm work – this new MORDACIOUS track entitled "Death In Denial" beats almost everything of Mr. Mordacious’ previous compositions. CYANIDE REGIME, out of Miami and sorted under a comparable musically roof, give with "Vanquisher" an unfortunately already discovered, but still a quite valuable appearance. BLC Productions own act STIGMATA NL gives out another hellish teaser of their up and coming debut album out in the coming months – musically relations with MORDACIOUS are recognizable. Another rough and noisy tune got provided by ESA (didn’t they release an album on Hive Records?) and accomplishes the first out of two CD’s.
CD 2 starts with another unreleased remix work on one of the latest DIVERJE smasher tracks, "Smell The Blood", this time remixed by MORDACIOUS. The new HYPERVOXX-recording act GRADUAL HATE, a duo out of Spain, is also featured with their track "New Highway And Asolation". This one is taken from their debut "Asphyxiated World" – so let’s agree to rate it like this: well-done and valuable to take part on this comp, yes, but nevertheless one of their weaker tracks compared to some of their tunes on their album – soon, very soon more about them! Sweden’s TWZ, recently signed to the Hungarian-based Advoxya-Records label, give out an alternative version of their new track "The Grid", originally available on their up and coming new album "Evolution". As a trademark of them, their synth textures used as manipulated bass lines still offers them a sort of special niche in the scene. But the best track of this whole compilation got provided by an also to me quite unknown act named SCHISM TRACE. Reminds strongly on a mixture of old X MARKS THE PEDWALK ("Abortion") mixed with older FLA, excellent programmings, good sounding vocal manipulation and an addictive melodic content makes "The Failure" to nothing what the title may announces. BRAINCLAW are counting surely to be one of the better known acts available on this comp and their rich experience sound- and production-wise is recognizable in every second of their exclusive remix on "Feed The Machine". Addictive hook lines as usual, just another great work of this BLC-recording male/female duo. Germany’s [ORGANIC_CAGE] are surely one of the big up and coming artists for the rhythmically Powernoise genre. "Program Interrupt" though isn’t a favorite of this act, but a great example how this solo project treats his machinery.
A stylistically wide-ranging collection of newbies and established acts are featured on here, and so this new "Weatherhead" compilation reminds a bit on some BLC compilations out of the "Interbreeding" series. Quite good comp if you’re on the hunt for some new talents and so worth to spend some bucks on!

Track list:

1 Akron - X Revenge
2 Stahlshlag - Acute Netzzerstorung
3 E-thik - Machtuefall
4 Twinsine - Revolution
5 Andromeda 5 - Fleisch Und Blut
6 Mordacious - Death in Denial
7 Spit Static - Break It Off
8 Sino Re-build Projects - to Die
9 Acc:xess & Grammatik Inkorekt - Fyebs
10 Cyanide Regime - Vanquisher
11 Stigmata Nl - Satanus Malificarum
12 Esa - Tand

13 Diverje - Stitched (Mordacious Rmx)
14 Gradual Hate - New Highway & Asolation
15 Evlent Chapter - Tivoli
16 Total Pain Kollapz - Are You Scared?
17 Synaptic Defect - Punish Me
18 Ferrum Dei - Ascendency of the False Prophet
19 Stainless.4571 - Trip to Madness
20 Twz - the Grid
21 Schism Trace - the Failure
22 Brainclaw - Feed the Machine (Rmx)
23 Organic Cage - Programm Interrupt
24 Suburban Prototype - Luna (Wax Rmx)

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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Mar 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.

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