Music Reviews

VV.AA.: Extended Electronics Vol. 2

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 24 2007
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Extended Electronics Vol. 2
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Skizzo / NEO (@)
Distributor: Sony / BMG
Rated: *****
Well, this is the dream of any DJ: why wasting the whole free time on some club events, instead to press the "Play"-button of this DCD set and to share more important things like smoking, drinking, lurking for chicks, etc.? Regarding the fact that this compilation got compiled by Inga Uphoff and Sven Enzelmann of the German Club-promoter Hardbeat, it may gives you the hint, that this DCD set presents some tunes of their represented acts, which are mostly some so-called scene-leaders. The second criteria is fulfilled if these acts can look on some "extended" versions – the idea to create extended versions like it was presented richly in the golden 80ies. So this DCD set collects and unites some alternative versions of some remarkable club-tunes, and generally seen, this comp also offers a good choice and diversity of styles. That newbies or greenhorns wouldn’t get any glimpse of a chance to take part on this compilation was to expect – if this is to rate positive belongs on your personal preferences for sure, but I must wonder, what kind of "music" nowadays played in the clubs can grab attention by any audience. Some appearances here are that retarded, stupid, plain and that sort of repetitive that they're causing tooth-aching – well, I rather like to point out the most outstanding works here.
ROTERSAND are that sort of elegant produced Futurepop-acts and "Lost" is for sure one of their highlights. It seems to become a kind of art not to fall into cheesy Pop music and they’re an outstanding example for remaining in an own identity. Same counts for the Electro-/Wave-artist DIORAMA and their Extended Version of "Erase Me" –always tasteful arranged, it slows down the speed a bit. LADYTRON, although mostly very Pop/Alternative-oriented, can impress with smashing bass lines and cold female vocals. The factor "coolness" also counts for SEABOUND, "The Promise" offers once again their enormous programming skills and features a slight Dark Electro influence which drives this piece completely away from any redundancy. "Exit" of DISMANTLED is definitively to old to get featured here once again, since it was already available on the now three years old "Post-Nuclear"-album. I suppose that the only one reason belongs on the fact that DISMANTLED couldn’t produce any comparable quality tune since those days... even if this sounds very tacky. "Japanese Bodies" by LEAETHER STRIP is originally much older – a classic for sure – but Claus Larsen currently works hard to re-release his old back-catalogue and he revamps all of his classic recordings and presses them in a new and updated sound design. This "Free Tibet Mix" is refreshing – a must-have and definitely better constituted than the millions of :WUMPSCUT:-re-re-re-releases.
CD2 opens with [:SITD:] and their 2007-Version on their classic "Snuff Machinery" – fair enough arranged but nothing too spectacular. SUICIDE COMMANDO offers an alternative version of his last smasher "Bind, Torture, Kill" and it is appreciated to offer something exclusive. But the sound quality and a failed mastering without any dynamics is out of any discussion – especially for an international renowned act. Boredom comes along and rules with SOMAN, 32CRASH, REAPER and IMPLANT with their musically similar TBM-try-outs. Unbelievable that this music style can really grab attention with those plain arrangements – although that these acts have a lot of prominent guest singers on board (32CRASH = J.-L. de Meyer/FRONT 242, REAPER = Mark Jackson/VNV NATION, IMPLANT = Anne Clark) these acts are failing, what a shame! In between we’ll find DISTORTED MEMORY and FROZEN PLASMA, whose appearance can be called decent but not flawless. I’m thankful to hear something more dark and harder-minded, although DISTORTED MEMORY have a lot of better tunes to offer than a Club Edit of "God’s Wrath". FROZEN PLASMA can point with elegant synth textures and clear male vocals – the only complaint can named in the always and ever repetitive use of "drill-instructor-voice-samples. Best track – although originally more than 15 years old – is definitely "Die Totgeweihten" provided by the German legend DAS ICH. This is of course a new and revamped version – but a harsh one taking influences out of Powernoise and Dark Electro, congrats! With FORTIFICATION 55 the re-animation of some German classics continues in a – how surprising – updated Futurepop sound-design. And any original version on CAMOUFLAGE’s "The Pleasure Remains" would fit much better than this useless Alternative-minded collaboration with WET FINGERS.
I’m in a good manner and will rate this compilation with three stars today, although some appearances are useless like ice-bears in a desert. Also I need to accept the fact that this release is driven by a lot marketing strategies and to strengthen the good collaboration between the presenting labels and the promotion agency Hardbeat. But only a little bit more of the so-called "Independent-thinking" which would allow the compilers to include some "real" underground artists would turn this compilation to more acceptance from the base of the scene.

CD 1:
01 Rotersand - Lost (12" Inch Version)
02 Diorama - Erase Me (Extended Version)
03 IAMX - Spit It Out
04 Covenant - Brave New World (Alternative Radio Version)
05 Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (Vector Lovers Edit)
06 Grossstadtgeflüster - Ich Muss Gar Nix (Director's Cut)
07 Seabound - The Promise (Club Mix)
08 X-Perience & Midge Ure - Personal Heaven (Michael Bachmeier Remix)
09 Bermuda Triangle - Breathe Freely (Extended Electronics)
10 Boytronic - Diamonds & Loving Arms (Front Mix)
11 Melotron - Das Herz (Club Mix)
12 Purwien mit Witt - Alle Fehler (Clubmix von The Promise)
13 Dismantled - Exit (Long)
14 Leæther Strip - Japanese Bodies (Free Tibet Mix)

01 [:SITD:] - Snuff Machinery 2007
02 Suicide Commando - Bind, Torture, Kill (Extended Torture)
03 Soman - Mask (FMv9 Extended Remix)
04 32Crash - Lone Ranger (Punx Soundcheck Remix)
05 Reaper feat. Mark Jackson - Twisted Trophy Hunter (Caught Line Remix)
06 Distorted Memory - God's Wrath (Club Edit)
07 Frozen Plasma - Warmongers (Fuck Them All Remix)
08 Implant - Your World (Global Meltdown Mix)
09 Das Ich - Die Totgeweihten
10 Fortification 55 - Changing My Exist (2007 Mindworks Remix)
11 Camouflage - The Pleasure Remains (Camouflage vs. Wet Fingers - Club Version)
12 Trisomie 21 - Midnight Of My Life (Instrumental Mix By David Caretta)

Screen Vinyl Image: The Midnight Sun EP

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 24 2007
Artist: Screen Vinyl Image (@)
Title: The Midnight Sun EP
Format: CD EP
Label: Safranin Sound (@)
Rated: *****
After several listenings all I can say is that this 5 tracks EP is a little monster of 90's psychedelia and synth-driven kraut'n'roll with vocals reminiscent of 80's synthpop. The duo (E*lectra Blue* and J. Sequential) spawn their sonic assault with guitars and electronic devices through those hellish Death By Audio pedals and effects (created by Oliver Ackerman - ex-Skywave now with A Place To Bury Strangers). This ep is out on the great Safranin Sound label - property of Alcian Blue and among the labels supporting the new shoegaze/nu-gaze scene. I bet SVI play a killer liveset and surely would be a perfect dj-choice for demanding dancefloors. All you could ask for in a record.

Blaqk Audio: Cexcells

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 19 2007
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Artist: Blaqk Audio
Title: Cexcells
Format: CD
Label: Interscope
Rated: *****
The project BLAQK AUDIO consists of the both US-based musicians Jade Puget and Davey Havok, both are surely better known with their rather Rock-music-oriented main band AFI. BLAQK AUDIO therefore has to be seen as a side-project, a Synth- and Futurepop-driven I should admit, but also with a tendency to some Pop/Alternative genres. The lyrical content of this full-length release deals mainly with the one and only theme, which the title likes to announce. The male vocals are provided in that style how you would expect it from any related production in this music genre, very clear and natural sounding. The winning points of this release can be heard by the music. It surprises that they can provide this well-thought and diverse arrangements, several breaks and quite a lot different moods are resulting in a quite entertaining album, from which – I must admit it – several acts musically always and ever based in that Synth-/Futurepop genre can learn from. Tracks like "Snuff On Digital" or "Semiotic Love" are pushing the speed and can bring some motion on the dancefloors, two really well-done Futurepop anthems. They also provide the right nose to place two rather slow ballads with "The Fear Of Being Found" and "Wake Up, Open The Door And Escape To The Sea" – the right mood to sit in front of a fire-place in a cold winter night. But the most outstanding work has to be named with "Bitter For Sweet" with a catchy-as-hell refrain and – good point – not too obviously trimmed to fall into Pop-cheesyness. That this album comes out that fine can also be caused by the production work of star-producer Dave Bascombe (DEPECHE MODE, for instance...). But I guess also without his helping hand, this release would be still a great example how sweet and on-top this genre can sound. A constant good album!


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 16 2007
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Title: Xenomorph Angel
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Two years after their previous album "Anapteroma" and after a line-up change (Eva H. and the band's producer George P. joined Kyriakos P. on vocals and guitars/keyboards respectively) Blue Birds Refuse To Fly are back and are ready to conquer a wider audience with their mix of melodic electro wave/synthpop. Since the first track "Crashed" I realized that this album was going to be a good one. This track has got everything you need to be entertained (if you join the genre and if you aren't afraid of a pop approach to it): dark and mysterious melodies, beautiful female vocals, great production and a mixture of energetic dreamy atmosphere. After a brief (less than a minute) second track, "Xenomorph Angel" brings you to a different level of the album, thanks to its electro/e.b.m. approach, where anger isn't considered and where catchy melodies capture your attention for four minutes of electronic melodic pleasure. The next songs, "Burning" and "Want you there for me" (a semi acoustic ballad) are a little more commercial but always having a really strong structure and production. Also "Oxygen" is a little more synthpop but the mixture of acoustic guitars and dancey/dreamy atmospheres are convincing. Melodic synthpop is in since "H.E.A.T." where the rhythms are less bouncing and atmosphere is a bit more seducing (an electronic version of Garbage?). The closing track "Elegy" sees a female/male duet for a particular ballad with acoustic guitars and distorted rhythms. Maybe this album could sound commercial for those of you who are used to e.b.m. music but this is a good one and if you aren't afraid of melody you should check XENOMORPH ANGEL.

VV.AA.: Electro Arc Compilation Vol. 2

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 15 2007
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Electro Arc Compilation Vol. 2
Format: CD
Label: Electro Arc (@)
Rated: *****
Second issue of this mostly underground-based compilation series hailing out of Germany. Radio-DJ and scene-veteran Intrendent has once again collected a diverse sounding line-up, on which the only relation seems to be the fact that all acts show their dedication to electronic music. While diversity is obviously in target here, this second volume concentrates mainly, but not completely, to present acts out of Germany and some of them have already gained a higher recognition. So you can expect to get a compilation full of musically diversity provided by some up and coming artists, but without any major names.
DIVAMEE opens this compilation with a smooth Electro-Pop song entitled "Engel" featuring nasty female/male vocals. The Hungarian-based act FIRST AID 4 SOULS have been already guests on the first chapter of this series and were planned to take part on the upcoming third issue, but thanks a signing to a UK-based label, they have to take a seat on this part. "Vurt" is a driving instrumental tune with some oriental-sounding female voice samples. One of the winners of this comp I like to announce with the German act YERSINIA PESTIS and their track "To Forge Ahead": pregnant old-school-like EBM bass lines, tough and distorted male vocals and Dark Electro-like synth layers are in this combination not all new – but still the most effective kind I can think of.
OBJECT then maybe represents the international best known name out of this comp and a new full-length album will be released in these days by the Denver-based Vendetta-Music label. The solo project of Andreas Malik offers Dark Electro in style and kind very near to veteran acts like PUPPY, MENTALLO & THE FIXER or old X MARKS THE PEDWALK – this instrumental tune "Empires In Peril" with its fine and detailed synth layer sounds is a nice teaser on the coming album. Follows then ALPHA QUADRANT, another German-based solo effort by Frank Wiedemann, a project which could enter a free slot on one of the past Interbreeding compilations. Frank has banned for this compilation some "Men On The Moon" – but these men are suffering a bit under the monotonous drum programmings and the static bass lines – while the fading of the synth layers is the good point here. E:O:NITY joins this comp with a rather Futurepop-oriented work providing German/English lyrics, but unfortunately in a questionable quality on the female and male vocals.
Another remarkable name out of the currently growing army of Germany’s Dark Electro acts is FIX8:SED8 and I like to congratulate Martin Sane to his recently signed deal with Germany’s Klangdynamik Records. Back on this comp he offers with "Monolith" in a more than 10 minutes long "Infinite FPR Extend"-version a collectable alternative version to the original available on his self-released debut "Humanophobia". "Tabernacle" is the title provided by ENEMY MIND, with which they like to present simple EBM-like bass lines with some slight distorted drum patterns and hard to understandable vocals – not at all a bad idea to bring on something more primitive, but this one alters a bit under the too-good-meant use of reverberation effects. HEIMSTATT YIPOTASH can win every "best-artists-name"-contest but have been also active for the German label Hands and with them this comp turns into a more intellectual kind by offering an Electronica-driven "Stromfresser".
The duo of NDTM then offers sweat-and-muscle-EBM, very near to IONIC VISION or old NITZER EBB – excellent sounding energetic male shouts and great bass line programming, congrats. JÄGER 90 are playing in a very comparable league, but they behave to NDTM a bit retarded – maybe STURM CAFE are a quell of inspiration for "Muskeln"? In between we have another favorite, Nick Jonath’s MC1R, offering another multi-layered Dark Electro tune full of insane voice samples, but "Dysthymia" acts rather aggressive and pounding in comparison to the rather melodic works of FIX8:SED8 and OBJECT. Both, SICK EN FOR as well as MI-PROJECT, offer Dark-Electro/EBM bass line sounds and well worked-out synth layers and can convince here. While SICK EN FOR remains to be instrumental, MI-PROJECT offer a sample-driven piece with German lyrics. Comes to an end with BAGIO offering an unnecessary climax of drums, bass and guitar-driven chaos, brrrrr...- that’s a joke, isn’t it?
Since the international scene is currently in an unclear situation of what will come and in which kind and format it will continue, it’s a pearl of great price to have somebody like Intrendent still believing on terms like "Independent" or "Underground" - thanks to his promotional efforts with this comp series and at his representing radio station "Feindsender", also local acts out of your neighborhood can have a platform to get heard. A third volume of this series is nearly completed and will be out soon...

Track list:

01. Divamee – "Engel"
02. First Aid 4 Souls – "Vurt"
03. Yersinia Pestis – "To Forge Ahead"
04. Object – "Empires In Peril (E-Arc Version)"
05. Alpha Quadrant – "Men On The Moon"
06. Enemy Mind – "My Broken Heart (Single Version)"
07. Fix8:Sed8 – "Monolith (Infinite FPR Extend)"
08. Enemy Mind – "Tabernacle"
09. Heimstatt Yipotash – "Stromfresser"
10. ndtm – "Come Along"
11. MC1R – "Dysthymia"
12. Jäger 90 – "Muskeln"
13. Sick En For – "EnCroachment (White Mix)"
14. MI-Project – "Glaubt Ihr?"
15. Bagio – "Folgeschehen 2007"

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