Music Reviews



Ahab Rex: The Queen of Softcore

 Posted by eskaton   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 30 2006
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Artist: Ahab Rex (@)
Title: The Queen of Softcore
Format: CD EP
Label: Lens Records (@)
This really isn’t so much an EP as five versions of one track. Remix singles are a two edged sword. When they are good, they can be amazing, but when they aren’t so good, it becomes a bit monotonous. I had not heard of this project, but with Martin Atkins on drums, I figured it had to be good. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite fit what I was expecting. This song is a bit too poppy for my tastes - catchy, but not really that engaging. The remixes are of varying quality. The Ahab Rex Remix doesn’t do much to change the original and the Press Remix just makes it more of a dance track, taking out the vocals and adding cheesy synth. The Countdown Remix is a bit more interesting than the previous two, heavier and more stripped down. The Nookleptia Remix is the only one that really attempts to do anything with the original track, cutting it up, tweaking it, and distorting the source material. I went to the label’s site to see if Ahab Rex’s other stuff sounded like this track, but it didn’t. The other stuff was a lot more interesting and harsher. Maybe this is a new direction for this artist. If you want to hear the original version of the track, you can go to Ahab Rex’s MySpace site at http://www.myspace.com/ahabrex. If you like the original, you’ll like the remixes.

HYPNOLOVE: Eurolove

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 25 2006
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Artist: HYPNOLOVE
Title: Eurolove
Format: CD
Label: Record Makers (@)
Rated: *****
I’m an animal and I get excited when I can have my dirty paws on releases like this. My senses are titillated by the sensual rhythms and by cool melodies. Hypnolove, with their EUROLOVE did a fantastic album and a gorgeous debut. They already released in the past an EP with the same name (released by Confusion Recordings and containing a first version of "Eurolove", "Nights In Blue Jeans" and "Disco Veneziano") and the "Mademoiselle" 12" (containing the original verion, two remixes and an Hynolove version of the "Assault on Precinct Thirteen" main track) and with EUROLOVE they are ready to prove their value. The trio coming from Toulouse is formed by a French, a Portuguese and a German guy and it’s amazing to notice that into their blend electro/funk/italo disco/indie wave they put also somethig characteristic of their original land: the Portuguese language on the final part of "Eurolove" and on "Lembranca", the French on "Etoiles" and "Mademoiselle – edith" and the German on the melanchonic "Deine augen" (its beginning remember me some atmospheres of the latest Franz Ferdinand album). Opening with the Crowleyan sentence "Every man and every woman is a star" (in French "Chaque homme, chaque femme est une étoile"), "Etoiles" is something more of an intro and it introduce the audience to a multifaceted album. The songs are perfectly built with cool melodies and rhythms and the album convinced me immediately. It is impossible to stay immobile when you listen to the punk influence of "Furori sacrum" (there are no guitars but the 4/4 drums and the energy are the same) or "1000 lies", the Italo disco of "Flashy pretty girl", the electro pop of "Get to know the girl" (featuring Bitch Lap Lap on vocals it is a song that Madonna would have if only she knew the Hypnolove!), the indie feels of "Party pooper" or the sensual cover of the 1979 Kiss’ hit "I was made for loving you", here slowed down and still full of charisma. Produced by Julian of Tekel and Renaud Letang (already producer fomr Gonzales, Jane Birkin, etc) EUROLOVE is a perfect album that celebrates late 70s, early 80s with a modern flavour. Perfect!

THE DRONES : Gala Mill

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 25 2006
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Artist: THE DRONES
Title: Gala Mill
Format: CD
Label: ATP records (@)
Rated: *****
Despite the name suggested the last of zillions bands playing ambient music or Kranky influenced drone music, The Drones should be filed under "rock-blues, depressed-folk". Their sound infact pays homage to the family tree of american music like many other acclaimed artists did before them, therefore if I say "Gala Mill" is full of reminiscences near to some old episodes signed by Tim Rutili and friends, and of course I speak about Red Red Meat in particular but also to Loftus, Califone, Giant Sand, Rein Sanction (for those who know them). But if you wonna go back to the real root of the sound of these australians you probably should look for the lowest common denominator and the answer is probably Rolling Stones. There's a sick bluesy atmosphere and you know considered they’re coming from the land of kangaroos mentioning the Bed Seeds is quite obvious but probably realistic. Some of the slowest ballad ("Alexander Pierce" for example) reminded me of the great Reiner Ptacek that's great. Professional recording, a good writing skill, a good look and a chart climber refinement, but if you ask me I think this release is a bit too heavily absorbed in its influences and that's probably its biggest limit. If you're into modern classicism you'll probably love it over all it’s a good record, just a bit to "conservative".

VV.AA.: Negative Impact v0.1

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 17 2006
cover
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Negative Impact v0.1
Format: CD
Label: PfF Productions
Rated: *****
The actual impact of this compilation of bush-league Industrial bands, while not exactly "negative," more accurately strikes somewhere between "positive" and "ridiculous." Six of the ten artists on this 18-song sampler come from the Chicago area, all presumably under the Third Wave Collective umbrella, and are or were participants in the Chicago "Dark Gathering" events that this CD commemorates.

There are many plusses: track two, "ROSB" by N.U.T.E. rocks good and hard. Two cuts later, "Retinal Fetish" by Infinity Interrupt has a great, dream-like extended finish that includes creepy whispering and samples that recall Front Line Assembly's "Lethal Compound." A moment of nocturnal pastoral splendor erupts from track 11, CEOXiME's "One:15" -- which is exactly how long it lasts, sadly enough. Soon afterwards there follows a short, sharp, scathing attack on the Bush Administration by Things Outside the Skin ("American Way"), and a passably slick and slippery "World of Morphine" by the Off World Kick Murder Squad. Am22 turn in a sweet and slinky new-wave/old-rave flavored "Secrets," yet their bizarrely comical vocal deliveries on "Greed" and "Virus" only end up as laughable parodies of menace. BioCarbon13's vocals amount to a poor impression of Joy Division's Ian Curtis on "You Shook Me Cold" (no relation or resemblance to Bowie's "She Shook Me Cold"), and remain hilariously limp and unconvincing on the last track, "Shut Up." Jilt and GBX sound suspiciously like they have the same Rob Zombie-sounding singer, but their more rocking songs ("Release" and "Rocket") work well. However, Jilt's programming craftsmanship comes completely unglued in "Night-Blind."

Negative Impact v0.1 is, to say the least, not likely to be the pinnacle of your listening experience, but be advised -- it's got songs worth checking out (about half of these artists are on MySpace). Positive OR negative, the only guarantee is that there's no way to stay neutral upon hearing it.

ESTRANGE: Interim

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 16 2006
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Artist: ESTRANGE (@)
Title: Interim
Format: CD
Label: Life Is Painful Records (@)
Distributor: Infrarot Mailorder
Rated: *****
It took 10 yeas in absence until Marcus Lilja could decide to start a comeback after his first album on the long-time out of business Swedish label October Records. Now he returns on the German label Life Is Painful Records and this release marks the 10th of this label, which also was a long time in hiatus. So with this background the listeners outside may expect a pure Synthpop album, which is so typical and often produced in Sweden. Well, it is Synthpop, but with edges and an organic attitude. Marcus proves his musical talents well by including guitars, piano and harmonica sounds next to the expected synth work in his songs – and he has played all these instruments by himself. I’m pretty astonished by this multi-talented musician, he has also some well thought lyrics to offer. It’s surely not the purest happiness he provides us here, some very depressive pieces obviously dealing with the pain of the loss of a beloved on a funeral ("Consolation Song") or the last seconds of a life ("Smoother" – let’s take another doze of morphine...) are not designed for the faint-hearted. To catch the completely scale this fine album has to offer takes some more rotations until some tracks like "Slide" or "Anything Else" prove their "singing-along-the-lines-attitude. Strange also that none of the tracks seems to start a hunt for some dancefloor compatiblity, with the few exceptions like the opener "Convictions" or "Down Here". With respect to the fact that this album has taken 10 years of getting produced, it seems to me like a review or a confession of some past and personal things which happened in Marcus’ life. This album deserves respect and attention although I’m not sure if the Synthpop fans will accept this mostly sad effort, which tries hard to break with some conventions. For me it’s musically and lyrically one of the finest albums out in 2006!!!


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