Music Reviews



CLARK NOVA: so young

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 29 2006
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Artist: CLARK NOVA (@)
Title: so young
Format: CD
Label: Tube records (@)
Rated: *****
As usual I've been mislead by the cover and I was thinking it was "the average alternative soup", shame on my! I was damn wrong. Indeed Clark Nova can be easily filed under alternative rock but their real essence lays in psychedelic rock and tip of hat for the fact they’ve been able to mix the different influences in a really discrete manner. Bright melodic rock tunes with a strong american background, the first name I will mention is Dim Star (the band that featured both Richard Hell and Thurston Moore), but also Opal, Bad Seeds when they've started getting softer, Rain Sanction or some other psychedelic acts on Sub Pop (right after its grunge days). A Tight sound and a good mix help Clark Nova to reach the right mood quite straightforwardly, I think it has a lot to do with the touch of the sound engineer and with the studio (La Sauna). As I said before that’s late Sevenies early Eighties influenced alternative-rock with a depressed flavour that will make you daydream of sun down in the canyons. A good record with some intense rock ballads like "Hot wheels", "The poser" or the title track itself, the only possible remarks are the fact with less songs it would have been more cutting and the horn section of "Diagonal 461, Barcelona" that’s not always in the mood of the rest of the songs (but that's my personal opinion). If you think Dead Meadows and Bardo Pond had "that something you missed" but they’re "too happy", well probably here's something you may appreciate.

VV.AA.: Berlin Insane III

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 26 2006
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Berlin Insane III
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Pale Music (@)
Rated: *****
Pale Music since three years ago organize each year a show called Berlin Insane that is held at the Club 103 in Berlin. Each year different bands and dj heat up the dance floor of the club with catching melodies and distorted rhythms (check also the website www.berlin-insane.com for more info on the Berlin Insane club tour). Compiled by The Scandals the third volume of BERLIN INSANE compilation present forty tracks of "sex rock and sleazy electronics" (as stated on the cover). The first CD contains nineteen tracks and it is more focused on the electro/techno side of dance music. Within the others you can find: Einsturzende Neubauten’s Rudi Moser bring us "Solo n.1" a dark track based on bass guitar and light metallic percussions, Miss Yetti picked up a minimal techno track titled "Never come back" from her latest album "Insights", Punx Soundcheck are present with "Vanity, poverty, revenge" with Marc Almond on vocals, Näd Mika is here with "Too intense" (an electro punk track coming from her upcoming album "Electronic beat bitch"), Bruder & Kronstädta with "Yalla" present a track influenced by hip hop, techno and punk, Atomizer with "Ball & chain" remembered me early Fischerspooner, Cycle with "Apple tree" incarnate an electro version of Pretenders, Bakterielle Infektion whip their synths to bring us "Actors on stage" which recalled me the atmospheres of Normal’s "Warm leatherette", The Drugs with "Liv'n die 4 Rock 'n' Rol" incarnate a mix of Cramps and D.A.F., Sexo Y Droga with "Hot hot woman" recalled me bands like Nine Pound Hammer (they were on Crypt). CD2 contains mostly bands that focus their sound on the punk side. Bands like: The Nothings (their "I like drugs" is really a punk 77 track), Junesex ("Get’s close to mine" sounds like Blondie with electro instruments), Kesse Teens ("Chica chica" recalled me Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Kook’s "Club Gorgeus" is electro, punk and funk at the same time, Quasimodo Jones ("Cannibal woman" sounds like Devo on acid) while Monotekktoni with "I have done" seems a goth band with a broken sample (but they are really interesting). With Liquid Ice we are back on the electro side with the beautiful ambient robotic "Ignorance bliss". BERLIN INSANE III is a good chance to check the health of the new electro/techno scene and believe me if I tell you that it is in good health!

PUNX SOUNDCHECK: Berlin Moon

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 25 2006
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Artist: PUNX SOUNDCHECK
Title: Berlin Moon
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Pale Music (@)
Rated: *****
BERLIN MOON is a hell of a release and if I tell you so, it should be enough to purchase it. Since I’m good and I want to do my work the right way, I’ll tell you something more. The two tracks you can find here, reworked by eight different people of the European and American dance scene, were part of a two track limited 7" released by Punx Soundcheck’s label Icon Series. The tracks are by Punx Soundcheck themselves and see in a very good shape Marc Almond on vocals. Lately Marc is working with different djs producing good electro stuff and he someties is also djing around the world (he visited Torino during the Olympic Games for a dj set at the Palazzo Nuovo University). On this release you won’t find the original tunes (since the single is out of print you can find them on the compilation "Berlin insane III" and on the first album "When machines ruled the world" by Punx Soundcheck that will be released anytime soon by Pale Music) but five versions of "Vanity, poverty, revenge" and three of "Neo burlesque" by Punx Soundcheck, Miss Yetti, The Scandals, Mount Sims and Alex Stark for the first and Replicant, Lotterboys and Terranova for the latter. Every version is a blast but check out these ones first: Punx Soundcheck (they reworked a little bit the original electro version), Miss Yetti (she gave to it a minimal techno treatment), The Scandals (they did of it a punk electro gem), Mount Sims (which kept the basic melodic lines to do a minimal electro intriguing tune) and Replicant (he already collaborated with Mr. Almond, see my review of their "Face Control E.P." and he did a good version of "Neo burlesque" with pumping rhythms and acid sounds). I told you... a hell of a release!

Minerve : My Universe

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 23 2006
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Artist: Minerve (@)
Title: My Universe
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Dephyte Records (@)
Rated: *****
Five track CD with four remixes of the title track from German synthpop band Minerve. Why is it that SO many synthpop bands seem to want to play the Depeche Mode clone card? I don’t know about the rest of the world, but personally, I’m tired of hearing yet another electronic-based dance ensemble with a David Gahan wannabe crooning more insipid lyrics. Minerve is no exception. "My Universe" has all the earmarks of pop mediocrity – the words- "Tonight is all I dream of you, and everything we plan to do, but now you are so far from me, your smiling face, you gentle fingers, and every though of you will bring us together and each other closer... all I gave, all I found were your pictures in my songs, I just want to give my universe... all I am, all I feel, is an emptiness in me, I just want to give my universe... " hoo-boy. This is lame. Maybe this song got some play on the flavor of the week club circuit, but this is the last thing I’d want to hear on the radio, or even buy for that matter. (Dephyte Records couldn’t even bother to send me a REAL copy of the disc, they sent me a CD-R copy in the printed sleeve. What’s up with that??) Even as slickly produced as it is, four mixes of it is akin to sonic torture. And the last track, "Drifting In A Maze" certainly doesn’t save this maxi. Speaking of saving, do yourself a favor, save your money and skip this little piece of pop trash. It has about as much musical nourishment value as a big Mac with fries.

SPHERE LAZZA: ULTIMATE ABYSS

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 23 2006
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Artist: SPHERE LAZZA (@)
Title: ULTIMATE ABYSS
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: AcidVictim Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sphere Lazza, I remember that name from the early 90’s techno-industrial music scene. I can’t remember what they sounded like then, but listening to "Ultimate Abyss" kind of brings it all back home. Fast (150 bpm fast!), energetic techno-industrial with great dancefloor potential, spoken word samples, effective programming and on-target vocals. Pared down now to the duo of David Trousdale (vocals) and Tony Spaz (programming) these guys may just have the goods to revive the flagging techno-dance genre. "Ultimate Abyss" is a one-hook pop song that makes its point with laser-like precision. You get three mixes on this maxi-single and they’re all good enough to not want to hit the skip button. (I’ve kind of become jaded and skeptical about ANY CD singles that offer weird, screwed-up remixes of songs that were better left as the original versions. Seldom are they innovative or listenable enough to warrant spending your hard-earned $$ on rehashes of three, six or nine versions of the same track. Maybe Djs find them useful, but for the most part, they’re a waste.) The good thing about this maxi-single (which is really more of an EP in my estimation) is that you get FOUR more songs that don’t sound like carbon copies of the title track. For one, they’re a good deal less frenetic, ranging from 118 to 140 bpm, but no less well executed. You get an even better sense of just how good Trousdale’s vocals are for the material, and how good the material is when compared with a lot of drek you find out there these days. For some reason, these guys remind me of a more electronic Chemlab, not a bad thing at all. They have plenty of pop sensibility but manage to keep away from the shallow depths of mainstream murk. Track #6, "Distance" has a retro-80’s vibe that recalls bands like the Psychedelic Furs and OMD while still maintaining a future-pop orientation. All in all, this CD gets a big "thumbs up", definitely worthy of purchase, and should be on club Djs "must play" (at least now and then) roster. Welcome back, Sphere Lazza!


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