Music Reviews



VV.A.A.: Square Matrix 001

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Nov 05 2002
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Artist: VV.A.A.
Title: Square Matrix 001
Format: CD
Label: Alfa-Matrix


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Alfa-Matrix offers a 4 in 1 concept of 4 CD singles on one full-length disc. Strictly limited to 2000 copies this release features singles by Aïboforcen, Epsilon Minus, Plastic Noise Experience, and Hungry Lucy from the Alfa-Matrix catalogue. While this is a unique format it seems to be an excellent way for a label to introduce their artists to new listeners and give something unique to fans outside the standard compilation album format and get more people to buy the singles, possibly. Aïboforcen stategically position themselves in the new generation of EBM fans with a combination of energetic rhythms and melodic female vocals. Here we have the "Testing New Waters" single, four tracks one of which features a mix by ArtOfFact Records' Headscan. Recommended tracks would be "Give Me These Wings" which features a bit of male vocal too and the Headscan mix which adds a bit or a darker feel with some trance elements to the song. Epsilon Minus, based in Canada, start with "Through" in which the vocals are very smooth and match the EBM-Trance/Synthpop based music texture perfectly. The "Freedom" mix by Angels & Agony has a bit of the latter band's musical elements and a slight lean toward minimalist synthpop. In all honesty the vocals are bit weak only in the first portion of the track but as the music builds to more of club-based rhythm the vocals are much stronger as is the track overall. That however is my only criticism for Epsilon Minus as Jenn's vocals kick on most tracks as she has a great voice with enough power and sensuality for this type of music format. This is extremely evident with the next track which is mixed by Massiv In Mensch, another ArtOfFact Records artist that rocks this genre. Lastly, we have the album mix of "Through" which is a bit quicker paced, an excellent song. Next on the list is Plastic Noise Experience who begins with "Clean Head", a track with lots of Noise elements but with a pulsing dance beat and harsh whispery vocals. A bit more hard-edge and dark than the previous artists Plastic Noise Experience show another side of Alfa-Matrix. PNE is Claus Kruse whose compositions are more of an EBM-Industrial format. Alfa-Matrix describes him as, "harsh vocals and a very distorted type of sounds with virulent vibrating melodies", which is right on target. This single also includes remixes of the same track by Pzycho Bitch and Implant. The Implant mix is a bit cleaner and more of an aggro flavor while the Pzycho Bitch mix takes us in the exact opposite direction with a slower pace and more of a Power Noise rock-n-rhythm. The other track by PNE is Mechanical Beatz which reminds me of old SPK with the female vocals similar to the more operatic stuff by Die Form. Lastly, is Hungry Lucy, a sort of trip-hop gothic EBM in which Christa's vocals are very smooth and harmonious and the beats throb with a rhythm you can't help but move to. I love that 'twisty' electronic sound in the first track "Her Song". One of these days I'm gonna figure out how that's done (War-n?). War-n does some amazing synth work on this project that utilizes many genre elements to help create a totally unique sound in my book. Everything from Techno, Euro-pop, Synthpop, Industrial, Gothic, EBM, Trip-Hop, and of course a host of other club styles meld together smoothly in this interesting project. Haunting and danceable at the same time - love it! "Fearful" features mixes by Aïboforcen (my fave mix on this one) and Implant. The song "Storm" drops us back into more of trip-hop feel likened to Portishead with vocals as smooth as Tori Amos and music with a dark/ethereal dance beat. Alf-Matrix brings some great new and original works to light in this first of the Sqaure Matrix series!

WOLKSPURZ & RAMIREZ: Music For Your Holidays

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Nov 05 2002
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Artist: WOLKSPURZ & RAMIREZ (@)
Title: Music For Your Holidays
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records (@)
Misterious project coming from the Amon/Never Known's personal label, AFE Records. Famous for releasing high collectable and limited CDr albums AFE involved the misterious duo (even if I've got some ideas about who they are) into an important project consisting in two releases. The first has been their first album titled MUSIC FOR YOUR HOLIDAYS and the latter is the colossal "Teddy Bear Remix Project" which consisted into a boxset of four CDs ltd. to 100 numbered copies with pro-printed artwork and gadgets. It contains 64 versions of Wolkspurz & Ramirez's original title track created by some 60 musicians and djs from all over the world and covers each and every known (...and unknown...) style of electronic music from Synth-Pop to Click'n'Cuts through Ambient, Noise, Minimal Electronica, Computer Music, Techno, etc. All this for a total playing time of over 280 minutes. "Teddy Bear" is the only song with vocals of the whole album and it's a synthpop track with a touch of melancholy. The other fourteen tracks are electronic extravaganza influenced by twenty years of analog experimentation. Something that goes to early Kraftwerk to modern techno passing through launge and Jean Micheal Jarre's music. Tracks like "Move Your Feet" crawl insidious between insane melodies and dark atmospheres just to leave the place giving space to the 60's atmospheres a la Peter Gunn of "Grune Zwiebeln". Each track has got something different from the other ones and explore new genres remaining loyal to the duo's style. If you are looking for something different to listen to, Wolkspurz And Ramirez are here to stay. Check the label's website to taste their music.

Axoe: Telegraphic

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Nov 05 2002
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Artist: Axoe
Title: Telegraphic
Format: CD


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Telegraphic is the new debut album by the new synthpop band Axoe featuring Evan Sornstein of the band Battery. Battery was known in the 90's for their signature melodic industrial and powerful female vocals. For Axoe Evan has teamed up with vocalist Patrick O'Connor to create new electro-pop. Axoe draws on a combination new wave, synthpop, smooth ebm, and 'new romantic'. One thing they are not is copycat of previous new wave and synthpop bands of the past. Axoe brings their own unique style and musical blend to the genre with a heavier lean toward the 'new romantic' mood I think. Telegraphic is an impressive release especially considering that this is self released by the band and not with the help of a label. Of course with modern technology this is becoming easier all the time. However, Axoe is not about to forget their friends and lists individuals like Shannon (Metropolis Records), Kevin Archibald (Dystopian Records), David Friede (Cohaagen Music), David Richards (NinthWave Records), and Todd Durrant (A Different Drum) in their special thanks; all individuals who are strong forces for the promotion of new and independent music and excellent people as I've come to know them myself through my work here and with Latex Records. One of the things I really like about this CD is the subtle variance they use to create the variance of mood which always makes for a good release. While much of the album has a 'romantic' feel to it I especially like the synth work on "Waiting" where there is a bit more of a grind to it. Oddly they do this without losing the melodramatic mood at all. This sounds like an album I expect to grow on me more with every listen sort of like Hednoize's "Searching for the End". However unlike the mentioned release Axoe has a much softer and 'moody' sound that is unique to them.

The Glimmer Room: Tomorrow's Tuesday

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 28 2002
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Artist: The Glimmer Room (@)
Title: Tomorrow's Tuesday
Format: CD
Label: Neu Harmony (@)
Distributor: Synth Music Direct
With the exception of one track "Tomorrow's Tuesday" by UK one man band The Glimmer Room (aka Andy C.) is an instrumental, fortunately. The music is a visionary journey that has the organics of a movie soundtrack more than that of a record, in my opinion. It's synthpop music, melodic electronic music, ambient synthscapes, heavenly pads with creative drum patterns. I had to listen to it about 5 times 'cause the music was so sweet, laid back, relaxing and peaceful that I kind of lost the focus... Neu Harmony has a lot of records with the same base dna but this one (which among other things has a nice classical art work) is kind of more "happy" sounding (in lack of a better term). It really sounds like a Klaus Doldinger "The Unending Story" soundtrack at times, and even if I can't come up with another movie right now, I am sure that a lot of other movies might find this album a great match. The tracks float carried away by the soft but infectious beats in what might remind you of a Gary Numan or a Gary Flanagan album at times... If you like calm electronic synth music give this a try and check out their distributor's website (link above) for a lot more stuff...

MAGENTA: Little Girl Lost

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 28 2002
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Artist: MAGENTA
Title: Little Girl Lost
Format: CD
Label: Re Pop
Distributor: Audioglobe


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New album for this Norvegian duo which saw their single "Secret Sky" reaching an high position in the charts in Norway, Sweden and Denmark a couple of years ago. After these years of silence the band decided to come back with a new single ("All Over" which is also the second track of this album) and a new CD titled LITTLE GIRL LOST. The eleven tracks we find here are deeply influenced by bands like Garbage, Cranberries, Cardigans but with some exception concerning some sounds solutions (see for example "Mermaid" with its Noisex like noisy rhythm lines) and their melodic tendency to pick up something from goth (like on "Vandalist Virgin") and new wave (see my favourite song of the lot, the beautiful "I Need My Love", which is the only one sung principally by a male voice). I didn't find this album a must but some songs are highly appreciable and a couple of them are really beautiful. Maybe they focused too much the album on mellow and melancholic atmospheres but when they decide to make the energy bust they are capable of doing a good work as on my second favourite one: "Never Fall Again". A little curiosity: this album has got Ted Skogmann and Vegard Blomberg from Apoptygma Berzerk helping for programming and drums.


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