Music Reviews



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Artist: Dance Of Atoms
Title: Atom & Eve
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Does humor belong in music?
That depends.
If your beats storm, and your synths rage, a little bit of tongue-in-cheek can be permitted.
Dance Of Atoms are an enigmatic duo of producers, known as Atom Man and The Phantom Of Funk, hailing from somewhere in Texas. They play a blend of '80s New Wave and aggressive electro rock, updated with every sub-genre of electronic music of the last 2 decades. They've been compared to everyone from Gary Numan to Depeche Mode to early Lady Gaga, to give you an idea of how many disparate sounds and styles you will find on this short afterburn of an EP.
A good portion of Atom & Eve's 7 tracks are straight-ahead electro club fare, without a hint of pastiche, delivered with adrenalized intensity. The closest style I could compare it to would be electroclash, which is to say epic, trancy club fare delivered with punk rock abandon. Anybody who's lost themselves in the grooves of The Faint, LCD Soundsystem or Fischerspooner will find something to love here.
It is in the songs "The '80s", with its cheeky mention of Swatches and Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and their dismembered cover of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" where the band show their satirical side, and why that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Another One Bites The Dust" sounds like it's been riffed on by Devo, before being swallowed by Skrillex chaos and wub-wub dubstep wobble bass. While this sounds like a questionable amalgam, it is in the detailed way it is all spliced together that this band shines, and shows themselves to be serious musicians.
It's in the details where Dance Of Atoms differentiate themselves from the imitators. These are no preset-hackers: there's thousands of synth sounds on this short EP, and each one seems carefully chosen and placed. On top of that, their beats are muscular and fierce, begging to be blasted through powerful PAs. And while they do frequently coast along in a forceful 4/4, they frequently switch up the rhythm to complicated polyrhythms, sometimes reggaeton, sometimes pummeling rhythmic noise. The one thing you can be sure of, you will not get bored listening to Atom & Eve.
My one complaint is that it sounds as if the band mixed and mastered the EP themselves, and things can become a bit overloaded and jarring at times. There's a myriad of elements, and they're all clamoring for attention simultaneously, fritzing out the speakers. When Dance Of Atoms return to the studio to record a full-length, I beseech them to please find some pleasing reverb, and take the edge off of some of these corners.
Atom Man (I'm assuming it's him) proves himself to be a fine front man, with a wide vocal range. Sometimes he delivers a romantic Bernard Sumner croon, before breaking into some Gloria Gaynor pyrotechnics. A lot of people accuse electronic music of being cerebral, detached and unemotional; Atom & Eve should rest their case.
All in all, Atom & Eve is a promising debut from a burgeoning act. They've got mystique. They've got studio acumen. They've got chops. They've got passion, but don't take themselves too seriously. All to the good, I say. They're off to a fine start!
Atom & Eve is only available for streaming via the band's website at http://www.thedanceofatoms.com, getting a physical release, plus the usual digital channels, on July 7th. So get a head start, and drop some of these tracks on your clubbing mixtapes.
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Artist: Mekanik Disorder
Title: Out Of Context
Format: CD
Label: Caustic Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
Nearly 4 years in the making, the Spanish one-man project of Cesar Cruz returns with an all new album again signed to the hard-working Caustic Records label. Already the attached band photos as well as the cover artwork show us the difference. It seems that Cesar has had a time period of consciousness. The debut "Cold & Strong" has shared impressive Industrial-like photos of a huge telescope in black/red color contrasts, while this new one shows a sunny and peaceful landscape with an endless street. Cesar nowadays has belt on an acoustic guitar and the whole scenario looks more relaxed. Also when it comes to detect the changes in his music, Cesar now offers a wider direction and a development. He's still a kid with his roots in the 80s, but nowadays he offers musically more diversity and some unexpected elements. Especially the New Wave-style has gathered more and more meaning in the music dimension of Mekanik Disorder, while Cesar still shares his love for early Synthpop- and EBM-structures on this whole album. This can be pretty much noticed with the title-track, on which he pays respect to some Belgian Wave-heroes like Poesie Noire or The Neon Judgment. Of course the guitar got not shown on his new photos, it got inserted too. Also his known ability to use different languages (Spanish, English, Dutch, and German) for his lyrics has to be named as being advantageous. 'Als Liebe nur ein Spiel war' has surprisingly catchy moments and I tend also to spend applause on 'Deadpoint' with its galloping bass-line sequences, although - and I still need to insist on this - he could produce it a bit tougher. But no matter and despite all further minor things I could mention here, Cesar has produced a quite valuable album with sedating tunes which drift a bit away from the angry and more minimal EBM structures of his debut. It needs a bit time to grow on you plus it maybe won't stand any fight with the Anhalt-EBM troops, it nevertheless offers a portion of diversity which is often a miss at comparable releases.
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Artist: Christian Vialard
Title: Neukalm
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Grautag (@)
Rated: *****
This new brainchild by self-taught sound artist Christian Vialard, who recorded Neukalm with Fred Bigot in Berlin suburbs of Neukolin and on the shores of French Riviera, certainly melted many different sonorities and stylistical hooks to dark-wave, 80ies new wave, industrial, synth-driven electronic rides and even some ambient techno and IDM acts of the 90ies (B12, Richard H. Kirk, Link, The Higher Intelligence Agency...and you could even have the impression to listen an imaginary remix of Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" by Neu! on the amazing "Lidel2"!), but this is not the most relevant aspect of this sonic creature. Besides the pun of the title, "Neukalm" could be considered as the sonic translation of the same drug before, during and after its effect in eight different modifications within a distressing and alienating urban environment. Each track sounds like departing from the fatalistic contemplation of self within such an ordinary condition before the magic pill alters perception, boost sociability or even unleashes feelings of somewhat tropical bliss. When this temporary fugue from "reality" vanishes, even its ephemeral remembrance got absorbed by initial statements as if each track is a trompe l'oeil on the wall of an urban building which renders a temporary illusion of open space without demolishing it, which fades away as you turn the corner. "Neukalm" acts as a sedation or a strategy for escapism while being aware that such a getaway is hopelessly fleeting...

Sensory Gate: Civisolation

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
 Edit (8218)
May 26 2014
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Artist: Sensory Gate (@)
Title: Civisolation
Format: CD
Label: MHz Records (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Let's introduce the MHz-label a bit, since it got established by the Klangstabil-leader Maurizio Blanco. In the past this label has been often acted as being a side-label to Ant-Zen with the often discovered renowned Klangstabil project, although it can look back on a long-year past with tape compilation releases mostly based in the Experimental / Rhythmic Noise genres. Prominent artists like P.A.L. for example have been often invited guests in their early years. The connection to Ant-Zen is still alive and vital, as Ant-Zen takes care about the distribution of MHz-releases.
Also the Italian duo of Sensory Gate isn't that unknown to me. I discovered them with well-sounding remix contributions for the highly appreciated Ambient-/Electronica-project Sleepthief and also with two appearances on the highly recognized "Surge & Subside: Queensland Flood Appeal" compilation by the Australian Aphotic Audio label. What I had to learn is that this duo has already brought out a debut album entitled "Ianus" released by MHz in 2010. As for this new album, both band-members Andrea Pozzi and Max Iannuzzelli have composed 11 tracks in a musically expression between smooth Synth-/Futurepop to more aggressive EBM undersigned with some Rock-/Metal-like guitar riffs. The tracks are well-produced and the compositions offer demanding themes to think about. The main theme of this album deals with the ongoing isolation of people although they are surrounded by civilization. We see this phenomenon in big cities where people live in total anonymity. As described, this album impresses with its genre-bending attitude of the above mentioned styles. After the bombastic sounding intro "Among The Dead" with both German and English lyrics, comes with "Domino Effect" a straighter produced Electro-track with danceable beats, a natural sounding vocal performance and some guitar riffs. Next comes a true Synthpop pearl with "City Diary" with catchy as hell synthesizer- and piano- arrangements, plus a chorus line to sing along. Great track, it fits perfectly to the main theme of this album. "Slash", a track co-written by Claudio Dondo (Runes Order) surprises with some FLA-like bass line programming skills and vocoderized vocals. "Invictus" then is a true experiment based lyrically on a same-titled poem by W.E. Henley in German and English language. Additionally this one is dedicated to the world-wide deeply respected Nelson Mandela (R.I.P.). The last track then is a musically performance of a prayer which features guest vocals provided by John van Loon (Dark Territory): "Kyrie (Prayer For The Lost)" with Gregorian-like voices and a brilliant performed chorus. This album features all good things for a long and satisfying listening experience. Even if they throw in guitars, it gives the whole work a quite edgy and organic touch. I am fascinated by the depth in both compositions and arrangements behind this marvelous album. More than a secret tip - it's one of the spring-time highlights!

Vittoria Fleet: Acht

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 16 2014
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Artist: Vittoria Fleet
Title: Acht
Format: CD
Label: n5md
Distributor: Norman Records
Rated: *****
"how i learned to stop worrying and love the grid"

The cover of Vittoria Fleet's debut LP, on the quality French label n5md, shows a geodesic dome rising from a forest canopy. It's a decent analogy for the electronic sculpture of pulsing waves and acid melodies, rising from the earthy foundation of beats and vocals.

At this point, naysayers and doom merchants decrying the death of everything, have become a tired and broken refrain. Yes, we know; there are no new ideas. Yes, we understand; your generation was so much better than ours, and we are doomed to a dwindling twilight half-life of recycling your regurgitations. Obviously, the only art that is meaningful emerges from a vacuum, like some tribe of noble pygmys, untouched by civilization. Or Jandek.

For the rest of us, however, living, working and seeking inspiration in 2014, you have probably heard a lot of records. Possibly millions of them. Maybe even billions. It is just as suspect to deny your influences as it is to ape or cop them, maybe even more so.

So, yes, let us get the obvious out of the way: Vittoria Fleet sound a lot like late '90s Bjork, mainly due to the floating quality of Giada Zerbo's vocals, which features a slight, hard-to-place accent. This similarity is furthered by shifting, skittering percussion and squiggling analog synths, that brings to mind late '90s IDM/braindance, from the likes of Aphex Twin or Wagon Christ.

This late '90s esoterica is augmented by a late '70s/early '80s analog electronic quality, Vangelis minimoogs and acid squelches - all hands on deck, riding knobs and twisting faders.

Vittoria Fleet are clearly re-organizing sounds from all eras, anything that strikes their magpie tastes, which are refined as a sommelier's palate. They may be drawing sounds, styles and influence from all over, but there is nothing scattered, slipshod or random about their approach. Instead, they are trawling the annals of history, particularly the history of Electronic music, choosing what they like, jettisoning the rest, and then carefully polishing and placing every incident. While this record may have it's roots in academic and futurist musics of the past, there is no mistaking this as anything other than completely contemporary.

The secret is in the bassweight: you hardly ever heard drums this tight and muscular before dubstep. In 2014, we are getting bass and compression down to a mystical science, making beats that are able to simultaneously bludgeon and caress, like the best sex ever. And you're not even sore the next day.

Where their influences sounded distant, airy and aloof, through the disassociation of the intellect, Acht manages to be futuristic while still having heart, flesh and heat.

Acht is the duo's debut LP, following 2011's well-received Kissing Cousins EP. Since then, VF have migrated from east London to the cradle of Techno, Berlin. Here's hoping this move will be beneficial, as this pair deserves to be heard by tens of thousands.

In the press release for Acht, they talk about "A careful balancing act that is the nature of the music they make and the processes required in nurturing it." A balancing act, between the organic and the electronic, between the delicate and details and the fierce and forceful. It's hard enough to get these fluttering walls of sound, but to adorn them with lace and Christmas lights is a mystical science, indeed.

A very impressive debut; a must hear.


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