Music Reviews

Hunter Complex: Heat

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 21 2013
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Artist: Hunter Complex
Title: Heat
Format: 12"
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
Narrominded publishes the new LP from Holland's Hunter Complex presented as "a strange mix of Moroder's film scores and '81-'82 era" so the songs collected in this release are based on the classic synth pop structure. So, musically speaking, they are pop songs with synth instead of guitars and reveals as sound exploration has given to pop an entirely new musical palette.'¨"Heat" opens this release with a '80's sound clearly recognizable but with the '90 experimental attitude while "serious glas" deals with classic synth pop musical structure without seem a bad copy of it. "Atlantic" seems something taken from some strange oat featuring a sort of exotic mood vaguely resembling of some japan tunes. "Space" is clearly influenced by the '70 disco sound made by Giorgio Moroder. "Daylight" features dreamy synth. "Highway hypnosis" opens the B-side of this album, released on vinyl, and is a track with one of the best hook heard this year. "China rain" is a slow ballad and "room" almost a dance track. "Stations" and "hours" close this as classic pop tunes that use synth to obtain a layer of modernity to the classic pop musical development.
This album is really well written and glamorous, it features declaredly nothing ground-breaking, and is a sort of modern postcard from a distant era (the '80s) that seems better than ever. Nice without nostalgia.

Ese: The Deep Side Of Synthetiko

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 20 2013
Artist: Ese
Title: The Deep Side Of Synthetiko
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Amarcord Record
Rated: *****
Born as an evolution of what produced by Ad, Eso is formed by Daniele Mastracci and features Allegra Lusini on vocals. Mixing English and Italian language the album contains six long songs plus a remix of "Follow Me". Influenced by 80s Italo Disco and electronic music, "The Deep Side Of Synthetiko", also takes inspiration by modern electro dance music as well as a little bit from electro pop (take as reference bands like Little Boots or La Roux) and witch house. It's like a big short-circuit where influences from the past make the nowadays sound which is mixed again with retro influences. The sound of Eso is characterized by the use of analog gear. Melodic catchy tiny melodies are alternated to synth arpeggios and 4/4 beats with upfront bass lines are the core of the songs. Vocals sometimes are sampled and used as an instrument as the original tune was a remix but this isn't a bad thing as it enhance the creative process.
Artist: Agent Side Grinder (@)
Title: Hardware (sfwr Included!)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
I could begin the introduction of this amazing release by a nostalgic "once upon a time" as if it were the introduction of a fable, but I won't, even if this amazing Swedish band seems to have crafted a sort of tribute to the miliar stones of new wave and synth-pop by injecting doses of primordial EBM mutations. I could make a list of all stars of late 8ies and first 90ies which came to my mind while listening to this old-fashioned, but still working in an excellent way, computerized device such as Depeche Mode, DAF, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Clock DVA, Nitzer Ebb, Cabaret Voltaire, the first Front Line Assembly and so on, but if you missed this release, I'll let you discover all the wisely dissolved sonic minerals which spring from Agent Side Grinder's analogue devices and even from the way lead vocalist Kristoffer Grip modulates his voice, which nimbly moves within a wide range between Dave Gahan ("Look Within"), Jim Morrison ("Mag 7") and Gabi Delgado, on the condition that you don't goof by thinking about wrong or inappropriate stylistical kinships like the ones I've heard by people who listened this album, the "poppiest" one of their discography, who for instance linked the nice electronic march of "Sleeping Fury" to Capricorn, the chirpiest melody of "Rip Me" to LCD Soundsystem or Blur and so on. The difficult assignment of bringing Agent Side Grinder back to less archetypal styles has been committed to 15 remixers, which have been grouped on the second cd (that's the included software suite!) of this enhanced reissue, which set many suprising outcomes aside such as the sci-fi-scented broken waves by Swedish electro/krautrock band /MF/MB, the kraftwerkian synths of Emanuel Lundgren aka Red Idiot on "Wolf Hour", the track which features vocals by Henric de la Cour, the pruning electro/disco hooks by Jacques C and the amazing techno-dub by CCIS on "Life In Advance", the crisp punkish EBM by Container 90 and the syncopated pop-punk by Blackstrap on "Die To Live", the drilling techno incubation of "Voice Of Your Noise" by FOLD, the seducing beauty of the cover of "String Strikes" by Styx Tiger, the lulling and somewhat sepulchral cosmic radiance of "010-195" remix by Thomas Ekelund aka Th.Tot, the alienating ambient-drone tech version of "Mag 7" by Jasper TX and so on. All the remixers manage to elicit many different prompts from Agent Side Grinder's music, which already sounds like a retro-futuristic shrine.

Tommy De Chirico: Close Your Eyes

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Oct 15 2013
Artist: Tommy De Chirico
Title: Close Your Eyes
Format: 12"
Label: Mannequin
Rated: *****
Coming from Torino, Italy, singer of Politburo and nowadays of Lacriminal, Tommy De Chirico recorded only one single 7" in 1984 for a local label called Shirak. Recorded at TKS Studio (studio run by Monuments' Mauro Tavella), "Close Your Eyes" was a nice single of electronic wave which was gathering a dance attitude, upfront catchy funk bass lines, a certain mysterious atmosphere and character. It could be seen a bit like our personal "Let's Go To Bed"... On side B there was a slow synth ballad with guitar arpeggios and always upfront bass lines. Its title was "Flower Into The Factory". For years this single was kinda knew by us people living in Torino, until Alessandro Adriani discovered it and put it on the first volume of "Danza Meccanica" (the CD version had both the tracks) back in 2010. Now, three years later, always him, finally decided to give a proper release to that single by releasing an extended EP containing those tracks plus three bonuses. The first one is a demo version of side A (which is pretty much close to the final version). The second one is "Vuh-Ya", a mid tempo song that mix dreamy atmospheres with a certain dark romantic touch. The third one is "Tuxedo Dance", a funky synth instrumental which is a nice one but sounds more like a demo. Anyway, it's nice that that single got a proper release and you can check and purchase it here
Artist: Morgan Zarate
Title: Taker EP
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
Mostly known as the drummer of Spacek, Morgan Zarate delivers the third stylistical master stroke on Kode 9's label Hyperdub by fading the boundaries between genres like r'n'b, hip hop, trap, grime and dub by means of accentuated futuristic brushstrokes. The two less martial track have been sweetened by two superb female voices: the most "stardusted" track cannot be sung by impressive singer from West London and former Gorillaz collaborator Roses Gabor, who seems to dive and snorkel into the ocean of radiant padded synth and over-reverberated claps of "Pusher Taker", while the bittersweet words by another skilled singer, Tawiah, who seems to froths honey and poison at the mouth, perfectly adhere to cleaving claps, heated funky drops and rushing synths on "Far Too Late". Even if I cannot imagine the so-called katsu, the shout a Zen-master should utter to let Zen apprentices taste enlightenment experience could sound like the vocal sample that Kendrick Lamar recorded to ignite "Backseat Freestyle", "Katsu" is an impressive trap experiment built on very deep resounding bass tone, military snares and menacing delayed chords, while the final "Tayco" entrap eardrums by seemingly acoustic drums, dry hits on trunks, vitreous industrial sounds and other bumps, which soncially renders what you could imagine "future primitive grime" could sound like. The digital available bonus tracks "This" sounds like a quite hard-fought ping-pong match inside a tron-like dimension.

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