Music Reviews

Jul 17 2013
Artist: Niton Cage
Title: Cage
Format: 12"
Label: Seja Records (@)
Rated: *****
A new release for the stubborn Netherlands-based Seja Records, again strictly limited to 300 exemplars and pressed on golden old vinyl only. Yes, here is another must-have release which brings back the warm-sounding analogue touch in times of digital coldness. I had the German duo Traffic AM a while back with a remarkable debut for Seja Records and this Niton Decay-project somehow consists of the same musicians. Officially labelled as being Traffic AM's vocalist Stefan Gonzer's solo effort, his partner in crime, Michael Kissing, has produced this first 7-track album. By checking the first tracks on the A-side of this release I somehow thought on a musically darker sounding Alter Ego-project to Traffic AM, especially after the ominous, sample-driven introduction tune 'Strange And Silent'. Also 'Don't Mind' and 'Deny The Decay' aren't hymns to celebrate a kids' birthday on a sunny afternoon, but clever sounding Downtempo-like Dark Electronica tracks with a constant Wave influence inspired by the golden 80s. The b-side then brings generally in more pace and a bit more of their New Wave influence, it could be said, the 3 tracks are coming very near to the cleaner produced Traffic AM project. 'Cage' is another well produced effort by these German protagonists. The fact, that this release comes again out on good old vinyl just helps to integrate the analogue warmth so evident for this style of music and it sounds much more 'alive' and edgy than the usual plastic Pop chart music effort.

Null White: The Birth (Special Edition)

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
 Edit (7665)
Jul 15 2013
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Artist: Null White (@)
Title: The Birth (Special Edition)
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Aside from demos, this appears to be the initial release from U.K. (Stockton-on-Tees) industrial dance/synthpop outfit Null White. The main man behind the project is Lee Brown (softsynths, programming) and on 'The Birth' he mostly handles it all, except for vocals. This is a project that doesn't seem to have many vocals (except for dialogue samples), which is too bad because it really needs them. There are a couple of guest vocalists though on a few tracks ' Ruby Razer (formerly with a band called The Cage), and Scott 'Deathboy' Lamb who some of you may be familiar with. I don't think Deathboy has been up to much else lately and I think he only sings on one or two tracks ('Hellraiser,' cover of the Suicide Commando song, I'm pretty sure, and 'Mobius 3' + the Shadow System remix of the same, I think), credible job at that. Ruby sings on 3 tracks (4 if you count the 'Underground Revolution' remix) and in my opinion, she raises the bar on what would otherwise be another average dark-electro project. (Lee, you gotta get her to join the band; good for recording, good for live ' trust me on this.)

Most of what I'm hearing here straddles the fence between EMB and synthpop; nothing fancy, 4-on-the floor in the beat dept., fairly standard synth sounds, and simple melodies. Maybe too simple for the tracks without vocals. The thing is, today, anyone with decent computer softsynth, sequencing and recording programs, and a rudimentary skillset of beat and melody can crank this stuff out like nobody's business. It's all in the variation that makes it special. For most, the variation is in the vocal department, especially in an EBM/synthpop genre combo. There are other ways to do it purely instrumentally, but that gets complicated. Since Lee already has a very good singer in Ruby, why not make the best of a sure thing? The tracks she sings on 'Underground Revolution,' 'Purge,' and 'Burn' (cover of The Cure song by the same name) are the best on the album; very catchy and most memorable, especially on 'Underground Revolution'. Ruby's voice is well-suited to the material too; fits right in.

Besides the stompers (most of the tracks) there is one rather nice beatless, reflective instrumental track ' 'Endgame,' which displays the softer side of Null White. For a first outing, this isn't a bad CD, but it could have been better, and if Ruby teams up with Lee on a more permanent basis, I think Null White could be a band to watch, and of course, listen to.
Artist: Innode
Title: Gridshifter
Format: 12"
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Have you ever thought that grid could be one of the apterrepresentation of the point of intersection between human and non-human, organic and inorganic, natural and artificial? We drive on grids of asphalt, we grab energy from electricity grid, we delimit properties (one of the most artificial and intrusive human inventions...) by grids, we are nothing but points on grid lines to the peeking eyes of a satellite, we adore our favorite actors and actresses over grids of pixels, we listen our favorite musics throughout grids, we live into grids of steel and reinforced concrete and so on. We even eat grids if you think about Belgian waffles! Jokes aside, grids could be considered as the visual display of ordering human-like principle and its almost unavoidable imperfections as its intrinsic phallacy. The above-mentioned bugs could be the conceptual framework, the nous or maybe the cognitive compass of this project by Radian and Lokai co-founder Stefan Nemeth, which blends silence and noise, electronic and acoustic, human and not-human together with the support Bernard Breuer (Elektro Guzzi, Tumido), whose mechanical drumming overlaps the geometrical drum machines and the sudden crackles by Nemeth on the two parts of "Dedispersion" and Steven Hess (Locrian, Pan-American, Cleared), who extemporizes impressive drumming sets by hitting objects within clumps of granular sounds and raw waveforms on B side. There's not a really audible discrepancy between instruments and electronics over the ten tracks of this wisely titled "Gridshifter" even when the sources are clearly distinguishable so that this elemental amalgamation of rhythm and noise, where the knitting of electronic and human seems to slacken the illusory rigidity of the grids, sounds cohesive and somehow intriguing, paricularly on tracks where this sort of sonic deixis and noisy epistrophe is more accentuated such as the above mentioned "Dedispersion I" and "Dedispersion II" (all titles are somehow related to navigation systems), "FS Revisited", "Gridshifter 05", the burnt hypnotic circling saturations of "Cumbre Vieja", the oblique glossy sonorities of "Skatterakt" and "Peano". Nemeth himself describes the idea behind Innode in his description of the cover artwork: "These arrays, or biochips, are samples of DNA laid out as a series of microscopic spots bound to a small glass slide. Corresponding images look highly organized, but show a lot of tiny imperfections at the same time...this fact makes them especially interesting for me". That's a quite fascinating way to contextualize Innode's catchy sonic dynamics.

Huminoida: Mystic Summer

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jul 08 2013
Artist: Huminoida
Title: Mystic Summer
Format: 10"
Label: Out Of Range Records (@)
Rated: *****
After two years from the release of Huminoida's first album "Whiter Album", Kimmo Karjalainen is back with a new 10" EP titled "Mystic Summer". Available as a limited run of 200 10"/CDr set, the EP contains three new songs ("Waves", "She Said" and "The Boatman") plus a new version of the "Whiter Album" closing track "Time And Space" and a remix of the same re-worked by Flux Fin (you can find this one only on the CDr), project of Ville Brusi, guy who collaborated with Kimmo when he was in Neuroactive. The new version of "Time And Space" is pretty similar to the original one and the remix is sounding like a mix of synthpop and 90s e.b.m. (do you remember Apoptygma Berzerk?). It mixes dance attitude, melody and bouncing 4/4 rhythms, creating a nice contrast with Kimmo's deep vocals. "Waves" is the first unreleased song and it's a mid tempo electronic wave with in front vocals, drums and lead synths. "She Said", in my opinion, is the best track of the EP, thanks to it's early John Foxx atmospheres, its dark touch and the alternation of synth lines which underlines the catchy moments. "The Boatman" is a dark atmospheric tune with synth and piano and with its particular dissonant passages, seems a synthpop version of a John Carpenter's track. Eerie synthpop could be a nice new thing and Huminoida would be perfect for this! You can check all the tracks and purchase the set or the digital release at this page

Snog: Everything Is Under Control EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jul 03 2013
Artist: Snog (@)
Title: Everything Is Under Control EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
"Everything is under control/You're got your script and You've got your role" says this song by David Thrussell's Snog on this appetizer of their album "Babes In Consumerland", whose provocative videoclip has been spread on Internet since last March. The following refrain - "you love it, you love it, you love it" - refers to a part strictly belonging to that "everything", whose constituents go smeared on a guessed mother goose-like sort of electronic march, which could be a proper upgrade of American national anthem after the official stigmatization of aberrational meaning of freedom by USA authorities following the so-called Datagate and the vicissitude experienced by Snowden (if and only if my country would be safer, I'll give him hint for him: have a shot at corrupting political authorities as it's another part or maybe the core of that "everything" sung by Snog). On this appetizer, you will find four remixes as well: my favorite ones are "Spiderface Remix", whose highly-danceable rhythmical bustles got preceded by an ablution into spooky electric waters, and almost epic blaze of glory on "As Wednesday Remix", but "Sir Real Remix" by means of the emphasis on wry childplay undertones and and the more obscure stranglehold declension of "Digital Primate and Ehsan Gelsi Remix" work well. The final "deafening silence" and the tragical crescendo till the final (ante-slaughtering?) choral bleats on "The Lament Of Lost Sheep" objectifies the malicious appropriateness of Snog's message. Americans should consider the possibility to replace or upgrade the Statue of Liberty with a metal sculpture of the runaway model on the cover artwork as well!

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