Music Reviews

Mr.Vast: Grievous Bodily Charm

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 10 2013
Artist: Mr.Vast (@)
Title: Grievous Bodily Charm
Format: 12"
Label: Spezialmaterial (@)
Rated: *****
The apparent absence of complementarities between the jumble of shuffled styles of this funnily boozy record cannot really be considered a shortcoming or a bulge of kitsch pop mannerism, an inappropriate association that the hubris of some silly reviewers (there're still a lot of this kind of dummy sample around) could foster as the inebriated sarcasm, half-serious self-irony and the amused and somewhat poisoned persiflage by Mr.Vast, alter ego of Henry Sargeant, frontman of electronic band Wevie Stonder (!), cannot be but protean and nimble like a quick-change artist dealing with a time bomb. Funk, soul, country, dubstep, house, junk, hip-hop as well as a lopsided romanthicism, outburst of shoegazing rage, pastoral lyricism, theatrical makeups, likeable straightforwardness, healthy nonsense, quotidian surrealism and motley coxcombs don't dry out on Mr.Vast's palette, so that he alternatively clucks with funk and toy sounds ("In Terms of Ease and Speed"), laser surgery and hip-hop chops ("Buttercyde"), scorched spicy slapped rock ("The Rug"), occasional everyday (but not ordinary) life idylls (the funny "Bliss" about domestic bliss!), wired "exotic" atonement ("Atlantis"), stylistical adaptations which could make you chortle ("Teflon Country" or the amazing opener of B-side "Process of Illumination", which unhinges a sort of gospel by means of house and tropical cliches in order to describe the ascension of a discotheque-addicted and a possible religious ravishing on the following erotically ironic "First Class"), licentious mock-heroic vignettes such as on the sidesplitting electro-pumping "Family values" or the hilarious lanky metal "Henry the 8th" (an eloquent parody of an historical character and certain stylistical machismo!), unexpected suave summery chilling soul on flip-flops ("Elemental"), imaginary street parades of cows and romedaries ("Ecstatic Caravan"). The digital version includes a couple of remixes (an harsher one of "Buttercyde" and a funny Spanish farce, more than a remix, of "Ecstatic Caravan"), the electronic raspberry trash-disco of "Sticky" and the grief-stricken (in a manner of speaking) final "Where I'm From"! Keep you feet up in the air!

Grupo Q: Back Up

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Mar 06 2013
Artist: Grupo Q
Title: Back Up
Format: 12"
Label: Atemporal Records
Rated: *****
The story of Grupo Q (the original name was Q but the record label added Grupo as a sign of distinction), is deeply linked to the story of Fernando Carmona. It started in 1974 when he, his brother Jesus, Carlos Nieto and Juan Falero, formed Khorus, a progressive rock band which lasted three years and recorded only a demo that have been reissued in 2011 by the label Arabiand Rock. In 1979, Fernando and Jesus decided to leave and to form a duo called Bola. They where the first band in Spain to use "new technologies" as analog sequencers and drum machines along with keyboards, guitars and vocals. They lasted for three years and did their first gig at the Teatro Lope de Vega in Seville on September the 24th of the same year and then Jerez and several provinces of Andalusia and Madrid followed. The duo disbanded the year after and Fernando with Alberto Guerra, Mario Canovas and Francisco Canovas formed Grupo Q. Active during the 1982-1986 period, Grupo Q recorded a 7" for Ariola ("La Nueva Generacion" b/w "Cuenta Atras") as a band and when Ariola tried to force them to have a female singer for their first LP they disbanded. A couple of years later Panoleta Records released four tracks recorded by Fernando alone (the tracks on this one were "Cine De Miedo", "Nada Nos Parara", "Dejame Ahora Dormir" and "Muneca Cibernetica"). Grupo Q sound was based on analog gear such as Roland Jupiter 4, Yamaha CS-20M, Korg X-911, Roland SH-2, Roland TR-808, Roland CSQ-600, Solina String Ensemble, Ibanez Digital Delay AD-190 and maybe for this reason, sometimes you can hear echoes of O.M.D. on some tracks. Thanks to Atemporal Records we are able to check the band's sound with twelve unreleased demo tracks. On these ones we can enjoy the peculiar techno pop style of the band where nice analogue bleeps and sounds paint joyful fresh atmospheres. For the people who's not keen about early 80s, these sounds could seem thin and kinda fragile but I assure you that the songs are melodically strong and catchy. Sometimes we also have ska uptempo rhythms, like on "Contra La Bisa" or on the particular mix of dark experimental electronic atmospheres and clean guitar of "Conexion Con XT-72". Also, check the only English sung song "Houses Of Glass" and you'll experience a time travel at the time when the radio was airing O.M.D.'s "Electricity", Depeche Mode's "New Life", Thomas Leer's "Contradictions" and Robert Rental's "Double Heart". Too bad we weren't aware of Grupo Q back then!
Artist: Raglani
Title: Real Colors of the Physical World
Format: 12" vinyl + 7"vinyl
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
The initial grumbling in "Tongue", the beginning of "Fog Of Interruption", the first of four parts of the 20 minutes lasting suite on A side of this amazing release by Saint Louis-based Joe Raglani, could let you think about the awakening of some monstrous sea crature who slept for centuries in the abyss and the crooked strokes on strings, which sound like twisting together before the entrancing electronic arpeggios of the second part, "Men for Wire", begins to creep into the endoplasmic reticulum of laser beams, the hypnotical computational gurgle of the thid part, "Brutality of the Eye", and the ancestral haziness of church bells, corroded corrugation of sparkling noises and other boiled sonic stimulations of the final part, "March", randomly flutters electrons in the sonic sphere could recall its slow resurfacing, but the abstract feast of old and new recipes in the following track, "The Terrain of Antiquity", which have a similar four parts subdivision ('Ferry Across Marginalia', 'Hollis Albion', 'Mild Power Descending', 'Fireflies of Arcadia') and whose beginning resounds somewhat animalistic and equally thicking for your head, will let you surmise Raglani plunged you into some psychedelic ultraword portayed by The Orb or Future Sound Of London, inhabited by bizarre beings and unexpected entities, which can be recognized in this impressive and somewhat confusing pot of sonic carousel in its catchy alternation of exstatic and hallucinogenic moments, which reaches the boundaries of liturgical atmosphere and 8-bit sonic abandonware. On the enclosed 7", Raglani seems to having squeezed parts of the two longest suites on the 12" in order to concentrate them in two gorgeous shorter tracks, "The Exploded View", which moves towards cybernetic-like reverie, and "Trampoline Dream", whose arpeggioes rended some stages of a platform videogame. Really succulent stuff for abstract synth electronic music.

Aidan Casserly Vs. Hyperbubble: Fist in the Mirror

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Feb 18 2013
Artist: Aidan Casserly Vs. Hyperbubble
Title: Fist in the Mirror
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Fellowshipwreck
Rated: *****
Chain D.L.K. readers already know Aidan Casserly as he's the Empire State Human's frontman plus he's been active with different other projects (Figaro, The Garland Cult and The Wazp to name a few). This time I'm talking about him because of his recent collaboration with the American synth duo Hyperbubble. Active since mid 00's, they have four albums on their back plus a new EP in collaboration with Manda Rin. Aidan and Hyperbubble have already collaborated on the duo's album "Drastic Cinematic" in 2011 as Aidan recorded some back vocals for them. Back then, they talked to produce something together and thanks to the Fellowshipwreck net label now we're able to check their single "First In The Mirror". Available as a free digital download, the single has the main track plus a remix as virtual B-side. The song sounds fresh and modern but it also has its atmosphere deeply rooted into 80s/90s synthpop. The remix, without Aidan's melodic touch, reminded me a bit Paul Hardcastle's "19". Nice single that you can have for FREE at label's website!

Lisfrank: Mask Rewind

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jan 22 2013
Artist: Lisfrank (@)
Title: Mask Rewind
Format: CD
Label: Anna Logue Records
Rated: *****
We talked about Lisfrank different times on CHAIN D.L.K. about three years ago when Anna Logue Records did a compilation of released and unreleased tracks by Fulvio Guidarelli's musical outfit. Fabrizio Della Porta reviewed the 12" 7" compilation which now is out of print (you can find the review here and I interviewed Fulvio about his music and about those years (you can find it here Few months ago, Anna Logue Records decided it was time to make "Mask Rewind" available again and printed an expanded CD version of that compilation. On this new release you can find all the classics and demos included into the vinyl version ("Man without limits", "It's life", "Violence in my mind" or "My Toy" just to name a few) plus four extra tracks previously unreleased: "S.W.M. (Obscure Version)", "Night Calling (First Mix Version)" and"Ombre". Unfortunately there are still missing two songs from the EP "Man Mask": "Night Calling" (even if here there's a demo version) and "I Still Believe In Love". About the new tracks, "Ombre" was included into the tape compilation "Area Condizionata" issued in 1983 and it's an experimental track made of synth hisses, filtered vocals and echoes; "Dead Girl" is a cold wave track based on basic filtered synth monophonic sounds, in front vocals and drums added on the final part; "S.W.M. (Obscure Version)" is a very minimal track where the experimental side of Lisfrank is shown as only vocals, synth windy noises and 4/4 drum machine tempos have been used. If you missed the first issue of this compilation or if own the vinyl and you'd like to get also the extra track, be sure to check this limited CD print of "Mask Rewind".

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