Music Reviews



Velvet Condom: Stadtgeil

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Dec 02 2012
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Artist: Velvet Condom
Title: Stadtgeil
Format: CD
Label: Cymbeline
Distributor: Pale Music
Rated: *****
I already had the chance to listen to the second Velvet Condom's second album titled "Stadtgeil" as it has been already release by their personal label Cymbeline the last year on vinyl and digital format (which I bought). To tell the truth I didn't know them and Valentina Faith Guida, a dj from my city Torino, pointed them out to me when their "Menace" video was running on the screen of the place where we were drinking. I wrote down that name, because their mix of electro and cold wave intrigued me. The day after I checked their album and I realized that there was more to find out as the opening song "Funeral For My Love" is already different from the song I already knew as it's a bit more shoegaze sounding with cool dreamy atmospheres sustained by bouncing bass lines, noisy guitars and hard drum machine beats. Already by listening these two tracks, you can realize that the French/German duo is aware of how taking care of production: they are alternating bass guitar to deep synth bass lines while guitar riffs cross tiny melodic parts that will stick into your head. The album is balanced from electro wave hit singles like the aforementioned "Menace", the following "Rouge City", the dancey cold wave influenced "Samt Und Stein" or synth based sensual "Ice Disco" and noisy guitar shoegaze influenced tunes where Jesus And Mary Chain meets early My Bloody Valentine like on "Funeral For My Love" , "Separ-Hate", "Faint-Hearted", "A New Fall" (this one recalls me a by "Just Like Honey") and "Scars Shine". This new edition released by Cymbeline and distributed by Pale Music has as bonus track "Little Death", a song that has a bass line which recalls me Suicide, the guitar is building a reverberated distant wall of noise which on some parts sound almost rockabilly while the vocals are cold and and quite tense. For me this album is a must have. Check it!
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Artist: Synoiz (@)
Title: Darkling
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Named after the most rhythmical track of his debut album "Ambients", who grabbed the attention of many listeners and reviewers dealing with darkest declensions of ambient, electro-pop and synth-pop, "Darkling" is a voluptuous collection of remixes by various (mostly unknown) musicians Sunderland-based sound artist Graeme Donaldson met. Remix albums are not my favorite ones as sometimes the original version usually biases the final result of remixer's manipulations, but there are many exception when this circumstance doesn't occur: "Darkling" can be considered an exception as well due to the impressive variety of styles which have been injected by remixers, who mostly doesn't skew the atmosphere of the original track. The fact it offers the possibility to knew some obscure producers and sound artists is another relevant feature of this release and I've to say there are many interesting interpretations. As it's a digital release which gives the possibility to the listeners to buy single track, if I had to pick a limited number of them to suggest, any choice would be somewhat inequitable. The decision of including the album version gives the possibility to appreciate better what I highlighted before: the remixes which are closer to the original version are maybe the ones which sounds more focused on the dark and ethereal vein, which pulsates in the original version. I particularly enjoyed "Doug Lynner's Los Gatos Mix" and "Ravenslament Wake Up #13 Mix" - both of them reminded to me that kind of dark ambient-dub (one of the first names which come to my mind is G.O.L.) for the tastes of Dead Can Dance, which had some rushes in the middle 90ies -, the abstract suppurations of "SKatterBrain Remix" - it could evoke some stuff by Sabres Of Paradise - and the amazing electronic procession of "Pinklogik Remix", but all those versions who squeezed the track to highlight the rhythmical aspect are equally interesting, particularly "Synoizian Dance Edit" - a well balanced mixture of electro and acid techno -, "Endo Meso Pick N Mix" - an atmospheric coalescence of charming trip-hop and obscure downbeat -. Some surprises come from remxies of other songs as well: "Arrow Down Hill Defiance Remix" of "Ever Emptiness" could let you imagine an unexpected appearance by Radiohead or Stateless in some hidden episode of Resident Evil or 3D Realms/Monolith Production' "Blood", whose horror settings could be evoked in a more concrete way by the scary atmospheres on "Ark Elfs Brain Haemorrhage mix" of "The Enfield Poltergeist" or the tormented Beefcake-like breakbeat on "Scriptkiddy's Wrong St Ives Mix" of "The Esoteric Order Of Dagon", while gamelan-driven "Lunar Re:Mix" of "From You" by Anguajy could let you imagine some Balinese lunar modul! You can find a certain relief in the amazing reinterpretation of "Of Rolling Hills" by Madeleine Bloom, whom critics are calling Germany's answer to Imogen Heap..its listening could immerse listener into an imaginary nursery room for Casper and other sweetie baby ghosts!

Bee Mask: When We Were Eating Unripe Pears

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 27 2012
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Artist: Bee Mask (@)
Title: When We Were Eating Unripe Pears
Format: 12"
Label: Spectrum Spools/Mego (@)
Rated: *****
It's quite immediate to notice a sort of idyllic tension as well as a certain taste for computational melodic chains while listening this collection of tracks, nicely titled "When We Were Eating Unripe Pears", by Bee Mask (nice artistic identity by skilled electronic composer Chris Madak) for Spectrum Spools series, recorded between Cleveland and Philadelphia over a time span of five years and mastered by Rashad Becker at Dubplates and Mastering. The constant appetite of food for imagination of many electronic music's listeners gets whetted enough: you could imagine the seed for the luxuriant sonic garden by Mr Madak lies crystallized within ice crystals and stalactites evoked by the initial track "Frozen Falls" before its eventful journey over waterways and subterranean cave while its defrosting continues on the second track "Moon Shadow Move", whose bubbling themes placidly flows into the flickering pads and the airy coils of the following "The Story of Keys and Locks", whose entrancing levitations till the final metallic jingles ideally closes this first imaginative splash and the first side of this release, whose first 300 copies come on translucent green vinyl. The B side, which has been considered by Bee Mask as the proper sequel to his previous "Canzoni del Laboratorio del Silenzio Cosmico", opens with an equally psychoactive track, "Pink Drinq": after a sort of tuning phase, the track blasts off with an impressive crescendo which sounds like flooding in beyond tympanic membranes, so that it seems they clears the ground for the amazing pinball of sound objects, which appears in the sonic space over a sort of regular heartbeat on "Fried Niteshades", and the upward motions and synth breezes on "Unripe Pears" and, to cap it all, on the daydreaming final track "Rain In Coffee".

VV.AA.: Electrofunk Resistance

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Nov 27 2012
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Electrofunk Resistance
Format: CD
Label: Dominance Electricity
Rated: *****
After some months of silence Dominance Electricity, Germany's home of electro funk, is back with a new album compilation featuring twelve new tracks which will satisfy your wish of rhythm, vocoders and cool synth sounds. "Electrofunk Resistance" is the title of what will turn into your preferred compilation of this period. The album which is available into cd, digital and black or transparent blue double vinyl, has on the cover a nice sexy robot painted by a famous Japanese illustrator called Hajime Sorayama (drawing which is available on the blue vinyl set as deluxe poster) . The album starts with Principles Of Geometry's "Americhael", a track that starts with a 70s dance touch, just to turn into an electro dancefloor killer with stops and go. The track has also a bit of the modern electro French sound we already know very well. Datasette, from UK is next with a pleasant surprise: a cover of one of the dance floor hits of the early 80s... New Order's "Blue Monday". The UK combo did a great work with the track by mixing original synth parts with new upbeat beats, catchy vocoder vocals and a new electro bass line. Casio Social Club vs Xs Night are here with a track which isn't available on the digital format. "More Love" has all the characteristics of Justin's sound we already know, thanks to the releases he did for his own Mullet Records: 80s electro with boucy bass lines, smooth catchy vocals, nice synth pads and leads. Sygaire, member of Jazzanova, is here helped by Defcon and Capitol A for "The Latest", a song that recalled me Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's tracks. The Artificial Arm is here with a new track titled "Get Down (To The Sound) ". This is a nice electro tune based on few melodic parts which are well alternated by using different synth sounds with the add of sensual female vocals. Fendaheads are next with "Oxygen", a tune with funky guitar chords, bouncy bass lines and catchy vocals. Dynamik Bass System, with "Evolution", dispatch loads of 808 beats, vocoder vocals, hypnotic arpeggios and synth stabs as usual, delivering a cool song. Roko Dragonbreath from Netherland is next with a stunning track titled "Planet Europia". This song is a blast! It has all the cool electro elements: catchy melodies, robotic vocals, blasting drum beats and a chorus that will stick into your head! From Australia we have DJ Sing feat. Andre Kaman with "Let's Do It". The track is a nice electro tune with funk vocals, synth solos and cool melodies. It sounds pop and energetic. The last time I reviewed Diamondback Kid, was for their release on Binalog Productions. After that, they released two EPs on their own label. "Lost Souls" is a good mix of robotic syncopated sounds, mid 808 beats and cool melodic vocal inserts. A track that you'll want to listen to again soon after it's finished. From New Zealand we have Reggie Blount with "Shining Star". This song has a sensual touch thanks to whispered female vocals and to its nightly atmosphere. The down-sampled filtered/clean male vocals and the female one give a great . From the U.S. Biepang with "Neon Parallels" is in with a great tune which mix jazzy atmospheres and robotic craziness. Try to think about Dopplereffekt on drug while listening to Miles Davies. This was the closing track and Dominance Electricity did it again! They produced a great compilation full of cool sounds and songs. Support them!

Rumpistol/Red Baron: Floating

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Nov 25 2012
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Artist: Rumpistol/Red Baron (@)
Title: Floating
Format: CD
Label: Project Mooncircle (@)
Rated: *****
'Floating' is the collaborative project of Danish electronic artist Jens B. Christiansen (Rumpistol) and LA based vocalist Red Baron. It would be easy to characterize this as post-dubstep meets white soul, but it's really much more than that. In fact, 'Floating' is something completely different. Rumpistol's brand of electronica has always had a certain playfulness and sentimentality to it, and here it melds very well with Red Baron's soulful vocal style, but in much grander fashion. If anything, the music is more elaborate and filled with more sonic delight than ever before, definite ear candy. Gorgeous and unexpected arpeggios, inventive and complex rhythms and more sounds than you could ever catalogue flowing through the speakers take electronica to new heights. On the level of melding commercial pop with experimental electronica, it is a groundbreaking achievement. How much you like it though is going to depend on how much you care for Red Baron's vocals. At times he sounds Lennon-Bowie-esque, but sometimes with processing on the vox it sounds a bit boy-bandish. There is no doubt though that the melodies are compelling, although I prefer the voice untreated. At times it sounds like an acid-drenched tour-de-force up and down the pop radio dial, and nothing is ever exactly a straight-up song. 'Floating' is an intriguing piece of work, with a dreamlike quality unlike anything I've heard of late. Although there were some pieces I liked more than others, I found myself returning to re-listen to this CD more than others that were up for review in this batch. The production is stellar, and Rumpistol pulls out all the stops in its execution. 'Floating' obviously must grow on one over time, and I guarantee you haven't heard anything quite like this before, although elements will seem familiar. Maybe this is the future of pop music, but for now, it is still a theoretical work in progress, although perhaps light years ahead of its time.


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