Music Reviews

Heterotic: Love & Devotion

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 25 2013
Artist: Heterotic
Title: Love & Devotion
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Mike Paradinas smoothes the roughest edges of his sound off on the occasion of this lovely collaborative project with his partner-in-life and partner-in-art Lara Rix-Martin and he seems to power this belt sander on since the preamble of this debut release under the guise of Heterotic, "Bliss", which starts on pretty heavenly organs and go on by sliding on sonic elements, which resembles past techno-ambient acts such as Jeczalik's Art of Silence, Oliver Lieb's Paragliders or Humate as well as some garage-house stuff, which unambigously spurts on the following "Blue Lights" together with grated 80ies electronic pop and flickering neon tubes, which highlights the shutter curtain of doped melancholy, evoked by great vocal interpretation by talented folk singer Gravenhurst aka Nick Talbot from Warp's stable, who superbly renders a feeling of intimate distance across feeble gummy heartbeat-like bumps, sizzling beams and slow smackers of claps on "Wartime". The sci-fi symphony on "Robo Corp" fluctuates between mementoes from Blade Runner or Philip K.Dick's novels and echoes of Depeche Mode before the freezing chorus of baby drudges and precedes a couple of proper highlights of the entire album, "Devotion", where Gravenhurst enhances the ventricular fibrillation inspired by flowing sounds, electronic gamelan, heavenly choirs and lukewarm basslines, which could resemble some stuff by Royksopp, and the emotionally intense "Knell", where a bright piano gently overlies on knells of a clock and an artifical respirator, which seem to siphon lukeworm blood into a dying body. Sticky bleeping gavels beats the rhythm of a sort of slow ghostly waltzer on the dozily charming "Slumber", where Gravenhurst's singing vaguely resembles Tor Lundvall's one. The limping "Fanfare" and its dark and gloomy whispering ends this litmus test of tastefulness and style by this great "hermaphrodite" project, which I cannot but recommend.
Artist: Haq (@)
Title: Nocturnals
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Bearsuit Records (@)
Rated: *****
On this gorgeous debut of the collaborative album Haq between Tokyo-based dynamic duo N-qia by adorable singer Nozomi and programmer Takma and Edinburgh-based multifarious musician Harold Nono (guitars, keyboard and programming), who previously signed an interesting collaborative project Taub with renowned Berlin sound-artist Me Raabenstein (Nonine), it seems the involved artist play an infinite air-jockey match with a remarkably wide set of samples. Each sample could be imagined as a puck that changes of pace, tone and color every time it gets shooted by mallets of opposite players against the sides of the table: percussive skips and popping slide on electrically excited pad-puffed sonic surfaces together with electro-folk, J-pop, glitch, ambient and dubstep sonorities, while Nozomi's graceful bel canto, which sometimes resembles infant wailing and utterly sleepy daydreaming murmurs, creep into the sonic tangle Takama and Harold Nono make during continuous passes of percussions and sounds, whose heterogeneity is so evident that it's not easy to make full-scale comparisons with similar artists. I can grossly envisage their heavily layered music by a succulent meat pie of well-selected cattle from the most exquisite electronic music and IDM pasturage, sometimes mottled by exotic spices and amazing fancies: I could mention Nobukazu Takemura (particularly for tracks such as the digitally jagged childish refrain of "That's Just Like The Same" or the naive trepidation of "Learning How To Fall", even if its audio montage could resemble many other musicians), Cibo Matto, Venetian Snares, Mike Paradinas, Squarepusher, Apparat (echoing together with some stuff by Four Tet on a couple of my favorite tracks, "Are You The Elephant Factory?" and "Jikan Ga Nai"), Jaga Jazzist (listener can enjoy a jazzy declension of their sound in some of their most refined tracks such as "Lifted", "Retrospect" or "Sleeper", maybe their master stroke amidst these "nocturnals"), Sketch Show and other freaks by Haruomi Hosono, Arovane or Yasume, but the way they stir broken melodies, sampledelia, electronic doodads, toytronics and splashing rhythmical patterns, is somehow original and highly enjoable. Have a listen!

John Foxx and The Maths: Evidence

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 10 2013
Artist: John Foxx and The Maths
Title: Evidence
Format: CD
Label: Metamatic (@)
Rated: *****
This third album of the lavish collaboration between former Ultravox! front-man musician Dennis Leigh aka John Foxx and East London-based sorcerer of synthesizers Ben "Benge" Edwards aka The Maths, a winning twosome of electronic music pioneers, is, unbelievable but true, even better than their previous releases, "Interplay" and "The Shape Of Things", and maybe the best act with the reassuring signature of John Foxx after Ultravox!'s gilded age. The solid bond between John's songwriting, which sometimes seems to come from parallel dimensions, and Benge's sonic wizardry, which adapts modern structures to sonic antiquary, generates out-of-time euphonic freaks and such a complementarity is clear both on more rhythm-focused tracks, particularly on the first half of the record, and on more weird stuff, so that listeners could be under the impression to handle with mysterious perfectly polygonal objects with an inner secret gnostic code, clockworks and equations about universal principles, whose origin and function are unknown, while digging into their sound. They don't stood still while veering towards more dubby and atmospheric declensions, which could vaguely resemble the elliptically mesmerizing dub diversion on "Heligoland" by Massive Attack, Japan's most interesting period just before its disbandment (accordings to some biographers for the "dictatorial" behaviour by David Sylvian) and electronic pop. Besides the "kraftwerkian" cover of Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar" and the reciprocal remixes with Gazelle Twin - their tip-top remix of "Changelings" and Gazelle Twin's remix of "A Falling Star" where you could imagine Foxx surrounded by enchanting singing mermaids are undoubtedly the most striking moments of the whole album -, there are many great moments: the chewing clappy pad-synths over a sort of electronic oral rinse on the icy ego-trip of "My Town", the dreamlike stroll by Foxx on electronic promenades of "Walk", the refined electronic-pop papules of "That Sudden Switch" with the support of NY-based duo of Xeno and Oaklander, the conversation of a sleeper (performed by Matthew Dear from Ghostly International) in his own dreams on the heady nightmarish obliqueness of "Talk (Beneath Your Dream)" and its rehash on Moog by Tara Busch, the narcotic dub drops of "Neon Vertigo", the entrancing existential nag of the title track, featuring Luis Vasquez from The Soft Moon and the proper evidence of this album, coming together scattered evidences of evergreen style, the sweetened nostalgia "Only Lovers Left Alive", whose melody was found on an old-discarded reel-to-reel and becomes more enjoyable after the prepaparation of the emotional field by the electronic harp of the preceding track "Myriads".

Mathématiques Modernes: Les Visiteurs Du Soir

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Apr 10 2013
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Artist: Mathématiques Modernes
Title: Les Visiteurs Du Soir
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records
Rated: *****
Originally released in 1981 by the Dorian / Discque Vogue label and distributed by Celluloid, "Les Visiteurs Du Soir" has been the only Mathematiques Modernes album. Formed by Claude Arto (on keyboards, he also worked with French bands Artefact and Spions) and Edwige Braun-Belmore (vocals and lyrics), the duo produced an album which is a very unique one. I don't know if you're keen of 60s music but it was usual for the bands of that period to record an album and to have strings and blows sections added. That sort of things happened, for example, to The Pretty Things on their "Sorrows" album and to The Shadows Of Knight, the year after, on 1968, for their self titled album. The first time I checked 'Les Visiteurs Du Soir', I thought: what's happening here? Do they did add strings and horns on purpose? Did they do that on a synthpop/new wave album because they wanted to? Reading the liner notes of the release I didn't find an answer but after a while I realized that this musical arrangement is still particular but it fits and enriches the songs. Take, for example, "Reponds Moi" which sounds like a cabaret song, or the minimal synth cold sounds of the following "Athletical Mystery" that are underlined by strings dissonant melodies and syncopated drum patterns. Since from the opening "Paris Tokyo", the album stands out and convince the listener that is able to go ahead the initial effect that the orchestral parts give. For this reissue, Medical Records, had the tape masters restored and remastered by Gilbert Castro of Celluloid Records himself. The reissue is identical to the original release and it's printed in 180gram grey opaque high-quality vinyl in a limited edition of 1000 hand-numbered copies. The insert included contains an interview to Claude Arto by Dave Segal plus other interesting tidbits. Check a couple of tracks and order your copy here
Artist: Takamovsky (@)
Title: In Streams
Format: CD
Label: Etymtone (@)
Rated: *****
A whirligig of electronic sizzling sounds, fogged by the swish of electric current, placental warm bass rolls and a rising mellifluous pad, boots the first module of "The Central Speechscrambler" up, which introduces this excellent debut release by musician and author Juergen Berlakovich aka Takamovsky, who spotlights abyssal inhabitants and oddballs which often surface from the depths of data streams with their burden of concerns, vain ambitions, emotional baggages and outbursts, so that the three parts of the above-mentioned suite, influenced by William Burroughs's essay The Electronic Revolution (a notorious source for inspiration for many musicians, particularly of the industrial scene), where a robotic, but somehow pitched voice, articulates desultory speeches in order to represent the intimate senselessness and intentionally messy illogicality of everyday media news and the implementation of the cut-up technique to confusing news broadcasts and political speeches with the subtle intent of control over individuals. The charming sonic involucre of the speech from this imaginary anchorman emphasizes the circumstance that even absurdities could sound plausible when the form without content is attractive and even if you try to read between the lines, someone could get a glimpse of some revealed truth or partially censored truths behind encrypted sentences. For instance, the second part of "The Central Speechscrambler" says "The secret agency denial malitious potential messages. A modern matter. Srettsgatie taekn commicnu itaons. Cyberattacks. A dmeorn tamer. Tehl batet msvoe itno acrpybsece. Brcaytteas. The battle moves into cyberspace.". Over these streams, Juergen buoys contemporary manias, bizarre paranoias and last vacillating stronghold of individualism and cultural uniformity of social networks ("Paranoid King"), barking and rebarking dogs in the amazing song "Dogstar", inspired by Franz Kafka's "Investigations of a Dog" - I recommend to read it in order to check the particular role of music, the meaning of the "mysterious" appearance of seven dogs and the proper references in lyrics -, godforsaken djs, lovers belonging to digital age in the act of translation their computerized wet dreams into contemporary language (the queit guitar-driven song "Data d'Amour" seems to parody the technologically affected languages by echoing an essay on this matter by Timothy Leary: "Text my head and scan my face/Hack my thoughts, compile my grace/Zip them then and save them safe/Scroll my ears, debug my nose/Emulate my shoes and clothes/With little magic stick/[...] Shift my hips and microchips/Surf my butt and read my lips/Syntax error no undo") and all underwater saboteurs ("Dead Air") within a majestic blow-up whose implicitly malicious mockery amalgamates them like the fantasy of Hyeronimus Bosch could arguably do. Takamovsky's musical collage sounds equally kaleidoscopic and you'll easily perceive elements and reminiscences of jazz, dance music, electro-pop, abstract electronics, blues, field recordings, Radiohead, Tom Waits, Fennesz, Frank Zappa, Nikakoi, Royksopp which all got blended by Juergen's quick and dry wit.

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