Music Reviews

Psyche: The Influence

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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Jun 03 2012
Artist: Psyche
Title: The Influence
Format: CD
Label: FinalMuzik
Rated: *****
Born in 1982 in Canada, Psyche formed thanks to brothers Darrin and Stephen Huss . It took a while before preparing some tracks, going into the studio, but in 1985 they self released for their label Malignant Productions, the first album "Insomnia Theatre". The tracks of that album, recently released as three LP box by Vinyl On Demand, paid tribute to Suicide and to a style of minimal electronic which was also dealing with industrial music. Soon after, they got a deal with the French label New Rose, that reissued that album and released "Unveiling The Secret" the year after. Already with this one, Psyche introduced more melody and a sort of r'n'r attitude on tracks like "Screaming Machine" (tracks that is recalling me Alien Sex Fiend a bit) without losing its electronic industrial root. Anyway, something was going on... In 1988 New Rose released "Mystery Hotel", an album that was sounding more pop and which cointained four tracks that had a commercial success in Europe and Canada: "Eternal", "Insatiable", "The Outsider" and "Uncivilized". The year after Darrin teamed up with David Kristian and recorded "The Influence". Originally released by Animalized, label of the SPV group that had on their roster bands of the likes of A Split - Second or Front 242, the album was a sort of creative change for the band thanks to the use of samples performed with the Casio FZ1 keyboard. Containing tracks like "Misery" and "Haunted", which were in continuity with their past releases, on this album the title tracks and mainly the beautiful "Dark Pool", were offering a sound more atmospheric and more complex. They always used 4/4 hard beats, but on the background pads and rhythmic sounds created a tense atmosphere, almost horrorific (see also "Psyche Theme"). Mid tempo tracks with powerful sounds were also winking to pop atmospheres: "Salvation Stranger" or "Secret Angel" are good examples of this new attitude of the band. This new release contains also five bonus tracks: "Haunted (On Hill House Mix)", "The Sundial (Shifting Time)" (this is an acoustic version of the track with chilly sax inserts), "Misery (Acoustic Rhodes)" (another strip to the bone acoustic version a track with a folk wave atmosphere), "Salvation Stranger 2012" (this is a new re-recorded version of the original tune which now sounds like a mix of cyber electronica and dark wave) and "Goodbye Horses (Immortality Mix)" (a nice dreamy electronic pop tune). If you love the band, for sure, you won't miss this release.

Overmamba: Crawl Out

 Posted by S.A. Sebastian (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 30 2012
Artist: Overmamba (@)
Title: Crawl Out
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Without having seen a picture of the band or having a listing of the band lineup, yet, I imagine onstage Overmamba is a single person with a computer, a couple of keyboards and a drum machine. He doesn't look at or acknowledge the audience. He just dances to himself while pushing buttons.

Listening to 'Crawl Out,' it's hard to get a feel for who or what Overmamba is. The influences are apparent and every song sounds like a different song by each of those influences. There's no identity. Nothing that says, 'we are Overmamba.' It's like listening to a cover band that plays all the obscure tracks by different bands. 'Crawl Out' sounds like a demo of an electronic artist trying to discover who he is.

There's not much in the way of songs here. The songs can be categorized as either trying to be clever, long and rambling, or short and incomplete. The short songs end before you get a chance to hear the chorus; the long songs have nothing that catches your ear and are cluttered with vocal gymnastics akin to a Goth R&B singer; the rest... imagine a Goth jam band. If it weren't for the singer you would think that you were listening to a different band with each song.

Sonically, 'Crawl Out' sounds like the demo a band makes before recording the album. The synths harken back to the classic FM synths you would hear in 80s electronic pop, which are great, but Overmamba makes them feel campy and amateurish. The production eventually gets cluttered with cheesy synth horns, hokey organs, orchestra stabs and thin, cheesy guitars.

After checking out the website I learned that my impression couldn't further from reality. Overmamba is two guys with 'supporting musicians,' that describe their music as 'an incredible hybrid between electronica, pop, new wave, dark and eighties vibe.' This is all music I like.

If I'm being hard on these guys, it because I really wanted to like 'Crawl Out.' There's a little something in each song that grabs me. 'Crawl Out' is an album that was released too soon. With the help of a producer and a songwriting coach this could have been a really good album. It will be interesting to see how they progress. With some help, I could see Overmamba evolving into a band like Indochine.

Newclear Waves: Newclear Waves

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 28 2012
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Artist: Newclear Waves
Title: Newclear Waves
Format: 12"
Label: Desire Records
Rated: *****
Three years in the making and after producing a split tape and a split single with Opus Finis, two CDrs and different remixes, Newclear Waves, a.k.a. Alessandro Adriani, are ready to deliver their first vinyl album through Desire Records. Alessandro, is also knows as the man behind Mannequin Records, label that brought you two volumes of 80s delicatessen under the "Danza Meccanica" brand and different Italian 80s reissues (Degada Saf, Chromagain, Janitor Of Lunacy, Intelligence Dept. to name few) plus several electronic/wave releases of nowadays bands of the such of Led Er Est, Soviet Soviet, The Present Moment, Frank (just Frank), etc. Printed in 300 copies, black vinyl, printed inner-sleeve, four panels die-cut sleeve, the self titled LP contains ten tracks. Nine out of ten have already been issued on the previous releases (on the tape, the CDrs or the double vinyl compilation "Doppelhertz Vol. 2") but if you think that the tape and the second CDr have been printed in fifty copies and the first CDr in ten copies available at a live concert, we could think of them as brand new and in any case, they have been re-recorded. Anyway... Newclear waves base their sound on the warmth and richness of vintage synthesizer sounds creating a strong core of pusating bass lines and rhythms where stripped to the bones synth melodic lines are added. Also the vocals tend to be straight like a razor cut. No thrills or frills, just a bit melodic but sorta cold with a bit of filtering. It takes a while to find these atmospheres comfortable but step by step, beat by beat, you find the path to follow and then the light dissonances and the 4/4 rhythms start to lead you through nightmarish scenarios made of buzzing noises and crying filters. It's like being in front of a wall which is melting realizing that under the wallpaper there's the portrait of the old householder. If you love post punk, cold wave and minimal wave, you'll find all this like home... As last note; on two tracks we find two guests: Lou Chano of Der Noir, Ivs Primae Noctis and Tiresia Raptus on bass guitar on "The End Of The Cold War" and Oksana Xiu on vocals and synth on "Tishina". Cool one...
P.s.: You can preview all the tracks here

Cyberpunkers: EPIC - The Remixes

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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May 24 2012
Artist: Cyberpunkers
Title: EPIC - The Remixes
Format: 12"
Label: Freakz Me Out! (@)
Distributor: Groove Attack
Rated: *****
The issue of the second act of Cyberpunkers'EP trilogie Epic suits the astonishing success of their worldtour - feedbacks from their first European stages have been enthusiastic as Cyberpunkers themselves reported while describing crowd's reaction by using meaningful adjectives like wonderful, exalting and rich of funny episodes such as the loss of mask from one of them, which was instantly returned by fans - to the ground by an attendant selection of four remixes. All the hothead followers of this duo of Italian masked gladiators of the beat box, made up of djs and producers Massi Arena and Fabio Liuzzi, will be delighted likewise by proposed treatments as they mainly keep the energy of what these guys consider as the next evolutionary step of the so-called Moombahton (an hybrid of house music and reggaeton, whose paternity should belong to Washington DC-based Dave Nada) they called it Moombahpunk. I particularly enjoyed remix of "Dungeon" by Oli Cash aka Far Too Loud - an authentic uplifter with nice slapping beats, funky spots, housey chords, sudden accelerations and brakings as well as some rhythmical and sonic tricks taken from the glorious tradition of some Dutch tech-house acts - and the one of "Are You Ready" by Belzebass, focused on a bizarre intertwining of different steps - from dubstep to traditional breakbeat and phat electro -, but trance-oriented version of the same track by The Boomzers and the fire-starting remix of "Epic" by The S - a remarkable and straightforward electro anthem with the addiction of military snares and some melodic italo-house allures - are smashing anyway. While on the waiting line for the final chapter of the trilogie, enjoy this one, also available on live format (maybe it's the best format!) by intercepting them during their globetrottering on various stages. Cyberpunkers have already announced they will take part to a number of forthcoming summer festivals such as Beatpatrol, Arenal, Nature One, Creamfields and many others, sharing their stage with important names of the scene such as Steve Aoki, Crookers, Digitalism and so on. Check it out!

Noise Under Dreaming: In mIne

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
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May 08 2012
Artist: Noise Under Dreaming (@)
Title: In mIne
Format: CD
Label: Red Birds Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Some people say that many regressive processes could have been explained by a troublesome approach to difficult times (so troublesome that it could flow into its refusal), so that it's no coincidence that nowadays many fields of music and art in general are getting sprinkled with references to childish feelings, as the result of the communication between the artist and a sort of uncorrupted inner voice, subliminally forcing imagination and sensitivity to interposing in between any cognitive moments through intuition. This new album by Noise Under Dreaming, a project from Milan-based musicians Michele Ricciardi and Matteo Chiamenti looks like springing from this feeling or I'd rather call it a kind of prophylaxis, strictly filtered by memory's meshes, a kind of return to intimate innocence and a claim of a certain candour. It's therefore that some sonic choices such as some toy electronics which look like coming from cheap synths, the recording of some sessions with external microphones (so that it seems instruments are part of a field recording), plain melodies and basic rhythmic patterns make sense. In spite of the interesting conceptual premises, the first part of the record could induce some yawns: with the exception of the nice acapella dadaism of "Lullaby For Lovers" and the good vocal performace in "Noise Under My Wish", where the singer perfectly renders the idea of an ignored word to the wise, most of songs look like bad copies of music, which could be vaguely associated with theabove-mentioned kind of poetics such as Sigur Ros ("For Nothing") or even some teeny pop wails like Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You", whose melodic line seems to have been quoted in "Placebo". On the other hand, the second part of "In Mine" shows more appreciable stuff even if the band doesn't move away from the same skinny compositional approach since the three graceful and airy movements of "Sinfonia Per Menti Distratte" (meaning "symphony for careless minds"): there are some catchy tracks such as "In Deep", whose sonic clues with sounds from MSN's chat reminds it could refer to some intense "contemporary" love affair, "Better Story" - emphazised by the lovely insert of violin by Sara Primiterra - and the sluice gate of "Monochroma".

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