Music Reviews



Biomass: Energy

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 20 2011
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Artist: Biomass (@)
Title: Energy
Format: CD
Label: Biometrax (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Biomass is the project of Walter ovtha woodz who started biomass audio visualization experiments in Los Angeles, California 1990. This is supposed to be Ambient Industrial Trance, and I guess in a way, it is, although not at the same time, and probably not quite like you might expect. Biomass weaves a dense fabric of rhythmically driven sequencers with little deviation from the route being driven. 'Serpent Sphinx' is likely my favorite track with gothic organesque riffing layered over the unidirectional sequenced synth and rhythm. 'Serpentetraspeed' was just a wee bit too fast for me at around 1500 BPM (or so, approximately) where everything just becomes a blur. (NOTE OF CAUTION: If you use this album as driving music, do not, I repeat DO NOT try to keep pace with the pace of the music from the start via your gas pedal. You with either get a ticket, or you will die.) 'Phaselock' percolates percussively in the beginning but is soon replaced by a thick, churning mass of rhythmic synths, unrelenting in its drive to the stratosphere. When it gets there though, there is a bit of calm at the end. 'Aquapolar' had a bit too much white noise in it for my taste; very sizzing on the top end and not enough substance to appreciate the rhythm. 'Minechamber' take the music in a whole 'nother direction- dark ambient. Deep chambered subterranean wall of noise with no rhythmic content for awhile. You can palpably feel the descent into darkness. Eventually huge reverberated drums emerge beating out a demonic rhythm, albeit in a somewhat more measured pace than the high speed railway tempos of the previous tracks. It sounds reminiscent of Deutsch Nepal, Memorandum or latter-day In Slaughter Natives perhaps mixed with Lustmord but in an even a darker and deeper circle of Hell. (I think I've heard something similar to this before but I can't remember exactly where'¦) At 22 ½ minutes it's an interesting way to end an album but tends to divide the work into two distinctly different genres. Overall, 'Energy' has merit but tends to be more of an outing that shows what Biomass may be capable of rather presenting a unified picture of what Biomass really is.

Saltillo: Ganglion

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 16 2011
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Artist: Saltillo
Title: Ganglion
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Artoffact Records (@)
Rated: *****
Artoffact release this reissue of the 1995 album of the project led by Menton J. Matthews III and this mark a strange milestone in their catalogue. This album is a really strange blend of ethereal and hip-hop, capturing the listener with his personal direction.
"002 F#m" opens this release with a sort of piano sonata while "A Necessary End" seems a mash-up of the Balanescu Quartet and Dj Shadow. "Giving In" a sort of trip-hop vaguely reminiscent of Portished. "Remember Me" is a pop rock song above an hip hop rhythm. "A Simple Test" mix vocals with spoken word and is constructed above a solid hip hop break. "A Hair On The Head Of John The Baptist" is slow interlude releasing the tension accumulated in the first side of this album. "Blood and Milk" seems an outtake of a '90 trip hop dj album. With "The Opening" return the violin depicted in this album artwork and this is the element that give the original direction of Ganglion. "Backyard Pong" is a drill and bass exercise while "Grafting" reveals an oriental influence while "Praise" is an almost conventional hip-hop track. "I'm On the Wrong Side" is slow ballad originally ending the album. The bonus track "Denim" is an outtake mixing most of the elements already saw along this release.
This is an album revealing most of this musical influence while searching a personal direction, widely better than most of the releases of this genre. Even if it's not a masterpiece, is recommended for all the fans of Dj Shadow and Portished. Really nice.

Sylvgheist Maëlström : Lahar

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 07 2011
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Artist: Sylvgheist Maëlström (@)
Title: Lahar
Format: CD
Label: Connexion Bizarre (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Sylvgheist Maëlström is the recording project of Julien Sylvgheist from France, and 'Lahar' is the first album. His musical influences include Einstürzende Neubauten and Orphyx, and the theme of 'Lahar' is cataclysmic natural catastrophes, such as the eruption of the Mount Saint-Helen volcano in 1980 or hurricane Katrina. (There is even a picture of said volcano erupting in the album artwork.) From that description one might get the impression of something bombastic, but there was no register of any seismic activity of that magnitude from the music that I heard. What there is on 'Lahar' is industrialized tribal rhythms and synth electronics (much of them ambient) with lots, and lots, and lots of repetition. The rhythms are usually pushed up front leaving the ambient electronics in the background most of the time, like drones or pads and walls of controlled noise as well as other snakey effects. Even though there is a lot of repetition, the rhythms aren't without interest as they aren't your usual garden variety industrial. 'Mechanized Tribal' might be a good way to describe them. (If you had a marching band composed of Transformer-like robots, they'd be playing them.) Often the way certain beats are accented makes this an unusual form I don't hear a lot of people doing. This is experimental stuff often crossing the border into the noise genre, as well as being dark and ominous. I can tell an awful lot of work went into it. If you're looking for melodic elements though, you won't find them here. Every piece is somewhat different and some may strike you as being more engaging than others. The overall feel is a new 'Industrial Trance' concept, probably not one that will take over the dance floor, but will appeal to those who like rhythmically hypnotic industrial music. I think it's going to take a few listenings to really get into 'Lahar' as I wasn't bowled over by the first time I heard it. In fact, it took me three listening to appreciate what is being done here, and I found it quite innovative once I got into the groove and was able to appreciate the nuances of each piece. Kudos to Sylvgheist Maëlström for doing something really different. Although it may not be everyone's cup o' mud, this album deserves a listening (or three) by anyone with open ears for the experimental who aren't put off by lots and lots of rhythmic repetition.

eLan: Next 2 Last

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 30 2011
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Artist: eLan
Title: Next 2 Last
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Monkeytown Records
Rated: *****
Elan Stouffer is a guy living in San Diego who's also member of the WEDIDIT collective alongside Shlohmo, Groundislava, Juj & Jonwayne. Since the last year he had some EPs out on Fifty Weapons and Monkeytown Records. The latter is now releasing his first album which gathers different versions of his tracks already released on three Monkeytown Records EPs plus a second CD containing thirteen remixes made by Mindesign, HeRobust, Mike Gao, Byetone, Modeselektor, etc. On his tracks, Elan, is like redefining the style of his tracks looking for the right beat. Mixing samples, digital bleeps and minimal melodies, he created a sort of futuristic lounge music which passes from moments of tension (like on "Bleep Bloop Brrrrmmp" or "Dry Lemons", which is the one I prefer) to experimentations with house music. Often eLan music offer good moments where melody and rhythm look for each other without sounding pretentious or too experimental but his music isn't for an immediate fruition even if at first, because he focuses his tunes on few elements, it could seem so. Under the hood there's so much going on. Don't think only about the movement, there's a whole engine that has been tuned to achieve this result. It is also true that NEXT 2 LAST would need some track with a rhythm change, because almost all the tracks are mid tempos. About the mixes, to me the best ones are "Bleep Bloop Brrrrmmp (Lazer Sword Remix)" because it has a nice atmosphere that mixes techno tension and break beat influences plus "Saccharin On Top (Anstam Remix)" for the way it mixes dub and minimal techno intuitions.

TEICHMANN: They Made Us Do It

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 28 2011
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Artist: TEICHMANN
Title: They Made Us Do It
Format: CD
Label: Festplatten
Rated: *****
Active in the last twelve years the Teichmann brothers Andi and Hannes were exposed to music by their father, the Jazz saxophonist Ullrich Teichmann, right from the early days. This teached them to have a different approach to music and convinced them to start in 2001 a cooperation with the composer/zither player Leopold Hurt, under the name "Teichmann Hurt". They recorded a soundtrack for the silent movie 'The Holy Mountain' (Arnold Fanck/1926) and became part of the 'DJ Machaut' project. Together with a classical vocal ensemble they did reworks of motets by French composer Guillaume de Machaut. Recently they were assigned by Goethe Institute to represent German electronic scene in numerous countries ' a journey which has taken them in the last years from Algeria, through China, South Africa, Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to Afghanistan. In all these countries Teichmanns were not only giving live- and DJ-performances, but also held workshops and actively sought out local art and music contacts and built networks. In the years they released different 12"s for Kompakt and an album titled "The Number Of The Beat" for Disko B in 2007. They released also different solo 12"s on own label Festplatten which now is releasing their newest album THEY MADE US DO IT. It contains thirteen new tracks where the brothers mix dance/minimal techno influenced by Chicago house and electro wtih to German psychedelic krautrock, ambient and classical music. The reuslt is a fresh melting pot full of ideas and good vibrations. In this adventure they had collaborators who helped them with vocals or else. The list is quite long. We have: Foremost Poets aka Johnny Dangerous (Nu Groove, Soundmen on Wax, New Jersey), Tijana T. (Abe Duque Records, Belgrade), Fran Bareth (Friends Electric, Buenos Aires), Sasha Perera (Jahcoozi, Berlin), Benni King (The Happy End, Berlin), Uli Teichmann (Regensburg), Rubber Inc (Sweetspot, Manila), Alois Späth (Collegium Vocale, RIAS Chor, Berlin), Leopold Hurt (Teichmann Hurt, Hamburg), Mathis Mayr (Ensemble Mosaik, Piano Possible, Munich) and Chloe Richardson (Berlin). Be ready for the sax improvisations mix with analogue sounds of the ten minutes long "The Faketory", the clarinet/percussions/bouncing synths of "Atari Funk" or the techno ambient percussions of "Automarsch". Check it out!


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