Music Reviews



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!
Oct 11 2011
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Artist: Saltillo (@)
Title: Ganglion (re-issue)
Format: CD
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
Rewording the title of the initial song of this nice act by Menton J.Matthews III's creature Saltillo "A Necessary End", the publishing decision by ArtOfFact's headquarters on Ganglion, which was issued in 2006, could be defined as a necessary re-issue. When it was issued some trip-hop and broken beats' amorous liking was already almost extinguished in the music market, which was waved by gothic velleities on whose regard many more or less known bands and producers were experiencing some flirting with lyrical and melodic nuances. The musical hybridization by this versatile musician, who recently launched a series of comics called Monocyte throughout IDW Publishing (it could be useful to have an idea of his imagination) under the moniker menton3, based on an intriguing braiding of dark-tinged melodies, intravascular trip-hop, intrauterinee downbeat, a balanced dosage of electronics and instruments (particularly his violin, but there're many sketches of cello and piano as well) and a compositional structure which could be associated both for its cinematic hooks and its general atmosphere to a possible soundtrack, could be placed inside an imaginary garrison on the borders between the above-mentioned souls of music.

There're many moments which couldn't be buried into oblivion: A Hair on the Head of John the Baptist, a pretty musicalization of the notorious first scene of the third act of Shakespeare's Hamlet; the most dnb-oriented track, A Simple Test, where Matthew plays a funny mix of programmed broken beats with a distorted lead guitar on the final step, close to some stuff by Snog and KMFDM, and didactic notes from a recorded malee voice, which can remind those educational record in the 60ies; the fractured rhythmical and melodic patterns of Backyard Pond, not so far from those electronically shaken eccentric hybrids by Funckarma, Funkstorung or Proem; the hypnotic "Remember Me?" - definitively my favorite one -, a superb concontion of banjo, violin, cello and drum machine, which dram a sort of balanced mantra; the mellow song Giving In, whereas an important role in the sound stage belongs to the wonderful voice by guest singer Sarah Matthews, whose somewhat imperfect inflections perfectly fit to the obscure whimsical atmosphere of the sound; songs like Praise and Blood and Milk where the influence by Portishead sound seems more remarkable; the infected ballad I'm On The Wrong Side, pierced by that feeling of renegade purity and corrupted beauty. Reinvigorated by remastering, Saltillo's Ganglion cannot be but electrically heartened.

Ex_Tension: Desert

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 10 2011
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Artist: Ex_Tension (@)
Title: Desert
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Leave it to Tympanik to host interesting talent and bring forth new concepts in the industrial/ambient/cinematic music vein. Ex_Tension is the French electronic music duo composed of Vincent Gendrot alias Vxt (composition, programming) and Pierre-Yves Hohmann alias PY (Composition, samples, noises). Although the project was created in 1997 with releases going back to 2005, this is my first experience with them. Much of this release is a reworking of their (first) EP in 2005, which contains two tracks on this album, the epic 31:53 piece title track ('Desert') and the following track, 'Journey'. As that EP was self-released, it probably didn't get the exposure it deserved. Except for the remastering, I presume those two track are largely as they were on the 2005 EP. Two additional previously unreleased tracks, 'Aura' and 'Tension 6' are also included. On top of that, there is also a remix of 'Desert' by Tympanik artists Access To Arasaka, Totakeke, Zentriert ins Antlitz, Geomatic, and Sonic Area who all take a turn at a different section of the piece.

The original 'Desert' is a space/ambient/trancey (but not exactly trance) piece with a good amount of industrialized drums and percussion. It begins with pulsing bass and atmos with layered electronics that build and expand as time goes on. The beat starts as a bit sporadic and chaotic until eventually a groove takes form with sequencers accompanying, but that doesn't happen until past the 10 minute mark. One it gets into the groove though, it become very cool, like Tangerine Dream at their zenith, but an updated version. It's difficult to sustain this kind of trip over such a lengthy period of time without becoming boring over repetition or diverging too much from the theme, but Ex_Tension manage to stay on target for the most part, and the pulsing monotone bass is the impetus that drives the track. Everything bounces along nicely until about the 18-19 minute mark when the vibe becomes marked tribal-Middle Eastern. It is not so much the rhythm as the pedestrian noodling melody line played with a sitar-ish sound that follows. It doesn't last long, but it sounds as if Ex_Tension just threw it in there because they couldn't come up with anything better. Those radio voice samples didn't add anything either. Still, they manage to extricate themselves from this and continue on their merry way to an elongated fade conclusion.

'Journey' would have been an okay piece of spacey rhythmically sequenced ambience if not for the processed claps (or is it bad gated noise snare) that sounds like beating on a heavy tinfoil pan. It is so much better when it leaves, but unfortunately, it returns, and that's just too bad. 'Aura' has a very spacey vibe punctuated by industrialized and other percussive elements, once again with the accent on beat and monotone sequenced synth, harkening back to old school trance. 'Tension' is another spacey piece injected with layered filter sweeps, punctuated with heavy industrialized beats. The rhythm never really comes together though in my estimation. The remix of 'Desert' though redeems the CD admirably. In the capable hands of five Tympanik artists, the piece is elevated to something truly cosmic. Access To Arasaka begins the process by putting his signature mark on the first 5+ minutes using elements of the original but adding his own special touches with a bellish melody and much better percussion, very spacey and atmospheric. Totakeke takes over for about 3 minutes with spooky sounds and gradually builds a steady rhythm, solid and cohesive with excellent ensemble synthwork. Zentriert ins Antlitz takes over at 8:27 for about six minutes with a very good sequenced synth basis and a simple but effective melodic stretched out synth line. The beat, with percussive embellishments, is commanding the layered sequencing is very good. Other industrialized percussive treatments are introduced with a cosmic voice-like pad in the background as this baby builds into some awesome. What drama! I am almost holding my breath in anticipation of Geomatic's participation at the 14:22 mark, and I am not disappointed. Geomatic cranks it up a notch with heavier percussion and a twisted synthetic intensity that so far has been unrivalled. It is almost impossible to explain what is going in; in a word 'EVERYTHING. Sonic Area takes 'Desert' out from the 18:54 mark and has a little over four minutes to play with. The chief contribution by SA is the heavy industrial drumming, and also the processing of some of the original elements. It's kind of an odd ending with what sounds like rain splattering on a tin roof, but what the hey. All-in-all, the remix is much better than the original.

If you're looking for some spacey electronic music with lengthy tracks, updated old-school sequencing and industrialized percussion, I'd recommend this.


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