Music Reviews



Apell: Reconstituted

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 26 2008
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Artist: Apell (@)
Title: Reconstituted
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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I recall reviewing Apell's previous record "Beaver Street & Byond" a while ago and thinking it was a quite cool, fresh and original disc, so when I saw his new record in the pile, I was compelled to give it a spin. My feelings are re-confirmed and even though my exact memory of the previous record is blurry, I am pretty sure this one is a slight departure from it. "Reconstituted" is still as eclectic as it gets and very influenced by 70's funky grooves and bass lines. I can't help it but to think this would be great music for yet another Shaft remake or something like that. The spirits are high and even though he's an Aussie it would seem like he grew up on the streets of the city of angels.
Apell loves to mention two of his biggest musical influences (Brazilian DJ Amon Tobin and the colorful Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton) but obviously the amounts of electronic music, trip hop grooves, downtempo vibes and pop/rock hints and references (there's a cover of a Neil Diamond tune and one of a Beatles tune) are a pretty clear indication of the fact he's drawing from a lot of places and influences (Massiva Attack, Prodigy, Miles Davis, King Crimson etc).
Mostly an instrumental record, there are a couple of vocal tunes featuring his long time collaborator Rachael Hawkins and some Australian Idol 2007 dude singing about Bush.

MONOCEROS: I Feel Apocalyptic Today

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 25 2008
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Artist: MONOCEROS
Title: I Feel Apocalyptic Today
Format: CD
Label: Imaginary Non Existent Records (@)
Rated: *****
Third album for Monoceros, I FEEL APOCALYPTIC TODAY see Joan Malé redefining the sound of his project adding more guitar sounds to his i.d.m. atmospheric mixture. In this way tracks like "Escape From Gravity" or the following "The Rain Song" sound like a post rock electronic suite where light melodies clash into the roughness of broken rhythms patterns, creating in this way a suspended atmosphere. I FEEL APOCALYPTIC TODAY sounds like an awakening after the apocalypse rather than the apocalypse itself because it doesn't sound dark and desperate. Listening to its nine tracks (the tenth is a bonus nameless one which is 12 minutes long), I think about deserted lands where nature is starting to take an hold on cities' ruins. Mixing ambient, i.d.m. and post rock Joan is giving sound to a project which includes also a visual part as for each track exists a photo he took doing landscape photography in Empordà where he lives. The photos could be purchased separately while the CD is available as free download or pressed CD.

Black Era: ... then...

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 22 2008
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Artist: Black Era (@)
Title: ... then...
Format: CD
Label: aquietbump (@)
Distributor: aquietbump
Rated: *****
There are times when releases find their way to me for review that never should be given any press, and then there are releases that aren’t given much press that deserve to find their way to me for review. Such is the case with Italy’s Black Era. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend in Spain who loves teasing me with new music I’ve never heard , I probably would have never heard of Black Era. If not for her, I would be missing out on something quite remarkable.

It’s rare that I bother to request a release from a band or recording label; my plate is usually full and I’m not in the habit of playing PR man just for a free CD now and then. Something has to really impress me before I consider taking on extra review work, as exposing GREAT new music is something I consider a labor of love. Such is the case with Black Era, and their ... THEN... ’ album. Although it has been out (in Italy and Europe) since 2007, Black Era might be brand new to the U.S. market. I decided to contact their label (aquietbump) on the basis of hearing a few song clips on the Internet for a copy of ... THEN... ’ to see if it would hold up to my initial impressions. The label followed through, and I am not at all disappointed.

Black Era have been classified as an Italian trip hop band (they’re from Naples) with a dark, brooding demeanor. If you think of some of the leading names in the genre, Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, Morcheeba, Tricky and the Sneaker Pimps might immediately spring to mind. What Black Era has produced on ... THEN... ’ is easily as good as some of the aforementioned’s best. What makes this album so deliciously listenable is its diverse sonic palette while remaining stylistically true to form and concept. The vocals of Dy Darshan (Daiana) are a cool blend of seduction and mystery perfectly suited for the dark moody music. An occasional male vocal levels up to Massive Attack terrain, the like of which can be found on MEZZANINE. While perhaps not exhibiting as much song variety as that album, the deceptively simple arrangements are equally effective as those on MEZZANINE, albeit on a lower production budget. Every audial element seems to have been carefully and thoughtfully crafted to create a surreal noirish urban atmosphere. Rainy deserted streets at night in some foreign city you vaguely remember from a film. The pulsing glow of a neon sign flashing in the distance. Eurotrash slouching near the entrance to a jazz dive, sneering as you pass. The scent of strong herb wafting from an all-night coffee shop. The man with the umbrella and briefcase staggering into the alley. The tall girl with the page boy cut in the fur jacket and white high heeled boots clicking on the pavement, large smoky round eyes glancing your way momentarily and you want to follow but know it will end badly no matter what...

The dream-like quality of this CD can’t be overstated. It is the quality that many strive for but few can pull off effectively. The only mood breaker in my estimation is "noam", a track that has Noam Chomsky questioning the justification of war over an ominous musical background. Didn’t really need that. Fortunately, the track only lasts a minute.

The dearth of good, new dark trip hop bands and releases leaves fans of the genre with little to look forward to. Here is something well worth seeking out and I highly recommend Black Era. Aquietbump is a net label that offers this album (and others) as either a download or CD purchase on their website. I think you can actually get the download free (in a zip file), the CD you have to pay for. Can’t wait to hear their next release!

MILK MONEY MAFFIA: Musik

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 01 2008
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Artist: MILK MONEY MAFFIA
Title: Musik
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Basserk (@)
Rated: *****
MilkMoneyMaffia is a project of a Greenland's guy called Jark Gurken and MUSIK is his first release. Available as download only the seven tracks mini is the second of the Basserk's AllDigital releases. If with Drifter TV Basserk explored the acid techno, with MilkMoneyMaffia we're back on the pure electro field. The first track "Smelly finger" is a mid tempo minimal electro song with a grime bass line, while "Caramel" recalls m,e since the first drum hits, the Egyptian Lover electro style. "Stinky stanky" and "The Peanutbutter song", instead, are good for a Gigolo Records compilation. "Cuba Pete" is a mix of salsa cut-ups with a techno bass line. With "Gone" everything changes and we have a nice slow ballad with electronic sounds and brass samples. "Milkmoney" closes the mini with a good catchy electro mid tempo. Jark made a good debut and you'll be convinced by his powerful sounds and by his double filtered vocals which create a funny effect. Check three songs on his myspace page.

DRIFTER TV: You Hear What Eye See

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 29 2008
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Artist: DRIFTER TV
Title: You Hear What Eye See
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Basserk (@)
Rated: *****
Drifter TV is an audiovisual dance electronic act coming from Netherlands. YOU HEAR WHAT EYE SEE is a title that really fit their project, because the visual is really the counterpart to their music and sometimes I think that their visual art has more relevance compared to their music. The seven tracks of the digital only release shows the duo dealing with acid techno and techno electro in a nice way but after visiting their website and after checking their flash interactive creations you feel that the nice tracks contained into the release would be great if experienced along with those because most of the tracks tends to play around few loops where they are filtered, stretched, treated and mixed with samples and I have the feeling that also they created them thinking also to the acid effect created by their bizarre boyscout twins characters.


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