Music Reviews



The Drumstick: The Drumstick 2

 Posted by eskaton   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 29 2007
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Artist: The Drumstick (@)
Title: The Drumstick 2
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records
When I was listening to this disc, one of my colleagues commented that the disc sounded like something you’d hear if you were watching the scrambled porn channel. In some ways I am inclined to agree for the first two tracks. I tend to like my jazz more along the lines of Sun Ra, so the first two tracks were a disappointment to methey would be right at home on a radio station devoted to "smooth jazz." Fortunately, the disc then becomes much more experimental. This band centers around the work of jazz musician and biodiesel advocate E. Doctor Smith and the drumstick, an instrument of his own creation. On the promo sheet that came with the disc, Robert Anbian describes them this way: "I call the post-fusion, world beat jazz these guys play acid-bop.’" If that description doesn’t help you, don’t worryit didn’t help me either. On to some of the specific tracks that stood out on the disc. "Astral Aura" has a nice dark groove to it. "Neil and Jack and Me" is a nice piece of frantic, complicated jazz. It seems like it is about to completely descend into chaos. "Playin’ Possum" features a banjo and seems out of place on the disc. A bit whimsical, but didn’t really fit. "Zulu" has an electric guitar with some nice distortion that gives the track a bit of an edge. If you’d like to hear more, check out their myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/edoctorsmith. The disc is a bit short, weighing in at 36 minutes.
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Artist: DJ? ACUCRACK
Title: Humanoids From The Deep
Format: CD
Label: Cracknation (@)
Rated: *****
After having regained completly their independent status caused through the end of a long-year distro deal with the well-known Underground Inc., here comes a full-scale release assault for the Cracknation-label. Besides this new DJ? ACUCRACK-release also the main project ACUMEN NATION releases a new full-length album. It was about time for new recordings after a long tour with both projects together with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY and KMFDM. So the first result of DJ? ACUCRACK in form of this full-length album is out now, just one day after the last gig of the own booked "Psychotranshumanoid"-tour with CYANOTIC. That’s for sure an ominous chosen title for this new DJ? ACUCRACK-release and it shall indeed offer some influences out of some horror/splatter movies featuring a zombie-related theme. Globally the musically signature remains the same of this ACUMEN NATION side-project (I name it so, because AN-band leader Jason Novak stands also behind this project...) by offering a hectic rhythm construction taking inspiration out of D’n’B and Breakbeat-styles, some IDM and Trance-related textures, a huge amount of starnge sample manipulations and at times Jason’s insane and mostly distorted vocals. It’s positive that it doesn’t sound at all like an ACUMEN NATION-twin. "Reptilian Race" satisfies with some slower arrangements and quite different moods, while "Destroy All Robots" should be able to storm the dancefloors. But best work to me is "Ice Aces" featuring some melodic Ambient-like layers and a cool female background vocal performance. Although the main project ACUMEN NATION allows only a little change of the musically direction, this project of Jason Novak seems to be a kind of experimental field with which he likes to test different moods, rhythms and arrangements on his audience. Yep – experiment accomplished – keep it on!
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Artist: TONIKOM (@)
Title: Epoch
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Distributor: ant-zen
Rated: *****
First off, the extravagant cover art design by SALT of some icy landscapes impresses extremely and can’t be once again praised enough – that’s maybe another secret behind the success story of ant-zen and/or Hymen Records: the art mostly fits with the musically content and quality of the releases. The mysterious female-leaded project TONIKOM isn’t an exception. Once started under the moniker TONIK the change of the band name into TONIKOM happened in 2K6. After the 2 self-released CDR’s " Tonikom Killed Tonik" and "Ocular Pitch", this "Epoch" marks the first release of this act on Hymen Records. And I must admit that I’ve seldom heard a release with such a huge amount of diversity, which grips in several genres to offer the elements out of several worlds. TONIKOM can be generally sorted in into the styles of IDM and Electronica, while the beats and rhythm patterns take mostly influences out of styles like D’n’B and Breakbeat ("Salvo Infinitum" or "Dark River" work well as references). But that wasn’t it at all. Furthermore styles with Ambient, Trance, Techno or Industrial get touched and extracted to built a very own and unforeseeable sound design (excellent: "Swollen" and "Nightwalk") which sounds new, innovative and intelligent. This music isn’t designed to get consumed as a "Wal-Mart-background-sound", it needs fully attention, the best under a good pair of headphones. If this will be the "truly epoch-making release", which the info sheet likes to suggest, well, that depends on you. TONIKOM has done the best and improved on all thinkable terms of production, so the quality of this release is unquestionable.

SKORBUT: Firewall

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 21 2007
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Artist: SKORBUT (@)
Title: Firewall
Format: CD
Label: Sonic-X (@)
Rated: *****
Again released by the small German label Sonic-X, here comes the third full-length of this highly talented German duo. "Firewall" surprises at first from its look and the kind of art – such a "playing" with fake blood by the both protagonists Daniel Galda (vocals) and Jörg Hüttner (machines and compositions) I rather would have expected to see from a Hellektro act like DAWN OF ASHES for instance. Should SKORBUT have left their know way to join the camp of the already massive amount of Hellektro-troops? No, definitely not, although a slight update of the equipment seems to be happened. SKORBUT still present their straight, but clear male vocal performance which sounds a bit like Douglas McCarthy (NEP), and combining Electro/EBM textures with modern sounds and some Techno-inspired filter sweeps. Although offering a classic old-school EBM-kind, they are sounding new, refreshing and far away from minimal structures. This is something multi-layered and widely structured, which in the history only few bands were able to offer, take INDIVIDUAL TOTEM, some early haujobb.-recordings, or the last HEADSCAN works in a mix to get a possible comparison. This album offers 10 new tracks, a remix of "Fragments" done by Boris Black, and a special video edit of the track "9 Years Later" besides the original track, plus it holds as a special bonus the complete video clip for this track on board. "Firewall" works extremely well with some tunes like "9 Years Later", "A Second Of Perfection" or "Antikörper" on the dancefloors, but it holds also stuff which offer the purest enjoyment by using some headphones. "De(ad)cibel" has to be mentioned for its thrilling percussive moments and the cool filter effect manipulations, or "Valium 1" for one of the most action-loaded instrumental tunes I have ever heard by being a constant listener of Electro/Industrial music since 20 years. Or try to catch the wall of massive sound of the stumbling "Getting Colder", maybe the most outstanding track here. SKORBUT’s predecessor "Access All Area" was already an outstanding kind of work, but "Firewall" isn’t any weaker. Congrats to offer an intelligent arranged album showing the millionth of "switch-synth-on-get-hard-be-strong"-artists how to produce a possible guide line. An addictive masterpiece of an album, from which I hope it receives a world-wide recognition.

Mind.In.A.Box: Crossroads

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 15 2007
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Artist: Mind.In.A.Box
Title: Crossroads
Format: CD
Label: Dependent / Metropolis-Records (@)
Distributor: Alive
Rated: *****
Yeah, it has taken weeks until I found the right entrance to the multi-layered sound outfit of Austria’s best Electro/Industrial artist. A MIAB-release isn’t that kind of music to bring on some background noise while doing the dishes – this music needs and deserves attention. "Crossroads" is once again a hard-to-figure-out journey for the short-haired 4/4-on-the-floor addicts, since it integrates influences taken out of different music styles. This, of course, is the trademark and for sure one winning point for MIAB. Like on both predecessors, "Crossroads" offers Electro, Techno-impressions, mixes sonic synth-layers with at times effected, at times high-pitched, and at times natural sounding male vocals. Their style can be surely called authentic, and even if this duo has never entered any stages to perform their stuff live, their encouragement is still unbroken. Tracks "Amnesia", "Identity" or "Stalkers" can be compared with the last years’ SI-CD release "Certainty" with danceable, nearly Futurepop-inspired textures, straight arranged but with special and at times nonlinear percussion elements. And for magically pieces like "Fear" I tend to travel to our dear German pope to speak this Austrians holy – although extremely high pitched, it is the male voice of vocalist Markus Hadwiger which offers the catchy moments on this track – a refrain to sing along the lines, while still extremely tasteful arranged. Another musically outstanding track has to be named with "The Place" with some introducing piano sounds, vanished rhythms and a very layered outfit. Make also sure not to forget the last track here, "Run For Your Life" featuring some fine orchestral sound extracts. MIND.IN.A.BOX somehow personify the ideal of the German Dependent-label – not always on the hunt to sign and to release the easiest and trendiest kind of music, but to have some open ears and minds for the real innovation, even if this ends in a loss. MIAB may are sort of this game, although I still haven’t given up the hope, that more people do use their ears and listen. Not to forget the tasteful dark cover art featuring a short story written by A. Gruber, www.agruber.com , and a code number to get entrance to a secret area on the bands’ website where you can download some more tracks and goodies.


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