Music Reviews

TOMCRAFT: Hyper Sexy Conscious

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 12 2006
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Title: Hyper Sexy Conscious
Format: CD
Label: Kosmo Records (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Rated: *****

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If I should sum the review of the third Tomcraft’s album titled HYPER SEXY CONSCIOUS I would only write: "wow"! I mean, this album is a smash! It contains all the elements that a dance album needs: good tunes, rhythm, house as well as techno and electro elements all blended into a perfect formula. Produced into his home studio in Munich, Tomcraft called Tai Jason for production (he also did the rap parts into the smash hit "Sureshot" and the electro gem "Quelle heure est il") and Rolf "Jam El Mar" Ellmer (from Jam & Spoon) for the creation of three tracks ("Electronic toys", "Roots" and "Dirty Sanchez"). For the female vocals he called Dacia Bridges and Stephenie Coker (she sung into "Bloated" a sensual soul’n’blues electro track and into "Da disco", a house track where her bluesy vocal enrich the cool melodies created by Tomcraft, Tai and Trokken & Lützenkirchen). The album opens with "Sureshot" (which is also the first single released after the album), a track that will convince you in no time with its hip hop techno structure (if you love Prodigy tracks of the likes of "Breathe" or "Smack my bitch up", you’ll love this one) and which is also present as bonus into the version featuring Sido & Tai Jason for an even more rappier version. "Quelle heure est il" is a perfect track for the electro lovers and it has already released as a single the last year. Check its 4/4 rhythms and the funky guitar...I’m sure you’ll love it! House techno is present with the following "On screen" where Dacia Bridges gives her sexy performance on vocals. "Roots" changes the atmosphere of the album turning it into a dark soundtrack with long synth pads and a catchy rock guitar. There are so many high points into this album that it is difficult to name each of them but each track contains something new that will catch your attention while your feet will start moving since the first notes of the album. Tomcraft is a well respected producer, he did remixes for Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds and Dandy Warhols to name few and this is your chance to check his skills in full. Don’t lose this opportunity!


 Posted by Marco Pustianaz   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 10 2006
Artist: SHINTO (@)
Title: Sekai
Format: CD
Label: Echokammer (@)
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****
"Sekai" is the fourth album by Hans Platzgumer and CaMi Tokujiro under the moniker Shinto. After meeting in Munich in 1998 the two set off for a joint Euro-Asian venture that has undoubtedly its own quirky originality. The electro-pop sound provided by Platzgumer is tempered by the melancholic disillusionment of Tokujiro’s lyrics – in Japanese – who casts himself as the storyteller/singer of dark tales of love and destruction. His voice is what contributes most to the feeling of "Sekai",which despite its poppy undertones leaves the listener with a sense of quiet despair. I find Tokujiro’s voice a double-edged blessing: on the one hand his bass, raspy rendition certainly gives a definite character to Shinto; on the other, it is far from the accomplished singing styles that Europeans are used to appreciate.
In "Sekai" Shinto have been aided by an additional drummer and percussionist, and the electropop texture is partly given an Oriental feel, for instance in the opening track featuring meditative flutes. But to tell you the truth I didn’t know what to make of this project at a first listening. Only after getting to know more of the lyrics and the stories they refer to, I started to develop a certain interest in Shinto. I learnt that "Hagoromo" alludes to a traditional Noh play of a fisherman and a dancing fairy. By browsing their site, complete with lyrics’ translation into English, I was able to delve into the political side of Tokujiro’s lyrics, tackling Chechen massacres, Guantanamo’s hidden tortures, as well as references to Japanese events, such as the 1923 earthquake, the plight of famous Japanese terrorists, the radical Aum sect and so on. Some of the lyrics and titles, moreover, are taken from the radical left-wing and anarchist tradition of Japan (Sakae Osugi... ). This is though what points to the CD’s weakness to my ears: I was more taken by the cultural and political stance of Shinto than by their music. Maybe it’s less a struggle for Japanese listeners who can relate immediately to the lyrical content... For me the listening experience has been alternately odd and bland.

SIDRA: A swampadelic blessing of downtown SF, the official bootleg

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 10 2006
Artist: SIDRA
Title: A swampadelic blessing of downtown SF, the official bootleg
Format: CD
Label: Afe (@)
Rated: *****
While rumours are that Sigillum S are going to put out some new material, P. NG5361 Bandanera (Sshe Retina Stimulants, Komplet) is out with a new project and with a new mate, guitarist Tiberio Longoni. Sidra is really different from every previous project of Bandera, but nobody will be astonished by the fact the style is not that far from other melodic projects with a post-industrial background like those in which Eraldo Bernocchi was involved. Do I mean that's Bernocchi influenced music? No way! I just signify there's a "trait d'union" that joins some melodical/musical solutions you you’ll find here with some you could find in the releases of Teardo, Phyler Coleman and Bernocchi, but at last it’s true that "nobody comes from nowhere". Be it I love this kind of style or that "file rouge" I was talking about, I'm really into this release, I'm sure there's people who can whine about the fact it's not "trendy", but it's not even "old fashioned" in the strict sense of the word, I think Sidra's debut has its own identity. Late night music, weird but yet suggestive loops on which the skeleton of the majority of the songs takes shape. Sometimes it sounds like a less melodical and instrumental version of Phyler minus the drum and bass influence, sometimes a melancholic guitar loop moves on a 4/4 hip hop rhythm. Loop based electronic music with a big human feel, "old fashioned" but in a really interesting way, listen to "Heat reversal via volume exchange" and "Windows from shattered stairs (nude)". Honestly that's one of my favourite releases of the new Afe lot.

VV.AA.: Electronic Revolutions @ Movement 2004, Detroit

 Posted by eskaton   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 06 2006
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Electronic Revolutions @ Movement 2004, Detroit
Format: CD
Label: Alley Records (@)
I could not find anything about this album on the label website, which seems to be a CD duplication and recording house. The website that produced this festival,, has been down for at least a week or two for server migration. Overall, this compilation is not bad, but there is nothing on here that I would consider essential. There were only three bands that I recognized before getting this disc, so a lot of new artists here. Unfortunately, many do not seem to have a distinct voice and sound virtually indistinguishable. So let’s move on to the specific tracks. Entluften opens the compilation with decent techno with synth new wave feel and Backspace continues the dance-friendly music with lush synth and a heavy beat that reminds me of old school industrial dance music (in a good way). Chiasm creates a weird dissonance between growling and ethereal female vocals that was not really my thing, but interesting. Some beats mixed with atmosphere but not quite as dance friendly as the previous tracks. Life Toward Twilight lays down some heavy, slow, metallic tribal sounding drumming mixed with noisy atmosphere. I don’t know what the dancers were thinking when this happened, but I like it. I reviewed their disc in this batch of reviews and it was really good (it’s free for download, so the price is right). Delien is the first of several on this disc that graduated from the Venetian Snares school of spastic noisy beats. They do this style very well. Iszoloscope delivers the expected Ant-Zen style noisy beats, but with a heavy synth undercurrent. A little more old-school techno than I expected. He builds layer upon layer until it sounds like 4 songs going at once. Di_sect lays down some complex beats with some slowed down voices, but overall, this track just didn’t really stand out. Xanopticon provides more music from the Venetian Snares school of spastic beats. Not bad, but a bit thinit sounds more like a drum machine that is dying than a track. A bit too minimal for my tastes. Blaerg layers spastic beats over a flowing heavily processed acoustic guitar that would be at home on a Durutti Column album. Oddly peaceful and disconcerting at the same time. I liked it. Syne_lapse_variate is also a bit thin, but the beats are interesting. Not quite as spastic, but has some other elements weaving throughout that keep it from getting boring. OK, but not too engaging. Phallus Uber Alles provides one of the tracks that stood out. A nice groove with samples of a woman talking about being the future homemakers of America that shifts to heavy social commentary. The beat remains consistent – rather than the music shifting, it is the samples. Larvae’s track was also a bit too stripped down for my tastes, more like the foundation of a track than the track itself. Sound Extraction X lays down a nice groove with old school sounding beats but it went on too long. It sounds like a warm up track for a band rehearsal or a connecting track between two stronger tracks on an album. Necroplastic offers a short minimalist track with some light beats and a piano line. EclecticLiquid’s track is muddy, noisy, and distorted. It’s glitchy, like a techno track that has been completely overloaded, but it doesn’t really seem to fit on this compilation. Ghoulie ends the disc with an odd combination of bass line, cheesy casio synth, drum machine, and rapping. Not really my thing. Overall, this compilation is OK, but nothing on this disc makes me want to park it in the CD player for a long period of time. I’m sure that for those who were at the festival, it would be a good souvenir.

MONOLITH: Talisman

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jun 01 2006
Artist: MONOLITH (@)
Title: Talisman
Format: CD
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
There’s no need to introduce Eric van Wonteghem to the interested audience of Electro/Industrial music for sure, maybe I should mention that he is more active than ever before? Also with his main and classic EBM project INSEKT he just released a new CD at NTP/Dependent besides this already sixth studio album of his solo effort MONOLITH. With this project Eric always tested the audience with his more experimental side of music, mostly the music of MONOLITH is based in the genres between IDM, Electronica, Tribal up to some real Powernoise efforts. So also this new CD features a lot of stuff to break out through some genre boundaries. You’ll get a full dose of never heard before sounds, complex rhythm programmings and strange structures generally. It is definitively a piece taken from the intelligent side of music, although I miss maybe a bit a "composition" and the human touch behind this music integrated through some vocals. Some repeating voice samples in between do never replace a vocalist, so the music of this release has to speak for itself. Eric’s musically activity lately with harder acts like SONAR is best transmitted here through tracks like "Indigo" or the title track "Machinebreak", and I definitively prefer this side of him. The global album is well done and good produced, like usual, what has ever left Eric’s very own Prodam studio. Please note that also from this release – like on almost all Alfa Matrix releases – there’s existing a special packed set with a bonus disc in limited edition of 666 pieces for the die-hard fans.

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