Music Reviews



Sasha: Involver

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 20 2005
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Artist: Sasha
Title: Involver
Format: CD
Label: Global Underground (@)
Rated: *****
I've already reviewed this record back in June when I was sent the advance promo copy by their promoter MSO so I won't be repeating what I already said. You can read my review by clickin on the name Sasha at the top of the review (http://www.chaindlk.com/reviews/?id=1317). It's a great album, very intense, very true. Finally a different type of DJ album, where the DJ really is a musician and a producer and doesn't just label and market himself as such simply because he installed Reason on his computer. Sasha is a complete artist, one who takes his art beyond the mere act of mixing a bunch of records together in one continuous flow of music, one who re-works, possibly re-writes other people's songs, a symbiosis of a remixer, a mixer, a producer, an arranger, a writer, a Dj. Sasha is all of this and "Involver"'s re-elaborations of music by Unkle, Felix Da Housecat, Grand National, Spooky and Ulrich Schnauss prove it! What is really outstanding and worthy of mention and pretty much convinced me to review this album one more time is the art-work and packaging that the final release of "Inolver" comes in. I've never seen anything as beautiful and original. You'll have to see it yourself. The CD is packed in between a bunch of glossy postcard looking photos with notes about the song on the back (one photo for every song) plus cards for credits, back cover, front cover and more. All of these cards are shaped like a square with its outside edges bent inward. All of this is inserted inside an equally shaped soft plastic unfolding shell... Truly unique and magnificent... and what do you know, this review turned out longer than the original one ;-)

Juno Reactor: Labyrinth

 Posted by Keith Durocher   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 20 2005
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Artist: Juno Reactor
Title: Labyrinth
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Over the years, Juno Reactor has established itself in the mainstream collective unconscious as the voice of high-energy techno music. From the early days of the psychedelic-trance of Luciana’ and Beyond the Infinite’, through to the more recognized contributions made to the Matrix films, Ben Watkins and his ever-rotating menagerie of contributing musicians have carved a niche for themselves above and beyond that of any of their contemporaries.More recent works have moved towards a fusion of techno with world-music. This has been done more creatively than the likes of Deep Forest or latter-day Delerium, thanks in no small part to the inclusion of genuine artists from other fields, and not just a heavy reliance on sampled chanting and beats. The pinnacle of this approach was achieved with Juno Reactor’s year 2000 magnum opus, "Shango". A blistering slab of passionate and original techno music, it was a consistent blast of adrenaline. 2004 sees the release of the followup, but does "Labyrinth" have the chops to match its predecessor? The answer, in a nutshell, is no. Not that it’s a bad release, but as we shall see, it falls short of its potential. "Labyrinth" is a nine-track release that clocks in at just under an hour. It sports the same spectacular production that has been a Juno Reactor trademark since the beginning; the engineering and mastering are a beautiful marriage of skill that creates a full, smooth audio experience regardless of sound system. This album is going to sound amazing no matter what it’s played on: impotent computer tweeters, glistening Bang & Olufsen sub-woofers, it doesn’t matter. Ben Watkins knows what sounds good, and it reflects in the aural quality of Juno Reactor.However, when we look at the writing itself, it becomes quite clear that there is little to Labyrinth that hasn’t been done previously. The CD opens on a high-note, with Conquistador 1 & 2’. This moody epic blends Spanish classical guitar with organic percussion and efficiently poetic synth lines. Sound familiar? It should; it is essentially a continuation of the opening track to "Shango", the spaghetti-western inspired Pistolero’. Similarly, the song called Zwara’ is virtually identical in mood and feel to the track called Hulelam’ on the last album. Sadly, these three songs are the highlights of the album, despite their similarity to earlier Juno Reactor material. This lack of innovation is disappointing, and compounded by the inclusion of two songs that were featured on the score for The Matrix Revolutions. These are supposedly remixed, but not to an extent significant enough to make them sound like anything more than they are; backing tracks to a fight scene we’ve already seen.Overall, Labyrinth is an elegant release that manages to artfully transcend its component genres, just like Shango did; however it does so at the cost of a certain raw vitality that fueled earlier Juno Reactor works. It is a worthwhile experience, but the lack of innovation and the filler tracks are a letdown after the highs of previous work. If you’ve never heard Juno Reactor before, then I’m sure Labyrinth will stand out as a dynamic, fresh approach to what techno music is capable of. If you’re a longtime fan of Ben Watkins, then this CD will fail to surprise you.

VV.AA.: New Sound Theory volume 3

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 20 2005
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: New Sound Theory volume 3
Format: CD
Label: BasicLux records (@)
Rated: *****
I missed volume no.2 of the New Sound Theory compilations and I guess with that I didn't realize this cool label from Atlanta, Georgia, had been slightly changing ita ways. This third volume seems to continue with BasicLux's ongoing drift toward dancier shores. Seductive, mood-setting, chilling lounge & club motifs that will warm up every dancefloor, liven up every lounge, and spice up summer nights at music bars all around the globe. The CD comes in a beautifully packaged jewel case with a carboard wrapping case and features music by Night at the Baracuda, Fairytale of a New Day, Wamdue Project (remember the 1999 top selling "King of My Castle" single?), Lumiere, Madison Park of course, Goldlust, Perfect Porject, Lenny B, DJ Kemit, OzOn, Mudfish, Paul T, Soulfeenix & BiTeR mc, GrooveOholics, Junkyard, Bokster.

DJ Harry: Collision

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 20 2005
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Artist: DJ Harry (@)
Title: Collision
Format: CD
Label: SCI Fidelity Records (@)
Distributor: SCI Fidelity Records
Rated: *****
You may not have heard of DJ Harry. The name is more evocative of someone you’d find spinning at the local bar on 2-for-1 margarita nite. But in the dance world, Harry’s shared tables & phones with the likes of Doc Martin, DJ Dan and Mark Farina, so you can say adios to those discount margaritas... Another thing about Harry- (and this is what elevates this DJ’s CD so far above those who come out with mix CDs that seem to scream "Let me show you what I’ve done with my record collection!!") He’s a producer, arranger writer AND musician. And, he’s based in Boulder, Colorado. ...Boulder??Yep, you wouldn’t expect a progressive house album like this to come out of Boulder, Colorado; then again, you wouldn’t expect a house music DJ who’s prior claim to fame was "The String Cheese Remix Project" to come up with an album as sophisticated as "Collision". 2001’s String Cheese only hinted at where Harry was heading- the funkified monster of "Collision" shows what he’s truly capable of after absorbing as many influences as there are here. The album opens with the title track, a bass-poppin’ dance-a delic party favor that pours the funk on thick and saucy with all the right moves to keep it interesting. Sliding seamlessly into "Tragedy In Blue", there’s a hint of downtempo as electric piano and a haunting synth line take over. It wasn’t until the 3rd track, "Monkfish", that I realized the similarities to William Orbit here, both in style and production. Snippet guitar lines interplay with melodic percussive elements that seem to zip in and out of the nether-regions, all building to a jazz-jammy climax of sorts only to fade away. It’s not only house music, it’s head music too!The real blow-away track on "Collision" is the only real song with lyrics, "All My Life", sung by Lisette, who’s voice resembles a laid back jazzy Bjork with a hint of Beth Gibbons. The reason why the song works so well is that it flows beautifully and effortlessly. The hook washes over you before you even realize it. Haunting and memorable, it has all the potential of a Sneaker Pimps’ "Six Underground" to become one of those classic little numbers that make you stop and say "whoa, who’s that?" By the time the mode of the music changes, you’re well into the next track subtly ushered in on a cloud of vibes.Throughout the rest of "Collision" Harry keeps the party going with a jazz-funk infused stew of great musicianship- standout guitar playing, groovy rhythms and heady electronica that jams into the wee hours. Be warned- if you don’t care for funky jazz, and prefer music borne out of the darkness, then you might want to steer clear of Harry’s place. But if you can dig that funky vibe, then you must be on a Collision course with the most refreshing progressive house-electro jazz hybrid I’ve heard so far this year.

Madison Park: Ocean Drive

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Feb 19 2005
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Artist: Madison Park
Title: Ocean Drive
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: BasicLux records (@)
Rated: *****
Sporting the beautiful and sexy singer DeAnna Cool (her real name, believe it or not) right on the front cover, "Ocean Drive" is the first single from Madison Park's "Boutique". Featuring seven different mix/remix arrangement versions and one bonus track "You Do Something To Me" (by Cole Porter), "Ocean Drive" brings you the talent and skills of some hi ranked producers such as Lenny B (whose credits include Britney Spears' "Toxic" and "Outrageous", Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble with Love Is", Cher's "Different Kind of Love Songs", among others), the Source and Tel Aviv's Wilson.With such personnel you may well imagine that the result is a little more clubby and night-spirited (as opposed to loungey and afternoonish), and if ATL Magazine wrote that they have "one foot in the lounge and the other on the dancefloor" they're pretty much leaving the lounge with this one... What's interesting to note is that they are sort of tentative, in a good way, of going the whole distance with their approach to house. Except for the Source's trance mix they rarely become as dancefloor-ready as much other material that populates disco clubs, and even with Lenny B's production they preserve a genuine electronica feel that is different from, say, Spears' chart-toppers.Madison Park is really going for it, promoting an even sexier and dancier image of themselves and their music. Altough I see the future of this duo in the European scenes, I hope their expectations will all be met! They deserve it with all their hard work.


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