Music Reviews

Contra: social darwinism

 Posted by KlingKlangBedlam   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 09 2002
Artist: Contra
Title: social darwinism
Format: CD
Label: d trash records
Distributor: d trash records
Psychotic style drum n bass along the lines of a distorted Photek or Squarepusher, very harsh, very industrialized and aggressive. Also planted underneath are very skillfully executed and trickily timed synth patterns laying under the noise, whereas that is lacking in the world of noise-techno. At times this reminds me of a cross between prior day Evil’s Toy minus the vocals and a more upbeat version of Gridlock’s dark drum n bass masterpiece "Further". Rating: 9.

Radboud Mens & Jaap Blonk: Brombron 05: Bek

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 28 2002
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After a few experiments in the seventies not many artists have carried on the interesting practice of uniquely using their body or mouth to create music. Dutch vocal artist Jaap Blonk is one of these and his releases always appealed to me as having that particular edge of real, true and pure experimentation. In this release Jaap Blonk teams up with Dutch techno musician/engineer/visual artist Radbound Mens and the results are even better than usually. The synergy between the two is so great that you almost can't say that all the used audio sources are actually Blonk's voice. After extensive sampling, chopping, arranging, programming, assembling, treating and processing of these audio snippets you have five fluent tracks of techno music in flavors ranging from straight and minimal techno to drum'n'bass and gabber techno... if we only could get some goa too! ;-)"Bek" (dutch for 'mouth') is the fifth chapter in the Brombron series (read more about it in the Heimir Bjorgulfsson & Jonas Ohlsson review on these pages) and is probably also my favourite so far.Be on the lookout for Blonk's and Mens' old and new releases on Staalplaat (the latter also has a 12" coming out on Audio.NL records).

SCI-FI INDUSTRIES: Architectural Development

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 25 2002
Title: Architectural Development
Format: CD
Label: (@)
First full-length cd (12 tracks, 68') for Luis F. Seixas a.k.a. Sci-Fi Industries, after the CDep "Dead people on stylish chairs" issued by some months ago. What immediately strikes while listening to "Architectural Development" is the incredible improvement in the musical proposal of this young Portugues electronic artist. His sound palette is richer, there's more variety within single tracks and in the whole work, and most of all the sound quality itself is so much better that in "Dead people...". It's like every single beat (which sounded quite minimal in the ep) has now a kind of depth or arrangement of his own, and a sense for layers composition prevents tracks from becoming repetitive or static. The final result is a mature and totally enjoyable mix of techno, breakbeat, electronica and IDM falling somewhere near Warp-like projects, with hypnotic rhythms and elegant, nocturnal melodic patterns. A great album which absolutely deserves recognition and distribution outside Portugal.

UMEK: Neuro

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 09 2002
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Artist: UMEK
Title: Neuro
Format: CD
Label: TehNika (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Wow! Most certainly one of best ambient-techno-electronica albums I have listened to in the past six to twelve months! Uros Umek is an internationally acclaimed and well respected Slovenian Dj whose credits include remixes for Speedy J, DJ Rush and Depoche Mode among others. "Neuro" is his first album as a "playing musician", rather than simply a spinner/mixer, and, even though I am not familiar with his former releases (somebody should punish me for that, considering he's released about sixty records on labels such as Tortured, Primate, Audio, Prime-Evil, Consumer Recreation, CLR, Monoid, Absence, Recycled Loops, Nova Mute etc), I am told that he took quite a radical turn towards electro that might confuse his straight forward techno fans (that is if they are less open minded than they should be)... Personally, I am down with Umek's new direction, all the way, and I can really appreciate the hard word he put into "Neuro". The techno element is still there of course, but twisted, treated, distorted and blended in with minimal electronic textures and ambient soundscapes... If you like Aphex Twin you must give the new Umek a shot! He too uses non-straight-up rhythmical patterns made of saturated and powerfully pounding kick drum beats. Everything's enriched by either fast high-pitched synth patterns or sweet, flowery and charming loops and retro' musical parts of intense melodic substance, exactly like Richard James likes doing. Colourful, rich, powerful, relaxing, hammering, hard and soft, all at the same time, with a mastery that is truly rare to be found!As a surprise grand finale for what is quickly becoming one of my favourite 'technolectro' albums of this year, "Neuro"'s last track "Neuropa Humbug" features guest appearance by the legendary Slovene Laibach, which by itself could be a reason to buy this for many die hard Laibach fans out there complaining that the band hasn't done much lately... Umek's collaboration with Laibach dares his party-going technoid fans with a totally EBM composition matched up with distorted ogreish vocal parts of obvious industrial roots. Just plain fucking great!The CD comes packaged nicely in a jewel case that slides inside a transparent plastic shell that has many converging circles printed. Go out and get your copy now (the CD is also available as a double LP)! At the time of writing the label's official website seems to be unavailable, so in case the disservice persists you may check this address:

Boole: Pheromones

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 09 2002
Artist: Boole (@)
Title: Pheromones
Format: CD
Label: Dancing Bull Productions
When I was listening to the two opening songs of this album I thought I was dealing with an EBM musician who was converting to dance music or trying to achieve some better-selling un-probable blend of house-EBM (which is pretty original and uncharted as of yet and could even have a commercial potential, but of course sounds cheesy at times, especially to those not to keen on commercial house/techno), but it turned out that the Washington DC based trio Boole (ex The Apologizers) make their real appearance on track 3 and get a whole lot more interesting all of a sudden! The music is still in search of the right balance between pounding dance floor beats and electronic music, but less of those cheap dance synth lines that I can't stand (which unfortunately sometimes come back to haunt me later in the record) and unusual (for this genre) new elements such as pop vocals, smart sampling and great lyrics populate the rest of the record, transforming it into a challenging work and a continuing discovery...
"America Inline (American Grandstand)" is a fucking awesome and hilarious piece of work that uses AOL sounds ('you've got mail', 'welcome', 'goodbye' and the like) and cuts, pastes, rearranges and repeats them constantly along with other sampled words, achieving super smart associations like 'you've got Ashcroft, goodbye freedom', 'welcome Mc Carthy, goodbye safety, you've got jail', 'Aamerica inline, goodbye east, goodbye world', 'you've got nazi history, you've got deja vu', 'welcome bush, goodbye east, welcome disaster, goodbye freedom, welcome dinasty, goodbye life', ''fuck nationalism, fuck bush', 'you've got choice - temporarily - worship life', 'you've got truth': how about that?... Other sometimes equivocal songs of course make use of the ever more used Sept 11th aftermath samples of political speeches and the like... The lyrics save this record and really bring this record to a whole new level! Finally some creativity and intelligence at work!
"Pheromones" also includes a live track and a remix by Assemblage 23.

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