Music Reviews

Laurent Brondel: Weld

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 24 2002
Artist: Laurent Brondel
Title: Weld
Format: CD
Label: Tone Casualities (@)
Distributor: Proper Sales & Dist.
Here's some really cool shit for the intelligent dancing masses... Originally (and still) a talented Holdsworth-style guitar player, Laurent Brondel will now utilize, warp, meld and weld any available instrument to achieve the aural satisfaction he's after. He says he likes it dark and long and even though the songs rarely go over six minutes, working towards that hypnotic musical recurrence seems to be doing the trick. In this album his Dj skills mixed with a couple of occasional special guests on trumpets (Cuong Vu, whose last album Brondel has produced) and guitars (Fred Consavela), and with the addition of lots of sampling, splicing, (re-)arranging, improvisation etc, give it a nice urban feel but also sort of a global Chemical Bros vibe and sometimes the beautiful trip-hop even reminds you of Massive Attack or Portishead (listen to "21st Century Lounge" and its fire organ samples). When the beat gains speed though, he really dives into the drum 'n' bass territories but seems to be feeling right at home and not just visiting... The tracks are powerful and well programmed, they flow and glow like gems in a crowded dancefloor. Alternating really well done d'n'b with more atmospheric chill-out lounge stuff, the album is complete with so much you'll have your hands full for a while... I've gone through the 13 pieces several times and could discover some new things every time. Turned out to be and exciting listening experience. Personally I really like the album and I think he's got great skills and his break drum'n'bass material is extremely valid! Not everything's about breakbeats only! The sounds are truly nice and punching. The stuff's really dope and reminded me of the times when I was mixing that other super cool live d'n'b human-machine drummer that is Jojo Mayer and his Prohibited Beatz band, who I am mentioning because the most beat-intensive songs on this record are really close to what those NY guys were improvising during their legendary shows. I can't imagine what Jojo and Laurent wouldn't put on fire if they'd team up for a gig!
By the way, look out for three more records by this artist on Statra records.

RAS.AL.GHUL: Synmatic Layers

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 23 2002
Artist: RAS.AL.GHUL (@)
Title: Synmatic Layers
Format: CD
Label: This.Co (@)
This must be the fifth cd by the Lisbon duo, and the first one on their recently founded label Thisco. Ras.Al.Ghul are experienced veterans and you can feel that in the perfect balance of beats, programmings and samples of these 10 new tracks. New cinematic soundscapes perfectly merging ambient electronica, dub, drum'n'bass and trance/intelligent techno in mesmerizing compositions of crystalline beauty. If you can imagine Kraftwerk playing songs by African Head Charge by using modern digital equipment, you'll get close to the picture. Just listen to the opening track, with that blend of dub cadences and d'n'b counterpoints. On a sidenote, it seems that this cd is a bit lighter and more dynamic than the previous one, "Sonic Yonic". Great stuff, recommended as always.

Geistform: Uno

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 12 2002
Artist: Geistform (@)
Title: Uno
Format: CD
Label: Daft (@)
Distributor: Tristol
From Rubi, Spain, near Barcelona, Rafael Martinez Espinosa aka Geistform has been producing electronic sounds since 1998. He uses the MS-20 samples as his main source and couples them with radio frequency signals and other questionable data. All this together gives life to a quite interesting and noisy form of experimental techno that has been compared to Esplendor Geometrico and Panasonic whose strongest points are the wide spectrum going from the deep droning 10-20Hz sub harmonics to the hi pitch 10-15kHz digital data. Such a wide headroom and full range of frequencies addressing your body creates truly good sounding and well produced album suitable both for intense home listening and for more alternative dance floors. This is "Uno", his debut album, and he's already impressive, we'll see where this goes, looks like a very promising direction so far.

Monolith: Labyrinth

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 08 2002
Artist: Monolith
Title: Labyrinth
Format: CD
Label: Daft (@)
Absolute Body Control, The Klinik, Insekt, Sonar and Monolith are all projects either formed by or joined by Eric van Wonterghem, long time partner of Dirk "Dive" Ivens and mastering engineer of many Ant-Zen, Daft, Discordia and KK records. Four releases between 1997 and this one (released October 2001). Eric's impressive resume is as impressive and busy as his music, a machine-based, hard-beat-driven, trance-sucking, industrial techno experience that concert goers won't forget, especially when coupled with his self-made images flashing the crowd from the videoscreen. As an example of what this could sound like, think about it as a possibly less furious Dive playing in Detroit while thinking about the most acid Richard James tunes and humming a Jeff Mills. The harsh beatz and the throbbing pulse and the acid rave mood are the keys here.

Phil Von & the Gnawa Musicians of Fes: L'autre Nuit

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 08 2002
Artist: Phil Von & the Gnawa Musicians of Fes (@)
Title: L'autre Nuit
Format: CD
Label: Lytch (@)
Distributor: Prikosnovenie
The ever creative Phil Von (Von Magnet) teams up with Morocco's Gnawa Musicians of Fes and layed down 8 tracks of ethno-ritual-trance at its best that reminds of the Atlas Project sound. To create ethno transe that ain't boring when you ain't in no trance is no easy task my friend, but that is where these guys succeed brilliantly, in fact this turns into an exciting trip into the far lands of Morocco, where street sounds, field recordings, traditional instruments and an overall southern/eastern vibe meet the occidental grooves of electronica, the deep groaning sounds of trance-inducing monk-like whisperings and stuff like that... A great stereo imaging work and an amazing beat structure helps "l'Autre Nuit" (on Prikosnovenie's ambient-ethnica sub-label Lytch) become a truly great experience. Tracks like "Transe Incolore" are beautiful and enchanting.
By looking at the booklet and in-lay card's pictures I can tell that it must be an outer-body experience to actually go to a concert of this group, as they seem to achieve a calm meditative set up with minimal but interesting lighting and with films projected on the walls behind them...

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