Music Reviews



AntiQuark: Rags to Riches

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 10 2014
cover
Artist: AntiQuark (@)
Title: Rags to Riches
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
AntiQuark has been releasing albums and performing in the USA and Europe since 2001, created by Ant Dakini, an Italian keyboardist and sound-engineer. Vocalist Sergio O. joined the project in 2006, having sung in a number of rock and metal bands prior to AntiQuark. The music is an electro-techno hybrid with a certain 'quarkiness' to it. (One little side-note: our own Marc Urselli remixed one of their tracks, 'Planet X' from their 2009 'Skydancer' CD.) 'Rags to Riches' is the project's 6th release as far as I can tell, and although I've heard of, I'm not sure I've actually heard AntiQuark before.

The album starts out interestingly enough with a snippet of traditional Japanese (or Chinese?) music then charges into the body of 'El Bus' with Sergio wailing 'they patiently beat us to death' between nearly whispered verses over a driving dark-electro rhythm. It's a promising start. 'Medavog' has a Shameneque groove (think 'Ebenezer Goode') but nothing like those slap-happy EDM Scotts. Things pick up immensely with 'Shameless' (Floor Anthem Remix by Red Flag) , a track that could be equally at home at a huge rave or a goth club, not far removed from VNV Nation, Covenant, Assemblage 23, et al. Actually could have been a bit longer. 'The Man from Mars' (Lunar Remix by Electrovot) is somewhat along those lines as well; less vocals, more techno-electronics, and kind of trancey, but no less good. AntiQuark shifts gears for 'The Attaq' (Electronic Kraut Remix by Steve Morrell) with former vocalist Maren on lead here. It harkens back to the band's more experimental times; less big beat, more sequenced-synth driven, with an unforgettable terrorist-infused vocal line ' 'we did it for Allah'¦white face down'¦we did it for Allah'¦the white place down'. Simple but effective, and I didn't even mind the drum machine cowbells that I usually loathe. This is the track that actually made me really perk up my ears!

'Shameless' reappears with a Phantompowerdrill remix by Phantom Power, but I prefer Red Flag's more muscular interpretation. 'King Vulture' is given an Electro-lounge Remix by Hotrebor & Syrob, with a funky bass bottom and future synth chords on top. Kind of reminds me of Leeb's Noise Unit project. 'Model Zero' gets an Electro Remix by Hotrebor, somewhat similar to the previous track. AntiQuark switches gears again in the Like Lindsey Lohan Remix of 'Nuklear Suicide' by Don Bleezy and the Tleilaxu Music Machine. I cared for Bleezy's rappish style about as much as I care for Lindsey Lohan (which is not at all) so obviously this track didn't do it for me. 'Drawer 4' has a Hard Techno Remix by Traumahead Society that may actually be an improvement on the original with a relentless crunchy beat. 'El Bus' gets the Extended Mix treatment by Giulio Maddaloni, exempting most of Sergio's vocals. Neat dancefloor fodder that could easily be slipped into any DJ's set. 'King Vulture' has an Industrial/Terror Remix by Traumahead Society, and yeah, it's pretty much hardcore of the type that would be at home on the Industrial Strength label. Never heard the original but I doubt the remix bears little resemblance to it. There's one more brief (unnamed) hidden 13th track- solo vocal outtakes by Sergio from 'El Bus'.

While 'Rags to Riches' is essentially a remix album (a good amount of the material coming from their 'Skydancer' album), it is no less engaging and might bring AntiQuark to the attention of an audience who has not yet discovered them. Although there were a couple tracks I didn't particularly care for, the bulk of it is pretty damn good. You can find the album lots of places ' iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby, Amazon, and of course, the band's own website. Definitely worth checking out. I just hope they never lose their quarkiness.

Voyager: FAQ/LuvBLoved/Big Picture

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 03 2014
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Artist: Voyager
Title: FAQ/LuvBLoved/Big Picture
Format: 12"
Label: Tempo
Rated: *****
The hearts of many lovers of that embryonic and extremely charming stage of drum'n'bass that LTJ Bukem an his own Good Looking Records epitomized are going to be touched to hear that Pete "Voyager" Parsons, the prolific producer of a number of finest drum'n'bass tunes in the early 90ies such as "Hypersleep" from his fine album "Future Retro" for Belgian label R&S, one of the most played track by Ltj Bukem himself, "Burning Love" together with Dj Rap and the beautiful "Desire" who featured Christina Murphy on mix, has finally come back after Tempo Records picked three of Pete's last workouts, which got mainly inspired by the early death of his father in 2013. Such a sad occurrence in Pete's life emphasizes the emotional intensity which normally marks Voyager's stuff. According to his own words, the opening track "F.A.Q" got inspired by a documentary about the origin of DNA, which normally raises questions which have been reprised by repeated vocal samples - "Who we are", "where do we come from", "Why do we exist" -; the stunning "LuvBLoved" has a particular emotional bond with the above-mentioned experience as it was the first track he composed after his homecoming, which followed months with his dying dad, whose title has been broght from an old Frank Sinatra song which his dad quoted at the end of something he wrote to him when in life ("One of the most important things in life/is to love and to be loved"); the final "Big Picture" is a wonderful melancholic hymn, which closes a release whose underlying sob story will pleasantly tickle the aural memory of many dnb followers.

Seba: Mesmerism EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 03 2014
cover
Artist: Seba
Title: Mesmerism EP
Format: 12"
Label: Secret Operations (@)
Rated: *****
The clicking sound of a clock and the first offshoots of hypnotist's magnetic fluid begins to hit listener's sensorial sphere and while seconds sound like weighing and weighing like eyelids, serpentine sonorities menacingly swirl while self-control fades out. Likewise the quintessential hypnotist starts a session by asking its interlocutor to look into its eyes, the renowned Swedish dnb producer Sebastian Ahrenberg aka Seba sounds like asking its listener to listen to his tunes, even if the sneaking ill-fated atmosphere of the track might be associated to the mass hypnosis of the planet by some liberticidal institutions, who are subjugatinbf people's thought in a more or less underhand manner. Seba keeps on letting his pendulum oscillate on the following "Physickl" by soaking the synth-driven lightweight opening into pre-mayhem acid pools, while the liquid funk which featured most of his acclaimed recent album "Identity" is more recognisable on "Life Is", which could be ideally considered the break point of the above-mentioned kind of mesmerism by means of an ethereal celebration of life and spiritual freedom. The final "Science Fiction" sounds ike on collision course with early Photek-like "scientific" stuff and ends with a bang an EP, which clearly displays the possible future steps of Seba sound, whose pristine nucleus seems to have not been really contaminated by these interesting deflections.

Cooly G: Hold Me

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 01 2014
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Artist: Cooly G
Title: Hold Me
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
The sensuality of Brixton-based singer, rapper, producer and dj (and semi-professional footballer!) Merrisa Campbell aka Cooly G emanates from her external appearance, her voice, but above all (...and this is what really matters) her stylistical make-up. It exploded on her recent album "Playin' Me" and seems to gush from this tidbit as well: even if it sounds less vocal focused, "Hold Me" keeps Cooly G's followers hot by three amazing tracks, where her voice got agglutinated to very captivating sonic solutions. The smoky atmosphere of the title track rest on subcutaneous basslines, soft electronic scalding, elegant dubbed rhythmical patterns; the following "Oi Dirty", where Scratcha DVA's wonky imprint sounds quite clear, focuses on amazing smidgens of flexible basslines and minor percussive surgery on sizzling breaks, while "Molly" - the only one with no vocals at all - gradually browns a seemingly static house grid by rising saturations of acid-synths, swishing discharges and a one-note bass kick. Great bass-driven hocus-pocus!

Atom™: Ich Bin Meine Maschine

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 26 2014
cover
Artist: Atom™
Title: Ich Bin Meine Maschine
Format: 12"
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
If you try to break a block of diamond into small pieces, you cannot modify its intrinsic preciousness, and little sonic pearl could be considered as a brilliant, which has been cut by masterful chiseler from a giant diamond, the excellent album "HD", a (post-modern? retro-futuristic) magmatic flowe over modernity and a sort of bittersweet parody of mktg-pop logics that Uwe Schmidt aka Atom HD recently flung on an increasingly conforming music market. The sublty kraftwerkian tribute-track "Ich bin meine maschine", whose title is an adjustment of Kraftwerk's "Ich bin eine maschine" inspired by a statement of the cybernetician Heinz Von Foerster, is undoubtedly one of the most representative track of the underlying "policy" of "HD" as well as of the irriverent flair of its author. This little masterpiece got remixed by three talented techno chiseler: the remix coming from techno legend Dave Sumner aka Function is maybe the most mechanical one (it's not a chance that the original vocal line has been reduced to one obsessively repeated word, "maschine"...), even if he gradually phases in by means of mesmerizing smoots and frozen air particles, while the most "club-fitted" version is maybe the opening one from Hamburg dj and producer Alexander Rhida aka Boys Noize, who mostly overlaps the crescendo of the original version, but the most attractive for my eardrums (and maybe the one which is less "danceable") is the reinterpretation of Uwe himself in the guise of Linear (another camouflage!), who manages to mould a sinuous groove from a fistful of almost ethereal sonic murmurs!


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