Music Reviews



Snog: Babes In Consumerland

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Aug 01 2013
cover
Artist: Snog
Title: Babes In Consumerland
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
If you really think that Rammstein embody the highest expressive peak of musical criticism against consumerism, pop culture or whatever let you think they could be agit-prop just because they discommode firefighters, electricians, model agencies, porn producers and German interpreters, you could revise your personal rank with better-informed agitators like talented and evergreen Australian music agitator David Thrussel aka Snog, who manages to stuff his songs with high-quality electro samples and wisely provocative lyrics. We already introduced an appetizer from this great album, the potential forthcoming and definitively more suitable (more suitable than The Star-Spangled Banner...) American nathional anthem in the light of recent establishied spy stories or a potential hymn of forthcoming NWO empire "Everything Is Under Control". All its (many) literary and cultural references are exhaustively explained in linear notes by Alvin Lucia, who wisely introduces Snog's mastermind as the harbinger or, to use his own words, one of the torchbear of 'conspiracy-pop', whose critique cannot but "emerge from the margins, the 'outsider' as shepherd or protector of the bewildered flock, in an overtly stygian and wolverine landscape" and refers to his fictional gender evolution - you could listen to songs like the one he tributes to Otto Rahn to understand what he means... - by linking it to the evolution oh fis sly poeticism and polemicism: "Though (arguably) never more strident as a lyricist, this recording presents an uncharted minefield of pun, punditry and literary allusion. A gaudy, glib and sexually undelineated Oscar Wilde posing mischievously as a street sweeper, while nocturnally inscribing the great novel. A novel that, through no accident, describes exactlyt where we are. Here. Now. Lost. (Almost) alone.". From the musical viewpoint, "Babes In Consumerland" sunds closer to albums like "The Last Days Of Rome" (2007), but Snog's stylistical globules, focusing on a rocking and highly danceable electro structure with emoblism of techno clots and amazing and ironic hints to pop music bubbles which could cause hysterical giggles, enhanced by the usual unsparing sarcasm as well as by a plenty of contributors such as Atom TM (PS3100), Felix Kubin (MS-20), Ash Wednesday (former collaborator of Einsturzende Neubauten playing on his AKS), Australian guitar player John Justin Stewart aka Ad Astra and The City Of Prague Philharmonic Choir. I could mention the French-pop quotes while he repeats "have you sucked some cock today" on "The new cocksucker blues", which is less pornish and more meaningful than you can guess, the proper mocking of dark-oriented oc/cultists which mainly feed their beliefs on Internet by the bittersweet funny song "Soul Invictus" where he vaguely quotes darkwave and witch-house sonorities on epiphanic lyrics, which for instance say "Oh the Internet/Will not save your life/There's no respite/Despite/The hype...Automatic masturbation through a wire/Why do you not tire?/Of perpetual stimulation/The knee-jerk infomercial orgams"), the iconic and ironic ode to pessism in fashion dynamics on "Bleak Is My Favourite Chic" and so on. Snog's sarcam spits more fire than above-mentioned Rammstein and I could say "Babes In Consumerland" is maybe its ripest fruit.

Mike Oldfield: Tubular Beats

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 26 2013
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Artist: Mike Oldfield (@)
Title: Tubular Beats
Format: CD
Label: earMUSIC (@)
Distributor: Eagle Records
Rated: *****
I was a little surprised to find this one in my reviewing bag. Mike Oldfield? He's still around? Although he's been releasing music regularly throughout the years, I pretty much moved on to other things after the first four albums. That sort of put me at a disadvantage since I haven't paid much attention to what he's been doing in the last 30 or so years. Despite the 'Tubular' in the title, this ain't your prog-rockin' daddy's Tubular Bells; it's more like your EDM-lovin' daughter's last trip to Burning Man or Ibiza. Speaking of Ibiza, Oldfield lived there for a while, and it's likely had some influence on these remixes. You must have figured out that that this is a remix album, sort of a 'greatest hits' from Oldfield's past reinvented and reimagined for EDM. Oldfield's partner in this is Torsten 'York' Stenzel, a long-time noteworthy EDM composer-producer formerly based in Ibiza. Turned out Oldfield and York were neighbors there but they didn't actually meet until years later through a third party in the Bahamas. Obviously, Oldfield and York clicked musically, and the result is this album.

The album is not just York's remixes of Oldfield's past material (although he had a big hand in the remixes); it was a collaborative effort with Oldfield adding new parts and sounds as well as input. The result is something nearly completely different than the original songs. 'Let There Be Light,' from Oldfield's 'The Songs of Distant Earth' (1994) is extended and expanded and given a Delerium-style groove, and I actually like it more than the original. The spoken voice sample and guitar part are still in there. So far, no radical departure. 'Far Above the Clouds' comes from 'Tubular Bells III' (1998) which is a continuation of the original 'Tubular Bells,' Oldfield's first album from 1973. Comparing that track to the remix on this album, the original percussion has been submerged and jettisoned in favor of a more club-friendly beat. It actually works great and the additional synth parts are in keeping with the track's momentum.

'Ommadawn' may be the most difficult track for dyed-in-the-wool Oldfield fans to appreciate. Both Oldfield and York are equally 'guilty' for this track as it was a 50/50 effort. It takes the most classic part of this 1975 album spread over two sides. It's a trancey prog-house take on the piece and except for certain elements (such as the vocals and the progression) bears little similarity to the original. Oldfield fans may consider it soulless sacrilege, but I think it's clever. A lot happens in it too; it's not just one big 4-on-the-floor beat fest from beginning to end. 'Guilty' from Oldfield's 1979 'Airborne' album sounded discoed-out (and a little bit silly) in the original but here it is given a modern club feel.

The remix of 'Tubular Bells' is a much more spacey affair than the original, and also very EDM. Of course, like 'Ommadawn' it's only part of the original with the Exorcist-riff as the most prominent theme. Some very nice things are done with this track, including the piano outro by John Gentry Tennyson. Once again, stubborn old-school Oldfield fans will likely hate it. 'To France,' from Oldfield's 1987 'Discovery' album featured Maggie Reilly on vocals, but here the vocals by Odessa are jazzed up with autotune and effects. Not wild about this one as it turned a very nice Celtic-inspired, acoustic-based number into an overblown pop dance tune. Odessa fares better on 'Moonlight Shadow' (from 'Crises,' 1983) even though it's geared for dance it still has a magical quality about it. Never cared much for Oldfield's reworking of 'North Star' by Philip Glass, but it works a lot better in this remix with a stronger beat. The second remix of 'Guilty' was absolutely unnecessary and time could have better spent tackling something else from Oldfield's extensive back catalog.

If you haven't gotten enough Tubular Bells by this time, the remix of 'Tubular Bells II' should sate your appetite. Here again it's very tranced-out and, and the theme (the riff taken from the section where the instruments are verbally introduced) is perfectly suited for it. I doubt I could actually stand listening to the original 'Tubular Bells II' album in its entirety, but I could listen to this multiple times. Final track on the album is a new Oldfield tune called 'Never Too Far' with vocals by ex-Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen. Oldfield's had a good track record working with female vocalists and this one continues his winning streak. Turunen's vocals are wordless for nearly the first half of the song, with suitable melodic ambience and no beat until 5:40. The passage where her voice goes operatic is a very nice touch. Although the song isn't exceptionally memorable, it is very nicely done, and much different than anything else on the album- soothing and mellow. It certainly helps that Tarja has a great voice.

'Tubular Beats' may have the effect of gaining Oldfield some new fans and losing some old ones, but I don't expect you'll find him playing any major EDM events. As for me, I quite liked most of the album. I found it creative and very different from any Oldfield I'd ever heard before, and the production is stellar. York deserves a lot of credit for making that happen. It would be interesting to hear what he might do with some of the other old prog-rockers out there. Next stop- Pink Floyd?

First Aid 4 Souls: Beyond The Galaxy

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 25 2013
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Artist: First Aid 4 Souls (@)
Title: Beyond The Galaxy
Format: CD
Label: Electro Arc (@)
Rated: *****
The motley milkshake of influences (I could mention Velvet Acid Christ, Infected Mushroom, Chemical Brothers, Skinny Puppy, The Young Gods, Front Line Assembly and other acts from techno and old-school electro-industrial scene) which could be distinguished in the sonic cauldron by Hungarian electronic project First Aid 4 Souls, led by Istvan Gazdag, doesn't make it a sort of clone and the rising acclaim by many electro followers outside Hungarian boundaries, which are often unwilling to hail new bands when they're not somehow original or when ladling by some "exotic" new act sounds too closer to an act of plundering, could be a clue of the genuineness of their style, which focuses on a sturdy mixture of retro-futuristic cyber sounds, acidolous melodic lines which got erected on fierce psy-trance and electro sonorities, hammering drums, heavy guitar riffs, blunting bleeps, sci-fi atmospheres where the threshold between bogus and reality is very thin and meaningful lyrics, which quotes contemporary delusions, concerns and dreams of an altered world where the more or less obtrusive or deviated relations between biological and technological sound pivotal and inspiring. On the occasion of this new chapter whose title "Beyond The Galaxy" could be confused with the advertising campaign related to the launch of some new technological device by Samsung, Istvan grafts seven different voices into his electronic grounds, which sounds more aggressive on the first half of the release before veering towards IDM and ambient-oriented tracks on the second half. The robotic agnition of the initial "Gemini" (I think it's the fourth or fifth release which starts with a track titled "Gemini" this year...), the genetical adulteration screamed by Balazs Frank on a wall of distorted guitars, demanding lyrics and swirling beats of "Alien Implant", the nervous electric flurries of "Visitors", the breath-holding speedups on the pressing thinking caps superbly interpreted by Vikki Ricci on "Brave New World", the electric shocks of the meaningful "Chaos Cultist" are some of the better moments of the aggressive side of "Beyond The Galaxy", while the blinding beams of an everlasting night sung by Mark Dufield on the enthralling "Here Comes The Light", the lulling astral bleeps and the icy warmth of Linda Daemon's voice of "Vimana Grha", the obscure steaming engine and the disturbed vocal broadcast by Aaron Russell (Impurfekt) from some interfering netherworld on "Quiddity" and the immersion into an ocean of ice-cold silicon steel and the crystalline emotionalism of "Android" counterbalance the scorching hot side of the release with more relaxed, slow-paced but likewise meaningful tunes. Heartstrings "cyberism" with emotional and rhythmical primers.

Das Muster: Augenschein

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 25 2013
cover
Artist: Das Muster
Title: Augenschein
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Producing electronic music since long time, Marcus Mumm released his first album as Das Muster on Transient Force in 2011. "Unbekannte Kräfte", with its eight tracks was already showing a mature project that would have convinced every lover of electronic music influenced by electro and Detroit techno. The years after, Das Muster doubled the good impression made on the listener with "Feldexperiment", a seven tracks album that I often listen to on my car stereo while driving at night. By my surprise, a year ago, I noticed that the Das Muster releases have been deleted from the Transient Force catalog, so doing a search on the net I discovered that Marcus decided to release his own music through Bandcamp. After those two albums he did other three of which "Augenschein" is the latest one. With titles such "Zeitfresser" ("Time Eater"), "Augenschein" ("Eyes Sparkle"), "Erneuerung" ("Replacement"), "Kontaktaufnahme" ("Contact Recording"), "Deckungsgleich" ("Equal Coverage") and "Ausweg" ("Way Out"), the album is a gem made out of cold analog synth sounds and if you own records like Arpanet's "Inertial Frame", you know what I mean. Take, for example, the opening "Zeitfresser", on its three minutes length, Marcus is able to built up a sonic world of its own thanks to recurrent rhytmical and melodical elements which are alternated. Robotic bleeps, granular synth sounds, spacey pads, little distortions and paced rhythms make of this a release you have to check and you can do it at this link http://dasmuster.bandcamp.com/album/augenschein

VV.AA.: The Return

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jul 19 2013
cover
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: The Return
Format: CD + 12"
Label: BIOS Recordings
Rated: *****
Before the barrage of beats and the warm blast of wind of the track which introduces this compilation, "Sirocco" by Raw Q and Thomas Amaning, who plays host, the first atmospheric seconds seem to evoke the arcane words of the magic formula by a necromancer who can resuscite dead and such an introduction for the official and well-appreciated return on the stage by Amaning's German dnb label Bios Recordings after five years of silence sounds right and proper. Bios comes back to fertilize the acquainted stylistical grounds where airy and liquid sonorities blend into quick-paced breaks and loops, an explosive concoction which is going to accelerate body movements and spin heads towards unexpected mental destinations or supposedly inside some hidden level of Wipe Out whose finish line got placed over the clouds by means of many interesting variations of the above-mentioned dynamics: the oriental scents of Indian summers of tracks like "Heaven Sent" by Simplification, Sunny Crimea and Scott Allen and the awesome "Bangra Nights" by another incendiary trio made up of Submatic, Dan-E and S.Finesse, the overshadowing popping of darker tunes such as Survey's "Chatter" - one of the tracks on the top of my personal liking rank -, Generic's "Get Away" and the spooky "Below The Down" by NotioN, the twinkling sub-bass rotations of "Nomad" by Savage Rehab and Physics, the holistic hyper-reality of "Love" by Locksmith, the balearic reverie of "Moonlight Piano" by NajeemS, the daydreaming junglism of "Blue Velvet" by Stereotype, the radiophonic hooks of "All Because Of Me" by Bassface Sascha, whose rubber bumps, pulsating whooshes and female singing could resemble Tali's style, the soulful protease of "All Wrong" by Random Movement and the flipping guitar which entwines on rolling beats of the final "Soul Prints" by Furney and Locksmith. A cruise on deeply emotional waves and top-notch sounds.


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