Music Reviews



VV.AA.: Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Jan 02 2013
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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore
Format: 2CD (double CD)
Label: Industrial Strength Records (@)
Distributor: More-Music.com
Rated: *****
Industrial Strength Records was the world's first Hardcore Techno label. Founded by New York native Lenny Dee in 1991, and he still heads the label. At its inception, Hardcore Techno was the fastest, most abrasive form of electronic dance music and ended up spawning a lot of hybrid genre offshoots. Often sounding like a stuttering synth & sample machine gun paired with a piledriver on meth, there is so much frenetic, manic energy in the music, it sometimes comes off as cartoonish, for surely no human being could keep up with this on the dance floor'¦but wait, not really true, because I've seen these ultra-rivetheads take over a dancefloor like a swarm of locusts when an adventurous DJ spun some of this stuff. Hardcore Techno, Gabber, and related styles are by far not my favorite genres of electronic music, but I'm game. What the hell, lay it on me!

The album is called 'Remixen' for a reason: most tracks are remixes. As to how the remixes might compare to the originals, I have no clue; I've never heard the originals. Unless you're a real genre purist though, it shouldn't much matter as these remixes certainly get the point across and probably add some spice to the tracks as well. As for tracks by the artists, Lenny Dee has 5 (one with DJ Gizmo), ISR has 3, English Muffin has 2, Tymon gets 2, Temper Tantrum 2, DJ Skinhead 2, and the rest (Marc Arcadipane, Stormtrooper, Wavelan, Disciples of Annihilation, Strychnine, UVC, Nasenbluten, Manga Corps, Satronica, Mindcandy, Jappo & Lancinhouse, Delta 9, FUHD, and Dirty Fingers Licked) have one each.

One of the hardest most brutal tracks on the album comes courtesy of DJ Skinhead - 'Extreme Terror' (Neophyte Mix). But if it's speedcore you're looking for check out the Akira Mix of DOA's 'Wanna Be a Gangster'. While Strychnine and UVC is really just Sal Mineo from DOA, Wavelan is Carl Carinci & Tony DiLorenzo, the other guys from DOA. A good part of the first CD is dominated by them as their boot-prints are all over the ISR Live tracks (mostly mash-ups), and if you don't like it, I guess that's too fucking bad. Regardless of the remixes, it still sounds rather old-school.

Lenny Dee charges right out of the gate on CD2 setting the pace with 'Forgotten Moments' (Ophidian Rx Re-edit) and things get more interesting at this point. You're still going to get bludgeoned, but there's a good deal more going on and some nice pacing in the process. Maybe it's just me, but I felt that the tracks on CD2 seemed a bit more creative and less old-school than the first one overall, with less speedcore elements. Not to say that some of the tracks didn't get tiresome quick; some certainly did, such as Lenny Dee's "Tranzformer" (Attic & Acesome Remix), but in Mr. Dee's defense, his other tracks on this CD were pretty cool. A lot of the hip-hop elements used in some of the tracks weren't exactly my cup of tea, especially evident on tracks like FUHD's 'Koncrete Jungle' (FUHD Re-edit), and Dirty Fingers Licked's "Sex Fiends" (Lenny Dee Mix) just sounds like a bad hardcore punk band.

Overall it will be a testimonial to your stamina if you can make it through both CDs in one sitting (I did, multiple times, and that has to count for something), but maybe a little at a time goes a long way. Some DJ's might find these tracks useful for shaking things up a bit, but like chile peppers in a spicy recipe, a little can go a long way. In case you're interested, the album is also available on vinyl (3 records) and digital download with bonus tracks. I can't say 'Remixen: 20 years of Hardcore' is the be-all and end-all of hardcore techno, but it is quite relentless, and has enough creativity (for this genre anyway) to keep things interesting in spite of some tedious moments.

Lynx: Balloons/Passing Time ft.Hellrazor

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 26 2012
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Artist: Lynx (@)
Title: Balloons/Passing Time ft.Hellrazor
Format: 12"
Label: Soul:r
Distributor: S.T. Holdings Ltd.
Rated: *****
Another drum'n'bass doozy from Marcus Intalex's imprint Soul:r has been marked by the signature of one producer in top shape, Portsmouth-born Steve Nobes aka Lynx. On A side, he provides a sample of compositional playfulness by means of "Balloons" where it seems he staged a sort of imaginary game room with coloured balloons, whose systematic inflation sounds like having been rendered on this funny clapping track, which prompts a certain sense of hebephrenic infantile regression in the listener. After such a return to innocence, Lynx gives voice to the melancholic feeling wich sometimes catches somewhat grown up old lions who seemingly lost their sheen on "Passing Time" - co-signed by skilled producer Rich Scott aka Hellrazor - by means of an uplifting rhythmical liquid phunk pattern which allays the nostalgia, evoked by some moody sonic hints - particularly some chorused grand piano and a pipe organ, whose phrasing seems to hang in the balance and get gradually banished by accelerating ticking hats - and assuages the blues by paddling beats. Lynx managed to see through walls and underground by pushing his powerful sight on human emotional flights and its temporary tailspins again.

cdatakill: Battleworn

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 26 2012
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Artist: cdatakill (@)
Title: Battleworn
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
Denver-based musician Zak Roberts is cdatakill, active since the mid-90's under names such as ak-47 and dj rabies where he was more into speedcore and hardcore. This is quite a change from those genres, although as cdatakill Roberts makes good use of what he's learned along the way. 'Battleworn' marks the fifth release as cdatakill, the first on Hymen Records, the others being released on Ad Noiseam. I haven't heard any of Roberts' previous releases, so I'm going into this with 'virgin ears' so to speak. I must have had this CD confused with something else in the review hopper, as I put off reviewing it for so long likely because of the aggressive-looking cover, I mistook it for a noise project, which it assuredly isn't.

There is a lot going on on 'Battleworn,' maybe too much at times but don't let that put you off. As cdatakill Zak isn't adverse to mixing genres, often within the same track. At times you get jungle, dubstep, hardcore, IDM, breakcore, doom metal, country-western (I kid you not, it's the samples!), techno, and likely a dozen others I haven't thought of. Remember when FSOL was considered innovative? Well, this sort of makes me think of them then, although cdatakill bears not a whole lot of resemblance to cdatakill. The first thing that stood out to these ears is Zak's excellent drum and percussion programming skills. Always engaging, and often rhythmically inventive. It's not overkill either; there is plenty of space for interesting atmos and ambience. I like his use of vocal samples too, often not much more than a processed snippet or phrase, but actually enhancing the music rather than detracting from it. The electronics are inspired and resourceful. From track to track there is a good amount of variety, yet a cohesiveness that won't give you the impression you're listening to a V/A compilation. There is a dark moodiness to 'Battlworn' but it never gets morose. Sometimes I was reminded of the best of Scorn, but with a less heavy-handed approach. At others, Access to Araska, or similar artists. The two remixes on the album ('Battleworn' by Nest, and 'I Swear' by Sense) sounded completely different from the originals, and not bad at that, so you're not just getting rehashes.

Summing up, I was fairly impressed by cdatakill's 'Battleworn'. It's an album that seems to have a good replayabilty factor, somewhat psychedelic and mind expansive, and you can really get immersed in it. The recording and production are very good too. It's hard to imagine where cdatakill will go next, but count me in for a copy of the next release. I'm game.

Phil Tangent: Restitution/Squaring The Circle

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 18 2012
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Artist: Phil Tangent (@)
Title: Restitution/Squaring The Circle
Format: 12"
Label: Soul:r
Rated: *****
Brighton native dnb producer and dj P.Winn aka Phil Tangent reinforces the firm belief by many dnb followers about the beaming moment of his musical creativity by means of another pair of winning shots for Markus Intalex's Soul:r. "Restitution" manages to ventilate listener's eardrums and minds with daydreaming suspensive synth-pads, uplifting sounds, exstatic female vocals and propelling beats, the hastening element for the headphones-driven sublime ascension which could be experienced by listeners. Such an ascension is going to be followed by the sonic sideslip of "Squaring The Circle", where this bad boy pours absorbing phat bumps, airy trumpets and sourer basslines, whose counterbalances for flotation are some dazing and dazzling vocals by Bjork. A real touch of finesse to the scene, which is going to be rolled over by a lot of dnb djs.

Ossie: Ignore

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Dec 11 2012
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Artist: Ossie (@)
Title: Ignore
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
Rated: *****
Unlike many other beatmasters, East London-based producer and dj Ossie Aneke doesn't suffer from artistic incontinence, but he mostly likes to ration energies in order to concentrate them and his remarkable panache on true sonorhythmical gemstones, so that he still manages to stand out of an overcrowded scene, which finds it hard to let emerge authentic talents due to the proliferation of releases, which normally tag along the sound in vogue. Ossie seems to prefer the "little but good" policy and after a couple of successful hits - "Tarantula" and "Set the Tone" -, he comes back with a pair of impressive tracks: both of them are still imbued with garage-house sonorities, but beside the captivating beat-juggling on wisely built rhythmical patterns, mainly lying on back-and-forth broken beats and amazing shuffles, Ossie dashes some catchy preciosities. On "Ignore (Yes I Did)", a song about the battle games between opposite sexes, performed by Tilz on mic, Ossie adds pungent acidolous basslines and rolling snare drums to rise dynamics, while on B-sided "Find It", he sticks a Balearic guitar arpeggio on the pan-fried sequence of chords and effected vocals, which let play at full gallop in the end after he tried to draw in the reins. Proper stuff to let dancehalls wiggle on.


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