Music Reviews



FORNAX: Space Travel

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 05 2009
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Artist: FORNAX (@)
Title: Space Travel
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: X-Line / Alter-X Promotion Project (@)
Rated: *****
Another free downloadable release by the Russian Alter-X Promotion team brings us an EP of FORNAX. FORNAX itself is the musically outfit of the label-owner Nullklever. FORNAX can look back on several releases on all three labels of the Alter-X Promotion group, but since this EP got released under their X-Line label, this "Space Travel" offers a special kind of Electro/Industrial music, but with several hints to other genres. Elements taken out of Noise, Ambient and IDM can be discovered, and I really can’t remember, if I’ve heard anything comparable before. This is a special form of Experimental-EBM with a spacey touch. 6 original tracks and 3 remixes on the title track provided by friends and label comrades like Seclorum (art and remixes, co-owner of the gone predecessor label .nbk-Records), the already discovered T_ERROR 404, and SY9 are taking care to offer qualitative diversity. The main content of this "Space Travel" deals with beautiful and artistically fine worked out views on some astronomical phenomenons as well as themes out of the UFO theory. A quite interesting release worth to download.

Poordream: Immaterial Monarch

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 02 2009
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Artist: Poordream
Title: Immaterial Monarch
Format: CD EP
Label: Spectraliquid / 33 Recordings (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Sometimes it is totally enough, if some striking voice samples leave an impact of inspiration on a producing musician. Something comparable may has happened to the Greek artist John Valasis, since the track "Immaterial Monarch" is an obvious tribute to the movie series "Zeitgeist". This EP is also the fruitful collaboration between Spectraliquid and the Greek netlabel 33 Recordings. After consuming this EP, I tend to ask for a continuation.
Musically – as expected from Spectraliquid – this release balances well between the styles Ambient, IDM/Electronica and Industrial. The title track impresses with varied instruments and a catchy content thanks to a brilliant inserted piano. "Immaterial Monarch" got featured in 8 different remixes asides the original, mostly constructed by different artists. I am definitely against those actions to collect too many uninspired remixes on a quite good original tune, but since the contributors like NADSAT, MONOTOMUS, Mr. F, DAMA or TAPE 86 are completely unknown to me – yet better, some of them really belong out of totally different music genres – I find this EP quite entertaining. The "Grandma Version" has been conducted by John Valasis himself, it pushes a bit the speed and offer dancefloor-compatibility, but unfortunately it alters the beautiful mood of the original. The remix of BROKEN TEMPO then I like to point out as being the best remix here, since this project turns that original into a pure acoustic experience – even better, they have written real lyrics based on the voice sample stuff out of the movies and the female vocalist does her best, to offer with her voice the fitting depressive mood. Finally you’ll find at last another original track by POORDREAM, "Sounds Of Consciousness", which is another dark collage with voice samples – maybe provided by the Pope – but I’m quite unsure on this. It’s hard to judge on this artist, since the listener gets at least only two original tunes to rate. So how are things with a POORDREAM full-length album?
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Artist: THE DIELECTRIC (@)
Title: Rapid-Eye Vol. 3
Format: CD EP
Label: Urbcom (@)
Distributor: Rough Trade
Rated: *****
Third part of this ongoing trilogy series for THE DIELECTRIC, J. Hookens’ follow-up project after JERICO ONE. This third EP continues with the already discovered path, which he has presented with the predecessor "Flicker Of An Eye". Musically offering a wide-ranging style by integrating extracts out of Electro, Industrial, Ambient and modern IDM/Electronica, he impresses once again with the choice of multiple guest musicians. Each of the presented 5 tracks has its own story behind, be additional help on the production, or be it recorded at different places. The opener "Corridors" pleases with extra-ordinary percussion inserts and German voice samples thrown in the mix. For the tracks "Flight" and "Directiv" J. Hookens has added the Swedish singer Ann-Mari Thim (ARCANA) to perform the female counterpart. The Belarussian Avantgardist Vladislav Buben has provided some additional instruments and has co-written the tracks "Exteria" and "Lucid". Especially the all instrumental tune "Exteria" convinces with some noisy synth lines, it seems that V. Buben’s hand-writing shimmers through. Compared to the above named predecessor, this third chapter of the "Rapid-Eye Assemblage" series seems to be more upbeating, while the percussion work of Hookens is still the outstanding factor in the production process of THE DIELECTRIC. What astonishes me a bit, is the fact, that this release comes out in different formats. There's also available a strictly limited 7" vinyl single, which can be purchased only and directly from THE DIELECTRIC website – if it hasn't been sold out yet.

Access To Arasaka: Oppidan

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 02 2009
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Artist: Access To Arasaka
Title: Oppidan
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio / Spectraliquid (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
This is an US-based newcomer-act, which has lately caused a lot of euphoric reactions through some breathtaking remix contributions for acts like ZENTRIERT INS ANTLITZ, TOTAKEKE or APHORISM. The long awaited official debut release for ACCESS TO ARASAKA is out now, and it features all good ingredients, an interested listener of modern IDM/Ambient/Electronica would like to expect. At first it does good to see, that intercontinental collaborations between two labels are possible – especially in this kind of music. "Oppidan" will be released as a mutual project by both, Tympanik Audio and the Greek Spectraliquid label and let’s hope the best, that this initiative will pay off for all involved. Musically, "Oppidan" is a high complex IDM/Electronica-album, which draws possible comparisons under the formula "GRIDLOCK meets HEQC". What sounds so simple with this courageous comparison, is by far lesser easy than expected. It is the sci-fi related mood pressed into the music, the pad- and sweep-sounds are cold as ice and fragile to the same time. This moody scenario gets crispy penetrated by the broken rhythm structures, which includes several clicks n’ cuts, breaks and interrupted beats. It’s hard to figure out the highlights of this fantastic soundtrip into a possible next future, I therefore recommend to check this album completely under a good pair of headphones. ACCESS TO ARASAKA are reaching a target, which only seldom can be reached by comparable acts out of this genre – this project sounds authentic. Congrats to both labels for this mutual release, but also to the artist for offering such a demanding, but highly attractive album.

Voice of Eye: Seven Directions Divergent

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 30 2009
cover
Artist: Voice of Eye (@)
Title: Seven Directions Divergent
Format: CD
Label: Conundrum Unlimited (@)
Distributor: Conundrum Unlimited
Rated: *****
Voice of Eye is the duo of Bonnie McNaim and Jim Wilson that stated in Houston, Texas in 1989 and later removed to Talos, New Mexico. You wouldn’t expect music like this coming out of either of those locations, but then again there is nothing normal’ about Voice of Eye. I am familiar with project from their excellent Vespers’ CD from 1994, and did not realize they have at least 16 or 17 other releases on CD, CDR, cassette and vinyl. Most of them are limited and difficult (maybe impossible in some cases) to find now. I was really happy to receive their latest effort to review.

As Vespers’ is my only real basis of comparison for the work of Voice of Eye, I will have to use that as a reference point. On that CD Voice of Eye’s music was mostly dark ambient soundscape with a tribal undercurrent. Very atmospheric, somewhat along the lines of Steve Roach and Vidna Obmana, and most of it too dark to be mis-classified as New Age. It is an excellent work, one of the best dark ambient albums of the 1990’s and well worth owning if you can find it. I honestly don’t know how they achieved some of the sonics they came up with on Vespers’, it is that mind-bending at times. You not only get the impression of vast amounts of space, but it also conjures images of alien landscapes and primeval entities. Very cool.

Seven Directions Divergent’ is different though. And not in a bad way either. In fact, what Voice of Eye has done on this new album sets them well apart from so many other artists. The album opens with a strong dubby track ("Gates of Mysterious Fire") that recalls elements of krautrock, Frippertronics, Gong (the band, not the instrument), Pink Floyd, space-rock, psychedelia, and related. Bonnie’s vocals (I assume it is Bonnie singing) are wispy, ethereal tendrils of enchanted mystery, beckoning the listener ever onward and inward. What amazes me is the statement on the CD: "All sounds are acoustic in origin. No synthesizers were used." It wouldn’t matter to me if they did use synthesizers, but achieving this without them is simply incredible!

The track that follows, "Where are You?" keeps the music in the spacey realm while employing processed acoustic guitar, again with vocals by Bonnie. Although it could be considered a song, you get more of a certain "feeling" rather than anything traditionally resembling a song. "Fish Radio" is immersed in a swirl of psychedelic ambience and space-burbling. It seemed kind of transitional to me; perhaps the least engaging track on the album. That was immediately transcended by "Golden Space Funk Transmission". We’re really getting into space-rock territory here. Imagine the spacier elements of Hawkwind, Amon Duul, Ash Ra Temple, Ozric Tentacles, etc., and you get the drift. It could almost be called progressive in a way; there are certainly some progressive touches incorporated in the changes but it never strays into jazz or classical territory the way so many progressive rock bands did. Drums are there pumping the rhythm along but subdued; with all the cosmic elements at the forefront. How the hell was this done without synthesizers? It boggles the mind.

Eastern-themed overtones appropriately set the mood on "Om Shanti," with spiritually soothing vocals blended into the mix. If you listen to a lot of ambient chillout music, especially from the post-new age halcyon days when it seemed like there were so many compilations being put out you couldn’t keep up with them, then this should be familiar terrain. But this track is a cut above most of what passed for Eastern-Ambient back then.

"Remember" is a track that is much more a traditional song. Male lead vocals and acoustic guitar with psych ambience. Pink Floyd meets Pink Dots. It might make you think of Mercury Rev or Flaming Lips, but really better than either in capturing the essence of the psychedelic song form, in my estimation. Final track "Transformational Birth" heads off into deep ambient space for a little over eighteen minutes of cozmic bliss. When you return back to planet earth, you may not remember it all, but you WILL remember it was good. Very good. I recommend this as a strong buy. Even though I listed their main website in this review, go to the Voice of Eye MySpace site and listen to some of the tracks from this CD. If you’re not blown away, I’d be very surprised.


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