Music Reviews

SYNTAKS: Ylajali

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 06 2009
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Title: Ylajali
Format: CD
Label: Ghostly Int.
Distributor: K7
Rated: *****
Once Syntaks was the solo project of Jakob Skøtt but everything changed when he started to collaborate with Anna Cecilia adding her vocals to a track on his 2006 album "Awakes". After that experience he decided to grow Syntaks to a duo and then started to work on this album YLAJALI. Ylajali is a woman's name that is coming from "Hunger", a novel that the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun wrote in 1888 when he stayed by the inner City lakes in capitol of Denmark and few yards by where this album have been recorded. To talk about this album I was thinking to divide the musical experience from the emotional one (because in this case they could be different) but then since both of them are deeply linked I thought, what the hell, let's talk about whatever it come to my mind. The fact is that this music is almost "impalpable", it produces sounds but it's like a morbid flow of waves. Do you remember the early 4AD records where guitar arpeggios were hidden between tons of flanger and reverbs? Well, this is the same case. Jakob built a thick wall of sound using many layers that fluctuate and that are lead by Anna Cecilia's chants. No words have been used on most of them (only the closing Dark night" seems to have lyrics), her singing is like the sea nymphs that are attempting to seduce sailors. Most of the sounds used on YLAJALI come from filtered guitar, synths and electronic drums but they sound as a whole soft cotton ball. Hypnotizing and fluffy these slow tunes will revive your passion for old shoegazer music and if you were a fan of later Cocteu Twins you should check this one.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Septic VIII
Format: CD
Label: Dependent (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
Welcome back at the front-line, Stefan, and fire free for the new and 8th edition of Dependent’s legendary "Septic"-compilation series. Germany’s label giant Dependent is back for good after they’ve decided two years ago to stop all business activities due to the ongoing stagnation of sales and illegal file piracy. But it is still a dangerous situation – the awful situation of illegal file-sharing is still imminent and a promising tool against this hasn’t been invented so far, and to run a label in professional structures requires fully attention and a lot of right decisions regarding the label roster. On the other side – and I say this out of deepest conviction – it does so good to have back a rivaling pendant to the too-big-too-arrogant operating Out Of Line giant. Coming to this release, the name "Septic" and to participate with a track still has still a lot of meaning for an Electro/Industrial project. And so Stefan could easily collect again some cool and promising newcomer acts to offer them a free slot to publish their talent to a widely interested audience. Some veteran and well-sounding global players of course needed to be added too, as they get the possibility to promote upcoming stuff. The winner is for the most part the listener, who receives always a wide ranging diversity between the styles. As for a point of criticism, "Septic VIII" acts a bit too obviously as a pure label collection, more than half of the participants have been collaborated in some or another way with Dependent before. Although MySpace and consorts offer for the most part uninspired mediocrity - the point which Stefan often picks up and argues - there’s out there quality music, you only have to search for it a bit better. And the listener even nowadays doesn’t understand the drama of label politics, so the pleasant return of Dependent would have been also a chance to bury some old hatchets.
Now turning the attention to the music, the good things are starting with Sweden’s legitimate answer on SKINNY PUPPY, the duo of NECRO FACILITY, which offers an energetic new track. "Do You Feel The Same" draws a fine balance between aggression and melodic calmness with typical Ogre-like vocals, some guitar riffs and tasteful Dark-Electro synth arrangements. INFORMATIK’s "Temporary", in this case remixed by THE SYTHETIC DREAM FOUNDATION, is one of the winners of their self-arranged remix contest following their last studio album "Beyond". This cool interpretation gets not only rewarded with a free slot on here, it will be too available on INFORMATIK’s new album "Arena". Back for good also for South-Africa’s ACRETONGUE with a musically demanding Dark-Electro tune – just try to sing along to that tricky rhythm programming! No surprise, but still a breathtaking quality – as usual – from MESH ("Who Says" sounds rather edgy like their earlier recordings... ), EDGE OF DAWN and BIOMEKKANIK (solo project of Sweden’s Christer Hermodsson, who been part of S.P.O.C.K and producer of among others AND ONE or CAT RAPES DOG), as they all can be thrown into the lesser dark, but modern and refreshing sounding Futurepop-genre. Denmark’s ARZT + PFUSCH and their Lo-Fi - Electro/Industrial-sound is something, I’ve missed through the years – unfortunately they seem to have no interest to reach again their best days with notorious hits like "Boneloc" or "Skumfuck" – their new one "Constipated Disembowelment" is a quite uninspired tedious piece of Dark Electro music, which does nothing else but boring. And how can Stefan explain us the sense to prostitute himself and to offer free slots for those toxic brownfields like AERODRONE (a demo version??? I as a listener of this self-entitled highly anticipated compilation would feel of being fooled - yes, it’s the new project of Gary Zon/DISMANTLED) and VELVET ACID CHRIST (a whiny Goth-like acoustic tune with "real" vocals? Can that be called "back to the very early roots", Bryan?). But luckily this compilation turns back on track by offering convincing appearances of GHOST & WRITER (an interesting new collaborative effort by J.-M. Lederman/The WEATHERMEN and Frank M. Spinath/SEABOUND, EDGE OF DAWN), ENCEPHALON (yes, they’ve also been known guests on an earlier issue of "Septic"), and Germany’s personified Dark Electro god FIX8:SED8. Also not to be missed is a musically trip to the pure Coldwave-related genre with appearances of KMFDM vs. SKOLD and WE GOT THIS FAR.
"Septic VIII" is another tireless appetizer, which works well to introduce talented newcomer acts asides already discovered and renowned global players. What’s good on this has been said – what’s bad and doesn’t satisfy has been mentioned too. As much as I enjoy the wide-ranging diversity of the presented styles and the big effort Stefan has once again invested to collect this compilation, I personally miss a bit of his often proved pioneering sense. By collecting this album to celebrate the return of Dependent, he has missed a really big chance to break with some inner boundaries and to search for valuable contacts – collaboration and the exchange of ideas of how to promote this still sort of niche-music can safe the medium CD with better sales for a longer time. Some labels out of IDM/Electronica-scene seemingly have recognized this already. Therefore "Septic VIII" entertains in a similar kind as all other parts out of this compilation series too. But it looks a bit, that nothing has changed too much...

1. Necro Facility - Do you feel the same
2. Informatik - Temporary (Synthetic Dream Foundation Mix)
3. Acretongue - Dragonfly (nymph)
4. Mesh - Who Says? (Rough Mix)
5. Apparat - Arcadia (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix Edit)
6. Edge Of Dawn - Stage Fright
7. Biomekkanik - Pitch Black Ocean
8. Arzt+Pfusch - Constipated Disembowelment
9. acid.milch&honig - Was ich seh
10. Non Plus Ultra - Free Falling
11. Aerodrone - Ready To Love (Demo Version)
12. Velvet Acid Christ - Black Rainbow
13. Ghost & Writer - Nightshift
14. Encephalon - Scar On Scar
15. KMFDM vs. Skold - Bloodsport
16. FÏX8:SËD8 - Dormicum
17. We Got This Far - Sedona

Lazyfish/Mewark: s/t

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 23 2009
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Artist: Lazyfish/Mewark
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Lagunamuch Records (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Good friends can produce together – Alexander Petrunin (MEWARK) has invited his colleague Alexander Potekhin (LAZYFISH) to produce a mutual album. And somehow – the result is quite remarkable! It seems a bit that the appearance of LAZYFISH has added a doze of Vitamin C to Petrunin’s efforts, this self-titled album turns more and more into a great Synth-Electronica-album, which adds multiple experimental sound sculptures into the mix. The very first tracks of this album can be strictly related to MEWARK’s solo album "Little One", while the latter ongoing tracks offer never-heard-before sound experiments and a bizarre sounding outfit
But also for Potekhin this collaboration seems to be a quite fruitful one, as he’s known especially in his Russian homeland to produce quality Techno-/House-tunes. Thanks to the highly featured experimental content available in here, those styles can be hardly recognized. As for some highlights to mention out of this album, "Tpahc-Topm03" or "Restorun" with their complex IDM-related percussion programmings have to be named. As for some darker and more subtle oriented tunes, "Include" with its brilliant piano inserts sets standards. I hope for both artists that they can decide to continue this collaboration one fine day –and that this album reaches higher attention of the international IDM/Industrial scene, because the talent well balanced on this album deserves to get discovered.

Shadowdream: Part of the Infinity

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 16 2009
Artist: Shadowdream (@)
Title: Part of the Infinity
Format: CD
Label: Nordsturm (@)
Rated: *****
It seems the sixth act of the whimsical ambient project Shadowdream by the eclectic black metal Serbian (from Novi Sad) musician Rastko Peri�ic aka Nocturnal has been composed during restless sessions of astronomical observations even if someone could imagine that it could derives from the musical reports of OOBEs during which Rastko's astral body wandered around the Solar System with a tape recorder to grab frequencies from objects that conventional space observers could just observe from cheap telescopes! I've to admit that when I saw the cover artwork I thought it was another psychedelic/goa/trance project and I also acknowledge my mistake when I listened to the very first seconds of the record which let me think about a contemptible restyling of Origami Galaktica-like diluted stuff... It's better not to be too simpleton as well particularly when you could easily get astonished by the accuracy of Rastko in dissecting microtonal pulses wisely interwoven with sounds (bodily bass hyper-tones, synthetic whiffs, seraphic choruses and hypnotic church organ's tonal webs as well as that mood which seems to be pervaded with deep sorrow and melancholy whirling inside every touchy moment of the record) which seems to be snuffed from necromantic black candles of the darkest side of black metal, a transition which you could imagine if you've already heard something coming from subterranean similar projects such as Vinterriket or Blut Aus Nord, but what makes this album different from the ones signed by the above-mentioned artists stands in some tricky compositional elements getting Part Of The Infinity very close to soundtracks and classical music, a sort of contemporary postlude (or arguably a nocturnal emission... ) you could listen after you watch the cosmic dances of planets and stars embellishing the darkness of a nocturnal sky. Some tracks are so impressive that you could even feel yourself enshrouded by sound; among them I've found really impressive tracks such as Planetary Rings of Saturn, Unknown Cycles of Venus and... well... I think you could agree with me that dark ambient anthems like A Trip Trough The Neptune Clouds could taste like laudanum... How many times in your lifetime could you say you've felt a Part of the Infinity?!?!? From the conceptual viewpoint, Shadowdream's last chapter (whose essence in Rastko's words could be summarized by the following adagio coined by Norman Douglas: "The sublimity of wisdom is to do those things living, which are desired when dying... ") seems to make a tribute not only to one of the most fascinating scientific branch (astronomy) but also to its historical father, the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, one of the luminous mind of all times, and this dedication turns Part of the Infinity into the right record at the right time as 2009 - as most of you know '“ is the International Year of Astronomy.

Ephemeral Mists: Moon Ritual

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 16 2009
Artist: Ephemeral Mists (@)
Title: Moon Ritual
Format: CD
Label: Mythical Records (@)
Rated: *****
According to the label, Ephemeral Mists "combines the best parts of the musical idioms of both contemporary electronic ambient music and the ancient, traditional musical landscapes of the middle east." Fair enough. Ephemeral Mists throws down some interesting ethno-ambient. As far as comparisons go, some include Loop Guru, Enigma, Deep Forest, and older Delerium (Karma, for example). The album opens on a weak note; "Awakeing Spirits" sounds much like every other world music album, complete with female chanting/moaning and "Eastern Channels" sounds like something straight off Delerium’s "Semantic Spaces." It really isn’t until "Transcendental Visions" that Ephemeral Mists seems to find their own voice. This track is a slow dirge with percussion that has a melancholy feel. For me, the standout track is "Where the Wind is Born," which has a good amount of variety and is a bit darker than some of the other material on the album. This is, for me, the most engaging track on the album. Overall, it isn’t bad, but I can’t shake the feeling that I have heard much of this 10 years ago. This album weighs in at 49 minutes.

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