Music Reviews



Blackfilm: s/t

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 13 2008
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Artist: Blackfilm (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Spectraliquid (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Second release for the Greek Spectraliquid-label and with BLACKFILM they like to present their first foreign act. This is a mysterious one-man music project whose protagonist likes to hide himself and stays away as much as possible from any photo. He presents a sort of cinematic Ambient/Electronica music with a dark environment. The chosen band name is a trademark and BLACKFILM can impress with moody atmospheres and ominous soundscapes. As for further ingredients, some orchestral-sounds as well as some well chosen voice samples get some inserts. The cover art, done by Kostas K. of SUBHEIM, shows some dark gray and rainy autumn-like landscapes which reflect excellent the attitude of this album. As for musically comparisons, names like SUBHEIM, FLAGUE and GRIDLOCK come to mind, but BLACKFILM scores also with a completely different rhythmic outfit. Some tracks here seem to be created by chance or at least the rhythm section offers a lot of improvisation and a real "live" feeling ("Come & See" or "Stalingrad", the latter nails the listener with a playing time of more than 10 minutes...). It isn’t that "lets-program-and-distort-an-Electro-drum-kit-attitude", and the tracks tend to drift in unforeseeable directions. Another favorite of the IDM/Electronica-related audience is "Sonar" with it easier-minded arrangements and lighter percussion work. An album with an impressive artistic background, which is far above your usual Electronica experience. It is well-thought arranged and demanding music in which the listener can’t sink in after only 1 – 2 spins. It requires a bit time, attention and dedication. Packaged in a beautiful digi-pack offering some of the best photo images by Kostas K, which compliments this excellent release.
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Artist: Ich hatt' einen Kameraden (@)
Title: Kampstaoff LOST
Format: CD
Label: SkullLine (@)
Distributor: SkullLine
Rated: *****
This band name sounds militaristic inspired with a German background taken out of an old folk song, but behind this project we have a US-based duo presenting us their vision of Military-Industrial. It is the debut release for Sean and Jason and they could already earn some attention through some compilation appearances like "Bewein Dein Mädel" (SkullLine). But there’s more than to settle down some WWII-related German voice samples with a repetitive musically string orchestra ("He Will Not Come"), ICH HATT’ EINEN KAMERADEN can integrate different musically styles out of their different influences. Be it a Classic-oriented outfit featuring strings and pianos plus a bombastic drum set ("A Final Movement Forward"), here is also Ambient ("Forgotten"), Martial (He Will Not Come") and at least a small doze of Noise ("Imperium In Imperio", "Like Ashes") included. On a few pieces they also include their vocals, which is rather a speech language instead of singing ("Before The Storm", "Imperium In Imperio"). Published and released by the German SkullLine label, also this edition is strictly limited to 100 pieces available, so if above mentioned genres fits with your taste you have to hurry up once again.

Rayan J-W Smith: Becoming

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2008
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Artist: Rayan J-W Smith (@)
Title: Becoming
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Inimitable Records (@)
Distributor: iTunes
Rated: *****
This is the second of two releases from Inimitable Records, closely related to the first I reviewed a couple of weeks ago- Building Seven- "The Time Has Come". Ryan J-W Smith happens to be one half of Building Seven (along with Michael Schofield, aka Micro). That CD fell into the category of dreampop/softside downtempo. This one is basically in the same genre, albeit with a somewhat different feel. But first, a little bit about Ryan J-W Smith. The guy is somewhat of a Renaissance man, a musician since age 5, singer-songwriter at 13, an acclaimed Elizabethan playwright in the Shakespearean vein, an actor, director, photographer... jeez, is there anything this guy can’t do?

So how does Smith’s solo CD rate musically? Well, generally, pretty good. It has a cohesive flow often lacking from solo efforts where an artist dabbles in diverse styles in order to exhibit versatility. Ryan sticks to what he does best here- ethereal downtempo mellow pop with thick, lush orchestrations with accessible melody lines and a tinge of sadness. The opener, "White Russian", is a bit of an emotionally aching enigma that sets the stage for what’s to come. Ultimately complex, with nearly every sonic element incorporated in it that comes into play in later pieces. None of the songs with lyrics fall into the traditional verse-chorus-verse category. Rather, there is a repeated memorable line sung with soulful restraint but with heartbreaking pathos that digs deep into the psyche. Very effective. Ryan J-W Smith knows how to tug the heartstrings with seemingly little effort.

Although some of the arrangements are lush and rife with an undercurrent of sonic effluvia, there is a basic simplicity to the album that ultimately works in its favor. At times, the music is Eno-esque in layered synthetic clouds of ambience and uncomplicated piano melodies. Although "Becoming" sometimes verges on "preciousness", there are enough engaging elements that emerge to keep the album from tumbling into the cloying abyss of schmaltz. The use of vocoder is one particularly nice touch, but since words can’t really be distinguished, it has the effect of an auxiliary musical instrument rather than vocal treatment. The album wraps up full circle with its last track, "Emily", a fitting song of departure with the lyrics "Ill see what comes to me... let go, and let it be, Ill see what comes to me... ergo Emily" backed by acoustic guitar, brushed percussion, strings, piano and dabs of echoed short synth pads. A pensive reminiscence of someone you knew some time ago washes over you and as the scene fades to black. Even after an hour, it leaves you wanting more.

"Becoming" is an album of emotional wistfulness that rolls dreamily along like the soundtrack to a modern romantic foreign film. You know the kind – where at the end, you’re still not sure just what the relationship of the guy and the woman was after she jumped off the bridge into the water. But you know there was something about her he could not live without, and something about her life that she could not live with.

LULL: Like a Slow River

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 07 2008
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Artist: LULL
Title: Like a Slow River
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements
Rated: *****
After being back on the map with a great Scorn album, Mick Harris has finally unburied the Lull project with a new full length, and I feel it's only natural that it's been released by Alessandro Tedeschi (Netherworld)'s isolationist label Glacial Movements. Now, has anything changed since the heydays of the Lull sound? I'd say no, and it didn't need to AT ALL, as far as I'm concerned. Since the very first seconds of "Whiteout", you notice that the trademark Lull soundscapes are back in full shape: ultra-deep bass frequencies, floating drone tapestries, feels like being pushed underwater without oxygen AND ENJOYING IT. This is more or less in the vein of the "Cold Summer" masterpiece, and though unavoidably less groundbreaking it's still an inspired and evocative album. Welcome back, mr. Harris.

Disharmony: Cloned - Other Side Of Evolution

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 04 2008
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Artist: Disharmony (@)
Title: Cloned - Other Side Of Evolution
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Yes, Slovakia’s export act Numero Uno, the highly talented duo of DISHARMONY does it again and spits out another marvelous release following a conceptual idea, which has been seldom released. Slowly it becomes a trademark, that once again the highly skilled Tympanik Audio label catches once again the complete curious audience for another 70 minutes + playing time of a demanding Dark Electronica sound-trip in front of the home entertainment. Right on, Lord Sauron and Ryby have decided to bring out this album through a different label, although the friend- and partnership between both labels is obviously. "Cloned – Other Side Of Evolution" is a sort of collection of remix works, but not in the usual sense. Very often bands give out remix kits to see and hear what different artists would like to create out of the original recordings. Those remixes get very compiled to release an alternative album or simply to fill some playing time on the next studio album. Seldom, unfortunately very seldom the remix contributions are able to fill in anything innovative, something what would add a different and valuable view on the already discovered original. The virus to collect as much as possible remix works no matter who’s providing that stuff, has become in parts ridiculous – it is mostly a sort of money-taking game especially with so-called "scene-leading" acts, which often like to bridge some "free" time between two studio albums. Well, nothing all of this boring procedure can be discovered on this new DISHARMONY album, since the basic concept represents the opposite of the normal above described kind. This album isn’t the collection of DISHARMONY’s original tracks remixed by multiple foreign acts – this album collects remix works done by DISHARMONY on other acts. Some of them may got released on the representative albums of these acts, while others surely collect dust in some undiscovered archives. Original tracks by among others POLYGON, Australia’s EMPTY, the French Electronica sensation FLINT GLASS, Brazil’s Harsh EBM act DEAD JUMP, or Germany’s MNEMONIC got revamped and manipulated by these Slovakian wizards and the result is nothing else than a once again quality Dark Electronica release by them. 12 different remix works, two new and unreleased tracks following the style of the last years’ album "Malignant Shields", plus a special mutual track with the German female act SARA NOXX, which I tend to rate as being the most exceptional work of this high-quality album are featured on "Cloned". Let’s move forward, I hope that the fine golden day will come for this duo, on which they’ll get rewarded for their quality efforts delivered since years.


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