Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Spectraliquid: Konkrete
Format: CD
Label: Spectraliquid (@)
Distributor: Ad Noiseam
Rated: *****
The debut release for this new Greece-based IDM/Electronica-based label looks a bit like the little twin to the highly anticipated debut DCD compilation "Emerging Organisms" by the Chicago Heights-based Tympanik Audio label. And indeed, some similarities didn’t definitely happened by chance. Behind Spectraliquid stands among others Kostas K., who is also the responsible musician behind the Ambient/Industrial act SUBHEIM, which is signed to Tympanik. And it is the project SUBHEIM, which opens this comp and they can insert the first highlight here. "Howl" is a little Down-Tempo/Ambient-Electro-driven masterpiece in a best GRIDLOCK-like manner, rich in its melodic content and it features the female Katja doing some "howling" vocals. Second appearance of FABRICS isn’t lesser interesting, the monotonous bass line programming reflects a lot of the ideas, which have been provided and celebrated by THE KLINIK. FLAQUE, well, we come to one of my personal favorites, offers the same track like presented on that Tympanik compilation with the title "Black Shadows In The Fog". That’s a great example how to combine lush layers with a hectic rhythm performance, always and ever supported of a steady cardiac-pacemaker-like rhythm. PSYTECH offer a new track, but this one got remixed SUBHEIM, who can show their talent once again. Another Greece-based project named MOBTHROW is currently preparing a debut release for Spectraliquid and also this act is responsible for the mastering of this compilation. "Deathstep" convinces with it’s staccato-like percussive moments, which get more and more raging as long this tracks runs. Second highlight is the calm and melodic instrumental tune by the established act DETRITUS, which can – just like SUBHEIM - count on Katja (www.myspace.com/katjaspectraliquid) providing some smooth vocals. XSOZ stands for the harder IDM/Click’n’Beat-like kind and "Please Wait" can be discovered too on their upcoming release at the German underground label Fich-Art, which normally presents early and revamped works of acts like MORGENSTERN, ASCHE or SYNAPSCAPE...). Last but not least, the Belgian act AH CAMA-SOTZ is to name as being the second better known name besides DETRITUS, and they’ve produced a fair final tracks of this promising compilation. What I said already on that Tympanik compilation, counts for this strong debut release of this Greek collective too. It’s an amazing compilation which should be able to appeal to all fans of demanding Electronica music. A lot of talent is hidden here, so let’s discover some new blood until we have to wait for some coming releases of SUBHEIM, MOBTHROW, FABRICS and/or XSOZ.

Tracklist:

1. Subheim - Howl
2. Fabrics - All Rights Reversed
3. Flaque - Black Shadows In the Fog
4. Psytech - Finding Yeesha (rmx by Subheim)
5. Mobthrow - Deathstep
6. Yttrium - Zeitlicht
7. Desperation & Fugue - Half Of The Truth
8. Detritus - Lead Balloons
9. Throttler & Track Killer - Against The Machines
10. Xsoz - Please Wait
11. Ah Cama-Sotz - Depth Charge


ZIBIR: Life Begins

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 27 2008
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Artist: ZIBIR
Title: Life Begins
Format: CD
Label: Haunted House Records (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
"Life Begins" for this UK-based solo-project of the Electronica-musician Mat Howlett, but since he has already released a debut EP entitled "Electrodes" on Haunted House Records before, would it not making sense to name this album "Life Continues"? However, it’s good to see and hear that there’s still musically activity asides the – let’s call it so – main label act CREATURE. Mat has collected 14 different tracks to offer his first full-length album and it can be seen as a kind of showcase of his programming abilities as well as his dedication to analogue produced synthesizer sounds. The music can’t be completely sorted into a strict genre-drawer, too often the tracks do leave the known paths. Between smooth and melodic harmonies ("Expectations") and typically mid-80ies synth-programmings ("Life Begins") heavily infiltrated with that romantic Pop/Wave attitude, this album fulfills all of your expectations, if you can find yourself familiar with this styles. Not EBM, also not at all Pop music, I like to place it very generally in the wide field of Electronica music – at least this vague description can mean anything. This seems to be quite intentional for Mat, as he produces his stuff far away from any hypes, maybe mostly for his own entertainment. Quite interesting sound design and mostly tastefully arranged, just give it a try.

VV.AA: Radio Rivendell Vol. 2 - The Book of War

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 25 2008
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Artist: VV.AA
Title: Radio Rivendell Vol. 2 - The Book of War
Format: CD
Label: Waerloga Records & Radio Rivendell (@)
Rated: *****
This compilation might be the best one ever to be released in the genre of fantasy music not to a movie or game.
The album fits somewhere between the classical Hollywood soundtrack music to dark ambient.

Waerloga Records and Radio Rivendell evolve from their earlier collaboration which resulted in the appreciated first volume in
the series of compilations. The first was all about the new artists (almost at least) and with not as much exclusive material.

On "The Book of War" we got some established names such as Za Frûmi, Ataraxia and Unto Ashes but also some of the artists on
the volume 1. I should mention that some of those latter named are really talented in their own niche if you will.

Honestly, most of the artists on this compilation could do good soundtracks to movies, games or even regular albums.

When it comes to the music Dråm stands out a bit from the grandiose sound of most of the 17 artists.
They represent one niche which is the traditional folk music. Both members of the band are "Official Master Musicians of the Realm",
the finest honor bestowed upon a performer of traditional music in Sweden.
I loved the track even though I would have a hard time listening to a whole album only sounding like that.

Dimitrij Volstoj together with Lost Kingdom also stand out as both their tracks are slow and kind of low. They are both
extremely good and suits perfectly on the album.
Dimitrij is a classical composer and has conducted orchestras in France, Italy, Norway, Austria, Hungary,
the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Russia, Lithuania, Mexico, the United States and Canada.
Lost Kingdom are two guys from Sweden debuting (the same day as this album was released) with very good neo-classical music
released on Waerloga Records.

Sibelian stand out as the only one using metal in the music and also opera.

Erdenstern, Peter Szwach, Anabasis, Gargrim the Liar, Markus Holler, Encryption, Sean Beeson, Sully Koba and A Journey of the Mind all
sounds like more or less high class soundtrack music for a video game or movie.

Za Frûmi and Ataraxia bring some darkness to the table (other too but these two do it best) and also a lot of spirit.

Radio Rivendell and Waerloga Records have approached the project in a new way: they wrote a story of a war
between the dark lord Vojvod Szadrin (with his fearful troops of undead, demons and dark champions) and the heroic captain Angus (with his reiters, knights and infantry).
For this story (which is presented very well in the booklet) they made chapters which they later on named. These names became titles as the 17 artists/bands went into the project.
The artists had the titles to choose from and were only told a bit of the story.
Almost all the artist made new songs for this compilation.
Some songs will later on appear on albums and others will be exclusive for this release.

I love the idea and the way the story unfolds and how it is presented is stunning!
The writing really gets me into the story and the fine artwork and good packaging really make this release feel refreshing!

I am blown away by the brilliance of Gargrim the Liar who possesses the tools and the knowledge of everything in the world
of fantasy music. Za Frûmi is always great and shows it once again so no suprise there.
Erdenstern are strong, Ataraxia great, Markus Holler very cinematic...

I could go on and praise all the artists, producers and people behind this release forever!

This is a gigantic album from an extraordinary new genre called Fantasy music. The collaboration of the leading label and the
leading radio station in the genre is just great!
As always one might argue about a certain track or whatever but this album is not going in 100 directions as many
compilations do even though they are unified by a certain theme. This is more like having 17 acts making one story alive.
It´s a collective work that promise a follow up! I cannot wait for a third volume.

The album is just perfect.

Absolutely essential listening for anyone who loves fantasy. An important new thing has arrived!

Visit http://www.radiorivendell.com/compilations/2 to learn more.

FANU, BILL LASWELL : Lodge

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 25 2008
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Artist: FANU, BILL LASWELL (@)
Title: Lodge
Format: CD
Label: Karlrecords (@)
Rated: *****
Hey, this another fine product featuring Laswell as a producer and Robert Musso as engineer, do you need anything more to figure out how the sound is like?. Beside the production the mighty hand of the "white ambassador of bass" Laswell and Fanu's break-beat skill characterize the rhythm section of this cd. Soft and groovy bass, stylish and pounding rhythms but differently from the collaboration with Submerged there's no trace of break-core, don't worry the usual "drum and bass" element is there but the atmosphere this time is way more jazzy, you have break-beat and classy fusion but also splinters of the post-Miles Davis era scattered all over the crime scene. Nils Peter Molvaer is a member of the crew as well as Bernie Worrell and Graham Haynes and with sailors like these you can bet the ship is gonna sail thru the warm water of modern black music, but at the same time don’t expect it to be a black album to the core. I think what this people really inherited from Davis (sorry for repetitions) is the global approach to music, atmosphere and introspection, that’s way I thing they get the most right when they twist and reshape jazz and funk to melt them together with dance-floor beats and/or nightly moods (like in Orh). I can’t say in which percentage Fanu did this and Laswell that for their styles on this work are really complementary and probably the arrangements of these top class hosts helped a lot to refine and keep together what was an already well assorted combination. Poor Miles, I’m sure he would have loved to be featured among the guests.


Marc Manning and Yann Novak: Pairings

 Posted by Michael Grillo   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 24 2008
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Artist: Marc Manning and Yann Novak (@)
Title: Pairings
Format: CD
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Upon first listening to Marc Manning and Yann Novak’s collaborative endeavor cleverly titled "Pairings," I thought to myself, "this is the soundtrack to some futuristic themed ride at Disney’s EPOCT center." And you know the rides I’m talking about, the one’s that depict some utopian and unrealistically peaceful Buck Rogers-esue future with pod shaped spaceship cars, robot housekeepers, television phones, but I digress. The point is that the first two tracks were generic, uninspired, and vapid. However, things take a significant turn for the better starting with track 3 and exponentially improve thereafter. "Pairing 2 pt. 2" is a brilliant matching of droning electronic noise and subtle, yet strategically placed acoustic guitar patterns and ethereal string orchestrations. This general pattern continues on "Pairing 3 pt. 1 which gets slightly more complex with manipulated flamenco guitar samples and richer sound textures that seamlessly culminates with the album’s closing track "Paring 3 pt. 2 which is a 10 minute piece that crescendos between lush and layered ambient textures and unsettling silence. They key element of these three tracks is that they are thoughtfully and tastefully composed to the extent that it manages to sound simplistic and spacious when there is in fact quite a lot going on musically. With the exception of the two opening tracks, which I already discussed ad nauseum, "Pairings," (which I don’t think is cleverly titled in case you didn’t pick up the sarcasm) is a very interesting album that works and transcends beyond your run of the mill drone music which I’m sure was developed by the CIA for the sake of getting information from terrorists until they realized that Metallica works much better.


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