Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Crash Frequency 02 - Australian Independent Darkwave
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Crash Frequency (@)
Rated: *****
The Australian Crash Frequency strikes back, this time with a DCD set to gain some international and world-wide attention. It was lately Charles Fenech of ANGEL THEORY who told us in our current interview (please look for it somewhere else here...), that the Australian Electro/Industrial/Goth scene has reached a special point of evolution, where some good recognition occurs and that the included bands, especially the ones presented through this collective – show a lot of diversity and originality. His words got proven right with this compilation featuring almost all Crash Frequency bands – I miss only SOBIQUET, INTRA-SONIC and STARK here. The first disk named "Arrival (Home)" features 15 tracks of – so-called - "radio versions" featuring mostly the best pieces taken out of the latest albums of each band, but also some goodies and unreleased new tracks. Opening act marks – like expected – the currently striking duo of ANGELSPIT with their track "Vena Cava". If some of you really haven’t checked out their new CD "Krankhaus" – an epic in both parts, Industrial-Metal music and artwork – I then advise you to do so! Goth Rock was and is not my cup of tea, but the famous IKON give a well done piece here and their "Sunset At Golgotha" is still unreleased. To the straight and melodious EBM/Electro music of ANGEL THEORY I don’t have to give any further explanations, because this act is maybe together with IKON the most known act internationally. "Human", out of Charles’ last and highly recommended full length CD "Re-Possession" is one of the best tracks he has ever composed. Comes then N0N-PLUS, a relatively new member of the collective and musically based into the Powernoise/Ambient genre. I haven’t heard anything from this act before, so that’s a bit hard to start comparisons, but this decent track featuring ominous synth layers and a steady beat makes me hungry for more. Follows then the great duo TANKT with a new and unreleased track "Surveillance". You remember their well done "Club Life" CD, also licensed to Static Sky Records? Well, forget it, because this "Surveillance" knocks almost all tracks from "Club Life" out of the field! Comes then the duo of THE CRYSTALLINE EFFECT and so the journey into a musically more strange copulation, because they mix Electro elements with Trip-Hop efforts mostly guided by decent female vocals. Their track here, "One Time In Life" taken from their new EP "Blurred Edges" is a well done example for the more Trip-Hop-based kind of this duo. LUX VOLTAIRE is also an act I haven’t discovered so far, I can only remember their funny "Oberheim" contribution from the first chapter of this compilation series. Their new and unreleased "Dreamtime" is a straight and modern arranged Electro dance track with a duty guitar riff in between. They are followed by THE PROCESS VOID coming up with a new instrumental cut and the Synthpop act TYCHO BRAHE with a track of their latest release "Atlantic", out on the US-based label Coohagen Music. RESURRECTION EVE have already produced more remarkable tracks than "Embrace", which was also available on their great last CD "Ascension", out on GUP/Endless Records. PLAQUE SEQUENCE follows and they are totally new to me. "Futuristic Techno, Cyber-Electro, Psytrance and Technosexual Fetish-Industrial", so the description on their music – nothing what could help to make the things clearer. Lee Bulig of STARK has done some additional music and Pete Crane of THE CRYSTALLINE EFFECT seems also to be a member.
We have then two tracks done by DOMINO THEORY (dark Pop with Trip-Hop attitudes leaded by female vocals) and DANDELION WINE, who could lately get a deal with the German Ars Musica Diffundere, a division of the Black Rain group. DAZY CHAIN give us their track "Hush" taken from their last full length – a track which starts peaceful and calm, but then to come out in a rough and angry Punk/Metal-like raging piece. Last track of this first CD then is provided by the new collective member THE TENTH STAGE musically ranging between Goth Rock and Electro. I dig this track a lot, it mixes up both styles with some good male vocals. So 15 tracks in all on the first CD, let’s check out the content of CD2, called "Departures (Club)" and so – like the name explains it – turns the music into a more club-oriented field.
ANGEL THEORY now opens the second disk, again with "Human", but this time in remix version created by John Van Loon out of the Netherlands. The rhythms are now a bit updated, John has also done some further production and he added his voice for a kind of guest singer appearance – in all a very satisfying remix work. THE CRYSTALLINE EFFECT now show with their second track "Only You Can See You" their other side, musically more depending on a modern kind of Electro dance – it’s a great and previously unreleased track. ANGELSPIT send out another invitation to join them on the dancefloor for some crunchy Industrial/X-over actions with a new "Pill Binge" remix of their "Elixir", originally another fine piece out of the "Krankhaus". I then see the difficulty to offer a club-friendly track from IKON – finally they present here with "Ghost In My Head (Adam Cal Remix)" a track of the 1998 album "This Quiet Earth". Also some unreleased stuff is offered by TYCHO BRAHE with their track "Avarice", which got by the way remixed by another Australian legend alive again, George Pappas of REAL LIFE. It’s a great Synthpop tune with some female vocals integrated, which doesn’t leave any wishes open. Also the newbies of THE TENTH STAGE give a second track "Criminal World", which got remixed by Dave Foreman of TANKT. Have a clear listen to the great and alive-sounding synth layers. Next are TANKT with the title track of their past full length CD "Club Life", here in a special remix created by Charles Fenech of ANGEL THEORY. Please note also his special guest vocal appearance on this great track. PLAQUE SEQUENCE return with a modern dance track taking influences out of Trance and Techno. Pete Crane of THE CRYSTALLINE EFFECT does his best here, although the adding of some more vocals wouldn’t be wrong. The rough tunes of THE PROCESS VOID – here "Lethargy" taken from their debut - also got a remix here, this time done by LUX VOLTAIRE. Relatively danceable, but mostly instrumental. RESURRECTION EVE then show themselves from their very best side and offer a new remix of their track "Forever" – be sure and listen only 1 – 2 times the refrain, it will be undeletable burned in your mind - one of the finest Synthpop tune this act has ever produced! Comes then DOMINO THEORY with an "Apology" – but there’s nothing to excuse, because the track grows on you after a few rotations. But don’t ask me who the responsible remixers ROMUS & REMULUS are, if we don’t think of the historically meaning. DANDELION WINE have again the flute in action, their at times strange female vocals and some guitar riffs as well – it’s always hard for me to sort them in, but I take it as sports – they are another proof of the diversity offered out of Down Under. Last but not least we get an unreleased track by LUX VOLTAIRE, "Australia’s Premier Neuropunk Outfit – whatever this means. After an acoustic opening the track "Despite You" turns into an acceptable and danceable electronic track, well done, Gentlemen.
A final and special note has to be taken for the brilliant artwork created by Destroyx of ANGELSPIT - indeed it has some relations to that famous "Krankhaus" art, plus also the great "flying skull" logo craeted by Roberto Massaglia of TANKT/THE TENTH STAGE. Charles Fenech of ANGEL THEORY finally has collected this well done comp.
I of course have some personal favorites here on this compilation, but I try to avoid to pick them out specially. It is because that the Australian Electro/Industrial/Goth scene has so much diversity and surprises in all genres to offer that every listener will find his/her very own favorite. Come on and take a steady listen to Down Under and the leading Crash Frequency collective – satisfaction guaranteed!

Disc CF01 : Arrival [Home]
1. Vena Cava - Angelspit
2. Sunset At Golgotha - IKON
3. Human - ANGELTHEORY
4. Of The in Visible - n0nplus
5. Surveillance - Tankt
6. One Time in Life - The Crystalline Effect
7. Dreamtime - Lux Voltaire
8. Skyro - The Process Void
9. Don’t Feel That Way - Tycho Brahe
10. Embrace - Resurrection Eve
11. Oblivion - Plague Sequence
12. No Apology - Domino Theory
13. Tulip Eyes - DandelionWine
14. Hush - Dazychain
15. The 10th Stage - The Tenth Stage

Disc CF02 : Departures [Club]
1. Human (JVL Mix) - ANGELTHEORY
2. Only You can See You - The Crystalline Effect
3. Elixir (Elixir Remix) - Angelspit
4. Ghost in My Head - IKON
5. Avarice (George Pappas Real Life Remix - Previously Unreleased) - Tycho Brahe
6. Criminal World (Exclusive) - The Tenth Stage
7. Club Life [Club Mix] - Tankt
8. Take The First Step - Plague Sequence
9. Lethargy - The Process Void
10. Forever - Resurrection Eve
11. Apology - Domino Theory
12. Arc - Dandelion Wine
13. Despite You (Previously Unreleased) - Lux Voltaire

PSYCHIC SPACE INVASION: All God's Children Got Space

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 11 2006
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Artist: PSYCHIC SPACE INVASION
Title: All God's Children Got Space
Format: CD
Label: Elvis Coffee
Rated: *****
Ok, ignore the bad layout, first because this cdr is available for postage costs only, second (and most of all) because this is a dramatic improvement from PSI's previous releases, which by the way were not bad at all. Ian Holloway hasn't changed the nature of his project (i.e. synth-driven cosmic ambient), but has surely created a more daring and focused piece of minimal music. The single 43' 30'' track starts begins with a huge organ sound which will float in the air for some 20 minutes, when a synth sweep and then a pitch-shifted melody are slowly added. Then the organ returns, closing the piece in a circular way. While I'm still not a fan of overtly audible synth sounds, PSI has written a great composition, with a skillful use of timing and sequences; and the organ-like sound is splendid (think of jliat's "The Nature of Nature"). Well worth the few pennies to cover postage.

PAUL BRADLEY: Sketches from Dust

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 11 2006
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Artist: PAUL BRADLEY
Title: Sketches from Dust
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz
Rated: *****
A new full length from Bradley and you know he's always great and I'm a fan of his, right? This time he collaborates with Current 93 pianist Maja Elliott (whose recent CDep "1000 Water Craters on the Sea" features in turn Bradley's contribution, along with Steven Stapleton's and Aranos'). "Sketches from Dust" is a one-track work in the wake of Paul's more abstract, ethereal and melodic works, like "Anamnesis" and "Liquid Sunset". The drone ebbs and flows along in a peaceful, brain-healing way, though the last section, when Elliott's piano dirge crawl in, is quite sombre, even reminding of NWW's "Soliloquy for Lilith". Seems you simply can't go wrong with this guy.

ARC: The Circle Is Not Round

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 11 2006
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Artist: ARC
Title: The Circle Is Not Round
Format: CD
Label: A Silent Place
Rated: *****
As Canadian soundmaker Aidan Baker is gaining more and more recognition thanks to his quite impressive solo curriculum and his doom-drone project Nadja, it was about time that his trio Arc got to an official release, after a series of limited cdrs. The honour of releasing it goes to Italian A Silent Place, a Small Voices sub-label devoted to drone/folk/psychedelic sounds... which is exactly what Arc play. Baker (guitars, flutes, loops and edrumkit), his brother Richard (percussion, chimes, drums) and Christopher Kukiel (djembe and tabla) play lengthy, expanded but always melodic jams, where Aidan's trademark drones and loops are given a more, ahem, rock form. The comparisons with Popul Vuh I've read are definitely fitting, though the trio plays in a more electric and energetic form, which could find appreciative ears among fans of Vibracathedral Orchestra, Pelt, My Cat Is An Alien and the likes. The work opens with "The Endless Sequence of Life & Death", immediately summing up Arc's characteristics: a slow crescendo of looped melodies and sparse percussion leads to an ecstatic, distorted solo and a climax of feedback and drumming. Apparently inspired by Buddhist spirituality, "The Circle Is Not Round" luckily avoids any trippy new age indulgence to focus on a free-flowing epic sound which never loses an edge, not even in its quietest moments.

Roots Tonic meets Bill Laswell: s/t

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2006
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Artist: Roots Tonic meets Bill Laswell
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: ROIR (@)
Rated: *****

BUY from  BUY NOW from CD BABY (CDBaby.com)   or   BUY from  BUY NOW from CD BABY (CDBaby.com)
Roots Tonic are Josh Werner on bass & keys, Aaron Dugan on guitars & sounds and Jonah David on drums & percussions; they also are the band that accompanies and co-writes with NY-based hasidic jewish reggae star Matisyahu, who in turn is produced by ambiet-dub mastermind Bill Laswell himself. As you might have gathered by now, this is one of those epic and unforgettable sonic experiences for all fans of dub, reggae, ambient and experimental music (as much as that defitiong might still represent too big of a constriction for a genre-defying producer like Laswell).Roots Tonic lay down the law and the foundation of this album (of which they wrote all the songs), and although Laswell is well known for his skills on the bass guitar, on this one he sticks to just producing, creating his own usual blend of magic made of sounds, stabs, reverbs, delays and a whole slew of other sonic enrichments (all happening at his NJ-based studio Orange Music).If you don't know what you are getting yourself into I suggest you check out Matisyahu's music and Bill Laswell's website (it'd be an unthinkable and impossible task to check out all the music where he was involved in some shape or form) at www.silent-watcher.net/billlaswell to get a better idea of the geniuses at work you are dealing with here.This is of course a stricly instrumental record, so don't expect the rhymes and all of that, but do expect that groove and vibe is business as usual for these cats!To complete the picture of NY downtown people, this album is out on New York City's ROIR records.


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