Music Reviews

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Artist: Jack Or Jive (@)
Title: Issin 1988 - 2006
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Ultra-Mail Prod. (@)
Rated: *****
Already active since a long time, JACK OR JIVE have decided to celebrate their 20th anniversary with the release of this limited CD set, available in 900 normal editions and 100 special box sets. The rare special packaged and very nice designed 3-CD box set featuring besides three conceptual CD’s an artistic impressive created booklet providing several drawings by the female lead singer and main artist Chako, several background info, bio and discography of this Asiatic act. You got introduced into the diverse and mysterious sound worlds of this act, also a brief description about the compositional process is included. Edited and published by the Honk-Kong based label Ultra-Mail Prod. (which still needs to bring up a website...;-)), this package is one of the most outstanding works I’ve discovered so far! The band JACK OR JIVE featuring the imaginary female fronted Chako presents here unreleased recordings created over all the years of their long-time existence, but mostly completely new arranged and re-assembled. The music is as always the acoustic manifestation of Chako’s compositional efforts, stylistically based on Goth/Wave, Neo-Folk, Ambient and Ritual Industrial tunes – while all these genre-friendly monikers are still too limited to catch the whole musically horizon of this act. Their wide-spread cultural background they can integrate in almost all works, maybe this explains the fascination and mysticism behind this international renowned act. The CD’s are strictly separated under the monikers "Dark", "Light", and "Outside" – and somehow in the same vein the music is arranged. While the "Dark" CD features among others creepy and ominous sounding Ambient and Ritualistic drones and the whole mood is rather experimental and dark, the "Light" CD somehow clears up and brings up some more easier accessible works. "Outside" against to this looks and sounds a bit like the "live" side of the bands and can also integrate some improvised works – only possible and recorded for the moment. Chako’s voice and vocal cords have indeed a hard job to do to provide and fit with the required mood. Overall a must-have edition of a historically meaningful release for the fans and followers this act could gain world-wide.


1. Leave a temple
2. Wisdom from above
3. Chinese dragon
4. Solitary
5. Person of vision
6. The letter from the heaven
7. Nation which sank
to the sea
8. Four seasons
9. Lie in the palm of your own hands
10. Invulnerably
11. Riddance
12. Say goodbye
13. Lily dyed red


1. Star
2. Blue train
3. Floweret
4. Over
5. Rompish girl
6. Cross your hands
7. I will wait
8. Seashell ornament
9. Snow line
10. Brought to a head
11. Friends in Asia
12. And then
13. Autumnal leaves
14. His favorite book
15. Snow line 2
16. Advance together
17. Thank you


1. Next life / Flag stones
2. Show windows
3. Procession of mourners
4. Stare into the darkness
5. Sequent
6. A man in the moon
7. Reach across
8. Depletion of sensitivity
9. Capability for crisis management
10. So what?
11. Aberrations of youth
12. Row courage
13. Fragments of me 2
14. Zen riddle
15. The window
16. Spiritual echoes

Erdenstern: Into the Red

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 08 2007
Artist: Erdenstern (@)
Title: Into the Red
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Rated: *****
Part two in the Erdenstern epos "Into the red" deal with music that’s inspired by fighting monsters, ambushes and wistfully think of your loved ones back home.
The idea breath role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons but also fantasy literature and films.

The music is fantasy music, if such a genre exists? Music that would fit a fantasy film one could say. Erdenstern mix classical and medieval-folkloristic elements on the level of contemporary soundtracks. The music is not done by a real orchestra but sometimes sounds like it.
Their musical approach is in the narrative tradition of many classical composers atmospheres and images are created and the listener is taken onto a fantastic and adventurous journey.

Erdenstern do their thing very convincing and it’s not strange a band like this emerge.

The band releases the CDs on their own and that’s not a bad thing but I would love seeing them on a label. Erdenstern release way to fast and the CDs are so filled with songs that one easily gets lost among the them. Maybe (probably) the idea behind the music is to play it in the background.

More of bands like Erdenstern on labels and less of Mortis rip offs would be a good thing for the fantasy inspired dark ambient scene!

Encryption: Nosferamor

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 08 2007
Artist: Encryption (@)
Title: Nosferamor
Format: CD
Label: Waerloga Records (@)
Rated: *****
Encryptions second album is called "Nosferamor" and it unveils the Vampire shroud of darkness, mysticism, love and pain. Behold the encounter of a mortal man and an undead beauty, folding into a heartbreaking love story. Fans that enjoy Autumn Tears and Dark sanctuary would most certainly like Encryptions "Nosferamor".
This CD is way better than their debut and that goes for everything on it. The voices, the melodies, the atmosphere, the FX and the compositions.

I think Lacrimas should take in some more musicians to spice up the songs as they sometimes feel a little to much synthetic.

Encryption has outdone themselves here with Nosferamor and most of all Lady Clarisse. Her voice, the lead instrument of the band, merges with the textures of those the musicians craft as it moves in and out of lyrics for the conveyance of emotions!
Sometimes haunting and sometimes beautiful.

Arcana: Le Serpent Rouge

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 08 2007
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Artist: Arcana (@)
Title: Le Serpent Rouge
Format: CD
Label: Erebus Odora and Projekt (@)
Rated: *****
Arcana are one of the most known acts in the dark ambient scene of today. They often create atmosphere and fantasy beyond the world as we know it.

"Le Serpent Rouge" is released by the self owned label Erbus Odora and American label Projekt. On Projekt the band fit like a glove in that label.

Arcana have had a reputation about being a bit boring and monotone but "Le Serpent Rouge" is a step in a new direction for the band. That’s why it is such a pleasure to review this release.
Still, the band could mix it up a little bit more but this is a very cool step in the right direction.

The music is very much inspired by Dead Can Dance. A blend of dark ambient and folk music.

"Le Serpent Rouge" is a magical musical experience. At least sometimes!

Za Frūmi: Shrak ishi za migul - chapter 3

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 08 2007
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Artist: Za Frūmi
Title: Shrak ishi za migul - chapter 3
Format: CD
Label: Waerloga Records (@)
Rated: *****
This album is very impressive!

Simon Kölle (Musterion, Abnocto) and Simon Heath (Atrium Carceri, Abnocto) are the masterminds behind Za Frûmi.

This is Za Frûmi´s fifth release on Waerloga Records and the third in the "Za Frûmi saga". The band has two brilliant branches. One consisting of atmospheric, dark ambient, fantasy inspired instrumental music called "Za Frûmi Legends"
And the other is the "Za Frûmi saga" which deals with orcs. It’s music with dialogue in black speech but on "Shrak ishi Za migul" also the language of dark elves.

In the 20 pages big booklet of "Shrak ishi Za migul" (Gathering in the mist) one can read up on the story and everything said on the CD is translated to English in there.

It’s not only dialogue but also extremely good atmospheric fantasy music too!
The music sounds like some of the best soundtrack composers out there. Always with their own sound and stile. I stunned actually by this album. Normally I hate dialogue and I don’t care much about radio theatre but here it’s more like seeing a film in a new cool way. The film that plays is one of the darkest and most magical in the history of filmmaking. But hey! Wait. I have to remind myself this is no soundtrack to an existing film. But still they have had over 20 actors involved in creating the album.

This album I thought was made for Tolkien nerds but I was so wrong thinking that.
The mix, the master and the SOUNDS are so incredible I find no other word than magnificent!

The fact also that the two members have one solo project each which are some of the best in their genres make me believe the two Simons could make possible any music genre great. I cannot wait for them releasing another collaboration called Abnocto. According to the bands myspace site they recorded that project 60 meters under the ground!
The two Simons are crazy but that’s what so good!

The combination of electric and acoustic instruments gets under your skin and whisks you in to a split tempo, split personality of rough and smooth, wet and dry, sugar and salt anomalies of what one might witness when, well running outside, through the trees, in dark corridors of a haunted castle, walk among ruins, fight great battles, hide in the dark and sneak into a human inn. Great tunes!

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