Music Reviews



Spellgate: Legends of Ardigm

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 20 2002
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Artist: Spellgate (@)
Title: Legends of Ardigm
Format: CD
Spellgate is a project whose sole aim seems to be to create music of fantasy and imagination. Every song is based on a storyline which they claim will span through subsequent releases. All the music is synthesized and they claim it has the speed and power of metal music and is called synth metal but I personally don’t see this at all really. To me it sounds like epic styled synth works and there are no metal sounds, styles or anything in my opinion at all. It seems that their previous works were known under the name Chivalra, at least the musical aspects by Darynlard. Dosashlia is the vocalist and the two entities seem rather well matched. Both artists have been composing for at least five years before they came together it seems. Vocally the only comparable similarity I can think of is Kate Bush. Musically there is a bit of range just from the first to the second track. The first track is very epic sounding and the second very dark and the supposed metal’ elements I can almost’ see but only in the rolling drumlins and the grinding synth pieces. The last piece is just plain happy synth music sort of like the pop-like New Age stuff that has dance beats and sing-songy melodies and rhythms. With only three tracks to judge from I’m not sure what I think of this project. I like the concept but since there are no lyrics in the inlay it will take some time for me to figure out the story scenarios. Also in all honesty the vocal style is not personally appealing to me, style-wise, however the singer does have a talented voice. While I’m curious to find out how this project progresses, especially to figure the story as it develops, I don’t think this is something that would be in my normal listening stack.
*NOTE: You can view the lyrics at the band’s website.

Artemiy Artemiev & Phillip B. Klingler: A Moment of Infinity

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 18 2002
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Artist: Artemiy Artemiev & Phillip B. Klingler
Title: A Moment of Infinity
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
The prolific Russian musician, composer and producer Artemiy Artemiev continues his collaborations with other musicians from all over the world. "A Moment of Infinity" showcases five long experimental and artsy suites with e-orchestral backgrounds and noises worked out with Phillip B. Klingler, whom we are used to refer to as P.B.K.. This is Artemiev's second collaboration with him (the first one being "Dreams in Moving Space", 2000) but the overall sound differs from the first one as it is more atmospheric and less "noir". There are practically no electronic beats and actually no definite rhythmical structures are to be found (except for a short percussive pattern in the last and darker composition), yet there are a number of weird tribal sampled percussions that give it a truly native and distant appeal. The Russian coldness of deserted landscapes covered in snow is only one of the virtual places you will visit when travelling this musical journey... On the other hand percussive (mainly metallic percussion) sounds sometimes almost recall African shores, like a warmer wind blowing through the snow and melting the snow... Clearly, it is a very visionary album. Industrial drones interwove with ritual field sounds, atmospheres of stillness and infinity are the playground for spacey and drifting experimentalisms that remind me of a bunch of releases from Extreme records I once reviewed, which included Skuli Sverrison's all-bass "Seremonie" album and a Shinjuku Thief work. Almost 70 minutes of glacial and noble avant-garde sounds for the true lovers of envelope-pushing.

Butt Boy: Visions

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 17 2002
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Artist: Butt Boy (@)
Title: Visions
Format: CD
Label: Butt Boy Music (@)
This 2002 release of Butt Boy seems to have a general theme of fairie bondage. The first track "Walz of the Imps" is supposed to be an obscene night forest dance of imps. Given this you can easily see how the music fits this as it is visual music much like "Night of Bald Mountain" is. This album already shares certain trademark sounds like the usual 'ahs' found on previous albums and various purcussion instruments such as xylephone and various bells and woods. "Riding Centaurs" slowly builds a pace until you are virtually 'galloping' musically.
"The Ritual of the Whip" takes on a wholey different pace and atmosphere and seems a bit more suspenseful with some minor bit of bass beats. There is one sound that travels the speakers so that you feel it is passing or circling you. Tension slowly builds in this track as does the overall composition. The fourth track also begins at a much calmer pace but then builds into a bizarre combination of thumps and growls. It's interesting at the least.
Track five uses some interesting sounds to begin with and the composition is a bit unorthodox but the following bassline is very casio-box to me. The concepts behind the music display the artists creative thinking - unfortunately the synth sounds used detract from the overall sound of the compositions. The best part I like on this track is the nearly orchestrated sound it builds into.
Hmmm, Succubi on a gay man's album? Okay if you say so! Personally I feel this composition is too light and floating to fit the presence of the succubi. Also, the militant snares don't fit the atmosphere either. The concept is interesting, the music track is okay but the two do not seem to match in this case, at least not to me. I think the ritual dance of the Satyrs may be something this artist would more likely associate with and the musical composition tends to imply the same in that I can feel more passion of the artist put into this one. Personally I think this is the best composition on this particular release.
The only thing I can say to the artist is invest in some new equipment. The compositions and concepts are very interesting but sometimes get lost in the nearly 'video-game-like' sounds which many of the currently used synths for these compositions have. I also like the 'Conundrum' release better than this one as this one has too much of what I would consider standard 'factory' keyboard style, technique and sound to it.

Butt Boy: Conundrum

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 17 2002
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Artist: Butt Boy (@)
Title: Conundrum
Format: CD
Label: Butt Boy Music (@)
First off the alias of the artist/composer Butt Boy is enough to make most straight men cringe. However the name is chosen simply because the artist writes music for what he calls "head-trip sex" and the composer is also an openly gay male in the BDSM, bondage, scene. First I'll say that personally I think a more tactful name should be chosen for this music project as the name itself drastically limits the audience and the music is not specifically something that only gay men or even fans of the bondage scene can enjoy. Of course the only reason I've ever heard of him is I use to live in Dallas Texas and while traversing local shops for fetish gear ran across his CDs which were described to me as a sort of cinematic industrial. I never did work up the nerve to bring a Butt Boy CD to the counter or even have one sitting around my massive CD collection as my friends would ask too many obvious questions. As silly as it is, and as confident in my own heterosexuality, I was 'afraid' to own a Butt Boy CD.
Well, now that I'm doing reviews and my curiosity was piqued, I was reminded of this music by my recent exposure to Robert Lloyd Anderson. Thus, I contacted Butt Boy in hopes of finally finding out what this was all about and maybe helping another independent artist further their musical success.
First off, the music is very interesting even though a bit simplistic at times. It reminds me of electronic New Age combined with a bit of Industrial and sometimes even Gothic influence. The first track is very airy sounding with lots of sampled choral 'ahs' and is very much like some early New Age I've heard though I can't place the artist now. Much like the music on those computer animation compilations set to music called "The Mind's Eye" series. The second track reminds me of a halloween album I've heard called "Music For Your Nightmare" which was all original compositions on synth. It has a feel of suspense and the sound of an early 1990's video game. The third track becomes a bit more dark and has a rather organ-like sound, like a gothic vampire playing dance music. I specifically like the bottle bells and deep 'ahs' here. Track four is very interesting and reminds me a bit of bands like Die Form and Chris & Cosey minus lyrics and a bit more light in texture. Track five has a deep 'umpa' sound that is interesting, almost carnival like but this would be a Killer Klown carnival. The final track, all nameless, is much more tempered and ambient in origin and ever so slightly reminds me of the general feel created by the works of Midnight Syndicate only a different style of music.
This album has some interesting beats, grooves, and atmospheres. It tends to be a bit simplistic and reminiscient of video game music at times. There is also a bit of an overuse of some sounds like bottle bells and 'ahs' are very often used - sounds that anyone with an inexpensive keyboard can easily concoct. At times the synths sound a bit outdated as well - sort of Casio-like. However, it sounds like the composer is simply doing the best he can with what is available and/or affordable and at that the compositions themselves can easily stand alone. Sometimes the unobtrusiveness and simplicity of the track simply lends more to the stimulated imagination making this music very likely quite suitable for it's purpose.
If the project name were changed to something for a more general audience and if the synth sounds are updated slightly this composer could easily gain a worthy amount of recognition. Overall it is not bad work and a worthy listen and I'd be curious to follow what he will do next.

AUTODIDACT: The blooming of one hundred shotguns

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 16 2002
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Artist: AUTODIDACT (@)
Title: The blooming of one hundred shotguns
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Autodidact are (or were? This was recorded in 99-00 and issued last year) Rkf (guitars, effects, loops, editing) and The Ice Queen Esmeralda (beats 'n bass). "The blooming of one hundred shotguns" is a long journey through abstract but evocative atmospheres. Tracks are often composed of several movements, like mini suites. It's mostly effected guitar drones, which are very well orchestrated so that the result is an ever mutating, ominous sonic mass - psychedelic but often scary and grand. Sometimes the bass and programmed beats come in, giving a more rockin' backbone though mainly repeating the same riffs in a quite minimalistic way - it's like an ambient version of noise-wave, with some resemblance of bands like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine or Jesus and Mary Chain. You have to approach the whole work with adequate mood and concentration, since tracks are very long and the structure based on repetition can put you off at a first listening - but it's a good cd of experimental guitar-based ambient.


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