Music Reviews

Humour Malade: Humour Malade

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 05 2008
Artist: Humour Malade (@)
Title: Humour Malade
Format: 12"
Label: Brouillard Définitif (@)
Rated: *****
Another great release from the Brouillard Définitif label after the new album by Guerre Froide and the Leitmotiv collection (a must for everyone into coldwave or darkwave). Humour Malade are an obscure French act hailing from Aix-en-Provence. They were active between 1988 and disbanded in 1992 - they recorded more than 100 songs and covers but no records, singles or even demos were put out - this lp is a selection of their finest moments plus a cover of Joy Divison's "Exercise One" and let me say it... the result is a monster of an album. Musically they are close to the coldwave bands and the overall sound of the album is soaked in a lo-fi reverb, so it's all a little abstract (Cabs are stated among their influences). The LP is on clear vinyl and comes with an amazing artwork. A major recommendation for this one and I strongly hope to hear something else from their archives.

Birch Book: Fortune & Folly

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 23 2008
Artist: Birch Book
Title: Fortune & Folly
Format: CD
Label: Helmet Room Recordings (@)
Distributor: Massive Music
Rated: *****
Melding with the neo-medieval-folk sensibilities that Dead Can Dance re-popularized, Birch Book's Michael B'eirth labors to resuscitate the troubadour tradition in this now out-of-print collection of psychedelia-tinged folk originals. Not since John Renbourne, Bert Jansch and the Dransfield brothers of the sixties have I heard such serious acoustic guitar-driven intent to praise the itinerant minstrel. An American to boot, the man is also an accomplished custom luthier (guitar maker) based somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

Though not in as cerebral a mindset as Nick Drake, B'eirth rhymes and chooses his words well enough to make his ultra-lilting, whispery delivery bearable (for those who are not too into having some guy breathing in their ear). In other words, if you loved the movie Once, you may not be able to do without Fortune & Folly. A great moment comes from track six, the instrumental "Diaspora," a frightening take on Leonard Cohen with a beautifully mixed-in jet airplane sound, although some lyrics would have made it brilliant. The only complaints as far as technique is concerned are a few wobbly harmonies and strangely dubbed vocals on track four, "Young Souls."

A significant letdown, however, is that the lyrical themes largely center on the troubadour himself and little else, as in track 7, "Wandering Boy"; track nine, "The Trip Goes On" is a pernicious example of overindulgent repetition. There is little room left for the picaresque narratives and fables that should actually come from the bardic tradition from which B'eirth takes his cue. Where are they? Alas, the beasts with two backs and the jealous cuckolds are nowhere to be seen. Fortune & Folly is an otherwise promising folk outing that smolders with ambition, yet is hobbled by the crippling self-importance that helped scuttle the previous great folk movement. It could be that there is such a thing as too much transcendence.

Cranebuilders: Sometimes You Hear Through Someone Else

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 22 2008
Artist: Cranebuilders
Title: Sometimes You Hear Through Someone Else
Format: CD
Label: Azra Records (@)
Distributor: Massive Music America
Rated: *****

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Liverpudlian proponents of gentle twee-rock sincerity, the Cranebuilders have apparently had a UK following before crossing the Atlantic via this stateside Azra/Massive Music release. This quintet features a frontman who favors singing near the very bottom of his register, much in the manner of an upbeat Lou Reed. The band display touches of Spacemen 3, early Sisters of Mercy and This Mortal Coil (in order of strength) throughout their sad odes to young love, lust, loss and awkwardness.

This 20-song CD (including 8 bonus tracks) overall is deceptively American-sounding, indeed even more so than anything recorded by the Red House Painters, whose glacial tempos and moods they affect with only a fraction of the brooding venom. It's all the more surprising that this band do not tap into their rich English tradition of liturgical vocal harmonies. Their female singer only seems capable of following along in unison, rendering the vocal deliveries as flat as cardboard cut-outs. This disappointing trait casts a pall over otherwise bright spots such as "So What Could I Do" and "Morning Cup" (the latter of which is just funky and driving enough to be saved from cringe-worthy descriptions of "sweet surrender"). She only manages to harmonize once, slightly, in track 9, "She Can't Find the Words." The best, most sublime and transcendent moment is track 11, "Advanced Directive," with its haunting, Spacemen-like 2-chord vamp.

I hate resorting to stereotypes, but with this CD the Cranebuilders fail to take more advantage of the wealth of native influence all around them, and have a lot more to answer to than they bother with. And so compared to most of their predecessors, who were much better at the English art of making dreary, drab, bleak existence sound cool, here they come up short.

KREPULEC: New Radical

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 19 2008
Artist: KREPULEC (@)
Title: New Radical
Format: CD
Label: Beast Of Prey (@)
Rated: *****
Here we are, after the interview published at the beginning of the month, with the new Krepulec album review. NEW RADICAL is the title of the new and properly distributed Krepulec album which present a new line-up: the band now consists of Wojciech Z., Tomasz L., Przemyslaw C. and Marcin J. Thematically it tries to recreate the atmosphere of the post conflict times incarnating desires and dreams for a new life coming after a long time of fighting and determination. As Krepulec wrote: "The vision of times and changes people were doing creating "new" system". This album is a particular one because its eleven tracks haven't got lyrics, the only words you can say are coming from samples (but being in Polish language I can't tell what their meaning is). Another peculiarity is the new increased traditional folk influence which is bringing to the audience a less industrial approach (only "Poznan" has a sort of industrial sound) but without forgetting a certain dark vein thanks also to percussions and samples. Accordion, acoustic guitars are mixed with drums and strings creating tense moments (see "Kongres jednosci") as well as joyful ballads ("Mysl o przyszlosci!"). NEW RADICAL is a new way of playing new-folk and Krepulec did a good job. The album is also available in a limited edition released in military bag for medical equipment. On front is printed KREPULEC "New Radical" made in three different colours - black, dark brown and dark green. Inside are tree CD's, "New Radical" CD, "Krepulec" CDR and "Parabellum and bonus" CDR. Further more three propagandal posters in A4 size, three photos made in sepia and two graphical photos. All hand made and limited to 150 copies. Beast Of Prey already sold all the copies but you can look for your copy through different distributors.


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 18 2008
Artist: GRANDCHAOS (@)
Title: Open Source
Format: CD
Label: Urgence Disk
Rated: *****
After some MCDs and a double CD of remixes titled "In sedens" and released by Vendetta Records in 2006, here's the first proper debut album by Grandchaos. OPEN SOURCE expand into fourteen new songs what we had the opportunity to check on the 2004 E.P. "Ionize me": obsessive dark electronic tunes with references to early Die Form and a bit of danceable attitude (imagine what the term danceable meant back in the '80s for the goth/electro audience). The CD opens with the short and almost techno "The ghost" just to give space to "3rd life", a song which introduce you to the sonic world of Tcheleskov Ivanovitch, made of minimal analog obsessive sounds coupled to a vibrating dark vocal. The semi robotic approach to melody is catchy and convincing and tracks like "Raving mad" or the following "Ultra dark day" are great tunes where the alternation of male/female vocals work really well. This is an album that you should buy if you love the dark electro style and I hope that it won't pass so much time 'til Grandchaos will release something new since that Ivanovitch welcomed as new member Oliver T. (active also as Op.ale and Metamorphose) whose was already collaborating with him for live gigs.

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