Music Reviews



Libitina: The Shadowline

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 28 2004
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Artist: Libitina (@)
Title: The Shadowline
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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This is the third album by Libitina, a UK goth band, Libitina. As one of the rising goth acts of our time Libitina combines elements from the more traditional goth-rock sound with modern rock and synth elements. This album sees a bit more focus on the electronics but without losing any of the traditional goth heart and soul. Late 2002 saw the retirement of their previous frontman Peter and this is the first album to feature Phill (Thank the gods it's not Paul) as the main vocalist. Libitina would sit nicely next to bands like Behind the Scenes, Cruxshadows, Bella Morte, and Written In Ashes. I've always liked that Libitina is never too mainstream yet easily accessible while at the same time brings in elements of dark spirituality while not being overt and takes the subtle approach much like Faith & The Muse might. Goth music has always been that which approaches the darker sides of humanity while at the same time being unafraid to inquire about the unknown and Libitina does this nicely. Great to listen to in your bedroom, private dungeon, or stomp on the dancefloor to. The mixing of electronics into traditional goth-rock has somewhat blurred the lines between Darkwave and Goth but it seems to be suitable when bands like Libitina can maintain the more traditional sounding elements of the Gothic genre without losing it to the coldness of electronics. Nicely done!

Lilac Ambush: Arsenal

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 27 2004
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Artist: Lilac Ambush (@)
Title: Arsenal
Format: CD
Label: Twisted Spinach


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Lilac Ambush is definitely a unique project from Gloucester, Massachusetts formed in 2001. They define themselves as Dark Pop however so far all their reviewers have defined them with post-punk bands like Soft Cell, Joy Division, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and even Clan of Xymox. To that I'd like to add Jesus and the Mary Chain while the first, second, and third are pretty on the mark but don't expect the clarity of Xymox here. With a sound that is very hard to describe, very raw and guitar driven yet dark, neurotic, and electronic driven at the same time and vocally apathetic. It's amazing that they are a new millinium band as their sound is derived mainly from the post-punk late 80's and early pre-grunge 90's. While they are neither Gothic nor Industrial they will most likely attract the attention of both groups due to their experimentation with sound structure and style as well as their overall dark and melancholic overtones. This album will be considered either rock-n-roll brilliance or complete crap! I'm still undecided, give it a listen!

GAZNEVADA: Sick Soundtrack + Dressed To Kill

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 25 2004
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Artist: GAZNEVADA
Title: Sick Soundtrack + Dressed To Kill
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Astroman (@)
Rated: *****
Gaznevada adventure started at the end of the seventies when Billy Blade, Bat Matic, Andrew Nevada, Chainsaw Sally and Robert Squibb decided it was time to give a form to their social / sonic hysteria. At that time alternative foreign records weren't that much distributed here in Italy, so it wouldn't be that correct to link Gaznevada sound to the one of The Contortions, Lydia Lunch and generally to those bands who took part to the no wave movement in USA (maybe they had been more influenced by early Talking Heads from what I can hear on "Oil tubes"). You've got to know that Italy and especially Bologna had a musical developement on its own, just like Pordenone and Firenze. Anyway, the first recordings of the band were gathered on the homonymous tape released by Harpo's Bazar on 1979 (tape that will be released sometimes soon). On this reissue you can find "Mamma dammi la benza" from that tape along with every track coming from their very first album SICK SOUNDTRACK (Astroman also included the track recorded as Billy Blade And The Razors which was given free as a one side single on the first press), the MLP DRESSED TO KILL and their single NEVADAGAZ. Musically you can hear a certain developement that brought the band from the punk impetuosity of the first single ("Blue TV set" is a real punk anthem) to the experimental jazz new wave of the first album where you can find gems like "Going underground" (really memorable its melody and the powerful sax parts), "Japanese girls", "Shock antistatico" (here it seems really to listening to the Contortions of "Designed to kill" mixed with the astonishing band's personality), "Tij-u-van" (a weird opening part that seems coming right from the "united states of middle eastern drunken land" just to turn into a upbeat post punk track). Punk turn back with the live recordings of "Now I want to kill you" where Gaznevada use all their energy for a straight punk song. Listening to this you'll releaze that the band was able to do direct songs with particular structures. With DRESSED TO KILL the sound is a little more elaborated even if there aren't so many differences from the first album. Tracks like "A. Perkins", "Dressed to kill", "Frogs on the phone", "Going underground (2)" (a two minute eccentric reprise of the song coming from the previous record), "D.J." and "When the music is over" (yes, it seems to be twisted experimental cover of the Doors track) are less direct respect the first album but they define a little more the sound of the band adding to it some lush light with those crawling rhythms and cold vocals. This is the second CD released by Astroman and it could be useful to tell who's behind this label. Well, you won't never tell, but it's the same person who was running Italian Records then who decided that it was time to make people discover a part of our musical past that no one should forget. See you soon with he's next reissue: Freak Antoni. I suggest you to don't miss these reissues, you'd regret it! P.s. Get your copy at http://www.sonicrocket.com

ARGINE: Le Luci di Hessdalen

 Posted by Ferruccio Milanesi   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 25 2004
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Artist: ARGINE (@)
Title: Le Luci di Hessdalen
Format: CD
Label: ARK Records (@)
Distributor: MASTERPIECE Distribution
Rated: *****
New work for the Italian band ARGINE, the third full length for a band that released a year ago the anthology "Rifrazioni" to commemorate ten years of activity. A new album that is a turning-point, forgetting the limits of an apocalyptic-folk scene that is too tight for Argine, looking back at the post-punk and new wave origins and at the same time looking ahead, to new form of alternative rock. A very good work, marked by the usual melodic taste the band showed in former albums, the great care of arrangements, even if this time the songs are simpler, with a more direct attitude and a punk anger and energy.The tracklist includes new songs and other going back to the first period of the band, to the first demo "I Colori del Silenzio", dated 1996. So "I Nostri Occhi" and "Spina Nel Fianco", historical songs, are now revisited emphasizing the new wave spirit with filtered voices and a darker feeling. "Lamento Funebre" is the older version of the first album’s titletrack "Mundana Humana Instrumentalis", with lyrics by P.B. Shelley, now more dark-rock oriented. In all the album Corrado Videtta’s voice shows a melodic attitude unexplored in previous works, with something that in "Le Luci di Hessdalen" and in "Punti Invisibili" reminds me of CSI’s frontman Giovanni Lindo Ferretti.Acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and percussions, enriched by the great violin lines of Edo Notarloberti (playing as guest on most of dark/folk/neoclassic/rock Neapolitan bands’ albums) and the sweet voice of Cecilia Videtta, alternating the classical soprano tone and a softer and "pop" attitude, make "Radjodramma", "Lucente Anima" and "In Silenzio" songs on the edge between an emotional and thoughtful music (lyrics are always one of the strongest features of the band) and a commercial tendency. "Girotondo" is a song that makes me suffer, for it’s a sweeping and rhythmical punk song, very melodic and with a great commercial potential but it’s totally destroyed by a terrible mixing (while the other songs aren’t bad mixed): you’ll hear only a padded bass overwhelming drums and voices, and above the chorus female voice is totally impossible to understand. This song is great and deserves much more.To conclude, a new album that is new born: towards the recovery of its past, the band has found its path, mixing new-wave, post-punk, alternative rock, poetic feelings and commercial attitude and it’s now ready to exit the niche to meet a greater public.

NICK GREY AND THE RANDOM ORCHESTRA: Regal Daylight

 Posted by Ferruccio Milanesi   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 24 2004
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Artist: NICK GREY AND THE RANDOM ORCHESTRA (@)
Title: Regal Daylight
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Sensitive Records (@)
Rated: *****

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NICK GREY AND THE RANDOM ORCHESTRA is a total surprise for me. Every listening adds something to a vision of higher Art, where everything has its role in creating a refined but passionate fusion of poetry and music. Different influences and a conflicting use of classic instruments and electric guitars and drums show a complete personal capacity of making new what is ancient and at the same time to make ancient what is new. Consider a sweet and sad piano (a really sad piano, giving you the sense that everything’s lost), a soft electronic drum, a distorted guitar wringing your heart, and a deep voice whispering or singing with an emotional strength that reminds me of AND ALSO THE TREES’ singer Simon Huw Jones. Add a trumpet and a clarinet giving particular and unexpected influences, a violin and congas and you’ll get this fusion of neoclassic music, avant-garde, electronic beats, Debussy, Current 93 (considering their wonderful "Soft Black Star") and Dead Can Dance (in particular for some parts involving ethnic drums).
"The Zealot", just to mention one of the songs, is simply beautiful, a sort of a lullaby in a dusty empty room. "Look Like Moses" alternates a trip hop soft atmosphere, with a nostalgic kletzmer fleeling clarinet, a sort of Yiddish vocal melody (I don’t know why but I feel strongly so... ), the powerful voice of the tenor Vasile Moldoveanu, a trumpet giving the sense of a world fading away. "November Fadeline" is a must for people loving ASHRAM, UNTO ASHES. "Hiding in Seaweed" shows the fascinating voice of Jasmine Pinkerton on a congas rhythm, a medieval lament in a Moroccan harem. "Parachute drops" with a Hammond, glockenspiel notes falling like drops, gives the feeling of a wait, of something growing that will happen.
I think this is not an easy listening album, not Californian beach party. It’s full of cultural and poetic suggestions, every time shows a different side you’ve not noticed. But it’s not an esoteric piece of art: you’ll love it more and more because it’s full of sweet, heart-touching melodies, it will entrap you and you’ll listen three times without stopping.


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