Music Reviews

Bill & Murray: Rabbit Hole E.P.

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 07 2015
Artist: Bill & Murray
Title: Rabbit Hole E.P.
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Other Voices
Rated: *****
Based in Tel-Aviv, Bill & Murray is a trio formed in 2013 by David Blau (guitar, vocals), Stella Gotshtein (keyboard, vocals) and Ran Jacobovitz (drums). In two years they already have on their back participations at international music festivals in North America and Europe, an East European tour and they opened for Gary Numan. "Rabbit Hole" is their first single from their forthcoming album 'A New Kind of High' that will be released this fall, as far as I understood. On this three tracks single the band is only formed by Stella and David and present a minimal approach to new wave and pop. The main song is a melancholic yet energetic tune that sometimes recall me Slowdive mixed with Kylie Minogue because of the dreamy and catchy approach. "What's There To Fear (live)" is a bit less pop but still dreamy and sees the band playing a minimal set with tribal drums, a basic synth line and a guitar. "Rabbit Hole (Sketch)" closes the single with a demo version of the main track which now sounds more intimate and minimal thanks to the use of two bass lines and male / female choruses. The single is downloadable for free here and the package includes a nice video for "Rabbit Hole".
Artist: Gazelle Twin (@)
Title: Unflesh
Format: CD
Label: Anti-Ghost Moon Ray/Last Gang (@)
Rated: *****
Elizabeth Bernholz - I thought her surname was Walling when I had a chat with this brilliant Brighton-based artist after her excellent debut, but linear notes highlighted this relevant pittance - came back as Gazelle Twin on late September (sorry for the delay, but you can vaguely imagine how many releases I daily receive on my exploding mail box...) by an album that differs a little bit from "The Entire City", but I'm pretty sure she didn't dash expectations. In spite of some slight changes of the style she explored - you could easily notice that Benge had a hand in the balanced mixtures between analogue electronics, Wiccan house sonorities, gothic nuances, electro-pop and Knife-like trip hop -, her vocal interpretations wisely dig into personal statements, signs of temporary possession, memories, fear and mindsets by means of a wise matching between lyrics and vocalizations that are going to render her states of mind in a vivid way. I personally prefers the moments where industrial vein as well as the musical flesh more clearly pulsate as it happens on great songs like "Still Life" and "Belly of the Beast", but the whole album is really stunning. Without any sycophancy, Gazelle Twin's last output is really unmissable...

Feuerseele: Hinter Spiegeln

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 30 2015
Artist: Feuerseele (@)
Title: Hinter Spiegeln
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Feuerseele is a German folk-rock metal band with bagpipes! as their lead instrument. All the songs are sung in Deutsche, which is not likely to gain them much of a following here in the U.S., or other primarily English-speaking countries. On one hand I admire their uncompromising aesthetic in this regard, but on the other, I'm left out in the cold, not really comprehending what the hell songs are about. 'Hinter Spiegeln' is their second album, but of course I've never heard their first. The music has kind of a medieval bent, and vocalist Markus is quite capable of carrying it off in a Larry Kirwan kind of way. There's some nice variety on the tracks of 'Hinter Spiegeln' and the playing is spot on, but I have to say the constant use of bagpipes is a bit disarming, and eventually becomes kind of tedious. Most of it is pretty jovial, uptempo stuff, and Markus has enough emotion in the vocal department to make an impact. Feuerseele could be a very cool party band at a Renaissance Faire (that allowed electronic instruments), and a stein of brew is an absolute must here. I suppose if you like bands such as Corvus Corax, Alestorm, Skyclad, Subway to Sally, and even Black 47, you might like this. Although I don't hear any "big hits" on 'Hinter Spiegeln', strong tracks are "Jabberwock", "Golgotha" and "Alles Show". Still, if these guys want to expand their market, singing in English on the next album is a must. I think they've got a lot to offer in the medieval folk-rock metal genre, but English is the universal language of popular music, and there's just no getting around that. BTW, translated, the band's name Feuerseele = Firesoul, and the album title 'Hinter Spiegeln' = Behind Mirrors.

Reanimation: nder the Last Tree on Earth

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 19 2015
Artist: Reanimation (@)
Title: nder the Last Tree on Earth
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Well here's a CD that's been a long time coming to review. The copy I was sent to me was damaged, and I had to ask the artist (Michael Shanahan, from Winfield, Illinois) for another copy which he graciously provided. Other things came up and it was a little while before I could get to review it. Reanimation is Shanahan's solo project that took root in 2006, but its seeds were planted much earlier in the bands Every Part of the Animal and Quixotic, back in the 90's. Since then Shanahan did one other Reanimation album, 'Giants Hide Among Us' (2011). I decided to sample a little bit of all of that for frame of reference. I can definitely see his progression over the years, culminating in 'Under the Last Tree on Earth', a remarkable and diverse album that defies categorization. Experimental, post-rock, psychedelic, ambient, progressive, space-rock, art rock, trip hop and even a touch of goth, it's all here on 'UTLTOE' in one form or another, often mixed together so there is no way this can be pigeon-holed.

Opening strong with "Dead Heart Souvenir", the track carries a similar moody tension to Massive Attack's "Angel" and a touch of Pink Floyd. While Shanahan doesn't have a particularly strong voice, it's effective for the material. An excellent beginning that draws you in with all its idiosyncrasies such as the wild flute in the background. A real burner! Switching gears for "Abigail's Ashes Came Home", this melancholy mood piece features a mournful oboe over atmospherics and plaintive piano. Sort of reminds me a little of the instrumental part of Roxy Music's "Chance Meeting", more in the mood than song structure. The vocal doesn't come in til well past the three minute mark, and the song picks up steam from that point, turning almost shoegazey. The nearly buried dialogue sample adds a little ambience; echoes of ghosts of the past. Things really take of with "Surprise Hitchiker", a quirky rocker with Joy Division-esque bass and drums, a weird rhythmic sample that sounds like a cardboard box in a washing machine, with a simple but effective guitar line. This has all the hallmarks of pre-ambient Brian Eno (especially in the vocal department), and it's one helluva great rock song. The mostly acoustic number (until the end) "The Space Between Words" comes out of the same psychedelic playbook as bands similar to Ash Ra Temple, more of a transitional mood piece than anything definitive. "And You" is likely the weakest piece on the album. The hammered staccato piano chords quickly grow tedious and the vocals are too understated to be effective. The song builds to a battery of sound but ultimately misses the mark. The piano on "Growing with the Growing Light" is much better as Reanimation moves back into rockier territory. It's an anthemic number that a band like Oasis might have wish they'd written.

"Opiate of the Hoi Polloi" returns to the psychedelic with a Velvet Underground style jam with a recorded phone message sample woven into it. While it doesn't really go anywhere, it is nevertheless interesting in an atmospheric sort of way. There's plenty of krautrock influence on "The Serpent Fire (Everything Fades)" with what sounds like mellotron during the verses. The vocals could have been pumped up a little more, sort of getting lost in the sauce of heady guitar stew. The finale, "She Never Sleeps" begins with perky acoustic guitar fingerpicking over a minimal beat (kick drum) and synth strings. It's gentle at first, picking up a little steam along the way. Shanahan's vocals are rather endearing here. The song has a lot of commercial potential, and I don't just mean sales units or radio play, but I could actually hear it being used in a product commercial. Maybe not the whole tune but some of it.

So overall Reanimation's 'Under the Last Tree on Earth' is a bit of a conundrum. It's not experimental enough to fall into left field/gray area music, and it's too eccentric to be considered alternative rock. A well-known band such as Radiohead might get away with this kind of anomalous format and still be praised for it. Less prominent artists encounter difficulty in establishing an identity (and increasing their fan base) when they try to cross too many genres. Shanahan isn't afraid to take risks though, and I applaud him for that. Even though this isn't a perfect album, and is likely not to appeal to everyone, there is just so much good material on it that it cannot be overlooked. If you're wanting some adventurous moody music that still has its roots in alternative rock, you might want to spend some time Under the Last Tree on Earth.

Veil of Light: Ξ

 Posted by Emanuele Ratti (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 06 2015
Artist: Veil of Light
Title: Ξ
Format: 12"
Label: Belaten
Rated: *****
Veil of Light is dark wave band/post punk (whatever this means'¦) from Zurich. This is a sort of goth rock album. Actually, it reminds me early Canaan. I mean a lot. Therefore, here we have minimal guitars, sad melodies, nice pads and lamenting vocals emerging from a far reverberated dimensions. The quality of the album is not completely homogeneous, in the sense that there are very good tracks (Pale Eyes, In Ruins, Falling Apart, Sleepless Nights) while others are completely meaningless (Xi, They Said, Shoulders). But I think that this band has a great potential: this band will surely improve its sound, the quality of its songs, and in the future the band will likely publish some very good albums. However the biggest concern is that Canaan did (and continue to do) this kind of stuff, and clearly much better than these guys (or it is a one manx band? I don't understand it). So the real question is: Why should I buy this album? I have already the whole Canaan's discography. It is not like in Black Metal, where people (me included) are constantly looking for the same old stuff, and bands playing black metal on the same line of Darkthrone or similar early bands are successful. Here I expect something peculiar, but at the moment Veil of Light still has to find its own identity. However, I'm still rating this album with three stars, because I enjoyed it overall.

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