Music Reviews



Machinery of Joy: On the Verge of Sleep

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 03 2015
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Artist: Machinery of Joy (@)
Title: On the Verge of Sleep
Format: CD
Label: Target Records (@)
Rated: *****
Machinery of Joy is a band from Copenhagen, Denmark formed in 2010. The group consists of Laura Noszczyk (vocals, synth); Jan Kromann (synth, programming); Dennis Nicolaisen (drums); Kenni Moller (guitar). 'On the Verge of Sleep' seems to be their first full-length release, although there was a self-titled LP in 2011. The album is seven tracks with two of them being over 10 and over 9 minutes respectively, so you're not getting shorted in the least.

When I listed to the album the first time (and yes, this was the first recording I chose out of the huge, overdue package I received from the Chain D.L.K. review distribution dept.) I found myself liking it quite a lot. On the second listen, my opinion has not changed, but I hear better now where the group is coming from. It's a moody electronic trip that beings into play elements of krautrock, shoegaze, dronepunk, and psychedelia, but cannot be pigeonholed neatly into any category.

Opening track "Neophytes of Love" begins with wavering electronic drones with Laura's wordless vocals floating over it. When the bass and percussion kick in, I am immediately reminded of the Velvet Underground and Suicide. Her swathed in reverb vocals are somewhere between little girl waif and alien space chick. Music is very simple in its changes, minimal but effective. Second track "Limbo" is reminiscent of the British band Broadcast with its burbling electronics, organ tones, and simplistic but effective guitar which turns shoegazey towards the end. Laura's vocals aren't exactly similar to the dear departed Trish Keenan, but her melodies aren't far removed.

Further on down the line, the band finds its footing and gives you nothing but good stuff with an air of psychedelic melancholia. "Comotose Puppet" stirred up memories of Nico, perhaps because of the "You wanna die" line sung by Laura, but Laura's voice is at least an octave higher than Nico's. Kenni's noise guitar is the perfect foil here, adding a neat ambience. The repetitive piano figure that begins "Solar Storm" humanizes the 'lost in space' elements that come afterward. It's beautifully sad, and doesn't even seem the 10+ minutes it is. Here, everything works together in a way that builds on the simple, repetitive progression to carry it to the edge of the universe. Dennis's drumming is always spot on, carrying the rhythmic impulse exactly where it should be. Last track "Lamia" reminded me a little bit of band called Area, perhaps because there is more guitar on this track, and Laura's vocals are a little like Lynn Canfield's on this track, but perhaps more in the register of ex-Sneaker Pimps' Kelli Ali. Towards the end there is a fair amount of vocal and guitar noise squall, and isn't that a harmonium doing the chordal progression? It all ends with a larger noise squall.

Machinery of Joy (name based on a Ray Bradbury collection of short stories) has indeed put something special together with 'On the Verge of Sleep', and I highly recommend it. I'm stoked to hear what they come up with next.

Red Asphalt: Red Asphalt

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 01 2015
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Artist: Red Asphalt
Title: Red Asphalt
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows (@)
Rated: *****
Formed in San Francisco in 1979, Red Asphalt lasted only for years and officially released a four track 7", in 1981 participated to the compilation LP "Live at Le Disque" (Jump Records), and more recently they were featured on the cd compilations "High Road to Obscurity Vol.1" (Grand Theft Audio), and "Homework #2'²'² (Hyped to Death). The original line-up didn't include a singer nor a keyboard player but their line-up that lasted longer was including: Ron Hanik (guitar), Ted Johnson (drums), Scott Davey (synthesizers), Trina James (vocals), Bruno De Martis (bass). Besides the above, Megan Mitchell sang with the band (she's heard on the EP) and Andy Anders and LX Rudis played bass. Synthetic Shadows with this album collected all the band's songs, including the ones of their unreleased album which surfaced in 2008 on CDR. The fifteen songs of the album shows a multifaceted band that pass from post punk to proto hard core (on "Nuclear Judas" I hear musical intuitions that Dead Kennedys developed on there same period), passing through no-wave (like on "White Meat, Dark Meat"). They were able to be dissonant and melodic at the same time and this album finally give them justice as not only contains most of all their songs ("Humungulous" from "Live At Le Disque" isn't included) but also they were all recorded in a studio and it isn't like listening to a crappy bootleg recorded in hell!

Edvard Graham Lewis: All Over

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 31 2014
cover
Artist: Edvard Graham Lewis
Title: All Over
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
The second album by brilliant Wire bassist Edvard Graham Lewis that got simultaneously released with the just introduced "All Under" is a collection of songs which has been composed over ten years (from 2003 to 2013) in Uppsala, the lively Swedish city where he lives at the moment. In spite of the song form and the deviant pop core, Mr.Lewis unleashed his willingnenss to experiment by awesome bastardization of that form by means of more or less melodic trips over dark, industrial, synth-pop and electronica territories and meaningful lyrics where Edvard, to paraphrase the lyrics of the song "We've Lost Your Mind", lubricated his flicking tongue and occasional entrancing loops by means of delayed pale blue songs like "It's Hard" or "Straight Into The Corner" where he got closer to John Foxx's style or some stylistical refinement on "Bluebird" (the Twitter's one?), whose melody could remind the bassline of Wire's "Being Sucked In Again", the molten post-industrial raving of "Quick Skin" or the dark-ambient drifting on "Prism Buzzard, the one which has more similarities with the style that Edvard explored on "All Under". Contributions by many different artists such as Jan Lundquist, Andreas Karperyd, Howardamb, Linda Dahl, Jim Ascoft, Fabrizio Clemenza, Giovanni Romano and P.T.Kirk, maybe gave a certain heterogeneity to the album without puckering the delightful mood which sounds like a bridge between the past and the present of this musician.

The Danse Society: If I were Jesus/ Sound of Silence

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 10 2014
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Artist: The Danse Society
Title: If I were Jesus/ Sound of Silence
Format: 7"
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
"If I were Jesus" is the newest double A side single from The Danse Society. It's quite a long time that Maethelyiah is the new singer and she and Paul at the moment are the stablest band members since the 2011 reformation. I've reviewed their two albums and "If I were Jesus"/"Sound Of Silence" is an appetizer of what is coming. The main song is a perfect tune for this period as it's a critic to the commercial X-mas. I'm not saying that Maeth turned catholic, because as far as I know by reading what she writes she's pagan, so the meaning of the lyrics are an exhortation to people to change their habitude and to connect themselves to their human side. Musically the song alternates tense ambiences where Maeth is in front, to sound explosions where Paul's guitar roars and the drums sound like a blast. "Sound Of Silence" is on the other side and it's a tough of a cover to play, because the atmosphere is everything. In this case, The Danse Society opted for a mid tempo in balance from goth and rock which mix the right dose of despair and energy. The single will be available as limited violet 7" around February 2015 but you can purchase it right now and getting the digital files in the meantime.

Mechanimal: Secret Science

 Posted by Emanuele Ratti (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Nov 20 2014
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Artist: Mechanimal
Title: Secret Science
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Inner Ear
Rated: *****
Mechanimal is a post-something band from Athens. I say 'post-something' not with ironic tone'¦on the contrary, it is difficult to say exactly what kind of music t'Secret Science' is. Mechanimal define their music as 'drone 'n' roll', but I don't think that this label is able to capture the variety of this music. I would say that this work is full of synthetic sounds, krautrock (as they say), but also darwave, some gothic stuff, and of course drone. The album can be ideally divided in two parts. The first part (the first five songs) is influenced by certain EBM, with a fantastic dark wave touch. The vocals should be mentioned: it is mostly spoken words, but with a low tone which reminds me Peter Steele. Better, the vocals is in the middle between Death in June and Type o' Negative. Probably 'we come alive' is the best song of the first part. It is really a piece of art early Depeche Mode-style and a nice interplay between a vocoder and that Type o' Negative vocals. Moreover, the guitar is wisely arranged. The second part of the album is more atmospheric. See for instance 'The Den', organized around atmospheric pads not easy to distinguish, giving a sense of 'auditory fog'. The last song ('Down in the basement') is probably the best one, and it is a sort of summary of the entire album: atmospheric and dance-oriented at the same time. Overall, 'Secret Science' is a nice album, and Mechanimal has clearly the potential for developing an original and full-fledged new hybrid at the intersection of multiple styles.


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