Music Reviews

Control: s/t

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 09 2014
Artist: Control (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
Maybe the clocks in Fairfield, Iowa, are ticking differently to any other thinkable place in States, but c'mon guys, wasn't it possible to find any other more original band-name than a simple 'Control', which is already in use by some other Electronica music-projects? Although 'different' is a good paraphrase which could be often used when it comes to talk on the content this self-titled debut album. Control is a three-man outfit consisting of Joseph Mayfield (vocals), Joey Del Re (guitars, programming) and Dominic Rabalais (synths, programming). Being pretty much inspired by the Synthpop-driven Pop- / New Wave -music culture of the 80s (darkest Depeche Mode, Ultravox, New Order, The Cure to name the idols'¦), they create a post-modern sound-outfit filled additionally with their own area-based cultural background. And so this 13-track album swims in inspiration and into stylistically diversity which surprises here and there. The listing of additional, mostly unusual instruments in their Electronica music outfit is a long one (for example mandolin in 'Tonight' / saxophone on 'Condemned To Feel' and 'Corpse') and absolutely proofs their diversity. A lot of different moods and impressions mostly provided through the at times quite sarcastic lyrics have been tested and at least installed. Lyricist/vocalist Joseph Mayfield offers a lot of blood and sweat with his timbre and the lyrical content dealing of one's inner pain to keep control over the musically course both his band-mates manage to produce. The 'Personal Jesus'-like guitar-riff of 'Hardwired' gets soon vanished by the bubbling synth bass-lines and a catchy chorus-passage, which a kid is able to sing along. 'Corpse', a track which has been specially supported with a video clip-production, impresses with its scratching bass-line sequences and the upbeat tempo. In between 'Tonight' slows down the speed and offers nearly romantic lyrics dealing with endless yearning. 'No One Knows' is another favorite worth to check out because of its quite accessible composition full of Pop-aesthetics. 'Condemned To Feel' and especially Joseph's emotional kind to sing on this track brings back reminiscences of the better DM-days and he could win the imaginary 'let's-sing-like-Gahan' song contest. The row of highlights could be continued as all of these featured 13 tracks are sort of favorites and have their very own preferences. No doubt, this Iowa-based Control music-project has already found an ideal niche to play with Wave-/Pop music-accessibility, while they never fall the same time into redundancy or mediocrity. That's nice entertainment which deserves the few more spins until the whole meaning behind takes effect.
Jun 18 2014
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: A Visual And Auditory Reminder Of The Beauty Of Life
Format: 12"
Label: Seja Records (@)
Distributor: Seja Mailorder
Rated: *****
Netherlands-based and still very stubborn operating label Seja Records brings out the next hit for friends and listeners of Minimal, Synthpop, New Wave, and EBM. This new compilation again pressed in limited editions on vinyl (first 100 copies in red, 233 copies in black vinyl) offers 11 tunes pretty much woven into above mentioned styles. Side A starts with one of their greatest pearls in their holster, the Swedish Dark Electro-duo Fatal Casualties. The story of their establishing 28 years before in their bio amused me a while, because I couldn't figure out, why a band-project should need such a long time to come out with a first release ('Pariah' EP in early 2013). Although their end of last year released follow-up EP 'Somewhere in The Middle', which had prominent remix contributions by Daniel B. (of Front 242) or Beate Bartel (of Liasons Dangereuses) on board, couldn't impress me that much, they here return to their dark and sinister mood. Thumbs up also for Niton Cage presenting an exclusive remix of 'Generate Electricity' with haunting vocals integrated like samples and the wobbling bass-line sequence. Well, and that elegant early-80s-like Synthpop tune 'Let There Be Neon' proofs again, that quite often these years have had more innovation and originality than the current days. What a great track. Click Click is another legend I don't need to introduce since they lately have come back in action. Their vocalist Adrian Smith here contributes his magical timbre to ImiAFan's Minimal Electronica tune 'Try One'. Finally Kompleta like to invite us in 'Das Haus', but'¦, well, I prefer not to follow. Netherlands-based Mrs. Sophya with her beautiful voice opens the second side of this vinyl-only release with her mutation between New Wave / Minimal Electronica called 'Mechanical Butterflies'. I also dig the nice vocoder-vocals and Chiptune-like Electropop of another Netherlands-based legend of the golden era, Das Ding. Germany's Mängelexemplar give a Minimal/Synthpop tune dealing pretty much with an up-to-date phenomenon entitled 'Internetdemenz'. As expected, also Traffic A.M. with the still brilliant-sounding male vocals and their unreleased track 'Babylon' impresses s lot. The track list speaks for itself and if you find any preference for the mentioned music styles, this well-compiled vinyl-compilation needs to find a slot in your collection! Let's look forward and keep the fingers crossed for a bright future of this hard-working label. They know pretty well which switches they need to switch to bring some decent listening experiences especially designed for the elder and veteran listeners in these music styles.

Track listing:
A1 Fatal Casualties - Porta Breath (Remake)
A2 Niton Decay - Generate Electricity
A3 Poeme Electronique - Let There Be Neon
A4 ImiAFan & Adrian Smith - Try One
A5 Kompleta - Das Haus

B1 Sophya - Mechanical Butterflies
B2 Das Ding - Kafka Blues
B3 Mängelexemplar - Internetdemenz
B4 Selofan - Nafthalini
B5 Traffic A.M. - Babylon
B6 Chambre Froide - Les Machine

The Silent: Volume 1: Wake

 Posted by Edward Trethowan   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 06 2014
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Artist: The Silent (@)
Title: Volume 1: Wake
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Bastion Records
For this release, Edinburgh residents Connor Doherty and Stewart McLachlan (together otherwise known as Shudder) adopt the moniker 'The Silent' and endeavour over twenty-four hours to write and produce music from scratch. The fruits of this sleepless session are the three compositions on Volume 1: Wake. Sound sources are nearly exclusively acoustic rather than generated electronically: voice, instruments and diverse household objects make up the bulk of the material, although plenty of manipulation goes on. Together, the pieces seem to offer a rough corresponding narrative of the whole process as it unfolded: the EP begins with a fully fledged, lyrical song and follows up, as the effects of sleeplessness develop, with a pair of simpler experiments.

The song ('Wake') is a melodramatic number led by slow, textural piano. The vocals are mixed low, making their originator sound distant and a bit lost. As it trudges through a pair of crescendos, the tone is distinctly uneasy. Finishing on a gloomy piano motif, the song is followed by 'Glisten', which consists of scarcely more than a quiet, distorted beat and intermittent, piercing chimes. It's great though; the harsh metallic resonance and harmonics are very satisfying and slightly sinister, like a meditative environment turned abrasive. Finally, 'Howl' revisits the style of the first track, incorporating similarly clattering rhythms and use of piano. Guitar is more prominent and vocals provide wordless background texture.

The EP is impressive for something produced in a single extended session, though the limitations of these circumstances are readily apparent and there isn't a great deal we haven't heard elsewhere. One gets the feeling these pieces could have been improved over a longer period, but this is an issue already anticipated and dismissed as unimportant by the EP's underlying concept. While the band claim on their release page to have "suffered from the sleep deprivation aspect of it" in the later stages, for me the latter two tracks are more successful than 'Wake'. In particular, the simplicity of 'Glisten' works in its favour; narratively it resembles an interlude, but really holds its own as an atmospheric, redolent moment. It'll certainly be worth hearing what the duo comes up with on the second volume.

Halo Manash: Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 29 2014
Artist: Halo Manash (@)
Title: Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Aural Hypnox decided to give birth to a new re-release series, Stellar Mansion, by refiling a really immersive listening experience that Halo Manash, an audiovisual, multi-medial-sound and performance group from Northern Finland which considers itself as a vehicle and a bridge between the world of being and non-being we spoke about on the occasion of the release of their intriguing album "Wesieni Wainajat", recorded in September 2008. In spite of the fact they have not used any electronic camouflage or overdubs, but just acoustic instruments, Halo Manash provides a remarkable assay of ritual music, which immediately let listener steep into a sort of gradual transubstantiation with the natural forces that could be evoked and aroused by the rebalancing contemplation of the somewhat surreal sylvian calmness of polar woodland while circling polar flares surround the icy land (September is one of the period of the year when it's easier to admire the breathtaking show of northern lights). The sonic vehicle for this entrancing experience is the measured tolling on bells and other widely reverbered percussive instruments as well as by other sonic entities and forgotten calls which resurface from caches of the sonic flow in the wake of toll's contrails and sound like whispering guides over the introspective journey that "Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus" inspire. These "voices" reach the acme of magnetism by degrees over otherwordly gongs, strange cracklings, frozening flute whistles and other obscure poltergeists where the evoked ancestral boreal entities that quickly cross listener's minds in the previous steps of this rite seem to got fully rendered on the eeriely suggestive final "Pimeys On Ninquin Walkeus/Puuxi Tullut".

Dance Of Atoms: Atom & Eve

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
 Edit (8224)
May 29 2014
Artist: Dance Of Atoms
Title: Atom & Eve
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Does humor belong in music?
That depends.
If your beats storm, and your synths rage, a little bit of tongue-in-cheek can be permitted.
Dance Of Atoms are an enigmatic duo of producers, known as Atom Man and The Phantom Of Funk, hailing from somewhere in Texas. They play a blend of '80s New Wave and aggressive electro rock, updated with every sub-genre of electronic music of the last 2 decades. They've been compared to everyone from Gary Numan to Depeche Mode to early Lady Gaga, to give you an idea of how many disparate sounds and styles you will find on this short afterburn of an EP.
A good portion of Atom & Eve's 7 tracks are straight-ahead electro club fare, without a hint of pastiche, delivered with adrenalized intensity. The closest style I could compare it to would be electroclash, which is to say epic, trancy club fare delivered with punk rock abandon. Anybody who's lost themselves in the grooves of The Faint, LCD Soundsystem or Fischerspooner will find something to love here.
It is in the songs "The '80s", with its cheeky mention of Swatches and Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and their dismembered cover of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" where the band show their satirical side, and why that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Another One Bites The Dust" sounds like it's been riffed on by Devo, before being swallowed by Skrillex chaos and wub-wub dubstep wobble bass. While this sounds like a questionable amalgam, it is in the detailed way it is all spliced together that this band shines, and shows themselves to be serious musicians.
It's in the details where Dance Of Atoms differentiate themselves from the imitators. These are no preset-hackers: there's thousands of synth sounds on this short EP, and each one seems carefully chosen and placed. On top of that, their beats are muscular and fierce, begging to be blasted through powerful PAs. And while they do frequently coast along in a forceful 4/4, they frequently switch up the rhythm to complicated polyrhythms, sometimes reggaeton, sometimes pummeling rhythmic noise. The one thing you can be sure of, you will not get bored listening to Atom & Eve.
My one complaint is that it sounds as if the band mixed and mastered the EP themselves, and things can become a bit overloaded and jarring at times. There's a myriad of elements, and they're all clamoring for attention simultaneously, fritzing out the speakers. When Dance Of Atoms return to the studio to record a full-length, I beseech them to please find some pleasing reverb, and take the edge off of some of these corners.
Atom Man (I'm assuming it's him) proves himself to be a fine front man, with a wide vocal range. Sometimes he delivers a romantic Bernard Sumner croon, before breaking into some Gloria Gaynor pyrotechnics. A lot of people accuse electronic music of being cerebral, detached and unemotional; Atom & Eve should rest their case.
All in all, Atom & Eve is a promising debut from a burgeoning act. They've got mystique. They've got studio acumen. They've got chops. They've got passion, but don't take themselves too seriously. All to the good, I say. They're off to a fine start!
Atom & Eve is only available for streaming via the band's website at, getting a physical release, plus the usual digital channels, on July 7th. So get a head start, and drop some of these tracks on your clubbing mixtapes.

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