Music Reviews



Bene Gesserit: Benefit

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 23 2014
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Artist: Bene Gesserit (@)
Title: Benefit
Format: Tape
Label: Insane Music
Rated: *****
Member of Chopstick Sisters, Cortex, Human Dance, Human Flesh, I Scream, Japanese Genius, La Maison Du Jardinier, Ornament & Crime Arkhestra, Pseudo Code, Sic and Subject, Alain Neffe is mostly known to be a member of Bene Gesserit along with his wife Nadine Bal, who was also into Ornament & Crime Arkhestra and Chopstick Sisters. Alaine and Nadine also run the label Insane music since the early 80s and released different volumes of the "Insane Music For Insane People" compilation series (as I'm writing I have into my pile of stuff I have to review #26) and album by Pseudo Code, Cortex, Human Flesh, I Scream and Le Tombeau. Some weeks ago I received a promo of Bene Gerrit's latest release titled "Benefit". It is a tape standard j-card with an additional false "Hell Bank Note" added in front. Hand-numbered to 200 copies and hand-stamped with a red Chinese "Insane" stamp it has also orange fluo case with stickered labels. It has been released to raise some money for the group helping them to get new recording studio equipment. It contains eleven unreleased tracks of the band but I don't know when they have been recorded but this is of little concern, because Bene Gesserit music is without time as it is capable to sound experimental and catchy at the same time. We have the upbeat noisy guitar "Stinking Ãlrich", the oriental crazy atmospheres of "Deborah, Romina, Martha, Sabrina, Tatiana, Barbara", the syncopated organ/guitar arpeggio based "Happy Like An African In Belgium", the pop 60s sounding "Bon Bon", the sampled violin/filtered vocals/dub drum based "The Gnashing Gnome" and the reversed sounds/organ based "It's Friday". What amazed me most is the theatrical feeling (thanks to Nadine's vocals) and the way they are able to mix different influences sounding, at the end, just like Bene Gesserit. If you want to help them into making a new recording studio, for 12 Euros you can have a tape with great music and a CDr (just in case you don't have a tape deck anymore). From Belgium with love...

Egida Aurea: Live A Parigi

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 18 2014
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Artist: Egida Aurea
Title: Live A Parigi
Format: CD
Label: SPQR (@)
Rated: *****
Recorded in Paris on February 2013, "Live In Paris" is the latest album by Egida Aurea. The last time I wrote about them was for reviewing their 2012 album "Derive" and in the meanwhile, Diego Banchero collaborated or recorded with several bands such as Ballo Delle Castagne, Il Segno Del Comando and Lupi Gladius. The album contains nine tracks coming from the two band's albums and their EP "Storia Di Una Rondine" (with predominance of tracks coming from "La Mia Piccola Guerra" and only two from the remaining ones). I saw them live some years ago and I realized that their tracks worked great also live with simpler arrangements: their energy and attitude is alive and kicking and since from the opening track "La Mia Piccola Guerra", you can realize it. Playing accordion, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums and electric guitar, Diego, Carolina, Fernando, Roberto and Marina give to the tracks a new dimension which sounds honest and direct. Mixing folk, rock and bit of prog, the band give their best and are able to create an intimate atmosphere which this CD is able to capture. With "La Mia Piccola Guerra", "Praepotens Genuensium Praesidium", "Russian Medley", "Egida Aurea", "Epifania Di Una Chimera", "Memorie Di Gesta", "Il Passo Dell'Esule", "Il Congedo" and "Storia Di Una Rondine" the band found the right way to propose their songs, too bad they didn't include my preferred one "Il Giorno Delle Chimiche Brume". You can check "Memorie Di Gesta" and "Russian Medley" at the label's Soundcloud page https://soundcloud.com/hrspqr

Hieros Gamos: Fetish Remix

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 12 2014
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Artist: Hieros Gamos (@)
Title: Fetish Remix
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Hieros Gamos is the side-project of Slovakian darkwave band Ľahká Múza whose latest album I reviewed very positively here recently. The name Hieros Gamos goes back to ancient Greek mythology and refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. Well, 'Fetish Remix' certainly is ritualistic! The primary difference musically, is that Hieros Gamos is much more based in electronics (synths, keyboards) than Ľahká Múza, which is guitar-based. That's not all- this is Fetish music with a capital F. There is costuming involved (in live performance), lots of it, if the photo galleries bonus material on this enhanced CD are any indication. You can expect a lot of elaborate BDSM fashion worn not only by singer Gundrun Snake and her musical cohort 677, but also in by the (mostly female) performers who accompany them. That's something you'll only get to experience live though, so you'll have to settle for the photo galleries for your visual stimulation.
Musically, the most comparable band I can think of is Die Form. Both Die Form and Hieros Gamos are electronic fetish-oriented projects and ritualistic musically, both have female lead vocalists. (Philippe Fichot does contribute some hoarse, whispery vocals, but it is Ãliane P.'s voice that really makes the difference in that band.) Both Gundrun and Ãliane have an operatic quality in their vocals, but Gundrun's voice is deeper and stronger. While over the years Die Form's music has taken on a more dance-oriented bent, Hieros Gamos is firmly rooted in the dramatically ritualistic. There is (programmed) rhythm, but not of the four-on-the floor dance orient variety. As with Ľahká Múza there is a strong martial element to the rhythms, but not always so. For example, 'Lacrimae Sirenarum' is in a playful 6/8. Well, as playful as Hieros Gamos can get.
The CD consists of nine tracks, six of which have lyrics, the other three with wordless vocals by Gundrun. It's nice that the lyrics are printed in this six-panel digipack in both their native Slovakian and also in English as it gives a better feel for what they're trying to convey- darkness, pain, loss, bondage, sorrow, lament. You get the idea. As with Ľahká Múza, Gundrun's two vocal modes are operatic diva and witchy woman. You can look at it as a dichotomy between the classical and neo-shamanic folk. Gundrun subscribes to both, sometimes (thanks to multi-tracking) at the same time! One track, 'Vyhladenie' ('The Annihilation') bore a remarkable similarity to early Dead Can Dance. Overall, the music on 'Fetish Remix' displays a nice amount of variety within the context of their own stylized oeuvre. There is severity, yet there is passion; simplicity in form, yet richness in atmosphere; despair tinged with hope, and a large dose of gothicness running throughout.
For what Gundrun and 677 were trying to achieve with Hieros Gamos on 'Fetish Remix' I believe they succeeded. I would have liked to have heard a couple of numbers with beats suitable for the dancefloor, and lyrics sung in English. This would likely be conducive to more exposure for the band in America. This album was originally released in 2006, but chances are good that you never heard it. If there is one band from this area of the world that deserves to be seen and heard in the West, it's this one.

Lupi Gladius: Veritas

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 27 2014
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Artist: Lupi Gladius
Title: Veritas
Format: CD
Label: SPQR (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Lucania, Basilicata, Italy, Lupi Gladius born on early 00s and they could be considered the electronic wave band Hidden Place's side project as on the line-up we have Fabio Vitelli (synth), Pietro Burzo (vocals and bass guitar), Antonio Losenno (vocals, synth and percussion) e Giampiero Di Barbaro (vocals and acoustic guitar) and Hidden Place's singer Sara Lux guest vocals on "Gli Ultimi Bagliori" and "Nel Vento" (which is the acoustic reprise of the other track). Same line-up but music isn't, at all, as Lupi Gladius' music is neo-folk rooted on Italian early '20s iconography. After the 2003 demo reissued the last year by Castellum Stoufenburc, Lupi Gladius released their first proper album "Veritas" for SPQR. The album contains eight tracks (the opening "Sulle Rive Del Basento" is an instrumental traditional song played with an accordion) which are coming from the heart and this is the first thing that you realize by listening to the album but the real surprise for me was to read that there was another guest on the album, besides Sara, but he isn't playing any instrument as Diego Banchero (Egida Aurea, Il Segno Del Comando, etc) wrote all the lyrics. As for Egida Aurea's lyrics, on "Veritas", Diego underlines the modern world's contradictions and he does it with honesty. Lupi Gladius honored this participation creating an album which is powerful, melodic and melancholic at the same time. "Veritas" is a good album which has also a bit of new wave influences on it: check the synth arrangements on "Agone", "Gli Ultimi Bagliori" or the cinematic atmospheres of the closing "I Figli Del Tramonto".

Jonathan|Christian: Beautiful Hideous

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 25 2014
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Artist: Jonathan|Christian (@)
Title: Beautiful Hideous
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Jonathan|Christian is Jonathan Mooney, former keyboardist of the New York based band The New Creatures (now living in Los Angeles, California) and Swedish artist Christian Granquist, having spent some time playing with the power-pop trio Day Behavior and now the keyboardist of Stockholm electronic band, The Atom. (Granquist is the vocalist of this project.) 'Beautiful Hideous' is the debut collaboration of this trans-continental project, and it's already garnered quite a buzz. When I first popped the CD in to play it blind (as I often do, without reading any accompanying material to get a totally objective sound experience) I though I was hearing a new Peter Murphy solo album. Closer listening made me think 'that's not PM, but it does sound uncannily like him'. But not always. Sometimes Granquist sometimes sounds a bit like Bowie, like on 'Before The Dark' a romantic gothy power ballad. Some of the lyrics are even sung in French. In fact, the whole album has a romantic-goth bent to it. The music isn't just keyboards and a drum machine; it sounds like a full band including guitar, although the keyboards are predominant. Very well-produced too. It's a grand style these guys have latched onto, as good if not better than anything else currently out there in this vein. Granquist's lyrics are superb, full of appropriate imagery, pathos, and high drama. It works very well with his voice. Mooney is a most effective composer for this kind of material too, as well as an excellent arranger and player. If there is a word for this album, it has to be 'atmospheric'; there is definitely a brooding mood throughout. Nowhere is that more evident than on their cover of Duran Duran's 'The Chauffeur'. Rather than sing the lyrics, Granquist chooses a recitation for most of it until the end, turning the song into something more'¦sinister. (Although I do like DD's video of the song, it might even be better with this version.) The one thing I wish they had done is a real uptempo rocker. I know they might have thought it would be a mood spoiler, but I don't think so. There are a couple of remixes on the album- one by Attrition's Martin Bowes ('I Walk This Earth Alone'), the other by Bryin Dall of Thee Majesty, 4th Sign of the Apocalypse, Dream Into Dust, A Murder of Angels, Loretta's Doll, etc (title track 'Beautiful Hideous'). Although neither are radically different, they do offer another perspective on the songs, and both are quite enjoyable.

If there is one track on the album that's an attention grabber (if not a hit), it's 'Fallen' with its killer chorus. That song alone should have big labels rushing to sign these guys, but you know big labels these days, a bunch of bitchy little girls. I'd be very interested in hearing what the follow-up to 'Beautiful Hideous' might be. I'd also be interested in seeing of there are any tours planned (a tough thing for trans-continental projects like this). I'd see them if they came to New York. So would a gaggle of goth girls I imagine. How could they resist the tragic romance of Jonathan|Christian?


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