Music Reviews



System 56: System 56

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 02 2014
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Artist: System 56
Title: System 56
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows
Rated: *****
Formed in the winter of 1981 near Cleveland, System 56, armed with a Teac 3340-S reel to reel tape recorder, started to work on their songs. Influenced by early Ultravox (the Foxx period), Cars, Simple Minds and so on, the band had four different line-ups and the only permanent members were Steve Simenic Guitar/vocals) and drummer Vince Scafiti. In early 1982 they released their first single "Metro-Metro b/w In the Old World', two songs that showed really well their style which was a mix of synth melodies backed by a driving bass/drums section and guitar riffs. Melody was also an important part of their music and they started to gather fans and soon after they started to play live. Unfortunately, at is at that point that the first split happened. The duo went to the studio and recorded the six tracks EP 'Beyond The Parade'. 'Brave New Toys', 'Through Other Eyes' or 'Hands Of A Stranger' didn't suffer from the split and they sound bright, melodic, powerful and inspired. A good mix of new wave, synth wave and that sort of proto punk characteristic of early Ultravox. For the next single 'Life On A Cool Curve b/w The Other Side Of Science', the duo was joined by Paul Teagle on synths and they had as guest, Phil Capone on sax. The first song had a synth arpeggio as main bass lines and synth pads to thicken the atmosphere. Steve's guitar riffs gave to the mix a certain rock wave atmosphere that on the B side was less present as 'The Other Side Of Science' is a atmospheric mid tempo with guitar sparse arpeggios and cool synth lines. A curiosity: this song has the same atmospheres of some that Type O Negative did but System 56, recorded it ten years before. The band, with a new line-up that integrated Tom Lash on bass guitar, released their last 12' in 1984. 'A Man Needs A Motor b/w Shapes Of Things' were the songs and the first on is a good post wave guitar driven song with dissonances and nice synth lines. From the same recording session we also have 'The Sounding', 'Your Car Is Waiting' and 'Next To X' but not on this compilation released by Synthetic Shadows as this has the same track list of the CD-r 'Retrospective: 1982-83' that the band self released in 2003 but those three songs are missing. Anyway, System 56 songs sound really nice and they grow with the listenings. As usual, you can check all of them at the label's Bandcamp page here http://syntheticshadows.bandcamp.com/album/system-56-s-t-ss10
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Artist: Phantom Love (@)
Title: Crave For Lust
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: ZerOKilled Music (@)
Rated: *****
Rome-based producer Valentina Fanigliulo, better known as Mushy, already had been introduced and praised on this space when she signed a collaborative release with Peter M. dedicated to the first movie by Alejandro Jodorowsky as well as her debut release "Faded Heart" in the guise of Mushy, which got described as the most convincing answer by American artists such as Zola Jesus and Tamaryn. Supposedly anticipated by same-named track on the single "My Love So Far", Phantom Love is Valentina's most recent moniker for an instrumental project, where despite she let her voice stand, she keeps on lingering on influences from dark music classics and horror movie soundtracks (particularly John Carpenter's ones), which have been melted with skeletal 4/4 pulsations and witch-house nuances. The initial "Crave For Lust" sounds like the perfect sonic glazing agent for the rendering of a cliff-hanger-like feeling by means of dry claps, scratched chords, crystalline dripping and an otherwordly electronic horn, whereas the stridency between seemingly opposite elements got highlighted on the following "Power And Passion", where a sort of spectral rattling fluctuates within distant creaking noises, translucent sonic bends and a muffled movement, whose intrinsic magnetic effulgence more clearly erupts on "Dead Illusion", the last track of this mouthwatering EP.

Movement Ten: Build Them And They Will Come

 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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Dec 23 2013
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Artist: Movement Ten (@)
Title: Build Them And They Will Come
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
Second full-length album for this British Alternative/Electronica-duo released only 10 months after their promising self-titled debut. Movement Ten surely like to keep alive in the eyes and ears of their fans instead to restart from scratch again. But although both of these releases have been out in between a short time period, there are significant differences between them. This new album starts with an energizing track entitled 'Get Down' in which the minimal arranged bass-line and rhythm section receives some Brit-Pop-like support through some roaring guitar riffs. A good kick-off. 'Black And White Living' then switches to a complete Electronica-based sound-design. It could be a well-done Synthpop tune, but somehow it misses musically a bit the target. Mostly because the synth-arrangements are too minimal produced and could need a bit more inspiration. Next is 'Halo' and the band has already announced this one to be a possible candidate for a single release. 'Halo' has a straight and danceable structure and reminds with its strong early 80ies affiliation on some British Post-Punk and New Wave-pioneers like Joy Division or Wire. But asides of this I tend to say, that 'Ghost Road' could be a better alternative, since it turns out to be the softer, but easier recognizable tune. If the monotonous drum-patterns could bring in a bit more brilliance, this track would be ideally working for airplay. Another favorite is 'Behind Me' with its hypnotic synthesizer-play and some oriental-sounding insertions - maybe one of the tracks which offers the most maturity of this productive duo. 'Never' then returns to the straighter side of this duo and adds quality guitar riffs to the monotonous bass-lines. It has some similarities on the starter 'Get Down', although the starter sounds more refreshing. With a try to test some Techno/Trance playgrounds through some 303-like bass-line sequences and typical TR808/909 rhythm patterns Movement Ten return on the all-Electronica sound-outfit - sorry, but this one sounds helpless and a bit too much off-topic for them. Since the last two tracks do not add any more valuable content to report of, this album leaves me a bit unsatisfied. 'Build Them And They Will Come' sounds surely darker oriented than expected, but it actually misses a bit of the pioneering impact of the debut. The vocals are still sounding well in the mix and deliver all needed emotion, but musically the tracks of this new album are too one-dimensional and leave too seldom already discovered paths. It even strengthens this globally unpleasant impression thanks to the fact that the ultimate 'smash hit', which could have been easily discovered on the debut ('Gravity' / 'FTBIA') is a miss here. Where has their ease and cheerfulness gone? Movement Ten can deliver better.

Jacket Weather: When Shadow Move

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 20 2013
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Artist: Jacket Weather
Title: When Shadow Move
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows
Rated: *****
Timothy Gassen has always been an eclectic kind of guy. After playing with Jacket Weather he changed musical style and formed Reptile House and then Marshmallow Overcoat (a psych garage punk band active since mid '80s). He's also the responsible for the garage punk bible "The knights of fuzz", a book that put under the magnifying lens the movement of the second garage punk wave (after the fist garage band movement of the '60s in the '80s all around the world a lot of new bands started to play again the raw music of bands like Chocolate Watchband, Electric Prunes, The Seeds, Blues Magoos, etc, starting a scene, that since then, never faded out). Anyway, Jacket Weather where the first band where a young Tim moved his first steps into the musical world along with Lee Joseph who later formed Yard Trauma and Dionysus Records. The band in 1982 and 1983 released only a tape titled "It's A Wonderful War" and a six tracks E.P. On this LP Tim collected the six tracks of their 7" "When Shadows Move" plus all the remaining tracks coming from the same recording session on late 1982/early 1983 at the Cerius Studios in Phoenix. The band had a particular style because of their use of two Casiotone keyboards played by Tim and Debra Dickey, drums (Howe Salmon) and a bass guitar (the aforementioned Lee Joseph). They had no electric guitars at all and thank to this particular blend their sound, which could be described like a minimal wave influenced by English post punk (see Joy Division) and Devo, where the detached vocals and raw synth lines contrast with pounding real drums sound. If you think about the Arizona desert and listen to this music, you'll picture immediately the contrast. You can check the whole release at the label's bandcamp page http://syntheticshadows.bandcamp.com/album/jacket-weather-when-shadows-move-ss09

Electric Sarajevo: Madrigals

 Posted by eskaton   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: Electric Sarajevo (@)
Title: Madrigals
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The press sheet that came with this disc describes the album as 'a path that leads the imagination of the listener through the streets of a city raped by the tragedy of war . . . . In 'Madrigals,' Electric Sarajevo tells you nine stories, which have in common the multifaceted and kaleidoscopic nature of love, with post-rock shades, dark melancholy and soft electronic arrangements.' Wow ' that's a lot to live up to ' let's see if this Italian quartet can pull it off. Like most press sheets, it writes checks that the album can't cash; it makes it sound like this is a kind of concept album, but this didn't seem to be the case. Still, this is pretty good goth-tinged rock, with much more emphasis on the rock part of it. The vocals kind of remind me of Rosetta Stone for some reason. 'If You Only Knew' gets angry with screaming vocals, but for the most part this is pretty straightforward guitars + synthesizers music that would be right at home on your local indie / college radio station. Well executed, but not as much of an experimental bent as Chain DLK readers may expect. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.


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