Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Juggernaut Services presents: Moving Mountains Vol. 1
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Juggernaut Services (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
We at the Chain D.L.K. are welcoming and sending congratulations to our colleague Nick Quarm and his new activity under Juggernaut Services. Nick has made himself a quite good name as reviewer/interviewer for the Swedish Brutal Resonance webzine. He has established with Juggernaut Services a promotional tool to interested underground artists to extract more exposure out of Nick's experience and world-wide based contacts. In the first instance Nick works with his clients to gain attention by the international press, promoters, online-bloggers and other resources. His website introduces widely this promotional agency, so I leave it for now and start to concentrate on the music content of this first compilation compiled to introduce the most important content of the whole concept, the artist. 'Moving Mountains', which is available via the Bandcamp website of Juggernaut Services, represents the rather hard side of his clients and it is filled with driving beats and harsh distorted vocals. Some ideal stuff to invade the dancefloors of the darkest clubs is pretty much available here. The COP-recording project nolongerhuman opens and also closes this compilation and this one already counts to the more prominent clients of Nick's agency. 'One For You, One For Me 2010' as being the opener already sets the standard on a very high level and if I listen to the used synthesizer pads, song structure and vocal processing, I feel myself pretty much remembered to Suicide Commando's 'Axis Of Evil' album. Also the closing track 'Transcend Humanity' impresses with a straight but melodic sound-design and it is quite clear that this project can be hardly topped by the further participants. Next one is the UK-based project Tactical Module with 'Dead Zone' the title track of their latest, freely available same-titled EP (http://tacticalmodule.bandcamp.com/). Straight-forward produced beats and sequencer lines supported by dark Metal-like guitar-riffs, but unfortunately with a very poor sounding vocal performance are the leading elements of this appearance. Cease2xist are one of the British hopes to storm on top of the Harsh EBM genre, but compared to the crystal-clear quality of nolongerhuman they are suffering a bit on the fact not to have the best studio possibilities available. Like most of the invited projects on this 15 track-compilation, also Cease2xist present us two tunes. 'Teenage America' is a great composition with a well recognized socio-critical content, but also 'Tonight' convinces. San Diego's duo RetConStruct comes up next, also they could enter two slots on this compilation. They are to me pretty much gifted with talent, but at times they are dwelling a bit to much in obscurity. 'All Gone Awry' provides a strange and out-of-range-sounding vocal performance which actually ruins a good track, while their straight produced second appearance 'The Maelstrom' is the much better done track. With the Poland-based project Controlled Collapse and their two appearances 'Halloween' and 'This Nightmare' you'll get another relative prominent contributor to this compilation and it does good to hear Mr. Wojciech leaving the field of Harsh EBM/Hellectro to the other kids. This band has grown and reached maturity, the arrangements are pretty much filled with details, while I sometimes dislike the deep, a bit monotonous sounding vocals. However, musically on a quite recommendable course, keep it on. Warsickle hails, as far what I know, out of the Czech Republic. Their first track 'Help From Outer Space' is a well-done Dark Electro instrumental tune, while the second 'Call For Help' suffers again under a not convincing vocal performance. It gets heavier and to me hard to bite with the Australian quartet of Eschaton Hive - that is hard and raging Metal-Industrial music, which is in the first instance louder produced than bombs - while this doesn't make it any better. And please don't ask me what kind of poem you can extract out of a title like 'Zombie Attack Plan', phhh. We have two additional one-track appearances with the rhythmic Powernoise-project Tapewyrm - actually a good and unique sounding addition to this genre - and the Scotland-based Industrial project Plastic Noose. Their 'Zu Allen' features energetic male vocals - actually good and natural sounding vocals - in a rusty Electro/Industrial/Coldwave-like sound environment, which reminds me somehow on a classic project like Carbon 12 (... who remembers them?). Nice to hear a project to break a bit with conventions, this one is recommendable - through the darkness we will hear!
All in all a first nice overview of the musically harder-minded projects presented through Juggernaut Services - it has highs and depths, but I guess this was to expect. This compilation as well as the follow-up contender 'Calming Cyclones' is currently available as downloads via the Juggernaut Bandcamp website, but there are plans to release the best participants out of both as a real pressed CD. It belongs a bit on your will to support the Electro/Industrial underground. So you can be a part of it by donating via IndieGoGo here: http://www.indiegogo.com/juggernautcd. The advantages for you can be told: you'll be the first in the world to own the releases, and some of the Juggernaut acts have put personal gifts in the pot to say thanks. In recent news, the track listing for the CD release is in development. To top all this, the release will have unreleased and exclusive tracks by God Destruction and Rein[Forced]. So let's get in and join the forces of the Juggernaut Services and its attractive roster.
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Artist: Synoiz (@)
Title: Darkling
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Named after the most rhythmical track of his debut album "Ambients", who grabbed the attention of many listeners and reviewers dealing with darkest declensions of ambient, electro-pop and synth-pop, "Darkling" is a voluptuous collection of remixes by various (mostly unknown) musicians Sunderland-based sound artist Graeme Donaldson met. Remix albums are not my favorite ones as sometimes the original version usually biases the final result of remixer's manipulations, but there are many exception when this circumstance doesn't occur: "Darkling" can be considered an exception as well due to the impressive variety of styles which have been injected by remixers, who mostly doesn't skew the atmosphere of the original track. The fact it offers the possibility to knew some obscure producers and sound artists is another relevant feature of this release and I've to say there are many interesting interpretations. As it's a digital release which gives the possibility to the listeners to buy single track, if I had to pick a limited number of them to suggest, any choice would be somewhat inequitable. The decision of including the album version gives the possibility to appreciate better what I highlighted before: the remixes which are closer to the original version are maybe the ones which sounds more focused on the dark and ethereal vein, which pulsates in the original version. I particularly enjoyed "Doug Lynner's Los Gatos Mix" and "Ravenslament Wake Up #13 Mix" - both of them reminded to me that kind of dark ambient-dub (one of the first names which come to my mind is G.O.L.) for the tastes of Dead Can Dance, which had some rushes in the middle 90ies -, the abstract suppurations of "SKatterBrain Remix" - it could evoke some stuff by Sabres Of Paradise - and the amazing electronic procession of "Pinklogik Remix", but all those versions who squeezed the track to highlight the rhythmical aspect are equally interesting, particularly "Synoizian Dance Edit" - a well balanced mixture of electro and acid techno -, "Endo Meso Pick N Mix" - an atmospheric coalescence of charming trip-hop and obscure downbeat -. Some surprises come from remxies of other songs as well: "Arrow Down Hill Defiance Remix" of "Ever Emptiness" could let you imagine an unexpected appearance by Radiohead or Stateless in some hidden episode of Resident Evil or 3D Realms/Monolith Production' "Blood", whose horror settings could be evoked in a more concrete way by the scary atmospheres on "Ark Elfs Brain Haemorrhage mix" of "The Enfield Poltergeist" or the tormented Beefcake-like breakbeat on "Scriptkiddy's Wrong St Ives Mix" of "The Esoteric Order Of Dagon", while gamelan-driven "Lunar Re:Mix" of "From You" by Anguajy could let you imagine some Balinese lunar modul! You can find a certain relief in the amazing reinterpretation of "Of Rolling Hills" by Madeleine Bloom, whom critics are calling Germany's answer to Imogen Heap..its listening could immerse listener into an imaginary nursery room for Casper and other sweetie baby ghosts!

Still Light: Rosarium

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Nov 13 2012
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Artist: Still Light (@)
Title: Rosarium
Format: CD
Label: Tonefloat (@)
Rated: *****
Schmalzy, ineluctably melancholic, somewhat harrowing emotions like the unavoidability of a deep sorrow related to a loss that cannot be filled in spite of any temporary exorcism stay afloat on this intriguing album by Colorado-based talented musician and leading vocalist Kirill Nikolai, who gives the listener not the usual grit of sadness, which could sound too stodgy for those ones in search of some escapism within music. Even if you could imagine music notation on the staff could have been written by salt furtive tears, suddenly sprung while on exctasy (!), while listening, you'll easily notice that it seems that Still Light's music runs on a double track: lyrics often translate what music manages to say by its own and this aspect sounds clear since the initial "Bough", where rich vocals burst on the scene just after suspensive ghostly choirs, an evocative pan flute and a pale guitar anticipating an icy cello speak by themselves. "A Thing Buried" seems to describe a scene of burial through entrancing guitar arpeggios which weaves a dark-folk medieval sad ballad and a sort of dumb drone and the transitional relief, which has been inspired by the calming stillness of a snowy landscape on the lovely song "The Cross Of Snow" (the astonishing voice by Irish folk singer Carol Anne McGowan accentuates such an emotional atmosphere), cannot dam entrancing the emotional effluvium by Kirill, which reaches the highest stylistical peak in the two absorbing parts of "Processional" - the first one could evoke a gradual acceptance of a loss (the music sounds as warm as a friendly hug or slap for condolences), whereas the second one sounds like an intimate angelic lullaby (closer to ambient-tinged exstatic folk by primordial Sigur Ros or Eluvium) -, before the final redemption on "Rosary", where Kirill seems to sing the recovered beauty and balance after such an intense grief.

TSTI: Evaluations

 Posted by George Embryonik (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Nov 10 2012
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Artist: TSTI (@)
Title: Evaluations
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: bandcamp
Rated: *****
TSTI, is the moniker of the electronic bedroom project by upstate New York artist, S. Smith''. He may be describing it as a 'bedroom project', himself, but trust me, it is anything but! Having released two excellent E.P.s, TSTI, is absolutely ready to leave his synth mark in the electronic music world, by releasing his debut album 'EVALUATIONS" on November 12th.
There are nine songs on the album (as it is often, coincidentally, the case with all the best albums). The main (and vital) characteristic of TSTI's music - for me - is that he uses his analogue synths and drum machines to produce an original new sound, that although it may be reminding us of 'a broken frame' era DM, at some points, he manages to explore and expand his electronic sound palette and come up with a completely individual style, of his own. His vocals are dark (without having to be low-pitched) and perfectly fitting to his - equally - dark compositions that enhance the beauty of his songs.
Through his multi - layered and skillfully constructed, arrangements, his powerful melodic lines, and his matching vocal delivery, he manages to push all the right buttons, and transport the listener to darker place, where his talent and musical skill, shine even brighter.
TSTI - EVALUATIONS, is an album of dark emotion, having it's roots planted in the 80's synth scene and it is guaranteed to satisfy your synth music needs. I have already placed my CD pre-order, on bandcamp, where you'll also find the digital version of the album.

A New Life: Phase Two

 Posted by George Embryonik (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Nov 10 2012
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Artist: A New Life (@)
Title: Phase Two
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Romance Moderne (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
The mastermind and driving force behind the 'NOISEBRIGADE' music project, is the same man, who has embarked on a new stronger and ambitious synth trip, creating the 'A NEW LIFE" project, making a new beginning, inspired by important and life-changing events in his life.
Having already released an E.P. he presents his brand new two-track single, titled 'PHASE TWO'.
The first song, "In These Troubled Times I Won't Dig My Own Grave", is an intense, yet emotional journey, with strong and memorable lead lines and melodic elements, that manages to stay true to the early 80s synth/new wave melancholy while advancing forward lyrically and musically. The analogue synths take centre stage showcasing the artist's talent for melody and arrangement.
His almost haunting vocal delivery is enhancing the dark vibe of the song even further, taking the song to another level.
The second song of the single, "End Of A Barrel", is an equally strong track, with analogue beats, catchy arpeggios and analogue synth 'details'.
The vocals remain dark and haunting, with an infectious chorus, that compliments the expertly executed synth-work of the song.
This two-track single, is a brilliant showcase of 'A New Life's new, dark, melancholic exploration of sounds and lyric themes, that combined with the complex arrangements of the songs and the immaculate production, will leave you wanting more! A high quality release from every aspect.


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