Music Reviews

The Bleeding Peasant Orchestra: Sanctuary and Truce

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 29 2013
Artist: The Bleeding Peasant Orchestra
Title: Sanctuary and Truce
Format: CD
Label: Corrosive Growth Industries (@)
Rated: *****
Checking around it seems it's been awhile since Chain D. L. K. reviewed anything from the U.K. based Corrosive Growth Industries label, perhaps because their last release by Initial Prayer ('Last Man in Europe') was in 2005. Corrosive Growth has to be one of the more obscure labels out there and this release by the Bleeding Peasant Orchestra is made up of undisclosed members, likely from the label's roster of artists. No individual credits on the CD or the band's website. No one-sheet sent with the CD, nada. That's really a shame because this is a marvelous work; something you could easily imagine being released by Cold Meat Industries.

The CD begins with 'Cathedral of Wounds,' a sort of low key funeral waltz with muted low percussion, measured acoustic guitar, melancholy wordless medieval choir (beautiful soprano female voices being dominant), atmospherics, and eventually, a poetic recitation by Brit-accented gent. Very cool. Next track, 'Ignorance,' is a trancey acoustic Middle Eastern style number with western (drum kit) percussion. Vocals are again recitation style ala David Tibet; a sussinct elegiac ode on the volatile state of affairs in that part of the world. Imagine a Current 93/Muslimgauze collaboration, and you might get some idea, but this is really excellently done!

After the somber, ambient 'Echoes of Life in a Poisoned Forest,' we are treated to the centerpiece of this album, 'We Serve (Austerity 2013)'. It's martial industrial with ominous low orchestral horns, military cadence and a distorted drone. The recited lyrics are worth quoting ' 'You want something that you can't have'¦ you want all of this'¦work hard, work harder still, keep going and you will be rewarded. Where once hope flourished, now ashes'¦the ruins of a promise'¦a deception'¦a mirage. We came into the machine, accepted the poison, ands lost everything, but still, we serve. What can you tell me about how it ends? Will there be more lies to keep us quiet? More laws to keep us down? Forge it all into the promise of riches, and tell us again that the system works; you just have to work harder. We shall be saved. Follow their leadership and comply with the new orders. Just need to trust in our masters once more. Don't worry, believe, behave'¦and work fucking harder!' Damn, this is well done!

'We Kept to the Rules (and look what happened)' is kind of a wistful, placid, ambient piece, but you get the sense that humanity has been swept away in the wind. 'Sunburst' starts out like cosmic space music but turns into this melodic ditty with mellotron in the lead, reminiscent of vintage Kraftwerk. Wonderful how it builds and expands. 'Cracked Wheels 16' is ambient music of a darker sort, with the thrum of some kind of alien machinery and the low moaning wail of something'¦unnatural, the piece ending with the words 'respiration stops'. In 'Pandaemonium (CGSF 2012)' there are gamelan-like bells, and a plucked string instrument that begins the three-note repeated basic rhythm. A Tibetan (style) horn blows an intermittent single note, and eventually other instruments and ambient noise creep in. Percussion embellishes the rhythm; a violin joins Philip Glass style, perhaps more minimally, rhythmically bowing a single note, then shifting to another. There is a good deal more than this, but you get the idea. When the piece is done, applause ensues, so I can only assume it was played live. Final track, 'Never Saw It Coming; Never Heard You Leave' is an odd track with a low orchestral one-chord loop and the sound of static or a scratchy record. Harold Budd-ish (or Eno-esque) piano emerges with a repeating melody that is supported by ambient synth tones, and that's how it ends.

From start to finish, The Bleeding Peasant Orchestra's 'Sanctuary and Truce' is an incredibly enigmatic album. I loved it all. I haven't heard anything that resonated so well with me in quite a while. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Dead Can Dance, Current 93, Death in June, and similar acts in the neofolk-ambient realm. Only thing is, this album defies categorization, regardless of what category I decided to put it in here.

Kool Thing: Kool Thing

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 26 2013
Artist: Kool Thing
Title: Kool Thing
Format: CD
Label: Mad Dog & Love
Distributor: Pale Music International
Rated: *****
Formed in Paris and now based in Berlin, Kool Thing see Julie Chance and Jon Dark, originally from Dublin and Sydney, teaming up with Valentin Plessy on drums for the release of their self named debut album for their own label Mad Dog & Love. Containing fourteen songs, of which three coming from a previous self produced CDr and a 12", "Kool Thing" is a good album which mixes echoes of 90s shoegaze (the opening "Low Love" recalled me Lush thanks to the female voices), a bit of alternative electronic dance funk (see tracks like "The Sign" and the following "TV Tower"), new wave and a bit of experimentation (check "Versterbro" and its dark atmosphere made of multi layered synth arpeggios and effected guitar). The atmosphere of the album passes from powerful electronic/guitar wall of sounds to smooth atmospheres which slowly turn into dancey 4/4 blasts (like on "Lost Days"). The album contains different highlights: catchy melodies, good rich rhythmical patterns, sensual vocals, good arrangements, energy and varied atmosphere. You can check it the whole track list at this link

Soncesvit: Tenebrae

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 25 2013
Artist: Soncesvit (@)
Title: Tenebrae
Format: CD EP
Label: Artificial Sun (@)
Rated: *****
The fifth release by the uprising Russian Artificial Sun label surprises with this debut release by the Ukrainian one-man project Soncesvit. Consisting of Ivan Luza, this debut EP consists of only two tracks, 'Tenebrae' and its b-side 'Magma'. At least 10 tracks, you'll get 8 foreign remix contributions on the title-track, plus the two original versions of both tracks. 'Tenebrae' itself surprises with lyrics completely in German taken from a biblical poem after the Austrian poet Paul Celan, who was originally born in the Ukraine. The raw and attacking guitar assaults and the powerful rhythm programming, as well as the 'rolling-R-letter-like' vocals let this track become to one of the best tribute-to-Ramstein tunes ever! Till Lindemann would have a smile if he'd have a chance to listen to this limited CDR (101 exemplars only available). As for the remixes on 'Tenebrae', first and again to name are the Kaliningrad-based marauders of Type V Blood providing an excellent, raw and powerful assault. Distorted World, also an often discovered name on a remix list by the Artificial Sun label, are proving their sense to provide more calm tones and more silent moments to this powerful original track. Also the interpretations of T-U.bus as well as the Project E.V.A. & Heart Hunter remix have to be rated as being well-done by providing some new and interesting Electronica elements to the mix. The b-side 'Magma' is a rather Folk-Metal-oriented outfit, hardly comparable to 'Tenebrae', and it needs some usage by the listener to grow on it. The rating after this review rather counts for this release only, since it is an entertaining one. The artist and his abilities can be hardly rated after only two tracks, but as far as we know the release politic of Artificial Sun during the last months, a full-length album should follow soon.

The Blank Vrs: The Idiots And The Envious

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 20 2013
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Artist: The Blank Vrs
Title: The Idiots And The Envious
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Pale Music International! (@)
Rated: *****
Originally from Stockholm, Sweden and currently based in Berlin, Germany, Kalle Fagerberg is the mastermind behind The Blank VRS. Active since 2010 or so, he did a couple of releases (a tape for Color Triangle Recordings and a digital self produced release) before making his first CD EP "The Idiots And The Envious" for Pale Music. Based on a piece of poetry by John Wilmotworks, the EP contains six tracks which experiments with synths, electronics, guitars and melody. Listening to tracks like "Pigeon Song (for Sparrow)" and the following "Polygraph", I think about a raw mix of Placebo, early Gene Loves Jezebel (check the opening "Fig Head") and early Cindytalk. The sound is based on guitar riffs, synth melodic distortions, 4/4 upbeat drum machine beats and new wave vocals. Already having played a lot in Europe, The Blank VRS is now looking west and plans a NorthAmerica/Canada Tour in early 2014 and as many shows in Europe as possible. You can check the whole EP at this link

Tomahawk: ”Oddfellows”

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 17 2013
Artist: Tomahawk (@)
Title: ”Oddfellows”
Format: CD
Label: Ipecac Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
WTF?? Look at this album cover (courtesy of cartoonist Ivan Brunetti) ' does that give you any idea what this latest release by Tomahawk sounds like? Hell no! But it's a hoot anyway. To be perfectly honest, I'd never heard (nor heard of) Tomahawk before this. I've heard of, and heard (a little) of a couple of Mike Patton's other bands ' Mr. Bungle and Faith No More, and can't say I'm a fan of either of them. With no proper basis of comparison, I began listening with more or less virgin ears.

Tomahawk now is Mike Patton- vocals/keys; Duane Denison- guitar; John Stanier- drums; Trevor Dunn ' bass. The latter, from Mr. Bungle, replace founding member Kevin Rutmanis. The guitar on opening and title track 'Oddfellows' sounds like latter-day King Crimson slowed down quite a bit. Patton's sinister wailing reminds me a bit of Swan's Michael Gira. It's a deliciously creepy vibe augmented with some wild-assed soloing by Denison toward the end. Great way to begin. Didn't care much for the next track, 'Stone Letter,' as it sounded like a pretty standard alt-rocker to me, except for the flanged gothy guitar break. 'I.O.U.' raises the bar a bit with its slow and simmering dark tension verse and rising, wailing chorus. Sort of minimalistic but really good! 'White Hats/Black Hat' is an absolutely brilliant rocker; a low-down, dirty, sexy, and dangerous burner, of the ilk I don't hear enough of nowadays. 'A Thousand Eyes' is a spooky little change-up. 'Rise Up Dirty Waters' has a really spiffy detective jazz motif that heats up on the chaotic jumpin' jive chorus. This is the track that really sold me on the album. I'm such a sucker for stuff like this! 'The Quiet Few' is anything but quiet, a real nightmarish raucousness on this one, right up to its manic conclusion. In 'I Can Almost See Them' I can almost see shades of Ennio Morricone. 'South Paw' sounds like one of those rockers that's more effective live than in the studio and reminded me too much of Faith No More. 'Choke Neck' on the other hand is a creepy downtempo number that is typical of what I am coming to expect from Tomahawk. 'Waratorium' sounded like filler, but at least it was well-done filler. 'Baby Let's Play__' is the closest thing to a love ballad on the album, but think of it as a Dexter-serial killer sort of love ballad. Final track 'Typhoon' is an uptempo hell-raiser I could imagine Iggy & the Stooges doing. Too short at 2:12 but always leave 'em wanting more I guess.

I made it a point after I finished this review to search out some of Tomahawk's earlier work and there is no doubt that a good deal of it was a lot more experimental and out there than this album. It's not that they sound like a completely different band (they don't) but they've managed to refine and focus their energy and trim some of the ragged edges. Song construction is generally better too. If you were a big fan of their previous work, you might be disappointed that there aren't extended excursions into weirdsville. However, if you truly appreciate the band's essence, you'll appreciate that 'Oddfellows' is a cohesive work with some absolutely stellar tracks.

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