Music Reviews



Sophya: Words and Sounds

 Posted by S.A. Sebastian (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 10 2012
cover
Artist: Sophya (@)
Title: Words and Sounds
Format: CD
Label: Out of Print Records (@)
Rated: *****
'Words and Sounds' by Sophya is a compilation of 13 songs released between 2001 and 2011 plus a new song from their upcoming 2012 release. If you are in to Goth that you can sing along with and dance to, this album is not for you. Of the 14 most are slow, dark and lush songs, with hypnotic and often melancholy vocals.

Spanning 10 years, the production on each song varies from outstanding to really good. Generally, the slower songs have a looser mix and the vocals tend to get buried; so it's hard to get a feel for what the song is about. But, you can still clearly hear the melody, but it's difficult to discern the lyrics. The faster songs have tighter mixes, and you can hear every nuance. To me, the bass stands out the most. There a many moments where the bass playing and sound is reminiscent of Simon Gallup from the Cure, then it gets washed out in effects, then it's bone dry. The bass is almost always different while the keyboards, guitars and vocals sound similar throughout.

There are several tracks that are 5 minutes or longer which could have been edited down to 4 minutes or less. These songs tend to be repetitive seemingly for the sake of fitting in more words. 'Captive Beauty,' clocks in at 7:08. It starts out really good, and takes about 2 minutes to get to the chorus. It goes on about 4 minutes too long with verses that don't seem to end. Sonically it's very nice, but drags.

The more memorable songs are the more uptempo ones, like 'Fifty Four,' 'Desire,' and 'More.' Unlike the slower songs these have more memorable choruses and vocal lines to sing along with. That's not to discount the slower songs. There are some really good songs here.

Overall, I like 'Words and Sounds' by Sophya. It's good record packed a with songs that would please any fan of the Cure, Switchblade Symphony or Black Tape for A Blue Girl. And I count myself among that lot.

Rarefaction: ...The Dancer, The Dance...

 Posted by S.A. Sebastian (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 10 2012
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Artist: Rarefaction (@)
Title: ...The Dancer, The Dance...
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Music is best when it evokes images or feelings. And it's even better when it's done through instrumental music. '...The Dancer, The Dance...' is an Ep with three, bass-driven, instrumental pieces that evoke imagery with every track. These three songs sound as though they were lifted from a movie soundtrack.

The 4/4 quarter note strum of acoustic guitars on 'Slow Fall' open the Ep. The acoustics are slowly overtaken by bass and synth pads which might underscore a scene of deep thought and reflection, or a slow-motion heroine trip. 'For Ophelia And The Silent Sea,' seems a variation of 'Slow Fall' with its similar sounding dark synths, echoes and delays, but with more momentum. This one depicts a drive on a long stretch of road on an overcast, misty New England day. The Ep finishes on a more hopeful note with the Joy Division/New Order sounding bass guitar piece, 'Happy Endings? (In The Stairwell Everything Was Better...)'

Rarefaction is the Brooklyn-based musician Jerold H., who performed all the music on '...The Dancer, The Dance...'. On his website he says, 'Rarefaction is a reference to sparseness & minimalism. It is the space in-between.' Sparse and minimal is a good way to describe the music and this Ep.

Steve Morell & Monica Pokorna: Lady Pheres

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 10 2012
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Artist: Steve Morell & Monica Pokorna
Title: Lady Pheres
Format: 12"
Label: Pale Music
Rated: *****
I reviewed Steve Morell's latest single two years ago and I was thinking that the album was going to be released anytime soon. After twentyfour months, it seems that now "The Life And Death Of Jimmy Pheres And His Rise From The Underworld" release is really near. To get acquainted with its atmosphere, Steve Morell and his partner Monica Pokorna, bring to their audience four new tracks of which the title track is "Lady Pheres". The main track is a strong ballad characterised by the alternation of Steve Morell and Monica Pokorna who start to tell the story of Jimmy, the character of the album and his love relation with Lady Pheres, the one that will ease him from his pain ("I am the one; I am your princess, come closer / And you can smell my love and feel my holiness"). One this one acoustic guitars, strings, xylophone and drums initially plays softly, like they don't want to disturb that magic feeling but then, in a crescendo, they underline the atmosphere. The second new track is "It's Been So Long" and it will be included on the album. This one is a bit more melancholic and with slow rhythm. I don't know if this one tells of the death of Lady Pheres, but an excerpt of the lyrics tell: "Here I am on my own, alone, again / Lonely thoughts creating shivering pain / Death is shining on your ring / Slowly I'm facing the sin / All I see is black and white there's no one else to hold me tight / I pull on my finger, I'm crawling like a clown". "Confusion" is a short intermezzo made of metallic percussions, vocals and brushed acoustic strings. "Holding On" is a song which is exclusive to the 12" and it's a good ballad with paced rhythms and post punk atmospheres (the distorted guitar inserts and the tribal rhythms make a nice effect). These are the original tunes and I liked them and they make me think that the album will be a good one. Now, we can talk about the remixes. On the vinyl we have one remix "Lady Pheres (DJ Vela's The Lady Smiles Vocal Remix)". Of the original tune it keeps the strings parts, some guitars, some vocals and the xylophone. It adds a bouncing retro drum machine sound and nice effects on vocals. It isn't a proper dance version but it sounds nice. On the digital version of the release, we have three other remixes of the track. "The Handclap Situation... Remix" is a minimal ambient one with strings, choruses which turns into a dub/drum and bass one after a while. The "Electrosexual Remix" is a sensual electro mid tempo where the main melodic parts (instruments and vocals) are used and alternated with the add of 4/4 hard beats. The last track is "DJ Vela The Lady Smiles Instrumental Remix". This is a good EP which sees Ragnar, EF Kriete (Goldfish), Andrew Unruh (Einsturzende Neubauten), Carolin Werren, Kevin Mooney (Adam & The Ants), Karen Weber and Valerie Renay (Noblesse Oblige) collaborating with the couple.

Life in Sodom: The Hollow and Haunted House

 Posted by S.A. Sebastian (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 30 2012
Artist: Life in Sodom (@)
Title: The Hollow and Haunted House
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Nutrix Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Life in Sodom's single, 'The Hollow and Haunted House,' is a simple and catchy Darkwave song that is very well done, and fun to listen to. The lyrics recall that scary old house in the neighborhood that all the kids avoided and told stories about. The house is surrounded by rumors of all the bad things that happened inside. 'What did the Devil leave behind in the hollow and haunted house?'

The production is tight and professional and full of hooks. The CD single has 2 additional versions of the song ' an instrumental, and a remix ' with the original being the strongest version. The more you listen to 'The Hollow and Haunted House,' the more you want to hear more from the band.

Overmamba: Crawl Out

 Posted by S.A. Sebastian (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 30 2012
Artist: Overmamba (@)
Title: Crawl Out
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Without having seen a picture of the band or having a listing of the band lineup, yet, I imagine onstage Overmamba is a single person with a computer, a couple of keyboards and a drum machine. He doesn't look at or acknowledge the audience. He just dances to himself while pushing buttons.

Listening to 'Crawl Out,' it's hard to get a feel for who or what Overmamba is. The influences are apparent and every song sounds like a different song by each of those influences. There's no identity. Nothing that says, 'we are Overmamba.' It's like listening to a cover band that plays all the obscure tracks by different bands. 'Crawl Out' sounds like a demo of an electronic artist trying to discover who he is.

There's not much in the way of songs here. The songs can be categorized as either trying to be clever, long and rambling, or short and incomplete. The short songs end before you get a chance to hear the chorus; the long songs have nothing that catches your ear and are cluttered with vocal gymnastics akin to a Goth R&B singer; the rest... imagine a Goth jam band. If it weren't for the singer you would think that you were listening to a different band with each song.

Sonically, 'Crawl Out' sounds like the demo a band makes before recording the album. The synths harken back to the classic FM synths you would hear in 80s electronic pop, which are great, but Overmamba makes them feel campy and amateurish. The production eventually gets cluttered with cheesy synth horns, hokey organs, orchestra stabs and thin, cheesy guitars.

After checking out the website I learned that my impression couldn't further from reality. Overmamba is two guys with 'supporting musicians,' that describe their music as 'an incredible hybrid between electronica, pop, new wave, dark and eighties vibe.' This is all music I like.

If I'm being hard on these guys, it because I really wanted to like 'Crawl Out.' There's a little something in each song that grabs me. 'Crawl Out' is an album that was released too soon. With the help of a producer and a songwriting coach this could have been a really good album. It will be interesting to see how they progress. With some help, I could see Overmamba evolving into a band like Indochine.


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