Music Reviews

Hidden Reverse: Six Cases of Sleep Disorder

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 14 2018
Artist: Hidden Reverse (@)
Title: Six Cases of Sleep Disorder
Format: CD
Label: Azoth
Rated: *****
Hidden Reverse, the name of this bicephalous project by Simon Balestrazzi (mostly known for his forerunning industrial project T.A.C., as most of our readers maybe know) and Massimo Olla - another appreciated artist of the experimental Italian scene -, could let you think of something related or referred to subliminal messages un-hidden by the reverse playing of some recordings. Well, it has nothing to do with this marketing gimmick by some bands, but it could somehow hit your subconscious. The source of inspiration, as you can easily guess, is the phenomenon of sleep disorders, but don't expect some therapy music or seemingly infinite bundles of narcoleptic ambient by these guys. Maybe fostered by the growingly notorious sleep concerts (Steve Stapleton's ones are a must), by a vast literature related to this interesting subject (eg.Jonathan Coe's "The House of Sleep") or by the narcolepsy or the sleeplessness (depending on individual reaction) often induced/inspired by sluggish cultural debates or by the the demeaning political and economic situation, the sleep, its deprivation or its disorders could be considered parts of a hot topic. More than narcolepsy or insomnia, Hidden Reverse creatures could inspire or induce nightmares, considering the matter Simon and Massimo focused on. A title like "Fatal Familial Insomnia" for the opening song, but above all its rising psychotic torsions, could let you think of some dreadful familiar dreadful crimes about parents, turned into killers by traumatic events reawakened by an infant's wailing or by stress. The slightly distorted barking and the siren-like crying are just some nightmarish entities resurfacing from the dumb drone-like movement of the following "Night Terrors", preceding the claustrophobic stealthy steps of "In That Liminal Space" and the scary "Obstructive Sleep Apnea", the track where Simon and Massimo get closer to that branch of industrial music, drawing inspiration from soundtracks of horror movies of the 70ies. The two raving minutes of "One More White Night" in between effete and hectic emotionality as well as the final "Entering The Empire of The Sleepless" let you guess they tried to follow a sort of plot in the sequence of tracks, that testify the amazing (and thrilling) chances of interaction between Simon's freaky entities and Massimo's creatures on his [d]Ronin tools.

Kraz: Lonely

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 11 2018
Artist: Kraz
Title: Lonely
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk Records
Amsterdam-based band Kraz’s “Lonely EP” is a bold 4-track collection from the darker and more melancholic side of guitar-driven electro-synth-pop. Bright arpeggiating synth patterns and melodramatic drums underpin a pained, rocky male vocal.
The title track is the most radio-friendly, an expansive and quite filmic song conjoined to a slow post-dubsteppy groove with full-on production mixing, while the other three tracks dive a little deeper. “Here” is an interesting mish-mash of a surprisingly acid-house beat and squelchy bass with a quite Rob Dougan-esque pained and evocative top end- certainly the track with the greatest remix potential.
Longest track “Forced To Faith” has shades of Depeche Mode about it, with extra time to breathe both vocally and in the synth patterns that are allowed a little further exploration. “Make Him Disappear” has the most prominent guitars and a more raw and organic drum arrangement, and sounds like a rock band with a synth player rather than a synth band that happens to have a guitar, especially in the final third when things take a decided turn towards sounding like an electro-heavy version of The Doors.
The one thing missing from all four tracks is the infectious hook. Dark and brooding this may be, but ultimately it’s still pop music and it still feels like we’re heading towards choruses and crescendos that never quite arrive to fulfil the promise that the verses offer. Predictably it’s the title track that gets closest to a really memorable, singing-it-after-it’s-finished chorus. If that ingredient could have been sprinkled on top, what you’d have here is a very strong EP indeed.

Chvad SB: Structure

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 06 2018
Artist: Chvad SB
Title: Structure
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber
Apparently this is Chvad SB’s 80th release in about 27 years, which with some artists might imply that they’re knocking them out without much thought. And on the surface, the bold simplicity of the layered drones, strung-out notes and heavily processed guitar noodling in the two 22-minute pieces that make up “Structure” could imply that it didn’t take long to formulate. But scratch a little deeper and you find that, like strong minimalist art, the exceptional balance and control of this release is what makes it really strong.

Supremely long synthetic tones, some imitating strings, others their own form of steady tubular or sine wave beds, loop and loop. Six minutes into opening track “Column” we begin to hear the first elements that could be described as notes, playing out glacially slowly like the melody of a slow ice melt, before with admirable patience we are finally introduced to the reverb-soaked electric guitar sounds, which strum away with a surprisingly happy tone.

“Pillar” is a more echoey affair, with a hall-like ambience and gentle waves of electrical hum and interference sounds being cut through by spontaneous percussive tube hits and single strained guitar notes. Hints of American twang just creep into the guitar work at the end.

It’s yet another really strong bit of guitar drone from the very prolific and consistent Silber label.
Artist: Controlled Bleeding
Title: Headcrack - remastered
Format: LP
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
One of the positive aspect/consequence of the launch of some new album by historical (but pretty unknown to younger generations) bands are the related reissue of some old entries. It's what happened on the occasion of the return of the legendary band Controlled Bleeding, whose recent album "Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps", followed by the remix collection of "Carving Song", was followed by the reissue by Artoffact of "Headcrack", the oddest (but maybe the best) release of Paul Lemos' brainchild, the album which was one of the turning point of their long history, when the band left the cacophonic style of their earlier outputs aside in order to develop a more original mixture of dark ambient and industrial. As I told, this turning point coincides with the alternation of remarkably bleak and creepy moments with paradoxically hopeful ones, to the point that you can't sometimes establish the exact separation of such a bipolarity. For instance, you can't really say the vocal chants they occasionally used belong to a hellish or a heavenly dimension, or if the ecstatic minimalism spread over the album are closer to the representation of deceitful illusions or, more likely, of a sort vividly blissful detachment. Under a more etheric point view (let's say so), it seems they translated into a necessarily bipolar sound the consequences of that fossilized rose (or the fossilization of love), portrayed on the cover artwork...damnation, blissful oblivion or maybe both. Cacophony sprouts again on the final tracks (the ones that have been left untitled in this remastered versions as well as on the head-banging and over-distorted noises of the last one, a remix introduced as "the missing Headcrack piece"), but such a resurface makes sense... Whatever you interpret this monumental industrial-ambient output, it's an essential building block of higher levels of modern music.

Alessio Santini: Kenter

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Nov 21 2017
Artist: Alessio Santini
Title: Kenter
Format: CD + Download
Label: Elli Records
“Kenter” is a four-track EP constructed solely from electric guitar and acoustic drums (and occasional vocals if we’re being pedantic), but processed filtered and post-produced extensively to fill it out into a rounded production of glitchy modern darkwave.

“Ffar” revolves around an ominous three-note theme that’s ‘bad guys slowly marching’ in film language, but second track “Sul Mae Nero” is more stripped back, with quieter drones, no central pattern, and this gives the glitchier sounds and atmosphere more room to breathe. The main distorted guitar re-appears with high shock value, with just an edge of gothic vocal that sounds like it happened to be recording in the room next door. Short third track “Sndaz Majorii” is equally open, but with whispered threats and more distortion to make something properly unsettling, before final track “Destroy Destroyers” is, despite its title, a lighter piece of soft pad-like guitar reverb tones and frenetic high-pitched drum glitching.

An impressive exercise in guitar processing and drum glitching, “Kenter” lives in very well-trodden dark and ominous territory but manages to forge its own unique tone nevertheless.

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