Music Reviews



Verdiana Raw: Metaxy

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 20 2012
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Artist: Verdiana Raw (@)
Title: Metaxy
Format: CD
Label: Ark (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
The inspirational perimeter of this record by Italian maenad Verdiana Raw could be traced by the literary references which are inlaid on stone doorposts where Verdiana Raw stands and welcomes listeners by making a gentle bow on the cover artwork: the Saracen leader Ruggiero and the female Christian warrior Bradamante, supposedly ancestors of author's patrons, D'Este family from Ferrara, their dramatic and troublesome love affair, their fortunes and events handed down by Ariosto's and Boiardo's writings as well as references to turbulent story of Tristan and Isolde, which became medium of generational ideals and believings by means of the genius of Richard Wagner, could be the romantic framework of this inspired record, which could be considered as the hallway towards obscure dungeons whose narrow corridors go across the in-between way the priestess Diotima showed to Socrates in order to let him reach the supreme knowledge, based on what we might name "relativity" nowadays. In Plato's Symposium this cognitive process close topure intuition in between poles is called "metaxy" and such a definition whetted the appetite for speculation of many modern philosophers. This everlasting cycle between opposite poles shines through Verdiana's lyrics and her way of "molding" words and vocal intonation and pitch (sometimes radiant, sometimes gloomy, but always remarkably haunting) while singing seems to suggest that such a state of consciousness doesn't imply or claim listener's rational comprehension. Verdiana's voice, mainly supported by pleasant piano melodies with occasional presence of other instruments, suavely flutters and caresses surrounding ether whereas her aesthatics meet the ones of celtic bards, classical composers, magicians'spell book and, last but not least, mythology and ritual music. I got astonished by those pieces where her voice sounds coming from other dimensions such as in "Escaping from the Guards, Ascending To The Moon", "Corvus Psyche'", "From The Sea", song where she reminded to me some vocal peaks reached by Love Spirals Downwards' Suzanne Perry, and "Outro" (in spite of the low quality of recording of this track...) as well as her versatility and impressive shifts in songs where she plays on the use of voice almost as a pictorial element such as in "Headless Baby Bitch", "The Japanese Garden", "Dining Alone" or in the aching interpretation of Guillerme Apollinaire's "La Loreley", which could summarize the poetics of this record throughout the reprise of themes like the tormented damnation of beauty.

Kill The Dandies!: Those Who Hold The Flame

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 15 2012
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Artist: Kill The Dandies!
Title: Those Who Hold The Flame
Format: 12"
Label: Pale Music
Rated: *****
Kill The Dandies are a band coming from the Czeck Republic that born when two ex members of The Nihilists (Hank J. Manchini and La Petite Sonja) met Richard Fischer (ex member of Take Death). They soon have been joined by drummer Vratislav Placheta (he played with Green Monster and also The Nihilists) and the bass player Michal Horejsi and after touring UK, Germany, Hungary, France and more, they self produced for their label Drug Me Records their first album: "I Saw White Fields". After two years, always with their label in conjunction with Pale Music, Kill The Dandies are releasing their second album "Those Who Hold The Flame". Available in vinyl and digital download from their Bandcamp page, the album sees the band dealing with nine new songs which mix 60s garage atmospheres with warm synth/hammond sounds, noisy guitars and wild vocal growls. Taking inspiration from bands of the such of The Cramps, Velvet Underground, Phil Spector or Rowland S. Howard (of whom they covered the song "The King of Kalifornia"), The Dandies know how to party and along with vibrating twanging guitars, the distorted bass guitar and the drumming are strong as a train at full velocity. Tracks like "Panic Inferno", with its dark mood, or the slow r'n'r/guitar-synth noise driven "It's So Sad", are perfect to understand what the band is able to offer: passion, fuzz and energy... Really nice one...

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
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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.


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