Music Reviews

Northern Sadness: Riddles of Lunacy

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 19 2012
Artist: Northern Sadness (@)
Title: Riddles of Lunacy
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Many reviewers associated Northern Sadness' style to the one by Sisters Of Mercy, an association which sounds like a pique on Andrew Eldritch's band as even if SOM took part to the most important festivals of the scene, such as M'era Luna, they repeatdly tried to discourage any possible link with Goth movement and they tried to reach this goal even with contractual clauses. Such a clarification doesn't want to belittle what these Belgian musicians - singer Koen De Brabander, former member of Dead Poets, and bassplayer Philippe Lefief - bring about to the scene, even if many songs could remember a period of SOM's production, the one when Eldritch (and Doktor Avalanche of course, id est the notorious nickname given to drum machines, which were so important that Mr Eldritch considered it like a person!) supposedly was influenced by bassplayer Patricia Morrison, the most "unguitared" one of SOM history, coinciding with the issue of Floodland, but their decision to record an electronic dance cover of their fellow citizens Red Zebra (hailing from Bruges, a lovely Flemish city, whose notorious Stadsschouwburg Theater also known as La Bonbonniere for its red and gold seats - I think it's that at least! - has been picked up by Northern Sadness as the ideal setting for artwork), which are considered one of the most influential post-punk and new wave band of Belgian scene gives a more precise outline to their sound. Although many tracks are not real gems as their dynamics could sound too bare - but it's better repeat that it is a peculiarity of this genre -. there are some interesting moments, such as the hypnotic stepping of "All This Noise", the juicy minimal synth of "Out Of Mind" (a really good darkwave song), the bittersweet uptempo mood of "2nd Hand Girl" (imagine Visage's atmospheres dressed with electro acid brine), the sticky bassline of "Hollow Eyes", which recalled to my memory some stuff by Clock DVA and Vomito Negro, and the obscure atmospheres of the final "Poets And Angels".

Rella The Woodcutter: The Golden Undertow

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 14 2012
Artist: Rella The Woodcutter (@)
Title: The Golden Undertow
Format: CD
Label: Boring Machines (@)
Rated: *****
Beside looking like the salutation of a letter, "Dear Star", the first song of this Italian whacky bluesman, who baptized himself Rella The Woodcutter, could arouse the assumption according to which he might be the umpteenth chunderer suffering from the typical self-celebrating behaviour of some singer, due to those torn modulations on the last syllables which can remind some notorious market-appointed rock Olympians such as Archive or even Oasis due to the moody post-rock-like feebleness of the simple sonic weft as well as other literary clues. Even if the suggestion "The Golden Undertow" could be thought as a letter keeps on be fed by the intimate perspectives Rella displays, the musical framework seems to be more pinpointed during the listening: nearly all tracks, based on Rella's meaningful lyrics, which often looks like addressed to some past friend or lover, rest on sober weaving of guitar which sometimes debouches into very good dynamics such as in the sudden sitar and tambo jingles explosion of "Black Universe" or the daydreaming rhymes of "Five", "My Ship" or the moving title track whose atmospheres are close to the ones by Songs Ohia or Transmissionary Six with the exception of "Leave Your Home", which introduces B-side of this album with an hypntotical phrasing by a flute. Its naked terseness without too many gewgaws and even the roughness of homemade recording (I enjoyed that light distorsion added to voice by damaged microphone membrane) impart a touch of authenticity. The scenery of a group of nostalgic hippies evoked by the last track "Drugtime Family" could persuade someone to put left-over daisies (the ones which have not been put inside cannons and barrels yet) inside some wild lion's jaws. Please be careful!


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 29 2012
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Title: Derive
Format: CD
Label: HR SPQR (@)
Rated: *****
"Derive" is the second full length album by the Genoese band Egida Aurea. Since the first listening I can say that this album is their strongest release to date. Deeply rooted to their territory, they bring their sound beyond the concept of folk music influenced by prog rock. Their lyrics have always been an important element of their music and even if in the past sometimes they were more relevant compared to the musical part, on "Derive" I think that they found a great balance between all the elements. The album starts with three upbeat ballads based on accordion and acoustic guitars, "Pedagogia Dell'Autoconservazione", "Il Forziere Dei Ricordi" and "Il Trasformista" but already on the first one they mixed dark atmospheres, rock guitar solos and wah wah guitar riffs giving to the track a really nice twist. On the short instrumental "Praepotens Genuensium Praepidium", they mixed rock drums and guitar solos which recall renaissance melodies. "Vestale" is a mid tempo ballad with the passionate voice of Carolina giving one of her best performances while drums beat like an heartbeat and acoustic and electric guitars build a catchy web of melodies. "Odore Di Benzina" maybe is the song which is more influenced by progressive and 70s rock and it sounds really energetic and hypnotic. I think that these tracks succeed really well into redefining the band's sound and I'm sure that they will work great live. With "La Prigionia" and "Sindrome Di Babele" we have a nice mid tempo with dreamy atmospheres and a fantastic tune with a driving drum beat which leads the ride followed by vivid acoustic guitar riffs and electric guitar solo inserts. "L'Ardente Fiaccola Della Ragione" closes the album, convincing old and new fans that Egida Aurea sound honest and original as they succeeded into mixing lyrics that are grounded on what's going on by giving their thoughts about society and mankind's weaknesses, making them sound like poems because of how they use the Italian language .

Taming the Outback: 1986-1989

 Posted by Barton Graham   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 28 2012
Artist: Taming the Outback
Title: 1986-1989
Format: CD
Label: Equation Records (@)
Rated: *****
Every now and again I find a band or artist that I just am absolutely in love with, only to find upon further research, that they have fallen to obscurity and little to no more material exists to be had. That is very much the case with Taming the Outback. Being a big fan of the post-punk movement as a whole, I was certainly excited to give this disc a spin, but I had no idea what was in store. A 'definitive' collection, culled from the entirety of their 3 year lifespan, '1986-1989' may just be one of the most quintessential post-punk records I've experienced. From the opening notes of 'Fire & Smoke' to the moving, dramatic leads of 'Mistrust' to the final notes of 'American Dream' this cd is a near flawless listen. So many classic influences are channeled throughout this disc, while not a single one of them can quite be used for comparison. The Outback were able to draw from these influences and really put their own stamp on it all. From bass sounds very reminiscent of the Cure's 'Disintegration' album, coupled with certain melodies containing the ghosts of Joy Division's early work to the angst of Killing Joke and hint of the western vibe of Fields of the Nephilim (with whom The Outback shared the stage for a tour) to the tension building vocals of Echo and the Bunnymen and Mission UK'¦ The list just goes on and on, yet I can't stress enough, that at no point does it sound like any of these bands have been recycled in any way. Taming the Outback had something so magical that this world just couldn't accept it, and after just three short years, tensions grew to a head, and the magic was no more. Lucky for us the trio, after 2 decades, decided to release this retrospective of singles originally slated for an abandoned LP, demos, and live tracks. While the quality of some of the live tracks isn't 100% pristine, some of the almost inaudible tape noise, really at its worst just adds a warm, nostalgic feel the latter half of the album. Even the packaging is impressive. A thick, heavy, double gatefold style cardboard sleeve is adorned with the band's infamous crucifixion publicity shot, and comes with a poster, and full 24 page booklet containing lyrics, interviews and reprints of more than a few press clippings about the band; and a second edition limited to just 75 copies (which at last inspection were still available) comes with the same, as well as 4 badges, a mini reprint of 'Alive and Kicking' fanzine from 1987 featuring the band, and an original copy of their only 7' in a picture sleeve. Once again, just a phenomenal record in every way; go out of your way if you must, just make sure you get this one under your belt before you die.

INDIANS IN MOSCOW: Indians In Moscow Expanded

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 25 2012
Title: Indians In Moscow Expanded
Format: CD
Label: Other Voices Records
Rated: *****
Formed in 1981 in Hull (UK) and disbanded in 1984 just before the release of their debut album, Indians In Moscow knew a major success after their participation to The Tube tv show, thanks to their performance which impressed the audience. During their activity they had three successes in the charts: "Naughty Miranda", "Jack Pelter And His Sex-Change Chicken" and the "Big Wheel". Despite the success they had thanks to their mix of pop melodies and oblique approach to new wave (mainly due to the vocal performance of Adele Nozedar who reminds me of a mix of Toyah and Slits' Ari-Up), the band frictions increased because of how the songs production of their album was going: Nigel Gray wanted to add some guitars and other overdubs to the original recordings, changing in that way, their distinctive sound. Their self titled album has been unavailable for decades until 2010, when Planet of Sound reissued it digitally. Now, Other Voices, decided to give to it a proper re-release by pressing an extended version of the album. On "Indians In Moscow Expanded" you can find the eleven tracks of the album plus the mix and 7" versions of their first success "Naughty Miranda", extended mix of "I Wish I Had" and "Jack Pelter", "Dies Irae" (a semi experimental wave track you can find on the "Big Wheel" EP), "Slide" (the "I Wish I Had" B side) plus an unreleased song titled "Underneath The Tree". I can't say that Indians In Moscow reminded me other bands of that era and that's good, but they succeeded into writing nice pop songs with a less rock approach of bands of the likes of Martha & The Muffins or less pop compared to Bow Wow Wow.

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