Music Reviews

The Murder Act: Traum

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 30 2011
Artist: The Murder Act (@)
Title: Traum
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Distributor: bandcamp
Rated: *****
As they put it, The Murder Act is a London, U.K. based five piece guitar-oriented band fusing elements of krautrock, shoegaze, industrial, punk and no-wave electronica with violently passionate and darkly humorous lyrics that had their inception in 2009. Well, that's the way they put it, not the way I'd put it, but more on that shortly. 'Traum' is their debut six-track EP, available on 12' vinyl (limited to 200) and digital download only. (My copy was a promo CD, but no real bearing on the music.)

Some review quoted on their one-sheet described the band as 'A vicious noise-drenched attack that smothers the dirty soul of Nick Cave around the Velvet's sodden corpse.' A highly imaginative description, but far-fetched to the point of incredulity from what I heard on this EP. Any resemblance to either of those two artists is purely coincidental in their 'noise factor'. I could just as easily compare The Murder Act to early Swans, Joy Division, or Sonic Youth, but there is no Nick Cave, Michael Gira or Thurston Moore in this band.

Leaving musical influences and the mode of the music aside for the moment, the biggest problem with 'Traum' is the sound quality. It sounds like the EP was recorded live in a warehouse on a cassette recorder. In this day and age there is simply no excuse for that. I've heard mediocre bootlegs from the 80s that sounded better than this murky mess. My advice- guys, get a good producer, or at very least a decent sound engineer and spend the bucks to do it right in the studio if you're serious about a career in music, even fringe music like this. There is just too much competition out there to sound so shabby. If the lyrics are supposed to be 'violently passionate and darkly humorous,' I can't tell; I can't much decipher them.

All is not hopelessly lost though. Beneath the muck and mire of the recording quality, I do detect a glimmer of talent. There is a Robert Smith / John Lydon quality about the lead singer's vocals, mixed with a little Ian Curtis/ Michael Gira intonation. 'Sew My Eyes,' a droning mid-tempo rock noise piece with vocals is somewhat memorable. (I could at least understand the 'Sew My Eyes' portion of the vocals.) So was the mostly instrumental title track, 'Traum,' with its forecful 'wall 'o processed guitar sonics and sequenced filter-sweep electronics. The vocals which come in later aren't bad either. Unfortunately, the subtleties were sabotaged due to the poor production. It's too bad that the majority of the material on 'Traum' is sub-par, wallowing in the clichéd emotional netherworld of goth-angst. Still, I detect the possibility of transcending all this with better production and more attention to songwriting. That the lead singer (and rest of the band, I presume) is English is a big plus for them, as the accent is a strong selling point. What this band needs is a new underground music scene to hone their craft in, and for all I know, there may be one taking shape in Britannia; although these days I fear it has a lot more to do with DJs and hip-hop.

In spite of my low rating for this debut effort, The Murder Act may be a band to watch (if they can hold together and stick it out), and if you're lucky enough (or unlucky enough, for various reasons) to live in or around London, you might want to catch this act in the clubs. (They'd probably sound better than they do on this EP.) It would be interesting to check their progress in six month to a year. You ought to judge for yourself though, and visit the band's website to listen to a few tracks. Won't cost you anything. For the adventurous, you can purchase the EP on bandcamp. (Link provided under distributor.)
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Provocateur
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Dungeon Recordings / Backscatter Media (@)
Rated: *****
Both SLC-based labels Backscatter and Dungeon Recording renewing their partnership with both new website designs and they celebrate successfully their mutual course. They released two freely downloadable full-length compilations, one of them musically rather more based in Goth-Rock, Indie and Alternative music, and this one, entitled 'Provocateur' the more Electronic/Industrial-minded alter ego. I refuse to concentrate on this one only ' just check both of their websites, if you're more the 'other' styles of music. 'Proven favorites play along side brand new exclusives from many talented artists', so one of the entrancing statements of this comp. Indeed, favorites can be named with SYMBIONT ('Behind The Lie'), LITTLE SAP DUNGEON ('Empty Rooms Breathe Heavily'), LEXINCRYPT ('Dead By Morning'), or BOUNDLESS ('Seduction' ' feat. LOST SIGNAL and Frank M. Spinath of SEABOUND). So far so good, but none of these most recognized artists of both labels offer anything new ' that's a pity for their die-hard fans, as they surely all know these classic recordings. New compositions would have done better, since there are recently announcements for new recordings by LSD, LEXINCRYPT has new stuff available via Crunch Pod, and also the persistent rumor, that SYMBIONT will reunite are keeping the flame of hope burning. There's also the mysterious project named ALGORYTHMDEKONSTRUCT and it's once again too bad, that this project has never received a comparable cult status like the above mentioned better recognized ones ' I still remember the heydays of, where I was able to download a few more tracks from this underrated artist after having heard the straight and pummeling EBM tune 'Love Hate Obsession' on the DSBP compilation 'Cybonetix 2002'. Other remarkable stuff surely hides behind the comeback of CONTROL.ORG with their rather smooth Electronica sound between Futurepop and EBM, as well as the energetic outfit of the follow-up project to BOUNDLESS, XIESCIVE with 'Time To Die'. 'Provocateur' is a groundbreaking collection, if you're new into the Electronica scene around Salt Lake City ' if you're familiar with these artists, you may won't find too much stuff transforming this compilation to a must-have item. However, since this one is freely available, you can't do nothing wrong by downloading it from the web resources of both labels.

01. PCP-The Nothing [V.2]
02. Xiescive-Time To Die
03. Symbiont-Behind The Lie
04. AlgorithmDekonstruct-Love Hate Obsession
05. The Stygian-Killing Time [Insurgent Version]
06. Mourning People-Black Night Battery
07. Empyreus-The Bleeding Hearts
08. Christopher Alvarado-Blades Of The Sun
09. Lexincrypt-Dead By Morning
10. Little Sap Dungeon-Empty Rooms Breathe Heavily
11. Boundless-Seduction [Feat. Lost Signal & Frank M. Spinath of Seabound]
12. Killer
13. Audio Variancision-Hemi Sync [6.1]
14. Twilight Transmissions-Ascending Black Rays
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Artist: The Stygian (@)
Title: Myths of Forbidden Passages
Format: CD EP
Label: Dungeon Recordings / Backscatter Media (@)
Rated: *****
First off, there isn't too much mysticism featured behind this at least 4 'passages' pressed onto this silver circle, but an unexpected, humorless hard and uncompromising first outlet for this new Utah-based project. THE STYGIAN is the newest mutual project for Kevin J. Cazier (LITTLE SAP DUNGEON) and Trevor Weeks alias Xon (BOUNDLESS, SYMBIONT). Both notorious protagonists are doing their best to avoid obvious comparison to any of their uncountable music project, as THE STYGIAN slows down the speed and adds purest pseudo-aggressive lyrics rather spitted out than sung, all placed in an unfriendly sound-environment. These 3 tracks 'Crawling Inward', 'Killing Time' and 'Web Of Tatarus' (which features some guitar riffs provided by Chris Alvarado) are their first recordings . The music itself consists of thick and ominous sounding lead synth sounds, a hardcoristic bass line-programming, satanic fx-processed vocals, and bombastic rhythm patterns. This isn't stuff for the fainthearted audience, as this uncompromising kind does not take prisoners. Lesser like an European-like Dance-Industrial sound outfit, but rather more with a 'filthy' undertone, in some parts with classic Coldwave-like arranged instruments. Good and promising for the first recordings, while it can not completely judged on them after only three original compositions and an alternative remix version of 'Crawling Inward'. When comes the expected album? .

RISK RISK: This is 1983

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 18 2011
Artist: RISK RISK (@)
Title: This is 1983
Format: 12"
Label: Astro Chicken (@)
Rated: *****
Since the first release, the compilation "Chicken Accelerator", Astro Chicken showed its full potential as label and after a great Hyboid release now we have the opportunity to check a real 80s influenced gem. I dunno who's behind the Risk Risk monicker and their website doesn't help much in this direction but what I know for sure is that their first album THIS IS 1983 is a blast. Mixing cold wave a la John Foxx (check the first part of "Digital love"), synthpop a la The Twins (check "Adventures in modern lifestyle"), a bit of Italo disco and some early Human League influences, Risk Risk amazed me with the freshness of ten songs that are able to pack catchy melodies and vocals and analogue synth sounds. I like a lot to listen to a successful blend of cold atmospheres, warm sound of analog oscillators and upbeat rhythms and this album is full of all these "delicatessen". If you think about 80s as the years of bubble pop synth pop, well thanks to Risk Risk you'll have to think twice, because this album will make you clean the dust from your classic Ray-Ban sunglasses (a Carrera is on the cover of this album), wear your old creeper shoes, mount an uv black light bulb in the upper right corner of your room and dance in the dark. You can check all the tracks at the label's website. P.s. if you don't have a turntable, you can purchase the digital edition of the album.

South Of No North: Rajah

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
 Edit (6426)
May 15 2011
Artist: South Of No North
Title: Rajah
Format: CD
Label: Dead Scarlet (@)
Rated: *****
I'm quite sure some of people who started reading this review are daredevil fans of Bukowski, as South Of No North is also the title of a collection of short stories written by the notorious German-American poet as well as of a theatrical adaptation by Leo Farley and Jonathan Powers of nine of them and it's possible this talented Greek band borrowed it when they came together in 1983, inspired by gothic and new wave breezes blowing all over the European charts in the roaring 80ies, upheaving many interesting bands in Athens such as Metro Decay, Villa 21 (even if this band mixed interpreted new wave in a more punkish idiom) or the nice Art Of Parties, a veritable assumption if you consider many lyrics seem strongly influenced by key writings for gothic culture such as the tender song Annabelle Lee, inspired by the homonymous (wonderful) poem by Edgar Allan Poe, arguably referring to the death of Clemm, Poe's wife, and superbly interpreted by the singer Andreas Grigoriadis. Even if unavoidably sheafing solid logs such as Joy Division (especially in track such as Dependance or the untidely dragging trascendency of Monster, both of them belonging to the first whimpers of the band), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, the most oniric part of Cure's music (the vocal tones and the gentle strokes of plectrum of the well-done The Hand Of Glory are maybe the best clues of this ghostly presence) and some cursed singing close to the one by Nick Cave, South Of No North in this record, reissued maybe after many listeners experienced problems in finding it after being touched by their music, shows a considerably stylistical composure and keeps such a sober elegance and a distinctevely strong identity, keeping distance from that imitating countenance many bands departing from those musical territories normally do maybe for a sort of flamboyant idolatry. I feel it's not right their geographical position (sometimes living in the fringe of the world places many talented bands at a disadvantage) could bury this band into oblivion. If you used to listen (and somewhat idolize) the above-mentioned legendary bands, you'll agree with me.

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