Music Reviews

Ben Frost: By the Throat

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 10 2010
Artist: Ben Frost
Title: By the Throat
Format: CD
Label: Bedroom Community (@)
Distributor: Kompakt
Rated: *****
Successor this his critically acclaimed "Theory of Machines" album, Australian-born Ben Frost's new album "By the Throat" comes out on the same Icelandic label Bedroom Community and if I'd have to describe it with one word I would say: powerful! Definitely one of the most interesting releases I have heard in a while, "By the Throat" has humongous presence and weight and its massively enveloping sonic fabric is discomforting in the most comforting of ways.
It's hard to describe Frost's sound and even harder to draw comparisons, but I'd say that if you can imagine what Sunn O))) might sound like without walls of guitars you'd be in the ballpark. Frost's visceral and dark sound is rooted as much in the experimental/noise world as it is in the minimalist neo classical world (think Steve Reich, Manorexia, Jeremiah Cymerman, Alvin Curran). His compositions are built with equal part apocalyptic post-industrial drones and piano/strings interludes. It might make a great horror movie soundtrack, but a record this good would almost be wasted on visuals because it has a power to evoke visuals of its own. This music is about contrast and Frost has plenty of that. You go from ethereal sound fields, distant piano notes and gentle fragile sustained violin notes to glitchy distortions, sub-sonic pulsating bass notes and howling wolves.
This album, as most of Frost's collaborations, was engineerd and produced by fellow Icelandic Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Kronos Quartet), who did an amazing job at capturing, building and presenting the depth of Ben Frost's sound. The album also features performances by Amiina, The Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara, Swedish metal outfit Crowpath and composer Nico Muhly.

VV.AA.: Folk Studio

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 09 2010
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Folk Studio
Format: 10"
Label: HR! SPQR (@)
Rated: *****
FOLK STUDIO is the first issue of a compilation that is part of a wider project that sees different bands of the new folk musical area going beyond the common concept of nowadays neo folk music. The Green Man, Roma Amor, Having Thin Moonshine and Egida Aurea wanted to catch the true spirit of the genre by linking their music to the old Italian folk music. Acoustic instruments typical of their origin places have been used creating a real modern folk music. During the 60s Italian beat bands tried to do the same by mixing dialect and modern music (check the I Pelati or Bertas) but during the years folk music has been confined to regional boundaries. Now the times are right to revive the concept and on the five tracks of this 10" you'll find ballads (like The Green Man's "Idda"or Egida Aurea's "Criu du ventu"), tangoes (check Roma Amor's "La tradida") and rumbling cavalcades (like on "Evoe" by Having Thin Moonshine or the second track by The Green Man "La baronessa di Carini"). The bands presented the 10" in Milan the thirty first of March giving the official start to the project. The real new Italian folk music has started to spread...

VV.AA.: Odyssey of Rapture, Vol 1

 Posted by eskaton   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 06 2010
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Odyssey of Rapture, Vol 1
Format: CD
Label: Mystical Records (@)
Rated: *****
Compilations as a rule are always a mixed bag, both in quality and style. This one seems to hang together fairly well, and there were some moments where the tracks seemed to be by the same artist. However, there is a range of quality as could be expected here. Some songs are kind of a mixed bag themselves. For example, “Voyage” by Phanatos is quite nice musically–I really like the piano line that runs throughout–but the spoken word parts just don’t seem to work in it. Other tracks are quite nice. “Vala” by Aranis is a beautiful instrumental orchestral piece. “Tale for a Sunken Moon” by Samantha Bouquin is likewise far too short for such a pleasant piece. On the other hand, some tracks, such as “Hide” by Hana just didn’t work for me. My wife shared my reservations with that particular track. However, on the whole this is pleasant listening. I get the sense that much of this is, oddly enough, under-produced. Some of the vocals seem a bit too stark, as if it is delivered with no effects at all. The effect of this is similar to the disconcerting feeling you get when hearing yourself on tape. There is some benefit to this, however. I felt like I was hearing tracks that were a bit more raw than I am used to hearing in this genre, which was kind of nice. This gives a sense of what these bands would sound like live, as if hearing a demo version of the tracks.

Zeraphine: Whiteout

 Posted by Andre Wiegand   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 22 2010
Artist: Zeraphine
Title: Whiteout
Format: CD
Label: BMG Rights Management
Distributor: Rough Trade
Rated: *****
First thing first: this is a Zeraphine album. All the electric experiments Sven became known for in the last year have not made their way onto “Whiteout”. The album and the lyrics are very comparable with the previous releases by the act. It is a rather melancholic gothic rock, if labels are absolutely necessary.
After an intro the band kicks off with “Lieber Allein” (Better Alone). Honestly, I do not share this opinion, but you do not have to agree with the artist to enjoy the music.
“Out of Sight” bears rather noticeable mark of Placebo, which is a good thing.
“Tomorrows Morning” gives place for piano, cellos and errr… a fair portion of melancholy. Unsurprisingly. “Louisa” the closest definition you can give this number is a love song.
“Rain Falls” is a very emotional one. “Du fragst nicht mehr” hmm that old issue again, relationshiTs. Some things cannot be forever. Some are not meant to be. Zeraphine seem to know it, too. You may hear something of Oomph! in the chorus.
The title song reflects on past experiences and mistakes. The demons are still there and must be faced.
Zeraphine show serious professional skills though the there are no surprises in the band’s sound at all. It would not hurt if there were a couple of faster numbers. All in all, this is a good album. Fans of slightly less merry rock music will find it surely appealing. Not the best to get into the party mood however.

Blessure Grave: Judged by 12, Carried by 6

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 19 2010
Artist: Blessure Grave (@)
Title: Judged by 12, Carried by 6
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Alien8 (@)
Distributor: Release The Bats
Rated: *****
"Judged by 12, Carried by 6" is the first album by Blessure Grave and it is out on CD on Canada's finest Alien8 and on limited LP on Release The Bats. They mix goth aesthetics with an extremely good songwriting. Yes, you've read that correctly, somebody is taking it where Theater Of Tragedy left many years ago. You'll find a claustrophobic drumming similar to Crisis (can't help mentioning them as a standard, i might be a little obsessed) and deathrock-like lyrics, often tinged with a pitch-black humour which takes us back to the californian tradition (Reyna and Toby are from San Diego). The sound on this LP shows a slight more refined studio work, which doesn't alter the "live" feel of their previous recordings. "In The First Place", also out as a limited 7" on Holidays Records, leads us back into our beloved old smoke-filled, scarcely lit room with crumbling walls and blood dripping everywhere. "Open Or Shut" and "Hope For The Worst" could be instant anthems for the lost boys (yeah, the movie). Being goth or post-punk in 2010 means being open to a wider and different audience, that's why this album and the previous singles and tapes were out on labels dealing with experimental, noise or whateveryouwanttocallit. The cd version comes with the striking "Learn To Love The Rope" EP as a bonus. Just great.

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