Sunday, March 7, 2021
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Chorea Minor: Black White Moon

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Artist: Chorea Minor (@)
Title: Black White Moon
Format: CDx2 (double CD)
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: * * * * *
In the age of continuing Covid I really haven't felt much like reviewing new music, so I'm a little behind on some things. In this case, a whole year behind, misreading this album's release date as Feb. 20, 2021 when it was actually released Feb. 20, 2020. Oh well...sorry about that. It doesn't change the fact that I'm still a little on the fence about it, but we'll get to that later. This seems to be the first (solo) release from Chorea Minor who had a couple of albums back in the '90s with a band called Hekate back in the '90s on the German Krokodil Records label. Haven't heard them, as they're pretty obscure and scarce now. The man behind Chorea Minor also calls himself Chorea Minor which I'm sure isn't his real name. (Chorea Minor is another name for the neurologic disorder, St. Vitus Dance, which I certainly hope he does not have.) 'Black White Moon' is a double CD album with the "Black" half having more vocals than the "White" half. As for the music, Echozone categorizes it as "Space Pop," but I think that's just a genre recently made up. A good chunk of this album sounds more along the lines of Futurepop, which is a recognized genre. Just don't get your hope up that Chorea Minor is going to sound anything like VNV Nation, Covenant or Apoptygma Berzerk.

Beginning with the Black disc, the six songs on it are carried out spritely, with spoken and sung vocals. The sung vocals are definitely understated, which isn't really a good thing and contributes to the overall generic tone. To some degree it compares to Kraftwerk, but Kraftwerk's beat intensity is much more pronounced that what we have here. The music is good but unexceptional and nothing stayed with me even after multiple plays. The last thing you really want your music described as is electro wallpaper, but that's how it came off.

Moving on to Disc 2, the White CD which is also 6 tracks (clocking in at about 32 minutes as opposed to Black's 30 minutes), you'll notice the difference right away with the heavier, more organic drum sounds (as opposed to Black's standard electro programmed drum machine sounds), giving more of a tribal vibe with richer, more evocative synthwork. The vocals are well in line with this too, even though they still seem to be in the background. The novelty continues with "A New Daylight" with forcefully bowed strings and a relentless rhythm track. Vocals are wordless but effective; the cinematic impression I got was one of primitives running through the jungle, but you can let your imagination run wild. The pace is kept up with the title track ("Black White Moon") which reverts back a little to electro but doesn't sacrifice any urgency. Things are more relaxed on "Another Kind," which offers a bit of a breather as the vocals in it cross into a dreamy kind of World Music. "Question Mark" heads back to '80's style electro terrain, albeit more modernized. Once again vocals seem to swirl around in the ambience (and some female vocals as well I believe), with some spoken word as well which seemed superfluous. Musically, "Health" is a apt closer in its wind-down spirit, although it's the least interesting composition on the White Disc.

Perhaps the reason for the disparity between the two album halves is that there was a different producer for each disc- the BLACK-CD by Krischan J. E. Wesenberg (Rotesand) and the WHITE CD by Patrick Damiani (ex-Rome). Considering what I thought was the failure of the Black portion and the success of the White portion, I could offer Chorea Minor some advice: get a really good vocalist and cut out (or at least drastically cut down on) the spoken word bits. Your synth skills are good but you really need to work on some catchy hooks that will make your music memorable. Maybe put a real band together and benefit from the input of your members. There are just too many people out there trying to make it in this genre, and merely good just isn't good enough anymore. On the positive side, the package for this release is attractive, and it's a limited edition (500), hand-signed and had-numbered by Chorea Minor. I'd be curious to hear what this project has to offer in the future.

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