Sunday, June 20, 2021
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Music Reviews

Villaborghese: Remixed

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Artist: Villaborghese (@)
Title: Remixed
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Time Tools Recordings
Distributor: Amazon Music
Rated: * * * * *
Only about a half year after their last album release „On The Move“, this German IDM duo returns with this rather companion-like remix output to reward us, the listener, with new, revamped and reinterpreted music stuff out of the Villaborghese sound universe. Friedhelm Kranz and Erick Miotke have collected various remixes by foreign and musically quite differently sounding bands and projects to add their point of view on the spherical and filmic on the Industrial-Ambient-driven compositions provided by this duo.The list of remix contributors consists mostly on projects out of their friendship-base, it lesser takes a note to add the most well-known and recognized remixer for another free slot.
As usual for Villaborghese, also this remix album stands rather for the attempt to provide alternative versions without having a sense on releasing “hit” songs on a loveless compiled collection of tracks. Since this “Remixed” album provides the track-list in the same row like the one being presented on “On The Move”, it is like a little quiz for the listener to figure out the pros/cons of a remix compared to the original track. Additionally as a bonus, also the non-album tracks like “Iced”, “Digitized” or “Beatboxed” which can be discovered on Villaborghese's single output “Close” and “Surrounded”.
So logically this album starts with “Open (Scalar Fields Mix by Spherical Disrupted)” which adds a well-balanced layered and slow-stalking EBM-like note to this track. Mirko Hentrich is the mastermind behind this Audiophob-recording project and he can already look back on a more than 25 years longing career into the experimental field of sound-manipulations out of the Industrial / Ambient / IDM music-genres. Interesting fact asides of this, he is also co-owner of the Audiophob label.“Extractor” then follows, this time remixed by Eli van Vegas who is to me better known as producer / shouter of the old-school EBM project Zweite Jugend. Under his Eli van Vegas pseudonym he flirts a lot of with a Techno-inspired dancefloor-compatibility in a straight 4-on-the-floor outfit filled with creaking 303-like bass line sequences.
Third track is “Amnesia” and indeed – this one is impossible to remix without ruining it completely. That's what I actually thought in advance. Also, I can't figure out who Chris-Rico is as being the responsible remixer - but who cares? To place some distinctive voice samples in a bleeping, strange algorithm-programs Trance-like sound environment and to bring in organic warmth with some vintage 70s-sounding pads was a good idea and unexpected method of resolution.
Germany's international renowned Electropop duo Alphamay follows with a reinterpretation on "Mourn", but yeah... they couldn't make it for me, sorry. But with “Mover”, one of the most action-driven tunes on the original album, I was pretty much excited that the German Dark Electro-virtuoso Nick Jonath aka MC1R would have the challenge to remix it. There's still the speed of the original, still the open/close hi-hats percussion elements, but generally this one sounds more intensely and darker-minded with its various vocal samples surrounded into the mix. Also - a tiny FLA reference can't be argued away.
The wobbling percussion elements in combination with the vocal sample snippets provided by Duo for the track “Give” are also causing attraction, furthermore with the inclusion of the some nice piano lines. “Rising” in its original version has been my personal favorite taken from “On The Move” and it has been surely a wise decision to let the German Dark Electro duo of Amnistia putting their hands on it. Another truly-Blade Runner-like soundtrack with precisely hacking bass line sequences and meticulously chosen FX elements thrown into the mix. Really fine worked out and far away from the original track.
Comes then one of the most unusual remix contributions to this album, Jan-Heie Erchinger and his interpretation on “Chants”. I'd like to pay respect to his musically career, Jan-Heie is a music teacher, has released 11 own produced CD albums, a long-year stage experience and his music-genres are rather based into Jazz and Funk music. Nice late-night entertainment and Lounge music, but not that stuff I'd prefer actually.
It follows the project and their interpretation on the track “Gloom”. Once again, additional information on the projects, especially those flying a bit under the radar, would have been a great initiative. However, I assume that this another friendship-based collaboration between the Villaborghese gentlemen Kranz / Miotke with the Braunschweig / Germany-based diploma designer Sebastian Schollmeyer. This track is a straight 4-on-the-floor-based Electronic tune with various samples out of the original recording, not bad at all.
One of the best and most surprising contributions follows with the German Synthpop-duo Neocoma and their remix on “Surrounded”. Bleeping, hypnotic bass line sequences drilling its way into brain and leave the listener excited until the main lead synth of this track enters the scenery. The absolutely “WOW” effect so far!
Dubvisionist is a project of Felix Wolter, a drummer, producer and mixer since the early 80s and dedicated to Reggae and Dub music styles. Well... diversity to be added in is also an idea to extent ones musically horizon... so to say. Transmitter is a 3-piece-Electro-/Rock-outfit with a long-year-lasting career and stage experience. I have heard already some of their action-driven tracks with multiple beats and percussion elements and a brilliant vocalist. This slow-stalking version of “Close” is actually a totally difference to the original, but actually I was hoping to hear them hammering out with the speed of the original track.
SphÄrenwandler is a second project of Nick Jonath with which he concentrates rather more on IDM / Ambient music-genres. “Beatboxed” is one of those non-album tracks of “On The Move”, one of the more beat-driven tunes by Villaborghese. The FLA influence on Nick's remix takes a backseat although it is still percussive and beat-driven but now with more glitchy variations and samples thrown in.Trilogy is Erick Miotke's follow-up project to Germany's Dark Electro legend Trial and so he has remixed with “Iced” his own composition. He added a few howling wolves samples and an underlining dark EBM-minded bassline to the icy soundscapes of the original and brings in more movement.
Since Amnistia could put their fingers on “Rising” as written above, also Tino Claus aka TC75 and one half of Amnistia is on parade with an own interpretation of this track. Multiple percussion elements and pummeling bass lines once again awake reminiscences to some Belgian EBM traditionalists like Dive, Vomito Negro, or early Insekt. Awesome!
Last appearance belongs to the famous German radio moderator Ecki Stieg who is known for his long appearance of the prominent “Grenzwellen” radio show. “Digitizer” is another non-album track, a noisy one in its original. Also Ecki's version is noisy, nearly anarchic and reminds on some Powernoise collages comparable in some kind with some early-Dive recordings.

It shouldn't wonder anyone that this remix collection adds thanks the chosen contributors a much wider musically spectrum to the soundscapes of Villaborghese. Also the fact that almost all contributions add in some more percussive elements to the at times static and tricky compositions of this duo seems to be a logically consequence. This remix collection compared with the original album doesn't follow the worn-out “increase-sales” formula so often discovered, it rather more adds musically diversity in one or another variable style and finally turns out to be a valuable addition.

Deborah Martin & Jill Haley: The Silence of Grace

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Artist: Deborah Martin & Jill Haley (@)
Title: The Silence of Grace
Format: CD + Download
Label: Spotted Peccary Music (@)
Rated: * * * * *
One of the things Spotted Peccary mainstay ambient electronic artist Deborah Martin is known for is her superb collaborations. Her last, with Dean De Benedictis (under the name Desensitized), 'Hemispherica Portalis' was a "wonderama of a dreamscape" as I put it. Here she combines her talents with oboist, English horn player, pianist and composer Jill Haley, who has a series of National Park soundscapes. Together they interact with the realms of nature in its pristine environs, inviting the listener into the depths of quiet beauty and graceful repose. Exploring various locations in the Pacific Northwest, these pioneering artists experienced first-hand the very essence of the natural world; steeped in these remote majestic settings culminated in their crafting colorful musical expressions that weave lush ambient textures and melodies layered together with recordings of Oboe, English horn and various percussion, tenderly revealing passions and emotions emanating forth from those moments.

With Haley's woodwinds as the main melodic instrument(s) there is a classical, or new classical element here that separates this work from more abstract, amorphous ambient soundscapes. Yet the melodic content is not necessarily strictly defined, but more interwoven with Martin's ambient electronics. To me, the oboe is one of the more melancholy orchestral instruments (I tried to play it for a time but with little success) lending a wistful aura to the sort of gentle pastoral themes explored on 'The Silence of Grace.' If you want to call this "New Age" music, well sobeit, but it is not of the clichéd and cloying variety. There is a richness throughout the eight compositions on the album that are like pairing an exquisite mousse with a fine dessert wine for a sophisticated palate. I was a little surprised, and delighted as well by "From Fire Into Water" with its primitive didgeridoo-like sounds, and could really have used more of that. In fact, if some of the music had gone the way of the Third Ear Band I would have been really excited. Still, there are so many fine moments on 'The Silence of Grace' that I can't complain. (Not much silence but a lot of grace.) If you're looking for an album that is elegant and quietly contemplative, this is certainly it.

Rudy Adrian: As Dusk Becomes Night

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Artist: Rudy Adrian (@)
Title: As Dusk Becomes Night
Format: CD + Download
Label: Spotted Peccary Music (@)
Rated: * * * * *
'As Dusk Becomes Night' is New Zealand soundscape composer Rudy Adrian's 17th full length album and his 7th release on the Spotted Peccary label. This might be considered to be the darker side of Rudy Adrian, but you really couldn’t categorize it as "dark ambient." It is not what I would call ominous or malevolent. Yes, there is an aura of mystery and nocturnal secrets through the 11 tracks totaling 58 minutes, but all the evil spirits have gone somewhere else in this outing. Long, textured droney passages, occasionally punctuated by bells or wind chimes are the mainstay of the music here. When a lead instrument is called for, such as on "Conifer Grove," it's an exotic flue in the alto range, used more for atmosphere than melody. Sometimes Adrian's compositions can get deep and dense, as on "Starlane," in an almost cosmic way. Most of the album is a slow journey through night where shadows reach and stretch across the landscape, but it is not just dusk becoming night, but also night becoming dawn followed by a sunny day as evidenced by the titles of the last two tracks. "Night Becomes Dawn" still retains some vestige of darkness, while "Sunny Day" is a brighter awakening, putting the gloom of eventide to bed with a willingness to face the morning. Once again Rudy Adrian has proven adept at capturing a time and a mood, this one in the gloaming.

Der Blutharsch and the infinite church of the leading hand: Rejoice

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Artist: Der Blutharsch and the infinite church of the leading hand (@)
Title: Rejoice
Format: CD + Download
Label: WKN (@)
Rated: * * * * *
You may recall encountering Der Blutharsch somewhere along the line if you've been listing to goth-industrial music for a good long while. Back in the mid-late '90s Der Blutharsch started as a side project of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud, an Austrian medieval neofolk electro-acoustic duo composed of Albin Julius and Alzbeth. They put out a bunch of albums but never made it to the 21st century as Albin Julius decided to devote most of his musical energy to Der Blutharsch. That project began as a martial industrial/dark ambient kind of thing, and that's undoubtedly where I heard of this before. Heard of, but never really heard, unless it was a track on a compilation. Sort of odd considering I did have a fondness for martial industrial in the late '90s/early 2000s, and this project put out a lot of releases. I guess Der Blutharsch just wasn’t on my radar back then. Anyway, somewhere along the line Der Blutharsch changed its name to Der Blutharsch and the infinite church of the leading hand, but put out (different) release sunder both names, and may even continue to do so.

Things kick off with "Coming," a nine minute trudge in the neoclassical/martial vein with Marcato strings in an ascending and sort of repeating progression with real drums beating out the tempo and intermittent vocals that are more spoken than sung. The effect is serious, tense and cinematic. (I can imagine it being used as a theme for some intensely dramatic movie or series.) There's also some sustained overdriven guitar chords accenting for effect as well. This may be just what some people who haven't heard Der Blutharsch in a while might expect.
The neoclassical melts away with "Fear," a distorted guitar driven thing underpinned with muscular drumming and reminding me a lot of Swans, until the vocals come it. I don't know if the voice is male or female but to me it was reminiscent of David Tibet (Current 93), but there's a section with slide guitar that had me thinking Legendary Pink Dots. Just like the Dots though, this is uber-hard to classify. Sort of psychedelic with a dark malevolent edge.

"Darkness *" definitely sounds psychedelic-lysergic with a slow paced beat, tremolo guitar, whispered vocal, and even some hippy flute. This is the kind of music old heads probably wish was still being made, though precious little of it is anymore. This is more Manson Family psychedelic than flower children though. The pace and intensity picks up on "Darkness **" with an underpinning of neoclassical strings in high drama mode. The vocal is bolder too, but not as upfront as it could be. Title track ("Rejoice") is the one thing that sounds most like a rock song, maybe even kraut rock; Amon Duul II and Hawkwind come to mind. Vocals are more spoken than sung (except on the word "rejoice") here and there is plenty of improvisational flute.

Final track "Burn" is over 10 minutes long and the quasi-tribal rhythm at the opening absolutely reminds me of early My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Vocals are sung but they're so mixed into the music that it's not easy to make out the words without listening really really hard. It does seem to have a ritualistic bent though. The track dances on this way throughout until it finally peters out, with spoken word samples revering the Prince of Darkness, almost a nod to MLWTTKK. All in all this is a very cool Der Blutharsch album, definitely worthy of owning.

Novocibirsk: Télévision 1945 (volume II)

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Artist: Novocibirsk
Title: Télévision 1945 (volume II)
Format: CD
Label: ProdutctionB
Rated: * * * * *

If two years ago you read the review I did of the first Novocibirsk volume of "Télévision 1945" (available here you can imagine what this volume two could sound like because ProductionB is bringing us five "new" tracks picked up from the archive of music that Hervé Isar recorded from 1982 to 1993. If you didn't read my review and you are too lazy to do it now, I can tell you that Novocibirsk's music is inspired by the best artist of the electronic Berlin school of the 70s of the twentieth century (Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, etc) and by the French experimenters which were recording their sound gathering under the wing of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (people like Pierre Schaeffer, Bernard Parmegiani, Pierre Henry, Daniel Teruggi, Jean-Michel Jarre, etc). The people at ProductionB this time choose to present: two long suites which are based on sequenced lines enriched by sound effects, sounding like a perfect blend of French and Berlin school ("Baïkal Depths" and "Nuclear Propagation"), a short one where the vocoder is king, sounding like a robot which is about to rule the earth ("Die Sonne Über Novocibirsk") and the last one titled "Anfang Als Ende", which is the first one having a drum machine, where a slow bass line arpeggio is enriched by improvised synth melodies and waves. Somehow, I have the feeling to be listening to a classic electronic record which has also experimentations which are 100% Hervé Isar. This is a really nice release.