Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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VV.AA.: Sounds From The Matrix, Vol. 20

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Sounds From The Matrix, Vol. 20
Format: CD + Download
Label: Alfa-Matrix (@)
Rated: *****
Gotta get this one in before the year closes out. Every year the Belgian record label Alfa Matrix releases a compilation of (hopefully) its best and brightest, and this is #20 in the long line of great compilations. Participants this go-round include: Psy’aviah Feat. Kyoko Baertsoen; Helalyn Flowers; Synapsyche; IMJUDAS; I-Scintilla; Junksista; H.O.W.; Llumen; Mental Exile; Metroland; Implant; Aesthetische; AD:Key; Kant Kino; Avarice In Audio; Reactor7x; Dunkelwerk; Circuito Cerrado; and Alien Vampires Feat. Chainreactor. 8 of them are returning participants from last year.

This year's offerings are somewhat less varied than last year’s, but there are still plenty of cool tracks. Psy'aviah kicks it off with "Plan B," a track from their 2018 'Lightflare' album in case you missed that one. A bit low key for an opener, but still a great voice and melody from Kyoko Baertsoen. Helalyn Flowers makes another stellar appearance with "Tetrachromatic," a strong melodic tune that should perk up some ears. Ferrara Italy's Synapsyche reflects some "Mirror Terror" with both clean and dirty vocals; pretty standard electro music but it has a good bouncy beat. IMJUDAS slow it down considerably with "Without Us You Are Nothing" ...good vocals but I’m not really sure what this song's about... Chicago's I-Scintilla makes an impression with "Human" (Angelspit Mix), some rousing electro-industrial fronted by Brittany Bindrim. Junksista's "A Little Naughty" doesn't have the impact of "Monday," their entry for last year's comp, but it's still a pretty good song. Can't really find anything on H.O.W., but their "Happiness Imperative" is a neat little electro gem with nice melodic female vocals. Llumen offers some dour synthpop with "The Dark Inside Her Eyes" (Bunker Edit). Unfortunately there's not enough going on to make it interesting, with verse, after verse, after verse, after verse... Damasius Venys' Mental Exile puts forth one of the stronger tracks on this comp with "Renegades". You might know him from the band Mondtraume, who were on last year's comp. Metroland had one of the more intriguing tracks on last year's comp with "Man in a Frame," but this year's "Memorabilia" sounds like a Heaven 17 outake from the late '80s that was excised from an album, and better left that way. Disappointing, with nothing more than retro-sequencing and stale vocoding. Implant's "Oxynoxe" (Karl Hefner & Hugh Lagerfeld Remix) sounds a bit phoned-in; I expect better from this Alfa Matrix staple. Aesthetische gives "Berlin" a bit of a martial beat, and any DJ willing to give this track a spin in the club may get some surprising reactions from the dancefloor. AD:Key lays it on the line with "You Can't Fuck Me" with expected results. Oslo's Kant Kino offers up some old-school EBM with "Destruct," a solid entry on this comp. Never heard Avarice In Audio before, and this seems to be the first band on the comp that has any real aggrotech leanings. If that's your thing, you just may enjoy their "Trojan Horse". More of that style comes your way with Poland's Reactor7x, and their "Circus of the False". Not my thing, but I have to admit that it's very well done. I could have done without Dunkelwerk's "GxSTxPx 4C" (Bunker Edit) as this isn't the time to dredge up any Nazi memories, especially sung in German. Mexico's Circuito Cerrado shows some promise winning over Hocico fans with their wild "Revolution," and this will make a killer dancefloor track. Finally, Alien Vampires Feat. Chainreactor close out Vol. 20 with "Hyperbolic Doubt," maybe an aptly titled track if there ever was one. I hyperbolically doubt this is much of a song. Great for the dancefloor, headache-inducing just for pure listening. Those scratchy vocals are at a minimum though.

As usual, this comp is free with a purchase of any of Alfa Matrix's roster of artists' albums (while supplies last, I imagine). Or, you can just purchase the digital download from Alfa Matrix's Bandcamp site.

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