Sunday, April 18, 2021
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Music Reviews

Nite Risk: Finale

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Artist: Nite Risk (@)
Title: Finale
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Fellowshipwreck (@)
Rated: * * * * *
There is no faster way to move to the front of my review line here at Chain D.L.K. than sending me vinyl. For me, vinyl trumps all other formats and shows me that you're seriously committed about making and preserving your music because it's expensive to produce, often sounds better (than CD, digital download, cassette, etc.) and will likely not be forgotten in a month or two. That being said, this limited edition white vinyl record is already sold out on the Fellowshipwreck website (just released Feb. 1, 2021), even though I only received it yesterday. Oh well, too bad. Maybe they'll press more copies...someday. On to the band and its music though.

Nite Risk is two dudes from Denton, Texas, just four and a half hours north of that other Texas synth duo, Hyperbubble. These guys are nothing like Hyperbubble though, and that's not a bad thing; we only need one band like Jess & Jeff DeCuir's outfit. Nite Risk's brand of synthosity is more akin to Cold Wave, although they describe themselves as dark synth/electropop. From the one-sheet they sent with the album- "Nite Risk sing of uneasiness and hope. They keep things simple using only synthesizers, a drum machine, and haunting voices from the past. Imagine Depeche Mode walking castle halls by candlelight or Midnight Juggernauts taking their horses from a canter to a gallop and you will get the idea."

So there's an admitted goth element I guess (even though these guys don't really look goth), but I'm still going with Cold Wave. The synth sounds and synthwork (as well as the drum machine) is old, old school, like early '80s; quite simple, thick in most places (nearly sludgy at times) and the synth sounds are uber-familiar. As for the vocals, I am definitely reminded of pre-'Dare' Human League, and some of the acts on the British Some Bizzare label. The recording sounds fairly lo-fi, but it does work for this kind of music. There are 10 tracks of mostly upbeat songs with vocals, and the vocalist has a good voice for this type of material, strong and distinctive. (Think Phil Oakley crossed with Peter Murphy, but a little more of the former than the latter.) I don't know if they under-mixed the drum machine on purpose, but the synths definitely override the rhythm taking a bit away from the album's danceability, lacking some punch. I doubt these guys had EDM in their minds anyway, so maybe that doesn't make much of a difference. While there seem to be no "instant hits" with super-infectious hooks, some of the songs are likely to grow on you over time, such as "Life Dreams," "Deja Vu," and "Sign of the Times." The last couple of tracks are a little draggy but I think the band was going more for atmosphere than anything else on them.

I did notice that the vinyl sounded a bit murkier than the digital album, but that's not surprising. Perhaps Nite Risk might benefit from covering a classic Cold Wave song (such as Kraftwerk's "Showroom Dummies"; Human League's "Only After Dark"; Norma Loy's "Shiny Dream"; B-Movie's "Nowhere Girl"; or Signal Aout 42's "Dead is Calling," to name a few). I think there are a few darkwave/electropop oriented radio stations in Germany that would eat this stuff up and readily add it to their playlists. (I've been listening to a lot of world radio lately; definitely better than U.S. radio.) The album artwork by Pioneers of the New Idea is also rather interesting, although I don't see much connection with the music. I only wish (for your sake) they weren't sold out of the vinyl, but Nite Risk are still worth checking out anyway.

Semănat: Glina / Pole

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Artist: Semănat
Title: Glina / Pole
Format: Tape & Digital Download
Label: Apport! (@)

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Semanat is an project from The Republic of Lithuania active since ca. 2013 in the noise, drone, post-industrial area. Not much can be found of the artist behind, most likely on purpose.
The most recent EP features two longish tracks. At first there is a well balanced and structured rhythmic noise flow on "Glina", aided by processed field recordings which builds an intense soundwork stretching over nearly 14 dynamic minutes. I wish I had a clue what the voice at the end is talking about.
"Pole", starting with static (?) surface noise and a deeply buried melancholic sample and processed voice below an underworldly gong which gets supported by shifting layers of noise and a rhytmic mill wheel. All the time the voice is building up to a multi-layered chorus of the damned transfering the listener in a slight trance which is resolved during the last minutes.
Both tracks work their way in the subconscious and leave their echos. A rewarding listening experience - Aciu.

VV.AA.: The Spirit Of The Age Vol.1

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: The Spirit Of The Age Vol.1
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Details Sound (@)
Distributor: One Eye Witness

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This 4 track compilation EP actually holds what the title promises. I was really sceptical at first not knowing what to make of 'The Spirit Of The Age' but it get's better and better with each listen. A melancholic blade runner mood captures the loneliness of lockdown and keeping on for the sake of it.

Anotalian Weapons starts with "A Series Of Changes", a great dubby leftfield track, powerful steady rhythms and a looped voice accompany a drift through the current times. Then A Hand dives even more into the loneliness of the androids with continuous hynotic sequences driving 'Modern Cages' into the outer spheres. Gamma Intel adds a decent hypnotic acid touch to his brand of electro to brighten things up a little in "A Note To My Love" before London based Vactrol Park end with a seemingly endless atmospheric dark downtempo track, accordingly named "Dense And Ragged".

A remarkable well curated attempt by this Turin based label to catch the moments and changes we live through since more than a year now.
(Scheduled for release on April 16th.)

Mind.Area: No Enemey Of Progress

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Artist: Mind.Area (@)
Title: No Enemey Of Progress
Format: CD + Download
Label: ScentAir Records (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *
Although flying a bit under the radar during the turn of the year and because of the feeding with highly recognized Dark Electro music-albums at our pandemic home-office days by such well-known projects like Dive, Placebo Effect, Fix8:Sed8, Pyrroline or at least FLA, we shouldn't oversee the latest output of Germany's Mind.Area. The solo project of the Human Decay musician Maikko Advance and his releases have been often well recognized guests here on our pages although it's a while back when we heard from him the last time. “No Enemy of Progress” is at least his 4th complete studio album and we also shouldn't forget Maikko's spectacular 5 EP releases mostly accomplishing with the respectively albums.
What has always impressed me with Maikko's works is his true DIY mentality. Since his very first beginnings with the EP “Thenceforward” (2008 – X-Line / Alter-X Promotion Project) he has watched out to publish his works freely available via netlabels. The Russian Alter-X group, whose website is still online at, has been the initial part for Mind.Area with the first releases, later on the German Ionium Records has picked up this course to push the talent of Maikko with a widely arranged promotional offensive. Despite the fact of Maikko's membership into Human Decay, it is undoubtedly that he is a prominent and well-known contributor of the Dark Electronic music scene. Therefore his DIY course surprises a bit because I think that he could have a lot of possible label deals to sign in his hands.

Secondly, it is Maikko's special kind of production and composition. If we refer on classically produced Dark Electronic Music, mostly people specify this automatically with the often mentioned and praised Puppy-an influence. Mind.Area is the vital proof that this style of music can offer so much more influences and diversity. Be it Maikko's meticulously produced arrangements filled with musically ingredients taken out of diverse music styles like IDM, Synthpop, Ambient, Dub Step or Trip-Hop elements, or be it simply his kind the install his vocals in his very own, multi-faceted way between calm and harmonic to dark whispering up to raw and outraging, he always manages quite well to allow different influences to break with beloved traditions as well as with one-dimensional directions. To break and there with expected paths has always been one of the winning points for Mind.Area.

Same counts for this new album. “Gone Life” is sort of these tracks being composed and arranged pretty near to the well-known and beloved veterans with ominous and haunting vocals and dense synthesizer pads, while it at least offers that glimpse of intelligence not to fall too close into this death valley. “Failure” with its Trance-like, nervous synth bass lines and the calmer sound voice of Maikko blends over into a much lighter outfit. Maikko's voice works excellently as an instrument too, just if you check with “Parasite” and its nicely installed vocoder effects. “Muggler Heart” as well as “Mention” are breathtakingly arranged instrumental tunes giving you an insight in the wide-ranging sound universe of Mr. Maikko.
In between we'll find the to me best track on here, the spacey sounding “World Without” - asides the once again thrilling sounding vocoder effects on his vocals it is stunning to hear how this track drills into your head without any aggression, just arranged with a simple percussion structure and beautifully installed synthesizer layers.

No doubt, also Mind.Area sends once again a valuable sign out of the Dark Electro music camp which rewards you, the listener, after a few more-than-usual spins with a thrilling and top-notch produced sound experience. In case you'll prefer to own a hard copy, Maikko has again signed a deal with the Moscow-based label ScentAir Records.
This isn't the first collaboration between them and Maikko as this label has already brought out his last album “Glowing Grey”. So „No Enemy of Progress“ is in the first instance a downloadable, self-released album while ScentAir has produced the physically product, a professional CD pressing, and takes care for sales and distribution things especially in the Eastern European area. Even if our pandemic days may delay the one or another shipment, this album is worth to wait a bit longer. Go and get it.

Jeff Greinke: Other Weather

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Artist: Jeff Greinke (@)
Title: Other Weather
Format: CD + Download
Label: Spotted Peccary Music (@)
Rated: * * * * *
I'm not going to give Greinke any points for originality on the title of his latest album; previously he's released works with titles such as 'Before The Storm,' 'Moving Climates,' 'Changing Skies.' 'Big Weather,' 'Weather From Another Planet,' and of course, his last- 'Before Sunrise.' One might think Jeff Greinke was obsessed by the skies and the weather, but considering he was a student of meteorology while at Penn State in the early '80s, it should come as no surprise. Greinke himself says, "My interest in the weather has always been predominantly experiential, and as I get older I find myself attracted to its subtler and quieter aspects. I see a connection between this interest and the kind of music I like to make. This feels especially true with this album."

As with 2018's 'Before Sunrise,' 'Other Weather' spans the genres of modern classical, electronic, and ambient as it gently evolves through a refined set of impressionistic ambient chamber music. Blending electronic ambiences and effects with an acoustic ensemble that includes piano, cello, viola, violin, French horn, clarinets, flutes, and small percussion. This album is really a modern neoclassical/ambient hybrid with a touch of the experimental. Piano is particularly dominant on this album in a way that it was not on the previous one. For example, the first two tracks - "A Stretch of Sun," and "Rain Through the Night" are thoroughly piano-centric, so much so that I thought at first this was going to be a New Age piano album, and it almost is. 'Other Weather' uses the ensemble (Heather Bentley - cello, viola, violin; Greg Campbell - French horn, small percussion; Alex Guy - viola; Paris Hurley - violin) differently than on his previous work, in what I think is a less adventurous capacity. There is a lack of mystery, but the melancholy is ever present here. The heavy complexity of much of 'Before Sunrise' is eschewed in favor of abstraction that sounds more like improvisation on the simplest of motifs.

I think that one can read anything they want into an artist’s work, and the weather connotations may be influential to the listener’s perception of what they are hearing on ‘Other Weather’ but there is no doubt in my mind that Jeff Greinke fans are likely expecting something richer and deeper than this, as well as less steeped in piano, the most overused of all instruments in the New Age genre. Well executed, but still somewhat of a disappointment.