Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Music Reviews

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.

AntiMozdeBeast: The Ritual

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Artist: AntiMozdeBeast (@)
Title: The Ritual
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released

Florida’s AntiMozdeBeast is a one-person avant-garde / noise / industrial / metal project. Gabriel Palacio, the man behind the AntiMozdeBeast, “uses a language in his poetry that is not very commonly found in electronic music”, according to the press release. The idea seems to be to find a balance between electronic dance music, noise music and extreme metal.

AntiMozdeBeast’s latest offering is an EP entitled The Ritual. It has a running time of just under 30 minutes, and consists of five tracks which run seamlessly from one to the next to make up a singular uninterrupted listening experience. The music is harsh, disorientating and unsettling. It is not easy to listen to, and I have no doubt that that is entirely intentional. Demonic and distorted lo-fi screams are a key feature. They are genuinely frightening. The music that pulsates underneath owes a lot to early 90s rave music. There are trance-inspired rhythmic synth patterns and drum ’n’ bass influenced beats. Often the harmonies are unusual and (intentionally, I presume) confusing, but there are also sections where classic psychedelic minor chord synth pads dominate. Sometimes the electronic percussion patterns and samples shift away from skittering dance into industrial territory, with clanging metallic stomping rhythms rising to the fore. There are strange samples including parts that sound like they were from real instruments such as flamenco guitars. Sometimes we hear what sound like weirdly contorted and out-of-key orchestral strings that add more weirdness to the chaotic lunacy. In spite of the swirling madness generated by this noisy mix of disparate styles, the music somehow holds together, albeit precariously. The songs still have a sense of structure and dynamics as opposed to being completely confused. The breaks and dynamic drops that occur periodically are key to preventing The Ritual from becoming too relentless or monotonous. In fact, the music is structured so that each time the screams and harshness return they seem to come back with a renewed intensity and ferocity.

The Ritual will be confusing and difficult for a lot of people to listen to, even if they have some experience with industrial music or similar styles. The experience could be compared to sitting in on some kind of actual bizarre ritual, replete with unfamiliar practices and menacing atmospheres. If the intention is for the music to feel oppressive and constrictive then The Ritual undoubtedly succeeds. Listeners who are able to stomach the dizzying frenzy of the music’s unforgiving exterior will find much to appreciate here.

The Ritual will be released on 23rd April 2021 as a digital download.

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.

Minusheart: The Dark Side Of The Sun

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Artist: Minusheart (@)
Title: The Dark Side Of The Sun
Format: CD + Download
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: * * * * *
Here comes the second (and last) of the 2020 Echozone physical product albums I had left to review. Minusheart is a German electro project founded by Diver in 2007, now with several previous albums under their belt, mostly on the Echozone label. Diver handles the vocals, and there is also Chriss Rey on guitars, Robert Lee on E-drums, and Herr Hilter on synths. I haven't heard any previous material by Minusheart, but I can imagine it sounds pretty similar to what I'm hearing on 'The Dark Side Of The Sun'. Diver has a very distinctive style of speak-singing that will remind you of Dirk Ivens (Absolute Body Control, Dive, Klinik) and Nitzer Ebb, but maybe more of the former than the latter. According to Echozone's one-sheet, "Minusheart are mostly inspired by North America's industrial scene (What?? we have an industrial scene here? Where? please let me know!)...and have moved up to be one of the best industrial rock acts all over Germany.” Now that part I guess I can believe. The album has a very accomplished, professional sound. To me though, it sounds more EBM than Electro, but maybe that's just category quibbling.

On first listening, the songs on 'The Dark Side Of The Sun' might seem to sound too similar, in part due to Diver's distinctive punk industrial vocals. Subsequent plays though reveal that that isn't the case at all. The music is somewhat stripped down, edgy and the perfect foil to Diver's visceral lyrics in the dystopian world we all now live in. While most of the tracks on the album are really, really good, the one chink in the armor is "Ice Burns," the closest thing to a ballad in its slower tempo. Something about it just didn't sit well. Other than that though, the songs have plenty of chutzpah, verve, zest, whatever, with inventive arrangements and unexpected little touches that make 'The Dark Side Of The Sun' a real winner. I don't know if it will ever get better for Minusheart, but for now, it really doesn't matter. And how come these guys aren't playing Wave-Gotik-Treffen 2021? They really should be, as this is music that just screams crowd motivation.

Pyrroline: Struggling

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Artist: Pyrroline (@)
Title: Struggling
Format: CDx2 (double CD)
Label: Electro Aggression Records (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *
No, the protagonists of Germany's Dark Electro/Industrial duo Pyrroline have never been that sort of loud-mouthed posers of the scene, although measured with their immensely talent they surely could! Schmoun and Arnte aka Pyrroline, one of my most beloved female-/male-duos out of this special niche of the dark music scene have always made their impact on me already with their very first beginning under their previously chosen project name Nordschlacht and their unforgettable debut “Silence, Beauty and Cruelty“ released in early 2007.

Nordschlacht became soon history because Schmoun and Arnte felt to that time that their chosen band name was sounding too martially, too aggressive – what the protagonists aren't and never have been. The music though hasn't changed too drastically. Now, 14 years later and with their fourth Pyrroline album (+ the one Nordschlacht album) in stock, the third signed to the Canadian label EAR, they start their epic sounding comeback and can be well sorted into the prominent row of quality Dark Electro music albums released in this very first weeks of 2021.Almost four years in the making after their last opus „In the Dawn of Freedom“, Arnte and Schmoun give us the expected kind of a comeback, the necessary daily doze of classically produced Dark Electro music with that so beloved old school vibe founded in the heydays of the late 80s / early 90s.

Pyrroline in the year 2021 stands for refining their audio perfection still woven into the known and beloved veteran-like sound design. As for the typically stereo-type rating which we reviewers always have been confronted with, just think about a musically intercourse between „Revelations 23“-Like M&tF, Placebo Effect and/or Abscess for possible comparisons. Yes, it's only meant to give you, the listener, a hint.To me actually Pyrroline stand on their own feet and are able to formulate themselves new and unique in their style. This mainly belongs on the fact that you'll get an artistically output filled with intelligent hints, with depths and springs of inspiration on which Pyrroline extract part-wise their lyrically content always infected with meaning and message. Writer and poets like James Montgomery, William Blake or Edgar Alan Poe find their homage with their inspirational works in Pyrroline lyrics and Schmoun and Arnte aren't also afraid to take The Holy Bible (“Nothing Besides You – Psalm 73”) into their composition process too. I guess it doesn't need to mentioned especially that this demanding content and concept stands light years above the pseudo-aggressive testosterone-driven muscle-and-sweat EBM formula. This is purest dark aesthetic.

„Struggling“ is the album title, but nothing struggles here, not at all. It is highly recommend to pick up the physically released product, which is a nicely designed DCD set. The bonus CD won't be available via digital downloading procedures and this DCD set is only limited to 500 exemplars. You know it... when there are gone, they are gone... so... what are you waiting for? Next point is the awesome looking bluish cover art painted by Sorin Sorin ( which shows an old sailing vessel trying to find it course through a stormy sea with jagged rocky coasts. An absolutely eye-catching kind of work and no digital download could be able to replace it.

First off, the main album starts with a slow and haunting Dark Electro pearl entitled „Decency and Integrity“ which is a co-composition with Martin Sane of Fix8:Sed8. Check it, consume it, inhale it – and play it with its epic Synth string pads side by side to Skinny Puppy's „Worlock“ - and it fits perfectly! Check also out the meticulously arranged bass line programmings especially on this one, the best under a quality pair of headphones. So much hand-made details between harmonic and filter resonance manipulation can be discovered quite seldom. „Battleground“ comes next and drags the scenario into a more pummeling and subliminal aggressive mood. It is one of the very few tracks breaking out of the mid-tempo scheme to a more straight and danceable environment and also Arnte's voice sounds more darker and fx-treated than usual. It is one of those Blade Runner-like classic early 90s-inspired Dark Electro tunes which can mess with the biggest hit tracks of comparable projects.
„Song of Deliverance“ is lighter-minded, almost catchy produced with a constantly well-balanced song structure. Arnte's nearly natural sounding sounding voice swims perfectly mixed in between the beautiful installed synth pads. Not a Synthpop track, no, but a quite accessible and suitable tune for a wider interested audience of . “Suffer” is another outstanding example of the lesson “how-to-turn-a-Dark-Electro-tune-into-a-space-odyssey”. Nearly completely exempted of all heavier percussive elements this track enters the galactic nebular with it's ambiance, various installed icy synth pads and Arnte's voice drastically manipulated with a vocoder effects. The nailing bass line bring in some unfamiliar restlessness into a track like “This Dusky Faith” while the majestic integrated synth pad bring back the beloved goose-bump-impression to Pyrroline's music.

“The Grave” is one of the earlier released appetizer tracks of this duo which offers opulent synth pad sounds pretty much linear installed into the parts and a rather forward-pushing attitude plus Arnte's heavily vocoderized vocals. It is straight oriented, yes, but at least lesser danceable like “Battleground” or “Song of Deliverance” for example. To me the strongest moments are following with the last few tracks as this are the moments when Schmoun seems to be taking more impact into the Pyrroline sound and composition process. “Chaos and Order” is a well-chosen title and services already perfectly into this review. This tracks starts unfamiliar chaotic with some noisy rhythm FX sounds and Arnte's deep dark distorted voice. This scenario leads us to the chorus where Schmoun takes control on this track with her beautiful voice and brings everything back into order.
“My Rebirth” is a breathtaking and very catchy mid-tempo instrumental tune filled with moody synth pads which reminds in its kind a bit on some Delerium works out of the Leeb / Fulber fame - at least this track can accomplish with them. Finally – and to me their best tune on this top-notch produced album – comes in with “The Divine Image” - another “Schmoun”-song brilliantly placed in the mid-tempo with her providing the lead vocals. Same impression here which I had already with opener: check out the bass line programming skills here! I love that wobbling creaking here as much as I like her voice on here. An ice-cold produced combination again filled with this special goose-bump-factor, but so damned epic and majestic above all expectations.

Have I mentioned before, that YOU MUST order this DCD set? YES, YOU MUST, because also the second CD of this beautifully styled digi-pack offers a rich and valuable content to fulfill your highest expectations.Three additional original Pyrroline compositions and with “Atelier Complex” another breathtaking Blade Runner-like instrumental tune which could be easily added to a FLA score album like “WarMech” and you as the listener wouldn't recognize an alteration of quality.
“State of Things” is a quite straight produced smasher with enough potential to rival with “Battleground” on the main album. Regarding the Leeb-/Fulber-like bass line programming skills represented here - somehow I'd wish that Arnte would be the producer for the next FLA album.Additionally 9 remix contributions provided by the creme of the creme out the current Dark Electro scene could be place with Placebo Effect, Jihad, Sleepwalk, Terminal State, The Opposer Divine, Fix8:Sed8, g.o.l.e.m. and Amorphous.
Yes, the surprise is Placebo Effect but not only for their comeback as a duo after 21 years at the end of 2020 and their self-released album „Shattered Souls“ (produced by Arnte...). PE haven't provided any remix for foreign bands with the one exception of La Floa Maldita in 1995, so to find them here featured with two fairly produced contributions of „What might have Been“ and „Suffer“ is a little sensation.

To go for the real deal and to point out the best remix contribution is kind of my very own taste and perspective – but what Mr. James „Jihad“ Mendez extracts out with his smooth piano inserts on the track „Where has no Child to Die“, a rather „normal“ sounding Pyrroline track, has left me absolutely speechless! This track in its original version is featured on here on this bonus CD too – but sorry to say that but this remix of James kicks out the already good original composition.
Also worth to mention is the straight and pounding interpretation from Amorphous on „Chaos & Order“. This is surely one of the most difficult remix works compared to the fascinating original composition on the main album and to to find it in this rather EBM-related danceable style is at least unusual - but solidly solved.

Since already this DCD set is worth enough to pick it up only thanks to the three original Pyrroline compositions, I again strictly advise you to purchase it. Again, it is only limited to 500 exemplars. Regarding the whole package I will have again sleepless nights from now on because this Pyrroline album is another contender for the imaginary „album of the year“ contest surely together with Fix8:Sed8 latest album – but I hardly can't decide so far.

Today it is Valentine's day – also today is Schmoun's and Arnte's wedding anniversary! And the release date of „Struggling“ is set for today too! Congratulations to you both and all the best for your further mutual walk of life.

Normally you both deserve all the praise and presents and not contrary.

But so it is – this album is a gift for all fans and friends of quality produced Dark Electro music in the classically style!