Monday, January 25, 2021
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Music Reviews

Endif: Falling Into The Sky

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Artist: Endif (@)
Title: Falling Into The Sky
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Manual Control Records
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *
It has taken 12 years until Jason Hollis could decide to return with a new album of his IDM / Ambient-Electronica / Rhythmic Noise music alter ego Endif, his third so far. Since it has been a while back let's bring his earlier works back into your memory, when Jason has counted to best signed projects of such renowned labels like Crunch Pod (album “Meta” out in 2006) and Tympanik Audio (album “Carbon” out in 2008). Once highly praised and named in a same row with such outstanding projects like Terrorfakt, E.S.A., Alter Der Ruine, Pneumatic Detach, Cervello Elettronico, C/A/T, Caustic and/or Manufactura, Jason surely had his heydays in the mid-2000s, just in those days when the Rhythmic-Noise movement became relatively popular.
He now presents us under his own Manual Control label this new album which is sort of a collection of the things recorded in between. The time span of these tracks includes the years in between 1999 and 2015 and these tracks have been constructed in different cities (Reno, Seattle and at least Minneapolis, where Jason nowadays lives).
The first impression was a bit strange I have to admit and it took me a while until I noticed that artists tend to develop instead to repeat themselves over and over again. Same has happened to Endif plus it also has to be noticed that Jason seemingly produces differently than before, I guess the “Everything-on-this-album-was-sequenced-and-assembled-in-Fruity-Loops-edited-in-Cool-Edit-Pro”-times of the “Meta” album are gone for good.
“Modularism” is magic word of Jason's creation processes and the booklet gives some interesting summaries how each of the tracks have been constructed. It's a rather more glitch, experimental-minded Electronica outlet, much lesser straight oriented than on the both albums before. The often pronounced European Electronica influence with which Endif has been often confronted has almost gone, abstractly produced but still densely installed Ambient-Electronica-layers leading the scenario appointed by a massive and crunchy poly-rhythmic percussion feast.
Asides the dark voice samples in “Blind Angels” you'll get a real projectile-like bombardment placed into the wide stereo field blown through your head (use a pair of good headphones!).But since this albums extracts its content out of different time epochs, I strangely found the oldest one “City” with its massive interruptions of the complete song structure as being one the outstanding tune on here (“Antiquated time-stretch algorithms and photoshopped beats fillet superheated Moog blasts and Mono/Poly blips. It's a feature, not a bug” - so the info of the artist). And with “Dislocation” and moreover “Grain Of Sand” he finally returns into that area of a more accessible style, even if the latter one ends in a another anarchistic sound chaos.
What still impresses is the crispy and crystal-clear sound production out of Jason's studio, this meticulously mastered by Michael Dietel. Even if this album as a whole needs some more spins to get completely via the ear-drums into the brain, this is for sure one of the state-of-art albums in this rather experimental kind of modern IDM / Electronica-music.



Fix8:Sed8: tHe iNEVITABLe rELAPSe

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Artist: Fix8:Sed8 (@)
Title: tHe iNEVITABLe rELAPSe
Format: CD + Download
Label: Dependent Records (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *

BUY from HERE
The awful situation during our pandemic days during the whole year 2020 makes it possible – if not necessary – that artists have the need to concentrate on their composition and production processes. Concerts and festivals are almost completely canceled or deleted until further notice. Surely hard times for the whole scene and all artists themselves which still try to earn at least a few bucks to pay some bills. And even if it is actually a sad fact that artists have free time during lock-down days, it brings us listeners in difficult times into the situation to consume music more intensely than ever before.This all happened also to Martin Sane, mastermind behind Fix8:Sed8.

I guess there isn't any need to introduce this notorious Dark Electro musician more detailed as he has become everybody's “darling” through his well selling releases "Foren6" and last year's “Warning Signs” album. So we are talking meanwhile on this new release of one of the genre-leaders when it comes to unite the classic, late-80s synthesized sound ideas of the Canadian Industrial school (Puppy / FLA / Numb) combined with the layered complexity of their early-90s followers (Mentallo & The Fixer / XMTP).It is Martin's fifth full-length album, the third released again under the roof of the German Dependent Records label. “tHe iNEVITABLe rELAPSe” comes out as the normal 10-track CD edition, but it is also available as a special 2CD edition which features 10 cover versions of the 10 album tracks provided by 10 different artists of the international EBM / Dark Electro music scene.

Well, what's so different compared to the successfully selling predecessors? After the first listening obviously not too much, what a pity. Martin still doesn't produce polka or schlager music and he won't be able to dispute the ultimate throne of Gerhard Müller, the German spear-head of poly-rhythmic polka perfection.But seriously and as usual with all of Martin's releases also this new album needs a bit more time and several spins to grab a glimpse of the rich layered and densely installed dark content of his music. And since the content of the main album differs extremely compared to the companion “Rail At A Liar”, both albums have to be reviewed separately.

1.) “tHe iNEVITABLe rELAPSe”
Also “tHe iNEVITABLe rELAPSe” is a thrilling and epic soundtrack to satisfy your inner darker-minded demons, an album to balance precisely the thin line between elegance and fragility on one side, and the cold, morbid and at times raging kind on the other.Already with the opener “eNIGMa” Martin starts with a haunting and ominous sounding track filled with several oppressive voice samples of a female being interviewed in a hospital. It is astonishing how meticulously Martin has installed these samples in between his music as they carry the story and transport extremely well the sick and angst-driven content of this track. This one actually seems to be more the kind of work of a movie score musician. “pROGNOSIs” then takes control on the dense mood submitted through “eNIGMa” and pushes the speed and mood straight forward with its oscillating synth bass lines and multiple percussion inserts. Martin's alien-like effected vocals do its best to support this rather forward-moving tune which should appeal to the dance-floor addicts of the dark music clubs – just in case we'll be able to experience a club visit after our pandemic times. This is one of the appetizer tracks of the album previously released and supported with a video clip.
A bit more homogeneous and actually also more straight-forward moving is “hUMAn hARVESt”, to me one of the “Fixi-tracks” to go. This one features all positive aspects of Martin's music including the rise into a straight and quite danceable tune after the sense and haunting introduction. Relatively comparable turns out “uNKNOWn tO vIRTUe”, the second previously presented track supported through a video clip.
In between thrones with “tREMORs (fEAt. EMKe)” the ultimate Dark Electro pearl to warm your cold hearts during our snowy winter days as this features the brilliantly acting Emese Arvai-Illes of the Hungarian Dark-Pop project Black Nail Cabaret. Actually I can not imagine how this track would sound if Martin himself would try to perform with his voice on it. Since this tune is a rather calm and quite catchy one filled with multiple layered synth-pads to undersign the dark mood, it doesn't matter if you're a Goth-, Wave-, Synthpop- Industrial- or Metal-head, this one deserves respect and will surely appeal beyond all genre-boundaries. The ideal hymn to sit in front of a fire-place in a lonely, completely snowed-in wood hut!
Respect also for the title track and its cleverly produced arrangements. Starting as usual again with so typically eerie layers that it once again leaves me baffled with a „how-the-f...-does-he-do-that?“ face. The good thing to point out here is the fact, that especially on this track Martin is able to balance extremely well between the eerie fragility and the pulsating aggression in the chorus, that special talent to build, to interrupt and to rebuild the mood and float of a track.As for the more bulky content of this album there can be discovered something disruptive and spooky in „cHLORINe cLEAn tEARs“, to me thanks to its uncountable breaks and interruptions the most Puppy-an inspired track on this new album.
Even if not all of the 10 featured tracks get a more detailed mention here it needs to be said that all of tracks offer enough space / elements worth to get discovered. Not to forget to mention a few lines of credits as this album has been produced additionally by Arnte of Pyrroline and hasbeen mastered by Vincent Uhlig of 2nd Face. So it MUST be top-notch, mustn't it?
“tHe iNEVITABLe rELAPSe” offers at least a thrilling experience of Dark Electro music which doesn't get boring even after the 417th listen. To me the better one directly compared to “Warning Signs” because consumed as a whole album it sounds more harmonic and homogeneous instead to present the listener another compilation of variously collected tracks. And actually, since almost all used musically weapons out of Martin's arsenal with its dedication to the early 90s Dark Electro movement, it makes sense to produce a totally floating album its length and brilliance.

2. “Rail At A Liar”
The second chapter of this new album isn't at all the usual remix companion which the one or other listener maybe has expected. It is more than a usual business-related idea and follows seemingly a quite different concept which I haven't discovered anywhere else before. Currently while writing these line I can only make my assumption on this one and the Martin surely needs to be asked about but I guess that all participating bands and projects have received the lyrics of the tracks, the voice samples and maybe the midi files with the clear order to produce cover versions in their free will and sound. The participants of this initiative represents for the most part the who is who of the currently rising Dark Electro music scene and all of the people behind can be counted to Martin's inner circle of friendship:

01. “eNIGMa” by Frontier Guards
02. „pROGNOSIs“ by Mildreda
03. „hUMAn hARVESt“ by Cryo
04. „tREMORs (fEAt. EMKe) by Black Nail Cabaret
05. „uNKNOWn tO vIRTUe“ by Jihad
06. „tHe iNEVITABLe rELAPSe“ by Amnistia
07. „mELTDOWn“ by 2nd Face
08. „pALe lIGHt sHADOw“ by Akalotz
09. „cHLORINe cLEAn tEARs“ by Amorphous
10. “mETABOLITe” by Full Contact 69

Yes, the order of the tracks of these cover versions is the same like on the main album which actually invites the listener to explore deeper the differences to Martin's original versions. Each contributing band brings life into Martin's compositions using own instruments, sounds and ideas to completely create a track sounding at best drastically different to the original. So it is at least an album in the view of the participants and in that style how they interpret and transport Martin's newest compositions.
The advantage is obviously as this kind of work is more promising than to initialize another more or less interesting sounding remix war. It is therefore not an option to talk about winners or losers of this cover version album, but some surprises can be pointed out. First of all Akalotz as they are old-school EBM purists and therefore musically relatively far away from Martins layered compositions. But they solve this riddle quite fair with „pALe lIGHt sHADOw“. „pROGNOSIs“ got fabricated by Jan Dewulf's Belgian Dark Electro Project Mildreda and provides remembrances to early 90s projects like yelworC, what an excellent contribution.
Cryo and in person of Martin Rudefeldt I haven't actually heard that aggressive when it comes to add his vocals into „hUMAn hARVESt“. Clever idea also to leave „tREMORs” in the hands of Black Nail Cabaret since Emese Arvai-Illes already provided the lead vocals on the main album. Deeply impressed I am also with the Martin Pavlik's conversion of “eNIGMa” which introduces us to Mia Bohemia (Jitka Charvátová), a new female vocalist who could play a bigger role in the upcoming works of this Czech project.
Also thumbs up for the nasty lo-fi lead synth-sounds which Vincent Uhlig of 2nd Face has used to manipulate „mELTDOWn“ - it is high-modern ultra-sonic purity! The further appearances DO NOT AT ALL disappoint but they rather provide as expected and their very own style.

Let's agree that 2021 is a very young year but it couldn't kick-off any better with this new Fixi-album. Yes, we'll start counting to remember ourselves on the best of the bests in the second half of this year but it can be assured that Fix8:Sed8 will be on this list and can expect highest positions.Please note that the limited edition of this new album is limited to 666 exemplars (individually numbered) and contains a lavish 36-page hardcover artbook, which includes this bonus album "Rail At A Liar". Release date is set to January 22nd, 2021, so... what are you waiting for?



Villaborghese: On the Move

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Artist: Villaborghese (@)
Title: On the Move
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Time Tools Recordings
Distributor: Amazon Music
Rated: * * * * *

BUY from BUY NOW from AMAZON (Amazon.com)
A German newcomer project but not consisting of bloody newcomers: Villaborghese is a duo established by Friedhelm Kranz and Erick Miotke and at least Erick should be well recognized in Germany's Dark Electro music scene because of his being in Trial.Erick was responsible for the musically part of this famous duo and Trial had a major impact on the scene in 1992 with the release of „Blut Und Eisen“ on a 4-track CDEP and the accompanying album „Zero Feeling“, both out by Hypnobeat. After their album „Secret Pain“, released 1994 on Electric Blue / Ausfahrt Musikverlag GmbH, it has become quite silent around this project until the year 2006, when they started a comeback with live performances as well as with the release of the “Too Late” DCD set out in 2008 on Maxsoniq Recordings. Later through the years Trial has become the follow-up project Trilogy still with Erick behind the synths and machines, but with Jens Müller being the new vocalist and Chris "Léo" Leonhardt (drums / live support).
Friedhelm, born already 1957 in Bremen, hasn't had so far any deeper impact on the dark music scene of Germany although he nevertheless has established several projects into photographic, sound design and painting art. He can look back on various exhibitions mostly based in the north Germany area. Both protagonists know each other since years and have collaborated several times and can look back on decades of expertise in the areas of sound design, media communication and various art projects. Now under the pseudonym Villaborghese they established their mutual collaboration efforts bundled up in a sophisticated way.

Musically you won't get an EBM / Dark Electro music-related project as most of of our readers would have expected it behind the name Erick Miotke. Villaborghese is more that kind of a film-like journey, a trip into the depths of musically density and haunting layering. “On The Move” deserves to get consumed under a quality pair of head phones and a high-end home entertainment. Surely and expected, the sound creation takes almost completely its foundation out of IDM / Electronica / Electro-Ambient sound-programming attitude, undersigned with movie-like scores and with a few elements turning into the field-recording genre.
Their press release taps us listeners up on some stereotype-like comparisons to global players like “Vangelis, Kraftwerk, Synaesthesia, John Carpenter, Recoil and many other acts, they create dystopian sound spaces with a new, thought-provoking perspective and sometimes gloomy atmosphere”.
Actually, the whole music sounds to my taste much darker and infected with a constant Dark Electro-influence especially on the more straighter produced tracks (“Surrounded”, “Close” or “Mover”). There aren't vocals, at least the so-called “human factor” can be noticed with some ominous voice samples thrown in here and there. As for references to describe the sound of the both protagonists I would suggest to put a few albums by Flaque, Remain Silent into the ring as well as several recording projects under roof of Hymen Records (The_Empath, Jérôme Chassagnard) or with some relations to one or another artists of the far too early gone Tympanik Records label.

Both the rapid produced “Mover” or “Close” with their fiercely installed kick and hi-hat-works might be the ones most danceable and accessible tunes on here but compared to the further, more dense and haunting produced stuff, they are rather unusual. I found the strongest moments next to the manifold produced “Surrounded” in that mystic Dark Electro-track “Rising” with its wobbling synth lead sounds - reminds me pretty much on Flaque, Disharmony, Polygon and related. “Amnesia” is another Ambient-like tune with a thrilling density through its ominous installed synth pads and its clock-ticking rhythmic inserts - to me another outstanding track on here.

As usual with those rather Ambient-like albums, also “On The Move” requires a bit of free time and dedication of the affectionate listener. This soundtrack isn't definitely not your subtle background music in your next-corner Walmart. But again, you will get rewarded with a crafty produced movie-like album for a headtrip and with intellectual demand. Demand and dedication to art which is a loss in our currently rushing times, even if this soundtrack touches the darker-minded listeners.


TC75: Popmusesick

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Artist: TC75 (@)
Title: Popmusesick
Format: CD + Download
Label: 9XO-Media / Razgrom Music (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *
It has become routine for Tino Claus to release a new TC75 album year by year. “Popmusesick” is already his 4th official full-length album, if we count only the official works since 2017 (“Tracks ”, “Tension”, and “Morphed”) which have seen the light of a professional CD release in support by the Russian label Razgrom Music. Before his signing to this Russian label, there have been three earlier, self-released CDR's available which can be still purchased via Tino's Bandcamp website (please check below).

A word of introduction to Tino as he is one half of the renowned German Dark Electro-duo Amnistia and can look back on a long career in the Electro-/Industrial-scene with additionally appearances in projects like MRDTC or lesser recognized with the old-school EBM pendant Neukampf. Also TC75 isn't a newcomer project as Tino started already in 2007 with this solo effort.

Due to the fact that I am not too familiar with his earlier works under the TC75 moniker, it was at first the intention to figure out the differences between Amnistia and TC75. Yes, both projects are without doubt deeply rooted into the European style of EBM / Dark Electro music genre but there are omnipresent differences between them. While Amnistia is pretty much based musically to pick up some Dark Electro traditions of Canadian veterans like Numb, Puppy or the FLA league mixed with straight European EBM elements, TC75 follows demonstrative the path and sound ideas of Belgians old school formula of EBM.
The glorious early years of The Klinik, Vomito Negro, early recordings of Insekt, Suicide Commando or at least the 242 camp – from all of these projects Tino has at least collected some musically ingredients to be discovered on this “Popmusesick” album.And there's especially the work of Dirk Ivens and his famous project Dive worth to mention: several tracks are available on here, which could be directly stolen out of the sound archive of this prominent and exceptional artist (“Desire”, “I Swear To God”, or “Back In The Place”).
The track “What You Don't Know” for instance plays pretty much with multiple percussion elements mixed precisely with icy sequencer lines and seems to be rather infiltrated with that typically Klinik-ally impact. The straighter tunes like “Save Face” for example maybe tend to remind to the Front 242 hall of fame.
However this all is meant and how much stereotyped-thinking I need to throw into this review, it needs to be clearly pointed out, that TC75 isn't at all a copy-cat of Belgian traditionalists. Tino picks up ideas and starts to experiment with these elements to bring out a refined form of straight EBM with “Popmusesick” under up-to-date recording possibilities. And the result is absolutely convincing.

We have here 10 original tracks all based between 2 and 3,5 minutes – not too long at least – plus a special 11th track entitled “Obituary”, which at least clocks up to more than 40 minutes of playing time.“Obituary” is massively different to any of the other tracks. It is a slow stalking collage, a multiple-artist-effort with sinister and dark layers and it is filled with ominous whispered vocal inserts Tino's music friends. The row of the artists involved looks like a list of the who is who in between the scene:

Andrea Morsero (In.Visible)
Martin Sane and Persephoniis Phoenix (Fïx8:Sëd8)
Lauro Guedes Junior (kFactor)
Patrik Lev (Depressive Disorder)
James Mendez (Jihad)
Jens Plesner (No Sleep By The Machine)
Sasha Rempel (thewalkingicon)
Javi Saez (Vein Cramp)
Emese Árvai-Illés (Black Nail Cabaret)
Sinan Jafan Schmoun (Pyrroline)
Sebmer (Wülf7)
Jan Dewulf (Mildreda)
Dirk Ivens (Dive)

Did I mention somewhere before that this 40-minutes ”Obituary” is only an edited version to be fitted on this album and to respect the length of a CD release? Well, indeed, the original version of this track stops after at least after more than 75 minutes!!!
“Obituary (Total Annihilation)“ is an exclusive Bandcamp release and can be seperately picked up there,
https://tc75.bandcamp.com/album/obituary

But asides of this, go ahead and pick up this wonderful, fluffy piece of finest „Popmusesick“.



Humans Can't Reboot: Lost Soul

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Artist: Humans Can't Reboot (@)
Title: Lost Soul
Format: CD + Download
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *
This is a new music project under the roof of the UK-based artist and DJ Simon Carter, who is known amongst others for his various collaborations fusing numerous electronic dance music genres or for his synthwave project SD-KRTR. Just check for example with his highly recognized discography brought to us by the Belgian Alfa Matrix label ("Studio-X vs. Simon Carter" series). He is an international renowned force for his modern dancefloor electronics which touch nearly all thinkable styles between Synth- and Futurepop, Trance, House, Techno up to the harder genres. Also his remixing abilities are widely recognized and often requested, just check the Alfa Matrix compilation series "Matrix:Reb00ted" on which he could already present his talent on different artists out of the label roster.
As for the vocal part of this new project he could hire with Amy Hannam a thoroughly capable lady and teamed up together they offer you their full range of "Unique, Stylish, Futuristic Synthpop", as their info sheet announces it. So the music of "Lost Soul" is kind of a fresh breathe in the above mentioned styles, not too much retro-infused though. Technically from the production and mixing it fulfills highest expectations and so criticism is rather to be included due to personal preferences.
As for the music I could ramble on some of the chosen bass line sounds and that they sound in my ears not originally enough ("Starlight" - is that a tuba doing this job?), while on the other hand I need to spend fair applause for the changes of float and mood between the tracks. The title track is a heart-touching piano-driven ballad and also Ms. Hannam provides here her best moments.
I enjoyed also the slightly New Wave-understones in a track like "Fading" through the descreet acoustic guitar sounds integrated. "Fallen Angel" is another track on which Simon slows down the tempo and adds musically depth with his dense piano insertions. But compared to "Lost Soul" this one is to me the weaker one out of both, too much I feel reminded on a parrot when it comes to check with Amy's repetitive vocal presentation on here.
I was also about to praise the original drum pattern programming of "iDO" (okay, I praise it...) but unfortunately on this one Amy offers her weakest part on this album. For whatever reason her vocals are sounding nasally and somehow she looses a bit track on the highs and the tempo - it misses intensity and emotionally dedication to me. A compareable characteristic can be noticed on "You Stand By Me" with its rather minimal produced synth arrangements and it shows the listener that Amy's timbre works at best when it got well balanced into richly placed pad and lead sounds.
Finally another true pearl on this album needs a mention too and this the album closer "Reality". I would never-ever reduce the success formula of this album on this very one tune, but hey, with its great piano drops, nicely installed synth harmonies and Amy's nearly perfect sounding timbre, you've got one track flying a bit under the radar asides the tracks which have been already previously released as downloadable singles like "Fading", "Fallen Angel" or the title track "Lost Soul" itself.
The full-length album "Lost Soul" offers indeed a wide array of multiple synthetic music styles and everyone should be able to figure out own favorites. Nice work show of the musically dimension of Mr. Simon Carter, flawlessly produced of course, but don't stop listening before you reach the final track.

As for further information taken out of the info sheet, Simon Carter likes his music to tell stories and two of the tracks on this album are based directly from his short stories of the same name ("iDO" and "Reboot"). You will find a copy of both of these stories as a part of the digital download in Ebook and PDF format. For more short sci-fi stories from Simon, please visit: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/sdacarter