Friday, June 18, 2021

Music Reviews

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.


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Artist: KMFDM
Title: In Dub
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Operations of transplant of a genre into a completely different one often smells like an attempt of flirting to a different market, and this grasp of some of the most known KMFDM songs into dub grounds could be too condescendingly labelled in this way. Finding points of contact between industrial/rock and dub/reggae is not that easy, even there were some interesting attempts of melting together some elements of these two styles were done by bands like Meat Beat Manifesto, Swamp Terrorists or Pressure Drop (to mention just a few), particularly in the 90ies. In a recent interview, Sascha Konietzko, the lead of this punky industrial-rock band, that got famous for a style that never adheres to a purist definition of industrial music, besides the awesome covert artworks by Aidan "Brute!" Hughes (fostering his inspiration by means of Italian futurists, Russian constructivists and Golden Age comics), said he was remarkably influenced by dub and reggae while moving the very first steps in productions. Furthermore, he considered punk and reggae as strictly connected, not only for the common criticism against society in respective ages, but also for some technical aspects. Besides his words, the clearer evidence of some connections with dub (besides some tracks within the huge discography over more than 35 years of activism) is maybe their last album "Paradise", whose opening track "K-M-F", featuring Andrew "Ocelot" Lindsley, has been reshuffled and inserted in the tracklist of "In Dub" (...and that 'Bing Bing Bong Bong' vocal excerpt perfectly fits to the new dub-reggae suite!) together with a nice dub version of the title-track "Paradise", re-titled "Para Dub", and "No God", which didn't need any particular retouching as it was a proper dub song with an industrial-rock injection in the middle. Any possible doubts on the meaning of such an operation of conversion of KMFDM song files into a dub format will definitely fade away after the awesome level fo quality of some of these conversions: my favourite ones are songs mostly driven by the voice of Sascha's partner in art and life Lucia Cifarelli, that are "Amnesia" and "Superhero", while the dub version of songs like "Real Thing", renamed "Real Dub Thing", as well as the remake of "Bumaye" where both Sascha and Lucia used to shout on the mic, sound excessively sweetened to me, if compared against their sources, while the pretty surprising dub versions got out from songs that I couldn't imagine that would work in a dub shape such as "A Drug Against War" (retitled "A Dub Against War").

Hallelujah!: Wanna Dance

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Artist: Hallelujah!
Title: Wanna Dance
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Maple Death Records
“Wanna Dance” is a 20-minute mini-album from the Italian noise punk outfit. It’s predominantly a set of two-minute-long noise walls of guitar, uptempo punk drumming, distorted angry vocals and stretched, uncomfortable-sounding synths and some experimental lo-fi electronic sounds adding texture. But underneath it there’s a songwriting quality and intelligence that raises it well above the average angry garage band. Tracks like the title track may sound dumb at first listen, but there’s an infectiousness to them and in some ways this is speeded-up, revved-up pop music in punk costumes.

Some of it’s rather earnest, like the only long track “Alter Ego” with its sweary lyrical frustration gradually getting mirrored by the music, or “Champagne”’s barely channelled raw fury.

There are more tongue-in-cheek moments though. “Your Duck”, with its bouncy two-note synth pattern and Iggy Pop-parodying line “now I wanna be your duck”, is the sound of a band not taking things too seriously.

This is the sound of a punk band maturing well, without losing their heart.

hackedepicciotto: The Current

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Artist: hackedepicciotto (@)
Title: The Current
Format: CD & 12"
Label: Potomak (@)
Rated: * * * * *
Ask any rivethead about Einsturzende Neubauten and you're likely to get a "yeah man, they're great!" response. Likely they will know the name Blixa Bargeld, leader of EN. If they're really a longtime fan of the band, they may even know the name Alexander Hacke (EN's bass player) as well. Hacke is 1/2 of hackedepicciotto, the other half being Danielle de Picciotto, an NYC gal who moved to Berlin in 1987 to become the lead singer of the band Space Cowboys, co-initiator of the Love Parade, a collaborator of the Ocean Club with Gudrun Gut, a member of Crime & The City Solution, and also Alexander's partner in crime. 'The Current' is hackedepicciotto's fourth album, and possibly their most powerful one yet. For this release hackedepicciotto has amped up the percussive aspect of their music to create a powerful rhythmic feel, a wilder and more danceable element. Hacke's background with Einstürzende Neubauten can be felt in the many rhythmic tracks. Danielle's considerable contributions include violin, autoharp, hurdy gurdy, vocals, spoken word and electronics. And there is a fair amount of spoken word, giving the album a somewhat political flavor. Politics aside though, this is excellent experimental music, at times in the vein of Swans, at others Einstürzende Neubauten, with some passages reminiscent of Legendary Pink Dots, the electronic minimalism of Suicide, and others. 'The Current' is by no means a minimal album though; in point of fact, quite the opposite. It often sounds huge, much bigger than a 2-person project. There is not a single concession to "pop" on it, which I find quite refreshing, although the music isn't so esoteric as to be inaccessible. The overall aura is melancholic with a grim determination to leave stagnation in the dust. A good number of tracks have that Swans' improvisational feel, and there is a generous infusion of swirling psychedelia as well. de Picciotto's elfin voice adds an exotic element that saves things from becoming too dark and dour, and is a nice contrast to Hacke's more austere vocals. 'The Current' is where modern industrial music should be heading, not a rehash of KMFDM, FLA, Skinny Puppy or NIN dance music. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) The album is being released January 31 on Einsturzende Neubauten's label Potomak, and I think they've got some upcoming live shows at venues in Europe. Einstürzende Neubauten has a new album ('Year Of The Rat') coming out soon, and a tour as well that I'm sure Alexander Hacke will be participating in as well, so it looks like 2020 will be a busy year for hackedepicciotto. 'The Current' is a worthy album you should just pick up on my say-so, Neubauten fan or not, you'll thank me later.

Daniele Brusaschetto: Flying Stag

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Artist: Daniele Brusaschetto
Title: Flying Stag
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Rated: * * * * *
“Ecstatic astonishment…” these words, found in the lyrics of the third track called “Splattering Purple”, perfectly describe my reaction to this album.

“Flying Stag” is some kind of a thrash metal rooted songwriter's album – stripped down to drums, guitars and voice. It’s loaded with catchy guitar riffs and odd meters, there’s even a decent touch of djent and industrial here and there, with some kind of punk attitude in the mix.

It doesn’t surprise, since Daniele Brusaschetto started off as a thrash and death metal musician in the 80ies. In the 90ies he took new creative paths and played in bands such as Whip (industrial), Mudcake (noise rock) and Down! (avant-garde/impro). With “Flying Stag” he goes back to his metal roots – with 90ies metal guitar sounds, versatile playing, catchy riffs and short solos. The drummer, Alberto “Mono” Marietta, is doing a truly impressive performance through the whole record - with an absolutely great drum sound! Almost modest in his playing (thereby giving a lot of space to the voice and the guitar) – always supportive, a very solid and straight forward drumming.

From the very first heavy riffs of the first song “Otherwhere” this album totally kicks ass! This track, 5 minutes long, takes interesting twists and turns in regards of structure. I would like to highlight here, that I absolutely loved the vocals on this track. It reminded me a bit of a Marilyn Manson kind of singing, paired with the the non-chalantly, charmingly snotty attitude of a rebellious, young Joe Strummer (The Clash), and yet, the singing is also soulful at the same time. This singing style took me by total surprise – in the best way possible – because it makes this record sound really personal - like a songwriter’s album - which gives a creative contrast to the heavy intensity performed on the guitars and drums.
This contrast gets even more emphasized on the second song “Stag Beetle”, especially in the mid-part of the song, when Daniele takes his voice to the higher register: it almost sounds like Peter Hammill singing metal. This is a wonderful momentum and I think, Daniele could do this more often!
The intro of “Splattering Purple” sounds like a metal tango dance between guitar and drums and then it totally leaps forward into the heaviness of oldschool metal as we heard it on the tracks before, but with different stylistics. This tracks also introduces Daniele’s growling skills.
“Splattering Purple” is followed by the very intense and creative “The Unreal Skyline”, which is my personal favourite track on this record. There are moments on this song which remind me a bit of the first record of Stone Sour. This track is really dark and rich in sound.
“Like When It’s Raining Outside” is the longest track on the record (7:36 minutes), a very interesting, colourful song – revealing the arranging skills of Daniele. Then comes the maybe heaviest and angriest song of them all, called “Fanculo Mondo”, featuring Daniele’s maybe thrashiest guitar playing and also a lot more of his growl skills. The last track “From a Tight Angle” summarizes the “peculiar metal nostalgia”, as I would describe this record, into one big final crescendo before “Flying Stags” leaves its listener in the aftershock of an “ecstatic astonishment”.

“Flying Stag” is a bold album, skilfully played, but never ostentatious. Total headbang-material, oldschool metal and punk spirit with unconventional songwriting – a combination which makes this record so astonishing and almost, as I mentioned it before, a bit peculiar. At the same time, “Flying Stag” is a very honest and personal album of a versatile musician, who already walked a long journey of many different stylistic paths in music, and who is courageous and mature enough - as a songwriter as well as a guitarist - to insert experience and skills without bragging – and yet, without understatement either. His own musical language is balanced, rich and always present through all seven tracks. The album is very saturated in sound and ideas, but it never sounds like “too much”. And best of it all: it absolutely NEVER gets boring! It’s an album I loved to listen from the beginning to the end, four times in a row. The only thing I missed sometimes was the depths in the sound spectrum, due to the absence of bass, I guess – but maybe it’s also just my listening habits and my personal love for low frequencies.
I am sure, the musicians had a lot of fun playing this music, this is obvious and a pleasure to hear. A big compliment from my side to the two musicians, Daniele Brusaschetto and Alberto “Mono” Marietta, who involve the listeners with their attention and curiosity from the beginning to the end. Absolutely recommended!