Scapesonik formed in the spring of 2002 by the brothers Pontus and Niklas Nelldal and the sisters Malin and Matilda Heimdahl. The members had earlier been 4/5ths of The Mourning After (do you remember the review I did of their MCD?) and Nick is also active with two other bands: Vision and NN. All these experiences allowed the band to prepare an astonishing five tracks demo titled "Demep" (which I suppose in Sweden is meaning "demo". Smart, eh?). The band has composed four tracks which contains sinuous atmospheres always in balance between new wave and synthpop (the fifth track is more a melancholic ballad and remember me a little the Abba) and I assure you that Scapesonik wouldn't fail into gathering new fans only if music channels would stop promoting crap. I found absolutely convincing tracks as "I'll Be Me" or "A Man With A Dog" which aren't upbeat tempos or dancey tunes but are capable of capture you in a subtle way. I only hope that they'll be able to find soon a record label that will produce an album because I'd be really curious into listening new tracks. Check their mp3 files and spread the word.
Spray are a band coming from England (land that is showing good electro acts again after years of shoe gazers; as NME called the guitar pop bands in early and mid nineties) and LIVING IN NEON is their second album. The first one has been released in 1998 for Stone The Kubist and was titled "On Air, Tonight". The band had also a couple of songs played various times by John Peel, the famous BBC's dj (for sure you own at least one record of a John Peel Session of one of your favorite bands). Formed by Jenny McLaren (on vocals) and Ricardo Autobahn (all the rest) Spray are the perfect example of modern synthpop band: powerful, melodic and someway danceable. Their tracks are always pumping and energetic (the album contains few ballads, if I can call them this way) and from the lyrics of "I'm Gothic" I may say that they have got also a good sense of humor, here's the song's refrain: "I am gothic / I am pale / I am scary / I'm insane / I'm a loner / I am cold / I feel special when people don't phone". "Child Of The 80s", "Brainiac", "I'm Gothic", "I Kill With My Car" are for sure songs that can catch the attention of different kinds of audience. As bonus you can also find remixed versions of "Child Of The 80s", "I'm Gothic" (check the "Freestone" version which is gothic indeed with the bass guitar that seems playing a Joy Division's song) and "Spaced". Check their mp3 at their website and wait for their new MCD which will include tracks from their "I Am Gothic" remix contest.
Alfa-Matrix offers a 4 in 1 concept of 4 CD singles on one full-length disc. Strictly limited to 2000 copies this release features singles by Aïboforcen, Epsilon Minus, Plastic Noise Experience, and Hungry Lucy from the Alfa-Matrix catalogue. While this is a unique format it seems to be an excellent way for a label to introduce their artists to new listeners and give something unique to fans outside the standard compilation album format and get more people to buy the singles, possibly. Aïboforcen stategically position themselves in the new generation of EBM fans with a combination of energetic rhythms and melodic female vocals. Here we have the "Testing New Waters" single, four tracks one of which features a mix by ArtOfFact Records' Headscan. Recommended tracks would be "Give Me These Wings" which features a bit of male vocal too and the Headscan mix which adds a bit or a darker feel with some trance elements to the song. Epsilon Minus, based in Canada, start with "Through" in which the vocals are very smooth and match the EBM-Trance/Synthpop based music texture perfectly. The "Freedom" mix by Angels & Agony has a bit of the latter band's musical elements and a slight lean toward minimalist synthpop. In all honesty the vocals are bit weak only in the first portion of the track but as the music builds to more of club-based rhythm the vocals are much stronger as is the track overall. That however is my only criticism for Epsilon Minus as Jenn's vocals kick on most tracks as she has a great voice with enough power and sensuality for this type of music format. This is extremely evident with the next track which is mixed by Massiv In Mensch, another ArtOfFact Records artist that rocks this genre. Lastly, we have the album mix of "Through" which is a bit quicker paced, an excellent song. Next on the list is Plastic Noise Experience who begins with "Clean Head", a track with lots of Noise elements but with a pulsing dance beat and harsh whispery vocals. A bit more hard-edge and dark than the previous artists Plastic Noise Experience show another side of Alfa-Matrix. PNE is Claus Kruse whose compositions are more of an EBM-Industrial format. Alfa-Matrix describes him as, "harsh vocals and a very distorted type of sounds with virulent vibrating melodies", which is right on target. This single also includes remixes of the same track by Pzycho Bitch and Implant. The Implant mix is a bit cleaner and more of an aggro flavor while the Pzycho Bitch mix takes us in the exact opposite direction with a slower pace and more of a Power Noise rock-n-rhythm. The other track by PNE is Mechanical Beatz which reminds me of old SPK with the female vocals similar to the more operatic stuff by Die Form. Lastly, is Hungry Lucy, a sort of trip-hop gothic EBM in which Christa's vocals are very smooth and harmonious and the beats throb with a rhythm you can't help but move to. I love that 'twisty' electronic sound in the first track "Her Song". One of these days I'm gonna figure out how that's done (War-n?). War-n does some amazing synth work on this project that utilizes many genre elements to help create a totally unique sound in my book. Everything from Techno, Euro-pop, Synthpop, Industrial, Gothic, EBM, Trip-Hop, and of course a host of other club styles meld together smoothly in this interesting project. Haunting and danceable at the same time - love it! "Fearful" features mixes by Aïboforcen (my fave mix on this one) and Implant. The song "Storm" drops us back into more of trip-hop feel likened to Portishead with vocals as smooth as Tori Amos and music with a dark/ethereal dance beat. Alf-Matrix brings some great new and original works to light in this first of the Sqaure Matrix series!
Misterious project coming from the Amon/Never Known's personal label, AFE Records. Famous for releasing high collectable and limited CDr albums AFE involved the misterious duo (even if I've got some ideas about who they are) into an important project consisting in two releases. The first has been their first album titled MUSIC FOR YOUR HOLIDAYS and the latter is the colossal "Teddy Bear Remix Project" which consisted into a boxset of four CDs ltd. to 100 numbered copies with pro-printed artwork and gadgets. It contains 64 versions of Wolkspurz & Ramirez's original title track created by some 60 musicians and djs from all over the world and covers each and every known (...and unknown...) style of electronic music from Synth-Pop to Click'n'Cuts through Ambient, Noise, Minimal Electronica, Computer Music, Techno, etc. All this for a total playing time of over 280 minutes. "Teddy Bear" is the only song with vocals of the whole album and it's a synthpop track with a touch of melancholy. The other fourteen tracks are electronic extravaganza influenced by twenty years of analog experimentation. Something that goes to early Kraftwerk to modern techno passing through launge and Jean Micheal Jarre's music. Tracks like "Move Your Feet" crawl insidious between insane melodies and dark atmospheres just to leave the place giving space to the 60's atmospheres a la Peter Gunn of "Grune Zwiebeln". Each track has got something different from the other ones and explore new genres remaining loyal to the duo's style. If you are looking for something different to listen to, Wolkspurz And Ramirez are here to stay. Check the label's website to taste their music.
Telegraphic is the new debut album by the new synthpop band Axoe featuring Evan Sornstein of the band Battery. Battery was known in the 90's for their signature melodic industrial and powerful female vocals. For Axoe Evan has teamed up with vocalist Patrick O'Connor to create new electro-pop. Axoe draws on a combination new wave, synthpop, smooth ebm, and 'new romantic'. One thing they are not is copycat of previous new wave and synthpop bands of the past. Axoe brings their own unique style and musical blend to the genre with a heavier lean toward the 'new romantic' mood I think. Telegraphic is an impressive release especially considering that this is self released by the band and not with the help of a label. Of course with modern technology this is becoming easier all the time. However, Axoe is not about to forget their friends and lists individuals like Shannon (Metropolis Records), Kevin Archibald (Dystopian Records), David Friede (Cohaagen Music), David Richards (NinthWave Records), and Todd Durrant (A Different Drum) in their special thanks; all individuals who are strong forces for the promotion of new and independent music and excellent people as I've come to know them myself through my work here and with Latex Records. One of the things I really like about this CD is the subtle variance they use to create the variance of mood which always makes for a good release. While much of the album has a 'romantic' feel to it I especially like the synth work on "Waiting" where there is a bit more of a grind to it. Oddly they do this without losing the melodramatic mood at all. This sounds like an album I expect to grow on me more with every listen sort of like Hednoize's "Searching for the End". However unlike the mentioned release Axoe has a much softer and 'moody' sound that is unique to them.