Friday, July 3, 2020
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Artist: First Aid 4 Souls (@)
Title: Beyond The Galaxy
Format: CD
Label: Electro Arc (@)
Rated: *****
The motley milkshake of influences (I could mention Velvet Acid Christ, Infected Mushroom, Chemical Brothers, Skinny Puppy, The Young Gods, Front Line Assembly and other acts from techno and old-school electro-industrial scene) which could be distinguished in the sonic cauldron by Hungarian electronic project First Aid 4 Souls, led by Istvan Gazdag, doesn't make it a sort of clone and the rising acclaim by many electro followers outside Hungarian boundaries, which are often unwilling to hail new bands when they're not somehow original or when ladling by some "exotic" new act sounds too closer to an act of plundering, could be a clue of the genuineness of their style, which focuses on a sturdy mixture of retro-futuristic cyber sounds, acidolous melodic lines which got erected on fierce psy-trance and electro sonorities, hammering drums, heavy guitar riffs, blunting bleeps, sci-fi atmospheres where the threshold between bogus and reality is very thin and meaningful lyrics, which quotes contemporary delusions, concerns and dreams of an altered world where the more or less obtrusive or deviated relations between biological and technological sound pivotal and inspiring. On the occasion of this new chapter whose title "Beyond The Galaxy" could be confused with the advertising campaign related to the launch of some new technological device by Samsung, Istvan grafts seven different voices into his electronic grounds, which sounds more aggressive on the first half of the release before veering towards IDM and ambient-oriented tracks on the second half. The robotic agnition of the initial "Gemini" (I think it's the fourth or fifth release which starts with a track titled "Gemini" this year...), the genetical adulteration screamed by Balazs Frank on a wall of distorted guitars, demanding lyrics and swirling beats of "Alien Implant", the nervous electric flurries of "Visitors", the breath-holding speedups on the pressing thinking caps superbly interpreted by Vikki Ricci on "Brave New World", the electric shocks of the meaningful "Chaos Cultist" are some of the better moments of the aggressive side of "Beyond The Galaxy", while the blinding beams of an everlasting night sung by Mark Dufield on the enthralling "Here Comes The Light", the lulling astral bleeps and the icy warmth of Linda Daemon's voice of "Vimana Grha", the obscure steaming engine and the disturbed vocal broadcast by Aaron Russell (Impurfekt) from some interfering netherworld on "Quiddity" and the immersion into an ocean of ice-cold silicon steel and the crystalline emotionalism of "Android" counterbalance the scorching hot side of the release with more relaxed, slow-paced but likewise meaningful tunes. Heartstrings "cyberism" with emotional and rhythmical primers.

Artist: Elizabeth Hoffman (@)
Title: Interieurs harmoniques
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
Even if "Interieurs harmoniques" is officially her debut album, it's quite clear since the first seconds of listening that NYC-based composer Elizabeth Hoffman is not a callow improviser and the fact her solo-release comes out on Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes, one of the most appreciated in the field of electroacoustics and acousmatics by many demanding followers of the genre, is fairly meaningful. Once the listener can easily ascertain her skillfulness in modelling mainly percussive sounds, related to her passion for electroacoustics, which has been accrued over many years of academic background, the most remarkable aspect of Elizabeth's sound maybe lies in the fey facets of her visionary (lasting about ten minutes each) sound collages. Listener's imagination immediately meets its match in the intial (and most recently recorded) track "Resonants", where the seducing texture of bells, glockenspiel and cymbals seems to echo back listener's phosphenes after closing eyes and the following movement could be associated to a fictitious pebble nearby the rail in the act of listening the coming, the arrival and the departure of a train in the subway. This imaginary ear-transplant or cochlear implant into a molecular entity could be imagined while listening to "Water Spirits" - listeners could easily think about the vicissitudes of a water particle since the moment it arrives on earth from a storm cloud, which travels across conduits, sewer pipes, sinks, entrails and viscera afterwards - and "Songstressed" - its listening could let you think about microphones on a particle of dust which during its mishaps falls into a bird's syrinx! -. Similarly fictional microscopic journey could be inspired by remaining tracks: "Allamuchy" reminded the initial track of Autistici's "Beneath Peaks" I recently reviewed due to the recordings of different moments (including a nap), which have supposedly been recorded in the natural set of Allamuchy wood in New Jersey, while "D-ness" sounds like the sonic translation of some emotional set which could'nt be explained but through sounds. The effected squeaks and every tessereas of the sonic mosaic of the final "Soundendipities", which costantly sounds on the edge of a cliff, closes this interesting listening experience with a sinister note of acousmatic self-irony indeed!

Artist: Obtane, Giorgio Gigli, Milton Bradley (@)
Title: The Dark Thoughts Of Fate's Manufacturer
Format: 12"
Label: Zooloft (@)
Distributor: Rubadub
Rated: *****
A record entitled The Dark Thoughts of Fate's Manufacturer should necessarily feature a sinister and obscure sound, but this act by Giorgio Gigli and Obtane displays more than just some gloomy sonic shoddy goods. The narrative set evoked by the title could properly stimulate the imagination of some listener who believes in conspirational theories, but manages to sprinkle this release with magic powder, which give the possibility to contextualize it better. The usage of subterranean industrial sounds (giving the illusion of walking inside a thermal nuclear implant) blindstiched to a sort of visceral rumbling by some perfect bass cuts and a propelling step in the initial "You Can't Hide Yourself" and the disquieting ambient Zooloft guys assembled while remixing a track by Milton Bradley (not the famous toy industrialist, but one man behing the small but interesting label Do Not Resist The Beat, together with Dj Zeal, as well as autheor of the project The End Of All Existence), entitled Escaped From The Dark, reminded to me a sort of mixture between the seminal techno-industrial by Riou Tomita, the most experimental side of acid techno and detroit style, with some other casual cross-reference marks, such as that sort of laser beam/siren in the above-mentioned remix, who's quite close to the one Future Sound Of London used in Accelerator. Good musical food for dystopian stomachs and ears.

METACOMPLEX: Polymer Matrix

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Title: Polymer Matrix
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Binalog Productions (@)
Distributor: Juno Download
Rated: *****
'Polymer Matrix' is the first MetaComplex release for Binalog Productions. For this single, Tamas Olejnik included three good tracks which have robotics rhythms and sidereal atmospheres. The single opens with the title track "Polymer Matrix". The tune has a Detroit flavor thanks to its spacey leads and powerful analog bass lines. "Implanted Soul" showcases robotic rhythms, sidereal pads and bouncy fat bass lines. "Polymer Matrix II" closes the single with more syncopated rhythms and ice-cold melodies. MetaComplex did a great job with all of these tracks and they are all very enjoyable. If you love Detroit and Miami electro be sure to check this out!
(Proofread by Johan Sebastian Bot)

Artist: Front Line Assembly (@)
Title: Improvised Electronic Device
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Records
Rated: *****

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So FLA have a new album out which hardcore fans already know, and most probably already have. The member roster for 'Improvised Electronic Device' is similar to that on 'Artificial Solder' sans Rhys Fulber, with Jared Slingerland moving out of the auxiliary role and into membership status, as much a member as anyone can be in FLA besides Bill Leeb, without whom there would be no Front Line Assembly. Chris Peterson and Jeremy Inkel are back for another tour of duty.

The album begins with a typical FLA industrial atmospheric opening on the title track before charging across the battlefield of musical malevolence. Staccato martial industrial guitar drives home the opening salvo of Leeb's dystopian vision in his typical fashion. A few rounds of piano triplets adds a little novelty, but this isn't anything you haven't heard before from FLA. In fact, quite a bit of 'IED' is recycled from the band's bag of tricks employed on previous albums. You'll hear echoes of 'Civilization' on the beginning of 'Angriff'. The track takes a while to pick up steam but when it does, it's as hard as Rammstein. More varied vocal processing and Leeb's 'Deutsche stimme' makes it so, and there is plenty of neat programmed percussion to fill in the gaps. Yet I can't help but feel that I've heard parts of this song elsewhere, definitely modified but all too familiar. 'Hostage' ups the BPM to a pace somewhere between 'Unleashed' and 'Buried Alive,' and in fact, it is so reminiscent of the material on 'Artificial Soldier' you'll find yourself wondering if you haven't heard this song before. Unfortunately, the track depends on a descending progression for its hook, and not much else (although there are plenty of other elements in it, as usual with FLA.)

'Release' slows it down a bit and has a classic early FLA chorus dredging up memories of 'Hardwired' and 'Tactical Neural Implant' yet beefed up with a lot more abrasive power. 'As I watch this life disappear, salvation is my only fear. Underneath where it all has to end, echoing sound of hell never ends.' Uh huh. Well Leeb will never be mistaken for a poet laureate. 'Shifting Through the Lens' has a catchy techno synth sequence as its predominant feature, and vocoder vocals. It's kind of a one-and-a-half trick pony, but ought to be a good dance floor mover. 'Laws of Deception' reminds of 'Dopemine' from 'Artificial Soldier' combined with 'Surface Patterns' from 'Millennium' but sounds too derivative to be as good as either of them. Heavy Neubattenish industrial drums herald 'Pressure Wave' and although the track isn't particularly outstanding, it's adequate with metal power.

'Afterlife' has a Diabolo-esque (the game) guitar intro and is the closest thing here to a ballad, and a power ballad at that. It is also one of the best songs on the album. The theme and introspection is reminiscent of 'Everything Must Perish'. 'Stupidity' features Al Jourgensen on vocals and sounds like'¦Ministry. A no-brainer. What else would you expect? Seems as though FLA are keen of late on having album guests, but in the context of this album it doesn't make a lot of sense. It's all industrial speed metal, not the kind of stuff you ever hear from FLA. Maybe the intent was to pick up a few disenfranchised Ministry fans. Maybe Jourgey had nothing better to do, but Bill, I implore you- please, please don't let him join the band. One track is enough to last me a lifetime.

'Downfall' is the final track on the physical CD version (more on that soon) and as is typical with last tracks on FLA albums, it's quite atmospheric, but also with beats, melody and samples. It's good to hear they're still doing this kind of stuff. Now if you actually bought the CD, you'll be cheated out of the last two tracks ' 'Day of Violence' and 'Attack the Masses' which are only available by download. Personally, I think that sucks. The CD is more expensive than the download. If you have to pay more, you ought to get more. This is the FIRST Front Line Assembly album I've ever acquired through download (I'd much prefer having the physical CD) only because I was not going to be cheated out of the last two tracks, and they're worth having. 'Day of Violence' has great atmosphere, sweeping strings, cool synth sequences, vocoded vocal, a catchy chorus, the works. 'Attack the Masses' is heavy-duty electro-industrial at its finest. To not have these tracks would just be sad.

This may not be FLA's best album, and might disappoint a few fans but overall, is pretty solid. There are elements that might seem clichéd by now (that dark future you keep prophesizing is here already) and the transition from 'Artificial Soldier' to 'IED' isn't as dramatic as from 'Civilization' to 'Artificial Soldier' was, but Front Line fans will just about get their money's worth, considering the dollar ain't worth what it used to be.


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