Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Black Scorpio Underground – Attica : Electro Industrial / Experimental

Reviewed by Gird_09

The first thing that strikes me when I open the cover to stuff the cd into my player is the alchemical imagery. Presumably a rendition of a cosmological model complete with the three alchemical processes and astrological symbols – as well as a whole lot more it would take me more effort to interpret. It's a good way to tickle my curiosity.

I'm a bit disappointed when I hear the Hitler sample on Acid Fascist. It's a bit overdone, and I'm certain I've heard this particular speech in atleast three different tracks. But this initial scepticism is rapidly vanquished by the power and energy of the track. It's a thumper, put simply. The juxtaposition of Hitler and Leary is also interesting in its own way. Not sure if it's the way that's intended, but it does make me smile. Something about different forms of totalitarianism.

In general I'm often reminded of Skinny Puppy from the Too Dark Park / Last Rights era. The methodology is certainly reminiscent of Goettel's audio sculptures (sadly something they've abandoned or failed at since his death) and the choice of samples and the way they are processed is pure electro industrial at its peak. There's also other stuff here, and BSU manages to mix genres in a compelling way. Skinny Puppy is supplemented by smatterings of Syd Barret and Nurse With Wound – there's even some Death in June in there... Old school as we like to say.

The tracks are mostly consistent in terms of style. Blessed B the Little Children sounds a bit out of place, but it's a good break – and good albums should have a break. Too many people create albums thinking they are collections of single tracks and pay little heed to the album as a conceptual whole. This is not the case with this one. It has that well considered dramaturgy an album should have. It progresses through the tracks and builds something towards the end. I like that.

This is a form of music I rarely hear these days, and I have missed it. Not sure it's the most original album, but it's certainly not the most derivative either. There aren't too many leaves on this particular branch anymore, and very few of them are as brilliantly green as the Black Scorpio Underground.

2009, CD Album,

1 Acid Fascist [4:14]
2 Artificial Infestation [4:54]
3 Eulogy Satanis [5:16]
4 Blessed B the Little Children [4:21]
5 Chant ov Dreams [2:22]
6 Digital Whore [3:40]
7 the Rise of the Magus [2:49]
8 Blood in my Dreams [5:11]
9 War Mantra [4:46]
10 I Saw You Dead [2:18]
11 Revolutionation [3:14]
12 Ambient 23 [4:43]
13 NYC1970 [2:08]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sektor 304 – Soul Cleansing – Industrial. Experimental

Review by Batcheeba.

What do you get if you hot wire early Einstürzende, say Strategien Gegen Architektur, to a pissed of homicidal robot, say Mark 13 from Hardware? Throw in some old school black metalish inspired vocals too and you will end up with Sektor 304.
It's that good. I don't really know where to begin with this review, as I want to say it all at once. This is beyond amazing. This release needs to be in your collection. And it's certainly off the normal Malignant path.

Sektor 304 is João Filipe Pais and André Coelho. And together these two create a whole new industrial experimental metal heaven. I'm so blown away it's ridiculous. They list power tools and metal junk to the list of instruments, and hell yes I'm so thrilled to hear someone actually banging away at real metal for once, instead of using fucking soft synth for everything. This my, dear readers, is proper hard core. What I really love is that they manage to combine the old school industrial rawness with more contemporary electronic sounds. And it works like you would not believe. On top of that you have the vocals. At times brutal screaming, at times eerie and threatening and subtle. All this is accompanied by rhythmic drums and a haunting drone inspired soundscape, yet surprisingly melodic at times. Think Tetsuo at it's most desperate and brutal, think Ichi the killer at it's most fucked up moments. There you have it: Sektor 304.
I have to mention the mastering done by the legendary J. Stillings (Steel Hook Studios/ Steel Hook Prosthesis). This smells of his to the point, no bullshit style. I'm a huge fan of his work, and this is just yet another star for him. Excellent choice to have Stillings master this release. Perfect fit.

I can only imagine what these guys would sound like live. My experience is that proper industrial like this always kills any live gig. If they bring even a fraction of the energy from this release to stage, it has to be pretty fucking mind blowing to watch. I'm one of those people who find hard core industrial noise like this to be meditative. If it's quality noise, I feel relaxed. And I feel relaxed.
The track titles should also have some attention, as they really are so spot on for this release. With titles such as Body Hammer, Voodoo Machine, Death Mantra and Blood Rush, the primitive and brutal force almost tears it's way into your head. The vibe is of post apocalyptic warriors. It is indeed very sexual. At least I am a little turned on.

The cover is also a real gem. From the moment you lay your eyes on it you know you are in for a brutal experience. Black, red and white 6 panel digipack, with a threatening minimalist design. Skulls, war paint, voodoo vibes and an overall primitive theme pulls this release together in a brilliant way.

There is really nothing left to say besides buy this CD. You need it. It's a brutal fist in your face, and you need it.

2010, CD Album, Malignant Records

Track list:

1: Body Hammer
2:Gravity Factor
3: Voodoo Machine
4: Pulse Generator
5: The Beast
6: Power Exhange
7: Blood Rush
8: Death Mantra
9: Final Transmission

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Phelios - Astral Unity. Dark ambient, drone, isolationism

Review by Batcheeba

I've been having a drought period when it comes to writing reviews. And I will admit that upon reading the info on Phelios release I released a slight sigh. More drone/dark ambient whatever I thought to myself. I press play and that negative first impression is wiped away within seconds.
This is not the run of the mill material we see so much of these days, this is very different.

Phelios is a one man band orchestrated by Martin Stuertzer, and he has 5 releases, counting this one, to his name. Astral Unity released in 2010 is his first on Malignant.

Astral Unity is unmistakeably dark, but it's an intelligent and mature darkness. I can hear the thought process behind the tracks, making this release stand out in a sea of mindless and meaningless music in this genre. I don't hear references to horror films, I hear references to literature, art, philosophy and existentialism. Where most artists in these genres try to create a dark and hollow atmosphere that does not exist besides their own head, Phelios takes us on a tour of downtown Detroit or Berlin.
This is industrial in the concrete sense of the word, it's tactile and organic. And very real. I can relate. That it always a good sign.

Even though the title of this release may fool you into thinking you're in for an out of body experience, it will not fuck with your aura or anything like that. Phelios' Astral Unity is an extremely grounded form of astral journey. No need to leave your body. Feel the asphalt under your feet as you walk. Phelios has intention and direction. Destination complete.

What stands out with this release is the subtle rhythmic beats, the mesmerizing soundscapes, the composition is best described as a prolonged exhalation. The tracks flow in and out of each other creating a seamless experience for the listener. The tracks are between 5-8 minutes and they could actually be even longer. I applaud Stuertzer for his patience and ability to minimize the sounds and still create such a vast space of aural communication. Combining vague folk elements with music concrete is also very interesting. The old school synth elements with a touch of 70's italian prog thrown into it in the last track Cold Unity, is simply brilliant! I would love more of that! This is my fav track from this release. It stands out, in a good way though.

I have to mention the stunning cover. With its 6 panel digipack with gold foil stamping this is really beautifully executed design. The art is a rather dark take on the trippy covers your would expect from a psy trance band. With it's black, gold and brown images of a star cloud, this is truly stunning and a perfect match for the content.

I am tempted to say this would be a perfect film score, but actually Astral Unity is the perfect music for literature. The soundscape Stuertzer has created with this release actually makes me interested in his previous releases. And that takes a lot for a bitter old woman like my self. Cred for that. I'm impressed.

Country: Germany.

Track list:

1 Astral Unity
2 Astral Visions
3 Mindcontrol
4 Deadspace
5 Voyager
6 Origin
7 Cloud sector ß
8 Cold unity

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Choronzon : Ziggurat of Dead Shibboleths - Electronic / Experimental / Industrial Metal / Progressive Metal / occult

Reviewed by Gird_09

New material from Choronzon is always exciting, and this particular album has been long anticipated. We've done reviews of Choronzon here earlier and my enthusiasm for the project has certainly not diminished since then.

If you're familiar with the band's style this album won't come as a surprise to you. It's dark, eclectic and edgy, with a basis in metal and progressive music. The album manages to contain both the hallucinatory and lengthy the Dead, and tracks based in more traditional metal in way that never seems forced. From the get go it's a bit heavier than I'd expect, and the album starts off forcefully and goes right for the kill. I like that.

As with all of Choronzon's work this is full of references, and occult references in particular. A ziggurat is ritual structure similar to a pyramid (or even more like a kofun), but found in Mesopotamia, while Shibboleth refers to a biblical story. The exact meaning of the album title eludes me at the moment, but the juxtaposition of the two terms certainly triggers my curiosity. Perhaps the album is a sort of altar on which no longer valid practices of differentiation are sacrificed. Hell if I know. Interpreting the work to it's full extent is way beyond this review though.

The occult references in titles like The Great Work, and the Revealing is even more evident. I've claimed that Choronzon's music is apocalyptic both in the latter world-ending meaning, as well as the original revelatory meaning – and that's a claim I stand by. All you need to be convinced is a listen to the track the Dead, and you're sold.

It's no secret that I laud P. Emerson Wiliams' vocals any chance I get but I have to say that this album represents an apex so far. His voice is more focused than earlier, and the darker content of the music is expertly carried over by the vocals. Cos, have no doubt, this album is very dark. Darker than what I expected in fact, and with more overt metal roots than we've heard from Choronzon for quite some time now. Listen to the guitars on Monoliths Down or the speed metal riffing on Spacedust to Spacedust, and you'll see what I mean. This shift towards heavier music is welcome, but Choronzon retains its mystical roots and strange blend of styles as well. Love it.

It's hard to compare the music to anything else, so I'm not going to. Suffice to say that it's progressive occult electronic metal, and you really need to check it out if you can. I have to say, that this is my favorite album by Choronzon so far. I'm not kidding. It's that good. Three thumbs up!

USA, Inner-X-Musick, CD album, 2010

1 Formula [4:33]
2 Identify the Patient [5:09]
3 Monoliths Down [4:29]
4 Ride Through the Night Sky [3:40]
5 Spacedust to Spacedust [6:04]
6 the Dead [10:30]
7 the Great Work [6:34]
8 the Revealing [6:21]
9 Wor Humana [6:19]
10 We Come Into Evening [5:25]
11 Ziggurat of Dead Shiboleths [3:12]

BSV : ARV – Experimental / Surreal

Reviewed by Gird_09

Let me start off by saying that this is a very eclectic and experimental album, with a wide range of styles crammed into a single recording. The tracks range from IDM, to Noise, to ambient and something akin to "traditional" early industrial music, and then it hits you with hip hop and even dub bass lines. It's very hard to say something general about the album except that it's all very experimental. The sounds are evidently sourced from a variety of sources and supplemented more or less randomly with musical compositions. At times it seems unfocused, but the music is strangely consistent in mood and arrangement. The theme feels well considered, but I'm not sure I can grasp it.

At times this music is pure pata, other times Aphex Twin on valium and ... Well, it's hard to say. For the fans of such music I'm sure this release is excellent, but I have to say I have a hard time finding it exciting personally. I love the way it sounds like a tape recording, and I love the complete lack of artistic compromise on it, but it doesn't do anything for me. I'd recommend this music to fans of Nurse With Wound, Caroliner Rainbow, Renaldo and the Loaf and similarly dissolved surreal music from bands I've never heard of. To me, personally, I think this kind of music is about as interesting as watching dogs poop.

I'm afraid this review is quite short, and doesn't do the album proper justice. If you're into old school experimental music I think this is for you, otherwise, just leave it alone. I know some people that would love this album.

I have to say though that there is no way for me to express how much I adore the hand made cover. I've sullied more than one wall with spray paint in my youth, and the low tech spray can hand made cover is very inspiring to me. If you're some kind of computer design elitist you're gonna hate it. But, uh, fuck off. It's excellent. (Apologies for the horrible scan.)

dubuque strange music society, 2010, CD Album

1 Unititled [2:04]
2 Unititled [2:44]
3 Unititled [4:00]
4 Unititled [3:00]
5 Unititled [2:12]
6 Unititled [3:16]
7 Unititled [3:52]
8 Unititled [1:44]
9 Unititled [3:10]
10 Unititled [12:11]
11 Unititled [3:07]