Hard-Wired Electronica Reviews
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Artist
Glis
Title
Phoenix
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Electronica
Date of review
1st March 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
gLIS
On his first release in nearly eight years, Sean Frandsen has paid homage to the music from his youth & translated these influences into a varied & at times, unusual album. The label blurb was keen to emphasise its post-punk appeal but he actually incorporates a wide range of influences into the 14 original tracks, from the cosmic excursion that is ‘Watch Over You’ where the serene synths & expanded guitars take you into space, through to the 70s-style rock of ‘Keep The Memory’ which builds from an abstract opening into its laidback main theme that is embellished by treated saxophone before collapsing into a krautrock-like melange of swirling, mutated sounds that resembles Faust & early Kraftwerk. Keeping with the 70s influence, ‘Seconds’ sounds like a cross between Hawkwind’s Silver Machine, complete with VCS3-style synth gurgles & Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart while ‘Death By Misadventure’ seems to be made up of two unrelated pieces, starting out as a Tangerine Dream-like mix of pitch-bending synths, chords & abstract overtones before transforming into an old-school-flavoured slice of industrial electro. It’s an unusual mixture for one track to have but it keeps the listener guessing, if nothing else while, just to underline the variety still further ‘Coldheart Tempo’ is given almost surreal air by the mix of bittersweet pastoral electronica & abstract effects that come more to the fore as the track progresses. It’s a combination that shouldn’t work but does, wonderfully so, in this case. In places, he not only pays homage to the musical styles but sets them in the context of the memories they evoke, witness the chaotic, constantly changing mix of styles that forms the opening ‘Apocalypse Parties’ which is a mix of lo-fi punk & up-tempo electro & which is rounded off with a 90s-style slice of electro. No doubt, these form the memories of parties he went to back in the day (perhaps the slightly muffled sound at times indicates he got lucky & was in the bedroom on top of a pile of coats!!!) although the version which is ‘Trashed’ by Elliot Berlin & which is sort of ‘tacked on’ at the end comes closest to fulfilling that post-punk promise. Similarly, the scratch effects that evoke an old 78 on ‘Burned Up’ & the projector sound that underscores ‘Reprise The Way You’re Fallin’’ no doubt make this an even more nostalgic trip for the artist. Elsewhere there are more straightforward musical homages such as the soft rock of ‘Blue Sky Night’ which seems to indicate our fella was a bit of a Pat Benatar fan at one stage or ‘Take It This Far’ which evokes the shoegazing styles of the 90s with some effective vocals from Lauren Krothe, whose contribution proves another ace in the hole as she puts in an ethereal Kate Bush-like performance on ‘Stars In The Sea’ where the waves mix with a dream-like musical palette to create a wonderfully sublime piece with a slightly offbeat air that really evokes its title. But if you just fancy an infectious danceable number then look no further than the preceding ‘Crush’ & which evokes the 80s styles with another hint of psychedelia for good measure. Whilst this is no doubt an album that means a great deal to the artist the fact that it is so deeply personal & contains such a wide range of styles might cause some feelings of bemusement for anybody else but it is a novel & intriguing release which proves he does at least have good musical taste!


 

Artist
Encephalon
Title
The Transhuman Condition
Format/Cat
CD mind 188
Label
Dependent
Style
Electronica
Date of review
15th August 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
Since the glory days of VNV & Covenant it seems to be a widely-held opinion that Dependent 's best days are behind them but, as this debut album from the Canadian trio of Matt Gifford, Sam Meinar & Allis Alias proves, they're still able to sniff out exciting new talent & have uncovered an absolute corker here as these 12 tracks manage to sound accessible & yet at the same time fresh & inventive. It's a trick they've pulled off simply by refusing to stick to any easy genre limitations; anything can happen here but they're always able to maintain the perfect blend between the traditional & the more leftfield. Furthermore, the album's varied nature means that no one track is really indicative of their sound in itself; for, example, if you only heard the punchy & compact title track or the excellently danceable 'Drop Dead' you'd think you had an easy albeit superior future-pop album on your hands while 'Human Shield' might lead one to think it was a lighter slice of industrial metal with the synthleads that follow hinting at a Numan influence. Elsewhere, 'A Lifetime Of Puppetry' shows their more electronica-flavoured leanings with a combination of thoughtful rhythms & emotive piano work before the track speeds up & transforms into the album's most overtly aggressive offering while 'The Killing Horizon' combines some lute-like sounds, light rhythmic flavouring & mournful strings with a whispered voice that seeps into the music like a gas, providing a contrast to the mood elsewhere & showing what results when the band really flex their creative muscle. The fact is, though, that the album touches all these bases & more & is never predictable although one of the more consistent facets is the strong, full-sounding melodies that crop up throughout & which, along with a purposeful & resonant bass line & rhythmic base, make 'Rise' an excellent opener that totally hooks you first time of listening while the soaring riff that forms the basis of 'Marianna's Trench' feels almost mountainous in its effect & sets the scene for another excellent track that seems to fill the room with its magic, as does the closing 'Past The Grave' where the slower pace again allows the listener to immerse themselves in the varied textures. Fellow Canucks & label mates Dismantled, along with Famine, join in the fun on another danceable track 'Face First' &, aside from some of the former's distinctive cut-up effects, it's hard to see what their presence achieves & the fact it is yet another winner is more a sign of the excellence that the band themselves are so clearly capable of, something they prove time & time again on this superb album.


 

Artist
Diskonnekted
Title
Hotel Existence
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Electronica
Date of review
7th June 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
Diskonnekted, under the aegis of Jan DeWulf has, in the past, always seemed capable of producing a distinctive style that is accessible & yet, thanks to the addition of more varied styles that draw on a wider variety of electronic music genres, truly more adventurous &, indeed, each of his previous releases has done this to some extent but then always seemed to lose their nerve & opt instead for a more straightforward electro style that was enjoyable enough but never reached its full potential for those reasons. This, however, has all changed with this latest release which sees him finally fulfilling his more adventurous leanings with a set of tracks that mix good old-fashioned song writing with an inventive yet always accessible style that takes the poppier side of modern electronica to new levels of excellence while incorporating a whole range of musical influences & maintaining a more organic, human feel in the process. Witness the guitar work that adds a definite 80s gothic twist to the opening 'Yesteryears' & the slower 'To Have And To Hold' which builds into a pleasingly full-blooded number while 'Razorsharpshhooter' shouldfind favour with anyone who remembers with affection the days of rave from later that same decade with a lively mood that is hard to resist. Carrying on in this 'anything could happen' mindset, the excellent 'Justify' goes for a more dirty feel that harks back to the 90s with some choppy Prodigy-like breakbeat effects providing the propulsion for more fine guitar work & soaring synths on a quite superb track (although the shorter version, which initially seemed to be included with a view to getting played in more forward-thinking trad goth clubs is just a short interlude &, in the end, adds up to nothing much) while 'Sunblind' similarly mixes synthleads that have a flavour of Gary Numan about them with more modern rhythms. It's mixtures like these that are the album's strong point & this is proven again on what is another fine piece. Similarly, the voice effects that herald 'Stuck In One Universe' bring Fat Boy Slim to mind & the piece develops into a nicely funky number while the pounding rhythms & scything guitars that grace 'Hotel Existence' are the closest the album comes to metal but providing a startling contrast is the appropriately downbeat & lonely-sounding 'Empty' & is yet another facet of this varied album. For all the variety, though, they never go off the deep end or become too outlandish although it does come close during 'Dark Place' which features GNY & is an intriguing mix of moods as the initially bittersweet feel borne by the piano & strings is then transformed into a maelstrom of fucked-up, fractured beats & head-wringing effects that continue to crop up even once it settles into its more reflective but pacey electronica-lite mode; it's certainly an unexpected turn of events which, in many ways is what the album is about &, while it might take some getting used to, it's an intriguing, thought-provoking number that might be a 'love it or hate it' number, still, better that than a 'ho hum' reaction, wouldn't you say? This album is proof that when electronic music is freed of genre limitations some truly great things can happen, it's full of twist & turns so that you're never really sure what's coming next but, whatever it is, it never fails to please & to excite, this is one must-have release


 

Artist
Essence Of Mind
Title
Indifference
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Electronica
Date of review
7th June 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
By moving on from the straightforward electro sound of their earlier days & expanding into a four piece with the addition of drummer Kristian G, this third album sees Norway's Essence Of Mind reaping the benefits with a harder, more varied sound that mixes electro-pop & rock elements with more electronica-like flavours whilst not forgetting that, at the heart of it all, it's all about good songwriting. They do, of course, achieve this throughout & the album as a whole is certain to gain them new fans as they're not afraid to move into what are, for them, totally new areas when the situation demands. Take the industrial-strength slice of electronica that is 'Desperate Times' that could well appeal to Combichrist lovers those who enjoy rock's more forward-looking bands should find much to enjoy in the action-packed 'No Denial' as well as the more delicate 'Retreat' which borders on Zeromancer territory although the ever-present electronics ensure that both tracks retain the essential EOM stamp. That there is always so much going on pays off in time & time again as they are quite clearly at the height of their powers in terms of creativity & good, old-fashioned excitement, to the extent that even the short intro that is 'The Opening' has enough power & grit that it could easily have been developed into an excellent full-length track but, as it is, it's left to the excellent 'It's Killing You' to kick the album off in earnest & what a kick it provides with its solid electro foundation being ignited by the powerful guitars that transform the track into a scorching affair with appropriately gritty vocals that any rock band would be proud to lay claim to & which are a major step forward in themselves while the following 'Indifference' goes for an even more authentic mood with a real count-in & what sounds like real acoustic percussion, just to really set the scene. But if that sounds like too much then the new-wave-styled electro of 'Some Kind Of Entertainment' or the poppy, 80s-flavoured 'Aldri Mer' might appeal more as could 'In The Night' where some fine piano riffs are embellished by martial rhythms & harmonised vocals which make for a grandiose & uplifting number while the closing 'In Line' again sees them playing to their strengths, adding some unexpected rhythmic effects as it winds the album down on a slightly more subdued note & again proving that they've truly perfected the balance of writing fine songs that are always adventurous but never too clever for their own good & varied without losing sight of their electronic roots; if they can continue further in this vein then the sky could be the limit for them.


 

Artist
Stray
Title
Letting Go
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Electronica
Date of review
1st May 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
Given the uncompromising style that Erica Dunham became famous for with the unleashing of Unter Null a few years back, a lot of people seemed to approach the more melodic style of Stray with some trepidation. However, there has always been a somewhat ambient side to Unter Null that everyone seemed to miss so these differences were always less startling that they might have been anyway & with the recent widening of the Unter Null sound, the two acts seem to have transformed into different sides of the same coin. The inclusion of a 'cover' of the UN track 'The Failure Epiphany' makes this link more explicit still, were it needed as both explore different musical avenues of a similar emotional nature, focusing on the end of a relationship & the feelings of grief, anger, betrayal, despair & ultimately hope that comes in the wake of this. Dunham's voice is well able to evoke all these emotions with a delivery that is never less than compelling whether the vocals are acting more like an additional layer in the rich tapestries of sound during 'Remember Me' or 'Let Me Go' or taking a more commanding role that matches the defiant lyrics of the rhythmic 'Out Of Place' where. In matching the music's expressive qualities, she shows what a truly wonderful vocalist she is. These facets are evident right from the off as 'Surround Me To Passage D' heralds the beginning of this emotional ride with a carpet of rich sounds providing a sumptuous yet bittersweet backdrop for some almost classical-styled piano & some melting motifs which seem to almost drift through the musical landscape. It's such a startlingly beautiful piece that the one moment of dissonance, which sounds like a bum note but must have been intentional, is totally jarring, no two ways about it & should have been got rid of. From here on in, however, the music can hardly be faulted as the artist opens her heart & exposes the full extent of her hurt, an unremitting pain that the latter part of the album does actually ease slightly as, following the pairing of 'Low & Lower' where the strangely innocent piano lays the foundation for another rich but utterly reflective piece & the darker '31 And Falling' which lacks the clarity the other pieces possess & comes across as somewhat dirge-like in the process & which seem to mark an emotional nadir, there is a ray of hope in the strong sequence line that, despite the mournful piano opening, gives the penultimate 'Obsolete' a more assertive edge, as if the artist is gaining the strength to claw her way back to a state of emotional well-being, a feeling that is even more evident during the closing 'Miles From Here', the rhythmic feel of which, whilst initially seeming not to do justice to the dramatic premise of the opening & suffering somewhat from a rather sudden fade-out, does end the album on a more hopeful note that will surely resonate with anyone who has suffered that most human curse, a broken heart.


 

Artist
Black Heaven
Title
Dystopia
Format/Cat
CD TRI 443 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Electro
Date of review
28th February 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6.5/10
Black Heaven is the electronic project of Mantus' Martin Schindler & is a kind of 80s-style synthpop/wave affair with a few more overtly gothic touches here & there. The sound throughout is often pacey but always punchy & polished, starting with the opening 'Das Tor Die Welt' where the vocals put me in mind of Falco somewhat & the music is not totally unlike a more poppy variant on the old Project Pitchfork sound of the mid-90s. On the face of it, it all seems pretty straightforward to start with although the semi-spoken voice that graces 'Die Zeit Die Beliebt' proves that he's not above injecting a little gothic pomposity into the music although it works well with the track's melancholic mood while the similarly dark mood of 'Ich Bin Es Nicht' is complimented by a vocal performance that's as expressive as the music although that's not always the case when Schindler is at the helm as they can sound slightly monotone at times. Things do look up a good deal when Thalia takes over lead vocals as she does on 'Lachelnd Geht Die Welt Zugrunde' & 'Neues Blut' to name but two & her smooth, almost sultry vocal style makes a great deal of difference, so much so that this would have been a better album had she been the sole vocalist! What's more, she's just as effective on the medievally-flavoured 'Ich Spielte Dort Am Grossen Teich' which features some effective harpsichord work & complimentary percussion as does 'Ich Sehe' which incorporates the medieval elements into an otherwise modern-sounding piece, like any German mittelalter/rock band but substituting the guitars for synths. The best track on the album, though is 'Licht Bricht Dunkelheit', a superb piece of dark electro that's surging & powerful yet deep & dark, it's a track any band would be proud to put their name to. It helps enormously that Thalia again takes the lead vocal duties on this superb piece as her voice fits it like a glove & while it is the best track on this album by a country mile the rest of the album is a solidly listen & there's no reason why this act shouldn't have at least some level of success.


 

Artist
Spectra*Paris
Title
License To Kill
Format/Cat
CD/DVD OUT 412/413
Label
Out Of Line
Style
Glam/noir rock/pop/electronica
Date of review
19th August 2010
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
The cover of this second album from Elena Alice Fossi & co is, as the old saying goes, 'one for the dads' but this trio have a lot more to offer than mere eye candy (although the accompanying DVD will prove worthwhile in this regard as well as proving Italian TV knows good music when they hear it!) as their music is a refreshing, dynamic & consistently inventive mix of rock, electro & pop that's not without its more adventurous moments as well. As the best-known of the trio, much has been made of Fossi's talents & while her keyboard & vocal skills are top class the real heroine here for me is guitarist Marianna Alfieri who makes her mark throughout the album, whether she's laying down the exciting & rousing riffs that form the basis of the superb opening title track, which gets the album off to a storming start, or cranking out a blistering solo towards the end of the slower 'A Clockwork London' or the nicely chunky 'Death Records' or setting the scene for the whistfully chilled & slightly reflective closer 'Phantom' Theme', her musicianship is of the highest quality. Furthermore, it doesn't rely on one mood or a single mode of expression, as the more atmospheric tracks such as 'Movie Ghouls' where Elena Alice's softer vocals & ethereal but uplifting synths are carried along by some thoughtful rhythmic colouring & the appropriately mysterious 'Lost Highway Voices' where she proves her versatility by adding some wordless vocals that form an intrinsic part of the musical tapestry, being contrasted by such infectious up-tempo numbers as the highlight that is '007 Cold' with its superb bass synth line setting the scene quite nicely for this busy & attention-grabbing number & 'Carrie Satan', which sounds almost understated by the standards of the former but is another solid glam/noir offering underpinned by a nicely chunky rhythmic base. 'Aston Martin DB5' provides an appropriate theme for this iconic motor although the promising mix of 90s rave effects & assertive rhythms that grace 'S.I.S. Soundtrack' are ultimately rendered as nothing more than a mild diversion due to its brevity. I do know that one or two people don't take this band as seriously as they should due to their appearance but this album proves that it's time any chauvinistic attitudes were put aside, this band have got so much going for them musically that to ignore this release is to do both them & yourself a grave disservice & you surely don't want that, do you?


 

Artist
The Glimmer Room
Title
I Remain
Format/Cat
CD A-FRAME 012
Label
A-Frame Media
Style
Electronica
Date of review
11th July 2010
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
This latest offering from The Glimmer Room AKA Andy Condon takes its inspiration from nuclear arms &, judging by the abstract/industrial images that grace the cover, nuclear power. If that suggests to you that this is going to be a dark & uncompromising piece of work then prepare to eat that humble pie as this is an emotive, haunting & often quite beautiful offering, almost a lament for the beauty of the natural world that the power of the atom could so easily destroy (the chilled-out electronica of the accompanying DVD video is something of a surprise, however!) Divided into nine tracks but best listened to as one complete entity 'I Remain' continues the excellent work of his previous releases (most notably the excellent The Grey Mirrors) as the sound of rain leads the way into a stunningly beautiful opener, it certainly won't leave you unmoved as the music ebbs & sways through a number of different yet similar 'scenes' while maintaining that all-important cohesive edge & while the middle sections display a decidedly more upbeat edge, the underlying percussive effects providing an effective contrast to what has gone before, the latter sections up the emotive ante still further courtesy of some superb piano work & when the epic strings, backed by some appropriately stately percussion, take the lead during the very last section your heart is sure to melt; it's certainly a fittingly beautiful end to a superb piece of music. The debt that this superb album owes to certain American synthesists from the 80s cannot be ignored nor denied (I was reminded of Steve Roach's Dreamtime Return on a couple of occasions while other sections such as the decidedly brighter mid-section, are reminiscent of the music of Patrice DeVincentis) while lovers of John Foxx's Cathedral Oceans will also find much to love here but the fact remains that Andy constantly equals the high standards set by such august names, making this another recommended offering from this criminally-underated musician.


 

Artist
Mind.In.A.Box
Title
R.E.T.R.O.
Format/Cat
CD mind 147
Label
Dependent
Style
Electronica
Date of review
April 2010
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10

After completing the 'Black' trilogy with the release of the superb Crossroads & the fact that it coincided with the (thankfully temporary) demise of Dependent Records it was fully expected that any subsequent releases from messrs Poiss & Hadwiger would be a very different kettle of fish from what had gone before. Even so, I'll bet no-one saw this one coming! What they've done is to look back to their formative years in the 80s & particularly the Commodore 64 computer, even reworking some of the famous game themes of the time & taking the raw potential of such well-loved themes as Parts 1 & 3 of 'Last Ninja', the former of which proving very similar to the theme from The Terminator while the latter boasts some superb lead lines, as well as 'Light Force' (originally composed by Rob Hubbard, the maestro of C64 game music) & 'The Last V8' & transforming them into powerful & full-sounding offerings embellished by the typical C64 effects that are sure to evoke pangs of nostalgia in anyone who ever used such a machine (myself included!) while 'Shades' proves it was well ahead of its time by sounding totally relevant now!

That this is a very personal revisiting of the duo's past is made clearer still by the all-new tracks which pop up later such as 'I Love 64' which offers an intriguing take on a famous question from The Beatles (listen to it to see what I mean!) & '8 Bits', both of which see the return of the unmistakeable MIAB computer voice that soon makes itself at home on these pleasantly poppy offerings (the latter has been released as a single &, you never know, could just became a surprise hit, it certainly has the potential!) while the symphonic & stately 'Whatever Mattered' which features human voice for a change & the remix of 'Mind Killer', which stems from the duo's days of working on computer game soundtracks of their own, should both appeal to fans of JM Jarre & the like. But, should this nostalgia have left you pining for the return of yesteryear one title offers the sobering truism that 'We Cannot Go Back To The Past'; wise words indeed!


 

Artist
Peter Beasley
Title
Coruscation
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Metalbottle Records
Style
Brit Synth Rock
Date of review
3rd August 2008
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
Back in the 80s there was a style of lively & rhythmic instrumental synth music that became known as 'Brit Synthrock. In contrast to the more dreamy, spacey European styles it gave the EM scene & much-needed kick up the bum but, sadly, it was to fade away as most instrumental synth artists started churning out third-rate Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze clones rather than developing their own styles. This album from the then London-based Pete Beasley was originally released on cassette (CDs were out of the reach of most amateur musicians in those days!) in 1987 & re-released on CDr during 2007 & it remains one of the best examples of 80s British synth music. Alongside Beasley's undoubted melodic talents what makes this album stand out is his sequencing skills, a legacy of his past playing drums in rock bands, that only the most talented musicians have ever equalled. This is particularly important on the 21 minute magnum opus 'York Aspiring' which moves from its atmospheric, majestic opening through several rhythmic passages, each one merging seemlessly into the next with a constant flurry of thoughtful melodics keeping interest high throughout. The manner in which the pace of the latter sections changes once the rhythm line is fully built up is particularly worthy of note & testament to his skills. As well as this, there are four shorter tracks (which made up side one of the original cassette), starting with the memorable 'Hunger Hill' (named after a part of Nottingham, fact fans) which kicks the album off in fine fettle with a memorable dynamic & totally digital feel (the DX7 reigns supreme here!) & is followed by the improvised numbers 'The Swaggering' & 'Nullified' which again demonstrate his melodic skills while Gary Attwood's guitar work adds further strength to the pacey & instantly memorable 'QWERTY UIOP', the loose feel of which hints at more improvisation! As a bonus there are earlier versions of three of the tracks although, for those who were around at the time, it's a shame that none of the tracks from the AMP Records Compilation album were included (I wonder why they weren't?). Still, even now this remains a worthwhile listen & a reminder of how good Brit Synth Rock was!


 

Artist
Various
Title
Elektrisch!
Format/Cat
2CD 356.0248.023
Label
Major Records
Style
Danceable electro
Date of review
3rd August 2008
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
This hefty, 27-track double compilation from the German Major Records label seemingly has but one purpose; to do the business in the clubs & the fact that the vast majority of the tracks are remixes only adds to this feeling. In fact, the early tracks on disc one led me to believe that the idea was to provide industrial artists with some 'normal' club crossover; this seems to be the case especially where any 80s artists are involved as Kim Wilde's 'Loved' & Yazoo's classic 'Don't Go' being given a clubbier edge by Piledriver Vs. Beam & Todd Terry (ooh, trendy!) respectively while even Oomph's collaboration with Marta Jandova & Covenant's 'Happy Man', which is given a radical overhaul by Seb, wouldn't sound too out of place at your local pulling joint. As the album progresses, however, certain tracks do remain closer to their industrial origins, not least the offerings from Mind In A Box, Assemblage 23 ('Sorry', not one of his classics but it fits in here well enough), Diary Of Dreams & Diorama while some are given a notable adrenaline shot. This is particular true of Boytronic's 'Living Without You' which is given a quite superb overhaul by Ronan Harris in the epic style that VNV don't do anymore & Obscenity Trial's "My Mind Your Mind' which is likewise given a boost by Darkstar Music Club (no, me neither!) while the epic power of SITD's 'Kreuzgang' is not diminished in the slightest by Angels & Agony's attentions.This also explains why Apoptygma Berzerk are represented by Mesh's remix of that golden oldie 'Mourn' rather than any of the tracks from either Harmoniser of Welcome To Earth (APOP later do a similar job for JAW's 'Creature Of Masquerade) & why Rotersand's 'Lost', which opens proceedings, doesn't sound out of place one iota. One major surprise is the powerful remix of Edge Of Dawn's 'Pray For Love', the harder rhythms working well off Frank Spinath's typically heartfelt vocals whilst reminding us all of how good this duo is. You futurepoppers will also want to check out the offerings from Janosch Moldau, Syrian, who team up Marian Gold on 'Supernova' (& this didn't need remixing either!) while Blighty's very own Mechanical Cabaret (whose latest album was released on Major) offers a remix of 'See Her Smile' which only belatedly matches the infectious qualities of the original. All in all, then, this offers a good selection of artists & while it is mainly geared towards the clubs you might well find some new names that prove to be worth checking out.


 

Artist
Ayria
Title
Hearts For Bullets
Format/Cat
CD AM1108CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Hard-edged electro
Date of review
March 2009
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
With its bright pink cover this is one album you're certainly not going to miss but while the bright colours might catch your eye the music is more than capable of catching your ear & your imagination. Aided by Seb Komor (who even plays guitar on a couple of tracks!) & one or two other partners in crime, Jennifer Parkin has put together her most confident & mature release to date, boasting a whole host of constantly infectious & exciting songs that grab your attention from the word go & which pack a whole host of emotions & feelings. From the no-nonsense duo of the opening 'Bad List' & 'The Gun Song' with its no-nonsense delivery emphasising the poignant & sadly all too topical lyrics, through to the sadness of 'Invisible', where the slightly less-than-perfect vocal performance actually adds to the vulnerable feeling that provides a strartling contrast to the catchy synthpop elements, it's a constantly engaging release. The equally poppy closer 'Girl On The Floor' even bears a resemblance to Gwen Stefani's What you Waiting For in the backing & there's no reason why it shouldn't prove just as popular. Throughout, the vocals emphasise the music's potential as Parkin displays a new level of confidence, maturity & versatility (in fact, I did wonder if the spoken parts crossed the line into rap once or twice? If so she's one of the few white people who can!). In fact there's not a bad track to be found here with 'Analog Trash' proving to be both funky & quite touching while the dancefloor fillers come in the shape of the no-prisoner-taking 'Six Seconds' & the stomping '1000 Transmissions', where the strong IOC similarity suggests that Komor's contribution was an all-important one. Likewise, the importance of Joe 'vOLD' Byers' guitar work in making 'My Poison' the dark & grinding piece of industrial rock excellence that it is & Jeremy Pfohl's composing of the muscular & dynamic 'Blue Alice' cannot be underestimated as both are among the finest tracks on the album. It's probably fair to say, then, that this is very much a team effort but whichever way you look at it it's a superb album that you'd be foolish to miss out on.


 

Artist
Empty
Title
Never Get To You
Format/Cat
CDEP
Label
Aphotic Audio
Style
Dark moody electronica
Date of review
March 2009
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
With this latest EP, the Australian duo of Aaron Potter & Daniel Brunet have finally released a worthy follow-up to their fine debut album Aeon & marks an important step forward for them. The problem with the Aeon Expand EP that followed the album was that, with only one original track on offer, it didn't really give the listener any real idea of what the band are about but with three new tracks to get your teeth into here, this is a far better bet, especially when it's of such a high standard. The title track, for example, is a fine piece of dark melodic electro that should appeal to any fans of Depeche Mode, FLA (the vocals continue to pay homage to Bill Leeb!) or Dismantled, who the band have always quoted as an influence & who again lends a hand with a rhythm-heavy remix while the pask.requiem version makes the most of its extended duration to build from its ambient opening via a variety of rhythms that continuously bear new musical facets in their wake. Even better, though, is 'Forgotten Dreams' which marries dreamy chords & pacey Drum n bass rhythms which came as a massive surprise to me, in fact, I thought it was a remix at first! Another fine piece comes in the shape of 'King Of Kings' (a cover, it seems) that benefits from some nicely expressive melodic work while Angel Theory inject a good dose of dancefloor potential into the title track to close the album on a lively note (Charles Fenech seems to be acting as the same kind of patron saint to up & coming Aussie bands as Tom Shear is for American ones!) In many ways, the importance of this EP cannot be underestimated, it certainly came at just the right time as the high standard of the new material should give the duo a renewed impetus as they make their way towards bigger & better things.