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P. Turton "iannisx" (uk)
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Within Dividia
Within Dividia
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 5.36

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Next-generation Noisecore, 13 April 2005
This review is from: Within Dividia (Audio CD)
At a time when Dillinger Escape Plan are unashamedly making inroads into the mainstream with the often emo-ish 'Miss Machine', The End are much less eager-to-please, holding the flag for hyper-complex progressive hardcore and pushing the Noisecore aesthetic about as far as it will go.
Many traditional hardcore fans may proclaim 'Within Dividia' as unlistenable, but this is anything but a series of flabby noise rock/free-improv freakouts - the music is incredibly tightly constructed and performed, combining angular, atonal guitar, rapid-fire blast beats and lacerating, throat-shredding vocals. This is what prog would have sounded like if it had actually been any good.
This album is much darker sounding than the trebly, Dillinger-esque guitars of their debut ep - although a quasi-Death Metal sound predominates here, The End avoid the cartoonish grand guignol and pantomime posturing of a lot of Death and Black Metal in favour of a sound that is bleak and austere rather than luridly theatrical. In particular, check out the 2 instrumental post-rock numbers, 'Sense of Reverence' and 'Orthodox Unparalleled' which sound like the work of Slint's evil twin (or Mogwai if you fed them after midnight).
My only complaint about the chunkier, more bass-heavy guitar sound is that it tends to reduce the inventively dissonant free jazz-ish harmonies to a low-end rumble, giving them much less bite than if they had employed a slightly more trebly sound. You can't help being a little suspicious that this is Relapse's attempt to emasculate the Noisecore genre, bringing it closer to the label's traditional Death Metal sound - thus making it friendlier to their usual market.
But all in all, this is a solid addition to the Noisecore canon. Canada may not have produced a great deal of acts in this area of music - Voivod, Cryptopsy and on the electronic side of things, Skinny Puppy and Venetian Snares spring to mind - but The End more than hold their own amongst their peers in this rapidly-expanding scene.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2010 11:38 PM GMT


Last Rights
Last Rights
Price: 9.51

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electro-industrial pioneers, 13 April 2005
This review is from: Last Rights (Audio CD)
Although perennially catalogued as a sub-set of Goth, Skinny Puppy actually deserve better than to be lumped in with the posturing, PVC-clad fashion-victims that populate that particular cultural ghetto - they are a far more interesting band than they are given credit for.
Ahead of their time both in their use of that signifier of 90's leftfield electronica, the distorted beat (staple of labels like Praxis, Position Chrome, Ambush and DHR), and in the ultra-complex editing and intricate, layered detail of their music (later taken up by IDM acts such as Richard Devine), Skinny Puppy rarely adhered to conventional song-structures, preferring to create their own unique freewheeling forms that combined dense musique-concrète sample-collages, near-Japanese-levels of Noise abuse, and ranting heavily-processed vocals with pounding mechanised beats and throbbing bass sequencers.
They very much stood apart from other comparable bands at the time. Whereas Front 242 were simply producing synthpop-on-steroids, and Ministry churning out straightforward speed-metal riffage with a few extra clangs, Skinny Puppy's sample-heavy, information-overload aesthetic remains unique (although you could draw parallels with the then-contemporary experimental plunderphonics scene).
Of the barrage of late-80's, second-generation Industrial acts, only Godflesh came close to what they were trying to do - although, ironically, Godlesh's slow, sludgy post-(early)Swans grind was about as far from Skinny Puppy's convulsive sample cut-ups as you could hope for. Yet they both shared a desire to tap into the roots of Industrial - before it was taken over by Goths, commodified and re-packaged as cartoonish melodrama and pantomime angst. Although Puppy can't entirely stand clear of these kinds of accusations - the vocals in particular often sound too hammily Grand Guignol for contemporary tastes (though you can't discount an element of deliberate camp in their style) - their music did retain the experimental edge of late-70's bands such as SPK and Nurse With Wound.
Unlike blatantly commercial, crowd-pleasing acts such as KMFDM or NIN, they weren't out to be liked. You won't find any saccharine synth-pop harmonies or FM-rock riffs embedded in verse/chorus song-forms here - in fact, at a time when the genre was dumbing down, Skinny Puppy replied by producing their most complex, inaccessible work to date (albums such as 'Too Dark Park' and 'Last Rights').
Too often dismissed as the grandfathers of MOR, corporate stadium-rock goons like Marilyn Manson and Rammstein (whose music is actually closer to Bon Jovi than it is to bands such as SPK and Skinny Puppy), they have had a real, if little acknowledged, influence on the darker end of IDM and breakcore. Cutting-edge producer Richard Devine is a fan - and included one of their albums in a recent list of top-ten favourite records - and it is impossible to listen to albums such as Panacea's 'Low Profile Darkness' or Venetian Snare's 'Doll Doll Doll' without hearing their influence.
A remarkable band on many levels, they deserve better than to be consigned to the aesthetic wasteland that they now inhabit. Check out the 'Too Dark Park' and 'Viviect Vi' albums for more of their best work.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2008 9:20 AM GMT


The Brotherhood Of The Bomb
The Brotherhood Of The Bomb
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 17.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Industrial sludge-hop, 8 April 2005
This may be more credible as a hip hop album, but Ice's 'Bad Blood' album from a few years back (by the same Broadrick/Martin + guests team) was musically way more interesting. I really miss the psychedelic density and layering of that record - reduced here to simple, looped beats'n'bass, and popsong-length tracks. OK, you could argue that they needed to make room for the rappers, but it also seems like they have been paying too much attention to their imitators (like 2nd Gen).
Still, this is a powerful record (particularly the Dalek track - a collaboration with like-minded musicians if ever there was one), placing them way ahead of the competition in the Industrial hip hop (or whatever) game - it contains all TA's trademark sounds from techstep-ish bass 'riffs' (that wouldn't sound out of place on Position Chrome) to eerie synth wails, dislocated samples and the omnipresent distorted mechanised beats.
These guys are a real buried treasure in the world of underground British electronica - often producing way more interesting stuff than the more culturally-visible, mainstream/media-friendly Warp/Rephlex scene - also check out earlier, more experimental albums like 'Ghosts', 'Re-entry' and particularly 'Radio Hades'.


Aleamapper
Aleamapper

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Futuristic soundscapes....next-generation electronica, 8 April 2005
This review is from: Aleamapper (Audio CD)
Combining elements of classic electroacoustic/musique concrète (Pierre Henry/Parmegiani/Xenakis) with post-Industrial sounds (Devine is a fan of 80's bands such as Zoviet France, Coil and Skinny Puppy) and Mego-ish digital processing, this is decidedly not just another IDM album. Far more complex than anything on Warp or Rephlex, this is the direction that Autechre should have taken after 'Confield', if they hadn't retreated nostalgically back into the oh-so-90's glitchy beat (remember them?).
This album sounds like it is constructed as a kind of mosaic - thousands of individual fragments, all intricately pieced together, yet forming a coherent overall pattern. Inevitable comparisons to Autechre are totally misplaced - their working methods couldn't be more different, Devine using a densely-layered musique concrète/sample-collage approach that is about as different from Autechre's synthetic sound as you could hope for.
There are also far more complex dynamics to Devine's music - whereas Autechre's tracks proceed at a uniform tempo/volume level which is maintained throughout (typically, beats are layered over simple looped synth chords), Devine's tracks are constantly in a state of flux, moving between mechanised rhythms, often convulsive bursts of digitally processed noise and eerie ambient lulls - there are few, if any, loops here.
Although Asect:Dsect, the follow-up album on Asphodel, is more straightforwardly rhythmic, this album is more about dark, often extremely complex soundscapes than IDM beats. The 'ambient' contained here - if that is even the right word - is far closer to the Kluster/Zoviet France side of the genre than the saccharine New Age blandness of Brian Eno, and some people coming from Warp will undoubtedly find this too austere for their tastes. Yet there is really too much densely-edited, intricate detail for this to ever really be called ambient - it often comes closer to the kind of fractured, pointillistic electroacoustic sounds you could find on the Empreintes Digitales label, whilst avoiding the academic sterility that can sometimes afflict that area of electronic music.
Particularly impressive is the way Devine does not feel the need to process everything - so the album moves from the most primitive, raw samples to ultra-sophisticated DSP wizardry. Too often, relentlessly feeding every sound through the digital mincer can result in an overly dry, sterile sound - but here, the use of gritty, quasi-Industrial textures adds a visceral urgency and edge to the music that few contemporary producers can match.
This album makes most first-generation British electronica acts sound like quaint, dated relics. At a time - 2001 - when many IDM acts had followed the herd and taken the Tigerbeat 6 postmodern irony/plunderphonics-pop route, Devine actually had the bottle to strike out on his own, and create a unique aesthetic synthesis. Watch out for a new album to be released on the excellent Canadian Sublight label.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2009 5:45 PM BST


Black Oni
Black Oni
Price: 10.25

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their best yet...., 8 April 2005
This review is from: Black Oni (Audio CD)
This marks, in part, a return to the more complex, angular sounds of Guapo's earlier music after the epic, cinematic sweep of 'Five Suns', their last album. That record had some great moments, but I felt ran aground in tracks 4 and 5, where bludgeoning, bombastic repetition overwhelmed the actual musical material.
Here, there is an almost collage-like approach (particularly in the first half of the album), with the music moving suddenly between hectic math-rock assaults and quasi-Dark Ambient lulls (particularly an impressive moment where the main theme announces itself against a Univers Zero-style harmonium drone). These non-linear, stylistic jumpcuts - and the general dark mood - are comparable with Fantomas' brilliant 'Delerium Cordia' (although with less of the concrète/electronic feel of that album).
Of course, the core elements of Guapo's style are still here - the repetitive Fender Rhodes figurations, the Magma-like martial drums and pounding Zeuhl bass, the spiky, dissonant guitar and complex time-signatures. Influences range from 70's art rock bands such as Magma and King Crimson through to 90's progressive hardcore bands like Zeni Geva and Ruins. (Their fusion of 70's zeuhl with noise rock sensibilities also reminds me of a more obscure 80's band, Shub Niggurath).
The album begins in the same murky, primal flux as 'Five Suns', with This Heat-ish organ tone clusters and amorphous guitar. Shapes slowly begin to solidify and emerge, but here the music seems less stable and repetitive than in 'Five Suns' - these solid forms constantly threaten to dissolve back into the miasma or mutate into new shapes.
Each track has a distinct character - the Riley-esque minimalist patterns of 3 (which climaxes with a hectic keyboard solo), the swirling, digitally-processed drones of 4 - and yet they all flow together in an almost symphonic whole.
The fifth track is the darkest, returning to the epic Mellotron melodies and gongs from 'Five Suns'. Here the theme that threads throughout the entire album - and from which a lot of the material is derived - emerges in almost Black Metal-levels of Wagnerian bombast (reminding a little of The Flying Luttenbachers' fusion of BM and Zeuhl on 'Infection and Decline') - before dissolving back into the primordial mists of the opening.
Unlike some neo-avant prog bands (such as Cuneiform labelmates Nebelnest), which can often sound like a stylistically incoherent patchwork of sounds culled from the various bands that inspired them, Guapo have carved out a genuine identity for themselves from their formative influences. The band's appeal is certainly anything but retro nostalgia - this album is recommended to everyone from the chin-stroking post-rock set to Hydrahead noisecore devotees. And of course fans of Ipecac's leftfield rock sensibilities should lap it up.


Streetcleaner
Streetcleaner
Offered by earacherecordsuk
Price: 7.99

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Apocalyptic, mechanised soundscapes...their best., 5 April 2005
This review is from: Streetcleaner (Audio CD)
Often cited as Godflesh's finest hour, and with good reason, this album is the perfect fusion of their formative influences - extreme metal, the spiky angularity and dissonance of post-punk/No Wave (albeit moving at a far slower tempo than most of those bands), together with the caustic samples and pounding, primitive drum machines that formed the backbone of the 80's Industrial scene.
Although later albums, such as 'Selfless' and 'Songs of Love and Hate', unfortunately smoothed down these sharp edges for a more streamlined style, largely jettisoning the discordance and harsh samples in favour of more bland, straighforward metal riffage, this is one of the most bleak, corrosive records of the 80's, combining sludgebass riffs, howling feedback, Dark Ambient soundscapes and the omnipresent mechanised beats.
Unlike most so-called Industrial Metal acts, this genuinely connects with the roots of 'Industrial' (bands like Swans and SPK). Fans of MOR, corporate 'alt-rock' bands like NIN or KMFDM (whose lightweight, poppy sound is closer to Bon Jovi than it is to Swans), may find this record too caustic - this is not angst-as-lifestyle-choice/fashion-statement Goth posturing for the PVC set, but genuine, lacerating abjection and nihilism.
Although there were occasional flashes of the old fire on later Godflesh records, Justin Broadrick's best work during the 90's was to be found on side projects like Techno Animal, and particularly Ice, whose 'Bad Blood' album recaptures some of the spirit of this record.


Gyatso
Gyatso

5.0 out of 5 stars Lacerating Noise Jazz, 1 April 2005
This review is from: Gyatso (Audio CD)
Released on Kevin Martin's once-thriving but now-long extinct Pathological label, 'Gyatso' is similar to his band God in the way it subjects the anarchy of Free Jazz to the rigours of Noise Rock and Industrial. Like God, and subsequent related projects such as Techno Animal and Ice, these Swiss Free Improv/Noise Rock veterans produce music that thrives on the tension between mechanistic repetition (stiff drum machine rhythms and simple, looped sludgebass riffs courtesy of Godflesh guitarist GC Green) and a more chaotic, fluid foreground (squealing saxes and a barrage of cut-up samples).
It differs from Martin's band both in being both more electronically orientated and in having a greater emphasis on jazz - the middle of the frequency range substitutes the bass clarinet (presumably heavily amplified!) and caustic samples for God's wall-of-noise No Wave guitars. It is very much an album pieced together in the studio from what sounds like a variety of recorded improvisations.
There are basically three types of track here - those that contrast rapid martial rhythms and bass with chaotic saxes and samples; slower, dubbier numbers (my only real complaint about this album is the sheer amount of reverb used on some tracks - along with the drum machines, it does date the album a little); and more freeform tracks that create dense layers of samples and harsh (almost power electronics) drones and noise loops untethered by beats or bass. In fact, the album seems to move towards this freer style as it progresses - the last track 'Motor (Alien Body Mix)' is like a deconstruction/meltdown of everything that has gone before.
Sometimes you wish for some of Painkiller's more fluid approach to rhythm (the relentless, pounding repetition can wear you down a bit - although that is possibly the point) but this is still a remarkable achievement from a woefully under-recorded band (check out their 'Human Distortion' EP on DHR and 'Mechanophobia' 12" on Praxis for more recent work).


Leichenschrei
Leichenschrei

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Gristle?, 1 April 2005
This review is from: Leichenschrei (Audio CD)
This album is like an encyclopaedia of everything that early Industrial was trying to do. Neubatenesque metallic percussion, 23 Skidoo-style tribal/ethnic drumming, NWW-ish musique-concrète cut-ups, the proto-power electronics wall-of-noise aesthetic of Whitehouse, rumbling Dark Ambient soundscapes that look ahead to Lustmord (who was in fact part of the band) - even throbbing post-DAF sequencers that anticipate both 80's EBM and the 90's technoise scene.
What impresses so much is that SPK do them all so well. What could have turned out as chaotic eclecticism, a stylistic mess of half-digested influences, is in fact ruthlessly focused and coherent. The Gristle influences are certainly there (particularly in the 'Hamburger Lady'-style oscillating drones that underpin the entire album) - but this is what TG would have sounded like if they had had more economy and discipline, and less of a tendency to wander off into meandering, spacey improv sessions.
'Leishenschrei''s relentless tribal beats make it a far faster-paced record than the sludgy death-marches of their first album, 'Information Overload Unit' (which looked ahead to all those terminally morose Cold Meat Industry types), and there is a far greater variety of texture and mood (all of them, needless to say, dark and grim).
This record is genuinely austere and clinically bleak - a long way from the cartoonish melodrama and pantomime histrionics of what passed for Industrial during subsequent decades. Although there is the occasional Cabaret Voltaire-style funk bassline, there is nothing remotely resembling pop music - which made the later decline of this genre into both fluffy synthpop and dumb Metal all the more disappointing.
Of course, electronic music has been here before - the machine loops look back to Pierre Henry's 'Etude aux Chemins de Fer'(1948) or Varèse's 'Deserts'(1954), and the sheer density and layering of the music recall other Noise pioneers like Xenakis, AMM, MEV and the gritty electronics of 60's drone artists like Pauline Oliveros ('A Little Noise in the System' is a proto-industrial classic!) and Charlemagne Palestine. Whilst the most obvious precursor to the early Industrial scene are bands that existed on the fringes of Krautrock - particularly Kluster/early Cluster and early 'Zeit'-era Tangerine Dream, not to mention Faust in their less poppy moments - SPK bring a post-punk rigour and attitude to the genre which was all their own.
Of course this all way too bleak and harrowing for the posturing, PVC-clad Goth set (who prefer their 'dark' music much more sugar-coated and accessible) but this is a fantastic record that layed down the template for every sub-genre that Industrial later divided into, from EBM to Japanese Noise.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2008 5:16 PM BST


Satanstornade
Satanstornade
Price: 16.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IDM discovers Noise underground, 31 Mar 2005
This review is from: Satanstornade (Audio CD)
Corrosive sheets of white noise descend into churning static, convulsive glitches skitter over the surface, whilst infernal assembly-line rhythms grind away in the background.... You pretty much know where you are with Merzbow. This is a nice mixture of Haswell's nimble editing skills and Masami Akita's, shall we say, full-bodied approach to Noise. As usual with recent Merzbow, you can just about make out some foundering Metal riffage half-submerged in the static (and the repetition gives it some structure).
I've found some of Merzbow's more recent laptop stuff a bit simplistic - relying all too readily on simple loops and drones (his earlier analogue stuff was actually far more fractured - ironic, considering that Digital is supposed to be the non-linear medium). But this is impressively dense and layered music - with Haswell providing the concrete-style editing over Merzbow's trademark filter-sweeps.
Weird to think this release found the light of day on nice, polite IDM label Warp. The Plaid fans must have had a heart attack.


Absolutes
Absolutes
Price: 14.99

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Indie kids attempt Noise, 31 Mar 2005
This review is from: Absolutes (Audio CD)
Some of the most anaemic 'Noise' I have ever heard, this inane, tinny racket sounds like it was recorded in an outside toilet. This is essentially Noise for indie fans (as with a lot of Load stuff) - a diluted, lo-calorie version of pioneering work done by the Japanese scene. In fact SPK and early Whitehouse sounded way more extreme than this back in the late 70's.
Avoid at all costs - listen to MSBR, Government Alpha, Dissecting Table, Merzbow (or for that matter, pioneers like Xenakis or MEV) instead. If you want a genuinely decent contemporary Noise Rock band, try The Flying Luttenbachers.


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