– Steel Wound
title reads as a double entendre, but the album itself leaves no
questions as to its intent. A dark lullaby, perfectly pretty, Steel
Wound is the perfect album to put on to sleep to or just to relax.
Created almost entirely using a distorted Guitar, long notes draw you
in and hold you down, whilst sweet instrumental vocals float across
the surface. The album is more a constant structure than a series of
songs, each track flows seamlessly into the other, only the occasional
lull to denote a new number on your cd player. This is not to say it
is repetitive though, many things change and it remains new and
interesting throughout, it just feels like a very logical progression.
Steel Wound is the perfect album for those seeking ambient and should
even convince those who usually dislike the genre. 9/10
– Hail to the Thief
in the footsteps of Kid A and Amnesiac, Radiohead maintain their
strange electronic leanings and combine them with the swampy rock of
their past. Absolutely filled with good songs, something on this album
should appeal to just about everyone. From Myxomatosis, which features
great melodies and the best bass I’ve heard in a long time, to The
Gloaming with is weird sounds and repetitive structures to A Punchup
at a Wedding, showing off the new version of Radiohead rocking out.
Muscially, the sheer range is wonderful and the skill with which it
was crafted readily apparent. And the whole time, Thom Yorke’s
unique voice runs across it, bringing just the right amount of rage or
sorrow to each track. In my opinion this is Radiohead’s best album,
bar none. 10/10
Responses – Touching the Void
the Void marks Somatic Responses return to the Hymen label and it
shows. Whereas their last album, Dying Languages, went for a more laid
back feel, this one is very full on. This is strong IDM, from its
squelchy tones to the noises, which swiftly rise and fall, punctuating
the tracks. Fractured beats dance over and under a layered melody that
could never be called conventional, whilst white noise gives an
appropriately rhythmic background. The album does have the unfortunate
tendency to repeat itself though and in many places sounds like a
harsher version of Dying Languages. This is a shame, because when not
repeating themselves, Somatic Responses produce some of the best IDM
on the market. Definitely interesting and quite innovative this album
is well worth having, a little less so if you own their last one. 7/10
– Sleeping with Ghosts
a welcome return to form, Placebo show that they learnt from the
mistakes of their last album. This time around they’ve used
electronics to enhance and compliment their more traditional brit-punk
sound, rather than letting it take control. Indeed the music on this
album is by far the most intricate and pretty that Placebo have
created up until now. Brian Molko seems to have rediscovered some of
his lyrical skill as well and, whilst returning to his standard fare
of sex, drugs and disillusionment, brings a more mature and perhaps
melancholy take to the topics. Sure to appeal to fans, and the
progression of sound may help attract a few new listeners into the
fold. A warning however, distributors EMI have seen fit to cripple
this cd so that it would not even read in any computer I tested it on.
– Astrodynamix/Live in Moscow
Japanese experimental artist, who has played with the likes of Merzbow,
KK Null definitely leans towards the Noise side of the spectrum.
Featuring harsh tones mixed over a thundering base, the music
constantly rises and crashes, bringing almost melodic lines forward,
only to crash back down into chaos. Though live, every tone is
delicately placed and the music is well defined, even in it’s least
structured moments. Definitely not quiet music, KK Null is best when
the bass thunders through your body and the high end screams down your
ears and as such it loses a little something in the transition to a
recording, although it remains enjoyable. Incredibly well composed,
and building nicely for most of the album (until it moves sharply left
for a weird form of jazz in the last track), Astrodynamix is a
worthwhile, but not necessary, album. 6/10
me, this concert is the early contender for concert of the year and it
will take a whole lot of beating. Kicking straight into FutureProof,
the opening track off 100th window and perhaps the
album’s most darkly enveloping track, Massive Attack set the tone
for the night: Claustrophobic and surprisingly aggressive, but
set list leaned heavily towards the more recent albums, taking the
majority of it’s tracks from Mezzanine and 100th window.
Even earlier tracks such as Safe From Harm and Unfinished Sympathy got
a re-working to fit into the newer aesthetic. This meant that the more
laid back electronics and hip-hop influences were cast aside, in
favour of a heavier, more intense vibe and a remarkably effective use
of guitars, with elongated instrumental interludes appearing
frequently in unexpected places. I usually dislike guitars in music,
but tonight they worked perfectly, gelling in an instant and swirling
amidst the drums and synth lines to create some of the most amazingly
hypnotic music I’ve heard. For me, the ticket price was worth it
just to hear the reworking of Safe From Harm, with the beauty of the
vocals offset by a much more obvious aggression in the music combining
to envelop the crowd.
one possible problem with the concert was that it was amazing to hear.
Those expecting something more of a performance may have been
disappointed. Whilst the light show and screen were interesting they
weren’t amazing, and the interchanging of singers removed a sense of
attachment to the band. For me, this was completely unimportant as,
given the amazing quality of the songs and of the musicians, I
could’ve closed my eyes for the entire concert and still have been a
very happy man. For those who require more of a performance however,
it could have proven a problem.
problems aside though, this was one of the most impressive,
professional and generally amazing concerts I have been privileged to
witness. Given the number of seats that weren’t taken, I can only
hope that if you didn’t go, you have a good excuse, because you
missed a once in lifetime show.
Orgasm – The Cause of the Flow - Ant Zen
Japanese act on the Ant Zen label, Contagious Orgasm use a mixture of
samples and their own creations, to produce a mesmerizing release.
Melodies flow and disappear only to re-appear in a later track,
combining with changing sounds to produce a completely different track
that remains hauntingly familiar. Swirling from ambient to dense and
back again across the space of the album, The Cause of the Flow almost
seems like a disjointed soundtrack, playing in a distant alley. The
final track is a great finale, pulling together many of the earlier
loops into one final, dense and beautiful movement. 8/10
– Subfusc – Ad Noiseam
newcomer of a band, on a very new label, Tarmvred shouldn’t be this
good. Subfusc has an amazing depth and maturity and pretty much
creates it’s own category of music, mixing IDM, Power Noise and Dark
Industrial (think CMI). Most tracks begin softly, introducing
surprisingly pretty melodies slowly along the way, before they fall
away before heavy rhythmic beats, only to re-emerge and intermingle
later in the song. Consisting of 8 tracks, most of them over 10
minutes in length, there’s a lot of room in each song for thoughts
to build. Although all the tracks share the same aesthetic, they do
not reuse samples or loops and every track holds its own, very unique,
place within the whole. Subfusc is a stunning first album and one that
anyone with an interest in dark electronica should consider essential.
albums worth owning
Orgasm – The Cause of the Flow – Ant Zen – A
mesmerising album, swirling from ambient to dense and back
– the mytotyc exyt ep – Component Records – A
mixture of new tracks and remixes sees Dryft taking a step away from
D&B and moving in slightly mellower territories.
Responses – Touching the Void – Hymen – A
wonderful example of warm IDM, mixing glitch and more natural
electronica together to create an album which is sometimes mellow,
sometimes crunching, but always interesting.
of Canada – geogaddi – Warp – Another great IDM
album, showcasing an almost ‘innocent’ sound. Subtle melodies and
intricate arrangements abound.
– M-tronic – An ep featuring 4 new tracks and a remix of each.
This makes for an interesting and varied album of (principally) IDM
– Calm – Room40 – This great local artist has
produced a wonderful, almost ambient, album utilising field recordings
and samples to achieve a feel hinted at in the title.
Key Operations – Concrete – self-release –
Another great local artist. This album is a bit more of a
straightforward electronic release, but is still eminently enjoyable.
Amos – Scarlet’s Walk - Sony – Not exactly
keeping with the theme, but a stunning album as usual from one of the
most unique female artists around (what can I say, I’m a fan)
– No carrier ep – Component Records – This short
(25min) 3” ep by a little known Canadian electronic act is another
wonderful example of ‘warm’ IDM.
SubSnow 02-02 – Ad Noiseam – A aural journal of
Tarmvred’s US tour, featuring live tracks from Tarmvred and all of
their support acts along the way.
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