Jun 2011 16

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Soundpool
Category: Electro-pop / Indie Rock
Album: Mirrors in Your Eyes
Stars: 3
Blurb: How can music sound this light and happy?

 

New York five-piece Soundpool brings their third album to the dance world with Mirrors in Your Eyes, blending dance, pop, and rock for nine ethereal, upbeat tracks. Mirrors in Your Eyes is jazzy, funky and bubbly, perfect for the easy light-hearted listener. It might induce diabetes being so light and sweet.

The entirety of the album holds strong to this theme of happiness. Soundpool brings elements of styles such as funk and disco in their music, blending jazzy bass with light pads and airy vocals. The hooks in the songs are strong, catchy, and relaxingly enjoyable. The style hardly varies between dance pop and club electronic, from the title track to “Makes No Sense” to “Shelter.” Instrumentation on Mirrors in Your Eyes is solid, with very few muddy patches. The happiness is infectious and almost diabolical.

Soundpool is so light that the album might float out of the CD player. It’s every happy indie rock kid’s wet dream. Need a lift in your day? Listen to Soundpool.
 
Track list:

  1. Mirrors in Your Eyes
  2. But It’s So
  3. Kite of Love
  4. Makes No Sense
  5. Sparkle in the Dark
  6. I’m So Tired
  7. That Sunny Day
  8. Shelter
  9. Listen

 
Soundpool Website http://www.soundpoolmusic.com
Soundpool MySpace http://myspace.com/soundpool
Soundpool Facebook http://www.facebook.com/soundpool
Soundpool Twitter http://www.twitter.com/soundpool
Killer Pimp Website http://killerpimp.com
Killer Pimp MySpace http://www.myspace.com/killerpimpmusic
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
 
2010-04-27
 
Zak Vaudo (Chaostar)

Jun 2011 16

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Funker Vogt
Category: Industrial / EBM
Album: Red Queen
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Funker Vogt’s concept EP is well worked, but far from a checkmate.

 

The Red Queen EP showcases remixes of the Survivor track by the same name, each track a remix by Funker Vogt under various Wonderland-inspired titles. Known for harsh EBM and grinding vocals, Funker Vogt takes a new turn with Red Queen. Vocalist Jens Kästel abandons his typical heavily distorted scream for a more somber, softer vocal track. This style suits the track very well, but is very strange when considering the usual Funker Vogt sound. However, Kästel keeps the music true to the band and doesn’t compromise anything for the variation.

The original cut of “Red Queen” that rounds out the end of the EP is a staggering 12 minute track, heavy and dramatic with grand overtones, guitars and crashes that build from a quiet beginning of piano and echoing drums. It seems that Funker Vogt is calling back to decades ago when people didn’t seem to care how long a track was. Again, these are not the typical Funker Vogt vocals – “Red Queen” is more melodramatic than battle cry. Despite being a break from typical style, “Red Queen” is an excellent track, dramatic and grand, blending into an electro/down-tempo ending for a smooth trail-out. The EP also contains an original, instrumental track titled “Chessman’s Square,” a heavy dance club song that is smooth, upbeat, and with a good groove. Like the title track, this one also sounds starkly different from Funker Vogt’s usual style.

But as is the case with most EPs, the remixes are what weigh the work as a whole down. The mixes are each well crafted and manage to capture their Wonderland remix titles. The White Rabbit remix is high energy and club-like, the Cheshire Cat remix is ethereal and airy, the Humpty Dumpty remix is foreboding and atmospheric. The Mad Hatter mix stands out from the rest with solid pacing and excellent bass and electronics. Funker Vogt puts itself in an interesting position, though, by being the sole remixer on this EP. On the one hand, the band does not have to worry about other artists mangling and misshaping their music, thereby dragging down the EP. However, the fact that Funker Vogt is the sole remixer limits the range of style that could be present, and thus the remixes do not particularly stand out from each other. Some may enjoy the close-knit style of the music, but when “remix” is attached to the end of a song title, one typically expects a reimagining, and the remixes tend to sound awfully similar to each other and to the original piece. In the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat remixes, Funker Vogt rerecords the vocals in an attempt to fit the moods of the songs; the results, though, are vocals that sound faux regal, overdramatic, and too comical to focus on the song.

“Red Queen” is an excellent track and a good divergence from the normal styling of Funker Vogt. But if a band is going to remix their own music, the remix and the song need to feel different as well as sound different.
 
Track list:

  1. Red Queen (Remixed by The Mad Hatter)
  2. Red Queen (Remixed by The Cheshire Cat)
  3. Chessman’s Square
  4. Red Queen (Remixed by Humpty Dumpty)
  5. Red Queen (Remixed by The White Rabbit)
  6. Red Queen (Album Version)

 
Funker Vogt Website (English) http://funker-vogt.com
Funker Vogt Website (German) http://www.funkervogt.de
Funker Vogt MySpace http://www.myspace.com/funkervogt
Funker Vogt Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Funker-Vogt-offiziell/103288856405305
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2010-04-27
 
Zak Vaudo (Chaostar)

Jun 2011 16

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Fractional
Category: IDM
Album: Blood
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Fractional brings some eccentric pep to the Tympanik party with their brand of spastic and lively IDM.

 

The sixth album from Belgian IDM outfit Fractional and the first to be released by Tympanik Audio, Blood brings a unique taste of experimental and playful arrangements peppered with a variety of jungle, break beat, and drum & bass inspired rhythms. This makes for a sometimes strange and very manic album, fluctuating between harsh, heavy beat assaults and light, smooth ditties, largely leaving the impression of a cross between Meat Beat Manifesto and Aphex Twin.

Fractional blasts the listener with the rough and rugged “Water” and seamlessly blends into “Blood” giving an early and intense one-two punch combination that will leave any expecting slow and atmospheric IDM reeling. Tracks like “Sie,” “Thear,” and “Niv” offer exceptionally mellow counterpoints to the heavier moments, giving the listener a nice reprieve from the more frantic and strange sections of the album. Things take a turn for the extremely odd with tracks like “Elephant’s Dance” and “Lows.” “Elephant’s Dance” features a deep, heavily processed beat and cheery organ pieces that give the song the feeling of something very hard and rugged accidentally revealing its softer side. “Lows” kicks the strange up even higher with its carnival like atmosphere.

Blood firmly resides in the odder regions of the IDM spectrum. With tracks reveling in high octane hyperactive beat explosions, overflowing with impressions of twisted carnivals and other strange imagery, and exuding smooth, mellow, and occasionally eerie grooves, Fractional may seem a bit unfocused at times, but throughout the profound skill and care taken in the work is obvious.
 
Track list:

  1. Water
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  5. Thear
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  7. Hu Wei
  8. Elephant’s Dance
  9. Niv
  10. Lows
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  13. Ne

 
Fractional Website http://www.fractional.be
Fractional MySpace http://www.myspace.com/tirofcnaal
Fractional Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fractional
Tympanik Audio Website http://www.tympanikaudio.com
Tympanik Audio MySpace http://myspace.com/tympanik
Tympanik Audio Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tympanik-Audio/137795642739
Tympanik Audio Twitter http://twitter.com/tympanik
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
CDBaby
 
2010-04-27
 
Trubie Turner (Flexei)

Jun 2011 16

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De/Vision
Category: Synthpop / Electronica
Album: Rage/Time to Be Alive (Single)
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: With a combination of formulated electronica and cynically playful lyrics, De/Vision comes back with a teaser single of the highest proportions.

 

Fans of De/Vision will easily embrace the first released single from the band in almost three year’s time. After this fairly lengthy hiatus, they return with an introductory piece to their forthcoming album in the guise of the single Rage/Time to be Alive. The disc consists of the single itself mirrored by the equally strong piece of electronica “Time to be Alive.” The double A-side disc reminisces strongly of De/Vision’s trademark sound, heightened this time with an even clearer understanding of lyrical composition and overall song creation. Now solely comprised of Thomas Adam and Steffen Keth, they have steadily managed to establish themselves as two of the more prominent electronic artists on the scene. The single strengthens this truth with some great examples of their unfaltering approach to catchy and meaningful synthpop. Never taking itself too seriously, yet managing a semblance of humour throughout their lyrics, De/Vision entertains with a polished quality that shows that they are clearly a band that has worked together over a great amount of time. The offbeat cynicism that lyrically comes through with the title track “Rage” encapsulates a casual darkness within the musical text. Coupling this with some very catchy synthed samples and an even-paced bass line makes for a full package of a song. Music like this shows once and for all that De/Vision hasn’t simply been sitting on its hands these past few years; they have been honing their existing skills and broadening their creative musical spectrum to the nth degree. The creative sampling and steady electronically-pitched piano of “Time to be Alive” continues the flow of the disc, matching vocals seamlessly with a pulsing synth background that emits a positive vibe on both counts. The only slight disappointment on the disc falls short with the extended club version of “Rage.” Here, the extension of the track is the only real thing that makes it club-worthy. There is no true innovation surfacing here beyond a cleverly composed introduction that all-too-quickly leaves us immersed again in a version of the title track that consists mainly of extra beats and wider gaps in between chorus and verse. So much more could have been done with this mix in order to elevate it into a more richly crafted club version, but sadly this is not the case. Seeking redemption after this slight pause comes the down-tempo track “Free World,” fraught with introspective lyrics with a beautifully composed electronic backdrop. This track rounds off the single with a nicely mellowed-out tonality, salvaging the four-track single and once again leaving you wanting to hear more from the resurfaced sound of De/Vision.
 
Track list:

  1. Rage (Radio Cut)
  2. Time to Be Alive (Radio Edit)
  3. Rage (Extended Club Version)
  4. Free World

 
De/Vision Website http://www.devision-music.de
De/Vision MySpace http://www.myspace.com/devisionmusic
De/Vision Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/DEVISION/24741337633
De/Vision Twitter http://www.twitter.com/devisionmusic
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon (De)
 
2010-04-27
 
Stephen Lussier (ioweyouacoke)

Jun 2011 16

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Attention System
Category: Electronica / Alternative Rock
Album: Wait for My Signal
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Attention System’s debut is a sleek, professional offering that melds alternative, electronics, and dance beats.

 

Attention System is a new band on the rise from Atlanta, GA. Their debut full length album, Wait for My Signal easily qualifies as one of the most upbeat rock records this writer has heard in years. A quintet consisting of Brian Fisher, Joshua Broughton, Jonathan Davis (no affiliation with KoRn), Chris Bass, and Jason Curtis, Attention System concocts a radio friendly mix of guitar and drum-driven rock with plenty of electronic dance ingredients.

The band cites a huge number of electronic and rock influences, including a large swath from the industrial and punk music scenes. However, where many young bands mimic or imitate their musical heroes, Attention System has decidedly gone in a different direction and their aural characteristics, including a very clean mix, have much more in common with bands like Franz Ferdinand than such progenitors as Cop Shoot Cop or Big Black.

While the music on Wait for My Signal is certainly buoyant and cheerful, it’s difficult to describe the band’s total presentation with those terms. Lyrically, Attention System’s songs are thoughtful, at times catchy, but also noticeably dark. This juxtaposition of bright animated music and vocal delivery combined with subtly disturbing storytelling produces an agreeable result.

On the other end, Wait for My Signal often feels too much like a corporate rock record and doesn’t reflect very well the band’s indie origins or cultural inspirations. The music is a little too accessible, and any element of danger or sincerity that marked many of their influences seems to be missing or shrouded in the layers of the convivial performance . In a number of ways, they are to industrial and underground rock what Blink 182 was to punk. Certainly a strong recording, but can only be recommended for people who enjoy the styles of bands like Linkin Park, Adema, or those looking for a lighter change of pace.
 
Track list:

  1. Resistant Transistor
  2. Now’s Your Time
  3. Siren’s City
  4. Bot Killer
  5. Drastic Measures
  6. Miss Machine
  7. Alibi (For a Paranoid Existence)
  8. The Curious Times
  9. Radio Silence
  10. Die Trying
  11. Nothing in My Head
  12. Intruder

 
Attention System Website http://www.attnsystm.com
Attention System MySpace http://www.myspace.com/attentionsystem
Attention System Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Attention-System/72168347822
Attention System Twitter http://twitter.com/attentionsystem
Attention System ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/attentionsystem
Surrounded by Light Recordings Website http://surroundedbylightrecordings.com
Surrounded by Light Recordings MySpace http://www.myspace.com/surroundedbylightrecords
Surrounded by Light Recordings Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Surrounded-By-Light-Recordings/111242795571076
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2010-04-27
 
Brian Backlash (BrianBacklash)

Jun 2011 16

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VoidWork
Category: Dark Ambient
Album: Horror/Forsaken
Stars: 4
Blurb: VoidWork’s second release is a haunting collection of dark atmospheric music.

 

VoidWork is a relatively new project formed in 2008 by the somewhat cryptic Xavier. In 2010, the band released its second disc, the dejectedly titled Horror/Forsaken. As it turns out, the second release is actually two albums on one disc, packaged with traditional gothic style artwork in a digipak case. Horror comprises the first 13 tracks while Forsaken is composed of the latter seven.

While Xavier cites a number of death and heavy metal bands among his influences, the soundscapes on Horror/Forsaken are much more in the vein of bands like Dead Can Dance, only darker and considerably more disturbing. Employing a wide range of instruments including piano and violin, the record fabricates a beautiful and haunting disc that fuses the styles of ethereal neo-classical and folk. The stunning vocal work of Swedish singer Ann-Mari Thim contributes greatly to the album’s atmosphere, providing a sorrowful and emotional layer to the minimalistic and stripped down style of the band’s music.

While there is not a huge leap in style or mood between the tracks selected for Horror and those for Forsaken, the latter collection does appear to be more experimental in nature and incorporates markedly less vocal content. Xavier’s gothic literary influences, such as Lovecraft and Poe also leave their mark, as this disc would surely be appropriate as a soundtrack for cinematic adaptations of such works. Even so, there is nothing on Horror/Forsaken that would make for a sufficient live performance. The sparse nature of the music as well as the slow, brooding pace ensure that that VoidWork will in all likelihood remain a studio project. Since Horror/Forsaken was released, the highly prolific VoidWork have issued two more albums, Dark Corners and Basement.
 
Track list:

  1. Haunted
  2. Souless City
  3. People of the Monolith
  4. Marble Steps
  5. Interlude
  6. The Serpent’s Lullaby II
  7. Insomnia
  8. The Serpent’s Lullaby III
  9. Forever in Fire
  10. Post-Apocalypse
  11. The Descent
  12. Antarctica
  13. The Black Goat
  14. Akhenathon
  15. Ghostlight
  16. Forsaken
  17. Pillars
  18. Circle
  19. Nightmare
  20. Grave

 
VoidWork Website http://www.voidwork.com
VoidWork MySpace http://www.myspace.com/voidwork
VoidWork BandCamp http://voidwork.bandcamp.com
Black Drone Website http://blackdrone.com
Black Drone MySpace http://www.myspace.com/blackdrone
Black Drone Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Drone-label-mailorder/124133194272037
Black Drone Twitter http://www.twitter.com/BlackDroneLabel
 
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
CDBaby
 
2010-04-21
 
Brian Backlash (BrianBacklash)

Jun 2011 16

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Claire Voyant
Category: Goth
Album: Claire Voyant
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: A look into Claire Voyant’s past that shows the band’s youth was anything but awkward.

 

Originally released in 1995, Claire Voyant’s debut album has been re-released by Metropolis Records, offering a look back at the early days of this excellent ethereal trio. When held up alongside Claire Voyant’s 2009 album Lustre, this self-titled debut understandably pales in comparison, but it offers an interesting opportunity to see how the band has grown through the years while still maintaining their overall original vision and style.

The smooth and intoxicating darkwave rhythms lay out a wonderful web for Victoria Lloyd’s engaging and haunting voice to dance upon and ensnare the listener. Tracks like “Her” and “Deep” best show off Lloyd’s voice as it melds with the subtle guitar and synth work. Unfortunately, it also becomes apparent in this early work that there is a bit too much reliance on Lloyd’s voice. Much of the album, though still unquestionably lovely and relaxing, suffers from some overly subdued composition with the majority of the hooks to be found originating from Lloyd’s voice. This leads to several of the later tracks blending together a bit too much and failing to really generate a unique identity. That being said, it does show an aspect that Claire Voyant has improved on over the years with musical arrangements that now rival Lloyd’s voice in beauty.

This is actually the fourth time this album has been released, and it’s easy to understand why; Claire Voyant’s debut does not even remotely show its age and could quite easily be mistaken for a new release. Though it does suffer from tracks that bleed together a tad too much and an overreliance on vocal hooks, it is still a lovely, otherworldly album that offers an opportunity for fans to appreciate the bands recent work even more.
 
Track list:

  1. Heaven Knows
  2. Her
  3. Deep
  4. Someday
  5. Aqua
  6. Wanderlust
  7. Land and Sea
  8. Morning Comes
  9. Fear

 
Claire Voyant Website http://clairevoyant.com
Claire Voyant MySpace http://www.myspace.com/clairevoyant
Claire Voyant Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ClaireVoyantBand
Claire Voyant Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/clairevoyant
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2010-04-20
 
Trubie Turner (Flexei)

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