It is not every day that an electronic based act puts out a debut album that blows away much more established bands. It is also not everyday that I feel compelled to rewrite my own words. In the last issue of movement I wrote a micro review of the new Metropolis Records group MIND.IN.A.BOX. Since then I have had plenty of time to actually listen to what this amazing act has to offer. I feel as if I did this incredible band an injustice by giving them such a short review. M.I.A.B. is so much more than what can be cheaply summed up by words. What they represent is love and heartache, beauty and disgust, desire and fulfillment, righteousness and pain, all wrapped up in a small little package that is sure to let your souls wander. I searched through various channels the reach the members of this band. I ended up finding a place where anyone could just dropped them a line in the hopes your message would get through. To my surprise it was band member Stefan Poiss who quickly responded to my message and agreed to let me interview him. Here is what this kind soul had to say:
How did Mind. In A.Box. come to be?
Mind.In.A.Box was born about four years ago when I had the idea to start working on a CD focused on a center concept.
Mind.in.a.box consists of Msh and myself. Msh writes the lyrics, and I’m writing the music, doing the vocals, and the production.
We’ve known each other since our childhood. Over the years we have also worked on several projects together, most of which were related to computer games.
The biggest project immediately before Mind.In.A.Box was “Parsec-There is No Safe Distance”, a non-commercial 3D space shooter for multiple platforms (Windows, Macintosh, and Linux). “Parsec” became quite well known in the smaller Mac and Linux gaming communities. Before that we mostly worked on smaller games, game soundtracks, and demos, beginning on the Commodore 64. I was always doing the music, and Msh did the programming.
About three years ago I sent a demo CD to Stefan Hedwig of dependent records and he called me back very soon after. Then it took quite some time until everything was ready to be released, but at last "Lost Alone", our debut album, was finally released and stayed in the number one spot of the German Alternative Charts for five weeks in a row. This has been a really incredible start for us and probably nobody would have thought that this would happen.
What country does "Mind.In.A.Box" call home?
We are living in Vienna, Austria, in the center of Europe. Vienna is a very nice mixture
between a major capital and a small city (there are about two million inhabitants). The quality of living here is actually very nice.
"Lost Alone" is what I would consider to be one of the most emotionally charged albums in the industrial genre. Who is the muse for the deeply personally lyrics, and what is the meaning behind the title?
Thanks a lot, that’s great to hear! The major inspiration for mind.in.a.box and “Lost Alone” probably is life in the increasingly technology-oriented world around us. Not only our personal lives and experiences, but everything we see around us. We think that in this world many people are “minds in a box” for a variety of reasons, including ourselves. It is not only a metaphor for not thinking for yourself, but also for not being able to do what you would like to do, for example for making a living. “Lost Alone” focuses on the feelings of loneliness and alienation that can be a result of this. There is no one meaning of the title. For us, it means many things related to being lost and alone, and we would like listeners to project their own feelings. In the song “Lost Alone,” however, it most of all describes someone who is lost but doesn’t yet know that he is not alone. This theme is continued in “Lost Alone 2”. As a band name, “mind.in.a.box” is kind of the opposite of what we are trying to achieve, which is using many different styles and approaches, and promote an open way of thinking.
As a musician I find the compositions on your album to be exquisite and complex. One of my hobbies as a musical critic is to pick apart what instruments or programs the artists utilize. On very few of your songs I can decipher what synths are being used, but for the most part I am lost. Did you use primarily soft synth or hard synth for the writing of this album?
My equipment mostly consists of hardware synths. For effects, however, I am increasingly using software solutions. Most of the songs on “Lost Alone” have originally even been done exclusively with hardware equipment that I controlled with our own self-made midi sequencer called “MFD”. Later on, I converted all songs to standard formats and used a standard audio sequencer for production. The capabilities offered by today’s audio software are incredible, and at some point it was inevitable to switch from our own solution to more standard tools. This conversion was quite time-consuming, but it improved the audio quality a lot.
The vocal effects on many of the songs are some of the best I have ever heard. For example, the range for the pitch on "Change" has a feminine sound that offsets your usual deep and masculine voice. What vocal effect are you using to get that crisp clean female sound?
Wow, thanks! :) I did the pitched robotic voices in “Change” with the TC-Helicon Voiceprism and several software modulation effects. But I think that it is probably most of all a question of having a clear vision of the effect and emotion you are trying to achieve.
Unfortunately in the industrial genre a lot of acts have the tendency to never experiment outside of the traditional 4/4 straight beat. I feel as if staying inside that box makes most electronic music sound flat. On your album, while a straight beat is used quite often, I appreciate the fact you had enough musical diversity to throw a break beat in the line up as well.
You are absolutely right, there are mostly 4/4 beats in the scene. As long as it grooves I am fine with that, but I think it is most of all a matter of personal taste if you are more for straight beats or not. A bit of diversity can never hurt, though, and I personally enjoy other beats a lot. I’ve noticed that people who are more into gu itar sounds do not like straight beats and are more into break beats and things like that. Currently I also have a tendency into this direction, and the next mind.in.a.box album will reflect this. Most of all, though, I think that everything has its place and the beat has to fit the song.
What was the inspiration for the band name "Mind.In.A.Box"?
We have already talked a bit about this when you were asking for the meaning of “Lost Alone”. Mind.in.a.box is not only a band name, but it also provides the background for an almost sci-fi world that reflects certain traits of our own world. On one hand, the stories of mind.in.a.box take place in this world, but they are most of all also metaphors for someone’s attitude or problems or feelings. A central theme of mind.in.a.box is trying to escape from being a mind in a box. In this metaphorical world, which is also the backdrop for “Lost Alone”, this escape is often portrayed as being physical, whereas in reality it would happen more in the mind.
It seems to me there is a story to be told behind every song on "Lost Alone". Some deal with inner struggles and others feel like a scene from a movie. What are the stories behind "Waiting" and "Forever Gone"?
Basically, we try to achieve two things with the background of every mind.in.a.box song. One is the basic feeling we want to convey and the emotions we try to evoke in the listener. But the second one often is an actual “story” which provides a “framework” for these emotions and feelings. We do not want to overemphasize the stories themselves, because we think music is most of all about feelings, but we think it increases the depth and scope of a song, especially when several songs are connected with the same storyline. In general, all mind.in.a.box songs have something in common, but some of them are tightly coupled and others stand more on their own. An explicit variant of this idea are the two songs “Waiting” and “Forever Gone”, where “Waiting” is like a prelude to what happens in “Forever Gone”. Somebody tries to escape the mind.in.a.box world, a metaphor for the system of our times. “They” think he is under control, but in “Forever Gone” the protagonist actually manages to escape. Only his body remains, but the song alludes to his mind now being free, if however at a very high cost. The songs on “Lost Alone” do not contain all these details, and we want listeners to find their own interpretations of what is happening, but we will offer more information at www.mindinabox.com in the future. For example, there is already a short story inspired by mind.in.a.box that is one take on the mind.in.a.box world. It is not directly our own version of mind.in.a.box, but it is very nice to see that our concept provides enough inspiration for things like these. It is currently only available in German, however.
I always ask this of every one I interview. When you are at home, or when you are at a place where you can really sit and listen to music, what do you listen too? What music gets you in the mood to create your art?
I am listening to a lot of very different things, but I wouldn’t have thought of Mr. Bungle :) It starts with bands like the Melvins and ends at... well, I’m not sure where it ends. Of course many electronic acts too. I’m really listening to a wide variety of music, but I’ve not as much time to listen to music as I would like to. And I always have a hard time picking a band that fully represents what I like. One of the recent CDs I’ve been listening to and that I enjoyed a lot was Informatik’s “Re:Vision”.
What can one expect from a "Mind.In.A.Box" live show, and are you going to do a U.S. tour?
Right now we do not have any live appearances planned yet, but the U.S. would be one of the natural possibilities to look into. We think that a mind.in.a.box gig would have to be something different in order to go well with our concept and the different stories of our songs. Currently, we need all of our time for working on the second mind.in.a.box album which we would like to release one year after “Lost Alone” at the latest. This time there will also be a single release before the actual album.
I have passed around your cd to a few of my like minded acquaintances in an effort to spread the word about your music and get some feedback on the cd itself. One of the most amusing comments made about "Lost Alone" came from a gentleman whose taste in electronic music is not in the least bit lacking. I asked him what he thought of the album and he replied "I love it. There is nothing better. than when androids feel". Am I wrong, or is that simply the best review for a debut release in the industrial genre?
Oh wow, yes! :) This is indeed an incredible response, and it is extremely satisfying to see that some of the major points of “Lost Alone” are coming across. Thanks a lot for that comment! :)
The multi-media/multi-talented New York based artist VOLTAIRE
performed in Jacksonville at The Nightmare Before Thanksgiving
He took time out of his extremely hectic schedule to answer some
questions by Max Michaels for MOVEMENT magazine...
Have you had any desire to return to Cuba (Voltaire's birthplace) since your family emigrated here? Or have you been back since, if so how was it?
I have never returned. For better or worse I suffer from a typical case of Cuban Exhile-itis. That is, I grew up being told how horrible Castro is and how I should never go there and give him a single dollar so as not to help him and his cause. I still largely buy into that philosophy. One thing’s for sure though, when the old man dies, I WILL go back. I’m ready for Cuba. The question is….. is Cuba ready for Goth? heh heh.
When did you first become interested in and performing music, and how did you go about bringing that desire to reality?
Well, growing up in the MTV generation, naturally I had illusions of being a rock star at an early age. But I didn’t take them that seriously. Besides, I was making stop-motion animated films in my basement at 10, so it seemed animation was the more reasonable career path to take. And I did. I moved to Manhattan at 17 and started pretty much right away working as a stop-motion animator
on TV commercials. It wasn’t until 10 years later in 1995 that I would play my first show. A friend of mine was promoting a Goth night at a bar on Houston street in Manhattan called Den of Thieves. He invited me to see an act he had booked which he billed as “a solo acoustic Goth performer”. I laughed! “Solo acoustic Goth??? is that even possible? Where are the electric guitars? Where is the drum machine? Will he at least be dressed like a vampire?” Well, anyway, I went. After the show my friend asked me what I thought. I told him, “I thought that sucked! I have been here for an hour and I don’t remember a single lyric he sang, I am not humming any of his melodies!” and then I pompously added, “ I put on a better show every night in my living room!” He called me on it. “Okay,” he said, “you will do your show HERE next Sunday night!” And the rest is history. The 10 year anniversary of that show will be in March 2005!
What was your first stage show, and what was it like for you?
Well, after my friend booked me to play that show I instantly got a case of the worst diarrhea I‘ve ever had! Heh heh.. I was so nervous, I was literally shitting in my pants! Lol! But as I prepared for the show, one thing was clear in my mind; I did not want to be the typical Goth performer whining about how terribly sad he is. So Instead I played songs like When You’re Evil and Ex Lovers’ Lover that, while dark, had a humorous edge to them. My intra-song banter was filled with ridiculous stories about the pope and god knows what else… and mid set I stopped and played Goth Bingo with the audience! (of course the winning number was 666!) Needless to say the audience was pretty stunned. For the first half of the set they stood there trying not to smile!!! But eventually they caved and by the end the whole room was laughing and playing along! You have to understand that HAVING A GOOD TIME at a Goth club in 1995 was down right ILLEGAL! So this was a pretty novel experience for all of us. Word traveled fast about the FUNNY goth show and I got booked more and more. And nearly 10 years later, I’m still doing it… and thankfully, it’s still FUN! ; )
Your bio leans heavily toward your work as an animator, what branch of your artistic endeavors -- music, film, illustration -- do you enjoy the most?
At the risk of sounding cliché… that’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite. Honestly, they are all different manifestations of the same thing, that being creativity. There are subtle differences between the 3 but at the end of the day, I would have to say that I love them equally.
What is your favorite Ray Harryhausen film and why?
I would have to say Jason and the Argonauts because it’s the least goofy. Seriously, anyone who watches his movies will tell you that they are watching to see the monsters! Because let me tell you that the scripts and the acting tend to be pretty horrible in some of those films. Jason and the Argonauts is the only one that I think could fly without the animation. In other words, the acting doesn’t make me cringe! Besides, I think the skeleton scene in that film is his absolute finest work!
Have you had any gallery shows of any of your art? (if so give me details)
A friend and colleague of mine (Steve Archer) has a gallery in Baltimore called Angelfall. He invited me last year to do a show there of my animation models. So we transported them to Baltimore for the show. The tricky thing is that they are not for sale. I don’t see them as “art” as much as I see them as artifacts from projects I worked on. I don’t think I could ever part with them! ( I mean really, the tentacled M from the MTV Bosch station ID???? I ain't EVER givin' that away!) I had a similar show years ago in Frankfurt, Germany at the opera house. Other than those two shows. My animation models are on permanent display at The School of Visual Arts in the animation building. I have thought about creating work that would be for sale and doing a show somewhere, but truthfully, between touring, teaching animation, writing and drawing a comic book series, designing a line of toys, working on the coffee table books, working on my line of T-shirts, etc… who has the time?
Do you perform at/attend many Cons per year?
I play about 5 cities a month, usually at Goth clubs. This month it’s Osaka-Japan, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver-Canada and Jacksonville, Florida. As for Cons, I play at DragonCon in Atlanta every year as well as Icon in NY. From time to time I “play” at San Diego Comicon. But they don’t have bands there so it means that I am basically just whipping out the guitar at my booth and clogging the isle! When will they learn that they should give me a stage? Heh heh! Every year it seems I add a con. This year I played at Opus in Denver and I have been getting more and more offers to play at other Cons.
What's been the best advantage for you making appearances at Cons? - i.e., do you think it has helped expose you more as a musician than as an animator or illustrator, or vice versa, or does it gain all your exploits equal attention?
By far the best advantage is that I tend to find myself playing to an audience that wouldn’t have heard of me otherwise. These tend to be people who would have never stepped into a Goth club. But we all share a common interest because we are all geeks and dorks who are into Sci Fi and horror! The concept of the “captured audience” doesn’t hurt either! People don’t tend to leave the convention for 3 days! So chances are you are going to hear me play or hear ABOUT me from someone who did. And then there’s the merch booth! I can sell my Cds (like I would at a show) along with my comic books, toys, T-shirts, etc, and thus appeal to different people who are looking for different things.
And lastly, I LOVE conventions because I am exactly the kind of person who attends them! So basically I get to BE at the convention as my job! You can’t beat that!
What annoys you the most about Cons? (if anything)
Waking up next to a Klingon with a spent tribble in my pants. I hate that!
What can the audience at The Nightmare Before Thanksgiving expect to see this time around from your show? New props, sets, etc.?
I don’t know! I usually don’t figure that out until I’m on stage! It’s just as surprising and fresh for me as it might be for the audience!
Who would you most like to open for on a world tour? + Who would you most like to have open for you?
I would happily open for Bowie! I’d say Bjork.. but I think that touring with her would be very unhealthy for me! Lol!
Hell, I can think of a bunch of people I would open for. I grew up with lots of heroes! And they are all presently on 80s revival tours! Heh heh… As for who I would like to open for me? I have no idea. I’ve never given it that much thought. I’m still very much in the ,”someday I want to be a rockstar” frame of mind! Heh heh.. God forbid I should think I already AM ONE and spend a whole lot of time thinking about who should open for ME! I don’t know, the thought makes me uncomfortable. It’s like saying, “who would you love to have as your waitress?” Besides, anyone who’s been in this business long enough will tell you that the headlining band NEVER watches the opening band!!!! It’s not an ego thing mind you, it’s a scheduling thing. While the opening band is playing, the headliner is either freaking out somewhere or having dinner, chillin out backstage, etc.. you just DON’T want to be in the audience just before you go on. It’s too much on the nerves. I know I am usually in a hotel room either practicing or sitting in the tub until 15 minutes before showtime if I can help it! I opened for Nina Hagen a few months ago and sure enough, somewhere around my second to last song, Nina and her band strolled in the front door, passed the stage and slipped into the backstage area. You can’t take offense. It’s just the way it is.
What was that made you decide to take a more serious tone on "Then and Again"?
Everything and nothing. Life.
I wrote half of those songs 10 years ago. I have always written material of a serious nature. Hell, it’s interspersed throughout my Cds. Anniversary on The Devil’s Bris, Anastasia on Almost Human, Where’s the Girl, I’m Sorry, Number One Fan on Boo Hoo… It’s just that I felt it was time to separate the serious from the funny so that the next LP could be ALL funny!
I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the next LP with some slow, heartfelt songs, but at the same time, I write material like that all of the time and I felt it deserved to be recorded and heard. So I gave those songs their own record.
What is the current project that is filling your days?
Heh heh, that’s a good one! Are you ready?
DEADY The Terrible Teddy (volume 2) graphic novel just went to the printer after 4 months of working on it.
Work on DEADY The Evil Teddy (Volume 3) starts NOW!
DEADY toys are just now going to market after months of design work on them.
I start recording the next LP this month!
I start on the follow up to What is Goth this month!
I just signed a new T-shirt deal so I am working on new designs this month!
I teach stop-motion at the School of Visual arts 2 days a week.
I am playing about 5 cities a month…
I just got heavily involved with the new Fangoria TV…
I am hosting a show they are producing, creating station IDS for them and developing another show or two with them…
So uh, yeah.
Tell us what, if anything, Voltaire fans can look forward to next in all your projects:
Uh, see all that crap I mentioned above! Lol!
I would have to say that DEADY is the one to watch!
This book is going to take off, I really believe that.
It’s got GREAT guest artists!
Just to name a few:
The list goes on and on!
There are toys coming out, and all sorts of other merchandise…
I just feel there’s a lot of excitement about DEADY…
I am VERY excited to see where it might go next year!
Were you one of the millions who hit the Canadian immigration web site after the election was called?
Well, I sure as hell didn’t look into moving to Cuba! ; )
See photos from the event at The Nightmare Before Thanksgiving!
For more information on Voltaire visit his official web site www.voltaire.net
MOVEMENT'S "FAMOUS FOR 15 QUESTIONS" FOR LOCAL BANDS
Give us a listing of your band members, instruments played by each and a run down on what you have produced and accomplished to this point. Also tell us how you got started playing, what year, what influenced you, who helped you get started, who taught you to play, or if you are self taught, what the first club or party you played at, etc.
Radical Face is the alias for my solo work. I play, write and engineer everything on the recordings (vocals, guitars, bass, drums/percussion/programming, banjo, accordion, piano/keyboards, electronics), with occasional guest musicians for cello (Owen Holmes), violin (Esther Erskine), drums (Mark Hubbard), bass and synths (Alex Kane), and piano (EmeralCooper).
I started playing music in the summer of eighth grade, 1996. I was paying a lot of attention to music around that time (I heard "Indie Rock" and did a back flip) and decided I wanted to learn how to do it. I started a band with Mark Hubbard (drummer for the Julius Airwave), and from there joined more and more bands (I was played in five of them simultaneously at one point in high school), started a ton of projects that never went anywhere and had a lot of fun.
I later detoured into writing books. I was reading a lot, and whenever I get interested in something, I inevitably try my hand at it. But in the middle of writing one — and this is one of my finer moments — I accidentally destroyed my computer. I started playing music again to stay busy until I could afford another computer. Around this time, Alex Kane called me and we spent a weekend together with a 4 track and came out with a nice little chunk of songs. It went a lot better than either of us expected it to. It was the beginning of our now borderline obsessions with the recording process. We got together more and more, and eventually had a CD’s worth of 4-track material.
Since that first CD I’ve recorded six more (in various projects, both solo and not), done production and mixing for some friends’ records (Astronautilis, The Julius Airwave), played shows with varying levels of success and spent the little bit of income I make on microphones. I haven’t had anything pressed or released yet, but I’m working on that. It’s an uphill climb, for sure.
As far as music is concerned, I’m self taught, though I’ve had help from friends, family, the internet and boredom. The first show I ever played was with Headache and Pearl Harbor, an obscure side project consisting of myself and Richard Colado (also from The Julius Airwave), where we brought a lawnmower on stage to recreate a recording we did in his backyard. It was an odd show, but everyone had a lot of fun and laughed, which was the goal.
What project(s) are you currently pursuing?
I’m in the midst of recording the first full length Electric President record, my other "main" project. We’ve been playing together for about four years now, and used to work under both of our solo names and write "versus" between the two (Radical Face vs. Phalex Sledgehammer), like a boxing match, but no one understood what we were talking about and the name was a mouthful, so we changed it. The album is going well, and doesn’t sound like anything we’ve done previously. I’m not sure when it’ll be finished, though. We have no projected time. We’re just going to work until it’s done.
Secondly, I’m working with my younger brother, Emeral Cooper (pianist) on some compositions. Both of us are into classical music and film scores, and this year decided we should write some scores of our own. We’re going to begin recording the first five pieces this month. We haven’t named our project yet, but we’re really enjoying this and will surely continue doing it for some time.
I’ve also begun working with Astronautilis on his second record, which we’ll begin recording soon. Everything’s shaping up well, and both of us are excited by the direction it’s taking.
I have my next Radical Face record written, but probably won’t start recording it until spring of next year. Not enough time right now.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
So far, there’ve been a lot of challenges. Getting stuff heard, the lack of resources/money/space (I mostly record in my tool shed), problems with transportation, getting shows — all have been hurdles. But time is almost always the big issue for me. I have a bad habit of getting involved in too many projects (both my friends’ and my own), not having the time for it all, spazzing out, finally finding a solution and telling myself "I’m not gonna spread myself so thin next time", then doing it all over again.
What's your favorite show you have played to date?
I really couldn’t tell you. Some shows have gone really well, some have been absolute train wrecks. I generally enjoy both scenarios. If it’s a good show and people are enjoying it, it can be energizing and inspiring and all the clichés you always hear about performing. But if it’s a disaster and there’s no salvaging it, there isn’t any pressure to do well and plenty of room to act like an idiot, which can be a lot of fun. So I guess I’d pick a show that went really well and a show that sucked.
Can you give us any tales from on the road? Or wild adventure stories?
I’ve always got stories (though I doubt they’re very interesting), but I’ll try to keep this music related.
This year, Alex and I got a spot in the Florida Music Festival thanks to the fellas in the Julius Airwave (we’ve all been friends for most of our lives). The show wasn’t very good, but we had fun. And because we had an air drummer and a dancer, we were written up as the "Most Baffling Performance" by the Orlando paper, where the Festival was held. Granted, the dancer (Curtis) was dressed up a zombie, complete with a fake stomach he crafted himself and filled with red jello and gummy worms. And at one point he punched a hole in the fake stomach, pulled out the "guts" and fed them to us, all while pop-locking, but hey.
The year before, we got on the bill for the local "Teen Fest." All the other bands were punk groups, so we didn’t exactly fit in. We figured we might as well ostracize ourselves further and only play quiet folk songs and rap music. During one of the booty songs (we’ve written a few), I was swearing a lot and riding on the back of a guy that hopped on stage and crawled through my legs, while another audience member was shoving a mic all the way into his mouth. I didn’t know about the "no cursing" rule and the cops that were there for security started to approach me. I wasn’t aware of this when it was happening, but was told after the show that they only stopped because they didn’t reach me before the song was over, and since our set was already done, there wasn’t anything they could do. I guess I should have figured this out by myself. There were a lot of families in the audience.
But this is generally how our shows go, so we collect a lot of stories.
What do you do in your time away from the band?
I spend a lot of time with my family, and every once in a long while I go out.
I paint a lot. It’s generally how I make money … which is why I’m broke.
Whenever time permits, I write. I’ve written two books over the years, and am in the middle of a third. But I’ve been working on music and art a lot this past year, so it’s going slowly.
I play Counter-Strike way more than I should — that game is obscenely addicting. I haven’t played in three days, though, and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.
And I generally like everything that’s considered dorky, so if you can think of anything that fits into that category, I probably enjoy it.
Has being based in Jacksonville benefited your career more or less?
Benefited, I’d say. Not because we have a good scene or anything like that, but I like the area and I like the people. A number of my close friends are really fantastic artists in some form or another, and we all feed off of each other and help out when we can. It creates both support and some unspoken competition, which is great.
How do you personally define success?
As trite as it may sound, by being happy with what I’m doing and feeling proud of my work. My early recordings sounded like poo. My first book was an abomination — a 600 page paperweight. But I’ve improved over the years and even feel proud of some things I’ve done recently, which is nice.
What's your biggest gripe about the state of the world today?
What's best thing about the state of the world today?
A. There’s a lot I could gripe about. Politics, industry, greed, wars, etc. But all of those are very long answers, and I’ll likely ramble. Something I’m definitely not a fan of, though, is the current pace of life. Everything is so rushed. Running from one thing to the next, never enjoying anything. Even meals, or family, or music, or art … no one has time for them. Too busy doing whatever.
B. It’s hard to come up with anything that’s global, but I heard that some guy won a hovercraft on the Price is Right recently, which is awesome.
What sets your music apart from everything else that's out there?
Hard to say. There’s a lot of music out there. But one thing I’ve got going for me is that I can do the whole process now. It has taken me years to figure everything out, and I’m still learning (and suspect I always will be), but I can now take a song from the initial idea, to the writing, to the performing, to the recording, to the mixing, and I enjoy the entire process. Not to say I’m the only one who does this, but I think handling all the steps allows me to make it "mine" in a number of ways beyond just writing the song.
Lets play ?Bad Metaphor,? say you are a cook in the kitchen of life...what's your recipe for success?
Mayonnaise is disgusting. Don’t put it on anything.
What are your top 3 favorite hang out spots?
1. My tool shed. It’s where I play and record, and I’m out there a lot.
2. My friend’s front porch. Where we down fountain drinks and debate the meaning of life about once a week.
3. The library. Free books. Suckers.
What, if anything would you change about yourself?
I wish I only had to sleep two or three hours a night. We waste a third of our life sleeping. And even when I do sleep, I never feel rested. Sleep is all around annoying. I’d also like to be able to shoot lasers from my eyes.
What is the best advice you have ever received and who was it from?
"Ben, go to bed." – My mom.
Take Me S.I.M.
Most might think that LAVANTGARDE is another semi-new synth-pop act on the rise and they would be both right and wrong. LAVANTGARDE has actually been around since the mid 90's and already have a few releases under their belt. Touting themselves as `Emotional Electronic Dance Music', LAVANTGARDE are indeed a synth-pop band on the rise. With more emphasis on the `pop' than the synth, Take Me S.I.M. is presented here in three different versions, the Radio Edit, the Coldwrapped mix, and the Hardfloor mix. The catchiest of the three versions is the standard Radio Edit. The combo of light vocals, bouncy synths, and distant acoustic guitars may just have you bobbing your head during the first listen. The vocally driven Coldwrapped mix is more airy, yet a bit less poppy than the original track. Finally, with it's more prominent beats and partially distorted vocals, the Hardfloor mix (by KARTAHON) is a more rugged version of the original. Dedicated (Acoustic Friendship mix) is just as you may imagine. Showcasing the lead singer's voice, the track is simply vocals and an acoustic guitar. The final track is a 15 minute sampler of the tracks on their forthcoming CD, Inside Out, all which seem to follow the same path as they've laid with Take Me S.I.M.
Cortex Compilation Vol. 1
From Minuswelt comes Cortex Vol. 1. Comprised of some already established acts as well as some new up-and-comers, the tracklist might looks inviting to many fans of the genre. Masters of the darker electronic art, YELWORC, are back after a far too long hiatus. Without Remorse is an exclusive track that has evil written all over it. Grungy electronics meld with spoken word vocals and a slow, yet tumultuous beat to create a foreboding mood. PZYCHOBITCH is a hard-edged electro band with musical tendencies that place them within the Coldwave sub-genre. Forceful female vocals tend to overpower the driving beat and crisp electronic elements move Fitter Than You vs. Harnin Elias. Under The Gun by RUN LEVEL ZERO is a beat- heavy piece complete with loud vocals and a thick rhythm. IN STRICT CONFIDENCE's Closing Eyes (Extended Version) is an upbeat dance track comprised of chirping synths, a pummeling bass line, and shared male and female vocals. Rivals is a noise-based, semi experimental, beat heavy track by DIE FARBEN. One of my favorite MELOTRON tracks, Gesindel, is found here in a 6 1/2 minute, rare, remix. Operatic at times, EBM-ish at times, and synth-pop sounding at others, this track smoothly transitions into from genre to genre. With a slow, climactic build-up, WELTRAUMORGEL's Conflict transforms itself into a hard-edged, instrumental, body music track. IN STRICT CONFIDENCE side-project, CONTROLLED FUSION has been quiet for quite some time so I was glad to see War, and pumping electro piece with fierce beats, echoing vocals, and dense synths. Some elements of acid and techno are found intertwined within the brashness of DIE JUNGEN PIONIERE's Pioniere. Chris Petersen, who did a few years stint with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, also managed to keep his other project, DECREE, alive. Nothing like the FLA sound, Violent Reckoning, is a rough, guitar driven piece with screamed vocals, and a raw rhythm. Numb Woods by HECQ, is fast paced instrumental that borders on trance music. The already well-known track, The Storm, by RETROSIC is up next. This is a darker electro piece with sandpaper vocals and a pounding beat. The next project's name, STEVEDRAGON, may seem a bit odd, but the music is right on. On Morning Breezer, STEVEDRAGON fuses IDM, break- beat, and electro elements together to create an impressive instrumental. The final track, Sound You Can See, by MONSTREÉ MEKKUNIK, is another instrumental. This is an extremely bass heavy, and somewhat repetitive, piece that didn't really go anywhere. Personally, for the MELOTRON track alone I think this compilation is well worth it. The fact that most of the other tracks are good as well, was just a bonus.
Infacted Recordings is the European home to such bands as MONOFADER, IRIS, AZOIC, HEIMATÆRDE, ENDANGER, and NANNAMBULU. All of these artists, plus 10 more are represented on Infact 1. 13 of the 16 tracks are exclusive or unreleased remixes. Ranging from the pop- goth sound of NAMNAMBULU and the synth-pop music of IRIS to the more aggressive electro sounds of HEIMATÆRDE and GLIS, Infacted 1 has a bit of something to offer for everyone. MASSIV IN MENSCH, who are quickly gaining much notoriety, offer up the Nino Cortez remix of Dark Rave, a fast-paced club tune riddled with heavy beats and both light feminine and rough masculine German vocals. Another pumping track is Step By Step (Infacted mix) by 8KHZ MONO. Deep and hollow vocals are layered atop boisterous beats and electrified keys. Du Fehlst Mir by HEIMATÆRDE is a dark and noisy piece that still retains a steady and danceable beat. Several synth-pop acts present their sounds, the first being IRIS. It's been a few years since we heard anything new from this Texas duo and the Lost Innocence mix of Vacant shows that they still produce the same, addictive dance music. Of all of the synth-pop acts out there, IRIS has one of the best vocalists. Typically leaning more towards a less aggressive sound, ENDANGER's Mein Stern (2004 Hardbeat mix) is a dynamic piece comprised of lighter synths, docile vocals, and a monstrous beat. Protect My Ways (Infizierte Version) by FROZEN PLASMA is a straight- up future-pop tune with airy vocals, driving beats, and jumpy rhythms. STATE OF THE UNION's Fall From Grace is yet another light synth-pop track with some catchy beats and nimble vocals. ICON OF COIL and SPEKTRALIZED side-project MONOFADER donates their NAMNAMBULA remix of Why?. This track is a quirky little piece with soft vocals and a compelling rhythm. Sounding like a US version of NEUROACTIVE, Electrified by NULL DEVICE combines IDM with synth-pop to produce melodic dance music with sweeping vocals and intelligent synth lines. Another electro track comes from VOX CELESTA. Der Verführer (Infacted edit) is propelled along with it's forcible beats and slightly vocoded vocals. GLIS' No Pulse (Infacted Version) is another beat-driven club-based track. Light Me (8KHZ MONO Blowtorch mix) by OPTICAL FREQUENCE is a dark industrial piece with whispering vocals, an impelling beat, and a jumpy rhythm. Ohio's THE AZOIC is a band that is getting more and more popular with each release. Steering away from their more goth sounding earlier tracks, Lost (Com_Link Remix) is a showcase of inviting vocals, simplistic beats, and analogue sounding synths. NANNAMBULU's Moments (Tagtraum mix) combines gothic vocals with a poppy rhythm. It took me some time to warm up to this track, but after several listens I began to enjoy it more and more. Reverberating vocals and trippy synths are the backbone of Low.Life.Complex by LIQUID DIVINE, and IDM act from eastern Germany. Finally, Ebb and Flow by UNITARY fuses together sythie vocals with a more EBM music structure. There is a great deal of variety on Infacted 1, all of which will appeal to those who enjoy electronic music. The only disappointment was the lack of a LIGHTS OF EUPHORIA track, seeing as how Torben Schmidt, the creator of the Infacted Recordings, is also the man behind LOE.
Resurrection 2 is a mid-priced label sampler from Chicago based WTII Records. From the ruins of Wax Trax, WTII was formed a few years back and has already compiled an impressive band roster, most of which appear on this compilation. HMB, featuring members of HAUJOBB (Daniel Meier), CLAIRE VOYANT (Victoria Lloyd), and IN STRICT CONFIDENCE (Dennis Ostermann) kicks off this CD with their cover of BERLIN's Metro. You'd expect a high caliber track from this trio and you'd be correct. A pulsing and hypnotic rhythm, light beats and squeaky synth lines, compliment Victoria's soothing, yet forceful vocals. Next up is the Southeast American act CUT.RATE.BOX and their exclusive Slither mix of Aperture. Slow bombastic beats are mixed with high energy synths and heavily vocoded vocals on this track seemingly built as a soundtrack for sci-fi adventure. CRB have come a looooong way since the early 90's where their track Two Headed Dog was a club favorite in Daytona Beach. STROMKERN's Night Riders (part 3 BOOLE mix) seems like a more simplistic version of the original, but that is quite alright, as the driving force in this track has always been Ned's vocals. LA FLOA MALDITA has been silent for far too long. It was so refreshing to hear Secrets and Dreams off of their new CD Salut Jacques. Of the smattering of female electro vocalists out there, Rhea has always been on of my all time favorites. While Guido's music is generally built for the dance crowd Rhea's soothing vocals manage to keep this track from being pigeonholed as just a club track. STATE OF THE UNION has been around for about 4 years now, but Makina Mata was the first track by them that I can remember hearing. Having remixed both LIGHTS OF EUPHORIA and BRUDERSCHAFT, I figured that there was something to their sound that would be appealing. Makina Mata features deep vocals that are mixed to the front of heavy dance beats and near hollow synths. All together their sound is a mixture of EBM and IDM, a perfect blend for the dance floor. It's easy to tell that TRIGGER10D put a great deal of time and effort into their track, You Complicate Things. Trippy beats, vibrant female vocals, and synth lines created for a lounge atmosphere are all layered perfectly on this enjoyable track. Vorbei (FAP7 mix) is taken from BEBORN BETON's CD Tales From Another World, their first domestic release. This European synth-pop act present a minimalistic track, driven by Stephan's smooth vocals, lively synth work and an echoing beat. Divina by DECEPTIO MENTIS continues down a synth-pop trail, but with some beefed up music backing the genial vocals. I would like to hear more from this band. Blending elements of noise, EBM, and atmospheric music, Pecking Order by MONSTRUM SEPSIS is a semi- belligerent instrumental track that would be ruined with the addition of vocals. To find the right blend of music and synth progressions that stand strong without the addition of vocals must be a difficult task, yet MONSTRUM SEPSIS pull it off wonderfully. PTI's Alysium (PTII mix) is a standard body music track complete with heavy beats and an amalgamation of both angry and mild vocals. Vocally, this band is reminiscent of ACTIVE MEDIA DISEASE. Lastly, CA's own REGENERATOR is present. Having been around for at least a decade, REGENERATOR's music had become much more in-depth. Blink (taken off their War CD) is a fast paced track the merges thick synths with a dense rhythm and Patrice's assertive, yet yielding vocals. All in all, WTII has compiled a nice little CD that is not only full of great tracks, but also an inexpensive way to get to know some of the bands that are currently in their line-up.
Ich Habe Die Nacht Getraeumet ltd E.P.
Noisy in nature, but with dance floor capability, Ich Hab Die Nacht Getræumet by Heimataerde acts as a precursor to their forthcoming full length. Limited to only 666 copies and already sold out, you may be asking why I am reviewing this. That answer will follow. Two versions of the title track are present, the Club Version and the Album Version. Aptly titled, the Club Version provides the listener with steady beats, distant, gruff vocals, and squeaky synth lines. To me, this sounded like a less aggressive and less dark version of Wumpscut. Whereas the Club Version relies upon the beats, the Album Version focuses more on the vocals and allows the slow and steady beats to set the pace. 3 other tracks give the listener a chance to sample some of the other sides of Heimataerde's music. Musikerhænde is an instrumental that blends together early electro sounds (ala Front 242) with roughed-up and clamorous beats and a variety of samples, both spoken and sung. The remaining two pieces, Gib Mir and Endlos combine future-pop style key work with scratchy vocals and danceable beats. Take the noisy beats of Suicide Commando, the poppy synths of VNV Nation, and the crude vocals of Wumpscut and there'd you have something close to the sound of Heimataerde. I'm anxious to see if this mixture of musical styles continues on their full length. So, if in passing, you happen across a copy of their soon to be release full-length, at least now you have some clue as to what to expect, which is why I am reviewing this E.P.
DAS ICH is a band that has present in the electro-industrial community for many years. Each of their albums shows a further progression in their sound, matching the current trends within the scene and Lava is no exception. On Uterus DAS ICH implement a firm, steady beat with a rifling rhythm which equates into a future-pop style tune with gruff German vocals. Stabbing synths knife their way
through Ficher, a thick, rhythmic, dance track. Meine Wiege is a noisier piece with hollow vocals and dark synths. Pounding beats, a fast-paced rhythm, and jumpy synths drive Schwarzer Stern. Vulkan is a more experimental dance track with foreboding synths, distant beats, and growling vocals. More melodic in nature, yet retaining its darkness, Schnsucht is a slower track that calms things down a
bit before Lava dives back into the more club accessible tracks such as Seele Tanzt. Seele Tanzt is an extremely upbeat track with some nice tempo changes. The WUMPSCUT remix of Vulkan transforms the original into a more bet ridden piece with minimal synths and raw vocals. As an added bonus, this CD comes with some nice multimedia goodies, including a USA Tour Video and a live version of Destillat. As a CD geared towards the dance floor, Lava delivers. As a CD geared toward the consumer, not only does Lava deliver musically, but the added videos are also a nice gift.
LIGHTS OF EUPHORIA
Krieg Gegen Die Maschinen
Krieg Gegen Die Maschinen is LIGHTS OF EUPHORIA's 5th full length. The sound of LOE has drastically matured over the years and with the release of Krieg Gegen Die Maschinen, LOE's sound has progressed even further. Torben Schmidt, the main individual behind LOE incorporates several guests on this CD, including Ronan Harris (VNV NATION), Gerritt Thomas (FUNKER VOGT), J Machon (GODHEADS), R Walterowicz (ENDANGER), and A Mather (TACTICAL SEKT). Another surprise was to
see two cover tunes present, RUN LEVEL ZERO's Shadows Merging and GOD MODULE's Dyskonnect. The album kicks of with the short intro track entitled Vorwort before truly beginning with True Life. It's clear as day to see what this was chosen as the first single from this CD. Walterowicz's vocals give this hard-edged electro dance a slight synth-pop tinge, which works together extremely well. Next up is Consequence (Face Yourself), a track on which you will immediately recognize the vocalist, Ronan Harris. Keeping up to pace with the standard VNV tune, Consequence is a rhythm driven piece with muffled synths and rich vocals. Nothing at All with Gerrit Thomas features a pounding beat reminiscent of FUNKER VOGT, and hollow, mild vocals. The synths on this track are pushed to the back, allows the beat and vocals to take control. Interface I is a dark electro track with rumbling bass, militaristic beats, and some German samples. While this track really goes nowhere, I believe it was used to set up the next portion of the CD. Aggression Pact is a harder industrial tune that takes the LOE sound and presents in a more minimal state. Continuing with a minimalist approach, Wings of Time is a slow track with deep vocals and a fixed, resonating beat. Interface II is much more upbeat and aggressive than the first part. On this track, LOE delve into the noise genre to produce a beat riddled piece with a boisterous rhythm. Helping to continue the noisy sonic atmosphere, GRENDEL's Shellshox remix of Fly to Target is a bombastic piece with angst-ridden vocals and a ferocious beat. On Shadows Merging, LOE take the RUN LEVEL ZERO track and recreate it in their own, hard electro way. While not as catchy as the original, this version does propel itself into the future-pop sub-genre due to its crisp synths and turbulent beat. Sounding like a throwback to their Brainstorm days, Trapped is an uptemo, strict EBM piece. Covering GOD MODULE's Dyskonnect, LOE add in some electronic elements to give this track a richer, fuller sound which does complement the harsher vocals. The CD winds down with Interface II, a 30 second, piano piece that does act as a smooth outro. Solid from start to finish, Krieg Gegen Die Maschinen, is a good CD, especially if you prefer a good dose of hard electro mixed in with your future-pop.
God of Hell
At first listen you'd probably come to the conclusion that THE RETROSIC fall squarely in line with the style of music created and still released by WUMPSCUT, dark, somber, and very club friendly. The CD begins with The Storm, a track that became an instant club hit. The brash beats, surly vocals, and clanging synths all come together to form an angst-ridden track, built for both headphones and a pumping club sound system. Equally as rough as The Storm, Maneater is an angry piece with a loud, semi-distorted rhythm section, militaristic beats, and growling vocals. New World Order is a little less noisy as the previous tracks, but what makes it work so well is the combination of jumpy synths and riveting beats. Tale of Woe is a much slower piece that incorporates some nice orchestra sounds that only add to its overall darkness. Picking the pace back up with its tumultuous beats and distorted synths is the sample laden, instrumental piece entitled Dragonfire. With it's Celtic sounding beats and distant, resonating synths, Elysium is an eerie instrumental that seems like it's paving the path for the tracks that follow. Total War is up next, and just at its title suggests, it's a combative dance track complete with irate vocals and throbbing beats. The beat in Antichrist seems to pick up right where Total War left off, but this time around THE RETROSIC incorporate some catchy synth lines which make this track a bit less somber. Passion (1st Sign) is a short intro piece that slows down the momentum of the album for just under 2 minutes before launching the listener into the brashness of Sphere, easily my favorite track on this CD. Echoing synths and trippy beats are combined to create a enigmatic atmosphere that is both light and dark in nature. Tears in Rain finishes off the CD with spoken word vocals and haunted sequences. Just when you think it is all over, there are two bonuses to keep you going. One is an unlisted, experimental track and the other is a multimedia video of The Storm. To be honest, upon the first few listens of this CD is found myself making far too many comparisons to WUMPSCUT, but after giving it a few more spins I can see where THE RETROSIC have taken that style of music and added their own unique spin. They have created an album that, while sounding sullen on minute, can turn and come straight at you with some pulverizing beats and nice, addictive synths the next. Could this be the next generation of industrial music? Only time will tell.
To call the reformation of Duran Duran a comeback is a deprivation in words. After 21 Years they have released a new record with all of the original member's: Simon Lebon (lyricist, Songwriter, Vocals, Wetdream). Nick Rhodes - (Keys, songwriting producer, socialite). John Taylor - (Bass and Hips). Andy Taylor - ( Guitar and Sunglasses). Roger Taylor - (Drums, percussion, Killer Smile).
The story goes something like this:
Simon thought': "huh... I wonder what John's doing." So, He called John. They said hey!! Lets Call Nick. Nick, after much wardrobe deliberation, called a car.
Nick said: "We taught these parts to other musicians, suddenly i'm playing with the people I wrote them with. It's fantastic! Playing with them is amazing". So, Andy received a call and John called Roger. John said: "that was the first time Roger had answered his phone in 20 years!"
They rented a house in the south of France and began working on new stuff. They had enough material to fill more than 2 records. John said they had thought of releasing all of it as a 2 CD set. Funny he should say that as the initial release for "Astronaut" is released in normal format and in a limited Edition option. The limited Edition option is way worth getting. It contains a DVD with the boys performing at "Wembley". There is tons of backstage footage and glimpses into why Duran Duran work so well together.
Astronaut will want to live in your CD player. You will have a hard time taking it out. It is everything that you would hope and imagine a Duran Duran record would sound like. In tracks like, "What happens tomorrow"- it is apparent that songwriting is the primarily active gene in their DNA. 2 letters shy of it. R and U. Simon's writing is better than ever and as comfortable as it ever was. Simon showcases his songwriting ability most in the final song of the CD. "Still Breathing" "I'm walking out of this town...I'm never going back there. I'm never going back there again." Attempting to select tracks off the cd that are grabbing my attention the most is difficult. The entire record gets a lipstick seal of approval and an Armani salute!
Duran Duran will be warming up their 2005 international tour at the Gwinnett Center in Atlanta on December 2nd 2004. Tickets are available through Ticket Master. "Astronaut" has been waiting to land in your record collection for sure.
All Things Shiney
Velvet Acid Christ
Between The Eyes Volumes 3 & 4
I decided that instead of writing seperate reviews for each of these releases I would just summerize it all in one package. So, if you have volumes 1 & 2 of this series, then you can expect more of the same with 3 & 4. There is nothing really new I can say about either one of these Cd's, that I haven't said in my earlier reviews of the first two volumes. All of this is music from "Neuroblastoma, Church Of Acid, Calling Ov The Dead" and a few unreleased rarities thrown in for good measure. It's just repackaged with new artwork (which is very cool I might add) to prompt fans to check out his older material (and a way to make some extra cash) because the original Cd's will soon be out of print. Personally I think re-mastering the original albums and re-releasing them would have been just as effective, and all the unreleased material could have been on one "new" Cd. Regardless, I would only recommend purchasing this series if you don't have any of V.A.C.'s older works, or your such a huge fan that you have to have it all. Otherwise, hang on to your originals because soon the only place you will be able to find them is on Ebay at a substantially higher cost.
Wrack And Ruin
Hocico's latest release is a crushing display of dark, nightmarish industrial that this Mexican duo is so well known for. Their musical formula hasn't really changed very much, but I think that the tempos on many of the songs are slightly slower and have a better dance floor appeal than on some of their previous albums. Granted, there were always a few tracks on each album just waiting to devour the unsuspecting club goer, but with "Wrack And Ruin" I think the band has hit it's mark.
As I mentioned earlier, the band has not strayed far from the trademark sound that has made them infamous over the years (demonic whispered vocals, eerie synths, haunting basslines and massive beats) but as the saying goes, "if it's not broke, why fix it?" This is not to say that their music has never evolved; quite the contrary. The production on "Wrack And Ruin" is top notch, and with each release the band draws upon the strengths of their earlier works to fine tune their new material.
Listening to any Hocico album is always unsettling, because it evokes feelings of despair, darkness, and the evil depravity of mankind. This is what the band does best, and only a select few can compete with horrific imagery, ferocity and shear aggression that Hocico brings forth. As far as favorite tracks go, "Tales From The Third World, Bizarre Words, Spirits Of Crime," and the sinister instrumental "Oracion Nocturna" are my recommendations, but the rest of the songs are just as amazing. Without a doubt, this is one the best industrial releases of 2004, the only competition being "God Of Hell" by The Retrosic. Along with the regular version of this Cd, there is a double disc box set with extra material, and a vinyl box set for the serious fan. No matter which one you pick, you won't be disappointed!
- Craig Harvey
Water To The Dead
Ego Likeness is a return to the gothic rock sound made popular by such bands as "Love Like Blood, Sunshine Blind, and Rosetta Stone" in the nineties. However, the band has managed to infuse this sound with softer, more downtempo moments that seem right at home with the faster, guitar driven numbers. Donna Lynch's powerful vocals are the focal point that carries each track across catchy guitar riffs, subtle synth lines, and a solid foundation of bass and drums. Also, there are the occasional male vocals (provided by her husband Steven Archer,) who along with several other band members are responsible for the guitar work and other instrumentation as well.
The album is divided into two unequal parts, (In The Water) being the first eight tracks which contain more of the heavier numbers, and (In The Ground) containing three slower songs. One interesting thing I noticed was on the last two songs "Wolves" and "Wayfaring Stranger" it was just Donna and a piano and very little else, which reminded me heavily of something akin to Tori Amos. It almost felt as if the album was winding down to a subtle close, after starting off at a much heavier pace with tracks such as "Water To The Dead, 16 Miles, and Hurricane." There will be of course, comparisons to other female fronted bands with a similar style, but regardless, this is a solid album that is sure to please those fans who wondered if gothic music had trully died. I think Ego Likeness along with some other bands that I have recently discovered will defintely bring it back to life.
Hanzel Und Gretyl
It seems that with every new release by this band they get heavier and heavier, and that's fine by me. The German duo of Loopy and Val Kallas, or better known as Hanzel Und Gretyl, have released their finest album to date. Scheissmessiah is a mixture of crushing metal riffs and electronics, blended with samples of classical music, and lyrics inspired by Dante's inferno. I was pretty impressed with their last CD "Uber Alles," but they have outdone themselves with this release. The heavily detuned guitar riffs are like sabbath on 11, and the demonic vocal assault sung in German, only intensifies the effect. A lot of the lyrics are more like chanting the same verses several times over( for example "Burning Bush" where it goes, "Burn that muthafucka" repeatedly), but somehow it works. I will say the songwriting has gotten somewhat better, but to me it's more about the music and the vibe this band has than how well they write lyrics. The incorporation of classical samples on the instrumental "10th Cirlcle" is quite clever in how they worked the entire song around them. One thing is for sure, this is one of the most seriously aggressive and pissed off sounding albums that I have heard all year. Play this one loud!!!!!
For those who have wondered where Juno Reactor had disappeared to since his last full length album "Shango," you have not been paying attention. He has released several singles, a live album, and a "best of" CD as well. Now Juno Reactor returns with another stunning display of musical diversity on the new release "Labyrinth." Combining elements of trance, rock, ambient, and world influences, this is truly a remarkable journey of musical styles. Not only that, but there are two tracks that are from the Matrix films that were remixed for this album. The first "Mona Lisa Overdrive" is from the highway chase sequence from Matrix Reloaded, which is one of the best moments of the film. It's a massive fast paced, heart pounding, techno fueled track that translates on CD as well as it did on screen. The second, "Navaras" is from Matrix Revolutions but I am not entirely sure which part. Some other highlights include the beautiful opening track "Conquistador 1" and "Angels and Men" that both had some nice female vocals giving them a "Delerium" feel. However, those are the softer moments of the album, compared to the rest of the songs which feature powerful tribal beats, dark electronics, and distorted vocals. The world influences help Juno Reactor's music stand apart from many electronic artist's giving it a unique sound and style. My only disappointment was that guitarist Steve Stevens (former Billy Idol) did not lend his incredible talents to this release as he had done in the past. Regardless, it's an outstanding musical endeavor that comes highly recommended.
After listening to the new release by MIndless Faith several times, I kept thinking "it sorta reminds me of another band, but I just can't put my finger on it." Well, on my way to work today I finally figured it out. Kevorkian Death Cycle. Specifically their album "Dark Skies." However, I really liked "Dark Skies" and I liked "Momentum" as well. So, the comparison is really a good thing. The album is not a rip-off it's just got a very similar sound and vocal style. (Like that has never happened before?) Mindless Faith hails straight from Pittsburgh Pa. and they definitely have got the right stuff when it comes to making a solid industrial album. Powerful electronics, heavy guitar, infectious beats and slightly processed vocals make for a deadly combination on tracks such as "Canaan- Ritual Mix, Momentum, Singular (which is a dance floor monster) and Eight Times" with it's dark middle eastern groove. Regardless of my comparisons to K.D.C., it's really good to see another American industrial act put out such a great album that shows a high level of musicianship and great song composition skills.
Cold Steel World
I once described Terrorfakt's music as a cross between the industrial stylings of early Wumpscut, crossed with the harsh noise soundscapes of Converter. Even DJ Hellraver (who is one half of the duo that forms this amazing band) agreed with me on the description. However, on their latest release "Cold Steel World" it's very apparent that these dark electronic architects have ventured much farther into the "noise" genre. Crushing beats, static rhythms, and screeching harsh samples all collide to batter your senses while still having some club potential for those who like it rough out on the dance floor.
The album is a lesson in non stop brutality from beginning to end. It has less actual keyboard synth sounds than their previous album "Deconstruction," which also featured some dark ambient tracks that are also absent on this release as well. There are a few movie samples which are used to enhance the overall feeling of dark desolation that this album carries, blended within the powerfull walls of sonic devastation. Tracks such as "Street Justice, Mephisto, and Hate Like This" reach for the jugular with a ferocity only rivaled by a select few of their peers. That is just the icing on the cake, as there are a total of seventeen tracks for you to pummel your brains into gleefull jelly with. For fans of Converter, Synapscape, Somatic Responses, and various others of this genre, prepare to be blown away as the new bad boys of industrial/noise show everyone how it's done.
Michelle Payne Band
Michelle Payne Band remind us what we loved about indie in the 1990s. This record is both fun and heartbreakingly beautiful. Michelle’s voice is angelic when it comes to the softer rockin’. ‘Holy Thursday’ is aching and ‘July’ makes me want to be home again. In fact, these two tracks prevented me from hearing the rest of the CD for a long time because I kept playing them over and over and over….However, on the more ‘rockin’ songs, Michelle’s strengths are not on their best display. Not that these are not good songs. There are few, if any, tracks here which are not brilliantly crafted and excellently pieced together. Sometimes the still, small voice is louder than a shout. It takes a powerful voice to do that, and Michelle has it. If she gives over to her ability, she’ll make some pretty powerful records. This release is perfect in almost every way. I cannot say it enough: I love it.
The Underground Personality Tapes
Star Blue TV
Roxy Saint is every burned-out, artsy punker you have ever met. You know the type. The kind who wander about with that ‘I found myself’ attitude and you hate them while being jealous because they come up with some pretty original stuff. And the killer is that you know you could do it better, if you had the equiptment. But you don’t, and you’re too lazy anyway, plus you’re afraid to go to the depths they are prepared to descend.
Art is dirty. If it’s clean, it sucks. The difference between Goya’s ‘Saturn Devouring His Children’ and those paintings of barns you find at Wal-Mart. Roxy Saint goes there. She does it for you, so that you can stay clean in your little apartment in the ‘burbs. Yeah, so the music videos are low-budget and partially silly. Yeah, so there is a vein of art school pretentiousness running through the whole DVD. But guess what kids…she had the idea, and now you can only repeat what she is doing. The beauty and wonderment of Roxy Saint is not that she is blatantly sexual (big deal) or that she is a poet (no more so than any of us) or even that she has ‘found herself’. This is a work of beauty. The random bits of footage interspersed between the videos have that same surreal ‘what-the-fuck’ quality as Crass’ ‘Christ – The Movie’. They create a weird mosaic of Roxy that dares you to try to create a personality for her. You cannot form a proper outfit that lays seamlessly over her. With The Underground Personality Tapes, she has stripped herself away and created a patchwork of people. You’ve seen them. They’re the gutter punks that slept on your couch, the art school kids you invited to parties because they made things seem more ‘intellectual’, the prude who practiced the art of slut as armour.
Roxy is a lot of everything. This album, DVD, piece of art, piece of shit…whatever you want to call it, it’s ingenious in its approach.
Iron & Wine
Our Endless Numbered Days
This is the sound of loss and longing. Southern rhythms and wisteria and jasmine, Spanish moss, and crumbling, decayed plantation mansion. Ghosts speak through Sam Beam, whispering voices that move like mist through the piney woods and silence of southern Georgia forests. This is the noise of moonlight on graves, of that quality of southern air that slows thought and action. If reminiscence has a voice, it is Sam’s. This is the soft caress of Southern blues, African-American spirituals, hellfire and brimstone. This is the Southern Gothic: dirt roads, porch swings, and ghosts. Here, you don’t leave. You stay on the front stoop with a glass of sweet tea, listening to the falling sun and that endless yarn spun by a million cicadas somewhere out there under the magnolias.
Waiting for the Tiller
I have heard Noise. I like it. It’s good stuff. Effed-up beats, random noises. Just like the Third Eye Foundation are too good to be called ‘drum and bass’, Hollydrift are too good to be called ‘noise’. This is a random collection of ambient noises. Static and footsteps and breaths and creaks and ghosts and radio…It’s a soundtrack for the city. It’s everything around you with the noise removed. No voices, no faces, no touch, no intrusion. You. do. not. focus. on. this. record. It is the background in the foreground. It is the sound of the faces you don’t remember, the buildings you know but cannot describe, the air displaced by people you will never meet. This is less a record and more a memory.