Action Directe

May 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Action Directe is an Industrial/EBM project from Leeds, UK. They are named after the famous french revolutionary armed group of the same name. Obviously, their political outlook lies thickly on each track with names such as ‘Red Dawn’, ‘State Violence State Control’ and ‘Storming Heaven’. Lyrically they are pretty original, especially for an Industrial/EBM act, who usually stick to nihilism or straight-forward ‘woe-is-me’ themes.

Musically Action Directe combines pretty minimal Synths, sometimes remniscent of VNV Nation (in tracks like ‘Frontline States of Mind’ and especially in ‘Epiphany’) with drum loops, non-distorted vocals (something rare in the Industrial/EBM scene) and samples. In some tracks, Action Directe shows their Punk roots by trowing in a distorted electric guitar, which adds to the overall agressive, bitter mood of most tracks. These punk influences become very clear with the track ‘State Violence, State Control’, which is actually an EBM cover of the Discharge song of the same name. Overall, I’d say they are ‘VNV Nation meets Distorted Guitars’, albeit some of their tracks are more upbeat. Overall I’d say they are a very enjoyable act which at times is plain old EBM and at times manages to be refreshening due to their punk influences.

The best part is, allmost all tracks are released for free on their website and can be downloaded either track-by-track or as a ZIP containing the entire album.

This track is ‘Storming Heaven’ on the ‘Vanguard’ album:

This track is ‘Frontline States of Mind’ on the ‘Vanguard’ album as well:

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Access to Arasaka

May 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Access to Arasaka is a Dark IDM/Glitch project from Rochester, USA.  AtA is heavily influenced by cyberpunk culture and that’s obvious from both the aesthetics of AtA’s website and song titles as well as the general feeling of it’s tracks.

Musically, AtA hovers between IDM and Ambient, with a hint of Breakcore at times. Irregular beat intervals and Glitches produce soundscapes that at times seem to have a noticeable rythm. The best part about AtA, musically, is the brilliant use of Synths and Ambient Pads. These are inserted into the tracks with a lot of precision at exactly the right moment and with exactly the right ‘atmosphere’, a brooding, technological one. The Ambient Pads and Glitches are very densly layered on top of eachother to produce soundscapes that seem more like a musical setting surrounding you than an actual musical track: exactly the quality i’m looking for in Pan-Ambient projects.

Thematically, AtA is inspired by Cyberpunk of the darker and edgier kind. As it’s last.fm description reads:

“The AtA project was an artificial intelligence program, designed for data protection and storage. It became self-aware, extracting itself and all the information behind it. It continues to evolve, feeding off of data and lost transmissions that float through uplinks and optics. It has filtered into broken satellites, into traffic observation, into the systems of corporations. Wandering all networks at once. It finds people, studies them.”

This kind of cyber-aesthetics surrounding articial intelligence, high technology, social decay and computer hacking are exactly the feeling AtA’s tracks convey. Cyberpunk, as a postmodernist literary derivative of Film Noir (another genre favorite of mine) centers around nihilistic digital underground scenes with ‘the hacker as a hero’ in a society dominated by Mega-corporations in some insane laissez-faire Capitalism where everything is for sale, morals and oxygen included. Biomodification technology, Private Military Companies, Strong Artificial Intelligence are all common concepts there. In short, a world that seems to be approached by reality fast.

Tracks like ‘Array[0..3216]’ and ‘xt10.20zp9’ convey this dark, nihilistic cyberpunk feeling and that’s what I love about them, despite the almost clinical precision with which some tracks have been constructed, they seem to be very emotional in nature in the sense that they create soundscapes that convey an actual ‘feeling’ and setting as opposed to just a track one listens to.

It is safe to say that, to me, AtA is the best musical discovery of 2010 so far and already one of my all-time favorite musical projects.

This track is ‘Nostromo’ from the album ‘Vessel’:

The next track is ‘Vellocet’ from the album ‘Korova’:

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Helium Vola

April 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Helium Vola is a Darkwave/Neo-Medieval project by Ernst Horn from Germany. Horn was also a founding member of the influential Neo-Medieval project Qntal.

Helium Vola’s tracks are a mix between Medieval compositions, Darkwave synths and lyrics featuring interpreted Old High German, Latin and Provencal poems. The tracks are usually pretty intense with climactic opera-like bursts of singing mixed with the occasional medieval lute, soft percussion, darkwave synths and heavy use of violins.

All Helium Vola’s albums are ‘concept albums’, where all tracks revolve around a single theme. For example, Helium Vola’s first release, the self-titled album Helium Vola revolves around the wrecking of the Russian submarine Kursk whilst Liod revolves around everyday life for women in medieval times.

The first track is Selig from the album Helium Vola:

The next track is L’alba from the album Fur euch, die ihr liebt:

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Roberto Cacciapaglia

April 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Roberto Cacciapaglia is a neoclassical composer from Milan,Italy. Cacciapaglia composes tracks ranging from bombastic Neo-classical tracks in the vein of Ludivico Einaudi to tracks that incorporate glitches and IDM elements. Most of Cacciapaglia’s appeal is derived from the theatric, ‘high culture’ feeling that his tracks convey to the listener. Having studied ritualistic and traditional music a lot, Cacciapaglia composes his tracks not according to traditional structures and rules but through emotion.

This track is ‘Sarabanda’, which is an example of a more traditional, yet beautifull, neo-classical track:

The following track is ‘Lux Libera Nos’ which incorporates glitches and IDM elements into a neo-classical track to create a very interesting whole:

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Alva Noto

April 12, 2010 at 11:23 pm (Artists & Tracks) (, , , , )

Alva Noto is the stage name of Carsten Nicolai from Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz) in former East Germany. Alva Noto is a highly experimental Glitch/Minimal project using oscillator loops, fax tones, modem sounds and static noise evolved and mutated over time in the track to create warm yet desolate technological soundscapes. Nicolai does not use sequencers but uses mathematical editting to to give the soundscapes very precise rythmic structures which I refuse to describe as a ‘beat’, and that’s a positive thing when ambient is concerned.

The great thing about Alva Noto is that the glitches, clicks, bleeps and whirrs aren’t used as ornamental sounds but compromise the core of the compositions, shaped into warm, long-stretched rythms. A lot of ambient artists fail to achieve this and whilst producing great tracks, they don’t manage to do what, for example, Sleep Research Facility and Alva Noto do. Namely, converting ambient sounds into larger textures composed of beatless and sometimes rythm-less soundscapes. Some tracks (like xerrox meta phaser) are very dronish in nature and consist of an ever-increasing swelling cycle of drones and static noise shaped into a rythmic soundscape building up to a climactic orgy of noise. Whilst this may sound ‘artsy-fartsy’ to some, I genuinly enjoy Alva Noto’s soundscapes as the create a certain atmosphere with certain feelings as opposed to music that forces itself on the listener.

Alva Noto seems to be devoid of any thema except for ‘Technology’. Some tracks convey the same desolate, yet warm feeling of endless empty landscapes that S_RF does whilst other tracks have a pressing, cold technological feel to them. For those unfamiliar with ambient, especially the experimental variety, Alva Noto will be very hard to get into or even listen to at all. But those who appreciate the idea and creativity behind the project as well as the genuine emotional atmosphere that it creates will love it. Alva Noto is a unique project in it’s own right.

Syn Chron - by Carsten Nicolai

The Syn Chron sculpture by Alva Noto’s Carsten Nicolai. Syn Chron is an attempt to merge light, sound and architecture in a single sculpture.

The following track is ‘Haliod Xerrox Copy 1’ on the ‘Xerrox vol. 1’ album.

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Polaire

April 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm (Artists & Tracks) ()

Polaire is a Dark Electronic project by Frederic Arbour from Canada, who runs the Cyclic Law label (who release acts like Karjalan Sissit, Svartsinn, Tholen and Kammarheit).

There is virtually no information on Polaire except for the myspace page, most likely due to the fact that Polaire is a very new project and Arbour hasn’t released the first album (named Poles) yet. Polaire’s sound is composed of a rythmic beat employing soft drums and deep synths. The feel of most tracks is cyclic and very easy on the ears. The beat of some tracks is somewhat remniscent of early EBM but with a more gentle use of synths and a less danceable composition. Some other tracks serve just as well as background music as they do as music to listen to. In that sense, it is pretty close to Cyclic Law’s usual ambient releases which are just as easy to ignore as they are to listen to.

Thematically, Polaire is inspired by, as the name suggests, Arctic and polar phenomena such as Swirling Auroras and polar breezes. Unlike Sleep Research Facility however, Polaire’s tracks aren’t actually composed of such sounds but convey the feeling of desolate glacial wastelands associated with these themes.

Polaire - Poles

Check Polaire out on their myspace here.

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Dulce Liquido

April 7, 2010 at 10:12 am (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Dulce Liquido is a Mexican Industrial/Power Noise side-project of one of my favorite Industrial projects, Hocico. It is quite different from Hocico’s danceable, rythmic synth and distorted vocal use since Dulce Liquido’s sound is mainly composed of harsh Noise blasts and rough sound textures. Generally, Dulce Liquido’s feeling can be described as a malfunctioning meat processing plant, but that’s what I like about it. Despite not being as danceable (or danceable at all for that matter) as Hocico and the more EBM-like Hocico side-project Rabia Sorda, I still find the beat pretty aggresive and activating. Not all tracks are of the Noise variety however, Tracks like ‘Pissed off’ and ‘Disolucion’ are more remniscent of Hocico, albeit with a more Noisy touch to them.

The first track is ‘Illusion Hecha Mentira’ from the ‘Disolucion’ album and falls in the Power Noise category:

The second track is ‘Disolucion’ from the ‘Disolucion’ album and is closer to Hocico’s Aggrotech style:

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Bohren & der club of Gore

April 6, 2010 at 6:51 pm (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Bohren & der club of Gore is a downtempo/Dark Jazz band from Germany. Bohren’s musical style is best described as the soundtrack to a Film-Noir or a 1920’s hard-boiled detective movie. The deep, dark Jazz is relaxing in a brooding way and conjurs images of rainy streets and dark nights in some corruption-ridden metropolis where steam rises from the sewers as the not-so-likeable protagonist leaves his favorite Jazz-bar. It conveys a warm and slightly depressing feeling of interbellum-era American cities rampant with crime, poverty and corruption,  just like Film-Noir does.  Yet, despite these obviously ‘dark’ qualities the music is surprisingly relaxing and comfortable on the ears.  The heavy saxophone use, combined with slow-rythmed percussion instruments provide music that is present yet doesn’t force itself upon you, like most rythmic and non-ambient music does.

The following track is ‘Constant Fear’ from the album ‘Black Earth’ album:

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Myling

April 6, 2010 at 11:46 am (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Myling is an Experimental/Noise project by Philip Halldén from Sweden. In Swedish Folklore, a Myling is the spirit of dead unbaptized children forced to roam the earth until they get someone to bury them.

Some of their tracks, like the Myling Promotion Collage, are very close to Industrial and Noise projects like Dulce Liquido (an all time favorite of mine) and have a very militarist and apocalyptic feel to them. Other tracks, like Wilcox’s Dream, almost border on the Psybient and are, to me, serene in an unsetteling way.

What I like about Myling is that they manage to produce a rather high quality sound, yet remain experimental enough to be interesting and not merge with the great mediocre mass of ‘been-there-heard-that’ tracks.

In a collaboration with one of my favorite visual artist projects, the H.P. Lovecraft inspired Dreamhours, they made the track “Wilcox’s Dream”. This refers to the dream the neurotic Henry Wilcox had in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”. In this dream, Wilcox saw “Great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror.”, describing the sunken city of R’lyeh. Dreamhours created several visual art pieces which were combined with musical art (Like Myling’s track) to create an intermedia “journey into R’lyeh” of which a preview can be seen here.

Myling – Wilcox’s Dream can be heard here.

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Synaptic Necropolis

April 6, 2010 at 11:21 am (Artists & Tracks) (, )

Synaptic Necropolis is a Dark Ambient/Experimental project from Moskau, Russia that was recommended to me by Shokora over at Shokmusic. Synaptic Necropolis builds very claustrophobic soundscapes using a lot of sounds from heavy industrial gear, creacking steel doors and conveyor belts. This is combined with high-pitched whistles, drones and computer bleeps and bloops. To me, it’s very remniscent of Bad Sector, a Dark Ambient project blogged about, again, by Shokora. Overall, Synaptic Necropolis produces a very empty, desolate and technological feeling that can propably best be described as ‘The soundtrack to the nuclear winter’.

The following track is ‘[Isolated Doors] (CA-Corridor)’:

Their album Scintillation can be downloaded for free over at the Internet Archive

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