zondag 27 december 2009

review: Poeme Electronique - The Echoes Fade


German label Anna Logue is mostly a re-issue label focussing on synthesizer music from the 1980's and mostly releasing synth pop and electro pop music from that era. Their catalogue features releases by Camera Obscura, Sudeten Creche, Design and Monuments to name a few.
Some the releases I liked best so far are the Carmody and Monuments cd's with some great synth pop music. A little but off center maybe for the label were the releases by The Hands Of Cain (batcave music) and Stranger Station (synth music but less pop).
Next to these 1980's releases with some obscure material the label also released a few contemporary bands like Sleep Museum (also known as After The Snow on my label), Sonnenbrandt (Neue Deutsche Welle / electro pop) and The Silicon Scientist (solo project of Sonnenbrandt member).
Also Anna Logue has released a few records by 1980's bands with remixes and new versions of old songs. In that way a 7 inch has appeared by UK based Poeme Electronique on which the band presented a new version of their classic cult single 'The Echoes Fade'/'Voice'.
Now there is this massive 2LP with no less then 16 tracks by Poeme Electronique. All original tracks so no remix/remaster/re-do whatever. The real thing. It is funny that this band never reached more people back then. The original 7 inch from 1982 was quite good and many of the songs on this 2LP are simply great.
Here is a band with real musical skills and singing talent. You cannot say that of many of the 1980's bands that are currently being re-issued. On this record Anna Logue shows us a band with all onboard to have made it. Strange they never became bigger...
Just listen to tracks like 'Rendezvous', 'Fragile' and 'Dilemma'. These would have been great A sides for singles and great tracks for some extended 12 inch versions. What you hear is a new wave synthesizer band that sounds in a way like a more poppy version of Kirlian Camera. Never as gothic, never as Italo disco but equally good and with a similar moody sound.
At times the tempo goes a bit more down and you get served some excellent dreamy pop tunes like on 'A Mourner's Lament' for example.
This 2LP is a fantastic document with all these tracks collected, the deluxe packaging and in this hand numbered limited edition of 500 copies. Still this could have been a simply fantasic LP by leaving some tracks away. Now it is more of a document then a real album. Besided this no complains here!
You can get this 2LP and some of the other Anna Logue releases at my webshop here... look under the 80's section...

maandag 21 december 2009

Live report: Crash Course In Science




Since some years there is the Belgian Independent Music Festival (BIM Fest) in Antwerp. The line-up always features some 80's bands performing live. Sometimes in a way of an exclusive revival one off show and sometimes as a real come-back after some years of silence.
Last weekend (saturday 19 december 2009) there was one very special band on the bill. I had expected much more people from all over the world for this band but maybe the bad weather discouraged some people. Anyway... legendary cult band Crash Course In Science performed.
This American band was more of an art group and performance group as maybe a true band (in the rock 'n roll sense). They were active in the late 1970's and early 1980's and released only one 7 inch and one 12 inch EP. A total of seven songs only thus.
In a way they never really split up but just went on doing other art stuff with other people. But during the years their music proved to be an inspiration for (electronic) art (punk) groups around the world and excellent tracks for dj's in industrial, punk but also dance scences. I think their music is for sure some sort of proto-techno with its machine and industrial sounds but done with a real punk attitude.
This year a 3 LP box appeared with next to the 7 inch and 12 inch also the never finished 'Near Marineland' album, which was never mixed and released before. Next to that demos, live recordings and remixes where added.
So, why not a live performance? Even though I never really like to see 1980's bands on stage, as mostly it is not that good and it damages my way of listening to the music afterwards, I simply had to see Crash Course In Science. I had been thinking about what they would do. Would it be like hitting the "on" button for a backing tape with the old sounds?
Well... it simply was a great performance. It showed the band had been thinking about how and what to do on stage. The female musician and singer had a dress with all sort of lights on it and some light toys to swing around with. This looked really well on the very dark stage.
Also the set list was built very well. It was quite short maybe (or maybe it only felt that way) but with a very good energy throughout the set. Opening with the industrial track "Crashing Song" and going into the 7 inch tracks and the other 12 inch tracks spiced up with some tracks from the 1981 period that were meant for 'Near Marineland'. Building up to the climax of cult hit "Flying Turns" and coming back for the encore "Pompeii Spared". A demo track recorded for 'Near Marineland'. This could have become another cult hit if released back then.
The good thing about the concert was that the music was not simply the tracks as recorded back then. Crash Course In Science served their music in an updated way. You could identify the original songs but the sound was thicker and sounding contemporary but without sounding kitsch or over produced or trying to sound too modern.
In a way Crash Course In Science sounded more techno but only as a logical consequence of being a proto-techno band before. As the band has proven to be artistically important and influencal before, they have proven this weekend to be all but outdated. So this concert leaves me eagerly waiting to see the band perform again and to hear their current sound recorded and released.

Set list Crash Course In Science at BIM Fest 19 december 2009:
1. Crashing Song
2. Second Glance
3. Cardboard Lamb
4. No More Hollow Doors
5. It Cost's To Be Austere
6. Jump Over Barrels
7. Force The Habbit
8. Factory Forhead
9. Near Marineland
10. Flying Turns

Encore:
11. Pompeii Spared

zondag 13 december 2009

review: Digital Leather - Warm Brother


I came to know Digitial Leather as a one man synth punk project. Some of the songs I liked, some did not really stuck to me. But I kept an eye and a ear out for this project as still the good tracks are very enjoyable. So when I read about a new record I had a quick pre-listen and was suprised to hear (and see on youtube) a band with drums and guitars. Apparantly I missed out on some changes around Digital Leather. Changes that are for the better if I might add...

The latest release, "Warm Brother", is playing for some time now here. Due to the band sound I find the songs and the album as a whole much more interesting as some of the older material. Synth punk has changed to indie pop/rock and punk pop... but all for the better. The synths are still there in the background with some rocking melodies but all is much more lo-fi pop orientated now. Maybe the band even sounds like a Green Day that never became too poppy and too chart orientated. I know this might sound like a strange comparison but in a way it is quite fitting I think.

Just listen to excellent tracks as 'Your Hand, My Glove', 'Kisses' and 'Bugs On Glue' they will get you moving for sure. The most oustanding track is 'It Hurts So Bad' which comes quite close to some Patrik Fitzgerald... but has a nice wierd pop twist to it.

Digital Leather has become a much more interesting band with their band sound and current line-up. I am looking forward to get a change to see them live. Also if they keep their sound like this without moving further into pop terrority I am really curious about the next recordings.

donderdag 10 december 2009

review: Former Ghosts - Fleurs


It is funny... Cold Cave has a good rumor going on, Former Ghosts is following close after them (mainly because of sharing musicians and performing together) and Agent Side Grinder is just around the corner. This "neo wave" is nothing new at all... as followers of my label know. It is right now maybe just (again) the next hype for some journalists and labels... well I hope not... I rather see this music to be taken seriously and getting the credits it deserves. It is much more daring as the music from the contemporary gothic scene (also a sort of neo wave). Which is often nothing less as simple and cheesy Garageband/Fruityloops dancefloor music with some distorted vocals.

Anyway... Former Ghosts... what a debut album they have delivered. Too be honest 'Fleurs' did not attract my full attention when I first put it on. But... after the album was finished I put it on again and again and again... The thing is that the first few songs are not outstanding... compared to the rest of the album that is. Maybe it will appeal to some peope who are looking for a not everyday but still dancefloor type of song in the 80's new wave / cold wave tradition.

My advice is to skip the first three songs and then plunge into the dark, moody and eerie sounds of Former Ghosts. The thing that sets this band apart from many other bands in the neo wave scene is that the electronic music sounds fresh and crispy. It has some cuts and clicks moments and quite clear and nice melody lines. Most bands who play this style of music have a dominating analogue sound (do not get me wrong... I like that) with lots of distortion all over it. So, not Former Ghosts.

The vocals are rather eerie and in the background a bit muffled too. The combination with the music is like an updated version of Trisomie 21 to give at least one reference.

My absolute favorite tracks are those that feature the singer from Zola Jesus. It gives me shivers all over. 'In Earth's Palm' and especially 'The Bull And The Ram' would fit perfectly in a David Lynch film. You know in a scene in some strange and run down or otherwise unsettling bar or roadhouse. With a singer on stage who seems to be half fainting or anything... well I guess you get the picture.

To conclude... wow! What a record. I should get some copies for my webshop soon...

Gifgrond & Enfant Terrible: 27 feb 2010 live Adolf Filter, Monster Apparat, Kord + dj M.


On saturday 27 february 2010 Gifgrond and Enfant Terrible team up again for a festivity. This time there will perform three Swedish minimal synth, synth pop, wierd elektro pop acts: Adolf Filter, Monster Apparat and Kord.

I will be spinning some fitting tunes as DJ M.

For Gifgrond see here...
For Adolf Filter see here...
For Monster Apparat see here...
For Kord see here...

More information on time and such later...

dinsdag 8 december 2009

review: Undergangen - An Audio Companion To The End Tymes


What a suiting release to listen to at this time of the year... it is dark outside and this is a soundtrack to warm you up! This is a massive compilation indeed. Both in volume (it is a C120... oh yes for the unaware... that means it is a cassette tape) and in music: it is lenghty and goes into many aspects of electronic/noise/drone/and more music.

The main thing that speaks from this release is authenticity. Maybe not all tracks are a 100% my cup of tea... it does not matter as this release is true to its tradition and strong in showing real independent (and obscure) music. Due to this the whole selection is what really counts not the individual tracks. Even though some are really good and better as others... of course.

This compilation takes you from dreamy drones to harsh noise to electronic sound tapestry. It is in my opinion pointless to go through all the tracks here. It comes down to this: the sound is overall dark, experimental and only for adventurous and experienced listeners. There are a few acts that might ring a bell with some people (I hope)... like: Enema Syringe, Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words, Adolf Filter, Monster Apparat and The Skull Defekts. Next to that there are many more artists present to check out for sure.

Funny to note is that the more accessible bands like Adolf Filter and Monster Apparat deliver tracks that are much more experimental as their average output. It is very nice to hear this side of these artists!

I cannot say otherwise as that this compilation is a strong selection of sounds, moods and feelings. Perfect to enjoy in the nighttime and in the dark. Add some red wine and the waiting for the end had never been this pleasant.

Ah... I forgot to mention... I believe the tape is sold out already. Maybe there are a few left at some places. If not... well simply check out some other fine (ultra limited) releases by the Fukk Tapes Lets Erase label.

Have a nice End Tymes!

woensdag 2 december 2009

review: Low Red Center


Today a small pile of the debut 10 inch by USA based band Low Red Center was delivered. Since I opened the package and put a copy on the turntable I did not play anything else anymore this day.

Low Red Center is more of a performance group then a traditional band thing. The live shows I have read about seems to feature costumes, theatrical aspects and such... hopefully they are coming over to Europe some day soon... Also it is a group of musicians with some experience as members are also active in Medio Mutante and Zom Zoms for example.

Anyway the music... well you could qualify this as minimal synth but it is sounding less harsh and raw and is richer in sounds and textures. It has none of the clich├ęs of the style and that is what makes it so good... even outstanding.

The sound is quite light and warm and playful. Still it is lo-fi and unpolished. Well basically it has all that good post-punk music should have... Maybe think about the experimental side of The Dreams and mix this with the melancholy side of Kim Ki O and put in a bit of Los Iniciados and you get pretty close to what they sound like.

This 10 inch is their debut vinyl release on S-S Records (there is also a 7 inch out now on another label) and it is simply lovely! I hope the future will bring more nice tunes from this band... meanwhile you can get a copy of this 10 inch in my webshop...