Sweden's Magnus Sellergren is better known to you as Videogram, composer and maker of synth-driven cult film score homages, such as last year's fantastic romp through the genres, Pre-Cert. His upcoming album, for Cineploit Records, is a bit more tightly-focused. The Gladiatori dell'ApocaliseEP pays tribute to the likes of The New Barbarians,Mad Max, and Exterminators of the Year 3000, and while a few cuts have that trademark horror disco sound, longtime Videogram fans will discover a whole new side of the musician. We spoke with Sellergren about the direction he's taken with Gladiatori dell'Apocalise.Read the Q&A at Starburst Magazine. Published 8/1/16
The compilations released by Private Records are a solid deep dive into the early electronic dance music and disco of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s Europe. Many of the cuts on their latest, Computered Love, chart a different course than what the label’s best known for though, which is a sort of space disco.Read the complete review at Modern Vinyl. Published 7/28/16
One of the best aspects of the music Alan Sinclair produces as Repeated Viewing is the fact that, for all of the faux mythologizing regarding his imaginary film scores, they actually tell a story through music. One can create artwork, a backstory, or some semblance of a plot summary, but all of that means nothing without music which could actually soundtrack said scenario.Read the complete review of Repeated Viewing's Street Force cassette at Starburst Magazine. Published 7/21/16
For those who know SSQ, they likely only know the ‘80s synth act in terms of two things: either as “the band Stacey Q was in before ‘Two of Hearts’” or “that one band from the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack.” They’re both of those things, but also, something more: a band who had everything working for them, only to never quite make it, despite one well-received video (for “Synthicide”), as well as a slightly more notorious one (for “Screaming in My Pillow”).Read the complete review of SSQ's Playback LP at Modern Vinyl. Published 7/19/16
In terms of musicality, BBC Radiophonic Workshop - 21 isn’t likely to be the sort of thing one puts on for groovy background tunes at a party. Honestly, the 21 record is really more of a historical document than an album, featuring as it does a vaguely chronological collection of pieces from the first 21 years of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s history on the a-side. Given that the majority of the Workshop’s early work wasn’t so much musical as background effects, what you have here is far more experimental tones. It’s musique concrete, rather than concrete melodies.Read the complete review of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop - 21 LP at Starburst Magazine. Published on 7/18/16
Combining the best of two worlds of classic cinema scores, the Night Terrors' Pavor Nocturnus is an absolute blast. Working in tandem as it does with sci-fi theremin and a huge pipe organ, all of this album sounds akin to modern rescore of something like Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires -- horror in space, essentially. Recorded on the largest pipe organ in the western hemisphere, which stands an astonishing 32 feet high and uses two motors to power the whole thing, one at 15 horsepower, and the other at 20. The sound this thing is far more powerful than any synthesizer could ever hope to be. There's just a deep resonance to Pavor Nocturnus I've not heard in a recording before. The grandiosity of the pipe organ actually allows for quite a study in contrasts. A very good case in point is "Megafauna," which has synths and the organ playing counterpoint melodies, and the difference in the thinness of the synths contrasting with rich fullness of the pipe organ really makes for a sonically dynamic track. "Blue Black" is the most masterful use of a theremin I think I've ever heard -- it took a solid minute of the song before I figured out it wasn't some oddly-modified violin. It's nicely complimented by the beats and drumming on "Gravissima," and that's what makes the Night Terrors so interesting on this album: there's a basic theme from which they work, but they diversify so much from that point, that you can't help but want to know what they'll come up with next. Frankly, the entirety of Pavor Nocturnus is that it almost out-Goblins Goblin. The Night Terrors work in that same sort of progressive rock meets abject fear vein, and their first two albums, Back to Zero and Spiral Vortex, I'd not really been able to get into, despite quite a bit of acclaim on the second. There's something about the addition of this pipe organ that lends the band a bit more gravitas than they'd previously been able to drum up, and makes their sound far more unique than the previous idol worship. This is the first release on Twisted Nerve, the new music imprint from Australia reissue label Dual Planet and Finder Keepers. I'm happy to see so many of these reissue labels branch out into releasing new music, and this is a very exciting start to Twisted Nerve. I can't wait to hear what comes next. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ijvq2xVbjIk[/embed] More details on the Melbourne Town Hall pipe organ, where the album was recorded, can be found here. For more information on the Night Terrors' Pavor Nocturnus, or to purchase the album when it comes out on Halloween, you can visit the Dual Planet website.
Ray Creature, the new project from Leg's John Booth, has an interesting record out now on Sister Cylinder. While I'm not really into the whole post-punk aesthetic, I've gotten a little further into the synthwave / darkwave / et cetera sets of bands because of my growing obsession with '80s horror flicks. However, while I really dig the synths on this record, the vocals turn me off. The whole demon Elvis croon pretty much peaked with Glenn Danzig, and everyone else is aping him. Find your own voice, folks. "Threat" and "Burning Alive" (especially the latter) are the only really egregious examples extant on Ray Creature's LP, but they're particularly glaring. I mean, the whole album is a mish-mash of styles and influences, which it flies pretty proudly. The instrumental work falls somewhere between Vangelis and Joy Division. "Motions Felt" has a wobbly, off-kilter feel that I really enjoyed, but more because it was where Booth's vocals were reigned in, and he wasn't belting the lyrics out like a Vegas lounge act. Ray Creature seems to be divided stylistically between the two sides. While neither A nor B can be said to be exactly "peppy," there's a much more upbeat feel to the A-side, while the B-side is downbeat and dark. "Long Caress," the track which closes the album, is especially quiet and brooding. It's in strong contrast to the cut which opens the album, "Don't Stop Talking," with its funky bassline and vocal interplay between Booth and Natascha Beuhnerkemper. It's kind of Blondie by way of Tom Tom Club. It comes on 180-gram black vinyl, and it sounds great. The tones of this album are at times very subtle, and the mastering job by Paul Mahern (yes, of the Zero Boys) is absolutely wonderful. It's a super-warm feel for as cold and dark as these songs are. It could've been a very sterile release, but the way "Long Caress" pulses out the speakers is particulalry impressive. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/repartiseraren/free-download-ray-creature-white-suits[/embed] Ray Creature's self-titled release is out now from Sister Cylinder, and available in their webs store.
Good news: Hex Dispensers' Alex Cuervo has finally followed up his debut Espectrostatic LP on Trouble in Mind! Bad news: it's to benefit the medical expenses of the Hex Dispensers' Rebecca Whitley. She had to have a 23-pound ovarian cyst removed from her. You can see the VERY uncomfortable images of that here (not recommended if you're planning on eating anything involving tomatoes for the next few days). The cyst was benign, but medical bills are expensive, as anyone who's ever had to have a major medical procedure done can attest (Team Nuthouse featured a gallbladder removal and facial reconstruction surgery in one month that its still paying off almost 7 years later). So, you can get a brand-new Espectrostatic release, Phantominom VGS, available for the first time today, and help out Ms. Whitley. What is the Phantominom VGS, you ask? Well ...
Based on the urban legend of an '80s era video game console purchased at a garage sale that no-one had ever heard of, with mysterious electrical and television connectors that did not match any existing technology. The assumption being that this console was not from our world, but from a nearby parallel universe. The Phantominom VGS EP features 6 songs-- all constructed to the imagined/assumed audio specifications of the Phantominom VGS. Those specifications being 4 monophonic FM synthesizer channels with the luxurious addition (for it's time) of 3 PCM audio percussion channels. This is state of the art stuff circa 1988 (and slightly ahead of what was technologically available in OUR universe around that time).Purchase Phantominom VGS and you get three new Espectrostatic songs, remixes of two songs from his debut LP, and a remix of the Hex Dispensers' "Parallel" that will rock socks, plus a photograph of the Phantominom VGS box art.
I really want to look at AL_X'sShunt as a solid work, akin to an imaginary film score or concept album. Enough of the tracks work well together -- "Takk (En Sens)" followed by "Into the Trees" followed by "Shunt (Part I)," especially -- but the vocal tracks, working in standard song structures, just lose me. It may be that I'm not particularly a fan of the Antony and the Johnsons school of falsetto, but frankly, the tracks that follow this pattern ("Too Late, Too Far," "Faux," et al) work like those really awful tracks that run over the end credits after the main title reprise or whatever has run, while they're listing the second unit key grips and catering providers. Initially, I wanted Shunt to work. It's ambitious and wide in scope, but at the end of it, what you essentially have here is two separate albums, interwoven and only slightly working together. The LP is one excellent 40-minute electronic album bolstered by 30 minutes of light dance-pop. Now, occasionally, something like "Screaming Across The Sky" will evoke senses of "I Become the Color" from Stoker -- a traditional song that manages to compliment the rest of the instrumental film score. However, for the most part, the songs just don't work as well as the instrumental pieces. Their structure seems to be a piano part dropped on top of already-existing electronic elements. This is to say nothing of the fact that the vocals are pretty weak. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/alex-dunford/back-into-the-trees-from-shunt?in=alex-dunford/sets/shunt-excerpts[/embed] "Into the Trees" is pretty excellent soundtrack worship, really working well in the vein of Boards of Canada. It rocks a motorik rhythm, with electronic squibbles punctuating randomly. The drumbeat's slightly tribal, putting the song in some sort of quasi-futuristic, post-apocakyptic mood. Cuts like that and "Strond," which just give in to the Radiophonic Workshop influences wholeheartedly, are the pieces which work best and grab your interest most solidly. AL_X's Shunt is out now, and available on CD or download from the Fluttery Records store.
Potpourri of Pearls' We Went to Heaven has been playing down here in the basement, in the living room, at work, and various places over the past week. I've been trying to figure out if my initial impressions of it being amazing and weird have held up to repeated listens. Honestly, the first time I listened to We Went to Heaven, the whole '80s worship thing was a fun angle -- especially the fact they were lifting Erasure, making this a refreshing switch from bands who've been swiping New Order's sound for the better part of two decades. Repeated plays haven't really born out the opinions from the first listen. Frankly, with the exception of the last few tracks, the beats start to plod after a few tracks, and the repeated reliance on Autotune and various other bits of vocal pitch-shifting only demonstrate the unfortunate flatness in the vocals. For Potpourri of Pearls to work, these falsettos need to soar, and they barely achieve the heights of a baby bird taking its first tentative flaps out of the nest. However, when they embrace their limitations, and try something different -- when they get fucking weird -- the band clicks. "Under Every Ocean," with its extraordinarily uncomfortable juxtaposition of squeaky and super-deep pitch-shifted vocals, some beats that manage to do more than thud, and just being fucking freaky, works like crazy. Is it a dance number? Oh, hell no. People'd flee the dance floor like rats on a ship, but it's definitely far more interesting than anything that preceded it. Followed up as it by "Hang Me," a song that manages to work the weird in a much more listener-friendly way, with a flipping great hook and a groove that locks in and doesn't let go, you get the feeling that Potpourri of Pearls have it in them to embrace their inner SSION and make dance music that manages to be interesting. [embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Prs5us1soM[/embed] We Went to Heaven comes out February 11. Potpourri of Pearls will have a release party that night at Philadelphia's Kung Fu Necktie with operners Disco Hootenany. Details are viewable here.