Sunday, 27 April 2014

Hybridcore - Aesthetische

Remember when Industrial / EBM was fresh, exciting, and full of possibility? When the idea of a dark edged dance-music that would get you to put your hands in the air and be on the dancefloor all night was still something new? Aesthetische do, and their latest album, Hybridcore, is here to make your life a better place. Filled to the brim with everything good and wonderful about early FrontLine Assembly, Nitzer Ebb, and the like (good solid dance tracks with meaty electronic sounds, dark foreboding and themes) but also picking up on trance, house, and clubber anthemics. It has power, it has melody, it has hooks big enough for whale-fishing: what more could you want? How about it's two key members being ex Aghast View members, giving it a pedigree and them working with a range of singers to bring in a depth to the vocals that most bands fail to get over a series of albums.

Highlights for the album are the clubtastic "The Light Within", the opener "Wall of Illusions" (which is a dead-ringer for a Frontline Assembly track in a good way), the banging "Amplitude Zero", "Statement" with the sound of a pissed off VNV Nation, and the cheeky "Twisted Volt" which has a rather nifty new romantics keyboard line going thought it. Not to say that it's backwards looking or a rewrite of old favorites, just that it's a sound which knows where it's roots are and doesn't mind revisiting the classics as long as it can put a modern twist on them. The sounds aren't going to start a revolution, but the quality could. It's dark, it's edgy, it's sexy, and if you want to get hot and sweaty in a nightclub that's what you really need.

O Captein! My Captein! - Romantially Apocalyptic

Romantically Apocalyptic is a rather strange, post-apocalyptic, webcomic that follows the surreal tales of Captain, Snippy, Engie, Pilot and others through a series of utterly unlikely exploits. It's amusing, mixes light-hearted sillyness with death and deverstation,  and lives in enough of a world of it's own for it to make absolutely perfect sense that it's now available in album form.

It's main hook sound is tricky to describe, sitting halfway between trip-hop and acid-groove. It also has some ambient, country, classical, and other bits thrown in. Whilst the sounds are varied and the tones are all over the place you would think it would end up being a mess, but it all works surprisingly well, providing a rich soundscape that acts perfectly as an accompaniment to the comic and as a piece of music in and of itself. It has a vibrancy within it's desolation and sparseness, like if the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band had decided to make the score for a Mad Max film. Personal favorites include Snippy and the Geiger Counter (for its uptempo bouncyness), and Arachnid Discotheque, although there isn't a duff track on the whole thing. It's also totally accessible to people who haven't read the comic, having plenty of injokes and references but nothing that would get in the way of the casual listener enjoying it, and is great 'background' music in the best possible ways. As a shift of an art project from one medium to another it works perfectly, and if they ever get around to making a film we know that the soundtrack will be as spot-on as the art and scripting.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Wasted Years - OFF!

LA's latest hardcore punk supergroup is back, with another 16 tracks of energetic and bouncy, thrashy fun. Taking a similar musical vein to their previous works this is simple, quick, and compelling explosions of sound and fury. Nothing goes beyond the two minute fifteen mark so this is pared down, go for it music that grabs and idea by the throat and holds onto it just long enough to get the job done. The musical approach is complimented by the lyrics, with Keith Morris yelling about the surveillance state, the abuse of power for personal gain, the dangers of willful submission to ignorance, and everything else that has pissed him off recently (which appears to be a lot of things).

If you are after something delicate, complicated, or radio friendly then this is not for you. Not that is takes itself too seriously, just that it doesn't hang around for anyone or anything. At the same time if you are after something old-school and derivative it's also not going to be your cup of team as, whilst the pedigree of the band may be from the 80s scene the sound is band up to date, just without the current cliches of breakdowns or sing-along in every track. Best listened to as a whole work rather than individual tracks it's both exhausting and exhilarating, having the feel of a live performance and an intimacy that is is rarely replicated.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Riot Generation - Ambassador21

After some quality digital-hardcore? Best give the latest album by Ambassador21 a listen then. It's ten tracks (3 songs and multiple remixes of each by various other artists, so I'm not sure if its an EP with a bunch of extras or an LP in and of itself ) of pissed off aggression, heavy techno beats, blaring guitars, heavily distorted sounds (possibly the odd missile strike), and generally up for it noise. It's also got some ridiculously bouncy bits (cause the Black-Block deserves something to dance to) and one of the best vocal duets I've heard this side of Alec Empire and Hanin Elias's hayday, so among all the techno-brutalism there are some serious musical skills on show.

Title track Riot Generation deserves to become a dancefloor classic whilst Fuck All Systems could also do good service to a movie soundtrack (assuming it was something dystopian). There isn't an original version of Dope On to give a clear opinion on, but both versions are a mellow break from the rest of the tracks and show that there is diversity in this duo's work, rather than the over-powered one-trick-pony that can be the trap of the genre. The only two incredibly minor niggles I can find with it (and I'm being petty and selfish with these) is that not all the lyrics are in English, so I can't make out everything they are saying in their native Russian, and that its mostly remixes rather than a full brace of tracks. However those are minor concerns as this is fundamentally great to melt your stereo with.