PAINKILLER: Execution Ground 2xLP Karlrecords
Initially released in 1994 when Painkiller were still with their original line up; this is the first time this album has seen light of day on vinyl, unbelievably.
Always viewed as an oddity, mainly due to their first two albums ‘Guts of a Virgin ‘ and ‘Buried Secrets’ being released on extreme metal label, Earache; it was a hard slog for the band themselves to get any real acclaim, due to the market they would initially be exposed to.
Combining a blistering mix of Free Jazz, Grindcore and other obscure genre splicing, Painkiller only appealed to those with more eclectic tastes; and it’s only now that they will truly be appreciated for their efforts in wider circles.
This lengthy four-track album pounds with Mick Harris’ percussive skills as crunching guitars and bass ooze through a barrage of bastardised saxophone screeches. It’s plain bonkers, but works to great effect; and the re-mastering to vinyl gives a newfound warmth to the proceedings, where the ambient numbers find a new depth and resonance.
CUT WORMS: Lumbar Fist CD Opa Loka Records
This is the debut album from Richard Van Kruysdijk’s Cut Worms project; primarily a drone act that utilises live generated and processed sounds, before sculpting them electronically.
It’s of no surprise that given the medium, you are in for the long haul to gain any worth and understanding of the music as a whole; and as opener ‘Tangent Folio’ rises from the speakers, it’s glassy pads and rich undercurrent of bass resonance hook your attention with relative ease.
With key attention paid to reverb, ‘Lumbar Fist’ shows acute spatial awareness; and a knack for applying just enough chamber echoes to hold the listener in place, without clipping the comfort levels.
Cinematic and atmospheric; Cut Worms manages the sound sources in an effective manner, that many people who flirt with field recordings fail to grasp. First and foremost, the project realises the essential ingredient is actual music and not just a wash of random noises.
Overall, this is an effective and wonderfully produced debut from an artist I shall firmly keep tabs on.
TAKAMOVSKY: Sonic Counterpoint CD Etymtone
Opening up with a cover of J S Bach played out on an acoustic guitar, not only threw me; but also shows a distinct amount of bravery on the artist’s part.
Combining electronic elements with guitar appears to be the Takamovsky’s bread and butter so to speak; and generally, this works well. ‘Ice’ shudders with the pitter-patter of machine head touches and ambient glides as he plucks the strings; but it all feels a trifle clumsy come track 3, ‘Sun’. I thoroughly understand what he is trying to achieve; but this would have worked best without any acoustic interference, replacing the strings with further electronic elements.
It’s blatantly obvious there is talent in abundance here, but there is only a small window in which the combination of styles can work harmoniously; and Takamovsky crosses the line way too much for me to enjoy the album as a whole.
I have to compliment the exemplary glitch work and guitar playing as individual talents, but these simply don’t meld as a combining medium and he could have easily split this into two separate entities, as opposed to every track built in the same format.
That given, I do tip my hat to his obvious skills in musicianship and attention to detail where harmony and programming is concerned; and some of the music on here is genuinely beautiful, if not a tad misplaced.
LUSTMORD: Dark Matter CD Touch
Lustmord can comfortably sit with the legendary status he has attained within Dark Ambient circles; with a catalogue that stretches back as far as the early 80’s. Recently he has had a number of albums re-issued by German label Ant-Zen, so it is a surprise to see his latest output on the well-respected Touch label.
Built upon ten years worth of cosmological sounds compiled in an audio library; there is no doubt as to the concept surrounding this latest piece of work, spread over three long tracks and housed in a nice oversized ekopack wallet.
The songs themselves are suitably bleak. Rich, throbbing low-end bass pads out cavernous dense air as ghostly apparitions of high-end musicality reach out into the vast unknown corners of space. Lustmord tries his hand at grasping an unseen and unkown quantity, that of dark matter and its influence on the universe.
Overall, this is a quality piece of work end to end. Densely layered and mysterious with many a nook and cranny to become enveloped within and providing everything a Dark Ambient release should. There is really nothing to compare Lustmord to as he has created his own mythos and received well-deserved acclaim; this latest opus just adds to that.
TERUYUKI NOBUCHIKA: Still Air CD Oktaf
Japanese composer Nobuchika is well revered in his homeland, composing music for movies, documentaries and TV. Given this as a starting block it’s easy to expect great things when playing one of his albums; and safe to say this doesn’t disappoint.
‘Still Air’ is TN’s third solo output, concentrating on abstract ambient, programming and electronics that play with analogue instrumentation. The end result is an album that touches on ethereal sensibilities, with a beautiful array of harmonies spread out over the course of eight tracks.
Driving undercurrents build a sense of urgency within the high end reverberated pads; and the stuttering notes pull emotionally on tracks such as ‘Erosion’, with just enough obscurity to keep the listener on their toes, without any undue alienation.
As an ambient album this falls within the gentler end of the scale. Adventurous and dramatic, there is much within the walls of this release to enjoy and I shall be actively seeking out his previous two affairs.
THE STRANGE WALLS: Won’t Last CD Alrealon Music
Playing on a number of genres that range from Shoegazer to Post-Punk and Darkwave amongst others, this trio from New York have produced an eclectic, yet easy on the ear release with ‘Won’t Last’. This is mainly due to the vocals of Regina yates, reminding me of Rose McDowell on more than one occasion in their less frenetic moments.
Now and again this latest release stumbles and crashes into No Wave territory, quite literally. Drums crashing all over the place and guitar lines that don’t match up, with dual vocals that are not altogether in sync; yet it all somehow works.
‘Wartime Melody’ is a beautiful piece of work vocally, and the ramshackle nature of the music behind it with male backing vocals is reminiscent of The Pogues in an altogether more drunken fashion.
The beauty to this album is its chop and change abandon on a song-by-song basis. Gothic Rock sits comfortably with noise and playful bastardised pop music, and this altogether is a hard release to judge, regardless of its entirely intentional cheese factor.
Think, an easier on the ear Cocteau Twins, splashes of McDowell and The Jesus and Mary Chain out of key and this will only describe some of what is on here. The only faults I guess is that this all feels a tad staged, even if it is a lot of fun.
RUXPIN: We Become Ravens LP/CD n5MD
‘We Become Ravens’ is the eighth studio album from Icelandic producer Jonas Thor Gudmundson; and is a continuation of his previous release, ‘This Time We Go Together’.
The opening subdued ‘Piano I’ is followed by the dramatic ‘Memories Warm You Up, But They Also Tear You Apart’; proving itself with a beautifully composed display of programming prowess and attention to detail where harmony is concerned.
There is a carnival-esque feel to the pads on the title track that seamlessly flows into the contemplative ‘Hours Go By’, alongside the down-tempo ‘Softly Said Hello’ and purist IDM number ‘Saying Goodbye Was Never Easy’; which is one of the better numbers on this album.
If I was to say anything negative, it would be that ‘We Become Ravens’ as a whole, feels too drawn out; a little too lengthy, just teetering on the edge of boring on a couple of tracks. There was a need for me to take a break mid-way; and sometimes, less is evidently more. However, once you strip away a couple of the ‘samey’ numbers on this album, there are some true gems, such as the resonating ‘Polly Polly’; and it’s moments like these that make up for the couple of throwaways.
Overall, this is a solid display of musicianship and a more than worthy companion for all fans of well-produced electronic music