SOFT RIOT: The Outsider in the Mirrors LP/CD/MC Possession Records
With this, his sixth full-length album JJD brings another eclectic mix of music that draws on many an influence from the genre he has ingratiated himself within; through years of emulating artists he so obviously adores.
Touches of John Foxx and Fad Gadget are plainly evident; and whilst there is an argument that most of the artists from this scene are long gone, there is obviously still a hunger for this type of music.
The vocals are cold and on the lower end of the spectrum; and whilst being the weakest element to Soft Riot’s music, do work in the overall context. Even if genre wise they have always been a key element; if anything, they do halt the project from teetering too much into the mainstream, which can only be a good thing.
Musically, this ticks all the boxes with off-key and paranoid synth patterns that add a peculiarity to the songs as a whole. With the small resurgence of acts producing these kind of albums, there is a place for Soft Riot, alongside acts such as Wrangler and so forth to keep the nostalgia addicts happy.
Overall this is an enjoyable and easy listening experience that is well constructed and performed; regardless of the vocals being so forcibly deep in tone, where attention to harmony could have just topped this off.
ANDREAS DAVIDS: Landscapes EP 3”CD/DL Inner Demons
The second three-inch instalment for Andreas Davids of Xotox fame, takes a dramatic turn in form. Conceptually speaking, this covers environmental factors from a visual perspective turned audio; utilising beat structures over seas of ambient.
‘Landscapes’ is a hot bed of IDM rhythms and glitching patterns, pulling on the soundtrack foundations in dramatic fashion, with only one track emerging as the sole ambient song that doesn’t utilise some form of interference. Interwoven pattern display has been carefully juxtaposed here, to keep momentum and flowing and the listener on their toes.
As a whole, this little EP is a dramatic change in form from the previous one in this series on Inner Demons (‘Grey’); and shows a multi-faceted palette of capability from Davids as a whole, with a rich a varied tapestry of sounds that pull his work away from being merely pigeonholed.
A neat, intriguing and interesting display from the man more known for destroying club dance-floors with the mighty Xotox.
ANDREAS DAVIDS: Die Erinnerungen Meines Vaters/Der Leere Raum EP MC/DL Self Released
Another change in form and palate from Andreas Davids takes a more reflective tone in some respects, with a two-tracker dedicated to the neatly locked away past of his father.
Davids here, explores the time he ventured into the attic to look at boxes packed with photographs, old trinkets and coins and other items; and wondered why these physical memory tokens were not up for display in the house where they lived. This is of course, a mirror into many of our own lives. I myself have boxes of photographs and other items in my loft and never take them out, preferring to display newer moments in time more relevant to my life as it stands now. Maybe it is easier for folk nowadays to play out their memories and footnotes on social media, but I am sure this is not relevant to an older generation.
A photograph, regardless of the good times it can evoke, can also stir up other memories; and it would be a lucky individual indeed (or possibly a liar) who states they do not have unhappy memories as well as good (although it is actually both that shape an individual and in some respects are essential). Maybe this is why we lock away the past to stumble across another day. Maybe it’s just a matter of space and keeping our lives fresh and new. I am sure it is different for each individual; and of course can spark curiosity in a child wanting to know more about their relations.
Either way, this is a very personal release for Andy; and it shows. Spoken word in his native tongue produces a dramatically close involvement with the tracks themselves, where the ambient on track one merely provides an atmosphere to the story being told. Track two is surprisingly more electronic; and in some respects reminds me of the tools utilised by GGFH musically. Although, the music itself is not the medium here on which to concentrate, as the bravery in application providing the score.
MACRONOISE: Various Species EP DL Crime League
Slovakian born Macronoise is another one of those neat little finds from the Toronto Based Crime League label; who have an ear for music that balances fine harmonic subtleties and odd intricacies.
With a touch of flowing melancholy pervading the entirety of this extended player, there is much to become attuned to; and this produces an emotive response, even when it descends into madness.
Live instrumentation compliments the gently eased electronics, with a nose for clarity and sharp production skills. Touching on IDM, but with a key ear for stylistically placing notes as not to over-exert and force the issue; there is much more to Macronoise than is immediately evident. Individual and personal spaces arise through the sound; and sometimes it’s all too easy to filter out the background noise and get lost in one harmonic moment.
Altogether, this is an impressive micro release and bodes well for any future output we may hear from this young artist. I will be watching with interest.
DISPLACER: Missing Warriors DL Component Recordings
Once more Michael Morton passes his listeners another album, in his endlessly prolific release assault. This time with a compilation of ambient tracks that fell by the wayside, or may have become lost amongst the many front of house, beat driven numbers that have taken prominence in his musical career. This is not to say these tracks are any less noteworthy, but the majority of music buyers do sadly steer away more from ambient numbers. It’s time to readdress the balance and remind them of what they’ve been missing.
From the watery subtle complexities of ‘Grey’, the soundtrack grit of ‘The Needs of the Many’, the ghostlike ‘Masterless’ to the hopeful chimes of ‘The Rescue’, Morton re-displays here a multitude of hidden gems that bedded out and glued their comparative releases together when they were fist aired.
Music such as this can be surprisingly harder to produce that your standard rhythmic affair. Creating the correct balance of pattern and layering can be an arduous and frustrating task, but ultimately a rewarding one for the producer; and those that care to take the time to kick back and listen. Morton has evidently sharpened these skills over the years and evidence of his prowess filters throughout the ten tracks generously given back to you the public, once again. Take a moment to listen this time around.
PALAIS IDEAL: No Signal CD/DL Dark Vinyl
There’s plenty of acts around at the moment who still toy with New Wave and associated sub genre’s, many of them even come from the mainstream; with acts like Editors and White Lies being at the pinnacle of the multi-sellers. As it happens, the former of these two sound more like a sub-standard U2 nowadays, but they’re still an influence on this lot, with regards to their earlier work.
Palais Ideal are decent enough in the music production stakes and the tunes themselves cover and merge a varying degree of influence from Clan of Xymox, Sisters and a touch of Legendary Pink Dots amongst others; and coupled with the bands polished image, you pretty much have them in a nutshell.
Overall, this is a solid affair that misses out in the originality stakes, but that’s not the issue as there’s nothing actually ‘new’ nowadays. The guts of the problem for me are the vocals, which slide out of tune on far too many occasions, denying them that top-drawer status. Couple the fact that when they are kept steady and in key, its only when they blurt out as a monotone Goth drone.
Overall, if you are deeply embedded into the Goth subculture, you’re gonna lap this up. For anyone who ventures further a field but still likes New Wave, then this will still miss the mark somewhat; being too engrained in the ever fading cult from which it has come, where only the ageing big hitters still shine and the newer bands tend to suck.
MIAZMA: s/t CD/DL Dark Vinyl
This is a compilation based on tracks from three previously released albums and 4 further exclusive numbers specifically tailored for this CD. I actually haven’t encountered much of this artist previously, but it didn’t take long to get the gist of what he is trying to achieve with the words “Any SISTERS OF MERCY fans will surely love this album!” being prominent in the press release.
I am sure any hardened European bedded in nails Goth will undoubtedly enjoy this; as much as they loved The Merry Thoughts, or Star Industry, or indeed any other Eldritch wannabe act. Thing is, whilst all of these bands, including Miazma do have a touch of Andrew’s overtones, they have all sounded a tad tacky in their application; and only hit the mark sporadically.
There is an argument that whilst the Sisters don’t produce any more work, then there is a market for those that want to keep the old flames burning. Unfortunately though, they only amount to the ever-dimming embers of what once was; leaving a fog as thick as Eldritch’s live shows.
Don’t get me wrong; Miazma is musically well produced and the songs have a fair bit of weight to them. Whilst being extremely easy on the ear though, I just can’t take it that serious; and if I want to listen to music of this ilk, I will just pull out a classic vinyl of the UK’s finest, from many years ago when it truly mattered. In fact, that’s what I may do right now and relive my youth, avoiding the second-class plagiarism.