SUPERSIMMETRIA: Kosmogonie CD HANDS
The third album from Armando Alibrandi and the first under the HANDS label, covering a number of styles that always make good bedfellows.
Opener ‘Monodromia’ ticks one of my boxes straight away, with a barrage of Dark Ambient tinged with futuristic appeal; that gradually flows into a thumping, clinical techno driven beat. Alibrandi clearly likes his sounds polished and shiny; and this certainly hits the mark.
‘Casimir Effect’ grabs the baton handed over from track one and adds an Industrial edge compositionally speaking. Add some ghostly harmonies for good measure and everything gels perfectly, with the ethereal slant giving Supersimmetria its own voice.
There is a set formula to this project and in fairness ‘Kosmogonie’ doesn’t dare veer from its chosen path; and whilst that is a mild criticism, it doesn’t deter me as a listener in this case. I like sparse and OCD construction when it comes to music and Armando makes sure his tracks are scrubbed brutally clean; much in the same way his label mate Geistform does, minus a lot of the glitch (Geistform actually appears on this release in the form of a remix for ‘No Signal’ and is a good choice).
Being a sucker for choir chants, heavy beats and cute electronics, Supersimmetria for me, has produced an album that works excellently with its chosen aesthetic; and is thematically bang on the money from start to finish, even with the tendency to become a little samey in parts.
ILLEGAL TRADE: Acid For the Royal Family CD HANDS
You may recognise the pair who collectively call themselves Illegal Trade. Indeed this is the side project of Natasha A. Twentyone and Alexey Protasov who are better known as Ambassador21. Of course, with no other cohorts involved there is always the worry that this project won’t sound too dissimilar to A21; and of course, it’s not really surprising when it doesn’t.
Opener ‘Olga is Dead’ starts off like an Ambassador 21 track, minus any riotous vocals; but is followed up with the title track, following the old school Hands formula of powernoise. With a computer game edge to the electronics; beats splice and crash and fall over themselves effectively to produce a barrage of destructive Gabba, that should at least, go down well live.
Time has moved on for me somewhat. I still have a penchant for distorted beat and rhythmic noise and I always go back to the old faves when the mood takes me; however, there is little out there that is actually new that really stirs me. Illegal Trade does its job and applies itself well, but if I am to be brutally honest, it’s all too easy for boredom to set in if a band follows a lineal approach in this manner from start to finish without much variation.
There is the odd snippet on this album that does it for me still and overall Illegal Trade have done an old genre some justice. The die-hards that still exist out there should get a lot out of this; and hitting their target audience in the appreciation stakes, is all Natasha and Alexey have to achieve.
PHASENMENSCH: Entschleunigungsprozesse CD HANDS
Wolfram Bange returns after the thoroughly enjoyable ‘Tagebuch Eines Eremiten’, with a collection of new tracks under a banner I am not even going to attempt to translate. I knew his last album was going to be hard to top, but thankfully Bange has managed to step up to the plate.
Echoing pads provide an eerie clinical backdrop on ‘Vernunft Und Leidenschaft’, where sparing vocal samples, sit effectively alongside harmonics that crawl under your skin; carried on their journey with well-paced cleansed beats. ‘Alles Verschwindet’ follows with an ambient array of gliding effervescent synth that plays right into the hands of the IDM drift that is ‘Sommerrgen’.
From here on in things change somewhat with Wolfram experimenting with darker ambient sections and sub-level electronica. Key sections sound unashamedly techno in their transition with an inky black cloak of dance that weaves amongst the rhythm sections, as the glue that holds everything together.
There is something about Phasenmensch that lifts its head up above many other projects out there. The ability to get down and dirty one minute, only to fall headlong into soundtrack territory whilst thematically remaining true to the path set, has to be admired. Keeping the listener on their toes with relative ease requires a degree of artistry and talent; and Bange has that in abundance.
‘Entschleunigungsprozesse [Vernunft Und Leidenschaft] is the perfect follow up to its predecessor; and I can only hope that Phasenmensch carries along the path of excellence set for himself here in future ventures.
WINTERKÄLTE: Maschinenfest Tracks 1999-2014 2xLP & CD HANDS
A band that need little introduction; unless you have been living on another planet for the last decade or so, Winterkälte have been one of the forerunners of the Rhythmic Noise/Industrial scene for many a year now, with pulverising clinical efficiency.
‘Maschinenfest Tracks 1999-2014’ is served on a double 180-gram vinyl platter in a rigid heavy gatefold sleeve, with an additional CD for those that like to keep their wax as virginal as an 80 year old nun. Limited to just 500 copies, this latest collector piece re-masters all contributions to the festivals compilations plus two live tracks.
WK as a duo are one of the most unrelenting acts on the live circuit; and for the uninitiated upon first listen, can be initially cast off as a barrage of noise. It’s key to point out here that all the fury has a purpose, as the eco friendly statements of the band are pummelled through the listeners’ conscience with an unrelenting abrasiveness that masks a wonderful degree of technicality, precision and depth; as the initial opening warm up and ‘Greenwar’ will attest to.
Many of WK’s fans will already own the majority of material on here (as well as I do), but that doesn’t detract from the importance of this release. As a statement to the prolonged and creditable career of this act, this is simply more than a ‘best of’, as the varied re-masters hold a banner up to a genre and festival that proudly shouts from the rooftops a style of music that most likely is the last true ‘alternative’ out there.
As a genre, there is no doubt that as with all genres, things do have a tendency to become stale. WK however are one of the scenes’ long termers and an act that many will aspire to; and in a sense drive their own originality by default. Songs like ‘Ban Depleted Uranium Weapons’ have become the signature sound for many a project aspiring to be released on labels such as Hands Productions; and for that inspiration alone WK should be proud.
Overall, this is one of those releases that should have any self-respecting fan of the genre chomping at the bit to own for their collection; and indeed this is a treat for any vinyl addict. Extra points are awarded just for the packaging alone, which is nothing short of exceptional.
SYNTECH: Only Ruins Remain/Decade 2xCD HANDS
Steffen Lehmann and Bjoern Boysen return here with a bumper package of their customary Sci-Fi electronica in the form of one full album and a remix disc. The double disc set in tall packaging is strictly limited.
‘Spindrift’ kicks off the proceedings with subtle IDM influences fluttering amongst futuristic bleeps and whirs and careful attention to background nuances reflect ranging pads and samples well.
The title track ‘Only Ruins Remain’ is paced well, with a firm grasp on spatial awareness and juxtaposition of beats and rhythm. Leaning more on breaks and industrial fortitude, a barrage of rhythms collide effectively to let the clean electronics and harmonies rise and fall with consummate ease; and melds well with the reverberated ‘No Sunlight’.
The tribal essence of ‘Deceptive Silence’ provides a break in futurism and thematically follows onto ‘Drive Hunt’; where the pace is upped dramatically, where beat upon beat is subtly added into a frenetic display of energy, that provides a cleaner living version of rhythms associated more with powernoise.
Syntech carry on the theme throughout the rest of the album, covering a multitude of genres emphatically played out in their own style; and overall, whilst sometimes drifting off into the minor gripe of being a tad samey, the quality is evident and impressive throughout.
Disc two as stated above combines a variety of mixes that compliment the thought processes of the original tracks themselves; Totakeke slide well into the mould of ‘Whiteout’ and it’s aural ethnicity, whilst Dirk Geiger provides a constant flowing evolution to ‘Phraa Jaan Naak’. The clever use of other artists that provide a different sound to the mix is evident with Dirty-K wrenching ‘Voltage Boost’ into Distorted Beat territory, with a necessary squelch.
Syntech, go from strength to strength with this latest release and the limited version is well worth picking up for collectors. Overall, ‘Only Ruins Remain shows that there is new life amongst the debris of stagnation in the rubble of a faltering scene.
TOTAKEKE: me.tem.psy.cho.sis CD HANDS
Totakeke is the latest in a few artists to move on and try their luck in different shores after a string of releases on Chicago’s Tympanik label; although Frank Mokros has ties with the Hands label with his alter-ego (and often sadly ignored) Synth-Etik.
Mokros always provides electronica that plays on obscurity and oddity; indeed this makes his releases under this banner somewhat an eclectic taste. Sporadic beat play amongst scattered pads and harmonies litter his albums, but the consistency has never lacked; and so it is on this latest release.
Futuristic ambient in the form of ‘r.ai.th’ amongst a pulsating bass flutter is disabled by a soaring rhythmical battering as it builds; followed up by a Bassline influenced ‘trans.mi.gra.tion’, that plays on powernoise slices and industrial aesthetics combined.
The complicated electronics that Totakeke is well known for surface once again in the title track allowing for familiarity to take shape and is a key change in the albums structure. From here on in we are supplied a varying degree of ambient and trademark beat sections that bounce along from song to song; although there is a visceral new edge to much of the output that adds a forced modernity to the overall result.
Mokros has tailored this album in a lot of respects to the label he has released it on. By that, I mean that the rhythm sections play into the hands (pardon the pun) of Germany’s well-known exponent of destroyed drum play. Gentler moments meld well with these harsher sounds though and whilst not ultimately memorable, ‘me.tem.psy.cho.sis’ has that unnerving ability to grow and claw its way into your psyche; which may or may not sustain future endeavours.
CERVELLO ELETTRONICO: Dance Meccanica CDep HANDS
David Christian provides a limited EP here of re-worked and re-addressed tracks from the ‘Anima Meccanica’ and is the third in the series.
The ‘’Hesitation’ version of ‘Last Words’ opens up in full reverberation, where the beats scatter recklessly from wall to wall as the main body of the song gradually gathers them in and ups pace as a gliding pad airily cuts through the mix like a knife. In contrast ‘Instant Trauma (Human Nature) tethers in the echoes and boxes them away, replacing them with a warm presence and scattered arpeggio; staggering the senses in hypnotic fashion.
‘Vertebrae (Nervoso Version) plays on old school club sensibilities, where the main beat is kept to a sub level foundation for the minimalist counterparts to dance across; it is effective in a trance perspective, in holding the listener transfixed, even if just missing something I can’t quite put my finger on.
The last two tracks ‘ Up The Line’ and ‘bad Ground (Native Hex), tie up the EP firmly as that of a Hands release well. The beats fit firmly in place as what is expected from a colleague of the label as they merrily squelch through the speakers with a familiar preceding thump; and Christian holds his own within the ranks well.
Overall, the good old ‘extended player’ is ignored by labels nowadays with the cost of production/sales ratio balancing more towards the former, so it is novel when one comes along. For the collector there is much to be gained in obtaining these in limited output; and fans of CE should relish this with gusto.