CINDYTALK: The Labyrinth of the Straight Line CD Mego

cindytalklabyrinth

CINDYTALK: The Labyrinth of the Straight Line   CD  Mego

The well respected and revered Cindytalk goes back to his roots on this latest offering; but starts off in peculiar fashion, as poetry combines with industrial noise and scattered fractures of electronic disorganisation, with ’Sea of Lost Hopes’; and the airy ambient of ‘Shifting Mirrors’.

Dark Ambient whirs amongst pitter-pattering rhythms on ‘In Search of New Realities’, folding well into the strains of Power Electronics on ‘I Myself am an Absolute Abyss’; and four tracks in, this latest opus is coming across as a fairly bleak affair.

The rest of the album shifts and turns much in the same fashion.  I have always enjoyed the works of Cindytalk and respected the avenues he has ventured down; but here I would have appreciated just a touch more melody, which was a key part for me on previous albums, regardless of how restrained they were.

‘The Labyrinth of the Straight Line’ is by no means worse than older output; but it does lack background musicality, which appealed to those who prefer something more conventional.  I like to think of Cindytalk as an artist that crossed the divide musically, allowing for people who liked opposing genres to come together; and this latest album feels a trifle soulless with the absence of actual tunes and long drawn out notes to latch onto.

7.8/10

OREN AMBARCHI: Hubris LP/CD Mego

orenambarchihubris

OREN AMBARCHI: Hubris     LP/CD  Mego

With an extensive musical career across a plethora of well-respected labels, ‘Hubris’ is a continuation of exploratory rhythms and electronics that Ambarchi has delved into on many an occasion in the past.

Over the course of three tracks under the album title banner, a wave of simplistic, yet effective arpeggio patterns play ion a continuous loop allowing for a variety of instrumental sounds to creep in and provide necessary atmospherics.

Acoustic elements provide a quick interlude, paving the way for another section of understated beats and more electronics; and on the last track, computerised sounds are melded with a live drum ensemble.

Oren has created here, a pleasant and clever array of sounds that are easy on the ear; and the album is easy to digest in one sitting. There could have been a touch more variation to break it up a lot more, but as a whole this is a solid and enjoyable piece of work.

8.5/10

COH: Music Vol CD Mego

COHmusicVol

COH: Music Vol   CD Mego

With an extensive discography to his name, it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole this project of Ivan Pavlov. With an abundance of releases it should be of no surprise that he has his fair share of misses as well as hits; and I am happy to say that ‘Music Vol’ is more the latter.

Pavlov occasionally flirts with ambient music and this latest release is some of his best work, period. With an intimately close hum resonating throughout the album across the course of seven rich tracks, there is a unifying gel that ties one song to the next with subtle efficiency.

From the opening dense throbs of ‘Ether Fields Forever’, through to the sparse bleeps and whines of ‘Return to Mechanics’, some of the similar sounds that I have passed off as nonsense on previous affairs, work in this instance; and give life and sparkle to the brooding darkness that permeates the entirety of this release.

Minimalistic, yet efficient in grasping every note and wringing the maximum out of it, gives ‘Music Vol’ its own intriguing and unique characteristics, where it’s near impossible to not sit this curious venture out, end to end.

8.5/10

STEVE HAUSCHILDT: S/H 2xCD Mego

stevehauschildt

STEVE HAUSCHILDT: S/H  2xCD Mego

Former Emeralds member has picked out some of his unreleased studio works here from archived work from over the last eight years, capturing some of his own input that he produced for the overall Emeralds sound.  It’s peculiar that he should separate his work from a project he was deeply deeply involved with and release the contribution in its own right, but interesting all the same.

Understandably, a lot of the songs appear as snippets of sound as opposed to full tracks, with openers ‘Poinsettia’ and ‘Galloping’ teasing the listener with simplistic electronic grace, rather than becoming something you can truly immerse yourself in; such is their limited length.   It isn’t until ‘Thumbnails’, with it’s scattered harmonics and reverberated beat that you can start to bed yourself in for the long haul.

Yes, this is a lengthy release; the first disc is an hour and thirteen minutes long, whilst disc two is slightly longer, clocking in at an hour and sixteen.  Whilst the former concentrates mainly on Hauschildt’s upbeat work, where IDM elements flitter amongst poppy electronics and momentary stutters of elation, its counterpart has more than its fair share of ambient along the way.

S/H rarely meanders in dark corners, indeed most of the output on the double disc affair is fairly light and uplifting in nature and it’s easier to spot him individual input once returning to Emeralds releases.

Again, I question why he would do this; it’s almost a statement of intent as to his position within his former project (a snub maybe to a possible lack of input from others?).  Either way, there is more than enough here to envelop yourself within if you are a lover of all things electronic; and is a value for money affair no less, given the sheer amount of listening time you will have should this be on your purchase list.

8/10

COH: Retro 2038 CD Mego

COHretro2038

COH: Retro 2038  CD Mego

I have to admit to being somewhat of a collector when it comes to the Mego label and I am always happy when one of their releases drops through the door for review.

Russian artist Ivan Pavlov has been creating music under the COH banner for quite some time.  On this latest exploration ‘Retro 2038’ things start in fine form, with ambient throbs leading to pulsating electronica cutting into the mix at a sublime pace.  There is an underlying poppy theme that fits in with the retro tag before things start to get harsher and just as things start to get going, it all peters out.

I was a little disappointed with the second track on this CD, ‘Bugs Build a House’.  Utilising some of the same sound sources as track one, whilst being competent didn’t really set the speakers on fire as was shown promise with it’s opening counterpart; skittering around like something dragged from a Nintendo Gameboy.

The majority of the album follows suit much in the same manner; on one hand I enjoy the playful synthesised sounds en-masse, yet on the other there is much scope for improvement.  One of the highlights has to be ‘Aniki’, which is the best interpretation of Pavlov’s latest output, which is engaging in range as pleasant as it is musically with well constructed pop synth, obliterated with chaotic programming.

COH’s latest would have benefitted from throwing in a less exploratory dance beat; I know this may be anathema to Pavlov, but undoubtedly he could have torn club goers apart if he had ventured into this territory.  As it stands, he has produced a peculiar and interesting release that threatened to do so much more than the end result, which whilst pleasing to the ear, made me yearn for that little bit more.

7.5/10

CINDYTALK: A Life Is Everywhere CD/LP Mego

cindytalk

CINDYTALK: A Life Is Everywhere  CD/LP Mego

Considering the 30 plus years that this act has been releasing music, I have had very limited exposure to Cindytalk; listening to this, I can’t quite get to grips with why.

Opening up with ‘Time To Fall’, we have tonal chimes interrupted with staggered blasts of electronics that eventually erupt into a mass of swirling soundtrack pads and distorted frequencies, leading on to the caustic ‘My Drift is a Ghost’; a fairly subdued start leading on to a horrific mass of thundering bass undercurrents and visceral Power Electronics.

The radio distortions of ‘To a Dying Star’ don’t really go anywhere, but fit as a prequel to the droning ambience of ‘Interruptum’ (which appears to be a remix for scene long-termer, Mimetic).  It’s at this point that Cindytalk become a strange beast to me; everything about them screams “modern”, yet there is an old school aesthetic at the beating heart of the project that melds old and new together as one.

A lot of ‘Life Is Everywhere’ could be classified as a lot of nonsense if I am to tell the truth.  The thing is though, there is something undeniably endearing about the album that floats my boat on a lot of levels.  There’s nothing about this latest album that would strike me as pick-up-and-play with regards to any individual track, but it is definitely one I will listen to in full on a fairly regular basis.

8/10

LOCUST: You’ll Be Safe Forever CD/LP Mego

locust

LOCUST: You’ll Be Safe Forever  CD/LP Mego

Mark Van Hoen hasn’t released a Locust record in at least 12 years.  Now collaborating with long time friend Louis Sherman, it appears he has found some impetus to provide us with some new material; and upon first listen, ‘You’ll Be Safe Forever’ is as relevant as anything you should part with your hard earned cash on this year.

Opening with ‘Fall For me’, treated vocals are balanced in perfect harmony with distinctly pop influenced, evocative electronics and mid paced beats.  The sonic landscape expands even further on the engaging and up-tempo ‘Strobes’; with the programmed vocals playing a heavy part in the melody, providing a borderline anthemic feel to the proceedings.

Intermittent ambient interludes are sprinkled throughout the release as precursors to full tracks and are an essential element to what gels this album together as a whole.  Obscure electronics flutter over off-key pads, providing space for more accessible harmonies to dance across.

A broad plethora of genres are crossed on this latest opus.  From the soundtrack sunset ridden short, ‘Remember’, to the IDM touched ‘Oh Yeah’ and the Jazzy Trip-Hop of ‘The Flower Lady’; an exploratory electronic album that dares to break many a mould, providing a somewhat unique and enjoyable listening experience from start to finish.

8.5/10

MAIN: Ablation CD/LP Mego

main-ablation

MAIN: Ablation  CD/LP Mego

Spanning four long tracks, you know this latest output from Robert Hampson will require a great deal of patience, should you have come across his music before.  This time he has teamed up with colleague Stephan Mathieu in an attempt to create a different palette for his listening audience and in some respects this shows limited colour over the course of this release.

Essentially, ‘Ablation’ utilises Music Concrete (not altogether a medium I usually have time for), adding an altogether more electronic feel to the organically led analogue sounds.  Unfortunately for me, none of this bears fruit until the glorious emotional ambient of ‘IV’ takes hold; and then you are at the end of the album.

Tracks one to three seem to drag on as a pointless exploration of sounds that neither evolve, nor have purpose.  I found myself drifting off for the most part, at what seemed to be a black hole of random noises that neither engaged or ravaged my senses; which is a real shame considering what could have been.

6/10

FORMA: OFF/ON CD/LP Mego

FORMA: OFF/ON  CD/LP Mego

This is the second album by this Brooklyn based synth trio, providing an electronic landscape of clean cut pads and for what is the most part, straight forward rhythmical sections.

I find a lot of the electronica I listen to nowadays veering towards the more IDM spectrum of the field and ‘OFF/ON’ immediately provided a refreshing jaunt through straight to the point hooks and lead elements that were not only engrossing, but induced a fair amount of head nodding in their simplistic approach.

With variants on the group name as the track listing, ‘Forma286b’ along with its colleagues lean more often than not on an almost pop-like 80’s ethos that whilst doesn’t sound specifically like any other act I have heard before, does veer towards the familiar.  Whilst treading old ground there is an overall spark of originality to compensate for any finger pointing that may ensue.

Whilst there are positives in abundance the only negatives I can muster up about this release is that after a while there is a wanting for something different for what’s on offer; the early Depeche Mode-isms of ‘Mécanique’ did stretch things somewhat for me, even if consummately professional for the most part.

Altogether though, this latest instalment is a happy-go-lucky, pleasant album that fans of modern electronics coupled with a nod to past influences will relish; and the closing ‘Forma315’ is a multi-layered analogue joy to behold.

8/10

EMERALDS: Just To Feel Anything CD/LP Mego

EMERALDS: Just To Feel Anything  CD/LP Mego

It’s not often the hairs on my arms are raised within minutes of listening to an album, but this latest release from Emeralds sent shivers up my spine in little to no time at all as well.  Opener, ‘Before Your Eyes’ drifts with glorious ambient qualities that disguise its destination well.   Just over two minutes into this introduction we are treated to an approach that mimics the better hooks of Bitcrush and later Gridlock, with a clinical execution that fans of these projects will benefit from immediately.

‘Andrenochrome’ epitomises those film soundtrack qualities that provide viewers with years of memorable sparks of imagery, coupled with the emotional attachment of expressive musicianship.  This is followed up with the evocative ‘Through and Through’, that is gentle and involving.

The remainder of ‘Just To Feel Anything’ flitters between analogue electronics and subtle, weaving ambient that is smattered with moments of shoegazing and post-rock bliss.  Whilst not as immediate as their predecessors, there is an overwhelming beauty that is as characteristic on these latter numbers as anything that has come before.  It’s not often I immediately drag an album to my phone for listening pleasure on my way to work and fans of the N5MD label should lap this release up with gusto.

9/10