[ESTWeb Home Page] [Music Reviews Index]

As ever, the formats listed at the head of each review are not necessarily comprehensive - many items will be available on formats not listed. If you have difficulty finding anything reviewed below, get in touch and I'll see if I can help. Favourite items this time around have been noted. All addresses are Untied Kingdom unless otherwise noted. Sorry, no cover artwork: as you can see, there's a shortage of space. Reviews by: BD = Brian Duguid; MG = Marc Gascoigne; MR = Matthew Riley; RS = Roger Sutherland; MW = Mark Winkelmann; MX = MX.

-1348- & Stolen Government Binder Clip

En Marge (Tragic Figures TFT014) MC

I know absolutely nothing about this cassette other than the above details, and I'm not even sure I've got the artist(s) right. So I'll have to be descriptive, and that's not easy! How about "disjointed and fragmentary reworkings of the Throbbing Gristle heritage"? Could mean anything. Perhaps "cut up rhythms, found noises, distorted synths and bizarre atmospherics"? Too dull. But you get the idea: experimental "post-industrial" music without a great sense of direction, and which never goes quite where you'd expect it. Combining a dreamy sensibility with a psychotic execution, but It Has All Been Done Before. [Available from Tragic Figures, c/o Hugo Moutinho, Apartado 2137, 4202 Porto Codex, PORTUGAL] BD

48 Cameras

Third and Last Imitation of Christ (Hypertonia World Enterprises) MC

48 Cameras are a Belgian three-piece, producing an exceptionally professional sound that deserves much wider exposure. Melodic acoustic guitars, carefully poised electric guitars, dramatic keyboards, it's musically as competent as any well-known rock band, if not more so. Only their use of dry narration (mostly in English) rather than singing is likely to hold them back from fame and fortune. For me, it's an uneasy union of cliched rock with more individual tendencies, and the morose, sardonic narration is one of the plus points. A real surprise! [Available from Hypertonia] BD

Academy 23 / Lawrence Burton

Europe Awake! (A23) MC C60

Opening with a wonderful a capella Heilige Tod, this is a peculiar cassette. Academy 23 are a peculiar group. The music incorporates various amplified acoustic and electronic instruments, voices, radio, effects and the like to provide bizarre atmospheric background to narration, which is in turn both polemical and surreal. Lawrence Burton's contribution to the project is a series of stylish A4 illustrations "as essential to its appreciation as the aural elements", and a series of A23's aggravating, opinionated essays are included too. The music echoes the early industrial groups in its dismal, desolate style, especially some of T.G.'s material. The words are informed by Academy 23's particularly jaundiced view of the world, similar to the points of view in their magazine, Smile (see Zine Reviews). I was partly put off by the 80s stylings, and partly intrigued by the content, a lot of which, it has to be said, is provocative bollocks. [Available from BBP, 90 Grange Drive, Swindon, Wiltshire SN3] BD

Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects

El Buya (Barraka el Farnatshi BARBARITY 002) LP/CD 39 minutes

Heady stuff. The Jarring Effects are a Moroccan band, applying everything from traditional percussion through to electric guitars, and then put through the blender by dub producers in Switzerland. If you want a genre, it's "world beat", but this is remarkably genre-bending music. On one hand you hear hypnotic Arabic delirium, on the other head-scrambling mixing effects. The result is a trip. Perhaps too quaint for some, but there's a real vitality to this music, an intoxicated humanity that I found really satisfying. [Available from RecRec, Postfach 717, CH-8026 Zurich, SWITZERLAND; distributed in UK by Sterns, 1-8 Whitfield Place, London W1P 5RW] BD

Amor Fati

Breasthead (Flesh Records) MC

This cassette sees Amor Fati in song-writing mood. Occasionally it shows a love of deep guitar sounds and powerful drumbeats, with singing and found voices thrown in too. Mostly though, it doesn't click. The failures are of course the more conventional efforts, shot through with echoes of mainstream or indie rock. Nothing wrong with that, there's just enough of it about already. Hell, there's even one track here that sounds just like U2! Since it begs for comparison, I'll admit to preferring U2. [Available from Flesh Records, P.O. Box 5682, Trenton, NJ 08638, USA] BD

Las Animas / Bovoso

Sonidos Obscuros (Dark Side D.S.10) MC

Mexican musician Las Animas' side of this split cassette, Sub-Sex is a fairly normal piece of collage music, if any of this sort of thing is ever "normal". Lots of suggestive panting and moaning (porn samples?) mixed with slightly disturbing synths and electronic rhythms, creating a muddy, eerie musical Soho where everyone is perpetually aroused, always coming. Bovoso on the other hand come from France, and incorporate Eric Lacasa of the La Legende des Voix label. Their piece, Babil, is an extended musical exploration, with ethnic percussion, disembodied vocals, electronic atmospherics and more. Quite enjoyable. It's nice to see a cassette like this from outside Europe or the English-speaking countries too. [Available from Dark Side, A.P. 21-460, C.P. 04000, Mex.D.F., Mexico] BD

Another Headache

Nothing Definate (SPH SPH026) MC

Another Headache have moved upwards in my estimation since their joint 7" with dROME. These noisy soundscapes show unusual restraint, matching the spinning swathes of cacophonous noise against lengths of subdued ambience. The rhythmic buzzing electric sounds of the Cacophony Concerto's 3rd movement are repetitive but almost a sign of incipient minimalism. Industrial minimalism - wouldn't that be great? If you want a genre, then post-industrial. Fairly straightforward by that genre's wide standards: atmospheric instrumental electronic and noise music, but Another Headache are now definitely one name to keep an eye on. [Contact SPH; or it's £4 inc p&p from Work in Progress, 210 Pitshanger Lane, Ealing, London W5 1QG) BD

The Aphex Twin

Analogue Bubble Bath EP (Mighty Force MF 201) 12"

Digeridoo EP (R&S R&S 9201) 12"

The glorious future of techno in two easy lessons. Richard James records all his music in his bedroom, but unlike so many DIY techno-dance DJ/creators he draws his influences from way beyond the increasingly cliched 'breakfast plus nasty sample' crowd. Analogue Bubble Bath is a reissue of his first EP from last year, credited to AFX. It shows a twin debt to the new acid / techno experiments of Joey Beltram and the +8 Records maniacs, and to industrial production techniques, most especially on the violently brutal En-trance to Exit which sounds like a coach-crash between Meat Beat Manifesto and the London Philharmonic. The new EP, almost certainly to be reissued in the UK via Outer Rhythm shortly, is another step on from the first. The title track, especially, takes the sound of techno into a totally unique direction, layering waves of fluttering digeridoo over electronic pulses, all storming along at a too-fast-but-perfect 150+ bpm. The other tracks are harder and more acidic, but so abstract as to almost challenge you to have the nerve to try to dance to them. Magnificent! MX

Armageddon Dildos

Resist (Zoth Ommog ZOT 19) 12"/CD

Resist (popular title that) is a vast improvement on their last single release. This should be a massive club hit. Featuring three mixes, plus a remix of Frontline of Violence. Resist Hard Mix is thunderously fine hardbeat, reminiscent of Front 242's Masterhit, yet more accessible. Again the lyrics are pretty banal, but the rhythms are so catchy that this weakness can be overlooked. A definite DJ purchase. MR

Dwight Ashley / Tim Story

A Desperate Serenity (Multimood MRC 012) CD 50 minutes

That's an excellent title, as it describes the mood of these tundra-coated soundscapes perfectly. I'd love to avoid pinpointing Brian Eno as an influence, but it's difficult. A Desperate Serenity shows all the same interest in apprehensive ambience that Eno did, as well as sharing a liking for somnambulant tone colour, the spectral timbres that make the sound so much more than just a series of pitches and harmonies. Ashley and Story's compositions are simply a modern realisation of Eno's ideas. They're not at all original. They are, however, quite beautiful. There's a density, a lushness to the sound that Eno never had, and as a result these are lakes of sound just waiting for you to dive into them. Handsome stuff. [Multimood Records] BD


A Tricky Business (Contempo Records CONTE 175) LP/CD

Attrition is one of those bands who've been around ever since I can remember, but whose records I've never taken the opportunity to purchase. Recently signed to Contempo, their latest release is a pleasant surprise. Attrition's new sound is far from restrained. All manner of instrumentation is evident, male and female voices intertwine among classical and medieval textures. This is refreshing, an uplifting, sentimental and beautiful album. A Tricky Business has a classically minimal feeling that is the result of a successful fusion of high-tech ambience and strong personal song-writing. MR


Nouen (Korm Plastics KP 4091) 7" flexi

A genuine 'artefact', although only in the sense that it's a fairly useless piece of crap that's intended to be a souvenir of a fairly useless performance. Several very short extracts from a 45-minute live soundtrack to a dream-machine installation, playing at 78rpm and generally either humming in vaguely ambient fashion or going plinkety-plink in vaguely irritating fashion. Not at all interesting. [Korm Plastics] MG


S/He (Belt) MC

Belt should have a CD on the way from Silent Records, and if it's as impressive as this cassette then it should be worth hearing. There's everything here from heavy percussion to pretty melodic guitar, with a variety of abstract vocal backdrops, growling, whispering echoing throughout. Everything fits together very well and a range of moods is clearly conveyed. Sift in particular, with its ominous ambient droning and hissing, is extremely effective. So how come Belt isn't better known? Believe me, he will be. [Dist by Artware, Odd Size, Silent Records; Contact Belt, c/o Joel Bender, 1907 Kenwood Apt.C, Austin, TX 78704, USA] BD

Black Rose

The Room Inside (Contempo Records CONTE 168) LP/CD

The Room Inside consists of the most sombre, forlorn and emotive music that I've heard in a long while. Simple piano arrangements, strings and synthesiser effects act as support for Mara Bressi's vocals, which are often so long-drawn out that words become unrecognisable; her voice becoming one with the ever-present ethereal background melodies. The songs are Bressi's autobiographical reminiscences and remind me of Kate Bush at her most poignant. Bressi must have led a rather fraught life so far. The album features a cover version of Cindytalk's Touched / Circle of Shit with Gordon Sharpe on vocals, and in the original Black Rose / Cindytalk composition Moonlove. Most definitely music to cry to: don't listen to this if you're undergoing emotional crises ... then again, some people enjoy immersing themselves in such despondency. A memorable release. MR

--> Blue Eyed Christ

Leaders + Followers (KK Records KK 076) LP/CD 40 minutes

A promising debut from John Norten who originates from Chicago (where else?) Very definitely a first release: this shows its naivety through its somewhat straightforward structures. However, the tracks Angels and Addictive successfully mirror Ministry's Twitch album. Which can't be bad. Leaders + Followers probably isn't hard enough for devout fans of stomp, but remembering the increasing diversity of today's "scene" this is a perfectly agreeable outing. MR

Glenn Branca

Symphony No. 1 (Tonal Plexus) (Danceteria DANCD 081) CD/LP 54 minutes

Previously only available on a ropy ROIR cassette from the US, this reissue of the 1981 guitar orchestra classic is more than welcome. Branca's noiseworks have become more widely available in recent years with the releases of Symphony No. 4 - Gloria (Crepuscule) and No. 6 - Devil Choirs at the Gates of Heaven (Blast First) but here is where the rock stylings of earlier works like Lesson No. 1 and The Ascension were first transformed into a fully realised opus. Check out especially the first of the four movements, which consists of nothing but various E chords carefully thrashed to death by Branca's sixteen-piece ensemble; a magnificent destructuring of everything rock'n'roll stands for. It's an ensemble, incidentally, that includes Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, later to use Branca's techniques wholesale with Sonic Youth. MG ((Symphony No. 2 - The Peak of the Sacred is also due for reissue by American label Atavistic - BD))

Drem Bruinsma

Six Reels of Joy (Materiali Sonori MASO CD 90023) CD 61 minutes

Bruinsma's album features as collaborators Tuxedomoon's Steven Brown and Blaine Reininger, amongst several others. What results is a sort of cross-bred "chamber world music", combining African percussion with European sax and keyboards. There's everything in here from almost poppy songs, through classical organ to avant-jazz, and none of it feels out of place. It's a sophisticated, romantic journey round the world, intertwining all its elements quite cleverly. It's at the same time identifiably individual and broad-minded in what it encompasses. [In case of difficulty contact Materiali Sonori, 52027, San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy] BD

Cabaret Voltaire

1974-76 (Mute / Grey Area CABS 15) CD 58 minutes

Stephen Mallinder

Pow Wow Plus (Mute / Grey Area MAL 1) CD 42 minutes

Richard H. Kirk

Disposable Half-Truths (Mute / Grey Area KIRK 1) CD 63 minutes

Let's be fair. Cabaret Voltaire, whatever they may be nowadays, were once one of the more innovative and influential participants in the "industrial music" scene. So it's good to see early classics like Voice of America or Three Mantras available again. 1974-76, on the other hand, originally released by Industrial Records, is a different kettle of fish, despite a great Phil Barnes cover. Musically appalling, it's one for Cabs obsessives only, although it does give some idea of the claustrophobic feel they would adopt in later recordings. Stephen Mallinder's Pow Wow Plus is a much better album, Mal focusing on the Cabs' rhythm boxes to produce some taut, nervous music that really gets your tendons twitching. Some of it echoes Eno & Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (released two years previously in 1980), although stained with a lot more pessimism. The elaborate, plastic beats display the wired, skeletal side of the Cabaret Voltaire sound, while Disposable Half-Truths shows off Richard Kirk's darker, more acrid sounds. A lot less musical, mainly because it's from an earlier period (1978), and consequently it's less satisfying. Fans might want to pick it up, as its atmospheres have a particularly bleak taint, but others might want to wait for the reissue of the superior Time High Fiction, released in 1983. BD

Cabbage Head

Beware of the Artrap (Audiofile Tapes aT 132) MC C60

This isn't at all what I expected. I won't tell you what I expected. The first side, Tightening the Skin on my Forehead is a noisy montage / cut-up using various tape machines and a Casio home sampler. The rhythms incorporated into it ensure it doesn't wander completely aimlessly, instead functioning as a continuum of appropriated sound, like an experimental Orb. There are some similarities to the Tape-Beatles, although Cabbage Head are more concerned with sounds and music than with the media. On the other side, Elvis is Dead puts guitars and synths to work to create a good long piece of mantra-rock, incorporating Elvis-related samples. There's also an ambient piece, Tibetan Area, which is very enjoyable, and on my copy a bonus track, the excellent pulsating Whalesong. A good tape, and Cabbage Head are definitely a name to check out. [Available from Audiofile Tapes; or D&C Sight and Sound] BD

John Cale

Paris S'Eveille (Delabel CDDLB3/MCDLB3) MC/CD 59 minutes

No doubt some people will only buy this for the previously unheard live Velvet Underground track it contains. Why that track's here I've no idea, unless Virgin think it's the only way they'll sell this album ... Paris S'Eveille itself is an unexciting slice of soundtrack ambience; the electronic orchestra of the occasionally Nyman-esque Sanctus presumably came cheaper than a real one, in which case it's a pity the money saved couldn't somehow have been directed towards developing the music. The other instrumental tracks have a horrible sub-Jan Hammer flavour and only the song Antarctica Starts Here is at all worthwhile. On other evidence, Cale is a talented guy, but this is just an album of bad soundtrack music, with nothing particularly inspiring to recommend it. BD

Church of Extacy

Church of Extacy / remix (Rising High COE 1/1X) 12"s


Salvation / remix (React REACT 12004/4R) 12"s

Four more dance-mutilation releases from those groovy hardbeaters, Greater Than One. Especially recommended to you horrible lot are the various Church of Extacy pieces, which thrash violently around distorted acid squiggles and crunching industrial noise, pinned down every so often by a sampled voice not a million miles away from a certain Mr Trent Reznor. Salvation is a lesser work, revealing a continuing interest in bleeps, but still something of a dance-floor killer. More more more! MX

Phil Clarke

Real Time Demo 2 MC

Despite the lasercopied colour cover, now a badge of commitment amongst cassette artists, I'm going to remain unimpressed. Moderately competent synthpop with a heavy debt to Depeche Mode and a few hardbeat artists, and with some well hidden hints of New Order too. Almost professional, which just makes the "almost" show up all the more clearly. I really quite like it, but it doesn't grab me in the way, say, Recoil does. If bright black electropop is what you like then this is I suppose as good as any other, but it's an overpopulated field already, and it doesn't stand out enough. [Available from 92 Edward St., Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV11 5RE, UK] BD


Man Amplified (Contempo CONTEDISC 182) LP/CD 55 minutes

ClockDVA continue in the vein of their previous album Buried Dreams with an incongruous combination of serious texts regarding the issues raised by new technology, and of sinister techno which is never going to be able to match up to it. The music has advanced little since Buried Dreams, possessing the same mesmeric, dissociated synthesis of pulsating electronics and a wonderfully plastic, disinfected atmosphere. This is to its credit: as commercial techno it's non pareil, and you should certainly buy it. But for a band of confirmed neophiles, it's nothing new. BD

Cultes des Ghouls

Rituale Romanum (Struktur 001) MC

The five tracks on this cassette were apparently recorded in an ancient stone circle somewhere in Germany. It's appropriately spooky stuff, especially played at an unnecessarily intense volume. Maybe you ought to find your own stone circle somewhere at night to really recreate the proper atmosphere. The music? Lots of metalbanging, both spartan and, as on the particularly enjoyable Nihil Novi Sub Sole, rhythmic and unsettling. Plus a few horns, noise generators, distorted vox, echoing thuds. Perhaps some similarities with early Lustmørd. At times it's a bit sloppy, but I found this made it only more human and more emotive. [Available from Strukturen für Irrtum und Erkenntnis, c/o S. Dierks, Goethestr. 2, D-6100 Darmstadt, Germany] BD

Dance 2 Trance

Where is Dag? / Deepest Vision (Suck Me Plasma!) 12"/CD

Dance 2 Trance are one of Germany's most popular techno acts at the moment. I must admit that past releases have proved a little disappointing, but Where is Dag? is a flowing bass beast at its most virile, complete with sampled crow of a cockerel as made famous by The Orb. Deepest Vision is a Lil-Louis copy, minus the sexual excitement, leaving the track in a vacant state. Saved by the A-side. Dance 2 Trance unravel spherical levels of hypnotism. MR


Euphoric (Third Mind TM92622) 12"/CD

A change of style sees Delerium mount an attack on club culture with the first two tracks (and only two on the 12"). There are no lyrics on either of these songs, but plenty of samples from B-movies ensure that the repetition does not meander pointlessly. Grave Mentor and Sorrow are CD only tracks, totalling twenty minutes worth of Delerium's trademark uneasy atmospheric ambiences. There's nothing really new here, as through their alter-egos they've explored the club-oriented material elsewhere. There is a noticeably "gothique" hue to Delerium that makes each release worthwhile though. MR


Spiritual Archives (Dossier DCD 9033) CD 61 minutes

Presumably Delerium's final Dossier release before moving to Third Mind, and apparently a compilation of otherwise unreleased material. It includes some of their most adventurous and best music. The superb opening track, Drama, combines the heavy percussive punch and gothic hue of previous albums with garbled noise previously alien to these precision-fetishists. Rise Above is an astonishing, awe-inspiring soundtrack. Aftermath is a potent amalgam of subdued ambience with electronic rhythms based around samples of Depeche Mode, of all people. Sampling is an important part of the Delerium sound, perhaps often unrecognised because it's well integrated rather than peppered all over the place. That's only the first three tracks, and this is Delerium's best release yet. BD

Digital Poodle

Soul Crush (DOVentertainment Dove 88) LP/CD

Some bands seem established after a single release. Often due to hype, hopefully because of a quality debut outing. Canada's Digital Poodle fall into the latter set. Soul Crush is a shit-kickin' beat storm. Mouth 392's screeches compliment the Warzau-like percussion. Each track is minimal in nature, there is no over-elaboration, each beat, each blow is relevant. Highlights are Soul Crush, the single which has been remixed by Zoviet France; Nasty and Repeal the Deal strip the nerves, you're a loaded follower of bass. Turn on the Power! Feelings of Gush! ((What?! BD)) [Contact DOVentertainment, 2 Bloor Street West, Suite 100-159, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4W 3E2] MR


Final Report (Minus Habens MHR 010) MLP/MCD

Yes! Yes! Absolutely phenomenal! Dirk Ivens is Dive, formerly one half of Klinik. Whereas his former partner practices restraint in his music, Ivens has opted for utter sonic bedlam. Final Report is Dive's second release. The eponymous first album was released on Body Records, an Antler-Subway subsidiary. That, for me, was the most remarkable release of 1991, the record that had the most revelatory effect upon hearing.

Because I knew what to expect, this release simply enhances my pleasure. For new listeners this should prove to be one of the most original musical experiences for quite a while. Ivens works slabs of industrial feedback / dirge / mechanical operations into percussive pressures that pummel the ear. Three throbs of this repeated to the point of distortion, overladen with a strangled voice or found speech, and sometimes a mean bassline as in the track Final Report, Dive's pieces crash the frequencies. Mercy is a sombre organ discourse, Iven's vocals echo, louder than drums. Never have words been so vehemently splintered. Perfect. Sweet textural abrasive mutation on all levels. [Available through Contempo distribution; or contact Minus Habens] MR

Doc Wör Mirran

Save the Fish (Musical Tragedies MT-109) LP

Deformed Presidents Protect Each Other (Musical Tragedies MT-144) 7"

Save the Fish is Doc Wör Mirran's first LP, released after several others and apparently more song-oriented than their usual material. The title track is whimsical indie-techno-pop-rock, of a sort that might be beloved of Cordelia Records bands like Ruth's Refrigerator. Other tracks explore waves of furry industrial noise combined with heavily processed abstract vocals. It's good humoured and very personalised noise, with songs, basically, a mixed bag with a few really enjoyable stretches. The single, Deformed Presidents, mixes rhythmic industrial noise with a narration about schizophrenia, other dulled vocals, and searing fuzzy guitar. Only the second side, Estrogen Replacement Therapy is at all interesting (mainly thanks to that guitar sound), although with its 16-page booklet of graphics, photos and writing, it is a very nice package. [Available from Musical Tragedies, Muggenhoferstr. 39, 8500 Nurnberg, Germany; single is also available from Tragedy for Dee Too, P.O. Box 12034, Seattle, WA 98102, USA] BD

Roger Doyle

Oizzo No (Dom Bartwuchs DOM BW 03 / Artware 05 CD) CD 68 minutes

Charlotte Corday / Thalia (Dom Bartwuchs DOM BW 04 / Artware 06 CD) CD 54 minutes

I've only heard of Roger Doyle thanks to his music under the name Operating Theatre, so I had little idea what to expect from these two CDs. Oizzo No is a reissue of an LP compiling material from 1968 to 1975, along with some material from a 1978 album, Thalia. Some of it is pleasant but inconsequential, like the three piano compositions. The other works for acoustic instruments share some conventional influences (Irish folk on Ceol Sidhe), but range through increasingly unusual sound worlds, with the melodies cracked apart and the convention thrown out the window. It's certainly a seminal album: the tape pieces prefigure the work of any number of later musicians. I found it mostly unconvincing, and it all has a slightly plaintive quality that I couldn't get into, but it's on the second CD that things really get going. Charlotte Corday and the Lament of Louis XVI is a composition from 1989, whilst Thalia itself dates back originally to 1976. It's pretty far-out electro-acoustic sound collage, a development of ideas explored more briefly on Oizzo No. Sounds and voices in unexpected juxtapositions, and distorted in strange ways. It's outlandish enough to make it genuinely uneasy listening, and very imaginative, but as far as the genre's concerned it's all quite respectable, quite traditional. A simple narrative underlies all of Charlotte Corday, so it could be viewed simply as an abstract piece of sound theatre. If you're a Nurse With Wound fan, you'll probably go for this in a very big way, especially Thalia. [Available from Artware] BD

The Drowningbreathing

Schiz (Audiofile Tapes aT 134) MC

Cabaret Voltaire was the first thing to come to mind when I put this in the tape-player, and I don't mean the Zurich one either. Oppressive, dark wailing electronics and buried vocals over febrile rhythms. It's a fair point of comparison. The Drowningbreathing sound like what the Cabs would be doing nowadays if only they hadn't lost their edge. And that's meant as a definite recommendation. They're not clones either: but fans of acidic electro-rhythmic asphyxiation need look no further. [Available from Audiofile Tapes] BD


Electro Brain 586 (Body Records BR7009) LP/CD

Twelve tracks recalling the grand old days when Nitzer Ebb were hard, when Depeche Mode were an integral part of my record collection, and when Japanese electronic body music bands were unheard of, to me at least. DRP's debut on Body Records is quite a surprise. I enjoyed the distorted Japanese-tinged vocals and their harshness. Some of these tracks will test the limit of the listener because the rhythms and synths take back seat to the vocals which are absolutely screeched down the microphone. There's a raw freshness to DRP, almost a naive innocence to their exertions. There's a wry sense of humour aborad in tracks like Washing Your Cock (very early Front 242), The Acider (mutant house dance) and New Days (Skinny Puppy screams included). Play this loud and I guarantee it will annoy anybody and everybody! MR

The Drum Fondu

The Singer Just Left the House (IRRE-Tapes ITO48) MC C46

Swell (Dromentakel DT K707) MC

The Singer is a little difficult to categorise. It's electronic rock, I guess, with drum machines, synths and samples, producing fairly straightforward instrumental music with hints of everything from hardbeat to soundtrack music. It all sounds a bit cheap and amateurish, but believe me, it's still fairly engaging. Like all these underground tapes, treated simply as product they're usually found wanting: they aim to make up for it in personality, contact and intimacy. There are people responsible for this, not stars. Swell brings the singer back inside, turning its eight tracks into more obvious rock music, with the same characteristic snappy drum machine. It's better than the IRRE-Tape, slightly more polished, and might appeal to anyone who fancies a more poppy, easier-going hardbeat. [The Singer available from IRRE-Tapes; Swell available from The Drum Fondu, Provooststraat 35, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium] BD


Gateway to the Mysteries (Third Mind TM 9219-2) CD

Employing modern sampling and programming techniques simultaneously with a wide variety of traditional wind, string and percussive instruments, some dating back to the middle ages, Eden concoct a brew steeped in rich imagery, successfully created their own folklore and mythology. The cover art, "Light Between Worlds" is reminiscent of the 4AD house style, and this music would not be out of place on that label. An Australian five-piece, their compositions such as Mystes, Elder and Earthen Flame, Removed From Darkness and Searching For Angels Hands provide textual strength to the images one perceives: a forest glade, glass-blue translucent water, crystallised cobwebs, wraiths, nymphs echoing through the flora and fauna. A pristine recording. MR

Electro Assassin

Jamming the Voice of the Universe (Concrete) LP/CD

Electro Assassin are what used to be the nucleus of Johnson Engineering Co., hardbeat purveyors of some esteem. This new incarnation has a noticeably upbeat, fresh approach to its output. Jamming the Voice of the Universe is a very cultured "debut" release. Falling within the hardbeat dance genre, the album describes the type of futuristic society envisaged in the films "Hardware", "Blade Runner" and "Robocop". The rhythms on rhythms on the tracks Big Violence and No Remorse are pristine processed programs, accompanied by a slightly vocoded voice, alien yet understandable. Perhaps the standout track is Anit-Pure, a soft, pulsing, even soulful mantra which contrasts dramatically against its soiled vocal content: "alienation, termination, disintegration ... I want everything corrupt". Electro Assassin are jamming the voice of the universe, and doing it better than most. Surprisingly contemplative in nature. Is this what we are to become: a collection of Destroyed Men? Electro Assassin believe so. MR

Evil Moisture

Yerm Flowers (Evil Moisture) MC

OK, now you know as much as I do, except that I can read the track titles and got to have fun with the wacky packaging. Cut up mangled noise, like taking a microphone and throwing it into a metal recycling plant. Play it at the neighbour's kids and watch them run and hide. Easy to review: I've heard far too much just like it and I don't like this one either. [Available from Cheeses International] BD

The Ex and Tom Cora

Scrabbling at the Lock (RecRec Music ReCDec 39/EX 051D) CD 51 minutes

Seminal Dutch punk group The Ex team up with seminal avant-cellist Tom Cora for twelve songs here. They've both been releasing music since the start of the 80s, Cora collaborating with the likes of Fred Frith, Eugene Chadbourne and Bill Laswell. Scrabbling at the Lock is rock music of surprising spirit and invention. Socialist-surrealist lyrics sit on top of steadily cycling rhythms, and although it's never anything more than slightly avant-garde rock, it's a pleasant, organic, very attractive example of that musical style. [Available from These Records in UK; or Rec Rec Genossenschaft, Postfach 717, 8026 Zürich, Switzerland] BD

Fred Frith

Step Across the Border (RecRec Music ReVCec 30) VHS Video 90 minutes

A "celluloid improvisation" by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel, with music by Frith and a host of the usual RecRec suspects, this hour-and-a-half of monochrome artiness is alternately jarring and lyrical, both poetic and vulgar. But throughout, whether the scenes show the musicians performing or talking, or are just of the people and environment around them, there's an engaging humanity to it all, a damp-but-smiling charm. It's surprisingly unpretentious, and the visual context helps endear Frith's music even to those like me who find it sometimes too self-indulgent and unfocussed. If you're an admirer of Frith then you certainly ought to get hold of the video. Anyone else should find that it's a great introduction. The black-and-white photography superficially seems very detached, but somehow the images and music create an intimacy that more than balances this out. This peculiar romanticism is in turn made palatable by the adventurous spirit of Frith's avant-guitar playing. Marvellous, inspiring stuff. Oh yes, watch out for the kid with the bucket! [Available from These Records; or contact RecRec Genossenschaft, Postfach 717, CH-8026 Zurich, SWITZERLAND] BD

Diamanda Galás

The Singer (Mute STUMM 103) CD 46 minutes

"You know they're artistically bankrupt when they release the album of cover versions". Well, you try telling that to Diamanda Galás. Her singing is more concerned with the voice than the text. When singing the likes of I Put A Spell On You (by Screamin' Jay Hawkins) the words matter less than the way she tells 'em. For this album, all we get is Diamanda and her Steinway grand piano (occasionally a Hammond organ). Musically, it's very limited in variety and interest, so it's limited to Diamanda's ability to express her emotion vocally. She's the same caustic, passionate diva as ever, but I still don't think she was able to transcend the musical limitations of these songs. BD


Possession (Venture CDVE 910) LP/CD 68 minutes

Released on the normally more cerebral Venture Records label, this is the debut studio album from a group who've been around quite some time. The nine members include some known also for their association with the likes of Godflesh, Slab and even Henry Cow. John Zorn guests on three tracks. There's also a digeridoo buried somewhere in the mix although I can't say I spotted it. You get everything you'd expect: an unholy noisefest of supernova jazzcore madness, to be precise. God are all about power, all about the ecstasy of submission, the pleasure of possession. It's not music meant to entertain: it's violent, divine noise in which you lose your self, drown in a sea of fiery black bliss. It really hits its stride with a thoroughly overwhelming quarter-hour tantrum called Love and the dread-fully atmospheric Black Jesus. Desperately impressive. BD

Randy Greif

Alice in Wonderland 2 (Staalplaat) CD 67 minutes

Part two of a limited edition five-part series, which is a pity because it means there will be a lot of people missing some great music. Greif has described himself as a "sound surrealist" and who am I to argue? Beautifully packed in peculiar fold-out card, Alice in Wonderland mixes a straightforward narration, drawn from Lewis Carroll's story, with highly atmospheric musical rhythms and odd sounds. It's hard to describe, but believe me, surrealism is no misnomer. The moods created, with their odd cut-ups and juxtapositions are as close to the dream experience as music ever gets. Despondent melodies talk to perturbed harmonies, themes repeat and cycle. There are a few pointers towards the music of the Hafler Trio, but otherwise no parallel for this excellent recording. [Available from Staalplaat] BD

Birgitte Grimstad

After a Visit in the Greenhouse of Dreams (Victoria VCD 19055) CD

Apparently Birgitte Grimstad's eighteenth album, this is only the second I've come across, so don't expect it to be easy to find [this copy from Tower Records in London]. It's well worth searching for though. The 23-minute title track is based on a multi-media project by two Danish artists. The electrical brain activity of a man and woman, as well as animals and radio scanners, are projected onto a computer screen, and interpreted by the performers, who included four singers and three percussionists. The latter are missing here, and all the vocals are by a multi-tracked Ms Grimstad. What results is a superb, exotic journey through a space filled by fragile yet somehow muscular vocal sounds. She uses extended vocal techniques along similar lines to Meredith Monk, shrieking, gasping, trilling notes, speaking garbled words, swirls of pointillistic high-pitched tones and gentle polyphonic humming. The second of three pieces, Last Bird is similar if a bit less outlandish, and as a result even more listenable, while the final Living Windharp is merely pleasant. For sheer variety, imagination and beauty it far surpasses most albums around. BD

The Hafler Trio

Kill the King (Silent Records SR 9113) CD 73 minutes

That's 73 minutes without a break, I'd better point out, not even a single index point. Andrew McKenzie obviously knows how he wants you to listen to Kill The King. Recorded with the assistance of, amongst others, John Duncan and Adi Newton, this CD, nicely packaged with a typically confusing little booklet, extends the Hafler Trio sound - ambient collage using both electronics and field recordings - ever further. If you're not in a receptive mood, it's just a very long ambient soundtrack. If you are, this is bewildering, transporting, dream-sound. It worked best for me left playing when I went to bed. Neither fully awake nor fast asleep, it's dazed, disorienting condition coincided with mine perfectly. [Contact Silent Records] BD


Alloy (Elektrip EL 100) CD 56 minutes / LP

You like that indie rock stuff? With the hovering grungy guitars, like any number of faceless groups? Maybe you'll like this then. This is the only item I've reviewed so far for this issue that I've succumbed to the urge to fast forward through most of. It's honestly not that bad, for what it is. There's even a very attractive experimental tinge to a couple of the tracks: 5:38 (one of two extra CD tracks) and Regen in particular are quite excellent, developing different types of mantric guitar energy away from the song format that blights everything else. [Distributed by Revolver in UK] BD


The Ritual Should be Kept Alive (3rio Art 005) CD 21 minutes

You wouldn't guess from the title, but this is music firmly in the ritualistic genre. Sound sources are limited to human voice, electronic drums, and African woodblock percussion, although at times it's hard to believe no synthesis or sampling is involved. The whole CD is one long composition, opening with ambient sounds and vocal drones, becoming gradually more forceful. Percussion is introduced and propels things onwards to a potent conclusion. It creates a very magickal aura and should appeal to a lot of people. [Available from 3rio Art] BD

Hybryds & Alpha Project

Octahedron (3rio Art) 7" 33rpm

Yet more music intended to "trigger ancient hidden information in your mind". Well, it didn't do that for me, but maybe that just says something about my mind. The music? More rhythmic, ritualistic post-industrial stuff. The cyclic rhythms are regular but slightly elusive, and all the other sound material layered on top is very atmospheric and inviting. It's very carefully put together, as is the sleeve, up to 3rio Art's usual high standard. Side two is silent, so particularly helpful for allowing your subconscious images to flow without any distraction. [Available from 3rio Art] BD

Illyana Rasputin

In Pittsburgh (Runciter Corporation RUN12T2ILL001) MC

I'd like to be kind, but I can't get into this at all. The synths are off-key, the voices out of tune, the sound weak and thin, the vocals remind me occasionally of Genesis P.O.'s off-key moaning, and it all feels like a throwback to the early 80s. It smells of chlorine. It certainly rejects convention, but it equally certainly doesn't subvert it. There are a few moments where all this produces something fascinatingly depressive, but sadly they're in the minority. [Available from Runciter Corporation; or Audiofile Tapes in USA] BD


Intermix (Third Mind TM 9230-2) CD

Dream On / Funky Hell (Third Mind TM 2411-6) 12"

This latest side-project from Frontline Assembly is initially a shock. They're using cliched rhythms and trademarks from commercial music! Oh ma gawd! But, think again ... Such rhythms might seem cliched to those who use them, but FLA haven't to date employed such techniques, which goes to show how original their past works have been. Hence the well-worked dance beats of Anguish and Dead Ladder are a welcome alternative to the electro-thrash. Requiem Dub takes a Renegade Soundwave bassline and combines it with Delerium's gothic chants given a new age tinge. Meanwhile, Intermix haven't forgotten their roots. S+M=Y and Cum & Get It are seriously hard-house workouts similar to ClockDVA's latest, and some of the more hyper Cyberactif material. Clubland friendly and sampler-heavy Intermix should hopefully signal the crossover that's been threatening for some time. MR

In the Nursery

Sense (Third Mind TM 9271) LP/CD

It's no real surprise that the Humberstons' music goes down better on the continent than on this island. This album constantly evokes images of France or Germany, grand and romantic landscapes. It's too lofty for cynical British tastes, I suppose. From the opening Blue Religion where exhilarating drums drag the epic synths and woodwinds bodily forwards, through several tracks full of expressive French vocals from Dolores Marguerite, to the hushed ambience of Sinistral, the vision is kept up throughout. If it does have one fault, it's all a bit too artificial, too synthetic at times. It took me a few listens to appreciate the music behind the gloss. The most synthetic track, Syntonic, matching stringy washes of sound to electronic sequencers, is also one of the most surprising, with a huge blast of sound heralding its finale. If you really loathe romantic, soundtrack-style music, you'll never get on well with an album like this, but there's perhaps enough majestic emotion here to win over even the more cynical listener. BD


The Satyr (Minus Habens MHR009) 12" 13 minutes

Jouissance, the pseudonym of Britain's Michael Sefton, is gradually making a name for himself via places as diverse as Earthly Delight's experimental music sampler A Joyful Noise and this new single for Italian label Minus Habens. Part of what looks like a newfound enthusiasm for dance in the label, The Satyr is three tracks of intricately sequenced electronic pulsation, midway between techno dance and F242-style hardbeat. Maybe a more energetic version of ClockDVA? Not a classic, but still extremely competent and enjoyable stuff. Watch this space! [Available from Minus Habens or distributed via Contempo] BD

Edward Ka-Spel

Tanith & The Lion Tree (Third Mind TM 9267-2) LP/CD

It's becoming increasingly difficult to describe this man's work. This is due to the eccentricity of the sounds contained within. For those familiar with Ka-Spel's vocalisations, there's more of the same here. However the adult ballads and nursery rhymes are this time coupled with a dark, malignant backdrop which should appeal to many "industrialists". Ka-Spel's voice is at the fore in the majority of these pieces, narrating like some anonymous deity from the Land of Oz. At once reed-thin, dry, then a processed monster, Ka-Spel's trademark is his strange lyrical content. Given the environment on this particular release, Ka-Spel's visions come squirming into reality. Truly bizarre. MR


Playing Field (Great Orm Productions GOP CD3) CD 48 minutes

This is Keeler's third CD, and like previous work it continues to explore instrumental synthesiser music. But it's hardly "new age", thankfully. It varies from the peculiar abstractions of Dreamstate to the murky ambience of And The Clouds Held Back Their Tears, using electronic sounds of fairly individual character. Generally, it's a vibrant and colourful music, mixing solid but bizarre sounds with rumbling drones, tinkling chimes and sonorous rhythms. At times, it feels slightly artificial, but mostly it's sufficiently unique to differentiate it from all the other synth artists out there. As a result, electronic music fans should check Keeler out. [Available from Great Orm Productions, 496-A Hudson Street, Suite D-35, New York, NY 10014, USA] BD


Object V (Zoth Ommog ZOT 18) 12"/CD

This latest release from Claus Larsen, Zoth Ommog's own electronics guru, in true Al Jourgensen fashion, is his most cultured to date. Antius is an intricate industrial / techno melding including many samples concerning the JFK assassination. Nosecandy is extreme electro-thrash, but unlike Frontline Assembly, Larsen does not manage to convince the listener of his anger. Mohawk is a statement supporting the plight of the true natives of America. The track is a plodding tribute to the Indian - plodding in the sense of slow rhythmic tribal drumming. The final track Black Gold is a competent Ministryesque electronic aural assault. You could do worse ... MR


Kapital (Mute STUMM 82) 2LP/CD 79 minutes

Surely one of the year's most eagerly awaited albums, a mammoth masterwork by the jackbooted Slovenians, produced at a time when their homeland has gained independence, amidst violent confrontation that still continues in neighbouring Bosnia. Laibach continue their quest to conquer the music of the West, producing a techno / hardbeat album that takes command not through sheer power, not by pitting force against force, but by creating a void in the heart of their victim. It's a disembowelled techno, a music without flesh, a stainless steel skeleton of electronics around an empty dub core. It's not very danceable, and retains an alien feeling that ensures its originality. Decade Null opens things with dramatic percussion and the sounds of preparation for war. It's an intense, ominous beginning, perhaps one of the best things Laibach have ever done. There are hints throughout that Laibach have turned their gaze on the economic upheavals in Eastern Europe, or on the psychological upheavals common to all the individuals going through this unpredictable period of history, but there's no real message here: nothing to latch onto. My first reaction to it was disappointment: there's little to it conceptually. Musically, however, it's Laibach's greatest victory so far. BD

The Land of Guilt and Blarney

The Land of Guilt and Blarney (Audiofile Tapes aT 150) MC

Consisting of Audiofile Big Cheese himself, Carl Howard, and various combinations of Reginald Taylor, Louis Boone and Renard Hines, this is a good example of Audiofile's brand of bizarreness. Off-the-wall drum machines, synthesised noise-squiggles, effects, weird vocal narration. It feels arbitrary enough to put me off, but for anyone who fancies a blend somewhere between The Residents and the Cabs, this is that, or at least as close as it gets. Oddly enough, there's an avant-jazz feel to it, despite all the space sounds and electronics, and its spartan nature also reminds me of musique concrete at times, like on My Dinner With the Amperes. Difficult to categorise. [Available from Audiofile Tapes] BD

The Loop Orchestra

Suspense (Endless Recordings ER 002) LP 43 minutes

Well, the name gives it away. The title track occupies 21 minutes and one side of this record, and it's well loopy. Circling, cycling, turning, rotating, twisting, wheeling, swirling fragments of taped acoustic sound sources. Some recognisable, such as occasional voices, most not. The technique is very simple but the result surprisingly persuasive. The repetitive textures prove quite mesmeric, but they're certainly not bland or easy listening. I'll admit to a bias in favour of this kind of music (a point of reference is Bruce Gilbert) but it's a very enjoyable record. [Available from These Records; or contact Endless Recordings, P.O. Box 693, Newtown, N.S.W. 2042, Australia] BD


Ionia (Projekt PRO 32) CD 59 minutes

Awful Goth nonsense from a label that normally has a far higher quality control threshold. With its inept drum machine lines, rumbling bass and fluttering guitar figures, and ponderous, doom-threatening vocals, I would suggest that it is actually all evidence of a fascinating scientific discovery: a lost world where music hasn't progressed beyond 1982! Even the introduction of sampling and tapes on the lifetime-long Monsoon I & II can't disguise the bankrupt nature of this music. Stick to Black Tape For A Blue Girl. [Available from Projekt, PO Box 1591, Garden Grove, CA 92642, USA] MG

Machines of Loving Grace

Rites of Shiva (Mammoth MR 0026) 12"/CD

Haven't heard the LP yet, but if this single is anything to go by it will be big on the industrial dancefloors in '92, surely the year when the metal / industrial collision will cross over to mainstream (pop chart) acceptance in a big way. Machines of Loving Grace sound like Nine Inch Nails jamming with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with Captain Beefheart's illegitimate son growling out vocals. Nice sample of Kate Bush laughing too. Way too 'rock' for the E S T editor and his weird pals, but not at all unpleasant. MG

Magic Moments at Twilight Time

Flashbax Vol.3 (IRRE-Tapes ITO67) MC C46

OK, Hawkwind fans, look up! Yeah, it's all here: mantric rhythms, "radiophonic workshop" space sounds, squawking keyboards and trippy guitars. Plus a few cut-ins of M.M.T.T. taking the piss over the top, talking about "joints" and quaint old things like that. Even the odd hint of Blondie in there. I'd feel like I'd fallen through a time-warp if I didn't know so many people are still exactly like this ... Anyway, if you're a spacerock fan, this is definitely enjoyable stuff. If you hate Hawkwind, you'll loathe this. If you're somewhere in between, tune in, toke up, try it ... even a confirmed cynic like myself quite enjoyed it. [Available from IRRE-Tapes] BD


Calm (Situation Two SIT 89 T) 12"

For a band so beloved of the indie music press (formed out of half of the band Loop), this is astonishingly good music. There Is Only Light buries the sluggish lyric under waves of corrugated guitar noise, while Remain is a torpid mixture of unearthly e-guitar frequencies, pale and murmuring. Feed the Collapse is controlled vibrating and buzzing and Sever's atmospherics have more in common with the likes of Asmus Tietchens and Nurse With Wound than with the indie scene. A marvel, and soon to be coupled with the 12" Hydra as a CD album, Hydracalm. Look out for it. BD

Casper Brötzmann Massaker

Der Abend Der Schwarzen Folklore (Our Choice / Rough Trade Germany RTD 195.1248.2) LP/CD 40 minutes Something like a collision between Einstürzende Neubauten and Glenn Branca, Caspar Brötzmann's Massaker declare war both with and against the electric guitar. Like another guitar / drums trio, Fat, Caspar Brötzmann is not interested in anything as juvenile as a "song". Instead, the four tracks on this album examine guitarnoise as texture: specifically, guitarnoise as aural sandpaper. Thus you get the wailing wall-of-noise harmonies, quiet echoes of electrical storms, and taut, abrasive rhythms. It's a lot more restrained than I'm told earlier Massaker releases were. The raw, paranoid taste of the electric guitars is carefully controlled - you can hear for yourself what they'd be like if they really let loose, so they simply don't need to. The only real faults are occasional throwbacks to conventional rock, especially some of the drumming, but don't let that put you off. BD

Minister of Noise

Voodoo Soul (KK Records KK 070) LP/CD 52 minutes

Mad Bastard! Only Sir Freddie Viadukt could give percussion such a blighted personality. KK have certainly signed up a character, much of which transpires via Sir Freddie's demonic, childlike enthusiasm for the clogged, dogged groove. In Our Life, Footfooler and Midas Mud beat back the sceptics with cynicism itself. Voodoo Soul's drum patterns are the blood that gushes within the mind of the deranged ... Would you like to see some puppies little girl? ... The thrill of the forbidden. MR

Steve Moore

The Threshold of Liberty (Inner Ear) MC

These recordings from the early eighties are experiments in musical surrealism, the juxtaposition of seemingly incompatible musical and noise elements to produce something altogether unexpected. There are recordings of classical music, monks chanting, highly processed vocals, environmental sounds, and what appear to be electronic sounds mixed together in here. The elements are carefully woven in: the combinations don't jar but do manage to create something new from their constituent parts. It's an entrancing, imaginative tape, evidence of considerable talent, and really quite indispensable if you're interested in experimental music. [Available from Inner Ear Recordings, 21B Shanter Road, Maidens, Ayrshire, U.K.] BD


Igniting the Corpse (Motorcade CADE 4C) MC

Comparable to Severed Heads' City Slab Horror / Since the Accident albums, Nagamatzu, named after a Japanese comic-book character, are onto something special. The superb cover art and title suggest doom-laden atmospheric vibes. Not so. Much thought has obviously been invested in this product. Quietus makes me want to weep through suppressed joy - it's that effective. Malaria is a tribute to the dark minds inhabiting this world. Firewalker does what it says. The emotion conveyed by Nagamatzu surprised me, and is what makes Igniting the Corpse such a memorable experience, and consequently such a definite purchase. [Available from Motorcade, address below] MR


Space Shuttle Shuffle (Motorcade CADE 1T) 12"

There are two sides to the band's first piece of vinyl: neither is a great indication of the style Nagamatzu adopted on the Igniting the Corpse cassette, although the samples and synths do hint at some of what was to come. Lift Off is up-tempo voxless synth-pop, as is Schlaggefahr, but The Sunlight Home is a fairly unimaginative piece instrumental indie-rock. Not the best introduction to the band, but perfectly OK in its own way. [Available from Motorcade, 20 Wilmer House, Daling Way, London, E3 5NW] BD

Nightmare Lodge

Asylum (Minus Habens) MC

Unless you've heard Nightmare Lodge before, you'll get quite a surprise shortly into the opening Crushed Symphony. I won't say what it is. Nightmare Lodge have the perfect name to suit their sound: this particular blend of corruption is not the sort of thing you want to leave playing as you drift into r.e.m. sleep. It's the sound of the restless dreamscape, the sleeper tossing and turning as strange and distinctly unfriendly presences invades her unconscious mind. In more down-to-earth terms, it's a dark, surreal, atmospheric noise-music intended to be the exact opposite of easy listening. Black drones, swirling rhythms, fragmented voices and unholy growls. Buy this, but keep the lights turned on! [Minus Habens] BD


Negativland / Letzte Tage Letzte Nächte (Studio Urania SUS005) 7"

An up-tempo blend of techno-pop with more experimental sequences, dissonant guitars and clanking followed by a superfast electro-chase. Njurmännen ("The Kidney-Men") try out something a bit different on the second side, a mournful ballad mixed with hints of post-industrial atmosphere. A combination of a bad pressing and lots of unfriendly scratches on the vinyl combined forces to spoil things however. So if it sounds interesting, ask Studio Urania to check your copy before sending it off! [Available from Studio Urania, S”dra Allegatan 3, S-41301 Göteborg, SWEDEN] BD

Nocturnal Emissions

Cathedral (Musica Maxima Magnetica eee 10) CD 70 minutes

Cathedral is a brilliant distillation of the sound of the last few Nocturnal Emissions albums. It takes their cyclic, repetitive, textural atmospheres and stretches them out, strips them down. There are five tracks on the CD (which comes with a very nice eight-page art booklet), with the longest achieving 24 minutes of languid, hypnotic bliss. The techniques aren't any great step on from those used on Stoneface or Invocation of the Beast Gods, with this album using similar looped sounds and echoed effects to build up its ambience, but the music has been much more carefully polished. Put this on and drift away. You probably won't want to come back again. BD

Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses

Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses (Philips 848515-2) CD 69 minutes

Les Mysteres des Voix Bulgares are the singers most often invoked in comparisons with these Corsicans. It's not entirely unfair: they both possess enchanting voices, seemingly bereft of all earthly ties, free to roam through truly celestial sound worlds. Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses are brought together for this album by Hector Zazou (who also involves well known musicians like Jon Hassell and Ryuichi Sakamoto). His main role is to provide ambient Enoesque electronics behind the voices. They sing both traditional chants and their own compositions, and although the album is less pure than the Voix Bulgares releases, this is every bit as beautiful. I can't review it: it's too gorgeous, too singular. BD


Rut (Odd Size Records OS 07) 10" 45rpm

More of what I've come to expect from Nox: rock music that somehow manages to avoid that genre's usual tedium. I'm not sure how it manages it - all the usual electric guitars and steady drumming are in there. Choppy, rhythmic guitar throb, squealing pig-guitar and no messin' about. But it grinds along with real purpose, lots of energy kept under restraint and all the more menacing as a result. The fact that Nox are coming at their music from a different background from "normal" rock groups is clear in the way that they avoid vocals and concentrate on creating an abrasive, vicious sound texture rather than producing "songs". This is what gives them a refreshing edge, and I like it. [Available from Odd Size] BD


Bliss (Oceana / Onslot Music 09547-341902) 12"/CD

As I write, these remix versions of the track from the Christmeister album are unavailable in Europe. Numb are one of the hardest bands on the scene nowadays, and Bliss is an immense percussive grind pumped along by Don Gordon's angered vocalisations. Three Bliss remixes: Endurance, In Absentia and Fundamentalist are all deep-throat, gore-laden, savagely successful works. The fourth track Stiff was previously only available on the Lively Art compilation 13. Numb are the only successors to Skinny Puppy's position as terror merchants of hardbeat. They have no equals now. [Write for this release to: Onslot Music, 301-873 Beatty Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada] MR

Nurse With Wound

Thunder Perfect Mind (Untied Diaries UD040) CD 57 minutes

Sister album to an identically titled Current 93 release, the two tracks here, Cold and Colder Still see Stapleton and Tibet joined by Colin Potter for an admittedly pretty chilly journey through a world of glacial frequencies, icy shards of sound. Combining academic musique concrete with more conventional abstract electronic music, Cold matches drones and mechanical rhythms to carefully recorded, isolated metallic creakings and clankings. Colder Still drops the more insistent rhythms, and adds in a few voices, leaving the body behind to allow the mind alone to explore its cavernous, empty space. If you're into abstract music this is a fine example, easily justifying the Nurse's rep, even though it lacks a lot of the spontaneous craziness of their earlier music. [Available through World Serpent Distribution] BD

Operation Mind Control

Receiver Generation (Chainsaw Cassettes CSC 017) MC 40 minutes

This cassette, which comes with a nicely designed little booklet, claims to document experiments on the "cause and effects" of sound. The eleven tracks consist mainly of hypnotic tape loop rhythms, coupled to various other fragments of cut-up found voices and odd sounds. It's an old formula by now, but still effective when done well. Sometimes energetic and sometimes more ambient, Operation Mind Control's textures are clear and engaging reworkings of that early "industrial" sound. Fans of the genre shouldn't hesitate to pick this up. [Available from Chainsaw Cassettes] BD

Bob Ostertag

Sooner or Later (RecRec RecDec 37) CD 43 minutes

This is played entirely on a digital sampling keyboard, using only two brief tape recordings as sound sources. The first is a recording of a young boy from El Salvador, burying his father, killed by the National Guard, and the second is a 20-second recording of Fred Frith's guitar playing. Ostertag's political commitment is unquestionable, but it's difficult not to have some misgivings about his deconstruction of this young boy's grief. The recordings are chopped up and reassembled, layered and slightly processed. It's much better than most sound disassembly, precisely because of the very strong focus produced by the limited raw material. What results is never comfortable entertainment. Ostertag manages to find both great sadness, terrible anger and a pathetic beauty in the sound texture that results. It's frequently powerful and disconcerting listening, but occasionally it's just ineffective improvisation. The best moments come both from those that remain most faithful to source, and those that make it most unrecognisable. [Distributed by Rec Rec Genossenschaft, Postfach, 8026 Zürich, Switzerland; or These Records in the UK] BD


Pränatal Inferno (Archegon GON 1001) CD 64 minutes

Various Artists

The White Horse (Acteon ACTEON 12) CD 61 minutes

Throughout the history of live electronic music the most original work has come from those artists who have shunned standardised electronic instruments, either designing their own circuitry (Gordon Mumma, David Tudor), using intermediate or adapted technologies (the Sonic Arts Union) or using acoustic sound sources as raw material for electronic processing (AMM, M.E.V.). The least original work has come from groups using synthesisers, which inevitably produce a rather bland and stereotypical rang of sounds. The mass marketing of standardised electronic instruments in recent years (especially the ubiquitous DX7) has precipitated a tidal wave of mediocrity, facile self indulgence and inconsequential keyboard doodling. The works featured on these two releases instantly confirmed my worst expectations and reinforced my conviction that all instantaneous musical technologies are best consigned to oblivion or dismantled into electronic junk that can be recycled, musically or otherwise.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Several friends to whom I have played these releases have found them to be mildly acceptable as ambient noise. My own leanings are more towards the more anarchic end of the avant-garde musical spectrum. [Pränatal Inferno available from Archegon, Günter Schroth, Hippelstraße 54, 8000 München 82, Germany for 30DM surface or 40DM airmail; The White Horse from Metamkine] RS

Ordo Equitum Solis

Animi Aegritudo (Musica Maxima Magnetica eee 12) LP/CD

I'm not too sure about this one. I find it very hard to shrug off the images and greenery of "Robin The Hooded Man" which arose while listening to these medieval, mythologically inspired compositions. The actual music (harp, lute, piano, guitar, zither) does work extremely effectively, but Leithana's vocals are a little flat. The track titles might give you an indication of the OES sound: Message to Pan, Notre Solitude, Reis Gloria and Vacuum Quaerens. Assisted by Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus, this is a fine album with an original and emotional content. [Contact Musica Maxima Magnetica] MR

Organum & The New Blockaders

Wrack (Dom Bartwuchs DOM BW 06) 12"

This is almost, but not quite, the ultimate noise record. As ever, Organum shows his interest in metallic timbres by apparently scraping, bashing, drilling and grinding lots of metal, and T.N.B. show their interest in extremity by making sure that what results is as dense and intense as possible. Amidst all the high-pitched shrieking and clattering, it's possible, just, to detect a quiet bass synth line, and the gaps between tracks provide brief respite from the din. It's even possible to differentiate the tracks a little: Part 3 is my favourite, with a backdrop of metallic reverberation. Noise addicts should seek this out without further delay: if it seems too short, just play it at 33rpm instead. [Contact Dom Bartwuchs, c/o Christoph Heemann, Horngasse 2, 5100 Aachen, Germany; or try the "industrial" mail-order firms] BD

O Yuki Conjugate

Peyote (Multimood MRC 011) 44 minutes

At last! They sure kept us waiting for this one, but it was well worth hanging on for. In the past, O Yuki Conjugate's music has tended to drift as much as it moved, but on this new release they've given in to the rhythm. These eight tracks all showcase delicious tribal drumming textures, over which the band add sympathetic keyboard textures and found noises. The closest artist I could compare this wonderful music to would be Jon Hassell, though without his straining trumpet gliding over the top. Snake Charm weaves tabla rhythms with an ululating voice over a steadily rising keyboard backing. The tension is gentle but slyly insistent, insinuating itself into your subconscious long before you are truly aware of it. Personal favourite track A Darker Belief shimmers and shudders beneath a delightfully dippy tuned drum loop. Other tracks rumble or judder their way into the darkest corners of your mind, summoning forth hidden emotions as magically as any shaman. Some would insist on labelling, cheapening Peyote with an 'ethnic music' tag, but its primal beauty, its deeply resonating magic, make it a music that deserves more than to be limited by any ghetto category. [Contact Multimood] MG


Svobody! (Contempo Records CONTE CX169) LP/CD

A "best of" remix album this really. I personally felt that Adrian Sherwood's influence on their previous releases, Freihurt fur die Sklaven and Gisela detracted from their unique sound, making them showpieces for Sherwood's obsession with heavy dub beats. Happily (for me) Sherwood has not been an influencing factor on this release. Although some of the tracks are a good few years old now they still sound as fresh as ever. Kunst und Wahnsin, Remember Me and She's Gotta Be Mine flaunt with commercial success, yet they still manage to retain that uncompromising attitude that typifies the electronic music scene. Svobody! is some of the most danceable music to make the trip across the Channel; unfortunately it's probably still too dangerous for the majority. MR


Walpurgisnacht (Minus Habens MHR 011 / Contempo tempo 166) 12"

Pankow recently won the Oscar-Signiorini 1991, a prize awarded to the best avant-garde and experimental band of 1990 by leading Italian contemporary arts magazine D'Ars. This prize enabled Pankow to release Walpurgisnacht, an eighteen minute track, composed and performed for the Florence Dance Festival 1990. The CD was initially only available with the D'Ars magazine, but has now been released on 33rpm one-sided vinyl by Minus Habens (with an etching on the blank side). Walpurgisnacht is typical of Pankow: a mix of dub beats, Alex Spalk's incisive, ironic vocals, wistfully echoing moaning montages, classical harmonies - it's all in there somewhere. The listener will experience numerous surprises throughout the different stages of the track which can be divided into three definite movements. I bet Pankow's performance at the Florence Dance Festival was an event not to be missed - ballet dancers and hard beat rhythms, what a fascinating crossover! Pankow at their best and most unpredictable. [Distributed by Contempo] MR


Domineer / Asesino / Retro (RRRecords) 3xLP Box Set

PBK has risen from one amongst many American cassette artists to become one of the better known musicians working in the experimental noise field today. This timely box set includes a new (1991) recording, Domineer; his much-reviewed 1988 album, Asesino; and a retrospective compilation. The new material on the first record consists of nine tracks of spartan, mechanical sounds. Like much of PBK's music, these take the raw noises and process them, loop them and montage them to produce an abstract music. It has as much interest in rhythm, atmosphere, texture and timbre as many other experimental musics, but the source material is the sort of thing most musicians spend their time trying to eliminate. A lot of the noises are sequenced in off-putting ways, or have associations that almost make you flinch (eg scratched records). But, as PBK amply demonstrates, noise is musically interesting in its own right, and it is possible to educate your listening so as to eliminate your normal associations. Asesino is vivid, militant industrial noise, modest and unadorned. Raucous, shredded noise to injure your ears. Paradoxically, I found it easier going than Domineer, as it seems slightly more rhythmically structured. It's certainly denser, texturally. The compilation is varied in quality, but contains a few of PBK's better pieces, including the previously unreleased Process Formation Remix, a restrained and highly rhythmic exploration of several mechanical atmospheres. The box set as a whole is a good introduction for anyone unfamiliar with PBK, or a nice collection for anyone who doesn't already have Asesino (or completists who do ...) [Available from RRRecords] BD


Profusion (Realization) 60 minutes

Sometimes avant garde artists take ordinary household sounds and manipulate them so successfully that the noise is transformed into an original, illuminating experience. Unfortunately, some other people take the sound of a faulty vacuum cleaner and make it sound just like a faulty vacuum cleaner. [Realization, 540 San Clemente, Ventura, CA 93001, USA] MG

PBK / Vidna Obmana

Fragment 3 (N.D.) MC

The third in N.D. magazine's series of face-to-face cassettes pairs together two musicians already known for their collaborative work (eg. Monument of Empty Colours, released by Vidna Obmana's Decade Collection). Vidna Obmana's side of the cassette acknowledges his usual primary influence, the ambient music of Brian Eno. It's the usual quiet selection of glacial timbres and tones, although here it builds up much more intensity than I've heard before. PBK's contributions adopt a quieter style than normal, combining layered mechanical loopings with various obscure clatterings and even some astonishingly musical synthesiser lines. Very much a departure from his earlier music, and very effective. The whole thing comes in a bookshelf package including interviews with both musicians. An excellent piece of work. [Available from N.D.] BD

P.G.R. / Merzbow / Tietchens

Grav (Silent Records SR9114) CD 66 minutes

Housed within a very nicely designed inlay cover, this disc is an experimental noise fan's wet dream: three of the best known names in the scene brought together by the mail system for these collaborative recordings. Sounds were supplied and mixed together by all three artists. P.G.R. and Tietchens pitch in with tapes and electronics while Merzbow's Masami Akita uses metal percussion and bowed metal. You wouldn't really expect the result to be sunlight and daisies, and of course it isn't: plutonium, stripmills and magnetic fields are the images that come to my mind instead. There's plenty of scraping, droning, clattering, oscillating, whirring and whooshing, but it's pointless trying to describe abstract music in terms of its components. Of the three pieces, each is reasonably representative of one of the three artists involved. Three Hemispheres, which brings Merzbow's metal to the fore, is easily the most painful to listen to, while the others are more subtly disturbing. The music is put together with tremendous skill; it's terrifyingly atmospheric; and of course it's very highly recommended. [Contact Silent Records] BD


Phew (Les Disques du Soleil et de L'Acier CDSA 54016) 34 minutes

Originally released, in terribly limited numbers, on the Japanese indie label Pass in 1981, this record has long been one of the Holy Grails of any serious Can enthusiast. It features peculiar Japanese chanteuse Phew backed by Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, ably assisted by the late Conny Plank. It is a peculiar collection of songs, performed almost straight, but - just as you always know the Residents couldn't play anything properly if they tried - the music here is twisted and warped out of shape with every new combination of sounds and creators. On Signal bubbling bass and percussion fights against jangling guitars and Phew's strident singing in a way that reminds me of mid-period Fall of all people. Dream sees Phew mournfully intoning over a mixture of romantic piano and short-wave radio chatter. On the other hand, P-Acidic sounds like a mutant imitation of DAF. Phew is strangely appealing, exotic and different, and definitely very weird, though in exactly the opposite way you would perhaps think. It isn't really a great lost Can album, but it's certainly a wonderful rediscovered Phew album! [Les Disques du Soleil et de L'Acier, BP 236, 54004 Nancy, France] MG


Resilience (Dirter Promotions DPROMCD5) CD 55 minutes

For the most part Resilience is an energetic electro-thrash, with influences from punk through to industrial music (in its use of found voices and noise for track intros). Shot through with malice, it's bludgeoning stamina is something you'll either admire or abhor. For me, it was neither ambitious enough or muscular enough to keep my interest: compare God, or Joined at the Head, to see what they're missing. On the other hand, coming from a more conventional rock perspective this is a pretty creative album. [Distributed in UK by Pinnacle] BD

Poesie Noire

Tabula Rosa (Antler-Subway AS5059) LP/CD

I'm not sorry to say that I haven't much time for Poesie Noire. Five years ago they were a rather uninspiring industrial band who released an album, half of which consisted of an interview with themselves. I thought they were a little full of it then; with this dire sell-out, Tabula Rosa, my views are confirmed. It's a remix album of vapid rave tracks that just don't gel together. They seem to inhabit their own tiny self-indulgent world, ignored by pop fans and industrialists alike. Nought out of ten. MR


Greatest Hits 1981-1991 (Ladd-Frith LF73) CD

My preconceived image of the Psyclones was of "another guitar-pop band". I couldn't have been further from the truth. Psyclones are one of those bands whose product differs with each release. This gathering of their chameleonic nature celebrates this diversity. All the hits are here! Brian Ladd and Julie Frith originally started life as a grunge rock cowabunga band judging by their earlier material: Electric Tone, Stuck in a Rut and The Drug Store. Their present state of being is anybody's guess. What makes them stand out from the ground is their electronic manipulation of voices. Elements of Foetus' maniacal-classical style, early Severed Heads, Husker Du, and even Zoviet France are all evident at different stages in their evolution. Yes, Psyclones have "the gift of noise", may they bring it to you. [Contact Ladd-Frith at PO Box 697, Eureka, CA 95502-0967, USA for a catalogue] MR

Pure Motorised Instinct

Between Intimacy and Elsewhere (Motorcade CADE 3C) MC

Coming in Motorcade's usual very nicely designed cover, Between Intimacy and Elsewhere pulls out eight tracks of instrumental electronic music. A soundtrack waiting for a film or a throwback to 80s New Age? Well, this is the atmospheric face of Nagamatzu, drum machines turned off, and effects boosted up. Very competent, and quite relaxing soundtrack-styled music. Few obvious pointers (except Brian Eno on Spiral), because it's a little bit generic. It's also a bit too nice, I suppose, even bland if you're not in the mood to sink into it. But well worth hearing if cynicism hasn't killed your taste buds yet. [Available from Motorcade, 20 Wilmer House, Daling Way, London, E3 5NW] BD


Bloodline (Mute STUMM 94) LP/CD 51 minutes

Faith Healer (Mute MUTE 110) 12"/CD Single 40 minutes

Alan Wilder yet again proves himself the dark horse of the Depeche Mode stable. His previous two Recoil albums, 1+2 and Hydrology were surprisingly experimental excursions into minimalist electronic music. Sadly, Bloodline rarely ventures off into similar areas, but despite its commercial electro-pop nature its a pretty fine release. Standouts include Electro Blues for Bukka White, rippling electronic pulsations set off perfectly against Bukka's sampled voice; two tracks mixing soft techno backing with Toni Halliday's enigmatic and ethereal vocals; and Freeze, the least obvious track on the album, and the only one to continue in Recoil's previous style. Faith Healer, with vocals by Nitzer Ebb's Douglas McCarthy is a bit tedious on the album, but the single is a different matter: the CD version stretches to 7 mixes. The Trance Mix is a nice piece of ambient techno, while LFO's Disbeliever Mix hits all LFO's usual depths. Ultimately, it's only for those with a taste for the commercial, but oh, if only all pop could be this way! BD

Hans-Joachim Roedelius

Piano Piano (Materiali Sonori MASO 90031) LP 43 minutes / CD 65 minutes

There are only so many things a solo pianist is able to do, but of course there are so many solo pianists that you might think the possibilities have long since been exhausted. Mostly, you'd be right. Roedelius is one of the more influential artists to come out of the early 70s German electronic music scene, but on releases like this you won't find anything at all adventurous. It's serene, contemplative, gentle and attractive music, but little more. The best pieces are those that allow the stronger piano timbres to come through, or add keyboards to the mix: In Der Dämmerung is fifteen minutes of quiet beauty. That's true of the album generally: attractive but insubstantial. [Through shops or contact Materiali Sonori, Via Trieste 35, 52027 San Giovanni Valdarno, ITALY] BD

Runzelstirn and Gurgelstøck

Würm? ... und innen sind sie wurmstichig (Hypnagogia Records GOG 02) MC

In a nice black-on-black cassette box, these recordings from 1988 to 1990 are intended for noise addicts only. It's not the fat, dense sort of noise, it's a thinner variety, the squeals and scrapings jerked out of silence. It sounds like two or three lunatics let loose in a domestic appliance shop with a toolbox and a tape recorder, poking and scraping the various items for sale. Some of the sounds are quite piercing: some of the mixing and juxtaposition creates a freaky, unsettling effect. If you like your music to have a high quota of eggbeaters and sanders, then Runzelstirn and Gurgelstøck are what you need to hear. If you don't, keep well back. [Available from Hypnagogia] BD Sandow

Kanguru (Fluxus Records FL0004-1) LP/CD

This is strange. Kanguru is the soundtrack to a performance staged somewhere in Germany in late 1991. Consisting largely of hushed whispers, shouted rantings and the Neubauten-style regimented exclamations of the Sandow choir, set to an atmospheric background of mysterious found voice and textures, this release reminds me of the demonic chanting to be heard in the various Omen films. Very enjoyable, if a little confusing - it's all in German. MR


Behold the Past (Mind Scan) MC

Similar in structure to the recent Techno-Primitive Soundsystem tape, mixing ethnic recordings or found voices with programmed rhythms and/or atmospheric noise, although without the techno beats, and with much more of an abrasive "industrial" feeling to it. It's less enjoyable, not because its harsher but simply because it's not as well put together. There are plenty of memorable moments, including the powerhammer destruction of Say A Little Prayer; some of more polished music and a faked New York phone company ad. [Available from Mind Scan] BD

Schmaalhaus Weltraum

Samovar / Dr Läderbär (Limur LSD-003) 7"

Imagine a cross between Depeche Mode and Jean-Michel Jarre, with a Swedish accent thrown in, and a bit of flute there too for good measure. Yes, whimsical sequenced electropop with a Scan accent. Tremendously jolly. Tremendously inconsequential. A typical single, really. [Available from Limur] BD

Conrad Schnitzler & Jörg Thomasius

Tolling Toggle (Fünfundvierzig 57) CD 61 minutes

I may be mistaken, but I think this is Con's first CD, despite more than 30 records and ridiculous numbers of tapes. Con, incidentally, was a co-founder of bands like Tangerine Dream and Cluster, although his own music has always been a lot less accessible. It's also nice to see that it's a collaboration with Jörg Thomasius, an East German musician now getting wider recognition. Tolling Toggle presents 18 tracks of abstract electronic music, mixing analogue and digital synthesis, samples and acoustic sounds, creating slightly bizarre, spartan little worlds, where the conventional sound is shoved face-to-face with the musical outsider. It's mostly too random for my taste, but it also produces some powerful and resonant moments. Weird noise fans should definitely look into it, but it has a lot to recommend it to open-minded listeners generally. [Shops, or contact Fünfundvierzig, Schmiedetwiete 6, 2411 Labenz, GERMANY] BD


Whatayamean? (Joots Group) MC

Perhaps too off-the-wall for some jazz-lovers, and possibly too jazzy for the rest of us? Scott Cadenasso writes and sings these ten songs, with instrumentation straightforward guitars, bass, percussion, sax, oboe and some doumbek too. Whatayaget is a relaxed blend of jazz with "world" music: ethnic percussion forming the backdrop to bass warbling and sax / guitar melodies. Scott's querulous voice stops it from drifting too far into muso territory, but his songs are lightweight, flimsy affairs, and Whatayamean remains far too inconsequential for me to recommend at all. [Available from Joots Group Records, P.O. Box 22423, Santa Fe, NM 87502-2423, USA] BD

Shock Corridor

Portrait of a Serial Killer (Kirk Out Kommunications KOK1) 12"

This is just what a new name needs to win them a few fans. Shock Corridor, now en route to Minus Habens, could, I suppose be pigeonholed neatly in some sort of grungy hardbeat genre, but that would be grossly unfair. In a stylistic field plagued by the derivative, unimaginative and just plain incompetent, Shock Corridor are a breath of foul air. Bass-heavy electronic sequences and pounding drum machines create a driving, aggressive sound. The vocals (sort of Portion Control meet Skinny Puppy) are rough and raucous, like every similar group. All the tracks have plenty of individuality too. Where this 12" really scores is on its fourth and final track, T1:8, which loses the vox and dives deep into a thoroughly electrifying Cubic-style techno groove. Well worth getting hold of for this alone. [Contact Kirk Out Kommunications, 32 Hainault Avenue, Giffard Park, Milton Keynes MK14 5PA] BD

Sigillum S

Cybertantrick Quantum Leaps (Artware CD 3) CD 58 minutes

Sigillum S's brand of noise culture is one of extreme dynamics, blasting huge pulses of electricity across the otherwise quiet, ambient landscape. They match a ClockDVAesque fascination with the neural and electronic networks, the sensuality of the body, and the ecstasy of magick, with a willingness to soil themselves. No restraint here, Sigillum S plunge head first into their inspirations and paint the results large with tones, drones and crashes. It's a chaotic union of electronic and industrial musics, potent, passionate and rather grotesque. A special mention for their fine track titles (Mother Sow Giving Birth Under a Lab Balcony opens this CD and Mouthwatering God Corporation finishes it). Overall, it's a very enjoyable blend of the tonal and atonal. [Available from Artware] BD

Sloppy Wrenchbody

Pariah (KK Records KK072) LP/CD 44 minutes

Danish hardbeat! SW are a recent signing to Belgium's KK Records, and judging by this release, will prove to be a valuable acquisition. Lead singer, Mr Carlzberg, is a dead-ringer for Nitzer Ebb's vocalist; the music is a hybrid combination of hip-hop percussion, newbeat plastic fx and razored guitars. The overall effect is one of complicated, dense dance tracks, very much in the Skinny Puppy vein, circa ViviSECTvi. It took three sittings at very loud volume to appreciate the depth of these songs. Sickness Dance is an incredibly emotional piece, whereas Burn 'em Back Alive is probably too hardcore for most club DJs, yet eminently danceable nevertheless. You have to get used to this, then you'll be hooked. MR

Solar Enemy

Dirty vs Universe (Third Mind / Roadrunner TM 9268 1) LP

Having evolved out of early hard-beat combo Portion Control into what they presumably imagine is a modern dance group, this whole record is shot through with echoes of Solar Enemy's past. On some of the tracks the vocals sound as determinedly non-musical as ever; the music is a peculiar blend of hardbeat with techno dance, lacking the all-out energy of either. Initially I was very disappointed with it: it's not always groovy enough to make me dance and it's nowhere near heavy enough to impress me with its straightforward power. It certainly isn't as immediately impressive as techno divinities like Joey Beltram or LA Style, for example. Over time though, it has certainly grown. A Cabs-style cop-out or a genuinely mature voice? A slightly uneasy mixture of both. BD

Somewhere in Europe

Liturgy of Anguish (These Silences TST 6) MC

This is Somewhere in Europe's fourth cassette album, and continues with a similar style of neo-surrealist musical fragments. The recipe, where there is one, is straightforward rhythm and noise: apprehensive percussion entwined with peculiar alien rumblings and swashes of sound colour. They mix the more musical elements with found voices, tapes and sound effects to create miniature little worlds with more than a hint of David Lynch about them. One track from this cassette, Beauty and Blood, is a good example, a languid sea of amniotic fluid-sound through which a female voice mournfully carries. Other examples vary from the gentle but still slightly threatening synth atmosphere of Evening Falls to the industrial-music-by-numbers of Slaughter. There's quite a lot of textural variety on the cassette's ten tracks, but all share a common absinthe-scarred view of the world. Tasty. [Available from These Silences, 55 Perowne Street, Aldershot, Hants GU11 3JR, UK] BD


Parapraxis (Intellectual Convulsion SPASM IV) LP/CD 65 minutes

Link / Candleskin / Head Wound (Dying Earth DE 001) 7"

Splintered are increasingly well known purveyors of grungy guitar cacophony, with occasional similarities to bands like Godflesh and Skullflower. I'd be hard pressed to call these 10 tracks (8 on the LP) "songs", and "compositions" might be pushing it too. They start, and they end, and they churn along in the middle, something like a relentless combine harvester driven by a screaming horror-film star. Like many guitar bands, it's noise as texture; you can feel the grain of it rising out of the persistent rhythms and blurred harmony. It's neither as exhilarating as, say, My Bloody Valentine, or as powerfully disciplined as Massaker, but Parapraxis is pretty diverse, ranging from squalls of ambient feedback through to dirty, dark grind. The single is cut from similar cloth, and aches quite nicely. An unswerving slog through still more scarred din. Fans of the genre should check them out now, the rest of you might want to wait for the next album. [Parapraxis distributed through Revolver in UK; or contact Intellectual Convulsion, 51 Bld. A. Blanqui, 75013 Paris, FRANCE; or try Fourth Dimension Records; Dying Earth can be reached c/o John, 13 Warren Close, Sandhurst, Camberley, Surrey GU17 8EL] BD

Sprung Aus Den Wolken

The Story of Electricity (Disques du Soleil et de l'Acier CDSA 54015) CD 53 minutes

Sprung Aus Den Wolken are one of Germany's forgotten bands: although they share some qualities with Einstürzende Neubauten, it's only the latter who have found wide fame. This CD reissues the band's album from 1986/87 along with a single Que Pa. It's a disjointed view of the world, enacted with fragmented and angsty singing, lots of nervous percussion, and hesitant guitars and synths. It works with conventional rhythms, reconstructing them in its own personal way, and a strong sense of character comes through. It's alternately dull and delightful, never as far out as Neubauten but with some of the same visceral attitude to their music, some of the wires showing through. [Contact DSA, BP 236, 54004 Nancy Cedex, France; also available from Odd Size] BD

Stephen Stapleton & David Tibet

The Sadness of Things (Untied Diaries UD 037) CD 53 minutes

All the obsessive fans of Nurse With Wound or Current 93 will already have added this to their collections, but what can I say? Behind the gorgeous album cover lies an absolutely gorgeous album. Underpinned by a steady, soft rhythm, and with occasional brief spoken phrases interjected to make sure you're paying attention, the 31-minute The Sadness of Things is basically just a long, atmospheric soundtrack, with keyboards and unhappy violin and things. It's an astonishingly beautiful one for all that. The companion piece, The Grave and Beautiful Name of Sadness (by Stephen Stapleton and Geoff Cox) is similar but more synthetic, and a bit more disturbing in tone, with a few particularly intense moments that ought to frighten the life out of anyone who has turned the volume up a bit too much. Stephen and David both have ridiculously high reputations already, and this album can only earn them even more respect. Very highly recommended. BD

Jack Stern

First Mission (North Corp) MC only

Colour lasercopying seems to be the technology of the moment - it's led to a vast improvement in the quality of cheap cassette covers, and this is another good example. The music consists of three tracks (plus remixes) of danceable techno electronics, classy and user-friendly spacey sequencers, upbeat and smiling Kraftwerkian pulsations. "Continuous play for all supersonic walkman pilots of the cosmos" says Ben, and I agree entirely. Earfood for space cadets! [£2.50 inc p&p from Ben Allen, 117a Great Victoria St., Belfast, N.IRELAND] BD

The Stinking Badger

Stabile Estimates MC C90

This is part of a fine tradition of underground cassettes - it comes in a handwritten and hand-coloured cover. Appearances can be deceptive, and it's too easy to be snide, but this was pretty much what I thought it would be: instrumental electronic music using a variety of synths and occasionally other things too. Like most "amateur" stuff it has its fair share of the nearly-glorious and the better-glossed-over. Moments where the imagination is quite inspired, and moments where it all goes dismally wrong. It's interesting enough music, with references from 70s cosmic music through to 80s synthpop, but the amateurish feel doesn't do Stabile Estimates any favours at all. This tape could have done with being edited to half the length. [For ordering details send SAE/IRC to Radius Mailorder, P.O. Box 16, Nottingham NG2 5EQ] BD


Broken Snakes (Check) LP & CD 48 minutes

This is Broken Snakes' first non-US recording, and Check's first recording full stop. Check say that this is the first ever American band to be released on a Czechoslovakian label. Stutter are at heart a rock band, although influenced by all sorts of avant-garde, dance and electronic music styles. So there are plenty of samples and other strange noises tangled up in the guitar / vocals / drums based songs, and some stretches where the rock traditions are ditched completely. Given the genre, it's quite imaginative, but it couldn't really keep my attention. [Available from Check Records, Milan Kidon, 735 14 Orlová 757, Czechoslovakia] BD


Electric Soul (KK Records KK 068) CD 36 minutes

Poppy electrobeat with a strange nostalgia for the past. As well as those tacky whining synths all too prevalent during the early seventies, there are plenty of other references to the music of two decades ago. Harmlessly commercial, pleasant pop. Don't go expecting anything remotely resembling innovation: "danger" is not something Electric Soul is ever likely to be accused of. Occasionally it reminded me of several other bands: as well as horrible echoes of "baggy", I spotted the ghost of the Shamen several times. BD

Swamp Terrorists

Grow-Speed-Injection (Machinery MA9) LP/CD

Like their countrymen, The Young Gods, the Swamps are a bizarre mixture of electronic hardbeat and rock guitars. The group themselves call their sound "street tech beat". Following closely behind their 12" Rebuff, G-S-I takes the dance emphasis to extremes. Braintrash features the typewriter percussion of The Young Gods' Envoye overlaid with massive guitar riffs and growled vocals, stretching the dirge to spastic limb twisting movements. The Vault Parts I to III provide short atmospheric shafts of amber amidst the dark depths of Ratskin, Skizzo Pierce, Rawhead and Green Blood. These sharp titles are a precursor to forthcoming events. If you try to dance to the Swamp Terrorists you'll break your legs. MR


"Trans-European Express" Said The Stolen Song Brightly (Sorcerer Sound CX500) MC

Eeeek, new age music! Eleven tracks with names like Journey of Orphee (In the Underworld). (Of course it was the bloody underworld - he didn't make a trip to Stoke-on-Trent, did he?) Midi guitar (triggering synthesisers) and very little else. Ummm, that's it. [Available from Sorcerer Sound Productions, c/o 34 Bassingham Road, Wembley, Middlesex HA0 4RL] Oh, sorry, the music, yes, of course. If you like the basic genre (instrumental abstract electronic) then you may like this. I think it's rather good, with a nice balance between simplicity, softness, complexity and edginess. It takes in everything from new age to the avant-rock of Fred Frith and the unbalanced whimsy of the Residents. Definitely a bit undeveloped, and sometimes hard to get into, but plucky stuff. BD

Terminal Cheesecake

Pearlesque Kings of the Jewmost (World Serpent WSLP 001) LP/CD

Even with the inclusion of a deliciously warped cover of the Residents' Hello Skinny and a great Blue Note parody sleeve, the last Terminal Cheesecake record, Angels in Pigtails (on Pathological), was something of a disappointment. It is a pleasure to report, then, that the new one, the first long-player on the groovy World Serpent label, shows that the band have rethought their strategy and returned stronger than ever. As always, the music is a mixture of disorienting dub, hardcore grunge guitars and peculiar samples, but there is a new found groove, a swing in the band's step now, that makes their work far more approachable without compromising their individuality and experimentation. Now they sound like Skullflower's grubbier little brothers let loose in a state of the art recording studio. The record works best in one massively oppressive, dope-hazed blur that pound its stomach-aching bass and beats into you with its massive fists. Very odd, way cool. [Distributed by World Serpent] MG

Terminal Power Company

The Hunger The Heat (Situation Two SIT92) 12" & CDSingle

The Hunger The Heat Remixes (Situation Two TPC1) 12"

Run Silent Run Deep (Situation Two SITU38) LP & CD 46 minutes

Terminal Power Company are obviously great cyberpunk fans (listing the likes of William Gibson and Videodrome as influences). It's a pity their music's not quite up to it though. Lots of hi-tech sounds, and death-obsessed lyrics, but the form's too conventionally rock-oriented. If the concepts are futuristic, then the music ought to ditch the out-of-date rock conventions to keep up. You can't reflect the future if you're still stuck in the past. For pop cyberpunk music that's not as half-hearted as this, try Hoodlum Priest or Man Machine instead. If you kept the melody the same, and swapped the bleeps for electric guitar, Run Silent Run Deep would sit on the heavy metal racks. Of the above, only the remixes of The Hunger The Heat are at all up to the job, stripping things down and letting the machines breathe more clearly. BD

This Heat

This Heat (These Records HEAT 1) CD 48 minutes

Deceit (These Records HEAT 2) CD 40 minutes

Soon to be followed by a collection of other early material entitled Repeat, these two items are the long-awaited digital reissues of This Heat's "seminal" classics. They're very much "of" a certain time and place: a time when the threat of the a-bomb was still a primary source of angst and uncertainty. For their time, This Heat were a fairly far-out bunch, although it's certainly possible to spot influences from earlier experimentalists like Faust. The music draws on rock, jazz and the avant-garde, cutting up, stretching out, retexturing and otherwise playing with expectations. Instrumentation included the orthodox - guitars, clarinet, drums, bass - and the unorthodox - tape loops and manipulation. Of the two albums, This Heat is more abstract, while Deceit is a more lyrical lump of shrapnel. Both are discordant, off-key, down-to-earth and away-with-the-fairies, spaced out and strapped down. It sounds terribly dated and little like almost anything you'll hear today. It's generally sufficiently morose to make Morrissey sound like Timothy Leary on uppers. The singing is perhaps the greatest aid to suicide since the invention of the razor blade. The colour is a dirty grey - the appearance of Throbbing Gristle and their occasionally similar (if less musically competent) noisy dirges at the same time is surely no coincidence. Watch almost any social realist 70s TV to see why! Most of the late 70s / early 80s reissue nonsense currently plaguing us is startlingly unexciting stuff: the shock of '82 is simply passe in 1992. Music has progressed sufficiently for the novelty and glamour of the likes of T.G. to begin to pall. But This Heat are still well worth hearing: in a world of positivity and ignorance, they're refreshingly hope-less. [Available from These] BD

Asmus Tietchens

Seuchengebiete 2 (Syrenia 1) CD

On a subsidiary of Musica Maxima Magnetica, Tietchens' second exploration of the "infested areas" focuses on the actual physical processes of water running through wastepipes, and the noises that these actions generate. The basic sounds were recorded on a three track tape machine via two condenser microphones and one contact microphone. The captured sounds have been treated and processed extensively to achieve a remarkable end product.

Some noises are processed more than others, having the effect of transforming the watery sounds into harp-like string arrangements. At other times, insect communication, a hive of subterranean activity, an insistent vibration pervades the track Hydrophonie 12. Hydrophonie 8 patters along incessantly, glass shivers, ice melts. I swear I could hear voices in there! Tietchens stresses that there is no message to be found in this recording. For myself, it offers proof that life is noise; that everything has an identity through sound, through image, through texture, and that we take these characteristics for granted. The concept behind Seuchengebiete 2 is interesting, the result is enthralling. [Contact Musica Maxima Magnetica for information] MR

Triptic of a Pastel Fern

Star Versus Cube (Poison Plant) LP 18 minutes

This record contains music that, for want of a better description, fits neatly into a genre called "weird". Bizarre lyrics, freaked out music somewhere between electropop and avant-jazz, bizarre bizarre bizarre. In terms of attitude, there are quite a few similarities with Negativland, particularly their earlier stuff. It's perhaps a more musical Negativland without the statements or the deluge of samples. If that idea appeals, then this record ought to as well. On the other hand, if the word "wacky" sends shivers down your spine, avoid. Better than anything I'd heard from them before. [Available from Poison Plant] BD

Simon Fisher Turner

Edward II (Mute IONIC 8) CD 68 minutes

As ever, Simon Turner's soundtrack incorporates everything from pop, melded out of equal parts Moroccan, Elizabethan and 80s rhythmbox influences, through to the most abstract soundtrack drones imaginable. Voices and sounds from the film are woven unobtrusively back into the soundtrack, and what results remains good music even without the film to back it up. At its least corporeal, its ominous bass hum sounds like it emanates from some unfathomably deep, black cavern. At other times the melodic guitars couldn't be more direct and poignant. Throughout, it's audacious and ingenious, a treat from one of the world's less conventional soundtrack composers. BD


Der Mass Der Dinge Ultra Remixes (New Zone Records) 12"/CD

Presenting five mixes of an influential techno anthem from last year. U-Tek is another vehicle for Severen Ni-Arb of X Marks the Pedwalk; here he reveals his acknowledgment of the race scene, and this is a stormer! A combination of conventional techbeat and traditional electronic body music, with some of the catchiest German vocals to be heard since Kraftwerk's The Model. Teutonic credibility abounds. MR

Vomito Negro

The New Drug (Antler-Subway AS5045) LP/CD

Vomito Negro is Latin for "black vomit", a phenomenon that arises in the last stages of yellow fever, when the patient throws up his putrefied intestines and ultimately dies. Can't you just guess what this release sounds like? The problem is that electronic and experimental music is ideally suited to such morose and macabre topics. Just as contemporary pop songs become cliched dealing with topics such as love and boyfriends, so electronic music is rapidly becoming overrun with these dark topics. Different interpretations ensure that interest in the "scene" is sustained. Vomito Negro's ideas are as valid as the next, but I feel that they must begin to widen their subject coverage. I feel a shift of emphasis is around the corner for many electro-bands. Vomito Negro are one of the more competent players in these genres, and I hope that if they were to change their outlook on life, that they do it more convincingly than Front 242. MR

The Wallmen

International House of Juju (Dead Judy Records) 7" 5 minutes

Upbeat American indiepop from a very standard four-piece. Chirpy, whimsical, and quite dispensable. Sorry guys! [Available from Dead Judy Records, 7711 Lisa Ln., N. Syr, NY 13212, USA] BD


Pearl of Great Price (Third Mind TM 9269-2) LP/CD

The music that should be played in places of worship throughout the land. If God is going to respond to a form of prayer, then this is that prayer. When viewed in comparison with FLA's various projects, Will is a truly original voice. Never has music sounded so threatening and yet so religiously sincere simultaneously. I would imagine this experience is way up there with meeting Himself face-to-face: awe inspiring. The combination of classical, hardbeat and electronics is like no other. Lovecraft, Dante, Derleth, Ligotti and Campbell write to soundtracks such as Will. The dead really can dance. MR


Pale Saint (D.O.R. ADOR 101) MC/LP/CD 64 minutes

Yes, it's the return of the New Romantics! This is a more commercial WMTID than I've heard before, bringing to mind Ultravox, New Order or Depeche Mode rather than any harder antecedents. Occasionally there are hints of music post-'86, but sadly all too rarely. Oh, it's all very nicely done, and if you're a hopeless nostalgic then you'll probably love it. If not, you're more likely to find it an irritating antique. BD


Semblance (Antler-Subway AS5055) LP/CD

X10's Semblance is an interesting oddity, being the collaborative effort of Marc Verhaegen, Niki Mono, Mark Ickx (A Split Second) and cult experimentalist Vidna Obmana. The majority of the tracks are cautious outings, nervously feeling and finding their strengths, finally settling into consistently shifting textures that highlight Mono's searching vocals. The exceptions are three tracks featuring Mark Ickx, including the 12" Repulsion / Phantom Limb, which are typically aggressive statements, out of place on such a restrained release. The project holds much promise. The thin steady percussion of their first 12" has largely been replace on this album by minimal pieces secreted together by Mono's fragile, yet deeply emotional expressions. Verhaegen's interests are shifting from the morose to the exploration of the wondrous, the music is opening its eyes, reflecting its creator's new outlook on life. MR

X10 featuring Tec Trance

X10 featuring Tec Trance (Antler-Subway AS 5068) LP / CD 62 minutes

Marc Verhaegen's latest venture envelops the talents of a quartet from Germany, Tec Trance, who formed in 1990, and have grasped this opportunity with some aplomb. At times this sounds like a European Consolidated; Tec Trance's input is not drowned out by Verhaegen's presence, although his love of processed, antiseptic, stainless-steel rhythms is evident throughout many of the eleven tracks. The combination of two very different electronic styles is one of interest. Tec Trance (like KK's Swains) are heavily influenced by the hip-hop beats and arrangements which are creeping into much of today's electronic output. What Verhaegen does it dehumanise these exertions to a strange, transparent plane, exemplified on such tracks as Spirit World, The Ice and Liquid. Cleansing. MR


X-101 (Mute / Black Market MKTMLP 2) mini-LP

Six screaming hardcore techno acid tracks, apparently created in Germany if the label is anything to go by, but remixed by dance heroes Underground Resistance and the Vision in the US. It's all rather nasty, brain-mangling stuff, about as at home on your average disco dancefloor as a short-circuiting ED-209, and is to be explored by all those who find most electronic music just too damn sedate. MX

X Marks the Pedwalk

Freaks (Zoth Ommog ZOT 5) LP/CD

Cenotaph (Zoth Ommog ZOT 19) 12"/CD

The long-awaited debut LP from X.M.t.P. is here, and it has reawakened my enthusiasm for the hardbeat genre which was blighted with the same affliction as house music: too many bands producing much too similar results. Freaks is intense, sweating, constructive electronics. X.M.t.P.'s unique fusion of industrial and techno is immaculately produced. Listening to tracks such as Swastika, Express My Sentiments Entirely and The Shot really gets the adrenalin flowing. A welcome return to the underlying philosophy of electronic body music: Hit 'em Hard! With Cenotaph they continue this trend. The title track is typical beat-pulse-sample dance, nasty enough for the clubs. The samples employed weld themselves naturally to the percussion. A sampled voice expressing words of several syllables can be just as effective as a drum machine. Never Dare to Ask and Helpless Deadly Mix support XMTP's quest for programmed perfection. Complex, ultimately rewarding. MR


4x4 (Ladd-Frith LF 76) CD

A superb compilation. At the forefront of the alternative music movement in the US, Ladd-Frith has collected together sixteen bands whose styles range from madcap Japanese electro-grunge-thrash (Kyoufu Shinbun), to Nirvana-like rock (Death & Taxes, Savage Republic), to stormy industrial noise (Trance, In The Distance and Nightmare Lodge). Special mentions must go to Gravity, their Cargo Ship 17 is wild, "Lost in Space" acid-electronics, and Thunder Orchestra, whose Pillarbox is one of the most original industrial mantras I've heard in a while. Of note also are Blackhouse, Psyclones and Jelly Road. You really should purchase this! [See Psyclones review for address] MR


Beets (Ralph / TECTones TEC 90901) LP/CD 43 minutes

Finally dragging itself across the Atlantic several years after the first adverts for it appeared, this follow-up to Ralph's groovy 'folk' collection Potatoes turns the spotlight on 'jazz', though in many cases what results is a music very far removed from the usual Ralph suspects (Snakefinger, Club Foot Orchestra, Fred Frith) to more eclectic art-school choices like Tom Cora, Winston Tong and the wonderfully named Machete Ensemble of San Francisco. As the sleevenotes suggest "jazz buffs may raise an eyebrow at these expressions of jazz, as many of the traditional rules have been challenged, and even broken." Well, sod it, that's what they're there for! MG


Charmed (Poison Plant) LP

Charmed belongs to that group of compilations which forgets thematic consistency in favour of diversity, but is far from a typical example. The music is varied but not ridiculously so, stretching from energetic surrealism à la Residents from Triptic of a Pastel Fern through to the impressionistic acoustic guitar of Brain Gingrich, tainted with shades of Windham Hill. Highlights included Todd Fletcher's effective and atmospheric contribution The Murmuring Voice, Cyrnai's biomechanical rhythms, and the subterranean crypt-tour provided by Paul Lemos and Joe Papa (of Controlled Bleeding). All of the ten tracks keep their heads well above water, so this is overall a good though unspectacular compilation. [Available from Poison Plant] BD


Faces and Images (Limur Records LP02) LP

While not wishing to condemn all Swedish acts in one foul sentence, I must say that I have yet to come across many convincing attempts at electronic body music / hardbeat, with the exception of Oil In The Eye. Having said that, the band Verschwende Deine Jugend are excellent: the one track that really "goes for it" on this Limur 1991 compilation. Source of Conflict is a massive thunkforce of rhythm. Everything else, including groups with such intriguing badges as Boiling Brain, + Christ and Pet Cemetery, are bland Depeche Mode copyists. The Mode must be so popular in Sweden it's a little scary. The majority of these bands haven't really attempted anything original. [Available from Limur?] MR


Fairy Tales and Myths (3rio Art) MC

I like this tape so much that I'll even ignore its status as a limited edition. It's part of 3rio Art's attempts to put the myth back into music, to restore its position as the foundation of ritual and magic. 16 artists are featured, providing a mixture of experimental rhythmic music using hypnotic tape loops and ambient music relying on a more gentle mesmerism. It's hard to pick highlights (although I will mention Pier Luigi Andreoni's excellent Whispers) as the music is mostly of a high standard. Very nicely presented, and fairly consistent in style, it's one of the cassette underground's definite successes. [Available from 3rio Art] BD


Grit From the Pit (Mongolian Tourist Board MTB3) MC C60

One of the cooler label names in existence brings us this compilation cassette. Fourteen obscure bands, maybe all British, maybe not, I don't really know. It's all very variable, ranging from the singer with the acoustic guitar through various shades of rock to the squashed tape collage produced by factor X. My favourite bits include tracks from Crocodile Smiles, stylish but short wailing rock music, and some chuggalong technorock with Porkhead, but it's not a great cassette. There's nothing to recommend it over many other such cassettes, although stylistically it should go down best with very open-minded rock fans, into psych-rock for example, and able to cope with some of the noisier, less competent moments. [Available for £3 from the Mongolian Tourist Board] BD


Jailhouse Rock (Hypertonia World Enterprises) MC

Released originally by Yecch on the 10th anniversary of the death of "the most decent, democratic, christian and bigot american singer that ever was", this cassette brings together ten versions of Jailhouse Rock, from Norway and elsewhere in Europe. It's utterly unlistenable, but also the perfect gift for an Elvis-lovin' relative. All the artists rip the song apart in their own haphazard way, but none match up to, say, the Residents' alien take on the song. Un Chat's cheap-and-cheerful synthpop version, and Den Infinitive Forening's monotonous, lugubrious rendering are the most amusing; the rest will only really appeal to Elvis-haters; or Residents fans interested in exactly how many different ways it's possible to demolish a single song. [Available from Hypertonia] BD


Komotion International Volume 2 (Spirit FTD 008) LP/CD

Limited edition fund-raising sampler of bands and individuals involved with the Komotion Arts Centre in San Francisco. As with this sort thing, there is a wide range of styles, from bad poetry to bad punk rock. The selling point for any clued-up E S T reader, however, is bound to be the pair of unreleased tracks from Consolidated and Hiphoprisy respectively, the latter represented by an acoustic cut from Michael Franti and Charlie Hunter. Neither are in any way essential, though the former's Censorship is Just a Smokescreen crashes along as nicely as anything of theirs ever did without the benefit of a Jack Dangers production. On the whole, though, for over-moneyed Consolidated boosters only. [Spirit Music Industries, PO Box 170195, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA] MX


Nature Morte 1 (E'Ostrate) MC

An excellent package, this cassette comes in a plastic case with several well-designed cards carrying text and art from the contributors. Five musicians are represented, all falling somewhere into some sort of "abstract post-industrial" category, and mostly producing some very fine music. Gregory Whitehead plays monastic chanting over breaking glass and children's voices; Abner Malaty plays Nurse With Tietchens at length; Vidna Obmana an excellent uneasy lush soundtrack. Cranioclast on the other hand give La Monte Young a dentist's drill, and Luciano Dari is evidently a Hafler Trio fan. If you like the genre, this is easily one of the best compilations I've seen. [Contact E'Ostrate, c/o M. Benarrache, 5 Impasse Saint James, 33000 Bordeaux, FRANCE; or various mail order distributors, eg Anomalous in USA] BD


Spreading the Virus (Sentrax SET 1CD) CD 70 minutes

Over an hour of stark grinding mayhem compiled by the fine gentleman who writes the Onslaught column in Music From The Empty Quarter, and damn fine most of it is too. Some of the names present will already be top of your list of favourite noise-mongers: Controlled Bleeding (who also appear in their Fat Hacker and Joined at the Head guises, greedy bastards), God, Techno-Animal, Painkiller and New Mind. Others, such as Jouissance and the wonderful Multicide may be unfamiliar to you, but not for long. I could probably live without the slightly more normal hardcore thrashings of Nottingham's finest Fudge Tunnel, Force Fed and Meatfly, but since that city is where this was compiled their presence is understandable. On the whole though, Spreading the Virus will find a home wherever the sheer terror of noise is welcome. Good one! [Sentrax, 105 Harcourt Road, Nottingham NG7 6PX] MG


Sunday's Punch Telegraphed Issue #1 (Rays and Genius Collective) MC

All tracks on this nine artist compilation were supposedly recorded using the "Bedini Audio Spatial Environment", a stereo imaging processor: I couldn't really hear what difference it made, although the recording quality was generally slightly poor. The tracks chiefly come from the experimental post-industrial noise scene. It's mostly good stuff, consistent and well-focused. These sound textures could appeal to fans of electronic music as well as lovers of industrial atmospheres. Highlights? Dark, rippling machine noise from Dovetonsil Choir; Dave Clark and Walter Drake's very ominous oscillations; and the energetic tribal atmospheres of IAM Umbrella. Maybe the B.A.S.E. did make some difference, because this is an unusually fine compilation. [Available from Rays and Genius Collective, P.O. Box 5453, Glendale CA 91221-5453, USA] BD


Technopolis 3 (Muzic Research) LP/CD

Muzic Research is the organisation behind the emergent techno cultures encompassing three loosely-labelled styles - "the united worlds of techno, aggrepo and electronic body music". The artists featured are mainly from Germany, Belgium and Austria, and include such luminaries as U-Tek, Laetherstrip, X Marks The Pedwalk, Dance 2 Trance and the unforgettable Armageddon Dildos. Fourteen tracks split themselves unconsciously into the three groupings mentioned above. Metropolis are technophiles, their Time of War Nintendo Remix raises the hackles. X Marks The Pedwalk present a remix of Abattoir, their massively successful club hit of 1991, in Germany at least. You won't find more aggressive beats elsewhere. Konzept affront us with Human Transmission, programmed to alter body structure with its energetic scrambles. Technopolis 3 is an ideal introductory purchase for the techno fan who's been afraid to sample the harder elements that comprise electronic body music. You can enjoy your beloved trance rhythms and take a walk on the dark side of the mind. If you really want to discover a challenge for the dancefloors then buy this! MR


UK Electronics Vols. 3 & 4 (Mind Scan) MC

These two new volumes in Mind Scan's compilation series introduce quite a few artists new to me. Unlike other compilations, the artists sometimes have more than one track on the tape, which obviously helps to get a better idea of what they sound like. Amongst the most satisfying contributions here are Satori's ambient electronic pulsation, Mali Rain, from the Satori cassette reviewed last issue; some very enjoyable spacebeat from Dreamcore; Another Headache's imaginative and disturbing slice of atmosphere The Infinite Soul; and factor X at his best with I Love You, but surprisingly, given the low-key nature of these cassettes, there were few serious disappointments. Both cassettes seem to have slightly more of an "electronic" styling to them than previous "industrial" Mind Scan productions. They are good introductions to new or undiscovered musicians, and it's especially nice to see that there are still plenty of fresh names on the scene. [Available from Mind Scan] BD


Walkman Meltdown Vol.1 (Hypertonia World Enterprises HWE067) MC 60 minutes

The first in Hypertonia's new compilation series consists only of cover versions. It varies from tedious geetar-band stuff to the post-Residents deconstructionism. Not one for die-hard genre fans of the New Blockaders, T-99 or Steve Reich, but varied enough personal stereo pleasure for those with less fussy tastes, able to sit through the inevitable quota of duds. Special treats include Hungary's Kampec Dolores, simple but very effective singing and atmospherics with hints of Dagmar Krause and Nico in there; Blind Melon Gatemouth's impressively languid Walk on the Wild Side; and the Evolution Control Committee's unsubtle parodies. [Available from Hypertonia for £4, postage included] BD

(C) Brian Duguid 1995 or of the other original authors as noted