[ESTWeb Home Page] [Music Reviews Index]

Key to reviewers: AB Andy Bullock; KB Kevin Busby; BD Brian Duguid; MG Marc Gascoigne; DH Dave Howarth; RML Rupert Loydell; BN Baz Nicholls; SP Stephen Pope; SR Shaun Robert; PT Phil Taylor; MX MX.

Romeo Vendrame
The Principle of Moments
(RecRec ReCDec 35) CD 49 minutes

Allegedly a guitarist, Vendrame's music is abstract enough to make me wonder whether he still uses a guitar at all; even Fred Frith or Keith Rowe's music doesn't get as un-guitar-like as this. This music is all about texture, all about the individual sounds, and both sound new and fresh; the pieces are fairly unstructured, exploring the material more in the way of the abstract post-industrial musicians. The tracks vary from the ambient to the noisy, with more of a taste for the atonal than the tonal, although one piece's bell-like tones are particularly lovely. Fans of the genuinely experimental should easily find plenty of interest here. [These / ReR; RecRec, PO Box 717, 8026 Zurich, Switzerland] BD

Vidna Obmana
Ending Mirage
(ND NDCD02) CD 65 minutes &
Echoing Delight
(Extreme XCD022) CD 69 minutes

To borrow a phrase from a Pete Namlook record, 'This is the music the angels meditate to.' Vidna Obmana's concluding part of the trilogy that also includes the divine Passage in Beauty and Shadowing in Sorrow is atmospheric, ambient music at its best. Wafting like pieces of driftwood on the tide, melodies float back and forth over deep rumbles. Echoes bubble from beneath the surface. All is calm. ND magazine could not have picked a better record to launch their new label; top marks for great packaging too.

For his debut for Extreme, meanwhile, Vidna has adopted some of that label's ethnic-tinged 'Fourth World' stylings. This is music experienced through a languorous heat haze, so laid back it's almost imperceptible at times, with deep synths echoing around slapped tablas and distant percussion. Michael Brook once released a brilliant track called Distant Village, which is an apt description for this heavenly music; even at volume, it sounds like it is coming over the hill from the next valley. Splendid. [ND; Extreme: via Cargo] MG

Voice of Eye
(Cyclotron Industries CYCI-CD222) CD 60 minutes

Cyclotron have used the words "dark ritual ambient music" themselves so I guess I shouldn't be so embarrassed about repeating this horrible cliche for your consumption. They don't use synths (but they do use samplers), and most of their music is produced using a variety of traditional instruments combined with various home-made items, such as the "bass thing 2" and the "jeemna". It's less dark and less abstract than their previous Mariner Sonique CD, with the percussion and instruments like flutes more to the fore. I have to confess to a fairly non-committal liking for it; there's a lot of similar music around at the moment (cf Vidna Obmana, Thessalonians etc), but this is another perfectly fine contribution to the genre. [Cyclotron Industries] BD

C W Vrtacek
Days of Grace
(Dom US CD 06) CD

"Excellent" screams this album, in a hyperactive Bill and Ted voice within a mere minute of putting it on. Vrtacek appears to be a versatile musician, using guitars, percussion, keyboards, violin, whatever is necessary to achieve the required result. The result is that the 23 (eek!) tracks here echo others like Brian Eno (in non-ambient mode), Can, middle-Eastern folk song, Robert Fripp, a medaeval harp-player, John Carpenter, etc, without ever sounding like any one of them and without the variety affecting its own consistent sound. Recorded at the beginning of the eighties, it has survived the test of time extremely well. It's full of imagination, rarely puts a finger wrong, and is easily worth the effort of searching out. [Dom US, Box 971, Olympia, WA 98507, USA] BD

John Wall
Fear of Gravity
(Utterpsalm 1) CD 54 minutes

"Music constructed of samples" is about all the information it wants to give me. It begs comparison with the likes of the Tape-beatles, John Oswald, Bob Ostertag or Negativland; and after comparing them I have to say I much prefer Wall's use of sampling to the first two. This is simply because Fear of Gravity is much more accessible, more conventionally musical; there's none of the extended spoken voice of the Tape-beatles or of Oswald's attempts to let the sounds dictate the structure. There are also instrumental contributions from sax, violin, and guitar. The results vary from the jazz-inflected to repetitive, mechanical industrial music, always with a well-judged juxtaposition of sounds; the sensitive violin and pained guitar on Driven Thing are an excellent case in point. [These; Utterpsalm, 93 Petherton Road, London N5] BD

John Watermann
Calcutta Gas Chamber
(N.D. NDCD03) CD 57 minutes

Macrophage / The Toil and the Reap
(N.D. NDCD01) CD 62 minutes

Vidna Obmana
Still Fragments
(N.D. NDCD04) CD 75 minutes

André Stitt & Daniel Biry
Working on the Bypass
(N.D. NDCD05) CD

Calcutta Gas Chamber takes as its theme a fictitious gas chamber in India, which is why track titles like An Intellectual Challenge to Convert Victims Into Heart-Shaped Soap are the order of the day. Ignore this nonsense if you can, as it adds nothing to an already fine album. There are gurglings and hissings, brief bursts of static or voices, gloomy drones and distant clankings, all adding up to a very disturbing and spine-chilling feeling. It's more synthetic in sound than PBK's denser work. Macrophage combines stormy walls of sound with muffled rhythms; sounding at one point like a mechanised torture chamber filled with horses trotting around, but The Toil and the Reap is more conventional, mixing dangerous ambience with insistent electronics. Lovers of that ol' abstract noise thang should enjoy both these releases.

Still Fragments inhabits an altogether different area, combining ambient electronic music with "ethnic" percussion, digeridoo, flute etc. It presents music from two live concerts of 1993, both of which show Vidna introducing new sounds to his music, developing and progressing his usual ambient approach. It's unadventurous compared to PBK or John Watermann, but very peaceful and pleasant music. It's more my kind of thing than Working on the Bypass, which sets poetry to music; most of the 24 pieces seem very personal, based on fragments of autobiography from Northern Ireland, London or the U.S.A. It's very proficiently put together, but Stitt's voice lacks the emotion and personality I would like, and the words are too personal and vague to evoke much response from me. [N.D.] BD

Gregory Whitehead
The Pleasure of Ruins
(Staalplaat / Korm Plastics STCD 059/ KP 4493) CD 58 minutes

Sometimes you hear something which irritates you so much that you immediately become distracted, if not wholly exasperated. Here we have a prime example of such a phenomenon. The sleeve biography states that Gregory Whitehead is a producer of radio voice works, experimental documentaries and conceptual talk shows ... inventor of the "wound diddler" and noted vulnerologist. Also that he has been partly funded through audio fellowships from the Pennsylvanian Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. This says a lot about these human voice compositions, accompanied occasionally by some electronics. Self-indulgent art for art's sake. I am not anti-performance poetry, but this seems to have no worth, being too esoteric and monotonous. A pointless release from a normally interesting label. [Staalplaat] PT

White Stains
(Staalplaat STCD 041) CD 71 minutes

Mynox Layh
(Staalplaat STCD 047) CD 56 minutes

Zombies Under Stress
Psycho Warfare
(Staalplaat STCD 049) CD 52 minutes

(Staalplaat STCD 043) CD 57 minutes

I think I'm right in saying that Sweden's White Stains are one of Psychic TV's many progeny, although they're more interested in their music than PTV ever were. The smartly-designed cover gives few clues as to the CD's content. No lyrical sloganeering, only a weird medley of short synthesised compositions. Artificial rhythms, eccentric noises and curious atmospheres are the order of the day, but it's all too synthetic and too purposeless to impress much. Of interest only to home keyboards enthusiasts only perhaps. I've no idea why Staalplaat are releasing this sort of material when so much better is available.

Mynox Layh's Respectus opens with a real stormer called Snoil, which I'd happily call classic industrial music: a powerful blend of heavy abrasive rhythms, jagged noise and synthesised and sampled atmospheres, both melody and drone-based. Mynox Layh specialise in blending the grandeur you'd expect from, say, Laibach, with noise elements from a more conventional "industrial" tradition - a lineage traceable back to Throbbing Gristle. These tracks, recorded from 1985 to 1989, may not innovate very much, but they are a particularly well constructed example of the genre. It's competence and intensity is very refreshing. Not a million miles away from the sounds of Audiography either. Trance, the solo project of Charnel House's Mason Jones, mixes the gothic with the ritualistic, combining "tribal" drumming with ominous horn sounds, and mock-classical strings / woodwinds. One obvious point of comparison is In The Nursery, or Autopsia, but Trance seems to go down less obvious routes and uses less militaristic percussion. It's very proficient, and likely to appeal to anyone with a liking for the genres mentioned, or soundtrack music.

Psycho Warfare sees Staalplaat join the (late) rush into the techno market (similarly, see Touch's Sandoz releases). Z.U.S.'s music owes as much to the hardbeat tradition as anything else: sampled noise and voices over a driving but not-particularly-groovy beat. It doesn't have anything new to say, and lacks the directness of the best of today's techno, but it's still very listenable, especially pounding hammerbeats like Program Apocalypse or the rapid-fire staccato of Only Us. [Staalplaat / Soleilmoon] BD

X-Legged Sally
Killed by Charity
(Sub Rosa SR69) CD 47 minutes

On first hearing, I could have sworn that X-Legged Sally were yet more New York "no-wave" refugees. In fact the group is Flemish, recording in Brooklyn under the supervision of that man for all seasons, Mr Bill Laswell. As you might expect, this music contains much cross-pollination. Guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, sax, trumpet and clarinet produce post punk jazzcore, very tight ensemble playing with a nod to Beefheart or Zappa's weird time signatures, yet chunkier and funkier as Laswell's presence would suggest. It contains the only threatening version of David and Bacharach's The Look of Love that I've ever heard. Don't overlook this. [These] DH

Otomo Yoshihide
The Night Before the Death of the Sampling Virus
(Extreme XCD 024) CD 53 minutes

There are 77 tracks, each named after a different Japanese corporation. The author is at pains to engage the listener's active participation by using their CD player's shuffle and repeat play functions, and has helpfully ensured that almost all the tracks consist of vocal samples (all in Japanese from a variety of sources). Despite his protestations that this is not music, some tracks feature vocalists Eye and Tenko, and others consist of careful tape loops, scratching and cut-ups. The experience that results is one that, after a while, reduces meaning while emphasises sound content (this is especially true if you don't speak Japanese; as the sound is treated much like the random noise of everyday life, the automatic response is simply to stop concentrating on it. Sampling Virus was first conceived as a study of prejudice in Japan, but has lost this function in favour of a study of the listener's response to random fragments of information; Otomo notes that "one confirmed effect is apparently the prevention of over-happy facial expressions". [Extreme; via Cargo] BD

Zeni Geva
Desire for Agony
(Alternative Tentacles VIRUS135) CD 41 minutes

I suppose it is just possible that 1994 will see K.K. Null become almost a household name among hardcore circles if he continues to get support from labels like this. This was recorded last summer with Steve Albini at the desk, but is nowhere near as skullcrushingly awesome as their last collaboration, Total Castration [Public Bath]. This is still obnoxious, grinding hell at its best, of course, but the structures seem far more traditional, far more `rock', than before. That's the trouble with coming in from the wilderness to sit by the hearth, of course: eventually you turn into a pussycat. MG

Zoviet France
What is Not True
(Charrm CD 17) CD 74 minutes

This latest release compiles recordings from two 1993 live appearances in Britain, and they're rather beautiful. It's significantly more "ambient" than the Zoviet France I'm used to, with lots of use of drones, washes of sound, tinkling bells, buzzings, machine-like rhythms etc. There's a fantastic amount of variety, but it's all very smoothly put together, especially in the 54-minute Cyclonic Sub Alien. It's difficult to describe, but I recommend this album very highly indeed; it's my favourite Zoviet France release so far, essential for fans of the group and a brilliant introduction for anyone else. [Charrm / These] BD

Arcana Coelestia
(Multimood / Staalplaat MRC 007 / STCD 055) CD 77 minutes

This is a welcome extended reissue of Multimood's highly acclaimed compilation, featuring any number of luminaries (ok, precisely 14) from the post-industrial and ambient genres. Highlights include Controlled Bleeding in gothic mode; the chilly Nesting Ground by Robert Rich; and some mechanical abstractions from Keeler (not on the LP version). O Yuki Conjugate, Phauss, Asmus Tietchens, Vidna Obmana and Peter Frohmader are also amongst those featured. It deserves its fine reputation. [Staalplaat / Soleilmoon] BD

Arrhythmia II
(Charnel House CHCD7) CD 70 minutes

It's a beautifully designed follow-up to Charnel House's first highly-praised Arrhythmia compilation, and it excels in picking out artists you're less likely to have heard. Better-known contributors include Illusion of Safety, Crash Worship, Left Hand Right Hand and Trance. Unfortunately, the tribal / ritual genres which it plunders most often from tend to sound very samey, and little distinguishes many of the artists here from each other. The compilation also shuns artists using electronic rhythms, which limits its scope, and there are no representatives of heavy metal-bashing, and none of the exponents of the improv scene like Steve Noble or Paul Burwell. These could have added power, adventure and humour to an otherwise dour mixture. If you like the area it explores you may well enjoy this album, but I was never excited by it. [Charnel House] BD

As Yet Untitled
(Realization Recordings RZD-001) CD 68 minutes

Ignore the scrappy packaging and feast your ears on the contents of this lovely little silver platter. "Abstract noise" are the two words I normally rely on to give you the relevant clues, but I could just give examples: Michael Chocholak, AMK, Hands To, Illusion of Safety, Randy Greif. My favourite tracks include a classic trip to the drone zone from Thomas Dimuzio, a neat swirlpool of shrillness by PBK, Static Effect's dramatic Orff-with-its-'ead lunacy and Arcane Device's thrombosic feedback fields. This is a magnificent survey of the American noise scene, and if you're open-minded about the genre (or already a fan) you ought to hear it soon. [Realization, 540 S. San Clemente, Ventura, CA 93001, USA] BD

At Close Quarters
(These Records THESE 7) CD 75 minutes

An album of snapshots; favourite moments from gigs at the These Records shop from '90 to '92; a chance to recollect a few transitory experiences. The names are familiar: Steve Beresford & John Butcher; Charles Hayward; David Toop & Max Eastley; Nicolas Collins & Peter Cusack; Morphogenesis; and Barbed (this last duo being familiar for having had an album pending from These for - how long - 2 years, now?) It's in the nature of fragments that they're all different, and this applies particularly to the quality. Hayward's poetry is deeply unexciting while Beresford and Butcher's sax'n'keys improv contains moments of rapid excitement, as does Toop and Eastley's piercing and lengthy flute loop piece. Nic Collins' trombone-propelled electronics and CD-player cutups (paired with Cusack's "electric bazouki") is uncharacteristically irritating here, but Morphogenesis' abstract improv (amplified objects, percussion, electronics, clarinet) is quite successful. Overall the CD's aim is a good one but the results at times too clinical and squeaky-scrapy for easy digestion. [These] BD

Cash Cow
(Giorno Poetry Systems GPS 044 CD) 72 minutes

Presumably an attempt to cash in on an often excellent back catalogue, several of the 13 tracks on this CD will be familiar to owners of either A Diamond Hidden in the Mouth of a Corpse (3 tracks) or You're a Hook (3 tracks). 5 pieces appear to be previously unreleased, and since these include the surprisingly enjoyable Moroccan Rock (Pipe of Pain) by Debbie Harry (the title describes it well), even old Giorno fans might want to check this out. As you'd expect, it reeks of New York hipness, with the likes of Burroughs, Zappa, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass and Patti Smith all present, if in several cases very dull. A lot of it's for fans and the scatologically obsessed only, but Coil, Diamanda Galas, Cabaret Voltaire and (despite some problems) Branca all come up with the goods. BD

Chaos in Expansion
(Sub Rosa Utopian Diaries SR50) CD 48 minutes

It's not unusual to find great music hiding behind a horrible cover; this is a case in point. Coil, Ligeti (arranged by Tobias Hazan) and the Hayward / Doyne-Ditmas duo are the stars of this CD, which also includes a spoken word piece by Ilya Prigogine, in French, which is odd since the CD inlay is in English. Hayward & Doyne-Ditmas' Where is Chaos Now? is the longest and most diverse piece, mixing funk-jazz fun with the washed out drones you'd expect, occasionally unexciting but mostly very inventive. The Ligeti piece is short, simple and beautiful; the Coil contribution is unfortunately rather tedious, despite some very nice stereo effects (oops, "sidereal sound"). [These] BD

Various Artists
Continuum Asorbus
(Sub Rosa SR52) CD 68 minutes

Paulo Chagas
(Sub Rosa SUBCD026-48) CD 49 minutes

Sub Rosa has long been a label of the highest quality, devoting much of its output to hitherto unexposed musicians from the left field. Here are two releases from the vague area of modern chamber music, though they are very different from each other. As the cover of Chagas's disc makes plain, his work is the soundtrack for a ballet by Claudio Bernardo, about the gold rush in the heart of the Amazon in Brazil. Using voices, strings and electronic sounds he tries to compare the men-only insanity of Serra Pelada, the gold capital, with Sodom. Some parts are purely beautiful, but too much falls into the annoying trap of dissonance and unrelated abstract cacophony to be truly effective.

Continuum Asorbus is a far better proposition, a showcase for three composers working on the edge of new sounds. Pierre Berthet's Tubular Drums, Drops & Springs is just that, half an hour of pattering rhythms and cavernous rumblings. Tobias Hazan uses sub-vocal noise to perform two short pieces inspired by the Kabala that are entrancing in their simple intensity, like the rush of wind around desert stones. Finally, Scott Gibbons and Lilith's Lauv-Pesse-Mantle uses more wind noises, set over a resonating heartbeat pulse, which slowly glides over the course of half an hour into an echoing chamber of tinkling bells, water drips and half-heard chanting. It's an astonishing work, new yet very accessible. Yet again, Sub Rosa are to be congratulated, for this is a fantastic recording. [Sub Rosa: P.O. Box 808, 1000 Brussels, Belgium] MG

Dedication - Zweite Auslese
(Artware 11) CD

I've sometimes wanted to reclaim 'extreme' metaphors lurking in reviews of very tame records. Most of you know that if you read the phrase "In Your Face" it more often than not signifies someone raising their voice a bit. Or "amphetamine-fuelled such-and-such" - I really hate that one. Metaphors at one time perfectly useable in reference to genuinely significant seismic events such as this CD have been scaled down to the point of meaninglessness. So, here are some attempts at writing about individual tracks without falling right into the gaping holes of the above cliches while still 'paying homage' to them.

Hijokaidan's Cancer of Music (with Masami Akita on drums) is a blurry sheet of squid-flesh gathering endorphins from left to right in a slowly engulfing ripple [here it comes!] - Hiroshima in a loaded syringe! [ugh!] Nord's awesome Paramasukha, which they accurately describe as "psychedelic experience meditation noise music", is a rocket-powered Buddha that singes everyone's hair off as it leaves the launch pad. Others include Macronympha's intestinal shaving machine, two looped concrete extravaganzas by Freudwerk and Cement Women, and a Dislocation power-elevation. To really do this stuff justice, the packaging would need to be over 8 miles wide, with holographic reconstructions of the contributors on each page of the booklet, and even then something would be left to be desired. I think we should, however, be grateful it's as glossy as it is. [Artware] AB

Destroy All Rational Thought
(Visionary MJ016) VHS video 50 minutes

In late 1992 in Dublin, The Here To Go Show took place, a festival devoted to the works of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs. This video includes footage from the festival along with archive footage of Burroughs, Gysin and others. There's a limit to the interest value of sequences showing audiences walking around the exhibition of the two writers' paintings, but excerpts from Anthony Balch's films, and music by Material and the always exciting Master Musicians of Jajouka make up for this. There is footage of attendees like Ira Cohen, Terry Wilson and Hakim Bey; great for famous-name-value but not always enormously enlightening. Despite a few problems with shaky filming, it's a very well produced video, the well-designed packaging being indicative of the general quality. I'd much prefer a longer documentary but, for what it is, a record of a tribute event, it's very good. [Visionary] BD

Fifty Years of Sunshine
(Silent Records SR9333) 2xCD 71+62 minutes

My misgivings about this compilation are many. As a computer nerd, I start by being disturbed that the idiot sleeve-notes writer thinks a Mac II is faster than an IBM PC at creating fractal art. Is this no big deal? Perhaps. For me this sort of ignorance (dictated by fashion; Macs are fashionable amongst "creative" types, if technically inferior) is symptomatic of the uncritical reasoning popular in that part of the American community devoted to all things psychedelic or cyber; the kind of "gosh gee whizz" mentality that mars zines like Mondo 2000 so much. What have the fifty years since LSD's discovery (the reason behind this celebratory recording) really proven? Have any number of acid trips really evolved humanity in any way? Has the mass escapism provided first by psychedelic concerts and now by raves been anything other than a huge dose of valium to help people forget the tedium of their lives? Have all the "creative&" types inspired by the psychedelic experience advanced the lot of humanity by one jot, or are these unproductive dropouts just parasites contributing nothing to society and living off everyone else's hard work?

These anxieties would be of less import if I could recommend this album solely because it's filled with excellent music, but unfortunately, it's not. There is some superb stuff here from Nurse With Wound, Harvey Bainbridge, Belt, Elliott Sharp, Steel Porn Rhino, 68000 and others, but several technophile makeweights too, with too much of a taste for the "cosmic" electronic music of the seventies; and guitar bands like Closedown or Love Spirals Downwards just irritate when you think how many other musicians are capable of producing really mind-altering guitar music. There's enough good stuff here for anyone whose taste can cover all the necessary bases to make it worth going for, but I'm still left thinking how much better it could have been ... [Silent; Hyperium; Touch] BD

From Here to Tranquility
(Silent SR9336) CD 76 minutes

More Silent ambience and trance music, in a very Californian style: tons of whale noises and rain, solid basslines and warm pad sounds, but precious few of the innovative noises or production techniques that set the best stuff apart from the mass of bandwagon jumpers. Highlights are Space Time Continuum (whose own EP on Reflective is very splendid) and the Heavenly Music Corporation with a remix of the best track from their own album. Worst track is from Psychic TV, so no surprises there. On the whole, a trancing B+. [via Hyperium] MX

Hare Hunter Field
(Johnny Blue JOY 004) CD 74 minutes &
The Eye Decay Theory
(Johnny Blue NOY 001) LP 44 minutes &
A Gnomean Haigonaimean
(Johnny Blue NOY 002) LP 44 minutes

How could any romantic resist "a compilation of sad love songs" with a catalogue number of "JOY"? Johnny Blue's first CD collection, Hare Hunter Field, struggles to maintain cohesion amidst a very wide variety of interpretations of the "love song". There are moments of obvious musical poignancy from the likes of the Durutti Column, Jon Rose, or Von Magnet's beautiful vocal tapestry. These are set against various noise-based moods, from The Grief, Syllyk, Asmus Tietchens and others. For every highlight there's a neighbour which fails to work, but overall the compilation has much more clarity of purpose to it than most. The other ten contributors include Muslimgauze, Tenko and Architects Office.

The previous two vinyl compilations are also still worth your attention. Artists include PGR, Peter Frohmader (easily the best recent music I've heard from him), Bourbonese Qualk, UNACD, Arcane Device, Max Eastley & David Toop, Contrastate, Etant Donnés, Brume, Cranioclast, P16D4 and Vox Populi. The contributions are of a generally high standard, and the records maintain a consistent sound while incorporating remarkably diverse musicians. These aren't just the usual post-industrial suspects. [Johnny Blue, Calçado do Galvão, Lote D - 3o Esq., 1400 Lisboa, Portugal] BD

(Sub Rosa SUBCD027-49) CD 56 minutes

This is the kind of thing Sub Rosa do extremely well (as do Touch, on their rare "ethnic" recordings). All the tracks are excerpted from four other Sub Rosa albums, Moroccan Trance Music, Incipit Musica Catholica (a mixture of liturgical chants and Celtic folk music), Tibetan Ritual Music and Tzotziles (the last coming from Mexico). It's almost needless to point out just how good it is; all the recordings are of beautiful, powerful music, and contrasted against each other their spiritual similarities and cultural differences become much more obvious. All provide a much more magical experience than, for example, most ritualistic post-industrial groups; this is a very fine album to add to almost any collection. [These] BD

Insomnia Vol. 1
(WNS 020/ STCD 057) double CD 127 minutes

Volume one of a CD re-issue of a 1987 We Never Sleep cassette release. Lots of music and lots of styles, taking in industrial clank and crash (Greater Than One's All the Masters Licked Me), more or less conventional art rock (Bourbonese Qualk and Savage Republic), sample cut-up (Architect's Office slice'n'dice opera AO 385.2), arctic soundscape-cum-mantra (Human Head Transplant and Dine Forbate), rusty-bedspring sproing (We Never Sleep's The War Against Sleep) and staticized volcanic roar (The Haters' Fiexcit), and touching on most places in between and beyond. I could probably manage to survive without volume 2, though. [Staalplaat] SP

Karmanik Collection
(Cold Meat Industry CMI 20) CD

Where do I start? This is possibly one of the finest compilations that I've heard this year. Alongside Shrine and Sound From Hands, it is possibly one of the most important documents of the underground scene of the last five years. Karmanik Collection showcases some of the very finest techno-industrial outfits currently operating in and around Europe at present. The beautifully produced booklet enclosed betrays none of the welter of talent captured on the CD, in fact the sepia tinted pastoral scenes on the cover, and the airbrushed genitals of the youths inside, are almost a decoy. There isn't enough space here to reamble on about how great this albums is, but as a guide, I can recommend XXX Atomic Toejam, Deutsch Nepal, Brighter Death Now, and In Slaughter Natives, amongst those that you are likely to have heard of, but that should not detract from any of the brilliance displayed by the other bands. I really don't think that there is a bad track here ... abrasive, incisive, innovative, don't just sit there, go out and buy this now! [Staalplaat] BN

Latex TV Oblivion
(Minus Habens MHCD 008) CD 72 minutes

The sub-title for this compilation of artists from Italy, USA and the UK is "United Forces of Techno", but I would describe the contents as more in the hardbeat / body music vein than techno. It begins with meaty, thumping electro rhythms from Lassigue Bendthaus, and doesn't let up in its hard-edged, hardcore dance grooves. Lagowski's Time is a dance classic, which gets right under your skin with its incessant, driving patterns of sound. Jouissance contribute a pummelling dance inferno, then there is the supercharged Laibach-ian energy of Psyclones. Other highlights are the techno-dance of X4U and the superb Shock Corridor. Everything about this is a rewarding experience. [Contempo] PT

(Work in Progress WIP002) CD 68 minutes &
(Cold Spring CSR4CD) CD 80 minutes

Labels, labels, everywhere, and how better to announce yourself to the world than with a compilation of whoever you can persuade to appear on it. WIP obviously have some good connections in Japan, as the presence of the Hanatarash, the Gerogerigegege and the mighty Merzbow - with an astonishing piece of scalpel-sliced noise - attests. Equally interesting are Zoviet-France and Lee Ranaldo's tape loops and drones, while Earth Mother Fucker's noisy I Fuck Therefore I Am sounds like Loop jamming with Ry Cooder! Other participants, such as Antonym, Another Headache and Husk offer more traditional 'industrial-by-numbers' fare, and Fat Hacker (aka Controlled Bleeding, perpetual compilation contributors) are plainly running out of snippets to donate if the 54-second Sad Song is anything to go by!

Cold Spring coaxed a far better track from Paul Lemos, the storming Hog Tied, as well as hallucinatory gems from Techno-animal, Final and Crash Worship ADRV. Much of the emphasis here, though, is less on noise loops and more on the 'rock' influences of the likes of Cable Regime, Skullflower, Splintered and Playground. Turkeys on this compilation come from the appalling Headbutt and the awesomely unimaginative Grey Wolves. Overall there is little to choose between the two collections; as usual, if you like the names already, you'll have decided whether to pick these up, but for impulse buyers or newcomers I would suggest that Shrine has the edge. [WIP, BCM WIP, London WC1N 3XX; Cold Spring: via Trident] MG

Various Artists
The Memorial Elvis Project
(Odd Size CDOS03) CD 22 minutes

Good job he's not dead, or Elvis would be turning in his grave! Here are eight of Odd Size's artists contributing warped takes on the King's songs for a collection that is 'neither a tribute nor a celebration' according to the groovy fold-out packaging. So who's here for the clam bake? HNAS strap on guitars and almost sound focused. Asmus Tietchens loops Scotty Moore's trademark guitar riffs and Elvis `Uh hu-huh's to confusing effect. La Sonorité Jaune go further, shredding the heart out of the words 'Don't' and 'Be' amid industrial throbs. The Psyclones, meanwhile, treat Hound Dog like it had rabies. Overall, way too short (cool party game: each of you think up terrific combinations of Elvis songs and industrial artists you would like to hear), but tremendous fun. [Odd Size] MG

Must be Musique II
(Dark Vinyl DV20) CD 54 minutes

A top-quality sampler from one of the best hard industrial labels around, Germany's Dark Vinyl, showcasing acts they release or distribute. I'm not sure how Phallus Dei mistake William for Edgar Rice Burroughs, but it's the former they actually sample on the storming Earth Go Back. Legion (aka Andrew Lagowksi, of course) prefers something more hypnotic. Paul Lemos, Nocturnal Emissions and Trance all provide examples of their own styles of industrial grinding. Ultimate highlight, though, is the distraught pounding of Japanese noise stars Dissecting Table, who sound like the best Test Dept you never heard. They don't come much better than this. MG

Sound From Hands
(Minus Habens MHCD003) CD
Strange how things go ... I suddenly find myself reviewing a CD which was released some time before the birth of Christ, but was recorded in ... 1992? This is possibly on of the definitive compilations of the last few years, and probably needs to be reviewed every three to four years, or every time you're yearning for a damn good session of synapse-bursting weirdness. Minus Habens has emerged as one of the finest European labels, and this release reads as a virtual who's who of the underground experimental scene, without wandering into the tried and tested waters of Zoviet France, Nocturnal Emissions etc. Sigillum S, Skullflower, Ramleh, Tietchens and the Grey Wolves, all turn in their usual performances, with some astounding craftsmanship from Phallus Dei and Jouissance, amongst several others. If you got hold of a copy of this a couple of years back, dust it off and remind yourself of how great things were way back then ... [Minus Habens] BN

Tox Uthat
(Pulse-Soniq/Silent PS9329) CD 66 minutes

A wonderful selection of '94-style trance-techno licensed from the German label Toxiktrakks, including Orange Sky's plain brilliant Aeronautics and a host of other impossible-to-find records. No one's ever heard of these bands, save their own mothers (with the obvious exception of the mighty Horizon 222, already an EST rave), but each one is a rare gem of hallucinatory cruising music. They're more ambient and less brutal than most of this techno dance stuff, which just makes them easier to listen to whatever your mood. Beyond excellent. [via Hyperium] MX

Page maintained by Brian Duguid. Copyright(c) 1996 Original Authors. Created: 05/03/96 Updated: 16/02/03