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7JK * Anthems Flesh (cd 2012)

When I heard about this cooperation between Matt Howden (Sieben) and Job Karma (hence the name 7JK) I thought that finally something interesting had happened. It did! Matt Howden we of course know for his poppy music made with his violin, effect pedals and vocals, Job Karma is more a classic industrial (or post-industrial as they say themselves), ambient, ritual project. “Anthem Flesh” opens with a very nice uptempo song “Dirt City” with nice rhythms over Howden’s violin and voice. Then comes a more Howden track, slow, a bass-guitar, Howden’s voice and violin and some electronics. What follows are mostly quite soft, trancey industrial tracks that sometimes have more of the Howden sound, sometimes more of the Job Karma sound. Together they go well and in particular a less typical track such as the hearplay “Planning For The Zombie Apocalypse” is very interesting. Indeed, a nice combination of two approaches to music.
Links: Matt Howden / Redroom, Job Karma

Of The Wand & The Moon * The Lone Descent (cd 2012)

I hardly listen to neofolk, but OTWATM is a band that I do like. I hardly listen to him either though, his music is too melancholic and albums sound too much alike, so skipped a few. Still being curious about the latest attempt, I got myself “The Lone Descent”. It opens brilliantly with a sunspot on Kim’s soul, a quite cheerfull song in which it seems that the 1960’ies psychedelic folk sound also crept into OTWATM. The website of the band says: “No More Happy Songs!” and “”The Lone Descent” is without doubt the most bleak and melancholic album from Of The Wand & The Moon”. Eh? I think I disagree. I do agree with this though: “Again Kim Larsen takes another road than the previous albums. 60’s influenced, where the love for Lee Hazlewood and Serge Gainsbourg shines through.” Very well done too this new sound of OTWATM. It is not like all songs are happy and poprocky, there are also some oldstyle songs, a few melancholic songs with gooseflesh-raising orchestrations, but there is a nice balance with more rock- and folk-oriented songs which makes “The Lone Descent” more managable than entirely depressing albums. A very good album that I might play more often than previous ones.
Link: Of The Wand And The Moon / Heiðrunar Myrkruna

Sieben * No Less Than All (cd 2012)

Long ago I happened to see Matt Howden on stage in Antwerpen when I only knew him by name. I loved the show and bought some of the albums and a couple more as they came. I still love Sieben, but the albums sound the same too much and I have not really followed the project since “High Broad Field” in 2006 (already skipping albums before). Wondering if the new album would bring anything new I decided to get it. Well, it does contain something new. The album opens with a song with guitars and drumming, so not everything comes from Howden’s violin on “No Less Than All”. Sometimes the music still sounds like Sieben, other tracks have become (even) more poppy with a different kind of singing and added guitars (and a Joy Division cover). I do not (yet?) like the new style as much as the older, but I am glad that Sieben did not keep sticking to the same trick.
Link: Sieben / Redroom

Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio * Songs 4 Hate & Devotion (cd 2010)

Reading back my Ordo/ORE reviews in most cases I speak about ‘just another Ordo album’. The same goes for the new effort. “Songs 4 Hate & Devotion” contains the current, soft, poppy style without any surprises. In fact, the album is predictable, cheesy and downright boring. Even after a few listenings I have to conclude that this is the least interesting Ordo album to date…
Links: Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Out Of Line

Spiritual Front * Rotten Roma Casino (cd 2010)

The previous version of the review was based on the music alone. Today I finally got the CD/DVD release. It comes in a luxery double digipack (fourfold) with a double-sided poster and a ‘booklet’. In the artwork the band obviously presents itself as a boyband with photos of pretty boy Salvatori. The DVD contains an interview, two short films with Italian poetry (I think) and two videos. In the latter, the boyband-attitude is worked out even more. Homo-erotic imaginary, a dreamy looking Salvatori, but on the other hand, exposing his many (weird) tattoos (and of others). Indeed, Spiritual Front remains a band with a twitch. Now that “FSK ab 16 freigegeben” (in Germany they think this is suitable for 16+ only) is a bit overfanatic, but still. Meanwhile I got a bit used to the music. It is much more poppy than older material (yes that is possible) mixes a variety of styles and the sound is much cleaner too (which is not necessarily a good thing). The songs are catchy singalongs (lyrics of course included), sometimes more melancholic. RRC is a nice album, but I still prefer the previous “Armageddon Gigolo”.
Links: Spiritual Front, Trisol

Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio * Do Angels Never Cry, And Heaven Never Fall? (mcd 2010)

The new ORE is not released on CMI?? For the rest it is ORE like we know them. This mcd opens with two versions of the title track and it sounds like… ORE. Then there are two new versions of old songs. “Reaping The Fallen, The Second Harvest” lets us hear what happened in in the style since 1995 and “Who Stole The Song” is a new version of a more recent track. As always, nice, but nothing too special.
Links: Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Out Of Line

Rome * l’Assassin (mcd 2010)

The two new tracks on this mcd are like the cover: more minimalistic. There are almost no samples anymore and the two melancholic songs are again more singer/songwriter-like than previous releases. There are some nice string arrangements which also ‘upgraded’ two old songs “Der Brandtaucher” and “Der Erscheinungen Flucht”. The songs are nice, but not as ‘gripping’ as on earlier releases (safe for the strings). Rome might evolve out of the spectre of my musical taste, but first let us see what the future brings.
Links: Rome, Trisol

Ianva * Italia Ultimo Atta (cd 2009)

Italia Ultimo AttaI saw Ianva at this years WGT, never having heard of the band. However I did not like most music too much, I liked their show. Many good musicians on stage, uncommon elements such as trumpets, several guitars, drums and male and female vocals. I mostly enjoyed the cabaretesk songs with the female vocalist. Curious about their recordings I got Ianva’s latest album with the strange cover. The music is well-done, nicely layered and of a nice atypical (for our scene) Southern sound and here and there some martial influences. Point is that listening to this album, my conclusion is the same as when I saw them live: not really my cup of tea. I do not really like the Italian vocals and the music does not really do anything for me. Again the songs with the female vocalist (which have a different style) are the better, but there is one great song called “Bora”. It is good to hear that the scene is still moving, but my musical preferences do not allways move with the scene it seems.
Links: Ianva, Antica Fonografia Il Levriero

Rome * Flowers From Exile (cd 2009)

Flowers From ExileStarting as the new hope for martial industrial and military pop, the new label advertises for Rome with comparison to Leonard Cohen. You do not have to fear for a bluesy folk sound (nothing bad said about Cohen of course), but indeed, Rome seems to continue to move towards more of a singer/songwriter approach. I was not immediately impressed by the previous release, which Jérôme himself calls a “single”, but I do happen to like to play it. “Flowers From Exile” has blown me away from the first play, just like the earlier releases. Rome has officially turned into a duo, but that does not change much about the sound. As a matter of fact, the sound reminds more of the earlier material than I expected from “To Die Among Strangers”. Like I said, the music is more “singer/songwriter”, mostly just guitar and singing and a bit of drumming, but there are still things going on on the background and Rome does keep a ‘martial’ edge in the use of samples. The songs are great, better than when I heard them at the performance in Leipzig. Just as before, Rome manages to work on my mood (the fact that the music is pretty damn melancholic is a reason that I do not play it all that often). There are nice melodies, good ideas and, like I said before, that ‘full’ sound with things on the background, the details that I have loved Rome for since the beginning. “Flowers From Exile” is the first full length on the German label Trisol, which is Rome’s way of reaching new audiences and they definately deserve that, since they have again proven that they are the better songwriters of our scene. Finally a masterpiece has come from our scene again.
And I almost forget to mention that their finally is a proper website too (see link below).
Links: Rome, Trisol

Rome * To Die Among Strangers (mcd 2009)

To Die Among StrangersSo the new Rome is a mcd, a “teaser” for the new album? Because of the new label perhaps? Four tracks of which two are rerecorded old tracks. Three times poppy neofolk and an ambient/industrial sound collage. Not bad, but I prefered a new full-length. I guess I will have to wait.
Links: Rome, Trisol