Four years ago Metroland released the nice album “Mind The Gap”. I saw them live at the Summer Darkness festival in Utrecht and I really like the Kraftwerk sound of the project. The projects name and all the tracks were ‘metro-themed’, the music analogue minimalistic and danceable. Also live Metroland had the static Kraftwerk-look.
Looking at Discogs I apparently missed most releases. I only know the “Thalys” box (2014) the music from which is alright (apparently I fogot to review it).
“Things will never sound the same again”, a very fitting title for the new album. When I put on the album I wondered if I chose the wrong one. The opening of the album sounds nothing like the Metroland that I knew. The minimalistic dance-sound does return soon though and the analogue Kraftwerk sound tracks are obviously Metroland. That Passengers A and B seem to have wanted to experiment with another sounds as well. “Good Moaning” is a bit more uptempo, the title track leans a bit towards electro as does “Under The Roof” (still a Metroland version of electro though).
Something different and something recognisable. Does this album mark the transition to a much different sound?
Links: Metroland, Alfa Matrix
Five years after “Hardware”, the album that presented Agent Side Grinder to a wider audience, there is the next, real, album. Where older material was more raw and primitive than the music on “Hardware”, the latter is both more accessible and better produced that what came before. Now our Swedes found a label that was new to me and their sound is again more polished, more synthpop in many songs. The songs that have been made available before the launch of “Alkimia” already hinted to that ‘new direction’.
“Alkimia” opens quite catchy and recognisable with a ‘minimal wave sound’ (drumcomputer and bass guitar), but “Into The Wild” is not as wild as we got to know ASG. Other songs are similarly somewhat too synthpoppy for me. The tempo is lower, the sound softer and the same can be said about the vocals.
Nope, to me “Alkimia” does not come near “Hardware”. It is not a bad album though, just a step away from my musical taste. The band will again play on the Wave Gotik Treffen where I also saw them a couple of years ago. I wonder if they are scheduled in a bigger venue than the Moritzbastei this time and if the music will start to ‘live more’ after having heard them live.
Links: Agent Side Grinder, Progress Productions
In the summer of 2013 I visited a Dutch festival and in some cd stand my eyes fell on two volumes of a compilation called “Death # Disco”. To my surprise I recognised several band- and project-names, but in my head they were from different scenes. Death # Disco is a disco evening in Berlin where they play a variety of music. Old fashioned gothic/wave, more contemporary wave of the “minimal wave” genre, but also shoegaze (that apparently is called “ghost wave” sometimes). The same can be said about the compilations and volume IV is no exception. New this time is that IV is a double cd.
The compilation opens with the strange band The Devil & The Universe that have a quite easy sounding EBM/synthpop-like track. There is also the electropop/-punk project ADULT., the shoegazers of The Soft Moon, minimal wavers such as Newclear Waves and Tropic of Cancer, the more poppy project Xeno & Oaklander and projects with an industrial background like Klangstabil and Echo West. Then there a whole range of projects that I never heard of.
Like volumes II and III there are a few good tracks, a lot of alright tracks and a handfull of tracks that are not my taste. But for 10 euros you get a good overview over ‘the larger wave scene’ and that makes this compilation a suggested buy.
Link: Death # Disco
Metroland’s show at the Summer Darkness festival was great, but the audience was too small. Metroland has a Kraftwerk sound, but it is faster and more danceable. The music is completely metro-themed. The visuals were also well-done and the combination was highly enjoyable. So how would this music stand in the living room?
Well, on cd Metroland is quite tame. Nice analogue synths and old-fashioned vocal effects though, but perhaps the higher volume made the music more danceable or the ambiance added to the experience. Not that “Mind The Gap” is a boring album, but I remember more energy. The album is the moments when you want something tranquil to shake your head to.
Links: Metroland, Alfa Matrix
I got to know ASG a couple of years ago when I was looking through the scene caught by terms such as “minimal” and “mininal wave”. They had some very nice tracks, sometimes slightly rough and industrial, sometimes more synthpop with the nice sounds of analogue electronics and indeed, with a flinch of the good old wave. Especially the vocals and the drumcomputer brings a name such as Joy Division to the minds of many. I found the 2008 titleless debut album which has good tracks and not so good tracks. I did not really pick up the band. Then, to my surprise, they were booked at the 2011 Wave Gotik Treffen and to my even bigger surprise, they seemed to have a lot of fans in the gothic scene. This year they played at the Dutch gothic festival Summer Darkness and they were, to me, with distance the most interesting band. The sound seems to have matured. There is more focus the simple analogue rhythms and sounds which was created by three persons. Further there are the bass-player and vocalist who create that typical ASG sound. I appear to have missed quite a few releases, made available on tape (!), vinyl and cd and including much live recordings, including recordings from a show with Suicide! “Hardware” is the last ‘real’ album and it is a very nice one. The sound is a bit softer, the guitar is less present in most songs and the sound goes from early Neubauten to Joy Division and a lot of great analogue dance music with vocals. Not every track is brilliant, especially not those with a different use of (guest)vocals, but most tracks are certainly worth the buy. “Hardware” is available on cassette, vinyl and plastic.
Link: Agent Side Grinder / Klangarkivet
Not unexpected, but the new Dernière is extremely tedious. That is to say, this French act continues to walk the path away from my musical taste. As you probably all know Dernière started as a ‘martial ambient’ project, but soon made a move towards nice ‘military pop’, something in between ‘martial industrial’ and ‘synthpop’. This went well for a couple of albums until the ‘synthpop’ sound started to get the upper hand. The last albums are (to me) very annoying with irritating vocals and boring music. However “Mon Meilleur Ennemi” here and there reminds of the good period, by far the larger part it contains the kind of music that I would run to hit the “ban” button on Last.fm. Of course, there are undoubtely people who do like this direction. If you are one of them, you should definately listen to this newest album.
Links: Dernière Volonté, Hau Ruck!
Of course it was to be expected that Dernière would move away a bit more from the “martial” sound, but “Immortel” is far far worse than I feared. The sound is still recognisably Dernière, but the tempo went down and with the even more cheesy way of singing, the songs can hardly be called “catchy” anymore; “boring” or even “irritating” is a more fitting description. A few songs start like things will get better, but as soon as the singing comes in and the speed drops again, we are back to zero. I am sorry, but there is little positive that I can say about this album.
Links: Dernière Volonté, Hau Ruck!
It has been five years since the interesting debut of this Romenian duo. “Dialogue” mixed different kinds of music into an interesting style. On “Divine Skinny” there is again a mix of styles, but the result differs from the previous album. After hearing the Myspace tracks I got myself a copy of the new album, but I must say that I am disappointed by it. The cd opens interestingly with a mix between folk and industrial, but most of the tracks are rather bluesy, minimalistic, slow tracks, mixed with electropop and other poppy sounds. Especially the female vocals are not my thing (I prefer the photos of the very skinny Julie in the booklet) and the music is quite boring at times. I do like the fact that the bands presents something very uncommon and perhaps some more (than four) listenings will make the album grow a bit, but I can currently not give too much praise to it.
Links: Divine Muzak, Punch Records
Position Parallèle are Geoffry D. and Pierre Pi. The first is of course better known as Dernière Volonté, the second seems to have been involved in the same project in the earlier days. It is not totally unexpected that Geoffry D. took his accessible sound a step further and leave the “military” sound behind. Position Parallèle became a disco cd, or better said: a synthypop cd, because some songs remind of New Order or Soft Cell and I can promise you, the sound is as ‘faulty’ as the cover! Very recognisable are Geoffry’s vocals, but the sound differs a lot from DV as you can imagine. The cd turned out nice. It is not as good as ‘that other recent disco cd’ “Magic” of November Növelet, but it is a nice listening. A bit of a short one though, 35 minutes.
Oh, a nice joke has been made with the Hau Ruck! logo on the cd.
Links: Position Parallèle, Hau Ruck!.
This is definately the most gothic cd I have reviewed in a long long time. What? Did I say gothic? Yeawell let’s say it is the label. Butterfly Messiah is a band from the USA that released it’s first fulllength on a new American label. Their sound is some gothic kind of synth-/electropop with male and female vocals. I really hate it, so I won’t make this review too long. I think the sound of the band reminds of of l’Âme Immortelle a bit and I wonder if this label will get Butterfly Messiah to the right audience. I will send my copy to a more suitable reviewer then, maybe that will help.