Music Reviews
Note the reason that these reviews are so short is that I'm restricted to 200 words for the magazine.

Synthetic - A.D.S.R promo
WASP Factory Sampler
D-U-S-T 'From The Sublime to the Obscene'

VoID CoNSTRUCT - Estramay Aleph
Putra-Chic - The First Incision
Narcissus Pool - Life's Bitch Tapestry
Sneaky Bar Machine - Disco for the Dead

Synthetic - A.D.S.R promo

Putting a promo on for the first time is always a strange sensation, you don't know what you are going to hear. They range from dire tracks, badly recorded and stuck on a cheap tape to, well, to the latest one from Synthetic. OK it's only on a CDR but it is nicely packaged and looks good then as soon as the first few bars come out of the stereo you know you are dealing with something above the ordinary. Well produced, layered sounds that build up and fade behind clear defined vocals, great hook lines, melodies and chorus as well as a stomping dance beat. Although it is a bit of a cop-out to compare with other bands it is really the only way to try and get across exactly what a band sounds like. Synthetic draw on the Human League/Soft Cell style 80s electronica blended with the modern sounds of bands like Wolfsheim, Mesh or even VNV. Pigeon holing these guys is difficult, which in my opinion is a good thing, definitely electronica but with a far broader appeal that should be enjoyed by a far wider crowd. 'Trinty', 'Survival Instinct' and 'Shutdown' all work so well on three different levels, thumping dance beats overlaid with sweeping melodies and almost understated yet clear vocals. 'Country' is an epic track which I defy anyone not to like, almost anthemic in nature, a big powerful sound that is going to get anyone that isn't made out of stone tapping their feet and wanting to dance. All in all one of the best CDs I've had this year, it has certainly been played more in the few days I've had it than full, bought albums by Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen etc mainly because it is so upbeat and fresh. I went straight to Music Non Stop and bought their first album and look forward to the release of the full ADSR album and their tour in the Autumn. Website

WASP Factory Sampler
(submitted to Scene magazine)

In a world where all to often bands that don't fall into the mediocre pigeon holes favoured by the majority of record labels are ignored. It is a joy to see an 'underground' label taking on the insidious power of the majors and putting their money where their mouths are and supporting these bands with proper distribution deals and promotion. Put together by Lee Chaos of Chaos Engine fame and drawing from all his experiences as a long time promoter and musician , WASP Factory dares tread where others won't go. This sampler reflects the diversity of the bands now recording and releasing on the label. Although loosely all in the goth/industrial/cyber scene the bands vary from the haunting, ethereal sounds of 'Swarf' to the punchy cyber-industrial 'Arkham Asylum' via the techno poetry of Tarantella Serpentine and many more. The evidence of the strength of this label is now growing, DUST have a song on the front of May's Terrorizer magazine and the label is running a stage at this years Eurorock festival in Belgium. This coupled with European distribution deals proves that energy, dedication and belief can be enough to get the word out there. More info on www.wasp-factory.com

 

D-U-S-T 'From The Sublime to the Obscene'
(originally written for scene magazine)

DUST have read and digested the rule book on how goth crossover bands are supposed to sound and then had the audacity to throw it in the bin and instead come out with an album that they wanted to make. Following on from the critically acclaimed 'Die Hand Die Verletzt' EP this album sees DUST grow and mature. Catchy hooklines, floating vocals, thumping dance beats combine on songs that range from NIN/Masonesque territories to the synthpop sounds of Erasure. But DUST's strong point is that they have their own distinct sound which shines through all the tracks. After dropping their drummer in favour of a drum machine as it was more versatile, yet keeping a 'live' bassist adds interesting twists and quirks to their songs. Highlights for me are 'Bleed' which builds slowly and intensely with tormented vocals and lyrics, 'Nowhere Neverbe' and 'Tongue' for sheer want-to-get-up-and-dance appeal. I'll even forgive them their cover of 'White Rabbit' done as 'Black Rabbit' - no one should, ever attempt to cover Grace Slick, ever. All in all a good album from a band that we are almost certainly going to see a lot more of in the future. They have embraced a diverse scene and succeeded in making their first steps towards stardom. Website

 

VoID CoNSTRUCT - Estramay Aleph
(originally written for scene magazine)

Cyber, EBM, Industrial/techno call it what you like these are it and more. In a scene dominated by mainland European bands from Front 242 onwards Void Construct stand out as they are English - based in Southampton, and formed in the early part of 1999 by Scott Walker. The range of styles on this album is diverse from gentle trancey, spacey tracks to pounding techno breaks interspersed with diverse film samples (from Pi to Alien). Unlike many debut albums, VC do not seem to have compromised their sound to fit any particular sound, rather they allow the album to stand up on its own merits. "Anodyne Impulse' the opening track leads you in gently before twisting in to a thumping barrage of sound which is continued on the second track 'Splintered'. 'Construct' the band's first ever track makes an appearance and is a blinding floor filler of a track (I know I've played it !). Probably the most noticeable thing about the whole album is its different layers and intelligence, gentle melodies twisted with hard dance beats. When you read this they will have played the prestigious 'Infest Industrial' festival supporting VNV Nation and will have picked up many new fans. Currently negotiating a European deal with Zoth Ommog (Home of Front 242 amongst others) this band has all signs of making it very big. Website

 

Putra-Chic 'The First Incision'
(originally printed in Scene magazine)

Putra-Chic - 'The First Incision' Putra-Chic are a hardcore electro-goth super group formed by Martino Diablo (ex-Nekromantik main man) and joined by Nihil La-Kant (ex-Narcissus Pool guitarist) and Maximum Defect (ex-Sneaky Bat Machine keyboardist). This mini-album is their first own label release and a fine start it is too. Although the electro influences of their former bands are evident on all five songs, there is a darker, nastier, faster edge to them. Imagine the genetically modified offspring of Depeche Mode, Fear Factory and Nine Inch Nails and you start to get the right idea. The first track 'You're so good to me' is a dark, nihilistic anti-love song, sort of Cure meets Alien Sex Fiend which already starting to fill dance floors. 'Apathy Loves Company' an electro-punkoid diatribe against the false, conditioned world we live in is followed by 'Teen Grenade' already a favourite live which gets even the most reluctant head nodding. Plastik (I hate head) brings the album to a close and builds up from an almost ballad-like start to a crescendo of industrial beats washing over you. Already getting rave live reviews this band is destined to go far. Hopefully we will see them in Plymouth soon. Website

 

Narcissus Pool - 'Life's bitch tapestry' - Released 25/11/99 - BMG (Darkbeat Records - DBCD006)
(originally printed in Scene Magazine)

Imagine that bastard son of Bauhaus and Front 242 with a bit of humour and social commentary and you get a fair idea of the sound that you can expect from this Bristol based dark wave band. Along with Mesh and VNV Nation, Narcissus Pool are flying the flag for Britain in the darkwave/EBM/cyber music scene that is heavily dominated by German and other European bands. Unlike the aforementioned bands which play most of their gigs on the continent Narcissus Pool can be constantly found touring the UK. This album captures the intensity and excitement of their live shows with the only criticism being the way that the vocals are buried in the mix sometimes. Standout tracks are 'Parishioner White's Nazi Stormtroopers' about fanatical religious followers and 'My Superiority Complex' which in the words of the band is about 'Who is the bigger fool; the fool, or the fool who follows him?' Any band that uses samples from Lady Macbeth soliloquies and country and western songs with a techno backbeat has to be worth a listen. This album is required buying for anyone into the Cyber/Goth scene. Website

 

Sneaky Bat Machine 'Disco 4 the Dead' - Darkbeat records
(originally printed in Scene magazine)

The world of goth is currently undergoing a major upheaval with the old school legions of black facing being usurped by the legions of dayglo-clad, bouncy, cyber goths. One the nuclear missiles in the armoury of the latter is the 'electrgothic spacebat mayhem' that is the irrepressible Sneaky Bat Machine. This 9 track debut album from SBM mixes influences from such bands as Alien Sex Fiend with a modern cyber/Ebm sound to create a weird yet wonderful mixture. With tongue firmly in cheek and lasers set to stun, the songs vary from the goth kitsch of 'disco 4 the dead' or 'Trick or treat' to the sci-fi firework that is 'Lasergun Music'. Anyone that has been at a major goth/industrial event last year will have seen and heard SBM fill dance floors. Catchy lyrics and music with great hooklines, and an outrageous image - high art this isn't, but fun it definitely is - dance… you'd be mad not to. I'll leave the final words to the band ….. 'Kiss kiss the devil's daughter, trust me cos I'm a doctor, let's go deep inside your head, disco 4 the dead'. Website