Sordid single reviews - 20/04/03.
Lights of Euphoria - true life (Accession)
When you see that VNV Nation and Assemblage 23 have remixed a track, it's natural to expect something special. Alas, 'true life' isn't really anything special; it's a fairly decent slice of trancey futurepop, but nothing more than that. In fact, while the VNV mix has some great bass sounds, it's not quite up to Ronan's usual standard, and the same is true of the Assemblage 23 mix, which is fairly standard futurepop and not Tom's normal total reconstruction. To break up the CD, there's a new song, 'Fly to target' in the middle, and it starts off much better. The beats are off kilter and not the usual futurepop fare, but then the vocals come in and... for fuck's sake! For some incomprehensible reason, they've gone for the blood gargling style of Aslan Faction, with Anthony Mather guesting. Two more mixes of 'true life', by God Module and Davantage, don't really go beyond the usual futurepop sounds either. A year ago, this would have seemed much better, but the whole thing really is starting to sound a bit stale. And there's no excuse for the vocals on that middle track.
spektralized - allied (Hard:Drive/Accession)
I'm not sure what spektralized would have sounded like without the benefit of Icon of Coil's Seb behind the production desk, but, with him, their sound is a brilliantly bouncy bleep sound that manages to avoid sounding too much like anyone else. 'truth v2.0' is a slower track, but retains the bouncy bleep sound, while the 'icon of coil mix' of 'allied' is a very different, very slow building trance. It's a bit too slow, not as cool as the original really, which is slightly reworked in the 'radio edit'. Good stuff.
Cyber Axis - the prophecy (Accession)
This Cyber Axis single marks the return of a band from the mid-90s scene who are trying to resurrect themselves in today's scene. That explains the odd mix of bleepy music and growly Aggro vocals on the title track then. Contrary to what you might think, though, it works fairly well, dancey, but aggressive. More interesting is the second track, a harsh EBM version of Kylie's 'Can't get you out of my head', which is a guaranteed dancefloor smash. 'pleased (fyght-rmx)' is a more sedate take on the Aggro/bleep sound, which verges a little too much on the metal side, but it's the totally screwy liink mix of 'the prophecy' that's really impressive, reminiscent of Pitchshifter at their most experimental - hard, heavy and groovy. Last up is a reworking of an old track of theirs, 'the way i feel', which takes the contrasting styles one step too far, the synthpoppy bleeps and beats are just too different from the chugging guitars and growling vocals. Cyber Axis have made a good attempt to bridge the nineties and noughties styles and it's interesting, if not always a success.
Various - Square Matrix 002 (Alfa-matrix)
This is the second of Alfa-matrix's innovative single release plan. Rather than releasing a whole load of different singles and run the obvious risk of the more popular bands drowning out the less popular, they stick four singles together on one CD and sell it at the price of an album. This one features nebula-h, neikka rpm, mnemonic and implant, with four tracks each. A bad decision was made, though, in the choice of opening track, nebula-h's 'h (single h)' isn't a bad dancey futurepop track, but it pales in comparison with the massive 'twilight zone', which follows it. 'inhibition (feat. aiboforcen) h01' is another groovy dance piece, with a shot of punky vocals in there as well, while dirk ivens vocals don't add much to a redone version of 'twilight zone'. neikka rpm kick off their four with the cracking beat-heavy trancey 'here's your revolution' and follow it with an ultra-bleepy futurepop mix of 'bound with sympathy' by razed in black, a massive dancefloor mix of 'here's your revolution' by negative format and an absolutely chaotic bass heavy rave mix of 'bound with sympathy' by terrorfakt.
The chilled out 'a day on my own' by mnemonic, with some really nice vocals from tekita, makes a nice change from the chaos before. The 'neon electronics mix' of 'world outlook' is a very tasty house track from EBM legend dirk da-davo. 'pool (feat. redux)' is a well done, if not exactly exciting, ambient piece, while 'nuce (feat. l.iet)' takes the pace up a bit with an atmospheric sound and some kicking breakbeats. And last, but definitely not least, it's the turn of the always experimental implant, with four eclectic, interesting and imaginative electronic pieces, including the futurepoppy sound of 'all i want', the mariachi-tinged techno piece '¿que pasa cabron?' and a thumping trance mix of 'all i want' from sanka. All in all, it's a cracking collection of toons from one of the best labels (alongside their partners Cryonica) for cracking dancefloor stuff.
Project X - Infected/Reminder (Energy)
Project X are in that vein of EBM, alongside the likes of E\Craft and Flesh Field, that's harsh, but not too harsh, and nice and dancey. 'Infected' fits into that, big EBM beats, more than a hint of techno, and strong harsh vocals. However, the vocals are a little too harsh and they do slip a little into the less enjoyable Hocico territory. The Assemblage 23 mix boosts the techno element considerable, bringing them closer to futurepop territory and tones down the vocals. Now, 'Reminder' did my head in when I first heard it, it's a powerhouse dance track with less harsh vocals than 'Infected', but I just couldn't figure out how I knew the words of the chorus the first time I heard the track. A quick net search later and it turns out they've lifted a line from NIN's "Something I Can Never Have" - "just a faded fucking reminder of who I used to be". Anyway, once that was dealt with, it's quite a cracking track and, while Jouni Ollila electro mix is a bit irritating, the E\Craft mix is an absolute monster.
Wolfsheim - Kein Zurück (Strange Ways)
I shouldn't like this, I know I shouldn't. If anyone described it to me - an acoustic ballad with more than a hint of nu-metal about it with some electro elements mixed in - I'd think it was awful. But, actually, it isn't. The strong vocals, backed by a subtle acoustic sound and topped with some soft bleeps, work. It is too close to "lighters in the air" territory, but it's enjoyable. The two remixes don't do a whole lot to it, Oliver Pinelli simply replaces the acoustics with electronics, while Mario von Hacht ups the tempo a bit, giving it more of a futurepop vibe.
Conspiracy - Electric Bitch (Artizone Records)
Newbies Conspiracy's debut single is a pretty good slice of futurepop, with down and dirty sleazy vocals and more than a hint of electroclash about it. But it's the remix by Martin Fay of Monosect, which ditches the futurepop and goes for a full on Fischerspooner style electroclash vibe, that's really impressive and the band will hopefully take note. The Philtrator remix, on the other hand, brings in a slow throbbing vibe that doesn't suit it at all and is pretty boring. The electrogoth sound of 'Solitude' isn't all that impressive either.
Sheep on Drugs - new cuts
SoD the return - stage one. Once Lee decided to get Sheep on Drugs going again, the first thing he did was rework the classic material from their "Greatest Hits" debut and put on shows that were more like DJ sets than proper live gigs. 'new cuts' is three of those reworkings, 'drug music', 'track x' and 'mary jane'. Each retains everything that made them classic cuts ten years ago, but Lee has given them all a bit of spit and polish, adding in a variety of up-to-date dance music elements. Great stuff it is too. This CD is limited and probably hard to get at this stage (they were initially sold only at gigs), but it's definitely work grabbing if you come across it.
(Actually, it turns out they've produced a second edition, log onto their yahoogroup for details.)
The Fair Sex - Get out of my head the mixes (Endless)
This limited edition four-track remix CD is mainly aimed at DJs and, with that in mind, it's a well put together collection. Each of the four mixes has a different feel to it, thus giving it a broad appeal across different parts of the scene. The 'Dresscode version' by Rámon Creutzer and Michael Zöller sticks largely to the original style, just giving the old school EBM sound a bit more dancefloor appeal. Tim Schuldt's 'Schuldt Punishment' version is slower and works in elements of the Psy-Trance sound, giving it a spacier feel with a contrasting kick-ass beat. The 'Rotersand Rework' is much dancier, verging on futurepop, with more than a little in common with the recent mainstream dancefloor smash, 'I'm so crazy' by Par-T-One, about it. Finally, the 'Zelle 40 Remix' by 5IR RAZ3, W. Seyffer and N. Jung is totally out there, it's hard to describe exactly what this eclectic mix of EBM, electro, funky techno and screeching guitars is, except for damn fine. TFS are determined to make an impact with their return and this definitely will not hurt.