Men In The Sky – Version 1.0.1 EP

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     Version 1.0.1, the new EP from UK electronic rock band Men In The Sky is a stylish web of sound, a fusion of recognisable styles and influences woven into an inescapable net of refreshing and captivating temptation. The release is a magnetic adventure casting mesmeric melodies and attention stirring riffs as easily as it entwines an intrigue of samples and throaty bass seduction. The EP is not the most original thing you are going to hear this year with its rich eighties inspirations but certainly it is going to be one of the most flavoursome and enjoyable.

Hailing from Liverpool, Men In The Sky emerged in 2012 wearing inspirations openly on their sound’s sleeve from day one. The accompanying press sheet declares that the band ‘draws as much from the jazz-blues of Jeff Beck and the funk of Chic as it does from classic British New Wave.’ This is something you can only agree with as their release flirts and dances with the imagination yet there is plenty more whispers, loud and quieter, of bands and essences which springs from an encounter which still manages to be something new. Co-produced with Factory Records’ Michael Johnson, Version 1.0.1 romps and entices with ears and emotions from its first vibrant second, providing something familiar yet surprising.

The release opens with a track called Men In The Sky. Eighties bred synths immediately grasp attention around the first sample of the release, their touch crystalline but soon sharing a varied embrace of melodies, acidic and elegant. A 10410613_713652578674096_487800950591790924_nhint of Visage comes to the fore early on whilst an unavoidable reference to New Order, as across the EP, is swiftly offering its suasion. Soon into a pulsating stroll with melodic flourishes within an electro enticement, the song continues to swing contagiously with a funk lilted bassline and an electronic revelry leading the way. With thoughts of Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys in various degrees also offering their references, the overall body of the song actually reminds of early Ministry before Al found his muscular industrial aggression.

The track makes a great start to the proposition and is instantly backed up by latest single Doom. The track mixes an agitated enterprise of beats and riffs with another fluid stream of synth temptation, but this time around a stronger rock spine of sound and intent. As it persistently throbs on the senses with a healthy infectious smile, the song ripples with an essence of the songwriting of Vince Clarke but equally the funkier styling of Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh in their Heaven 17 era. It is an irresistible romp, just as unpredictable and enthralling as its predecessor but with an even catchier bait and mischievous side to its dance, especially shown in the Oingo Boingo like vocal twists.

The remaining pair of songs, Expect Anything and Stone has a task to match the previous songs and to be honest do not manage to reach the same heights yet easily leave ears happy and emotions keen. The first of the pair ventures further into the band’s rock creativity without neglecting the electronic tempting, infusing it with a more classically cultured grace and endeavour. With flames of guitar bringing a progressive texture to the mix the song reveals more of the depths and adventure to the band’s sound which is confirmed straight away by its successor. The final song was born to light up dance-floors with its flowing melodies and sparking electro enticement, though it is the reserved moment where the vocals are allowed to shine with their minimal presence that the song works best.

The track is a fine end to a masterfully charismatic and gripping encounter. One which is at its best in the first half but leaving a bulging satisfaction by its end through a quartet of absorbing songs. Version 1.0.1 has a potent effect on ears through to feet, thoughts on to emotions. It might not quite be your favourite release of the Summer but we suggest it will be the one you return to most often and not just for this passing season either.

The Version 1.0.1 EP is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/version-1.0.1-ep/id895145567

http://www.men-in-the-sky.com/

8/10

RingMaster 18/07/2014

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IIOIOIOII – Sun

IIOIOIOII

Earlier this year the Rising Sky EP from US industrial/electro project IIOIOIOII set the imagination away on a warm mesmeric flight bred from its expansive atmospheres and spellbinding synth pop seduction. Equally it stirred up anticipation for and high expectations of the impending album from the North Carolina artist. On a day many hide in the shadows from, Friday 13th of this month will see the dawning of said album and an insatiable tantalising of melodic elegance and consumptive aural caresses which confirms and then crafts to greater heights all the promise and assumptions spawned by its predecessor.  Sun is a masterful casting of eighties synth pop and seductive electronic textures which enthral and flirt with ears and emotions from start to finish, a provocateur  who is new to the senses but holds a familiarity which makes easy allegiance to its infection seem like destiny.

IIOIOIOII (pronounced I.O.), is the solo project of Charlotte musician Christopher Gurney who since the release of the Rising Sky EP has come under acclaimed attention from fans and media alike. The quality of the four track release sparked something in people and its chosen genre, its seeds and poetical melodies seemingly cultured from an older era but evolving into a fresh and transfixing presence which adds almost classical warmth to the current climes of synth pop. Released as the EP via Juggernaut Music Group, Sun provides a glowing understanding soundscape and incitement for thoughts and emotions which with nostalgia and invention an equally tempting fuel to its enterprise leaves an already eager appetite for the artist full and still greedy.

Rising Sky is the first caress, senses spotting melodies gently coaxing in attention as a sinister industrial/electro rub shadows IIOIOIOII - Sun - covertheir enticement. It is an instantly engaging encounter which enriches its lure the further into its evocative depths the song moves. As the welcoming yet also slightly dark tones of Gurney call from within the predacious heat, the song arouses thoughts of eighties bands B-Movie and Modern English. It is a mesmeric start which holds an intimidation but it is held in check by the magnetic elegance of the melodies and the persistently infection laced lure of the song.

The impressive start continues with Weapon, again light and shadow entwines in a dramatic melodic embrace. With an enveloping tantalising ambience stalked by sinewy rhythms, the song simultaneously prowls and seduces the senses and imagination, flowing crystalline melodies making spellbinding bait to which defences are immediately attracted, especially as a Visage like electronic narrative coats the delicious enchanting and intrusive toxicity. The song immerses the senses in a provocative bathing, one which is reassuring but also emotionally exploratory; a trait just as ripe within its successor Stardust. Like those before the song has no urgency in making its full intent known, instead slowly dawning in all its aspects and emotional castings. The evocative slow stroll and celestial kisses from within the melodies sparks another delve in to eighties synth pop, the crafting of Paul Haig coming to mind as well as a darker presence which has whispers of Nine Inch Nails to it. Absorbing and virulently infectious within its reserved yet fully flighted soar, the track pulls the passions even deeper in to the riveting narrative of the album.

For Do You Know Gurney uncages a serpentine malevolence to his haunting vocals, a move again opening new shadows and enticements within the album which the following Falling boldly stretches into even darker realms whilst persistently lighting the way with irresistible melodic and electronic weaves. Gurney’s vocals on the second of the two provide an almost venomous breath to temper but also stretch the glassy beauty flowing easily over the ears; a kind of Frank Tovey meets Mr. Kitty persuasion. Though admittedly the pair nor the invasive but beguiling Spotlight which emerges next manage to ascend the heights of the opening trio of songs, all with sumptuous ease increase the bewitchment from and hunger for Sun.

    We’re Still Alive steps forward next with a steely intent and stance to its contagious croon. Like a new sculpting of the haunting invention of Trent Reznor and the chilled imagination of John Foxx, the track is another merciless majestic tempting of the senses and emotions whilst both New Sedations and Echo, the first a feisty discord drenched slice of creative bedlam and the second a ghostly smothering which induces fear and rapture, increase the drama and intrigue of the album. Gurney on the pair again shows with varying success he is unafraid to push his vocals to places they may not be wholly comfortable with but constantly it only adds to the appealing portentous air of songs and release.

After the veering on doomy presence of Goodbye, the album is completed by remixes from Dreams Divide (with Stardust), Revenant Cult (Spotlight), Art Deko (Rising Sky), Garten der Asche ( Spotlight), and Machinista (Stardust), all in their individual ways discovering and extending new aspects and traits to their chosen sources, though truthfully none find the unfussy triumph of the originals. Nevertheless they provide a fine closing stretch for a release which reinforces and forges greater promise within IIOIOIOII; the dangerous beauteous temptation unveiled one rewarding trap to fall for.

https://www.facebook.com/IioIndustrial

8.5/10

RingMaster 11/12/2013

 

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Mr.Kitty: Life

Mr.Kitty

Like a knowing soundtrack to every aspect of its title, Life the new album from US musician Mr.Kitty is a canvas for reflection, emotive dance, and drifts into diverse enveloping feelings inspired by its elegant and beautifully sculpted beauty. The most complete and rounded release from the Dallas based artist to date, the fifteen track album is a rich and smouldering wash of electronic pop and new wave adventure, an album to ignite the senses and invite the passions into a long and ardour fuelled companionship.

Mr.Kitty is Forrest Carney, who takes his inspirations from an eclectic array of artists such as Joy Division, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Crystal Castles, Pictureplane, and Grimes. His music employs numerous flavours and textures in addition to the basic tag we previously mentioned, elements of eighties post punk, gothic emotiveness, and electro ambience all playing their part in the depth and distinct characters of sound and individual songs. Released with Engraved Ritual, Life is the fourth album from Mr.Kitty, and part of a four album series consisting of two “light” and two “dark” albums, this drawing on the lighter shade of his imagination, though it is not without its rich and mesmeric shadows.

From opening song Insects, the album as well as seducing the ear and senses provides a visual backdrop to its songs in its coveratmospheric narratives and colour soaked expressive breath. Evocative and with lush emotional hues, Life provides the paint box and aural paper for the listener to explore their own dark corners and heart bred thoughts as well as those offered by and of the artists himself. Insects is an immediate medium to ignite those interactive qualities, its animated stroll and pulsating rhythmic veining an absorbing lure with the crystalline electro oscillation alongside another mesmeric suasion. The vocals of Mr.Kitty soon caress the ear with a sultry lure to their soothing texture, the artist a constant tempter across every song with his impressive and expressive delivery. The eighties inspiration is open within song and album though only another breeze to the refreshing wind wrapping the listener from the very first minute.

The impressive start is soon equalled by both Heaven and Unstable, the first cradling the senses with a choral kiss of angelic harmonies before heady rhythms and cantering melodic synth fascination emerges to explore the lofty heights already in place. The song bounds over thoughts and emotions with eagerness but a respectful energy that seduces the imagination and opens up its romance and that of its recipient. Like its predecessor it is virulently infectious, the roaming electronic atmosphere a spark to the simpler but no less effective and irresistible hooks and has thoughts in lustful expectations for its successors, something the darker but no less contagious Unstable feeds with poise and beauty. Across its provocative and slightly sinister embrace there is a Depeche Mode call to the veiled heart but again only a taste fused into something transparently contagious and unique.

Through the harsher touch of Sacrifice with its riveting and senses worrying intro and caustic intent, Holy Death where the vocals have a Dave Gahan lilt at times, and the excellent Labyrinth, the album continues to stretch the journey and venture into a wealth of emotions and thought taunting scenarios. The latter of the trio brings a Visage like melodic tonic to its glorious smouldering presence and though at times you want to sing “Fade To Grey” as the bulbous melodies suggest their source, the song is another striking highlight.

Those pinnacles just keep coming though as tracks such as the exceptional London, a song enjoying the added siren call of female vocals within its Pet Shop Boys like waltz, the stunning gothic cast Dearlove, and the intense Choke with its shadow fuelled drama, all explore imaginatively further impacting emotion lit pastures. With so many songs there are rare moments where some hold a similarity as they hold hands but it is rare and such the strength and potency of each and every one it is an ‘issue’ you are searching for just to offer up as a temper to the otherwise full acclaim it is hard not to place over Life.

As the closing Father provides the deepest emotive honesty of the album, the artist unafraid to venture where pain dwells, Life leaves a powerful and lingering imprint on mind and heart. It is an outstanding encounter that leaves no emotional stone unturned yet does so with a light and melodic energy which captures the passions. Mr.Kitty is destined to take electronic pop to new fields, Life the impossible to dismiss evidence.

https://www.facebook.com/mrkittydm

9/10

RingMaster 05/07/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Eik: Undetected

In advance of their debut album Norwegian electronic band Eik described their sound as a combination of deep house, ambient textures and pop hooks, a description which did not exactly fire up great enthusiasm as one who is generally adverse to varied forms of dance music. Undetected soon proved to be much more than one imagined going in to it and though it will not retain a perpetual place in the ear here there is no escaping the album was thoroughly enjoyable and for fans of all forms of electronic music it is sure to be a deeply pleasurable treat.

Consisting of Per Kåre Limmesand (keyboards and effects) and Kristoffer Carlsen (drums), Eik have created a diverse and consistently elegant album whilst still making it a warm and welcoming infection for all melodic hearts. With a classical breath to much of Undetected alongside the eager pop veins and ambient heart, the release is a perpetually surprising and consistently fluttering warm kiss upon the ear. Using guest vocalists on many of the tracks, the duo create striking soundscapes and mesmeric weaves which sweep one up easily in to their expressive atmospheres.

All That You Said begins the pleasure with a female voice gently caressing the ear over electronic pulses and a brewing melodic synth mist. An intrusive hypnotic pulse throbs powerfully throughout the song whilst minimal yet expressive sounds and textures sway in and out and though it is a gentle start to the album, with the song soaring skies with impressive vocal harmonies and squeezing tight with that unavoidable pulse it is impossible not to be captivated.

The following duo of tracks Love Storm and Seems To Be Real bring an eighties electro infection which is delicious. The first reminds of early Human League with a blend of the sophistication of Depeche Mode and the pop of Blancmange. The male vocals are outstanding adding to the nostalgic feel and the track is not long in becoming a firm favourite even though the latter sky bound melodies take the song into areas reminding of Vangelis which is not as agreeable. The second of the two songs is a sea of sirenesque female vocals and addictive melodic pop caresses. It immediately excites with a Visage seeded pulsating start before the female vocals add their great energy and pop cream to the electronic dessert beneath. Her vocals actually remind of the pop stylings of Aqua but do not panic it all works perfectly and is a wonderful track.

The instrumental Background For Documentaries and the following techno/dance fuelled 74 did miss the mark quite easily but that is down to personal taste though the fact that the instrumental did not offer an experience and journey as impactful and imaginative as on other songs was disappointing. It failed to ignite imagery or emotions and was generally just underwhelming.

Things are soon on track again though with a pair of impressive songs. Thinking Of is a delightful piece of music with vocals dazzling the ear over minimal beats and restrained but glittering synth invention. The song is simple but fully effective and again mesmeric.  The best track on the album Utopia follows straight after and it is a real gem. With lively ripples of Middle Eastern Music teasing and weaving amongst again an eighties recalling electronic imagination the song is magnificent and destined to be the most revisited. Again the likes of Blancmange come to mind as well as Eik contemporaries Austerlitz, the combination especially with the rhythmic and voice only twist within the song glorious.

    Undetected is a great and very pleasing surprise for these ears and though maybe not an album we will be immersing within as often as others there are certainly tracks which demand and will receive a persistent invitation to entertain.  With the album Eik also suggest there are bigger and more imaginative things to come and we for one cannot wait. If electronic pop with a real essence and heart appeals Eik is a must, so go find and enjoy.

Ringmaster 10/06/2012

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MiXE1: Module 02

When the debut EP from UK electro rock band MiXE1 was unveiled in 2010 there was more than mere interest set in motion for any future releases. Module 01 was a haunting and vibrant collection of tracks offering much promise ahead whilst at the time lighting up thoughts and emotions with its warm enveloping sounds. A free single last year in A Spark In The Air only strengthened the eagerness for more with word of a follow up EP set for 2012 the trigger for even more enthused and impatient waiting. Module 02 does not disappoint, a four song release it brings an evolution in sound and invention with all the essences and imagination that first captivated still on board.

     MiXE1 is the solo project of Hatfield based songwriter Mike Evans. Having played in an alternative metal band he reached a point where he wanted to express himself in a different way and turned to electronic music, a genre that had already engaged his tastes. The project which became MiXE1 allowed him to find a more positive energy and area to express himself within, bringing a contrast to the darker sounds and lyrics which were borne from his previous band. It was a move as by the evidence of his releases which has openly inspired his creativity, the new release being no exception but a further step forward in his vision, songwriting and its realisation.

The EP immediately lights up the senses with opener This Is Not Goodbye, synths and dazzling swarms of sound wrapping around the ear with a tender embrace. With an emerging throbbing pulse the song spreads deeper into the head as the vocals of Evans, smooth and mesmeric soak the music in dazzling harmonies and care. Swaying within its warmth one is then thrust into a frenzy of aggressive guitars, vocals, and blistering intensity.  It creates the perfect union of extremes and continually unpredictable glories, offering a NIN/ Celldweller like feel with bursts of Sonic Syndicate. That is simplifying it as it has a uniqueness and freshness that is MiXE1 alone. It is the best track on Module 2, a sure and persistent companion to share time with though the other three songs that stir within the EP are just as compulsive.

Your Heart Is The Beat starts with the unlocking of the song, its grace and flow emerging from shadows into the limelight of the ear with a heated grace and hypnotic energy. Emotive and seemingly personal through passion and heart the song is a wave of summer warmth splintered with flashes of harshness which ignites even deeper veined satisfaction. Electro pop with a Visage like breath the track is a wonderful excuse to visit inner thoughts and emotions with an understanding soundtrack.

Do You Know continues the feeling with more eighties electro flavouring though it reminds more of John Foxx led Ultravox with its underlying rock edge. Another song with euphoric depth to it the irresistible pleasure lifts the lowest spirit and any darkly shadowed emotion with caring imagination and evocative thought coated in infectious harmonies and soaring melodies.

The release is completed by the impassioned Never Been Gone, a far reaching atmospheric mist of emotion spotted with falling sonic glittering and the tenderness of electronic enveloping. Once more Evans brings textures to the music which makes each dip into its sea of sounds fresh and deeply rewarding. The song invites one to lie back and let it take them through their own journey of memories, thoughts, and feelings, the wonderful sounds an understanding companion.

Released June 16th on Static Distortion Records, Module 02 is a stunning result of an artist who has found a full well of imagination and craft within music he is relatively speaking still fresh to and it harbours even greater promise for a planned debut album ahead. Just to be picky one would say more guitar and more of the metallic abrasion on that please, but if it is as good as this EP, we will take anything MiXE1 brings with relish.

RingMaster 196/05/2012

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Tom Kills: Semi

The recent release of the single A Million Pieces from Tom Kills openly declared he was an artist with an inspired feel for bringing emotion, shadows and superbly crafted electronic sounds into vibrant and impactful soundscapes for the senses and thoughts to revel in. The song also bred an enthused anticipation for his debut EP Semi, something the six track release more than fulfils. The release is a real feast for the ear and beyond, its touch and caress upon the heart wholly infectious

From Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire singer, songwriter, musician and producer Kills has created a collection of songs with a heart seeded in the eighties and passion firmly set in today. The release leaves one glowing and grinning from an accomplished journey through a diverse electro pop kaleidoscope of sound. Semi dances with the heart and teases the senses whilst all the time keeping the mind active with emotive lyrics and compulsive ambient textures behind the mesmeric melodic flow. It is also hell of a lot of fun recognising bands and sounds from the past though the songs themselves have an independent life borne solely from Kills.

Silly Little Self opens up the EP with a reflective purge of emotion, the song a stirring expressive recognition for all in some degree. The music slowly envelopes the ear offering a heightened richness and touch whilst Kills surfs its melancholic wave with a vocal that encapsulates the tones of Bowie, Numan and Matt Johnson. Lined with inner shadows the song wraps itself around the senses without inviting pity to unveil its heart.  Though instantly mesmeric the track is a brooding darkened pleasure which leaves the following Dvorian Grey to bring a lightened swell to the proceedings.

The track brings a mix of sound that swarms warmly around the ear, its pulse offering the haunting elements of a Japan, the darker corners of Strangers, and the dazzling pop of a Visage. Dvorian Grey never breaks out in to an urgent glittering song but melds its enthused beacons of melodies into a darkened tome, the result a pulsating spread upon the ear.

Next Kills takes us down the darkened footpath of Catastrophe, its Joy Division/Depeche Mode corridors dimly lit with the warm melodic torch of an OMD. The overall effect is a wonderfully crafted eager play with the ear and a nostalgic feel of The The. Again one should note that despite all the references mentioned to try and portray the impressive sounds within Semi, the songs are spiced by these flavours but the recipe is all Tom Kills.

The excellent Million Pieces still holds court with the same majesty as when first we reviewed it, its beauty and tenderly hypnotic sway a dawning feast for all the senses to bathe within. Previously the likes of Depeche Mode and Strangers were stated as ingredients the song reminded of and though they still remain the more the song serenades the ear the likes of early Human League come to the fore, the League before misguided hairstyles and candy hooked songs came along. Graceful and bewitching the song is a near perfect electro pop pleasure, its power fuelled by the reserved energy and the caring nature of music and vocals.

Though still the favourite song so far from Kills and probably the best on the EP, Million Pieces is seriously challenged by Sex Robots. With a symphonic intro and computerised word the song steels up the EP with an industrial muscle and delicious electro waltz for the emotions. Part Marilyn Manson part Gary Numan with an excitable splash of Thomas Dolby the song leaps to its feet taking the listeners hand in a cyber dance and lustful affair. If you are not singing along and moving your limbs by the end of this irresistible piece of joy check for a pulse.

Semi is a true pleasure and treat, every aspect of the EP is a joy and impressively crafted. Light and dark fuel the release and one suspects Tom Kills too by the emotive edge unleashed on Semi and long may they rage with music this satisfying.

www.tomkills.com

RingMaster 22/03/2012

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