Spaztic Robot – Skip Rope Rhymes

album_art_RingMasterReview

On an empty sunny day in 1990, when I was nine years old, I saw two dead dogs. Each at opposite ends of the same street. One was big and brown, the other small and grey. Both greeted me with the exact same pitiful manner. Their sunburnt tongues bathing on the gravel gave the illusion of salmon rising from black tar rivers. As the odour began to rise with the dusty heat, I felt like I’d snorted fizzy pop. I chucked up. Through teary eyes I scanned the motionless street in which I stood. Nothing. Nothing but ugly new houses. Ugly new houses with identical square gardens laid out in front of them.

I wasn’t to know it at the time, but Spaztic Robot was born at that very moment. With no evidence offering itself to the mystery of the dead dogs, my nine year old self began to piece together his own chain of events…a different one lending itself to each house on the street. I was convinced that behind the bricks and mortar of one of these seemingly inconspicuous houses lay a dirty little secret.

Skip Rope Rhymes was created in the same vein. It’s a gathering of characters and stories. Characters and stories that could all easily exist, in one street, behind the closed doors of ugly new houses with identical square gardens laid out in front of them.”

This biography placed introduction to Spaztic Robot pretty such sums up the air and dark intensity which floods a myriad of sounds and imagination making up Skip Rope Rhymes, the band’s debut album. In a broad array of characters, songs offer shadowed adventures all equipped with intimate secrecy, like behind closed doors insights as dramatic and often cinematic as they are seriously captivating.

Spaztic Robot is the solo project of Robbie Sparks, vocalist/guitarist/songwriter of Stourbridge punksters Rebel City Radio. With the band taking a break from gigging and writing over the past year or so, Sparks has used the time to dive into the writing and creating of this his debut album. Recently released, Skip Rope Rhymes has taken little time in drawing eager praise. Its potent diversity means some tracks more forcibly connected with personal tastes than others but from start to finish it is one compelling exploration easy to hear why it has lured strong attention.

The album opens up with Robot Rape, metallic sounds immediately surrounding the senses as whispers in the dark outskirts of the piece share their paranoia. Samples and infectious rhythms soon join the enticement, varied vocal eruptions and a pulsating throb in tow as Sparks begin infesting the imagination in word, tone, and sound. It is an enthralling start which leads into the magnificent theatre of Walk The Long Way Home. Again bold ideas collude with a whiff of insanity as they lead the listener into a sinister noir lit drama of intent and emotion. Nagging and virulent in its catchiness, the track is like a bedlam bound Brian Brain (aka Martin Atkins of PIL, Nine Inch Nails, and Killing Joke fame), a contagious infestation of ears and psyche from repetitious invention and nagging imagination. It is off kilter, bordering deranged, and inescapably irresistible as waves of intensity and psychosis engulf the listener.

The Ants! follows sharing everyday observation in alignment with broader dangers. It sweeps over the senses with again heavily pulsing rhythms and electronic shadows suggestively courting thoughts as much as the intimacy of the vocal and guitar melody. Its low key but involving presence makes way for the pop toned exploits of Confetti Crowns, a song which was one of those not quite igniting ears and imagination as much as those encounters around it. Musically and in songwriting, the song does little wrong yet feels like it is there to provide an accessible doorway and infectious invitation into the real and challenging heart of the album where for us the major excitements lie. Nevertheless, the song does please before the Aphex Twin meets The Cure like Ugly Flower and the scuzzy neurosis of Fingered At The Disco steal their share of attention. The first is a shadow thick serenade of sorts whilst its successor again has a tinge of Brian Brain alongside essences hinting at the likes of Fad Gadget, Pere Ubu, and Wire. It is a glorious and disturbing slice of rhythmic dementia and sonic aberration matched in creativity and emotion by Spark’s schizophrenic vocal delivery.

The melancholy soaked embrace Birth (Goodbye Roggar) offers a collage of flavours and samples next, reminding a touch of Cardiff producer Conformist as it flows like melodic mist through ears with whirls of creative and emotional disturbance interrupting its tempestuous calm while This Is God! induces smiles and glances over the shoulder as the introspective story of death bound life comes with the nag of throbbing rhythms, repetition fuelled melodic temptation, and the stable reflection of its provocateur. Another pinnacle of the release, the track bewitches before Sparks infests the classic (Don’t Fear) The Reaper with his own haunting and acoustic imagination to fine effect.

Skip Rope Rhymes concludes with firstly the creative delirium of At Daggers Drawn, a song which absorbs ears in its society bred dementia and finally the invasive yet solemnly beauteous darkness Extinction Song. Both tracks ignite ears and imagination while challenging each, a quality which infests and shapes the whole of Skip Rope Rhymes in varying ways.

Only listening to Skip Rope Rhymes does it true justice though words like ours, as with Confetti Crowns, hopefully become an enticement to want to leap into the dark and thrilling realms of Spaztic Robot; the rewards are swiftly evident for those that do.

Skip Rope Rhymes is out now across most online stores.

http://www.spazticrobot.com/   https://www.facebook.com/spazticrobot   https://twitter.com/robbiesparks

Pete RingMaster 08/09/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Calling All Astronauts – Anti-Social Network

Calling All Astronauts Promo Picture_RingMasterReview

It is easy to have an on-going appetite for a band but not always as simple to keep the fervour of the enthusiasm for their work burning just as brightly, especially as they evolve and move away from the things which first beguiled ears and imagination. With British electro rockers Calling All Astronauts no such problem has existed to date; with each release as they have grown and experimented, they seem to have sparked even more vivacious praise and greed; a success which will only continue with their new album Anti-Social Network.

The eleven track incitement is the CAA sound at its most rounded and mature yet and equally at its most adventurous and diverse. Recently talking about Anti-Social Network, band vocalist and album producer David Bury revealed, “We wanted to make an album we would buy ourselves, that pays homage to our heroes and many influences whilst still sounding like us. I think we’ve just about got there” Get there they did with tracks with harken back to seventies/eighties gothic and electro pop influences whilst uncaging a modern snarl of rock ‘n’ roll with a political and emotional bite as forceful as the virulence which ensures feet and hips are as eager and voracious as ears.

The successor to heavily acclaimed debut album Post Modern Conspiracy, and in turn the singles and EP which followed it, the band’s eagerly awaited second album is the outcome of “20 months of insane creativity that saw the guys locked in their studio for days on end as they wrote, engineered and produced an album that stretched their creativity like never before.” Straight away it makes a potent impact, Living the Dream bringing the album to ears with a poppy yet shadow kissed invitation. Within it, the dark bass lure cast by Paul McCrudden almost prowls ears as a melodic and infectious swing brightly entices around the distinctive stony vocals of Bury. Feet are tapping within the first round of electronic beats whilst hips soon get involved with J Browning’s spicy grooves, the body seduced by the lively contagion which is slightly reminiscent of bands like Modern English and B-Movie.

art_RingMasterReviewIt is a great start quickly eclipsed by the even more addictive Empire. Released as a greedily devoured single towards the end of last year, it immediately runs its tempting fingers across the senses with the moody bait of McCrudden bass and the mouth-watering hooks of Browning, all within an equally captivating electronic climate. Punkish with an alluring irritability to its twists and a scent of aggravation to Bury’s expressive vocals, Empire beguiles body and thoughts, inciting thick involvement from each before making way for the spiky electro punk defiance of Time to Fight Back. With the additional agitated tenacity to spark any dance-floor, the song has the body bouncing as emotions raise a middle-finger to surrounding ills, a touch of Sigue Sigue Sputnik meets Pop Will Eat Itself doing its successful persuasion no harm.

The already familiar Hands Up Who Wants To Die? is the provider of more energetic and contagious exploits, ripe hooks and flaming guitar enterprise lighting ears as rhythms back the punch of vocals and words with skittish boisterousness. It too has an imposing charm and vivacious resourcefulness hard to resist, as too Life as We Know It which follows with a mellower but no less fascinating and arresting romancing of hips and ears. CAA might take swipes at establishments and worldly corruptions but barely a song goes by without the trio leading the listener into physical collusion with its inescapable dance-ability.

Through the heavier air and rock ‘n’ roll of The American Dream, a track which gives a hint to what Iggy Pop would sound like it he went down the electro/industrial route, and the fiery God Is Dead with its bubbly scathing, attention and thick enjoyment is again firmly taken care of, even if neither quite live up to those before them, whilst Always Be True hugs ears with a synth pop laced reflection. It too might miss the last spark of other tracks for our ears but with Bury adding a great Tom Waits like texture to his enticing tones as the electronic atmospherics of the song come loaded with their own suggestiveness, the Fad Gadget tinged track is a compelling and increasingly potent proposal.

The outstanding Look in Your Eye has ardour blazing again with its conspicuous gothic punk and post punk imagination. Touches of bands like Play Dead and March Violets emerge across the thrilling encounter, but as everywhere, familiar essences and textures are mere strands in something unmistakably Calling All Astronauts. As mentioned earlier, the band wanted to pay homage to their inspirations without losing their own individuality, this track on its own proving their success.

Anti-Social Network is completed by firstly the predacious and again insatiably alluring Black World where a Sister Of Mercy/The Mission like courtship of ears and imagination instantly beguiles and only becomes more intoxicating over time. Finally the band unleashes Divisive upon the passions; its attitude loaded presence spawned from electro punk/metal irritability and infested with devious and rebellious strains of funk and electronic devilment.

It is a mighty close to another powerful and galvanic release from Calling all Astronauts, and the sign that the band is ready to step out of the underground scene and stir up the biggest attention.

Anti-Social Network is released March 11th via Supersonic Media across most online stores.

http://www.callingallastronauts.com   https://www.facebook.com/CallingAllAstronauts/    https://twitter.com/CAA_Official

Pete RingMaster 11/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Karel Fialka – Peace v War (featuring Racecar)

Photo by Mike Ross

Photo by Mike Ross

A name from the past returning to stir up ears again with a new album is Karel Fialka, a man who became a potent part of electro pop in the eighties. In reality, Fialka has never truly been away, continuing to write and record with other bands and artists as well as being a well-respected and sought after artist on the production side of things. Mention his name though and certainly our thoughts, as a great many it seems, refer to eighties tracks such as The Eyes Have It and Hey Matthew as our last major memories. That is set to change though with the release of Peace v War, a set of songs created in collaboration with Racecar which simply and increasingly captivate.

Emerging around 1978, Fialka first drew attention with 7” single Armband, a song destined to become a cult classic. The Eyes Have It saw strong radio attention and further acclaim a year later, with the album it came from, Still Life an equally well-received offering spawning further eagerly received singles. Continuing to be an active songwriter with many of his tracks covered by numerous artists, it was not until 1987 with the release of the single Hey Matthew on Miles Copeland’s I.R.S. Records that Fialka hit the charts for his biggest success. Second album Human Animal grabbed attention the following year though fans had to wait almost a decade for its 2009 successor, Film Noir. It has been though, a host of years in regard to Fialka which has slipped us, again as others, personally by, which is why the pleasant surprise when being sent over the promo for Peace v War.

art_RingMaster ReviewWritten and recorded with the Racecar, which is Kevin McGowan and Richard Rogers, Peace v War is set to be a release casting Fialka back into the ears and radar of that great many. It is a lyrically sharp and emotionally irritable collection of songs looking at themes which are impacting on the modern world such as war, hunger, inequality, political chicanery and media manipulation. Musically though, it is a flavoursome maze of tracks which are as catchy and bright as their narratives are biting and dark.

Released only digitally and on 12″ vinyl which comes wrapped in a cover designed by Grammy Design Award nominee Mike Ross, you will excuse us if we look at Peace v War in the track order of the promo sent to us rather than what seems to be the different placing of songs on certainly the vinyl version, though both start with the excellent Political Animal. It is a song which saunters in with a mellow air and a smiling melodic coaxing though more inflamed grooves soon add to the still restrained but simultaneously catchy and sombre encounter. Led by the dark accusing tones of Fialka, there is a Fad Gadget air and texturing to the guitar shaped song which only adds to its urgent appeal, that and the easy to join chorus with its crowd of female led vocal infectiousness.

Variety is a soon show as another open hue to the album, Scratch The Surface for example nudging up to ears and appetite with its reggae seeded riffs and swagger which brings a scent not too removed from The Clash, even as keys lay their evocative ambience around the magnetic lure of rhythms and guitar which shows a great line in discord at times. That diversity continues as the likes of White Gold In The Aral Sea, with its even darker tone laced with Ruts spiced predation and emotive piano expression, and the exotically woven Synthetic Sin share their unique characters and fascinating landscapes. The first of the two is soaked in a brooding that infests the imagination but is swiftly eclipsed by the second and best track on the album. With a potent blend of vocals from the band and mystique hued melodies which hauntingly wind around the addictive sway and virulence of the song, it simply has ears and appetite eating out of its creative hands.

A bluesy air colludes with electronic resourcefulness in Calvary, a song which from a strong start just seems to blossom in weight and colour with each of its alluring four plus minutes whilst Listen To The World explores a vocal and melodic intimacy which nicely contrasts the broader themes and bodies of the songs around it, though its seeds lead to its own expansive look at the world. Vibrant rhythms make a smart temper to the slower tonal exploration of the track, but uniting to be part of another deceptively catchy encounter. That infectious energy is keen a part and parcel of most of Peace v War as shown again by the pop funk saunter of What Are You Gonna Do?, where a whisper of Heaven 17 emerges in its livelier chorus to again contrast and blend with a more solemn breath.

Our version of the album closes with two evocative instrumentals in the piano bred I Rode That Tide With The Starry-Eyed and the melodic dissonance of Obsession which in the vinyl’s line-up of songs provides a potent interlude mid-way.

Whichever order of the songs, there is no lack of thorough enjoyment found within Peace v War, all three musicians and songwriters creating songs which stimulate and pleasure the senses in equal measure. It is not quite right to say that Karel Fialka is back, he has never really been away, but certainly he with Racecar is set to be the focus of good attention again.

Peace v War is released digitally and on 12” vinyl via PVW Records on February 26th through most stores or directly through Cadiz Music Ltd @ http://www.cadizmusic.com/2007/index.php?location=/web/Search/karel%20fialka

https://www.facebook.com/fialkakarel   http://karelfialka.com/

Pete RingMaster 25/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Practical Lovers – Agony

 

Practical Lovers_RingMaster Review

Glorious is the only word for Agony, the debut album from UK synth pop duo Practical Lovers. It might be soaked in melancholy, be the outpouring of frustration and torment bred by lost and unrequited love, but the album is simply a majestic tapestry of skilfully cultured shadows and the beauty lying within all emotions.

The band is the union of singer songwriter Jack Wiles and his long-term musical partner Mark Connell. Originally it was intended as a solo project for Wiles with a collection of songs written “in an attempt to vent some of his frustrations with love in the 21st Century.” After introducing the idea and songs to Connell, the pair creatively united and stepped forwards as Practical Lovers, this around late 2010. The band signed with Nottingham based label I’m Not From London Records the following year, releasing a couple of singles over the next three whilst earning a rich reputation for their live performances. Now they unveil their eagerly awaited debut album, a stirring incitement of vintage synths and analogue drum machines bound in nostalgic radiance, heavy and seductive emotions, and compelling enterprise.

artwork_RingMaster Review    Every track within Agony is a love song; the dark side of and fallout from inspired explorations for sure, but all seeded in love. They come with an intimacy which feels like they are echoes of their creator’s heart and experiences and makes it easy to emotionally connect with, whilst each is presented within sounds which are as infectious and hopeful as they are similarly solemn to their lyrical pleas. From the opener band and release has ears and imagination chained, and emotions basking in the pleasure given.

Put It Bluntly tempts ears with a few dark pulses of synths whilst brewing a more feisty lure in the background, that swiftly coming forward and blossoming on the strains of a deliciously grouchy bassline. The inescapable enticement of Wiles’ wonderful dour lined and magnetic tones soon adds another rich texture and hue to the already invasively infectious encounter. That element of nostalgia is often eighties spawned and here on offer is a Paul Haig meets New Order coaxing with a touch of Interpol to it, a mixture only adding to the thrilling virulence of the song.

The following Never Again brings some fiery guitar to ears, the fizzy texture invitingly colluding with poppy synths as Wiles and Connell avail an already greedy appetite of their individual prowess. The fevered stroll does not hang around, offering a bubbly simmer over two minutes of inimitable bait before Inside Job provides another diverse and fiercely captivating string to the bow of Agony. Like The The in league with The Smiths, with Wiles vocally as throughout the album creating a vocal presence somewhere between Morrissey and Ian Curtis, the song is a plaintive serenade, a vibrant croon which whips up ears and emotion within seconds and increasingly involves the listener with every passing second.

A similar hue glows within Full of You next, though the track again reveals a distinct character of its own as synths smoulder and caress with emotive expression. The mix of vocals, presumably from the two artists, adds another riveting texture, though it is Wiles and the Smiths blessed earthy elegance that seals the deal between lustful ears and song, an ardour just as eagerly given to the Joy Division coated Nobody There which follows and straight after that the post punk scented brilliance of The Work Around. Hints of Blancmange and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark emerge from within the outstanding track, and in many ways, having seen OMD live in their first days, there is a definite resemblance between the bands if not exactly in overall sound.

No Reply slips into the dark corners of its emotive heart next, that Joy Division suggestion again an easy offer as the track morosely yet enticingly prowls ears before its big success is eclipsed by the skittish energy and devilry of Restless. Think Fad Gadget meets early The Correspondents with Editors in tow and a clue to its irresistible endeavour is close to the mark whilst for Textbook Romance maybe John Foxx era Ultravox and early Cure is a good hint. To be honest, for all the references sparked, each track is a thrilling proposal unique to Practical Lovers, just enhanced by a great weave of recognisable colours, whilst the second of this pair also unveil its warm party on the senses with a hopefulness arguably not explored as fully elsewhere.

The album closes off with firstly the insatiable contagion of Falling Down and finally the melancholic serenade of Grave of Romance, a song impressing initially and just seducing the passions to greater effect over time. Both also provide another aspect to the multi-faceted sound of Agony, an album which is blossomed from some of the harshest and deepest felt emotions possible but is anything but agony to listen to.

Practical Lovers is one of the finds for our ears of 2015 and Agony one of its most thrilling and invigorating releases.

Agony is released November 27th digitally and on limited edition cassette tape through I’m Not From London Records @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/agony/id1051440048

https://www.facebook.com/Practicallovers

Pete RingMaster 27/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Defeat – You Know What You Are EP

Defeat pic

And so it continues, the emotion twisting sounds of Defeat have returned to voraciously crawl through ears and into the psyche. The UK duo have already increasingly trespassed into and seduced the senses through their previous encounters, each bringing evolution to their music and breaching new creative plateaus whilst suggesting there is more to come. The band’s new EP, You Know What You Are, is the realisation of much of this promise yet in turn it gives the feeling that they have still come nowhere to exhausting their potential, even though it sets the loftiest marker yet for the band in sound and invention.

Hertfordshire hailing union consists of vocalist Anthony Matthews and the master of synthetics Gary Walker, two school friends who have continually played together through previous guises from those days onwards. Each exploit has been a stepping stone to Defeat, and the breeding of a sound inspired by the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, NIN, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, and Skinny Puppy. As Defeat, the pair swiftly lit attention with the release of their Outbursts! EP in 2012. Its emergence around a year after Matthews and Walker were truly able to concentrate on Defeat, lured an increasingly number of eager ears and appetites, backed by a subsequent remix EP entitled simply Defeat Remixed. It was debut album [Seek Help] in 2013 that pushed the band most forcibly onto the European EBM/ electro-industrial map though with its raw and magnetic atmospheres around angst soaked explorations. It was challenging and infectious, a fusion of dark climates and virulent electro pop digging now taken to even more experimental and striking depths with You Know What You Are. There is still that expected and inescapable catchiness, each track whipping up vivacious energies and anthemic temptation but equally they devour the most imposing and darkest corners of emotion and life.

YKWYA_cover     The EP opens with Want and instantly has ears intrigued and hungry as pulsating bassy electronics rap on the senses before being joined by a fiery melodic coaxing, It is a restrained but pungent start, rhythms quickly building up a head of intent and steam leading to a purposeful stride where the always expressive tones of Matthews invite and provoke. His delivery is part monotone, part dour, and all thick persuasion, the perfect temper and compliment to the bubbling electronic tenacity and haunting shadows respectively. As with previous encounters, the band’s sound stirs up welcome thoughts of Fad Gadget, the fusion of light and dark, invasive tempting and compelling contagion similar as Defeat sculpt their own unique incitement of dark pop.

The following Twist is just as dynamically gripping and texture entwining. Theatrical, gothic kissed keys spark the imagination first, the lure never relinquishing attention as a more caustic electro breeze joins the play. In no time the song is sauntering along with thickly jabbing beats, fizzy electronic tempting, and the narrative shaping delivery of Matthews. Things only blossom further as Walker infuses a great blistering of guitar, its presence adding to the sinister ambience evoked and fuelling the encounter. As its predecessor, there are moments of clear pop within the hazy almost portentous embrace of the track, those enticements boldly seeded in the eighties electro/synth pop which has also been a ripe influence on the band’s sound and songwriting.

Resist comes next and dares you to comply with its title, but to no avail as a Numan-esque smog wraps ears first before volatile electro sounds and rhythms rigorously simmer in an expanding provocative landscape of sour melodic tension and vocal prowling. There is always drama to the sound and narratives of Defeat, but possibly this song is their most incendiary on ears and imagination yet, thoughts especially running with its rich persuasion to create their own dark exploits alongside that of the song. It is a transfixing proposition matched by the outstanding Attention Seeker. This is a predator of a track, every beat carrying menace and each syllable a spiteful leer whilst synths cast a web of diverse colour and enterprise; even its addictive swing and spicy melodies seem to have a carnivorous grin to their tenacity.

The song is an invigorating and intoxicating anthem contrasted impressively by the next up Care For Me, a track uniquely individual but a match in magnetism and invention. Whereas Attention Seeker was open in its antagonistic charm, its successor embroils itself in another intriguing imposing caress of sound and reflective exploration. Spatial melodies seep from keys whilst guitars bring a raw fiery texture to the immersive croon, and within it all Matthews slowly releases deep rooted angst and emotional torment in the dark intimate tale.

The industrial air of Goodbye is an early hook which only thickens its bait as the song and vocals create an aural dystopia within an increasingly more rugged and inflammatory infection soaked stomp. It forces its dance upon feet and emotions, chaining their submissive enlistment into its ferocious staging of riveting sound and menacing intent. The track is a pulsating gem, at its heart pure slice of rock ‘n’ roll and in its increasingly psychotic character, pure inventive, belligerent devilry.

You Know What You Are is completed by a quartet of mixes, Ruinizer bringing the Bye Motherfucker Bye Mix of Goodbye, Paresis offering the Blackened Mix of Want, and Cease2Xist casting their Self Loathing Mix of How Pathetic, a track from the band’s Outbursts! EP. The cream of an enjoyable quartet though is the Shaken Not Stirred Mix by X-KiN of Twist, which features the exceptional vocals of Veronick. It is a gloriously fresh slant on the song with the lady’s voice enthralling as it takes centre stage.

Defeat have returned with yet another impressive step in their songwriting and sound whilst, as suggested earlier, implying that there is plenty more still to be unearthed in their imaginations and creativity. So whilst enjoyment boils over with You Know What You Are, anticipation is already on the rise again.

The You Know What You Are EP is available now digitally and on CD @ https://defeatmusic.bandcamp.com/album/you-know-what-you-are

https://www.facebook.com/Defeatmusic     http://www.defeatmusic.com/

RingMaster 23/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

The Department – Alpha

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Like an A-Z of synth and electro pop bred in a parallel universe, the debut album from Swedish/British synthwave band The Department is one of those introductions which simply absorbs attention. A feisty mix of nostalgia and fresh imagination with a perpetually virulent infectiousness, Alpha blossoms with familiarity and new invention, embracing past decades whilst opening up new adventures. Two years in the making it is mostly though, one fascinating and exciting proposition leaving ears and pleasure with seriously greedy appetites.

The Department is the creative project of Londoner Rob Green (vocals / synth), who used to make progressive house records in the mid-nineties under several monikers, and Gothenburg musician Magnus Lindström (synth) who also plays in Swedish electro band called Mr. Jones Machine. United as The Department in 2012, the pair has since played with the likes of Naked Lunch, The Woodentops, Ekkoes, and Kids On Bridges, and at such venues as Romo Night club in Sweden, the 100 Club, Analogue Nights, The Hope & Anchor, and The Macbeth, all to increasing attention and acclaim. As mentioned they have spent the past two years working on Alpha, a release which in return immediately thrusts the duo into the full gaze and frontline of modern electro rock and pop.

From the first embrace of opener Don’t Give Up, the band’s album is a revolving kaleidoscope of recognisable sounds and flavours crafted into original and bracing exploits. Song one makes a slow and suggestive entrance as electronic percussive coaxing brings a slightly portentous feeling to the immersive and stark breeze of the synths. As their presence and melodic expression expands, so does a warmer underbelly to the emerging song, spreading and intensifying with every passing melody and hook. Not only musically but also through the Dave Gahan like vocals of Green, there is no escaping the Depeche Mode essences flirting from within the melancholic yet vibrant landscape the song. It is a transfixing spice embraced by the expressive and evocative imagination of The Department.

The potent start to the album is straight away reinforced by both Take My Hand and Glass Houses, the first of the two opening with chilled synthesiser minimalism reminding of The Normal. Its industrial lilt leads to broader endeavour and a breath of early Human League to tempt the imagination, and if you had to pick any general if loose reference to describe Alpha, the late seventies era of the Sheffield band alongside Fad Gadget would be our choices. The song itself is a wonderfully small yet again busily lively encounter, sparking in ears and the imagination with its gentle revelry whilst its successor provides a more anthemic pulsing and melodic catchiness which offers hints of the synth pop days of Al Jourgensen and Ministry. It too remains a restrained and reserved romp of energy yet has plenty to urge feet into action, and at barely two and a half minutes long, is one sublime slice of synth pop.

16470_584444331690660_2953593570011598044_n  Come Inside has a great steely twang to its opening rhythms and opening hook, their union making for a compelling lead into another minimalist terrain as pungent and provocative as any full-blooded sonic rampage. Infection loaded, a given with every track upon Alpha, the song has a swing to its body and energy to its melodies which is almost Heaven 17 like, a whisper backed by the equally catchy essence of Green’s vocals.

The album’s debut single As If Transformed comes next, a captivation of cyber drama driven by effect wrapped vocals, sonic niggling, and a fuzzy bluster of electro wind around an endearing weave of melodies. The repetitive nature of lyrics and sound only adds to the theatre and shadowed heart of the encounter, an emotional edge which definitely has a Frank Tovey like exploration to them. Its dark fascination is mesmeric but instantly outshone by the tenacious beauty and vibrancy of Days Of Liberty, a song on an addictive rhythmic march whilst draped in just as irresistible and vivacious melodic radiance. It is pure addiction with NEXT SINGLE all over it.

Through the cooler air and emotion of Not For You and the wonderfully sinister seduction of Skin Vultures, the album’s magnetism is only compounded. The first of the pair provides a mellower tone and smoother flow to its presence compared to the previous song, with synths gliding over the senses as the baser elements of the track pulsate with heavy emotion and suggestiveness matched by Green’s equally expressive tones. The second of the two is seeded with a Fad Gadget like provocative drama, every slither of electronic bait and melodic entangling of ears, offering new avenues of reflective and emotive exploration. It is a dark caress of a song but again magnetically loaded with bewitching echoes and touches of warmth and captivating light.

The enchanting beauty and shadowed emotion of Slow Down keep thoughts and emotions gripped next, its elegant sonic poetry followed by the just as finely textured and enthralling Let It Go. It too opens its heart with a merger of light and dark, continuing the personal and musical intimacy which veins the whole album and arguably finds the most dramatic and traumatic depths within The Waiting Room. There is a thick Martin Gore feel to the songwriting and voice of the song; it’s haunted dark tones a seemingly volatile yet firmly bound incitement within the inescapable threads of melodic temptation lighting the gripping encounter. The track is gorgeous, a croon come dark serenade earning its place as the pinnacle of the album and as the most immersive and incendiary proposal for ears and imagination.

Even The Sun offers a potent and pleasing encounter next, though after the last song it is a paler incitement through no real fault of its own. It still feeds appetite and satisfaction nicely before The Gothenburg Reprise Remix of As If Transformed brings the album to a close. Anticipation for Alpha from fans has been eager and no one has been left short in pleasure and enjoyment by the outstanding release. The Department had some big expectations to live up to but they surpassed those with ease whilst giving us all a very welcome dose of nostalgia.

Alpha is available from March 27th via Hard Cell Records, digitally and on CD @ https://hardcellrecords.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.thedepartment-official.com/   https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Department/248106308657799

RingMaster 26/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

Strange Nocturnal – Best Of Strange Nocturnal

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Listening to the sounds of UK goth rock band Strange Nocturnal is like aurally exploring the pages of classic visual incitements like The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, and House of Mystery. As shown by their new release though, their sound and drama comes with a just as rich industrial, metal, and horror punk flavouring to produce dark tales with a voracious snarl and ferocity bred from the visceral climate of the modern world. A collection of tracks released between 2009 and 2011, Best Of Strange Nocturnal is a full adventure for the senses and imagination, and it gives ears a pretty good time too.

Strange Nocturnal is the brainchild and originally solo project of Cumbrian musician/composer/producer Strange Nocturnal. From 2011 the band become full line-up wise and swiftly unleashed their debut album Party With The Dead. A host of varied releases have haunted the psyche since, the acoustically driven Halloween Is Never Really Over, the cinematic and dark ambient instrumental exploits of Undead Decadence, and the abrasing exploration of Cumbrian Gothic some open examples of the diversity within the world of Strange Nocturnal. Released via Undead Artists, Best of… teases and seduces, haunts and violates senses and thoughts to provide a macabre blood strewn soundscape.

This Halloween starts the adventure off, its immediately sinister air drawing the listener into a melodically gothic embrace wrapped in lurking and menacing shadows. Extending its intimidating arms soon after, the track grows into a light exhausting stalking of the senses, its hungry presence at ease whether prowling or charging through ears. There is a Tim Burton meets Rob Zombie meets Godflesh feel to the track, its crunchy textures offset by the siren-esque tones of female crafted harmonies.

The captivating start is continued by There Are Ghouls and Ghost’s, a sample of Vincent Price the gateway into an infectious stroll which in turn builds into a fiery turbulence. The vocals of Strange Nocturnal as in the first and subsequent tracks, come clad in smoggy effect but with plenty of room for a variation to show its lures. White Zombie like in many ways but also holding a great essence of Fad Gadget to its bracing charm, the song swings with a rhythmic revelry which infects grooves and melodies. The increasingly contagious blaze is followed by the addictive stalking of Curse of the Werewolf. Again there is an infectious bait at the heart of the song which makes its rhythmic and spicy hooks irresistible whilst around them the air is tempestuous and coarsely hazy, a fuzzy causticity which at times also ignites the potent vocals. Thoughts of The Shanklin Freak Show emerge as the song radiates its temptation and proceeds to prowl with diversely flavoured mystical spicery.

The Undead March instantly has ears and emotions hooked next, its great repetitive striding the first lure in an addictive predation. Vocals are once more wrapped in an insidious effect but undiluted in the virulence of their lead to and part of the full seduction of the song. Holding a whiff of Ministry to its irrepressible persuasion, the track is ridiculously compelling, something the musty metallic tones of The Bitch Was a Witch cannot quite match but with its serpentine breath and smoggy textures, the song makes the most of its moment to tantalise ears. For personal tastes the vocals are over immersed in the oppressive intensity of the music, a small thing which could be raised a few times across the band’s sound in general, but it easily has appetite keen and ready for the next up Fancy Death Party. Fuelled with a great blues winery with southern rock kissed harmonica, the song is another with a devilish swagger to its gait and magnetic toxicity to its sound.

The dark crawl and insidious temptation of She’s My Graveyard Ghoul-Friend has the imagination walking a toxic romance whilst Without Your Head provides a deranged maelstrom of emotion and voices within industrial filtered gothic metal corrosiveness. Though neither lives up to the biggest pinnacles of the collection, each with an underlying catchiness and adventurous climate has ears and thoughts fully engaged before the tempestuous slow waltz of Party With the Dead takes over. The song is a temptress with mercury running through its veins and demonic elegance soaking every melody and harmony on a bed of dark rhythms and imposing intensity lorded over by Strange Nocturnal’s satanic vocals.

The album is completed by the rasping Luciferian tones of Loving You From Beyond This Grave, the track Poe-esque in its dark radiance and fiendish in its industrial/noise sculpted causticity, and lastly The Crow’s Are Calling. The closing track has a devilry and mischievous tempting to its frequently shifting enterprise, an enslaving devilment which could be described as Doctors of Madness and Zombina And The Skeletones being violated by the raw ferocity of Young Gods.

Though there are understandably favourites which stand out and an ebbing and flowing of potency across songs, all tracks across Best Of…provide an enthralling and dramatic glimpse into the creative tempest of Strange Nocturnal, band and artist. The thoroughly enjoyable album is inspired by the darkest corners and emotions with the potential and a black seduction which could ignite the brightest fires in the imagination or spark the worst rapacity in your nightmares.

Best Of Strange Nocturnal is available now via Undead Artists @ http://strangenocturnal.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-strange-nocturnal

https://www.facebook.com/thestrangenocturnalband

RingMaster 03/12/2014

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