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Rock: Life of Riley, Rennick, Scarecrew, the Synthetic Dream Foundation

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LIFE OF RILEY: Days Away from Life (CD on Kikstart Records)

This release from 2006 offers 42 minutes of engaging rock.

Life of Riley is: Cassidy Campbell on vocals, Brice Campbell and Barry Oschner on guitars, and Joel Killingsworth on drums.

Dual guitars imbue this music with gripping and enthralling qualities that do not disappoint. The riffs are slippery and strong, steeped in hardrock sensibilities yet tempered with loving delivery that caresses the audience with thoughtful fashion. Grinding solos clutch the soul, twisting the muscles with each successive pinnacle. Serpentine progressions lead the audience through panoramas of delightful melody.

The vocals are rich and delicately demonstrative, utilizing commercial strains to excellent effect. Whether crooned or screeched, the lyrics strike familiar chords with middle America, delineating love and loss with equal impartiality. The conveyed emotion is invariably one of optimism and achievement.

The percussion, complex and driving, propels these tunes with a vigorous fervor. The rhythms are hypnotic and compelling, robustly supporting each song with passionate impacts.

This tuneage is easily comparable to a sultry shade of accessible metal.

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RENNICK: To the Skies (CD on Rennick Music)

This release from 2006 offers 40 minutes of dreamy gothic rock.

Most of the tracks explore a soft sound with strummed acoustic guitar chords melting into an atmospheric fog of endearing electronics. Keyboards generate sweeps of romantic timbre that infuse the music with a glistening allure. Delicate harmonics contribute a mystical edge to the melodies. The percussion adopts a languid mien, punctuating the mix with impacts of pensive quality.

Celestial harmonics provide a haunting backdrop for a bevy of sweeping electronics. At times, growling guitar lurks in the mix like a hungry beast, delivering a carnivorous undercurrent to the tunes.

Rennick's vocals are dreamy with an eerie touch, caressing the ears with the charm of a seductive siren. His lyrics deal with love and life, searching for optimism in a dark world.

The compositions are tender and delightful, feathery and appealing. Even the dreamy tunes possess a vibrant power that seethes with contagious influence. The music's heavenly intentions produces a sinuous temperament that is mesmerizing as well as uplifting.

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SCARECREW: Magical Mind (limited edition CD on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2006 offers 41 minutes of primal Krautrock recorded back in 1975.

Scarecrew is: John L(iving) (on vocals, jewharp, gong and percussion), Marty (on vocals and bass), Steve A(quarian) (aka Steve Schroyder who played with Tangerine Dream) (on minimoog and organ), Ramamurti Gresbek (on synthesizer and percussion), Raffael Schulz (on guitar and percussion), and Gene Gross (on guitar), with guests Chris Eller and Thomas (on guitar).

Astral tones and moody organ establish a very raw sound as a variety of percussion lend knickering and abstract rhythms. Eccentric electronics pulsate and swoop through the mix, creating a very spacey atmosphere that is seasoned by hesitant guitar and almost subliminal bass. Sometimes the guitars are noodling without much drive, and other times the strumming is urgent and trancey.

The percussion doesn't so much provide rhythms as it contributes erratically rattling beats which bestows the tunes with a dreamy mien.

Vocals wander with a wayward nature, enhancing the freeform demeanor of the music.

Most of the tracks are 3 or 4 minutes long, but a 10 minute piece displays the band's extended trance inclinations with turgidly choppy guitar licks and metronomic tempos and celestial crooning, all building in density and intensity to a synth-laden crescendo.

These compositions exhibit a raw improvisation flavor, reminiscent of the type of jams produced by hippies during Europe's early Krautrock years. Melody is present, but the musicians are more intent on flowing experimentation, generating streams of musical consciousness.

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THE SYNTHETIC DREAM FOUNDATION: Tendrils of Pretty (CDR on Mythical Records)

This release from 2006 offers 51 minutes of tasty industrial goth.

Harsh e-perc blends with industrial electronics. Growling noises mix with sounds of intentional angst to produce melodies of disturbing character laced with a sense of insistence. Waves of synthetic resonance cascade with corrosive effect, melting the flow and making everything run together in a turgid stream. Pulsations are harnessed to augment the percussives, lending the rhythms a dangerously fuzzy demeanor. Bass tones thunder with monstrous vigor while a plethora of novel effects gnaw at the tunes' periphery.

Although some of the songs are sedate (often with spooky inclinations), the pace is generally frenetic with these pieces. A techno sentiment has been contaminated by industrial disposition which results in a gritty but shiny dose of appealing tuneage. Determined beats generate an emphatic gravity that is excellently supported by the dense electronics.

Urgent female vocals provide an operatic feeling that often strays into celestial terrain as the voice rings from on high. Haunting choral touches bestow a haunting quality to the music.

The compositions are serious and dire with a tendency toward the dark side that is more foreboding than nightmarish. Imagine a combination of Dead Can Dance with Nine Inch Nails.

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