•  •  •

DARK MATTER: Seeing Strange Lights (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

This is not hyper electronic music; this is densely brooding ambience with a distinct intensity and bite. A percussive presence invigorates the astral atmospheric, but this 76 minute CD is mainly electronic in nature with frequent backward sounds and wailing screeches. The result is truly cosmic with the haunting aura of cold emotion.

Melodic and dark--a wonderful soundtrack if you ever get marooned in lunar orbit.

Dark Matter is Helios Creed (ex-Chrome).

Highly recommended.

•  •  •

ALAN DAVEY: Captured Rotation (UK import on Emergency Broadcasting System).

This solo outing by Hawkwind's (now) ex-bassist is quite superb and full of energetic space rock. Davey does all the instruments himself in fine form and slick execution (with guest vocalist Ron Tree on three tracks). Eight of the remaining nine tracks are sans vocals: instrumental excursions into deep space and astral lights. Solid compositions result in superior music in the extreme.

Naturally, there's a Hawkwind flair to the music (completely to be expected), but the songs display a brewing individuality, Davey's own spin (or rotation) on a traditional space rock motif. His spin is very tasty too.

This CD might be difficult to find (for some mysterious reason, EMS releases have a hard time getting over Stateside), but it's highly worth the search.

•  •  •

MATTHEW G. DAVIDSON: Blue Forest Mass (CD on Stretta, 10 Benning Street #240, West Lebannon, NH 03784).

Utilizing a fascination for church chants in Latin is only one of the odd elements that add charm to Davidson's take on soft instrumental electronic music. Start with a basic Steve Roach ambience and inject uptempo E-perc to the drifting synthi textures. Now roll in those quasi-Dominican monk chants. Softly now, don't disrupt the passive struggle between ambience and rhythm. Some snarling guitar every once in a while. Yes, a nice fusion touch. And the way quirky weirdness enters into the melodies every so often--definitely the laudible effect. To be honest, there are lots or instruments synthesized in the construction of this music on this 52 minute disc: piano, church bells, even an orchestra.

This is one of the more interesting examples of "new age" music I've heard in a long time.

•  •  •

MILES DAVIS: Panthalassa: the Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974 (CD on Columbia Records in USA).

This 60 minute CD features previously released material...what's the hoo-hah? The music is reconstructed and mix translated by Bill Laswell!
Excellent choice of material (including "In a Silent Way", "Agharta" and "Rated X") and superb mix, melding the pieces into new structures built out of superimposed rhythms. Intricate percussives, guitar wail, fusion bass, melting keyboards--all dominated by Davis' piercing trumpet. Davis' compositions were wonderful to begin with, but once they've gone through Laswell's nimble mixboard they explode with even more zip and awe.

•  •  • 

DEAD VOICES ON AIR: New Words Machine (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

This is a sonic project by Mark Spybey (from Zoviet France), music in a very drifting mechano atmospheric vein. Almost atonal with extremely sedate melodies, the mood floats with ever so slightly grit teeth. Helping add the edge to the liquid space music is cEvin Key {from Skinny Puppy) on three of the six tracks. Hissing, chattering, growling, sparkling, klanking...tribal techno for the next world.

•  •  •

DELERIUM: Duende (CD EP on Nettwerk Records in USA).

This is the second EP from Delerium's "Karma" album, wherein the band filter their gothic drone through Dead Can Dance and Lilith Fair. This change in sound extends well beyond just the introduction of female vocals to the gothic electronics. "Duende" is a fair example of this mutation for Leeb and Fulber (aka Front Line Assembly). This 20 minute EP features an LP edit, and two remixes by Emily and Dreamlogic, which step up the BPMs for the dancefloor Drum and Bass crowd.

DELERIUM: Euphoric (CD EP on Third Mind Records in USA).

This is possibly the best of all Delerium releases. On this 4 track EP, Leeb and Fluber (aka Front Line Assembly) deliver a gothic take on electronic music that can only be described as "Klaus Schulze trapped in a haunted house". The EP features 4 non-LP tracks, two slowburn pieces and another pair of agro tracks.

Heavily recommended.

DELERIUM: Faces, Forms, and Illusions

DELERIUM: Morpheus

DELERIUM: Spiritual Archives

DELERIUM: Stone Tower

DELERIUM: Syrophenikan

(all CDs on Dossier Records in Germany).

Delerium's music was originally a dense gothic take on electronic instrumental music, as best exampled on these early releases. Truly Leeb and Fulber (aka Front Line Assembly) at their spookiest.

DELERIUM: Karma (CD on Nettwerk Records in USA).

Delerium's sound has always been gothic and dark. With this album, they've tweaked that sound with the presence of vocals (mostly female), resulting in a more Dead Can Dance sonic experience. The gloom has been replaced with a sort of cosmic positive awe.

There's a limited edition of this release that comes with a bonus second disc, featuring two extra tracks and extensive CD ROM material.

There is also the "Euphoria (Firefly)" CD EP (also on Nettwerk) that features two remixes by Rabbit in the Moon, which I found to be too techno oriented for this dark melody.

DELERIUM: Semantic Spaces (CD on Nettwerk Records in USA).

Delerium take yet another twist. This album is a weird blend of female vocals and a techno-ified version of their gothic edge. Less brutal perhaps, but just as damaging with its seductive drift and catacomb sensibilities. The "Flowers Become Screens" CD EP (also on Nettwerk) features 26 minutes of intense remixes.



(Both CDs on Dossier Records in Europe).

Delerium used to be an industrial gothic electronic band. With their "Spheres" album they took a drastic turn into ambient electronics; and now with "Spheres II", Delerium has dodged down yet another avenue in the electronic maze, delivering a cool dose of more uptempo electronics. The pieces are not passive, having strong dark-void intensity. There is a definite tenseness to the music that I find wholly enjoyable.

•  •  •

DANIEL DENIS: Sirius and the Ghost (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Springs, MD 20907).

Daniel Denis, the vibrating backbone of the Belgian band, Univers Zero, delivers a solo vision of similar temperment to UZ's dark landscape. The music is wraught with tension and excruciating drama. It builds and builds, tantalizing the listener with the taste of a more than blinding sonic light, then it fades with its sighing clarinets and frenetic keyboards...only to burst forth again with each subsequent song. The percussion guides everything into considerably uptempo turf, resulting in a form of chamber music known only on ancient plateaus that appear only by night. The melodies are haunted by a hint of modern jazz. An underlayer of devilish space music adds a curious twist to it all, leaving the listener exhausted should they study it too closely. (Don't turn your ears too closely to those violin strains, unless you are prepared to deal with the realization that they are actually very cunning horns--not to be confused with the Bermanesque cello, which involves altogether another twist of perception.) The compositions are solid--not just in the same vein as UZ, but an evolution of that style into a clearer sound on a grander scale. Frequently dwelling on the dark side of the line that separates the common man from pretentious art, the performances are high brow but highly entertaining if you go for that dark room spooky sound. And I do.

Highly recommended.

•  •  •

DEVIL DOLL: Eliogabalus (CD on Renaissance Records, 30 North Raymond 1212, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA).

I initially noticed DEVIL DOLL from all the brouhaha over the band in a bunch of progressive music newsletters and catalogs. The prog press all claimed Devil Doll was the hottest thing going in prog music, so I had to check them out. I'm very glad that I did. Devil Doll is suitably intense and dark, and I suspect that anyone who digs the Legendary Pink Dots will go absolutely crazy for them.

Wild vocals in a harsh, guttural sense (reminiscent of the overpunctuated diction of old horror film actors) that often tear into an electrocuted falsetto frenzy. Quite odd.

Lots of dramatic piano and energetic violin passages that explode into a sort of quasi progrock and heavy metal meld. Lots of dense percussion and blazing guitar.

Now place all of this in a very twisted perspective--the type that constantly alludes to deep madness and desperate terror. It's like a soundtrack for a Fellini/Lynch horror film.

This CD features a pair of long pieces, quite like madcap carousel rides.

DEVIL DOLL: The Girl Who Was...Death! (CD on Hurdy Gurdy Records in Italy) is a wonderful epic dedicated to the TV series "The Prisoner." Dense and quirky and quite enjoyable. Warning: this CD plays headgames with a total count of 65 minutes, the first 39 of which are the music, then there's silence until the very end for a three minute addition of a wild rendition of the Prisoner theme. Killer stuff.

DEVIL DOLL: The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms (CD on Renaissance Records, 30 North Raymond 1212, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA).

Again, a long involved tableau of madness unfolds, this time an exaggerated sense of weirdness with a faint hint of circus at the fringes. The dramatic edge is upfront with very dynamic passages throughout, lots of epic organ and hyper-guitar and huge percussives and maniacal violin and demented choir.

DEVIL DOLL: Sacrilegium (CD on Renaissance Record, 30 North Raymond 1212, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA).

This is an earlier, shorter version of "The Sacrilege of Fatal Arms".

•  •  •

DIE {b)ENGEL DES HERRN: Livel as: Hippie-Punks (CD on Captain Trip Records, 3-17-14 Minami-Kolwa, Edogawa-Ku, Tokyo, Japan).

Modern Klaus Dinger music! Live! And it includes versions of classic Neu and La Dusseldorf material! Yow! And is it intense--oh, is itl

Guitar overkill and in-yer-face drumming with angry vocals. Raw, brutal rock with an electronic razor edge. A must for Dinger lunatics.

•  •  •

DIGITAL POODLE: Combat (CD EP on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

Canada's industrial cult legend is back with a 43 minute dose of seething electronics ready to boil over and scald your ears This time the harsh overtones are cooking with frantic, calculatedly intense electronics, hissing with a rush of tempo. Superior melodies with E-perc and a peppy wall of electronics. Includes two rare tracks from 1993 and a Kinder Atom remix. A very high energy recommendation.

DlGITAL POODLE: Division (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

Guttural gritty electro industrial music that slaps you around. The main theme to the music is Russian politics, conveyed with an urgency through megaphonic vocals and prowlings. The tone of the actual sound is traditional industrial, a decent dose in the vein of Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and Front 242.

•  •  •

DILATE: Cyclos (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

77 minutes of ambient woozy music carefully crafted by Dilate (aka Victor Wulf). Long electronic tones drift in a seemingly endless pulse, frequented by crackling cottonball sighs, distant mechanicals and interstellar winds. Dilate's sound is fairly comparable to the more sedate works by Tangerine Dream or the Orb. If you're looking for a decent, nonintrusive background or steady meditative facilitation: this is an excellent pick.

Note: this CD has a 3D "wiggle picture" cover.

DILATE: Octagon (double CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

These ambient melodies drift on the surface of a breathing sea of soft electronics, rhythms churning into long wave forms, trimmed with delicate keyboard whitecaps. Often eerie electronically generated sounds achieve a passive quality that gives them a very glistening appeal.

The music on this double CD (a total of 147 minutes) is deeply rooted in the styles of Brian Eno's minimalist work and the electronics of Cluster. But the music of Dilate adds a particular vibrant drama to its Eno roots, while generating a wholly more melodic sound that Cluster.

•  •  •

DIN: Decade of the Brain (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

It begins as keyboard dominated electro-dance with strong synthi growl and E-perc backbeat, but soon the devious truth becomes apparent, seeping into the music like an insidious infection: seriousness, structure, strength. While the tempo distracts your rhythm sense, the compositions attack your brain, stimulating the cerebellum with deliberate sonic strokes for 50 minutes.

This is the same vein of intellectual dance electronics in which Tangerine Dream have been dabbling lately (and failing), but DIN pulls it off with the type of ease that carries with it a small smirk. (And what else would you expect from an electronic offshoot from Canada's industrial pioneer Digital Poodle?)

•  •  •

KLAUS DINGER & RHEINITA BELLA DUSSELDORF: Neondian (CD on Captain Trip Records, 3-17-14 Minami-Kolwa, Edogawa-Ku, Tokyo, Japan).

To most, Klaus Dinger in an unknown factor. To some (and I count myself among the devoted), he is an icon, a founding member of Kraftwerk, Neu, La Dusseldorf, and Harmonio--all legendary bands that created the genre known as Kraut Rock in the Seventies. Kraut Rock: the driving urgent blend of angry electronics and powerful rhythms that laid open the ground for industrial, techno and even grunge.

So--this new Dinger album is heavensent to me and mine. Even better--it's not a new album but turns out to be the mythical never-released fourth La Dusseldorf album from the early Eightiesl

This album is brilliant! Frantic E-perc and thrashing guitar battle with surging electronics and tectonic growls to produce a gem of furious sonics. The music is slick and urgent, captivating from the first "klang".

•  •  •

CHARLES DITTO: The Fantoccini Chronicles (60 minute cassette tape on Ditto Records, PO Box 49124, Austin, TX 78765).

Instrumental electronic pieces with quite a dramatic flair. Snarling, chiggering, raging electronics, sweeping keyboards and chameleonesque percussion. Thick synthi tones counterpointed with softer passages, the real charm to Ditto's music is its inherent cheer. The music is uplifting, not brooding. Actually, I found this tape to be thoroughly thrilling. It delivers strongly on a number of personal interests... there is a strong German edge to the music that puts it in powerful competition (and comparison) with those early Cluster albums...the tempo is often very rapid, but when it slows down it gets very pulsing and strange...I like it strange.

•  •  •

DJAM KARET: Burning the Hard City

DJAM KARET: The Ritual Continues

(both on Djam Karet/HC Productions, PO Box 1421, Topanga, CA 90290, USA).

This band approach the new age ambient sound with guitars rather than just keyboards. There is an inherent dynamic to their music that sparkles. Both of these CDs delivered amply and are highly recommended!

DJAM KARET: Collaborator (CD on Djam Karet Records, PO Box 1421, Topanga, CA 90290, USA).

Collaborations...cool! And look at the list of collaborators: Walter Holland, Kit Watkins, Jeff Greinke, Steve Roach, Marc Anderson, Carl Weingarten, and Loren Nerell...it reads like a who's-who of the American electronic scene. Each musician adds their own spin to Djam Karet's normal sound of guitar oriented ambient electronic music--from Watkins' ethereal flute to Roach's arid atmospherics. Most of the pieces also feature the prominent addition of ethnic percussion and aboriginal wind instruments. Although each piece is quite different, the cumulative response to this geshtalt is very positive.

DJAM KARET: The Devouring (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).

Djam Karet's guitar dominated sound has rounded itself out with more prominent drumming, pop'n'drawl bass and playful keyboards. Not that the music isn't still guitar driven--growling power rock and delicately lilting progressive. Guitar pyrotechnics of superb achievement, harnessed into tunes of highly charged instrumental rock.

The melodies on this 71 minute CD are vibrant and solid, prime examples of guitarsy prog rock in the Nineties.

•  •  •

DOUBTING THOMAS: The Infidel (CD on Waxtrax Records in USA).

This band includes cEvin Key and D. R. Goettel (both from Skinny Puppy). A clean, sharp dose of unbridled savagry and mind numbing rhythmatics. A very tasty side project from 1991.

•  •  •

DOWNLOAD: Charlie's Family (CD on Metropolis Records, PO Box 54307, Phila., PA 19105 USA).

This release is the soundtrack to the independent film by Jim van Bebber. It was recorded back in 1994-95, when the band line-up consisted of cEvin Key, DR Goettel, and Phil Western.

This music is the absolute antithesis of traditional orchestral soundtracks. Full of squealing electronics, hard percussives and abstract sampling, this is an auralscape that puts your teeth at risk from over-clenching. For 47 minutes, this music attacks your inner abdomen, churning soft matter with intense pitches and severe sonic probes. And yet, it is more melodic than not, despite the chaos.

DOWNLOAD: Furnace (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

Download is (or was) the late Dwanye Goettel (ex-Skinny Puppy), Philth, Mark Spybey (from Zoviet France), and cEvin Key (from Skinny Puppy ) .

This band is naturally of special interest to fans of Skinny Puppy (since Puppy are no more and this seems to be the group's next incarnation), but be prepared for a different kind of haunted abattoir. Download delivers an en masse dose of spattering E-perc and a hotbed of electronics of all kinds: droning, rhythmic and incidental. Electro fuzz whispers surface periodically, while three pieces feature guest vocals by Geneis P. Orridge (from Psychic TV). The main effect of this music (whether it be tortured melody or straining chaos) is that it burns, searing and tearing the air with angry heat. The atonal chaotic pieces have a sneaky way of evolving subliminal tempos, evoking a hidden melody in the thick mix of noise.

This 74 minute album is severe and quite excellent, but the 54 minute "Microscopic" CD EP (also on Cleopatra) is the gem, stepping up the weirdness in a strangely cohesive manner with non-LP tracks and remixes by Biosphere and Newt. One of the non-LP pieces, "Energy Plan" is a 13 minute shrill tour-de-force of aggressive trance.

Very recommended. And both LP and EP sport different 3D flicker picture covers (the EP features a cool micro-shot of fleas scurrying about).

•  •  •

DREAMFISH (on Rising High Productions in Germany).

Pete Namlook collaborates with Mixmaster Morris (aka Irresistible Force). The compositions are tight and the songs long but not unduly so. The interweaving patterns frolic and swoop like duelling schools of aquatic life amidst twisting aural sculptures. I especially like the recurrent sampled line in one piece: "the god of western civilisation has nothing to do with women"--how sadly true. This one is highly recommended.

•  •  •

THE DROWNING BREATHING: The Moon (60 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).

Ambient industrial music...haunting electronic tonalities balanced with deep bass throbs that drift out of the distance. Definitely captures a cold airless lunar quality.

•  •  •

THE DURUTTI COlUMN: Sex and Death (CD on Factory Too Records in USA)

Usually DC's music is sedate and dreamy. This release shows a sight more intensity with lots of searing electric guitar added to the acoustic swarm of guitar rhythms that make up DC's signature sound. There's cerebral percussion and crooning throughout, with surprise additions of violin and sax. The songs are art folk and thoroughly satisfying.

•  •  •

DWELLER AT THE THRESHOLD: No Boundary Condition (CD on Eurock Records, PO Box 13718, Portland, OR 97213, on Manikin Records in Germany).

With a band name like that, you might expect deeply spooky gothic--but no, this is ambient electronics in a space music vein. It may lack in rhythm, but it more than compensates with a dark ethereal drama of the limitless void. High tech quantum science is the theme, translated into pure tonalities that drift and slowburn, sending the listener tumbling through various stellar photospheres. The synthi skyscape is punctuated by classical piano and some acoustic guitar, lending an organic presence to the galactic mix.

Thoroughly enjoyable, especially if you wish to turn your living room into a planetarium.

•  •  •
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