Review: On his three previous solo albums as Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons member Benjamin John Power offered up abstract but enjoyable blends of ambient, drone, IDM and electronics. On "Animated Violence Mild", his first full-length for two years, Power has decided to take a far more dystopian path, blending ear-catching, synth-pop influenced melodies with thrusting, doom-laden techno rhythms, growling aural textures, industrial strength noise and hybrid electronic power-pop. It's an ear-catching affair, with highlights including the boisterous, distorted techno-pop of "House Vs House", the post-apocalyptic power-trance rush of "Hush Money", the hypnotic, maximal ambient movements of "Creature/West Fuqua" and the pulsating intensity of "Wings Of Hate".
Review: Canadian sonic experimentalist Tim Hecker has long been a celebrated exponent of the ambient art form. Since the mid 1990s, he's released a series of acclaimed albums that blur the boundaries between art, music and experimentation, concocting stunning soundscapes through the use of simple melodies, dense, FX-laden instrumentation and alien chord sequences. On the oddly-titled "Ravedeath, 1972", he continues his one-man journey into the echo-laden heart of soundscape electronica. His compositions are at times quiet and fragile ("No Drums"), at others bold and queasily discordant (the two-part "Hatred Of Music"), but they're rarely less than breathlessly beautiful. The three-part "In The Air" is, in particular, quite stunning.
Review: After slowly building his career over the last few years via well-received singles on Rave Or Die, Khemina Records and, most recently, Perc Trax, Guillaume Labadie delivers his hotly anticipated debut album. It's something of a beast, too, with 12 lengthy tracks spread across two CDs. After scene-setting via a constantly-building blast of symphonic synth strings, new wave style guitars and crashing drum rolls ("The Beginning of the End"), Labadie sprints through bombastic, mind-altering stompers ("Crossing The Mirror"), dark and twisted soundscapes ("Impossible Love"), distorted techno thumpers ("The Night Is Our Kingdom", "You Are Not Alone"), redlined downtempo soundscapes (the filthy "Partner In Crime"), industrial strength insanity ("Romantic Pyscho") and pitch-black throb-jobs ("Eternity Is Burning").
Review: Cabaret Voltaire co-founder Richard H. Kirk, once one of electronic music's most prolific artists, has been surprisingly quiet of late. In fact, Daesin is his first album of new material since 2011. As you might expect, it's particularly obtuse, with the forthright experimentalist producing the kind of set worthy of the Cabs in their early '80s pomp. While there are moments of fleeting positivity - see the intergalactic industrial funk of "Do it Right Now", the shoegaze-goes-Italo throb of "Radioactive Water" and EBM onslaught "20 Block Lockdown" - for the most part the album is as formidably fuzzy, moody and foreboding. That means raw, heavy, effects-laden guitar textures, trippy electronics, steel-clad drum machine beats and, for the first time in a decade, Kirk's gnarled vocals.
Review: Liaisons Dangereuses self-titled debut album was not an immediate success on its' release in 1981, but its' influence would spread far and wide. Almost entirely made up of synthesized rhythms, chords and melodies - with the addition of stylish vocals from all three band members - it would help define the "electronic body music sound". It quickly became a big record in both Detroit and Chicago, inadvertently helping to inspire the nascent techno and house scenes. Listening again to this reissue, it's amazing how well the music as aged. While heavy on stylish posturing, it still sounds thrillingly futuristic and alien. It should be an essential purchase for anyone with even the smallest interest in the history and development of electronic music.
Review: During the 1960s and '70s, Masayuki's Takayangi's out-there band New Direction Unit was responsible for some seriously weird, wild and wonderful albums. "April Is The Cruellest Month", which was recorded in 1975 but first released in 1991, is one of the most inspired. The band's approach was to create aural chaos via the use of improvised free-jazz solos, mind-altering extended solos from guitarist Takayangi, and heaps of fuzz-fuelled white noise. On "April Is The Cruellest Month", this chaos results in a trio of razor-sharp pieces: the becalmed, atmospheric and slightly melancholic "What Have We Given?", the free-rock implosion of "My Friend, Blood Shaking The Heart" and mutilated soundtrack jazz opener "We Have Existed".