UPDATED JULY 18, 2000
Art for the Ears is a new and quickly rising Electro/Industrial/Dance label located in Canada. I need not say much for their future prospects, all you need do is look at the bands on this compilation. The opening track is a dark synth-pop number from Beborn Beton called “Spawn”. Those familiar with acts like Cosmicity will truly dig this tune. Next off is Strategy’s “Guardian Angel”. Strategy is made up of one member from the Zoth Ommog trio Trylok, of Germany. Strategy conjures up musical comparisons to Iris, or maybe a sedate Joy Electric. This track is also of the synth-pop persuasion. It is followed by Abuse’s more industrial sounding “Under”. Anyone who has heard Globalwavesystem or old Circle of Dust, maybe even Level, will enjoy this song’s understated intensity. Noxious Emotion follows with a more bouncy, aggressive tune called “FPMO”. Fans of Fatal Blast Whip or X-Propagation may well enjoy this group. This song reminds me a lot of the kind of material on Blacklight Records. It is also a good lead in to the next track. Next comes Cybershadow’s “Social Conditioning”. This is one track from a really great album and deserves to be heard by all. ‘Nuff said there. Moksha’s “Eggshell” is an intriguing tune with a synthetic blend of 80’s and 90’s style synth-pop. Vocally and lyrically it reminds me a lot of 80’s music, but musically it is definitely 90’s. Very Postmodern. Cannister changes the mood with “Empty.” This tune borders on goth with its use of guitars and drums and rasping, almost lunatic vocals. Creepy. The moody, dark tunes continue on with Bath’s “Profane” which is a minimally industrial tune. The female vocals and the music conjure up comparisons to Sanctum (Cold Meat). This tune will live on in your subconscious. In contrast is Ariel’s “Sylvia’s Dream.” With its bongo playing, eastern guitar sound, moving bass lines and vocals, one is quickly reminded of U2’s Passengers album. Fishtank No. 9 follows with a killer EBM track called “Situation” reminiscent of some of the aforementioned bands, Globalwavesystem and Fatal Blast Whip. The CD ends with a real bang. Deathline International’s tune, “Hoellen Paradise” will delight fan’s of Deitiphobia and X-Propagation. All in all this compilation has a very diverse range of electronic styles that are all high quality.
Take a seat and listen to this moody bit of synth-pop melancholia because this is about as dark as synth-pop gets. Listening to this CD reminds me of those days when I wake up and don’t want to get out of bed. I imagine that the average Joe never feels this way, but those of us who are thoughtful people do. We sometimes feel the weight of the world and it makes feel like this. “A People Undone” sounds like it carries the weight of the world on its shoulders. Take for instance the song “You and Me”. It speaks about the difficulties involved in a relationship between a man and a woman. In this song Robert Bustamante offers hope to his lover that they will make it. Similar themes are taken up in songs like “God I’m Sick”. The other songs with lyrics deal with related themes of pressure, betrayal, and so many of the negative experiences that people experience. Each song, though, affirms the importance of the individual’s opinion of self, not letting the self be defined by others. These lyrics are very existential with their candid look at life’s frailty with songs like “Eggshell” and “The Risk You Take”. Again, each one shows how he shuns the opinion of others and affirms his own self-conception, flaws included. The other tunes, “Miss”, “Rawhide”, “Mind Evil Mind” and so on, are musical numbers which are something of a mixture of ambient and synth-pop. They too are moody and very atmospheric. For some this may be an acquired taste, but I think many thoughtful people will relate to it.
Perhaps Trylok’s music should be described as “Electro-body-pop”. This Austrian trio’s music throbs and pulses like EBM, but is dreamy and smooth like synth-pop. Certainly they appeal to both interests and is bound to be burning up the dance floors. The CD starts out with four such numbers: “Mysterious Girl”, “Silence”, “Resurrection” and “Radioactivity (a tribute to Kraftwerk)”. The first three of these are mainly written and sung by Strategy and have that same familiar vibe as his solo album (also on ArtOfFact). The fourth is a collaboration by all three members that then leads to an assortment of songs by mind and energy: “World of Sound IV” by Mind, “Floating” and “Extemporize” by Energy. Trylok’s threesome, Mind, Energy, and Strategy obviously bring to the recording process a variety of sounds and styles that they hone into a unified sound. This is an advantage that many “one-man” projects miss. “Reliance”, then, is a very strong release and will likely garner a lot of well-deserved attention from fans of electronica worldwide. The CD is finished out with six—count them—six remixes from previous albums. Remixes include “Burning in Hell” by Dark Illumination (the best).
Of all the various forms of electronica on the pH music scale, Strategy’s seems to fit somewhere towards the middle. This music, though industrially flavored, it is very dancy. Songs like “Erased” are instrumentals, while songs like “Stone of Passion” borderlines on synth-pop, sounding more like Iris than, say, October Blue. Vocally Strategy--whoever he is!-- sounds like the singer from Type O Negative, therefore, there is a slight gothic feel to each of the songs. “Stone of Passion,” by the way, is a great goth/industrial lullaby, which I assume he wrote for a child. There is a lot of musical movement in these songs. For instance, “Darkness” has so many different keyboard, synth, and bass lines, along with the drums, etc., that we know a lot of time and thought went into its composition. Other songs share this use of melody, counterpoint, and rhythm. Finally, there is a very interesting surprise on this CD. Though eleven tracks are listed on the back, there is a bonus track. It is Strategy’s version of “Unforgiven” by Metallica. The translation into synth-pop works very well and sound good. The only downfall is that the vocals are kind of out of place, though my opinion on that may well change.
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