REVIEW: V/A – “DJ Program 01”

By Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

DJ Program 01Before we begin the review, it is essential to focus on the label because it truly is unlike any other music company out there in the global market. The Fossil Dungeon is owned and operated by Michael Riddick of The Soil Bleeds Black fame, along with some operational assistance from his girlfriend, Micah, and twin brother Mark. In a world over run with greedy opportunists, this label helps cultivate and nurture artistic talent and expression. It offers heavy distribution and remains a viable medium for artists wishing to maintain a presence within the dark experimental, occult and pagan genres. Their business model avoids the complexities of contracts and legalities, working instead on the basis of a shared philosophy of camaraderie and trust. Finances which are generated from sales of their releases are directed back into promoting the artists on their roster.

Additionally, the recordings are high quality pressings housed within the confines of even grander sleeve/cover artwork. One would be hard pressed to find another label that puts so much money, artistry and effort into the cover graphics for their artists. The graphics are so exquisite that one feels as though they own a piece of museum worthy artwork. Each recording from this label brings with it a temptation to frame it instead of adding it to the shelf with our other music. More often than not, the Fossil Dungeon releases are available in limited pressings, making them highly prized gems in a music connoisseurs collection.

Ironically, this 5 track CDR demo release does not contain the stylized artwork that was mentioned above. This recording was initially geared as a promotional vehicle that was primarily sent to club and radio DJs as well as few select underground magazines. Since most DJs slip their CD's into cases, which they carry to their gigs, the absence of the art detail is understandable. It does however come in a rather classy black digipak. Inside, there is a slotted pocket containing a graphically interesting card that notes the tracks and photos of the featured bands.

Having heard Kyrie Eleison by The Soil Bleeds Black a number of times in its original form, it came as a pleasant surprise to hear a rendition that can be incorporated into a club playlist. Fear not, because the Medieval and Renaissance element is still here in heavy doses. However, modern percussion was also added along with a few notable electronically incorporated retweakings. Palastinalized is another track from The Soil Bleeds Black that was also given the modern club friendly brush stroke. The first and second track of this disc originally came from the band's LP Mirror of the Middle Ages. Even thought the trademark Neo Folk/Medieval/Renaissance imprint is here, it was married to a modern club element for the midnight dancers in the underground clubs across the globe.

Butterfly Messiah just keeps getting better each time I hear them. Serpentine puts the pedal to the metal, cranking the beats and addictive grooves. The tweaking of the vocal harmony overlay is absolutely flawless that any DJ who passes on this track needs to take a long needed vacation from spinning! The BPM’s are rather high, so industrial clubs should find this a welcome addition to their playlist.

It's Time is the breakout song for Butterfly Messiah which helped put them on the map. This track continues to make the rounds in clubs and on radio programs across the globe. It is inconceivable that there are many left in the underground who haven't heard it as of yet. There is a version available on MP3 and possibly a few other internet sites. It should be noted that most music gleaned from the net often loses a bit of the fiery essence of the original recorded work. Having sampled numerous tracks from net sources and then compared them against a full recorded release, the net still hinders a lot of the overall tonal quality. This track in particular surprised me when I heard it in its fully recorded format. Hearing the CD version was like hearing it for the first time. So many of the high notes and multilayered sounds didn't come across via the net. However, the net remains a great vehicle to showcase music to potentially new fans. Until the music delivery via computers is improved, we must keep in mind that it doesn't do any band nearly the justice as the full recording would. For old and new fans alike, the band recently posted some song samples from their forthcoming summer 2003 release, Eternal, which can be heard on their website at

Mephisto Walz's song, Nightingale, was initially released from Fossil Dungeon as a very limited single. As with all music from this band, one can't help but enjoy being a goth fan when listening to their enchanting work. Having had the privilege of seeing them live in a rare New York appearance, it was a marvel to watch Bari-Bari play the guitar with the ferocity he did. Christianna remains the ageless muse who lends her siren's voice to each song.

Since this particular release was pressed in a 200 copy run, it is extremely limited to the general public. It does contain two rather unique remixes from The Soil Bleeds Black, along with stellar work from the other 2 bands. It isn't too often that a specialized DJ pressing is made publicly available and limited pressings are known to move rather quickly. If you are even remotely interested, it wouldn't be wise to hesitate with obtaining a copy. This particular collection is rather transitional for the label because it is geared towards the club crowd while also maintaining the artistic integrity of the original recordings. Chances are good that these tracks will find their way into the playlist at your favorite underground club within the next few weeks. Hopefully, you won't have buyers regret!

Contact Information:
Post: The Fossil Dungeon, Michael Riddick, 43796 Tattinger Ter., Ashburn, VA, 20148-3125, USA

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