CD Review

V/A – “Electro-Age I : The Awakening”

By Marcus Pan

Electro-Age I : The AwakeningI originally decided to write this CD up myself as soon as it arrived because of a handful of names that appear on the compilation. I've always enjoyed the work of Noxious Emotion, pretty much from day one, and their live set blows my mind so when I saw they have Nobelium on here that was a big plus. Also Apocrypho and ThouShaltNot as well as Glis also appear, and those three I also enjoy very much. So seeing those names on this Latex Records release stoked me, and I decided to keep it – and therefore would have to review it personally.

Being a compilation with fifteen tracks, you know I typically go over each track for each band so we'll do that here. The artwork, first off, of Electro-Age I : The Awakening is quite stunning, front and back, very bright and almost pleasant, if surreal, in nature. Described as "alternative music for alternative thinkers," Latex meant to bring together various electronic and underground masterpieces that help one to delve into their subconscious. Now if I had time to close my eyes, drift off and spin this CD directly into my brain via headphones, that very well could work, but alas I have to write this and other reviews so off we go.

The smooth ethereal strains of Undercity 2000 opens slowly, adding taps to get your mind skipping to the beat. The shredding techno-laced synthesizers that break in immediately tear open any semblance of boredom, grabbing onto a catchy medium paced rhythm bolstered by background key strains and chords. Breaks in Undercity 2000 provide relief and sampled discussions of urbania before it shreds again into its latticework of heavy techno synths and bass pumping. Created by New Mind, Undercity 2000 is exclusive to Electro-Age I : The Awakening.

New Mind
E-Mail: lcaq97@dial.pipex.com
Web: www.sonic-boom.com/mission-control

The second from the longest track on the compilation, System der Dinge's Narcotic is an ominously opening track populated with dirge-like wails and frightening yowls that may or may not be human. As a soft spoken gentleman discusses with you, Narcotic's ominous chorales fade excellently into a Kraftwerk-like techno-future rhythmic collaboration that builds slowly into a smooth, trance-state song that wraps itself around you. Enjoyable, even if it clocks in at nearly seven minutes in length. This track is also exclusive to this compilation.

System der Dinge
Web: home.sunrise.ch/ojaeggi/systemding

The third track is the longest on the entire fifteen track compilation. A full seven and a half minutes, Tentatio Ardua 2 chants its way around, growing stolidly as brush-stroke rhythms bubble up from under the surface. Another exclusive track for Electro-Age I, Conscientia Peccatti adds tribal beat hits to move the track slowly along its course. Ominous sirens flow in from outside as the rhythm builds into an if-not-powerful, at least stable, force. I’m of mixed feelings as to whether this dirge-like track needed to be done in as long as seven and a half minutes.

Conscientia Peccatti
Web: www.go.to/monoid

The electro-stimulation of Glis’ Nightvision screams alive on track four, picking up the pace of the compilation following the slow-moving dirge of Tentatio Ardua 2. Finally, the electronic industrial I expected to hear arrives. Glis was a band I’ve only heard one release by(1), but suggest mightily and still own in my own personal collection of music. Nightvision is a fast-paced new-wave synth pop style tune with darker industrial tendencies and catchily arranged melodies.

Glis
E-Mail: glis@glisonline.com
Web: www.glisonline.com

Lysa Nalin’s Vision immediately cuts the established pace down with its beat-gong opening, but within twenty seconds is spinning into a swiftly moving highly-complicated rhythm structure that really does keep the speediness going. Female vocals are seductive and mesh well with the surrounding keyboard score. This track keeps the keyboard and synth arrangements smooth and slow, but wrap them around a more moving backbeat giving the track an interesting effect – consciously you’re listening to the oozing melodies and subconsciously your brain is trying to keep up with the percussion.

Lysa Nalin
Web: www.mp3.com/lysanalin

Nuada takes us on a trip of weirdness in Mage Sun. Trancing into an off-kilter melody over which a heavy-handed percussive movement builds, the main downfall of Mage Sun is its use of extremely stock beats that lends the track a heard-it-before quality. Spoken word over top with various uses of Casio Tonebank stock samples playing slow and boorish melodies attempt to add a level of surrealism to the track, but instead infuse it with retardation.

Nuada
Web: www.nuada-music.com

Nobelium is one of the better tracks off of Elements(2) This mix, the Air-Fire-Water-Earth Mix, adds a more flute-like dirge to the track while keeping it swift and moving. See my previous reviews of Noxious Emotion’s material(3) to get a general idea of what I like about this troupe.

Noxious Emotion
Web: www.noxious.com

Electro-Age I : The AwakeningTVKill, while not only being something of a good idea, also is a contributing band to the compilation. Trust is one of the more minimal tracks on the Electro-Age I, being recorded only on a two track, but clearly shows what talent can do with low end equipment. The standout component of Trust is the fat-back drums that slam through your speakers – one of the better percussion layouts and arrangements I’ve come across in a while. Off-tune keyworks and vocals do, however, steal a bit of the song’s finesse.

TVKill
Web: http://5am.excitewebpages.com

Getting a slight more experimental, Gaia throws metallic static against low-tone bass at the outset, but adds in catchy low-tone rhythm pulses that immediately bring the track from boorish to brilliant. Takshaka takes on a more drum’n bass style of arranging than other artists here and the end results is a five minute + rhythmic, sometimes arrhythmic, d’n’b song that will slip into piano melodies and breakdowns without warning just to keep you on your toes – especially at around three minutes in where it gets suddenly near-silent, then brightly illuminated, then once again low-down funky. A highlight of this compilation.

Takshaka
Web: www.fractalrazor.com/gunmusic

Kaj’s Under the Moon is next; a more gothic-oriented song with piano arrangements and heavy handed well played bass (guitar?). Vocals break out here, an unexpected thing at this turn. This makes the track stand out on the compilation, if only for its differences with the other mostly-electronic songs preceding it. Additionally, it also stands out because it’s really pretty good. It has a tendency to close kind of on a downer note.

Kaj
Web: http://kairecords.com

The Moors, in this instance a band rather than a place, bring us The Hunter, Cernunnos whose synthetic dirge opens like you are exactly where the bands name says you are – on nothing but open space and swampy ground. Guitars are muted but existent, unlike most tracks on Electro-Age I. Female ooo-ey-ness tries to compete with the skin-banging drum work. Unfortunately, this is another droning groaner of a track.

The Moors
E-Mail: moors@drawbridge.com
Web: http://cvb.drawbridge.com/music/moors

Surprising the hell out of me with their debut release(4), we come across one of this compilations best pieces. Apocrapho’s Connect is a thrilling piece that mixes up everything from synthetic melodies, chorale scratches, vocal utterings and even disco-like ooo’s that somehow coalesce into a very enjoyable piece of music. A highlight here.

Apocrapho
Web: www.newbijou.com/harsh.html

Boom sha boom go the woofers as ThouShaltNot’s Without Faith kicks in. This is the Nothing Mix here, which appeared on The Holiness of Now(5). I’m a fan of ThouShaltNot and have been since their self-titled debut(6), but the Nothing Mix just doesn’t do it for me. Check out the footnotes to see some of my comments on their previous, more excellent, work. I love the way they broke up the vocals at three minutes in on this version of Without Faith however.

ThouShaltNot
Web: www.thoushaltnot.net

Creepily futuristic, Shivering Skies by Diverje attacks on a subliminal level. But does so a bit stoicly as it sweeps synthetic techno-brash around in a whirlwind that dousen’t but could, if given the chance, go anywhere but instead just stays in one spot and goes around and around.

Diverje
E-Mail: tommyt@dsbp.cx
Web: www.dsbp.cx/diverje

Closing completely and unabashedly different, Electro-Age I : The Awakening falls asleep at the wheel with its inclusion of Music for the Goddess’ Round and Round. The folk-like Round and Round is a beautiful song and deserving of inclusion somewhere – but on a surrealist’s electronic compilation? I’m not sure what they were thinking, but there’s a lot to be said about keeping a compilation as a whole – those that go branching out into different genres, especially on one as pointedly convergent as this one, is going to tend to fall short of expectations. I like this song…but it shouldn’t be closing Electro-Age I. Methinks Latex Records jests…

Music For the Goddess
Web: www.musicforthegoddess.com
(1) Extract was reviewed in Legends #119.
(2) Reviewed in Legends #102.
(3) Count Zero and Symbols (my personal favorite) in Legends #89.
(4) Spiritual Cannibal, reviewed in Legends #102.
(5) The band’s sophomore release, reviewed in Legends #117.
(6) Reviewed in Legends #102.
Contact Information:
Latex Records, LLC
Post: 5857 Brookstone Walk, Acworth, GA, 30101-8473, USA
E-Mail: tgmondalf@latexrecords.com
Web: www.latexrecords.com

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