CD Review

V/A - Black Paradigm - "An Insight Into New Electronics"

By Haydn Black

At last, after aeons of waiting comes a compilation CD of Perth bands. I just have one major problem with it: Doof-doof-doof.

If this was any old CD I'd have never even treated it to a second glance it because I despise electronica.

However, as this is clearly the result blood, sweet, tears and electrons of a lot of people, most of whom I know (or know of), and because it's the product of my adopted home town, I feel obliged to review it with as open a mind as I can muster.

It wasn't easy, but I'll have to admit that Black Paradigm's been in my CD player more than it has any right to be.

I've never found electronics, particularly of this genre interesting, and I find it hard to appreciate the aesthetic qualities.

I just don't get it, and never have.

But more years than I care to count of exposure to the electro music hammered out on clubs and compilation CDs has given me a framework on which to judge, and repeated (initially forced) listenings have convinced me this is a genuinely good compilation.

The first cab off the rank is RED KERB KISS, a fairly full-on slice of electronica which should, ultimately, help you decide if this CD is for you. There's melody, programming and sequencing, and you can tell thought has gone into the track. It does all the bleeping and blooping its supposed to, and a few things it isn't to make something quite listenable.

BIO MEKANIK's "Embrace The Machine" follows. Perhaps a reaction to Alien Sex Fiend's 'Ignore The Machine?' I'm not sure, but skin me alive and pickle me in a jar if that's not a Babylon 5 sample. This is faster than their Dark Eyed And Starry They Were Volume 2 entry, while picking up the thematic baton from Red Kerb Kiss.

ANUBUS COMPLEX is dark electronica from the first note, but it transfers to repetitive beats mixed with a few eerie sounds, silence and distortion follow making this not the kind of thing you'll be humming down the street.

CAMBION is the ambient project of Aaron (formerly the bass player with Heratech). "Odic Fluid (Mellow Mix") is extremely laid back and reminds me of some of Aphex Twin (and the like) which I've heard on various late night music radio shows.

Perth's most likely Industrial duo [CELL 7] popped up on DE&STW2 with the very industrial sounding "Red," but here "The Second Man" harkens to what I assume is their techno/trance side. If it were an album track I'd designate it 'filler' status, but they have made an attempt to play with sounds which is always nice.

LETHE is probably one of my favorite of the techno-influenced tracks, and features the only female hand on the whole compilation. In an odd way it reminds me of a jazzy Shinjuku Thief, but that may be the flute noises distracting me.

FATE RAZOR - King Circuit - Formerly Crimson Boy, this is one of the few tracks which makes attempts to straddle between basic techno and the tenants of industrial. It fits in nicely with the evolution of this band, but it is entirely too short at just 2 minutes.

AUDIO CEPHLON was just one of the tracks I could never get my head around, it was, if you'll forgive the awful spelling, far too "phat and funkee" for me.

There's certainly a touch of the medieval in MIDDLE CHAMBER's self titled track, so if you haven't been convinced by now that there is some (albeit under utilized) promise in the electronic genre - this will do it for you. Less swirly and girly than Projekt stuff, and more robust than Dead Can Dance (if they were 100 per cent electronic), Middle Chamber manages to sound unique. More please.

As I understand it, HOGANS ANTI-HEROES actually took lessons in making electronic music. Again, they suffer from the discrimination I bring to things electronic, it is simply too techno for my palate, but it is saved from being completely unenjoyable by moments of piano to briefly break up the beats.

Yet another alumni from Dark Eyed 2, AEON's "Stasis" is more electronic and beat-oriented than their earlier (and darker) outing ("Kether"). It continues the theme of repetitive bleeps and breaks, with a few samples and/or sound bytes thrown into the mix.

Less in the vein of dance-oriented music is the darker and ethereal sound of SYNTHETIC, which mixes in some voices (rare on the CD) which some slabs of white noise and some feedback and some growled vocals one might expect to find on a Cold Meat Industry record.

I may never give myself over to the techno side of the force, but I'll at least have an inkling why others do. There's talk of a second compilation, and if there is I'll plonk down my $15 for one.

If you'd like to get a copy, and can't get one at your local record shop, then e-mailing would be the thing to do.