Opera Multi Steel - D’une Pierre Deux Tombes

“D’une Pierre deux Tombes” is the twelfth Opera Multi Steel’s studio album. It includes 8 tracks in its vinyl version and 12 tracks as cd format. For this last opus, the band turns back as a trio, in the original line-up of its beginnings, namely Patrick L. Robin, Franck Lopez and Catherine Marie. In 2018, Catherine, Patrick and Franck lost their respective mothers. This album was therefore partly conceived as a posthumous tribute to two dear ones, hence its title in French which takes the form of both a pun and a macabre observation.

All the tracks, even if they still contain what makes the sound and the particular style of the band are imbued with a sadness and a nostalgia arguably more present. The theme of death and vanity is more powerful than ever (Cimeterre, L’Après-Mort…). Opéra Multi Steel develops in this album a bit darker music than usual. Melodies and vocal harmonies are always favored, supported on several tracks by Future Pop sounds of strings and electronic rhythms which reinforce the tragic mood of the concept (L’Annonce, La Nuit des Doutes, Intercession…).
The album, in its cd version, is punctuated after each track by the sound of the old cuckoo clock that remained alone on the walls of the empty house of Patrick and Franck’s mother after her disappearance as the witness of a persistent presence. We can also hear the last phone vocal message from his mother to Patrick. This cathartic album, over the songs, takes the form of a sound testament aimed at exorcising fate and facilitating resilience.

The cover artwork, made by Brazilian designer Hernan Czauski with photos taken by the band’s members in several ancient French cemeteries, features details of 19th century sculpted tombstones that evoke both the eternal Silence of the Grave, the Fidelity beyond Death and the inconsolable Sorrows.

LP / CD / Digital Album

Posted on August 25th, 2021 under Releases, ,

Soft Riot - Second Lives

Marking just over ten years since the original No Longer Stranger EP back in early 2011, it’s now been a decade since Soft Riot has been in existence. And on that touchstone comes the newest release called Second Lives, a compilation album featuring a collection of eight tracks of previously released tracks from obscure singles on various compilations, re-worked versions of previously released older tracks as well as some unreleased material.

Originally the concept for such a release was to be a more comprehensive archive of unreleased material that has been collecting over the past decade, including demos, odd bits and other ephemera, but with this final version as Second Lives, sees the release fine-tuned into an album of its own right, focusing on key tracks and bringing out their strengths, updating old tracks — often ones that are still played out live — to give them new life and perspective.

CD / Digital Album

Posted on August 23rd, 2021 under Releases, ,

Double Echo - ☾

☾, the fifth full length studio album by Liverpool and New York-based band Double Echo on Fabrika Records in 2021, requires no words. Only a simple crescent moon symbol is necessary, a bright entity in the night sky to illustrate its contents. Members Ash Lerczak, Chris Luna and Ellon Souter approach the new album with a pure pop mentality littered with dark undertones. It is synthpop sweetness with an edge, a glittering dream of neons and city lights… but not without the foreboding sense of danger ahead.

After the success of their single “The Bairn”—a song worthy of Anne Clark’s rhythmic lacerations—☾ is an extension of that same mood of 1980s pop music with a pout, sullen but sure in its delivery. The ten tracks are primed for the clubs, reminiscent of the chilly and eerie melodies of Numan and Sharpe, or the synthpop accessibility of Celebrate the Nun or, further, new wave darlings Thompson Twins. However, post-punk guitars peek in at times to add a dismal atmosphere, much like their previous LP releases. Double Echo have morphed into what they were meant to be: music on the fringes of a passing storm, the cool colors of dawn.

Even though it’s easy to compare Double Echo to the heroic synth-based music of yesteryear, the LP is a rousing reinterpretation of it, as proven in “Cruelty in Your Heart.” With the use of unsuspecting pan flute synth sounds, Double Echo concocts a new form of synthpop that is far from tacky. The balance between guitars alongside bell and synth pads harken to the harmony achieved in instrumentation with mid-80s darkwave acts, and each track is as addictive as the next. “Fountain of Remembrance” is an epic song that’s enveloped in a blanket of melancholy, and is reminiscent of John Foxx’s upbeat hit “Dancing Like a Gun.”

“Last Standing” is lush and tender, a triumphant song full of hope in its pastel daydream. The track “Melody Saw” introduces guitars at the forefront, as they gallop to the finish line alongside its punchy beat. “No Stars” is a song worthy of Altered Images, downcast but divine. And speaking of new wave acts, the voice of Phil Oakey of Human League is conjured for “Rendezvous” as they intertwine with spooky synth pads.

☾ reaches pop perfection with “Resilience.” As a track primed for the dance floor, it is followed by the sorrowful “Sometimes We Are Strangers.” Here, the band finds their darkwave groove that brings an additional goth-infused element to the overall feel of the album. “Spectre” is a brilliant song, a composition that would sound at home in a synthwave soundtrack—one to match a movie rife with images of night drives and cool ocean breezes.

Finally, “Verge of Tears” closes out ☾ just as strong as it began: full of desire and possibility. And while there is sadness laced throughout the LP, there’s a brightness that holds prominence—Double Echo yearns for a future that is not so wretched.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on August 21st, 2021 under Releases, ,

Blak Saagan - Se Ci Fosse La Luce Sarebbe Bellissimo

If you could paint the world black, rediscover it with a flashlight illuminating every single detail and turn each finding into an obsession while gliding across the murk then you might stumble into Blak Saagan’s new magniloquent quest ‘Se Ci Fosse La Luce Sarebbe Bellissimo’ (If there were light it would be beautiful), a monstrous work of dedication and sound architecture that investigates and soundtracks one of the saddest and most obscure pages of Italian history: the 1978 kidnapping of former prime-minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigade terrorists.

Based near the Venetian lagoon, Samuele Gottardello aka Blak Saagan, has been crafting his own library music for years merging the tradition of Italian 60s/70s psychedelic OST’s, ambient, drone, rhythmic electronics with kosmische kraut landscapes and Industrial wave to create ritual hypnagogic experiences. While his first record ‘A Personal Voyage’ explored outer space influenced by the work of cosmologist Carl Sagan, ‘Se Ci Fosse La Luce Sarebbe Bellissimo’ is a completely different beast, a sinister terrestrial atmosphere pervades the recordings, a relentless throbbing beat that maps out the complexity of this new endeavour. Every song has a title that connects with the Aldo Moro case; 54 days from Moro’s kidnapping and assault on March 16th 1978 to the finding of his body in the trunk of a Renault 4 on May 9th, the 86 letters he wrote during his detention, the communications and negotiations and the uncertain role of the secret services.

It’s like a path that goes deeper and deeper, with moments of tension, moments of suspense, dream passages obfuscating reality and drum rolls echoing hyper-reality. One could say it’s like the soundtrack of a movie that was never shot. Recorded over the course of two years with the use of a Farfisa Vip 205 organ, Roland TR-606 and 505 drum machines, Siel Orchestra synthesizer, Moog Model D and various analog effects, this 4 sided LP comes as dense as they can, moving from the autobahn Kraftwerkian loop images of ‘Convergenze Parallele’ to the cold blooded synth-wave of ‘Scuola Hyperion’ and ‘Achtung Achtung’. ‘L’uomo incapucciato’ ups the drama recalling Goblin’s 1978 OST for Dawn Of The Dead, while ‘Ore 9: Attacco al Cuore dello Stato’ is pure Italian police soundtracks, elevating gongs, percussion and orchestral elements to Morriconian suspense that reaches new heights in ‘E Lo Spettro Disse: Gradoli’ where celestial flutes intertwine and carry on the rapturous terrestrial legacy of Italian maestros Alessandro Alessandroni, Egisto Macchi and Piero Umiliani. Blak Saagan’s work would not be complete without nods to Carpenter and the 1978 crossroads where post-punk, sci-fi, new wave and minimalism collided creating alien experiments (‘Dentro la Prigione del Popolo’, ‘La Firma Del Legionario’). Ending on the majestic 8 minute title-track, Se Ci Fosse La Luce Sarebbe Bellissimo, the album finds its moment of catharsis, a world free of any rhythmic constriction where the mystical dances with the unknown and where light finally has permission to invade and permeate reality. [Johnathan Clancy]

LP / Digital Album

Posted on August 19th, 2021 under Releases, ,

Peppy Pep Pepper - Forced Distance

Violet Candide needs no introduction to those who have been following Modern Tapes or the contemporary european minimal synth scene for the past few years. For the uninitiated, she is half of the Vienna-based duos Mitra Mitra and Violetiger and has released a pair of tapes on her own as Peppy Pep Pepper. “Forced Distance “ is her second solo release with Modern Tapes and further pushes the high standard set for herself with the solid songwriting and steely production of 2020′s “Granny Chic”.

Digital Album

Posted on August 17th, 2021 under Releases, ,