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Kettle Black Reviews Q-Z


Realtime - Live P.A. at Humphrey J’s (Audio Manipulations) Richmond, Virginia’s Realtime sets the standard for live improvisational electronic music. Band members Steve Douglas and Terry Terror defend their crown with a CD sampler of the various styles they are capable of creating, which include techno, trance, garage, hardcore, drum ‘n’ bass, dub, goa, ragga, techstep, ambient/experimental, breakbeat, and big beat. The band effortlessly weaves all of these styles into a tapestry, allowing the music to flow and evolve seamlessly. They say they thrive on “feeding off the crowd’s desires on the fly.” The result is a constant source of surprise and delight. Their triphop/downtempo track “Sensuous Woman” features soundbytes of a professional in the erotic arts who explains in a totally deadpan voice where the “center of the universe” is. (Suffice it to say that it may not be as far away as you thought.) “Are You High” is an excellent techno piece devoid of all the musical cliches commonly derived from rave culture. The band’s best track, “Freakout Scene,” fits loosely into the trance genre in that it is hypnotic but not overly repetitive. Indeed, the rhythmic and melodic complexity of this song make it the quintessential track on the sampler, showcasing all of the band’s talents. Whether for large gatherings or parties of one, Realtime doesn’t disappoint. (825 China St., Richmond, VA 23220; Web:; Email: Craig Conley

Robin & Don - Western Union (Lonely Whistle) K7 The “B” side of the split with Don Campau’s Preexisting Condition breaks out of the gate with the beat heavy hip/hop feeling “Magical Mile.” Western Union is much more electronic, synth and sample heavy than Preexisting Condition with Robin handling the vocals and Don laying down sweet grooves and ambient beds. Robin’s sultry voice is the perfect compliment for Don’s backing tracks. Other contributions come from Dino Dimuro on “Table Salt” and Nicole Campau on “Herb Recitation.” A surprising version of the Beatle’s “Fool on the Hill” is followed by a long experimental track of spoken word over key beds called “Scatter Me/Worms” to close the split cassette. (PO Box 9162, Santa Rosa, CA 95405 : e-mail : J Mundok

Samarkand - Continua (bizarre depiction) I don’t know much about this project of Ian Stewart. I do know one thing, it’s one of the better audio collage pieces I’ve ever had the priviledge of hearing. Using clips from everyone (literally) from Iron Maiden to Ice-T to Abba to Everything But the Girl and back again (there may even be some Lawrence Welk thrown into the mix). It checks in at about 60 minutes and every minute is a pleasurable attack on the senses. It was all recorded “live” and edited on Cool Edit. Ahhh, what we can do with computers these days! (E-Mail: Web: J Mundok

SMP - Ultimatum (Catastrophe) “Wow!” would summarize this review, but that would be cheating. SMP’s uniqueblend of in-your-face danceable electro with rap-like vocals and ass-whooping abrasiveness makes quite an impression, even on first listen. Associating their music to such reputable acts as Consolidated, Rage Against The Machine, Pop Will Eat Itself, 311, Meat Beat Manifesto, Swamp Terrorists, and Insane Clown Posse, a clear melding of various definitive styles can be distinguished on this album. This melding however, is far from being a shadow of any of the aforementioned. The way in which these styles are combined is truly a revolutionary step in its own direction. Lets just say that out of a 17 track album, Ultimatum stays very strong for the whole listen. Even with “Success” being my least favorite track, the other 16 truly kicked my ass. Highlyrecommended. ( : e-mail) Daryl Litts (In_Faction)

Signs Of Chaos - Departure-Designer Lounge Beats (Medcom/Roadrunner) An amazing new album from the prolific studio of Michael Wells, the mastermind behind Greater Than One, Technohead, Tricky Disco, The Man, etc. Those familiar with Wells past work know that he has traversed most electronic styles from hip-hop to gabberhouse while always retaining a decidedly avant-garde slant to his work which separates it from most of the redundant tripe produced in those fields. His new Signs Of Chaos album is a melding of his low, ultrafunk style with elements of 60s lounge/exotica and is just as subtly groovy and cohesive as his last album Frankenscience (though not half as dark and menacing). The vibe on Departure is decidedly laid-back, though occasional stabs at drum & bass pop up amongst the mostly down tempo, psychedelic hip-hop proceedings. Wells is the master of “less is more,” or more precisely,of making more sound like less. His sampling is so dense - bird and cricket chirps, everyday electronic sounds, Spanish violins, acoustic guitars - that it’s just as easy to get lost in the atmosphere trying to hear them all as it is to completely miss them. 18 tracks of absolute sampling brilliance makes for one of the best unclassifiable albums of the year. ( Dave Bellard

Skinhorse - Heavy Beats Deep Grooves (Static Records) The date says ’94-’95 but it sounds a bit more like ’91-’92. This debut disc straight from Detroit contains 6 tracks, 3 mixes of one instrumental & 3 w/ vocals. The instrumental, “More Life” (and its remixes) saves this disc from a quick trip to the used CD store. Each of the 3 mixes are awesome explorations into the hypnosis that electronic music can be with ambient synth chords stretched over pulsating beats that all but force you to move. On the other hand, the vocal tracks continue to beat (no pun intended) the cliche “industrial” sounds (long overused by the likes of NIN & their clones even by ’94) into the ground. I’d gladly take a full album of “More Life” remixes. (Static: 17215 Mack Ave, Detroit, MI 48224 : J Mundok

Sunshine - Bluepillville vols. 1 & 2 (Tape Hiss Recordings) Sunshine dedicates its low fidelity aural stimulation to all the insane creatures of planet earth. The band’s sound ranges from what it calls “raw self referential silliness to something like a video game gone wrong to pure noise.” Recorded in 1992 and 1993, the two volume Bluepillville cassettes present a diverse collection of electronic/industrial soundscapes, some falling more into the techno/dance arena and others more in the ambient/noise arena. The secret to what makes these songs so organic and refreshing lies in its very structure. Most tracks are a collage of sorts, with looping tones, samples, noises, and textures. The loops, each of a different length, intertwine and interact in various ways as they repeat throughout each piece. The effect is familiar to anyone who has visited a photocopy shop and been surrounded by different machines running different tasks at different speeds. The different sounds combine and the rhythmic texture continually changes as it goes. This looping technique harkens back to the days before sequencers, when loops were created by splicing pieces of audio tape. Occasional distorted vocals add just a touch of uneasiness lest the industrial rhythms lull the listener into a cyberpunk trance. Sometimes a song seems to melt as you listen, as if the cassette and indeed the entire car stereo were left too long in the sun. (Web: Craig Conley

Testify - Crack The Mind (Van Richter) Testify emerges again, this time armed with 5 new tracks and 4 remixed by the likes of Die Krupps, Die Warzau, and Plastic Noise Experience. Relentlessly harsh and ever aggressive, the team of Myk Jung, Moses W. (both of The Fair Sex), Mathias Black, and Ulf H. return to remind us that they are the reigning masters of the dark, guitar-driven industrial niche. For those of you who wish Ministry hadn’t gone soft after Psalm 69, Testify will more than make up for what you’ve been craving. From devastating guitar manipulation to controlled insanity, Testify’s “Crack The Mind” is an awesome addition to Van Richter’s catalogue. (web site : e-mail) Daryl Litts (In_Faction)

The Unquiet Void - Scorpio (AlterCulture Records) Descent. A descent into the inner structures of one’s very being. That is what the music of The Unquiet Void will do to you. You will travel. Atmospheric. Etheric. Ambient.... Horrific. Imagine a soundtrack to the horrors imagined & The Unquiet Void pens the notes. When I sat down to listen to the debut release, “Scorpio,” I didn’t know really what to expect. I opened a book on ghost stories, the chupacabra & the Tampa Dead Zone.... Wrong book for that music. Goosebumps sprouted my arms, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. A chilling masterpiece. It is written that this release was done as a soundtrack to a movie, well I have to find that movie (you can’t have one without the other). The Unquiet Void is one man, J. Wallach, & over 10 years of hardwork, frustration & the inevitable collapse of a human being, “Scorpio” was done. And man, it was well worth it. Packaged nicely into the grroves of the disc is a lot of emotion. A talent unsurpassed; the cosmic writing of music through emotions. Now, The Unquiet Void has attracted labels & compilations have songs of his. Expect more. Whether for another movie or different, The Unquiet Void is a disc that everyone must have in their collection. (360 Meyran Ave 1st floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; Web: Gub X Fook

V/A - Aesthetic Inspection (A.I. Musick) This CD-R comp from Void’s A.I. Musick provides a taste of nine separate noise/experimental projects including Luminescent Debris (100% lived & improvised Void and Aster). Signalbleed contributed 3 tracks: the sample-casio beat happy “unsound(RExcerpt),” “glitch” and “relay(RExcerpt)” which, like Worldhate’s “zero-tolerance” makes you feel like a stroll into the heart of a nuclear explosion.. One of my favorite tracks is the repetitive bass friendly “aorta dissolution” from Knotsoul and Twitch’s “organ extraction” (which sounds very much as the title suggests). Other projects represented are Analphylaxis, Aster, Pal’s Cack Kitchen and Internal Empty. (A.I. Musick: POB 132, Quinby, VA 23423 USA :

V/A - Digital Intersect Compilation #1 - machinemeltmuziq (Digital Intersect) K7 This is an awesome collection of underground electronic/industrial artists brought to you by one of the forefront underground zines/labels, Digital Intersect. Compiled by B.D. Scheffel, the contributions come in from Matrix, Arthur Loves Plastic, DXM and others. This was the first place I heard Lucid Technologies with the ambient classic “Submerge” from Off-Line (now one of my absolute favorite albums). Another standout track is “Cryogenic Trip” from Armitage 6. This is a very high quality glimpse into the current underground from a fantastic electronic/experimental zine...expand your horizons. ( web site : e-mail) J Mundok

V/A - Digital Intersect Compilation #2 - Transparency: The Glass Horizon (Digital Intersect) K7 The second DI Comp has a focus on experimental/ambient and opens with an explosive contribution from CAT, “Drums Minus Subtance Equals This” perfectly melting into the Near Death Experience mix of Captive Audience’s dramatic “Bring Your Pillow.” Other contributions are from R4, Dahmer’s Diner, Flatline Construct, Musical Nature and many others. Highly recommended for those eager to stretch the boundaries of sound. This collection proves to be yet another great source for what’s happening in the underground on a very high quality cassette release from Digital Intersect. ( web site : e-mail) J Mundok