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The Genocides
The Genocides
by Thomas M. Disch
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
31 used & new from CDN$ 5.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Gardening Bipedal Decay, March 26 2004
This review is from: The Genocides (Paperback)
When something dominates the landscape long enough, it falls into the intricate patterns that ultimately lead to its downfall. Complacency, the feeling of superiority and supreme authority, overpopulation and spreading the herd paper thin; these are all symptoms of that coming demise. It can be seen in every creature colonizing on any continent, from the largest of animals to the smallest insects. And nothing reflects that teetering on the brink of perpetual extinction more than mankind.
In The Genocides, this point is painstakingly brought to the surface, showcasing exactly how mankind would react to sweeping changes and how easily the proverbial "fall from grace" could be fashioned. First come the seeds of destruction in the shape of mysterious plants, growing at levels that astound even the most studious minds while being followed by the atypical reactions hinged on dismissal that one would expect from "civilized thinkers." As the plants start claiming ground and choking out the human blight, the reaction remain as we would expect them to be, unwavering in their arrogance, and the people see themselves as dominate. They don't see this as an invasion because plants couldn't be invaders, after all, and they opt instead to fight it with poisons that seem to keep the problem in check and methods that keep it out of sight. Slowly, however, people come to realize that this is all a mirage and that extinction is looming just beyond that next horizon. And there, in a town painted to the backdrop of crumbling cities and mammoth greenery, Thomas Disch begins painting a vivid portrait of what humanity truly entails.
There were many elements of the story that sprang from those pages and that were captivating as I eagerly devoured page after page. I personally liked the way the characters sprang to life, their ideas and ideals mingling with their backgrounds, and I liked the way all sorts of normally-mundane items started marching back into lives that had forgotten them. Food, grueling efforts to keep portions of land, needs for medicine, the elements; these were all there and they were all there in kind. Little tastes that we'd become numb to began taking effect, with people dropping like so many flies as the going grew tougher and tougher, and Disch painted it well. And, out of that, he painted something that I liked even better.
One of the best things about Disch's work was that he wasn't trying to become a mouthpiece for the redeeming factors housed in mankind. He didn't gloss over the fact that brutality is a key component to survival when structure becomes disheveled, and he doesn't try to bore his readers with passion plays that encompass only a portion of that "light vs. dark" spectrum. Instead, he explores the way the individuals feel and how they manage to survive on both a mental and a physical plateau when the world falls apart. And sometimes this means doing little things to keep the past alive or finding someone to latch onto that you really don't care about. And sometimes it means doings deeds that are even worse, eternally answering not only the question of what people are willing to do to stay alive but also the question of where sausage will come from when pigs are gone but still savored in the deep spiciness of memory.
This is WELL worth working into your hectic reading lives.

Beyond Flatline
Beyond Flatline
Price: CDN$ 16.48
6 used & new from CDN$ 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a Story About Fire, Feb. 29 2004
This review is from: Beyond Flatline (Audio CD)
When I first listened to Seabound's Beyond Flatline, I wasn't taken with it. I, like many other people, dismissed the effort as another edition in the same EBM genre, not taking in all the little things that make the band differently. While that perhaps wasn't fair, it has been warranted as of late because of the reproduction of what sells becoming a staple of that (and any other) musical outlet. After sitting it aside for a week and then returning to it, however, I found quite a few things that allowed it to grow on me. I noticed that many of the songs went outside of what I was accustomed to with first releases, allowing me the electronic sounds I've become accustomed to but also allowing me a twist that I liked. Within the worlds endowed with both vocals and beats, there was the most important factor -lyrics. And, ultimately, that is one of the essential qualities in making something memorable.
There are a few tracks on the album that I would think of sitting aside were I scanning it. Still, there are many quality pieces and a few that grew on me almost immediately. I personally liked "Poisonous Friend" and its attempt to capture what it feels like to have someone at your side that is frightening to behold. The lyrics paint an interesting picture of someone in a relationship with another person and the noticing of what they are that comes as time progresses. "You frighten me" mingles hand in hand with watching her and wondering how it feels to feel like her when she "annihilates a friend" while being afraid to show that. And that's pretty interesting. I also thought "Torch" was a nice storytelling piece, using analogy to showcase some interesting imagery. "One by one we sacrificed our pawns for the protection of our queen" starts the tale, leading down a road twined with images of someone torching the kingdoms we all build upon the properties build and bordered by emotion. And then there were a lot of other varietized works that caught my audio eye when I sifted through the works. Pieces like the more sadistic "Digital," touting someone innocent that was "attracted to trouble" as they're taken and sampled, are also worth mentioning. "I took her to a forest, I tied her to a tree, I monitored the action, it's astounding how ruthless we can be." That seems to show another side of the same compendium that offered up songs of sadness in "Soul Diver" and the touching "Watching Over You," and I'm a fan of changing seasons within the same album.
When listening to them, it should be mentioned that they aren't always pulsing for the dancefloor. Some songs have beats that bleed involuntary movement from my arms and a tempo tapping through my feet when I'm listening to them, but some simply paint pictures and set moods. While that isn't something that everyone looks for, I personally found the diversity blinding and I found myself wanting to play them more and more as the listening sessions we spent together stretched on. It's commendably worth obtaining.

Royal Astronomy
Royal Astronomy
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 13.95
6 used & new from CDN$ 7.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Always the Fear, Jan. 31 2004
This review is from: Royal Astronomy (Audio CD)
U-ziq possesses me from time to time, forcing me to return to certain albums and marvel at the way they fell from the musical forge. Its never really a particular purpose that brings me back to each electronic byproduct, nor is there really ever something to call "method" within that madness. Sometimes it's simply bits and pieces of the proposal itself that make me want the whole. When it comes to Royal Astronomy in particular, it's sometimes the layering that makes me think that a certain song is amazing, and other times its simply the choices that were utilized when furthering that audio dynamo. Whether it's the pinging that draws me in or the use of instrumentation that sounds like classical music played through someone's dreams on acid, its always a good fix.
Royal Astronomy has a little of everything within it, and I found the album amazingly done when it comes down to the dynamic it possesses. There are different types of music mixed into the mold, building better tempos and meters by merging blends of "something old" and "something new" until it makes something beautiful. That causes the mediums to be different as well, and the hints of shading and the musical textures used to shift moods depending on what type of moody lighting is used is delightful.
What first introduced me to the album was the video for "The Fear," a lovely sounding track that's like beauty beginning in the middle of a forming sea of storms, and its always stayed with me as my favorite track on the album. It begins with a beautiful number, a female voice reaching out from within it, and then it becomes a swell of motion and noise that reaches out to take over. I've always liked that approach to music, too, the calm in the midst of a sea of sounds, with it grasping onto me and tugging me into the beauty of the thing defined within. I also like the approach taken here and the instrumentation used, with quite a few classical sounds mixing into the electronic fold and blending seamlessly into the sometimes-bizarre surroundings. Because of that, I liked the strangely epic yet oddly tempoed "Scaling," the way "Slice" builds itself up while dipping into an electronic swirl of textures, and the way "Gruber's Mandolin" shouts its presence.
Besides those pieces, there are the more electronic sounds incorporated into the mix; with "The Hwicci Song" taking advantage of a little song of static and a beat mingling as one, "Carpet Muncher" building around some of the noise fibers I've become accustomed to from U-ziq as they ride the electronica rollercoaster ride, and "World of Leather" also playing a little building game within that sound-oriented vortex. Then there are the almost hip-hop sounds found here as well, the haunting ballads mixing and mingling in songs like "Goodbye, Goodbye," and a few other fashions forming the work as a whole.
While this album has been met with a few stiff lips, its actually something I can return to time and again because it has so many components within it. The mixes of melody and madness, the tempos within the tempests; these are done in ways that are rewarding to hear.

Brace Yourself (8 Tracks)
Brace Yourself (8 Tracks)
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 28.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 9.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Follow the Bouncing Pong, Jan. 31 2004
I was a latecomer when it came to U-ziq, sampling some of their first electronic pieces last and some of the pieces some described as "their worst" first. I actually thought those were all good works, too, finding "Royal Astronomy" to be a good album even though it seemed to be frowned upon and also enjoying the early portions, too. Still, that's the way that all bands are and U-ziq seems to be no exception. They cater to different people while they shift through phases, toting different brands of taste from one year to the other. And what would one expect, really, from a band experimenting with sound?
I personally thought that Brace Yourself was done nicely, with it sparking my mind in different ways depending on the track. I liked the mad scramble playing out in the remix of "Brace Yourself" and carrying itself (albeit in a different light) into "Kubba."
I didn't like the degeneration of "Brace Yourself" toward the center of the song, the "follow the bouncing pong" sound actually hurting it because it was overused just a little it too much and killing some of the other sounds. Still, I found some of the layering in that madhouse something of a treat, enjoying a little of the videogame taste housed within folds of the noise.
"Kubba" held itself together better, with some of the sounds drifting to a resting point in the album and then growing atop the build, making it serene and still mad. The calm points in it, around 2:30 into the song, were really nice a layered, and that made it well worth listening to.
I especially enjoyed the atmosphere cast into "Vaken Bolt," enjoying the almost floaty sound it birthed after the breeding of the track to my mind was finished, and I thought it set a interesting mood. I like the electronically haunted sounds floating to the top of the still-energetic stew, and thought that this piece was perhaps the best portion of the EP. I especially liked it after it developed somewhat, getting over a minute into the song and mixing in a small tapestry of sonic threads into the framework.
"Losers March" was also pretty nicely done, with it utilizing many of the same elements that made the remix of "Brace Yourself" work out. It has a nice electronic feel to it, pacing itself well from beginning to end while giving a little madness to the beat from time to time just for kicks before it totally breaks down. For some reason I liked the chaos in the song, too, and I liked the way it seemed to teeter on the brink of it before it all fell down at the end.
"Summer Living" has something of a mad electric rhythm to it, with sounds shooting through it at randomly contrived places and building blocks beating their ways into it as it lays sonic stepping stones.
"Intellitag" is also a track I enjoyed a lot, with it taking sounds that seem almost calm and mixing them with a somewhat mad percussion section. I'd be listening to the cascade of noises, one moving in and another out, and I saw that it was all making the minute key strokes that were noticeable here and there seem like strange siren songs when they play in the background. And that struck me as something almost primally beautiful.
And then there's "Abmoit," a build piece that isn't anywhere near my favorite flavor of song, and "Brace Yourself (Reprise)" finishing off the fold.
The only problem I would note with the album as a whole is the fact that I didn't like one track on it and that it is indeed an EP. I personally find EP's lacking in many a right, wanting more when I finally get to them and notice that they only offer a taste of what I was in the market for, but that's rarely a bad thing if it leaves me wanting. I also wouldn't say this was U-Ziq's best, but its still worth checking out - provided that this isn't your starting point when you begin your listening odyssey.

Confield
Confield
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 24.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 8.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Other-Worldly Meter Reading, Jan. 31 2004
This review is from: Confield (Audio CD)
When my friends get bored with what they're listening to and want to hear something original (and by original I mean that they've played out most other types of EBM, electonica, 4/4s, and need something altogether different), I always buy them Autechre CD to try on for size. The reason that works so well is because Autechre can be likened "noise pioneers," building better electronic sandcastles for the kid that has everything and still wants more, and they do through means that aren't easily manipulated. They take experimental portions of layering, hinging backgrounds of beat onto curtains of effect, and they birth articles of clothing no album I've owned before has ever worn. From the early mornings where they crafted ambient sounds to the experimental "now" that puts them totally ahead in the arms race, its really something "unique" (a word I try not to use much because of sounds like these) to form an addiction around.
Confield is an album that isn't going to be for everyone and you shouldn't feel bad if you can't get into it. I actually suffered that feeling when I first picked it up, noting some constriction in my mind and some angst in my wallet as I listened on, thinking that this couldn't be something I paid good money for. While we don't always realize it, its oftentimes hard to set aside preconceived notions of where noise ends and music begins, and I found myself not really liking this album at first because of this mainstreamed "sound backwash effect." The way the beat forms and the way the meter reads is odd and odd denotes fear, and that foreign element of sound sitting outside of my comfort zone threw me off at first.
In the beginning, I thought that there was only noise and the album experienced a time when the shelf was the only world it knew.
Later, however, I gave it another chance, it calling my name and begging me to listen because I love so many of Autechre's masterpieces, so I answered it and found myself actually "getting it" for the first time. In places where I heard nothing before, I could see the separation of the beats and the background, making out the melodies and the layers. And, god, was it ever good.
I'm not even going to begin trying to break the album apart as a whole, because a lot of interesting thoughts have been by other reviewers and they've done so with talent. Instead, I simply wanted to try and pick off a few songs and attempt to say that these pieces managed to catch my mind's eye and give a little on the "why" as well.
When I spun through it that second time, "Eidetic Casen" captured me in its almost eerily haunting sound right away. It has such a strange ambiance to it, both floating and constricting at the same time, and I found myself drawn to that. The images it evoked were interesting and then some, to be sure.
"Sim Gishel" also caught me slacking when I started looking back once more, with those sounds starting out like some type of early videogame and then leading into a bassline that is truly captivating. I loved the development of it, the way it rushed forward and stole the show, and it hooked me pretty quickly.
And then there's the totally bizarre "Lentic Catachresis." The best way to perhaps describe its sound is to capture something a friend of mine and I agreed on when first hearing it, citing it as "two machines angrily chatting over coffee." It has a alien sound to it, like machines actually speaking in a background of sound, only I'm not tuned into what they're saying. It's an interesting conversation at first, too, until it escalates and the caffeine from all that coffee kicks in. And then it's simply a lovely strain feeding from some chaotic spectrum.
If you're new to Autechre, perhaps this isn't the first place you should step in at and begin exploring. While I'd call this album remarkable, these are waters to slip into slowly, submerging yourself into the sights and sounds they evoke a little at a time before delving into the calms and the chaos. It is remarkable, though, perhaps taking some time to finally sink in but making a piece of architecture that will excite the epicenters of your waking mind when it finally tunes in.

Bloodchild
Bloodchild
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 14.75
15 used & new from CDN$ 10.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Caution: This is not NEW material!, Jan. 30 2004
This review is from: Bloodchild (Audio CD)
:wumpscut: is something dark and chaotic, brooding and sometimes hideous in form, and it always brings interesting tracks to the table. Sitting at the end of the EBM rainbow, it offers a mix of highly charged and somber songs rolling into one stockyard, recording both the slaughterhouse of emotive responses and the horrors that have engulfed millions. And its always an interesting experience when listened to. From the voxing wilderness where many a good vocal performance lies, Rudy Ratzinger has been perfecting his art, honing it into something that isn't afraid to throw public opinion to the side. He vocalizes range and wantonness, hatred and the dark spots that call out from our fears, and it doesn't pull its punches. Within a medium that oftentimes suppresses expression, that is beautiful to behold.
Before I begin, let me say this beforehand because there seems to be alot of confusion on the topic. For anyone that hasn't listened to :wumpscut: and is looking to see exactly what the band offers, then Blood Child is not for you because it ISN"T NEW MATERIAL. It houses two discs, 34 tracks, two NEW songs, and 17 unreleased pieces and has a lot of tracks, but almost all of these are older pieces. It has tracks from Small Chambermusicians (that was pressed into only 70 copies, is a European release, and impossible to find) Defcon (pressed into only 50 copies), and other albums that are nice to try to go back and reclaim. So, this would be more like something for the :wumpscut: collector than someone thinking 34 tracks is a bargain. Now, to the music:
The two "new tracks on the album are worth picking up the album for in my mind, with Hang Him Higher and Praise Your Fears actually both amounting to nice pieces of work. "High Him Higher" is possibly one of my favorite :wumpscut: tracks anyhow, with the beat something odd for the band and for EBM as a whole. It minimally begins with the electronic version of piano, building to the beat, and then kicks into the vocals that I've always found impressive because of their emotional charge and yet darkly somber sounds. "Praise Your Fears" is less of a vocal track and more of an energetic beat denouncing those who don't find "evil" something tangible. It begins with the clip "if you don't believe in the existence of evil, you have a lot to learn" and then dots the catchy beat with cries of "praise your fears."
Then there are the unreleased tracks; "Anaesthetics," "Time Ticks Away," "Flangegod," "IrakI," "Logic of War," Run Like Hell Part 1 and 2," "The Dark Chamber," "Frozen Images,""Clinics," "K-u-t-t," "Equal Eye," Slovakian Hell," "March of the Crying," Irak2," "To the Sky," and "Lamandier."
I personally like a lot of these tracks, although you have to know going into them that many aren't composed to lyrics. Instead, many of these tracks are electronic anthems with hooks that are vocalized and nothing more. "Anaesthetics" is nice, with a few lyric lines, a somewhat electro-spooky beat, and some pretty dark distortion going on with some of the loops. It has a few redundant places in it that keep it from being a perfect song, however, but its still pretty nice. "Logic of War" is a nice track, with a nice beat, an interesting composition of vocals, and the loop "the logic of war seems to be that if a belligerent can fight, he will fight." "The Dark Chamber" is also pretty catchy, the lyrics sounding quite evil when displayed and quite dark because of the voxing style used. The beat could have been done a little better, perfected a little more, but the song is still an overall piece to praise. "To the Sky" is also a nice musical piece, as is "March of the Crying" and "Lamandier," with them all setting moods uniquely their own.
Besides the tracks mentions, there are also the ones gathered form other places. Mfast deposits three here ("Koslow," "Soylent Green," and "Default"), Small Chambermusicians a staggering seven of the ten it originally contained ("Stomp," "IrakI - second take," "Crucified," "Neolith," "Eternal," "Tsuchusch Domos," and "Zech Groove"), and Defcon lends four to the cause as well ("Pornograpghy," "The Hellion," "Phase Shifter," and "Throbberstalk"). These take from a variety of themes and a variety of beats, some really aggressive and some, like "Throbberstalk," really minimal and almost removed in a really dark sort of way. I was happy to see them collected this way, too, because a lot of these are tracks that have been elusive in the past and that are appreciated as a whole when showcased here.
:wumpscut: changes quite a bit sometimes, and many of the themes done are often the type that some don't want to hear. Still, that doesn't make them any less relevant or any less real because these are the things powering the really real world. While our mainstreamed airwaves don't reflect it, the lands in which we live and the statistics that we compile every day say that this is quite possibly much more real that the reality that we look at all the time. And that, in a frightening way, is interesting, frightening, and sad to taste when rolled out in a montage of sound. And that's why I buy everything, and why I'm glad to see the collected sounds showcased here.

Beyond Re-Animator [Import]
Beyond Re-Animator [Import]
DVD ~ Jeffrey Combs
Price: CDN$ 16.71
21 used & new from CDN$ 7.50

5.0 out of 5 stars This Experiment is Over!!!, Jan. 30 2004
This review is from: Beyond Re-Animator [Import] (DVD)
Herbert West is a man on the cutting edge of science. He's revolutionized thought as he's walked that fine line between experimentation and "morality," bringing the dead back from the grave and all the while proving that demise is merely a disease and not a functional piece of punctuation added to the end of the living equation. He's taken that a step further, too, proving that life exists in every portion of the whole and that each specimen he collects can be introduced to his re-agent and returned from the grave. A combination of eyes and a few fingers, an organ stew with limbs; he's been there and he's done that with a type of "morbid doodling" that has been interesting to watch. And now, 13 years after he was imprisoned for his achievements, he's found the very thing that tells the cells of the body to grow.
While its not reflected here, this movie actually premiered on the Sci-Fi network months before it was released on VHS or on DVD, and many of these reviews are for it. I know that because I watched it myself, seeing the things that were cut out and left incomplete before checking this page for the DVD release date. When I did I also noticed the lack of gore in some places because it had been cut for television, the lack of a certain part of the male anatomy fighting a rat at the end because it could be considered tasteless, and I also noticed waves in the story. So, those were pitches for an incomplete viewing. Still, the negative reviews do have a point and that is that you might not enjoy this if you don't have the right mindset.
In order to actually enjoy yourself and what this brings to the table, you have to be able to do a few things, and one of those things is to tell yourself that this is the story of Herbert West. While many can't accept this fact, the first in the series has been done, is long gone, and its never going to be done again. Everything after-the-fact is going to seem like a sequel and you aren't going to find a carbon copy of the original. You also aren't going to get the same actors (save the most wondrous one, Jeffrey Combs, who is crucial to this series) and you are going to have some problems due to budget restraints. Still, if you liked the series itself, you should be happy if you've followed the story this far because the third chapter fits in rather well.
While the plot of the movie is a little sketchy if you catch bits and pieces of it and drifts a tad when you get toward the end, its actually not that bad of a theory when you get down to it. As Dr. West points out, the human body loses three to four grams of weight when it dies. According to him, this NPE, or Nano Plasmic Energy, is the very building block of what makes life "alive." It tells the cells to grow, making the byproduct who and what it is because it could very well be the component many dub a soul. Accordingly, NPE can overcome many of the problems Dr. West has had in the past with the reanimated monstrosities he's created, allowing him to endow true life to the things he's returning to this side of living. It works better than the Thorazine he's been using to sedate them, after all, or the straight jackets he's used to keep them in check. The only thing is that he gets excited and, as everyone knows, nothing works exactly as the scientist pictures it because this always has been an on-going process
As far the other portions of the movie goes, it goes from "not that bad" to "impressive, considering the budget."
As far as the gore, there are some good examples of prosthetic effects - considering the amount of gore has been stepped down. You have some blood that rushes out really well, some bodies stripping themselves down to base elements, and you have other "portions" popping up. You do have some cheaper CGI sometimes taking up residence, too, but those aren't really a bother because this is somewhat of a comedy founded in the science of slapstick horror. Besides, a male portion of the anatomy fighting off a rat at the end is pretty funny stuff.
As far as acting goes, you get what you expect. You have some people that are bad, the great Jeffrey Combs that is always on because he is Herbert West to everyone following the series, and you have some people in the middle. Still, your setting, a jailhouse, allows some of that to be overlooked because you aren't exactly expecting a drove of great people in that place.
And, as far as the little Lovecraft joke in the name Howard Phillips, I got a laugh.
Also, watching the commentary "special feature", I noticed that IT'S A CUT MOVIE. With some scenes missing that you are shown in the director's commentary, you know it was cut before having an American release That's always sad, too, and it also shows what a translation to English will often get you - despite the R rating.
If you want to gage whether or not you might like it, you should simply ask yourself what you thought of the last two as a whole and then go from there. You should also ask yourself what you want to see in the movie, what its all about, and if you're going to see the undead or something more try to take place. As I said before, it is the story of Herbert West thirteen years after he's gone to jail, his partner now turned state's evidence, so things are going to be different. Still, Jeffrey Combs is Jeffrey Combs and that, at the end of the day, that sells itself to me.

Kooler Than Jesus
Kooler Than Jesus
Offered by Music on the Web
Price: CDN$ 14.82
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Methods Used When Obtaining Kult Status!, Jan. 28 2004
This review is from: Kooler Than Jesus (Audio CD)
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult has moved through quite a few types of music while on their way toward becoming "the most dangerous cult in America." From that early taste of the electronica/ industrial that would one day help reshape the way we view machines to music of an odder, more theme-oriented place of residents, they've managed to grow and become something that is, quite simply, entertaining. I've personally liked the way nothing is sacred to them and the way they come down on just about any subject they want to, from drugs and delusion to the observations birthed under the cross. Much of what they've done, especially in those early days, is golden.
Kooler Than Jesus is a little taste of quite a few themes, and its quite an entertaining piece of work to boot. It kicks off with "Kooler Than Jesus," with a nice beat reminiscent of the late 80s/early 90s and a few coal loops that are quite entrancing. Anytime I hear the name of the song, I automatically have a auditory flashback to "I am the electric messiah, the AC/DC God." Then there's "Devil Bunnies," changing pace and reflecting back to a time before me that births images of people with slicked hair settling things with knives. I like it, too, from the loops used in the song to the introductory snapping setting the mood. Next is "Nervous Xians," possibly one of my favorite songs done by My Life (and known, albeit at a different speed, from the movie The Crow), with so many pieces coming together in such a direct manner. From the sound clip starting the song off with a "reality is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes" bang to the lyrical content that "infects your carnal mind," it expresses such a positively charged message. And it does so by combining distortion in the lyrics, female vocals on top of those, and a beat that moves along at a nice pace. "The Devil Does Drugs" follows that up quite nicely, once again incorporating a lot of looped clips with an undercoating of electronic beats. The vocal distortion changes up nicely, too, worming its way into a song clocking in at over seven minutes and accenting the mostly clip-motivated song. Next is "First Cut," a dark sonnet mixing in some sounds from the last song on top of some rather dark vocals. The beat of this is quite aged, for sure, but its still nice to listen to and I always enjoy the propaganda sung into the songs exclaiming, "My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult." Besides, the satanic ritual movie clips mixed into it work pretty nice. "Shock at Point 6" is pretty funny when I think back on the time and the televangelists of the moment, knowing some of the things they went through during them. While this might seem a little old at first, the message could easily be translated onto the backs of today's mouthpieces as well, with a little "bow down, now give me everything!" And, lastly, "Resisting the Spirit" concludes the album, brining in an interesting mix of beats. I like the ethereal sound at the beginning, with the almost cultish vocals and eerie background music mixing with a gently strummed guitar. It is a pretty solid piece as well, falling into the definite "keeper" class as far as My Life hits, and is still nice to return to.
While the beats are old and the music is a bit aged (especially looking back), Kooler Than Jesus is actually a fun album and is pretty nice when it all comes down. The mainstay of the theme, the playgrounds of the flesh, translates well on any occasion and still works out when I go through the motions of that beat. Some of the album, five of the seven songs, were actually released before on "Some Have to Dance Some Have to Kill" and on "My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult," but this is still a nice addition to have around if you have them and nice if you don't.

Failure
Failure
Price: CDN$ 18.05
12 used & new from CDN$ 13.52

5.0 out of 5 stars The Letters on the Signs Have Long Since Faded, Jan. 27 2004
This review is from: Failure (Audio CD)
Tom Shear happens to have everything that it takes to be a superb musician. Not only does he have the taste in consturcting electronic beats and the skill to utilize the components necessary to manufacture something to capture the mindset, but he also has the voice to produce strains of emotion on planes that listeners can understand. Driven sometimes by anger and sometimes by sadness, those little hints come out in what he sings and they power the articles crafted. On top of that, he also has the mind of a composer when his beats are measured lyrically; the content capturing the moods of the moment whenever it is displayed. And, when it comes to Failure, that mood almost hurts to listen to.
When looking through the liner of the album, you'll notice something along the lines of, "In loving memory of my father, who took his like Thursday, October 28th, 1999." Listening, you'll also find in many of the songs, from telltale traces of it laying in tunes hinting toward what Tom was thinking to the powerful, tear-provoking "Disappointment." Quite a few of the songs on here are like that, actually, but none are quite like this song because of the way it all pieces together. Sometimes I hear the lines, "though you are gone, I am still your son. And while your pain is over, mine has just begun," and I can't really compose my thoughts because its all so raw and a wound to be captured here. Other songs on the album worth listening to would be most of them, but I'd pool out "Naked," "Divide," "Silence," "Awake," and "King of Insects" as ones I'd tout.
"Naked" has a tempo that moves along fairly well at 125 BPM, has a nice sound within it, and I personally like the decree in it stating, "Nothing can touch me, I've nothing left to take, For I am naked but I can never break." "Divide" is also a fairly-driven song with a 126 BPM count and a beat I really enjoy when it gets to the chorus. I personally like what Tom did with his voice on this track, too, and I also like the lyrics as well because they're pretty solidly constructed. They may actually be one of the more challenging pieces as far as wording goes, and I like the pictures he manages to paint while forging it. "Silence" is a little more BPMed at 135 and it has a different style to it than the other songs on the album. Instead of sorrow or pain, it is a song done with a darker form of voxing on the voice and seething within the lyrics. It harbors hatred in those words, running through and through, and its done to a nice tempo change as well. "Awake," clocking in at 138 BPMs, is a song about confusion and being lost, and it captures so much emotion as it plays out. It's a sad and somber song and one that speaks with a voice lost both in "the now" and in "the past." And its that emotion powering it that makes it one that almost everyone can relate to from at least one time in their lives. "King of Insects," the lowest BPM count on the album at 70, is actually one of my favorite songs because of the way it is also constructed. Not only is the beat one that is basic and yet expressive but the wording is so full while it plays out. It's a song of a challenging nature, confrontational in its decree, and its nicely constructed on all levels.
As far as Assemblage 23 is concerned, the body of work speaks for itself. In the three albums released and the three Assemblage 23 songs uniquely found on Addendum (plus the version of And I Ran, which is catchy when covered by Assemblage 23, and in the production job he did for another band as well), there are so many things worth praising. The mastery of lyrics and the assembling of songs are merely motions in a changing sea, however, and there are sure to be more things to come. So, when buying, check them all out because it's all worth tasting.

Second Path
Second Path
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5.0 out of 5 stars Do This With a Shake of Your Chains, Jan. 27 2004
This review is from: Second Path (Audio CD)
Cleen, a side-project birthed in part by one portion of the Haujobb equation and one Thorsten Meier, was actually something that went without a lot of recognition. Its somewhat a sad fate, too, because a lot of what they did in the electronically friendly, not so club trendy, arena of sound was something I actually found myself quite fond of. Had it not been for accidentally finding Cleaner (the baby of Meier after he and his companion parted ways and, in actually, this band with a name changed to avoid anger between the two)I would have missed out on this album and much of what is akin to a soothing ride on electro-tides with vocals that are wonderful to listen to.
While there are a few songs with tempos strong enough to call dance, mostly everything here is actually more of that odd reality when people get together and simply want to make good electronic music. The first track, "Sunburst", is actually one of my favorites, with all the crucial pieces of a catchy song coming together and taking over. It has the music that builds into a song you can remember, odd sounds sometimes flashing across some minimalist's beat-ridden path, and vocals that sound wonderful in their complexity. Part melody with a slight side of distortion, they are actually catchy and they actually grew on me pretty heavily after a time. The second track, "Freak," is an equally catchy number, although its more of a melody piece with some scattered sounds and a beat that allows a little development over the duration of the song. I like some of the ways it was engineered, too, the fashioning of it coming from a few varied pieces and making an interesting whole. "School was just the right place to perfect the expression of spitefulness in your face" sticks in my head a lot, and the message of the song, sung in a most beautiful manner, is hard to discount. "Transparent" is another track with excellent vocals, beautiful beats setting atop those sonically crafted mountains, and a nice sound that seems to stick with me when I listen to it. It has a slow-but-hectic main tempo, with lots of sounds crammed into as little a parking lot as possible, and it makes for good listening. Also noteworthy is the mostly musical "Did You Forget" that sometimes brings the line "Did you forget something" to the top to get caught in my listening mind, the totally beatstricken "separate live," and the faster tempoed, still hectic and yet darker sounding "restore."
All in all, the album is solidly constructed and is something that reminds me of Haujobb when they were doing alot of their interesting work beat-wise. It has solid vocals, a lot of catchy songs that make up for a few redundant ones, and its something I think most people that appreciate Metropolis-Records releases and the talents of those names mentioned will find appealing. Its disappearing into oblivion, too, and is perhaps an album you'll kick yourself for if you let it fade away.

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