Reviews 10-08-2005 


Music Reviews TDE




Battle of the Mind

by Save the Robot

Visit Tip.World.Online

I must admit to being bloody confused about this one. I’ve been playing it pretty much continuously the last few days – which is rare in itself, but not without purpose. You see, while this is more or less your standard fullon fodder (albeit impeccably done), there seems to me to be this very dynamic energy to the music. Which essentially, I’ve been telling myself, is what dance music is about: within its confines, you slap in all the energy you can in order to motivate the crowd as much as possible. Yes there are a lot of chord changes, yes there’s a lot of high end, and yes there’s a lot of formula going on here. But within these confines… holy crap, does it work. When Battle Of The Mind is at its best (Off The Assembley Line, X1 Filter) it has the same raw excitement as The Infinity Project’s Feeling Weird. And in general, it’s music that conspires to create possibly the tightest fullon dance experience around at the moment. It’s also fun: listening to this is not unlike listening to Rock Bitch Mafia and its ‘avin it, good-times-roll attitude.

The acid frenzy drop on Off  The Assembly Line is among the best bits of Goa I’ve ever heard, and the midrange run that holds Save The Future together leaves your brain with an indelible imprint of one word: “tasty”. Battle Of The Mind and iRobot offer perhaps the chunkiest smile-on-the-face, sun-streaming-down, dancing-with-a-blonde arsewigglin’ of the year. But it’s not all a bed of psychedelic roses. The ten tracks here all follow a formula. Which is fine, it’s to be understood. What it means is that the tunes themselves are often a little difficult to tell from one another; Electro Chemical, for example, is ballsy all the way through but stuck in with nine identical twins, once it’s over you can’t really remember what you liked about it (and, contrary to popular belief, I don’t normally review on drugs). The twists and tricks start to sound somewhat familiar by track four or five, and you start recognising the presets. Also there’s a lot of reliance on 2005’s fullon enemies: chord changes and high-end stabs. I respect that dance music styles all feed into and off each other all the time (it’s how they develop), and all we’re seeing is the indoor/club trance fusing with the psychedelic but… you know what I mean. At the end of the day though, it all makes for staggeringly effective music. And despite the shortcomings and formulaic music, this album has probably been played more around my house than any other of the same style this year.

Whatever, it’s without doubt one of the more significant releases of the year, for which all credit goes to Tip – and to the producers (finding out that boresmiths Quadra and Alien Project are behind this act did little to spoil my enjoyment of it.) I guess what sums this up is that within the fullon subgenre, this is the current high watermark. Tight, bright and bang up to date. Whether you’ll still be digging it in six months is another matter entirely, but the energy and excitement of this alone should strike a chord with any lover of dancefloor-moving electronic music.

 Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.


Mind Games

by Various Artists

Visit Doof Records' website


You’ve got to love this label. I know I do: consistently interesting and inventive, and without whom we wouldn’t have REV, Double REL, Iron Madness or… well, read on. Entropy’s Robosize has one of the best introductions I’ve heard in a while, a cheeky filtered countdown then bosh, straight into the madness. It starts out in a standard hard fullon vein, and then picks up more and more attitude and gnarl. There’s a great drop where is shifts sideways into a shuffled groove, with acidy goodness squeezed from every pore, before jumping back into a cracking final run. Longstanding psyreviews favourite Double REL pulls a particularly evil rabbit out of the hat with Back Dad City. I love REL because of the funk and humour mixed in with the gnarl, and this is no mistake. It’s definite ass-wiggle stuff here, the midsection clears to create a wonderful airy groove, before a series of breaks, stops and peaks send it raining havoc on the dancefloor. CCL’s CCL is a deep chugger which, at 142pm, basically holds things back. It’s really got the atmosphere of a big tune bubbling underneath, but can’t quite blow its lid off enough to come out. Terranoise’s Vitamin T is maniac all the way, easing temporarily into a slomo groove that even has a touch of melody going on.

The textures swim around wonderfully on this one, and the drop is something you have to hear to believe: a massive peak, dozens of false starts, then headfirst into a vat of LSD-jelly before you get centrifuged for good measure. Abomination & Loren’s White Devil is an utter cracker, much deeper and more subtle than the preceding tracks. It builds up into an awesome riff, full of midrange and with plenty of twist. One break and drop later and – trust me – you won’t believe what you’re hearing. Discordant and unbalanced sounds fly around the room, seemingly at odds with each other. It really is an incredibly clever record. Encephalopaticys (bless you) turf out an incredibly hard monster with Moments Of Pain, a completely unforgiving bastard of a track. It’s enough to make this here cup of tea (*sips tea*) feel like a dodgy pill. Electrypnose’s Cypher goes deep, way deep: most of the action is right down the bottom end, so whenever it creeps upwards and brings in the midrange, you sure as hell notice it. Not a melody in sight on this one, it’s all about layered textures and I have to say that it works better on here than pretty much anywhere else I can think. Cypher isn’t immediate by any means, which might mean it doesn’t get played out as much as it should – but this is hypnotic, evolving trance the way it used to be done. Kashyyyk’s Charly & Ervin opens with a Flintstones sample (question: why aren’t there more of these?) and whips it up into a black mulchy frenzy. I mean this really is filthy. Disgustingly so. It’s like violent pornography, but in a good way. Cactus’ Psych Reaction makes me laugh out loud whenever I hear it, the beats are something ridiculous like 280bpm at the start, and there’s lots of trickery through the track with dropped beats, missed lines, all with a conspiring intricacy to it. Sheesh. Well, at the end of the day it’s another class compilation from Doof. Better than BOOO, more listenable than Forest, it could be their best compilation yet. Proof that the whole “dark psy” gig has got plenty more life left in it.

Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.



by Various Artists

Visit Com.Pact Records website

This pretty much slipped in under the radar here at psyreviews towers. And admit it, from the cover or tracklist,
it’s not something the average punter will get terribly excited about. Slide it into your CD player though, and things take on an unexpectedly high-quality tone. Sublime, massage-quality chill with a gorgeously modern, smooth feel. Solarians’ Spring Thing is one of the finest bits of music I’ve heard all year, it’s deep and its fluid and has this sort of hippy-dub feel to it, without going too far into either individual territory. Tribalistic Society’s Aarhus On A Sunday Afternoon is another interesting one, very laidback and more fluid than an alcoholic’s breakfast…. with sounds borrowed from smooth house, the overall feel is fantastic and very individual. TKY’s Long Before This Day is sort of like a Rhodes-Reggae piece, peppered with comedy samples, and it works well. Lish’s Blue has a sort of eternal-classic feel to it, like it’s something you’ve heard a million times before on classic Café Del Mar compilations. I mean this in a good way: it cruises and glides along with a rare tonal grace. As for Sunfire’s Electronic… christ. I’d decided to pop into the shower, cranked the volume up so I could still sort of hear this CD. Scrub scrub scrub, nice groove, sounds good, wash wash wash, and then… this amazing melody comes rising out: at once sad, happy, reflective, in-love, out-of-love. Gorgeous. I dashed out of the shower, and dripped water all the way back to the stereo to check it out: you just have to experience this one, kids. It’s simple yet incredibly effective, with a melody that sounds as though everything’s being put right in the world. Phew.

Visual Paradox’s Gayo doesn’t quite cut the mustard, and sounds a little generic, but TKY vs Max Maxwell’s Twilight is right back up there again: eastern/spiritual wailing, complex arpeggios that seem to fly around the room, and a bassline you feel rather than hear, to hang it all together. Wilson Stout’s Helpless I had to skip, it starts out nice enough and the production works a treat but… the vocal… it’s veering on the wrong side of poppy. I can appreciate this in an Israeli way, I can also appreciate this in the way that it does technically *work* at this point in the compilation… but… ack. Sesto’s Slow Move is a decent enough tune, but it smacks itself into this album like a bull in a chillout shop. Elements that make it good (renegade snares, dropped beats) don’t fit on this CD; which is a pity. I’m sure Sesto could do a pretty smashing track if they tried something that would be in keeping with the vibe of the album; such as Psionyx’s Deimos Vista. Straight back in with the vibe again, a smooth and unfolding tune that just eases its way along… delightful. To close the album, Misted Muppet rinse out a two-minute work, pretty much what you’d expect from these guys really, their typical chord swoops translated onto slomo piano and… yeah! Okay! So what of this album then? Couple of observations. DJ Auspexx, who compiled this, has a rare ear for music. All the tunes here have flow (barring Sesto), they’re pitched well in between emotions and I think this is what Auspexx was trying to do. There’s something about this album, more than the sum of its parts. An absolute f***ing gem, make no mistake about it. I just hope this album can raise its head enough above the general dearth of releases to get the recognition it deserves. Magnificent.  

Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.


The Immaculate Perception

by Nystagmus

Visit Sundance Records website

Blimey. And f**k. And then Blimey again. Concept album, anyone? This is one of the deepest and most succulent albums in some time, and I cant think of anything else that’s come close. Roughly speaking, the sound is like a more intricate Talpa, or a more imaginative old-era Infected Mushroom before they said “hey what's this, it’s a microphone, okay cool let’s plug it in” and sent the world of psytrance generally in the direction of six-year-old bacon. Ananda opens out with a massive string intro, and when the 4-4 drops it’s very unexpected. The cuts and sweeps are also all about taking you by surprise, and it’s enough of a rollercoaster to listen to the thing, let alone dance to it on this week’s trendiest combination of designer psychedelics (tea and vitamins this week, I think.) Tommy Is Dead is a wonderful tune, one of the only tunes in recent years that I’ve played for a roomful of people and we’ve all sat around pissing ourselves laughing at the sample, then chinstroking at the production. It’s a long, long sample from what sounds like an old US drug-propaganda flick, telling how a promising young student loses the plot on acid. The music feeds off the dialogue perfectly; and so far I’ve said nothing about one of the most evil, menacing, wonderfully simple riffs this side of Gamma Goblins. Things That You Don’t Wanna Do is a great little snip from Bill Cosby Talks To The Kids About Drugs, for which he won a Grammy in 1971 (it’s true, fact fans.) Nystagmus drops a lot of these in, cheeky drug-related samples that form mini-tracks in between the full-length tunes. At first I wasn’t convinced about them, but the trick is to listen to what’s going on in the background… They’re all hilarious and ought to keep the rest of the psytrance world in samples for a long time yet. It’s with You’re Messed Up that things start to get really tasty. This is purely the best track Infected Mushroom never got around to making, or they’d wish they could have made. It moves in a similar way to stuff on The Gathering, but for my money it has much more soul, much more substance, much more gnarl. And of course, the bang up to date production makes it especially sweet. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor takes the foot off the accelerator (if such a thing is possible at 147bpm). It’s spacious, and the sounds float in and out almost of their own accord. Once again the arpeggios and changes are reminiscent of Infected, but with a kaleidoscopic restraint that had always been beyond their reach. The Marijuana Cigarette is more sampled propaganda with some amusing samples in the background, before we kick off into Weird Noises which – dare I say it – does exactly what it says on the tin. The production here is superb: a better word for “production” would be conceptualisation. The sounds here are just staggering, with orchestra first, then beefy guitar (that sounds a million miles away from shit), then the sound of synths committing suicide to Marilyn Manson (or if they’re ‘educated’ then Jim Morrison’s dire spoken word “poetry” pap. Sorry, personal anti-goth thing).

Never Turn Your Back is a wonderful piece of psytrance, I love the way it comes alive and makes a fairly tired sample sound new again. The layers and intricacy here just have to be heard to be believed, it’s just off da hook, as XZibit might say. Soulgasm is a mad rush of spinal arpeggios and flurries, once again with triumphant production and a solid vibe of dancing like your life depended on it – it’s a real moment, stuck in the right-now with nothing to hold you back, and it’s captured on this CD in binary. Sheesh. Consciousness, however, is the real masterpiece on this album – it beggars belief, for all the reasons stated above on this album (production, concept, vision, feeling) and then some… and despite being the oldest track here, it rules the roost as far as I’m concerned. Just…. I mean check it out, basically. You then get a wonderful piece based on a sample from the much-circulated video of LSD being tested on British army troops, and then it’s into Reality, another humdinger. It’s a game of two halves this one – dualistic, with a mature melodic nature at odds with a darker, moodier side. So… well, bloody hell basically. Once again Sundance have pulled something truly psychedelic out of the hat. It’s difficult to go from this to even more twisty fullon stuff and still call it “psychedelic” with a straight face. Not only will The Immaculate Perception scratch your Infected Mushroom itch, it’s also probably one of the most intelligent, considered, non-patronising and lastingly enjoyable releases under this genre’s banner. Ever.

 Reviewed by Damion courtesy of the Psyreviews website.

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