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posted: Jan 15, 2007 category: Reviews

On The One And The Zero:

Secondary projects are always interesting. Normally they don't feel the necessity of living up to expectations -except for those that end up being more popular than the original artists- and can play with a wide range of possibilities. Fun, experimentation or simple curiosity can make artists compose songs in very different ways they would normally, and Scanalyzer is no exception. The band composed by Chris Randall (Sister Machine Gun) and Wade Alin (Christ Analogue) takes music to a different level for both of them. Full bodied and very melodic. That was the sound you first find in the liquid approach to drum'n'bass that Scanalyzer bring. The band uses a main theme line and presents modulations over it. Introduces breaks, cuts and stops, keeping the rhythm uniform and using only slight variations in velocity. They introduce some industrial sounds, crunching bases and dirty arrangements over cleaner and darker melodic lines. "Zwischenspiel Eine" is one of the first of four, and introduces the first distortions, composition freedom and industrial feeling to it. It hooks up directly with "Scan 7" where the long sharp notes penetrate through the highly danceable thick techno lines, while the broken beats and drums fly all around.

The main orientation of Scanalyzer's music doesn't seem to be the dance floor. The beats are fast, sometimes hectic, and grinding; but it is simply a consequence of the style they have chosen. Their compositions are far wider and aspire to much more that simple drum'n'bass / drum'n'noise dancing. Scanalyzer does not hesitate in creating a slower realm with many more possibilities, vertexes and transformations. It is also extremely interesting the way they have created the record as a whole. The order of the songs, and the introduction of the "Zwischenspiel" follows the main reason of displaying the record as a complete story-line that once you start listening to, you feel compelled to follow through intensively to its end.

"Hifishit" lowers the velocity and introduces the song into a mid-tempo full of changes, where, as a ghost a dark cinematographic melody is introduced for a moment and then torn away. Piano notes, voice samplers and background noise catch a brooding attitude for the closing of the song. Except the sound develops directly into "Monotreme" that keeps the atmospheric feeling to it, and takes it into a far more epic and grander place. The melodies that take possession of the composition, over the broken beats, various arrangements and noises are powerful and captivating, transforming the fifth cut of the record into a soundtrack of heroics and insurrection. "Zwischenspiel Zwei" is an end for the darker side of Scanalyzer and opens the door of a harsher place.

"Herstius" brings back the velocity and anger in the form of crunching beats, the spotlight on short melodic lines of bases and a remarkable amount of overlapping percussion. Followed by another "Zwischenspiel", this time its goal is to smoothly take the thicker techno synthesizer work into a lighter liquid world of "One Seventy Five". This song is very melodic, sort of naïf and, although it opens easily as an accessible composition, it soon shows its distorted side of noise and deconstruction. These two are perhaps some of the most predictable songs they offer, converting it into the one with most possibilities of belonging to the rhythmic industrial scene, and taking control of the alternative demanding dance floors.

"Screamer" introduces much more voice samplers than previous songs, defending the name it was given, and strongly underlining the broken beats that it is made with. "Additionally All That Work" has an ambitious catchy tune that is surrounded by creeks, noises, bleeps and frequencies. The song is built on repetition, growth and destruction of a very powerful nature. "Neutron Dub" is dirtier and much haughtier, with standing out beats and an actual vocal line passed through distortion. "Modsinth" keeps the speed and throws some clashes, noises and blows over uniform broken beats.

The last "Zwischenspiel Vier" is charged with samplers, but evolves into a song of its own. It seems to be in a way a bit more primitive than the preceding compositions, and appear sort of as a 'take' on a melody possibility that shuts down to give entrance to "Screenbitter", a strong, fast and danceable song that is full of energy. It is perhaps one of the most direct cuts of the record. On The One And The Zero is meant to be listened to as a whole. For sure one can find amazing individual songs, with great possibilities; but I recommend you take an hour of your quotidian life and use Scanalyzer as a soundtrack. Life will be much more savory, exciting and alert.


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posted: Oct 30, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

287. You read that correctly. 287. That's how many compilations I currently have in my collection. Correction. 287 compilations of the neo classical + folk / ambient / experimental / power + extreme electronics variety. I've missed out the other 124 compilations of more rock, in all its forms, orientated releases and many other genres from this figure. But if you did add them all together you would get 411 releases in total. I'm so anal I've counted them so know it's true. Therefore when another one comes in for review I'm not exactly getting over excited about the prospect of hearing it. Just what I need. Or not as the case may be. Haven't made my mind up yet. Compilations are just such a mixed bag, the essential and the pure crap, that you never know what to expect from them. A reviewer's got to do what a reviewer's got to do.

Positron Records was founded by Chris Randall of Sister Machine Gun fame. Look up your Industrial music manual for information on that group. The label releases music that forges a bridge between electro noir and post Industrial music. On this release, the third under the komposi name, Mr Randall has compiled some fascinating acts that mixes jazz tinged influences with trip hop and dark electronica…with silky grooves that wouldn't be out of place on any dance floor. I must be mellowing with age because if you had played me this 10 years ago I would have told you to go fuck yourself. Not my scene man. Now though…well I'm older and wiser and willing to accept the odd bit of mellow influences into my life. The recording starts will an absolute thumping stonker of a track by Amish Rake Fight. All horns a blaring and cosmic bass lines which reminded me of Rip Rag and Panic crossed with A Certain Ratio. Surely it would be downhill from here after that ecstatic opener. Not so my friends. The quality keeps on a coming. Milkfish go for a glitch mid tempo piece of ambient light which is chilling in the extreme. Bounte go for a dance floor sizzler that reminded me of a more mature Dubstar…see I am hip in my own way. Micronaut's effort features more beats over some Eastern influenced electronics and vocal modulations.

It just keeps getting better. Mr Randall's own contribution sounds like a milder Foetus over stunning guitar & organ played in some smoke filled 40's joint of ill repute. S.Sturgis goes for a hippy trippy ambience which actually sounds better than it looks written down. Atomica hit base with a track reminiscent of a slowed down Sarah McLachlan, after she's been shagged stupid, sound-a-like over jazz and electronica flecks. By now I didn't want this release to end. Aizome have an acid casualty John Carpenter vibe with clinking beats. Scanalyzer go for jugular with a heavy, by comparison to previous tracks, Industrial electro funk chunk of horns and ecstatic beats. Graphic produce a melodic song infused tribal beat free form piece of music which is highly entertaining. Rounding off the release Sister Machine Gun have a techno inspired piece of modulating snazz wrapped up in warped beats and Cabaret Voltaire styled vocals circa "The Crackdown" era.

I've got to hand it to Mr Randall. He's cherry picked a bunch of fine artists and music for this release. One of the few compilations I've heard that didn't have one duff track on it. The fact that I, a connoisseur of darkest gloom and noise fests, actually thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience speaks volumes for the music to be found on here. One I'm not ashamed to say is now part of my collection. Number 412 in fact. If it can turn me onto this musical direction then I'm pretty damn sure it will do likewise for yourself. Me thinks I'll be checking out komposi 01 & 02 in the very near future if 03 is anything to go by.

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posted: Aug 31, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

Oh what fun I thought when this one kicked in. With a band named Amish Rake Fight, and a song called "Artist With a Thompson," and a high-brow jazz/drum 'n bass ensemble that blew my doors off with its speed and interesting brilliance, use of Orleans style horns and speed laced rhythm. komposi003 is the third various artists relase by Positron! Records. One of its claims to fame is the debut of "The Things You Do" by Graphic, side project of 16 Volt's Eric Powell. Positron! claims to release music by "eccentric artists." I like that ideal.

Milfish's "Shame" slows things down as it crawls in like a caterpillar dance, static laced and multi-legged. Next comes Bounte with "Going Nowhere." Circular in motion, very electro and uplifting with brilliant female vocals that hold you close so you don't leave – hence, I'm guessing, the track's name.

"Quartz Clock's" subdued style and step format is well done and seems to pulse with life. Created by Micronaut, aka Chris Randall of Sister Machine Gun. The first real vocal work other than the elusive lady from "Going Nowhere" appears in Chris Randall's "Be There Tonight," a loping jazz like tune with a shuffle step and a gritty guitar.

I found s.sturgis' "Euphondisson" (remixed by Chris Randall) a bit hum drum, but certainly not bad. Moving on to Atomica's "Airways" we are met by another woman who slowly walks along with us in the orchestra-like arrangements of the song. A very slow moving drumset keeps time with rising strings as we step. Aizome's "Terminal" gets a bit misty and can't hold my interest as well as some of the previous work. "Sink" by Sister Machine Gun closes the komposi003 compilation brilliantly.

Overall komposi003 is a fine release, with its strongest tracks mostly stacked in front. Amish Rake Fight, Milfish and Bounte wow me with style, panache and interesting arrangement. Sister Machine Gun slams closed komposi003 with the same energy Amish Rake Fight opened it with.

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posted: Aug 2, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

An exciting collection of modern electro-noir, full of dark jazzy atmospheres and beats perfect for the electro night life.

After Sister Machine Gun left WaxTrax! Records in 1997, Chris Randall went on to form Positron! Records to be the new outlet for his jazz-inspired pseudo-industrial creations. In the last decade, the label has gone on to sign a number of artists, many of which known for their eclectic genre-bending sounds. Now, Positron! releases this third entry into their compilation series, komposi003, creating a veritable soundtrack for the modern industrial noir community. The music on komposi003 is jazzy and cinematic, throbbing with darkness and energy, and showcasing some of today's top talents with music that belies their more aggressive alter-egos.

Starting things off is the fevered bebop of "Artist With a Thompson," courtesy of Amish Rake Fight. As the project of former Machines of Loving Grace keyboardist Mike Fisher, this track just rocks with a killer bass line, hot-tempered drumbeats, and some searing horns for good measure. Imagine being chased down a neon-lit alleyway by federal agents in trench coats; this track would be the perfect soundtrack. The same could be said for Scanalyzer's "Culture Shock," with its energetic tempo and edgy bass lines, and those jazzy horns offset by a helping of noisy static synths. Chris Randall's solo track is reminiscent of his slower work in Sister Machine Gun, particularly Metropolis-era. With bombastic drumbeats and wailing guitars complemented by some lovely organ solos suitable for a smoke-filled nightclub at 2:00 a.m., the track comes across like a rocking out version of Barry Adamson. Other tracks take a slightly more off-kilter approach, like Milkfish's "Shame" with its chilled-out down-tempo ambience, and Randall's remix of s.sturgis' "euphondisson," which combines subtle glitches and fading pad progressions with an almost Brit-hop cadence. A softly feminine touch is also present in the slinky electroclash of Bounte's "Going Nowhere," and even more so with Atomica's Sarah McLachlan-esque "Airways," truly one of the best tracks on the CD. 16 Volt's Eric Powell also makes an appearance as Graphic, showing yet another side to his musical self with "The Things You Do," a track full of tribal drum loops and flowing vocal choruses reminiscent of his later work in 16 Volt. The CD closes out with Sister Machine Gun's "Sink," which could very well have been a leftover track from their last album, Influence. Driven by a straightforward dance beat, a tense bass loop, and Randall's trademark aggro vocals building up to a powerful climax, "Sink" ends komposi003 on a loud and satisfying note.

With komposi003, coldwave music fans are treated to a wonderful counterpoint to the harsh industrial rock of their heroes. No less forceful, yet far more atmospheric and musically varied, fans of 16 Volt, Machines of Loving Grace, and Sister Machine Gun will certainly find much to behold in these latest outings. This music presents the missing link between the gangster-ridden jazz nightclubs of the '40s and the clubs of today overridden with goth kids and rivetheads looking for something to satiate their aggression and belt out their rage. If you're looking for an exciting time in the post-modern nightlife, komposi003 is the CD for you.

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posted: Jun 8, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

If you think the electronica genre has grown a little tiresome, here's something to give it a little juice: komposi003, the third label-showcase compilation from Positron! Records. I was unfamiliar with all of the 11 artists on board, but now I have 11 artists to add to my "watch out for" list. Largely void of vocals, komposi003 fronts a nicely chilled groove overall, though the tracks themselves differ a bit, running the range from IDM to trip-hop. It opens with the jazz-cut/drum-and-bass funk of the aptly named Amish Rake Fight's "Artist with a Thompson," while Chris Randall's thick and humid "Be There Tonight" sounds like the late-night city-driving song of the summer. Aizome's "Terminal" was my favorite track, a Tangerine Dream-esque tune with airport ambience and a ticking-clock beat. With contributions from Milkfish, Micronaut and Scanalyzer, komposi003 proves the indie scene is where tomorrow's electronica stars are currently brewing.

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posted: May 11, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

Positron! Records "mission statement" proclaims they release "eclectic music by eccentric artists." A statement of such magnitude generates a cautious approach.

Just what is eclectic anyway? Eclectic artists' off the top of my head quickly, I'd say: the Orb, Boards of Canada, Amon Tobin, Shpongle, and for good measure throw on some Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk and anything Luke Vibert touches.

Now think about that map for a moment—(pause...), and analyze the flow and the experimentalist nature of those artists. Hopefully a vision appeared and acted as a manifestation within the cranium.

Okay, jargon and stinging brainwork aside, the compilation entitled komposi003 demonstrates this eclecticism the label so promotes. Sounding much like a bastard conglomeration of the list presented above, komposi003 connects the dots and fills in the holes.

The 11-track compilation is a celebration of electronia, specifically listeners with an affinity for all things ethereal and introspective. Represented is anything from heady downtempo to meandering psychedelia, delivered in the diverse styles of IDM, trip-hop, glitch and industrial.

Thankfully, it isn't predicable. Each track is easily distinguishable—one moment spaced with Micronaut's "Quartz Clock," the next startled into the bluesy fuzz "Be There Tonight" by Chris Randall (interestingly by the same artist). The entire disc is presented in this way—jumpy and fragmented, yet strangely functional and stable.

Other tracks of note include the dance floor oriented "Culture Shock" by Scanalyzer, the female vocal trip-hop from Atomica "Airways," and the tripped-out ambience "euphondisson" by s.sturgis (reassembled by Chris Randall from Micronaut). Also included and finishing komposi003 is the track "Sink" from long-time Chicago industrial minded act Sister Machine Gun.

For Positron! Recordings, this compilation alone is enough to back up claim of eclecticism. While it isn't electronica meant to burn up the dancefloor, it's definitely music to get the synapses firing—a perfect companion for the late night comedown.

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posted: May 4, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

komposi003, the latest State of the Union release from Positron Records, is a landmark release for several reasons. Not only does it showcase the growing pool of talent that is the Positron Roster, it also heralds the first Chris Randall track and the last Sister Machine Gun track. But wait! you say, Chris Randall is Sister Machine Gun so what's the big deal? It's a paradigm shift, really. The last vestige of the Old Republic being swept away. And, with the inclusion of Scanalyzer and Micronaut tracks, there's actually a robust snapshot of the man's mindset right now. [And, to be fair, Miguel Turnazas has been an integral part in the last few records from both SMG and Micronaut.] Fortunately, for those uninterested in the dry analysis of What Was and What Is, komposi003, as a whole, is a pretty stellar collection of funkified electronics.

Starting off with a new track from Mike Fisher's Amish Rake Fight is either a brilliant or a deadly decision. Amish Rake Fight's "Artist with a Thompson" sets the bar so freakin' high, it's almost impossible for anyone else to come close. This opening salvo is a bubbling, capering ode to crackle jazz, a neuphoric homage to '40s noir that throws trumpets, a couple of wa-wa mutes, a double bass and a drum kit into a washing machine and sets it to SPIN. It's the sort of swing dancing free-for-all that makes men sweaty and ladies' skirts go wild. The tick-down of "Shame," a Wade Alin number under his Milkfish moniker, is a safe bet to follow the Rake Fight where the shuffling grit of noise filters and dubious dark alley echoes helps to tone down the high of the first track. Electronics purr and growl over the tick-tick drum kit while an atmosphere from the wrong side of the track blows smoke across the hot mic's. A laconic organ suggests there is melody living in this miasmic funk, but it is too shy to really step to the foreground.

Micronaut's "Quartz Clock" doesn't quite burn up like the recent Europa, but it slinks about playfully enough, working an indolent guitar against bubbling quartz-precision beats and a hiccuping vocal sample looped into a suggestion of a melody line. Randall's solo outing, "Be There Tonight," furthers my pet theory that he's positioning himself as the Bryan Ferry of the 21st century -- the crooner of choice for the Wasted and Wistful of the Transhuman Internet-Ready Generation. "Sink," the final Sister Machine Gun track, is an interesting coda for a band that started back in the "Rage and Disillusionment Via Industrial Guitar Noise" era. It's understandable why Randall is retiring the name: musically, he's got other interests; and, while "Sink" has the processed vocals and the undulating analog funk of 6.0, it's not a stretch to hear this as a stripped down Micronaut track with vocals strapped on top (kind of like "Perdition" on Europa, actually).

Speaking of re-inventions and resurrections, Eric Powell (of fellow "R&DVIGN" player, 16 Volt) sneaks onto komposi003 as Graphic with "The Things You Do," a sweet little number that riffs off a guttural Persian-influenced breakbeat and then sweet-talks you with a dizzying dirty boy whisper about those, you know, "things you do." It's no Romeo beneath the window speech, but it's more than enough to make you lock your daughters up at night. Adam Schabtach (chief engineer of plug-in gurus Audio Damage, Inc.) lands on komposi003 with "Terminal," a bit of swirling atmospheres, claustrophobic field recordings and Jarre-style synth -- all swoops and two-finger melodic progressions. The collection is rounded out with a pair of torch songs from Bounte and Atomica, a Micronaut reassembly of the closing track from Scott Sturgis' ambient psychedelia outing and a Scanalyzer track that burns at the edges but doesn't leave too many marks with its noise-laced electro-funk. All in all: a couple that clear the fence, a few solid hits and the rest are the handiwork of a team all working at the peak of their game.

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posted: May 3, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

The CD is great collection of electronica tracks and will introduce most listeners to some artists they haven't heard before. While the CD jumps from style to style, it's all creative stuff, and a refreshing alternative to standard remix collections and four-on-the-floor dance compilations.

In fact, you'll find a surprising variety of beats and styles on the CD. Amish Rake Fight turns in a jazz influenced techno number, "Artist With a Thompson," which combines stand-up bass and trumpet with jagged machine beats.

The track gets the CD off to a great start, but there are many more highlights. Milkfish's "Shame" is glitch-filled but grooves; Bounte reworks 80's-tronica with "Going Nowhere," and Chris Randall contributes a vaguely Floyd-esque rock waltz, "Be There Tonight."

Atomica's "Airways" is another waltz, putting Lauren Cheatham's gorgeous vocals over a mix of jazzy keyboards, drums and weird electronic goodness. Sister Machine Gun wraps up the CD with "Sink," a scorching techno song.

All in all, komposi003 starts strong, hits a lot of highpoints and closes strong, showcasing some great new talent along the way.

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posted: Apr 18, 2006 category: Reviews

komposi003:

A brilliant electronic compilation that features some electronic artists that I've reviewed recently and totally loved, starting with the album opener by Amish Rake Fight. Micronaut not only has a song on here but does a remix for an s.sturgis song. Positron Records is the label responsible for this nugget of brilliance and it happens to be a label by Sister Machine Gun's Chris Randall both of which have a track on here. In addition, Scanalyzer's "Culture Shock" will shake you up. Support this label and pick up this glorious compilation!

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posted: Apr 18, 2006 category: Reviews

On The One And The Zero:

Scanalyzer is a new collaborative project from Chris Randall and Wade Alin. Randall has always been about the funk, both in his industrial rock group Sister Machine Gun and his techno side project Micronaut, and Alin seems to have worked out his rage for the time being in Christ Analogue and has since been devoting most of his time to the soulful trip-hop of his new band, Atomica. It's kind of a surprise, then, how dark and evil Scanalyzer sounds. The four-on-the-floor onslaught of "Herstius" would fit right in between Combichrist and Terrorfakt on the dance floor, and "Scan7" is cold, clinical and noisy, with all the rhythmic complexity and feedback of Hecate or Black Lung. "Moretech" and the down-tempo "Hifishit" are still dark, but less abrasive, incorporating pianos and strings for a sense of noir drum 'n' bass, while "Monotreme," already inherently cool for taking its name from the family of egg-laying mammals that includes the duck-billed platypus and all manner of echidnas, adds gorgeous layers of looped violin and cello over muffled, reverberating breakbeats for an effect that's ominous but lovely. By the second half of the album, Randall and Alin ease up a little from the relentlessly grim vibes, and Randall's irrepressible funk creeps back into the mix. "Screamer" is still noisy as hell, but its crazy screeching and frantic jungle rhythms come across as psychotically joyous, rather than pathologically violent, while "Neutron Dub" incorporates synthesized speech and snappy breakbeats, resulting in what sounds like an old Speak-N-Spell toy strung out on crystal meth. If you're a rhythmic noise junky who's avoided Randall and Alin's work up to now in fear of its accessibility, give Scanalyzer a chance. This is the one where they pull out all the stops, and it's a lot more chaotic than you might've expected.

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