Hioctan / Ascii.Disko / Prospective / Absurd Minds

Hioctan - Under Control
Hioctan “Under Control”
CD, Noitekk, 2010
www.hioctan.de
Kudos to Hioctan, for managing to avoid the easily-fallen-into trap of Noitekk’s terror-EBM formula – but this does not mean that they manage to create anything new or exciting, unfortunately. It’s all very listenable, even danceable, but nothing that hasn’t already been done repeatedly by bands like THD in the mid- to late ’90s. This may be a side effect of their relatively long history (their first album, “Der Weg Zum Glück”, was released in 2001), but it may just be their personal ethos of creating ‘Classic Electro-Industrial’. So if a nostalgic industrial/EBM trip is what you’re looking for, finished off with the new milennium polish contemporary sound engineering software makes simple, Hioctan will readily scratch that itch with “Under Control”. [6/10]

Ascii.Disko - Stay Gold Forever Cold
Ascii.Disko “Stay Gold Forever Cold”
CD, Artoffact, 2010
www.asciidisko.com
One hardly ever finds artists operating under names that so perfectly describe their sound, but Ascii.Disko successfully manage this: “Stay Gold, Forever Gold” is indeed a collection of unmistakeably computer-generated dance music with a heavy emphasis on digital sound manipulation. This is no bad thing, under normal circumstances – but when every single track on the album sounds like the preceding number, from tempo range, to instrument use, to textures and so forth, it gets a bit much. More experimentation would have resulted in a far more enjoyable listening experience. Even the simple addition of vocals (rather than just samples) could make this release more interesting, and less of a disappointment, as it fails to live up to the hype built around one of Europe’s better DJ/producers. [5.5/10]

Prospective - Perfect Evolution Of Humanity
Prospective “Perfect Evolution Of Humanity”
CD, Black Rain, 2010
www.prospective-music.net
The likes of Ayria, Zombie Girl, Flesh Field, l’Ame Immortelle and many others have tried, and succeeded, in making female-fronted EBM work for them. Prospective, sadly, have a fair distance to go before that happens for them, and “Perfect Evolution of Humanity” is proof of this. Caro M’s vocals are beautiful, there is no denying that, but they are let down by cheap, tinny production on the musical side: synths sounding like children’s toy keyboards dominate fairly lacklustre instrumentation. A fair selection of ‘dancefloor-oriented’ remixes make a very average album slightly better value for money – as it is, without these additions, a mere eight tracks hardly makes for a solid release. [5/10]

Absurd Minds - Serve or Suffer
Absurd Minds “Serve or Suffer”
CD, Artoffact, 2010
www.absurdminds.de
Absurd Minds, a long-running scene favourite, ask one fundamental question with their latest release: is it worth continued service to the faded glories of the EBM scene, just to suffer through an album that sounds like a watered-down version of Project Pitchfork? Alas, one of Dresden’s longest-running acts fail to deliver on “Serve or Suffer”… Following up on such dance floor favourites as “Dreamtime” and “Die Stimme”, Absurd Minds drop the ball on what I will remember as nothing more than a lacklustre synthpop lapse in an otherwise excellent discography. All I’ll say in its defense is that “Serve or Suffer” does showcase a fair range of experimentation with different sounds, tempos and textures, making for, if nothing else, a varied listening experience. The title track may find favour as a filler on dance floors, but leaves no memorable impact. [4.5/10]

— David van der Merwe