Jean-Michel Jarre / Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise

Jean-Michel André Jarre (pronounced: [ʒɑ̃ miʃɛl ɑ̃dʁe ʒaʁ], born 24 August 1948) is a French composer, performer, and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient, and new-age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.

Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and grandparents, and trained on the piano. From an early age, he was introduced to a variety of art forms, including those of street performers, jazz musicians, and the artist Pierre Soulages. He played guitar in a band, but his musical style was perhaps most heavily influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, a pioneer of musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygène. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygène was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979, Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times. More albums were to follow, but his 1979 concert served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as he is as a musician.

As of 2004, Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums. He was the first Western musician officially invited to perform in the People’s Republic of China, and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event.

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise is the eighteenth studio album of French electronic musician and composer Jean Michel Jarre, released on 6 May 2016 by Columbia Records. It is the second of a two-part album (the first being Electronica 1: The Time Machine) that is based around collaborations with other electronic musicians from a wide range of decades and styles.

Electronica 1 included artists such as Vince Clarke, Gesaffelstein, M83, Armin van Buuren, John Carpenter, 3D (of Massive Attack), Pete Townshend, Tangerine Dream, and others, while Electronica 2 includes collaborations with Pet Shop Boys, Rone, Julia Holter, Primal Scream, Gary Numan, Hans Zimmer, Edward Snowden, Peaches, Sébastien Tellier, The Orb, Siriusmo, Yello, Jeff Mills, Cyndi Lauper and Christophe. In all, the two-album collaboration has some 30 collaborators, and Jarre has described it as his “most ambitious project.”

The Analysis—-

The Heart Of Noise Pt. 1 featuring Rone—-At the onset, the sound of this recording is lush and deep. The synth lines literally wrap themselves around your body…often reminding me of later enigma recordings. The beautiful and unadorned synth line creates an almost visual landscape in your brain as you listen to the progression of the song…..beautifully constructed and delivered.

The Heart Of Noise Pt. 2 featuring Rone—-Continuing in the same vein, Pt. 2 delivers a bit more of a space filled experimentation that magically lulls you into your own thoughts and allows your brain to magically wander. There is a nice break when the rhythmic bass lines enters the song and allows it to become much bigger and ambient. This is truly brilliant!

Brick England featuring The Pet Shop Boys—-Fantastic…..that about sums this track up from the very first note. This is brilliant. Tenant delivers his distinctive trademark vocal and the synth line is right out of the Lowe playbook. The arrangement is lush and filled with that underlying sad hum found in most of The Boys recordings. This is classic electronica with a brilliant atmospheric twist I can’t seem to walk away from.

These Creatures featuring Julia Holter—-Wonderfully full of computerized synth bleeps and bursts of beautiful sounds, the vocal enters with a ghostly beautiful delivery that literally transports me somewhere else as I listen. Never overdone or overblown, this has the magical element of everything needed to create a masterpiece of a song. I love this vocal!!!

As One featuring Primal Scream—-Coming out of the calm like the opening credits to a masterful movie, this song is layered and textured with an ambiance that almost lulls you into a beautiful nothing. Then the strains from Primal Scream steer the song into an almost joyous romp that encourages you to shed inhibitions and dance like no one is looking. This is fantastic…..a step right back into 90’s Dance Floor masterpieces…..I’m in love!!!

Here For You featuring Gary Numan—-It is impossible for me to find the correct words for this track. How could it possibly go wrong….combing contemporary synth lines and the current direction of the Numan sound, this is a journey that encompasses everything wonderful and right in the world of music. This is simply brilliant….Numan sounds driven and haunted…..the music fits him perfectly. Just incredible! Numan sounds literally driven with emotion and the need to be there for someone……I love this!!!

Electrees featuring Hans Zimmer—-How could this brilliant pairing of two incredible talents possibly go wrong. This has wonderful stamped on it from the very first notes. Atmospheric and laden with dense beautiful sound effects, this takes me out of my very body every time I listen to it. Lush and wonderfully constructed…..this can make you happy as fuck or sleepy as hell…..wonderful!

Exit featuring Edward Snowden—-Perhaps the most interesting collaboration on this release, the music that is delivered here has the urgency that you would expect….making you lean forward on your chair as you are driven into the spy like element of the music. The Snowden vocal overlays are incredibly fascinating and a fantastic concept. This is yet another standout track…..I have to think Jarre is a pure genius.

What You Want featuring Peaches—- Combining a bass heavy sexy synth with the vocal of one of the ‘queens or sleaze’ is a magnificent journey though a trail of seductive vocals and electronics that seem to add to the sexy nature of the track….another brilliant collaboration…in both content and delivery.

Gisele featuring Sebastien Tellier—-Moving at an incredibly nice pace, the song has a Kraftwerk element for me….the feel of the mainstream type electronics are interspersed with a blip filled fun turn. The vocal enters and you are right back in the beginning era of electronica……filled with the best elements of Kraftwerk….with a modern contagious twist.

Switch On Leon featuring The Orb—-Bright and poppy with just the right elements of ambiance and experimentation, you would expect nothing less from this pairing. The effects and the heavy laden synth lines that combine background vocal effects and noises from all directions make you a little crazy……but it is incredible none the less.

Circus featuring Siriusmo—-Dense and epic in sound right from the onset, the music builds and builds and becomes a surprising romp through dance-land. This is full of jaunty dance synths and breaks in the music that keep you guessing where everything is going. Then a magical synth line enters and makes the track even larger….just fantastic.

Why This Why That And Why featuring Yello—-Beautifully constructed and filled with atmosphere, the vocal on this track reminds me so much of Leonard Cohen…..it just all comes together like a magnificent musical poem. I am in heaven with this experience…..I really need to investigate more of this man’s music…I am stunned by the beauty and genius of it all.

The Architect featuring Jeff Mills—-A bit eccentric and muted in delivery, it takes a bit for this song to take any shape or form. The bass keeps creeping on you…promising to explode but leaves me exhausted with the anticipation of joyous abandon. A weak track for me….but still nice.

Swipe To The Right featuring Cyndi Lauper —-Wonderfully full and energy filled from the first strains of the song, Lauper delivers a vocal that belies age and allows you to climb right back into the 80’s heyday. This is energy filled and upbeat with huge crashing synths and crashing timbres. Just fantastic….I am in love with this man. This is the best I have heard Cyndi sound since Bring Me To The Brink release.

Walking The Mile featuring Christope—-A bi dense and dark, the vocal enters and sounds muted and in a tunnel. The delivery is odd….trying to sound psychedelic over a rather bright synth line. Not a favorite…..but it seems to fit in the entire picture well.

Falling Down—-Filled with an undeniable melody line that runs underneath the synth line, the song is so well constructed and is contagious as hell. This has every right element included in it…you can’t escape the tune…it will live in your head…with a bit of throw back to the 80’s fun sound….but still modern, this is fantastic.

The Heart Of Noise [The Origin]—-A bit mundane and filled with much of the sound and melody we have heard thus far, it is a throwback to the opening strains of this release. I would have preferred another collab rather than a redux of something heard before. This is pleasant but tried.

Conquistador [JMJ RMX] featuring Gesaffelstein—-Nicely delivered with an urgent synth line, this song has a pace to it that begs you to pay attention. I like the higer pitched synth lines and the split second breaks that keep everything incredibly interesting before it all dives back into a bass heavy sea, Magnificent!

***** out of 5

 

 

Loudwire.com 1989 Metal Album Of The Year—-Morbid Angel / Altars Of Madness

Altars of Madness (Full Dynamic Range Edition)

Morbid Angel is an American death metal band based in Tampa, Florida. The band was one of the original death metal bands signed to Earache Records, and was also influential in the transition of death metal from its thrash metal roots to its current form by incorporating guttural vocals, up-tempo blast beats, atonality in guitar soloing, and dark, chunky, mid-paced rhythms. They have been described as one of “the most influential and emulated bands in death metal”, alongside Cannibal Corpse, and have been cited as an influence by many later bands. They were also the first death metal band to experience mainstream success in connection with being signed to Giant Records in 1992, heavy rotation of their music videos on MTV, and having the music video for the song “God of Emptiness” shown on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. Their first four albums are considered classics in the genre.

UK music magazine Terrorizer ranked Morbid Angel’s 1989 debut Altars of Madness first in its list “Top 40 greatest death metal albums”. Decibel magazine also rated guitarist Trey Azagthoth as the number one “death metal guitarist ever”. The band’s songs are complex in arrangement, owing to the considerable technical skills of both Azagthoth as well as drummer Pete Sandoval, the latter of whom also played in the grindcore band Terrorizer. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Morbid Angel is the third best-selling death metal band in the United States (after Cannibal Corpse and Deicide up until 2003 with sales of over 445,000), with their third album Covenant being the best-selling death metal album during the beginning of the Soundscan era time with over 150,000 units sold.

Altars of Madness is the debut album of Florida-based death metal band Morbid Angel. Bonus tracks were included on the CD version as well as the remastered 2003 release. These are remixed versions of songs from the album. 2006 saw a dualdisc release with the 2003 remaster on the audio side and Live Madness 89 recorded at Nottingham Rock City on November 14, 1989, on the DVD side.

The cover artwork, by Dan Seagrave, depicts “a flat disk made of a fossil material, that has captured souls”.

The Analysis—-

Immortal Rites—-Really having no exposure to this band, as much as I love Cannibal, I guess I’m  a late bloomer…or a poser…lol. This, upon first listen is a pretty fantastic band. The vocals are not as guttural as many Death bands…you can actually catch some words. The guitar squeals are classic of the Florida scene….they all sound somewhat alike. the lyrical imagery is not as extreme…but it is very listenable. The different moods of the song are great…I can see why this is a ‘classic’.

Suffocation—-Right out of the gate the music smacks you in the face. The pace of the drums are absolutely incredible…..they pummel you right in the forehead. The vocal on this track has more of a dark and evil tone…the lyrics are very dark…as you would expect. What is amazing to me is how tight this band is….well practiced and schooled in the ways of Death Metal.There are great shifts in the music….the bass line appears very heavy at times and then clears for the leads. Remarkable.

Visions From The Dark Side—-Again, there is no time from song to song to give your brain a rest…..you are smacked..literally from the moment the song begins. The melody line that runs underneath this track is just incredible. So far…my favorite track from this release. The leads are a bit fuzzy…the voice not as clear…but the energy and aggression are simply palatable. This is fantastic.

Maze Of Torment—-A great bass ushers in the track……a literal wall of sound as the track progresses with huge power chords and incredible drums. The track kicks into high gear and then ebbs and flows…the noise and aggression is incredible. The vocal enters…..singing so fast you barely catch a word…but it is impossible to not be enthusiastic about the whole damn thing. Amazing. The shifts in the music…..really must take a lot of finesse’….I’m really impressed.

Lords Of All Fevers & Plague—-Right off the bat….you get the same treatment as you have been subjected to. The vocal comes at you so fast, this borders of pure classic Thrash. The drummer on this recording is just incredible…how a human can do that is beyond me…not to mention for an extended amount of time. The guitars are brilliant…..the bass line apparent but never overshadowing the leads.

Chapel Of Ghouls—-With a bit more of a structured sound at the onset of this song, I fall right into the delivery from the music. The chaos gets a bit more extreme as the song continues…the vocal and the lyrics are almost laughable at the attempt to be truly evil…with any band that falls in this genre’….one treads carefully as to how much they buy into. This is still fantastic aggressive music…the break mid song….the downshift of the instrumentation….really shows a lot of talent.

Bleed For The Devil—-Really aggressive from the first notes, the vocal enters rather quickly and full of venom. It is hard to catch the words…but it really is not necessary…the intent and song title are clear. The drums remain just incredible…the lead guitars soar above the bass line…but it is always there smacking you in the face.

Damnation—-The vocal growl that opens up the track in incredible….the music continues to blast your brain right through your ears…but you really never tire of the sameness of the recording. The band plays so tight, I keep shaking my head wondering how long these guys were kicking around practicing before they scored this contract. This is well rehearsed and delivered.

Blasphemy—-What sounds like muted gunshots opens the track and then the music enters to stuff you back into the blender of mayhem. This has an almost sing song vocal delivery that is really accessible…despite the aggression and energy. Really incredible.

Evil Spells—-Ending the release much as it started…unrelenting and full of an aggressive musical attack, the bass line here is just incredible…interrupted only by the classic Death Metal guitar squeals that shock  your ears and make you shake your head in amazement. I can see very clearly why this is considered to be a classic……a fantastic listen.

****1/2 out of 5

 

 

A Note Of Explanation —-A ‘ Review Experiment’

I recently came across a list, published by Loudwire.Com, that named the #1 Metal Album Of The Year from 1970-2016. I thought it might be fun….at least for me…..in the next few weeks to review these #1 picks…..beginning with 1970…..I hope you will all indulge me on this journey. Until tomorrow……thanks!

Boston / Life, Love & Hope

Life, Love & Hope

Boston is an American rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, that achieved their most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, and producer Tom Scholz, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists. Boston’s best-known works include the songs “More Than a Feeling“, “Peace of Mind“, “Foreplay/Long Time“, “Rock and Roll Band“, “Smokin’“, “Don’t Look Back“, and “Amanda“. They have sold more than 75 million records worldwide, including 31 million albums in the United States, of which 17 million were from their self-titled debut album and seven million were for their second album, Don’t Look Back. Altogether, the band has released six studio albums.

Life, Love & Hope is the sixth studio album by American rock band Boston. It was released on December 3, 2013 by Frontiers Records, making it their first studio album in eleven years.It is the first album released following the death of Brad Delp, Delp recorded vocals on the songs “Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love”, “Sail Away”, “Someone”, and “Te Quiero Mia”, the last of which being a re-arrangement of “I Had a Good Time”, from Corporate America.

The Analysis—-

Heaven On Earth—-When you first hear the strains of this music, the trademark sounds of Scholz are so familiar…it is that classic sound of modern day classic radio. The vocal is extraordinary…transporting me magically to a time long ago when this was the biggest band in the world. The vocal is incredible…not sure who is singing here…but the vocal melodies are right out of the classic Boston songbook…this is fantastic to me.

Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love—-This really, right from the onset sounds like an incomplete demo that was not really ready for release. The music drowns out the vocal at times almost totally. This was a cheap attempt to release something that Brad had contributed to…but it was not ready to go. Tom and his sound overwhelms and makes the vocal unforgettable….sad……

Last Day Of School—-Nicely guitar driven but still keeping that old school Boston sound, this has a driving instrumental backing that is huge and full of that Scholz magic. There is an almost sad feel that runs underneath the majestic music….this is almost epic…sounds really great.

Sail Away—-The beginning of this track gave me no hope what so ever. The vocal enters and helps to redeem the song a bit….I like the vocal…even though it sounds a bit hollow at times. I like the epic feel of the music…the female spoken word is unnecessary. I like this…but it is under produced and just a demo…needed more vocal work but Brad was gone by then. Just a way to cash in…I think.

Life, Love & Hope—-A much more Boston friendly sound, even this vocal sounds full and powerful. The trademark sound is here…the one I grew up with. Even though this is not Brad, the vocal matches the ebbs and flows of the music the same as the classic songs did. This is a modern day Prog-rock piece of great music. I really like this!

If You Were In Love—-Hmmm…..really almost unacceptable to me. I don’t like the vocal at all…this is not Boston but an imitation. Even the music that backs this track sounds uninspired and half finished…I rally do not like this…..done!

Someday—-Not a bad song…but not the Boston you expect or are accustomed to. I like the double tracked vocal…it almost impersonates Brad and that full sound that the band used to have. This just seems to be music that is going through the motions….the lack of inspiration is evident and clear. Time to retire the name and move onto something else. The female vocal that interrupts the song ruins any good feeling I had about this track…..

Love Got Away—-A nice ballad that is more acoustic at the onset and gives a fresh perspective of sound rather than trying to repeat the past. The harmonies are very Boston inspired but work well on this track. I don’t know who is doing the vocal…but the harmonies match and the song sounds full and rehearsed rather than rushed and incomplete. I rather like this.

Someone [2.0]—-I like the feel of the music as this track begins….full of the trademark Boston sound. The vocal is really nice…same as the song previous…the voice is clear and harmonious with the instruments…as Boston always was. The odd spoken word BS that enters before the chorus ruins this song for me. Just stick to the basics guys….you really know how to ruin a song.

You Gave Up On Love [2.0]—-This begins really great…with the chorus being the opening lines. The harmonies are huge and full…I like that….This sounds suspiciously like the last track in many spots though. The huge chorus…combined with Scholz music is great…the vocal really soars at points. This is nice….not to much fault with this.

The Way You Look Tonight—-Piano based from the onset, not something you normally associate with Boston. The vocal enters and is very pleasant and acceptable…there are few stellar moments to speak of though. This all just sounds flat and uninspired. This is sludge in my ears.

* out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Numan / Here In The Black- Live At Hollywood Forever Cemetery 2016

Everything Comes Down to This (Live at Hollywood Forever Cemetery)

Gary Anthony James Webb (born 8 March 1958), better known as Gary Numan, is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. Born in Hammersmith, London, he first entered the music industry as the lead singer of the new wave band Tubeway Army. After releasing two albums with the band, Numan released his debut solo album The Pleasure Principle in 1979.

Most widely known for his chart-topping hits “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars“, Numan achieved his peak of mainstream popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but maintains a loyal cult following. His signature sound consists of heavy synthesizer hooks fed through guitar effects pedals, and he is considered a pioneer of commercial electronic music.

The Analysis—-

I Am Dust—-To have the chance to see Numan live is a pure joy and indescribable experience. On the stage, Numan sheds his Asperger’s and becomes a type of human monster…flailing around on the stage and delivering his darkest sounds possible thanks to new technology and mastery of years of experience. This release, recorded on Halloween, wrapped up the US jaunt of his Here In The Black tour…..it is fitting we begin with this track off Splinter. The crowd is jubilant, and the sound is impeccable…you catch every groan from the synth lines and every nuance that was captured in the studio. Numan sounds literally possessed by the music…..making you feel ice cold and incredibly excited at the same time. This is exquisite.

Metal—-A constant track in Numan’s live shows, this goes way back to the early days of his career. The amped up version plays so well live…you could never tell the date or the age of the song. The guitars are aggressive while still maintaining the irresistible synth line of the original. Numan delivers his trademark whine of a singing voice that brings a smile to my face no matter how many times I hear this.

Everything Comes Down To This—-My favorite track from the Splinter release, I was super excited to see that this was included in the live set. This is not a happy song…I think there were some problems going on during the recording of Splinter with his marriage. But live this is even more intense and devastating. The groans and effects that come from the synths are just amazing….the huge guitar burst make the song a huge masculine love song…Numan pleads for forgiveness and second chances. This is just fantastic.

The Fall—-A huge guitar intro brings out the crashing synth line and beefs up this track like you can’t believe. The aggressive Industrial style keyboards are better than Trent has managed in years. Numan enters with his ghost like vocal and the song settles into a damn catchy melodic affair. This is triumphant. I never gelled with the Jagged CD…but this track is awesome.

Here In The Black—-One of the most mysterious and majestic songs Numan has recorded in recent history, the escalating synth line drives the song and the crowd to near mania. The whispered delivery of the vocal is full of echo’s and a built in atmosphere all of its own. This is just brilliant….it plays so well live….that synth line is to die for.

Films—-Stepping way back in the Numan catalog, films is another track that always lands on my favorites list….along with M.E. The vocal delivery is what makes this song so fantastic….Numan’s whine and the updated synth lines making the song even more powerful. I guess you can tell….I love this man.The original feel of the song is firmly intact…but the added crash of the synths provide an update that makes it even more powerful.

The Calling—-Slowing down the tempo provides a bit of a cool down for the crowd and Numan delivers this incredibly dark rack with mastery. His vocal is so clear and powerful…rising over all of the effects to allow you to feel the loneliness…the despair and the pain. the stage literally swells with emotion as the song progresses…your headphones will literally sob with this delivery. A master!!!

Down In The Park—-It is hard to breathe new life into such an aged track that has been played literally thousands of times. It is always nice to hear this again…but due to overplay it looses some of the shine for me. Consider the age of the track and the story it told way back when, it is phenomenal it still plays so well. A true classic.

Splinter—-The slow and almost maddening build up to this track fills you with anticipation. the sound of this is odd…lots of chants going on in the backdrop of the song and a slight Oriental feel to the music. Numan turns towards his disdain for God for the basis of this song…it plays well and sounds incredibly fresh. The instrumentation that the live band brings to these songs are just incredible…..a fantastic dense depressing track.

Dead Son Rising—-Beginning with a higher tones synth line and a clear and distortion free vocal, Numan delivers this mundane track with a new and fresh approach live. I love this version….the mystery of the track seems to swirl around the stage as the synth becomes almost maddening with repetition. I like this…but sometimes skip over this during casual listening.

A Shadow Falls—-Returning to the deeper synth line, the surprise is when Numan opens his mouth and sings a note which you seldom hear. I am accustomed to the deeper baritone of his voice and to hear him stretch to catch these notes are mesmerizing. This is slow…melodic and full of intensity. Just about perfect.

Lost—-Quiet and introspective, I think this further solidifies the assumption of some personal problems going on in recent years with Gary and Gemma. This is so sad, touching and personal…I can’t imagine what it must be like to play this live and on display for everyone to hear and share. This is phenomenal….getting this piece of him seems like a treasure. The huge burst of energy at the end of the song further cements the urgency and the plea……just incredible.

When The Sky Bleeds—-This is not a favorite track of mine…but the melody line of the song is impossible to ignore. Numan delivers a vocal that is clear and soaring…begging for a reason to continue with life and needing hope. The aggression kicks in and then ebbs….causing you to almost sit on the edge of your seat the entire song. A masterful delivery.

Unforgiven—-Powerful guitars soar above the multi layered synth lines and give this an almost soundtrack feel. Numan enters with his plaintive and begging vocal that makes you pay attention to every single word that is uttered from his psyche. This is intense….dark and driving. A masterpiece of a song that plays better live then on record.

Love Hurt Bleed—-Another track from Splinter that is in the vein of driving NIN synth  lines and Industrial style rock. Numan fits in perfect….delivering his vocal between aggressive bursts of music…this has such a huge backbone…..and the recent trademark Numan sound is all over this track. A masterpiece.

A Prayer For The Unborn—-Sad and introspective with a horn effected synth line, the slight crunches from the other keyboards provide a stark landscape of music for Numan to muse over. This is intense….it has always touched me and made me somewhat sad. That Numan is willing to share such personal moments from his life seem like a privilege to me. This will always remain a favorite track of mine.

Cars—-Over thirty years on, and with major reworking, this track still plays well live. I can’t imagine how sick Numan must be of this song…but he delivers it like it was the first time he has ever preformed it. This is a classic…defining the 80’s….reworked and defining the new Numan generation.

I Die; You Die—-Delving way back in time once again, Numan again manages to stay true to a generation that adored him and still deliver to the generation that view him as a modern God. This has all the trademark synth lines of the original recording…but the huge driving drums add beef and masculinity Numan sounds in such clear voice…you can’t help but pull out old records and give them a re-listen.

Are ‘friends’ Electric?—-One of, if not the oldest track in this song list, this is essential Numan. The song still carries the same alienated feeling and the mastery of the emerging synth machines at the time…but are beefier and so much larger. This is a classic track….I can never tire of this ever……Numan does a great job re-working this.

My Last Day—-Ending this phenomenal show, Numan allows for a slower and darker tense track to say goodbye. This is a gentle ode to his children and perhaps to his fans as well. This is momentous and brilliant. Tender and leaving you walking to your transport shaking your head and whispering to yourself that you have viewed a God in his element.

***** out of 5