C.J. Bolland - The Analogue Theatre (on Internal Records) ---- U.S. release

This is the album that should prove a major breakthrough for C.J. Bolland, who's been a constant figure on the Belgian techno scene from the New Beat period (as The Project) onward. A number of styles are featured here, although many tracks have a funkier, more breakbeat oriented sound than on his previous releases, along with some more banging and tranced out numbers. What really sets this album apart though, besides the overall excellent quality, is when the music takes on a more grandiose and semi-classical tone -- almost like King Crimson , Yes and other avant-rock acts at times -- delivering a very "cinematic" feel, only mixed with upfront techno sounds and beats (hence the "analogue theatre" concept of the title). This works unbelievably well on the opening track "Obsideon" with its slow heavy beats and epic feeling. Another obvious highlight is "The Prophet", a piece of booming yet cerebral trance that is surely destined to become a techno classic -- beyond epic! Also featured is the original mix of "Sugar Is Sweeter" (very different and much better than the poppier house version), with guest vocals from the amazing Jade 4U. Without a doubt this is one of the year's best releases!

_1 ) Obsidion
_2 ) Pesticide
_3 ) The Analogue Theatre
_4 ) On Line
_5 ) The Prophet
_6 ) People Of The Universe
_7 ) There Can Only Be One
_8 ) Kung Fu Ka
_9 ) Counterpoint
10 ) Sugar Is Sweeter

MDA Analog - MDA Analog (on Nova Zembla/KK) ---- Belgian release

From the Belgian label Nova Zembla comes an album with a distinctly Detroit Techno sound and a quite enjoyable selection of fun, upbeat yet intelligent tunes. Although it contains some more experimental moments as well, the emphasis here is on providing warm and atmospheric techno/ house grooves with a happy, percolating and playful mood. Through a combination of nice spacious production and distinctive - sometimes slightly weird - but VERY catchy sounds, MDA Analog definitely succeed in transcending the average formula DJ fodder that is so prevalent these days. Unlike most of the competition, especially in the house music realm, this is music that actually makes you FEEL something. Standout cuts include the ultra-squiggy "Shine", the melodic hard house found in "Paris", and the upbeat acid trance that accompanies "Alien Savior". Whether you think you're into this kind of stuff or not, you're bound to be pleasantly surprised once you actually hear it -- it's just so.....neat!

_1 ) Shine
_2 ) Fantasy Farm
_3 ) Paris (Vocal Mix)
_4 ) Rainful Memories
_5 ) Memories Of Tokyo
_6 ) That Was Throb, This Is Limb
_7 ) Alien Savior
_8 ) Here Comes The Brain
_9 ) You Never Know
10 ) Happy Patriot
11 ) Pride (Original Version)
12 ) Planet Of Origin

Various - Operation Beatbox (on Re-Constriction) ---- U.S. release

The Re-Constriction label ventures once again into the realm of industrial cover songs, as they did on their classic "Shut Up Kitty" CD; however, instead of '80's pop tunes this album features industrial bands paying tribute to their favorite hip hop cuts. The concept makes a lot of sense in light of the fact that a number of prominent industro-artists have shown an obvious connection with the scene (Meat Beat Manifesto, Tackhead, Greater Than One, Consolidated.....) long before it became popular to appropriate hip hop beats in the guise of Trip Hop and Jungle. Although some of the versions stray quite far away from the original intent of the songs it generally works very well -- of course, knowing how most hip hop fans and purists will absolutely hate it is part of the fun! In this sense it could be considered a guilty pleasure of sorts..... Highlights include Battery's gothic take on "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio, and for more rocking grooves check out Clay People's "Jump Around" from House Of Pain, and Institute Of Technology doing "King Of Rock" by Run-DMC.

_1 ) Christ Analogue - Natural Born Killaz (Dr. Dre & Ice Cube)
_2 ) 16 Volt - I Ain't Goin' Out Like That (Cypress Hill)
_3 ) Clay People - Jump Around (House Of Pain)
_4 ) Society Burning - Colors (Ice-T)
_5 ) Terminal 46 - Night Of The Living Bassheads (Public Enemy)
_6 ) Apparatus N.C. - The Devil Made Me Do It (Paris)
_7 ) Battery - Gangsta's Paradise (Coolio)
_8 ) Numb - Push It (Salt-n-Pepa)
_9 ) D.C.K. - Fight The Power (Public Enemy)
10 ) Tinfed - Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun (Beastie Boys)
11 ) SMP - Prophets Of Rage (Public Enemy)
12 ) Colla Destra - Wicked (Ice Cube)
13 ) Slave Unit - Typical American (Goats)
14 ) Institute Of Technology - King Of Rock (Run DMC)
15 ) Apolitiq - Momma Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)
16 ) Insight 23 - Can You Rock It Like This (Run DMC)
17 ) Abstinence - Two Three Break (B Boys)

Various - Boston Elektro 101 (on SINless Records) ---- U.S. release

This is something a little different for a collection of U.S. industrial bands in that it strays away from the expected aggro-rock approach, and instead displays a more Euro-EBM style which is sleeker and subtler, and has a keener dancefloor sensibility than most groups in North America (who tend to disguise or downplay their electronic dance elements for a more in-your-face explosion of noise!). Many tracks take a truly original direction all their own, featuring memorable synth sounds and super potent production, balancing rough and smooth for a perfect club impact. Some of the songs on here get downright funky, although things do get noticeably darker toward the end (to equally interesting effect) with a couple of veterans of the Boston area scene, Sleep Chamber and Data Bank-A. One moment that especially stands out is the track "Miserable" by Institute Of Technology, which sounds like a creepy low-key version of Daft Punk's "Da Funk". Other highlights include "Clear..." by din_fiv and informatik's "Nameless".

_1 ) Out Out - Duchess Deception
_2 ) Sector 7G - Needle Whore (Live Version)
_3 ) Mercymore - Penetrate Me
_4 ) Struktur - Terra
_5 ) Battery Cage - Disengage
_6 ) Institute Of Technology - Miserable
_7 ) D.D.T. - Future
_8 ) Murderous Race - Negra
_9 ) Grenadier - Redemption
10 ) Zia - Agribusiness
11 ) din_fiv - Clear....
12 ) disko:chaos - Tentacles Rebirth
13 ) informatik - Nameless
14 ) Sleep Chamber - Dreams Never Kum True
15 ) Data Bank-A - Nuclear Winter

For earlier installments of this column, simply click on the desired issue to go straight there:

Reviews #1. Reviews #2. Reviews #3. Reviews #4. Reviews #5. Reviews #6. Reviews #7.

There's a whole lot more reviews of some interesting stuff you should definitely know about available at the click of a finger -- just look below.

XD Zebra Techno Review Index

Also, there are reviews located elsewhere on the SYNTHESIS on the appropriate items to go directly to them:

The Dentist Presents.... Nu-Energy Vol. 1
New Beat: A.B. Sounds Take 1

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