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30 December, 2015

Ghost in the Machine - interview 2015

Interview with: Ghost in the Machine (December 2015)




NINa: You've successfully submitted a number of your songs for use in TV and games. What's the toughest part of licensing music? What kind of intellectual property risks should other musicians be aware of if they wish to submit their tracks for such placements?

GITM: The toughest part of licensing music is understanding what the customer really needs. Sure, it is hard to make connections to even have the opportunity to license music. But there are lots of publishing venues now where most bands can get a shot. But even once you have a foot in the door, there are many challenges to accurate communication with the customer. We have learned that how a musician looks at a song is very different from someone who wants to license it. Terminology is different ideas about what the music, mood or feel means is different. Sometimes they won't be able to articulate or express what they really want… you'll get the infamous "they'll know it when they hear it". 

Source & full interview at http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=569


Interview by Fabryka Music Magazine

Ghost in the Machine - Broken from Binary

Ghost in the Machine - Broken from Binary |self-released, 2015| 5/5 industrial rock, metal, pop, electronic

1. To Be Zero, 2. Crazy, 3. Estranged, 4. Lost, 5. What It Is, 6. Perfection, 7. Today is the Day, 8. Memories, 9. Hammers, 10. Samurai, 11. American Hero, 12. Feedback, 13. Drive, 14. Pressure (Billy Joel cover), 15. Time to Go Gently

The people behind Broken from Binary are a duo based in Florida, using the Ghost in the Machine moniker since 1996. We know them only by their stage names: Face (bass, programming, vocals) and C4 (vocals, guitar, programming).
The newest GITM's album brings over an hour of music that should definitely be checked out by fans of catchy cutting-edge industrial rock, metal and pop - but avid video gamers, too. Purists however, need to open their minds to enjoy the surprising concept better. The arrangements don't often repeat within a composition, but veer off into unexpected directions, as if based on bridges mostly rather than a traditional rock song structure. Therefore, expect your ears and brainwaves to be challenged frequently with this release. Here comes music dripping with seriousness, intelligence, groove, and sense of humor - all mixed together.

The album opener, 'To Be Zero', brings a lot of industrial rock references (think Gravity Kills and Die Krupps thanks to groovy bass lines and slightly mean yet seductive vocals as found in PIG's music), but that’s not all. The chorus includes a complete mood change - a nostalgic pop line you'd probably never expect to hear in a track based mostly on guitars & sampling. Once the chorus passes over, the heavy drumming gets back into the limelight.

'Crazy' and 'Drive' are comparable, since not only are they the two most coherent songs on the album overall, but also very rhythmic, even danceable. The arrangements in 'Crazy' are very well written, operating within a tight space for every instrument and vocals. The mood and tempo change at times to avoid repetitive monotony. 'Drive’' brings the industrial metal feel in vein of Rob Zombie's hit songs. The bass, guitars, and drums deliver pleasant heaviness and collaborate very well. Vocals and synths bring melodious lines in the chorus. Both tracks are potential hits, great for headbanging and stomping, and thus industrial/goth radio & dancefloor-friendly.
'Hammers' makes for a good match with the two aforementioned songs, but it adds sugared pop melodies and less tense arrangements.

'Estranged' and 'Samurai' let listeners take a break from high energy tracks thanks to a much slower tempo. The guitars are still heavy in 'Estranged' but the track seems to be mostly written to underline the lyrical content of the song. It sounds truly memorable with its anthem-esque vibe.

'Samurai' brings a nostalgic yet romantic feel. The lyrics tell a short dramatic story of an iconic Japanese warrior and his beloved woman who was killed due to a stealth attack while he was winning a war. Vocals sound extremely radio-friendly but the overall arrangements are not deprived of heavier moments. When you hear the ending verse: 'Now I pray for her' - James Hetfield's characteristic accent may come to mind.
The last track, 'Time to Go Gently', also brings a more delicate, almost a lullaby-like vibe - at least at start. Since GITM excels at musical surprises, the arrangements begin getting heavier in the second, then even more intense in the third part of the song - thanks to the increased tempo, the loud drum beat, and the imposition of angry, hateful vocals.

'Lost' brings a distinctive melodic line and mixes heavy and soft tunes. The arrangements fit perfectly into the overall composition, carrying a danceable, electro-music feel at times. Despite such repetitions, there are plenty of interesting irregularities to keep the track fresh for your ears.

'Today Is The Day' shows a skillful mix of alt-metal and electro sounds, through the nicely down-tuned guitar riffs with melodic choruses. The composition is somewhat complex and offers plenty of space for many different arrangements that don't interfere with the original leitmotif.

When 'What It Is' starts off with its synth lines, experienced listeners may second-guess what’s coming next - the song is going to explode with rhythm any second now. Surely enough, it does bring a lively groove and a lot of elements straight from pop. There's a big dose of fun as well, with additional gap fillers such as rock riffs or even a flute. It sounds like a great track for an anime, for listeners of all ages, ranging from little children to grey-haired elders.

In a similar fashion, 'Perfection' includes a plentiful dose of techno & EBM dynamics. Fans of KMFDM will feel at home thanks to a well known vocal effect and the method of aligning vocals with the beat. There's a great balance between verses and choruses - each appear at the right moment. This purely electronic song is another potential hit on the album.

'American Hero' also qualifies for that, thanks to its pop-disco rhythm and sound effects. It is a '2-in-1' composition though, built upon two matching parts which are then separated with a bit of silence halfway through the track. It may turn out to be popular in the movie or gaming industries thanks to its beat driven, memorable choruses.

GITM's original music is perhaps best represented by 'Memories'. It's a guitar driven track which is built upon a fast but not monotonous rhythm, melodious arrangements, and a dominating drum beat. On top of that, it clearly proves that not only can these musicians write twisted yet mature compositions but also apply a specific instrumentation through their craft. Vocals, bass and drums are such as mostly heard in metal music. The rhythm guitars match rock, whereas background synths are usually heard in pop and electro.

With so many songs on the tracklist it’s obvious that any smart band in a similar situation would challenge themselves to come up with a stand-out composition. Thus, the standard and the modern meet in 'Feedback'. At first, a classic hard rock reference (think Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd) may come to mind - GITM may have even used a Hammond organ in this one. Then, all of a sudden, a digitally beefed-up drum beat and modern rock/alt-metal vocals arrive. Fans of Nine Inch Nails won't go wrong with this track either, when they hear the unexpectedly fitting lines: 'Nothing, nothing, nothing will get me to testify / No way, no way, no way that you'll get me to lie'. This, along with characteristic guitar riffs and bass lines make for an unmistakable tribute to Trent Reznor's 90s music. The instrumental versatility, slow but still rocking tempo, and overall professional production make 'Feedback' an extremely memorable track.

Finally, a cover song. GITM have chosen 'Pressure' by Billy Joel, however their version is rather a close cousin of Joel's original despite the addition of a digitally improved beat, a bit of sampling and heavier guitars. It would be awesome to watch a smart video single accompanying this cover, that pointed out contemporary social pressures resulting in fear and frantic overreaction.

Broken from Binary is a well-thought out, masterfully executed, and highly entertaining cross-genre mash-up. Face and C4, blend several and typical sound effects or arrangements borrowed from trivial urban pop, chunky industrial dynamics, or vintage hard rock like true alchemists. The duo don't let themselves go astray in spite of utilizing a wide variety of different musical options, because their compositions are based on steady motifs. This technique remains the band's 'specialty of the house', whether it is an attempt to challenge their own song-writing skills, to please multi-subculture listeners, or to have ready-made arrangements for various commercial uses (ads, jingles, TV shows, video games, etc.) In fact, GITM have already successfully submitted music for a variety of major TV networks, brands and independent films.
The album's excellent audio production and mastering indicate that these musicians not only write and sell their music successfully, but can also provide other professional, studio-related services.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, December 22nd, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

Source: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=568

Interview with GITM - read here




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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

28 December, 2015

Larry Leadfoot - Hellxotica

Larry Leadfoot - Hellxotica |self-released, 2015| 4/5

1. Leviathan, 2. Discarnate (War Planet), 3. Psychological Warfare, 4. SWAB, 5. Hellxotica

In Australia, where the band comes from, seasonal wildfires are hard to control. And such is Larry Leadfoot's music on their debut EP - once ignited, the musicians try to suppress the flames through dousing them with more fuel. The audible influences stretch between djent, prog, death metal, and grindcore, since the musicians are fans of Strapping Young Lad, Meshuggah, Mr. Bungle, Death, King Diamond, Slayer, and John Zorn amongst many other established names. Tension and thrills are dominant in most of the five songs present on this EP - expect a lot of excitement.

'Leviathan' opens the EP with darkness and gravity. Knotty and down-tuned guitar riffs are skillfully mixed with drum beats. Growled vocals sound murky, and are a bit on the noisy side, but are actually not present too much throughout the track. By the end of this song (and the whole release), it becomes clear that the material has been written to smash listeners to pieces with instrumentation rather than vocal parts. The arrangements sound steady, somewhat hypnotic when the tempo slows down and guitars start rattling in the background, yet they do not repeat often. All this diversity and additional sound effects here intrigue the ear to discover what’s next.

The only entirely instrumental composition, 'Discarnate (War Planet)' starts on a buzzy, heavy and slowly note. Think of Godflesh with its weariness but also everything else that sludge can offer. The song brings a very dark, cinematic atmosphere, so it instantly triggers one’s imagination. Upon reaching the middle of the song, the music goes for a 'binary' flavor, as if becoming further disintegrated digitally. This, in turn, leads to a sudden end.

The intro to 'Psychological Warfare' uses a slow blend of bass, down-tuned guitar and contrasting high-pitched riffage, while the accompanying drum beat is distinctive and fast. Think of arrangements heard in canon black or death metal tracks where darkness and fire prevail. The vocals sound as if coming from the deep pits down below - hidden, growled, tormented, and screamy at times. The wall of sound assaults the ears though a tightly packed guitars-drums cannonade. The band surely know how to control the mood through slowing down or speeding up.

'SWAB' is like a raging fiery tornado on the brink of releasing its compressed tension. The expertly chosen diversity of arrangements plays a significant role here. Drumming and down-tuned, chunky guitars are accented first, while a contrasting rhythm guitar riff along with soloing are enriching the background. There are high-speed flights and stopovers, as well. The vocals are based on a steady leitmotif utilizing deep growls and screams - but again, sound as if coming from beneath the surface. The tempo changes are quite unexpected but they allow you to adjust to them comfortably. And just when you expect all that diabolical atmosphere to end, the arrangements and rhythm take a different turn, pushing into another hell-gate. The band add more sonic fuel in parts where the flames need to be ignited - to suck in and then purge your soul through your ears. The trio make the most of their instruments here and perhaps reach the maximum power possible. This track, along with 'Psychological Warfare' may be the best representation of Larry Leadfoot's song writing and performance skills at this stage.

'Hellxotica' begins noisily, a manifest of the in-your-face method. The song takes you to a battlefield where instruments fight one another. Mad drumming meets unpredictable arrangements brought by guitars and bass - faster, louder, more intense each time. A bit of the pent-up tension is released by the end of the EP, finishing on a slower, droning, and fading-out note.

Larry Leadfoot’s crew are very skilled and cooperate dynamically. It's a pure joy to hear them play together, but also let your ear follow individual instrumentation paths. The band was formed in Sydney in 2011, but Aaron White (guitars, bass) and Nick Parkinson (drums) have been friends since their childhood years. They met Tama Makiiti (vocals) at an audio college several years later. Larry Leadfoot plays shows in Australia, making the best of their hard-hitting music through live application.

On the technical side, instrumental parts have definitely been prioritised - they are produced and mastered very well. Vocals seem to have secondary focus, yet they could have benefitted from improved loudness and depth to complement overall production quality. It is worth noting that Hellxotica was mixed and mastered by Jocke Skog who is best known for his involvement with Clawfinger.

For the purpose of this review, the music was streamed directly from Bandcamp. Hopefully the high quality downloads you can purchase through the band's online store sound better.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, December 23rd, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
Source: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=570


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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

18 December, 2015

Interview with Ghost Embrace (2015)

NINa: You own Hyperthreat Sound - a professional recording studio in Denver, CO. Nevertheless, you've decided to travel to NYC and then Vancouver to seek other professionals’ (Ten Jenson's and Randy Staub's, respectively) experience on the matter of mastering and production. Was it a smooth cooperation? What technical and interpersonal requirements did you have? Finally, what new things have you learned in the process?

One of my engineers suggest Randy Staub, and when I looked up his discography, I noticed he had mixed one of my favorite records. Evanescence latest release, was one of my musical addictions. I worked out to it every day for a year, and I am madly in love with that production. So it was a no brainer that I wanted Randy to mix the record. I had my lawyer contact him to see if it was even within the scope of my budget and if he would be interested. Randy only works on independent projects he personally likes, so when we got the thumbs up, I was very excited.

Full interview at http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=567

Interview by Fabryka Music Magazine

Ghost Embrace - Quantum Heart

Ghost Embrace - Quantum Heart |self-released, 2015| 5/5 metal, rock, jazz

1. Alone Again, 2. Neon, 3. Heartbeat, 4. Closing In, 5. Catch Me, 6. Remember, 7. People, 8. Still Here, 9. Quantum Theory, 10. Question of Faith, 11. Pirates, 12. School Yard

After a year in the making and getting together the best matching line-up, the latest (second) album of Colorado based Ghost Embrace has finally arrived.

The band is led by multi-talented vocalist, song writer and producer Annette Freeman. Morgan Rose who is best known as the founding member of Sevendust played drums. The bass player, Mario Pagliarulo, has toured and recorded with Serj Tankian (System of a Down) and Larry LaLonde (Primus) amongst others. There are also two skilled guitar players - Nema Sobhani and Chance Gallagher. Orchestration and piano arrangements were created by virtuoso Eric Moon who also worked with Victor Wooten, Nina Hagen, and Bjork. A line-up like this definitely helps with delivering a massive final result, so let's take a closer look at what this collaboration brings.

'Alone Again', the album opener, already suggests a possibility that Quantum Heart's essence relies on rhythmic melodies. There's the symphonic metal feel thanks to juicy orchestration, but also heavy textures brought by the guitar-bass-drums trio. Annette demonstrates a strong, brassy vocal and great interpretative skills. Her lyrics match with the arrangements and overall composition very well. A distinctive symphonic part which can be associated with movies set in The Middle Ages remains in the memory long after the song is over, but it's worth noting that the track ends on a heavier note.

In contrast, 'Neon' brings groovy, smooth jazz warmth with faster metal drumming, a pulsing bass line and lively rock soloing. Annette thrills with a predatory aggression in her voice, then it washes all away like an ocean wave leaving a beach. The instrumental parts and backup singers' voices play an important role here although the main vocals stand out - regardless of that, the songs keeps its balance perfectly.

A distinctive groove begins 'Heartbeat', along with a short lyrical verse, quickly followed by a chorus. This motif may suggest that the song is either short and repetitive or that its structural complexity may develop further. You'll discover the truth after a bit of listening. The melody is crucial here, making 'Heartbeat' a highly memorable, radio-orientated track.

'Closing In' sounds like a song to spend an evening with, thanks to its peaceful, repeating patterns. This is yet another jazz & soul based composition on this album, with medium tempo, a warm rhythm and a harmonious melodic flow. The arrangements here should let listeners relax in any environment, but perhaps are best experienced during a rainy night.

Ghost Embrace won't let you fall asleep yet, however. 'Catch Me' obviously sounds like a catchy hit thanks to its graded melodies and uplifting energy, making it another song on this album strongly recommended for radio play. It provides a tight, proportional mix between symphonic metal and pop/rock - definitely something for fans of Lacuna Coil, who may feel delighted upon discovering this particular track. Annette's voice is used here as an additional instrument, giving the composition a comprehensive and balanced sound.

Gentle, peaceful piano sounds in the intro of 'Remember' bring up a fairy tale image of delicate snowflakes falling during a winter evening. The entire instrumentation here deserves applause thanks to the compositional maturity, offering Annette's voice a desirable background. The song is pleasing to the ear, and its dynamics don't distract. An additional solo guitar makes for a classy enhancement, and is placed in the right spot. The mood is nostalgic and romantic, already indicating the song's message - a romance is over but it's alive in the lovers' memories.

'People' brings a social vibe since its title and introductory motif already suggest the best venue to play it. Imagine a Friday's night spent in a stylish music club, drifts of cigarette smoke coming from the shady corners, subdued conversations with individual bursts of low masculine or high feminine laughs - flirt and relaxation in the air. A pianist soloing on a small, intimately looking stage, eventually joined by the full band, fronted by the singer and supported by backup singers who gently swing to the rhythm of the song. People come out to dance once they are encouraged by the dynamics of the unfolding rock'n'roll tune. The drummer and bassist have steady parts to perform here, while the guitarist adds a quick solo on the side.

Contrary to its predecessor on the album, 'Still Here' opens with metal heaviness along with a progressive melodic line. Bass and drums are emphasized and rise up to the level of the vocals. The lively tone of the guitar may enchant you, together with the overall tight dynamic range. 'Still Here' could also be considered for use in advertising or media (for vehicles, travelling, music-related gadgets etc.) thanks to its strong, positive vibe and a memorable melody.

'Quantum Theory' is the only entirely instrumental composition on the album. Delicate electronica meets almost ambient-esque arrangements here, with traces of a rhythm that could make a ballerina dance. The song was written by Chance Gallagher who also played on a single guitar.

The founder of Ghost Embrace's must have an awesome musical empathy, since it let's her adjust own songs to the general vibe of certain genres along with types of instruments used. 'Question of Faith' is entirely based on an acoustic guitar along with the ethereal sounds of a keyboard, both often heard in Christian music, even though the song doesn't necessarily refer to religion but rather faith overall. Vocals are equally matching through their tender yet distant tone.

When you see a title such as 'Pirates' you may suspect the song is going to sound dark, intense or at least very dynamic. Instead, you get a lot of sweetness and a positive impression. Judging by the melody, it is a good follow up to 'Question of Faith' but when compared, 'Pirates' sounds more epic thanks to its running tempo and arrangements spread within the composition. The instruments build the song's steady core, but then vocals and guitar riffs reach higher tones, dispersing the melody beyond the beat delineated by the rhythm section.

According to Annette, 'School Yard' was the most difficult song to finish due to her busy schedule - vocals were put together with music on the plane to Vancouver. Nevertheless, the song sounds solid and energetic. It also has a dominating yet easy-going feel thanks to jazz fusion elements such as repetitive background choirs which support boldly performed vocals, a bit of guitar soloing, then lots of cymbals and piano play, too. Moreover, Annette's joyful laugh finishing the song may suggest that making 'School Yard' was actually fun.

There's evident stability and maturity found in the music of Ghost Embrace. Each of these twelve relatively short songs brings a different yet coherent vibe, mostly thanks to Annette Freeman's voice. Their sound is strong, distinctive, recognizable, and can bring both nostalgic and rapacious tones with equal agility. If you are familiar with the band's self-titled debut however, also recorded with a different line-up, you'll have some idea what to expect - Ghost Embrace loves jazzy groove but doesn't shy away from rock and metal heaviness. It doesn't mean that the band have already established their 'sound', considering the various guest musicians on each of the albums. Therefore, it will be interesting to track the direction of the band's future endeavors.

On the engineering side, Quantum Heart was mixed by Randy Staub (Warehouse Studio, Vancouver) who worked with all-star bands like U2, Motley Crew, or Alice in Chains. Mastering was provided by Ted Jensen (Sterling Sound, New York), whose name also rings a bell when you look up albums by The Alan Parsons Project, Billy Joel, Foreigner, and RATT, amongst others.

Clearly, lots of hard work and financial investment have been put into the making of this album, so send your positive feedback the band's way once you get it, to make sure you gratify these professional musicians' effort. A must-have 2015 release.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, December 15th, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)



Interview with Ghost Embrace - read here


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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine