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23 June, 2015

Cerakai - Only You Know

Cerakai - Only You Know (song review) |Gracie Productions, Within Your Realm EP, 2015| 4/5 electronic lounge

Cerakai is a UK based producer and musician with over 10 years of musical experience. Despite playing in a UK band before, he traveled to Sydney, Australia, where he launched a solo project. This probably lets him get more control over writing and managing own content for further development.

Fans of mellow lounge music will definitely enjoy this well balanced song at its “just about right” length. "Only You Know" includes arrangements written for several instruments. The graded, organic bass lines sound moody and velvety. The synth is high-pitched, cold and at times resonating. The occasional guitar riff vibrates nicely and pins into the arrangement like a needle. The beats are quick and dry. On top of all this, there are also delicate male vocals reciting the lyrics. The voice is matched well to the subtle yet groovy atmosphere.

The composition is simple and based on sweet repeating arrangements. Nevertheless, it sounds 'multidimensional' thanks to the vibration of each sound - the bass brings a lot of warmth, countered by the coldness of the synth. Both always oscillate, catching your attention in their opposing ways. Therefore, the human brain's hemispheres seem to be equally involved in processing these sounds - their math (through the timing of repetitions) and harmony (overall mood) together.
However, the track undoubtedly needs a matching intro and outro, that would help emphasize the body of the content better and 'zap' it into a shapely form. Without these, the song has no frame and opens with the same synth-bass arrangements which continuously repeat to the very end.

Finally, what makes the most for an electronic song’s potential is its audible charm and power, but also repetitions that get you hooked. In case of "Only You Know", we can't talk of any overwhelming sonic impact, but the pleasing repetitions are definitely here. Despite the song's gentle vibe (definitely not meant for headbanging), it has a chance to catch on with the right crowd, thanks to memorable fragments in which a sampled female voice repeats "you know". So, a short part of this track could potentially be successfully used as an advertisement jingle.

Cerakai provides music for movies and TV shows as well. Within Your Realm EP which was released in May 2015 is also available in US. It has aired on BBC Radio as well.

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


Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

17 June, 2015

Ronan Le Barbare album review

Ronan Le Barbare - Ronan Le Barbare |self-released, 2015| 4/5 instrumental metal

1. Intro, 2. A Furor Normanorum, 3. Ascension Of The Black Insane Heart, 4. Tamdin, 5. In Utero, 6. The Barbarian, 7. Thulsa Doom, 8. Aromael, 9. Amen (Sepultura Cover)

Ronan Le Barbare is a solo project by French guitarist Ronan LeBouc. He has been making music for the last 17 years and the self-tilted album is his debut. Judging by the title, the musician has been touched and inspired by iconic 80's movies about a mighty warrior - Conan The Barbarian - which illustrated such aspects of human nature as brutality, spirituality, honor, vengeance, and sadness.

The album brings a collection of professionally arranged and performed instrumental songs which were mixed and mastered by Ronan's friend Vonig Le Mee. The highly poetic, spiritually moving "Intro" opens the tracklist with light guitar leitmotifs as well as an intriguing synth part. It is then followed by a series of chunky guitar riffs synced very well with drums, which all announce the arrival of "A Furor Normanorum". Technically, this 8+ minutes long track consists of two parts. The first is dynamic and metal-orientated and provides catchy arrangements (loud rhythm guitars vs soloing, background voice samples and slightly intrusive drums). The second is built upon repetitive, heavy guitar parts and sounds less rhythmic, yet captures the essence of human pain and suffering. It's finished with a murky, buzzing, electronic effect.

The introduction to "Ascension Of The Black Insane Heart" is a large quote taken from American Psycho movie where the protagonist, Patrick Bateman was confessing about his inner drama. The song keeps the tension, expressed through altered, extended, and sometime heavier guitar riffs, whereas a woman's lamentation and her insane laughter are the cherry on the pie of the overall atmosphere of this track. The arrangements are quite repetitive and tightly fill in this lengthy suite.

"Tamdin" begins innocently with an almost Victorian or even New Age set of passages. These then become enriched and develop into an epic guitar-driven arrangement. A Tibetan-like invocation comes in surprisingly, lowering the tone of the track and preparing the listener for a heavier ride. The drums, bass, and guitar that follow collaborate nicely, bringing a progressive metal vibe that sounds very vital thanks to a multitude of changes. The heavier part could definitely make a dynamic soundtrack for an action video game. Gloomy voices return to decrease the tempo and lead to an ending where two guitar arrangements (one gradual, the other stretched) collaborate together nicely, building up the mysterious atmosphere.

If you like melodious gothic moods, then the opening of "In Utero" should please you with its 'windy' mood and subtle, positive guitar arrangements. There's a feel of loneliness and isolation here, which slightly warms up until the spirited progressive rock riffs show up. Next, a very well written and performed, and also instantly memorable part of the composition starts. The listeners might vividly imagine a lone guitar virtuoso performing on a high cliff, with a grey sky as background, but also thunder and lightning approaching behind his silhouette. This lengthy composition gives some space for more 'exotic' instruments and ambient sounds such as ocean waves, which it ends with.

Now, in the name of aforementioned Conan, here comes "The Barbarian", with the most memorable Q&A quote from the movie ('Conan! What is best in life?') in the beginning, and the heaviest metal arrangements presented on this album. The rhythm guitars are layered and sound dirty, with shredding bringing us into higher tones. The drum parts are packed tightly and put on the top along with the bass lines. Tuned down, mighty guitar riffs come up next, reminiscent of Ministry's dense industrial metal vibe and enriched with similarly sampled quotes. Ideal for headbanging. Then the chase slows down again and the focus changes to cold melodic guitar riffs, supported by a slightly chaotic background. Both gradually fade away into the end of the song.

"Thulsa Doom" is another sonic trip into the heavy metal lands, with a dramatic performance by James Earl Jones, also sampled from the first Conan movie. Vibrating guitar riffs keep the sound up and spacey, while interestingly altered rhythm guitars attack from the other side like a swarm of angry hornets. The drums are very well matched, and don't steal attention from the initial guitar-driven dynamics. It's the best track of the whole album in my opinion, thanks to lively arrangements and equally interesting sonic backgrounds. It seems as if they make both of your brain’s hemispheres engaged into processing the incoming sound waves. Ronan openly and successfully shows a full spectrum of both playing and songwriting skills here.

You'll need some rest after the exposure to such a heavy cannonade. The eighth track on the album brings acoustic, subtle arrangements written for both guitar and synths. Moreover, it is the song which Ronan wrote for his daughter. Guitar riffs flow in steadily like ocean waves, later shaped into rock arrangements. A modulated sound of bells ends the track giving it a spiritual, ambient vibe.

The album’s closing track is the only one with actual vocals. Ronan chose to cover Sepultura's "Amen" with his very well matched, partly-growled voice that comes very close to the original. When the original song's overall tune is harsher, and more 'underground' thanks to a strongly accented bass, Ronan's version sounds much cleaner & spacey. Yet, his guitar riffs sound heavier and more modern than Sepultura’s. The song features an opera-like singer's voice, though Sepultura's original sounds more exotic, with the classical vibe playing that part here.

Ronan LeBouc seems to enjoy changing arrangements and may not settle down for making a track with just one mood, one arrangement, and all those repetitions that usually appear in popular song structures. The entire debut presents a cross-section of Ronan's best compositions so far, rather than being a concept album, but the music has lots to say to careful listeners. His songwriting and instrumental talents definitely are in their prime for another release, which could cover an original story narrated with several integrated chapters.

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





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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

05 June, 2015

Tengger Cavalry - Horseman

Tengger Cavalry - Horseman (song review) |Metal Hell Rec., Blood Sacrifice Shaman, 2015| 4/5 Mongolian folk metal

While browsing through a long list of metal bands, a listener may find out there are very few internationally recognized China-based groups in the genre. Here however comes an innovative and powerful Chinese quartet presenting traditional Mongolian music mixed with heavy metal guitars. The band members call it ‘Mongolian folk metal’, which is definitely an interesting addition to the already wide spectrum of metal music subgenres. Tengger Cavalry was established in 2010 as a solo project of Mongolian music, film & game music composer Nature Ganganbaigal. He formed the full band with Xin Wang, Kai Ding and Wei Wang later in 2012, and has released four albums in both Europe and United States up to date.

"Horseman" is Tengger Cavalry's newest track and was released on their Blood Sacrifice Shaman album (released as a limited demo version in 2010). The song title refers to a Mongolian nomadic man, one of those who are historically known for their excellent horse-riding skills (as well as hunting with falcons and eagles, as you might have watched in many movies). Fast horse-riding means an accelerated tempo and therefore, the band showcased that in this track.

The song begins with a surprising intro that would work well for an electronic composition, but leaves no doubt what is to come when it is followed by a straightforward guitar cannonade soon after. The track is entirely instrumental but it could sound mighty with growling vocals as well. The arrangements include the aforementioned traditional Mongolian tunes, skillfully combined with heavy, dirty metal guitars. The composition allows for giving space to both - at first you'll hear the folk vibe, then fast-paced drums, bass and guitars, then finally a complete mixture of them all.
The sound is heavy and vibrating but also soft and dreamy at times. Thus, it is a straight call to action that a bit later invites you to take a break. Listeners may imagine a furry horseman resting in front of a tent, next to a bonfire, eating fried meat and relishing the view of the place he was born in and belongs to - a vast grassland overlooked by the snowy mountains in the distance. Such a landscape may look boring to some foreigners, but it means freedom, survival, and a direct contact with nature for any native. After the rest, you can see him continue his mounted exploration of the land.

Is this kind of music inspiring? Definitely, as much as Norwegian metal drives listeners to dig into the Norse mythology to study about Valhalla, Fenrir or Yggrasil. In fact, Tengger is the name of the sky god of the Mongolian land. Moreover, if you're a fan of metal music looking to branch out, then this track may encourage you to not only start listening to Mongolian and more Asian ethnic music, but also researching and supporting the growing metal music scene over there.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, June 5th, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)





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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine