SUPERSTRINGS by CODE ELEKTRO
Released on March 23rd 2015 from Iceberg Records on Vinyl / CD. Also available as download from I-Tunes, Amazon and Google Play.
Formed in 2012, the Danish band Code Elektro are the brain child of composer / sound-designer / producer Martin Ahm, whose background includes substantial commercial experience with brands such as Fanta and MTV. “Superstrings” is the band’s debut album, and richly reflects the sci-fi / cyberpunk obsessions of its creator, alongside the prominent influence of key artists and bands such as John Carpenter, Vangelis, Daft Punk, Tangerine Dream and M83.
It’s a mesmerizing meld of digital and analog synths and taps into the ongoing 21st trend for evocative atmospheric music infused by the beloved scores of classic genre movies of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The driving, pulsing opener “Cyber Dreams” sets the tone with a sense of building excitement invaded by a hint of underlying menace. It resembles the end title music for BLADE RUNNER but establishes the band’s own distinctive sound. “Her Desher” is among the more overtly sinister tracks, while “Binary Prophecy” is a slow-burn built upon a quietly beautiful melody that remains persistent even as everything around it becomes more oppressively dramatic. Meanwhile, album highlight “Death Star” is marvelously melodramatic and ominous, incorporating the kind of malevolent choir Jerry Goldsmith employed so memorably throughout his career, and notably within THE OMEN scores.
If these legendary composers and musicians of past and present float your boat, there really is no other sensible option than going to www.codeelektro.com and buying the lovely vinyl version, which best represents the charmingly retro artwork by Kilian Eng. It also has a download code for all those whipper-snappers out there.
“Cyber Dreams” (3.47)
“Her Desher” (4.15)
“Binary Prophecy” (5.47)
“Death Star” (3.40)
“A New World” (3.46)
“Steel Sky” (4.47)
If you want to pick up a copy of the album then go here http://www.codeelektro.com/ and support the artist.
Also to stay in touch with what they will be doing next FOLLOW them on Twitter @CodeElektro
Review by Steven West
DOG FASHION DISCO
This next instalment may not have quite as many direct references to horror movies as my last (‘SEND MORE PARAMEDICS‘) but saying this band is not relevant or linked to horror is like calling yourself a horror fan but only watching the Nightmare On Elm Street movies, there are so many layers to horror and indeed this particular band. The band I am talking about is Dog Fashion Disco. Now to stay true to the subject I’m going to have to skim over the numerous line-up changes and talk mainly about their amazing musical style, ability and influences as I see it. Formed in 1995 in Rockville, Maryland USA, school friends Todd Smith (vocalist/songwriter), Greg Combs (Guitarist) and Jon Ensminger (Drummer) started off originally naming the band Hug The Retard, and then changed the name very early on when the line-up was complete to Dog Fashion Disco. Their Wikipedia page describes their musical genre as Avant-garde Metal which is a better description then I could come up with. I was going to go for 70’s & 80’s Psychedelic, Rock, Metal, Country, Circus, Disco music but Avant-garde Metal has a much better ring to it! Featuring keyboards, banjos and brass sections all their songs have a movie soundtrack base to them, they tell stories of murder, adultery, satanic worship, sex, slavery, witchcraft and drug abuse to name a few topics. Todd Smith is not only a lyrical genius but is also incredibly vocally talented with an astonishing range. Very similar to the great Mike Patton of Faith No More fame but doesn’t sound like he is trying to be him. Their first couple of releases were self produced and, in fact I have never even heard their very first release in 1997 entitled Erotic Massage so can pass no judgement.
As mentioned earlier there have been a fair few hiatus’ and line-up changes. The time after Committed To A Bright Future incurred a few changes. Somewhere along the line their contract with Spitfire had ended, and after releasing a live CD entitled The City Is Alive Tonight (recorded in Baltimore in 2004 and released in 2005 on Artemis Records) features tracks from both albums and a brilliant cover of Nirvanas Breed. Things go a tad quiet for Dog Fashion Disco, until April 2006 (newly signed to Rotten Records) when they release Adultery their sixth studio album.
This is where things take on a slightly different feel. This album has a distinctly dark and sleazy feel like some kind of 80’s cop thriller that has violent, sexual predatory undertones (the track named Private Eye springs instantly to mind). The music has a definite, suspense filled horror movie type soundtrack feel to it. The sleeve and band photos have a sort of 80’s comic book/porno tinge to them. I love this album for different reasons to the others, its odd, bold and again very addictive listening and should have gained them much more acclaim then it did. It has an ongoing story throughout and the tracks are described as chapters rather than numbers. Stand out songs for me are Sweet Insanity, Moonlight City Drive, The Darkest Days and 100 Suicides. Desert Grave is a fantastic banjo driven track about burying your victims remains out in the desert, funnily enough. The song that shares the same name as the album Adultery is a beautiful thing. I’m bigging this album up more as it is so different but unfortunately due to their record label and line-up issues they were struggling to keep up morale and decided to announce their split. They played their farewell gig in Baltimore on Jan 13th 2007 to a huge crowd.
This was by no means the end of the band though; they all remained friends and involved themselves in various incestuous side projects whilst every so often reforming as Dog Fashion Disco. This is where majorly confusing overlaps occur, I will endeavour to simplify if I can. In 2007 Todd Smith and 2 other past members of Dog Fashion Disco teamed up to become Polkadot Cadaver. They released Purgatory Dance Party, on Rotten Records, an album which really does sound like a Dog Fashion Disco release from back in the day. They go right back to their experimental Metal style and bloody hell is it a belter!! Dark, very disturbing, humorous and very relevant again to horror but not quoting anything directly. The most crazy, trippy track is Bring Me The Head Of Andy Warhol. The best track by far is the mostly acoustic track Chloroform Girl which has the chorus line “Chloroform girl how have you been? Don’t let me catch you sleeping again; you’re only alive because I like you”. If you have ever seen the Zombie short film called Not Even Death you will find this track is featured in the end credits! The last track is called Sole Survivor about being the only person left alive after a plane crash.
It gets even more complicated because in 2008, they reunite as Dog Fashion Disco and release an EP on Rotten records called Beating A Dead Horse To Death…..Again. The reason behind the name being that no new tracks were recorded just some old tracks that never made it previously and some old faves. This is a marvellous little gem though and very much welcomed by fans missing the band. Baby Satan, Day Of The Dead, Devils Wife and Barely Breathing are brilliant tracks. Plus two questionable tracks at the end Turning Gay and Hank Steel The Real Queer Cowboy show that they haven’t lost their sick sense of humour!! Everything again goes a bit crazy and Dog Fashion Disco is once again shelved for them to concentrate on their side projects. As well as Polkadot Cadaver, Todd Smith and Jasan Stepp (guitarist in DFD) team up with members of Nothingface and Hellyeah to form Knives Out! another Alternative Metal band. As well as this Todd and other band members started up their own record label in conjunction with Rotten Records called Razor To Wrist Records in 2010/2011 and all future releases from their bands were released under this label. One of the first releases from the new label collaboration was Polkadot Cadavers second album Sex Offender which again takes a weird, dark, sexual deviant undertone. A totally awesome album hard to separate from Dog Fashion Disco expect maybe less brass. With songs about vampires, sea creatures and virgins the stand out tracks for me are Starlight Requiem, Slaughterhouse Striptease and Cake & Eat It Too. Their final album to date is Last Call To Jonestown in May 2013 shamefully I have not had the opportunity to listen to it as yet. Todd Smith also has a solo project El Creepo which came about in 2010 and he has released 3 albums under this guise. A self titled first album, Aloha and new release Bellissimo! Obviously similar to Dog Fashion Disco and side projects but in places a little quieter more acoustic, as I write this I currently have Cottonwood River from the Aloha album on constant repeat, unable to listen to anything else right now!!
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Ortolani musical aspirations began when he took up up the violin at age four,he later changed to to the flute when a car crash seriously and permanently injured his left elbow. He was principal flautist in his hometown orchestra. He then went to study music at Conservatorio Statale Di Musica in Pesaro,Italy. At the close of World War II where he had served in the Italian airforce and played in the army orchestra he then went to be the musical arranger for the orchestra at the Italian network RAI.
In recent years Ortolani’s scores can be heard in various forms including Grand Theft Auto:London 1969(1996), Kill Bill:Vol 1 (2003), Kill Bill:Vol2 (2004), Drive(2011), IngloriousBasterds(2011) and Django Unchained(2012).In 2013 Riz Ortolani was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Soundtrack Academy in Ghent,Belgium in recognition of his work as a film composer,arranger and conductor .Ortolani himself set up the Riz Ortolani Foundation which works to promote music via scholarships,exhibitions and concerts.
He leaves behind him a legacy of film music,having composed scores for 200 films spanning many genres,winner of 11 oscars and 16 nominations.
Riz Ortolani was laid to rest on the 25th January 2014 in the Church of the Artists of the Piazza del Popolo. He is survived by his wife Katyna, daughter Rizia ,stepson Enrico and two grandchildren.Selected Filmography (Click the titles to go watch the trailers):
Horror Castle (1963)Castle of Blood (1964)Africa Addio (1966)Anzio (1968)
So Sweet,So Perverse (1969)Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971)
Web of the Spider (1971)
Seven Bloodstained Orchids (1972)
The Dead are Alive (1972)
Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye (1973)
Red Rings of Fear (1978)
The Fifth Muskateer (1979)
The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)
Killer Crocodile (1989)