Halbjahresrückblick 2019: 50 best Vinyl Records so far
Reviewed by Kristoffer Cornils for hhv-mag (D), July 11, 2019
Das ist sie vielleicht, die bekiffte Neo-Krautrock-Platte, die Bureau B schlicht zu unwirsch war. Über »Cryonics: 1989-1992« von Dark Star – ein Pseudonym des deutschen Produzenten Wolfgang Reffert – liegt zwar mancherorts ein deutlicher Klaus-Schulze-Schleier, im nächsten Moment aber zeigt diese Zusammenstellung von Tracks den EBM-Jungspunden und Post-Punk-Posern, was während kalter Winternächte im Kohlekeller neben einer Lungenentzündung noch alles zu holen wäre. Danke, Knekelhuis.
2. Quartal 2019: Die wichtigen Reissues
Reviewed by Michael Leuffen for Groove (D), July 2, 2019
Toll, wie sich das niederländische Label Knekelhuis mit zeitgenössischer Musik und Archivveröffentlichungen zu einer der aktuellen heißesten Adressen für dunkle elektronische Musik entwickelt. Nach dem aktuellen Tribal-Industrial von Zaliva-D aus Peking nun eine LP, die sich dem Werk des in Freiburg ansässigen Produzenten Wolfgang Reffert widmet. Seit 1988 macht dieser als Dark Star vornehmlich instrumentale Musik, die sich als minimal arrangierter Mix aus Drone, EBM, Elektronik, Kosmische und Psychedelic versteht und weitestgehend auf analoge Synthesizer-Sounds setzt. Die hier versammelten Tracks verbreiten eine bedrohliche Atmosphäre, in deren Mitte ein metallisches Herz schlägt, das mit rauem Pulsschlag nervöse Tanzbewegungen evoziert. Eine Archivsammlung, deren Drive mit Jetzt-Musik von Künstlern wie Beau Wanzer oder Terreke vergleichbar ist. Nur eines ist anders: die Angst vor dem Zünden der Pershing-Raketen am Ende des kalten Krieges macht die Musik von Dark Star authentischer.
Reviewed by Nils Schlechtriemen for hhv-mag (D), May 23, 2019
Weniger ist mehr ist weniger ist mehr. Von der abgedroschenen Floskel zur minimalistischen Formel sind es bei Wolfgang Reffert oft nur ein paar Runden Modulation. Gerade wenn man mit wenigen Mitteln möglichst prägnant und bildreich ans Produzieren herangeht, will die Auswahl dieser Mittel gut durchdacht sein. Was das betrifft, lieferte Reffert als Dark Star seit den späten 1980er Jahren eine Reihe starker Kassetten mit ätherischen Rock-Anklängen, aber auch clubtauglichen EBM-Cuts und einer wavigen Weltraumatmosphäre ab, die natürlich durch Track-Titel wie »The Phoenix Asteroids« oder »Forbidden Planet« gezielt untermalt wird. Reffert zeigt sich von kosmischen Futurismen besessen, entfaltete sie im Gegensatz zu Jeff Mills oder Drexciya damals aber entschleunigter und klar segmentiert, wie eine andächtig raunende Hommage an alte Zukunftsvisionen aus Film und Literatur. Seinen Stil hat er dementsprechend ähnlich einer Begleitmusik zu einem nie verfilmten SciFi-Schinken der Nixon-Ära zurechtgestutzt. Und trotzdem gelingt die Sache irgendwie.
Für die Compilation »Cryonics: 1989-1992« versammelt der seit gut zwei Dekaden inaktive Synthesekünstler nun nochmal neun seiner eindrücklichsten Produktionen aus diesen seminalen Jahren während der Wende. Dass das Material nun tatsächlich schon 30 wird, merkt man ihm vielleicht auch wegen diverser Retromanien in jüngster Zeit, von Electro bis Vaporwave, kaum an. Ums Remastering für Knekelhuis kümmerte sich der Niederländer Wouter Brandenburg, der sich schon bei »Forsaken« von Zaliva-D und Terekkes »Improvisational Loops«, aber auch Jonny Nashs »Make A Wilderness« und diversen Reissues von Music From Memory als fähiger Produzent hervortat. Sieht man vom altersbedingt manchmal etwas generisch wirkenden Soundrepertoire ab, geht bei dieser Kompilation eigentlich kaum was schief. Nostalgiker können mindestens ein Ohr riskieren.
Reviewed by Marc Urselli-Schaerer for Chain D.L.K. (I/USA), May 17, 2002
Wow, lots of things to say about this... I popped it in before even reading the info sheet and I immediately thought (I swear!) that these guys (or at least their vocalist) sound like the Legendary Pink Dots, but then of course I have learned that they sound like them 'cause the singer IS LPD's singer Edward Ka-Spel. In fact this is a collaboration project by Ka-Spel and Wolfgang Reffert (german musician and tour manager for Skinny Puppy and the Swiss trio Young Gods among others), who has been behind the Dark Star moniker for a decade or so. As a matter of fact this very record is a reworked re-issue of "Travelogue", originally recorded in the early nineties with the LPD, Italy's band Technogod and Gotz Adler (who also is on this re-edition). While omitting the last two songs of the original version, four new tracks have been added instead.
The material is slow electronic wave music with a claustrophobic experimental vein and slow drum patterns. You can definitely still hear the echo of the eighties but also the ninetees are there. Songs like "Come To" (with the voice of Yorgos DK) might even sound a bit like Depoche Mode, but the rest of the album is less ebm/pop than that. There are more Joy Division/LPD-style beats with drum machines and industrial sounds and electronic synth-pads with a hard attack used to scan the beat and give it a musical entity (somehow Kirlian Camera style). When Ka-Spel sings it's obviously very hard to stop thinking about LPD... String pads and other layered sounds are used a lot too and even a distorted bass "Frantic Upstream" find place. Some lush distorted dark wave guitars are to be found too. There are also experimental pieces like "Solaris I" (which is one of the newer songs; '94-'97) with various sounds such as people playing pool in a bar, squeeking doors and pulsing electronic sounds. Electronic suites with more upbeat rhythmical structures and synthetic patterns ("Belvedere", also one of the four new ones).
Of course all pieces feature special collaborations among which Volkmar Miedtke, Wolfgang Bear and the bass player from the german ironic-fun-punk outfit Die Ärzte (the doctors). The front cover is by French illustrator Moebius (from the cult comic book "The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius").
Reviewed by Roberto Michieletto for Music Club (I) #107, May 2001
anche un po' di Italia in questo nuovo/vecchio disco di Dark Star,
progetto nato nel 1988 dalla mente di Wolfgang Reffert, tour manager
di numerose formazioni che transitavano sul suolo tedesco. E proprio
in occasione della calata degli Skinny Puppy in Germania Wolfgang
ebbe modo di incontrare Edward Ka-Spel (Legendary Pink Dots), che
aveva il compito di aprire suddetti show e così prese forma
il primo nucleo. In seguito venne in contatto con i nostrani (e mai
troppo osannati) Technogod, allorché suonarono di supporto
agli altrettanto imprescindibili Young Gods. A ciò aggiungete
l?amicizia che lo legava con Gøtz Adler e la band è
Reviewed by Antron S. Meister for Freq (UK), 2001
Wolfgang Reffert's collaborative Dark Star project first released Travelogue in 1994 through Strange Ways Records/Hanseatic. While it is a bit of a shame that this CD re-release on Soleilmoon isn't a complete new album, it does include four new tracks in place of the first edition's last two pieces, and as extra nice a bonus the redone cover art is taken from the cult graphic novel Airtight Garage Of Jerry Cornelius by Möbius. Otherwise the track list is identical, and while much is of a variable quality, some of the songs on here are nothing short of superb.
Reffert used to work as a tour manager for the likes of Skinny Puppy and The Young Gods in Germany and met both Edward Ka-Spel and Technogod as the respective supports acts in that capacity, and invited them to join Dark Star along with his long term friend Gøtz Adler. The basic tracks were recorded largely by Reffert, with the guests adding their unique stylings over a few years in the early Nineties. Unfortunately, this does mean that some songs such as "Opal", "Frantic Upstream" or "Come To" have a slightly dated feel to them, running along fairly standard digital drum machine and keyboard Industrial Dance-ish lines.
There's a lot of programmed rhythms going on there, with some repeated vocal intonations from Yorgos DK on the latter two songs and some quite Funky guitar by Reffert and G-Frex and a load of squelchy/tinkly samples thrown into the groovy mix. They're actually entirely listenable, and drive along with a psychedlic tinge to the electronic post-Hardbeat/Rock mechanistic high-step beat. Likewise, the four new instrumentals have an air of tacked-on placelessness, being constructions by Reffert, Adler and sundry other musicians from the Freiburg area, plus Die Artze's bassist Rodrigo Gonzalez, in '94-'97. They're very much in the same style of trippy noises (the door creaks and pool ball clacks on the two "Solaris" tracks are especially good) combined with effective, complex programming which never fails to keep the drum machine or keyboard bass settings to mind. Still, they are quite engaging workouts with added synths and some comfortably swirling electronics to make the ride pleasant enough, reaching an extended delve into dynamic shifts between ambient and psychedlic noise on "Solaris II" for the conclusion.
Where the real strength lies is in the Legendary Pink Dots collaborations, with Ka-Spel, The Silverman and Ryan Moore bringing their spiked-velvet touch to four tracks - the opening "Eject!" in wistful remembrance of camel trains and faxed goodbyes; "The Slice Of Life", which has that digital rhythm Reffert favours offset by some of his nifty sample stretching and ticking, while Moore brings up the bass to Ka-Spel's existentialist mantra. The results are really quite good, churned up and hesitant as they are. "Go Beyond, But..." is on an LPD/Dark Star instrumental tip, and does similar kinds of things in instrumental form with less impressive results, but with "Don't Look 'Til It's Gone", everything reaches a peak. This is one of Ka-Spel's most stunningly affecting lyrics, with a mournful sense of presaged loss delayed by immersion in enjoyment of what's available in the here and now, and is truly stunning and more than a little emotive. From a man who has provided some of the greatest insights into the chiaroscuro of the human state of being over the last twenty years, "Don't Look..." is absolutely the high point of Travelogue (I or II), helped along by Moore's searingly penetrating guitar klang and Adler's subtle bass. Bleedin' marvellous.
Reviewed by Stéphane F. for Heimdallr (CH), April 2001
J'avais découvert en 1992 un album de Dark Star, "Headtrip", qui m'avait agréablement impressionné. Officiant en solo, Wolfgang Reffert avait réussi l'exploit de sortir un disque électronique hypnotique et ambitieux. En 1988, étant tour manager de Skinny Puppy et des Young Gods pour une tournée allemande, il sympathisa avec Edward Ka-Spel (Legendary Pink Dots) et les italiens de Technogods, tous deux en première partie des formations précitées. De cette rencontre naquit la collaboration entre Wolgang Reffert, Edward Ka-Spel, Technogods, et un ami de longue date, Gotz Adler, et fut immortalisé sur l'excellent album "Travelogue", aujourd'hui épuisé.
Nous pouvons ainsi remercier le label Soleilmoon, à l'origine
de cette réédition. Les deux derniers titres de l'original
manquent, et sont remplacés par 4 nouveaux morceaux, qui auraient
dû apparaître sur l'album suivant de Dark Star, qui n'a
jamais vu le jour. Si les premiers titres sont assez proches des travaux
de Legendary Pink Dots, agrémentés d'une texture électronique
complexe et saturée, les plus récents témoignent
d'une approche plus expérimentale. A noter également
l'utilisation d'un dessin de Moebius pour la couverture, aux décors
futuristes, délicieusement décalé.
Reviewed by Psionic for Starvox (USA), April 2001
once again I find in my hands a jewel of audio work with virtually
no background information. Soleilmoon, that fine bastion of experimentalism,
has drenched me in music that defies conventions, and that has no detailing.
This particular release was co-written with the Legendary Pink Dots,
and as such comes across like a lost Pink Dots album. Edward Ka-Spel's
vocal work being the instantly recognizable creature that it is, this
disc unfortunately suffers from an identity crises of sorts... Is
it Dark Star, or is it LPD? The music itself is beautifully psychedelic,
in a twisted sort of way.. But so is the Pink Dots' music. Now don't
get me wrong, I love the Pink Dots, so it's all good to me, especially
'cause in terms of content "Travelogue II" is stronger than the last
three pink Dots albums combined. I just find it hard to differentiate
this project from the Pink Dots. Quirkier, more spaced out, and trippier
than the pink Dots have been for some time, "Travelogue II" is just
the thing those of us who crave the warped old-school LPD have been
waiting for. I imagine I'll be sailing around the stratosphere to
this for some time to come.
Reviewed by Sébastien Lameloise for Kortex (?)
un long silence de six ans voici Travelogue II, qui est en fait une
réédition retravaillée de Travelogue. Plusieurs
noms célèbres ont participé à cet album,
jugez plutôt: The Legendary Pink Dots, Technogod, et Gotz Adler.
Les deux dernières pièces de l'édition originale
ont été supprimées, mais en contrepartie il y
en a quatre nouvelles, ce qui représente environ une demie
Sur les onze tracks de l'album, cinq comportent des paroles qui sont
chanteés par Edward Ka-Spell. Parfoix prédicatrice et
effrayante, parfois plus douce et suave, sa voix s'intègre
parfaitement avec les délirantes compositions sonores, comme
par exemple sur Eject ou The Slice Of Life.
Reviewed by Jeremy Keens for Ampersand Etcetera #2001.08 (AUS), May 2001
Another in Soleilmoon’s reissue line: the first verion was released in 1995, and is primarily a collaboration between the mysterious Wolfgang Reffert and the Legendary Pink Dots, Technogod and Gotz Adler, recorded between 92 and 94. Additional tracks were recorded in the next 4 years by WR for a follow-up that never occurred. This release combines four of those new tracks with 7 from the first album (2 were removed) - the later tracks are added at the end, making ‘comparisons’ possible.
To be honest, the original album doesn’t really gel for me:
I am not sure what it is because it isn’t bad, but perhaps is
too variable for me. I like an album either with focus or focussed
diversity. It starts with a very Ka-Spel number, the distinctive vocals
emerging after a swirling opening and supported by a pulsing bass
and shimmering effects, before a middle easternish break and a final
collage. ‘Opal’ just by WR and Adler is a forceful instrumental
with a harsh guitar, synclavier and a beaty clappy percussive line,
but surprisingly broody. With ‘Frantic upstream’ I assume
Technogod joins in a growling lyric over drum and guitar, accentuated
by a tasty little phaser fight to open with and some backwards sounds.
And then the extra tracks - which I really like. They basically make
up a 30 minute suite. ‘Masterpiece’ is a compelling swirling
driving synth piece with voicedronnes, leading into the short experiment
of ‘Solaris I’ constructed from samples of creaking doors,
clattering billard balls echoed walking, squeaks and a deep throb.
The pulse continues in ‘Belvedere’, where an Autobahnesque
bass with 4/4 percussion steers us through a varying synthesised landscape.
And so to ‘Solaris II’ which merges I (including the throb)
with Belvedere to create a 14 minute soundscape that incorporates
some concrete elements with the more beat driven perspective, and
while it also could be considered noodling, has more structure and
coherence (and also some mellotron).
Reviewed by Final Man for Electro Age Music (CAN), 2001
Featuring an array of collaborators such as Technogod and the contribution of the voice and lyrical talents of Edward Ka-Spel, Dark Star (a project from the German musician Wolfgang Reffert) is post-industrial rock with a psychedelic twist that is not without remembering The Tear Garden. Travelogue II, originally recorded in 1992 to 1994, is available again through Soleilmoon featuring 4 new tracks; the last two tracks have been omitted though.
Travelogue II is truly retaining its early 90s vibe with a taste of
The Tear Garden's Sheila Liked the Rodeo E.P. , opening on Eject!
with a collision of dirty electronics and noisy guitars over a beat-box
along Ka-Spel drones; he's unique and abstract, as usual. Although,
it's with pleasure that Travelogue II is navigating from a genre to
another; such as the inspirations of krautrock a la Chrome with the
gloomy Opal or a truly industrial moment, the distorted Frantic Upstream.
A bit dated some may think, Travelogue II will strongly appeal to The Tear Garden and Edward Ka-Spel fans generally; this will certainly be new to them anyway. A great piece of fuzzy, dirty experimentation of industrial psychedelia; with a cool cover artwork made by none other than Moebius.
Reviewed by NMP for Vital Weekly Newsletter (NL) #276
Dark Star is the project of German artist Wolfgang Reffert. Through his collaborations with among others Italian Technogod and Edward Kaspel from Dutch psychedelia-act Legendary Pink Dots, Mr. Reffert already completed some of the materials for the album back in the early nineties. Never released, the materials have instead been used to this exciting album titled "Travelogue II", which also includes some newer tracks from Dark Star. Because of the varied musical background of the Dark Star-contributors, "Travelogue II" is wide spanning when it comes to stylish expressions. Starting out with twisted psychedelic rock, "Travelogue II" gradually moves towards other galaxies as the expression turns to a kind of drone-like space rock. Having the sci-fi industrial touch of Chrome and the gloomy gothic sound of Sisters Of Mercy, the sound of Dark Star somehow seems retrospective, without turning stereotype. A great crossover-experience that needs a few listens...only to reward the listener.
Reviewed by NØ for his blog Nothin' Sez Somethin' (USA), April 09, 2009
Dark Star is a project from the German musician Wolfgang Reffert. It is post-industrial rock with a psychedelic twist that is slightly reminiscent of The Tear Garden. Travelogue I was originally recorded in 1992 to 1994. In its original format it contained 9 tracks instead of 11 as on Travelogue II. The final two tracks have been replaced by 4 new tracks. Travelogue II retains its early 90s vibe. It begins with "Eject!", a collision of dirty electronics & noisy guitars over a beat-box along with Edward Ka-Spel drones; he's unique & abstract, as usual.
Reviewed by David J Opdyke for AmbiEntrance (?), March 28, 2001
Enigmatic dark-space-synth-rock emanates from travelogue II, a re-release of a 1996 predecessor which adds four new tracks. Legendary Pink Dots members and others contribute to W. Reffert's intergalactic soundvisions; the distinctive voice of Edward Ka-Spel tops a few sci-fi-electronic soundscapes, sometimes charged with rocking drum and guitar elements. Wordless opal grooves along on a sludgy riff with haunting keyboarding and celestial echoes. Yorgos DK sings lead in cosmically funky frantic upstream. Overly repetitious phrases mar the slice of life... you can only sing "big black hole" so many times in a row before it starts sounding quite silly.
A more-than-10-minute excursion, go beyond, but... layers cool beats
on variously drifting synth strata, deep chords and bass meanderings,
shifting into less-structured zones of spiraling amorphousness. The
newer (vocal free) material includes creaky, sparse solaris I (2:52)
(tossing a little billiards into the eclectic mix) and longer version,
solaris II (14:14) which expands on the previous themes, introducing
plodding beats, pulsating synths and glimmering atmospheres.
Click HERE for a review from a Russian webzine:
Reviewed for The Egg And We (RU), April 2001
Click HERE for a review from a Chinese webzine:
Reviewed for Collapsar Records (CN), July 2008
Reviewed by Antony Burnham for Metamorphic Journeyman (UK)
STAR have travelled far to reach this album, but, in many ways, they
haven't travelled at all. The overall sound hasn't changed since the
"No Sign Of Intelligent Life" period - JOHN CARPENTER is
still the major leaping off point here. But it's a sign of the respect
we all have for Mr. REFFERT's efferts that he gets people like ED
KA-SPEL involved in his projects. The legendary PINK DOTter himself
puts his distinctive voice onto four of the nine tracks on this album
to full effect. Other collaborators include TECHNOGOD, GØTZ
ADLER and MARK CRUMBY who appear at various points on this, perhaps
DARK STAR's finest album.
Reviewed by Waldemar Hartmann for Intro #18 (D), October 1994
So ganz und gar nicht labeltypisch mit trivialem Schmalspur-Wave, sondern fern aller Konventionen im Vakuum zwischen Genie und Wahnsinn bewegen sich die musikalischen Errungenschaften des von den Space-Königen LEGENDARY PINK DOTS, TECHNOGOD, Götz Adler sowie Mark Crumby unterstützte und von Mastermind Wolfgang Reffert erstellte DARK STAR-Projekt. Ein "wahn-sinnig" machender Trip in imaginäre Welten ohne erkennbares Ziel, begibt man sich einmal auf seinen Weg, führt er nie wieder zur Basis zurück. Vom völlig aus dem Zusammenhang gerissenen Minuspunkt "Frantic Upstream" abgesehen, fasziniert "Travelogue" ob seiner minimalistisch erzeugten mystischen Kraftfelder. Wie sagt Edward Ka-Spel doch gleich: "Fall in my, roll in my big black hole!" Weil der Mann einfach recht hat, berau(s)cht Euch an dieser hypnotisierenden Vorstellung und folgt auf dem Weg ins Ich!
Reviewed by Antony Burnham for Metamorphic Journeyman (UK)
This is yet another group I am glad to see making the break from cassette to CD - and not a moment too soon. Most of you may have heard something by DARK STAR by now - either the thirty second snatch of the SOFT WATCH #2 supplement, or the full-length track on IMPULSE #1, and should by now have the impression that not only the name is taken from the films of John Carpenter, but the music also has a certain sound akin to his creeping, relentless menace. The sound has changed a little here brightening up, it must be said, with the almost hippy guitar of GØTZ ADLER complementing & lightening WOLFGANG REFFERT's electronic-based instrumentation.
The album opens with "Ixtlan", a piece built on a simple four note sequence, reminding once more of the music of early Seventies Electronic groups - degrees of TANGERINE DREAM and perhaps more so VANGELIS and a slower JEAN-MICHEL JARRE surround this gentle non-beat piece. Next comes "Sparker" which moves into more familiar DARK STAR territory, yet it's only really the distinctive drum sound - never varying with a crisp snap to the snare - which remains the same. Around this the guitars & electronics swirl in bright, thin, colourful threads, all twisting along to the beat, keeping the atmosphere light. "The Phoenix Asteroides" comes next, again maintaining the thumping, smashing drum beat, yet this track is more minimal, made up almost entirely of synth sounds which cling to the basic framework like colourful decorations to a christmas tree. "Cactus Dance" is a slightly more up-beat-yet-moody piece which reminds me again of film music, yet is a lot lighter than Carpenter's usual sound. The drum beat on this track is a little more complex, and the overall structure surprisingly brings RENTAL / LEER's "Day Breaks, Night Heals" to mind (there s a similar chant, way, way back in the mix).
"33/4" zooms in on the tail of the previous track, again a bright little piece based on the usual snare/bass/snare/bass - drum machine - it has a fuzzy guitar sound like a channelled gas escaping under force while various distant sounds - mainly electronic - add to the sound. "Curse" opens with a Reb yell, the precurser for a colourful yet moodily slow piece of music. This track is actually performed by a group called CHAINSAW which consists of Wolfgang Reffert along with Joe Gizmo, Glenn Hudson & Bob Ries - almost indistinguishable from DARK STAR in sound. Next up comes "P2C2E" which again has a simple drum pattern (although a little less basic than some) over which the instruments play for a regular, rhythmic effect, rather than to create a 'tune', And, having realised the benefits of avoiding any recognizable motif DARK STAR find themselves masters of this style, easily pulling sounds together, and creating a 'feel' as an end result. "The Shadow Warriors" is their attempt at a theme - and it works! They keep the music simple & atmospheric. blended perfectly with the overall body of sound, and come up with a ripping little piece of music - strict tempo electronic Rock. "Desaster Area" keeps the same beat, the sane structure, but blends a lot of other sounds around it - all having the usual culminative effect on the atmosphere - and the title (deliberately mis- spelt?) gives a good description of the sound, which, rather than full of explosive violence, has a feeling that the ghost of some disaster still lurk, giving the sound a mildly chilling feel. The album closes with the title track "Headtrip", harkering back to films like "Assault On Precinct 13" - not the plodding, relentlessly oncoming menace sound, but the lighter, cold fanfare sounds - drifting electronics creating a proud yet inhuman tone.
To be honest this is milder than I had expected - they have mellowed with time & their sound seems to have broadened out a little more - they have stamped their own sound out of old, borrowed, although wonderful music. You could listen to hours of this stuff it doesn't have to be familiar - indeed lack of familiarity adds to the chill atmosphere. Suffice to say, it's a treat for those of us who are already addicted to the sound.
Reviewed for Impulse #4 (UK)
DARK STAR will be a familiar name to regular readers of IMPULSE. Their previous cassettes had me raving about them, and now for the first time, the sound of DARK STAR is available on CD! The opening track "Ixtlan" is a mellow, electronic piece with a spacey feel. From then on, it's noise and more noise. The familiar DARK STAR trademarks are all here. Slow, heavy Techno beats, throbbing bass, layers of electronic noise and guitars. Of all these tracks "33/4" is as upbeat as you'll get. No EBM here, slow-core Techno is the order of the day. "Curse" is credited to CHAINSAW, a side project of WOLFGANG REFFERT, the man behind DARK STAR, and the sound isn't a million miles away, maybe more guitary. One of my favourites here is "The Shadow Warriors", which seems to be a perfect mix of technology and guitars. Fabulous! DARK STAR are probably THE SWANS of Techno, which maybe not everyone will agree with, but the tension and violence found in early SWANS records had been electronically recreated here. If you haven't tried DARK STAR before - here's your chance!
A perfect follow-up to their previous release "No Sign Of Intelligent Life", "Headtrip" continues the band's insistent exploration of cold, pulsating beat electronics and chainsaw guitar. Analogue synthesisers are used to conjure up a sweeping grandeur, while an unflinching pace reveals its strength with its ominous restraint. My favourite here (on a release that is pure pleasure for its entirety) is "Desaster Area" with its crashing guitars battling like a pair of behemoths in a black and white sci-fi film. JOHN BERGIN's "Trust Obey" serves as a good reference here. (And the statuesque bovine on the inside cover deserves special applause, incidentally). Highly recommended you not go without this one!
Reviewed for Industria 351 (P)
por momentos ao ano de 1992, em que Wolfgang Reffert e Gotz Adler lançaram
este seu primeiro cd, após o lançamento de algumas cassetes.
Reviewed by Aruna Norvaisa for arteFACTed #1 (LIT), April 1994
I am not sure are the pages of arteFACTed for the band like this... But
I don't care, until it's real underground. Dark Star fuckin' IS. Infact
it's even MORE underground than some of the bands reviewed here (look
the next review for example) though it doesn't play any kind of metal
despite the fact their flyers speak about "minimal techno metal"
(why?-Ace). It's rather "minimal techno version of J.M.Jarre".
And again the critics speak about such bands as early Kraftwerk, Ash Ra
Temple, Guru Guru or Tangerine Dream as their main influences. Well, they
know better... For me it's simplified version of any of the electronics
dinosaurs with the addition of alot of psychodelic "philosophy"
in it. LSD is one of the main inspirers of the stuff I think... This could
be released through Dreamtime Records if it was not so simple music(k)ally.
Anyway it's quite OK for the one way ticket to trancendellica...
Reviewed by Antony Burnham for Metamorphic Journeyman (UK)
thoroughly enjoyed this recording. JOHN CARPENTER is mentioned in the
blurb accompanying this offering - I thought it was just because of the
name DARK STAR - no way! - Although a little more rough around the edges
(more fuzz, more feedback), this would easily fit onto one of CARPENTER's
movie soundtracks, As relentless, chilling, brooding with as much creeping
menace as anything the film-maker has come up with. They nod towards early
CABARET VOLTAIRE (but lot my money are far more listenable) and, perhaps,
the likes of FRONT 242 (although DARK STAR's music is a ltttle slower,
more relentlessly plodding, as if Hell-bent on reaching a dark objective,
as opposed to FRONT 242's manic Get-It-Over-With-And-Piss-Off -Home tempos).
No Sign Of Intelligent Life
Reviewed for Impulse #1 (UK)
'Play loud and use headphones' it says on the inlay. Well I've yet to try it on headphones but it sounds good enough to me just through the speakers. DARK STAR don't play around. From the first few seconds you know exactly what they're about. What we've got here is six tracks of slow, rhythmic techno. There's no vocals, but you hardly notice it. The music is moody and intense and has a dramatic quality that you just don't get on a lot of techno / electro records. It's quite hard to describe - the best thing to do is listen to their track on the cover tape and then buy a copy of this. Highly recommended.
No Sign Of Intelligent Life
Described as "Acid Dance" by one reviewer, this is a good description of Dark Star's cold, eerie death attack. A sequenced pulse glides along while hyper-distored guitars slash and noise punctuates its insistent melody. "Terra Incognita" reminds me of Theatre of Ice or Lycia (this tape would fit well within the gothic dungeons of the Orphanage tape label). "Perspective" has some cool analog sweeps. And, actually, the synths on this tape are distinctly analog. The pace throughout is quite brooding. Recommended.
No Sign Of Intelligent Life
Reviewed for Music From The Empty Quarter #4 (UK)
From Germany, DARK STAR seem to embody the best moments of SWANS, but with a friendlier, more ritualesque feel. All the tracks are prowling SH101 driven affairs, crackling with soft white noise and slowed rhythms. The most outstanding track is the fourteen minute "Deadline", an Industrial skank epic with plenty of percussion, swirling synths and the odd CABARET VOLTAIRE sample. Also worth a mention are "Forbidden Planet" and "Terra Incognita" with their looped organic sounds and ethereal undercurrent of noises. An excellent cassette of laid back tracks for skanking around the house to.