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Etnoscope - Way Over Deadline

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RTP    23

I'm really glad that the new Etnoscope album is out now - finally. Now it's time to post that review for it that I had on my hands for some time already. It's an absolutely great album. A big thanks to the guys and all people involved in making this release possible and freely available for the public!




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The news about the release of a new album by Etnoscope might be coming quite out of the blue.

But indeed, there is a new album out by Etnoscope, the same band that brought out a truly great work of tribal psytrance music with their widely acclaimed album "Drums From The Dawn Of Time" in 2003. Now, seven years after their first album, the band is back to make the dancefloors shake again.

Many people thought that this never would become reality, that the band was dead and the sound was gone. This release is to prove them otherwise!


Etnoscope was in fact actually never really dead, the project just took a long sleep. Details about the full story might be explained somewhere else though as here I'd like to concentrate on the presentation of this new piece.


The first thing the listener will recognize is a slight difference in the sound. Even though it is not easy to pinpoint as the songs are actually pretty different from each other and you are also getting some that are still somewhat in the style of the first album, it can generally be said that the overall level of rhythm and sound has become lighter and more technologically refined. The characteristic tribal elements that Etnoscope have become known for are still present at many places, yet I would say that the sound has developed more warmth and less bite. This is a good thing in my opinion though. And in addition to that, this slightly altered approach to sound has left room for more creativity to create unique pieces of musical craftsmanship. Because of this, the tracks themselves are offering plenty of differences compared to another.


So let me take you through the tracks:


The album starts off with "Odins Kraft". Now, Kraft in german means power and Odin should not need an explanation anyway, thus I thought this to be a mighty and massive track, but I got very surprised with this one - in a very positive way! First of all, it's no monstrous track. It comes on quite calm and balanced, even peaceful in a way. And then it took me completely by surprise that the main element in this song are not sky-enlighting synth melodies (as I kind of expected), but a woman's singing. This is very interesting. I do not know what she sings, but it's obviously a north-european language. The song has a very beautiful atmosphere altogether. I don't know how to exactly describe it, but it has a warm, yet powerful feel to it that has something of ancient times where people gathered around a fire under the stars and were singing and also dancing in rituals for their gods. And that is why the track is so good even though it does not even contain that much power seen from the drums, melodies and all that point of view. But all in all it is as if the whole piece focuses on a deep ancient power that is rooted deeply within earth and the universe... I have heard of people not liking this track too much, but I find it one of the best and most interesting pieces on the album.

After this relatively gentle beginning, it's time to get going with a "Guitar Session". Now, the terms "guitar" and "trance" I always have associated with commercial (kinda), but don't expect a cheesy touch now, there is none. This is one of the few guitar tracks that are actually good (in my opinion). That's probably because I can't hear very much characteristical guitar in it anyway, just a bit here and there. But maybe it has been used for a lot more effects (some of which sound interesting) and I just don't know. Nice rhythm, I like the bassline; nice tribal drums too. All in all a solid second track.

The next song, "Twilight", is quite different to the first two. It has got a lot more progression compared to the sort of relaxed "floatiness" present in the previous songs and I would say that the bass and rhythm in this one, paired with raw synth effects, is more in the vein of the older stuff from the band. A sample of this song has been online on the Etnoscope site since quite some time and I have played it countless times and annoyed the neighbours with it because I found it so awesome, so I'm very happy to see this song finally released. The main synth that starts in the middle is absolutely addictive for me, I love how it blends into the song and forms a melody-rhythm hybrid. It makes the track actually quite massive. And all in all it is quite entrancing to me, but in a sort of deeper and more down to earth way than most other trance music.

Then there comes "Kajiko", a tune fitted with characteristic elements Etnoscope has been using often, such as female singing and tribal drums. But even though these characteristic elements are present, the atmosphere is a bit different, sounding more modern compared to the kind of heavier sound of the previous album. A little bit of melancholy I can sense in the atmosphere as well. The synth melody tempts me to picture an old space station that is finally rediscovered after drifting through time for aeons ... it would be a fitting image, as Etnoscope themselves have sort of been drifting through time for the last few years - and with this track they are finally delivering a piece that has a bit of the atmosphere from the previous album. It's a good song and it sets the mood right for more things to come.

Just the right timing, because there are indeed more things to come!

After that track there comes a piece called "Sunset", which is obvisouly intentionally named as the counterpart to the magnificent song "Sunrise" on the first album. Again the song contains female singing and also tribal drums. The sound has a more floaty and faster feeling to it than expected, but I was probably thinking too much in the veins of the old sound. I think it should actually not be the intention of a listener to compare everything to the old stuff; Etnoscope have developed further and so has their sound. And "Sunset" is a great song with a very nice melody that indeed gives back a bit of the feeling of the past again...

After those two tracks, which were connected to the past to me, I was in the mood for a stomper. And here it comes: it's time for "Might And Magic"! Whoa, what a track. You recognize from the start that there is something big to come - massive synth effects, a distant tribal voice ... and then it starts off! It's fast. It's monstrous. Thunderous. Tribal drums fill the air. And I already get sweaty from listening! This is an intense and altogether happy track where the speed of tribal drums paired with the masterful crafting of massive synth effects even gives you a special tingly feeling overall. It's nicely building up in intensity and holding the high level until the end - absolutely perfect! I was not running to it yet, but I certainly will. This is a real pusher that can make you dance and feel good!

Then, after that storm (so to say), it's time for a bit less intensity. And for this purpose, the next track "JävlaSladdar" suits perfectly. The tempo is reduced and the listener gets a break from the intensity of the last track. This one has a clear atmosphere with moderate progression. I like the melody bits being nice and catchy and the whole song being a little easy going, with a bit of guitar adding to the groove. This track is not a particular highlight, but still a really good song.

And now here is another one of those moments we have all been waiting for: the track "Medieval". Maybe you haven't been waiting for it if you didn't know it before, but once you listened to it, I bet you'll love it. This song is genious. Think psytrance mixed with medieval party atmosphere - pipers and dancers round the fire, jugglers, alchimists, ... it really is that good! Everything is perfect here: the beat signature is kind of interesting, the flute melody is plain awesome and the atmosphere is really bringing together darkness and joy just the same way as you'd expect from the medieval age. This is truly wonderful. I have not yet witnessed any other artist doing this in even remotely the same great way.

With so much energy in the air, a listener needs a nice and gentle comedown. And he needs to be brought back to the future - or whatever time we have now. That's what the track "Freedom" will do for you. It's a nice track with a very relaxed atmosphere, while still being not downtempo. I like the sound of a choir that is in there. An uncomplicated and nice slower piece. Perfectly suitable for bringing your heartbeat back to normal rate after a workout or an intense party without letting you sleep off...

The last track, "Wierdo Swingo" is a piece of downtempo. And it is actually very welcome, because I would not be ready to be lead out into the outside world just yet, I still want to rest a little while in warmth and comfort. And this piece is perfect for it ... the sound chills the listener in an harmonic and nice way, with a very gentle rhythm. The song feels like a cosy cave, lit with candles and full of warmth. Very nice to end this wonderful album and this wonderful travel through all kinds of different settings and sound structrures.


So the journey has come to an end. As a summary I would say that this is one of the most interesting works released lately. There is something on there for everybody - playful upbeat tunes, powerful progressive tracks, floaty passages, deep and powerful songs, massive stompers, gentle swingers ... and even a perfect chill track. And even when going through so many dfferent styles, the album fees as a whole and no tune is out of place. Gently yet powerful, with a lot of "warmth", that is how I would describe the sound of Etnoscope. And this is a perfect piece to showcase every aspect of it!


Interestingly, a pre-release version of the album had a different tracklist where especially the track "Odins Kraft" was placed not as the first one, but later on the tracklist. Instead of it, "Kajiko" was the first one. I kind of liked this arrangement a little better than the current one ... but that does of course not diminish the quality and goodness in any way. After all, everybody can arrange their own playlist. And actually, each of the tracks is such a solid and good work of musical art that each of them can well stand alone - they don't need a peculiar order or a playlist to sound good.


Finally, I'd like to add that the mastering of the album is actually excellent, with a clear and crisp sound that feels very comfortable on the ears.


And at last, I'd like to say a big "thank you" to everybody involved in the creation of this album for bringing this awesome piece of sound to the public!


Favourite tracks: 1 (!!), 2, 3 (!), 5, 6 (!), 8 (!!)


Get the free release from Ektoplazm: http://www.ektoplazm.com/2010/etnoscope-way-over-deadline


RTP 2010

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Trance2MoveU    337

Go to any beach on the Jersey shore in the summertime and you'll hear the always threatening phrase ,"Do you know who I am?!?" through ridiculously puckered lips and a mouth bloated with cheese ball. This is the war cry of the hyper muscled neanderthal who thinks he's a member of a tribe because he got a tattoo.


If that's the type of "tribal" you're looking for then I'm sorry but I can't help you. But if you're on the hunt for booming tribal drums then this will be perfect. I've never heard of this project and to be honest I cared much more for the review than the actual music. Talk about thorough! But the release itself was boring for me as I was waiting for interesting changes that never came. Some tracks though felt epic, like Kaijko with those aforementioned drums and floating break. Some were funky & danceable like Might and Magic. But too much filler took away from those cool drums on tracks like Freedom.


So whilst the drums and feel give this that hidden tribe in the jungle feel, I'm afraid it's an opportunity lost.



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Manuser    218

Pretty good! But maybe it lacks a bit of variety but still nice tribal trance sound.

My only problem is the track Medieval, I hate the melody, also the track Freedom is great but a bit ruined by these "over the top" vocals..a bit irritating.

For once I enjoy the downtempo track at the end.

Fav tracks on the whole: probably 1, 2, 3, 4 & 7.

Rating: 7.25 /10.

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