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Velvetine “Crematorial Dance”

CHAIN D.L.K. (Us.) August 1st 2016 :
“Yet one more from the French Facthedral’s Hall label. Formed in the 90’s under the name Septembre Noir, the band changed its name in 2006 to Velvetine. Band member are: Peache (Pierre-Henri Mandine) on guitars + manufactured instruments; Stef.a (Stefan Mandine) on lead vocals + guitar; and Le K. (Marc Reina) on electronic percussion. Their debut album, ‘Septembre’ was released in 2007 and they followed that up with several EPs and a couple of videos, so ‘Crematorial Dance’ is their second full-length release. I wasn’t able to preview much of ‘Septembre,’ but from the little I’ve heard ‘Crematorial Dance’ is much father along the path. Opening with “Far Away,” Velvetine sets a strong dark tone with this impassioned creeper. Part of Stef’s vocals are in French, and part in English, but you’ll have no trouble getting the gist of the alienation and angst. At first, I thought this reminds me of some metallish dark alternative band whose name escapes me… The second track, “Ulan Bator” (sung completely in French) made the inevitable comparison much clearer – Bauhaus. It’s not only Stef’s sort of vocal similarity to Peter Murphy, but also the psychodramatic intensity of the band’s musical style. It became even more evident on “Along the Way”. The mood and phrasing, very Bauhaus, but still very French. These guys may not be Goth, but the maudlin music and lyrics should perk up the ears of every goth and emo who hears it. To wit, on “L’Immeuble” – “I don’t know who I am, I don’t know who you are, I don’t care for myself…” While it may seem almost a parody taken out of context, Stef’s impassioned delivery makes it real. The music is as simple and uncluttered as Bauhaus, yet refined in ways Bauhaus never was, and often fragile and poetic as on “Broken Harp.” Velvetine cooks up a real NIN-style stomper on “Resolution,” and kicks it up a notch or three on “The Shuttle.” The rhythm aspect of this band is interesting too; Le K. uses a programmed drum base while he manually plays percussion over the top. The dense, distorted guitar give the music a metallish aura, but it’s really far from metal. I really like that the lyrics are in both French and English; it is surely a refreshing approach to this type of music. The exception though is the last track, “Maha Mritunjaya,” a Great Death-Conquering Mantra from the Indian Rigveda. Velvetine puts it across with aplomb and a forceful dramatic flair. Way cool! ‘Crematorial Dance’ is an album that can’t help but grow on you. In fact, during the course of listening to the music (for a fifth time) for this review, I’m upping the rating half-a-star because it’s just that damn good. Copies are limited to 500. Obviously I have mine. I wouldn’t wait to get yours if I were you. Highly recommended!”
4,5/5 – Steve Mecca

BAD ALCHEMY #91 (De.) September 2016 :
Auf Crematorial Dance (FHcd15-2016) von V∃LVETIN∃ stößt man gleich nochmal auf Le K., er spielt da Percussions électroniques, ambiances, Rahmentrommeln & Cymbalettes an der Seite von Peache an Guitares, instruments manufacturés & tambours und von Stef.a – Chants, paroles & guitares. Stef.a (Stefan Mandine) & Peache (Pierre-Henri Mandine) waren zuvor schon als Septembre Noir zusammen. Das ist hier die Fortsetzung, mit schleppend gerockter Düsternis, französisch-englischem Gesang, beträcht- lichem Pathos, aber ansprechendem Timbre. Eine ganz andere Sache als der Synthiepop von Deadrow77, dennoch wiederum kein Metall, weder gitar- ristisch noch im maschinell geklopften Beat. Eher eine Art existentialistischer Gothic-Rock, besonders effektvoll beim (wortlosen) ‘Chant Pour JIDA’ mit krachenden Gitarren zu fragilem Piano. Eine Mixtur aus Engagement und Innerlichkeit, mit einem, der Ulan Bator, mon amour raunt, der träumt, wie ein gefallener Engel in einen Traum zu stürzen, der davon träumt, Nazis und Toreros und alle Bastarde zu killen, der träumt, Kissinger zu erwürgen. Stef.a schwankt zwischen Schmerz und Isolation und einer Hoffnung, die er aus den Augen einer Namenlosen saugt, Hoffnung und Licht. Er fühlt sich weit weg von allem Bla-bla, wie ein Gebäude ohne Ausgang, wie eingemauert zwischen Asphaltbändern, Bildschirmen und dem Plastikmeer, wie ein einsamer Tänzer, der den letzten Bus verpasst hat. Er fragt, wo er hingehen soll? Tiefer ins Dunkel? Und stimmt zuletzt das ‘Maha Mrityunjaya’-Mantra an, das Om Tryambakam -Mantra, das große Kürbis-Mantra. Möge der Weg über den Jordan, Pardon, über den Ganges leicht sein.

DARK ENTRIES (Be.) October 14th 2016 :
Tweetaligheid als modus operandi voor het Franse Velvetine dat met deze Crematorial Dance een behoorlijk smakend album aflevert. Tweetaligheid in de zin dat het gros der tracks werd ingezongen zowel in het Frans als het Engels. Als band kent Velvetine zijn oorsprong in 2004, al waren ze toen operatief onder de naam Septembre Noir dat in eigen beheer in 2007 een CDR uitbracht onder de naam Septembre. De naam werd al na een jaar van bestaan omgeruild tot wat het nu is : Velvetine. Velvetine hield zich voornamelijk bezig met het uitbrengen van EP’s als L’Epine, Un Jour Ordinaire en The Lonely Dancers. En eerder dit jaar dus het eerste onder label uitgebrachte album Crematorial Dance. Denk aan een vorm van Electro Rock, die de sfeer van melancholie maar ook die van stampen tegen het etablissement met zich meedraagt. Far Away als opener is veelzijdigheid in 1 track, met een bridge die de samenzang bundelt in depressiviteit maar catchy aandoet. Volledig Franstalig is Ulan Bator, dat muzikaal een evenwicht kan bieden tussen een Jacques Brel en een Peter Murphy. Rock waar de gitaar wat wordt gefilterd en vooral de elektronische percussie zegeviert kenmerkt Along The Way, terwijl L’Immeuble het type nummer is dat blijft nazinderen. Niet omdat het zo krachtdadig is, maar een sfeer veroorzaakt van pakkend en poëtisch. Broken Harp klinkt gemoedelijk, melancholisch als bloemlezing voor de morose. Donkere Electro-Rock kan vaak escaleren in een gordijn van noise en brutaliteiten, toch is Velvetine zo’n band die eerder ingetogen klinkt, met vooral aandacht voor de melodie. Resolution en The Shuttle zijn van die tracks die hier in uitblinken. Krachtig bij momenten, gematigd bij uitstek. Chant Pour JIDA is helemaal zonder tekst, en had van Bauhaus kunnen zijn, afgaande op het gitaartapijt. Zonder tekst, maar in het geval van de titel op zich kan deze als vlag de lading al wel dekken. Meer electro en daarbij ook dansbaar klinkend is Lovely House. Al hoef je het daarom nog niet op een dansvloer te verwachten. De mantra als afsluiter, de aanbidding van Lord Shiva, ter bescherming van ziektes, armoede en vrees. De muzikale yoga die Maha Mritunjaya heet is beklijvend. Met Crematorial Dance heeft Velvetine een behoorlijk album afgeleverd, nergens eentonig, nergens vervallend in herhaling. Veelzijdig en melodieus. Voor een exemplaar dien je snel te zijn, wegens slechts uitgebracht op 500 exemplaren.
8/10

DARKROOM (It.) Webzine, December 19th 2017 :
Un’ondata di oscurità sembra aver colpito la Francia, vista la frequenza di uscite gotiche provenienti dalla terra d’oltralpe. Ultimi in ordine di apparizione arrivano questi Velvetine, band dalla storia particolare. Nati come Septembre Noir a metà dei ’90, hanno realizzato con questo monicker un solo miniCD dal titolo “Stigmates”. Nel 2005 avviene il cambio di nome che coincide anche con l’arrivo del terzo membro Marc Reina, che affianca il nucleo storico composto da Pierre-Henri e Stéfan Mandine. Si devono attendere un paio di anni per poter apprezzare il debut album “Septembre”. Successivamente la band dimostrerà una certa pigrizia, pubblicando appena tre EP in fra il 2009 ed il 2015. Il nuovo full-lenght, infatti, esce nel 2016 e porta il titolo di “Crematorial Dance”. Nonostante i molti anni di intervallo, le coordinate sonore non sono cambiate: gothic rock e batcave sembrano essere i punti fermi attorno ai quali si muove il mondo dei Velvetine. In “Crematorial Dance” vi sono brani paradigmatici in questo senso. Pensiamo a “Ulan Bator”, dove in un crescendo drammatico si erge, monumentale, la voce di Stéfan, così simile a Peter Murphy eppure così particolare. L’omaggio ai Bauhaus prosegue con pezzi come “L’Immeuble”, “Broken Harp” e “The Shuttle”, ricchi di pathos anche se forse troppo allineati con i maestri britannici. Rispetto a loro però i Velvetine propongono un suono più aggressivo e massimalista, in cui è preponderante il ruolo della chitarra. Questo però tende ad appiattire il sound del gruppo: la tracklist infatti procede senza troppe sorprese, e anche se brani come “Resolution” o “Far Away” si attestano su livelli qualitativi alti, con il passare dei minuti l’ascolto tende a diventare un pochino monotono. Solo con l’ultima traccia i Velvetine cercano di dare una svolta: “Maha Mritunjaya” si basa su un raga indiano che, ripetuto ciclicamente, tende a ricreare un effetto mantra potente ed ipnotico. Si tratta però di un episodio, visto che difficilmente la musica indiana potrà diventare il futuro di questa band. “Crematorial Dance” è quindi un buon disco, non molto originale ma ben suonato e gradevole. Ora vedremo se la band si sbloccherà, oppure se continuerà nel suo lento e pigro incedere.
6,5/10 – Ferruccio Filippi

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deadrow77 “Dark Waves For Little Greys”

TEXTURA (CA.), APRIL 2016:
Operating out of the south of France, Facthedral’s Hall has been releasing music since 1997, all of it on CDR until now, with Deadrow77’s double-CD collection (500 copies available) the underground label’s first formally manufactured release. That’s not the only interesting thing about the project: the album’s twenty-nine instrumentals were recorded by Fabien Della Roma, a farmer who grows organic Saffron in the Oriental Pyrenees mountains, in his caravan using an Arturia MiniLab 25 synthesizer as the sole sound-generator. The majority of these spontaneous improvisations were recorded in a single take and have been sequenced in chronological order, the first CD presenting those produced in 2013 and the second in 2014.Each track is a self-contained electronic scene-painting of ambient-electro character; they’re mood paintings, too, that range between the darkest of excursions to ones of considerably lighter disposition. There are few dips in quality, and Deadrow77 guides us through everything from gothic cathedrals to underground caverns on this in-depth darkwave collection. He’s clearly got a gift for melody, and that each multi-layered production came into being as an improv makes the accomplishment all the more impressive. Titles such as “Ghost Trap”, “Carbon Circus”, and “Knockin’ D. Lynch’s Door” convey some of the tracks’ musical character all by themselves, and the arrangements are rich in sonorities, rhythms, and textures. From the jaunty (“Poob Knight”) and medieval (“Queen’s Death”) to the spacey (“Leaving Earth”) and meditative (“Birthnight Today”), the release has all the bases pretty much covered.The Arturia MiniLab 25 synthesizer obviously has much to offer with respect to the range of sounds that can be coaxed from it (one could be forgiven for thinking that a harpsichord’s featured in “Melancholia Tribe,” for example). Still, at 110 minutes there’s more Deadrow77 material here than one admittedly needs, and a single-CD overview drawn from the discs’ content would have sufficed. That being said, it’s hard not to be struck by the huge number of different song-like variations he’s generated on Dark Waves For Little Greys armed with nothing more than a single synthesizer and his own creative imagination.

CHAIN D.L.K. (U.S.A.), JULY 2016 :
Deadrow77 is Fabien Della Roma, a farmer who grows organic saffron in the Oriental Pyrenees mountains. And now, the album was not made exclusively using farm implements, but exclusively using a MiniLab 25 Arturia synthesizer. This is the second release by Deadrow77, the first going all the way back to 2005, called ‘Mi-Figue/Mi-Raisin’. Man, that was a long time ago. I haven’t heard that one, so I can only tell you about ‘Dark Waves for Little Greys’. It’s a double album (2 CDs) comprised of 29 instrumental pieces. Don’t let that doggie on the cover fool you; I can’t find any connection with the animal and the music. The label, Facthedral’s Hall, describes the music as “a mix of of electro-ambient, electronica, dark, cosmic, psychedelic, tribal, medieval…” In places that may be true to some extent, but overall, that seems like a stretch. What you’re really getting is simple, quirky, melodic synthesizer pieces, with a slightly dark tone. Now the impressive thing is that the majority of these spontaneous improvisations were recorded in a single take. When you consider that, it makes a big, big difference. The CDs are ordered 2013 (CD1) and 2014 (CD2), which I would assume to reference when they were composed. Some of the track titles pay up the whimsical quirkiness as well – “My First Caroussel,” “Blind Tightrope Walker,” “Pariah’s Groove,” “Knockin’ D. Lynch’s Door,” “Psychic Bleeding,” “Sabatik Salsa,” “Birthnight Today,” “Carbon Circus,” and others. As for what it sounds like, well, imagine if you will, a instrumental collaboration between Tonto’s Expanding Headband (Malcolm Cecil & Robert Margouleff) and The Residents. It might sound something like this. The melody and structure is ultra-simple, but there is a wide variety of sounds employed. Often there is rhythm but it is electronic rather than any conventional drums or drum machine. Some of these melodies sound very serious, while others are sort of goofy. Circus fantasy, carnival, medieval, klezmer, Kraftwerk, and numerous other influences are at work here. To some extent, certain forms hearken back to the electronic experimentalism of the 70’s and 80’s. There is one track (“TechNoLogic Future”) that utilizes a similar rhythmic impetus as Wall of Voodoo’s “Ring of Fire.” Occasionally some of the electronic sounds employed resemble real instruments, but mostly it does not stray from its synthetic origins. Undoubtedly the listener will find some compositions more interesting than others. Due to their completely improvised nature, some tracks sound more like ideas for songs (demos) rather than completely fleshed-out songs. Still, it might serve well as background music for mimes or other non-verbal theatrical pieces, maybe even animation. It’s possible that the album could have been distilled down to a single CD’s worth of the best stuff, but the buyer who’s looking for the most bang for the buck should be amply rewarded. If you’re into peculiar melodic synthesizer compositions, then Deadrow77’s ‘Dark Waves for Little Greys’ is for you. Limited to 500 copies. 3,5/5

BAD ALCHEMY #91 (Ger.) September 2016 :
Post aus dem ‘provencalischen Venedig’ beschert mir ‘unwahrscheinliche Musik’. In DEADROW77 stoße ich auf den Absender, Le K., schlichter gesagt: Marc Reina, seit den frühen 90ern als Skrow mit Imperial und Sizzle ein Höllenfeuer spuckender Duzfreund des Chaos. Auch wenn er da angeblich nur die Spielereien eines Safranbauern in den Pyrenäen auf einem MiniLab 25 Arturia Synthie eingehegt hat. Dark Waves For Little Greys (FHcd14-2015, 2 x CD) ist zu meiner Überraschung keine Zwangseinweisung in eine schwarzmetallische Seelenschmiede, es ist eine elektropoppige Einladung zum Seiltanzen mit verbundenen Augen (‘Blind Tightrope Walker’) in eine ungewisse Zukunft (‚Uncertain Future‘). Das Arturia MiniLab liefert einen blechernen, jedenfalls unbombastischen Sound, der damit ein bescheidenes Zeitalter anzukündigen scheint. Mit asthmatischen Zügen und glockigen, gläsernen oder holzigen Schlägen und quarrendem oder zwitscherndem Puls wird man auf eine Epoche eingestimmt, die in weiterer Zukunft einmal als dunkle Zeit verzeichnet zu werden droht, als ein neues Mittelalter (‘Medieval Sprites Tek’), in der viele ihre Heimat verlassen (‘Exodus Destination’) und die Zurückgebliebenen als ‘Melancholia Tribe’ auf ein Ende der mageren Jahre hoffen. Nicht ohne das Beste daraus zu machen, so dass schon mal eine Flöte geblasen wird und dass der Synthie launig schnarrt beim Safrankrokusfest, bis die Turmuhr Mitternacht schlägt. Die synthetischen Tänzchen und gedämpften Klangfarben dieser sich, wie es heißt, der Laune des Augenblicks hingebenden Momentaufnahmen, entfalten einen Charme, der nur naiv scheint, wenn er einem Grau als halb Weiß (nicht halb Schwarz) offeriert. Andererseits bleibt der kleine Trauermarsch ‘Queen’s Death’ ein Trauermarsch, und die Blockflöten von ‘Birthnight Today’ lassen den Groove da nicht zu übermütig werden. Das Feierliche wirkt manchmal etwas bauchig georgelt und dadurch leicht pompös, wobei Franzosen ihren Birnenkönigen und Ubu Rois mit Ironie zu begegnen wissen. So auch hier. ‘Rainey Memories’ werden mit den Regenschirmen von Martigues umtänzelt. Die Orgelmelodie von ‘Walking Eastward’ wird mit Schlägen auf Zitterblech akzentuiert. Wenn das Synthiepop ist, dann wie aus der Zeit gefallen, wie in ein falsches Jahrhundert gerutscht. ‘Arena Fighting’ tuckert und rauscht mit aufgestelltem Kamm dahin. Der Rest ist… dunkle Materie.

DARK ENTRIES (Be.) October 14th 2016 :
deadrow77, als alter ego van Fabian Della Roma, die vanuit de Pyreneeën in zijn caravan met slechts behulp van een Arturia Minilab 25-synthesizer de klanken van de ambient improviseert en zo geluidstapijten tovert als klankbord voor donkere uitspattingen. Della Roma is een boer die saffraan kweekt, het rode goud dat gunstig zou zijn als anti-depressiva of als afrodisiacum. En het blijkt te werken in het geval deadrow77. Reeds in 2004 maakte hij voor Facthedral een eerste album Mi-Figue/Mi-Raisin waarbij de nummers als titel gewoon een cijfer meekregen. Het werd destijds enkel als CDR uitgebracht. Omdat het label Facthedral enkel CDR’s uitbracht en meer de status had van promotiekanaal te zijn. Deze Dark Waves For Little Greys is sinds het ontstaan van het label (1997) dan ook de allereerste uitgave van het label. Een dubbel-CD dan nog wel, gelimiteerd op 500 exemplaren. Ambient-klanken kunnen een verborgen diepere betekenis hebben, en zo ook in dit geval. Maar liefst 29 nummers die voor een groot gedeelte in 1 track werden opgenomen en uitsluitend werden gecreëerd in pure improvisatie. CD 1 bevat tracks die werden opgenomen in 2013, chronologisch gespreid over 14 instrumentals met zwartgallige titels als Uncertain Future, Better Hope, Melancholie Tribe en Exodus Destination. CD 2 is dan weer een verzameling componenten die ook weer improvisatorisch tot leven kwamen in 2014. Psychic Bleeding, Sabatik Salsa, Ghost Trap, Carbon Circus en Walking Eastward. Het zijn stuk voor stuk composities ontsproten uit het brein van Della Roma. Composities met een meerwaarde omdat ze vanuit de losse pols werden opgenomen. Ambient is dan misschien niet voor iedereen weggelegd. Deze Dark Waves For Little Greys beluister je het best in het donker, of toch op zijn minst met de ogen gesloten. En met hoofdtelefoon. Pas dan komen de laagjes tot zijn recht.
7/10

SIDE-LINE (Be.), October 15th 2017 : 
(…) Deadrow77 is a French solo-project driven by Fabien Della Roma. A first album was released a long time ago (2005) on Facthedral’s Hall while this new work has been introduced as improvisations that were accomplished in 2013 and 2014. (…) The first disc features cuts from 2013 and the second disc from 2014. There’s no real difference between both disc; the style and influences remain pretty similar. The work is characterized by simplicity. The sound is electronic, mainly into ambient- and cinematographic influences, but still feature minimal-electro passages and even a kind of ambient-EBM-sounds. I also noticed some tribal elements on the second disc. (…) One thing is for sure, this is the kind of album you are going to like or not! That’s an aspect I’ve always fully supported and especially because Deadrow77 deals with something different from the masses. It’s not a ‘standard’ sound, but an artist who tries to create his own sound and style. I like some of the raw sound sculptures, but especially the few cuts feature some tribal aspects on the second disc. (…) Despite of the original approach, I’m not into this kind of improvisation, which rapidly starts to be predictable. The DCD format will enchant the lovers of this band, but it’s definitely over the top for the others. There’s no real climax! I’m also missing the name of the band on the front cover; it’s a choice, but not exactly the best way to catch the attention! (…) Deadrow77 sounds like a real challenge; you’re either going to like it or not. There’s no way in between although I can imagine this work could be more credible when joined by some visual arts. (…)
4/10.

DARKROOM (It.), March 13th 2018 :
È difficile recensire una uscita come questo “Dark Waves For Little Greys” del progetto Deadrow77, alias Fabien Della Roma, disco che esce a dodici anni dal precedente “Mi-Figue / Mi-Raisin”. Il nuovo disco è in realtà una doppia raccolta di pezzi scritti nel 2013 e nel 2014. Due ore di musica strumentale per 29 brani che traggono ispirazione dalla darkwave, dall’industrial e dalla musica elettronica. Un lavoro monumentale in termini di quantità, anche se le composizioni sembrano nascere da sperimentazioni improvvisate, senza un filo logico che le unisca. Si tratta quindi di piccole foto che ritraggono quel particolare momento creativo senza dare altri punti di riferimento. Nella marea di spunti che ci sono meritano menzione, ad esempio, “My First Carroussel”, una intro evocativa che fa da affascinante start all’elettronica dissonante di “Blind Tightrope Walker”. Poi in ordine sparso troviamo le contaminazioni etniche di “Melancholia Tribe” o “Pariah’s Groove”, il krautrock di “Deep Quest II” e anche una sorprendente inclinazione melodica come in “Exodus Destination”, dove un tema da soundtrack viene reso movimentato da una nervosa ritmica idm. “Dark Waves For Little Greys” è un disco indubbiamente ben fatto, ricco di spunti e trame sonore a volte anche originali. Soffre tuttavia di una forte frammentarietà che, alla lunga, rende l’ascolto difficile e pesante. Più che pezzi compiuti, i brani ricordano appunti di viaggio abbozzati su un foglio, piccole schegge di memoria registrate per caso. “Dark Waves For Little Greys” è un lavoro da ascoltare con molta pazienza e concentrazione per poterne assaporare le sfumature: se Fabien, nei prossimi lavori, saprà riuscire a ridurre le sovrastrutture che coprono le sue intuizioni, farà un deciso passo in avanti.
6,5/10 – Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi

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Minitel “Abîmes”

POISONOISE (Fr.) June 4th 2016 :
As summer approaches and that you will soon all be looking for some shade to hide from the heat, I suggest you to put your head in the freezer (or underwater) with an album that’s curdling bloods « Abîmes ». As if it was the soundtrack of a film noir, one is drawn into icy landscapes. Unlike such other projects, there is no frame like martial rhythmics or melodic development from noisy elements. Minitel takes us into an oppressive world for the time of the album with its monotonous but still very elaborated environments . We are visiting a nightmare that is not ours, and it is rather interesting. Minitel, a name that evokes spontaneously rather a world of kitsch synth than the dark ambient that it distils for sure (…).

CHAIN D.L.K. (U.S.A.) August 1st 2016 :
More interesting music from France courtesy of the Facthedral’s Hall label. There seems to be very little information on the artist, even from the label. ‘Abimes’ is the debut Dark Ambient Industrial Drone project composed and recorded in 2006 by Iconoclast, under the project name of Minitel, and not released until this year. Why, I have no idea. As for Iconoclast, the only other info I have is that Raphael Henry played (and maybe still plays) guitar in a Black Metal band called Sael under the name Iconoclast. Well, that’s at least something, and does explain some of the music on this album. ‘Abimes’ begins with “Vitriol,” a 4 minute noise piece that sounds like white hot ore being processed in a steel mill. Good for noise enthusiasts, but I was hoping the whole album wasn’t composed of pieces like this. “Novocaine Messiah” put my fears to rest with an uneasy calm. Primarily hollowish synth drone with a vague, eerie whistling melody over the top, this somnombulant ambience might lull you to sleep but also inspire nightmares out of the twilight zone. I swear I heard some snoring in there… “Inner Filth” presents a much heavier ambience, a spiraling dark ambient drone piece that lasts for over 22 minutes. “Lurker at the Threshold” juxtaposes a very low tone melodic loop over even lower engine idling with other sonics that sound like snakes slithering over sleeping monsters of the deep. This is the creepiest track on ‘Abimes,’ and owes much to Lustmord’s oeuvre. Finally, we have title track “Abimes” and here is where the black metal comes in. It begins with thick slabs of distorted guitar amidst cooing dove-like sounds, and a thick underpinning of deep, dark drone. As the piece progresses, squeaky metallic sounds can be heard, the guitar fades away, then a slow doom drum loop, and all the while that low, thick drone holds down the bottom. This goes on for quite a while until it seems to fade out until… BAM! at a little over 14 minutes the black metal guitar returns with a vengeance swallowing everything and returns into the abyss from which it came, with only traces of doom drum left. While ‘Abimes’ seems minimal in form, there is a lot of complexity in the drones. I know people who would absolutely love this because of the black metal aspects. For me though, I preferred the middle tracks. Still, very well done. Limited to 300 copies.
3,5/5. Steve Mecca.

MITHRA! TEMPLEZINE (Fr.) September 26th 2016 :
En cinq pistes – la première peut être considérée comme une introduction, non pas par sa durée, car elle fait environ quatre minutes, mais plutôt par sa nature même : on a l’impression d’être happé dans un vortex, entraîné contre notre volonté vers l’insondable – Minitel évoque, en partie, certaines productions du feu label Cold Meat Industry. Le choix du mot “minitel” pour représenter la musique d’Iconoclast qui officie notamment dans le groupe de black metal Annthennath est assez déconcertant, car on s’attendrait plutôt à un projet de retrowave, par exemple ou de minimal synth ; l’artiste explique ce choix dans une interview du webzine PoisoNoise : « J’ai donné un nom débile, fait une pochette en 2mn montre en main, temps de la photo compris, l’ai mis sur bandcamp, et là Marc de Facthedral’s Hall m’a contacté aussi pour le sortir ahaha. ».Cette orientation un peu à l’”arrache “ jure avec le reste : le visuel plutôt réussi malgré tout, l’ambiance profonde et sombre, et surtout la qualité des quatre compositions…Minitel semble, donc, pratiquer une forme de détachement post-moderne… Pour caractériser le son de Minitel on peut dire que le dark ambient qu’il pratique est plutôt “synthétique” avec une dimension parfois industrielle, et drone. D’autre part, il convoque des influences black metal pour un résultat finalement très personnel. D’autant plus, qu’elles sont utilisées comme un leitmotiv grâce à des irruptions de guitares trafiquées – quasiment méconnaissables – et noyées dans des brides de voix et autres bruits mécaniques sur la dernière piste (Abîmes ), à mon sens la meilleure composition avec un bon mariage entre dark ambient à tendance rituelle et émanations black metal. On déambule dans un monde crépusculaire comme bercé par d’énigmatiques nappes vaporeuses sur Novocaine Messiah, peu de variations, ici, mais un effet hypnotique assez efficace. Il se manifeste clairement une ambition cinématographique comme si Abîmes avait été pensé sur le principe d’une bande originale de film fantastique. Inner filth est une longue piste cauchemardesque et monotone de 22 minutes dont les drones lancinants ne laissent aucune place à la lumière – une pièce opaque, fermée sur elle-même, dont le titre invite à une désagréable introspection. Enfin, Lurker at the Threshold, qui doit probablement puiser son inspiration dans la nouvelle du même nom écrite en collaboration entre H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth, nous fait assister à un obscur avènement à travers une intéressante construction qui monte en intensité…Vous l’avez compris, chaque piste recèle sa spécificité tout en déroulant un “scénario” cohérent. Ce premier effort ne manque pas de “charme” : Abîmes capture l’attention grâce à une atmosphère pesante et horrifique. Il mérite l’attention des amateurs de musique sombres, en premier lieu, évidemment celle des amateurs de dark ambient, mais aussi ceux qui apprécient les groupes de black metal les plus orientés vers l’ambient.
LawOfSun

VITAL WEEKLY #1041 (N.L.) July/August 2016 :
The music by Minitel, a project by Iconoclast (I’m sure that is a pseudonym), was already recorded in 2006, but for unclear reasons was shelved until now. That, plus the fact there are only 300 copies, is all we know. The cover also doesn’t reveal much more than that. Something that happens of course more often and which is no problem. (…) this one is actually something I enjoyed from beginning to end, even when the opening piece ‘Vitriol’ is drenched with reverb. The other four (and much longer) pieces are all in the realm of moody drone music. Mucho atmospherics floating around. It’s hard to say what it is used here, but my best guess would be synthesizers or guitars, lots of effects, and maybe something in terms of field recordings, but I have no idea what that should be really here. This is the kind of dark ambient music that one usually find on such labels as Malignant Records; it is not the most refined kind of ambient, but projects like Minitel explore the all the low end frequencies to their maximum use, and cutting out all those sounds that shed even the smallest bit of light in this music. This is not a release with music you never heard before, but I thought it was very well made, with great care for deep, hidden sonic details.
Frans de Waard

BAD ALCHEMY #91 (De.) September 2016 :
MINITEL, das ist Raphaël Henry, und Abîmes (FHCD16-2016), das sind Abgründe. Es zeigt ihn als einen eklektischen Munkler, der mit Knochen Runen schreibt, ansuz – laguz – othala. Seine Ikonographie umfasst schwarze Ruinenromantik, einen Guru und einen steinzeitlichen Sterndeuter. Mit dem Akronym ‚Vitriol‘, der alchemistischen Formel Visita interiora terrae, rectificando invenies occultum lapidem („Betrachte, was im Inneren der Erde liegt: indem du es läuterst, wirst du einen zuvor verborgenen Stein erhalten“), vereinnahmt er auch noch Rosenkreuzer und Freimaurer für seinen Synkretismus. Dazu ruft er, wenn auch ohne Worte, den schmerzstillenden ‚Novocaine Messiah‘ an. Und mit ‚Lurker At The Threshold‘ winkt der Cthulhu Mythos mit glibbriger Tentakel. Entstanden ist das schon 2006 als ein dröhnendes, zischendes Etwas, als mächtige Erscheinung des Herrn der Fliegen, der aus allen Poren Gift spritzt. Dem stehen die wie von Mönchskehlen umsummten messianischen Wellen entgegen, so wie der Schein dem Schatten. Breitesten Raum nimmt ‘Inner Filth’ ein als ein motorisches Surren und Dröhnen, dem man mit einem Glas Burgunder, in dem Erdbeeren schwimmen, zuprosten möchte. Der Anklang an Lovecraft & Derleth bringt einen gedämpft klopfenden Beat, der wie durch Meeresbrandung ans Ohr dringt, zuletzt mit näher rückendem Crescendo. ‘Abîmes’ bringt zuletzt düster krachende Gitarren über einem grummelnden Bodensatz, in oftmaliger Wiederholung des gleichen Motivs. Abgelöst von der ständigen Wiederkehr eines holzigen Klackens und von spitz schleifenden Geräuschen über der fortwährend dröhnenden Tiefe. Zuletzt kehren die Gitarren krachend zurück, stürmisch umfaucht von einem dunklen Brausen, bis nur noch monotone Schläge verhallen. Ein durchaus suggestiver Auftritt auf dem weiten Feld des Dark Ambient.

DARK ENTRIES (Be.) October 14th 2016 :
Je hebt nu eenmaal van die muzikale vondsten die ergens in een bui van creativiteit ontstaan en opgesloten blijven tot het einde der dagen. Zo ook met deze Abîmes van Minitel. Opgenomen 10 jaar geleden maar uiteindelijk dan toch opgevist door het Facthedral’s Hall-label. Het eenmansproject van een als alter ego opererend Iconoclast. Laat je niet misleiden, deze Iconoclast is deelgenoot van metalbands als Annthennath, Evil Spells en Silver Machine. Minitel is allesbehalve metal of aanverwanten. Ambient doorspekt met effecten en vooral home recordings. Waarbij hij al wat experimenteerde met Annthennath, door ambient met metalklanken te combineren. Abîmes bevat slechts 5 tracks, maar die samen toch goed zijn voor 60 minuten onrustwekkende drones. Vitriol is industriele dark ambient/drone, industrieel door zijn karakteristiek van een fabriek waar met volle ernst het productieproces wordt bemoeilijkt door hogedrukpersingen en het aantal afgeleverde stuks niet van tel is, zeg maar van minitel. Het klankbeeld van het rustieke doch beangstigend net niet voor het slapen gaan-verhaaltje heet Novocaine Messiah. In kalmte gedrenkt, maar desalniettemin voorzien als open poort voor opkomende nachtmerries. Het is het innerlijke dat telt, maar dat innerlijke kan ook vies en vuil zijn. Inner Filth kent zijn ambient door meer dan 22 minuten lang een rondreis te maken in de ingewanden der mensheid. De blootlegging van het individu, de kentering van individuele karaktereigenschappen. De soundtrack van lichaam en geest. Al even diepgaand is er de donkere monotonie die Lurker At The Treshold heet. Donker en diep, zoals de meeste kelders. Vochtig en licht beschimmeld. Wachtend op het mysterieuze en vooral onheilspellende dat zich verschuilt in elke hoek. De drempel die overwonnen dient te worden, zonder angst, zonder bibber. En dan toch de gitaar, omdat Iconoclast zijn hoofdjob niet mag vergeten. Titeltrack Abîmes duurt 17 en een halve minuut. Niet dat de gitaar overheerst in nietszeggende akkoordenwisselingen, maar als integratie in het geheel der delen. Het samenspel van de distortion en de drone als voorspel voor een langdurig en vooral fysiek contact en zo meer naar het einde toe zijn vlucht zoekt in de donkerheid van het bestaan. Abîmes van Minitel is zeker niet voor iedereen weggelegd, vandaar ook slechts uitgebracht op 300 exemplaren. Minitel zorgt voor het spiegelbeeld van de donkere kant van ieder individu op zich. Diepgravend, complex maar zeker ook interessant.
7/10

DARKROOM (It.) September 25th 2017 :
Album di debutto composto nel 2006 e pubblicato solo un anno fa per il misterioso act Minitel, gestito dal francese Raphael Henry, già membro della band black metal Iconoclast. I brani si basano su una dark ambient che risente moltissimo degli arrangiamenti e della lezione black, basati su un minimalismo compositivo ben più netto di quello già proprio dei progetti di retaggio post-industriale. “Abîmes” prende vita da essenziali basi sintetiche su cui insistono percussioni elettrificate e una sinfonicità da lande solitarie (“Vitriol”). La stagione più ‘nevosa’ e gelida del black-ambient scandinavo rivive con una forte carica naturalistica e isolazionista su cui svettano le basi tetre (“Inner Filth”), come anche alcune remote linee tonali dai chiari riferimenti climatici (“Lurker At Threshold”). Non mancano alcuni classici riff di chitarra che, unitamente a palpitazioni percussive e clangori ad effetto, riescono a costruire passaggi sicuramente più vicini all’amato black che ad una tipica e lugubre musica d’atmosfera. Il disco va considerato ed inserito nel suo periodo di nascita, e se adesso questo tipo di soluzioni sono parecchio frequenti, dieci anni fa potevano risultare più di nicchia se inserite all’interno di un genere che andava diversificandosi. Da un lato “Abîmes” appare ormai troppo rozzo per essere accostato alla cosiddetta linea ‘dungeon synth’, ma d’altro canto rimane un prodotto apprezzabile per i nostalgici di un’oscurità rozza e di marca fortemente metal. Minimale anche nella grafica e nella confezione in jewel-case con booklet di quattro pagine, come tradizione comanda.
6/10 – Michele Viali

SIDE-LINE (Be.), September 27th 2017 :
Dark-ambient, drone, cinematographic, soundscape, industrial. Minitel is a French solo-project set up by Raphaël Henry. This artist has some experience in the wider fields of metal music and has now moved into dark-ambient fields. Notice by the way that “Abîmes” was already released one year ago. (…) This album features 5 tracks and 2 sides. The opening- and final song are carried by dark-ambient atmospheres, noise waves and drones. The 3 tracks left reveal a different aspect, which is more into cinematographic passages. The common element between all cuts remains the dark sound creation, giving you the feeling of getting lost in an obscure, abyssal voyage. (…) I have a real preference for the heavier cuts exposed right at the beginning and the final track. This is a heavier and tormenting style accentuated by drones. The other cuts are more into soundscape and sonic nightmares creates with progressive noise waves and industrial guitar playing. (…) I think this band more excels in the accomplishment of heavier industrial & doom mixed with drones than the more familiar and sometimes monotonous soundscapes. (…) “Abîmes” is not reinventing any music style, but is a rather promising debut from an artist who seems to feel comfortable experimenting with different styles. This is an artist to keep an eye on. (…).
Rate: (7/10).

NAWAKULTURE (Fr.), November 20th 2017 :
Dix ans après l’enregistrement de cette session, Facthedral’s Hall lui donne enfin la chance de voir le jour sur un vrai disque pro et tout, limité à seulement 300 copies. On a affaire ici à une heure de noise / drone / dark ambient divisée en cinq compositions dont la longueur excède parfois le quart d’heure, voire les vingt minutes. M’sieur Iconoclast, que l’on connaît pour sa participation à de nombreux groupes du grand bordelais (SAEL, SILVER MACHINE, ANNTHENNATH…), nous gratifie ici d’un télescopage souvent abrasif de sons parfois agressifs et sinistres (Vitriol), parfois étranges et profonds au point d’en ressentir le casque naturel de l’eau quand on plonge la tête au fond d’icelle pour tenter de deviner ce qui se passe autour de la salle de bain, pourquoi pas sinon une bande originale pirate de l’approche du sous-marin coulé dans Abyss (Novocaine messiah). Inner filth rappelle à votre non-serviteur l’histoire de ce village noyé pour les besoins de la construction d’un barrage et dont la cloche oubliée de l’église se faisait parfois entendre de sous l’eau les nuits où les eaux (death-y-dément !) se montraient plus mouvantes que d’habitude. Le semi-lovecraftien Lurker at the threshold évoquerait plus le flux et le reflux chargé des soldats qu’on jeta sur les plages d’Europe en 1944 sous l’œil indifférent, voire amusé, des Anciens, fervents spectateurs de destructions en tous genres. Le conclusif Abîmes se rapproche plus des terres métalliques avec sa guitare pachydoomique accompagnée de rouages lugubres que Fury Road n’aurait pas reniés pour le ramdam furieux de son héraut mortifère. Un album qui fait voyager dans les décombres noyés d’une civilisation post-apocalyptique de rêve, le futur en disque pour les plus lucides.
4/5 – Guillaume Ged Dumazer

TARQUIN ZINE (Uk.), #7, January 2018 :
That this album took 10 years to crawl out of its cavernous lair is a travesty. However, had it seen the light of day through squinting eyes any earlier, it may not have registered on the Tarquin radar, and certainly would not have featured in TQ zine. ‘Vitriol’ gets this album underway with a barrage of sound and noise created by a number of competing synths and is just what I expected when admiring the dark grey and black cover of this disc, it’s full on and never wavers across the opening 4 minutes. Again, with the title of ‘Novocaine Messiah’, I had certain expectations which were only partly realized. This is a beautiful, lilting, electronic carpet ride accompanied by flutters, swirly things, and swishes. lt’s an enlightening trip into the inner workings of the iconoclast mind. With a title of ‘Inner Filth’ and timed at over 22 minutes I expected relentless thunderous bass, drums, and 100 mph growling vocals, but no, it’s not like that at all. Judging music by the cover is a bad habit, and a one many of us are guilty of. In the case of this track, it leaves the pre-judge looking pretty stupid under his curly wig. Here we have ambient drone of the highest order, and if you have 9 euros burning a hole in your faded denims, they are worth spending at facthedral.com for this track alone. Beautiful caressing drones with soft metallic underlay, it’s a warm pillow for the most weary of minds, and as tomorrow never knows, turn off your mind, relax and float downstream (L & McC). A more accurate and reflective title (albeit Prog pompous) would be ‘Inner Sanctum’, or ‘Inner Dream’. ‘Filth’ is such a dirty word for such a beautiful drone, but hey blah blah blah and more. The ambient theme continues with ‘Lurker at the Threshold’, and the 17 minutes metallic closer of ‘Abimes’ introduces guitar power chords and thunder percussion in the style of more widely known bands of the dark drone camp, and after 10 years in the darkness, let this album enlighten you.
Andy Wood