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alternative News Review
alternative News Review
Press / Radio - Reviews
Friday, 07 June 2002 00:00

alternative News Review


The alternative News

Asmodeus X:
Spacey Music from Space City

Not too many musicians or music fans are familiar with the Theremin, an electronic instrument invented in 1919 by Russian physicist Lev Termen, who later changed his name to Leon Theremin and went on to work for the KGB designing "bugs." Most models look like an old-fashioned radio box with a large u-shaped metal tube coming out one end, and most people have heard the instrument, only they didn't realize what they were hearing. If you have ever seen The Day the Earth Stood Still or listened to the Portishead song, Humming, then you have heard this unusual instrument, the sound of which has been described as "music from the ether."

Another place you can hear the Theremin is on a CD by Houston, TX group Asmodeus X, or at one of their live shows. Asmodeus X cofounder Paul Fredric, formerly of GothMetal band, Morphine Angel, uses the Theremin in an unusual and more technically proficient style than most, actually creating tunes with it instead of just making spooky sound effects. His cohorts, technoelectronicameister Marshal, also formerly of Morphine Angel, and "guitar specialist" Frank Faust add to this haunting sound a driving beat and melodic compositions, creating a wonderfully cohesive whole.

The band's self-titled three-song demo gives us a diverse range of sounds, from funereal to danceable. The vocals and some of the music stylings are reminiscent of '80s techno-pop, with obvious influences by bauhaus and, dare I say, New Order? Don't peg them yet--I detected a bit of Pink Floyd on track 3 of the demo, called Wolf in the Sky, which opens with a sort of foghornish conch-shellish sound that fades into wonderfully melodious acoustic guitar and piano, augmented with subtle electric guitars, thankfully sans any sign of an overblown rock-god solo. Nightstalking, the first track on the CD, has a slow tempo with a driving beat. The fadeouts at the beginning of the song are mildly annoying, but the rest of the piece is melodic and catchy, as is track 2, Songs of Glory. This one is my favorite of the three, as it has a faster tempo, a good rhythm, and complex but not overwhelming electronica. In fact, all three tracks are musically balanced, with no single element overshadowing any other--very listenable.

Asmodeus X has developed a smooth synthesis of sound and style, taking the sounds of bands that they admire, such as Laibach, Skinny Puppy, and Ministry, and making them uniquely their own. The band's look is something like the Blues Brothers meet Nazi SS men. I don't quite understand this, as Asmodeus X sounds neither like the Blues Brothers nor like some of the hardcore EuroIndustrial bands that utilize the Nazi look, but hey, if they like it, more power to them. I didn't see a copyright date on the demo, so I have no idea when it was produced, but according to both the website and the "New Blood Groove" propaganda that was included with the CD, it seems to be a recent recording. If you want to hear Asmodeus X, you can attend one of their shows or visit http://www.geocities.com/levitmong/Asmodeus_X.html and download some MP3s.

-- audra brick