dark star

- r e v i e w s -

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travelogue II
reviewed by Marc Urselli-Schaerer for chaindlk.com (I/USA) webzine, 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").

www.chaindlk.org/reviews/reviews.php3?search=dark+star

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travelogue II
reviewed by Roberto Michieletto for MUSIC CLUB (I) #107, may 2001

C'è 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 fatta. Tra il 1992 e il 1994 incisero (con il supporto di altri membri di Legendary Pink Dots) nove pezzi che andarono a costituire l'esordio: 'Travelogue'. Adesso l'album viene riproposto in una veste diversa, essendo state eliminate le ultime due tracce ed avendo inserito quattro nuove composizioni (risalenti al triennio 1994-97 e dove compaiono diversi collaboratori). Per essere un gruppo estemporaneo e senza obiettivi precisi vi assicuro che i risultati ottenuti sono ragguardevoli; magari il sound potrà apparire un po' datato, e d'altronde lo è, però ciò non va a inficiare il valore musicale delle canzoni, in bilico proprio tra i territori sonori solitamente pattugliati dai nomi di cui sopra (LPD e Technogod) e dove il suono elettronico viene visto sia sotto l'aspetto ritmico che in un contesto privo di battiti, senza tralasciare aspirazioni di ricerca sulle strutture e non ripulendo mai la superficie da quella patina di oscurità non invadente che traspare anche dal nome.

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travelogue II
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.

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travelogue II
reviewed by Stéphane F. for HEIMDALLR (CH) webzine, 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.
Voilà une belle opportunité de se procurer ce très bel album, pièce maîtresse au sein d'une discographie malheureusement écourtée. Ne la ratez pas, une troisième réédition serait hypothétique...
Recommandé.

www.heimdallr.ch/Reviews/2001/darkstar.html

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travelogue II
reviewed by Psionic for Starvox music zine (USA), april 2001

~And 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.
Dark Star is amongst the most impressive of the slew of material Soleilmoon has recently blessed me with, but for the life of me I cannot find much for details on the project. According to their (woefully sparse) website, the Dark Star project has been around since 1988, and has a back-catalogue of material that counts at 6 full length releases plus various compilation appearances. Between the years of 1994 and 2000 Dark Star was mysteriously silent, "Travelogue II" being the first offering in 6 years. So what was the holdup guys? I think the world deserves material as good as this on a semi-regular basis, without 6 year delays.. But that's just me, I guess.
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.
Highly recommended, a must-have for electronic-psychedelia fans!

www.starvox.net/crypt/2april2.htm

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travelogue II
reviewed by Sébastien Lameloise for KORTEX (?) webzine

Après 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 heure d'inédit!
La musique est un habile mélange de sonorités électroniques et rock, le tout formant une alchimie psychédélique très bien construite. Les drones, les sons de guitare, de basse et de synthétiseurs analogiques s'entremèlent sans complexe pour nous offrir des morceaux puissants et dépaysants tout au long des 72 minutes de ce CD. Pour ce qui est des quatres morceaux inédits présents en fin d'album, ce sont tous des instrumentaux. Indus psyché (Masterplace), minimal (Solaris), musique concrète (Solaris), electro (Belvedere), ces pièces alternent et mélangent plusieurs styles et comptent parmis les meilleures plages du CD.
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.
Le devant du booklet est un dessin de Moebius qui s'accorde bien, à mon avis, avec la musique de Dark Star. L'intérieur contient les informations de rigueur, les paroles ainsi qu'un dessin de Ernst Haeckel.
Même si la ressemblance avec la musique de Legendary Pink Dots est vraiment très forte cet album reste original et je le conseille à tous ceux qui aiment voyager sur de l'électronique psychédélique!

4outof5stars!

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travelogue II
reviewed by Jeremy Keens for AMPERSAND ETCETERA (AUS) webzine #2001.08, 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.
A short Ka-Spel number is repetitive in both the lyrics ‘big black hole’ and a simple cycling blurty beat, but quite catchy and followed by ‘Don’t look till its gone’ which has some an attractive simple ticking rhythm, but is a little floksy within the remit of this album, with a light vocal and some psychdelic lyrics (’just think of lilac fields, of daffodils, of ferris wheels …’), but saved by an edgy guitar. ‘Go beyond, but…’ is twice as long as it needs to be - the first part is a well balanced rhythmic piece, but suddenly descends into an interesting atonal noodling that seems out of place here. The final track from the original, ‘Come to’, has a great chittering sampled rhythm bed, some iffy lyrics (’drip-drop-dripping, and the blood keeps dripping’) about a lover in a coma (’and if/when you come to, come to me’) which is actually stronger than you expect and a highlight.
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).
So a true curate’s egg with parts that will please or interest different people - Dots fans will enjoy the Ka-Spel (and some Silverman) tracks which sound like what I have heard of them, I like the new stuff, and others will probably enjoy the psychpopdramatic moments. If none of these sound like you, but you are interested, definitely a trybeforeyoubuy album. But I did enjoy it.

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travelogue II
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.
Don't Look 'til it's Gone is colossal, gloomy industrial and psychedelic to Hell with Ka-Spel drawling twisted lyrics in a grotesque darkness in the most serious way. Come to is perfect dark-pop, it would have been even better with Ka-Spel though. Dark Star isn't without its experimental persona, the bonus tracks Solaris I and 2 are minimal collage of tapes and samples featuring great incorporations of mellotron instrumentation.
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.

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travelogue II
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.

www.vitalweekly.net/276.html

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travelogue II
reviewed by NØ for his blog Nothin' Sez Somethin', posted 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. Travelogue II navigates genres: the gloomy "Opal" finds its inspiration in krautrock a la Chrome; heavy industrial rears its head on the distorted "Frantic Upstream", while "Don't Look 'til it's Gone" is a colossal industrial & psychedelic blend from Hell with Edward Ka-Spel drawling twisted lyrics in the grotesque darkness; "Come To" is perfect dark-pop. The bonus tracks "Solaris I" & "Solaris II" are minimal collages of tapes & samples with mellotron instrumentation. Travelogue II should strongly appeal to The Tear Garden or Edward Ka-Spel fans. A great piece of fuzzy, dirty experimentation of industrial psychedelia with a cool cover artwork by none other than French artist Métal Hurlant Moebius from the graphic novel The Airtight Garage Of Jerry Cornelius.

http://nathannothinsez.blogspot.com/2009/04/dark-star.html

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travelogue II
reviewed by David J Opdyke for AmbiEntrance (?), posted 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.
While the few bits of lyrical material don't do much to transcend the rock realm, the energized, spacebound instrumentals are definitely captivating. Learn more about this starlit entity at the Dark Star website. (8.2)

www.spiderbytes.com/ambientrance/0301ov.htm

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Click HERE for a review from a Russian webzine:

travelogue II
reviewed for THE EGG AND WE (RU), april 2001

review of the week!

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Click HERE for a review from a Chinese webzine:

travelogue II
reviewed for COLLAPSAR RECORDS (CN), july 2008

Collapsar Records

www.collapsarrecords.com/news_detail.asp?id=193

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travelogue
reviewed by Antony Burnham for METAMORPHIC JOURNEYMAN (UK)

DARK 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. There's a hell of a lot more going on in the music now, despite it's staying as deceptively simple as ever. The advent of 'songs' within the strolling pace of the music has elevated it several leagues and has opened it up to a much wider audience. All the elements are here - labouring slow, tortoise-paced rhythm structures; overlayering sustains; sci-fi atmosphere and a dehumanised ambience which is nevertheless warm and welcoming on this album. Some classic moments, some exciting passages - we have always given DARK STAR credit as having a unique style - and here he hasn't let us down.

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travelogue
reviewed by Waldemar Hartmann for INTRO (D) magazine, #18, 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!

www.intro.de/platten/kritiken/23016969/dark_star_travelogue

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headtrip
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 & 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, reminging 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 "Sparkler" 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 Carperter'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 Hudsen & 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", harkeriing 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.

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headtrip
reviewed for IMPULSE (UK) #4

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!

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headtrip
reviewed for GAJOOB (USA) #9

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!

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headtrip
reviewed for INDUSTRIA 351 (P) magazine

Regressemos por momentos ao ano de 1992, em que Wolfgang Reffert e Gotz Adler lançaram este seu primeiro cd, após o lançamento de algumas cassetes.
Descobrimos então um trabalho extremamente atmosférico, com um carácter extremamente electrónicista, com guitarras psicadélicas, invocando frias e negras paisagens tecnológicas, que não deixam no entanto de constituir um óptimo relaxante. Como a capa nos sugere, encontramo-nos numa paisagem espacial, iluminados por uma estrela negra, num recanto solitário e inexpugnado do universo.
Um trabalho estranho e bastante surpreendente, especialmente quando olhamos para a data em que foi concebido. Sem dúvida uma excelente obra que além do seu inequívoco valor musical, têm também um enorme valor histórico.

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headtrip
reviewed by Aruna Norvaisa for arteFACTed (LIT) fanzine #1, april 1994

Frankly, 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...
And hell, I know how it is to play electronics !!!

www.textfiles.com/magazines/ARTEFACTED/artefacted.1

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no sign of intelligent life
reviewed by Antony Burnham for METAMORPHIC JOURNEYMAN (UK)

I 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). I'm much impressed with this. The tracks stretch the point occassionally but considering the longest track ("The Deadline") is over 14 minutes long, it's surprising how little it goes over the point where you think "wind down!". I for one will follow DARK STAR's progress with interest. I hope this particular Beast is slouching towards international recognizion.

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no sign of intelligent life
reviewed for IMPULSE (UK) #1

'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.

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no sign of intelligent life
reviewed for MUSIC FROM THE EMPTY QUARTER (UK) #4

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.
 

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