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3/16/07 06:35 pm - Cyclic Defrost Magazine: Valentine

“This song’s about killing yourself, this song’s about depression, the women who leave. The car has no brakes and we’re flooring it. We’re gonna hit something - so what…”

A terse voice spitting out these words opens ‘No Brakes’, the first track on Valentine. With sampled/cut-up female vocals and gloomy piano, this almost sounds like a bad trip version of Moby.

Cdatakill is one Zak Roberts, a breakcore producer comin’ atcha from Denver, Colorado, and Valentine is his third full-length album. However he seems to be mining a different seam from breakcore here - this album is heavy, dubbed-up, industrial and moody. His stated goal is: “to pin opposites together, to bring sounds that normally oppose and conflict with each other into a seamless aural nightmare and daydream, to expose and glorify the beautiful alongside the violent.”

‘Yesterdays’ samples an old Billie Holliday song, framing the ghostly vocal samples in a paranoid atmosphere of sickening distorted beats and bowel-loosening bass pulses. I don’t think we’re in Jazzland anymore, Toto… A weird, sampled Middle Eastern-sounding woodwind melody snakes its way through the dark spaces of ‘Nefertiti Dub’, punctuated by violent, thick metal guitar stabs - this one wouldn’t sound out of place on Massive Attack’s Mezzanine.

Several tracks on this CD could cause serious damage on the dancefloors of those clubs whose patrons like their tunes dubby, dread-filled, queasy and fucked-up.

2/18/07 05:55 pm - Pop Up Magazine: Valentine

Zgodnie z niewypowiedzianą regułą niemieckiej wytwórni Ad Noiseam, pod pseudonimem Cdatakill ukrywa się jeden tylko muzyk, a mianowicie pochodzący z Denver Zak Roberts. Jednak niemalże dla zaprzeczenia innej reguły tego labela, kojarzącego się z ekstremalną elektroniką, miast potężnych nawałnic połamanych rytmów i noise’owych eksplozji ciskanych słuchaczowi prosto w twarz, Cdatakill stawia na strukturę i przestrzeń swych posępnych dubujących, trip-hopowych kolaży. Rezultat jest niezwykle przekonywujący. Głębokie, zdubowane pulsacje basów wraz z niespieszną rytmiką tworzą wciągające krajobrazy, których przyciągająca siła wzmacniana jest wielopłaszczyznowymi samplami, wędrujących od przetrawionych wokali, przez brzmienia orientalne i partie symfoniczne po (sporadyczne, lecz jednak obecne) zwarcia gitar. Roberts buduje aurę tej płyty konsekwentnie i unika nadmiernego eklektyzmu, nie rzucając się ani na głęboką wodę piosenek ani elektronicznej dominacji rytmu. Każdy kolejny element, wydobywany ze swadą i pomysłem z arsenału brzmień i zagrywek, okazuje się być nieco odmiennym obliczem spójnej wizji i emocjonalności tej muzyki, która ekstrahując z dubu i break-core’a ich najciekawsze dla siebie elementy prowadzi do formy wciągającej, głębokiej i intensywnej. Wymownym dowodem na autentyczność i przekonanie, z jakim Roberts tworzy te muzyczne imaginacje, jest zdumiewająca, drenująca przeróbka Yestardays Billie Holiday.

W efekcie otrzymujemy album gęsty, precyzyjny w przekazie – wrażenie takie wzmaga też rewelacyjna okładka płyty – i absorbujący, którego zalety najlepiej ujawniają się przy odsłuchu nocą. Jeśli „Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett” Venetian Snares jest dla kogoś przeżyciem zbyt wstrząsającym, to „Valentine” przynosi odrobinę adekwatnego wytchnienia. Zdecydowanie warto.

2/7/07 11:42 pm - Connexion Bizarre: an interview with Zak Roberts

Click here to read

1/24/07 12:12 am - VItal Weekly: Valentine

If you thought that everything coming out of the breakcore-community deals with firestorms of explosive breakbeats, Zak Roberts teaches you quite another lesson on the latest shot from his project Cdatakill. In contrast to most other releases from the breakcore-field the rhythm-texture of breakbeats does not smash the face of the listener from the forefront of the sound picture. It is more integrated in the music as a whole. And the speed of the rhythms does not compete with the speed of sound. More likely we are dealing with textures belonging to the world of dub-based trip hop with rhythmic patterns. Distorted drones of noise launched from a Roland 808 rhythm machine adds a dirty and rough feeling to the complex mixtures of processed voice samples, Middle Eastern percussive beats and weird guitar. From the atmospheric and melodic "You are mine" to the harsh interpretation of Billie Holiday's "Yesterday", Cdatakill certainly push the boundaries of the breakcore-scene with this excellent album. (NMP)

1/21/07 03:51 pm - Gothtronic.com

Cdatakill is a band that certainly isn't among my favourites, but made quite a name by combining several genres and ideas. Both Cdatakill and the label Ad Noiseam are becoming more and more popular in both noise/industrial and the d'n'b-scene and it's clear "Valentine" can only strenghten this position. The biography mentions 'a very mature, interesting and beautiful album full of surprises and intensity'. Let's see..

Besides of the rough sound here and there, it's obvious that Cdatakill made progression since the last album, "The Cursed Species", and goes on in creating a hybrid of beats, clicks, cuts, sounds and samples. The way this is brought is not often beat-orientated but the general beats are pushed more to the back, whilst melody lines - call it a collage of sounds if you like - built up out of slow ambience, subtle guitars and even Egyptian influences are placed to the front. By doing this, "Valentine" demonstrates how splintered the breakcore-genre actually is, as I find it hard to compare with the wellknown names that pop up in my mind when you say 'breakcore'. It is however this what distuingishes Cdatakill from the rest, and Zak Roberts clearly demonstrates that by combining guitars with the mentioned Egyptian sounds ("Nefertiti Dub") or by adding more ambient-influences ("Arapahoe County Sunset") he knows how to combine styles and therewith jump out of the masses.

The beats are subtle, electronic sounds are combined with several instruments and the result is a very good album. Even the Billie Holiday-cover "Yesterdays" is a good song now, and without really pushing the limits, Cdatakill proves he's back on track with something not a lot of artists can do. 'A very mature, interesting and beautiful album full of surprises and intensity'; not one word is a lie.

1/17/07 07:17 pm - Slug Magazine: Valentine

12/27/06 11:36 pm - Grooves Magazine: Valentine

Denver-based producer Zak Roberts is certainly no stranger to fans of all things breakcore, having released a slew of characteristically aggressive records since the early ’90s on a number of different labels including Zhark and Lo Res. Valentine represents a significant break from the rapid-fire breakbeats of 2004’s The Cursed Species and shows Roberts venturing into dub-infected downbeat atmospheric soundscapes—though all of his trademark menacing tension is definitely still present.

Staccato metallic outings such as the densely polyrhythmic “You Are Mine” definitely carry more than a hint of early Skinny Puppy in the way that they blend eerie, gracefully reversed instrumental samples with sparse electro percussion, while Billie Holliday’s “Yesterdays” undergoes a serrated industrial dub treatment that sits somewhere between Techno Animal and Scorn’s forbidding soundscapes. While the predominant focus is distinctly upon sinister hard-edged atmospherics (brought into sharp focus particularly by the fusion of swirling snake-charmer flutes and chugging metal riffs of “Nefertiti Dub”), there are plenty of moments of undeniable beauty packed in amid the gathering tension.

Like many of Skinny Puppy’s most evocative moments, with Valentine, Roberts has created a work that generates serious atmosphere through its judicious deployment of both sharpened aggression and fragile vulnerability. Special mention must also be made of the gorgeous sleeve art, which comes courtesy of Magnus Blomster.

12/23/06 08:55 am - Igloo Magazine: Valentine

Yet another reason to love the ever fascinating Ad Noiseam label is how the artists are allowed room to grow. Zak Roberts, a.k.a. Cdatakill, has made his name over the last few years by grinding up the breakcore scene (with two previous records on Ad Noiseam, as well as releases on Zhark, Low Res, and Eupholus) and yet, with Valentine, he's jettisoned most of that furious staccato beat work for something truly elegant and beautiful. Diving deep into the trip-hop dub, Roberts' Valentine is an evolutionary left turn that brings all manner of new life to moribund structures.

"You Are Mine," for example, is the best Muslimgauze track I've heard in several years. Really. It is creepy how Roberts has taken some of the Bryn Jones' rhythms and timbres and built something so referential yet still so alien. The bass lines and the echo of dusty record grooves shimmer like early '90s period Muslimgauze while the looping vocal track snaps the mood forward to some of Jones' later experiments. If the rest of Valentine turned out to be nothing more than a tribute album, that would have been fine, but Roberts pauses here, lost in vibrant rhythms and dust-storm grit of the Middle East, for just a moment before spiralling off into other territories.

A ghost of Billie Holliday anchors "Yesterdays" in an juke joint opiate haze. Her voice is unraveled into a series of shivering echoes, a cascade of half-formed vowels that tumbles over slippery percussion and electrified synthesizer melodies. "No Brakes" opens with a nihilistic warning--"The car has no brakes and we're flooring it; we're going to hit something, and so what?"--before hurling itself into a howling haze of looping Persian vocals, phantasmal piano melodies, and dark-hop rhythms. "Nefertiti Dub" swirls with phantom reeds, a loop of woodwind melody that has been lost for many generations until it has been rediscovered by this gentle dub sandstorm. From somewhere else, the storm has collected the last performance of a string orchestra playing from the deck of a doomed river barge while the storm's electrical discharges coalesce as spurts of metal guitar noise.

"Raining Glass" lumbers between elegant trip-hop and doom-laded dark-hop, with fine diamond melodies strewn in the lugubrious substrata stomp; while the distress signals of "Tornado Sirens" moan and writhe beneath a flickering strata of glassine percussion. The closer, "Arapahoe Country Sunset," is filled with the warped tones of a spaghetti western guitar (via Dead Hollywood Stars' re-imagining of the cinematic western soundtrack) and a percussive chaos reminiscent of Winterkälte beating up Amon Tobin for his breaks. Roberts ends Valentine by wrapping a homage to the furious breakcore of his past around an atmospheric evocation of future possibilities.

Magnus Blomster's original artwork references Audrey Beardsley's gothic ethereality, and it encapsulates both the phantasmal delirium and the decadent distress of Cdatakill's music. If Valentine is a love letter, then its intended recipient is the soul that believes in both angels and monsters, love and disaster, pain and redemption. Very highly recommended.

12/23/06 08:54 am - Goon: Valentine

12/18/06 11:33 pm - Schlendrian (Best of 2006): Valentine

12/18/06 11:31 pm - Legacy Magazine: Valentine

12/10/06 02:21 am - Black: Valentine

12/10/06 02:20 am - Boomkat.com: Valentine

If the notion of trip-hop sends a chill down your spine, then you'll want to keep clear of Cdatakill's press release, wherein the T word is invoked to describe the beat hackers latest direction... So is it? Well no, not really - unless your version of trip-hop is mired in dub and seems on the perpetual brink of decay. Having lit the breakcore firmament throughout the 1990's, Zak Roberts finally settled on the Cdatakill moniker in 2002 and has since fired off a battery of beat gnarled missives that have always retained a healthy distance from the more nihilistic proponents. Very much obsessed with the textures, 'Valentine' shares little more than its tempo with trip-hop - as Roberts slices vocals, 808's, bass and tense beats into a creeping beat-fed beast. Opening through the opaque bass and furnace electronics of 'No Brakes', 'You Are Mine' soon opens the windows to let a bit of fresh air in - allowing some watercolour soundscapes to intrude on the dungeon beats. Elsewhere, 'You Are Mine' indulges in some tribal beats without sounding stupid, 'Yesterdays' is a Billie Holiday cover that sounds just as demented as you'd hope, whilst 'Arapahoe County Sunset' sees you out the door on a blossom scented breeze - albeit undercut with razor edged beats. Hearts and minds...

12/2/06 11:54 am - Textura: Valentine

That Zak Roberts' Cdatakill sound defies easy categorization is one of its most appealing qualities and ultimately a testament to the uniqueness of Valentine's sound. Apparently, there was formerly a pronounced breakcore dimension to Cdatakill's sound but little trace of that remains on Valentine. Instead, Roberts opts for hazily textured and hallucinatory trip-hop and dub soundscapes haunted by anguished moans and scuzzy textures. The album's eleven heavily distorted pieces sound like they're being shredded and splintered into pieces by a gauzy screen as they make their way to the listener. Throughout the 41-minute disc, Roberts drenches the material with poisonous bass snarls, shape-shifting tribal breaks, and convulsive dub-clatter. Disoriented voices moan from the center of a violent vortex in “No Brakes” while “Nefertiti Dub,” pistol-whipped by a hugely distorted bass figure, spreads its macabre tentacles in all directions. In addition, knife-edged beats slip and slide in “Two Hammers” as female voices cast their diseased spell over the helpless listener. The album's most arresting moment arrives with the jarring “Yesterdays,” not only an amazing listen in itself but one that assumes an even more astonishing character once one realizes it's a Cdatakill cover of an infamous Billie Holiday torch song. Could that possibly be Lady Day's voice, stretched and strangulated over a throbbing, nightmarish breakcore pulse? It certainly is, but it's also merely one dizzying moment of many on Roberts' provocative collection.

11/30/06 11:03 pm - Freemusic.cz: Valentine

Libo-li breakcore? A raději temný, valivý a zvukově agresivní než trhající rekordy v počtu bpm, či ve výsledku neposlouchatelný na úkor experimentování? Že ano? Zabijte data a "Miláček" vás odnese rovnou před brány elektronického inferna.

cdatakillcover.jpg Cdatakill - Valentine
11 skladeb / 41:21, Ad Noiseam

Šestašedesátý release berlínského labelu Ad Noiseam jako by v sobě opravdu měl něco ďábelského. Není to sice čistokrevný zvukový devildom - tři šestky jsou holt tři šestky, ale i ty dvě vydají v případě Valentine za docela solidní sonické předpeklí, to mi věřte. Zak Roberts aka Cdatakill (téměř výhradně pod tímhle aliasem produkuje extrémní odnože experimentální elektroniky od roku 2002) rozhodně nedává posluchači na své třetí desce vydané berlínským labelem Ad Noiseam (předchozí s titulem The Cursed Species vyšla před dvěma lety) příliš prostoru k rozjímání.

Jestli nelze považovat spojení "atmosférický breakcore" za oxymóron, pak elektronika nacházející se na albu Valentine je jeho ztělesněním. Cdatakill zde propojil v zásadě nekompromisní tribal-breakcoreové podklady s těžkou post-dubovou naléhavostí a trip-hopově stísněnou atmosférou, čímž dosáhnul vpravdě originálního a efektního zvuku. Konkrétněji? Zhusta na sebe natěsnané valivé dark broken-beaty, do toho jednoduché, ale setsakra účinné samply piana (No Brakes) a kytary (Nefertiti Dub), zaloopované melodie vytvářející dojem, že byly puštěny pozpátku (což ostatně platí i o leckterých podkladech), nasekané útržky ženského vokálu hostující "Nefe", při nichž vás zamrazí, protože znějí jako..., no vy už asi víte odkud síra vane. Třetí šestka je blízko...

Ne že by nová deska Cdatakill neobsahovala tracky, které mají schopnost zcela pohltit i bez podpory svých "kumpánů" (No Brakes, You Are Mine, Mingi, Nefertiti Dub, Hungry, Raining Glass), ale přeci jenom všechny do skupiny opravdu výrazných a naprosto odzbrojujících nepatří. Mnohem silnější hudební zážitek přináší jedenáct "Miláčků", když se nechají v kuse odehrát tak, jak je Zak Roberts na Valentine poskládal. Temná atmosféra vynikne daleko víc, hrůzně děsivé tajuplnosti bude učiněno zadost a z nevyřčených odpovědí na nepoložené otázky zatrne silněji, než kdyby tomu bylo naopak.

Kdo si bude chtít vychutnat ďábelskou projížďku v černém kočáru, ztěžka se řítícím vpřed těsně nad zemí blesky protínanou noční krajinou, takřka "all inclusive", tomu zkrátka prokáže mnohem lepší službu Valentine jako celek. A to navzdory faktu, že v sedle uvelebený bezhlavý jezdec Zak Roberts po většinu času držící otěže všech jedenácti vraníků pevně v kostnatých rukách nad nimi nakonec stejně přeci jen párkrát částečně ztratí kontrolu (Two Hammers, Arapahoe Country Sunset). Zážitek z poslechu Valentine to ale nijak podstatně nesníží.

Cdatakill připravil pro všechny příznivce dark elektroniky na pomezí breakcoreu, IDM a trip-hopu podařenou kolekci jedenácti skladeb (hudebně i zvukově), oplývající obdivuhodně působivou atmosférou. Jestli se počítáte mezi fandy zmíněných stylů, neměla by tahle deska uniknout vaší pozornosti. Rozhodně si ji totiž zaslouží.

11/30/06 11:01 pm - Raveline: Valentine

11/30/06 10:56 pm - Der Medienkonverter: Valentine

Zwei Jahre ist es her, seit Cdatakill den letzten Output veröffentlicht hat. Im Gegensatz zum 2004er Album "The Cursed Species" fabriziert er eine 180-Grad-Wende und demonstriert damit wieder einmal seine musikalische Eigenständigkeit. Wen wundert es, schließlich ist Zak Roberts auch schon über zehn Jahre im Musikbusiness unterwegs und hat einiges an Experimenten hinter sich. Sein Drang nach dem Aufsprengen musikalischer Grenzen gipfelte sogar in der Gründung eines eigenen Labels für Hardcore, Dtrash Records. Dem kehrte er aber, auch wieder aus Gründen der Weiterentwicklung später den Rücken zu und machte sich erneut auf, andere Wege einzuschlagen. Bekannt wurde Roberts, der auch unter Pseudonymen wie AK-47 oder DJ Rabies arbeitete, vor allem durch seine heftigen Speed- und Breakcore-Eskapaden.

Sein neues Album "Valentine", dessen ungewöhnliche Aufmachung übrigens von Magnus Blomster entworfen wurde, geht mehr in Richtung Dub, glänzt mit Tribal Percussions und damit verbundenen, harschen Tönen. Wenn da plötzlich mal ein Gesang rückwärts eingespielt wird, muss man sich genauso wenig überrascht sein wie bei seltsamen, in die 80er zeigenden Synthie-Tönen. Elektropop, Breakcore, Dub und Industrial als einzigartige Kombination, die zudem mit allerlei Seltsamem durchsetzt ist. Mit dem Ziel, Gegensätze zu verbinden, zerschneidet er seine Songs mit hohen, kreischenden Tönen, während im Hintergrund eine leise Melodie für den Zusammenhalt sorgt. Tiefes Dröhnen, Klavierklänge und ein entfremdeter, weiblicher Gesang geben z.B. "No Brakes" ein doppeltes Gesicht. Der Song fährt sozusagen mit angezogener Handbremse und überrollt trotzdem noch alles im Weg stehende.

Plötzlich zeugen Bongos von einem mehr mystischen Weg oder aber orientalische Klänge, die an Muslimgauze erinnern, werden von krachenden E-Gitarrenriffs bombardiert. Trotz aller Experimentierfreude gibt sich "Valentine" sehr harmonisch und für Cdatakill ungewöhnlich ruhig. Aber man muss zugestehen, dass ihm das gut steht und Zak Roberts auch hier wieder einmal sein Gespür für das Besondere beweist. Nebenbei, wer es nicht erkannt haben sollte: "Yesterdays" ist ein Billie-Holiday-Cover.

11/16/06 11:11 am - Orkus: Valentine

11/15/06 09:38 am - D-Side: Valentine

11/14/06 10:47 am - Tokafi.com: Valentine

Just like the universe, energy is infinite. It can not be destroyed, only transformed into a different state. This physical wisdom is a pretty good picture to explain to a die-hard breakcore fan, why the new album by genre-heroes Cdatakill still rocks superbly, despite being very different from  anything they have done before and indeed a bit more “cultivated”. It is also a good metaphor for those without prior knowlegde of Zak Roberts' one-man band  to describe a style which manages to sound relaxed and aggravated at the same time. And finally, it goes some way in explaining the dense, paranoiac ambiance surrounding “Valentine”.

The inner tension has to be released in some way or the other, after all, and even if, on the outside, the murderous, maniacal and mathematically precise rhythm-machinations of the double album affair “Paradise” (which placed the unpolished experiments of the “Brazilian Nightmare” release next to more recent studio cuts) or the more soundscape-oriented digital fieverdreams of “The cursed species” may have been replaced with downbeats, dub and dulcet atmospheres on more than one occasion, that doesn’t mean that there is not still a lot of severe damage to be done. “We’re gonna hit something – so what?” a determined voice intones at the beginning of the programatically entitled opener “No brakes” and truly, from then on it’s a slenderly timed and tightly corsetted 41 minute ride through Roberts' weirdly-wired neuroreceptors. Everything was clean about his previous efforts -, the drums, the sounds, the samples all appeared to be cut with a nano-saw invented by Nasa to trim the nose-hairs of alien bacteria. Now, the ingredients are smeared across the canvas like the leftover from a psychedelic painting session looked at from behind thick sheets of Marihuana smoke. On “Mingi”, adventurously deep growling bass rolls melt into a wild animal’s roar, Billy Holiday’s “Yesterdays” disintegrates into a burning haze of echo-grooves and schizophrenic sound clouds and if a piece is called “You are mine”, then it’s not a tribute to love, but obsession. The focus is no longer just on the beats, but on the overall-feel of these strange-scenes dominated by the interaction between scraping metal and heavenly melodies made up of human voice-snippets. The erotic artwork courtesy of Magnus Blomster is a perfect visualisation of the music – raw, unashamed, provokingly physical, yet playful and full of sweet promises.

It looks like Cdatakill have realised that the strongest statement may sometimes consist in switching to a different gear. While previous albums seemed to run so fast that they were out of breath by the end of the race, “Valentine” is so full of tension that it virtually brims with power. At times, it even seems as though Roberts has built the perpetuum mobile – not having spilt a single drop, it almost appears as if he actually increeased the total energy reserve of his system.

11/6/06 01:36 pm - Vice Magazine: Valentine

11/6/06 12:08 pm - Machinist: Valentine

На своем новом альбоме Zak Roberts ака CDATAKILL продолжает много экспериментировать и приятно удивлять. Кажется, на этот раз музыкант задался целью создать что-то умопомрачительно красивое, драйвовое и экзотичное. По-моему, все у него получилось классно, с претензией на рождение нового электронного поджанра, который можно было бы назвать, скажем, dark'n'beauty noise. Короче, вы услышите на любовно названном альбоме "Valentine" довольно интересные и навороченные, в основном плавные и мелодичные, тяжеловесные и воздушные атмосферно-ритмические поэтические композиции с туманными этническими женскими вокалами, изобретательными рокировками дабовых, трип-хоповых, трибальных и брейкбитовых ритмов, толстыми шумовыми обоями и доселе неслыханными в репертуаре проекта спецэффектами и звуками сэмплерного, модуляционного и вокального происхождения. Однажды в трип-хоповой композиции "Nefertiti Dub" кратковременно появляется даже жестокая гитара, и ее шедевральное появление нужно услышать своими ушами, чтобы убедиться в том, что даже такой агрессивный и суровый звуковой элемент не может разрушить плавную атмосферу и ритмический рисунок трека. Материал "Valentine" видится мне как почти авангардная музыка для отъявленных эстетов, однако в финальных миксах у CDATAKILL все красивые и уродливые элементы с завидным постоянством складываются в довольно слушабельную, приятно ласкающую слух, увлекательную и притягивающую внимание музыкальную мозаику. Исключением является лишь самый шумный и громоздкий номер программы с красноречивым названием "Tornado Sirens". Так что не нужно бояться экспериментов CDATAKILL. Альбом "Valentine" несет в себе положительный заряд, настраивает на релаксационный романтический или философский лад и совершенно не напрягает. К тому же на этот раз быстрые брейкоровые пассажи отсутствуют в композициях как класс. Да и ни к чему они на альбоме, ибо здесь доминирует величественная красота, томные мелодии и медленные ритмы, внимание которым не терпит ненужной суеты. Так что когда раздобудете данный альбом, лучше устройтесь удобнее на диване, включите музыку громко и выключайте свою внешнюю защиту от окружающего мира и его грубюсти. Никто и ничто не должны вмешиваться в ваши музыкальные аудиоэротические сеансы общения с прекрасным миром нового альбома CDATAKILL. Для меня самое приятное в данном случае - то, что я не ожидал услышать от группы такого красивого, спокойного и новаторского альбома. Тем не менее, это уже свершившийся факт - я очень впечатлен звучанием "Valentine" и немного запоздало объявляю пластинку CDATAKILL релизом месяца на сайте Machinist.  [9,5 баллов]

11/3/06 01:28 pm - De:bug: Valentine

10/18/06 12:31 pm - Barcode E-zine: Valentine

Certainly a more cultured album than Zak Roberts’s previous excursions into heavy breakcore, Valentine breaks down the fury of The Cursed Species (2004) to focus on a much deeper and more challenging concept.

When the pace of music is slower, the listener has more elbow room to focus on moods and atmospheres and pick apart the production, and through dissection Roberts proves that there is certainly a lot more creativity and maturity to his sound nowadays.

Yet Valentine remains a deeply dark and sinister experience – made obvious by the opening vocal prose of No Brakes, which then evolves into a sprawling mass of spiralling analogue synthesis, mixed with bludgeoned beats, piano tones and staccato, bleached vocals. The following, You Are Mine, follows a similar trend, with Morrocan-sounding percussion; the ghostly vocals reminiscent to that used by the likes of Akira Rabelais.

Mingi is excellent, if not a little repetitive, but Roberts makes a great job of sample stitching bizarre noise effects together to create steamy, oppressive Bladerunner atmospherics. Much of Valentine flits between this type of track and progressive dub-heavy, almost trip-hop oriented rhythms. The likes of Nefertiti Dub and Two Hammers are enjoyably nightmarish and haunting, oozing with creaking, groaning synths and taunting, spliced vocals – this is serial killer music.

Hungry is also tempting, with its mesmerising, winding analogue synth surrounded by breathy vocals, whilst Raining Glass a more complex affair, with big breaks pelted by bristling, dense machine music, the album increases in complexity and intensity as it approaches its end.

Valentine is a deeply dark, yet challenging album, taking the breakcore genre into a subtly imaginative, dreamlike universe that has been explored by relatively few to date.

10/18/06 12:28 pm - Schlendrian: Valentine

10/18/06 12:20 pm - Persona Non Grata: Valentine

Ein Kunstwerk, ein Meisterwerk. Weil es nichts braucht außer sich selbst. Weil es so fernab von allem anderen ist. Weil es sich, und damit mich und dich, frei von Bezüglichkeiten unendlich lang in dem Schwebezustand, der Musik so schwer greifbar und damit umso interessanter und schöner macht, halten kann. 11x nimmt uns Zak Roberts aka CDatakill an die Hand, um diese dann bei Eintritt in die unbekannte Dunkelheit, die der Schatten unserer Seele, die auf unserem Weg nach Innen jenen auf uns hinabwirft, verursacht, loszulassen. Klangliche Verstrickungen, die aufbegehren, durch ihr Ranken selbst eine Struktur bilden, ohne jene offen darzulegen. Linearität ist da, ohne Frage. Der rote Faden, der sich durch das Album spannt, heißt Menschlichkeit. Rar und kostbar sind diese elektronischen Kompositionen, die sich organisch entwickeln, das Plakative und pur Funktionale hinter sich lassen, indem sie ein scheinbar unplanbares Eigenleben entwickeln, Emotionalität, durch die der Mensch tiefer, als der Klang sonst vorzudringen vermag, berührt wird, nämlich im Inneren seines kalten, tot geglaubten Skeletts, an dem er in seinem hilflosen Verständnis von Körperlichkeit festhält, der Ort, an den der Bit Crusher seine hochgerechneten Impulse versandt hat, um durch Rückkopplung eine tomographische Bestandsaufnahme jener Transmitter-Höhlungen auf Klang-Wirkung-Basis zu erstellen, aufgrund derer jeder Song, jeder Klang- und Melodiestrang vorher lose erfasste, dabei immer die Schönheit der Vergänglichkeit atmende Aspekte menschlichen Daseins über die Verstand-Seelen-Achse des Zuhörers spiegelt, so wie der Mond in der Nacht es über den See macht. Die Überblendung, die Schnittmenge, die dabei gehört wird, beschreibt in einer von den üblichen Paradigmen elektronischer Musik befreiten Art und Weise eine dem Menschen zu eigene Kunstwelt namens Bewusstseinzustand. Dieser wird bedächtig, aber bestimmt, von seiner gewohnten monolithischen Stellung verrückt und eine angenehme, leichte, triebsteigernde Schizophrenie dehnt sich wie ein folgerichtiger Fleck eines umgestossenen Glas Wassers auf einem Teppich in der Selbstwahrnehmung aus. Was bleibt, ist eine eigentümliche Verschattung auf dem Boden der Tatsachen, der wir bei Betrachtung Sinn einverleiben, in dem wir ihre Form interpretieren. (Weil der Verstand uns dazu zwingt.)

10/18/06 12:19 pm - Moving Hand Music Magazine: The Cursed Species

Zak Roberts (Cdatakill) must now be considered as one of the pioneers of the breakcore genre. He has produced numerous releases on labels such as Suburban Trash, Low Res, No Room For Talent, Zhark etc. “The Cursed Species” is his second full-length album, following his debut “Paradise”, also on Ad Noiseam, from 2003.

Given his long experience in the breakcore genre, it hardly comes as a surprise that he has progressed beyond typical breakcore on this album. What may be more of a surprise, though, is the incorporation of old-school hardcore techno! The result is pretty far from what you would hear on a typical rave party, though. Zak has mixed hardcore beat structures and bass lines with dark, menacing atmospheres that we can recognise from his earlier works, and a healthy dose of smattering breaks. What comes out of the speakers is an exceptionally raw, imposing sound that grabs the listener by the throat and doesn’t let go until the tenth and final track echoes out. The tempo is generally quite high throughout the album (with a few exceptions) and the beats are pounding, but what makes the music truly hard is the dark, dense, almost suffocating soundscapes, of which the beats are merely one component. The most prominent feature, in my opinion, is the sharp, acidous bass lines that cut their way like razors through the tracks and take place in the very fore-front of the overall sound, demanding attention from the listener.

Here is a remarkably solid album that works equally well on dance floors, as for personal living room exorcism. The tracks form a well thought-out unity, even though there are highlights like “How to kill people and get away with it”, “Reclamation song” and “Predatory behavior”. In a time when a lot of acts lean toward a catchier, more joyous sound (which by all means have its own qualities), Cdatakill turns the other way bringing forth his meanest and darkest effort yet. “The Cursed Species” is a furious, in-your-face burst of raw energy, that still carries a complexity and depth that bears the evident marks of a highly skilled musician and adds an introspective dimension to the music. This is a much-recommended album and a welcome new take on the whole breakcore phenomenon.

10/18/06 12:18 pm - Aural Pressure: The Cursed Species

This CD wasn't what I was expecting... But in a good way. I'd predicted something a little noisier, but while "The Cursed Species" is far from being ambient, it certainly holds more surprises and covers a broader musical range than your typical rhythmic-noise or breakcore outing. The breakcore
influence is there alright, but the overall sound is much more organic. Hell, some of the beats almost sound like they came from real drums. I mean, they didn't, but they could have done, if the drummer had six arms and was animated by means of a complex arrangement of levers and pulleys. The marriage of the biological and the mechanical is reflected in the beautiful packaging, which features collaged anatomical engravings of skeletal machine-creatures, all rendered in earthy parchment tones with a cursive font. Very classy.

Going for upbeat head-candy rather than club-driven monotony, Cdatakill's Zak Roberts gets his kicks weaving gradually-mutating rhythms and synthesiser patterns through dirty scraps of unplaceable sounds and mangled vocals. Quite often he hits a pretty impressive pace, particularly on the warped electro of 'Reclamation Song' and the vaguely jungle-flavoured 'Graceless'. But the notional crowd is too confused to dance; I'm not kidding about unpredictability. I'd listened to the CD several times on my walkman before I realised it was skipping on a couple of the tracks. I thought it was done intentionally for effect. Here and there the chaos does get out of control, with beats slipping out of time with each other in a way that sounds more like a mistake than a bold attempt to explore the limitations of traditional approaches to rhythm.

Credit where credit's due though, there are some interesting experiments with song construction on this album. I get the impression some of it is improvised electronically over a pre-programmed structure, perhaps with the aid of arpeggiators and realtime MIDI controllers. The music progresses in an evolutionary manner, by and large, with several songs sounding quite different by the time they come to an end - an approach skilfully touted by Exclipsect recently. However it has to be said that for my money, the most memorable tracks are 'Reclamation Song', and the closing number 'A Death Worth Reliving', an eerie adventure in sinister ambience, both of which are at the more internally-consistent end of the scale. Comparisons with Black Lung and earlier Download are in order, and it's perhaps telling that both of those bands have always known that chaos begets order, and that a little control goes a long way.

10/18/06 12:18 pm - Slug Magazine: The Cursed Species

10/18/06 12:17 pm - Octopus: The Cursed Species

Entre breakcore souple et électronica trouble, Zak Roberts aka Cdatakill s’emploie depuis deux albums à mettre en relief les formes les plus aériennes de la techno industrielle. Puisant sa douce et sombre frénésie dans l’esthétique sonore digitale de la body-music ("Reclamation song"), dans son goût pour les beats déstructurés ("Exorcise the demons") et les échappées atmosphériques tortueuses ("How to kill people"), The Cursed Species offre moins de prises noisy et expérimentale que son prédécesseur Paradise mais affiche une densité rythmique accrue. Pour les amateurs de bande-son électro baroque.

10/18/06 12:14 pm - Barcode E-zine: The Cursed Species

Zak Roberts presents his second full-length album here, following on from his noisy debut, Paradise. This time, Roberts concentrates more on breakbeats, with each track providing kicking beats that surround themselves in throbbing cyber bass lines, crunched up samples and power keyboards.

Roberts tries his best to vary the themes within his strict, break-driven routines, How To Kill People And Get Away With It has a live percussive feel, whilst the following Eve Ill is a bewildering chowder of bristling loops and complex programmed sounds. This is a man who is obviously in love with digging into the pit of his programming capabilities.

The dark, echoey broodiness of Cursed Species predictably sees the album flirt with the sensibilities of the Industrial music scene, but it’s thankfully varied enough to withstand the plagiarisms attached to that genre, introducing new elements that at least give it a sense of originality, even though Roberts occasionally loses himself in a self-indulgent haze of manic programming; I’m not sure he ever stops to consider a prospective audience, which is usually a good sign.

Elsewhwere, the madcap, rhythmic flurries of Graceless, when merged with the barely-comprehensible vocal samples that menacingly envelope it, are a particular highlight, whilst the closing A Death Worth Re-Living is the furious sound of machine grinding machine into the dust; authentically destructive in a Terminator soundtrack kind of way.

I wouldn’t go overboard, but The Cursed Species is definitely an album that will appeal to the user-friendly powernoise enthusiast that might be looking for something a little more leftfield.

10/18/06 12:14 pm - Synthetic Noize: The Cursed Species

Most of the greatest figures from the original wave of artists referred to as "breakcore" have dropped the recurring gimmicks of this genre, in order to "hybridize" their complex broken rhythmic patterns with other major musical forms. And it's a good thing that they did, as it would quickly have become tedious. Of course, hopes were high with CDATAKILL. With "Paradise", they had focused on darkness and (a demanding) fury, and created an epic and magnificent album which was already moving on from the standards of breakcore. "Brazilian Nightmare" was a long, arrhythmic, dark ambient and introspective drone, which fully revealed the versatile virtuosity of Zak Roberts .

"The Cursed Species" explores new territories again. Without any doubt, CDATAKILL has reached a new maturity. Complex rhythms constitute of course the core of this creation, an elaborate exoskeleton supporting finely crafted compositions. Listen closely and repeatedly to a gem like "Reclamation song": the falsely binary beat intensifies and coils into round bass, as you're being hypnotized by haunting, repetitive scrolls of sounds, and on the last part of the track, just when you're beginning to assume that the deed's done, some sampled Arabic chanting gives the song its second wind, still more hypnotic: what astonishing skill this shows. Without a single trace of pretence, this track, in its evolution and conclusion (infinity suggested through tenacious threnody), is a model of its kind. By the way, what would Muslimgauze have sounded like nowadays? This track might very well give us a good idea of it.

Another significant instance is « predatory behaviour », which takes us miles away from the usual clichés of the genre. What kind of alchemy does miraculously hold this monumental masterpiece together, with its spiralled beats continuously hopping onwards, its old school drones, and its (falsely) lo-fi but so enthralling sound? This title is in fact a real pandemonium, an infernal Pandora box which viciously locks around your senses.

The variety of sounds used to create this album also participates in the unique identity of CDATAKILL. One could well be tempted to reduce these to being simply old-school, but can the act of leaving behind the current glitch and electronica tones be termed old school? In this case the answer is clearly "no", and we can doubtlessly state that far from dealing with some long extinct creature, we're facing a rare, bizarre and hybrid species, as suggested by Aurélien Police's splendid artwork.

10/18/06 12:09 pm - D-Side: The Cursed Species

10/18/06 12:08 pm - Vital Weekly: The Cursed Species

The Berlin based Ad Noiseam label specializes in various kinds of electronic dance related music, be it breakcore, be it hip hop or be it clicks and cuts. Their recent autumn campaign shows these various interests very well. Somehow I missed out the first CD by CDatakill, aka Zak Roberts, but 'The Crushed Species' leaves a good impression, even when I am not a lover of breakcore per se. If I decide I would like to hear breakcore it should be in a concert hall with the amps turned up in a way I can't do at home. Then it makes much more sense. But listening to Cdatakill on my set of simple speakers at home may not be the real thing, I did enjoy the broken drum & bass beats, but above the somewhat darker undertones, hoovering below this set of beats. As said, I haven't delved the genre to the bottom, so I couldn't possibly say wether this is an original set of breakcore, or following standards. Quite nice for a change.

10/18/06 12:08 pm - Igloo Magazine: The Cursed Species

Zak Roberts aka Cdatakill says about the thought process that germinated his second full-length release, The Cursed Species, that he wanted to reclaim old school sounds, to make them his own and retrieve them from the tyranny of "happy hardcore." Harder, faster, louder than Paradise, his previous Ad Noiseam release, The Cursed Species eschews atmosphere and noise for the giddy power of the dance floor, redrafting the euphoria of rave parties and endless disco nights into a menacing 21st century beat explosion.

The nearly ten minute centerpiece of the record, "Reclamation Song," takes the rave aesthetic -- endless rhythms running straight through till dawn -- and twists it into a knot of Gordian pulses as broken beats and staggered percussion eat themselves in a continual generative loop while miasmas of menace drift through like clouds of burning poison. "Graceless" slashes through a spoken word transmission, a radio signal that is cut and sliced by the digital hammer of breakcore, smashing the vocal line into an unintelligible patter that loses its linguistic impact and becomes just a rhythmic sequence. "Hymn of the Siamese" slams a gabber rhythm into a crowded room of innocent ravers while "Swarm of Vicious Insects" builds from a chaste bell tone and piano melody into a stomping, snarling soundtrack for an insect plague, replete with strangled air raid sirens, subsonic rumbles from giant wings, and pestilential eruptions of percussion.

By the time "A Death Worth Reliving" finishes its calamitous disintegration of your speaker system (opening a hole in your floor straight down to Hell, naturally enough), this party has been turned into a stroboscopic nightmare of epileptic fits and grand mal seizures. And I say that like a good thing.

10/18/06 12:03 pm - Connexion Bizarre: The Cursed Species

After last year's "Paradise", Zak Roberts' Cdatakill strikes again with his second CD release, "The Cursed Species". The darkly abstract artwork and nihilistic titles pretty much give an idea of what mood one can expect, but the real treat starts soon after hitting "Play".

Saturation levels of breakbeats that'd put jackhammers to shame collide with eerie samples and synths throughout the album, while slower and darker moments of ambience are spread among tracks, serving well the purpose of chilling you down (or creeping you out, for the fainter of heart). However, don't expect 5-minute long interludes and such, since there's just too many drumloops running around (or rampant) for the listener to have enough time to cool down.

My favorite characteristic of the album is that while there are enough differences between tracks to discern them as such, the album plays much better if you listen to it from start to end as a whole, a task easy thanks to Roberts' unique blend of continuity and variety in sound. Indeed, the album plays out very smoothly, reminding me of a martial artist's moves, the graceful flurry of rhythm and beats punching you around and giving you just enough breathing time to survive until the final blow, which is just how the final track, "A Death Worth Re-Living" can be described as: leaking with aural malice, this multi-layered wall of sheer noise is meant to cause aggravated ear damage and nothing less.

An album that'll be adored by the breakcore and IDM crowds, but with enough aggression and "oontz" to appeal to the more powernoise oriented folk, "The Cursed Species" is a brilliant display of talent. Let us hope that Cdatakill keeps up the good work.

10/18/06 12:03 pm - Black Magazine: The Cursed Species

Obwohl die Beats schneller und gehetzter geworden sind, die dunkle Synthetik herum die selbe geblieben ist, entpuppt sich CDATAKILLs Wucht beim zweiten Album als eine andere. Keine MCs, kein Hip Hop Flavor. Dafür viel trockenes Beatgestrüpp. Als fusionierten zwei artfremde Schichten, die sich in Zeitraffer tektonisch gegeneinander verschieben. Oben die zappeligen Breakcore-Beats, unten drunter ein Mix aus Dark Ambient und IDM-Electro-Substrat. Das hört sich in der Beschreibung ein wenig zusammengestoppelt an, ist als Musik aber dagegen äußerst locker konsumierbar, wenn auch auf den ersten Hörschein hin etwas verstörend. Das liegt aber mehr an meiner Erwartungshaltung, als an den Tracks selbst. Wenn man auf rollende Beatwände und Bass-Schwaden eingestellt ist, auf denen ein MC surft, dann ist die eckige, experimentellere Breakcore-Laptopia-Legierung schon ein anderes Kaliber. Teilweise hört es sich auch nach live eingespielten Drums an, die das jammende Moment einer DOWNLOAD/SKINNY PUPPY Liveshow ausstrahlen. Andere Tracks treiben sich lieber im HRVATSKI Fitzel-Noise Universum rum. Und wieder andere ballern dir mit Sägezahn Proto-EBM Elektronik und elastisch rotierenden Breakbeats um die Ohren. Stilistisch ist CDATAKILL in die Breite gegangen. Das hat ihn vielleicht etwas eigene Note gekostet, beweist aber einiges an Mut zum Experiment und eiterentwicklung. Die Beatverschachtelung ist komplexer, das Sound-Design sperriger und weniger vorhersagbar. Und direkt auf die Fresse gibt er dir immer noch. Mehr kann man doch nicht verlangen.
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