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Quad Review: Simon Carter & Fabsi album - Hex, Herbs 'N' Techno (+3 Simon Carter EPs)


"I'd love to review the new Simon Carter & Fabsi album! Of course!" Starts*

"Ah, a great EP too, THIS SLAPS, NICE!" Offers to do both..* ..."There's another, songs that didn't make it in to the album? That's pretty cool!" ..oh.. WAIT.. "Ah, a fourth release in the same.. wait.. well there's no way I can leave any of them out then is there!" Cough, Starts again..* And so a quick review.. 20 mins in and out, became far longer.. But you know what? I am so damn impressed by all the tracks I have just gone through that not a moment of that felt like a chore, I loved it.

Read the reviews below to find out why!

 

Simon speaks about the reason for the rapid fire releases:


On Monday (3rd July 2023) the new album Hex, Herbs 'N' Techno is released! https://simon-carter.bandcamp.com/album/hex-herbs-n-techno


I am aware that I have deviated slightly from the Industrial-Techno sound that this project has become known for. A sound which significantly contributed to the success of the debut album “The Bitches Potion” and its follow-up EP “Witch But Not Famous”. I decided to take this new album in a slightly different direction by introducing ideas from some of my other projects, in particular my Narconic project. This has resulted in the inclusion of more Trance, EDM and Big Room elements. Whilst I strived to keep the energy, vibe, uniqueness and overall Techno feel of the previous releases, I do confess it has moved slightly away from the raw, crunchy Industrial-Techno sound that you’ve enjoyed, appreciated and supported. Gone are the 6+ minute grinding stomp-fests, replaced by shorter, punchier, more playlist friendly tracks.


Before I decided to shift the direction of this album, I had already created a few eerie, atmospheric oldskool Techno/Industrial-Techno tracks which have now been released on the “Don’t Blink” EP and it’s on this EP where you’ll find the gritty, more punishing stomp-fests. For a limited time this EP will be entirely free (or pay what you want) on Bandcamp. The “Don’t Blink” EP can be found here: https://simon-carter.bandcamp.com/album/dont-blink


I’ve also recently released an EP called “Initiation”. These tracks were originally intended to be on the “Hex, Herbs ‘N’ Techno” album and whilst the witchy theme did match, I didn’t believe the style (or silliness!) of these tracks was a good fit for the album. They do however reveal a nice little story regarding the initiation process into our coven. The “Initiation” EP can be found here: https://simon-carter.bandcamp.com/album/initiation


The success of this project in such a short period of time has been nothing short of mind-blowing, especially considering I initially created this Bandcamp page as a playground to share some of my more light-hearted tracks. It has since (semi) matured and become a source for some of my best output, rivalling and I’m sure in the view of many, eclipsing my other more serious music projects.


As I have done for over a decade with my music production, I will continue to explore new sounds and ideas (insert shark analogy about needing to keep moving to stay alive) and I will endeavour to continue NOT taking myself or my music too seriously!


Thank you and please keep supporting me and my projects. It provides me with the energy and strength to continue making new music but for now I’m off for what is a much deserved rest! Although Techno Files Vol. 3 is finished and this Psy-Trance EP isn’t going to finish itself is it…


Wishing you all a fantastic weekend!


Simon (and Fabsi)


Official Website: https://simoncarter.info

 

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Reviews


Hex, Herbs 'N' Techno

Deep as a cauldron, thick with bass, spiced with complimenting synths, and brimming with drum loops, the music herein is a worthy successor to their previous album of The Bitches Poison (Review HERE) and the EP Witch But Not Famous. (Review HERE)


I have a lot to write about in this article so I will just point out some of the really noteworthy parts of this great album.

Granted it is not as heavy as the last as mentioned above in Simon's explanation but it still incorporates, and even improves upon so many of the great aspect The Bitches Poison had. For instance there is a lot more depth in terms of the witch and magic side of this unusual mash-up

For instance, the track 'Cleansing' (and 'Säuberung') are lyrically, a cleansing ritual and 'Aura of grounding' (and 'Aura der Erdung') is also a spoken spell, based on Wiccan magic but given their own personal spin.

I think it's great that half the tracks are titled in German and spoken as such, with the other half titled the same but spoken in English. Looking down the track list you can probably tell which ones are mirrored such as 'Mondkind' and 'Moonchild' etc. This is a great call back to the previous album where only the two amazing tracks 'We Are the Witches' and Hex Hex (Wir Sind die Hexen) were presented this way. Wir Sind die Hexen being my favourite track on that album.


What is great about this release is that the techno appeals to every techno taste - The thumping energy of 'Luna-Energien' for those who love epic scale and filthy drops, 'Exorzieren' who like their pounding and steady rhythm, to 'Säuberung' which throws in the synth peaks and heavy bass of industrial.


'Luna-Energien' stands out as the track with no mirror, it is full of poignancy with Fabsi's voice and the sense that Simon has really tried to add in all of the album's takes on techno and thrown them in to one masterful piece. It gives you that epic and atmospheric sense of something profound taking place that you are now inescapably, a part of.


This album has so many things that I love, from incredible rhythms, to dark atmospheric and soul healing spells, to the pure honey sound of Fabsi's Germanic voice. Is it as heavy as I like? Not quite BUT you can't listen to heavy all the time, sometimes you need a balance between the glorious club bass and the sort of music you can still listen to whilst doing your daily routines, and in that sense 'Hex, Herbs 'N' Techno is a spell book of songs for all occasions - and that in itself, is brilliant and ideal!


Track List


The Power of The Moon

Cleansing

Mondkind

Luna-Energien

Exorzieren

Moonchild

Die Kraft Des Mondes

Aura of Grounding

Säuberung

Exorcise

Aura der Erdung

 

Don't Blink

This EP is the real treasure for me in this article with its harder, darker feast of techno. As some of you that have read my reviews before will know, I'm a sucker for sampled TV, games, films etc in music - this EP provides my latest media sample fix nicely!

'Don't Blink' starts off as most techno with a thudding beat and some electronics slowly building to keep you guessing at where it's gonna take you. We soon find out, as it has samples from Dr Who about the angels who kill you if you close your eyes.

The different versions however are where the magic lies, the 'Alternate Version' layers on the bass and darkness adding a more urgent feel to the overall sound. The 'Industrial Version' does these two things in equal measure just as well but with a more haunting approach. Whereas the 'Tech-House Version' makes it more of a '3am, lost in the thud thud thud' of the club dance floor kind of vibe.


'There's One At The Door' This is a slow, pulsing, weaving mind massage of techno ASMR that puts me in the mind of so many different things. From the odd synths you'd get in retro classic games like Command and Conquer, to drum beats I'd expect to hear in retro step one second, to deep ambience Industrial the next. This track is eerie, soothing, dripping with poignancy...

"There’s one at the door. At the gate of damnation. Is it thief, thug, or wh*re? There’s one at the door. And there’s room for one more. Til the end of creation." - Squatterbloat: The Sandman S.7 Ep.1

'The Living And The Dead' Now here we have more great sampled quotes, this time from the pellar in The Witcher 3. This track echoes around your skull with some of the most smooth, deep techno I've yet to hear. Like the embrace of a weighted blanket, this track manages to reach everywhere music can possibly reach within a person. It also has phases where the track picks back up, false drops, then hits you with some liquid techno just in case there were still any corners of your mind left yet untouched.


This one is a real treat, I first reviewed Simon HERE with the track 'Simon' which sampled Ultimate Force I believe? Well to see this EP contain the track name 'Simon (Booby Trap)' made me very curious indeed and I'm happy to say this blew all expectations out of the water with one hell of a FILTHY and stomp-tastic track. This is fierce, full of drops, sampled masterfully, and provides so much heavy bass, percussion, and reverberating synths that this track alone makes this a fantastic EP let alone with all the other tracks included! So needles to say, I love it!


'Hexennacht Rave (Original Master)' is a track originally meant for the 'Hex, Herbs 'N' Techno' album and I'm not sure how I feel about it being left off the album because HELLS, THIS FUCKING SLAPS!!

This track is by far my favourite of all the tracks on offer within these releases and it is solid, dependable, yet unique RAVE FUEL. You start playing this on dancefloors, and the foot stomps are gonna wake the dead. That's how heavy this smashes out a killer beat. Do yourself a favour, don't take my word for it, just go stick some headphones on and crank this tune, alright? Good!


Initiation

Another incredible offering and this is full of tracks that didn't quite make it on to the album with Fabsi. This is packed with energy, soul fuel, and stomps.

'Seher' is such a fantastic rave track that it may be my second fav of all the offerings. It is fast, heavy, laden with anticipation and spiced with filthy drops.

Here we also have the fantastic 'Hexennacht Rave' which I have already covered fairly well in the above EP. ^ 'Dancefloor Delusion' is a bit more like Organ Donors in sound, and touches on that hardstyle vibe with a very impressive and enjoyable dance track.

'The Magic Circle (Welcome To The Coven)' rounds it all off with a much slower, more progressing, and intriguing sensation of musical exploration to make you feel at one with the music.


Technofiles Vol.2

Lastly we have Technofiles Vol.2, this offers more energy, more peaks and layers of synths and soundwaves with four very different tracks from one another that all pack a good punch.

This is definitely the more mainstream line of techno and electronics but each is so well done that you can really feel the passion Simon has for the music he makes and for finding the perfect percussive beats to punctuate each and every track!


Conclusion


With four incredible releases based almost entirely off of the one album he originally set out to do, none can says Simon doesn't try hard enough! Each and every track is dripping with power.

Simon is a master at this craft, and the choice of either beautifully selected media sample or the regal voice of Fabsi makes for some of the most entertaining and satisfying music released so far this year. Simon has clearly been on one hell of a journey with these releases and nothing makes for better workmanship than that which has been made, re-made, re-forged, refolded, time and again until only the strongest of offerings are produced. Masterful work all round!

 

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