The English Bio-tek
is just one of the numerous projects of Jonathan Sharp. Near New
Mind, Hexedene, his work for Cyber-Tec project and before the release of
the Hyperdex-1-Sect album, which is a collaboration with Sevren-Ni-Arb,
here's the first album from Bio-tek. Comparing the different projects
of Jonathan Sharp, this is for sure the most powerful! It's a mind-blowing
album, full of hard EBM sounds and brute, aggressive percussions!
The whole release is covered with dark strings and pushed along by pumping
bass lines. The vocals are rough and close to the great Claus Larsen.
The main track of this album is the astonishing opening track 'Die-sect'.
The heavy sounds and fierce rhythm make it a real dancefloor hit.
And the best is yet to come; this track is remixed in two other versions
by two different bands. First of all, the State of Ardour version
by our dear VNV Nation, which is an amazing mixture between dark bass lines
and sharp sounding melodious parts! The other version is the AntiAibo-tek
one by the Belgian !Aiboforcen<- . This is a terffiric hard beating
remix, in the very paricular sytle of this Belgian band, combining Tekkno
beats and dark, melodious string parts! I'll also mention other masterpieces
like 'Wound' and 'Human Weapon', including some Tekkno-ish sounds in the
background and the Leaether Strip-ian 'Needle'. Notice as well, there
are some instrumental pieces too, like 'Ghosts' and 'Chemical Weapon'.
This is for sure one of the best releases on Zoth Ommog for the last months.
If you like fast, devastating EBM, go for Bio-tek!
(Side Line, No. 21 - No.1 1997)
Jonathan Sharp is finally getting his just deserts, and this is one of this many recent side-projects. This time, he has some help from the already famous Belgain !Aiboforcen<- . New Mind's second full-length, "Zero to the Bone", was a very techno-influenced album, and I was really expecting that this would be too. But no, this much more closely resembles the older sound of Sharp's New Mind, before he was infected with British techno virus. Actually, surprisingly enough, there are very little techno sounds on the entire album. Instead, he hits us with a solid, dark EBM disc! It's not quite as dark as old New Mind, but the Puppy influence that is so prevalent in Mr. Sharp's early work is very noticeable here. "A God Ignored . . ." flows with smooth electronic precision and distorted madness. VNV Nation and !Aiboforcen< - contribute fine remixes of the excellent 'Die-sect' too. Some well-placed dark instrumentals really add to the nightmarish atmosphere. A few of the samples are a little bit cliche, but that's very forgivable. Nothing groundbreaking, and with the people involved, I though it might be, but it's still a damn fine dark electro/EBM smasher, and a reminder of where New Mind came from. (Culture Shock Transmission 03)
This CD has FLA clone written all over it. Not only does Sharp reuse some of the same samples as FLA, but he has the nerve to practically copy the chorus of 'Resist' note for note on 'Human Weapon' and 'Chemical Weapon'. I don't mind people who define their own style by mixing together elements of several other bands, but to attempt to sound exactly like another band gets the big thumbs down in my book. Now that I vented, I will continue with the review. There are a few points of this album that rise above the rest, but not nearly enough to save it. One of those points 'Ashes', an instrumental track that has a pipe-clanging percussion section and a slight Nitzer Ebb electro / EBM feel to it. Another decent portion of the album comes in the form of remixes. VNV Nation attempt to save 'Die-Sect' from it's failing state, but can only do so much for it. They strip the track down to its bare elements and carry it forth from there. No longer does it sound rehashed andunoriginal. 'AiBoFoRcEn<- inject some of their own elements into this track as well and fare a bit better, making the track less likely to be piled into the FLA wannabe's category. They add their own samples and bring the electronics more to the front. After hearing (and enjoying) Sharp's New Mind CD's I was very disappointed in this side-project. (Industrial Bible)
This is an excellent
side-project of Jonathan Sharp (who seems to be popping up on many releases
recently) of New Mind fame. This material is more of a straight-forward
techno/industrial style harkening back to the first New Mind release "Fractured",
without as much of the chaos. But not to worry, you still will never hear
a straight-forward 4/4 song from Mr. Sharp; there are plenty of interesting
samples, constructions, and noises to please your average industrialite
and make your average radio-listener twinge and go into epileptic shock.
Mr. Sharp is still a very angry man and lets you know it with his spiteful,
hate-filled vocals and biting lyrics. Energetic, heavy-beat laden tracks
such as 'Human Weapon' and 'Vaxine' compete with more tripped-out, mellower
(if you could really use that word on any track by Mr. Sharp) tracks such
as 'Wound', 'Ashes' and 'Ghosts'. The drum programming throughout is very
crisp, sharp (and sounding, on some tracks, like gunshots being scattered
across a concrete field), and fits in with the harsh atmosphere of the
album. The album also includes some very good remixes by VNV Nation and
(Sonic Boom August 1997)
This is a Jonathan Sharp project. You might be familar with his other band New Mind.Well, the songs delivered here sound very similar to New Mind. If you took away theguitars from the songs on New Mind's "Forge" album you would basically be left withwhat this album offers. This is not a bad thing, but it doesn't really sound like a different band. The material here is electronic with synths, samples and drum programmingincluded with Jonathan Sharp's distorted angry vocals. These songs could work on the dance floor due to their energy and pace. I am very pleased with all of the songs that include vocals, but half of the album is simply instrumentals and remixes that I could have done without. I have to admit that I am getting tired of industrial bands floodingtheir albums with instrumentals. What happened to having something to say and gettinga point across with the tone of the vocals? I don't feel it is enough to only do this on afew songs. Tracks with vocals should always outnumber instrumentals in my opinion. Ilike a good instrumental once in a while if it indeed works on its own without vocals,but this seems to be rare these days. Most instrumentals just sound like filler to me that I have to skip past to get to the actual songs. This gets annoying. The lack of vocals in a lot of the material delivered here makes this album a disappointment. If you don't mind a lot of tracks that lack vocals you will probably enjoy this album. But if you like more vocal tracks and less instrumentals then you might want to pass on this. (Wrapped In Wire)
During one of those temporary periods
where there was too much money in my pocket, I lashed out, and purchased
this CD on a whim. I was pleasantly surprised at this album, from someone
I had never heard, or heard of before. This CD is extremely reminiscent
of Front Line Assembly, but with a few new twists. The only downside to
this album, was that is gets quite repetitive. The upsides: A new band,
that I can see being extremely good if they develop, and a brilliant remix
track (of their own song) 'Die-Sect', that blew me away! If you're looking
for something new, you might want to give
this a listen.
- Not brilliant, but not bad. (The New Empire)
album "A God Ignored Is A Demon Born" is a highly enjoyable slice of straightforward,
aggressive, purist EBM. If it sounds familiar, it's because although this
is Bio-Tek's debut, the man behind the name is Jonathan Sharp, who also
records under the group name of New Mind (and several others). Those who've
been reading my reviews for a while will doubtless have read my reviews
of New Mind's first two albums, "Fractured" and "Zero To The Bone". Both
got excellent ratings, and "A God Ignored Is A Demon Born" only serves
to confirm my belief that JS9 is, in his various guises, one of the most
underrated artists in the industrial/EBM scene.
- While the second New Mind album saw that project taking a more experimental musical direction than the debut "Fractured", "A God Ignored" returns to a sound that's more reminiscent of that first album. This is a rather pleasing development from my point of view; JS9 gets to experiment, try out ideas and explore new territory as New Mind, while still producing high quality EBM under the Bio-Tek name. The best of both worlds. While most of the techno influences that were apparent on "Zero To The Bone" have presumably been moved elsewhere, "A God Ignored" does have a few similarities with that album. First, the remarkably robust bass response has been retained, second, there's some evidence of thematic consistency. Where "Zero To The Bone" had a strong undercurrent of sexual politics, "A God Ignored" has a religion/cult theme running through many (but by no means all) tracks.
- Those who liked "Fractured" will have a good idea what to expect here. It's solid EBM, less structured than FLA, but more structured than Skinny Puppy's later stuff, with chunky bass, interesting synth work, plenty of samples and JS9's highly distorted vocals. It might sound to the uninitiated that this is very much EBM by numbers, and I guess in a way it is, but although the formula isn't hugely original, it's carried off with considerable skill and in such a way as to have a character all of its own. Someone who loves FLA may well find Bio-Tek/older New Mind highly enjoyable and for much the same reasons, but they're not likely to confuse the two.
- The disc has a very familiar feel and was, for me at least, very easy to get into. This was partly due to the feeling that it picked up where "Fractured" left off, but the occasional hint of recycling also contributed. Previous New Mind albums have received some flak for their use of samples that others have previously used (esp. Skinny Puppy) and this Bio-Tek album doesn't change that tendency. However, perhaps in an attempt to silence the critics (or perhaps just to inflame them still further), many of the previously heard samples have been presented with rather more context than before, and there are also a heap of new samples that haven't been heard elsewhere. JS9 also recycles his own work here and there - for example, 'Needle' makes use of a rather nice synth hook from the old track 'Ice Dreams'. I guess that since that track only ever appeared on the obscure Dossiers compilation, it would have been a shame to let a hook like that go to waste.
- OK, time for the track-by-track...
- The disc opens with the "vanilla" version of 'Die-Sect'. With its layered synth pulses over a deep, remarkably meaty 4/4 beat and JS9's vox growling along on top, it's surprisingly rich for a track that, when you actually sit down and listen to what's going on, is pretty minimalist. However, with the Bass From Hell pounding away in the basement, all of those empty spaces are filled up. Fans of the genre will have fun playing "spot the sample", as some of the sampled material here has also been used by FLA and Skinny Puppy. 'Wound' shares a similarly chunky rhythm track and distorted vox, but adds the characteristic New Mind synth sound to good effect.
- The third track, 'Human Weapon', is more in the spirit of stuff like 'Walls' and 'Ice Dreams'. Rather less bass heavy, it makes good use of lots of samples. The high-pitched synth line seems familiar though, almost Clock DVA-ish. 'Ashes', rather appropriately, starts with a David Koresh sample. It's solid, energetic EBM with a haunting synth melody that emerges a minute or so into the track. 'No Victim' is a harsher piece, with pounding bass, buried synth washes and a synth hook that draws me back to that Dossiers comp, albeit this time because it's very reminiscent of the hook to Noise Unit's 'Falling'. It's also got some nice insistent synth work that gives it a great deal of drive and intensity. As I've indicated earlier, 'Needle' is, although largely a new track, very reminiscent of older New Mind due to a) the use of a hook from 'Ice Dreams' and another familiar effect from an older New Mind track. It's also got a hugely annoying "Ha ha ha ha" sample, but nobody's perfect.
- At this point, I'd like to take a little time to make something clear. Reading back over my review, I'm forever comparing this release to FLA and SP, or Clock DVA, pointing out the use of samples from the same sources, and so on. This might, I feel, give the impression that this release is less deserving of praise than it really is. The bottom line is that while this album isn't pushing back any musical frontiers, what it's doing it does very well. It takes what is, let's face it, a highly formulaic genre, tunes the characteristics of that genre to peak performance then gives the end result a unique and characteristic twist. It's the same sort of thing :wumpscut: does, although the characteristics tuned aren't the same and the twist is in a very different direction. So, just as it's difficult to review :wumpscut: without using the word "Leaether Strip" in a few places, the use of that name, "FLA" and "Skinny Puppy" is almost inevitable here.
- Returning to our scheduled program, 'Ghosts' is a very dark, wet, atmospheric piece ith excellent use of samples. 'Vaxine' is a personal favourite, with a light, sparse intro leading into a maelstrom of overlaid samples and odd noises, before heading into more typical New Mind territory.
- The first of two outside remixes on the disc, vnv nation's reworking of 'Die-Sect' is xcellent, taking the definitively EBM sound of the original even further in that direction. This is highly distilled EBM, and the new rhythm track and metallic percussion raises the track to a new level. Great stuff. 'Chemical Weapon' is a fairly dramatic remix of 'Human Weapon', and while it shares the same "are you sure it's not from a Clock DVA track?" synth-line the treated samples are skewed, as you'd guess, towards the subject of chemical warfare.
- 'Apocalypse' is another dark, atmospheric track of deep synth washes, howling wind, odd crunches and crashes, sampled voices and something that's presumably meant to sound like guttural demonic growling but, I hate to admit it, reminds me more of Animal from the Muppets. Regardless of whether this particular noise is the product of razor-taloned hellspawn or pink puppet, the track's wonderful. I'd love to hear what'd happen if JS9 did an album of this sort of music, as many of both New Mind and Bio-Tek's quieter moments have a strongly cinematic quality to them.
- The disc's final track, remixed by !AiBoFoRcEn<-, does something that JS9 has alluded to in the past. It takes the determinedly EBM 'Die-Sect' and gives it a techno-twist. This is done via a new synth line, a more elaborate rhythm track that alters both sounds and rhythm, and a new female vocal line that shadows JS9's distorted voice very nicely. It's highly effective, and I have to say that the two very different remixes of 'Die-Sect' included here both outshine the original.
- Summary time. Good, high-quality, purist EBM. If you liked the FLA sound during the "Caustic Grip"/"Tactical Neural Implant" era, or are a more general fan of solidly electronic EBM in that, you should definitely give this one a good listen. While the material doesn't push back any musical boundaries, it's still distinctive and makes for very satisfying listening. If this was the only thing JS9 was doing, I'd perhaps be a little wary that he was restricting himself unnecessarily, but with New Mind still active (new album on Off Beat due in early 1997!) and taking a more adventurous direction, and other projects in the works (including a second Bio-Tek album next year), Bio-Tekis easy to appreciate for what it is - damned good EBM. (© Al Crawford)
Darkness My Name Is
Bio-Tek (aka J.
Sharp of New Mind, Hexedene, and a multitude of others) returns less than
one year later with a brand new release. "Darkness My Name Is" picks
up where "A God Ignored is a Demon Born" left off and carries the sound
of Bio-Tek much further. As you may recall, I was not to fond of
Bio-Tek's previous release, but I find this one to be much stronger.
Granted, there are still a lot of recycled samples placed within the songs,
but this time I found them somewhat intriguing. Upon first listen
I was immediately drawn into each track, using the recognizable samples
as a way to grab hold of each song. Full of religious references,
"Darkness My Name Is" begins with 'Communion'. 'Communion' is a symphonic
electro piece with a cyber-based rhythm line and scratchy vocals.
The sample ridden 'Hate Like a Fire' is an excellent track combining pulsating
rhythms, solid beats, and angry vocals. The vocals become more distorted
and the beat gains momentum on 'Veronica Voss'. 'Murderworld', with
its strict beat programming and robotic vocals, is planted firmly in the
EBM genre. The cyber rhythms kick into high gear on 'City of Steel'.
This piece is comprised of addicting sequences, various samples, and rigid
beats. The upbeat pace remains intact on 'Leave You Blind', while the sequences
become a bit more airy. The title track implements some X-Files-ish
sequence sounds, dark samples, and a slowed down beat. Evil Dead
II samples dictate the opening of 'Thorns.' As the song progresses, the
programming becomes less harsh and more sophisticated, leaving the vocals
and samples with the duty of making the track as agitated as possible.
With all the projects that Sharp is involved with, you'd think that it
would be hard to keep all of their sounds separate. Well, maybe it
is hard, but he pulls it off without a hitch. "Darkness My Name Is"
is a strong release that furthers my admiration of his music styling.
(Industrial Bible August 1997)
Jonathan Sharp returns with what I personally feel is his best work yet. This album is simply amazing. It opens with "Communion" which starts off this musical journey perfectly. It's extremely emotional and dramatic with great electronic layering andbeautiful keyboard melodies. It plays at a nice pace while the vocals shout out the lyrics with powerful intensity. Everything found on this album is good. Each of the songs are very polished with a high quality to them. The various tracks are created with fast paced electronic rhythms and beats combined with orchestrated synth harmonies,samples and growling singing. However, every song manages to bring in their ownunique elements to make them stand out on their own. Some songs are straight forwarddance tracks while others are a bit more aggressive and experimental with noiseelements. But they all work and compliment the overall album. Nothing is out of place here. To top this all off this album presents a fresh and original sound. It's structureddark electro music, but does have its own edge. When you hear something by Jonathan Sharp it has his trademark sound to it. While I was disappointed with the previousBio-Tek release because it had so many instrumentals and remixes, I am happy to say that there are only two instrumentals here and no remixes at all. The two instrumentalsare good and do work without the addition of vocals. However, nine of the songs do feature great vocals that sing well written lyrics that make you pay close attention to what is being said. The overall mood of the album is dark, angry and aggressive. While the songs are intense, they do play at a pace where they are very enjoyable to listen to. They have energy as well as melody that make them great. If you like electro industrial music of any kind, this album can't be missed. (Wrapped In Wire)
Jonathan Sharp probably doesn't know the meaning of the word `idle'! This is the second Bio-tek album, following "A God Ignored is a Demon Born", which came out in 1996 but I have still to get it so I cannot give any comparisons to this album. Anyway this project is in a more ebm mould to his other main project New Mind, drifting between dancefloor killer songs and mid-paced string laden tracks. The same vocal style is used, still very distinctive, and still retaining an edge of nastiness even although I don't detect much distortion effects. A strange thing is the sampling of old Skinny Puppy samples, for example film snippets. Not quite sure why but its certainly been annoying trying to remember where ive heard some of those snippets before! Anyway, falling into the killer dancefloor category are the wonderful 'Veronika Voss' and 'Leave You Blind', and probably 'Communion' could get the dancefloors moving too. 'City of Steel' is an interesting one, with an unusual vocal structure over a nice mid paced dance beat - very slinky indeed! On the tracks 'Darkness My Name Is' and 'Legion' I detected a hint of the German masters Tangerine Dream! I don't know if the same keyboards were used or not but there are some familiar sounding strings and piano here. In fact I wasn't really expecting this on the album - but its always a good idea to break up the styles on a CD. This is a lovely album, with much dancefloor potential but enough introspective home listening moments too. The only dodgy track was 'Extermination' which I think would have been better left out, but this is only a small gripe! (Oblivion)
"Darkness My Name
Is" is the second album from Jonathan Sharp's purist EBM side-project Bio-Tek.
Like the Bio-Tek debut "A God Ignored Is A Demon Born" (promoted in the
US under the considerably duller title of "Bio-Tek" for some reason, despite
the album's real title being on the case), it steers a course fairly close
to the mainstream of European EBM, eschewing the experimentation of New
Mind and instead trying to do something relatively unoriginal very well.
In this it succeeds admirably. The style has changed a little since "A
God Ignored". There is a lot less in the way of vocal distortion, this
release relying more on Sharp's natural voice and, perhaps reflecting a
change that's been noticeable in quite a few releases on Zoth Ommog and
Off Beat recently, the sound has become smoother. If "A God Ignored Is
A Demon Born" recalled :wumpscut: in places, "Darkness My Name Is" mines
musical territory closer to that of Forma Tadre. This is borne out by the
inclusion of a wonderful instrumental track (shades of "Navigator") and
even by some thematic resemblances - Forma Tadre's "Navigator" was Lovecraft-drenched,
while "Darkness" takes its title from a short story in an anthology of
- The main theme of "Darkness", however, is religion. Anti-religious songs aren't exactly a rare commodity in the dance industrial/EBM scene. After all, it's a large, slow-moving target and the wilder fringes of US evangelism are a seemingly bottomless treasure trove of sampling material. However, "Darkness" is a little more subtle, and the attacks on religion are conveyed mainly through the lyrics. You get the impression that Sharp has actually thought about religion before adopting his stance, rather than just poking fun by including samples of some mouth-foaming preacher. The impression is warranted too - I've quizzed Jonathan thoroughly about this, and his anti-religion stance seems carefully thought out and deeply felt. Sharp's samples come from a wide range of sources, and mix familiar stuff (in some cases very familiar) with more obscure material. There's a wide variety of horror movies, documentary material about the Holocaust, and more.
- The first track, 'Communion', is mid-paced EBM with Sharp's undistorted vocals waxing religious (or anti-religious) over samples of what I'd guess from the title is communion. Or maybe it's an exorcism - that's what the text all over the cover is. The sample at the beginning of 'Hate Like A Fire' will be very familiar to a lot of those who hear it and I can already hear obsessive Puppy-philes foaming at the mouth because of Sharp's appropriation of it. From what I can gather, that's the reason he included it :-) It certainly does jar the listener a bit, as the track that it leads into is very different, It's a nice piece of straightforward EBM with literate lyrics, and an interesting line in background samples. The smoother sound of this release is evident in a number of places with smooth synth lines and choral sounds in the bridge.
- Sharp's cinephile tendencies manifest themselves in 'Veronika Voss', inspired by the Fassbinder film of the same name. Again, it's an excellent piece of EBM, rather more aggressive than the previous track. 'Murderworld' is a dark, brooding piece with vocoded vocals and a plethora of gun/violent death related samples. Very nice, and I believe there is a fairly drastic Trylok remix of it in existence (for future release, presumably) which Sharp is very taken with indeed.
- 'Extermination' is big, dramatic, and almost frightening. The theme? Mass murder in the name of religion. The track's got a hugely bombastic intro with the "Obedience unto death, so help me God" SS oath of allegiance underneath. This leads into the track itself, with Sharp's lyrics about unquestioning obedience over a litany of death camp statistics. The track's very impressive indeed, and the statistics have a surprisingly strong effect. Somehow hearing these real-life numbers thrown in between all the horror movie stuff, and the fact that they're considerably more horrific than anything in a movie, gets the point of the track across very strongly. The lyrics help hammer this home, but the track would still have been very effective even without them.
- 'City Of Steel' is another track with a Fassbinder link, this time via Alfred Doblin's book "Berlin Alexanderplatz", which Fassbinder later filmed. It suffers a little from following 'Extermination', it must be said, but has its good points too. Sharp seems to have mixed his vocals a little higher on this one (either that or the instrumentation is less dead) as they stand out a lot more clearly than usual. Lots of samples to keep the sample anoraks happy too, as usual.
- Nice samples too in 'Leave You Blind', although I suspect that they movie they came from probably didn't win any Oscars. They do perhaps get a little repetitive though. The album's title track is slow, dark and brooding. It suffers a little from the use of the same synth sound as is used in Mark Snow's 'X-Files' theme though. Not that it spoils the track, it just makes you think "Hey, that's the sound from the 'X-Files' theme!" Still, he's not the only one to have done this recently, so we'll let him off. At least he didn't cover it.
- 'Legion', as its name suggests, deals with demonic possession. Bonus points to anyone who guesses the source of the many samples that adorn this nice instrumental. Next is 'Thorns'. No, it's not a cover of the :wumpscut: track. In fact, at the time that I received my copy of "Darkness My Name Is", Jonathan hadn't managed to get hold of a copy of "Bunkertor 7", and thus hadn't heard that track. It's a fairly typical Bio-Tek/early New Mind track, but not in the same league as the :wumpscut: track.
- However, in an odd little bit of coincidence, the next track is 'Remembrance'. The closest thing I've heard to this track is...well, :wumpscut:'s 'Thorns'. It's a grandiose, dark instrumental with a definite classical tinge, with no samples until near the very end. The samples are good too, even if they do come from "Interview With A Vampire". It provides a wonderful end to the album.
- "Darkness My Name Is" is a worthy successor to "A God Ignored Is A Demon Born". It's at least as strong, and sees Bio-Tek beginning to take on a more distinct personality of its own. Wheres "A God Ignored" showed strong influences from Sharp's early New Mind work, as well as contemporaries such as Leaether Strip and :wumpscut:, the new album has a more distinctive sound. This I'd put down partially to Sharp's dropping the vocal distortion. I find it quite interesting that two of the EBM/Zoth Ommog album's that I've enjoyed recently (this and Leaether Strip's Self-Inflicted) both feature vocals that break out of the heavily processed gravel-voices of the past. Definitely one to look out for, and hopefully Cleo will release this one on Zoth America in the near future. (© Al Crawford)
Punishment For Decadence
Many had begun to wonder whether Bio-Tek
would EVER release anything after this band left Zoth and JS9 became immersed
in his Hyperdex-1-Sect and Hexedene projects. Fear not, Jonathan Sharp
is BACK with a new release bearing the name 'Punishment for Decadence'.
What can he be getting at with this title, who knows, but the music in
itself is quite polished and very mean-spirited, indeed. Beginning with
the first track 'Leviathan' one can see that there is some anger venting
on this release. Solid beatwork and smashingly-good tempo mixing is going
on here and leads right into a personal favourite 'Eve Black, Eve White'.
Imagine if you will a very clean and fresh sounding beginning being viciously
gutted into an awful nightmare of a finale and you have this track. The
underbelly of a religious zealot is somewhat documented in this song, sing
along if you will...
'Razorback' a nice dancefloor killer follows this up and segues into one of the crowns of this album 'Mary Alice'. I don't quite know who she is or if Sharp has anyone in mind in particular but it sounds like this one is hitting close to home. Very adrenaline-friendly music is contained in track four and the breakdown chords moving back up the scale behind the relentless percussion are most impressive. People thought Murderworld was something, check this one out. The long-awaited track 'Steel Against Skin' presents itself as track five and picks the pace right up. Flash a few strobes and get ready to MOVE. This song features break-neck beats and bass lines which sound like they've been fried in a cast-iron skillet. No breathing is allowed for this one, there is barely enough time to keep up with the mayhem that one finds here. 'Pure Morning' being a cover is somewhat of a change after the assault of the last track but it makes one think of a twisted affair with everyone in the audience waving lighters and shooting their fellow attendees at the same time. He's crafted an album which is full of catchy little hooks and balanced out with unforgiving ruthless precision. The attention to detail on this release is very terrifying indeed. NOTHING is out of place here.There is simply not enough to say about Bio-Tek's triumphant return to the fore. (Peter Marks)
Bio-Tek is one of the most established
of Jonathan Sharp's projects and also one of the best. My first encounter
with Sharp's work was the terminally dull New Mind disc "Zero to the Bone",
but I was eventually won over by the far more impressive Hexedene and Hyperdex-1-Sect
projects. This is the third full-length from Bio-Tek and, despite
a few weak tracks, it generally succeeds in blending a classic electro-industrial
sound with modern EBM and very clean production.
- 'Leviathan' is a great opening track, starting with a suitably grave sample and leading into an upbeat EBM track with a driving synthline. The vocals here (and throughout the album) are of the typical distorted variety you would expect with little variation, but they work reasonably well and don't detract from the music. There's a great sample that sounds like wind chimes in a hurricane that adds a lot the track, too. 'Eve Black, Eve White' keeps things moving, with a bit more of a synthpop feel in the rhythm section and some :Wumpscut:-like strings and chorus. 'Razorback' is a little too simplistic and relies too much on the vocal samples to carry it, while 'Mary Alice' is just boring and uninspired-sounding.
- 'Steel Against Skin' gets things going in the right direction again, fortunately. The seemingly unusual choice of cover tune, Placebo's 'Pure Morning', actually turns out to be a wise move. While I always though the original was a bit stupid, once it has been given the Bio-Tek treatment, it actually works. The lyrics are still hilarious, but that just makes it better. 'Shield' is another mover, with the most intelligible vocals on the album, while 'Affirmation' takes a more laid-back approach with some
very effective use of chimes and organ. 'Kingdom' starts off okay but never goes anywhere, while 'Exegesis' is another sample-driven tune, but this one is far more dynamic and interesting.
- "Punishment For Decadence" is not a perfect album, but it falters only on a few tracks. The remaining songs are all top-notch EBM/industrial tunes that make this album well worth having. Jonathan Sharp's integration of vocal samples into his work is quite impressive, a tactic that has either been ignored of late or executed very badly by other artists. The nicely laid out booklet and bondage-themed photos add to the experience and I guess I can forgive Mr. Sharp for stealing Coroner's album title… (Plague, Dec 1999)
Do we really need another project from
Jonathan Sharp? Apparently so! While at times “Punishment…”
sounds dated and almost cheezy, there’s no denying that there’s more than
enough going on “in the mix” here to make this sample-heavy outing enjoyable
& well … FUN to listen to. Pseudo-Classical Fet-t-tisch patches
lead into the synthetic vocals and bleepy synths and stripped-basic drum
programmes. Nothing new here, but it is done well.
(DAMn!, Issue 17, Spring/Summer 2000)
:Superior Club Oriented EBM: Unfortunately, this is the first album I’ve heard from Bio-Tek, which means I’m going to start pooling my resources and buy the older Zoth Ommog releases by this one man act to see if he’s always been this good! This is the first release by Jonathan Sharp not to be released on Zoth, but on the Portland-based label Doppler Effect. This is club EBM at its finest, starting off with the powerful track ‘Leviathan’ and escalating musically from that point. ‘Mary Alice’ is a truly haunting track; I can picture a madman screaming out from across a moonlit meadow into his victim’s window, pure evil. Songs such as ‘Shield’ and ‘Razorback’ reconfirm the club style that’s enveloped so well in this release, with driving melody and an addictive beat. The addition of a cover of Placebo’s ‘Pure Morning’ rounds out the disc nicely with a sense of humor amongst the digital seething I appreciated highly in this album. Jonathan’s choice of vocoder and voice sampling styles fit his mode of music perfectly. As do his choice of keyboard tones and voice samples from several horror movies. I especially enjoyed ‘Exegesis’, -- but then again, I’m a big Hellraiser:Bloodline fan. I’d highly recommend this disc to anyone who enjoys dancing or listening to harsh, yet well done electronics in the spirit of pure malevolence. (Outburn, #11)
Jonathan Sharp, mastermind of too many
projects to name, returns with yet another outstanding release. “Punishment
for Decadence” is unquestionably a masterpiece. He begins with a
strong club-hit ‘Leviathan’ and takes you on a journey you will never forget.
Jonathan creates a melodic realm of desire with a dark twist. Every
track on this release deserves honourable mention. He takes the sounds
of older electro and fuses it with the technology of today, creating a
world of his own. The vocals are as diverse as the music, from harsh
and evil, to soft and subdued. It also has vocals by Alexys B of
Inertia and Hexedene on ‘Affirmation’, one of my favourite tracks.
If there was one release you definitely want to purchase this year, this
would be it. Great Job!
(Side-Line, #29, Nov/Dec/Jan 2000)
Some S&M for the pain, baby. Jonathan
Sharp is Bio-Tek, and the music which flows from his creation isn't exactly
nice. Heavy techno in full industrial effect. A somewhat gothic form of
what the Re-constriction folks liked to call "cold wave."
- The main difference is that these songs simply do not flow in normal ways. Sharp is something of an idiosyncratic songwriter, preferring to wallow in synth overage and excessive beatmongering at the drop of a hat.
- The results can be disorienting, certainly. Add to it the theme of the album (something of a comment on religion), and this stuff can sound downright evil at times. Particularly when the chaos begins to overwhelm what solid construction exists.
- Ah, but that's where the beauty lies. This album is all about pain, physical and psychic. It's loud, mean and nasty. And when least expected, it's just plain crazy. Perhaps that is the ultimate rebuttal of religion: The chaos of the music resembles the anarchy of the universe. I dunno. But I quite like albums that make me think like this. (Aiding & Abetting)
My first reaction after having listened
to this album is that it is EBM of average standard and without any special
characteristics. This may sound boring, but it is simply OK. I just wish
there were a few hits on the album. There are a couple of songs which are
alright, but I can't see any reason to buy this album. There are many more
interesting EBM bands out there. The man behind this band is Jonathan
Sharp, who is involved in several other projects like New Mind and Hexedene.
He seems to produce a lot of material at high speed, which may be a reason
why this album feels pretty dull.
(Release Music Magazine)
How does Jonathan Sharp do it?
Every Bio-Tek album he makes has no changes in formula, writing, or in
vocal stylings yet each album winds up being a phenomenal piece of work.
- Well, "Punishment for Decadence" is no exception. Granted, some techno elements are added this time along with the trademark bombastic beats and minimal programming, but the basic element is still there...and I personally wouldn't have it any other way. The string work on this album is simply
exquisite, and no where else is that more evident then on my favorite track 'Eve Black, Eve White'. Despite the unusual title, this track is chocked full of elegant strings and piano lines, a simple bassline, Jonathan's trademark growls and a floor shattering beat. This album seems to have a religious aspect to it, but it is cleverly abstract in a way also. 'Razorback' is an instrumental dance piece that, while being somewhat repetitive, still manages to be a great track. Next on my favorites list was 'Mary Alice'. The lyrics seem to be very personal, about someone he may have known who committed suicide, interweaving with the slow rumbling beat and creepy strings/sequences. For minimal EBM, Jonathan pulls off a full orchestral chorus in this and many other songs. Continuing the slow trend, is a delightful cover of Placebo's 'Pure Morning'. 'Steel Against Skin', the original proposed title for this album, is another wonderfully fast electro-dance piece that flutters around with technofied sequences and great symphonic elements. Plus, despite what you might think form the title...its not about anything cyber!!! Sharp once again puts forth a good album and displays why he's considered one of the cream of this crop of industrial.
It stuns the mind that Jonathan Sharp,
known colloquially as JS9, doesn't receive more attention. With his dabbling
in such varied projects as New Mind, Hexedene, Hyperdex-1-Sect, and his
purist EBM project Bio-Tek, you'd think the EBM scene would be raving about
him. Instead, the gigantic freight trains Lætherstrip and :Wumpscut:
get more recogntion. And after hearing Punishment for Decadence, it's clear
that that's utterly, horribly wrong.
- Bio-Tek is clichèd - I'll say it up front. It has the same faults that the aforementioned dark EBM bands do: the music is simplistic at times, the vocals are overprocessed, and the strongly anti-religious lyrics are nothing new. So what is it that makes Bio-Tek that much better? Its diversity, of course. :W: and Lætherstrip are guilty of inbreeding and recycling at times; JS9 instead expands into new territory.
- "Punishment for Decadence" establishes its originality rather early on, but it takes some time to get warmed up. After a fairly standard EBM track, 'Leviathan,' 'Eve Black/Eve White' kicks in. Its use of atmospherics to milk the suspense is impeccable; with the powerful beat and clean effects, it's hard to keep from dancing (until the very end, when it's gutted like a fish into a harsh, distorted crescendo). This is sure to be quite a club hit - but that doesn't detract from the listening experience, as a good pair of headphones will demonstrate.
- With 'Razorback,' it's clear that "Punishment for Decadence" has hit the straightaway. Its rhythm is established by phaser pulses and an ebbing and flowing bass groove, with orchestral elements actually supplementing the aggression. But while 'Razorback' is quite dancy, 'Mary Alice' seems more geared toward listening. At first listen it sounds alien and hostile, but beneath the grim percussion and gritty vocals lie soft, engaging chords.
- After that intermission, the dance factor picks up again with 'Steel Against Skin.' Its rapid-fire drumming, clean synth work, and a hot flash-fry/sizzle sound effect appeal to the maniac in all of us. JS9 brings his vocals to the forefront on 'Pure Morning,' utilizing a less processed growl that works wonders. This cover of a Placebo track has a very somber atmosphere throughout, from the militant orchestral background to the heavy percussion to Sharp's more prominent and raspy vocals.
- But now the album begins to slow its pace for the finale. 'Affirmation' has absolutely amazing electronic work, a perfect combination of high-pitched and forlorn chords as well as a slow-paced dance rhythm over the top. This piece is far more pensive than just about any of the tracks before it. 'Kingdom' slows down the album further with a larger focus on the atmospherics, but 'Exegesis' finally brings "Punishment for Decadence" to a halt. The majority of the track is soft ambience, with unobtrusive percussion and clean synth work; it's clearly intended for headphones, not the club floor.
- Considering my attitude toward EBM in general, I didn't expect to like this release. I enjoy Front 242 but not Front Line Assembly, and Lætherstrip but not :Wumpscut:. In fact, I find most of the current EBM scene to be boring; the style of music is far too limiting. Bio-Tek doesn't change that opinion, since it adheres to the same principles of construction, but I did enjoy most of "Punishment for Decadence". Its focus on both dancy and listening pieces is welcome, but more impressive is JS9's careful attention to detail; each element is crisp, precise, perfectly placed. You just don't get that kind of care anywhere else.
- I would still hesitate to recommend "Punishment for Decadence" to anyone who is looking for good, challenging listening material. Rather, fans of industrial dance should pick this one up immediately. Bio-Tek not only masters the territory that EBM greats have mapped out, but it also expands on that territory for a fresh release. I just wish Sharp could have included more than fifty minutes of music. (Grinding into Emptiness)
This is a new release of Jonathan Sharps
project Bio-Tek and this time it is a real smasher. Ten power-packed EBM-tracks
full of melodylines and grooving basses.
- Songs like 'Razorback' or the opener 'Leviathan' show that Bio-Tek has riped to a leading project of EBM. The structures are complex and straight at the same time. Memorable hooklines and driving, technoid beats make this album a piece of music you can listen to at home or on a dancefloor.
- My favorite song is 'Steel against skin'. Listen to this if you check out the
CD. It contains all what is typically for this album. A good intro, increasing
tension in the song, a powerful mid-tempo rhythm-structure, Sharps typical
vocals and dark synths.
- In my opinion this is one of the last milestones of our fading decade of
EBM-music-evolution. (The New Empire)
I was quite excited when I got the third
CD from Bio-Tek, since I had really liked the first two CD from this straight
EBM project by Jonathan Sharp (New Mind, Hexedene...). Can I confess that
when they got out, I preferred (and I still do) Bio-Tek's debut to Funker
- Well, "Punishment for Decadence" is the perfect sequel to the rest of the Bio-Tek discography. Straight dancefloor EBM, aggressive distorted vocals, religious and fetishist lyrics, even the layout (mostly white with silver texts) is close to the other CDs from this project. So it is very clear that if you didn't like the other two, you won't like the third one.
- Musically speaking, I would say that "Punishment for Decadence" has exactly the same flaws as the previous two. There are a couple of very catchy and efficient songs ('Eve Black - Eve White', for example), but the record sounds really too long. There is no bad track on it, the problem is just that you get a bit tired of listening to this CD before you get to its end (and I have to admit I was expecting to find again a track as great as the excellent remix by Aiboforcen of 'Die-Sect', on "A god ignored is a demon born"...). That's sad, because it's quite pleasant to dive again into this kind of old school dark EBM (remember the old days of Celtic Circle?), and also because J. Sharp really knows how to write music. I even believe that real EBM freaks (you know, these creatures haunting Europe's dancefloor, scorning the goths and singing along 242 lyrics) could appreciate the whole CD without any problem.
- Like he did for the latest New Mind CD "Deep Net", J. Sharp has worked here on a song with Alexis of Inertia, on the soft (to Bio-Tek's standards) 'Affirmation'. Another very good passage of this CD is the cover of Placebo's 'Pure Morning'. Just like the cover of the Jefferson Airplane song on the latest New Mind CD, this one is very interesting, as J. Sharp tries to have a rock song fit an EBM structure and sounds. The result on this one is good, one of the songs you remember after listening to the whole CD.
- "Punishment for Decadence" without being a bad CD, suffer from the lack of variety of its song and the fact that it doesn't bring anything fresh to this kind of sounds, except an energy and a faith in EBM that is now rare. Very recommended to fans of the band or EBM fanatics, I doubt it will appeal to the majority of the electro scene. (Totentanz)
Quite what difference there is supposed
to be between Biotek and Jonathan Sharp's previous incarnation New Mind
is beyond me. Still, this is a typically atmospheric, haunting and cathartic
example of industrial music at its finest. Bringing in Hexedene collaborator
Alexys "Inertia" B for 'Affirmation', the rest is just Jonathan exorcising
ever more of his personal demons [it's a wonder he has any left!]; but
why he felt the urge to cover Placebo's 'Pure Morning' is anybody's guess.
'Eve Black' is a particular highlight, but it's all a solidly-compiled
selection of caustic ear candy. Well done,
as ever, Mr Sharp - you've done it again... (Joanna Theobald, Further)
Wow. Mr Sharp presented this to us at our recent Immacul8 night in Leeds and it's been a wrench to take it out of the player since, so it's a miracle that the other reviews got done at all. This kicks like a mule and stomps you into a bloody pulp. This man is a god around the globe, and it's not difficult to see why. Imagine a testosterone pumped ATTRITION in a gangwar with INERTIA, with CHAOS ENGINE holding the coats and VNV NATION taking the photographs. Add to this horror samples that MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION would kill for and now you are getting the picture. VERDICT - Monster. Straight into my all time top ten ever. A major talent of our time. 6/5. (SPIRIT IN THE SKY)
Jonathan Sharp continues his prolific
outpouring of Industrial noise, pointing heavily to the fetish scene. This
is certainly more accessible than other current Industrial bands but also
more agreeable than his previous projects such as New Mind. Despite this
I don't find anything new being brought to the genre, it's treading over
old ground whilst melody is too oftion replaced by an overwhelming amount
of vocal sampling. It almost has a medieval fell to it that might slightly
interest the Goths.
When Sharp does add melody as on "Steel Against Skin", it's still just a backdrop for the uncompromising vocals to rip it apart, which seems a bit ill-fitting really. On the plus side it is really well produced but when you've hard is all before, you've heard it all before. (4/10) (Barcode Review)
Admittedly I was frightened by the prospect
of another CD bearing cover imagery of an
S&M /Bondage motif. Don't let the campy cover art fool you though, the music is quite refreshing. I was impressed not only with the musical intuition and ability of the band, but also the creative sample usage and songwriting. A varied barrage of electronics from tinkling keys to dissonant percussion make each song an aggressively breathing entity, yet remain consistent and
stylistically intact with room for emotionally charged injections. The catchy and consistent fragments mock pop song structure yet embrace it to a point of making good songs that are pleasantly wicked to listen to. The keynote track for me is 'Pure Morning', which amasses the good points of this band
into a strong and representative nucleus, even though it's a cover-song. (In Faction #5)
Hard music for hard people. Bio-Tek
is another of the many projects of Jonathan Shapr (New Mind). Hard EBM
for a dance-floor friendly atmosphere, Sharp's vocsls surge through each
song with a melodic harshness very few Electro artists are able to pull
off. Opening with the anthem stirring 'Leviathan', and the ever slick
'Eve Black, Eve White', "Punishment for Decadence" continues with
eight more songs of driving beats and sweaty wholesome fun. This album quickly add to the rising cult status of Jonathan Sharp and his many side projects. (Mute #3)
Everybody who has once witnessed one
of Jonathan Sharp's live gigs knows that the Englishman is not one to keep
quiet for a long time.The constant unrest which inhabits Sharp's body does
not only express itself in his urge to be active, but has seized his mind
as well, which manifests itself in the fact that Sharp starts new projects
again and again.
- Although most of them are abandoned as fast and as sudden as they were started, allof them have one thing in common: The music's quality is beyond all shadow of a doubt.
Bio-Tek above all is the band which could be described as a constant factor in Sharp's musical life. After we didn't hear anything from this project for a long time "Punishment for Decadence" now appears which emphasizes the Englishman's prediliction for progressive Electro.
Sharp now has managed once again to put together another Bio-Tek longplayer, which impresses the listener with it's individualistic note. No following of trends, no repetition of conventional structures and patterns. Sharp breaks through borders, tears down walls, and from the remains he builds his own highly original construct. A construct which invites one to dance as much as it invites reflection, Electro with depths is the motto!
- The opener "Leviathan" which begins with an ominous sample before it sets right off with an electronic drum beat impresses through straight and pushing sequences with manic vocals. It has to be played on every dancefloor! The same goes for "Razorblack" a track which is peppered with rather unusual ingredients like pistol shots, the strongly distorted "Steel Against Skin" and "Shield"the album's secret highlight.
- The calmer songs take an almost equal space on "Punishment for Decadence", maybe
because they best reflect Sharp's present activities apart from Bio-Tek. At the moment, the artist is working on a sound-library for tv- and radio-commercials, and it's obvious that you rather seldom have a bang there. Let's hope that "Punishment for Decadence" is not the last output from the workaholic, before the industry uses him entirely for its own ends. It would be a loss!
(Marc Urban, Wire-Productions)
Bio-tek's "Punishment for Decadence" is another project from Britain's Jonathan Sharp. Sharp is a very productive artist having many prior projects and releases, for example, under the Zoth Ommog label. In fact, if you are into Zoth Ommog bands, you'll revel in this CD. It is a well-composed and polished technical gothic industrial composition. At first listen, I sort of blew off this release, thinking it was typical. However, on a second and closer listen I discovered that it got to me. What was it? I didn't feel like slitting my wrists, blaming the world, wringing my hands in pleading misery, wallowing, or getting hateful and angry. This music seemed more personally directed. Really, I felt like donning my lace stockings and garters, slipping into some black leather and lace and heading out for some B&D on the town. Or at the very least, submerging myself in a fetish dance club. Although Doppler's bio is very accurate for this CD, it does say this release is hard-hitting and aggressive. In my opinion, I would not agree with this characterization unless it meant that it is aggressive because the music appeals to the industrial fetish/S&M crowd. True, this release is about punishment, pleasure and pain, but it is very orchestral and refreshing rather than oppressive. Some of the highlights: 'Steel and Skin,' a very catchy cool tune that lures you in with the lyrics: "I'm going to make you shave your body. I'm going to see to it personally." Lyrically, 'Shield' is an interesting twist on a broken heart, and 'Affirmation' is a totally cool song that is atmospheric, bleak, religious and transcending. Am I telling the truth? You'll have to hear for yourself. If your mind is open enough to think kink and you like leather, check it out. (Jennifer Johnson, Ear Pollution - January 2000)
Again, Jonathan Sharp strikes with hard-hitting
rhythm, polish and grinding synths along his unique harsh vocals. This
time under the moniker of Bio-Tek, now on the Oregon-based label Doppler
Effect, he presents us his third album of the project. Far more better
than the previous sideproject's releases "A God Ignored Is A Demon Born"
and "Darkness My Name Is", both on Zoth Ommog, "Punishment For Decadence"
is a solid trip into hard and melodic EBM tunes filled with intensity.
- Sometimes less complex than New Mind's musical structure but really effective, "Punishment For Decadence" offers a pleasurable razorblade bouquet of straightforward tracks and the great 'Steel Against Skin' is the perfect example. Over a pounding technofied rhythm, minimal basslines and symphonic synths are surrounding Sharp's hard and aggressive vocals. Intense, the Placebo's cover
'Pure Morning' is taking the Bio-Tek project to an higher level with bombastic metallic percussion along melodic strings and haunting synths where vocals are pretty much melodic than usual, which is quite surprising from Jonathan Sharp. The instrumental track 'Razorback' provides an enjoyable old school EBM feeling with repetitive basslines over a basic rhythm, all this surrounded by an
amalgam of speech samples. Following the path of the aforementioned track, 'Shield' brings the same elements along mid-computerize vocals with skill, giving the song a strong club appeal. In the vein of Leæther Strip's 'Serenade For The Dead', 'Exegesis' is closing the album with symphonic synths and military percussion, far too similar to Æ's work this track still provides a great ending.
- Even if the lyrics are sometimes cliché, "Punishment For Decadence" is a solid piece of work which should appeal to people in search of good music for the dancefloors. With Bio-Tek, Jonathan Sharp provides a nice EBM album, without expanding the limits of the style or changing it.
(Final Man, Electroage - 2000)