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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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One Of A Kind CD Cover
Image © M. J. Schram 2003

Precious Things CD Cover
Image © Alienstyle Music 2001

(28 June 2003) One of a Kind. This six-track release is a welcome taste of new Artefact music. Featuring vocalist Shamangi, "One of a Kind" is a more mature and varied album than Precious Things. It is refreshing to see Maxim Schram and company develop the band's sound without abandonning the elements that make Artefact such a great act. In addition to Shamangi, andproducer and composer Maxim Schram, the band also includes double bass player Thijs Willemsen and drummer Paul van Gerven.

By and large, as with the outfit's debut, the music remains within the electronic realm. Nevertheless by drawing upon a wider palette of instrumentation--drums, bass, and more diverse synth samples--Artefact have actually created a more contemporary and nuanced sound. Even the melodies are more positive in tone.

"Little One" is a soulful song utilizing drum-and-bass percussion and creamy synths. "The Life" is a highly enjoyable remake of the Wendy and Lisa--former band members of Prince--song that moves and rocks steadily. "One of a Kind" is probably the track that stays closest to the sound of Artefact's earlier album Precious Things.

The addition of turntable scratches, piano fingerings and vocal sample loops still makes it slightly more cutting-edge. "It says it all" is a Morcheeba-esque funky-flavored number that nicely stands out from the other tracks. "I Just Wonder" is a terrific song blending strings, electronic chimes and downtempo percussion. Finally the closing track, "When Francis Speaks (Planet Bliss 'More Karma" Remix)," is a refreshing, brighter and more ambient remix of "When Francis Speaks" fromthe debut album. Again, Artefact have shown themselves to be on the cutting edge of the electronic/pop scene.--Justin Elswick

Precious Things. No longer actively published or promoted, Artefact's debut album PreciousThings (Alienstyle (Netherlands)artdisc-x01, 2001) should be pursued by Musical Discoveries vistors. Hailing from the Netherlands, electronica outfit Artefact is a band that rightly deserves serious notice.

The album Precious Things is the product of a collaboration between producer Maxim and then-vocalist Yvette Roovers (not part of Artefact any longer). Combining hypnotic percussion and lush string and synth layers, Precious Things is a delicious sonic feast. Although angelic in tone, the album maintains a haunting and melancholy ambience thanks in large part to the Yvette's pristine and crystalline voice and Maxim's clever programming and arrangements.

Most of the songs rely upon minor chords and pulsing beats, creating a winning combination that will appeal to fans of Balligomingo and other female-vox electronica. "When Francis Speaks," the opening song on the album, features a captivating melody, stunning instrumentation and meaningful lyrics. In similar vein, tracks like "A Solitary Life" and "An Angel Sings" pulse and throb with elegant intensity.

The industrial-influenced "Take My Time" is a bit more aggressive and would sit comfortably next to groups like Collide (review)or Rhea's Obssession. The dazzling "Purification" moves very close to the darkwave spectrum--ghostly and seductive.

There's no denying that Precious Things is a finely realized and produced album. Artefact manage to perfectly balance the iciness and minimalism of whirring electronica with the heat of passionate lyrics and vocals. An excellent listen from start to finish!

Artefact became the best new Dutch act by winning "De Grote Prijs van Nederland", the most important music contest of The Netherlands. Thankfully, Artefact appear to be gaining the attention they so justifiably deserve.--Justin Elswick

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