Various Artists

Cicatrix (The Ritual Scarring) Collection I

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Firm on its resolve to promote "mixed-gender" acts, DivaNation includes on their north-Midwest regional sampler of dark electronica and trip-hop dulcet female voices backed by some male musicians. Nye presents the first track, an instrumental presenting a forcible piano-sound melody backed by synthesizer and cello. In the progressive hip-hop area, there is a preview of DivaNation's forthcoming the Immortal Savant through "Teardrops." A looped horn-passage fragment and edgy organ samples work well with a casual, fatalistic, and bizarre rap. Kalamazoo's Blue Dahlia gives two female vocalists in slightly R&B-influenced electro-rock over a dry drum. Chika's "C-Street Angel" notably sticks out for its honestly and intimately delivered light pop arrangement of piano, acoustic guitar, and female voice with female backing vocals. "C-Street Angel" is a moving and beautiful ode to a woman in search of herself. Julie Schreiber, vocalist, stands out for sweetly sung poetry on physical passion in Jute, a trio that is two-thirds of My Scarlet Life. My Scarlet Life itself also features Preston Klik's smart and hip production and samples on the engaging and finely assembled electronic ballad "Here I Go Again." Cicatrix is an excellently programmed and varied introduction to an obviously fertile scene of technology-loving groups creating out of the greater Chicago-land area.