PEEK-A-BOO MAGAZINE (Belgium)
Illegal Trade is the new side-project from Natasha A Twentyone and Alexey Protasov, better known as Ambassador 21. This project started as the Belarus duo wanted to pay homage to the industrial music that they were influenced by. So time for some heavy beats, distortions and aggressive rhythms.
Opening with the track 'Olga Is Dead', already broadcasted as the new single, you directly get a nice impression of what can be expected for the next 50 minutes, hardcore distorted drums mixed with heavy synthetic synth loops. In my opinion it is impossible to get more noise out of a drum machine like Ambassador 21 does, but I was wrong, even more power and noise is created here. A real attack on your body and ears, drum 'n bass with brutal breakcore that can easily create an earthquake in your brain.
Next is the title track 'Acid For The Royal Family', darkstep tunes with a constant rush of breaks, heavy distortions and a variety of samples and beats. The same concept and sound color on 'Lucky Junkies', 'Cold Cash War' and 'Ripping Reality', were melodies are merged with broken rhythms and some obsessive fast drums.
More breaks and distortion on 'Space Hunter' and 'Zoom', but these tracks also prove that this Belarus duo is something special. They make hard futuristic electronical music with a fusion of punk and even black music. On 'Space Hunter' we hear a great sample of Kurt Cobain's Smells Like Teen Spirit. But it can be even more bizar with a fantastic Flavor Flav sample from the socialy critical New York hiphop band Public Enemy on 'Zoom'
Personal favorites on this great album are 'Go Home' and 'Stalker', very strong synth loops with again powerful bass and beats, even suitable for some underground dance partys. They make you move like a hardcore maschinegun. A continious stream of power and energy kicks you right in the face.
This album has no lows, every track has its own personality and a powerful rhytmic impact, the mix of different elements of several genres sound really fresh and is certainly a recommandation for every industrial lover in search for something new and exciting.
Peter Heselmans for Peek-A-Boo Magazine
DER MEDIENKONVERTER (Germany)
Viele Kuenstler legen sich ein Nebenprojekt zu, damit sie einen musikalischen Ausgleich zum Hauptprojekt haben. Demnach muessten Natasha und Alexey, die sich ansonsten mit ihrem, Hauptprojekt Ambassador21 austoben, wohl eher etwas sanftere Toene anschlagen, aber das haben sie bei ihrem ersten Nebenprojekt Suicide Inside nicht gemacht und tun das beim neuen Ableger erst recht nicht.
Unter dem Namen Illegal Trade drehen die beiden mit ihrem Debuet auf Hands wieder so richtig auf und das nicht zu knapp. Acid for the royal family, so der Titel, ist wie ein Rausch, wie ein Traum, nach dem man schweissgebadet aufwacht und sich zwar an die Intensitaet, aber nicht mehr an die Einzelheiten erinnern kann und sich eigentlich nur noch wuenscht, dass das Herzrasen aufhoert. Saemtliche Tracks verbinden Hardcore-Elektronik mit Noise, Techno mit Laerm und Krach mit Industrial und alles findet sich zu einem Dauerfeuer von Rhythmus und Melodie zusammen. Ja, Melodie gibt es auch, kurze Sequenzen, meistens reduziert, genauso wie die eingestreuten Sprachsamples. Beim ersten Hoeren entsteht der Eindruck, dass man es vielleicht mit einer retro-orientierten Scheibe zu tun haben koennte, denn vieles scheint bekannt zu klingen, aber bei intensiveren Hoeren faellt auf, dass es sich keineswegs um stumpfe, zusammengebastelte Nostalgie handelt, sondern um sorgsam arrangierte Rhythmus-, Sample- und vor allen Dingen Geschwindigkeitsorgien. Man koennte jetzt viel in den Sound von Illegal Trade interpretieren, saemtliche Grundstrukturen auseinandernehmen, analysieren und dann darueber philosophieren, aber wer moechte das schon und tut das ueberhaupt Not? Nein, denn Acid for the royal family weiss auch ohne Seelenstriptease zu ueberzeugen.
Neben Ambassador21 und Suicide Inside hat nun auch ein drittes Projekt das Licht der Welt entdeckt und auch hiermit ueberzeugen Natasha und Alexey. Acid for the royal family sollte, wie auch alles andere aus dem Hause Ambassador21, mit der richtigen Lautstaerke genossen werden. Einen besonderen Bonus gibt es auch noch fuer die geniale Einbringung von Nirvana's ueberhit Smells Like Teen Spirit – das macht einfach nur Spass.
FLUX MAGAZINE (Italy)
1977: punk is born. 1994: Laurent Ho is the founder of the label Epiteth records and the father of
the so called industrial hardcore. 1995: Atari Teenage Riot publish Delete yourself! 2001:
Ambassador 21 make their debut in the music world with Invitation to execution. 03/19/2015:
Illegal trade, side project of the former, publish their debut album, Acid for the royal family, for
the label Hands productions.
Why this sort of chronicles? Alexey and Natasha in fifteen years rose through the ranks of the
underground with sweat, anger, and a slogan, until they found home at Hands productions (and
recently at the Netherlands' label Prspct), which is letting a bigger audience to them. Yours truly
saw them playing live, and listening to this album made me feel the same energy and
The duo is now known better than the time they published X in 2013, a very complex and clever
work; now they show to the public another face of the digital hardcore, a genre born in Germany
(but they are Byelorussian), in an easier and more to the point way. By the time digital hardcore
has took different paths, and when we talk about it, we can't avoid citing the founders ATR
previously nominated; but this is a work with a very different scope, and superior to the last album
by the Germans, and more modern.
Why is it so? Citing De Niro the bump, the quid, the smart way is to never rest on what you have
already achieved, to never reuse the same schemes that had their success previously, in
reinventing every time the wheel. Start at the beginning again to destroy the schemes, to be
triumphant in England, to show to the audacious listener a new Summer of love, to recall the acid
for the royal family culture. Because that was the cultural climate of that time, the time of
experimentation in any way; the duo's work is fundamental, they give a new energy, and a new
fuel to a car that, by now, it seems it can't win anymore any race like it happened in the 90's.
How so? Using the modern day elements of the hardest dancefloor music in a mosaic that maybe
doesn't revolutionize anything, but that no one can imitate, not with the same freshness and
energy. How many people have asked: "Are you not tired of destroying your own music limits?".
Well, if these are the results, we can only invite them to go on again and again. Crossbreed, punk
ethos and violence, digital hardcore, early rave echoes, wobbles dubstep if you want to call them
that, to the fine line with subgenres (darkstep, etc...), 90's sampling like Space hunter's
Nevermind, so much groove, and a clear link to the french industrial hardcore of once upon a
The Byelorussian duo has done with this album the same thing as the big beat has done years ago:
the fusion of punk and black music with electronic music, all in our time. Now, it could easily seem
nothing of important, but in a time where the bands are put in rigid genres, it could be an example
for many others. The label, no need to say, supports them strongly, being always receptive to
fresh, experimental works new in every aspect, to show to the public, making it easier.
Nine tracks for fifty minutes that cleverly alternates the different sides of the genre, putting one to
the front in any song; it's not easy to do a track by track analysis, but we can easily say that the
opener Olga is dead, already broadcasted since some months as a single, is the perfect example of
the mixing of elements in a kaleidoscopic and clever track, where different moments have their
place: the hardcore distorted drum is here, just like the sulfurous darkstep openings, the distorted
and synthetic synth loops, everything with the mindset of going beyond the known and the safe.
So, this track is a perfect summit of the album: any track has it's personality, but all of them have
the same will of generating something new, even if with known elements; let's be honest, they
don't create genres here and they don't want to, they pay tribute their own way to them, but the
way they mix the elements of every genre is the key to the freshness and novelty of their sound.
One of the most original episodes is Zoom, a sulfurous track that doesn't become dark, hard as a
rock, based on a slow and hypnotic groove linked to drum ‘n bass and dub/darkstep that shows
powerful industrial hardcore rides. Even the titletrack is a restless hardcore machinegun
characterized by clever and disturbing wobbles. No track is out of place, there are no fillers, only a
continuous stream of energy and clever ideas: we can say that the last track Stalker is very well
developed in its spasmodic broken rhythm alternated with an obsessive and fast drum.
Here there is room for a big sense of rhythm, even when it slows down and plays with the groove;
there is a clear irony and taste for future music shown in the titles: it's funny to picture the duo as
Lucky junkies (one of the hardest, restless, and cleverest track of the album) or as Space hunters.
When we think about the crisis of the genre due to the more playful and lighter French school, less
aggressive, we understand that the Byelorussian duo recovers the sound of the tradition of the
genre and shows its point of view about modern electronic music: the same concept of nevermind
transferred in the 2015, allowing them to, as a citation, fuck all systems.