We Have a Commentary: Haujobb, “Solutions for a Small Planet”

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An ahead of its time, genre-busting classic is the subject of this month’s Patreon supported We Have A Commentary podcast! Haujobb’s 1996 LP “Solutions For A Small Planet” was a landmark release not only for the German duo but for all of post-industrial music. How can we read the record’s engagement with then still nascent net culture? How do its forays into electronic genres well beyond industrial hold up? There’s so much to discuss with a record this rich and beloved, so join us, won’t you?
You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Rosetta Stone, “Seems Like Forever”

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Rosetta Stone - Seems Like Forever

Rosetta Stone
Seems Like Forever
Cleopatra

The title of the new Rosetta Stone album says it all, at least historically. Porl King’s landmark second wave goth rock project has lain fallow for nearly twenty years, and in the interim King’s distanced himself so completely from the musical and cultural world which both birthed and was shaped by Rosetta Stone that the question of new material from the band was effectively moot. The title and cover of Seems Like Forever seems, at first glance, to rewrite that whole history. Porl looks to be making a prodigal return to the romantic and propulsive sound he’d long ago forsaken. Everything will be forgiven, winklepickers and crimpers will be passed about, and we’ll have a whole new album of second wave goth perfection. But…it’s not that simple.

Despite his self-imposed exile from the trad UK goth scene, King’s spent the past ten or so years crafting and releasing music as miserylab and In Death It Ends, solo projects whose output is perhaps adjacent to but not wholly of that world. That both projects have managed to conjure gloomier, more depressive, and more claustrophobic moods than Rosetta Stone ever did points to the idea that King didn’t need to be goth. As it happens, Seems Like Forever is in fact effectively a revisitation of miserylab highlights, comprised of rerecordings of tunes originally released between 2008 and 2011. So: is the record a new Rosetta Stone LP? Certainly: it’s been released as such by the one consistent bearer of that venerable moniker, who clearly sees some salience or merit in it for the first time in what seems, yes, like forever. Is it a miserylab compilation? Also yes: the political drive and stoic instrumentation which defined that project is entirely retained, and the spirit of these new versions is true to that of their predecessors. This is a taxonomically tricky record, to say the least – let’s dig into the actual music.

Those unfamiliar with miserylab may be struck by how direct Seems Like Forever is, both musically and lyrically. Sure, Porl had already moved away from the pentatonic, pedal-driver swirls of early RS material by the time the project was winding down, but tunes like “Making A Bomb” and “Children Of The Poor” are another thing entirely. Built around thudding bass loops underscored by the repetition of lyrical refrains, they’re unyielding and resolved slabs of post-punk. And if that sounds oppressive, check the lyrics. “Fuck the children of the poor / Severing the vein / The cremation of care / You’ll never understand / You’ve never been there / We’re not all so well connected” That so much time has elapsed and new effort has gone into these songs only makes their pertinence seem more bitterly ironic. miserylab marked an abruptly political turn in King’s songwriting, and a good portion of those tunes were directly tied to the news of the day: post-meltdown austerity, the 2011 riots, and even the hoody panic. The UK’s social, political, and economic fortunes certainly don’t seem any brighter nearly ten years on from this sound of the pond, and I’d hazard that King’s decision to let the lyrics stand unchanged indicates he feels the same.

This isn’t to say that Seems Like Forever is an indulgence in retrospect for its own sake – new colour and depth has been added in the rerecordings, moving away from the sparse minimalism of many of the originals. A large part of the original miserylab ethos were King’s self-imposed restrictions on what gear and how much time could be used to record a track. It’s clear from the range of sounds on Seems Like Forever that this rule’s been (understandably) suspended for the Rosetta iteration of these songs, and it’s interesting to revisit them from a slightly lusher perspective. A track like “What Is The Point” was certainly catchy enough from the get-go, with its sing-song synths on the chorus offering a pithy counter to the song’s lyrics about futility, but on Seems Like Forever it feels like it’s finally been given space to allow its melodic side to rise and expand, while King’s vocals take on a richer and more reflective croon. The furtive and punchy “Tomorrow For Us”, on the other hand, has the freedom to sharpen its fangs and claws, allowing drums and vocals to strike harder as they emerge from a more textured bed of synths and guitars.

Anyone who’s listened to as much of King’s work over the years as yours truly could go around the bend trying to figure out what Seems Like Forever portends. A permanent merging of the miserylab and Rosetta Stone catalogs? New material under the RS banner which avails itself of King’s more recent stylings? It’s anyone’s guess, and both King and his fanbase seem more than happy to just allow this moment to breathe. I’ll admit that I was a bit taken aback by the nature of the first Rosetta Stone LP since The Tyranny Of Inaction (recently discussed on this site’s podcast), but the execution of this material, representing the best of an overlooked period in King’s career, can’t be argued with. In any guise, under any name, King remains a singular composer of dark rock and it’s a boon to have him reclaiming the spotlight.

Seems Like Forever by Rosetta Stone

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We Have a Technical 261: Sax Guy

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Out here lookin’ like they rock supersaws, it’s Hatari!

On this week’s podcast we’re striking while the iron’s hot and talking about Hatari, the Icelandic BDSM-themed industrial band whose Eurovision run took the world by storm. How are they connected to Our Thing? Do their aesthetics relate to their politics? And how is mainstream media still so easy to hijack? All these questions and more are taken up in this week’s episode of We Have A Technical! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Romy, “Celluloid Self”

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Romy
Celluloid Self
CLIMAX!

When we first saw Los Angeles’ Romy perform at Das Bunker’s 20th Anniversary Festival some years back, we were struck by exactly how much territory her material visited. The songs played at that event showed both a grasp of hooks and pop structure, but were filtered through industrial and wave sensibilities. The producer-performer’s debut album Celluloid Self delivers that same mixture of sounds and ideas with a kind of restless energy, never settling for too long in one mode or tone.

That variety really proves to be the LP’s strong points. Opener “Flux” goes for a strictly sequenced bass and drum hits and hard monotone vocals, which makes it all the more impactful when second track “Broken Halo” breaks out into a huge, instantly memorable chorus, transforming the bubbling tempo from stern and mechanical to exuberant and vital. It’s not even that the particular set of sounds Romy uses changes dramatically; the synths and drum programming on “Bow” and “Eros” are closely related, but the bounce of the former gives it an italo flavour while the choppy programming of the latter almost reads like classic dark electro.

That invoking and switching up of signifiers on Celluloid Self also works as a complement to Romy’s performance as a vocalist, allowing her the opportunity to develop her personality for the listener. The appropriately titled “Normal Day” reads as an homage to “Warm Leatherette”‘s take on sex through the post-industrial lens, but its frankness with regards to self-pleasuring is both unexpected and audacious. It sits directly next to the electro-punk of “Mothers Child” where she examines inherited personality traits with a mixture of clinical detachment and anxious worry, and dancefloor rave-up “Abduct Me”, an arch bit of seductive disco candy.

While not everything Romy attempts necessarily lands (the druggy “Twin Peaks” and the minimal wave of “Linear Motion” feel less singular than the tracks that surround them) it’s genuinely remarkable how much ground gets covered effectively on Celluloid Self. Sliding a darkwave track like the enchanting “Parasols” in, and capping the record with the bracing body-music of “No Audience” are moves that could have fallen flat, but the personality and commitment on display make them work. Constantly shifting but staying focused and present, Romy’s dedication to herself and her material pays dividends.

Buy it.

Celluloid Self by Romy

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Tracks: May 21st, 2019

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Morning, friends! Hope everyone was as glued to the edge of their seats watching representatives from far reaching lands and kingdoms in extravagant costumes battle for supremacy while viewers made snide comments on Twitter about how naff the whole thing is. We are, of course, talking about Eurovision. And wouldn’t you know, it was surprisingly pertinent to Our Thing this year, thanks to Iceland’s entry which stood out like a sore thumb in Europe’s annual celebration of pageantry and needless glissando. Stay tuned for more on that, while we get things rolling with this week’s Tracks.

Moaan Exis with the Rakdos realness

Comaduster, “Monolith”
Hot on the heels of “Fever Rift” comes the latest single from Real Cardinal. Real spoke with us recently about the new series of Comaduster singles he’s working on releasing at a steady clip, but you don’t need to delve deep into process and compositional theory to appreciate the impossible heavy pillars of bass built on this track, which never push melodies or the vocals of Mari Kattman (of Helix) out of the frame. Great stuff, as we’ve of course come to expect.
Monolith (Single) by Comaduster

Moaan Exis, “Witness”
Absolutely savage new cut from France’s Moaan Exis, lifted from new album Postmodern Therapy due next month from Audiotrauma. Like a lot of their labelmates, the duo of Mathieu Caudron and Xavier Guionie aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, layering in gritty distortion over their atmospheric soundscapes for impact. Y’all should probably check out the unsettling video for the track while you’re at it, it’s as hypnotic and captivating as it is profoundly unnerving. Officially adding this record to the “we’re excited to check this out” docket.

Lingua Ignota, “Butcher of the World”
If you didn’t hear us talking about it on the podcast last year, Kristin Hayter, aka Lingua Ignota’s All Bitches Die and the performances we saw from it were amongst the most difficult and beautiful musical experiences we’ve had in recent memory. New album Caligula doesn’t sound like it’s backing down from that, with “Butcher of the World”‘s orchestral backing, waves of distortion and static and Hayter’s stunning vocals, which range from full-on screams to beautiful, operatic anguish. Striking, heart-rending music from one of the most singular artists we’ve heard in years.
CALIGULA by LINGUA IGNOTA

Second Still, “New Violet”
We enjoyed California trio Second Still’s 2018 Equals EP for its ability to throw some light and deft touches into the dour post-punk template. New LP Violent Phase looks to be carrying that canny integration of outside sources further, if this and other lead track “Double Negative” are any indication. Unpredictable and exciting instrumentation tics keep you guessing while the groove remains.
FP026 Violet Phase by Second Still

Hex Wolves, “Cautious At First Sight”
Another solid EP of moody techno/IDM/EBM comes our way from LA’s Hex Wolves. Return To The Shadow Realm is true to its title, with plenty of smudgy atmospherics woven between beats, or as on this number, baked into them. The scrapy textures which make up the loping rhythm of this number have an unnerving but still catchy gurgling sense of harmony to them. Solid, effecting stuff from a producer who’s sound design always yields rewards.
Return to the Shadow Realm by Hex Wolves

Nostromo, “Terrain Ahead”
Do y’all remember Nostromo, the collab between techno-EBM experts SARIN and Unhuman? Turns out they’re back and fixing to release some new fire on aufnahme + wiedergabe in a few short weeks. We’ll admit that the glut of generic techno-body tracks over the last two years has taken some of the shine off the genre for us, but hearing two artists who are genuinely good at it and can bring the dancefloor muscle and energy to get over with us remains a pleasure. Be fixing to drop this one in a few DJ sets in all likelihood.
Extreme Manifestations by Nostromo

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Observer: Nordvargr & Black Sun Dreamer

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Nordvargr - Tantum Melior
Nordvargr
Tantum Melior
Cyclic Law

The promo copy describes last year’s Metempsychosis as Nordvargr’s “most song based recordings ever”. While we noted at the time the pronounced role that bass guitar and grooves played in that record, we’d never have suspected just how cleanly delineated its individual compositions could be rendered thanks to the classic remix/rework treatment. Across eight outsourced versions (and one in-house Mz.412 version), Henrik Nordvargr Björkk’s take on astral projection and eternal return proves surprisingly malleable and amenable to taking on sounds from far further afield than his native death industrial climes. Some of the versions only need a slight addition or rejigging to take on a new dimension – Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio finds middle ground between the two projects with a smoother vocal from Tomas Pettersson and some of ORE’s martial ambiance on “Sweet Death Triumphant”, while Kristoffer Oustad of V:28 sends the same track trucking off into cosmic black metal terrain. Some, like Spetsnaz’s take on “Salve Tergamon” amount to wholly new cover versions (akin to the Trepaneringsritualen iteration of that track we discussed earlier this week), and damned if it doesn’t end up sounding like a solid homage to Nordvargr’s pioneering EBM work with Pouppée Fabrikk. If nothing else, Tantom Melior speaks to the connections and legacy Nordvargr’s carved out well outside of death industrial, and there’s something poetic about friends and collaborators bringing some of those other interests to bear on his core work.
Tantum Melior by NORDVARGR


Black Sun Dreamer
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Detriti Records

Retro-minded European synth act Black Sun Dreamer occupy that special intersection of 80s electronic genres in which acts like Mild Peril and Klack have made their home. Like those bands, there’s a strong element of EBM in what BSD do on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it’s shot through with quirky new beat melodies and classic synth soundtrack styles. It’s a potent brew to be sure, and on songs like opener “What Else Is There” its strength is apparent; there’s a genuine satisfaction to how the thudding kick and octave bassline are buttressed by big filter sweeps, and how the chiming melody slowly reveals more of itself as the track speeds along. They’re also well aware of how to modulate their melange for different effects: the club appeal of Star Trek: The Next Generation-sampling “Intervention” comes from how a strict tightening of the rhythm programming, while the lovely “Old Bitterness” loosens it up, adding a layer of minor key guitar that recollects Low-Life era New Order. It’s all well-executed, and thought through, rendering its retro aesthetics into substantial songs with body and energy.
Black Sun Dreamer "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" by Detriti Records

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We Have a Technical 260: Compact Discordia

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God damn them Gene Loves Jezebel boys.

It’s a classic two album format episode of We Have A Technical this week, with the Senior Staff discussing the glam goth of Gene Loves Jezebel and the minimalist dark ambient of m² (aka Squaremeter). There’s also plenty of discussion regarding the new Threshold Archives set of Coil reissues, and all of the metaphysical questions related to Coil’s posthumous legacy. We hope you wouldn’t expect anything less from us at this point. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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FIRES, “All My Dreams Are Of This Place”

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FIRES
All Of My Dreams Are Of This Place
Negative Gain Productions

FIRES’ All Of My Dreams Are Of This Place is a record deeply concerned with identity. Written and produced by Aedra Oh as a direct follow-up to the project’s debut Red Goes Grey, it’s an album informed by the emotions surrounding major events in her life: the uncertainty leading up to the birth of her first child, and the intense self-examination that preceded the beginnings of her gender transition. Inasmuch as it’s a personal diary of those thoughts and feelings, it’s also a record that tries to universalize those emotions. Whether or not you’ve been where Oh has, All Of My Dreams wants more than anything for you to understand and inhabit the feelings that birthed it.

That mission is served by the actual musical elements of the album. Where Red Goes Grey was a catchy, studio-smart electronic rock record that tapped into synthwave and glitch aesthetics, FIRES is now almost a full-bore alt-rock outfit, albeit one rendered from emo and a healthy amount of synthesis and sequencing. It’s a potent hybrid, as evidenced by opener “Show Me Life”, where Aedra takes account of several years of her life over tightly programmed electronics before a massive wave of guitars hit on the chorus. It doesn’t sound that far off from many of FIRES admitted post-hardcore influences in terms of melody or structure, but the very specific way that electronics are used as a bassline on the churning, triumphant singalong “Through Black Skies” or to reinforce the melody on “Inside Her Lungs” keep a connection to the project’s roots in industrial-rock.

Some of the contrast of the record comes from how certain the record feels musically, and how plaintive and precarious Oh sounds in delivering her vocals. When she sings the chorus to “Show Me Life” or spits out the staccato lyrics (complete with shrieks for emphasis) on “Revive” you can hear the doubt. The use of vocal processing as a production element factors into it as well; Oh’s voice is often obscured by aggressive auto-tune and glitch effects, to set up cathartic release via cleanly sung and shouted passages.

Ultimately though, it’s the emotional impact of All Of My Dreams Are Of This Place that makes the greatest impression. Without dismissing the advances in craft and studio technique that brought FIRES here, it’s the way that Aedra Oh offers herself up emotionally that make FIRES remarkable. You may have never felt what she was feeling when she wrote the piano-led ballad “Ever” about the experience of becoming a parent, or had the moment of clarity she expresses on “The Bright and Terrible” when she sings “The girl you always were / Was the girl I want to be”, but she expresses each with such conviction it’s not hard to feel the songs and their intent. It’s certainly not the end of any particular journey for FIRES, but it is something of an arrival.

Buy it.

All Of My Dreams Are Of This Place by Fires

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[:SITD:], “Stunde X”

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] - Stunde X

[:SITD:]
Stunde X
Infacted Recordings

[:SITD:] aren’t going to reinvent the wheel at this point. Now eight LPs and twenty-odd years deep, the German trio has their sound and style on lock and rarely vary it. Rather than anticipating dramatic shifts, listening to their newest release has become a somewhat formalized exercise for us at ID:UD – note slight variations, identify highlight tracks, enjoy the band’s consistently grand production style. Stunde X fits this pattern to a tee.

The religious imagery which surfaces on many of the LP’s tracks never coalesces into much more than a vague thematic interest, but neither does it get in the way of the record’s ease of approach, and tends to meld well with the sober and earnest tone so much of the band’s material has always had. Indeed, the heavenly theme of opener “Greater Heights” serves as a solid establishing shot of the band’s formula of catchy and impetuous leads over heavy mid-tempo percussion before later tracks vary the delivery a tad. If a track like the loping instrumental “Symptom” sounds a bit dated for its rote dubstep production, “Olymp” shows just how au courant [:SITD:] can be with the most minor of tweaks. The dry and punishing bassline which kicks the track off sounds like a dead-ringer for present-day EBM-techno, but the rest of the track, from Carsten Jacek’s vocals to the harmonic synths, are classic [:SITD:]. It’s this sort of tasteful nod to present trends without swerving too far from course which more scene bands (or at least those as entrenched within the scene as [:SITD:]) could benefit from studying.

But even when they’re sticking with the club-minded, well-polished brand of electro-industrial which first garnered them attention, [:SITD:]’s savvy production skills are on display. The simple but effective filter work on lengthy dancefloor workout “Grenzenlos” had me flashing back to the intensity and craft of the first Memmaker record, though its nine-plus minute run-time is perhaps asking too much. As a matter of fact, about half of the record’s numbers clock in at or above six minutes. [:SITD:] have never lacked for ambition in the sound design woven through their songs, and giving them as much time as Stunde X does has mixed results. The string section which is woven in at the end of “Revelation” feels earned, with the band paying off the track’s slow build rather than trying to pull out all the stops to communicate bombast from the first instant.

If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you have a solid enough idea of what to expect from an [:SITD:] record in 2019, and believe me when I say that your expectations will likely be borne out by a first pass at Stunde X. [:SITD:] have, over the past ten years, remained a band who never surprise, but also never disappoint. There are worse fates.

Stunde X by [:SITD:]

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Tracks: May 13th, 2019

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‘Sup pals? Busy couple of weeks around here, what with Réal Cardinal dropping by to visit for a few days (and guesting on We Have a Technical last week in the process) and various other sundry activities we’ve been busying ourselves with. Speaking of which, we’re embarking on a pretty cool new thing soon that we can’t really talk about yet, except to say it involves a collaboration with a few artists we really love and should be available in a couple of months? It, like so many of the cool projects we’ve been able to undertake over the last few years are possible thanks to your support, via Patreon, and just plain old sharing what we do. Thanks and we’ll have some details for you soon.

Trepaneringsritualen

Trepaneringsritualen

Cubanate, “Missing Persons”
What’s that you say? New Cubanate? Well that certainly is cause for celebration. We’ve had a generous number of opportunities to catch the reunited 90s industrial rock legends Marc Heal and Phil Barry on stage over the last few years, and the key takeaway from every show was how vital and energized they seemed. Far from your typical old bastard cash-in, Cubanate seemed exactly as angry and powerful as they ever had. Will the new material set to appear on Kollosus next month bear that out? First track we’re hearing “Missing Persons” points to a firm yes.

Grooving In Green, “A Little Soul”
It’s been a turbulent ride for second-wave goth purists Grooving In Green of late. After the departure (and subsequent passing) of founding member Simon Manning, there was a revolving door of members coming and going in the wake of their admirable second LP, Stranglehold. Things seem to have settled down, or at least enough to record a new album. First single “A Little Soul” may not be a Pulp cover, but it has a charming earth-worn weariness stuck to the sort of propulsive melodies which made Grooving In Green standard-bearers for the tradition they continue to uphold.
A Little Soul by Grooving In Green

God Module, “Cross My Heart”
Shout out to long-running US industrialists God Module, an act who have always stayed true, steadily producing new music for more than 20 years now. In preparation for the June release of their new album The Unsound, project mastermind Jasyn Bangert has prepped up three separate single releases, the first of which Cross My Heart you can get right now via Bandcamp. It’s a vintage GM-type sound on the track, speaking to the project’s 90’s industrial and dark electro-roots, but also bearing some of the spooky aesthetics and little darkwave touches that have informed their catalogue.
Cross My Heart (single) by God Module

Proem, “Until Here Robot”
Richard Bailey’s long-running IDM work as Proem has been released by a handful of labels over the past twenty years, but there’s something about Proem that just feels at home on n5MD. The warm and enveloping bass tones and well-timed clicks and pulses Bailey doles out across new LP Until Here For Years feel very much sympatico with the aesthetic Mike Cadoo’s established with his label (let alone his own work), and speaks well for the styles of composition both men have been honing for decades.
Until Here For Years by Proem

Trepaneringsritualen & Nordvargr, “Salve Tergamon”
The unholy alliance between Swedish death industrialists Nordvargr and Trepaneringsritualen continues, and no eardrums or peaceful sleeps are safe. On the heels of their Alpha Ænigma collaboration, the pair have elected to release a classic each-covers-each style 7″. The results are, as expected, unrestrained, but also find both artists changing up their pitches: Trepaneringsritualen sounds almost groovy for the first time, churning up a bass-heavy version of “Salve Teragmon” from Nordvargr’s excellent 2018 LP Metempsychosis.
Konung Krönt i Blod / Salve Teragmon by TREPANERINGSRITUALEN & NORDVARGR

Black Lung, “Roth”
The last new music we heard from David Thrussell’s Black Lung was 2015′ s Muzak From the Hivemind on Ant-Zen, a record that found the long-running instrumental project exploring drone and ambient soundscapes, with an appropriately satirical corporate-art framework. New single “Roth” via Metropolis Records dials back the abstraction somewhat, and instead builds up a groovy arrangement of ticky electro drums, Vangelis-sized synth leads and grindy electronic bass. It’s a very Thrussell sort of track, speaking to both his broader catalogue and his desire to keep moving to new and unexpected musical locales.
Roth by Black Lung

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Observer: Notausgang & Sharplines

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Notausgang - I Made This Tape
Notausgang
I Made This Tape
Tripalium Records

For all of the heaviness and brutal austerity of the techno-EBM renaissance, a tape like Notausgang’s I Made This Tape appeals not just for its refreshingly blunt title, but for its musical warmth and swing. Rather than trying to chisel out bleakly aggressive beats in an act of techno one-upsmanship, the Parisian act revel in the bouncy and at times bubbly side of body music. Much of the material here could be said to be re-examining the back and forth between EBM and new beat, with an emphasis on throwback textures and sound design choices. Both the burpy synth-bass on “Cagole” and the airy harmonic pads which punctuate “LFDMVY” feel like conscious choices meant to hearken back to a time when the sheer oddness of these synthesized sounds was a point worthy of exploration on its own merits. This isn’t to say that I Made This Tape is all reference without substance – the pinchy arpeggios which slowly take over the field of “Cheb Notaus” perhaps begin as new beat homage but by the time they’re in full bloom have taken on a spacey grandeur – part classic giallo, part the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from Mild Peril. With a well-paced run-time and tracks which never wear out their welcome, I Made This Tape delivers punchy but not excessive body music fun.
DMS030 – I Made This Tape by Notausgang


Sharplines
Time Predator
RND. Records

It feels like techno-EBM has become something of a snake eating its own tail. While the large supply of dancefloor bangers from labels around the world has certainly been a boon to DJs and dancefloors, it’s a crossover genre that easily falls into simple repetition of form with little in terms of innovation. An EP like Time Predators from mysterious producer Sharplines can still surprise though, applying some interesting quists to the now tried and true formula. Opener “Time Predators” has a deep, slowly opening filter mixed with a delay that expands and contracts, giving the song a breathing effect that belies its somewhat simple 16th note and kick-snare structure. “This Cyber Ballad” is a departure from that structure, with thin reedy synth leads and low, buzzing bass sounds that stand in sharp contrast to the dreamy vocal samples and rattly cymbal programming, feeling less like a modern track then the sort of nu-ambient techno Fostercare was plying a few years back. “Summoning Sequence” caps off the EP with a harsh metallic sequences and sinister strings, a little rhythmic noise, a little Bernard Herrmann. It’s a short EP, but with enough ideas and club appeal to recommend it above many artists working in a similar vein with less inspiration.
TIME PREDATOR by SHARPLINES

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We Have a Technical 259: 23/16

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A very special friend of the podcast just happened to be in town, so we’re joined this week by Real Cardinal of Comaduster! He’s sitting in on our conversations about news and events pertaining to Ulver, Merzbow, and Combichrist, as well as giving us the skinny on his newest music. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Automelodi, “Mirages au Futur Verre-brisé”

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Automelodi - Mirages au futur verre​-​brisé

Automelodi
Mirages au Futur Verre-brisé
HoloDeck

Montreal’s Automelodi trade in silky smooth synthpop which has proven to be rather adaptable over the past ten years. From warm and resonant analog washes to sharp throwback new wave to nimble coldwave workouts, frontman Xavier Paradis (here aided by newcomer Dillon Steele and longtime collaborator Simon Grenier-Poirier) has always kept things both varied and melodic to Automelodi’s benefit. Third LP Mirages au Futur Verre-brisé is certainly the band’s most ambitious work yet, rife with inventive pitch-bends, percussion, and track constructions, sometimes used to excellent ends, sometimes to more baffling ones.

Pitched toms and other percussive elements flutter across Mirages‘ run-time with aplomb, adding colour and texture to the immediate grooves of “Toujours De Jamais (Hors-Temps)” and plenty of other tracks. Often, these elements kick off more traditional synth arrangements, creating a shimmering playground for the vocals of Paradis and Xeno & Oaklander’s Liz Wendelbo on “Les Métros Disparus”. On other songs, though, those extra tones draw attention from ostensibly lead synths or Paradis’ vocals, which are generally content to stay out of the spotlight and smolder in the wings with a restrained croon. The result is tasteful, well-produced, and ultimately groovy tracks which sometimes lack a core refrain or melody.

This isn’t to say that Mirages is bereft of hooks or memorable passages. Check the ascending vaporwave synth-stutters of “Art Contraire” or the vaguely Ultravox-esque bridge of “Feux Rouges, Châteaux Brillants” to see just how much detail and appeal Automelodi can cram into their tracks. And everything comes together wonderfully on second-half highlight “Angoisses D’Orléac” where a hushed and cooing verse builds tension perfectly for a downright funky chorus to slam in, with vocals, rhythm, and melody all driving forward in wonderful accord.

For all of its cleanly defined sounds and constantly smearing synth colours, Mirages sometimes falls victim to its own attention to immediate details, getting lost in the particulars and missing an overarching principle. But make no mistake, Paradis & co. have been at this long enough that they know what they’re doing; it’s entirely likely that the fractured, atomized nature of the record could be in keeping with its titular “broken glass future”. Even if it doesn’t offer the sort of automatically generated melodies you might expect given the project’s name, Mirages au Futur Verre-brisé is a showcase of (slightly warped) synth production.

Mirages au futur verre-brisé by Automelodi

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Dune Messiah, “Moments of Bliss”

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Dune Messiah
Moments of Bliss
Third Coming Records/aufnahme = wiedergabe

Magnus Westergaard’s music as Dune Messiah fits neatly into the middle-ground of trad neo-folk and dusty Americana occupied by acts like King Dude, Spiritual Front and Cult of Youth. Like those acts, Westergaard leans heavily into the strummy rock type arrangements, ornamenting his songs with extensive strings, horns and percussion to give them the appropriate gravitas. The tracks on his sophomore LP Moments of Bliss show Dune Messiah has studied his influences extensively, but is still defining his own musical identity.

The genres Dune Messiah works in tend to favour very personal sorts of songwriting, and consequently you spend a lot of the time listening to Moments of Bliss one-on-one with Westergaard, or at least with the persona he projects. Opener “Silence and Surrender” does a good job of establishing him in this regard, with propulsive guitar and wild strings backing up his down-at-the-heel scoundrel act, all delivered with a Nick Cave-esque wink. Songs like the lighter and more trad-folky “Broken” and the dirgey “The Blizzard” show him modulating somewhat, stubborn and resolute on the former, and gripped by a deep, melodramatic despair on the latter.

While they may not be the biggest and most immediate songs on the record, the numbers that show the most promise are the ones where you can hear Westergaard giving himself over more openly to his songs as a performer. While the stormy “The Black Stallion Horse Of Commerce” nails the anthemic murder ballad sound (complete with Spaghetti Western guitar) that Dune Messiah reaches for, it’s less affecting than “Black Seaweed”, where he delivers his lyrics in gentle monotone backed by heavy thudding kick drums before a lovely chorus blossoms outwards from the verse. Similarly, the charming “Dreaming Away” finds the middle ground between affectation and sincerity; the song’s sizzling violin and walking bassline feel arch at the outset, but Westergaard finds himself within the arrangement and ends up delivering one of the record’s most sincere performances.

As an LP Moments of Bliss has some quite good songs, beholden as it is to the ur-sources that it draws inspiration from. When Magnus Westergaard finds that balance between the genuine and the performative sides of his voice as a writer and performer it shows great possibility, signposting fresh trails he may soon travel down.

Buy it.

Moments Of Bliss by Dune Messiah

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Tracks: May 6th, 2019

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Morning, gang! Not much happening around the HQ this past weekend (apart from feeling proud of our hometown boy El Phantasmo making an emphatic arrival in New Japan Pro Wrestling), but something about the differences between the records we reviewed last week got us thinking. We’ve already flagged a mess of tracks from the new Agent Side Grinder for club play and have been enjoying drifting off into solitary reverie with Alphaxone. We spend no small amount of time trying to define or triangulate “Our Thing”, ie, the music we want to cover here, but are we ignoring the role that listening context plays in that taxonomy? If we’re just as interested in music to get people dancing over loud club PAs as we are music to lose track of our selves or surroundings, is it any wonder that we can’t find a common genome to everything we cover here? What contexts might best suit these six new tracks? You’ll just have to tell us.

Minuit Strikes Back

Statiqbloom, “Eight Hearts, Eight Spikes”
Great taster of the forthcoming album from New York electro-industrialists Statiqbloom, their first for Metropolis Records. “Eight Hearts, Eight Spikes” is exactly what we expect from Fade Kainer and Denman Anderson – harsh, scraping soundscapes, corrosive atmospherics and possessed vocals. Like the material on last years’s excellent Infinite Spectre EP, we’re always struck by how Statiqbloom balance mystery and absolute immediacy, never showing their musical hand entirely, but also not letting up with the aggression and pressure either. Asphyxia drops June 7th, expect a review day of release from us.
Asphyxia by STATIQBLOOM

Coal, “Insect Human”
Berlin duo Coal have been gigging and releasing single tracks for over a year now, but their debut proper’s only coming out now. A tune like “Insect Human” gets across not just the project’s misanthropic rage, but also the interesting combo of power electronics and punk which makes their EP such a bracing splash of water. Should appeal if you’re a fan of similarly hyperactive violence from Street Sects or Error.
Coal by Coal

Boy Harsher, “Come Closer (Marcel Dettmann Remix)”
Boy Harsher’s incredible Careful is undoubtedly one of our favourites of the year to date, and the sinister “Come Closer” was a highlight. Although the track didn’t lack for club appeal in its original incarnation, we’re pleased to see the solicitation of a remix EP for the song, including the bangin’ techno club version of the song by Marcel Dettmann linked below. Not only that, an additional 12″ for “Tears” (featuring mixes from Silent Servant and Minimal Violence) and a 7″ available as a bundle with the other two singles. You can pre-order now via Bandcamp, records ship on or around June 28th.
Careful Remixes, etc. by BOY HARSHER

Notausgang, “LFDMVY”
Here’s some quirky throwback body music fun from Paris. Alternately rubbery and squelchy, the sounds on I Made This Tape have some real presence and weight, but don’t ever become too heavy or monochrome for their own good. Notausgang was recently featured on X-IMG’s fourth Self-Aware and are doing a good job of ensuring that the body music renaissance stays varied.
DMS030 – I Made This Tape by Notausgang

Minuit Machine, “DRGS”
Wait, Minuit Machine are back? And the new album drops next week? Maybe we were asleep at the switch at the wheel on this one, but very pleased to see the french darkwave project return, especially so soon after vocalist Hélène de Thoury put out her excellent LP Fierce as Hante.. 2015’s Violet Rains was a record we enjoyed a great deal (and also got some decent dancefloor mileage out of), we anticipate that the duo will deliver a comparable experience on Infrarouge.
Infrarouge by Minuit Machine

Agro Fist, “Agro Fist”
Between The Causticles, Hardcore Pong, and Gasoline Invertebrate, you’d think our boy Brian Graupner of Gothsicles infamy would already have enough side projects on the go, but let’s be real: Brian didn’t get to where he is today via tasteful restraint. Agro Fist finds him teaming up with Eli Vance of Antonym for some speedy and slightly hardcore/gabber style fare. While surprisingly straightforward and sober musically, take a look at the lyrics (“Yeet Kune Do, this part’s slow”) and you’ll remember who’s behind it all.
Agro Fist by Agro Fist

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Observer: Pedestrian Deposit & Operation Blue Eyes

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Pedestrian Deposit - Dyer's Hands
Pedestrian Deposit
Dyer’s Hands
Monorail Trespassing

There isn’t anything necessarily new about blending acoustic elements with noise – it’s inseparable from the latter however far back you’d care to date it (Cardew? Xenakis? Russolo?). But the longstanding duo of Jonathan Borges and Shannon Kennedy aren’t interested in such intersections from purely historical or theoretical perspectives, as a quick skim through any of the striking recordings of Pedestrian Deposit’s live performances will show you. While at times mercilessly aggressive, their new LP Dyer’s Hands doesn’t indulge in shock or experimentation for its own sake. Combining harsh noise, drones, and treated acoustics across five compositions, Dyer’s Hands is the result of five years of recordings and treatments, and that time and care is evident in both the louder and softer sides of the record. The beautiful “What Can’t Be Given” has far more in common with, say, Rachel’s or Debussy than any harsh noise act you’d care to name, but the bed of drones which lie beneath Kennedy’s mournful cello point to talents for sound manipulation quite different from the squalling waves of feedback which makes up opening track “Crow Theory”. Tying everything together is the closing, eighteen-minute suite of “Beneath The Salt”; shifting from tremoring drones and strings to seas of noise which finally yield to a single, simple cello refrain echoing on and on, it somehow finds a way to portray all of Pedestrian Deposit’s disparate elements as part of a rich and organic whole.
Dyers' Hands by Pedestrian Deposit


Operation Blue Eyes
Poison Arrows
Basic Unit Productions

Operation Blue Eyes is the project of Jonas Hedberg, most well-known as the vocalist for defunct Swedish electro-industrial and neo-oldschool EBM act The Pain Machinery. His work in that band was alternately biting and brutal, but Operation Blue Eyes’ new EP from Basic Unit Productions Poison Arrows shows him in a more measured and thoughtful light, with an emphasis on songwriting and melody. The instrumental toolkit Hedberg utilizes is clearly descended from classic body music, making for an interesting blend of sounds and genres including notes of darkwave and post-punk. “Witch Hunt” has Hedberg in the sardonic mode we heard from him in the latter The Pain Machinery material, but uses it’s staccato bass and tightly quantized synths to build a pleasingly melancholic chorus accentuated by icy pads. Opener “Filth” makes excellent use of interplay between a tightly programmed bassline and fuzzed out bass guitar, while the vocals are delivered in a stately fashion that makes the whole song unexpectedly reminiscent of OMD. Especially effective is “Dead Air”, where Hedberg delivers an understated and emotional performance that shows off some of his vocal charisma, it’s sadness buffered by short blasts of detuned analogue synth noise. Poison Arrows is solid material that doesn’t fit easily into any genre, while maintaining a welcome continuity from the artist’s previous work.
Poison Arrows by Operation Blue Eyes

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We Have a Technical 258: Pike vs Marsden

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FIRES

The new record from FIRES pushes forward with the project’s synth rock ethos into punkier territory, and AJ from the band joins the podcast to talk about the deeply personal themes on “All My Dreams Are Of This Place”. We’ve also got some talk about the Cold Waves one-off nights on the West Coast, and some chatter about 3TEETH and Rammstein that goes off the rails right quick. Intrigued? We thought so. It’s the newest We Have A Technical – hop on it! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Agent Side Grinder, “A/X”

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Agent Side Grinder
A/X
Progress Productions/Metropolis Records

A/X isn’t a record by the Agent Side Grinder we knew. The 2017 departure of bassist Thobias Eidevald, synthesist Henrik Sunbring and founding vocalist Kristoffer Grip was bound to have an effect on the project that gave us albums like the anxious and nervy post-punk Industrial Beauty and the neo-krautrock synth opus Hardware. Remaining original members Johan Lange and Peter Fristedt, along with new vocalist Emanuel Åström were faced with reconfiguring the band without losing what made the project so special. Their answer was to go all in on reinvention, drawing from the same palette of distinctive analogue synth sounds that have always been their forte and applying them to a neon-drenched cold war aesthetic that is both mysterious and familiar.

Lest that description give you the impression that Agent Side Grinder have gone synthwave for this release, rest assured that A/X maintains the band’s wave and post-punk roots. More specifically, the album’s nine tracks do an excellent job of showing off exactly how much ground can be covered within that rubric. Opener “In From The Cold” establishes the album’s themes of Cold War uncertainty with vintage vocal samples, pulsing bass synths and dry percussion before the chorus cuts loose with layers of melodic pads and an excellent hook from Åström. That sort of build and release has always been a major part of the ASG toolkit, and is a major component of nearly every composition on the LP; witness the recasting of euphoric dancefloor acid bass as paranoiac narrative on “Doppelgänger”, or how “The Great Collapse” constructs body-music sounding basslines, downshifts into an understated chorus that makes their inevitable return to the versethat much more impactful.

None of these sounds or ideas seem like they would have been off-limit to the previous incarnation of Agent Side Grinder, but it’s important to understand how the delivery here make this feel like a different band. Aside from the obvious change in vocal delivery – where Grip was alternately gruff, frenzied or resigned, the admittedly less distinctive Åström is reserved and charming – there’s a smoothness in the production and sound design that marks A/X as distinct from its predecessors. Full-on dancefloor rave-up “Stripdown” delivers club thrills with an instantaneous twangy hook, big chorus and late-game sax solo that shows a polish ASG had never really concerned themselves with previously. “MM/CM” approaches the quirky electro vibe with a kind of jazzy panache, the rawness of its analogue synth sounds balanced with slick production.

Agent Side Grinder have found a path forward from the sort of seismic line-up changesthat kills or at least hobbles bands that go through them. By seizing on aspects of their established sound as a template and then taking them to subtly new places, the Swedish trio get to own their legacy without being totally beholden to it. It’s old, it’s new, it’s different and somehow comfortingly recognizable, a feat that is worth celebrating in and of itself. Recommended.

Buy it.

A/X by Agent Side Grinder

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Alphaxone, “Chronosphere”

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Alphaxone - Chronosphere

Alphaxone
Chronosphere
Cryo Chamber

Over the past few years, much of Mehdi Saleh’s work as Alphaxone has drifted further away from the dark element of dark ambient, instead pursuing a spacey, cosmic brand of ambient which doesn’t seem interested on communicating darkness, heaviness, or much of anything that would speak to human experience, for that matter. But as Saleh’s abstracted his themes he’s also refined his records. New LP Chronosphere makes the most of a minimalist palette.

The cosmic theme of 2018’s Edge Of Solitude is somewhat carried on here, though while that record connoted the patterns and movements of stellar bodies, Chronosphere‘s title and sounds seem to point towards movement in time, rather than space. While the pads and textures of pieces like “Distance Experience” and “Ancient Pillars” breathe and shift over their runtimes, the core sounds remain steady, suggesting slow weathering or natural cycling without changing the essences of the things or realities these tracks depict.

Far less showy than Edge Of Solitude (or at least what counts as showy by dark ambient standards), there’s very little which interrupts the overarching flow of Chronosphere‘s pads, save for harmonic voices, both human and synthetic, which add tonal loft to “Into The Void”, and a series of quiet chirps and glimmers on “Parallel Destiny” and “Particle Storm”. Given the record’s interest with time as a theme, it’s almost tempting to think of the latter as the tick-tock of some alien clock, or at least some means of actually measuring the passage of time amidst the seemingly eternal and unchanging aether Chronosphere inhabits.

Even by Alphaxone’s standards, this is a deeply calm and relaxing listen. What it perhaps lacks in dynamics it makes up for in sustained atmosphere. And when the long, meditative drones of the record finally give way at the end, with the almost post-rock shimmering of “Floating Spheres”, it becomes apparent just how skilled Saleh has been at maintaining attention and mood for nearly a full hour before breaking from his somber and steadfast mode. Chronosphere can perhaps be thought of as a meta-commentary on the development of Alphaxone itself: in becoming more stoic, more unyielding, it becomes more itself.

Chronosphere by Alphaxone

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Tracks: April 29th, 2019

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Relatively quiet weekend around the HQ for once, which is good because we’ll need some energy for the upcoming deluge of new releases coming our way this spring. No major trends have yet manifested for 2019 as far as we can detect (we were hoping saxgoth would really take off, but thus far it seems like a sexy outlier), but that might actually be a good thing: the fragmentation of the club scene and the rapidly disintegrating barriers between silos within Our Thing means more music that can’t be strictly compartmentalized falling within the boundaries of Our Thing. Need examples? Check out what’s in this week’s Tracks below!

IT’S CALLED GOATWAVE, MOM. (The Devil & The Universe)

The Devil & The Universe, “Kali’s Tongue”
Vintage Dead Can Dance vibes abound on this first taster of the new The Devil & The Universe LP, :Endgame 69: due June 21 from aufnahme + wiedergabe. Vascilating wildly between cool, folk and world music inspired darkwave and bangin’ techno, TD&TU impressed us mightily on their last LP, reminding us of the sorts of genre-breaking composition you get on classic LPs by acts like In The Nursery. Dig the guitar and percussion on this jam a lot, looking forward to seeing just what this soon to break-out act has in store.
: ENDGAME 69: by The Devil & The Universe

Die Sektor, “A Night So Long”
Truth be told, we couldn’t have told you if you’d asked what we expected from a new Die Sektor record some six years on since their last LP, but it likely wouldn’t have been anything like “A Night So Long”. Sure, there are nods to throwback dark electro which long predate the aggro sounds the band has taken as a departure point for their more experimental side, but there’s also a sense of gothic excess and drama to this tune which seems like a turning of the page as well. Will the rest of Death My Darling cleave to a similar path? We’ll keep you posted.
Death My Darling by DIE SEKTOR

[:SITD:], “Sturmlicht”
Been a minute since we last checked in with widescreen EBM act [:SITD:], but new single “Sturmlicht” is reminding us why we always dug their stuff. Like their best singles the band know their way around an anthemic chorus, and have a nice thick production sound that makes them ideal for club play. Also, we can’t think of any other band that has gotten this much mileage out of big, emotive string pads, full-stop. New album seems like, but we might take this one out for a few spins while we wait.
Sturmlicht by [:SITD:]

Razorback Hollow, “Septicimea”
Originally positioned as the throwback industrial project of Glass Apple Bonzai’s Daniel X Belasco, Razorback Hollow has rapidly evolved, showing off both Belasco’s capacity for those classic sounds and the broader horizons that interest him. First LP A Temporary Solution For a Permanent Problem is due later this month via Bandcamp, and along with some newer versions of some of the songs we’ve already heard, the preview also features this slice of martial-flavoured nastiness, “Septicimea”. If the only thing you know about Belasco is his work as a sleek, neon-synthpopper, be prepared to have your wig blown back by these nasty-ass orch hits and grimy samples.
A Temporary Solution For a Permanent Problem by Razorback Hollow

Blush Response, “Vortigaunt”
Here’s a huge heaping plate of slithering bass courtesy of Joey Gonzalez from the new Selection For Societal Sanity EP. As a project, Blush Response has flourished since Gonzalez’s move to Berlin, as can easily be tracked by the sheer volume of collaborative releases and projects which have occurred since then. But the sound of Gonzalez’s core solo work is developing as well, with a tune like this drawing a line between techno minimalism and the hi-def bass sculpting which speaks to Gonzalez’s talents in broader industrial-tinged areas. The Freeman honors us by his presence.
Selection For Societal Sanity (SCX08) by Blush Response

Minimal Violence, “New Hard Catch”
For all our talk about Vancouver’s Sigsaly, Brittany West ain’t the only member of the Lié camp breaking new dark electronic ground. Fellow Liér Ashlee Luk, along with Lida P, have been playing sets around town and releasing singles as Minimal Violence, and are now pushing their dark throwback techno to a new stage with their first LP, InDreams. Full of breaks, acid, and heavy heated pads, tunes like “New Hard Catch” don’t lose any drive for all of their stylistic shifts.
InDreams by minimalviolence

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