Observer: Minuit Machine & Worms Of The Earth

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Minuit Machine
Basic Needs
WARRIRORRECORDS

It’s starting to feel like Minuit Machine are actively trying to make up for lost time; since the project made up of Hélène De Thoury and Amandine Stioui reversed their decision to split up in 2019, they’ve been putting out music at a breakneck page. Best of the post-reformation new releases was last year’s excellent Don’t Run From the Fire was their most hard-edged and rhythmically aggressive release musically, forgoing many of the minimal sounds that informed their earliest work. New EP Basic Needs isn’t totally removed from that sound, the group have definitely amped up the darkwave menace. The reverb-soaked title track has bounce and energy in its bassline, working its groove at a steady boil while nimble synths make their way through the mix. “Sisters” deals in the same sounds with a bit more stoic majesty in its melody, but it’s “Vanity” that takes the sound to its ultimate conclusion: distorted synth stabs and delayed vocals set the mood before the tracks sinister bassline takes hold and pushes the song from mournful to foreboding. Minuit Machine have gotten very good at knowing when to go big and when to pull back, with this EP in particular showing their aptitude for songs that imply peril and unease.
Basic Needs by Minuit Machine

Worms Of The Earth - Tunnels Of The Duat
Worms Of The Earth
Tunnels Of The Duat
Samaa Records

Twenty minutes of pure psytrance isn’t necessarily the next move we would have anticipated from Dan Barrett’s Worms Of The Earth project, but in retrospect perhaps some signs were there. WotE has become an increasingly lush and ornate project over the last few years, eschewing the austerity that normally comes with ritual industrial, dark ambient, and the other more severe genres upon which the project was founded. One way or the other, Barrett shows off some canny manipulation of the wet pulses which slip through the three tracks on Tunnels Of The Duat which allow him to merge his own recent style with the well-established, thudding psytrance template. The pinched off phases swirling around the core rhythm of “Net-Ra” and the tightly meshed and sidechained programming of “Shapeshifters” are pleasant reminders of how and why so many industrial artists found an unlikely kinship with the psychedelic subgenre twenty years back. A nice amuse-bouche of pure genre exercise from an artist whose technical skills are more than up to the challenge.
Tunnels of the Duat (16Bit) by Worms of the Earth

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We Have A Technical 360: The Latter

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Kirlian Camera

We’re on the cusp of a new double-LP from one of our favourite bands at I Die: You Die, Kirlian Camera. And before we dig into the elaborately titled Cold Pills (Scarlet Gate of Toxic Daybreak), we thought it’d be fun to take a look at the band’s earliest days in the form of It Doesn’t Matter, Now and their most recent LP, Hologram Moon. What’s changed over the forty year career of one of the most ornate and outre darkwave bands of all time, and which of their characteristics have remained from their earlier days? All that plus some festival news (!) and some generalized silliness on the latest 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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Inkubus Sukkubus, “The Way Of The Witch”

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Inkubus Sukkubs - The Way Of The Witch

Inkubus Sukkubus
The Way Of The Witch
Pagan Fire Muzick

2019’s Lilith Rising was noted upon release as being the twenty-fifth LP from long-standing pagan goth rock act Inkubus Sukkubus. While we could perhaps split some hairs regarding live records and the odd best-of, there’s no question that the band, still centered around vocalist Candida Ridley and guitarist Tony McKormack, now stand as one of if not the most prolific acts in the history of goth. With such a lengthy extant history, Inkubus Sukkubus are modulating rather than reinventing their sound at this juncture, but new LP The Way Of The Witch does give stronger focus to some neo-classical and folk elements.

An opening suite comprised entirely of synth strings and the martial fanfare of “Angelus Bellum” set the tone for a decidedly less rock-heavy outing from the band. Inkubus Sukkubus have worked with folk instrumentation for years, but after the almost entirely acoustic Tales Of Witchcraft And Wonder concept trilogy from a few years back, it’s taken on a more prominent role in their primary releases. “Beneath The Moon And The Trees” uses plucked guitar and choruses to convey a sense of the reverential, while “High On The Hill” has a cozier, dream-pop mood suggesting Bel Canto or even Cranes.

That’s not to say that The Way Of The Witch is a complete break with Inkubus Sukkubus’ musical roots. “In The Shire That Made Us” has the sort of anthemic guitar lead upon which the band cut their teeth, and “And The Sea Shall Consume You” is a lean and strident dash. Both the rocking and the softer tunes retain the band’s knack for catchy and immediate melodies, and do a good job of keeping Ridley’s vocals – unmistakable to any longstanding goth rock aficionado – in the front of the mix.

If thirty-plus years of music almost exclusively dealing with folk and pagan themes might be a non-starter for more casual goth listeners, the trade-off is that Inkubus Sukkubus are able to delve far deeper into those issues than any Ophelia-come-latelys. Take a look at “Where Have You Gone, My Daughter?”, which examines the ethical quandary of how or even whether to raise the changeling which the fae have left in place of your own abducted child. That’s just not the sort of tune you’re going to get from a brand-new darkwave act wearing Blackcraft and sporting crystals bought off Wish.com. Inkubus Sukkubus remain true to the ethos they created decades ago, and it’s always rewarding to check in with them.

Buy it.

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Xenturion Prime, “Signals from the Abyss”

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Xenturion Prime
Signals From the Abyss
Progress Productions

A record like Signals From the Abyss seems like a pretty natural thing for Swedish act Xenturion Prime to do. The post-Code 64 endeavour of Bjørn Marius Borg and Hasse Mattsson, the project has always been a vehicle for massive, spacey sound design and composition a la Vangelis, albeit with the lion’s share of the emphasis on fast beats, uplifting melodies and post-futurepop expressions of hope through a science fiction lens. Signals From the Abyss strips away much of the latter aspects and zeroes in on the soundtrack-inspired elements of their work. The result is no less epic in scope or aims than previous releases, though it provides more room for pensive and moody atmospheres.

While the largely instrumental LP deals in ambience, it’s far from an ambient album, with a considerable amount of movement and programming crammed into every track. Opener “The Passage” sets the table with a minute of rich synth texture that moves placidly across the stereo spectrum before introducing layers of pads, plucky synthlines and delayed bleeping tones that suggest outer space. That the track uses a twiddling lead synth solo to build to its massive climax feels right: this entire exercise is all about summoning that space opera mood. It’s a goal they meet pretty much throughout – and without falling down the hole of synthwave cliches that would seem to be the risk of this sort of project – holding it through the more mournful “Disintegrated Symmetry” with its interwoven melodies and robotic percussion, or the broad and hopeful “Ascension”.

Still, as with their more song-based compositions, the grandeur of the material can occasionally wear the listener down. With each number doing its level best to be as big and evoke as much emotion as possible, there are few moments to rest and just enjoy the scenery without being whisked towards another climax. Strangely the album’s only major beat-driven number “Primordial Forces” is the one that side-steps this issue most handily; the bumping electro rhythm drives the track with an evenness that doesn’t feel the need to push ever upwards, instead allowing for a lovely arrangements of digital chimes and chirpy synths to bloom around it.

The promo material for Signals From the Abyss refers to the record as a “special album”, which I suppose is to mark its instrumental nature and reassure listeners that this won’t be the band’s modus operandi going forward. Weirdly I feel like the caveat isn’t totally necessary: as a record it deals in the same moods and modes as all of XP’s previous releases, with a shift that brings some of them into sharper focus.

Buy it.

Signals From The Abyss by Xenturion Prime

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Tracks: May 3rd, 2021

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One of the reasons we founded I Die: You Die back about a decade ago was the desire to see more quality writing about the music we enjoy. One of the earliest kindred spirits we met virtually after founding the site was Andi Harriman, who at the time was completing her book Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace. We bring this up because this past week DJ Mag posted an Andi scribed piece regarding Coil’s Love’s Secret Domain, and we were so pleased to see a quality writer, with an understanding of the history of this music get to do that piece. It’s a sign that in some ways things are better now than they were ten years past, and that’s something worth noting.

Hallows

Hallows

HIDE, “Nightmare”
Less than a minute long, and easily one of the most genuinely industrial things we’ve heard in 2021. Leave it to Chicago duo HIDE, who have been one this website’s favourites since their emergence a few years back; both for their gutting live shows and the uncompromising and unnerving sound of their recorded material. Despite its brevity, “Nightmare” (and the accompanying video clip) might be the best explanation of HIDE’s appeal yet; sharp, shocking, livewire tense and cathartic, it’s the sound of an act digging deep into the ugly and difficult and holding it up for all to see and hear.
Interior Terror by HIDE

Nuovo Testamento, “Michelle Michelle”
Deathrock folk going synthpop and vice versa is more common than you’d think (as much of the turn-of-the-millennium post-hardcore scene will attest). After an enjoyable EP of nodding but gloomy darkwave, the Italo-American supergroup Nuovo Testamento look to be heading in an even bouncier direction with forthcoming LP New Earth. Lead single “Michelle Michelle” is a proper Italo disco corker to which you’d be hard-pressed to find a link with Horror Vacuii, Crimson Scarlet, or any of the other morbidly-minded acts its contributors normally work within.
New Earth by NUOVO TESTAMENTO

Hallows, “All That Is True Dies”
Some nicely murky and dreamy darkwave from new-to-us Seattle duo Hallows. Digging the slowly emergent rhythmic structure of the tune, as well as the textural contrast between the vocals. Nailing the gauzy atmosphere on a tune like this will take you pretty far, but being able to unfold and develop that mood is especially promising.
All That Is True Dies by HALLOWS

Pixel Grip, “Demon Chaser feat. MONÃE”
You know we usually like to link to a Bandcamp release here at Tracks, but the video for Pixel Grip’s new joint is something we can’t not post in this space. The Chicago group has impressed the hell out of us with the pre-release singles from the forthcoming Arena and “Demon Chaser” is no exception: a collab with fellow Chicago musician MONÃE, the track splits the difference between modern darkwave, hyperpop, weirdo r&b and a few other sounds to boot. Just watch the video, okay? We’re excited for this LP to drop.

Infravision, “Illegal Vision”
Pablo Bozzi (Imperial Black Unit) and Kendal Mulla’s collaborative project Infravision makes what they call “italo body music”, which as you might surmise is a union of classic italo and EBM sounds. Damn if they didn’t nail that on the title track from their forthcoming LP ILLEGAL VISION (due May 31st on Fleisch). Synth bells, rhythmic chants, muscly bass and big pads come together to form a song that sounds like it was made for driving fast on rainy, reflective city streets at night.
Illegal Future by INFRAVISION

Alphaxone & ProtoU, “Dreams Of Solace”
Two of the strongest artists on Cryo Chamber’s dark ambient roster are teaming up once again for Back To Beyond, the follow-up to 2017’s Stardust. Few artists nail the deep, spacey sweeps of the genre’s more cosmically-minded style as Iran’s Alphaxone, and Ukrainian producer ProtoU has a preternatural act for adding human warmth, and detail to a nominally austere and cold field. Both projects’ strengths can be ferreted out on this preview track, full of depth and movement.
Back to Beyond by Alphaxone & ProtoU

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Observer: Big Time Kill & Sleep Clinic

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Big Time Kill
Recovery
Glitchmode Recordings

While it’s probably not a misnomer to call the music made by Boston duo Big Time Kill industrial rock, they don’t fall into major modern schools that sound can be divided into; their music is neither slick cyberpunk, sludgy noise-rock nor indie metal adjacent. Their stuff, especially on new EP Recovery lands somewhere between nervy alternative rock and solid meat and potatoes midwest industrial. Check the slinky bass and drum programming on the title track before the big guitars come in, the track’s swinging groove carrying Adam Schneider’s melodic vocal aloft, recalling The Real Thing era Faith No More and Sister Machine Gun in equal measures. Those comparisons carry over to “Dreams”, although the song’s metallic percussion, mid-tempo programming and distinctly unquantized guitar licks give the track a groovy, moody feel. Where closer “Shallow” feels like the most straightforward of the four tracks, setting up a bouncy bit of drum programming that pushes loud-soft section dynamics, the EP’s second track “Cliché” shows some of the band’s most interesting creative tendencies off; the strummy guitar, halting rhythm section, jazzy breakdowns and lilting vocals that built to a whoa-oh climax aren’t the sort of thing you generally hear in mechanized rock. Then again, that willingness to reach beyond standard industrial rock tropes is what sets Big Time Kill apart.
Recovery by Big Time Kill

Sleep Clinic - Talus
Sleep Clinic
Talus
Errorgrid

Those unfamiliar with Jeff Swearengin’s solo project might surmise that Sleep Clinic trades in drone and ambient based on the name alone, and they wouldn’t be half wrong. But the producer, general man about LA, and now fully-fledged member of FLA isn’t boxing himself in, and continues to use the project as a means of taking deep dives into compositional and sound design experimentation. New LP Talus finds Swearengin adding healthy blasts of glitch to his alternately smoothed out and abrasive soundscapes, sending deep space pings and pitch bends swarming through the shadowy bodies of tracks like “[Active]” and “[Active Slipstream]”. The promo copy refers to the record’s engagement with “the concept of memory erosion [through] harmonic content that is stripped off”, and “[Suspension]” and “[Relive]” certainly deliver on that concept, feeling as though they’re built around the halos and patinas of tones cut or muted from the final version, leaving echo and reverb with no source sound. Talus is dense and dark without ever abandoning itself to total chaos.
Talus by Sleep Clinic

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We Have A Technical 359: Pit-Fighter On Game Boy

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Boy Harsher

You could have -much- worse gateway bands than Boy Harsher.

The podcast is taking a rambling and conceptual route this week, with some discussion of changing perceptions of Our Thing within broader culture. Is the “Sure, kind of like Nine Inch Nails” explanation still accurate? From what background might newcomers be approaching crossover acts? Does keeping your club life separate from your day life still matter in a more forgiving age? All this plus some discussion of yet another Oscar win for Reznor & Ross, plus the passing of Anita Lane on 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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Hammershøi, “Cathédrales” 

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Hammershøi
Cathédrales
Swiss Dark Nights

French synth duo Hammershøi’s new LP Cathédrales threads a number of musical styles and traditions, from classic French cold wave and minimal to synthpop and electro. While comparable to their self-titled 2020 release in terms of the style and execution, the new record cinches genres together more compactly, harnessing the nervous energy of their earlier compositions into more confident, potent and punchy songs.

That tighter and more precise approach is especially apparent in the album’s speediest numbers. High BPM tracks like “Abîmes” set their pace quickly, with cracking drums and burbling synth bass and Anne Dig’s half-spoken half-sung vocals adding a detached and icy counterpoint to the song’s rapidfire tempo. It’s an uncomplicated approach, but one that works because of good Hammershøi are at keeping everything moving in perfect lockstep, shifting gears expertly between sections and sequences with sureness and confidence. You can hear the same skills at work on the manic “Maria S.”, with the addition of Ben Montes’ own surefooted vocals, punch-sound-effect snares and whip-crack mini-breakdowns.

Still, Dig and Montes can work their way through a classic austere synthpop number with equal aplomb; album opener “Je Te Vois” has the timelessness of a classic wave deep cut in its hypnotic bassline, reserved dual vocals and high-keening melody – the kind of track that could have dated from 1980 musically despite being minted this very year. Its immediate follow-up works classic electro-pop via a slightly more sweet and playful delivery, the octave bassline and bemused sounding delivery of its lyrics lending it a certain continental amiability.

That charm is present throughout Cathédrales, either overtly as on the reflective organ-inflected closer “Dédales” (one of the songs that points directly to Visage, who I’d wager are a primary influence) to the more straight-faced and mock-severe “Hammershøi assassiné”. Charismatic without being showy, and precise without sacrificing vigor, Hammershøi are reaping the rewards of being completely dialed-in to their approach.

Buy it.

Cathédrales by Hammershøi

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Deine Lakaien, “Dual”

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Deine Lakaein - Dual

Deine Lakaien
Dual
Chrom Records

Deine Lakaien sits out of time. That’s not just by virtue of the project’s debt to various art music traditions which predate by centuries the darkwave genre to which they nominally belong; the two threads which have run through all their work – Alexander Veljanov’s wounded baritone and Ernst Horn’s talent for deceptively complex synth arrangements – have been in place for decades. Those have proven themselves capable of weaving such rich tapestries that there’s been no need for the German duo to radically reinvent themselves. Apart from production quality, a neophyte would be hard-pressed to distinguish recent DL tunes from those dating back thirty years. All this lends something of the uncanny to Dual, a record of covers preceded by one of originals loosely inspired by the former.

Beginning Dual with the suite of originals is a savvy move. It might seem contradictory to put these originals before their sources, but quite frankly the connections between “Because Of Because” and Smith & Springsteen’s “Because The Night” or “In Your Eyes” and The Cure’s “The Walk” are barely perceptible to all save the proverbial fly on the wall in the studio. Instead, the first half of Dual is best taken as a standalone Deine Lakaien record. And by that metric, the band is the same beguiling combination of romanticism and experimentalism which has earned them a fantatical European following and kept North American audiences perpetually at bay. “Because Of Because”‘s challenging polyrhythm belies the lulling, descending simplicity of its strings. “Les Oiseaux” pulses intensely, Veljanov switching between quotidian observance and existential investigation in French while Horn recreates the titular animals’ call via strings – classic Deine Lakaein, in other words.

It’s an odd jump from the familiar elegance of Veljanov and Horn’s original work – much of which, again, feels like it could have come at any time in their career – to the specific histories and contexts of their covers. In contrast to the psychedelic looseness of The Cure’s original, Horn jabbing out the synth riff to “The Walk” in an uneven staccato has you second guessing the easy smoothness of Veljanov’s delivery. The easy harmonies of “Dust In The Wind” (yes, that one) lend themselves surprisingly well to bubbly, Erasure-esque synthpop, while there’s something unnerving about Veljanov getting right into the panto-camp spirit of Kate Bush’s “Suspended In Gaffa”. It’s remarkably true to the original but far removed from his characteristic somberness, which he lends well to a Linkin Park number. Musically, Horn’s transpositions can paradoxically alienate the listener just by virtue of sounding like Deine Lakaien: the off-kilter beats and muted strings of “Black Hole Sun” (which might suggest trap to listeners unfamiliar with the band’s sample-driven approach to darkwave) are wholly estranged from the brow-beaten psych-grunge which is the lingua franca of all children of the 90s. A selection from the Jacques Brel catalog, delivered via acoustic strings and piano, is just the opposite – so many stylists have tried their hand at Brel that Veljanov slides in easily.

Dual was first heralded by last year’s release of Deine Lakaein’s version of “Because The Night”. It was a stunner upon arrival, and one which well communicated Dual‘s overall ambitions in retrospect. An inseparable part of both its writers’ massive careers, it’s a song that would overshadow most performers, and yet Horn and Veljanov guided its unbridled spirit into a haunted gothic cathedral and bend it to fit their own aesthetic without robbing it of its power. As a concept Dual could have proven disastrous in the hands of a band less technically skilled or aesthetically willful, but it has the same weird glory with which Deine Lakaein have always glowed.

Buy it.

Dual by Deine Lakaien

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Tracks: April 26th, 2021

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People seem to have been pleased with Vision Thing as the selection for this month’s We Have A Commentary podcast, which is great to see. A band as massive as The Sisters isn’t one we’d generally tackle for a WHaC, which is why we thought a record like Vision Thing with a slightly more…complex legacy than that of First And Last And Always and Floodland might be interesting. As much as we tend to avoid writing wholly negative reviews on the site just for our own well-being, we don’t necessarily want to spend all of our commentary podcasts retreading universally beloved classics whose legacy and merits are already well-understood and discussed. What album will we have in our sights next month? Who knows, but for now we’ve got six fresh tracks to start the week off.

Gary Numan

Gary Numan? On this website? Never thought we’d see the day.

Gary Numan, “Now and Forever”
In case you couldn’t tell by the name of the site and the countless references to his work we’ve made over the years, we’re pretty big Gary Numan fans. A new album from our patron saint is of course always reason for celebration, and thus this certainly won’t be the last time you read about Intruder on this site. But let’s take a moment to appreciate new single “Now and Forever”, one of Numan’s occasional slow and sincerely sentimental ballads, a mode of songwriting and performance in his catalogue we always find touching. Bring on the album!

Lustmord & Karin Park, “Twin Flames”
Few industrial artists have as varied a list of collaborators well outside of their native sounds as Lustmord’s Brian Williams. Now adding Swedish synthpop vocalists to a list which includes Japanese noise rock acts and classical pianists, Williams has teamed with Karin Park to release the Alter LP. Williams’ legendary abyssal drones and crafty textures create a smooth and enveloping base for a wounded, lilting performance from Park.
ALTER by Lustmord & Karin Park

Jason Priest, “When the Clown Cries”
Antoni Maiovvi made his bones as a purveyor of horror synth music, but his alter-ego Jason Priest’s post-punk is a far cry from the giallo disco sound he’s most well known for. Witness the New Order-esque fluorishes on new single “When the Clown Cries”, all strummy chorus bass and metronomic drums topped with a wistful melody that makes the whole number go down smooth. Debut LP Jason Priest is Missing is due Summer 2021, we could happily go for an album in this style.
When The Clown Cries by Jason Priest

Aleister Blake, “Ad Wreckage”
If you’re only familiar with Timothee Gainet’s TBM work as IV Horsemen, the direction of new solo side project might be a shocker. But those who copped the Poison Point EP from a couple years back will recognize that Gainet has some more distinctly industrial and EBM roots along with his techno skills. Still, the creepy-crawl of low-fi tracks like this one from the Cyber Fame, Real Pain tape shows off a fresh and welcome side of his interests. Personally, we’re getting a mix of Qual and Yeht Mae here, though your mileage may vary.
CYBER FAME, REAL PAIN by ALEISTER BLAKE

Minuit Machine, “Basic Needs”
French duo Minuit Machine have been on a mission since their reformation after a few years hiatus. Last year’s Don’t Run From the Flames saw them veering closer to industrial dancefloor sound than at any point in the past, while new EP Basic Needs has them dipping their toe into the electro-darkwave sound, albeit shot through with their own brand of stoic melancholy – a nod to their minimal wave roots. Three tracks, three potential dancefloor starters, have a listen to the title track for starters before picking up the whole thing on Bandcamp.
Basic Needs by Minuit Machine

Rudimentary Peni, “Path Of Glory”
The legacy of the unkillable and singular Rudimentary Peni is far too storied and strange to even precis here. Suffice it to say, hearing Great War, the first new music from Nick Blinko & co. in over a decade touches that raw nerve which only RP can worm their digits to reach. Beloved by punks and goths alike, Blinko drives into the heart of madness and horror in order to splatter its ichor on all who pass by.
Great War by Rudimentary Peni

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We Have A Commentary: The Sisters Of Mercy, “Vision Thing”

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The Sisters Of Mercy - Vision Thing

We’re hunting big game with this month’s commentary podcast, as we tackle the last release from one of the most infamous bands we’re ever likely to cover – Andrew Eldritch’s attempt to finally transform The Sisters Of Mercy into the machine-rock juggernaut of his dreams, Vision Thing. It’s a record with terrifying lows, dizzying highs, and creamy middles, but ultimately stands as the purest expression of Eldritch’s aesthetic fusion of sex, politics, and Americana. From Leonard Cohen-isms of varying strengths to Jim Steinman’s final contribution to the band to Eldritch’s constantly shifting relationship with his own fame, this is a jam-packed episode of We Have A Commentary you won’t want to miss! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Observer: In The Nursery & Twin Tribes

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In The Nursery - Sheffield Revisited
In The Nursery
Sheffield Revisited – Melkweg, 1985
self-released

Last year’s reissue of In The Nursery’s Twins captured the transformation of the Humberstone brothers’ project from an exercise in post-punk severity into the engine of orchestral expression for which it would gain renown. Open to interpretation as a precursor to that transformation, this live tape from a 1985 Dutch showcase featuring other Sheffield acts documents the band at their rawest, as well as their last work as a trio before Anthony Bennett’s departure. Originally appearing on the B-side to the hopelessly out-of-print Angel Chrome tape, the set’s carried by echoing bass and desperate vocals, alternately howling and furtively whispering…and yes, the absolutely storming percussion, sometimes tightly frantic, sometimes martially controlled. From offering the band’s earliest compositions like “Witness (To A Scream)” in as violent a form as could be conceived, to a proto version of “To The Faithful” so different as to be an entirely separate composition, to Bennett’s experimental collages, this is a rough and tumble document of In The Nursery’s early metamorphoses.
Sheffield Revisited – Melkweg, 1985 by In The Nursery


Twin Tribes
Altars
Negative Gain Productions

Remix albums have long since taken the spot that used to be occupied by live albums, which is to say the lower-effort placeholder release between “real” albums. For every considered, curated remix LP experience there’s a collection of mixes done on the cheap filled with labelmates and unknowns whose main purpose is to highlight how much better the original versions of the songs were. Thankfully Texas post-punkers Twin Tribes’ Altars falls squarely in the latter camp. Drawing from both the duo’s debut Shadows and it’s follow-up Ceremony, an enviable line-up of currently relevant darkwave acts put their own stamp on Twin Tribes’ moody, danceable tunes. Especially notable is the Cult of Alia remix of Perdidos which replaces the peppy bounce of the deep-cut original with a slow-rolling stacatto rhythm, deepening it’s groove while maintaining its gloomy atmosphere. Listeners may also find themselves taken with NITE’s piano-laced take on “Upir”, an addition that altars the mood of the track from despair to sweet melancholy. There are legitimately no duds here though, from Chicago’s dreamy Wingtips’ reinvention of “Exilio” as an electro club banger, to Ash Code’s slight tweaks to up the dancefloor ante on new club classic “Fantasmas”, every remixer comes through with something of value. Few if any remix provide as much value to DJs and casual listeners alike as Altars does, a genuine standout in a format that generally invites mediocrity.
Altars by Twin Tribes

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We Have A Technical 358: From All Angles

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Klangstabil

A two albums episode of the podcast finds us discussing Klanstabil’s strange journey from Ant-Zen minimalism to the surfeit of passion and pop of Math & Emotion. Next, we take up Witchman’s attempt to draw industrial atmospheres and grime into the worlds of breaks and drum n’ bass on Explorimenting Beats. All that plus some musings on how our DJing may have changed over the past decade on 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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Lola Kumtus, “Pharmakos”

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Lola Kumtos - Pharmakos

Lola Kumtus
Pharmakos
self-released

Finnish duo Lola Kumtus emerged from a background of tense and sweaty electronics, with early releases sitting in the same intersection of minimal synth and synthpunk which has been explored by classic acts like Crash Course In Science and Snowy Red as well our own sorely missed Animal Bodies. But bit by bit some rhythmic swing has been added, swapping some of the staccato pogo of their earlier work for smoother, more hypnotic grooves, along with a focus on the thick and rubbery texture of the band’s bass programming. In short, we’re talking about a tilt towards EBM, but as new LP Pharmakos shows, the band aren’t interested in rehashing the trappings of that genre for the sake of retro cachet.

The still relatively anonymous duo (going simply by XX and XY) aren’t beating about the bush with Pharmakos. At a lean eight tracks and sub-30 minute run-time, it’s not a record that wears out its welcome, and more importantly each track leaves an impression. Stripped down arrangements of programmed bass and drums take up just about the entirety of the instrumentation, with terse and strained vocals essentially never having to fight or vie with extraneous programming or melodies in the mix. There’s enough jump and punch to the house-like jack of “The Shape Of Men” and chopped-up density in the tightly-gated pulses of “Cosmic Sweat” to carry those compositions without needing to overcomplicate things.

While it’d be possible to reach for points of comparison in Lola Kumtus doubling-down on EBM (a little bit of Ebb in the lyrical sloganeering, a bit of Jäger 90 in their minimalism), more than enough of the band’s own furtive, manic synthpunk energy is preserved through that transition that Pharmakos never sounds like it’s chasing after a certain mode or model of classic EBM. Instead, those rhythms and sounds (many of which will be immediately discernible to anyone who’s spent time with the genre) are being pulled into Lola Kumtus’ world and warped along the way.

Bookended by ambient/experimental tracks comprised of pings and drones, Pharmakos isn’t trying to maintain the broader, physical intensity we normally associate EBM with, especially minimal EBM of a somewhat throwback cast. It’s a forthright and energetic record, but one that isn’t going to pander. Trad EBM fans will likely find a lot to like here, so long as they’re willing to meet the band halfway.

Buy it.

Pharmakos by Lola Kumtus

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Dame Area, “Ondas Tribales”

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Dame Area
Ondas Tribales
Mannequin Records

Silvia Konstance and Viktor L. Crux’s Dame Area is project driven almost entirely by rhythm and percussion. Indeed, as the music on their latest LP Ondas Tribales attests, the Barcelona-based duo’s music is almost entirely drums, sparse synth bass and rhythmically yelled vocals. The end result is somewhere between synthpunk and the most primitive strains of body music, minimal in approach if not in terms of energy.

Dame Area don’t waste a lot of time setting the mood of the record; right from opener “Scopri Le Tue Passioni” the drum-forward compositional approach is established and quickly built upon. That track starts with a simple pattern of pitched kicks which are quickly joined by synthesized toms, congas and tambourines in counterpoint, with no more melody than the small amount provided by Konstance’s half-yelped, half-spoken vocals. Standout “La Danza Del Ferro” takes this approach to a controlled extreme, using handclaps, rattling samples, a distorted 808 kick and eventually dead simple two note synthlines to create a dancefloor stormer that recalls the rhythmic noise of Spanish industrial pioneers Esplendor Geometrico as handily as it does no-wave adjacent synth acts like Crash Course in Science.

It’s not all dancefloor stompers though, as Crux and Konstance dig into other song structures and ideas. Early in the record “Linea Retta” uses a straightforward kick-snare pattern as a canvas for toneless synth washes, its bongo fluorishes eventually wiped out by the swathes of swooping noise. At their most traditionally songlike it’s still the drums that stand out, as on the simple “Triangolo Segreto”, its seasick rhythm in direct competition with the snapping and popping drum sounds to grab the listener’s ear. It’s still not what you’d call tuneful, but in the context of the record it offers far more melody than anything else on offer.

It’s somewhat difficult to assess Ondas Tribales in terms of individual tracks, if only because Dame Area are so consistent in their approach. It’s hard to recall which songs are which, and even after multiple listens you’re likely to still be thinking of the album in terms of “this fast part” or “that particular drumline” more than its component songs. For all that clamor and animation it’s actually a record that’s easy to listen to, its pleasures found by letting it take hold and carry you along with it.

Buy it.

MNQ 141 Dame Area – Ondas Tribales by Dame Area

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Tracks: April 19th, 2021

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Settling in to spring means a few things here at I Die: You Die; firstly it’s time for us to start looking at musical trends of the year (at a glance we’re seeing the promised wave of Covid creativity and some Bandcamp Friday burnout) but secondly, and especially for this, our 10th year doing I Die: You Die we’re getting the ball rolling on some anniversary projects. Chief amongst them will be some merch drops, but we’ve got some stuff specifically for the site and podcast we’re pretty excited about. Keep your eyes on this space for more info as we roll it out.

XTR Human lookin fresh to death

XTR Human, “Wie Ein Gott”
One of our fave tracks of the year thus far has been XTR Human’s “Leben Ohne Licht”, a solid bit of electro-body with a synthpop finish that sticks in your head after a single listen. We’re super happy to hear then that the band have a forthcoming album on Braid entitled G.O.L.D.. New track “Wie Ein Gott” has the same genre mix as it’s predecessor, with a smooth build and fun production flourishes. Definitely a release we’re putting down on our calendars.
G.O.L.D by XTR HUMAN

Null Command, “Compression Standards”
Not the Wisconsin synthpop combo (that’d be Null Device) not the French industrial rock project (that’s Null Split), Null Command are a minimal synth act from Victoria, British Columbia. And when they say minimal they mean it, every song is made up of a scant few layers of synth, some Speak-n-spell style synthesized vocals and a healthy dollop of robotic funk. Minimal doesn’t mean simple though; check some of the clever programming on “Compression Standards” from the forthcoming LP Control Language for Deviation for a taster of what Null Command have on offer.
Control Language For Deviation by Null Command

Ghost Twin, “Blue Sunshine”
Another teaser from Strobe Light, the forthcoming second LP from our fave Winnipeg darkwavers, Ghost Twin. The whole faux-retro VHS aesthetic they’ve been using in the lead-up to the record is charming enough, but super-sweet synthpop confections like this one, bringing classic Erasure to mind, are the real delight. A reference to the film or the record? Not sure…
Love Songs for End Times by Ghost Twin

MVQX, “Hey You Sh1t”
After the straightforward but thoroughly engaging Social Disaster EP first brought Brazilian producer MVQX to our attention, a sharp turn’s been made with the About That EP. Much more furtive and minimal, tracks like this one put all the focus on dense, rubbery bass textures along with some classic, early Mute-type atmosphere and clatter. We hope we don’t still need to spell it out in 2021, but anyone sleeping on South America’s body music scene is missing out on some of the most vibrant and swiftly evolving producers out there.
About That EP by MVQX

Volt 9000, “Unbreakable”
We’re unabashed fans of Canadian oddball industrialists Volt 9000, from their lo-fi 16 bit origins right through to their complex and varied latter era. That makes the release of B-Side so delightful for us; each of the EP’s five tracks is a previously unreleased track from each of the project’s first five albums. If you follow Cory Gorski you know he’s got his fingers in a lot of pies – he wrote a book about VHS collecting, has a collaborative grunge (!!!) band with Brian Graupner and is prepping another episode of his stop-motion animated series for release – so we’re glad he could take some time to put this oHgr-esque cut from a decade back into the world.
B-Sides by Volt 9000

Menthüll, “Happy Sunday”
Kicking along with Quebecois duo Menthüll, who’ve become one of our sleeper fave acts within or outside Canada during the lockdown era. A bit more trad synthpop is woven into the Hull act’s coldwave stylings on this track, but the dreamy, florid feel which first brought us in is still in full effect. Very much an act we suggest keeping tabs on from here on out.
Happy Sunday (feat. Damien de La Bergerette) by Menthüll

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Observer: MESHES & Awwful

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MESHES
Euphoria
Tutamen

Moscow-based MESHES first came to our attention via their show-stealing contributions to Up North Records’ Northern Nightmares and Idlestates No Portions Vol. II compilations. You can fairly easily trace the body music sound of the project’s Euphoria to the Berlin scene of the last five years, although MESHES avoid the creative doldrums that have plagued that sound through serious application of grit and menace. “Эйфория (Euphoria)” manages a slow boil at a medium tempo until it’s detuned lead and a wave of dragged out vocals punch through the track’s opaque atmosphere, intimidating and dismayed in equal measures. “Уничтожь Всё Что Непонятно (Destroy Everything That Is Unclear)” channels the funk of mid-period Schwefelgelb in it’s bouncy bass and drums, but shoots the track through with teeth chattering percussion and uneasy blasts of analogue synth noise. At it’s most dense the EP seems like it’s on the verge of shaking itself apart from sheer nervous energy, as on “Я Хочу Быть Свободным (I Want Freedom)” where the programming manages to barely keep up with itself before the track tears itself down to just a kick drum and vocal. Deliberately unpolished and rowdy, it’s technofied-EBM that makes an asset of rawness and readiness.
Euphoria EP by Meshes

Awwful - Architecture EP
Awwful
Architecture EP
self-released

As per our discussion of pop and industrial a few weeks ago (and the recent Kanga record), we’re always happy about acts who can either resolve or explode the rockist/poptimist tension which seems to sit at the heart of all intersections of noise and pop. Montreal-based performer Awwful has struck upon a rather enjoyable resolution thereof, slathering contemporary PC Music/hyperpop sounds in sludgy noise that’s equal parts grunge, industrial, and shoegaze. The winning immediacy of “Architecture” will likely bring to mind HEALTH, Mr.Kitty, or TR/ST (plus that record where The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart did a good job of sounding like Smashing Pumpkins), while the downward, thumping hook of “Look Back In Pain” finds a decidedly darker tone. Comprised of three primary tracks plus a pair of noisier interludes, Architecture‘s a nicely succinct mission statement that shows how arbitrary the division between accessibility and outsiderdom may appear to younger artists.
Architecture EP by Awwful

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We Have A Technical 357: Very Very Relaxed

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These New Puritans

These New Puritans

We say this a lot, but trust us: you’d be very hard-pressed to find a more different pair of records than the one’s we’re discussing in this week’s podcast that still have some relevance to the larger world of industrial. So join us as we travel from Velvet Acid Christ’s 2000 foray into goa, Twisted Thought Generator, and art-rockers These New Puritans’ use of industrial percussion on Hidden. All that plus some blue-sky thinking about in-depth interview subjects on the latest 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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Vomito Negro, “Entitled”

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Vomito Negro
Entitled
Mecanica Records

Never let it be said that Vomito Negro have mellowed with age. Now approaching four decades of activity, the Belgian industrial and EBM project helmed by Gin Devo have never strayed far from their tense, murky roots, remaining bellicose even at their most accessible and dancefloor friendly. Perhaps their latest LP Entitled is something of an acknowledgement of that history of antagonism; per the album’s liners, all eight tracks are newly recorded versions of unreleased 80s compositions, reconstituted by Gin Devo with the help of vintage synths and drum machines.

That sort of revisitation isn’t unique in Vomito Negro’s deep discography; one of the first releases undertaken by the project after a hiatus in the 2000s was the The 2K10 Remakes, a cleaned-up reworking of some of the band’s biggest songs from the preceding era. Still, there’s nothing specific to these songs that makes them seem more throwback than any of VN’s contemporary material. The simple-bass driven hypnotic grind of “Weak” and the frantic livewire synth and drum programming of “In Strikt Tempo” are fairly timeless, feeling like the could have hailed from any period in the band’s history, the clarity of recording and the mix notwithstanding. Indeed, Devo’s sneering vocals and the layers of reverb and synth noise that build out each track are Vomito Negro hallmarks, strangely comforting given their ominous tenor.

That formula is both Vomito Negro’s calling card, and their greatest strength. It’s hard to deny the power of the grating, rusty bass on “Black Point”, the clicky drums and serrated leads lashing out from the track’s monolithic center. Hell, even a nimbler number like the appropriately titled “Murk” where Devo engages in a more rhythmic vocal delivery has loads of menace and ire wedged between the notes of its sinewy synth bass. Sure it’s a bit unrelenting in terms of general misanthropy – the record begins with samples detailing accounts of unsupervised LSD trials and ends with electo-schock therapy to unconscious subjects – but by this point that’s become the band’s most singular quality, and Devo leans into it with belligerent gusto.

Don’t go into Entitled expecting it to change your perception of Vomito Negro or offer new wrinkles to their established sound. It’s a record that plays it by a very specific book, and one whose appeal is going to be very dependent on how low-down, gritty and generally unpleasant the listener likes their EBM. For those that favour the genre’s more inhospitable climes, it should offer enough pique and pall to satisfy.

Buy it.

Entitled by Vomito Negro

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Sophrosyne, “Ecclesiastes”

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Sophrosyne - Ecclesiastes

Sophrosyne
Ecclesiastes
Avon Terror Corps

As has been reiterated several times, we don’t end up covering much industrial metal around here, though it’s not for a lack of interest. Rather, it’s that the glut of bands who seem to think that throwing some pads over warmed-over groove metal will yield them the next Demanufacture often feels too sizable to fight through in order to find anything of real interest. Factor in a lack of curiosity or ambition regarding what sort of industrial sounds can be hybridized with metal and it’s often just not worth the work. But every now and again a release like Ecclesiastes comes across the desk, not only sounding fresh and invigorated but so free and diverse in its use of styles that it ends up getting us thinking about the sub-genre in new ways.

From its almost purely drag opening, it’s apparent that Ecclesiastes isn’t going to be an exercise in purism or austerity. Witch house, gabber, dungeon synth, and lo-fi symphonic dark electro keys are all smashed up against metal foundations that lift just as much from 90s nu-metal as they do the 80s kvlt pioneers one might expect. That said, the not-so subtle nod to Bathory in the album art says more about Sophrosyne’s unapologetically lo-fi approach and general sense of manic fun than a desire to pit themselves against the hallowed giants of black metal – check the noodly organ breakdowns in “Original Sin”, which likely owes more to JRPG battle soundtracks than anything else.

Despite a short run-time it’d be easy for a record this loud and intense to start running into diminishing returns midway through, but thanks to its genre-omnivorous nature it’s able to find new ways to sound massive and imposing throughout. The martial pads which frame “Human Abbatoir” herald its stabby programming and foot-tapping chug with an extra sense of gravitas, while closer “The Damage Is Already Done” takes some early Fear Factory riffs into the gabber territory Raymond Herrera’s double kicks always neighboured upon and cross-hatches them with some red-lined bass drops (before the elegiac string bridge, natch).

Sashcloth and Axes’ digitally overdriven hijacking of metal noise might be the closest comparison for Sophrosyne which comes to mind, but while that project ultimately retained and electronic core, Sophrosyne is built upon metal. And by grabbing whatever noise might be closest at hand in order to recreate metal grooves and breakdowns from across the genre’s past few decades, it’s ended up reconstituting that most classic of beasts into a strange new technicolor chimera.

Buy it.

Ecclesiastes by Sophrosyne

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