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?
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Rosetta Stone, “Seems Like Forever”

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Rosetta Stone - Seems Like Forever

Rosetta Stone
Seems Like Forever

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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Celluloid Self

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.

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
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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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

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.



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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