We Have a Technical 256: Whatever Happened

Mr.Kitty on that D&D shit

Verboden Festival came through Vancouver like a tornado, leaving us in a dazed state with the memories and merch of umpteen post-punk, darkwave, and related bands swirling about our heads and our apartments. This week we’re discussing some highlights from this, the fourth installment of Vancouver’s dark music fest, and featuring an interview with Forrest Avery LeMaire of Mr.Kitty, unquestionably one of the highlights of the weekend. 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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Word Made Flesh, “Everything And Nothing”

Word Made Flesh
Everything And Nothing
Armalyte Industries

Keef Baker and Phil Barry’s debut record as Word Made Flesh felt like a natural extension of both artist’s work; Baker’s dub and technoid sounds combined with Barry’s churning walls of guitar to make what was functionally a kind of industrialized post-rock. New album Everything And Nothing works from the same template but ups both the scope and the abstraction. The result is a record that is as monolithic and towering as its predecessor, but far more unknowable.

Nowhere is the shift in approach more noticeable than on opening track “Skin Popping”. An 11 minute plus composition, its primary characteristics are bassy drones, disembodied vocal samples drenched in reverb and unnervingly sharp string sounds. It’s not that it feels entirely divorced from the material the duo have released in the past, but that it delivers similar feelings and experiences with a reframing of their shared toolset. See also the wavy tremolo guitar that weaves its way through the off-kilter beats and atonal sequences of “Multiplication of Arcs”, or the way that fuzz and distortion are layered on top of every sound on “The Body” to make what is essentially death industrial. None of it seems out of place, but none of it expected or obvious either.

For all the moments of immensity and murkiness on “Everything And Nothing”, there are also some moments that bring a welcome sense of scale by their more reserved nature. The gentle, measured repetition of the song’s title on “Between Two Points” backed by distant explosions has a strangely intimate quality, something that’s also reflected in the strange blend of mangled pop samples, buzzing insects and domestic conversation that are hacked together on “The Lead in the Pipes”. “The Mind”‘s gentle guitar feedback drones and extremely sparse percussion might be the only thing that Word Made Flesh have ever made that you could call beautiful, but it’s no less so for its unique nature.

Somehow both familiar and unexpected, Word Made Flesh made a record that expands on the potential of their partnership in ways that we wouldn’t have expected. Genre agnosticism and the deep well of styles and ideas invoked on Everything And Nothing aren’t the easiest building blocks when it comes to cohesion, but the two scene veterans bring it all together through atmosphere and character.

Buy it.

Word Made Flesh – Everything And Nothing by Word Made Flesh

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1919, “Futurecide”

1919 - Futurecide

1919
Futurecide
Cleopatra Records

The double-whammy of the Brexit referendum and US election back in 2016 prompted no small amount of gallows humour, and the old “just think of all the angry records we’re going to get” jibe was of no real comfort. But the parallels between the Reagan/Thatcher era and whatever you’d care to name the fresh hell of 2019 make the resurgence of 1919 a century on from their namesake feel rather fitting. The second album since their reconvening, Futurecide makes some notable changes to the sound of the legendary proto-goth band while keeping their original spirit in focus.

Before we discuss musical changes it should be stressed that the version of 1919 which has written Futurecide is a very different animal than the one which released all those early 80s singles. The 1919 assembled a few years back centered around founding guitarist and songwriter Mark Tighe, who recruited original drummer Mick Reed and newcomers Rio Goldhammer (vocals) and Karl Donner (bass). Tighe passed away two years back, leaving Reed as the sole original member and making Futurecide the first 1919 release to not feature Tighe’s songwriting. Ship Of Theseus-style metaphysics aside, this is all to say that there’s a reason why the record feels even further removed musically from previous reunion LP Bloodline.

Removed how, you ask? Well, Futurecide is a remarkably smooth and melodic record rife with goth rock harmonies the likes of which weren’t developed until years after the raw, lo-fi attack of early 1919 singles like “Caged”. There’s something poetic about 1919 drawing upon the records and bands they’d go on to inspire for the twilight crooning of “Anxiety” or the glammy stomp of “Stop The World”. Goldhammer’s an accomplished vocalist, and while he’s certainly not attempting to imitate the bellow and yowl of original singer Ian Tilleard, he adds a good amount of personality and flourish to the proceedings whether holding even tones for max goth smoldering, or using a strained yelp to accentuate the stresses and tensions which make up Futurecide.

It’s in those themes that Futurecide shows itself to be a 1919 work through and through, no matter the permutations of the line-up. From the chaos of getting by day to day (“Anxiety”) to the paradox of the necessity and impossibility of revolution (“Radicals”), Futurecide has its fingers on the frantic pulse of all our fears and crises, from the personal to the global. The record feels incredibly of the moment despite the ease with which its lyrics could theoretically be transposed back onto the band’s earliest work – I’ll leave it to you to judge whether that says more about 2019’s 1919 remaining true to their origins or broader histories repeating.

FUTURECIDE by 1919

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Tracks: April 15th, 2019

It was a hell of a weekend here in Vancouver, one of the most musically packed we’ve experienced in a long time between Verboden Festival and various other extant shows. You’ll hear more about it on the podcast this week, but we thought we’d take a moment to give a shout out to Robert and the staff at Verboden and all the locals who have been putting in work booking bands, running club nights and otherwise contributing to the surge of the dark music community in our home town. It’s good to see the variety and spirit of collaboration that has risen up in Our Thing in our own hometown and we couldn’t be more pleased with weekends like the one we just experienced. Mazel tov!

Veil Of Light

Veil Of Light bringing chroma key realness.

DRI HIEV, “Seven Of”
Speaking of Verboden, a highlight of the fest was Calgary’s Dri Hiev, whose performance grabbed everyone in the venue immediately, making a roomful of fans in a tense 25 minutes. Combining raw synthpunk with a mix of shrieked and sung vocals and the addition of saxophone, it’s a blend of sounds as potent as it was unexpected. Check out their track “Seven Of” from the official festival compilation and be on the lookout when they come through your town.
Verboden 2019 Compilation of Artists by Verboden

Veil of Light, “Fact2019”
Zurich-based Veil of Light have been working their particular strain of mechanized post-punk pretty hard over the last couple of years, delivering several LPs of cool and sonically aggressive tunes. The first song we’re hearing from the forthcoming Inflict keeps with the hard hitting drum machines we’ve come to expect, but the bassline and metallic synth tones are giving off some serious 80s Mute catalogue vibes. Catchy stuff from an act who are low-key amongst the best plying this particular wave of darkwave.
Inflict by VEIL OF LIGHT

Survival Paradox, “Night”
Emad Dabiri’s X-IMG label has done a solid job of establishing a particular aesthetic and raising the profile of plenty of acts Dabiri doesn’t have a direct hand in. The fourth of the label’s Self-Aware comps is on deck, featuring a laser-etched USB drive (designed by a fashion label for folks who don’t just wear band shirts and ballcaps) for its physical version. Info about lead-off hitters Survival Paradox is scant, but we dig the way atmosphere is built around a slightly sprained acid beat.
SELF-AWARE IV [X-IMG07] by Survival Paradox

Corvx de Timor, “Mantidianos (feat Humanfobia)”
Ben Arp’s dusted off his witchier garb and returned to his Corvx de Timor project with a couple of releases in the past month. This collaboration with Chilean producer Humanfobia is a nice exercise in pure, minimal sound design, and draws a clear line between CdT and Arp’s powernoise roots in C/A/T.
Mantidianos (feat Humanfobia) by Corvx de Timor

Lizard Skin, “Warm Descent”
You can’t swing a bass without hitting a post-punk band in Portland, but newcomers Lizard Skin look to be doing well by their city with this track from their debut tape. There’s some quiet consideration happening in the corners here, and that contemplative mood contrasts with the brusque vocals, though by the end everything’s gelling quite nicely. Featuring production from our pal Susan Subtract of Physical Wash, we’re hoping the rest of the tape lives up to this promise.
Subterranean Guilt by Lizard Skin

Blac Kolor, “Nano Creator (Klangbild remix)”
One aspect of Blac Kolor’s Awakening LP from 2018 was the way it shied away from the obvious ways techno and industrial cross over to explore some more heady and atmospheric territory. Hendrick Grothe was always ahead of the curve in working that particular hybridization, so it definitely felt like an interesting choice to try and take his now venerable project in a direction that challenged listeners to follow. As something of a follow-up new single Awakening Remixes takes things back towards the dancefloor, with three new reinterpretations fit for more adventurous clubgoers like this acid-flecked cut from Klangbild.
Awakening Remixes by Blac Kolor

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Observer: SARIN X Imperial Black Unit & FEE LION

SARIN X Imperial Black Unit
SARIN X Imperial Black Unit
Will To Destroy
X-IMG

We’ve grown accustomed to all manner of exciting dark techno/EBM releases taking the form of split 12″s and comps, but SARIN’s Emad Dabiri’s taken things a step further with a new release on his X-IMG label – a collaboration with French post-industrial terrorists Black Imperial Unit, who’ve been carving out a reputation for themselves over the past year or two. The distortion and rage IBU have demonstrated in the past couple of years blends well with Dabiri’s immediate beats, which take on a somewhat more rubbery and approachable tone here, akin to his Human Performance Lab work. Check the bassline on “Malfunction” with its uncanny resemblance to Depeche Mode’s “Nothing” – a fair step friendlier than the concrete acid slabs we’ve often received from Dabiri in his solo work or Konkurs collaboration. Movie trailer voiceovers and dialogue samples (Heat and Assault On Precinct 13 were the only ones we could trace) conjure kitsch, terror, and mystery in equal turn, and are juxtaposed against nigh-indecipherable vocals, presumably from Imperial Black Unit, creating an odd dialectic between the tangible and the ineffable as the tracks build. Although something of Dabiri’s interest in contemporary military issues comes across through inference, it’s easy enough to put the origins and methodologies aside for the sake of enjoying just how naturally these two young acts are able to function together.
Will To Destroy [BITE07] by SARIN x IMPERIAL BLACK UNIT


FEE LION
Blood Sisters
self-released

Chicago-based synth artist Justina Kairyte’s work as FEE LION is getting progressively darker over time. Compared to her earlier, more mercurial releases new EP Blood Sisters is practically opaque; beefed up synths and deliberately sparse textures give her electro-pop numbers a frisson-worthy edge. “Re: (Visit)” uses an thick, insistent bassline to establish mood and allow us to acclimatize to Kairyte’s controlled vocal delivery before small waves of synth tones flow through the track. The title track takes a similar template and amps it up in terms of tempo, offering up something for the dancefloor but keeping the instrumental arrangement appropriately minimal until the drum track gears up for the song’s peak moment. The hypnotic repetition of the previous tracks is fully realized on the nearly 8 minute “My Man”, the simple rhythm and vocal arrangement setting the stage for shifts in mood and setting as drifting tones and warbling reverbs settle in and dissipate before rushing back in from the song’s edges. Closer “Heaven” is the moment when Kairyte really cuts loose vocally, putting aside her cool and composed delivery for a vampy late-game climax before the EP rolls to a stop. It’s all well-executed stuff that makes the most of atmosphere and toolset, developed to showcase FEE LION both as a personality and producer.
Blood Sisters by FEE LION

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We Have a Technical 255: Pazuzu’s Petals

Ulver & Coil

Back in action after a couple weeks of pre-recorded episodes, the Senior Staff are getting back to basics with discussion of records by Ulver and yelworC. Also, they’re doing their best to catch up on all the news that’s happened since they were last sitting down together, namely the eighth Cold Waves line-up. All that plus an account of the most genteel Laibach show ever on this week’s 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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Covenant, “Fieldworks Exkursion”

Covenant - Fieldworks Exkursion

Covenant
Fieldworks Exkursion
Dependent Records

For years we’ve talked about how for all their changes and progressions, Covenant have remained immediately recognizable, and that the long-running Swedish act always communicate a certain je ne sais quois from the moment a new track of theirs begins. More than any other release in their discography, Fieldworks Exkursion challenges that assertion. While there’s one characteristically stormy banger in “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air” (more on that later), the five tracks on this initially tour-exclusive EP feature the most outre experimentation hitherto accomplished in Covenant’s history, both musically and conceptually.

At least some of Fieldworks Exkursion has its roots in field recordings taken by the band while on tour, and each track is composed by a different member of the band, which perhaps explains the sheer range of sound investigated in less than twenty-five minutes, along with how far removed the EP is from the band’s extant catalog. The dusty ambiance and mournful organ of “Pantheon” (inspired by Joakim Montelius’ travels in Rome) couldn’t be further from the banging clatter of “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air”, with its gulping beat sounding as though it’s straining to keep up with the muted klaxons and keys which make up the bulk of the track. It’s a piece which certainly has one foot in Covenant’s roots, but like the best moments on The Blinding Dark finds the band working with more contemporary sound design. Speaking of contemporizing, Marie Lando of nu-goth act grabyourface sounds right at home on “False Gods”, a tune that has the passionate irreverence of classic joints like “Final Man” but whose anti-celebrity message has deeper resonance on a cross-generational collaboration.

Fieldworks Exkursion is rich with cultural reference, and draws upon a broad scope of historical and artistic influence. “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air” of course nods to Marx’s metaphor for the chaos of class relations in the wake of industrial capital, and welds that phrase to a call for class uprising in Shelley’s “The Mask Of Anarchy”. “Popul Vuh” may have a double meaning as homage to the krautrock band of the same name, but it’s also a direct reading of the Mayan origin myth, which perhaps makes for a fitting segue into closer “Das Nibelungenlied (I. Abenteuer)”. Far more austere than anything else on the EP, Simonsson’s recitation of titular middle age German epic well communicates the metre and rhythm of the original text even to English speakers, though the foreboding tone of the simple echoing piano which traces through it is more ambiguous. A reference to the tragedy that is to befall Siegfried, or perhaps to all the multifarious ways in which that myth would go on to shape German history?

What’s perhaps ultimately most satisfying about Fieldworks Exkursion is that it doesn’t feel like experimentation for its own sake. A particular theme or mood seems to have been conceived of, and then sound design and structures established to suit, regardless of how they do or do not intersect with the band’s extant work. When we wrote about The Blinding Dark just over two years ago, we made the somewhat brazen claim that Covenant’s “best work might still lie ahead”. Fieldworks Exkursion buoys that hypothesis. Covenant were not the first to take inspiration from Marx’s image of social transmutation: at the close of his own All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, the great critic Marshall Berman held that “The process of modernization, even as it exploits and torments us, brings our energies and imaginations to life, drives us to grasp and confront the world that modernization makes, and to strive to make it our own.” Covenant are continuing that struggle, with their own history and their own future.

Fieldworks Exkursion EP by Covenant

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And Void, self-titled

And Void
self-titled
self-released

And Void is a new project made up of already established collaborations. Canadian rhythmic industrialist Scott Fox of iVardensphere and Mika Goedrijk cemented their mutual appreciation when Fox recently joined Goedrijk’s long-running project This Morn’ Omina, with the trio being rounded out by Mari Kattman (Helix) who has done vocal work with iVardensphere numerous times in the past. Consequently there’s something of a built-in familiarity to And Void’s debut release, although the project’s specific emphasis on orchestral and downtempo electronics expands on ideas we’ve heard these artists explore together previously.

The core of And Void is (naturally considering the parties involved) a mix of deeply designed electronic soundscape work, organic instrumentation and complex percussion. If you’re familiar with the principles, than a song like “Unsung” is probably close to your expectations; subterranean synth bass, string stabs and a loping percussive loop with Kattman’s expressive voice smoothly carried atop. It’s a sound that And Void know how to execute perfectly and they do it with aplomb with big reverb textures and warbling synths given more spotlight on “October Lullaby” and closer “Little Death”.

Where the record really delivers surprises is through its orchestrally focused numbers. Opener “Perchance to Dream” works a rich arrangement of choral sounds, synthesized instrumentation and cinematic ambience that recalls mid-period In The Nursery both in terms of build and detail. Later numbers like “Eclipse Phase” and “Sunward” work similar ideas, but with more pronounced vocalizations from Kattman, the latter number adding a simple but propulsive low-key electronic groove that compliments its brass and plucked strings. When the group brings those approaches back to the fold on the excellent “Midnight Black” the effect is tremendous; the twinkling melody, and razor sharp violin stabs piercing through the song’s ominous samples and an excellent guest vocal from Andy Deane.

Apparently the material that makes up the And Void record has been passed back and forth between Fox, Kattman and Goedrijk for a few years now. Given that these folks have loads of extant work together beyond this release, it’s interesting to speculate how much of the record started as proofs of concept or workflow exercises, as each artist explored the potential of collaboration. Which is not to say that the album feels like a series of sketches, or that it lacks depth, moreso that it provides some insight into what these musicians are interested in exploring together, and what we may hear from their partnerships going forward.

Buy it.

And Void by And Void

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Tracks: April 8th, 2019

As regular readers are aware, Alex and I have a tough time keeping our love of pro wrestling off the site and away from the eyes of various goths and rivetheads who just want to read or hear about new music without any spandex playfights getting in the way, thank you very much. But that’s tough to do after a weekend like this past one, which didn’t just feature WWE’s Wrestlemania but dozens of other big shows put on by other entities, up to and including our beloved New Japan Pro Wrestling. Between the noble (and oh so handsome) Kazuchika Okada winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back from the slimy and dastardly Switchblade Jay White and generational forces of charisma Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi coming together in a clash for the ages, it was a pretty fine weekend for fans of Japanese strong style. I still dream from time to time of assembling a fanvid of Tomohiro Ishii’s devastating headbutts and suplexes set to the tune of “Pitbull” by Diesel Dudes, but barring learning Final Cut Pro, I’ll just have to keep the highlight reel in my head, possibly while listening to some of this week’s Tracks!

3Teeth

3Teeth. Okay boys, now let’s get in formation.

Wychdoktor, “Suffocation”
It’s been well over three years since we had a full LP of new material from rhythmic/tribal industrial act Wychdoktor, and the first tastes of the Ottawa act’s fourth LP look to be worth the wait. “Suffocation” puts the moody, ritual atmospheres on the backburner for the sake of some absolutely crushing power electronics grooves. The build and pace of the track’s arrangement are absolutely ace, and we have to think this’d go over wonderfully on any floor you’d care to test it with. A number like this bodes very well for Pact, which drops at the end of the month.
Pact by Wychdoktor

Fixmer / McCarthy, “Let It Begin”
There’s really nothing we can say about techno/EBM hybrids which the duo of Terence Fixmer and Douglas McCarthy didn’t already field test a decade or so back. New single “Let It Begin” has just enough quirky production flourishes to avoid sounding rote, but the swagger and thump the duo have been dishing out since today’s Berghain’s denizens were in short pants is still in full effect.
Let it Begin EP by Fixmer/mccarthy

Rhys Fulber & Blush Response, “Threat Perception”
Speaking of techno/EBM collaborative projects, a cross-generational one which makes all the sense in the world has just been unveiled in an EP from Rhys Fulber and Joey Gonzalez of Blush Response. Both men’s solo work of late has been heading in the same abrasively textured body music direction, while eschewing the minimalism which often accompanies that. Check how much acid and electro-industrial weirdness is woven into a speedy banger like this one.
Corruption Of Form by Rhys Fulber & Blush Response

And Void, “Ideal Prey”
The unanticipated yet logical collaborations just keep coming this week! Scott Fox has always acknowledged the influence of This Morn’ Omina on iVardensphere, and so a team-up with TMO’s Mika Goedrijk makes a good deal of sense. Adding Mari Kattman’s vocals to the mix – which we recently heard with Tom Shear on the Helix project – lends slinky charm to the downtempo proceedings. Little bit of Delerium style trip-hop on this one.
And Void by And Void

3Teeth, “American Landfill”
We talked at length about how shutdown.exe marked a more overtly metal phase in 3Teeth’s development and, well, if “American Landfill” is any indication, third LP Metawar will be pushing that sound even further. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but it sounds as though there’s a fair bit of 90s nu-metal being drawn upon for the grooves and breakdowns. Metawar‘s not out until July, so it’ll still be a while before we have a full sense of where 3Teeth is heading in 2019.

Physical Wash, “Talking To A Stranger”
I’ll admit that I never really considered the influence The Klinik might have had on Susan Subtract’s work with High-Functioning Flesh before, but hearing him cover “Talking To A Stranger” using his new Physical Wash solo handle makes all the sense in the world. The sneering take on social pressures and isolation, the way that analogue warmth can communicate spiritual chill – there’s actually a whole lot of crossover between Susan’s world and Dirk Ivens’.

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Children On Stun, “Echoes”

Children On Stun - Echoes

Children On Stun
Echoes
Armalyte Industries

Boy howdy, first Rosetta Stone, and now Children On Stun re-emerge with new recordings after decades of dormancy within the same two months? If Big Electric Cat regroup I’m buying a swath of lottery tickets and moving to Greenland because surely the end is nigh. This iteration of the band formed in the wake of the passing of original CoS guitarist Simon Manning, who hoisted the standard of Violets-inspired, anthemic goth rock via Grooving In Green for years after the group’s disintegration. New EP Echoes touches the blithe magic Children On Stun were always able to alight upon, even if some of its individual moments show some wear.

Hearing one of the all-time classic second-wave goth rock bands back in action some twenty years after they first packed it in can’t help but carry something of the uncanny. Even if their style were to have been preserved in amber since then, if nothing else the new clarity brought to their tracks via developments in recording underscores just how much simmering tension always sat at the heart of their work. Original vocalist Neil Ash sounds both right in his element on the opening title track, but also a little thin in comparison to classic tour de force outings like “Sidelined”. Is it fair to hold a band to the standard they set nearly a quarter of a century back? No, but when a tune like “All The Pain Of Love” comes at you with the direct fervor of the band’s glory days, you can’t help but root for them to shoot the pale, gibbous moon.

It’s that damned if we do, damned if we don’t spirit which both beguiles and confounds as Echoes swiftly goes through its motions. The progressively maniacal build of “Another Love Another Beginning” exemplifies the sort of unhinged joy and fervor the sort of melodic goth rock Children On Stun always traded in and shows them to still be capable of, but the crystal clear rendering of their playing makes them feel much more present, frail, and mortal than any of their early works. At the end of the day, none of us fossil goths are getting any younger, and Children On Stun don’t seem to want us to forget that, even as they spit in the face of the inevitable.

Children On Stun – Echoes by Children On Stun

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We Have A Technical 254: Smiles Und Sunshine

Unheilig

Unheilig. You just don’t get Der Graf in Des Moines.

The second part of our Pick 5 doubleheader is here! After wallowing in the deep-friend excesses of Americana, we’re crossing the Atlantic to discuss some bands who only could have come from Europe. Are we as Canadians projecting inherited stereotypes regarding our friends to the south and continental cousins? That’s more than likely, but join us anyway! 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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A Covenant Of Thorns, “Shadows & Serenades”

A Covenant Of Thorns - Shadows & Serenades

A Covenant Of Thorns
Shadows & Serenades
A Handful Of Nothing

One-man synthpop act A Covenant Of Thorns has been a going concern for well over twenty years at this point, albeit a relatively low-profile one. I can remember hearing some scattered tracks from debut LP Hallowed & Hollow around 2000 and appreciating the raw emotion which seemed to drive them, though it wasn’t until relatively recently that I learned David-Scott Allen had been pressing on with self-released works ever since. Even within the relatively niche world of independent synthpop, A Covenant Of Thorns sat outside of contemporaneous trends upon arrival. The reflective, often consciously minimal construction of Hallowed & Hollow couldn’t be further from the dense and speedy euphoria being pursued by the majority of the A Different Drum roster at that point. But the serious time Allen has spent honing his craft without breaking from his core sound ever since has paid off with Shadows & Serenades.

For a genre so often poo-pooed by outsiders as simplistic, synthpop depends upon a delicate balance of arrangement and instrumentation, and from stellar opener “Torn In Two” onward Allen is able to execute. But to talk about how the bass and pads shift overtop each other and yield to great effect on the bridge of that tune is to risk underselling the emotional core of the song, half bitter recrimination, half romanticized nostalgia. To wit, it’s classic synthpop through and through, but Allen never repeats his formulas, finding an entirely different suite of sounds for the wintry rush of “Faithless”, and another for the metaphysical balladeering of “Dahlia (Together We Die)”.

Despite solid vocal control, Allen never tries to push his voice beyond its limits, nor does he try to use vocal histrionics as a substitute for effective emotional songwriting. Also, given the bleak thematics which hold Shadows & Serenades together, striking a weary tone on “Torn In Two” or sounding as though he’s lost amidst the pads of “Alien” underscores the moods of those songs better than showier performances would. That said, when a song calls for something extra, like a high flourish on “(A)pathetic” (“And if you think you’ve done enough then you are part of the problem”) or leaning into the joyous chorus of “Lost In The Light”, Allen is right there to deliver.

Calling the record bleak is perhaps literally accurate, but also somewhat misleading. While there’s plenty of heartache and pain on display in the record’s 53 minutes, it never falls victim to pure miserablism, and, more importantly, it never falls into a rut or repeats itself. As mentioned before, Allen’s learned more than enough about the potential breadth and depth of synthpop constructions (and vocals) to be able to have his admittedly dour ambitions writ large across Shadows & Serenades. Recommended.

Shadows & Serenades by A Covenant of Thorns

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Tracks: April 1st, 2019

Hey folks, Bruce here. As many of you are aware, Alex is on vacation for a couple of weeks, meaning that I’ve been handling things over at ID:UD HQ by myself. I’ve been doing my best, but to be honest there’s a lot to keep up with, and so in the interests of maintaining the regular stream of high-quality content you’ve come to expect from us over the past seven years, I’ve asked our own Intern Tobey to fill in for this week’s Tracks post and discuss some recent tunes submitted to the site for our consideration.

Flossin like I was Ric Flair.

What is UP rivets and rivettes it’s your boy Tobey Starks AKA The Ghostface Kitten AKA Lil RIPLP* AKA Don Hakunaminati: The 7th Daze Theory. Have to say that I’ve been living my best life while dad’s away straight yeeting fools on PUBG (none of that Apex nonsense – I keep it old school), but Uncle Bruce has got me picking up the slack for his sorry ass today. I can handle it – I was born to grind in that cut! Anyway, get at your boy on TikTok and Twitch (TobeyStaXXXophone), and lemme cut through the BS and talk about these six tracks without any niceties.

Spirito Sancto, “The Penultimate Ultimatum”
This is that new-folk stuff dad and Bruce always think sus, googling to see if some jagoffs with lutes play nazi dress-up on weekends. I dunno about any of that with regards to this gang, but the track starts off pretty dope! Lotta horns and drums, all sounding like a boss fight from that Dead Souls game dad’s always playing. But after that it’s just wack acoustic guitar that sounds like it was recorded in a sewer and a guy muttering about “fate and honor” sounding like he’s calling in sick and trying to sell it way too hard to his manager. Suck it up and go do your shift at Pep Boys, fam!

\\Z Frame, “Ovoid Trance”
This tune is tiiiiiight af. It’s on some German label I’m not gonna try to type, the beat sounds like it’s comin out a whip with blown out speakers, but your boy didn’t come up through the game to be the intercontinentally recognized impresario, mogul and brand influencer that he is today without knowing a banger when he hears one. Only thing missing on this one is a vocal. This beat would be good for RiFF RAFF or Migos to bless, but there’s nothin’ on it but some robo voice saying “dunkin height” or something in Germanian. Hey \\Z Frame: need a Boban Marjanovic to slam on this joint? Pretty Tobey’s rates for features are muy reasonable!

Nocturanium, “In The Autumn Mist”
At first I was pumped for this cuz stuff called dark-wave which has this much purple and blue on the cover should have some serious lean and bass, right? Nah. No flex and no chill on this joint. The lady’s yelling like her car just got towed and the synths sound like someone’s just testing to make sure each key works. “This one? Yeah, hold it for three seconds…Now the next one…” I got a sensitive side and can get down with Drake or Lil Xan when they’re hurt but this theatre kid whining ain’t for Tobey.

Schwartztanz, “Zorn Tanz”
“Neo-old school”??? That’s a contraction, but I’ve heard dad play enough stuff like this (sometimes pumping his fist and goin “YEAH” when he thinks I don’t notice) to know that it gets some dudes up to dropkick their washer-dryer combo unit and as an entrepreneur, I can respect that. This is angry screamy shit and I could actually get behind something like this if the beat didn’t sound like it had a rod up its ass. oom-PAH, oom-PAH, oom-PAH, oom-PAH the whole way through like it’s some nightmare polka shit. What are all these Germans so mad about, anyway? Too much hosen, not enough lieder if you feel me.

Fractured Angles, “Garnet”
What is up with these cats and bass guitar? I’m no rock professor scientist but I know they ain’t for melodies. Not that there’s much of one here. Same six notes over a drum machine and dude’s voice is so muffled I can’t figure out why he’s sad. Young cubs just startin in on the game: production ain’t hard! Just install Garage Band on your phone and you’re pretty much done! Anyway, this is on a split (on “bone white vinyl” – I just fuckin can’t with these goofs) with some other band from Portland who sound just like them. I know dad and Bruce and probably most of y’all reading this worship that Tony Curtis guy as much as these fools, but he’s been dead forever and post punk is REALLY post. Contemporize or get ground under, ya hear.

Historia Albigensium, “Subarctic Bloom”
Now I know Uncle Bruce is just tryna clown me. This ain’t music, this is just an air conditioner running for ten minutes. “Dark ambient?” More like “Dork, I Ain’t Buyin It”. PRETTY TOBEY OUT!!!

*RIP** Lil Peep

**Rest In Peace

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Multiple Man, “High On The Hog”

Multiple Man - High On The Hog

Multiple Man
High On The Hog
Fleisch

New Metal, the first full length from Aussie act Multiple Man, felt like such a clear and complete presentation of brothers Sean and Chris Campion’s ethos that it was easy to forget how the pair had paved the way for that record with singles and EPs. With Pursuasion, the duo proved they can get in and out in twenty minutes while still dealing heavy funk/EBM damage. If anything, new EP High On The Hog offers an even more concentrated blast of their style, aided by the grounding in it offered by New Metal.

The opening title track features all of the cleanly sequenced clicks, thuds, and sampled basslines which made New Metal such a winning record, but the extra reverb and distance added to so many of the track’s sounds, not to mention the vocals, gives Multiple Man a new and woozy depth. Like an old-fashioned holographic sticker, it’s tough to tell exactly how close or far away any element actually is. For all of the straightforwardness of their sound (again, it’s worth repeating that “firm handshake EBM” is maybe the greatest self-applied genre tag we’ve ever encountered in ID:UD history), they’re also managing to sound cagey and withholding. The vaudevillian “are they for real?” ambiguity of Yello was always part of Multiple Man’s milieu, but between the vampire noir disco of “Prime Cut” and the solemn drones running behind the gurgle-burp leads of “You Say Y.E.S”, that band’s style holds more sway here than the psych-happy influence of Cabs or Severed Heads.

As with Multiple Man’s previous releases, High On The Hog is body music in every sense of the word. Not only are the rhythms and tempos wholly immediate and arresting, but the actual sound design seems to ape the ebb and flow of breath, muscles, heart, stomach. You feel it in your solar plexus as much as you do your limbs or your ass. That might sound awkward from the outside looking in, but just give High On The Hog a minute to work its way into your guts.

High On The Hog by MULTIPLE MAN

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We Have a Technical 253: I Blame Society

Diesel Dudes

The sweaty, beefy, all-American chaos of Diesel Dudes.

The first of two Pick 5 episodes of the podcast recorded well ahead of time, so much so that we don’t remember much of what was said! We know it had something to do with North American bands in Our Thing? I guess we’ll have to listen to find out. Why not join us on this journey of discovery friend? 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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The Young Gods, “Data Mirage Tangram”

The Young Gods - Data Mirage Tangram

The Young Gods
Data Mirage Tangram
Two Gentlemen Records

Insert the “not so Young Gods” crack of your own choice here. Good, with that out of the way, let’s get into it. A new LP by the ever-respected Swiss industrial rockers would be big news in and of itself, but factor in that Data Mirage Tangram isn’t just the band’s first new LP in nine years but the first to feature founding member Cesare Pizzi since 1989’s classic L’eau rouge and, well, you’ve got yourself something of interest. Data Mirage Tangram, though avoids any of the bombast that such a reunion might bring to mind.

Despite Pizzi’s return, anyone expecting a conscious homage to the machine-driven rocky fury and symphonic/sample experimentation of the band’s earliest work won’t find what they’re looking for. The band, under the guidance of Franz Treichler, has evolved in myriad ways since L’eau rouge, and it sounds as though Pizzi got up to speed relatively smoothly. Indeed, Data Mirage Tangram very much feels like a continuation of the submerged psych and trip hop of 2010’s Everybody Knows, stretching its mid-tempo continental grooves out into sparser, more subdued, and yet also more foreboding territory.

While early highlight “Tear Up The Red Sky” gives itself over to some proper guitar riffing, the dub groove of the track – full of rimshots and deep bass shudders – is what ends up holding court. It’s an example characteristic of the hypnotically rhythmic drive of the LP. Indeed, much more than Pizzi’s keys it’s the grooves laid down by the drums of Bernard Trontin (himself no newcomer with over twenty years service in the band) which sit at the heart of the record. Even when those grooves are exploded into seemingly arrhythmic clatter and spread across droning bass and pinched synth swoops on “Moon Above”, Data Mirage Tangram maintains a contemplative, ponderous distance via Trontin’s drum-work.

On paper, Killing Joke are likely the best point of comparison for Young Gods at this juncture – not so much in terms of sound but as one of the last bands standing to have hybridized rock instrumentation and industrial production since well before the much more metallic explosion of crossover sounds in the 1990s. But while Killing Joke have spent their post-millennial resurgence finding bolder and more overt ways of communicating their ethos via hard rock, The Young Gods have taken a different path, eschewing the direct noise of their early work (and, yes, much of what identified their work as “industrial” in the first place). The results might not be as brash or angry as some might hope, but after sitting with Data Mirage Tangram for a while they’ll have to admit that they suit the band well.

DATA MIRAGE TANGRAM by The Young Gods

Buy it.

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Tracks: March 25th, 2019

With the Terminus lineup released and with Verboden a scant few weeks away, it’s a great time to be a fan of live dark music in North America, let alone western Canada. As we’ve said in the past, the roots of I Die: You Die lie in the late Kinetik Festival, and while as wonderful as those Kinetik lineups were, it’s incredible to think how much broader the dark festival scene’s become in the past decade. From the melodic heartache of Mr.Kitty to the sludging noise of HEALTH to the lush sorrow of SRSQ to the suave menace of Boy Harsher, it’s impossible to overstate how less sequestered things are in 2019. Whether it’s bands from within the scene making inroads into other audiences or scene die-hards being willing to take a chance on crossover acts, we couldn’t be happier with the diversity of sounds and styles we’ll be getting to experience in the next few months. On with this week’s Tracks!

Muet

Muet, “Weirdest Sex”
Our boys Daniel Evans and Vince McAley aren’t getting much rest of late. Fresh off the road with Jared Louche, touring for the 25th anniversary of Chemlab’s Burnout At The Hydrogen Bar, the pair have teamed up with another industrial rock vet in Hate Dept’s Steven Seibold (whose other new project we just covered) to form Muet. Part post-punk, part blues rock, it’s as much of a turn from the chirpy synthpop of Standalone as that project was from Hate Dept.
muet by muet

Korine, “Never Dream (Makeup and Vanity Set Remix)”
Matthew Pusti’s Makeup and Vanity Set has a subtle and morose take on retro synths which has been welcome amidst a lot of synthwave dross. He’s able to lend that same sense of pace to his remix of a tune from Philly electropoppers Korine. The sampler-happy intensity of the original’s preserved, but the warm and rounded bass adds some extra emotional oomph. Call us crazy, but we’re getting serious Boytronic vibes off this one. Tip of the hat to our pal B.P. Hughes of Darkware for passing this our way.
New Arrangements – Remixes by Korine

Damascus Knives, “Some Women May Know You Here”
After a single track being released a couple of years back, we now have an EP of David Christian of Cervello Elettronico’s Damascus Knives side-project. If Crimes AM found Christian exploring the softer and more melodic side of his muse, Damascus Knives looks to be doing just the opposite, zooming in on clattering and acid-heavy dark techno. There’s some proper late night dancefloor potential here.
Am I Evil? by Damascus Knives

Wet Nurse, “A Promise Was Made”
After a handful of tapes, EPs, and splits, Calgary’s Wet Nurse has their first full-length slated to appear in a month on Malignant. It’s a good landing place for Paul Kinasevych’s one-man project, which has been offering a sober and reflective take on noise and power electronics of late. Despite the distortion, there’s something very meditative and even processional about this examination of betrayal.
Thanatosis by Wet Nurse.

TET – Travailleur En Trance, “Hard Coded [25yrs hardened body edit]”
The discography of German EBM act TET – Travailleur En Trance can be difficult to suss out. Full of self-releases and compilations, sussing out the arc of the band’s 25 year run is rather difficult from the outside in. The band’s offering a jumping on point with 25 Years Of Secret Assaults, a PWYW comp of new remixes of tracks spanning their career. The combo of classic EBM grooves and dense production on this number should help get folks up to speed.
25 YEARS OF SECRET ASSAULTS [limited time free / name your price anniversary compilation] by TET Travailleur En Trance

Apoptygma Berzerk, “Burning Heretic (Cycles Of Absolute Truths Mix by Ancient Methods)”
Speaking of 25th anniversary remix comps, boy howdy is the list of contributors to the set of new mixes from Apoptygma Berzerk’s Soli Deo Gloria a head-scratcher. SDGXXV features true-school cred in the form of Clock DVA and Portion Control remixes, plus lesser known vets like Atropine and The Invincible Spirit. But it’s also marked by more contemporary noise-heads from well outside of the rivethead cliques, like Prurient and Ancient Methods. Factor in Mortiis and a rare appearance by Blackhouse (yes, that Blackhouse) and we’re just not sure what to make of it all. Still, this Ancient Methods take on “Burning Heretic” slaps pretty hard.
SDGXXV by Apoptygma Berzerk

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We Have a Commentary: Grendel, “Timewave Zero”

Grendel - Timewave Zero

On this month’s Patreon supported bonus podcast, Bruce and Alex tackle Grendel’s “Timewave Zero”. A notable change in approach and thematics from the project, it’s a record that pushed the project into new arenas and showed massive artistic growth, all of which the Senior Staff examines in detail on We Have a Commentary! 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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Observer: Hex Wolves, The Yage & Fractured Transmission and Harsh R


Hex Wolves, The Yage & Fractured Transmission
Simple Heresy
DTH X CMP

Judging both by the reps of the artists involved in three-way collaboration Simple Heresy, you might be expecting a rough-hewn banger of a record, chock-full of distorted beats and rusty textures. And you wouldn’t be necessarily wrong, although in practice the record has a great deal of nuance and depth to it. Hex Wolves and Fractured Transmission have already carved themselves a collaborative niche, working out their yang for abstract rhythmic noise swathed in dark ambience, though the addition of The Yage seems to have moved them into bassier territories. To wit, while the music here is rhythmic and harsh, it’s less straight ahead blasts of noise and more slow rolling and severe. “Inverted Prayer” uses a loping, filtered beat and plinky synths to offset its deep drones, the track eventually moving to more unnerving and arhythmic territory as it progresses. The reverbed breaks and thick, hazy pads that make up the bulk of “Gang Bang Tabernacle” almost have something of classic Hyperdub to them. The bleakness of the song’s atmosphere id set off by the nervous energy of its rhythms. For those differences in style it’s a cohesive and whole release: the distorted kicks and strange, wrenching sounds on “The Cuck, The Gentile and The Holy Shit”, or the fuzzed up bass on “Oh My Goodness” may be distinct, but are assembled with a unity of vision and intent.
Simple Heresy by Hex Wolves, The Yage & Fractured Transmission

Harsh R - Physical World
Harsh R
Physical World
self-released

Avi Roig of Harsh R doesn’t ask for a lot of your time, but he’s gonna make the most of it. The one-man Olympia act’s been releasing singles and EPs at a steady clip for the past couple of years, each making brevity a virtue. His latest EP gets in and out in under seventeen minutes, but gets a great yield from the stabby electro-punk sound Roig’s carved out for himself. Both lyrically and musically, Roig combines clarity and obfuscation to maximize the sinister grind Harsh R always seems to be aiming for. “No Walls” carries the shadowy, doomy groove of early Swans well, and the unmentioned desires of the narrator of “Person Of Means” seem all the more unmentionable for the urbane self-description the title gives him. But at other times it’s the direct and jagged side of Harsh R’s arsenal which gets the job done: check the gabber kicks of “Reciprocal” or the painfully plain class lament of “Make No Mistake” which leave nothing to the imagination. Whether it’s through engineering or songwriting, Physical World leaves an impression long after its quick runtime.
PHYSICAL WORLD by HARSH R

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We Have a Technical 252: Seems Appropriate

My Life With the Handsome Fellas Crew

On this week’s episode, the Senior Staff delve headfirst into the history and enduring legacy of one of the most iconic record labels of all time. Julia Nash, daughter of Wax Trax Records founder Jim Nash, talks about the passion and process behind her documentary film, “Industrial Accident: The Story Of Wax Trax Records”. All that, plus the just-revealed lineup of this year’s installment of our beloved Terminus Festival 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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