Friends of I Die: You Die Best of 2018 Year End Round Up

Happy December, friends! As with previous years, we’re happy to start 2018’s Year End coverage off with a friends of the site round-up. Lord knows we have enough of a time keeping up with whatever happens to pass through our west-coast perspective on post-industrial/goth affairs, and so checking in with some savvy pals is always a smart move. Check out this baker’s dozen and then tune in tomorrow for the beginning of the I Die: You Die Year End countdown!

Andi Harriman, DJ at Synthicide, author of Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace
I’ve found that truly enchanting music is kind that’s simplistic but never repetitive; it’s melancholic but maintains graceful touches of hope throughout its entirety. Though it’s rare to discover these specific qualities in an album, I’ve found it in New Kind of Cross by Australian artist Buzz Kull. The LP – layered with intricate dueling synth melodies and basslines alongside Marc Dwyer’s distorted vocals – is comprised of danceable pop songs that feel as if they’re shadowed by dark storm clouds. Built on a tenuous balance, New Kind of Cross is a delicate composition that remains on repeat.
New Kind Of Cross by BUZZ KULL

DJ Gilly Woo
I chose the release I’ve been most fascinated by this year – Scott Fox’s adaption of the Rime of The Ancient Mariner. I’ve always felt an affinity with Mariner. The sea is a constant source of fascination, fear, and respect for me (I grew up on an island), and it’s no mean feat to capture a work so embedded in my psyche. If you’re expecting a barnstormer like “Lily Brant” or “Stygian” you won’t find it here; what you will find here is Scott’s more subtle and nuanced sound design, thoroughly in keeping with the mythological themes found in releases such as “Fable”. The release captures the very essence of what made this poem so special to me, and I cannot wait to listen to this walking along the beach and watching the storm clouds gather.
the rime of the ancient mariner by scott fox

Lynette Cerezo of Bestial Mouths
2018 was a great year for music, including the releases I have had the honor to contribute vocals too, like the Cabaret Voltaire Tribute Album or the new records from TEXTBEAK and STOCKHAUSSEN, so there is a lot of them swimming in my mind and soul and picking one favorite is no easy task. The record I’m most involved with and closest to my heart is Into The All by Zanias, though. I do believe her debut LP is really a showcase of her talent, it’s like the culmination of all her past projects and life experiences reaching a true pinnacle. It’s a true masterpiece in a whole concept from start to finish, plus the ultimate balance of music production highlighting her vocals. Each song, whether it’s the musical melody or chorus, will enchant your being and stay with you. Even if I may be biased since we do a duet on the song ‘Thanatos’, take the challenge and check it out to see.
Into The All by Zanias

Adam Williams of amodelofcontrol.com
Sheffield has long been a hotbed of excellent and intelligent electronic music, a lineage that goes back forty years and more. Here’s another to continue it, Promenade Cinema’s Living Ghosts, an album of smart, cinematic synthpop that is impeccably produced with a fistful of hooks and intriguing songs. My album of the year for a good reason.
LIVING GHOSTS by Promenade Cinema

Rodney Anonymous of The Dead Milkmen and 7th Victim
For many years now, I’ve lived by two concrete rules. The first is “Never write about a friend’s artistic endeavors – no matter how good the work may be – because, correctly or not, there will be a perceived notion of bias attached to that review”. The second is “Never shout ‘You suck!’ at a group of war orphans”. Today, I’m going to break one of these rules.

Caustic’s American Carrion, which was released in early January of this year, is quite simply one of the best Punk Rock albums made in the past ten years. It serves as an outlet for our collective anger, a call to arms, and a way to get people off their asses and on to the dance floor. I’m hard pressed to think of any other recent release which accomplishes all three of those things. It’s the album I wish I’d made in 2018 and it’s the album I’ll be recommending for years to come.

Now, about those war orphans…
American Carrion by Caustic

Brant Showers of SØLVE and ∆AIMON
Between Hide, Uniform, The Body, and more The Body, 2018 has been a year of uncompromising noise and raw intensity. As such, the second album from Mirrors For Psychic Warfare I See What I Became fits in perfectly. Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and Sanford Parker have worked together previously in the experimental/industrial group Corrections House, but here they are afforded an even deeper exploration into claustrophobic rhythms, cicada-like sound design, and deeply harrowing folk melodies – the results of which are the dense, atmospheric equivalent of Leonard Cohen adrift in a cyclopean landscape, hunted by giants. Plenty to love.

I See What I Became by Mirrors For Psychic Warfare

Kathleen Chaussé of The Outside Collective
It’s been a quite a ride to watch Street Sects grow more into their own with each release. End Position was abrasive & chaotic, Rat Jacket was like a blueprint for what they were envisioning with its crushing narrative, and now with The Kicking Mule, they have hit their stride with full force. It will sneak up on you and brutalize you with its clean vocals and sharp production and carefully placed samples. Songs move smoothly into each other with their elements blending and creating a uniform experience throughout the album’s structure. Highlights for myself include “Everyone’s at Home Eventually”, “In For a World of Hurt”, and “The Drifter”.
The Kicking Mule by Street Sects

Avi Roig of Harsh R
I know I should be talking up some obscure techno or harsh noise to maintain my street cred, but truth be told, no record had given me nearly as much pure pleasure and inspiration as Andrew WK’s You’re Not Alone. More specifically, “Total Freedom”. Nestled among the grandiose rock clichés and spoken word affirmations (yes, really) is this perfect diamond, an anthem which conveys the complete refutation of the adult world and all the bullshit that goes with it. There is nothing more sublime, not in 2018, not ever.

The Count of Cemetery Confessions and The Belfry Network
We’re all aware the earth is on its way to the apocalypse, so why not add some lasers, flying cars, and 80’s retro-futurism as salve for your melancholy? Aesthetically The Rain Within’s Atomic Eyes is dystopian synthpop built for a cyberpunk campaign. Beneath the neon glow, however, is a deeply pained, sometimes maudlin, sometimes jubilant journey of a protagonist simply seeking to exist. Canorous synths and crooning vocals underscore the ontological anguish we all experience looking for meaning and direction from within and without. This album will deposit itself at the base of your skull and never let go. Or you could just fucking dance to it.
Atomic Eyes by The Rain Within

Danesha Artis of Standard Issue Citizen
I would write about Frontline Assembly’s War Mech, but I don’t think I can condense how much I love the album into 100 words. So I’ll go with a track I’ve had on repeat: “Force Carrier”. For an entire album to be devoid of lyrics, it can be very emotional. Especially this song. For a self avowed mecha lover like me, the track (and others) get the mental imagery going. The sweeping string parts running counter to the glitch sounds and drums..? It puts me in mind of watching someone building up a mech and putting it through its paces. The heavier drum hits being synonymous with footsteps of the machine. I know that I’m an absolute sucker for orchestral elements used well in most songs, and with FLA? It’s done amazingly well and lifts the heavier hitting things in a fun type of balance.
WarMech by Front Line Assembly

Michael Kurt of The Blood of Others and Talking to Ghosts
Omniflux is a band I saw live before hearing any of the recorded material. She opened for the 2018 OhGr/Lead Into Gold tour and just blew me away. The performance and the music instantly grabbed me and I very quickly hit my play limit on Bandcamp and had to buy Aquarelle. While on the trip hop side of the new dark pop wave, Omniflux has a great, heavy atmosphere. Bangers like “The Bishop” and “Lawless Flawless” get the album going right away, but if you were only going to check out one song (which would be a mistake), I would recommend “Iris Van Herpen” because it is always stuck in my head.
Aquarelle by Omniflux

Alex Reed of Seeming, author of Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music
To my ears, a lot of good goth/industrial records came out in 2018. Special nods go to VOWWS’ best album yet (Under the World), and Bragolin’s excellent post-punk debut (I Saw Nothing Good So I Left). But perhaps the album that charmed me most was God, by west-coast mainstay Xorcist. One of the most online, active, and community-oriented scenesters of the 90s, Bat (William Kinderman) is an underground legend, but he hadn’t released a proper album since 1999. This LP is not quite a throwback, not merely a comeback, and certainly not a lazy victory lap. Instead, it sounds like a culmination of decades studying darkwave — and yet there’s a breezy spontaneity about the whole affair. Nodding incidentally to the 80s and the future alike, the vocoder-heavy God LP sets ominous moods with analog minimalism. Climactic washes of melody complement motorik grooves. When I hear highlights “L’Assassin,” “I Fall Apart,” and “Circuit Overlord,” I hear a reinvigorated confidence and a rare kind of expertise. I hope this is the beginning of a new chapter.
God by Xorcist

Wesley Mueller of Talking to Ghosts
Low’s Double Negative is such a beautiful album. On one track you might hear haunting synths that feel like they’re being pulled apart at the seams paired with distorted, heavily effected vocals; on the next, the synths and vocals become clear, creating a sense of stability in a storm. This push and pull makes for an incredibly engaging album, something that should be listened to start to finish (something I’ve done who knows how many times since it’s September release). If LORN and Sofia Reta collaborated on an album, it might sound something like Double Negative.
Double Negative by Low

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We Have a Commentary: The Birthday Massacre, “Violet”

Our last Patreon-supoorted commentary podcast of the year has us listening to the sophomore (?) record from Ontario’s The Birthday Massacre. The record’s combination of darkwave and broader rock and pop sounds made it a huge hit in 2004: how does it hold up? How were the band’s enduring sounds and themes cemented here? Can we talk about a band like TBM without using ugly words like “branding”? And what do they have in common with bands as far ranging as The Cure, Blink 182, and Deadsy? Find out as we close out the year’s album commentaries in spooky fashion! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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We Have a Technical 238: Mary Alan Julian

Miracle

Miracle look suave even after forgetting where they parked.

As Year End coverage waits in the wings, your favourite post-industrial palookas are taking a look back at the year that was. Yes, it’s a Pick Five episode with the dead simple theme of tracks from 2018. Yep, tunes which represented this year’s broader trends as well as plain old earworms are being picked up and discussed, alongside recent live sets from SRSQ and HIDE on We Have A Technical! (And as for the stinger, it was Greta Van Fleet.) Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Black Tape For A Blue Girl, “To Touch The Milky Way”

Black Tape For A Blue Girl - To Touch The Milky Way

Black Tape For A Blue Girl
To Touch The Milky Way
Projekt Records

Are Black Tape For A Blue Girl actually issuing work with renewed vigor, or is that just subjective bias creeping in? Sure, Sam Rosenthal’s legendary ethereal project has never been far from hand, but 2016’s These Fleeting Moments was a tour de force record which couldn’t help but wrest our attention away. That could just as easily have been a function of timing: something as timeless and elegant as Rosenthal’s string arrangements or Oscar Herrera’s vocals can be a comforting balm in troubled times. But that’s perhaps to do disservice to the quality of tracks featured on that record, not to mention its rich excursions into shoegaze. New LP To Touch The Milky Way might not be as varied as its precursor in terms of sonics (understandable, given an economical 43 minute run-time, 27 shorter than Milky Way), but it still offers the tranquility in meditation and upheaval in reflection.

The record’s overarching concept is certainly as heady as anything on These Fleeting Moments, with opening track “I Close My Eyes And Watch The Galaxy Turning (Part I + II)” and the closing title track acting as philosophical bookends, tackling questions of temporaneity and impermanence. As Rosenthal told us upon the record’s release, “I see the futility of trying to touch the milky way, but it’s a human attempt to grasp more than what is within our reach, grasping for all that might be attainable during our brief time under the existential glow of life”. The musical palette he opts for suits those grand ambitions. The slow burn of “I Close My Eyes”‘s strings and pads suit the theme of the Eternal Return, while the dead simple piano figure which begins the closing title track makes for a stark and bracing beginning to a final push into cosmic void and kosmische guitar.

Nestled between these ambitious buttresses are a set of the frail yet cozy sort of Black Tape tracks which seem to have been Platonically formed for Danielle Herrera’s voice. Drifting between organs, treated strings, and classic darkwave staging she weaves sad and incredibly proximal reflections on hope and loneliness. If pieces like “I Close My Eyes” stun us with stoic clarity and perspective, numbers like “Does Anything Remain? (Part III + IV)” wound us with their relatable angst. Lines like “I haven’t left the house in days, calling in sick with spirits watching over me / Drinking alone, I’m thinking you’ll abandon me when you keep finding me like this” have a photo-realistic bite, with the quiet and almost bashful tone of Herrera’s voice underscoring both the mundanity and intractability of such commonplace but devastating thoughts.

The group of collaborators to whom Rosenthal’s become attuned over the years, in concert with the moods he seeks to evoke, makes for a versatile (and well-sharpened) multi-tool this far into Black Tape’s career. The ideas of struggling to become the only person you can or would want to be, or to harmonize oneself with principles personal or universal, are the sort of high-concept drama which countless other bands would sound naff trying to broach, but which continue to come naturally to Black Tape For A Blue Girl.

To touch the milky way by Black Tape For A Blue Girl

Buy it.

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Neuroticfish, “Antidoron”

Neuroticfish
Antidoron
Non Ordinary Records

The mid-decade return of Neuroticfish after a nearly decade long hiatus was a welcome one for fans of the German project’s brand of futurepop. The music on 2015’s A Sign of Life was an affirmation of the exact things that had helped Sascha Mario Klein’s material stay so close at hand for so many, namely Neuroticfish’s capacity for deep, emotional resonance. Where so many of NF’s futurepop contemporaries’ big songs have started to sound thin and insubstantial in the intervening years, the music on No Instruments, Les Chansons Neurotiques and has retained its potency, even minus the club environments where most audiences would have encountered it. New LP Antidoron highlights that, with Klein and bandmate Henning Verlage leaning in on the big feelings and melodrama on every song.

Opener “Colourblind” acts as something of a pace-setter for Antidoron, with a slowly building arrangement of synth bass drums supporting Klein’s vocals, delivered with his characteristic mix of vulnerability and confidence. It’s a song whose simple hook might have been put into service of something more uptempo, but instead acts as a signpost, lending the album structure and weight. It’s also an indicator of the duo’s commitment to letting the material breathe; a few tracks later “Fluchtreflex” delivers the expected upbeat dance beats, but not before spending a full two minutes selling the song’s bittersweet melody and lyrical focus. It’s a pattern that plays itself out a few times (“Fail to Disagree”, “Challenge You”) but purposefully. Neuroticfish want to let these songs establish themselves before the 4/4 kicks hit.

Interestingly, the record’s highlights are on the slower side tempo-wise. Pre-release single “Hysteria” has a syncopated rhythm that plays hard against its chattering synth arpeggios, supported by a deep subterranean bass growl, accentuated by clean modern production and a transparent mix that allows each element to stand out in the busy arrangement. “I Walk Alone” has a similar weight, with swirling pads and lengthy sections without any beats at all, making the drum hits all the more impactful when they do strike. “I Am Here” takes the approach to its extreme, with Klein delivering a memorable chorus with little to no rhythmic support, the song’s gently rolling momentum carried by shifts in bass and the swell of its string sounds.

For all its emphasis on growth and gentle progression, the album retains Neuroticfish’s immediacy, mostly through the force of Klein’s sincerity as a vocalist. Few artists could make a line like “Do the idiot’s dance for me” sound so agonized, or croon something as prosaic as “I walk alone/into darkness” without prompting an eye-roll, but his conviction sells every word. On a record that takes some potentially alienating chances, that means everything; for all it changes, Antidoron sounds and more importantly feels like Neuroticfish.

Buy it.

Antidoron by Neuroticfish

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Tracks: December 10th, 2018

Last Tracks post of 2018! These always sneak up on us, as the last couple of weeks of any given calendar year tend to have us focused on making sure reviews happen for as many notable releases as possible. Still, it’s been one of the easiest years ever to do this feature, as the torrent of notable and interesting material to single out for a bit of a spotlight has been totally relentless. It’s something that feels integral to the site and to keeping us honest about digging for material and we’re happy to have another 12 months worth of these to peruse back through as we prep our Year End coverage. Thanks for reading ’em!

OHMElectronic are here, get ready for a fight.

OHMElectronic, “Everything Is Gone”
We first got wind of this new rager from the good brothers in OHMElectronic (formerly OHM) a few months back and it’s been a song we’ve returned to numerous times, waiting for the moment we could share it with y’all. Like on their first album, Chris Peterson and Craig Huxtable are leaning in hard on their extensive experience as sound designers and programmers but with an added touch of meanness that fits their aesthetic to a tee. Can’t wait for this new album to drop via Artoffact in February. In fact you might say we’re amped (that’s a little electricity humour for y’all).
OHMelectronic by OHMelectronic

A Covenant Of Thorns, “Torn In Two”
Tip of the hat to our boy and yours, Alex Reed, for letting us know that one-man dark synth act Covenant Of Thorns not only has a new album on deck, but has actually been active again for a couple of years. We first caught wind of Scott-David Allen’s work way, way back in the days of dial-ups and Listservs, but hadn’t heard of any Covenant Of Thorns news in well over a decade. Regardless of the downtime, the first track from the forthcoming Shadows & Serenades is both anthemic and nostalgic; we’ll be sure to check out the full record.
Shadows & Serenades by A Covenant of Thorns

Handful Of Snowdrops, “One Of Us”
Speaking of throwback dark synth, new-to-us Quebec act Handful of Snowdrops are preparing to release Noir, their fourth LP. The band identify as a “postwave” act, and while that prefix-suffix combo might look odd, we’re guessing you can fill in the blanks. While we’ve seen some comparisons to Xymox, the name which this tune more readily brings to mind is Ikon – though having originally formed in 1984 Handful of Snowdrops have the Aussies beat by nearly a full decade!
Noir by Handful of Snowdrops

Razorback Hollow, “The Angel of Blood and Fire”
Did you peep that EP that our pal Daniel X Belasco (the mad synthpop magician behind Glass Apple Bonzai) released earlier this year as Razorback Hollow? That release was archival material being polished up for release, but the new two track single Into the Mouth of the Great Mutilator appears to be brand-spanking new stuff. While the programming and samples feel very much in the vein of the classic post-industrial that inspired the project, the vocals are unmistakably Belasco, which means, that they are smooth as hell.
Into the Mouth of the Great Mutilator by Razorback Hollow

Circa Tapes, “Pahn”
Btx3R/F01101/Exe might not be the easiest label name to recall, but the Spanish outfit’s done recent releases by Sarin, Wind Atlas, and Dame Area, not to mention a recent End Of Data reissue, so they make up in quality what they lack in brevity. Their new comp, Material Eléctrico III, features material by plenty of familiar acts like Klack, Celldöd, and Violet Poison, as well as two tunes from always moody ex-Kill Memory Crash act Circa Tapes. Digging how much the atmosphere adds to this otherwise dead simple track.
B​.​F​.​E​.​51 – MATERIAL ELÉCTRICO Vol III LP by Btx3R/F01101/Exe.

Leaether Strip, “Telephone Operator (Pete Shelley cover)”
Claus Larsen hasn’t ever been shy at all about paying homage to his influences in the world of synthpop and electronic music, with numerous recent digital releases dedicated to the folks who have informed his own legendary catalogue as Leaether Strip. The latest such release is a bittersweet one, as Claus released “Telephone Operator” as an homage to the song’s author Pete Shelley, who sadly passed this week. If you’re mostly familiar with Shelley’s unimpeachable work with The Buzzcocks, make a point of digging into this influential work as a solo artist, laying the foundations for electronic pop music as we understand it today. Claus delivers a fitting tribute to a true original. Rest in power.
Telephone Operator (Pete Shelley Cover) R.I.P by Leaether Strip

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Observer: Petrolio & Paralyze


Petrolio
L+ES
audiotrauma

Like so many of the artists associated with the audiotrauma label, the music made by Italian experimentalist Enrico Cerrato as Petrolio is defined more by emotion than strict genre tags. On his latest EP L=ES Cerrato paints with broad strokes using drones, washes of synths, pianos, and percussion to build up varying moods and feelings. Mid-record track “FISH FET” is harsh, with shredding metallic drums as its focus, but it suggests resilience more than anger, as melody struggles up to be hear and recognized amid the destruction. “L’ETERNO NON E PER SEMPRE” starts with a stack of foreboding tones and pads but slowly parts at its direst moment to reveal a strident snare beat, marching upwards from the depths even as shrieking peels of noise go off above it. “LA MALADIE CONNUE” plumbs some uncomfortable places sonically, but offers catharsis; even through the walls of static and modulating synths that fill the mix, a simple piano figure offers succor. L+ES isn’t a comforting or hopeful release necessarily, but it does contain within in it the potential for that feeling to emerge, counterintuitively amplifying each grain of optimism by obscuring it.
L+ES by Petrolio

Paralyze - Dissociative Prosthetic
Paralyze
Dissociative Prosthetic
self-released

Most industrial sub-genres are now long enough in the tooth that to speak of them as being “retro” is becoming an increasingly vague descriptor. What period? What iteration? What country of origin? New on the scene one-man act Paralyze, hailing from Wisconsin, split the difference by taking a distinctly retro yet broad reaching approach to the post-industrial back catalog, creating a fresh blend of familiar styles by hybridizing stripped-down electro industrial programming with break-neck power electronics noise and yowling. It’s a combination that works well right from the gate (think of a more lo-fi version of Protectorate with more hardcore-style breakdowns), with simple but punishing programming delivering the goods across all five tracks of the project’s debut EP. The more extreme, endurance-test side of Paralyze is communicated through blast-beat drum fills rather than pure distortion, putting a unique stamp on Dissociative Prosthetic and again, speaking to an influence from extreme metal and punk. Paralyze is mean, forthright, and splashes just enough cold water on some familiar sounds to reinvigorate them.
Dissociative Prosthetic by Paralyze

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We Have a Technical 237: A Catharsis of Humpty Dumpty

It’s a very English and very apocalyptic episode of We Have A Technical as recent records by Gazelle Twin and Current 93. Be it political, personal, or religious, endings and great changes are taken up in fraught and anxious ways on Pastoral and The Light Is Leaving Us All. Bruce and Alex also take a look at the just announced Mechanisms Fest and the website’s impending year end coverage on this week’s IDieYouDie.com podcast! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Black Nail Cabaret, “Pseudopop”

Black Nail Cabaret
Pseudopop
Dichronaut Records

Black Nail Cabaret has always been a project that lives and dies by the charisma of vocalist Emese Arvai-Illes. Her smokey voice is an astonishing instrument, providing continuity to the project through changes in style and line-up (notably the departure of founding member Sophie Tarr, who was replaced by producer and instrumentalist Krisztian Arvai). New album Pseudopop is far afield of the electro-pop of Black Nail Cabaret’s past, mostly trading in moody electronics of varying degrees of effectiveness.

In the record’s favour, Arvai-Illes is never far from the forefront of its ten songs, her powerful and sultry voice bringing gravitas and theatrical intensity to everything it touches. Songs like opener “Icarus” really highlight exactly what she can do: a skeletal arrangement of synths and drums that builds the barest of structures for her to ride upon, which she does with expertise and confidence born from control. “Techicolor” and “Verge on the Creepy” hit similar notes despite having a fuller sound. Rich string pads and echoing keys perfectly set up Emese to deliver performances rich with emotion, with her distinctive alto cutting through the mix like a knife. When the tempo does pick up, as on single “Bête Noire” she displays a nimbleness in enunciation, forcefully vamping the song’s slightly Tori Amos-referencing chorus (“I think I want to kill you/But I believe in peace, bitch”) with verve.

Sadly, the album too often fails at delivering notable material. In spite of Arvai-Illes’ best efforts, many of the tracks are too slight or give her too little to work with from a songwriting standpoint. Some, like “90s”, a musical homage to the titular decade’s chiller electronic sounds, have decent concepts but don’t coalesce into anything tangible. Others like “Trigger Happy” and “Rhythm X” pick interesting palettes from a sonic perspective but meander too much and lack tangible hooks. They’re not bad, just not memorable, easily sliding out of the mind of the listener moments after they end.

Appreciation for Pseudopop will ultimately come down to exactly how much appetite one has for Emese Arvai-Illes’ voice. She’s there to enliven its lesser moments, and elevate its better than average ones to quite nice, but without her it just wouldn’t have much at all to offer. As a delivery mechanism for her wonderful presence, it serves its purpose and can be enjoyed in that context.

Buy it.

Pseudopop by Black Nail Cabaret

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Zanias, “Into The All”

Zanias - Into The All

Zanias
Into The All
Candela Rising

The musical trail Zanias has blazed for herself in the past few years feels just as wide-ranging as her relocations from Australia to Malaysia to England to Germany. Between Linea Aspera, Keluar, and her own solo career she’s worked within all manner of dark styles new and classic, and in curating the stellar releases from Berlin’s Fleisch cliq she’s earned a rep as a modern techno maven of no small stature. But even with that resume Into The All feels like an audacious leap forward. A sharp departure from the dark techno heavy To The Core 2016 EP, Zanias’ first solo LP circles back to plenty of the sounds she’s managed to explore in a comparatively brief spate of releases, but also finds her pushing forward with vocally and compositionally ambitious material.

Into The All begins with a suite of three sweeping tracks both ethereal and bombastic: “Uroboros”, “Division”, and “Syzygy”. The shifting gossamer pads, sublimated techno beats, and poly-rhythmic acoustic percussion which make up these tracks – part Dead Can Dance, part Berghain, part Graeme Revell – would be enough to mark a sea change in Zanias’ work on their own. But it’s in her soaring vocal delivery, emerging out of sample beds and whipping about between rhythmic barrages that Zanias ushers in a new understanding of her work. Yes, her vocals were always highlights of her past releases, but those performances were often in keeping with the diktats of coldwave and minimal synth, and didn’t afford the free reign exploited here.

Those grandiose pieces only make the earthy tracks which follow them feel more direct in context. The warm electro-synth bounce of “Atrophy” connotes a cozy nostalgia, while the consciously lo-fi and compressed synths of “Idoru” directly recall Keluar. But even there, the track is shot through with murky darkwave grinds (perhaps bringing to mind the tensions between technique and discord similarly tested out by fellow Berlin expat Lynette Cerezo of Bestial Mouths).

That Into The All contains samples taken from the natural environs of Zanias’ former homelands seems appropriate. Just as the record borrows from and hybridizes her musical past, so too does it borrow from her personal past. But these return voyages are shaped by difference, not repetition, and synthesis only opens new dialectics. Zanias has made an impressive foray into uncanny territory with Into The All, both familiar and alien. Recommended.

Into The All by Zanias

Buy it.

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Tracks: December 3, 2018

At least two of the acts featured in this week’s batch of Tracks haven’t been featured on I Die: You Die in a good number of years, which has us thinking about just how much time has passed since we first started this here enterprise. We’ve learned a lot in that time, but one piece of wisdom which still eludes us is finding a way to try to cover as much of the end of the year backlog of records which invariably appears in time for our now well-established Year End coverage. Will we get all of our bases covered before we get down to the brass tacks of ranking our favourite releases of 2018? The only way to tell is to stay tuned, dear reader.

No you don’t need to clean your glasses, it’s just Poison Point.

Acretongue, “Requiem”
It’s been over seven years since the debut from South Africa’s Acretongue brought us some immaculately sculpted modern electro. Sophomore record Ghost Nocturne will be arriving in February, and from the sound of “Requiem” we can gather that Nico Janse van Rensburg hasn’t been slacking in the intermittent time, but rather has been honing simple but evocative compositions like this to post-futurepop perfection. Building upon the more tasteful elements of millennial club sounds, “Requiem” has us hoping for another suite of elegant and enveloping Acretongue works.
Ghost Nocturne by Acretongue

Radioaktivists, “Raider”
Speaking of long-awaited releases (and also on Dependent, no less), after years in limbo the debut LP from Radioaktivists has finally seen the light of day. The supergroup (featuring members of Seabound, Haujobb, and Rotersand) has been the subject of much online speculation since 2012, and with Radioakt One now out it’s time to check the results (we tried to make some sort of Geiger counter pun to no avail). You could do worse than to start with this track, featuring a classic Spinath vocal and the sort of incessant beat we’d expect from this crew.
Radioakt One by Radioaktivists

Test Dept, “Landlord”
Of course, Acretongue and Radioaktivists’ hiatuses are mere coffee breaks compared to Test Dept’s, who’ve not been heard from in twenty years. “Landlord”, the first piece from the forthcoming Disturbance LP, seems to be somewhat picking up where these elder gods left off, with a heavy influence from 90s rave sounds, though the DIY percussive instrumentation which made them legends can still be heard. Between Brexit and London’s rental crisis, it’s no wonder they’re angry again.

Poison Point, “Resigned Commander”
Where Poison Point’s previously released material was more on the drum machine-driven post-punk tip, their new EP on aufnahme + wiedergabe dips into body music with a purely synthetic sound. Take “Resigned Commander” for example: the track has a 16th note bassline and simple kick-snare pattern to push it forward, ornamented with some coldwave textures and distant vocals. Interesting stuff from these Parisians.
Bestiensäule by Poison Point

How Green is My Toupee, “Certainly Not II”
It feels like every time we write about Domagoj Krsic we have start with how genuinely, delightfully weird his stuff is. New track “Certainly Not II” (lifted from the Anywave Wavecore 6) should serve as an example of why: in spite of starting with an easy electro-pop groove the song quickly starts to diverge with off-kilter pitches, deliberately unquantized drum hits and layers of processed samples. It could have been an okay song played straight, but what makes it (and all of How Green is My Toupee’s material) so interesting is that it never goes where you think it will. Good stuff from of Our Thing’s modern originals.
Wavecore 6 by How Green is my Toupee

Blutengel, “Vampire”
Hi everyone, Alex here. Normally these Tracks posts are co-written in first-person plural, but Bruce insisted I take ownership of this particular entry. The reason? Because he’s a philistine who fuckin’ hates Blutengel, whereas I, a connoisseur, enjoy their particular brand of Dracula-themed nonsense. New single “Vampire” might be a lil’ on the nose, but how you gonna front like you don’t like hearing Chris Pohl sing “wamp-wampire” repeatedly? This is that distilled euro-cheddar, so potent it could land dude a residency at Chuck E Cheese’s and I am all in on it. Fly me away Pohl man.

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Observer: Ivory Towers & Passing

Ivory Tower - Queller
Ivory Towers
Queller
self-released

The dissolution of Vancouver duo Myths five years back just as they seemed poised for a significant breakthrough was a blow to experimental electronics here in Lotusland (they’d just debuted an opera, for god’s sake!). However, we were recently happy to be hipped to Ivory Towers, the solo project of ex-mythologist Quinne Rodgers, which has just released a third EP. Well, perhaps the “ex” prefix isn’t wholly accurate: if anything Rodgers is doubling down on the sense of the eerie and otherworldly on Queller. In addition to direct nods to Ishtar and the maenads (the latter conjured via hair-raising shrieks and cackles), Rodgers splices and glitches her sky-high vocals right into the uncanny amidst soupy programming and plodding beats. Hypnagogia, techno-conjurings, and deep cthonic powers are all brought to mind via the resulting brooding sounds; indeed, one of the uncanny Espers from Akira seems as fitting a mascot as any for Ivory Towers on the Bandcamp page. Queller‘s title might be an allusion to the hope of sedating the beasts disquieted by Rodgers’ forays, but ultimately the record knows you’re going to cross the threshold, open the grimoire, or perform the ritual, and is happy to offer a soundtrack.
Queller by Ivory Towers


Passing
self-titled
DKA Records

Christopher Myrick’s Passing makes raw and ready electro-industrial, a dense and saturated sound that extends from sound design to the recordings themselves. The music on the project’s self-titled debut is foggy, muffled and difficult by design, eschewing ease of listening for the disorienting and unsettling. In 2018 there is no reason for a song to sound as fuzzed out, crushed and generally chewed through as “Purah”, but the decision to blow out the drums, position the bass, synths and vocals (all of which could have been drawn from a classic Zoth Ommog-era dark electro track) into violently close proximity with one another renders the song as disconcerting as it is invigorating.
When Myrick does allow for some clarity it’s not for comfort; the prominent bassline and deep breathing sample on “Distance” are positively frantic, especially when paired with the song’s halting kick-snare, so much so it can be hard to notice how comparatively clean the song is. Later tracks like “Mastema” and “Naamah” play with Puppy-esque pitch shifting vocal effects, contrasting that more fluid sound with the rigid and sparse arrangements of synth bass and bitcrushed drums. It’s none of it easy to listen to, but by forcing the listener out of the comfort zone Passing makes the spoils of a concerted listen that much more rewarding.
PASSING by PASSING

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We Have a Technical 236: Kinda Sisters

John Fryer

Legendary producer John Fryer has had a hand in just about all of the genres of music we discuss on We Have A Technical, and we’re chatting with him this week about his legacy behind the boards and his open-ended musical project Black Needle Noise featuring a revolving cast of guest vocalists. All that plus some talk about And One taking touring drama to YouTube, and the latest in a long line of Coil bootlegs on the latest podcast from I Die: You Die! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Author & Punisher, “Beastland”

Author & Punisher - Beastland

Author & Punisher
Beastland
Relapse

It’s easy to miss amidst the hullabaloo surrounding the home-hewn gear used in the recording and performance of Author & Punisher’s material, but Tristan Shone’s done a bang-up job of getting his music into the ears of people who might never otherwise check out an industrial act. Just last week my hardcore-loving barber asked about the music I’d mentioned I write about. “Industrial music? Like that Author & Punisher guy?” was his follow-up, a welcome break from the “Sooo…Tool?” type responses I usually get, of course, but also indicative of Shone’s craft and grind over the past decade. And he couldn’t be putting a much better foot forward than Beastland, a brisk and bracing set of some of his leanest and most economical barrages of noise which also delivers the project’s most succinct form of its metal ambitions.

Doom metal has always been one of Shone’s core inspirations beneath the grimy production and sound design of Author & Punisher’s mix-filling noise, and the former comes further to the fore than ever here without forsaking the appeal of the latter. Check the pacing of a characteristic piece like “Nihil Strength”: the blunt-force rhythms with crossfire staccato fills have all of the disturbing ease of any number of early 80s industrial and noise releases, but the slowly lilting tone shifts in the programming (which has never sounded more like guitar) points to a soulful (if still pained) thread woven through the chaos. “The Speaker Is Systematically Blown” takes this a step further, with a blues-rock vocal delivery on the chorus which wouldn’t feel out of place in an open-air festival set from any stoner metal act you’d care to name, while “Nazarene” gets into a harmonic psych-breakdown that’s equal parts Jesu and Type O Negative. Elements like these were brought to the fore in the sludgy excess of 2015’s Melk En Honing, but Beastland flips the script between these melodic dirges and the more overtly scornful mode of A & P so quickly that neither the metal nor the industrial elements ever lose their edge.

It’s fitting that Beastland‘s been released on Relapse. I’d be hard-pressed to name a label that’s done a better job of introducing the metal scene to industrial and experimentally minded releases, but Shone’s work speaks for itself, and to an already appreciative and varied audience. Beastland may offer groove-based points of entry for metal fans, but it also has plenty of solid-state rivet appeal.

Beastland by Author & Punisher

Buy it.

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Syrian, “Sirius Interstellar”

Syrian
Sirius Interstellar
self-released

Italian duo Syrian’s 2013 LP Death of a Sun was an astonishing effort on several levels. Using their established futurepop sound as a jumping off point, the Italian duo made what was for all intents and purposes a straight up italo disco record, and a terrifically catchy and fun one at that. Their new record Sirius Interstellar swings back the other way somewhat with a more composite sound that, while not entirely successful, demonstrates their dedication to finding new ways to approach electronic dance music.

At its best Sirius Interstellar finds the sweet spot between the trance-inflected style that first defined them and cosmic disco. “Distance” serves both masters well, with an insistent bassline, vocoded vocal on the verse and a soaring and plaintive chorus, all speaking to the melodic and melancholic similarities the genres they’re working with share. Opener “We Are Stars” uses deep arp filtering and and a lovely sing-songy build that invokes the intense build and ecstatic release of so many genres of European electronic dance music. Later in the record “Underwater” uses a lovely female vocal and a bubbly arrangement of sweeps and pads, recalling NRG and even eurodance to pleasing effect.

Not every attempt at hybridization and homage proves to be as fruitful however. “Close Your Eyes” shoots for thumping hardstyle with a wall of buzzing bass and stacked synth leads, but lacks charm in terms of arrangement and melody. “Hyperdrive” has some crossover trance bounce and movement in its rhythm programming, but as an instrumental it feels unfinished, like the band wrote some good loops, strung them together and called it a day. They aren’t bad songs necessarily, but their flaws are glaring when placed in the context of the more ambitious and effective songs that surround them.

Syrian’s ambitions are certainly worth applauding on Sirius Interstellar, treading on new ground as readily as territory they’ve already demonstrated their skill in. It’s an uneven record to be sure – an issue exacerbated by its brief length – but still worthy of kudos; as always when Syrian stick the landing, they’re a unique quantity within the vast boundaries of Our Thing.

Buy it.

Sirius Interstellar by Spacetalk

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Tracks: November 26th, 2018

Okay f’real, we don’t usually hype up our Patreon on the site because we don’t want to feel like we’re constantly spamming it, but folks who haven’t checked it out yet might want to do so in the next week or so. Why? Well on top of our usual thank yous for supporting ID:UD and We Have a Technical (including shout outs, chances to appear and chat with us on the podcast and hand-picked Bandcamp selections) we’re doing something real special for Patrons for end of year. No hints, but it’s something super cool and everyone joins up gets to holler at it. If’n you’re intrigued, why not head over on and sign up. On to Tracks!

Deadly Injection

Deadly Injection: Classic German Grufti.

Cryo, “Sanitarium”
SwEBM act Cryo have always had an ear for sleek modern styles, but this latest track “Sanitarium” has some pleasing old school flourishes. Check those brassy synth horns, that low-key vocal delivery and the bubbling arpeggio that underlies the whole track. They’re all interesting touches from a construction standpoint but are more nods to classic genre tracks than an attempt to do neo-oldschool. Available now via Bandcamp, the single features remixes from a variety of names including Neuroticfish, SPARK!, Rotersand and more.
Sanitarium EP by Cryo

Caustic, “Industrial Still Owes Hypnoskull $38.50”
Straight off Caustic’s latest surprise release Hustle and Mate comes “Industrial Still Owes Hypnoskull $38.50”. Serving as tribute to the titular rhythmic noise act and also speaks to some of the instrumental styles Matt Fanale has been experimenting with in many of his recent releases. As a matter of fact, the pay-what-you-want release has a lot of stylistic variety on it, including covers of songs by Suicide and Nailbomb, some classic Wax Trax industrial stylings and even a run at a brit-pop styled track, all raw and DIY. Never standing still this guy.
Hustle and Mate by Caustic

Paralyze, “Initial Isolation”
Speaking of Matt, when checking out Wisconsin’s latest harsh electronics project Paralyze, guess who we saw grooving along in some live footage? And it makes sense that Paralyze would pass muster with Matt, as the Dissociative Prosthetic EP which dropped a couple of weeks back is stuffed to the brim with a misanthropic but ultimately groovy blend of electro-industrial and power electronics which has us thinking of Protectorate and Harsh R. We’re keen to dig into the full release, but for now peep the Ellison-checking opening track.
Dissociative Prosthetic by Paralyze

Nothing But Noise, “Curved Attraction”
Since inaugurating their new project back in 2012, 242 elder gods Daniel B and Dirk Bergen have been weaving deep space psychoactive soundscapes at a rate we can barely keep up with. Nothing But Noise are closing the year out with their second record of the year, the double-length Formations Magnétiques et Phénomènes D’incertitude, which offers up over 90 minutes of heavy-duty kosmische experimentation. Notes on the BC page contain cryptic descriptions of the duo’s methodology this time out, which may or may not offer illumination regarding the origins of head-trips like this.
Formations Magnétiques et Phénomènes D’incertitude by NothingButNoise

C/A/T, “Graver Consequences”
Since reactivating C/A/T as a project, Ben Arp has been playing it pretty cool in terms of releases, putting out a few different releases that explore where he sees the project now, post the 2014-2017 hiatus. New release Graver Consequences is definitely on the grittier end of that spectrum, invoking the project’s classic rhythmic noise style in form and texture. With new tracks in the works from his Corvx de Timor project (did you peep the track he had on the Telekompilation?) it certainly seems like Arp is intent on making up for lost time.
Graver Consequences by C/A/T

Deadly Injection, “Blind Eyes”
Do you love vintage Zoth Ommog jams? If you’re reading this, we all know the answer. But no one’s going to question German duo Deadly Injection’s devotion to 90s dark electro. Despite having formed some five years ago, they’ve only just released their first LP, Taste Me!, this month, and we’re only now checking out their stripped down retro sound which is nothing if not a loving homage to the likes of Leaether Strip, Psychopomps, and :wumpscut:.
Taste Me! by Deadly Injection

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We Have a Commentary: Everything Goes Cold, “Vs. General Failure”

This month’s We Have A Commentary podcast takes a tour through the diabolical world of Everything Goes Cold. Vs. General Failure, the first LP of Eric Gottesman’s coldwave project brings all of the manic suppervillainy that we’ve come to expect from EGC, but also has a surprisingly human and vulnerable core. Alex and Bruce discuss the history of coldwave, the horrors of the American health care system, and the shadowy conspiracy at the heart of the second law of thermodynamics on the latest installment of IDieYouDie.com’s Patreon supported podcast series! Don’t forget to 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: Cretin Dilettante & Dead Husband

Dead Husband - Luxe Kondo
Dead Husband
Luxe Kondo
Waste Editions

Boston duo Dead Husband attracted our attention last year with their Renaissance EP, which blended EBM, synthpop, and 90s rave sounds in a fashion which swung between the extravagant and the discrete from track to track. Follow-up EP Luxe Kondo takes that blending to granular extremes, and while that makes for an approachable listen, it also risks failing to move the needle. It’s difficult to pin a piece like “She’s An Adult” to any particular time or even scene. Though the stretched and vocoded vocals have a consciously retro feel, the smoothed out and chilly sequences which play out over an engine-turning beat feel timeless…but also somewhat directionless for all their elegance. Similarly, the tastefully muted synth-toms of “Lost” are well appended to its simple, wet synths, but with each of Luxe Kondo‘s six tracks sliding by in such an easy fashion one begins to wish that some of the more outre moments of Renaissance would be revisited, like the Utah Saints-connoting rave-up of “Dimension”. Closer “Icebox” gets things right, making quick dress changes between leads which all communicate the titular chill, though it only goes to show how quickly and economically Dead Husband can communicate the vibe they spend too much of Luxe Kondo reiterating.
Luxe Kondo by Dead Husband


Cretin Dilettante
Thick Haze
self-released

Thick Haze is a different kind of record from Dustin Sheehan’s Cretin Dilettante. Where previous releases dabbled in bedroom synthpop, noise, glitch and found sound collage, the project’s newest release deals more directly in distinct instrumental strangeness, bringing to mind the freeform weirdness of Coil’s Black Light District era and maybe a few of Nurse With Wound’s more accessible moments. Some of that change has to do with the general vibe of the songs, which emphasize groovy rhythm programming and spooky textures. Check out the title track, where a spindly lead whines its way through breathy samples and a tumbling drum pattern that always feels slightly off kilter, but maintains an awkward tempo throughout. “A Scorched Land in the Cold Dark” goes a dub route, with bass and subterranean snares pushing their way across waves of reverbed and delayed samples. Release highlight “Mist Rises From the Holy Bath” feels and sounds like industrialized vaporwave, with degraded textures and undercutting the mellow melody that keeps trying emerge, but is thwarted by unpredictable shifts in tone and structure. It’s music that walks a fine line between soothing and unsettling, and to be honest it sometimes feels like any given track or passage could be either. Sheehan works that unpredictability well, creating focus within his own wide-ranging musical purview.
Thick Haze by Cretin Dilettante

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We Have a Technical 235: Zauberschlosshed

Helium Vola and Solvent’s connections to Our Thing may take the form of winding paths demanding historical context, but that’s exactly why your old pals Alex and Bruce are here. From the sacred music root of Enrst Horn’s extravagance to the strange intersections of electroclash, synthpop, and analog whimsy Jason Amm taps into, we’re here to guide you. All that plus some discussion of The Quietus’ new political writing on this week’s episode of We Have A Technical! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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In Strict Confidence, “Hate2Love”

In Strict Confidence
Hate2Love
Minuswelt Musikfabrik/Metropolis Records

Though the band had already existed for two decades at the time of its release, In Strict Confidence’s 2010 LP La Parade Monstrueuse was a creative high point for the German act. The growth of the band from their electro-industrial roots to full on majestic darkwave was easy to track through the lead-up to that LP, with exceptional releases like Holy and Exile Paradise showing off Dennis Ostermann, Jörg Schelte and Stefan Vesper’s growth as producers and songwriters. Disappointingly, the follow-ups to La Parade Monstrueuse have been a case of diminishing returns, with Utopia and The Hardest Heart coming across as good but inessential entries to the catalog. 2018’s Hate2Love doesn’t buck that trend, and despite showcasing In Strict Confidence’s fine studio craft, it feels dull and uninspired.

That’s not to say that In Strict Confidence’s strengths are absent from the album. The band still has a preternatural grasp of how to integrate tasteful synth and drum programming with elements like piano and guitar, and the production (assisted by a variety of studio vets like Hecq’s Ben Lukas Boysen and Rhys Fulber) is uniformly clean and crisp. Dennis Ostermann remains a confident and magnetic vocalist, his gravelly baritone injecting smokey mystery and gravitas when required. The obviousness of those assets, however, throws the album’s major problem into the sharpest of reliefs: what’s lacking on Hate2Love are worthwhile songs.

That issue is doubly frustrating in that so many of these tracks feel like they had the makings of something more memorable. A mid-tempo number like “Used and Abused” has a catchy (if a bit rote) synth riff to set it up, but the chorus’ weakness keeps it from sticking. “Every Start Has Its End” is similar: despite making good use of guitar that calls to mind their Neue Deutsche Härte excursions there’s simply no melody the listener can hold onto. Opener “Flashover” has interesting rhythm programming and pleasing sound design but never shifts gears, ambling between verse and chorus before rolling to a stop. Number after number plays out the same way, with songs not entirely devoid of merit failing to take flight and staying squarely in the realm of serviceable but unspectacular. The high point is pre-release single “Mercy”, whose plodding, funky bassline and wah-wah inflected chorus have some juice, but it’s not so spectacular it can bring the rest of the record up with it.

At some point around the dawn of the century, In Strict Confidence placed their focus on substantive songwriting, leaving behind the programming-driven construction of their early years for music with richer and more affecting ambitions. That was a gambit that paid off for them, but the flip-side is that when the songs are found lacking, no amount of skillful execution can save them. For all the expertise that obviously went in to making Hate2Love, it simply gives the listener too few reasons to revisit it after the first listen.

Hate2Love by In Strict Confidence

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