Observer: Virtues & Failings and KnK

Virtues & Failings
Virtues & Failings
Four Songs
self-released

Vancouver project Virtues & Failings are playing their cards relatively close to their chest, with scant information about the outfit or their origins available, despite having released a two-track single back in 2015. The four tracks on their new EP-cum-demo speak to more than passing familiarity with the mechanics of post-punk and synthpop, though, specifically of the types which prioritize harmonies and chorus pedals. Finding an intersection between low-fi fuzz and gauzy atmospheres, tracks like “Buffalo” and “Just An Echo” have a trembling luminescence at the edges of their melodies. The bellowing vocals which are shot through the tracks lend them a dimension quite different than Virtues & Failings’ obvious points of comparison, be those first wave post-punk legends or recent revivalists: deep, loud, and wounded, the vocals bring a sense of keening danger to the tunes. Apparently a new EP is in the works for a spring release, and it’ll be interesting to see how it clarifies our understanding of the band’s range and interests, which we’re guessing these four tracks haven’t exhausted.
4 Songs by Virtues and Failings


KnK
Dead Body Music III
Daft Records

KnK make dirty, gritty anti-commercial electro-industrial, the kind of stuff you might have found on a Celtic Circle release circa the mid 90s. It’s a throwback sound in some ways, but not so as to work against it: the general obscurity of the material and the lo-fi aspects of the recordings and mix on Dead Body Music III give a strangely timeless appeal. Tracks like “I Forgot” forego the accessibility of much dark electro, instead focusing on a stripped down, dirge-like arrangement of buzzing bass that takes off just as the track is coming to a close. “Screwdrive” channels a bit of Dive in it’s minimalism and distorted vocal treatment, blurring notes and textures into a miasma for the percussion and the weird, reedy lead sound to cut through. “Collapse” finds them turning up everything, delivering saturated blocks of noise that thud their way across the track, tumbling over one another as strangely delicate notes twinkle above them. It’s pretty dark stuff, yeah, but there’s a specific charm to its nihilistic approach, a distinctly anti-commercial sound that defies the listener to draw out its charms.
Dead Body Music III by KnK

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We Have a Technical 230: THUD!

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure live action movie looks lit.

You’d be hard pressed to find albums more dichotomous than the two the Senior Staff are discussing on this week’s podcast. That said, Foetus’ Hole and Deine Lakaien’s Dark Star are both records Alex and Bruce have spent years listening to and fit them like gloves despite being maniacally destructive and melodramatic, respectively. All that plus the Senior Staff’s thoughts on the Green Guy finally getting his papers in order in Canada on 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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Analfabetism, “Kniven Sitter Kvar i Bonden”

Analfabetism - Kniven Sitter Kvar i Bonden

Analfabetism
Kniven Sitter Kvar i Bonden
self-released

With three full lengths of grinding, instrumental industrial noise in the rear view mirror, we can anticipate to a large degree what awaits down the road when a new Analfabetism record appears. Fredrik Djurfeldt has used the project to bring together the abrasive, the textured, and the abstract dimensions of all the bleakest and purest subgenres of industrial, and new LP Kniven Sitter Kvar i Bonden doesn’t stray too far from expectations. Rather, the defining elements of the record lie somewhere between the qualities of composition and sound design, with Djurfeldt striking upon a murky and occluded mood rather than an outwardly aggressive one.

Despite the morbid cover art and downright creepy title (it roughly translates to “the knife is sitting in the farmer” for the non-Swedes in the room), very little of Kniven Sitter relies on outward violence or aggression. Rather, menace is conveyed either through eerie and unsettling sounds or the manner in which the passages of Djurfeldt’s compositions rise out of and submerge into muffled, fatalistic oblivion.

That sense of wistful resignation is apparent from the get go, with the characteristic static blasts and tumbling machine samples of “De som dräpa och som dräpas skall” being quickly offset by droning pads which give off a much more ruminative and melancholy cast than I’ve come to expect from Analfabetism. The sounds and composition of “Av daga tagas” are quite different, with the track centering around an orange wave of feedback, but the effect of that sound’s quavering waxing and waning has a similar cyclical and, again, reflective feel. Don’t get me wrong: there’s still plenty of the crawling noise and metallic belches which have marked Analfabetism’s interest in death industrial and power electronics from day one, it’s just that those elements aren’t being stacked atop one another to convey confrontational excess.

The record is introduced as “genuine Scandinavian depression” in the PR copy, and that Djurfeldt’s opted to give it so specific a description when the project’s been so abstract up until now has been telling. Yes, there have always been the striking and almost poetically perturbing song titles (were I to hazard a guess I might speculate that Kniven Sitter‘s titles could obliquely refer to factory farming), but the specific mention of depression rather than the sense of disinterest and contempt Analfabetism’s music has previously connoted is instructive. Weary, deep, and breathing under strain, Kniven Sitter Kvar i Bonden taps into a spiritual and emotional darkness which rests beneath the noise.

Kniven Sitter Kvar i Bonden by Analfabetism

Buy it.

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Michael Idehall, “Aion Reborn”

Michael Idehall
Aion Reborn
Raubbau

In contrast with much of his recent catalogue, Michael Idehall’s Aion Reborn has a claustrophobic, subterranean feel. Those familiar with the Swedish producer’s particular take on noisy, droning ritual electronic music are accustomed to foggy, obscure sounds and textures, but those same elements generally play out in larger spaces created with reverb and a wide stereo field. The music here sounds like it was recorded in a bunker or manmade tunnel of some kind, making the proceedings tenser, and more clangorous.

The key sounds Idehall deals in remain largely intact here. A song like “The Dead Must Be Silent” has the grinding loops, bells, and squeals of feedback that make up the palette of so many of his tracks. What makes it distinct is how close together those elements are in the mix, and how the actual sound design is geared to allow their edges to overlap and blur. “O98T” takes that formula to an ever more mechanical end, with the inhuman recitation of strings of numbers set against fizzling and sparking electronics, sounding for all the world like the dying throes of a number station.

The pivot on Aion Reborn is a subtle one in many ways, but what it does to the mood of the record is considerable. Where Idehall’s music is usually meditative and hypnotic (he coined the term “seancetronica” for it a few years ago after all), the overall mood of this LP is anxious and strained. “Canopy” starts with some light percussion and simple a simple tone based melody, but is soon subsumed by massive drones and a paranoid spoken word section about birds whose sinister implications far outweigh any other feeling the track might conjure. “Radiation from a Distant Gnosis” is seemingly made from some kind of metallic cord being struck by something mechanized, producing both waves of feedback and an unnerving rapidfire “ping” that gets more disconcerting the longer it goes on.

Compared to Michael Idehall’s previous 2018 release Prophecies of the Storm, this record is plainly more difficult and more likely to repel those not already inducted into the pleasures of his catalogue. The flipside is that the record has a distinct sensibility that makes it stand on its own, not to be confused as castoffs or addendum to anything else he’s done. With an artist as distinctive and prolific as Idehall, that’s as much as you can ask.

Buy it.

aion reborn by michael idehall

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Tracks: October 15th, 2018

God damn is it almost Hallowe’en already? Not that we do much to celebrate outside of the usual dj gigs/house party circuit, but it’s always amazing how fast summer slips into fall and the the inevitable end of year panic. If you’ve been feverishly checking the site to see if we put up a review of one of 800 records that seemingly get released right at the outset of the season, rest assured we’re doing our best to catch up. That said, it’s always possible we missed one or two (or twenty) so why not post a list of stuff we haven’t written about in the comments and we can add it to the queue. We love recommendations, hence the weekly feature you’re about to read. Tracks away!

Borghesia

Borghesia seem like a band with studied opinions on brutalist architecture.

Borghesia, “Ljubljana spi”
Bless Borghesia. While never as well know or appreciated as that other Slovenian art collective turned musical project, they’ve been going in one form or another since 1982, taking their original proto-wave/body music stylings in strange new directions. Forthcoming album Proti kapitulaciji is their first since 2014’s intriguingly strange And Man Created God, and hearing “Ljubljana spi” one has to imagine these cats haven’t yet exhausted their bag of musical tricks.
Ljubljana spi – single by Borghesia

Autopsie d’une ombre, “Into Your Weaving”
One-man French act Autopsie d’une ombre are a new to us act, but this bold and sweeping track from Sébastien Espi’s first LP makes a strong impression. Espi takes his country’s coldwave tradition in just as far of a gothic and bombastic fashion as is feasible, but also has an economical take on melody and solid production. We’ll be sure to give Alive Somewhere a closer inspection.
Alive somewhere by AUTOPSIE D'UNE OMBRE

Blac Kolor, “Drone War”
For the first time in over a year, Blac Kolor’s Hendrick Grothe has returned to his “24U” format of two-track digital singles, often released free from the continuity of his larger trajectory as one of the more woozy and atmospheric industrial-techno producers. While ironically not as swaddled in drones as much of his Awakening LP from earlier this year, “Drone War” has plenty of the kinetic percussion which originally drew us to Grothe’s work with tunes like “Banging”.
24U – Vol. 04 by Blac Kolor

V▲LH▲LL, “Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK Part III Evigt Därunder”
Compilation Dyer’s Pledge was originally conceived by Michael Idehall as a fundraiser for now-closed esoteric bookstore Vansinnets Berg. Upon closure of the store, it became a tribute to it, bringing together musicians from a variety of practices and genres to pay their respects to a place that had served as inspiration to their work. Along with Idehall himself, tracks were contributed by Trepaneringsritualen, Slow.Slither, Hadewych and V▲LH▲LL, whose contribution is the next part of their “Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK” cycle.
Dyer's Pledge by V▲LH▲LL

Field Agent, “Tell Them Not To Kill Me”
We recently caught up with Field Agent’s Stephen Lee Clark and he mentioned, perhaps only partially in jest, that he’s been having trouble keeping from speeding up each of his proceeding tracks. Well, his new tape They Want My Knowledge seems to prove the point, pushing the tempo up a bit from last month’s Just Breathing Is Torture single. A bit of acid’s getting worked into the shuffle, but more than anything else we’re enjoying the whispered, reedy samples and textures woven through an otherwise very overt banger.
They Want My Knowledge by Field Agent

Silent Servant, “Harm in Hand”
So, now that techno and EBM have been hybridized eight ways from Sunday, how do you keep the style interesting and avoid falling back on the same tropes as other producers? In the case of Silent Servant (one of the first acts to really break from the pack working with these sounds in the modern era) you add a healthy quotient of songwriting and arrangement to the recipe. New track “Harm in Hand” – featuring a nice mix from ol’ Josh Eustis – feels more like a lost Cabs classic than anything modern, playing up rhythm and disjointed melody to excellent effect. Feel the heat, and be on the lookout for the full LP Shadows of Death and Desire in December.
Harm In Hand by Silent Servant

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Reptilicus & Senking, “Unison”

Reptilicus & Senking
Unison
Artoffact Records

Way back in 2011, long-running experimental electronic duo Reptilicus joined techno minimalist Senking and avant garde composer Rúnar Magnússon at Hamilton Ontario’s Grant Avenue studios for a recording session done in association with the then in-production modular synth documentary I Dream of Wires. Utilizing a wide range of classic and exotic synths, the makeshift electronic supergroup recorded a few hours of raw material which has since been passed between each project until being completed nearly seven years after it was initiated. The result is Unison, a record that speaks both to aspects of each of the contributors, and the off-the-cuff origins of the release.

The sound of the release is understandably varied, buzzing with a tension that exists between the improvisational nature of the original recordings and the work that has since been done on them. You can definitely hear elements of Reptilicus’ function-over-form approach to composition and Senking’s minimal brutalist techno at play, but in concert those elements have a playful, eclectic feel that belies the grave tenor of much of the sound design. “Delivery” and “Shiver” specifically have some of that in them, using the interplay of blasts of subdued noise, groovy percussion tracks and drones to create movement, energy and depth.

The experimentalist nature of the collaborators also makes for some notable variety in songs and approaches. The way that sustained tones coalesce out of the substrata on “For Decades” before being filtered back into pure ambience is unlike anything else present, acting as an impassive glacier in the midst of its more rhythmic neighbours. “Independent Access to White Noise” borders on twee-IDM in its initial moments of melody, but rapidly subverts those tropes with broken rhythms and tweaky sequences that criss cross the track in unpredictable ways.

As a release Unison bears the marks of what it is pretty openly, a collaborative effort that finds unity in spirit and philosophy more than in sonic markers or technical approaches. That in itself gives it a sort of mystique, like a long forgotten jazz side recorded by famous players on a lark. There’s a pleasingly free and easy sensibility to this music that one might not expect, but that makes perfect sense in the context it creates for itself with each movement and passage.

Buy it.

Unison by Reptilicus & Senking

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We Have a Technical 229: Rubbish Mate

I’m Jean-Luc De Meyer, welcome to my Ted Talk

This episode of We Have A Technical offers up an interview with none other than C-Tec! Jean-Luc De Meyer and Marc Heal join us to talk about the origins and future of arguably the greatest industrial supergroup of all time, how it frees them up to take different paths than their other projects, and which members of the band would taste best. All that plus updates on Uncle Gary Numan and coverage of industrial music in broader music media. Can the Senior Staff get through this episode without any editing errors? Only one way to find out… 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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Missing Witness, “Traitors”

Missing Witness - Traitors

Missing Witness
Traitors
self-released

Seattle’s Missing Witness emerged out of the Cascadian gloom three years ago with a debut EP as murky as it was affecting. Part darkwave, part industrial, part grimy goth rock, Silence made an impression by flipping between very sculpted and very raw sounds at a moment’s notice. The band’s second EP doesn’t break radically from its predecessor’s path, but does consolidate many of its disparate sounds into a sleeker and more aggressive package.

Traitors‘ six tracks put dense and relentless drums right up front, interwoven with programming that’s alternately polished for melodic sheen and abraded to sandpaper. Regardless of the sound palette, Missing Witness build tension nigh-instantaneously, from the moment the kicks of the title track come in, and maintain it throughout. While the more atmospheric side of the band’s sound showcased on Silence endures, its textures and pads are almost always bracketed against a bracing wall of percussion, noise, and Jeremy Allen’s acid-throat vocals. This doesn’t always necessitate speed, but there’s no denying that the throwback dark electro style of “Shapeshifter” or the more grooving electro-industrial of “Sleepwalking” (which brings Cardinal Noire to mind) benefit from full-throttle tempos. The economical twenty-two minute run time for the six tracks can’t but help that intensity.

As alluded to above, Missing Witness work a pretty hybrid style. In the broadest sense darkwave does still feel like the closest genre approximation, but even that feels like a cop-out. The distinct metallic tang of electro-industrial is certainly detectable as well, but it’s been left to simmer in the band’s turbid soup for so long that it can’t be isolated from the rest of the recipe. Allen’s vocals, as well as the claustrophobic mix, further help to smear the genre tags (I feel there’s a philosophical as well as musical kinship with Statiqbloom here, on that score).

It’s with that full integration of a host of dark electronic signifiers, some old, some new, some harsh, some clean, that Missing Witness excel. Although wholly dreary and weighty, the variety of ideas and sounds Traitors offers in rapid succession should be welcome and refreshing, regardless of your preferred style of dark electronics. Recommended.

Traitors by Missing Witness

Buy it.

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Tracks: October 9th, 2018

With festival season officially behind us, we can turn our undivided attention back to the stack of just-released and still-to-come releases with which 2018 has been backloaded. We’re starting to begin to form a general picture of what our Year End list might look like, though we’re well aware that there are plenty of strong contenders still on the horizon. As always, we’re keen to get your take on the year in dark music thus far: what’s the record you just can’t seem to stop playing? Is there something just around the corner you think might dislodge it from your ears? Let us know, and check out this week’s Tracks!

KYMAVR

Gary Numan, “It Will End Here”
The specific brand of electronic rock Uncle Gary has been mining for more than two decades has achieved a special kind of familiarity. When you hear “It Will End Here” from the forthcoming EP The Fallen there’s no mistaking who the track is by even before you hear Numan’s ultra-recognizable voice; between the consistently moody songwriting and Ade Fenton’s signature production style, it’s contemporary Numan all the way down. And you’ll never hear us complain about that.

Radioaktivists, “Raiders”
After a serious delay (like, a serious delay, we were hyped for this record back in 2013) it looks like Radioaktivist’s debut LP Radioakt One will soon see the light of day. A supergroup made up of Daniel Myer, Frank Spinath, Krischan Wesenberg and author Sascha Lange, the sound of “Raiders” is certainly in line with what we’d expect from the combination of talents, all deeply produced, melancholic and highly melodic. What the rest of the album might hold is still a mystery (the press materials indicate an emphasis on subtle “electronic noir” sounds, whatever those might be) but we have plenty enough invested in these cats individually to be intrigued.
Radioakt One by Radioaktivists

KYMAVR, “Break Point”
A new turn from Martin Sax (V▲LH▲LL, EkoBrottsMyndigheten) comes to us in the form of this trippy and trippy near-ten minute exodus. Pointing towards the most stretched-out and droning ends of electro-industrial, the new KYMAVR project’s first offering has us thinking of early Individual Totem. From what we’ve been able to gather this isn’t just a one-off, and we’re interested to see how one of our favourite Swedish artists will be pushing forward into fresh territory.

Mlada Fronta, “Magnus The Avenger”
Rémy Pelleschi’s abrupt left turn into synthwave a couple of years back caught us by surprise, if only because the consciously retro and smooth stylings of that genre seemed at odds with the Mlada Fronta composer’s constant experimentation and yen for more complex structures. Regardless of its reason or origin, that change of style looks to be progressing towards its next logical iteration: the harder, giallo-influenced synthwave plied by the likes of Priest and GosT. We’re keen to give new LP No Trespassing a deeper listen; if anyone can add some subtlety or new tricks to this template it’s Pelleschi.
No Trespassing (2018) by Mlada Fronta

Sigsaly, “Digital Feeders”
Vancouver’s darkwave and EBM minimalists Sigsaly pop up with another new one, emphasizing the beat-driven aspect of their sound. Since founding the all-electronic project the duo (also known for their work as Koban) have been exploring exactly what they can do in all synthetic instrumental form, delivering both bangers (ain’t you heard “Push”?) and grindier numbers (like “Your Enemy”) with equal aplomb. We fully expect this to be a big deal sooner rather than later, so get ahead of the game and start paying attention now.

Galatée, “Des Rêves Étranges”
Berlin’s Detriti Records has been keeping at it: after a showcase at this year’s Kelabalik Festival a handful of new tapes have been released, including Galatée’s Des Rêves Étranges, which shows that it’s not just retro-electronics of Klack and Visitor’s ilk for which the label has an ear. Cold, placid, and dreamy, the Russian act (who sing in French) straddle the boundaries of post-punk, dream-pop, and French cold wave. Good stuff for those of us still looking for some new melancholia with which to welcome in the colder months.
Galatée – Des Rêves Étranges by Detriti Records

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Observer: Whiteqube & PLAZAS


Whiteqube
Design Flaws
self-released

It’s never be easy to peg where Whiteqube are situated musically. The Los Angeles duo of T. Ryan Arnold and Jason Bractune have been around for a minute, and their surprisingly deep discography has spanned bizarre techno, subversive EDM, EBM-influenced vocal tracks and more, all while maintaining their own quirky and identifiable sensibility. Their new EP jumps off from last year’s The Return by resurrecting “Design Flaws” in a beefier form. Where the original was springy and agile, the new version thickens the synth and bass arrangement and adds a monstrous breakdown and build that showcase’s the duo’s affinity for the dancefloor. The club appeal continues with the sinister “End Times”, where a deep, articulated bassline bubbles beneath a portentous sample and a stabby synthline that ratchets up the the tension established by the nervy rhythm track. “Psychopath” ups that ante further by increasing the tempo and submerging the mix with the pounding kick drum breaking the track’s surface, almost reminiscent of techno classics by the likes of Josh Wink or Hardfloor. “Change their Minds” reconciles many of Whiteqube’s ideas into a single ascending and descending arrangement of synths that situates itself between their pop and unconventional ideas, completed by a surprisingly harried vocal. Whiteqube remain hard to pin down, and as with their previous releases that proves to be the strength of their extravagant and strange productions.
Design Flaws by Whiteqube

PLAZAS - Distant Desires
PLAZAS
Distant Desires
self-released

As PLAZAS, Vancouver-to-Toronto transplant Savana Salloum-Hedgecock trades in a dreamy and bedroom-born brand of synthpop which sits outside the broader timeline of that genre. Tucked away in an ahistorical crèche, Distant Desires (the project’s first LP after an enjoyable 2015 EP) could just as easily be contemporaneous with Figurine as Freezepop, or with number of forgotten original minimal synth acts. It doesn’t feel like 2018 (or 1981, for that matter) in the tiny synth cosmoses Salloum-Hedgecock creates so much as it does a listless Friday night spent fretting about your first apartment. Lo-fi synth melodies and tom fills click on by with warm and sometimes sluggish ease, and the simplicity of the synth chimes and pads and the languid and druggy delivery of Salloum-Hedgecock’s vocals creates a lulling cocoon. Though those vocals sometimes quaver and fall out of the mix, there’s a charming honesty to their straightforward and unadorned delivery, and they fit well with the stripped-down but still expressive set of synths which make up Distant Desires. Although the slow and fuzzy reverie of “Western Reflections” (an homage to the project’s former home?) seems a natural fit for PLAZA’s “cassettes and old synths” aesthetic, it’s the more frantic and driving numbers like “Lost Boy” and the excellent “Reasons” (somewhat reminiscent of the earliest Moev recordings) which cinch the deal.
Distant Desires by PLAZAS

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We Have a Technical 228: My Memes

Chemlab’s Jared Louche got buck, it was wild

This week the Senior Staff are on the mean streets of LA, catching all the goings on at the third and final stop of the Cold Waves festival tour. Alex and Bruce discuss all the sets from bands new and old and are joined throughout the episode by bands and other friends who offer their thoughts on and memories of the fest. It’s a full-throttle trip through rivethead heaven 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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Tracks: October 3rd, 2018

Always takes a couple days for us to get back in the Vancouver state of mind on returning from a Los Angeles excursion. Leaving aside the obvious differences in scale and climate, we find ourselves missing our LA friends, food and music, all of which we indulged in this past weekend. Shouts out to the folks we got to see, apologies to those of you we missed or only saw briefly, we’ll do it again next year if the current pattern holds true. Back to the grind!

Orphx

Orphx crush. Photo by Μανος Δημητριου Χρυσοβεργης

Word Made Flesh, “A Hand in the Clouds”
New sickness from Word Made Flesh, the collaboration between Cubanate’s Phil Barry and Keef Baker. Their 2017 self-titled LP was a block of sound that spoke both to Barry’s monolithic riffs as a guitarist and Baker’s interests in dub and abstract electronics. “A Hand in the Clouds” is cut from the same cloth as what came before but with a slightly more aggressive and sinister tone that reminds us of some of Scorn’s more ill-tempered moments. Check it out on the new Armalyte Industries compilation that also features contributions from Cubanate, Pig, Cease2Xist and others!
V/A – Make Armalyte Great Again by Word Made Flesh

Orphx, “Bare Life”
Orphx have spent the past couple of years playing live sets which showcase the Canadian pair’s “have their cake and eat it, too” philosophy. Their last LP, Pitch Black Mirror straddled dark electronic genres of all types, and they’ve been able to keep both rivetheads and techno fiends alike sated. It’s no surprise, then, that their new EP Learn To Suffer looks to be continuing the balancing act with tracks like this, featuring techno cores grimed up with noise and abrasive textures.
Learn To Suffer by Orphx

SRSQ, “Cherish”
It’s only a few weeks ’til SRSQ’s debut album Unreality drops, and we couldn’t be more excited. If “Martyr” was an affirmation of Kennedy Ashlyn’s power and emotion as a vocalist, then “Cherish” cements her as one of the great modern voices in Our Thing. Somewhere between ecstasy, sorrow, and beauty, she cuts through cynicism to touch those feels deeply and sincerely. Listen and get on board now, this one is gonna be huge.

11xxx27, “Hard Commission (Operant remix)”
Italian noise/drone act 11xxx27 looks to be taking things in a more aggressive direction with No Hope, No Fear, their new tape for Infidel Bodies. Previous releases had taken a more passive and at times even ambient approach to rendering the wars and strife which drive the project conceptually, but the tightly packed kicks and blasts of rhythmic noise which we’ve been able to sample from No Hope, No Fear thus far speak to a far more overt and harsh style of warfare. This brutal mix courtesy of Berlin’s Operant certainly fits in with the forthcoming salvo.
No Hope, No Fear by 11xxx27

X E N Oミゼル, “Durban Poison”
More fresh weirdness from the Vertex gang, who as sharp at giving musical form to the weirdest corners of contemporary net culture as they are at dredging up classic post-industrial sounds. This time out it’s X E N Oミゼル (sorry, preliminary katakana translations aren’t yielding anything concrete) coming out with some decidedly funky electro-industrial and throwback rave. We’re not sure if the “Future Girlfriend” they cite as inspiration is the current producer or the old meme, but we’re enjoying this tune regardless.
ONi by X E N Oミゼル

The Soft Moon, “Ill (SARIN remix)”
Would it even be an edition of Tracks without some contribution from SARIN? This time it’s a remix of The Soft Moon from that band’s forthcoming Criminal Remixed, which features versions by The Horrorist, Rendered, Imperial Black Unit and others. Much as you might expect from a SARIN remix there’s some definite EBM vibes but also some pretty serious atmospherics going on, with the livewire tension of the original subsumed by weighty samples and textures.
Criminal Remixed by The Soft Moon

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We Have a Technical 227: Emergency Socks

This is what you get if you google “rivet socks”.

On the occasion of Storming The Base scaling back and changing their operations, the Senior Staff are taking up the topic of mail order. From filling out money orders for Steril singles to trying to figure out which format a Bandcamp purchase should be in, Bruce and Alex are looking at mail order from both a nostalgic and business-minded perspective. All that, plus some last minute Cold Waves biz and a whole bunch of Blade Runner bullshit on the latest 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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Replicas: Coil + Zos Kia + Marc Almond, “How To Destroy Angels”

Coil + Zos Kia + Marc Almond, "How To Destroy Angels"

Coil + Zos Kia + Marc Almond
How To Destroy Angels
Cold Spring

What is it?
Coil’s catalog forms the sort of labyrinthine archive of which Jorge Luis Borges could only dream. Now with both members long gone and a slew of reissues emerging – some seemingly more supported by Peter Christopherson and John Balance’s wishes than others – the questions of canonicity which have always surrounded the band’s work are cross-hatched with conundrums of authorship and posthumous compiling. Cold Spring’s new pressing of How To Destroy Angels can only further muddle matters in a fashion I’d like to imagine John and Sleazy having a laugh at. Firstly, no, this is not a reissue of How To Destroy Angels, the band’s first proper release, issued in 1984. Secondly, as the credits indicate, this isn’t even a Coil release at all, but rather a documentation of a live collaborative performance piece (pull up a chair, this may take a minute).

In August of 1983, Balance and John Gosling (of Zos Kia and Psychic TV) performed “A Slow Fade To Total Transparency”, a live ritual in which the duo wound themselves in wire, poked at each other with needles, and thrashed about in the sort of piss, glass, and blood play which had famously earned their progenitors in COUM Transmissions the rank of “wreckers of civilization” seven years earlier. The performance was scored by a tape of drones, clangs, and electronic caterwaul composed by Christopherson, Balance, and Gosling. Overtop this, Marc Almond (live and in London’s Air Gallery alongside the pair of performers) read aloud a poetic screed, a Celine-esque venting of spleen in an ex’s direction. (For those keeping score, yes, Almond had already had a number one smash in the form of “Tainted Love” two years previous – we’re talking Marc and the Mambas/getting high with Foetus on Suicide era Almond.) This record, then, is an audio documentation of that performance; functionally, the audio track of the video recording of the performance released as part of the Colour Sound Oblivion box.

What’s on it?
Cold Spring notes that the audio on this release (which does look rather fetching on red and black splatter vinyl) has been remastered, but given that the source material is the handheld video tape recorder which would have captured the show, the chances of any new subtleties in the backing musical score coming out are slim. Indeed, very little of that piece apart from its higher frequencies ever comes across, with much of it lost in tape hiss and mic hum. Instead, although likely being the product of the fascination with all things adjacent to Coil, the real focus of the recording becomes Almond’s voice. Despite maintaining the same register for twenty-odd minutes, Almond and his caustic imagery never lose their impact. The odd thrash or grunt or clatter from Balance and Gosling which makes it onto the tape seems all the more eerie for its ambiguity free of video.

The B-side of the record contains a remix of “How To Destroy Angels” produced by Zos Kia affiliate Jim Whelan which bears much more in common with the 1984 How To Destroy Angels release, and a live Zos Kia performance from later on in 1983, featuring the soupy din out of which Coil qua Coil would eventually emerge.

Who should buy it?
Coil obsessives will likely already be familiar with the source material of “A Slow Fade To Total Transparency”, and so the question of this How To Destroy Angel‘s value likely rests upon to what extent having this audio version of the existing video footage matters to said obsessives, how much they are interested in the Zos Kia era of Balance’s career, or how much appeal Marc Almond holds for them. That isn’t meant to be glib or snippy; Almond’s always been a multi-faceted yet grimy jewel, and hearing him in such a sustained state of agitation and free of irony or archness is a rarity, and points to his kinship with the broader Coil collective despite his prior pop success. Apart from that other shade of Almond, though, How To Destroy Angels functions primarily as an imperfect document of Coil’s rough first attempts, years before their best work.

How To Destroy Angels (CSR263CD/LP) by Coil + Zos Kia + Marc Almond

Buy it.

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Cocksure, “Be Rich”

Cocksure
Be Rich
Metropolis Records

The initial wave of releases from Jason Novak and Chris Connelly’s Cocksure arrived so quickly and so close together in 2014 and 2015 that the project seemed almost instantly crystallized in approach and format. Between the project’s fuzzy, grinding grooves and Connelly’s slyly delivered bon mots the band really did feel descended from the mid-west industrial rock of yesteryear. New album Be Rich is interesting in that it feels less constrained musically and structurally than previous efforts, as though the time elapsed since their last release has allowed them to spread themselves across more sonic territory.

The best moments on the record are the ones that feel most unexpected and unprecedented. Check out the way that “Teezer Hell” plays with bizarre dark electro sounds at its outset, shrouding Connelly’s distinctive voice in saturation before breaking out into a frantic bass-guitar driven climax. Or how single “Shockroach” recasts the project’s dub leanings midway through into a swarm of degenerating breaks. Goodness only knows how a song like “Sexy D.A.” about…well, a sexy district attorney was birthed, but its bizarro take on balaeric synthpop and italo is smile worthy.

It’s not just in the integration of new musical ideas that the record feels more loose and groovy, but in the actual mood of the songs. Single “Yellow Dog” has a killer bassline underneath its numerous layers of reverb and delay, but resists going big or over the top with it, instead opting to let the song ride on a simple kick snare patterns and a chirpy synthline. Similarly opener “The Finisher” has Connelly in full storyteller mode, weaving a tale around the titular figure atop a simple melody that recalls middle-era Severed Heads more than anything. As a record Be Rich generally stays laidback, with just enough pep to keep it from dragging.

Novak and Connelly’s collaboration as Cocksure hasn’t ever lacked for energy and movement, and what’s interesting here is how they allow themselves to uncoil somewhat, trading in some urgency for good-natured exploration. Even when the record meanders or wanders off course it eventually finds its way back to the strong rhythms that make up its core, rolling along through new or new to Cocksure territory with the sureness implied by their name.

Buy it.

Be Rich by Cocksure

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Tracks: September 24th, 2018

With two of its three installments in the can, we’re looking forward to heading to LA to give this year’s tripartite Cold Waves festival the West Coast send-off it deserves. Between the likes of ID:UD standbys like C-Tec and Continues and hot new projects we still can’t wait to hear more from like HAEX, it’s a stacked line-up which’ll be heading to the Pacific in a few days, and you can bet we’ll be there to catch all the goings on and report back. Please holler at us if you see us at the shows (we’ll be the tall guys in black), and until then enjoy this week’s Tracks!

Night Terrors

Neuroticfish, “Hysteria”
The first taste of the forthcoming Antidoron LP from Neuroticfish is telling. Since the project’s reactivation there have been traces of modern bass music production making their way into the hyped-up emotional futurepop the project is known for, and “Hysteria” is one of the clearest examples of how to reconcile each style. Think of it as a classic Sasha Mario Klein slowburner with some deeper, darker bass tones. We’ve loved everything Neuroticfish has done since they started making music again, and this track has us thinking the new record will carry on that tradition.

Harsh R, “Dog People”
Friend of the site Avi Roig’s just finished off a brief West Coast jaunt, showcasing the raw and stripped-down style his punkish rhythmic noise project Harsh R has been showcasing of late. Avi’s been pressing Harsh R heavier and heavier in the past year both in terms of touring and release scheduling, and his new tour-based EP offers a sleek yet merciless path to catching up with the project. Who’s a good boy?
TOUR EP by HARSH R

Physical Wash, “Deprived”
Did you check out Susan Subtract’s recent appearance on our pals Talking to Ghost’s podcast? If not you should make a point of it, as he lays out the current status of High-Functioning Flesh, and talks extensively about his new project Physical Wash. Primed from that enlightening conversation, we’re happy to hear a new song that lays out a lot of what Subtract talked about, with some definite new flavours and ideas coming to the fore in the “Deprived”. As huge HFF fans, we’re definitely keen to hear exactly what strange new things Susan has in store for us.

Night Terrors, “Twisted Torsos”
Vertex cliq kids Night Terrors are expanding beyond their Washington roots with a new EP on Vancouver’s own Collapsed Structures. Even north of the 49th parallel the game remains the same: harsh and considered electro-industrial with a decidedly murky cast. The shout-out in the notes to the late, great Paul Von Aphid feels especially instructive: the concrete meanness and blunt impassivity of Zex Model can certainly be felt here.
Utopia by Night Terrors

Vanligt Folk, “(O​)​Hambo”
There was a time when we thought that a lot of Gothenburg synth act Vanligt Folk’s weirdness was a product of us not speaking Swedish. We now have it on pretty good authority that even native Swedes find them puzzling. Still, as oddball as they are there’s a real spark of genius in their mix of proto-body sounds and dub, a mixture that makes all the sense in the world but has been rarely explored. The preview tracks for new album Hambo have us pretty fascinated; nobody really sounds like them, anywhere.
KESS09/KM052 'Hambo' by Vanligt Folk

Doric, “Monitors”
More analogue synth madness comes our way courtesy of Infravox Recods. The debut LP from Doric is the product of half of Grecian duo Human Puppets, and his commitment to a purist style of early wave-style analogue emoting hasn’t wavered in the transfer over to a solo project. That Stathis Leontiadis’ vocals cinch the deal much more than the ricocheting synths and drum programming is perhaps the best testament to the early 80s Doric can offer.
Doric – A Distorted Reality by Infravox Records

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We Have a Commentary: C-Tec, “Cut”

With industrial supergroup C-Tec back in action touring across the continent, the Senior Staff are revisiting their second LP, 2000’s Cut. What do each of Heal, Denton, and De Meyer bring to the project? How does it hold up in comparison to its predecessor? And how many Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel references can be shoehorned into an industrial music podcast? Find out on this month’s Patreon supported We Have A Commentary 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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Observer: Blakk Harbor & Vlimmer


Blakk Harbor
Madares
Ant-Zen

The sounds producer Angelos Liaros explores on his debut as Blakk Harbor aren’t especially removed from his work as cult industrial and rhythmic noise act Mobthrow. Rather, the twelve tracks on Madares zoom in on the dark ambient, ritual, and tribal aspects that have been present in his catalogue for some time. The result is a record of deep, flowing textures and low-key rhythm programming that keeps atmosphere as its primary concern. Tracks like “Archaic” are informed by their slow, rattling percussion, but their power comes from the layers of drones and rich synth patches that swirl organically around the errant samples that flutter into the mix. Elsewhere “Gods and Goats” relies on loose, airy reverbs and samples of deep throat singing to set the tone, staying firmly in a slow, hypnotic groove that never wavers. That may in fact be the only major issue with the record; for all the depth of production and keen-eared use of instrumentation and samples, there’s very little build to these tracks. Rather they move deliberately and constantly, avoiding peaks or valleys, never wavering. When the record does cut loose on late album track “Sacrificium” the feeling is palpable, as walls of hand drums, high-keening strings give way to mechanized drumming and spikes of controlled feedback, the flipside of the LP’s otherwise deliberately languorous pacing.
madares by blakk harbor

Vlimmer - Angststand
Vlimmer
Angststand
Repartiseraren

Alexander Leonard Donat of Berlin has released over a dozen EPs and other releases as Vlimmer in the past three years, but we have to admit that Angststand represents our first contact with him. We’re not sure if that’s for the best or not; the polish in both the sound and structure of this five song EP could point to a project that’s just finding its stride after heavy field testing…or a preternatural talent we’ve been sleeping on the whole time. The toolkit of sounds Carl uses points towards a bleak and forlorn style of martial pop – with plenty of cold bleeps and stoic drones punctuating acoustic percussion, but the end result is an intriguing blend of coldwave and darkwave which immediately impresses upon the listener both its experimental approach to composition and its decidedly expressive and personal tone. Despite the language barrier, the rhapsodic yet often resigned tone of Carl’s vocals speaks volumes as he drifts over the chilly climes of his compositions comes across perfectly clearly. Akin to a more downbeat Scott Walker presiding over mid-period Kirlian Camera, Angststand would be a wholly depressing record were the twisting shapes of its harmonies not so fascinating. A refreshing suite of dour pieces whose sound and organization resists easy categorization, Angstand ensures that we won’t be missing out on whatever Vlimmer has in store from here on out.
Angststand by Vlimmer

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We Have a Technical 226: Classic Nera Nebb

Abecedarians

Hot on the heels of last week’s knock down dragout fisticuffs, Bruce and Alex kick back with a good old fashioned Pick 5 episode of We Have a Technical. Yes, B-Sides are the topic, as each of the Senior Staff picks a couple personal faves and then expounds on why they enjoy them so well. Plus we talk the recent Die Krupps Visa Issues, some unexpected revelations pertaining to Mortal Kombat The Movie (really) and more, all this week on the official I Die: You Die 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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Henric de la Cour, “Gimme Daggers”

Henric de la Cour
Gimme Daggers
Progress Productions

Henric de la Cour’s first album since 2013’s Mandrills is a dour and weighty affair, with a carriage commensurate with its lenghthy gestation. The course of the ex-Yvonne and Strip Music singer’s solo career has always been a fraught one, with the weight of personal expectations, failure, illness and depression always close at hand. Still, the gloomy pop sensibility of his previous efforts is largely absent from Gimme Daggers, replaced by graver arrangements and melodies that sound like they were a struggle to bring to tape and release into the world.

The tone is set by pre-release single “Kowalski Was Here”, where a nimble arrangement of bass and handclaps and synth bass hoist de la Cour aloft, even as the sustained Hammond Organ chords threaten to drag him down as he white knuckles the words “I knew that life was a precious thing” as if trying to convince himself of their truth. It’s not turgid or morose by any means, but it does feel like HdlC swimming is desperately swimming against a current of personal demons. Similarly when “Driver” starts with a promisingly peppy bit of rock build before spinning out into a much more confessional and moribund chorus, it feels like the efforts of an artist deliberately choosing the harder path.

That pattern repeats itself time and again across the record’s twelve songs, with snatches of light emerging briefly only to be occluded by thick clouds of melancholy. de la Cour sounds positively defeated on “Hank Sometimes”, never allowing the song’s raucous spaghetti westernisms up out of dirt and dust. There are moments like “Body Politic” that have a kind of sad catharsis to them: that song’s gentle swells of strings and piano soften the blow of the song’s less than cheery lyrics. But by and large things stay downcast, even when upbeat, as on “Arkham Supermarket”, which bounces along on a programmed rhythm track but is throttled by a strange mid-song break into monotone and a jarring ending.

All of this culminates with the gloriously acerbic final track “Fury”, the one moment on Gimme Daggers that doesn’t sound like Henric de la Cour is labouring through it. Strangely free from the pressure that led up to it, de la Cour actually sounds content even as he sings his way through a torrent of recrimination and displaced ire. It’s a weirdly purgative song that highlights just how bleak the journey to get to it was, but also the joy of release, whether through victory or just plain giving up. It’s an appropriate ending to an LP that is not fun by any means, but should feel right at home for those entranced by Henric de la Cour’s endless, beautiful discomfit.

Buy it.

Gimme Daggers by Henric de la Cour

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