Klack, “2400bps 8-N-1”

Klack
2400bps 8-N-1
self-released

2019 has been something of a whirlwind for Klack. The Wisconsin based duo of Eric Oehler (Null Device) and Matt Fanale (Caustic) saw their half-joking Ikea themed new beat body music project take off in profile, garnering attention from well outside the usual bounds of Our Thing and booking numerous high profile gigs. 2400bps 8-N-1 is their second EP of 2019 and their third overall, expanding further on the sound of January’s Introducing the 1984 Renault LeCar, a release that explicitly explored the connections between new beat, EBM, freestyle and sample-driven synthpop of the Insoc variety.

Like all preceding Klack material, the foundation of the EP is bouncy synth bass, samples, and the alternating vocals of Oehler and Fanale. What’s abundantly clear however, is how good Klack has gotten at taking retro-stylistic signifiers and tropes and applying them to actual songs. While the group has always been handy with a hook or a funky bassline, a song like “The Games We Play” is fully-formed, and works for both the allusions it makes and its own merits; listen to how it evokes classic 242 in Oehler’s vocal delivery, Fanale’s backups, and the sound design. But there are also subtle gearshifts between the verse and chorus and a groovy but minimal arrangement expanding via the establishment and reiteration of melodic elements in different sections. You can hear the same tricks applied well in “Discipline”, where Fanale’s familiar growl is applied to classic EBM subject matter, but with a peppy backing of orch hits and stabs and snappy drum programming behind the plucky bassline.

Even within the confines of these five tracks you can find some indicators of new ideas and sounds making their way into the fold. The most immediate aspect of “Heave Ho” is the Get Up/Get Down hook, but behind that there are some squelchy acid sounds making their way into the mix. Similarly, the amusing samples regarding a disco business plan on “Check the Spreadsheet” will undoubtedly be what first sticks out to listeners, but the house piano of the song’s latter half suggests some pretty interesting connections to early 90s dance sounds.

Klack were always at risk of being more cute than substantial; as with every act who deliberately draw from the past, the question was whether there was more depth to their music than just a (admittedly fun and skillful) pastiche of classic sounds and styles. 2400bps 8-N-1 is the best indication yet that there’s more to Klack than what inspired them, and that those retro-ideas can have new and intriguing applications.

Buy it.

2400bps 8-N-1 by klack

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Amrou Kithkin, “Sensorless”

Amrou Kithkin - Sensorless

Amrou Kithkin
Sensorless
self-released

While self-advertising as “synthgaze”, the connections between Polish duo Amrou Kithkin and various shades of darkwave and dream-pop have been tangible since their first releases some four years ago. Sensorless, either a very short LP or a very long EP depending on how one squints at it, is their most overtly gloomy work to date, and while it makes explicit use of familiar genre stylings, the band have been around for long enough to ensure that their own character isn’t overshadowed.

There’s a more explicitly goth flavour to Sensorless, as the font switch to Caslon Antique on the album art perhaps presages. The stern and pensive approach to otherworldly business on opener “Spectral Violations” could be connected to the somber bluntness of recent Lycia, but the synthwork woven in keeps it from falling into the pitfalls of derivative darkwave.

Amrou Kithkin remains a relatively lo-fi, bedroom-sourced affair and that comes with a tradeoff of charms and pitfalls. Bartek G. Wrona’s vocals sometimes have a welcome and weary creak (as on “Mirana Revisited”), but at times that same quality allows him to be pushed out of frame (“Dead In Heaven”). The same goes for the drum programming – at times its thin and skitterish sound fits the waif-like tone of the material, while at other points you’re wishing for just a bit more oomph to add some dynamism. Closer “Isomorph Protocol” has just about all of the hooks and charisma needed for a classic goth rock stomper, but just needs a bit more, well, stomp.

For a band with such a stripped down presentation, Amrou Kithkin know how to establish mood quickly and effectively. The stark and bracing “Hunter’s Requiem” and “The Frigid Vague” are perfect autumnal nocturnes. The former infuses a restless and roving goth rock groove with dreamy ease, perhaps recalling Lowlife, while the latter instrumental makes the most of some transitions between icy key leads to build up a real sense of space and progression.

Balancing tension and lushness, aloof iciness and enveloping warmth, Sensorless manages to pack a solid amount of darkwave thrills into a tight package. Amrou Kithkin still aren’t the showiest or most strident of acts, but they’re learning how to bring their guileless charm into focus.

Buy it.

Sensorless by Amrou Kithkin

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We Have a Technical 286: House of Angry Cats

Snow In China

We got a classic two album podcast for you this week, with the Senior Staff discussing the baroque technoid elegance of Architect’s “Consume Adapt Create” and the chill genre pastiche of Snow In China’s “Electromensch”. Also: Brazilian drag queen covers of Front 242? We have you covered on the latest episode of We Have A Technical! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Tracks: Nov 12th, 2019

Festival season may be long over, but there’s still no shortage of live shows passing through our neck of the woods. In the remainder of the month alone we have shows from Actors and Bootblacks, Hide, and She Past Away to look forward to. It’s a testament to the wills of bands and promoters to continue to build such a healthy live scene here in Van and elsewhere in North America, even as the powers that be pressure and push out the sorts of venues which keep Our Thing going. Let’s get the week started with some tunes we might be using to pre-game those aforementioned shows.

Forma Tadre ’87

Cyanotic, “Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 [feat. Kyle Reese]”
Okay, we haven’t gotten off our duffs and checked out Dark Fate, but the relatively positive response has us hoping it’ll help wash away some of the bitter memories of all the post-T2 dreck. And who else would we trust to musically welcome everyone’s favourite cybernetic organism? No one but Cyanotic. A two track single finds the Tech Noir house band reprising the legendary T2 theme and offering up an original club thumper. Come with them if you want to stomp.
Brightful Times [Extended Edition 1987-1992] by FORMA TADRE

SPARK!, “Cause and Effect”
The current incarnation of Swedish EBM act SPARK! has settled into a pretty comfortable niche making banging modern body music tracks. One aspect of their sound is the thickness of it, with drums and synths feeling thick and substantial in their design. New single “Cause and Effect” epitomizes that approach, with the muscle car in the video to reinforce the rock-like arrangement. Clowns driving muscle cars with an EBM soundtrack sounds just fine by us, why not?

Forma Tadre, “Television”
What’s that? New Forma Tadre? Yes and no. Andreas Meyer’s elected to finally reissue the project’s 1987 debut EP, Brightful Times. A digital version featuring the original four tracks plus eight hitherto unheard tunes spanning 1987 to 1992 will be out in a couple of weeks, and Meyer’s even put leftover original pressings of the EP up for sale as well. Folks might be surprised to hear this very different version of Forma Tadre (then a trio) for the first time, but the seeds of the incredible work to come can be heard here. Also, there was no way a track from one of our favourite bands featuring vintage samples from a 1989 WWF show wasn’t going to be featured on Tracks.
Brightful Times [Extended Edition 1987-1992] by FORMA TADRE

Hex Wolves, “Not My Daughter Nor My Son”
Organized by Alizeh from Vore Aurora, new compilation Not Your Body sees numerous artists including folks from DTH X CMP and Crunchpod coming together to aid in fight against anti-abortion laws in the US. Featuring Vore Aurora, ALEXANDRA ATNIF, NOIR, Broken Fabiola, Null Device and many more, ever cent from sales of the comp will go towards the ACLU’s efforts in States impacted by recent efforts to control women’s procreative rights. Check this entry from Hex Wolves and Hex Wolves, “Not My Daughter Nor My Son” Organized by Alizeh from Vore Aurora, new compilation Not Your Body sees numerous artists including folks from DTH X CMP and Crunchpod coming together to aid in fight against anti-abortion laws in the US. Featuring Vore Aurora, ALEXANDRA ATNIF, NOIR, Broken Fabiola, Null Device and many more, ever cent from sales of the comp will go towards the ACLU’s efforts in States impacted by recent efforts to control women’s procreative rights. Check this technoid contribution from Hex Wolves and Not Your Body by Hex Wolves“>grab the comp from Bandcamp now.
Not Your Body by Hex Wolves

Test Dept., “Full Spectrum Dominance (JD Twitch remix)”
You may have heard us gushing about the revival of Test Dept. as a touring and recording act, with both ID:UD senior staffers having had the opportunity to catch the band on their recent run of tremendous shows in the US. We were very pleased by their recent LP Disturbance and it’s analysis of current and evergreen class and economics issues as well, which means the just announced remix EP is something we’re keen to hear. Featuring mixes by techno and industrial acts including KK Null, Imperial Black Unit and Wrangle, it’s worth noting that Test Dept. are drawing from a large swathe of acts they undoubtedly influenced during their lengthy career. Take this mix by Optimo’s JD Twitch for example, and artist and curator who knows a thing or two about the history of hard, rhythmic electronics and their broader cultural impact and politics.
Disturbance Disordered by Test Dept

Severed Heads, “Propeller (live)”
Lastly, a digital document of the final iteration of Severed Heads. Folks lucky enough to catch their farewell Cold Waves sets earlier this year know that the legendary sample-pop terrorists went out on their own terms, but here’s a peace offering. Living Museum is a collection of the live versions of material spanning the Heads’ discography they played out over the past few years. These are, the astute will note, very similar versions to those that appeared on the excellent Better Dead Than Head comp a few years back, though that seems to have vanished.
Living Museum by Severed Heads

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Observer: Mind | Matter & Crystal Geometry

Mind | Matter ‎– Peste Nera
Mind | Matter
Peste Nera
Detriti Records

Parisian producer Mind | Matter is still relatively new to the game, having released standalone dark techno tracks for a little over a year, but has a pretty clear aesthetic on this 4 track debut tape via Detriti. A solid ear for both techno kicks and EBM programming is put to good use here, with the heavy attack of “Innocent Or Guilty” perhaps accidentally reformulating aggrotech, and the pinched filters on the title track adding some woozy, proggy flavour to classic EBM bass. “Zyanid” sounds like a slightly raved-up version of the acidic EBM William Maybelline’s been grinding out as Qual of late. It’s clearly material specifically engineered for the dancefloor, and manages to deliver some easy to slide in tracks without ever sounding desperate. A tasteful and straightforward statement of arrival, and again proof positive of Detriti’s preternatural abilities at sourcing brand-new talent.
𝔐𝔦𝔫𝔡 | 𝔐𝔞𝔱𝔱𝔢𝔯 – Peste Nera by Detriti Records


Crystal Geometry
State of Play
Hands Productions

One of the fascinating aspects of the rise of industrial-flavoured techno is the way it has thrown various purveyors of rhythmic noise into sharp relief. Take for example the fact that powernoise OG label Hands Productions has released a number of techno-oriented crossover releases in the last couple of years, most recently the latest EP by France’s Crystal Geometry. Then again, it’s probably a pretty fitting match, as producer Maxime Fabre’s material is founded on gritty modular synthesis, with an emphasis on caustic, high impact sound design. The material on State of Play feels relevant to both the techno scene and Hands’ own legacy; listen to the way a cycling EBM bassline is married to kicks that alternate between thudding cacophonously and machinegun precision on “Deathcare USA”, or how “Totale Aliénation” relies on alternatingly frenzied and menacingly monotone vocals to offset the squelchy bassline and reverbed percussion hits. There’s even some interesting nods to the breakcore tradition in the way that crushed up breaks are melded with throbing bass and 4/4 percussion patterns on “Enslaved” while the songs sustained synth passages fold over on top of one another. Crystal Geometry makes proper industrialized dance music, defined less by genre then by harsh and immediate aesthetics.
State Of Play by Crystal Geometry

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Totem, “Passage”

Totem
Passage
Young & Cold Records

Totem’s debut LP falls squarely into the current crop of darkwave acts, striking a balance between percolating electronics and big guitar figures. While the duo made up of founder Christoffer Bagge and more recent addition Trina Echidna aren’t trodding much new ground on Passage, they display a keen understanding of both songcraft and how to work the style for impact.

Especially in the early going, Totem keep the establishment of murky atmospheres and textures as a primary concern. Opener “Figment” rolls out on a thick wave of foggy pads and clanky percussion, highlighting Bagge’s emotive tenor vocals, with the track pulsing and breathing around him. Follower “A Night in Reverse” turns up the tempo and add sharp peels of guitar to the mix, as does the thudding “Stranger Times”, a track that climaxes with big waves of reverbed synth noise. None are overt club bids in terms of dancefloor appeal, relying instead of vocal melody smart rhythm programming to make them work.

The balance between the guitars and electronics seem like the key to Totem’s sound, so much so that when the former instrument is spotlighted the songs are less immediate. “New Sun” pushes chording to the front of the mix, and “Intrinsic Light” ornaments its minimal structure with a simple collection of riffs, but in each case the songs feel less rich and atmospheric for that emphasis. When the balance is restored on late album tracks like the bouncing “Lifeline” it feels just right – the song still has plenty of six string noise, but allows lengthy passages of synth bass and percussion to grow and thrive.

Passage is a good darkwave record, one that shows an understanding of the genre’s appeal. It hits the right notes of gloom without ever seeming turgid or histrionic. Notably it makes especially good use of Bagge’s voice, his register standing out as distinctive amongst many of the acts exploring similar musical territory. Totem’s debut does them a service, establishing them stylistically and promising still more impressive things in future.

Buy it.

Passage by Totem

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We Have a Technical 285: The Smash It Ups

Statiqbloom

Statiqbloom at Terminus, 2018. Photo by Jill Grant of Take It For Granted.

Navel gazing ahoy! Our recent forays into both digital and physical releases, as well as recent discussion of high-level physical reissues, has us considering the distinctions between physical and digital releases in Our Thing. Nostalgia, economics, collecting and archiving are all taken up, along with some discussion of recent sets from Physical Wash and Statiqbloom on the lastest episode of We Have A Technical! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Constance Chlore, self-titled

Constance Chlore

Constance Chlore
self-titled
Kess Kill

The line between an amorphous and intermittent genre like synthpunk and the plethora of later genres which follow a similar path can be difficult to draw. One-man French act Constance Chlore adds a healthy heaping of EBM-inspired programming and bass to frantic percussion and off-kilter intensity on their debut tape. The overall result is a tight set of pieces which splice synthpunk and EBM to nerve-wracking effect.

Théo Delaunay’s previous work as Violent Quand On Aime showcased an experimental and deconstructive approach to minimal synth. And while plenty of the quirkiness of that project migrates over to his new project, Delaunay’s strong focus on percussion, plus a denser approach to programming, makes Constance Chlore a far more intense listening experience (live video finds him making lightning fast breaks from the drums to pound out a synth line or two). The propulsive drums of a characteristic track like “Toi” are immediately swarmed by sirens and descending carnival piano but somehow everything holds together.

Parallels can be drawn between Constance Chlore and any number of previous acts, from millennium-era genre-crosses Add N to (X) to The Screamers to any number of EBM revivalists, but Delaunay clearly has a vision of his own for the project. The rolling toms and warm, textured bass of “Une réception interminable” might recall vintage DAF, but the ghostly tone Delaunay adds (possibly inspired by his previous work) puts each of those familiar elements in a new light.

The sheer anxiousness of the tape isn’t always a plus, though. Though just barely crossing the thirty minute mark, its sheer clatter and tension can become something of an endurance test. The simple EBM bassline of a deep cut like “Dignité” might fare better presented as a standalone track (or as part of a Container 90 tune), but buried so deep amidst noisier material its subtle execution gets a bit lost in the shuffle.

Delaunay’s background and range of influences might prompt some to approach Constance Chlore as a throwback project, but the specific pastiche of sounds, not to mention the drive and energy, called to bear here feels very fresh. Even when it buckles under the weight of its own vigor, Constance Chlore’s debut makes an impact.

Buy it.

KECS04 by Constance Chlore

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Tracks: Nov 4th, 2019

Hey gang! We promise that the intro to Tracks won’t become a place for us to shill (at least not anymore than we already do) but it is a convenient spot for us to mention recent goings on. Goings on like the release of Telekompilation vol. 2, the latest in our series of comps made by the folks on the Telekon Slack channel. You can download it for free right now, and hear a wide variety of amazing tunes from the talented folks who hang out with us over there. Response to it has been great, so you can expect more of these in future. Why not give it a download, we’re pretty sure you’ll find something to enjoy on it.

Ashbury Heights 2019: Still Ashin’ and Burryin’

Ashbury Heights, “People are Strange (Doors cover)”
Look, we hate the fuckin’ Doors, but we love Ashbury Heights so here we are. Couple of interesting things to this seasonal cover. Firstly, it’s the first song featuring Yaz since she left the band post-Morningstar in a Black Car and rejoining the band for their live dates earlier in the year. Secondly, this cover features a blazin’ guitar solo, which we are surprisingly into. Whether this is a brief diversion or actually a signpost to future Ashbury Heights recordings, we’re unsure but we’ve been in the tank for this Swedish electro-pop act for a decade plus, and you’re gonna hear about it one way or the other.

Pouppée Fabrikk, “Only Control”
An LP of wholly new Pouppée Fabrikk material? That’s the sort of news we like waking up to. We’ve done our best to keep up with Henrik Björkk’s multifarious projects over the years, but the figurative and literal giants of Swedish EBM will always hold a special place in our hearts. Armén will be the first PF record since 2013’s excellent return to form The Dirt, and the first track from it bodes well. All of the grit and pure heaviness of Björkk’s work is present, but it’s also got some extra pep in the tempo.
Only Control by POUPPEE FABRIKK

SARIN, “The Culling”
It seems wild that Emad Dabiri has never put out a full length LP as SARIN, given how long we’ve been following the project’s work. As a hallmark act in the techno-EBM nexus, we’re especially keen to hear how the Berlin-based act adapts approaches to the long-player format. The first taste we’re getting from the LP offers a hint; “The Culling” has the same rhythmic core of all good SARIN tracks but also adds some interesting atmosphere via big pads and a looser and more expansive arrangement. Moral Cleansing drops in a few weeks, you can pre-order now via Bandcamp.
SARIN – MORAL CLEANSING [BITE010] by SARIN

Sixth June, “Oh Boy”
We’re still waiting on a firm release date for Trust, the follow-up to Sixth June’s impeccable 2017 LP Virgo Rising, but we’re loving what snippets of it Laslo Antal and Lidija Andonov have let slip thus far. If “In Dreams” was a lush and regal nocturnal procession, then “Oh Boy” is a quieter and more solitary evening constitutional, with just enough quirky lilt to add a sense of whimsy. Sixth June are producing triple-A darkwave right now and there’s no excuse to not be following them closely.

Ritualz, “Revelation 666”
The shift towards drippy, dreamy goth and darkwave on JC Lobo’s last record as Ritualz, Doom was a good look for the witch house pioneer. Follow-up EP Satanico Supremo looks to be compounding that move by drawing upon work from producers who were moving in parallel alongside his own early work: folks like Fostercare and Pictureplane. Rather than using a satanic theme as an excuse to go more aggro, Lobo’s steering into some hazy and technicolor giallo territory here.
Satanico Supremo by RITUALZ

Cellar Graves, “Testure (Skinny Puppy cover)”
Finally, friend of the site Chase Dobson comes through with a cover of Skinny Puppy’s immortal “Testure”. Dobson’s Cellar Graves is a pretty fascinating beast in terms of sonics, co-locating both dark synthwave sounds, classic post-industrial and touches of cinematic composition. That said this version of “Testure” is quite faithful in a good way; you can hear the effort that went into capturing the design and execution of the original in every sonic nook and cranny. Old Ripbeak would be proud.
Testure (Skinny Puppy Cover) by Cellar Graves

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Observer: Unconscious & Downwell


Unconscious
Your God is Dead
Detriti Records

It’s basically a cliché at this point to talk about EBM’s resurgence and relevance to modern techno, especially in the context of the Berlin scene and the various hybridizations that have emerged from the city’s nightlife. Maybe that’s why something as distinctly old school as Unconscious’ Your God is Dead can actually feel refreshing; its sonic particulars have more in common with a classic act like Digital Poodle than anything else. In practice the record is largely made up of good solid, body music fundamentals; quickly cycling 16th note basslines, clanging metallic percussion and lo-fi samples do the lion’s share of the work on the title track, “Blood” and “Damned”. There’s some variation on “Keep Me High” where an awkwardly syncopated drum beat is married to ascending synths, and in “Feeling of Death”‘s atonal lead and janky concrete reverbs, but Unconscious largely stick to the course across the eight track release. There’s a consistency in that and also a sort of counter to both modern techno-industrial and throwback EBM acts; Unconscious explores the ways that the styles have classically intersected and melded with one another.
Unconscious – Your God is Dead by Detriti Records

Downwell - I See Death In Your Eyes
Downwell
I See Death In Your Eyes
Oráculo Records

Georgian producer Giorgi Kolbaia, aka Downwell, has a pretty well blended take on techno-EBM on his debut EP. The four tracks on I See Death In Your Eyes are beat-heavy thudders, to be sure, but both in sound design and rhythmic structure they also cagily integrate elements from across the range of genres which have produced this style, which still shows no sign of slowing down. Yeah, a tune like “Protest It” fits in with the current motifs of dark techno, but also could be connected back to way Daniel Myer was hybridizing EBM and broader electronic sounds a decade back as Architect. And there’s solid, if not necessarily showy, craft in the arrangements as well. It’s not until midway through “Tears Of The Sun” that one notices how the stuttered kicks have been distracting the ear from the harmonic changes in the icy synth line which is actually guiding the track. With just enough smokey and foreboding atmosphere to match its title I See Death In Your Eyes is a promising start for Downwell.
I SEE DEATH IN YOUR EYES by Downwell

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Azar Swan, “The Hissing of a Paper Crane”

Azar Swan
The Hissing of a Paper Crane
Primal Architecture Records

When last we checked in with the duo of Zohra Atash and Joshua Strawn they had skeletonized their sound as Azar Swan, stripping away much of the melody that had defined their first two darkwave LPs in favour of tense, livewire electronics. New LP The Hissing of a Paper Crane continues that trend, perhaps to an extreme degree; Azar Swan’s new music bares little resemblance to their original run of material, bordering on drone, noise and power electronics.

Contextually that works quite well for Atash and Strawn. The anxiety apparent on 2017’s Savage Exile feels fully realized here, the waste and destruction it anticipated laid bare across every track. Opener “The Next Great Dying” is layer upon layer of synthetic noise, and vocals from Atash that are both guttural and chanting. It’s funereal and hypnotic, an evocation of the scorched earth the say inspired the album – not necessarily for its harshness but for the sadness and loss it implies. Follow-up “Sahara Dust” amps up the saturation and distortion and adds a beat; reverse engineering rhythmic noise by way of wasteland techno.

It’s on the title track where Azar Swan feel their most present in the vast and empty deserts the album conjures. Starting with a straightforward recitation of the words “I am the beggar of the world”, Atash recounts a litany of horrifying environmental crimes as washes of noise rise up around her, burning her away like acid until she becomes a ghost, alternately lamenting and accusing while white noise and distant horns blast the song to oblivion. It’s only a short sprint from there to closer “The Vengeful Sun”, where the black metal vocals of Doug Moore from Pyrrhon gnash as Atash shrieks and wails and the electronics sizzle and burn. The power of the track and indeed the record comes from how Azar Swan position themselves within that extinction, and what that annihilation of self says thematically and creatively about the record.

The Hissing of a Paper Crane isn’t necessarily the new standard for Azar Swan – in a recent interview with Grammy.com the band pointed to their funky, techno-tinged 2019 Adult Swim single “Empire Grave” as a signpost for future releases. Perhaps then this LP is the slashing and burning of the fields, clearing the debris and preparing the soil for what might come about in future.

Buy it.

The Hissing of a Paper Crane by Azar Swan

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We Have a Technical 284: Leave the Room

Displacer: All About that Gecko Life

You couldn’t find records much further apart from one another in terms of mood than Aghast View’s “Carcinopest” and Displacer’s “Cage Fighter’s Lullaby”, but that’s what we’re working with on this week’s episode of We Have A Technical. Deep genre electro-indistrial and fluidlly warming downtempo? We have you covered, along with some talk about recent Legendary Pink Dots shows and FLA reissues. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Distortion Six, “Norze”

Distortion Six - Norze

Distortion Six
Norze
Ant-Zen

While die-hard fans of the long-running label might take umbrage at attempts to pigeonhole it, there’s no denying that the legacy of Germany’s Ant-Zen is inseparable from that of power noise. While Stephan Alt has has also curated records which cleave more to the technoid and downtempo side of things as well, it’s impossible to hear the style of densely packed beats and roaring distortion which Norwegian producer Nichlas Shermann releases as Distortion Six and imagine Norze being released on any other label.

The core of the fifth Distortion Six record is built around rhythmic breaks, alternately compressed and brapped to the point where they melt into each other (“You Are Already Dead”) and stretched out and warped through various filters (“Haxer”). While there’s certainly plenty of overt aggression in these tracks, it’s not Shermann’s first rodeo: he’s studied the originators of the style enough to know that an LP can’t be carried by pure excess alone. You can hear the influence of Noisex and Imminent in the spacing and tweaking of arrangements, and Shermann’s taken care that tracks don’t bleed into one another, with each having its own internal sense of sound design.

Norze makes a go of having a specifically Nordic theme, but apart from some black metal vocals added to “Ritual” this is mostly limited to surface sampling and titling. Speaking personally, I was jazzed to hear some Fist of the North Star samples; hardly the most Scandinavian of sources, but hearing post-apocalyptic martial artists bluster at one another certainly matches well with rhythmic noise.

Norze doesn’t radically recast power noise in a new light, but then again I don’t think it’s trying to. Taken as a formal exercise in a traditional expression of Ant-Zen’s original house style it’s perfectly enjoyable. Sometimes it’s just nice to throw on a new homage to the classics, even when said classics sit at the most discordant and violent edges.

Buy it.

norze by distortion six

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Tracks: October 28th, 2019

No effects used, this is actually what happens when you photograph Totem.

Totem, “Figment”
Totem first came to our attention way back in early 2018 via association with Sally Dige. Debut LP Passage drops on Friday, and we’re def feeling the sound on lead-off track “Figment”; opaque darkwave sounds and textures matched with pumping rhythm track and lovely vocals from band maestro Christoffer Bagge. This particular brand of darkwave is certainly in the zeitgeist at the moment, but turns out our appetite for it is near limitless. Pre-orders are live now via Bandcamp, watch this site for a review in the near future.
Passage by Totem

The Gothsicles, “Oh My Goth! (Razed in Black cover)”
Is something in the air? Hot on the heels of our commentary podcast on Razed in Black’s magnum opus of goth-industrial club jams comes a Gothsicles cover of RiB’s millenial dancefloor filler “Oh My Goth!”. Produced by Tom Shear, it sounds pretty much exactly as you might expect, which is to say filled with video game bleeps, off-kilter vocals and that signature Gothsicles charm. Sound good? You can find it on the new IDDQD single, which also features remixes by Big Time Kill and Planetdamage.
IDDQD (The Single) by The Gothsicles

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Observer: Nuovo Testamento & Necromancer’s Union


Nuovo Testamento
Exposure
Avant! Records

Italian-American darkwave supergroup Nuovo Testamento go hard on the rhythmic end of the genre on their debut release for Avant! Records. Made up of members of Terremoto, Horror Vacui and Sheer Mag amongst others, the sound of Exposure is propulsive and severe in roughly equal measures. Songs like the title track and “Gold” are driven by efficient, no-nonsense electronic percussion, with guitar and synhth pads providing tasteful melodic content. It’s solidly executed from an instrumental standpoint, although the personality of the mini-album comes largely from Chelsey Crowley’s vocals. Her matter of fact delivery plays equally well doing drawn out verses that hint subtly at longing (“Gold”), and with short sharp passages that convey aloofness. Closer “Love Alone” shows the band letting down some of their practiced austerity with pleasing results; Crowley pushes her voice a bit harder as snappy drum claps and more circular and hypnotic guitar crawl across the rhythm track. Given the pedigree of those involved in the group the specific sound of the release is to be expected, a solid genre outing from artists fully embedded within they style’s borders.
Exposure by NUOVO TESTAMENTO

The Necromancer's Union - Ghosts
The Necromancer’s Union
Ghosts
self-released

Daniel X Belasco’s work as Glass Apple Bonzai has given him the opportunity to show off his talents in genres quite removed from the warm throwback synthpop which guides GAB, but if you’ve not heard the odd track Belasco’s released as The Necromancer’s Union in the past, this new EP’ll likely come as a shock. Ghosts is an homage to the purest strains of goth rock, replete with nods to plenty of that style’s subtler quirks and flourishes. Sure, Belasco lays his cards right on the table with the big second-wave pentatonic fretwork of the opening title track, but there’s plenty more fun to be had: check the slight late-era Rozz intonation used on a handful of the lyrics of “Darkness”, and the almost sea-faring lilt of “Pendulum”, connoting the likes of Dronning Maud Land and The Prophetess. But you don’t need to be a scholar of goth rock arcana to enjoy Ghosts; the ear for core tunes Belasco’s always had is in effect, and his impressive vocals fit the material well (though the way he’s able to vocally signal clear genre markers without jacking Eldritch might piss off some other goth rock recreationist vocalists). There’s a little bit of GAB-styled synth thrown in on closing track “Crossing”, possibly a peace offering to fans of Belasco’s less dark and heavy sounds, but irrespective of genre there’s still no mistaking Belasco’s charisma and talents.
Ghosts by The Necromancers Union

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Motor!k, self-titled

Motor!k
self-titled
Out of Line/Wool-E-Tapes

Does the idea of legendary dark electronic music pioneer Dirk Ivens making a pretty straightforward krautrock record appeal to you? If it does, good news, because that’s pretty much exactly what Motor!k is. Joined by musicians Dries D’Hollander and Joeri Dobbeleir, the LP finds Ivens and company exploring the distinctly seventies formula of beat-driven looping rock instrumentals as pioneered by genre-defining acts like Can and Neu!. As explorations of that specific genre the LP doesn’t bring much new to the table, but does provide some enjoyable explorations of that sound, occasionally bordering on post-rock in interesting ways.

About half of the LP feels pretty trad-krautrock, and consequently pretty distinct from Ivens’ extant catalogue. On “Static”, “Stellar” and “Sliding” it’s the titular motorik drumbeat that holds sway, hypnotically pushing a simple guitar figures. Electronics in the sections are limited to bass, simple sequences that repeat with robotic efficiency and atmospheric washes. The hypnotic nature of these tracks is commensurate with the depths of their grooves which modulate purposefully over the course of their runtime, never wavering in tempo.

The other three songs explore slightly different angles sonically, providing some variation and depth to the proceedings. “Colder” is a lovely bit of mostly synth and guitar, the former instrument exploring spacier territories unbound by lockstep rhythm, while the latter offers low-key reverse sounds effects for texture. Neutrinos is the most stylistically diverse song, relying both on its rising and descending synth pattern and big waves of distorted guitar. Final track “Static (Reprise)” reiterates the opening track of the album as a purely electronic composition, albeit one that focuses on the track’s sparse melodics rather than its insistent drumbeat.

Motor!k isn’t reinventing the wheel with it’s take on well-established sounds, and those drawn in by Ivens’ name hoping for insight on how krautrock may have influenced his work won’t find it here. That said, it’s still a perfectly enjoyably genre exercise undertaken by musicians who have a clear vision of how to work within this specific template.

Buy it.

WET046 – MOTOR!K C37 [Krautrock] by MOTOR!K

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We Have a Technical 283: The Book of the Dud

In The Nursery

The Senior Staff have seen a hell of a lot of scene bands in their time, but even they still have their bucket list bands. This week, they’re picking five acts they’d still love to see live, as well as introducing not one, but two new musical releases coming soon from the ID:UD camp. Exciting times lie ahead! Fins out all about then on this week’s episode of We Have A Technical! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Worms Of The Earth, “Netjer”

Worms Of The Earth - Netjer

Worms Of The Earth
Netjer
Zazen Sounds

Dan Barrett’s Worms Of The Earth project has grown into a far more extravagant and, frankly, compelling beast over the past few years than its origins in powernoise could have ever presaged. Pushing the notion of ritual industrial into ever lusher and frankly prettier territory, Barrett’s recent work has found apt musical accompaniment for his increasingly arcane interests. Having centered his preceding three records around Buddhist, Satanic, and Kabbalistic practices, we’re off on another metaphysical trip with Netjer. While a record dealing with the ancient Egyptian underworld is very much on-brand thematically, it’s the ease and art with which Barrett integrates new instrumentation into the now well-established modern Worms of the Earth ethos that most impresses.

The drums, flutes, and strings meant to connote the various rites and entities with populate the infamous Book Of The Dead are perhaps an easy enough lateral move given how similar sounds have been used by Barrett on the preceding records. But it’s not all ancient acoustics on Netjer: the deep drones and watery samples which make up “The Hidden Pyramid, Where The Astral Is Given Form” are classic dark ambient through and through. Elsewhere, a hybridization of all these elements alongside more established post-industrial sounds yields interesting results: lengthy closer “The Spell To Evoke The Amenti” recalls Barrett’s criminally overlooked Ghosts In The Clocktower project by laying those acoustic elements atop spaced out shimmers and pads.

One of the great and hidden mysteries of ritual industrial unearthed by Barrett back in 2012 with Anāgāmi (and underscored by its ambitious reworking) is that communicating the sorts of moods and philosophies that genre lends itself to needn’t be a ponderous or turgid process. There’s an invigorating, almost lithe bounce to “Khat, Formed From The Black Sands” as simple piano lines thread through lively drums at quarter time: part tarantella, part meditation. Even on the more explicitly ambient tracks there’s a constant fluidity that never prompts the listener to drift away from the presentation of sounds at hand.

It’s wanton speculation, but I wonder if Barrett’s throwback aggrotech side-project Venal Flesh has played some part in the harmonic and textured progression of Worms Of The Earth. With an easy release valve for his harsher interests at hand, he’s been able to bring his primary work into far more fecund and varied terrain than the project’s earliest releases could have ever foresaged. Barrett’s been on a roll for the past few years, delivering deep but immediately enjoyable works like Netjer, and shows no signs of slowing down. Recommended.

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Tracks: October 21st, 2019

We’re so close to being able to announce some very cool special projects, so close in fact that you’ll hear about both of them on this week’s We Have a Technical. You may have also gotten some hints via our Instagram feed over the last couple days, but you’ll need to either join our Slack (which you can do by e-mailing us) or wait it out. Ooooh so mysterious! Seriously though, we’re super excited to share this stuff and hope it’s something you’ll be interested in as well. Lets get some Tracks going to tide us over though, shall we?

Die Krupps

The Krupps, The.

Leaether Strip, “The Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter cover)”
Claus Larsen’s cover game is ridiculous. Between numerous releases paying tribute to his various influences across the worlds of synthpop, industrial and even post-punk, we still get some fun one-offs from the godfather of dark electro. Take for example this cover of John Carpenter’s theme from Prince of Darkness, a classic bit of eighties soundtracking that actually sounds pretty at home ported over to Larsen’s style. Throw this one on your Hallowe’en playlist and keep an eye out for evil hobos that look suspiciously like Alice Cooper!
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS THEME (John Carpenter Cover Version) by Leaether Strip

Autumns, “Don’t Get Serious”
One-man Irish act Autumns has been on a roll of late, between gigging over in North America and releasing a run of releases on Clan Destine, DKA, and Death & Leisure. Coming just a couple of months after an LP on the latter, Christian Donaghey’s back with a DKA-released tape of minimalist body music. The caustic yet irreverent attitude which has defined Autumns thus far remains intact, with tunes like this being shot through with sardonic disdain as well as solid, pulsing rhythm.
Foyle Living by Autumns

Downwell, “Tears Of The Sun”
After a handful of standalone digital tracks, Georgian producer Giorgi Kolbaia has his first official release as Downwell out now, courtesy of Spain’s Oráculo Records. Downwell delivers some classic post-industrial sounds on the EP, ranging from rhythmic noise to millennial club electro, arranged into techno builds. We’re catching a little hint of the aforementioned Leaether Strip in this stomper.
I SEE DEATH IN YOUR EYES by Downwell

Greyhound, “Like a Kick in the Face”
Hands Productions is a rhythmic noise stalwart, a label that has decades of experience working in the style and has never wavered in their commitment to it. While many of their newer releases have explored the fertile ground shared by powernoise (sorry) and industrial techno, it’s cool to hear Hands releases by genre stalwarts like Greyhound, straight bangin’ metallic percussion and big static washes. New one A Storm is Coming will be Greyhound’s eighth for the label, and that’s the kind of shared legacy we can get behind.
A Storm Is Coming by Greyhound

No New Dawn, “One Fading Into Light”
Murky but quirky, the first release from new Detroit act No New Dawn brings minimal synth back to a time when the sheer novelty of then-new synths often drove and shaped the compositions of early 80s pioneers. J Czar knows his way around mood and melody as a track like this demonstrates, but there’s an almost naive and pure joy being taken in the texture and shape of the synth voices drawn out here that’s quite charming.
Double Dream by No New Dawn

Die Krupps, “Welcome to the Blackout”
Die Krupps are interesting specifically because as a long-running act any discussion of them is the discussion of a few pretty distinct and separate sounds. While 2013’s The Machinists of Joy had them speaking somewhat to their classic EBM sound, their most recent music has steered back around to the industrial metal sound they took up in the nineties; witness new jam “Welcome to the Blackout”. As the first taster for their forthcoming LP Vision 2020 Vision it certainly suggests the record will sound very neue deutsch hartë indeed.
Vision 2020 Vision by DIE KRUPPS

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We Have a Commentary: Razed in Black, “Damaged”

2003’s Damaged by Razed In Black is the subject of this month’s Patreon backed and Patreon selected We Have A Commentary. A real “call Is coming from inside the house” record, RiB’s unabashed blend of goth and industrial is very much both a product of its time and the vision of one writer and producer, Romell Regulacion. As it turns out, the Senior Staff have quite varied experiences with and opinions of the record, so gear up and be ready to head back to the futurepop-shocked club floors of the early aughts. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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