Youth Code / King Yosef, “A Skeleton Key In The Doors Of Depression”

Youth Code / King Yosef - A Skeleton Key In The Doors Of Depression
Youth Code / King Yosef
A Skeleton Key In The Doors Of Depression

To those who’ve been tracking them since their demo days, A Skeleton Key In The Doors Of Depression feels like the logical progression of where Youth Code have come from and where they’ve been heading, but that doesn’t make it any less bracing. In 28 minutes their collab with producer/vocalist King Yosef circumscribes the grimy empire of EBM and electro-industrial Sara Taylor and Ryan George have established, and strikes out for the metal and hardcore territories from which all three contributors to Skeleton Key claim descent.

Those familiar with Yosef only through his hip-hop beatmaking may be surprised at how how easily his aesthetic integrates with Youth Code’s (the clarion chimes and minimal kicks of “The World Stage”‘s chorus being one of the few moments where that pedigree is apparent). His own digital hardcore beatdowns like “Pity Case” may not have the same origins in post-industrial as Youth Code’s discography, but the similarities in terms of sonics in the here and now can’t be denied, and are ported over to Skeleton Key with punishing ease. Halftime breakdowns like those of “A Mother’s Love” and “Head Underwater” are perfectly suited to grainy industrial programming (as YC have been proving since “Consuming Guilt”, at least). It’s not clear who’s responsible for bringing some black metal-styled picking to closing epic “Finally Docked” (hell, the album title would fit a DSBM release well) but it pairs well with the melancholy lament of the keys descending beneath clatter and Yosef and Taylor’s traded invective.

Intriguingly, Yosef’s hardcore vocals act as something of an anchor on the record and allow Taylor room to explore different approaches in her own distinctive style. The doubled up and growled melody of “Looking Down”‘s chorus is arresting, especially in the context of the syncopated delivery both Yosef and Taylor employ on the verses where each vocalist hammerss syllables into the track’s cracking snare. Pre-release single “Burner” has the duo trading off desperate verses, doubling one another before splitting off into a soaring chorus and a brutal breakdown, each singer informed by the other’s approach. It’s a tactic that defines the record’s hybridized sound; in particular many tracks seem to coalesce around the vocals. Hear how the shapeless intro of “Deathsafe” eventually conforms to Taylor’s anguished howl, then structurally parts to allow Yosef a moment of half-spoken menace before lifting Taylor aloft for her cathartic outro, her repeated “I’ve had enough/I’m drowning” sounding less like a cry for help than a steel-eyed warning.

It’s been clear since well before A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression that Youth Code have an interest in taking apart industrial, metal, and hardcore sounds and reconfiguring them into something new and different. In working with King Yosef they’ve found a collaborator who not only contributes to that continued growth, but whose own genre explorations inform and elevate their evolution. King Yosef and Youth Code meet on some blasted, barren common ground, and from it build something bracing and new. Recommended.

Buy it.

A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression by Youth Code / King Yosef

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We Have A Technical 352: Dunks on The Office

Necro Facility

A striking pair of electro-industrial and EBM debuts are the focus of this week’s podcast, as we turn our attention to Necro Facility’s The Black Paintings and NTRSN’s People Like Gods. How bands adhere to and break from their formative influences is always something we’re interested in, and we have two very different approaches to that issue at hand. All that in addition to the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Love’s Secret Domain anniversary reissues 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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Sonic Area, “ki”

Sonic Area - ki

Sonic Area

Arco Trauma’s longstanding Sonic Area solo project stands in stark contrast to the noise and fury of Chrysalide, especially to those of us who discovered the latter first. Releases like the collaborative record between Trauma, Architect, and Hologram_ and 2016’s Eyes In The Sky have brought together downtempo, dark ambient, and classic analog synth arrangements all while placing a premium on atmosphere, timbre and sound design. But new record ki takes that principle to an extreme, paring compositions down to the barest of elements.

Taking inspiration from the titular energy believed to unite and power all life in Taoist and Buddhist practice, Trauma’s honed in on a sparse but exquisitely designed set of samples and field recordings from which ki‘s compositions emerge. Lightly clicking and echoing chimes and percussion slowly come together, forming stuttering but hypnotic grooves connote microhouse and clicks & cuts tracks as much as they do the Japanese folk traditions from which much of the instrumentation is taken. Arguable centerpiece “Lotus” shows off the potential of ki‘s minimalist ethos, building drama by pressing a drone that modulates between a classic Ant-Zen sweep and a wooden door creaking against rolling clicks and light harmonization.

However, for every track like “Lotus” on ki there are others which simply don’t carry enough movement to sustain the record. It’s not that any of the tracks are weak or even underwritten on their own (the rainy garden connoted by wooden taps and hammered yangqin on “Blowind” would function perfectly as a bridge between or denouement after more dynamic pieces), but that it’s too easy to lose what makes the track enjoyable when it’s placed between tracks of even more subtle construction. ki is perhaps tasteful to a fault – the old joke about “too much minimalism” comes to mind.

ki‘s success or failure with individual listeners will likely hinge upon how far they can be carried by pure atmosphere and sound design. It’s finely crafted, well-considered stuff which might pair well with reading or gaming (or even meditation on the themes and concepts by which it’s been inspired), but perhaps needs to advocate for itself more strongly.

Buy it.

ki by sonic area

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Fïx8:Sëd8, “The Inevitable Relapse”

The Inevitable Relapse

Fïx8:Sëd8’s fifth album is something of a stylistic consolidation for the one-man German project helmed by Martin Sane. While the band has been exploring a rich mixture of post-industrial and dark electro for the better part of the last fifteen years, The Inevitable Relapse is founded on a rich production sensibility that suits its atmospheric compositions, reminding the listener of both classic records in the style by Mentallo & the Fixer, and contemporary acts exploring the same sensibility, like Dead When I Found Her.

While the LP’s compositions are varied and often complex, the basic stylistic markers are easy to identify; songs are composed of bouncy analogue basslines, vocal samples, layers of overlapping pads and crunchy drums. The playbook is well-established, and yields a host of fine deep genre tunes, especially the opening stretch of the album which explores the atmospheric (“Enigma”, “Human Harvest”) and more propulsive sides of the style (“Unknown to Virtue”, “Prognosis”). The programming is rock solid, but it’s Sane’s arrangement chops that make the biggest impression, with his breakdowns and subtle shifts in structure matching creating additional complexity that teases and intrigues the ear.

The long and winding construction of these tracks is certainly part of their appeal, although there are moments where one wishes we got to hear certain ideas expanded upon further. The relatively minimal opening segments of record closer “Metabolite” invokes dreamy psychedelia and hard-edged electro-industrial before transitioning to moody instrumental synth for its latter half, leaving you wondering whether a whole track could have been spun from each of the component parts. It’s probably not a coincidence that one of the album’s most memorable moments is “Tremors”; both for the excellent guest spot from Black Nail Cabaret’s Emese Arvai-Illes who stands in for Sane’s workmanlike processed vocalizations and for the emphasis on its central melody and theme, which still allows for numerous builds and variations throughout.

In listening to The Inevitable Relapse you can hear exactly how Fïx8:Sëd8 have managed to accumulate something of a cult following at a time when their particular brand of industrial is more niche. By bridging the more complex aspects of his approach with a clean, crisp production sensibility and mix, Martin Sane has put his best qualities as a producer out in front, unobscured for genre purists and casual followers alike.

Buy it.

The Inevitable Relapse by FIX8:SED8

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Tracks: March 8th, 2021

And so another Bandcamp Friday has come and gone, and we find ourselves gorged to bursting on new music, much of which has been put online to coincide with the recurring event. As much as we’ve come to enjoy the thrill of seeing all kinds of new odds and ends show up on the day of, it’s important to remember that BCF applies to all sales on the site, which means there’s lots of catalogue releases for you to snap up along with the fresh stuff. Check out some of the great deals on Full Digital Discographies bands and labels have offered: many of them offer up a tremendous opportunity to check out a lot of music for much less than picking away at releases individually can yield.

Ghost Twin

Ghost Twin. Winnipeg is a frozen dessert hole.

Ghost Twin, “Strobe Light”
Winnipeg darkwavers Ghost Twin took their time in releasing their first LP, 2017’s Plastic Heart, but this made for solid quality control and allowed the duo to put forward a set of deep and substantive but also hooky and dancefloor friendly tracks. Taking four years to craft follow-up record Love Songs For End Times looks to have been a savvy strategy, at least on the basis of “Strobe Light”‘s catchy immediacy but deceptively proggy composition. Definitely a record you’ll be hearing more about here (and elsewhere, we’re sure!) when it’s released in June.
Love Songs for End Times by Ghost Twin

Ganser, “Told You So (Algiers remix)”
Nervy Chicago post-punk act Ganser turned a lot of heads with their 2020 LP Just Look at that Sky, with well-earned plaudits from The Quietus amongst others. 2021 brings remix EP Look at the Sun, featuring GLOK (Andy Bell of Ride) and cult singer-songwriter Sad13, not to mention some yet to be announced names. We’re very very into the classic 12″ mix feel of the Algiers mix of “Told You So”, really emphasizing the bassline and stabs of guitar. It’s disco danger for the brave at heart.
Look At The Sun by Ganser

Endless Nothing, “Hate Filled Heart”
As always, Detriti Records can be counted on to flag and release exciting new acts before anyone’s even caught a whiff of them, as well as to separate the chaff from the wheat in the now very overcrowded world of TBM. This time around it’s Italian newcomer Endless Nothing who are being brought forward with their debut Fragments. There’s a bit of repetition across the four tracks on the EP, but any one of them on their own is a proper banger with some serious EBM DNA.
Endless Nothing – Fragments by Detriti Records

Sigsaly, “Inherent Limitations”
Vancouver’s Sigsaly have been on something of a stylistic journey since their formation. A reconfiguration of darkwave two-piece Koban, the duo dabbled in more electro stylings before digging into left-field techno for a few releases. Their latest tracks, released on a split with Lower Tar suggest that they’re splitting the difference in approaches, harnessing the gritty warehouse vibes and the dark dancefloor approach for each cut. “Inherent Limitations” should be of interest to DJs and dancefloors of the (hopefully near) future.
L.A.U.R.A. 002: SEVERE BREAKAWAY by Sigsaly

Child Of Night, “Dirtworld”
Here’s some solid darkwave out of Columbus that has just enough bounce and melody to balance out a stern and stoic approach. Popnihil are pressing a cassette single featuring remixes from the likes of Profit Prison (more on them below) and 6th Circle, who’d both be good fits for a number like this. Not sure if a seven-track release is pushing past the limits of the term cassingle, but hell, we get so few chances to use it these days…
Reduced To Ash by Child Of Night

Nox Novacula & Profit Prison, “Moment of Pleasure”
It’s a PNW darkwave rave-up as two Seattle based acts Nox Novacula and Profit Prison team-up for a BC day single, “Moment of Pleasure”. We’re familiar with the slightly left of center darkwave that Profit Prison has been plying for a few years now, and gosh if it doesn’t match up nicely with the archly dramatic vocals from Nox Novacula who normally work in a more explicitly rock setting. Download this one now and tuck it away for future club sets.

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Observer: HARSH R & Paladin

Dark Tymes

While the idea of Avi Roig recasting his paint-peeling harsh electronic HARSH R compositions as dark country songs might not seem all that obvious, there’s no denying how well they port over. New EP Dark Tymes features Roig performing three of his own tracks as dirgey country numbers, and due to some combination of minimalism, acerbic sentiment and conviction in performance, they translate eerily well. The tense electronic drumbeats of “Queen of Trash” are swapped for ghostly strumming and sinister tremolo guitar, with Roig trading is signature sneering growl for distant vocals, revealing the song that’s always been present behind the distortion. “Dog People” is even more unnerving in its new form than in the grinding mechanical original; the mantra-link lyrics are delivered with a sorrowful gravity that matches its scratchy distortion. “I See You” is comparatively lighter, although the contrast between the original style vocals and nimbler singing in spots, although the universally dark mood still clouds over all. Capping things off by giving the HARSH R treatment to outlaw country classic “It’s Nothing to Me”, it’s an EP that finds a strange commonality that goes beyond style and drinks from a shared well of misanthropy.

Paladin - Mytheme
Mild Peril Recordings

Chris Paladin’s constant revision and reformulating of his own tracks and releases is part and parcel of the Mild Peril, Paladin, and Molasar projects. Hell, the uncanny sense of being uncertain if you’ve heard a particular melody from one of his self-termed wizard disco tracks previously interpolated on synth harp rather than orch hits only adds to the disorienting mystique of mythic Albion which remains Paladin’s muse. Mytheme is one more such revision, albeit a very substantial one – the collation and reworking of the more traditionally kosmische dimension of his work since the Unknown Zones release, as opposed to the more peppy and dancefloor direction struck on the Matter record, still a perennial favourite at ID:UD HQ. Despite the fluid and lyrical approach to classic synth experimentation tracks like “Monad” and “Chess” tap into, Paladin keeps things moving along at a brisk pace here, with the A-side of the tape finding connections between Tangerine Dream’s more spritely soundtrack work and his own inimitable fusion of throwback synths and space-truckin’ folk-funk (again, the term ‘wizard disco’ perhaps says more than we ever could). The flip side is made up of the titular rhapsody, which ebbs and flows between grandiose and quietly minimal passages while preserving an example of the sort of classically simple but evocative phrasing upon which kosmische was built.
Mytheme by Paladin

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We Have a Technical 351: John Ramgo



After going ham with some rather abrasive rants on last week’s episode, we’re taking the backseat this week and welcoming on some Patreon backers who are keen to talk about records from a bands ranging from Russian synthpop (Stereopolina) to German darkwave (Diary Of Dreams) to American synthpunk (Six Finger Satellite) to Swedish neo-classical (Sanctum)! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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The Gothsicles, “Animal Songs”

The Gothsicles
Animal Songs
Tigersquawk Records

The Gothsicles are a difficult band to parse for those not already familiar with their oeuvre. Musically the ‘Sicles have always been identifiably part of the EBM and synthpop legacy of Our Thing, with the bedroom charm of their earliest compositions giving away to slicker production over time, but it’s Brian Graupner’s lyrical concerns that have often been their most defining feature, his squawking vocal delivery notwithstanding. The literally-titled new album Animal Songs is a bit different though, dropping the dense goth-scene-and-video-games meta-commentary in favour of songs about, well, animals.

The shift in subject matter isn’t entirely surprising; one of the most enduring Gothsicles songs from the last LP was “Straight Up Otter Time” and it was more than a decade ago that Graupner named an instrumental track “It Could Definitely At Least Be Argued That The Whole Video Game Thing Is Getting Kind Of Old”. Still, Graupner sounds particularly enthused here, busting out dense, pun-filled verses packed with animal facts on “Vampire Squid”, “Gila Monster” and “Red Panda Jamboree”. Graupner’s set-up and punchline approach is particularly suited to the slightly left-of-centre creatures addressed; “Never quite authentic / Bodily eccentric” summarizes the titular “Lungfish” about as well as you could expect a couplet to, while “A Coterie of Goats in Trees” offers a wry explanation for the unusual phenomenon it describes.

Musically, Grauper is reaching father than ever before here, and it’s a gambit that pays off. Having founded the more purely industrial Gasoline Invertebrate in the last half-decade, The Gothsicles are now free to explore some of the sounds they’ve been flirting with through their releases in the 2010s. Opener “Rock the Quokka” is instantaneously one of the best Gothsicles songs ever, while scarcely resembling anything in the catalogue – ,

the instrumental is essentially bright, soundtrack ready non-scene electro-pop, and catchy as all get out to boot. For anyone who doesn’t already kind of understand what the project is about it might be a little weird to hear that track or the similarly pop-minded “Go-Away-Bird” given they both feature Graupner’s manic vocalizing (although the latter has a straight pop chorus courtesy of Ellie J), but for fans they’re just extensions of the hooks-and-jokes approach the band has been honing since their debut. Not coincidentally these more varied tracks are the record’s standouts – see the crossover bop of “Axolotl Super Powers” featuring nerdcore icon MC Lars, or the tweaky hyperpop vocal manipulations on the FIRES feature “Naked Mole-Rat (Pink and Furtive)”.

Given the synergy with a lot of modern pop sounds, Animal Songs might be the easiest entry point to The Gothsicles yet released. It still has enough of what endeared the band to us (minus their tremendously energetic live show, although we do look forward to hearing these tracks at your finer scene festivals some time in the future) but shot through with some refreshing shifts in approach. The band aren’t any easier to describe to the uninitiated, but their unique appeal has rarely been so easy to pinpoint.

Buy it.

Animal Songs by The Gothsicles

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Qual, “Tenebris In Lux”

Qual - Tenebris In Lux

Tenebris In Lux
Operation Qual Records

Those only familiar with William Maybelline’s work in Lebanon Hanover might still express surprise at his work becoming a mainstay of peak-hour industrial DJ sets, either in meatspace or streaming. But to anyone who’s tracked the ascent of his solo releases as Qual, the immediacy of records like Cyber Care and The Ultimate Climax has been undeniable, bringing dark electro fire to Maybelline’s self-eviscerating fury. Now, several years removed from the less driving abject miserablism of early releases like Sable, Tenebris In Lux finds Maybelline at a crossroads.

Musically, the beats and overdriven programming which have given us stormers like “Cyber Care” and “Inject Your Mind” still make up the bare elements of Tenebris‘ compositions, but more often than not they’re rearranged to create loping dirges. The stuttering kicks of “Insides On The Outside” have drive, but the woozy presentation is (intentionally) as alienating as its body horror lyrics. “Life In The Mirror”‘s tight, acidic programming and the lithe whipping of “VR Slaves” could certainly work on some open-minded dancefloors, but the way “Technoid Bloodlust” submerges the contemporary dark techno template into an oily, cycling vortex better communicates the spirit of the LP.

Lyrically and thematically, the unblinking (yet sometimes wry) depression with which Maybelline approaches, well, everything, still makes up a good portion of Tenebris In Lux‘s sickly charm. While the sheer gloominess of Qual’s lyrics once stood out even in a field of generally pessimistic darkwave songwriters, Tenebris‘ engagement with ongoing catastrophes underscores how universal Maybelline’s brand of depression now feels. “Equinox Of Death” could be a transcript of nearly anyone’s Twitter feed over the last year: “The supermarket’s running out of bread and I just wanna stay in bed…Sit right here with a rager”. The more eternal tension between the excoriation and worship of the flesh on “My Body I A Temple”, on the other hand, connotes the pure misanthropy of early Swans.

Maybelline’s taken to identifying his current style as ‘Cyber Sludge’. Whether you choose to interpret that as an electronic reconsideration of the sardonic noise of the likes of The Melvins or as the sound of the the posthuman, cybernetically interpellated subject collapsing into a heap of viscera and reboot loops like a victim in Street Trash, you won’t be far off. No matter how Maybelline reorders and rearranges the the skeletons of Qual’s compositions, the horror of their anatomy remains.

Buy it.

Tenebris In Lux by QUAL

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Tracks: March 1st, 2021

We hope folks enjoyed yesterday’s commentary podcast dealing with Faith And The Muse. It’s been more than six years since we started running these commentaries, and what started off as a somewhat piss-taking endurance test has evolved into a series of projects we take seriously in terms of research and placing records in their historical context. But at a personal level we’ve also come to appreciate them as a means through which we can have our love for classic bands reframed and replenished. Part of our grind here at ID:UD involves constantly keeping on top of what’s brand new in Our Thing, but it’s nice to be regularly reminded of the reasons why we might have first fallen in love with a band so many years ago. Speaking of the new music grind, it’s Monday, and you know what that means!

Double Echo under the light of the moon

Double Echo, “The Bairn”
It’s safe to say that new music from Double Echo is now arriving with big expectations. After years of plying their trade in a range of styles, the low-key triumph of 2019’s Burning In Blue established them as one of the preeminent darkwave acts of the day. Their fifth LP, the audaciously-titled , will be out on Fabrika later this year, and this tune, one of two new singles, shows off their ability to be both dreamy and driving at once.
The Bairn by Double Echo

The Gothsicles, “Stag Beetle Professional Wrestling”
The first Gothsicles record in a half a decade is here, and boy does that feel good to type. If you’ve never had the pleasure, the ‘sicles Brian Graupner has made a career of absurdly catchy party-starting songs that speak both broadly to lifer goth-industrial scene concerns and various pet topics. New album Animal Songs is, you guessed it, about animals. Amongst its various odes to quokkas, squids, lungfish and red pandas you’ll find “Stag Beetle Professional Wrestling”, a clever bit of songwriting that weaves a dense mixture of pro-graps and entomological references into a wordplay-filled whole.
Animal Songs by The Gothsicles

MESHES, “Паразиты (Parasites)”
The bloom is fully off the techno-EBM rose in a lot of ways: there are still plenty of producers out there exploring it in interesting ways, but its safe to say that the initial burst of excitement around it has been dulled by a lot of generic releases in the style. Thankfully some acts like Moscow’s MESHES are finding ways to make the crossover genre feel as fresh as it did in 2016. It probably has to do with the fact that there’s a nice element of crunchy sound design and lo-fi DIY in the project’s sound, as exemplified by the track embedded below from their forthcoming Euphoria EP. A nice breath of fresh air from an act who paradoxically sound like they’re emanating from a bomb-proof bunker in some desert somewhere.
Euphoria EP by Meshes

Pyrroline, “Battleground”
Just a couple of weeks after our discussion of old school electro as a loose style, we have a new record from German act Pyrroline, who’ve been trading in it for over a decade. Struggling, their first LP in four years, looks to continue walking the line between classically styled punchy percussion and more sculpted pads and melodies, as this nice groover ably demonstrates.
Struggling by PYRROLINE

L, “The End (You and I Belong remix by SRSQ)”
We’ll be honest here; we didn’t peep the debut LP from L when it dropped in 2020. That said, seeing the line-up of remixers the LA based artist lined-up for Discipline Remixed certainly made us sit up and pay attention: you get cuts by RENDERED, Recon, HANTE., Damascus Knives and none other than SRSQ, making her remix debut. From what we’ve been able to ascertain L straddles the industrial and darkwave sounds, which lends itself to a take by Kennedy Ashlyn just perfectly. Another one to add to your BC Friday wishlist.
DISCIPLINE Remixed (CRUNCH 196) by L

C/A/T, “Political Angst”
Like plenty of artists, Ben Arp’s allowing recent events to bleed into his music and it doesn’t take much more than a cursory glance at the tracklist for new C/A/T EP Embrace The Void to get a sense of how 2020 treated him. On the musical front, after reactivating C/A/T Arp’s been slowly shuffling in some of the production sounds and styles he explored under other handles during the hiatus, and you can hear some of those draggy and cinematic elements being woven into a classic rhythmic noise template here.
Embrace The Void (CRUNCH 199) by C/A/T

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We Have A Commentary: Faith And The Muse, “Evidence Of Heaven”

Faith And The Muse - Evidence Of Heaven

This month’s Patreon supported commentary podcast is dedicated to the infinitely varied and strikingly confident expression of high goth prowess that is Faith And The Muse’s third LP. On Evidence Of Heaven William Faith and Monica Richards stride through history, love, and metaphysics, and marshal ethereal, neo-classical, deathrock, and many more sounds to a proudly flown standard. Ancient spirits, vengeful phantoms, and fuccbois sliding into the Queen’s DMs are among the various topics grandiose and sundry the Senior Staff consider as they work their way through this classic goth stormer. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Observer: PC World & Liebknecht

PC World
She’s Lost Kontrol

London’s PC World make a very specific style of classically minded body music. The relying funky basslines and processed vocal samples that make up the tracks on Order bring to mind both mid-period Cabs and more modern adherents of the sound like High-Functioning Flesh, albeit with an increasingly distinct personality. The most distinctive aspect of the title track (also presented here in remixes by Physical Wash and Aktion Mutante) is the tracks layers of percussion, transitioning from upbeat congas through to rapidfire drum machine claps that themselves give away to pitched toms, giving the mid-tempo track movement, evolution and character. “Private Target” has an unlikely number of arrangement changes in its four and half minute runtime, its bassline changing dropping and picking up as ascending and descending synthlines dance between stretched vocals, with an FM chaser at the song’s bridge. “Beyond the Zero” jettisons a lot of PC World’s syncopated rhythms in favour of a slower groove and grinding synth bass, a nice cooldown before the tightly-wound and economical “Strategy Beat” closes out the original tracks. It’s a release that shows both growth in production and in personality, with PC Order finding their own identity within a familiar but not frequently invoked school of post-industrial.
Order by PC World

Liebknecht - Colossus

Despite grinding out EPs at a fantastic speed with Clément Perez via their Rendered project, Daniel Myer’s still finding time between Haujobb and Architect releases to scratch the techno itch. His work with Rinaldo Bite under the Liebknecht heading has proven to be an omnivorous, taking on a wider range of techno and related sounds than the au courant, monochromatic bangers of Rendered. While rhythm is still the clear focus, perhaps more than any other Liebknecht release Colossus draws connections between techno and Myer’s own legacy of innovation within electro-industrial: the rubbery pulse and clang of “Rhodos” and its shuffling breaks, as well as the fluid programming of “Frankfurt” all hearken to various mixes and deep cuts Myer’s accrued in his long tenure without sounding derivative. Dancefloors remain Liebknecht’s mode and priority, of course, and while the EP format plays well to the short run time, it also ensures that each of the four tracks’ unique palettes and approach to sound design come across distinctly.
Colossus EP by Liebknecht

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We Have A Technical 350: Hot Takes!

Twin Tribes

Are Bruce and Alex talkin’ shit about Twin Tribes? Only one way to find out.

Do not adjust your podcasting device – We Have A Technical has not been replaced by that sports radio station you hear annoying ads for. We are, however, coming into our 350th episode guns a’blazing, with each of us picking five hot takes regarding the state and legacy of the music we love and discuss. No quarter given, none asked for. What legacy bands do we actually find rather dull? Which younger acts would we rather see in the spotlight than some less deserving bands? You’ll hear all of that plus some discussion of new music from The Horrors and Alan Vega, and initial thoughts on the new Coil remaster. 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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Sturm Café, “Fernes Land”

Sturm Café - Fernes Land

Sturm Café
Fernes Land

Three LPs spread across more than fifteen years may not be a formula for overnight success, but it’s definitely helped to generate fervent cult appeal in the case of Swedish EBM duo Sturm Café. Sure, Gustav Jansson and Jonatan Löfstedt have never completely dropped off the radar, keeping their hand in here and there with remix and rarity releases, as well as the excellent Es Geht EP in 2017. But there’s no question that strict quality control has both built anticipation for and refined Fernes Land, a record which ably demonstrates their canny sense for roots EBM alongside their playful forays into neighbouring genres.

It always bears mentioning that Sturm Café are the very rare old school EBM band to have established a clear, recognizable style distinct from the genre’s cornerstones. Are there some hints of early 242 in the sproingy bass of the title track? Yes, but the strident yet warm, sweet, and welcoming sound of the rest of the arrangement and Löfstedt’s vocals is something that they’ve honed entirely on their own. The impassioned, romantic build of “Männer Gegen Männer”, which finds D.H. Lawrence-like drama in morning commutes, similarly rewards those of us who’ve come to admire the band’s singular approach.

That confidence in their own style (whether instinctive or earned after so many years in the game) also lets Sturm Café push beyond the boundaries of EBM, moreso on Fernes Land than at any previous point. For every classic anhalt punisher like “Schauspiel” there are at least two oddball genre-jammers. Check the minimal synth-funk of “Funkbereit” which recalls Scotch’s classic italo cuts along with any number of early house tracks, or the Falco-styled early electro of “Spielziet”.

It’s tough not to get behind a band who are so clearly having fun with EBM at every level. While at the band’s surface aesthetics still check off a lot of classic EBM markers (albeit with a synthwave palette swap this time) and the lyrics to “Discolied” celebrated their own traditionalism, Fernes Land has none of the turgid stodginess which old-school EBM seems to so often necessitate. Your favourite SwEBM band’s favourite SwEBM band are back and are looking to party. Recommended.

Buy it.

Fernes Land (album) by Sturm Café

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Cevin Key, “Resonance”

Cevin Key
Artoffact Records

Between new and archival releases between his innumerable projects and collaborations, the Skinny Puppy founder and Subconscious Studios head Cevin Key has had a steady stream of music available for the last twenty years. Resonance (originally titled ‘X̱wáýx̱way’, the name of a First Nations village that was historically located in what is now Vancouver’s Stanley Park) is the first album of new music he has released solely under his own name since 2001’s The Ghost of Each Room. Fittingly, the record incorporates the electro, IDM and dub aspects that have woven their way through Key’s post-millennial output, along with collaborations with many familiar faces, resulting in a record that speaks to the style and substance of his work over the last two decades.

It’s a testament to Key’s distinctive voice as a sound designer and composer that Resonance is as cohesive as it is. To wit, very few tracks resemble one another in terms of style, but all are unified by the rubbery, psychedelic synthesis that has become the Subconscious trademark. The complex, gated chirps that make up the body of “Sorry I’m Going to Think Positive” and the hopped up syncopation of opener “Thirteen” don’t necessarily read as comparable exercises in composition beyond their playful, uptempo structure and distinctive sound design. On slower compositions like the gradually evolving “Thunderbird” or genre-exercises like mutated electro number “Orange Dragonfly”, it’s the placement of stereo elements and the richness of the pads that really bears his mark as a producer, granting each number a thoughtful and wistful sensibility.

Fittingly given the collaborative nature of so much of Key’s material, Resonance features a healthy list of guest contributors. Longtime friend and partner in the Tear Garden Edward Ka-Spel appears on “Night Flower”, a melancholic head-nodder and “Watching You”, where a bouncier tempo and spiralling synthlines collide with the Legendary Pink Dots’ frontman’s low-key paranoia prophetisms. The seeming familiarity of the collaboration on those numbers stand in contrast to Chris Corner’s turn on “Anger is an Acid”, a slowburning ballad with vocal vamping whose strings and piano sounds could easily have fit on an IAMX record. Cult breakcore producer Otto Von Schirach and Tuvan throat singer Soriah both bring their distinctive voices to their tracks, albeit shot through with Key’s own sensibilities – dub in the case of the former, tweaky electro in the case of the latter.

Cevin Key has long since reached a point in his career where he does exactly what he wants musically, with Resonance acting as something of a broad summation of the producer’s numerous technical and stylistic interests. Consequently its variety ends up making it feel very specifically like a Cevin Key LP. Those who have enjoyed his contemporary work as a synthesist or composer are offered much to consider across its twelve oddly affecting tracks, each a tiny and complex world unto itself.

Buy it.

Resonance by cEvin Key

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Tracks: February 22nd, 2021

With February almost in the books, it seems amazing that 2021 has yielded so much music already. I suppose a year of no tours, and plenty of time to work on music was always bound to lead to a ton of new tunes to check out in every scene, although we’d hazard a guess that the largely electronic and frequently solo producers within Our Thing were pretty well positioned to get some work done. Watching that Bandcamp wishlist grow is both gratifying and terrifying in equal measures but make no mistake; too much music is our favourite problem to have.

Zack Zack Zack

Zack Zack Zack

MIND | MATTER, “The Night Won’t End”
French producer MIND | MATTER has been everywhere of late; producing tracks for countless compilations, putting out the full length Enfant de la Démence and peeling off single releases with astonishing speed. The latest of the latter is “The Night Won’t End” and serves as a perfect intro to MM’s style, fusing body music, darkwave and a touch of post-punk into some clubbable tracks that have enough menace and atmosphere to qualify them for home listening. Hop aboard.
This Night Won't End [EGONlab01] by MIND | MATTER

New Fabrik, “Toxic World V​.​2”
New Fabrik’s excellent 2019 EP was one of the first precursors we caught of the wave of fantastic South American body music we’re currently enjoying. Returning with a new split cassette which finds them teaming up with fellow Chileans Statische Monotonie, they’re bringing the same minimal but furious approach which made First Hammer work to speedy numbers like this one.
Tape Tanz by New Fabrik

Zack Zack Zack, “Bütün”
Viennese by way of Turkey duo Zack Zack Zack are bringing a tight but diverse range of sounds to their first EP. Bringing together darkwave, EBM, traditional Turkish instrumentation and maybe even a little bit of throwback Tigersushi/Kitsune Maison flavour, numbers like “Bütün” have a real sense of dancefloor immediacy but also a deep richness. A very promising introduction, indeed.

Hatari, “Spillingardens (ESA remix)”
Hey remember Hatari, the industrial-tinged S&M act that Iceland sent to Eurovision in 2019? We were quite taken with both their musical chops and their hijinx, and thus were happy to hear they had a remix LP coming out for 2021. Wonder of wonders, the line-up of remixers speaks directly to us: you’ve got Caustic, Klack, Leaether Strip, Surgyn, and The Gothsicles amongst others, all taking on tracks from Hatari’s debut LP NEYSLUTRANS. Peep this remix from the always noteworthy ESA, and then give the rest of the record a whirl why don’t you?
Neyslutrans RemiXed by Hatari, ESA

Kojoohar × Ködzid Goo, “Sulema”
Dotla, a forthcoming Ant-Zen release, finds the preeminent powernoise label casting a wide net both geographically and stylistically. A collaboration between Ukrainian experimentalist Kojoohar and Russian hip-hop duo Ködzid Goo, tracks like this one conjure brutalist architecture and uncertain futures. Nice combination of grimy and antiseptic feels on this one.
dotla by kojoohar × ködzid goo

Kill Shelter & Antipole, “Raise the Skies”
Kill Shelter’s Pete Burns teams up with Antipole’s Karl Morten Dahl for a full-length LP, following on from their previous collab on KS’ debut LP Damage in 2019. The partnership makes a lot of sense really, both acts make slightly left of center post-punk that drips euro-cool, although surprisingly the sound of “Raise the Skies” is a lot heavier and more in line with modern goth rock than you might anticipate. We’re curious to see what the rest sounds like for certain.
A Haunted Place by Kill Shelter & Antipole

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Seven Trees, “Dead/End”

Seven Trees
Progress Productions

Swedish act Seven Trees aren’t the first band that leaps to mind when dark electro gets brought up; while their quite good ’97 LP for Zoth Ommog Embracing the Unknown has its adherents (and some visibility in North America thanks to a version that came out on Metropolis Records), they’ve always been something of a cult act. After some twenty years of inactivity, in 2017 Johan Kronberg and Henrik Karlsson began releasing a handful of smaller releases while gearing up for Dead/End on Progress Productions, technically their sophomore LP but one that captures the charm of their original run with some technical upgrades.

Style-wise Seven Trees have always been about atmosphere over club appeal, with their take on dark electro favouring texture and mood over other concerns. Indeed, while you might be left wanting if you’re looking to Dead/End for club contenders, the album listening experience is a good one, with enough variation to keep it from fading into the background. Check out the excellent “Dystopic Illusions” for a great example of Seven Trees’ range in a single track: a simple distorted drum loop and vocal lay groundwork for a rich suite of pads, twittering synths, soon joined by a rubbery bassline and a shimmering veil of electronic textures which camouflage shifts in the rhythm arrangement. It’s marvelously subtle from an arrangement standpoint, although the duo prove equally adept at straight ahead arrangements, adorning the simple dark electro rhythms of opener “Veins of Charcoal” with bits of piano, and finding space in the cleaner-voiced “Valium Dreams” for the track’s rich sound design to take focus.

Given how much classic dark electro (including the band’s own work) uses obscurity as a compositional element, it’s notable how transparent and well-balanced the sound of Dead/End is. Drums, synths and vocals sit comfortably aside one another, shifting via arrangement and mix choices. Even denser and more opaque tracks like “Final Program” have a pleasing clarity to them, the song’s rolling drumline and horror movie melody are allowed plenty of room to breathe, even as they allow space for newer sounds to join the mix. It’s a choice that highlights Seven Trees’s strengths in terms of programming and composition, which are ample enough to take the place of big choruses. To wit, Seven Trees are more interested in considered construction than they are melodies and hooks.

To be perfectly frank, I’m not sure how the refined sensibility of a record like Dead/End will hit for many listeners; its pleasures really require you to spend time allowing it to unfold and present itself on its own timeline, there’s little in the way of immediacy or easy thrills. The investment pays off however, and those interested in modern variations on a classic template should be well pleased by the cultivated sound of Seven Trees’ contemporary work.

Buy it.

Dead/End by Seven Trees

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We Have A Technical 349: Bortles?


Ammo locked and loaded.

Our two albums format finds us talking about retro dark electro and the outer limits of technoid in this week’s episode of We Have A Technical. The last record from Necrotek has us discussing the slow emergence of consciously-throwback dark electro, as well as the atmospheric charms of that genre overall. Next, one-off side project Ammo’s foray into drum and bass raises all sorts of questions concerning the rapid evolution of powernoise, and at what point breakcore completely diverges from anything pertaining to industrial. As if all of that genre splicing wasn’t enough, we’re also revisiting the legacy of minimal synth pioneer Absolute Body Control on the heels of some new tunes from them. 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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Deadly Injection, “Zombified”

Deadly Injection - Zombified

Deadly Injection
EK Product

We’ll always have a yen for the classic dark electro template, whether we’re listening to the genre’s formative releases or newer work that’s content to revisit halcyon days. Deadly Injection’s first LP, Taste Me! was a fun enough example of the latter. But it’s rare to come across a record so wholly devoted to replicating a particular set of influences as Zombified, the German duo’s follow-up. A record that’s so direct in its lineage (80% :wumpscut: and maybe 10% each of Leaether Strip and Psychopomps) has to be able to deliver, and while there are some enjoyable moments here, it ultimately pales in comparison to its sources.

The production and execution of Zombified walks a fine line, aiming to sound of a part with classic early 90s releases without going out of its way to intentionally sound rough or lo-fi. On the whole it succeeds – the no-bullshit approach to rubbery but aggressive basslines generally hits the mark. From a compositional standpoint, Deadly Injection have clearly spent time examining the layering and structure of the records they’re drawing upon, but their imitation of them often hits too close to home: the title track is such a dead ringer for “Dying Culture” and a couple of other Bunkertor 7 tracks that you can’t help but gawk.

It’s when the thematics of Zombified are actually attended to that its homage to legendary artists begins to really go sideways. Sure, artists like Leaether Strip have made a virtue of singing about commonplace experiences and problems with direct conviction, but the facile and at times outright corny nature of Deadly Injection’s lyrics don’t communicate that same sense of impassioned honesty. Things get off to an awkward start with “Stay Away”‘s awkward celebration of protective jealousy which sounds more like frat boys in a shoving match (“Stay away from my girl you bloody bastard”) than an exploration of the dark side of humanity. “Get your dick back in your pants you fucking asshole” isn’t a line I ever expected to hear in a dark electro song, but here we are. When “Tell Me Why” comes on the heels of a tune like that, it’s tough to tell if its celebration of willful ignorance is meant to be satirical or not.

Not every record needs to reinvent the wheel or change how we think about a particular sub-genre of post-industrial music. There’s nothing wrong with genre exercise for its own sake, but Deadly Injection go through the motions with such rote precision that one spends more time scratching one’s head at the mimicry than Zombified‘s occasional moment of fun on its own merits. No track better demonstrates this than “War”, which begins with the line “Suddenly there was war”…and yet is somehow not a cover. If you’re going to be that overt in your debt to a classic band, you’d better be delivering something far closer to the strength of the original.

Buy it.

Zombified by Deadly Injection

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Tracks: February 16th, 2021

We might have idly joked about being reduced to chatting about the weather in Tracks posts a few weeks into lockdown, but between the year elapsed since we’ve been to any live shows and the unprecedented conditions hitting North America, it doesn’t seem so farcical now. Wherever you are, we hope you’re safe and secure for the foreseeable future. On with this week’s new business!

Debby Friday

Debby Friday throwing shapes.

Debby Friday, “Runnin”
Vancouver based musician and visual artist Debby Friday makes a roaring return after a relatively quiet 2020 with “Runnin”, a standalone single that speaks to all the things that drew us to her work in the first place. Friday’s wheelhouse is spooky, genre-bending sounds that are adjacent to industrial and experimental hip-hop but maintain their own unique character and fluidity. If that sounds interesting to you, we implore you to hit play on the embed below, and then go check her catalogue on Bandcamp. Rewards await.

Actors, “Strangers”
Speaking of Vancouver, local favourites Actors are continuing to cycle their engines back up after the runaway success of their 2018 debut LP. “Strangers” has a slightly darker cast than previous single “Love U More”, but beneath the smokey smears the savvy strain of economical post-punk which catapulted them to an international audience is still very clear.

Youth Code / King Yosef, “Looking Down”
As we mentioned on last week’s podcast, tracking the development of the mighty Youth Code has been a singular pleasure over the past years, and the possibilities pointed to by this, the second track from their collab with King Yosef, are intriguing. Bringing forward the hardcore genome that’s always been part of YC’s makeup as well as some heavy bass from well outside the EBM world, A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression looks like it’ll be offering all sorts of new perspectives on the band’s style of fury.
A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression by Youth Code / King Yosef

A classic “two great tastes that taste great together” team-up here from our pals in SØLVE and V▲LH▲LL, brought together on the occasion of the former’s forthcoming remix release NEVER + ENOUGH. Combining each post-witch house project’s penchant for atmospheric ritual sounds rendered with high-end production, it’s the kind of mix that compliments and highlights the unique character of each act, even as it illustrates the contrasts in their approaches. Put it on your wishlist, this one is a must buy.

None Of Your Concern, “Shut It Down”
Chicago’s None of Your Concern made our year end list in 2020 with their excellent debut Primer, a very of the moment mix of body, darkwave and techno sounds replete with a nervous and often bracing energy. The mysterious duo continue on that course with the excellent “Shut It Down”, where wobbly basses and rapidfire percussion meet for a haunted warehouse rave-up. Until March 1 all the proceeds from the purchase of the single go direct to community development organization IGrow Chicago, so you’ll want to snap it up sharpish.

Cuerina Raw Dry feat, Chuminga, “Nuevo Montevideo”
Don’t let the initial thudding kick fool you – this collaborative track from Uruguayan artists Cuerina Raw Dry and Chuminga is a far cry from the usual TBM fare. Off-putting funhouse organ stabs, disorienting vocals swooping in and out of the mix and plenty more woozy elements give this a uniquely off-kilter feel. Central and South American body music continues its florid ascent!
LUZ MALA by Cuerina Raw Dry featuring Chuminga

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