We Have a Technical 244: Sonny Bono’s Corpse

Human Performance Lab in a hallway of some sort

Whether it’s a matter of strangers getting on the same elevator, twins separated at birth, or just two great tastes which taste great together, Our Thing has plenty of collaborations across its history and styles worthy of consideration and discussion…including the ol’ Pick Five treatment. From power noise to drone, the Senior Staff have a clutch of collaborative projects and releases to discuss, along with Peter Murphy and David J’s recent Vancouver stop celebrating 40 years of Bauhaus. It’s We Have A Technical, babies! If you so desire 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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Hante., “Fierce”

Hante.
Fierce
Metropolis Records/Synth Religion

The appeal of Hélène de Thoury’s work as Hante. isn’t hard to twig. The sound of her first three LPs was situated in the sweet spot (or grey area perhaps) between coldwave and darkwave; cool, european and poised, but delivered with enthusiasm and emotion to keep it relatable. Fourth album Fierce, her first for the US’ Metropolis Records, doesn’t stray far from that formula, but also shows off some of de Thoury’s best work as a producer to date, reinforcing her melancholic compositions with nice, clean studiocraft.

Unified by mood, the record’s 11 tracks (supplemented by two bonus numbers on the CD and digital version) paint the portrait of Hélène de Thoury as tragic figure, constantly reconciling herself to some unnamed ennui. It’s a bit arch and dramatic, but that’s kind of the appeal: a song like “Waiting for a Hurricane” is sold by how fully she commits to the mournful melody, over a bed of tasteful arpeggiation, stringy pads, and a simple 8th note bassline. It’s a mode she makes sound effortless and acts as something of a template for Fierce‘s best numbers; adding in some steely resolve and a slight bump in tempo to make the addictive “Wild Animal” or slowing it down to a near dirge that barely hints at hope on “Silence the Voices”.

With her persona well and truly established throughout, the album possesses some nice collaborative moments to add variety. Foremost is “Nobody’s Watching”, where guests Marble Slave and Fragrance. add contrasting male vocals to what ends up being one of the brighter (if still elegiac) and synthpoppier numbers. “The Moon Song”, which features Box von Düe of Box and the Twins has a pleasing dark cabaret angle, albeit one braced with notes of contempt. Sólveig Matthildur’s contribution to “Unknown” is one of the most striking moments on the whole LP, a Nico-by-way-of Lebanon Hanover deal that underlines Hante.’s connection as a project to the continental synth acts of yesteryear.

While it could use a bit more variety in instrumentation – some late album cuts that are otherwise lovely like “Never Over” suffer a bit from the use of a samey palette of sounds – Fierce is perhaps the most approachable Hante. has been. Both for her own distinctive character, and the ability to convey it, even when sharing or ceding the spotlight to others, it shows an artist who has a full grasp of who they are, and how to best deliver themselves to the world.

Buy it.

FIERCE by Hante.

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Replicas: Worms Of The Earth, “Anāgāmi Redux”

Replicas is the handle we use to write about reissues and archival releases, offering some thoughts on the original material, and whatever additional goodies or format shifts may have been appended. This week, a not-so-old rhythmic noise release receives a radical revision…

Worms Of The Earth - Anāgāmi Redux

Worms Of The Earth
Anāgāmi Redux
self-released

What is it?
Worms Of The Earth’s 2012 LP Anāgāmi marked a change for Dan Barrett’s rhythmic industrial project. Not only were its compositions more ambitious and considered, but thematically the record was aimed at decidedly spiritual themes, a move aided by the implementation of acoustic drums and chimes. With the dissolution of Tympanik, Anāgāmi‘s original label of release, it’s not surprising that Barrett would want to reissue it on his own terms. But those terms turned out to be far, far more drastic than a simple remaster and reupload. Instead, Barrett has reworked and rewritten each and every song to various degrees, to the point that some (as outlined in the painstaking liner notes) are functionally new tracks.

What’s on it?
The renovations undertaken on Anāgāmi Redux are apparent from the get go, though they don’t always rebuild the song in the same style. Sometimes they’re grounded in ceding rhythmic arrangements to club concerns (“Enshrined In The Sacred Stones”), sometimes they’re taken as an opportunity to correct structural flaws Barrett was never content with (“Ceaseless Suffering”). The album’s blending of subgenres is correspondingly refreshed; the IDM ambitions of Barrett’s oft-overlooked Ghosts Of The Clocktower side-project come into closer view via some pinched and wet programming on “1st Jhāna” and “2nd Jhāna”, for instance.

As if a complete revamping of the original LP wasn’t enough, Barrett’s tacked on a trio of hitherto unreleased dark ambient tracks in the mood of Anāgāmi, along with a slew of edits, remixes, and collaborative tracks. Hell, there’s even a good old fashioned hidden track (an extended collaboration with Gydja) which has to be ferreted out of the download via some simple ciphering. Factor in the aforementioned liner notes and there’s a wealth of new music and insight spread across nearly two and a half hours.

Who should buy it?
Fans of either rhythmic noise or tribal industrial are likely to enjoy the core tracks whether they’ve heard the original Anāgāmi or not, and there’s certainly no question of value for money. But above and beyond the music itself, I’d strongly recommend the record to electronic artists interested in process. In the liner notes, Barrett offers invaluable insight not just about what he changed about the record, but also why. He’s not afraid to look critically at his own work and ask tough questions, whether those are are somewhat abstract questions regarding mood or goals, or very tactile ones concerning the processes and gear involved. There’s a lot to be taken from those inquiries, and in comparing the original record with this redux, there’s also an excellent object lesson in what they can yield.

Anāgāmi Redux by Worms of the Earth

Buy it.

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Tracks: January 21st, 2019

It looks as though our We Have A Commentary podcast on Chemlab’s Burnout At The Hydrogen Bar did pretty well for itself; evidently we weren’t the only ones keen to cast an eye back to Jared Louche’s sleazy cyberpunk beginnings. In case anyone’s unaware, commentary podcasts like that are produced once a month thanks to our Patreon backers. In a perfect world, they’re an opportunity to both remind ourselves of why we first became fascinated with a particular record, and in researching it perhaps find some new reasons to keep listening. We’d like to think this last one fit the bill, so thanks for checking it out! On with this week’s Tracks.

Herr Myer

Body Beat Ritual, “Crash Report”
Another body music act from the simmering Oceanic region, Body Beat Ritual tap into the rawer, less overtly dance oriented aspect of EBM for their forthcoming double-A side single. Listen to the way the drums are programmed and the bubbling bass sequence, along with the pitchy lead sounds and degraded samples. This is still groovy, body-moving stuff, but removed from the easy style markers that have rapidly been used up in the recent resurgence of the genre. It’s weapons-grade stuff, and arriving right at the time when a sterner outlook on the style is totally welcome.
Instinct Primitive/Crash Report [HVN004] by Body Beat Ritual

Die Selektion, “Kalter Atem (Tommy Four Seven Remix)”
A full year and a half seems like a bit of a wait for a remix release, especially when we’re only looking at four tracks, but given that the record in question is Die Selektion’s coldwave tour de force Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt, and we’re looking at some a + w approved remixes, we’ll overlook the statute of limitations. The nimble electro of the original’s swapped out for a frantic kick-fest courtesy of Tommy Four Seven. Few bands saw the shape of things to come as early and as clearly as Die Selektion, and they’re still yet to reap all the rewards of their prescience.
Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt Remixed by Die Selektion

DSTR, “What Else is There?”
We got to hear Daniel Myer (performing as DSTR) perform this cover of Royksopp’s contemporary classic “What Else is There?” at Terminus Festival last year, just one aspect of a typically memorable performance from the man of many projects. Where the original was at the vanguard of the mid-2000s shift in contemporary dance music, this version has something of a late 90s synth pop feel, like if Wolfsheim had cut the song in their prime. Delightful to have access to this previously live-only gem.
DSTR – What Else Is There (Version) by DSTR

Fractured Transmission, “Operator”
LA’s Nick Viola always comes correct as Fractured Transmission, whether he’s dishing out old school powernoise or taking a cue from contemporary techno sounds. On this, one of three tracks on the latest Fractured Transmission release, we’re getting a little bit of both, with a stormy but sculpted bit of bluster being smoothed out by the mildest hints of bouncing harmonics. A spoonful of sequencing makes the concrete go down.
Clandestine Operator Abroad by Fractured Transmission

Flint Glass, “Deep Phylogeny (Broken Fabiola Edit)”
We would have thought it difficult for Crunch Pod to outdo their previous The Future Of Dreaming comp, but at 47 tracks the second edition thereof is a bandwidth choking beast. Thankfully, on a quick skim the quality control looks solid, with tracks from site friends and faves including Sleep Clinic, 80KV, W.A.S.T.E., Alexandra Atnif, and The Present Moment. It’s always a treat to check in on France’s all too often elusive Flint Glass, who’s pushing further into downtempo territory on this track.
Various: The Future Of Dreaming Vo. 2 by Crunch Pod

IV Horsemenm, “Judex”
While disappointingly not a coldwave tribute to the classic wrestling stable, IV Horsemen’s forthcoming EP on aufnahme + wiedergabe doesn’t lack for a high concept hook. While musically the sound is somewhere between body music and the new wave of European darkwave, the chanted Latin vocals give the whole affair a more ornate and portentous feel. Seems like a perfect fit for a + w, the label that best exemplifies fresh takes on familiar ideas.
Dies Irae by IV Horsemen

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We Have a Commentary: Chemlab, “Burnout at the Hydrogen Bar”

For the first Patreon-supported commentary podcast of 2019, we’re listening to American industrial rock classic Burnout at the Hydrogen Bar by Chemlab. How did the record both presage what was to come while speaking to the history of the North American sound? Has it aged well? Is Jared Louche an amazing frontman? Listen and find out! If you so desire 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: Wilshire Corridor & Cruel Diagonals


Wilshire Corridor
The Fig & The Wasp
Dune Altar

How do you describe a band like Wilshire Corridor? The Los Angeles based project certainly draws from a few different wells for The Fig & the Wasp, but none of the genre tags you might be tempted to apply to them quite fit. In hearing opener “Doors to Nowhere”, with its grinding, dirgy synths and guttural black metal vocals, you might be tempted to call them dungeon synth. Then again, that doesn’t really reflect the clean chiming quality to the mix, and how clarion the electronics are on instrumentals like “Smog Spirit” and “Return to Earth”. If you only heard the deep drones and thudding war drums of “Ember” you could be forgiven for thinking of them as a death industrial act, but that doesn’t square at all with the 909 claps and spiky sequencing on “Terminal”, not to mention the tweaky electro of “Curtain”. Being hard to pin down is all for the best though, as Wilshire Corridor manage to craft all these disparate stylistic markers into a satisfyingly complete whole, that quickly tutors the listener not to expect the record to stick to one lane for very long. The Fig & the Wasp a satisfyingly varied listen within the parameters it sets out, presenting its ideas in a fresh and invigorating fashion.
The Fig & The Wasp by Wilshire Corridor

Cruel Diagonals - Pulse Of Indignation
Cruel Diagonals
Pulse Of Indignation
Drawing Room Records

Megan Mitchell’s new EP for her ambient/field recording project Cruel Diagnosis speaks to “recognizing the exploitation, grooming, and pain that she was subjected to as a young woman under the watchful eye of men with power in the music industry,” in the words of the PR copy. While something so biographically specific might be otherwise difficult to tease from the predominantly wordless tracks on Pulse Of Indignation, the sense of stifled dread they connote is apparent right from the outset. The exact origins of the field recordings Mitchell uses as the basis for these tracks are inscrutable, yet they hang about – whether as droning loops, muted chimes, or percussive tics – in the front of the mix for long enough that they evolve their own moods. These often prove to be sparse, trepidatious, and tense frameworks with which Mitchell’s vocals enter into uneasy dialogue. Mitchell’s vocals have a frail and mournful quality, even as they take up lilting sing-song, and the minor harmonizing Mitchell multitracks does nothing to brighten the mood. When at the EP’s close those elements, hitherto discrete and at least partially ordered, suddenly swarm and multiply, creating a cacophonic wave which pushes Mitchell wholly out of the record, the effect is unnerving. Why were these elements so comparatively restrained until now? What agenda might they have? Ascribing intent or agency to programmed sound, rather than the programmer, is of course, ridiculous on its face, but the eerie presences hinted at beneath Mitchell’s arrangements lead one into the uncanny.
Pulse of Indignation by Cruel Diagonals

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We Have a Technical 243: Teutonic Twosome

Tilo Wolff is the man, I heard he once sang a gothic rock song in space

We’re acting like a pair of old fashioned Germaniacs on the latest episode of We Have A Technical. Records by Lacrimosa and Steril are on the docket, alongside discussion of some new comments from Blixa Bargeld regarding industrial music, and the news of Ant-Zen withdrawing from the physical media business. Life may not be easy in Germany, but listening to the latest episode of the IDieYouDie.com podcast sure is! If you wish 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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Borghesia, “Proti Kapitulaciji”

Borghesia - Proti Kapitulaciji

Borghesia
Proti Kapitulaciji
Moonlee Records

The lengthy hiatus of cult electronic act Borghesia placed unreasonable expectations on their 2014 comeback LP, And Man Created God. Unlike a certain other Slovenian act I could name, Borghesia never traded in bombastic excess, and instead mixed an immediate and often funky style of body music with quirky and risque flourishes taken from minimal electronics and other tape-based experimentalism. That LP’s sardonic political sloganeering certainly fit the bill, though the musical changes which the core duo of Dario Seraval and Aldo Ivančič implemented with the help of a touring band were of a radically new cast. The mellower side of that record takes center stage on Proti Kapitulaciji, producing a record which is moody and mournful, yet still ultimately weird.

Listeners only familiar with Borghesia’s 80s and 90s catalog will likely be shocked by the sheer amount of guitar on Proti Kapitulaciji. And I’m not speaking of chuggy commonplace post-industrial rock guitar either – the new LP features a veritable stable of twangy country-folk guitar, overtaking the Snog-like sounds of its predecessor and heading straight into Morricone, or possibly even Chris Isaak territory. Thankfully, those excesses are offset by the record’s programming, although that generally eschews the band’s early screwball EBM style for the sake of laid back and often weary grooves which bring trip-hop and the more downtempo side of darkwave to mind. It’s easy to find parallels between numbers like “Kons” and mid-period Kirlian Camera, but over the course of Proti Kapitulaciji this new iteration of Borghesia establishes its own swing and sound, guided in no small part by the accompanying vocals of newcomers Irena Tomažin Zagorčnik and Jelena Rusjan, who lend clipped austerity when necessary (“Rodovnik”), but are more often called upon to dig out a newfound soulful side of Borghesia (“Na piramidi”, “Ljubljana spi”).

Speaking of vocals, English speakers may not be privy to the subtleties of the poetry of Srečko Kosovel which Borghesia set to music (though translations are thoughtfully offered on Bandcamp). While explicitly political, you don’t need to speak Slovene to recognize the agitated yet mournful tone of the record’s words. Addressing the contemporaneous birth of fascism in Italy head-on, Kosovel’s poems are a desperate plea for a population content to materialistically sleepwalk to awaken and cease offering concessions to fascism for the sake of ease. It’s fiery, impassioned stuff and yet it’s difficult to not detect some bitter prescience of failure. Whether that’s the result of historical perspective or Borghesia’s own spin on “the Slovenian Rimbaud” is uncertain, but the resulting angst meshes well with the ‘cultured’ yet forlorn tone of Proti Kapitulaciji.

There’s no getting around the fact that Borghesia is a very different entity now than they were during their initial run. Frankly, it’d be impossible for them not to be due to the sheer amount of time that’s passed, the absences of former members (several now deceased), and, presumably, changes in artistic interests in the interim. There are flashes of their more rhythmically aggressive past (“Jaz protestiram”, “Rodovnik”) and even absurdist sample pastiche (“Moj črni tintnik”), but it’s the grander melancholy of pieces like “Razočaranja I” which hold sway. These still showcase Borghesia’s sense of irreverence, but their rebellion feels informed, and perhaps tempered, by hard-earned wisdom.

Buy it.

Proti kapitulaciji by BORGHESIA

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Replicas: Fektion Fekler, “From Here to Heaven”

Fektion Fekler
From Here to Heaven
self-released

What Is It?
While never as high-profile as Pendragon Records label-mates like Haujobb, Velvet Acid Christ or Gridlock, Texas’ Fektion Fekler put out two well-regarded LPs in the mid-to-late 90s. Brothers Robert and John Bustamante’s take on electro-industrial had dancefloor appeal and a heavy emphasis on melody, shot through with a love of eclecticism that gave their material lasting appeal. While the brothers’ later albums would dabble in integrating acoustic folk and rock music into their sound, 1996’s excellent From Here to Heaven is a focused effort that still sounds remarkably fresh some 22 years since its release. The recent addition of the record to the group’s Bandcamp has provided an easy opportunity to revisit an album that has a cult-following amongst rivetheads of a certain vintage.

What’s On It?
Presented in its original form, the Bandcamp release of From Here to Heaven holds up very well in a large part due to the cleanliness of the mix and the track sequencing which highlights the different faces of the project. Vocal tracks like “Immortal Faith (PWN Mix)” and “Shakedown” balance rhythm programming with big melodic pads, distinctive timbral synth leads and distorted vocals. These aren’t game-changers in terms of approach but are executed with a great attention to production and arrangement. If that’s all Fektion Fekler had had to offer it would be a fine release, but what really sets it apart are its ambitions. Check out how “Solution Tragedy (Last Cigarette Mix)” and “Tragedy Solution (32oz Mix)” interpolate one another, or how the Bustamonte brothers integrate orchestral sound design to album highlight “Diabolic Changes (Side Effects mix)”. Then there’s the way that the organ-led “Topp Ramen (6 for a $1.00 Mix)” was starting to integrate the sounds of electronica before it was fashionable for industrial artists to do so – all examples of the kind of interesting choices the duo were making when they could have played things much safer. While they bear an occasional resemblance to like-minded industrialists Individual Totem or Mentallo & The Fixer, their take on electro-industrial feels distinct and exciting to this day.

Who Should Buy It?
From Here to Heaven is a record that really puts an exclamation point on one of the possibilities of the digital marketplace; without needing a label or distributor to pony up to reissue it, Fektion Fekler are able to make their minor classic LP available to audiences new and old. Those who didn’t hear it when it came out and those who are always on the lookout for semi-obscure vintage releases in the style should make a point of adding it to their Bandcamp collections.

Buy it.

From Here To Heaven by Fektion Fekler

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Tracks: January 14th, 2019

It’s not always 100% visible to us when we’re in the thick of it, but when we step back and look at the content and coverage we’ve done over the last seven and a half years of I Die: You Die, it really does feel like we’re covering more different music today than at any point in the site’s history. That’s obviously a function of how much things have changed in the broader world of Our Thing, and also how our personal tastes shape ID:UD’s coverage, but we’d also like to acknowledge the influence of readers of the site and listeners of the podcast have on us. We rely on y’all to tell us about cool stuff that we missed or might not yet be aware of, so as to make sure we’re hearing and hearing about as much music as is possible. All this is of course a lead-in to our traditional ask, if you have stuff you think she be covered or cosidered hereabouts, why not drop a note in the comments? We sure do appreciate it. Tracks ahoy 2019!

Hatari are doing like a Mortal Kombat/Matrix/Brazil thing?

Hatari, “Spillingardans”
Trying to sum up Iceland’s Hatari is a difficult proposition but let’s have a go at it: Hatari is a multimedia collective that make politically infused dance music with oddball melodies that “aims to reveal the relentless scam of everyday life”. The band do things like give interviews while ordering and eating fast food, perform with buff go-go dancers and opera singers and make NSFW videos where the band gets worked over in a sex dungeon. Sound appealing? Check out recent single “Spillingardans” for a taste of what these cats are bringing in 2019.
Spillingardans by Hatari

Creux Lies, “Made”
Sacramento’s Creux Lies released “Made” on the last day of 2018, capping off the year that saw them release their debut album Hearth on Cleopatra records. We’ll admit to sleeping on them, but hope to rectify that going forward: any band doing this kind of chorus-driven (chorus as in the guitar effect and also the element of songwriting) gothy post-punk is generally the sort of thing we enjoy around the HQ. The band have a bunch of dates coming up with proven quantity ACTORS coming up, so hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to see them in the Pacific Northwest before too long.
Made by Creux Lies

Arctic Flowers, “Rose In Bend”
Records get lost in the year end logjam all the time here at the HQ, and we weren’t able to take a proper pass at the latest from Oregon’s now-veteran act Arctic Flowers ’til now. The band’s been dishing out a bracing brand of peace-punk for nearly ten which speaks not only to the stormy weather and political climes of our shared Cascadian homeland, but also to the long-running intertwinings of punk, goth, and post-punk. Don’t be any more late to the party than us, and check Straight To The Hunter now.
Straight To The Hunter by Arctic Flowers

Download, “Gaslighter”
cEvin Key and Phil Western reuniting for new Download material feels like a natural cosmic phenomenon at this point: the somewhat rare but always reliable intersection of two astral bodies with their own orbits. Each will head off on their own excursions shortly after, but all manner of tidal and gravitational phenomena are likely to happen when they align. The teaser track from Unkown Room mixes some grimy and brapped out big beat production with the big and sweeping harmonic pads which the duo have used since their inception (no pun intended).
Unknown Room by Download

Randolph & Mortimer, “Reaganomic (original mix)”
Sheffield stand up, it’s a new one from native sons Randolph & Mortimer. Released on the massive 21 track techno-EBM [RND.R026] compilation, Randy & Mort vary it up on this one, summoning so classic post-industrial vibes with tweaky orch hits, punchy synths and nice rubbery bassline. We’ve made this point before, but R&M have a ludicrously good track record given how small their overall catalogue is, and it wouldn’t be hard to see their sound crossing over into a few different electronic music scenes. Get with it if you haven’t already.
[RND.R026] by Various Artists

Iron Court, “Dawn Falls”
You just can’t pin Detriti! down. As soon as you think you’ve circumscribed the boutique tape label’s yen for grimy oddball sounds from across all electronic and wave spectra, they’ll drop something incredibly clean and businesslike like the new EP from Italian techno producer Iron Court. Forget any retro sentimentality, it’s all strictly sequenced dancefloor stomping here, cleaving closely to the techno end of the current climate.
Iron Court – Thorns by Detriti Records

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Observer: Fjerstad & Bastet


Fjerstad
8-Circuit Neurorgasmic Trigger
Ephemerol Night Terrors

LA-based artist Chad Fjerstad’s first LP under his own name is some strange stuff to be certain. Where his previous output as Fractal Baths reveled in genre agnosticism, 8-Circuit Neurorgasmic Trigger zooms in on a sort of funhouse electro, albeit touched by IDM, glitch and general synth weirdness. Tracks like opener “Banging The Guixian Tam-Tam” and “Gun Guy 88” have deep, head-nodding grooves at their heart, but supplement them with bitcrushed percussion, wild pitch-bending synthlines and circular sequencing that turn each song back in on themselves. Smoother but no less funky is late album track “Kingdom Of Last Left Empaths: Partition D”, which sets up a simple Future Sounds of London type synth-exotica complete with chopped up syllabic vocals, a direct contrast to “Kingdom Of Last Left Empaths: Partition C”, the mournful flipside that actually precedes it in track sequencing. Fjerstad certainly seems happy to unnerve: “Z Babysitter” is a take on the sort of monotone female vocal come-on song popularized during electroclash, but concludes with a sinister rejection. More unpleasant still is “Under the Floorboards”, where synthesized voices discuss cannibalism against a backdrop of growling, cascading bleeps and synth washes. That those songs share space with a song like the dark and soulful “Myrrh Musik” is something, with Fjerstad finding different moods and sensations within his new area of focus.
8-Circuit Neurorgasmic Trigger by Fjerstad

Bastet - Dawn Of Darkness
Bastet
Dawn Of Darkness
self-released

California and deathrock go together like, well, death and rock. On their debut EP, Oakland’s Bastet play a loose and languid version of their state’s trademark sound that points both to the genre’s garage precursors as well as more recent indie and punk acts who’ve taken a page from deathrock’s grimoire. There’s a jangling ease to a number like “Shadows Of The Night”, which nods along with doomy twang, making tempo changes so small you could be forgiven for mistaking them for the band nodding off. But the laid-back groove of a good portion of these four tunes makes a nice counterpart to the properly sharp vocals replete with classic goth and witchy imagery, and the fuzzy warmth which comes from buttressing basslines with simple synths. With a run-time slim enough to slide under the door of your average crypt, Dawn Of Darkness never risks wearing out its welcome, but it does a solid enough job of establishing the band’s vibe: half spiky, half stoned, all spectral.
Dawn of Darkness by BASTET

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We Have a Technical 242: To/For You

Those dashing young body musicians

It’s the 242nd episode of WHaT, and you’d better believe the Senior Staff are making the most of it. They’re welcoming an all-star cast of friends of the podcast to celebrate and discuss the music and legacy of Front 242. From their famous live shows to the radical changes made across their discography, folks from across Our Thing are dropping by to speak about what it is that makes them such an enduring and beloved presence. Stand up you electronic insects! If you wish 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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Poison Point, “Bestiensäule”

Poison Point
Bestiensäule
aufnahme + wiedergabe

French act Poison Point land squarely in a genre sweet spot on their 2018 EP Bestiensäule. While the frantic synth programming and thudding kick-snare patterns programmed by Timothée Gainet speak to a heavy quotient of EBM in the project’s DNA, the vocals and sound design have something of the European coldwave in them. The end result is a five-track release that emphasizes energy and movement, but operates at a cool remove that lends it some mystery and nuance for contrast.

Opener “Daily Void” lays out the Poison Point blueprint effectively. The minimal arrangement of muscly kicks and skittering cymbals drives a cycling bassline with occasional variation as Gainet recites lyrics in an affected monotone. It’s a approach that allows the song to move along at a fair clip, but also makes the moments where the drums drop out entirely or the addition of a melodic vocal line seem big and momentous. “Resigned Commander” follows suit with a choppy bass synth attack that occasionally drops into half-tempo, accentuating the return to sixteenth notes without ever changing the beats per minute. It’s a clever and surprisingly subtle bit of arrangement, and indicative of the care that Poison Point puts into keeping things from getting formulaic.

Those kinds of minor but vital bits of craft end up defining the latter half of the EP. Sections of “Night Relief” aren’t especially different or even distinguishable in a vacuum from the preceding songs, but by having the zippy programming emerge from a lengthy hallway at the song’s outset and then ornamenting it with a low, rolling bass sound it feels like an altogether different animal. Closer “Preachers” uses a long ramp, playing things cool for more than half it’s run time before allowing a minor outburst of instruments and vocals at its climax more than four minutes in, a brief moment of catharsis that fades as quickly as the song does.

It can be a little hard to believe Bestiensäule is almost 25 minutes in length: its pace and structure make each visit seem to go by in a blur. That it can stick to a gameplan that’s so easy to grasp and still find small ways to keep it interesting is impressive, demonstrating a thoughtfulness and light touch that isn’t necessarily noticeable at first, or even second glance.

Buy it.

Bestiensäule by Poison Point

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Vlimmer, “XI/XII”

Vlimmer - XI/XII

Vlimmer
XI/XII
Blackjack Illuminist Recordings

The odd titling of one-man German act Vlimmer’s latest release only obliquely acknowledges the speed with which Alexander Leonard Donat has been releasing work. These two simultaneously released and compiled EPs are, yes, the eleventh and twelfth such EPs under the Vlimmer name in four years, not including presumably ‘non-canonical’ EPs which aren’t treated to sequential enumeration (such as last year’s excellent=”http://www.idieyoudie.com/2018/09/21/observer-blakk-harbor-vlimmer/”>Angststand). That productive run perhaps finds some explanation in the range of styles Donat works with across XI and XII: in cycling between coldwave, minimal synth, martial pop, and plenty of other sounds so rapidly, Vlimmer feels like a project desperate to keep as many plates spinning as possible. In spite of that hurried schedule, the resulting compositions are almost always enthralling, with canny grooves and instrumentation choices finding Vlimmer meeting the challenges of the genre expeditions Donat embarks upon.

If Angststand‘s tracks showcased an inscrutable and otherworldly aesthetic often kept at a distance from the listener, the tracks here operate within much more familiar milieus. The dreamy yet propulsive coldwave of “Leben” and the gothic drear of “Regen” aren’t without precedent, or even clear templates for that matter, but Donat keeps shuffling between moods and sounds so quickly that each number feels like a splash of cold water, keeping you from ever becoming wholly lost in the atmosphere. The promo copy speaks of a distinction between the lighter and more atmospheric stylings of XI and XII‘s more up-tempo and aggressive approach, but even that sort of division doesn’t really keep things static: the bubbly synthpop melodies of XII opener “Farblosigkeit” couldn’t be further from the rough, lo-fi drama of the subsequent “Krakenkombat”.

Perhaps the one element linking each and every one of these songs and styles is Donat’s vocals themselves. Delivered in gulping and tortured German, there’s an odd combination of pained emotion and ghostly detachment in how Donat works his way around the dense clatter of “Zerschmetterung”, or adds keening croons to the engrossing upward climb of closer “Asphaltdecke”. As mentioned above, plenty of Vlimmer’s charm comes from its quick-change artistry, but it’s nice to have a clear sense of the spirit of the person behind such multiplicity. While less abstract than the Angststand release which got us in the door, XI and XII show off just about everything else Vlimmer has to offer.

Buy it.

XI/XII by Vlimmer

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Tracks: January 6th, 2019

After several weeks of vegan holiday roast coma, we rise from our slumber and return with this, the first batch of Tracks from 2019! Okay, sure, fine, a handful of these were likely released before the ball dropped, but you take our point. It’s in these weekly posts that we often begin to find the first hints of broader trends and significant full releases, so join us for another year of quick, weekly batches of the hottest new tunes in Our Thing!

The Present Moment present and accounted for

Continues, “Unsweetened”
Few things bring us joy here at the ID:UD HQ like new music from Continues. Dan Gatto’s emotive synthpop remains one of our lodestars, and we couldn’t imagine a more hopeful beginning to 2019 than this driving “get up and do it” tune. A combination of reflection, inspiration, and hard-earned wisdom, “Unsweetened” gets to the heart of what makes Continues great instantaneously. Between this and the excellent “Fall Tragic” single from a few months back, it’s wonderful to hear Dan back in action.
Unsweetened by Continues

Helix, “Like a Drug (Neuroticfish remix)”
Mari Kattman and Tom Shear made a good album in Helix’s 2018 debut Twin, showing off the former’s rich expressive range as a vocalist and a versatility of the former as a producer. Pay-what-you-want remix release Helix Remix speaks to that well, with alternate takes in differing styles offered up by the likes of iVardensphere, Jean-Marc Lederman, Iris, Adoration Destroyed and others. In particular we were taken with this version of “Like a Drug” rendered by Neuroticfish, which takes the lush and moody feel of the original and injecting it with a clean, high-grade melancholy.
Helix Remix by Helix

Klack, “Addicted to Love”
Okay, industrial covers of unlikely pop songs is an old trope, but one that can still yield some fun results as evidenced by this Klack cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”. The original’s outsized eighties rock is a hell of a canvas for Oehler (Null Device) and Fanale (Caustic) to work with, and they come through with a new-beat tinged synthpop version that eschews cheese for a cool, continental charm. Considering the original is mostly remembered for having a video with expressionless Nagel-girls in it, maybe Klack’s version has more aesthetic ties to it’s source than it seems at first blush.
Addicted To Love by klack

V▲LH▲LL, “Aeons Unveiled remixed by Xenturion Prime”
V▲LH▲LL’s Grimoire fared well on our Year End list by virtue of offering the strongest and broadest set of music yet created by our favourite witchy Swedes, making the possibilities for their forthcoming remix release seem boundless. That’s especially the case when one notes that Grim/More will feature contributions from the likes of SØLVE, Glass Apple Bonzai, and Seeming. The poppy post-trance stylings of Xenturion Prime may seem at odds with V▲LH▲LL’s misty atmospheres, but everything comes together well on this remix, portending well for the full course.
GRIM/MORE by V▲LH▲LL

The Present Moment, “Looking In”
We’ve been fans of Scott Milton’s The Present Moment basically since the moment we first heard them, so much so that Milton was one of the very first people we interviewed for I Die: You Die back in 2011. New music from the LA-based project is naturally then a source of some excitement for us. Enter “Looking In”, the first taste of what Milton and collaborator Jason Dunn have been working on. There’s a real beautiful simplicity in the violin-sounds mixed in with synthpop here, especially when contrasted with the noisy breakdown and funky electric bass workout at the track’s climax. Great and unexpected stuff from a band who won our hearts through consistently delivering the same. Can’t wait for the promised 2019 LP.
Looking In by The Present Moment

Zanna Nera, “Blood Debts”
The forthcoming Sacred Spells comp (which will be benefitting TGI Justice, an organization dedicated to helping trans people of colour) features an impressive list of contributors from the West Coast and beyond: from Texas (Twin Tribes) to Oregon (Ritual Veil) to our own backyard (Sigsaly). We hadn’t checked Oakland’s Zanna Nera previous to this, but there’s some solid darkwave churn to this witchy number.
Sacred Spells by Zanna Nera

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We Have a Technical 241: Magi’d Each Other

Laibach

I Die: You Die kick the new year off with an extended discussion of Laibach’s new record: a representation of tunes from “The Sound Of Music” for their tour of North Korea. All of the bugbears and thorns which come with Slovenia’s most stoic cultural product are in the mix, along with consideration of socialist realism, Anschluss, and Rogers & Hammerstein schmaltz. Get 2019 started with the latest episode of We Have A Technical! If you wish 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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We Have a Technical 240: Monét

Okada/Omega IV: straight god tier shit.

Hey folks, it’s the last We Have a Technical of the year and the Senior Staff recorded it half in the bag and completely burned out from writing Year End coverage. You know what that means: it’s the annual off-topic podcast! To be frank we scarcely remember what we talked about on this episode last week, but rest assured there’s probably something about wrestling, video games, and maybe even a little politics in there for y’all. Thrill to the rambling anecdotes that go nowhere and chill with your friends Bruce and Alex! See you next in 2019! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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We Have a Technical 239: Let’s Call It

Look at these good-looking geniuses (Ashbury Heights)

It’s the Year End episode of We Have a Technical, and we’re talking lists, honourable mentions and the broad trends of 2018 in Our Thing. If you ever wanted to hear two very tired people stumble their way through an animated but barely coherent series of observations about the year that was, this is the episode of WHaT for you! Seriously though, we were VERY tired. All on the official I Die: You Die podcast! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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I Die: You Die Best of 2018: 5-1

And so, another draws close to an end here at I Die: You Die. Yeah, we have a few podcasts left to record and release before midnight on the 31st, but our Top 5 records of the year really is the climax of everything we put work into over the course of a given year. Consequently it tends to be the part of these Year End ranking we agonize over the most, but this year everything fell into place without much debate or discussion. These felt like the top five I Die: You Die records of the year basically from the moment we started compiling our mutual lists and comparing them to each other. Tune in to We Have a Technical tomorrow for broader thoughts on the year that was and what went into our list, but that can wait ’til after the main event. If you’re joining us in progress you can check out entries 25-16 here and 15-6 here, but without further ado, here’s our Top 5 of 2018.

Zanias - Into The All

5. Zanias
Candela Rising
self-released

We’ve learned to expect big, exciting things from Alison Lewis aka Zanias, both from her work with darkwavers Linea Aspera and electro-body act Keluar, but there’s no way we could have predicted Into the All. Where her 2016 EP To The Core felt very in line with the techno-inflected work she releases via her tastemaking Fleisch label, her first proper LP as Zanias begins with a suite of beautiful and dramatic vocal and organic percussion numbers that have more in common with modern soundtrack work than they do anything you might here in your average club. It’s a wild opening gambit that sets the tone for the rest of the LP, priming the listener for further explorations into moody electro (“Aletheia”), thick-voiced ritual invocations (“Thanatos”) and nervy, austere synthpop (“Idoru”). Nothing seems off the table for Zanias, a feeling all the more impressive for the album’s sonic unity, as field recordings, samples and rich, timbral synths flow together with a thrumming synergy. At the center of it all stands Zanias herself, projecting an energy through her voice both otherworldly and deeply personal. As vast as the landscapes it seeks to explore are, many of them seem to exist purely within her own mind and body, only visible when she paints them into existence us in via her striking voice. For all her many achievements, Into the All feels for all the world like the most pivotal point in Zanias’ oeuvre to date; the exact moment we and everyone else realized the vastness she was capable of. Read our full review.
Into The All by Zanias

Twin Tribes - Shadows

4. Twin Tribes
Shadows
self-released

Just about every time we’re in preparation for our Year End coverage we find ourselves praising one album above all others in terms of “listenability”. Y’know, those records that just seem to invariably find their way back onto your turntable or music app regardless of circumstances, and which are just far too easy to play again. Twin Tribes’ debut wins that award for 2018, hands-down. From the record’s arrival in January seemingly out of nowhere right until now it’s never been far from hand, with its simple but reassuring and beckoning melodic combination of darkwave and post-punk offering ever-ready escape from the mundane. Despite its relatively straightforward delivery and minimal instrumentation, Shadows creates a fleshed-out nocturnal world replete with mystic forces and gothic ruins. That it does all this without the baroque excess of second wave goth, and uses simple chiming melodies and synth pads to build such a fully fledged aesthetic speaks to the quality of songwriting Luis Navarro and Joel Nino, Jr. bring to bear. Of course, influence spotting is dead simple with a record like this, but whether it’s Concrete Blonde or The Cure that you’d care to cite at first blush, it can’t be denied that it’s the strength of the tunes themselves – be it the spritely come-hither bounce of the title track or the coolly lush “Tower Of Glass” – which make the lasting impression. Twin Tribes created some of the year’s most infectious and intoxicating tunes, and made doing so look easy (and fashion-forward). Most bands would give their eyeteeth to have their debuts be so inviting; instead we suggest they follow our example and cue up Shadows one more time before the year’s out. Read our full review.
Shadows by Twin Tribes



3. ACTORS
It Will Come To You
Artoffact

The word we most frequently used to describe Vancouver’s ACTORS prior to the release of It Will Come To You was ‘ready’, as in ‘ready for bigger things’. That prediction played out in 2018, with the quartet taking their addictive brand of post-punk to the global stage, and amassing a legion of fans and admirers in the process. The secret to their success is relatively simple: it’s all in the songs. While we already knew stone dancefloor killers like the neon-soaked night drive of “Bury Me” and the synth-driven “Crystal” would get people’s attention, it was the absolute consistency of the material across all ten tracks that kept It Will Come To You in rotation from the moment of its release. In the mood for something spooky but upbeat? ACTORS had you covered with “L’Appel Du Vide”. Craving for a syrupy hook and a disco backbeat? Jason Corbett and company serve it up on “We Don’t Have to Dance”. You need something with retro-appeal and hints of coldwave peeking in from the edges? Peep “Face Meets Glass”. It really did feel like the record with something for everybody, with many a hardened industrialist and cynical scenester won over in spite of themselves. Energizing and above-all compulsively relistenable, it put the scads of tired, derivative post-punk retread acts on notice: either rise to ACTORS’ level or get left in the dust. It was their moment, and in the role of their lifetime they played the role to a tee.
It Will Come To You LP by ACTORS

SRSQ - Unreality

2. SRSQ
Unreality
Dais Records

The tragedy behind Them Are Us Too’s end can’t help but inform how anyone sitting down with Kennedy Ashlyn’s solo debut as SRSQ. And indeed, her partnership with Cash Askew showed that Ashlyn’s artistic instincts and soaring voice are uniquely equipped to communicate an excess of emotion, and grief is no exception. But while grief marks Unreality it doesn’t wholly define it, and indeed the record’s crushing human beauty comes from Ashlyn’s attempts to identify and grasp each and every feeling and experience which seems to swirl around her with synesthetic intensity. The resulting music is nothing short of gorgeous, whether it involves giving in to the ecstatic rush of new love on “Cherish”, begging for some reprieve from loss on “Procession”, or attempting to find some sort of accord between grief and love in order to continue living, as on “Mixed Tide”. The slowly blooming harmonic layers of that track are a perfect example of Ashlyn’s talent for pairing her voice with enveloping synths which buoy the former up into the listener’s stratosphere. Words like “airy” and “dreamy” have often been applied to Ashlyn’s music, but in the context of Unreality, but as the title perhaps points to the instrumentation seems to be tailored to suit a world in which the line between dream and reality has become wholly blurred. Trying to find something to hold onto, something to hope for or work towards may be the source of Unreality‘s wounded heart, but it’s also the pursuit which makes it a work of unparalleled beauty. Read our full review.
Unreality by SRSQ

Ashbury Heights - The Victorian Wallflowers

1. Ashbury Heights
The Victorian Wallflowers
Out Of Line

The strange intersections between synthpop and its goth and post-industrial cousins go as far back as one might care to trace the histories of those genres. Synthpop, electro-pop, or (often used with more derision) just “dance” or “pop” have been used as markers to attack or discredit any act or record perceived to be veering from the underground to flirt with more mainstream sounds. It happened with Mute Records, it happened with futurepop, it will happen again. Ashbury Heights have always avoided such skirmishes by being entirely up front about their interest in and talent for broader dancefloors and pop flavours, right from the start. They’re a scene band with a scene audience on a scene label…who just happen to produce radio-ready pop with an admittedly dark and moody cast. They also have a habit of releasing some of the best records by any of the metrics we use to evaluate such things here at I Die: You Die, and The Victorian Wallflowers is no exception.

Where the project’s 2015 release The Looking Glass Society felt in many ways like a nod to their earliest (and to be honest most “scene” recordings), The Victorian Wallflowers picks up the torch of their masterpiece 2010 LP Take Cair Paramour and carries it boldly forward. Finding its voice between Anders Hagström’s distinctive songwriting, production up to par with modern pop standards, and a breakout vocal performance from Tea F. Thimé, it embodies every bit of potential Ashbury Heights have ever displayed.

Where songs like the uptempo electro-rock opener “Headlights” and radio-ready “Firebird” show off the Swedish duo’s capacity for fast-moving arrangements and sticky, instantly hummable choruses, it’s in the quirky charms unique to the band that the album makes its greatest mark. “If You’re Shooting With the Left it Means the Right Side is Working” is a plodding mechanical ode to a dying factory town, its tempo and sonic palette paired with its subject matter. “Tomorrow is Dead to Me” latches onto a sing-songy vocal melody early that has a strange, vaudevillian air about it, an absolute contrast to the instrumental’s side-chained, tweaky synths. And who else but them could go full Night-at-the-Roxbury NRG on “Waiting for the Fall” and still have it play out with such unrionic emotional resonance? The band is so perfectly themselves in every moment, right ’til the dying notes of the dual pomp-and-circumstance vocals of “Journey” fade away. It’s Ashbury Heights, who else could it be?

It’s that musical confidence in the band’s own style (even when the songs themselves are rife with self-doubt and uncertainty) that holds The Victorian Wallflowers together. It’s one thing to trot out “every song could be a single” cliches about the record, but when each of those songs underline the ambitions that Hagström has shown throughout the band’s preceding releases the strength of the material begins to seem less a product of hard work or dumb luck than it does destiny. Ashbury Heights exist to make sublime dark pop music; The Victorian Wallflowers is both the proof and the result, and it’s a record we’re happy to cite as our favourite release of the year.

Read our original discussion of the record.

And that’s it, folks! Again, we’re keen to get your thoughts on any of the records we’ve included on our list or which you feel we’ve missed. We’ll be closing things off on the podcast tomorrow, but as far as written coverage goes, we’ll see you in the new year!

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I Die: You Die Best of 2018: 15-6

Our Year End coverage moves on with our next ten favourite records of 2018. We’ll be talking about some of the broader trends we noticed in our list this Friday on our Year End episode of We Have A Technical, but always, we’re keen to get your takes on the best records of the year. Think you know us well enough to guess our Top Five? Have a glaring omission you’d like to mention? Get at us in the comments!

Michael Idehall - Prophecies Of The Storm

15. Michael Idehall
Prophecies Of The Storm
Ant-Zen

It’s easy enough for industrial producers to make up for a lack of compositional chops with smoke and mirrors. Call your work “ritual industrial” and plenty of folks (including ourselves, sometimes) will forgive you for any indulgence. Swedish composer Michael Idehall takes no such shortcuts, crafting pieces on Prophecies Of The Storm which facilitate introspection and meditation but also carry undeniable grooves, spaced and timed perfectly. The not-so secret weapon remains Idehall’s voice itself, either stoically intoning spiritual observations or being taken up as a raw sample source, becoming pitched, crushed, and distorted to great affect. Whether working through stripped-down, minimalist grinds like “Gordian Knot” or using deep chants to create the titular atmosphere of “In The Dark Vapour”, Idehall always builds outward from ebon cores. Read our full review.
prophecies of the storm by michael idehall



14. Visitor
Expat
Detriti Records

Of all 2018’s surprises, few were as bracing as the record from the Canadian heartland that sounded for all the world like it was recorded for Zoth Ommog in 1991. Edmonton’s Visitor have certainly studied the dark electro and EBM masters, but their devotion to those genre’s templates plays out as resurrection, not simple homage or slavish recreation. Maybe it’s their remarkable grasp of the interplay between funky rhythms and gritty lo-fi vocals, or maybe it’s how evocative their take on sample-driven instrumentals are of a by-gone era, but it’s a record that has scarcely left our listening rotation since it emerged from bio-stasis, primed to stake its claim. Read our full review.
Visitor – Expat by Detriti Records



13. Ritualz
Doom
Artoffact Records

Many still associate OG witch house producer JC Lobo with that genre’s boom-and-bust, but the music on his 2018 LP Doom shows exactly how dedicated he is to taking Ritualz further afield than ever before. Part darkwave, part gloomy industrial, it’s an album that explores genres with an experimentalist mindset. Whether going arch-gothic on “Lust Eternal” and “Pig”, visiting opaque electropop on “To Black” or nodding to the mostly unrealized potential of the triangles and crosses set with “Journey”, it’s an album that never feels short of ideas and hooks to hang them on. Ritualz aren’t ever content to stay in one place for long, and Doom acts as a road map to the dark territories they’ve charted a course through. Read our full review.
Doom by RITUALZ



12. Wire Spine
Bury Me Here
Negative Gain Productions

Icy and feverish by measures, Vancouver’s Wire Spine walk a fine line on their debut Bury Me Here. Like their captivating live show, it’s a record that understands the exact ways to sink its claws in without collapsing the fragile tension between band and audience. Check the the way vocalist Jesi Tekahionwake lurches and chews her way free from the tightly quantized percussion on “Hellraiser”, or how “Burn You” conjures up a plodding bassline to act as accompaniment for the track’s buzzing, burning leads, all executed in a space between hypnotic momentum and well-muscled minimalism. Built on top of atmospheric instrumentals and shot through with an acerbic certainty, it’s the album Wire Spine promised us from the moment we first saw them, overdelivered to invigorating effect. Read our full review.
Bury Me Here by Wire Spine

Vore Aurora - Eidolon

11. Vore Aurora
Eidolon
self-released

In a year of excellent releases from across the darkwave spectrum, none were as furtive or sober as the debut from the Bay Area’s Vore Aurora. Tight and pensive programming lays a foundation for Alizza Barrett’s smokey vocals, which slowly and subtly build drama via inference and allusion. Eidolon is far from a showy or even immediate record; it’s one which builds and maintains mood over its runtime, but with that accomplished repeat listens feel incredibly rewarding and comfortable. The simple modulations Barrett makes over the pulse of “Slate” come to communicate self-doubt more clearly than the lyrics themselves, while the weary isolation she lends to “Lunar Distance” and “Blush Response” feels eerily familiar. Darkwave is about nothing if not mood, and Eidolon communicates its own with preternatural ease. Read our full review.
Eidolon by Vore Aurora

ESA - That Beast

10. ESA
That Beast
Negative Gain Productions

Having completed his closely thematically delineated Themes Of Carnal Empowerment trilogy, Jamie Blacker went right for the jugular in 2018 with That Beast, a record which communicates the intensity and charisma of his live ESA sets as clearly any part of his catalog. Perhaps more importantly, it was one of the most raw and fun records of the year, serving up track after track of no-frills powernoise with the contemporary production style and sense of timing we’ve come to expect from Blacker. Tracks like “Bad Blood Will Out” and “I Want It Now” have just enough polish to port them over to the dancefloor just fine, but retain drive and a sense of restless fury throughout. Mean and energizing stuff from an artist who wouldn’t have it any other way. Read our full review.
That Beast by ESA

Miracle - The Strife Of Love In A Dream

9. Miracle
The Strife Of Love In A Dream
Relapse Records

Smooth, rich, utterly delectable: praise for Miracle’s second full length can sound an awful lot like a description of Belgian chocolates or Scotch whisky. But unlike those indulgences, The Strife Of Love In A Dream reaches beyond the sensory with its themes of secret histories and gnostic exploration which it communicates in uncannily smooth fashion. Miracles’ darkly minded art-pop moves from contemporary synth sounds to classic prog, but the whole way through Daniel O’Sullivan and Steve Moore keep their elaborate cosmologies in harmony: the thumping rock of “Light Mind” segues cozily into the ambient operatics of “Night Sides”, and on into the looping kosmische jam of “Sulphur”. The Strife Of Love In A Dream won us over this year by being flexible yet elegant; music of the spheres, indeed. Read our full review.
The Strife Of Love In A Dream by Miracle


8. Street Sects
The Kicking Mule
The Flenser

If self-flaggelation is an art, than Texas indie-industrialists Street Sects are absolute maestros. Their material hasn’t ever lacked for disquieting, panic-attack worthy excoriation, but The Kicking Mule takes it further by virtue of how heartbreakingly plain and personal it manages to be. The rolling kicks and snares of opener “269 Soulmates” and the screeching, convulsing “Suicide By Cop” show them at their nerviest and most vulnerable, but that contrasts with the heartbreaking meditation on addiction of “Everyone’s At Home Eventually” and the twangy, resolute rock of “Still Between Lovers”, each a disquieting portrait of the psychic illness Street Sects are still diagnosing. It’s a hard listen because it sounds like music that was hard to make, programmed, played and belted out by men who needed to do it because they couldn’t do anything less, an exorcism and a rumination rolled into one. Read our full review.
The Kicking Mule by Street Sects



7. V▲LH▲LL
Grimoire
Artoffact Records

Bewitching Swedish ghosts V▲LH▲LL know their way around the forest; their 2018 album Grimoire has a particular fascination with the natural world, albeit as rendered through thick analogue synths and drum machines. The forbidden knowledge promised in the record’s title takes many forms, an enticing violin-tinged beckoning on “Ormens Offer” and a grinding, haunting lament on “Aeons Unveiled”, always situated right in front of the listener, but never totally within reach. Their phantasmal qualities bely how full-bodied and substantial their compositions are, communicating presence without ever pulling back the veil. V▲LH▲LL have secrets, and on occasion they might even let you get a glimpse of them before fading into the deep and primeval wildwood that birthed them. Follow at your own peril listener, for the path is dark, and the only way out is through.
Grimoire by V▲LH▲LL

HIDE - Castration Anxiety

6. HIDE
Castration Anxiety
Dais Records

Let’s not be coy: 2018 was a dark and horrible year for innumerable reasons. The world is ugly and the vile rule. HIDE know this. And thus what’s especially impressive about the Chicago duo’s debut LP is that it mirrors all that atrocity by focusing on the personal: in deception, mistrust, and violation. Seth Sher’s programming sends rhythmic kicks to the chest with a ferocity that makes the drums feel much more random than they actually are, while Heather Gabel slurs and shrieks litanies of bile and recrimination which would make Diamanda Galas blush. To call HIDE “cathartic” would suggest that they offer release, which Castration Anxiety never does. Instead, it heightens the tangibility of the horror of the present: the smell, the fear, the rage. Alan Vega famously said that audiences “came in off the street and [Suicide] gave them the street right back.” No record gave 2018 2018 the way Castration Anxiety did. Read our full review.
CASTRATION ANXIETY by HIDE

Make sure you check out entries 25-16 in the countdown, and tune in tomorrow for our Top 5.

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