Tracks: March 18th, 2019

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The weather’s officially spring-like here in Vancouver, and that means that Industrial Summer Camp season is in sight. We’re less than a month out from our city’s own Verboden, and starting today the lineup for our beloved Terminus Festival in Calgary will be being revealed over the next three days. Terminus is always one of the best curated festivals worldwide, let alone North America, in our humble opinion, and we can’t wait to find out who’ll be hitting the stage at Dickens in July? Will any of these acts (two of which are Terminus vets) be there? We’ll know soon enough!

Romy

Comaduster, “Fever Rift”
A new one from our pal Real Cardinal, long-time friend of the site and visionary producer and artist behind intergalactic bass machine Comaduster. If you’ve been a reader or listener to the site for any length of time, the kind of mind-expanding stuff Cardinal does should be at least somewhat familiar to you, which is why hearing new music from him is always so exciting: you never know what strange places he’s gonna go. Check the bizarre tempo and time signature shifts, and the insane micro-programming of synths and effects on this one. It’s classic Comaduster and something fresh at the same time. We have it on good authority this is the prelude to something much bigger. Stay tuned…
Fever Rift (Single) by Comaduster

Romy, “Broken Halo”
We saw LA’s Romy play a set of thumping and engaging body music years back at DB20, and thought that her mix of pop melodies and rolling beats would go over fantastically in clubs. We waited patiently to see a demo, single, or EP surface, and…nothing. Radio silence for nearly three years…until now. Romy’s self-released debut, Celluloid Self, looks to be released in month’s time and until then we’ve got an immediate and dramatic taster to tide us over.
Celluloid Self by Romy

Voster, “The Second Voming”
For years we assumed that Voster, the collab between ESA’s Jamie Blacker, iVardensphere’s Scott Fox, and Iszoloscope’s Yann Faussurier, was a one-off. But no, the cross-continental trio have reconvened from out of nowhere for another EP of post-apocalyptic themed, crisply engineered club tunes. The beats on this number are as sculpted as Blacker’s vocals are raw, and the sheer fun of the project is right up front. Excuse us, we’re just gonna reinstall Unreal Tournament 2004 and leave this on repeat…
VSTR by Voster

Daddybear, “So Nasty”
The man who couldn’t stop is back with another new release from one of his more recently minted projects and the results are in fact so nasty. Matt Fanale’s Daddybear is an outlet for his interest in classic body music and the ways that has been hybridized with other genres a la aufnahme + wiedgerbe. Of course a big part of Fanale’s appeal is both his wit and his DIY approach to production, and EP UNF! has heaping helpings of both. Check out the track embedded below, perfect for your local leather bar, techno party, or bar mitzvah. You know, just wherever people are gathered having a good time.
UNF! by daddybear

The Present Moment, “Waiting”
Our love for Scott Milton’s The Present Moment goes way back to the beginning of this site and the release of that year’s Loyal to a Fault, a record that we still think of as an ID:UD classic. Through follow-up Cruel and up to the current day, Milton has continued to plumb the possibilities of modern new romanticism, producing sweet songs of sadness that have that old down-to-mope magic. New record Split just dropped and we’re keen to give it some spins, but for now we’ll settle for listening to a few selected jams like “Waiting” on repeat.
SPLIT by The Present Moment

Rendered, “A New Chapter”
For all our Terminus talk, we try to at least keep an eye on festivals happening further abroad, and the line-up for the fourth annual Audiotrauma Fest which went down in Prague a couple of weeks back certainly looks like it was a good time on paper. A comp featuring the artists involved has just been released, including tunes from Salt, Flint Glass, fest/label organizers Chrysalide, and an exclusive tune from Daniel Meyer and Clément Perez’s Rendered. Just the sort of earthy, can-rumbling techno we’ve come to expect from them.
audiotrauma fest 2k19 by RENDERED

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Mr.Kitty, “Ephemeral

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Mr. Kitty
Ephemeral
Negative Gain Productions

Mr.Kitty’s sound has been so fully realized for so long now that any new album from Forrest Lemaire brings with it a host of questions. In the case of new record Ephemeral the primary question is where Lemaire goes from his excellent 2017 LP A.I., a record that demonstrated Lemaire’s consolidated aesthetics as a producer of emotional electropop, but also his skill as a producer,performer and songwriter. Turns out the answer is to go bigger, specifically to produce a 30-track double album, the largest and longest release of his career by a significant margin. That decision brings with it several challenges, not the least of which is how Mr.Kitty can stay being the Mr.Kitty we’ve all come to know, without repeating or diluting his intensely personal work. It’s a feat, but Lemaire manages it, working from the template that we’ve come to associate with him, and finding new ways to expand it to fill the massive canvas of Ephemeral.

Those seeking the sort of emotional club songs that have become Mr.Kitty’s stock and trade will find them in good supply here. Numbers like “My Weak Side”, “Disconnect Lover” and “Anguish” are down the pipe in the best way; the simple but sticky leads, solid rhythm programming and plaintive vocals are textbook for Lemaire, and show off how adept he’s gotten with his standard toolset. You can point to any number of past Mr.Kitty tracks made from the same building blocks, but these stand on their own as successful compositions in their own rite. It’s all in the subtle variations in execution, the way he dials back the tempo and vocal effects on “In Your Arms” to make the bouncy ballad feel more intimate and confessional, or the elasticity in the groove of “Rain” makes it the subconscious focus for the track. In his wheelhouse Lemaire displays a skill and confidence commensurate with the work he’s put into figuring out how to do all this stuff himself. That easy sense of assurance is an intangible but important part of his appeal now; for an artist who makes music that deals with self-doubt, uncertainty and generalized sorrow, he never sounds anything less than absolutely committed and certain.

While those themes hold through Ephemeral almost wholly uninterrupted, there are plenty of new musical tricks and modes Lemaire’s keen to field test on the record’s near two hour stretch. The pop-trap beats on “Empty Phases” which allow Lemaire’s voice to sky off into misty reaches, half sedated and half wounded, are very much in keeping with the attention that’s always been given to broader pop sounds on Mr.Kitty records, but there are plenty more unexpected turns. There’s the doomed high school daydream romance of the aforementioned “In Your Arms” which carries Cure feels and even some classic Leaether Strip dark electro violence on “Bloodletting”. These are easy enough lateral steps for Lemaire to make; he’s had the respectively melancholic and raging moods those styles call for on lock for years, and all that’s required is some shifts in instrumentation and arrangement. But it’s the futurepop moments on Ephemeral which are the most stunning new developments. Yes, you read that right: Mr.Kitty’s just released a handful of the best futurepop tunes we’ve heard in years. In retrospect, this perhaps shouldn’t be shocking: futurepop always depended on grand, emotional honesty and euphoric pads and arpeggios, elements which Lemaire’s certainly adroit at using. But hearing them reconfigured so that “Melting Core” sounds a close cousin of the rise and fall of classic VNV joints, or to allow “Cyst” to hover in the same reflective headclouds as Assemblage 23 is more than a bit uncanny. If nothing else it’s making us rather nostalgic.

Lemaire recently noted that Ephemeral broke his three-LP streak of ordering tracks by title length. That’s a slightly coy way of invoking the issue of albumcraft, certainly no small question when there are 30 tracks to be arranged. Truthfully, apart from the closing hail and farewell of “I Did It All For You” Ephemeral doesn’t so much aim for peaks and valleys, corners, or any of the other traditional motifs of track arrangement. Instead, the record’s trick lies in Lemaire ensuring that he’s never settling in on nor abandoning any of the sonic styles we’ve been discussing: plate-spinning rather than course planning. It’s as good a ploy as any, and makes sure that while the record never feels repetitive, it doesn’t lose any of its unity, either. While the methods may be shuffled regularly on Ephemeral, the record never breaks its hold on the raw emotional nerve which has defined Mr.Kitty’s music from day one. Recommended.

Buy it.

EPHEMERAL by Mr.Kitty

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We Have a Technical 251: Gets a Haircut

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Liz Torres

Liz Torres brings the house down in Excessive Force.

With the heavy doses of last week’s truth serum finally wearing off, the Senior Staff is back to a tried and true style of episode. Yep, we’re sticking with what brought us to the dance: each picking a record to talk about. This week, it’s a peculiar sophomore LP from Rosetta Stone and a groovy release from KMFDM side project Excessive Force. This ain’t your mama’s podcast: we’re sayin’ it! 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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Download, “Unknown Room”

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Download - Unknown Room

Download
Unknown Room
Artoffact

The sudden passing of Phil Western can’t help but inform any approach to Download’s eighth LP of tripped out techno and IDM, Unknown Room. Anachronistically, the fact that the record was wholly finished and on its way to release well before Western’s death doesn’t change that. You can’t sit down and cue up Unknown Room without thinking about it being the last opportunity to check in with what Western and fellow electro-alchemist cEvin Key have cooked up in the lab (barring posthumous or archival releases). It’s comforting, then, to discover that Unknown Room is wholly part of the continuum of late-era Download, and is very much a living and organic continuation of preceding LP Lingam.

After Download’s initial combination of post-industrial noise and techno was pushed to its experimental limit, the purely Western and Key era of the project has been defined by glitchy reworkings of house and techno, though with little of the cold abstraction which glitch commonly carries. Like Lingam before it, the dub sensibilities and sound design which intersect with Unknown Room‘s furtive tics and squeaks lend the record warmth and playfulness. “23 Years” is rife with squelched out, raygun sound effects while “Gaslighter” lopes alone with stoned, downtempo ease. Both point to a major dynamic in the last handful of Download records: Key’s savvy dub style acting in concert with the homey, almost whimsical delivery of Western’s solo work.

To speak too much of the trippy and dub elements of Unknown Room would be to ignore the sheer amount of energy on display in the record, which rarely dips below 110 BPM. The speedy techno rush of previous tracks like Lingam‘s “Yoni” becomes a driving principle on Unknown Room, with the blissed-out phasing of “Happy Tribe Conspiracy” entwining with classic Key arpeggios and heading upwards to rave plateaus. Other choices, like the thumping krautrock drumming on “GUI Goats”, find Key and Western making lateral shifts in style but obviously also wanting to keep the party going.

Given how deep the Subconscious vaults have proven themselves to be, it seems unlikely that Unknown Room will be the last release to feature Key and Western’s work together. Yet it is the pair’s final original LP, a fact that is still difficult to process. Given that, hearing the bubbly and easy-going headfuckery with which Download’s come to be associated for the past two decades continue on as if it might do so forever is bittersweet. It might be the end, but you’d never know to listen to it.

Unknown Room by Download

Buy it.

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Test Dept, “Disturbance”

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Test Dept
Disturbance
One Little Indian

There’s an inevitability to Disturbance, the first album from Test Dept in more than 20 years. With the 2014 re-emergence of the now legendary original school industrial project having taken part in both retrospective and live action that speaks to their legacy as political firebrands, new music addressing the current state of UK politics felt like a certainty. What’s most engaging and perhaps unexpected, however, is how Paul Jamrozy and Graham Cunnington have found new means of sonic expression that aligns both with the resolve of their message and the weighty history associated with their catalogue.

Musically, Disturbance takes the clanging percussion and post-industrial sample work of their eighties material, and spikes it with modern sound design, largely forgoing the electronica flavour of their 90s output. As a result the record feels like it exists in a lineage with classic recordings like Beating the Retreat and The Unacceptable Face of Freedom. Opener “Truth to Power” specifically feels like a bridge from past to present, both in how it uses sampled strings, deep, modulating drones and lyrics that could have been written 30 years ago in the Thatcher years but sadly are just as relevant today: “Austerity is a lie / Poverty is a crime”. “Information Scare” works a welcome industrial-techno angle, building up an insistent groove of synth bass and programmed drums, ornamented with addditional percussion and samples for variation in arrangement. Test Dept pull off the trick of sounding like themselves, informed by, but not beholden to their own past works.

As you might expect, Test Dept have a lot to say lyrically about the state of life in the UK, whether via a screed on the crimes of usury on “Landlord” or xenophobia and the weight of colonial history as on “Gatekeeper”. For all the direct, unadorned anger on display, there’s also a striking sadness and subtlety that pervades the record. “Debris” has a weariness that matches the light chiming of piano and bells which wander through a metallic soundscape, as questions of individual burden and the desire to be better are brought forth. Even somewhat positive closer “Two Flames Burn” has a note of uncertainty to it, intoning the mantra “We can build a better world” as the arrangement of synths and melodious percussion shift from steadfast to hesitant while samples regarding civil unrest play out. Vulnerability isn’t exactly a trait you would normally associate with Test Dept, but it ends up adding humanity to their bombast.

Disturbance is as good a return from an act like Test Dept as you could ever hope for: the music and message of their storied discography is reflected, revamped and released at the moment it feels most needed. Recommended.

Buy it.

Disturbance by Test Dept

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Tracks: March 11th, 2019

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Holy crumbs is it Mid-march already? It’s almost as though the inexorable passage of time waits for no one, and obsessing over arbitrary measurements of it is futile or something. All joking aside, this is when the rubber tends to hit the road for coverage on the site, and with new albums from Test Dept, Mr.Kitty, Download and innumerable others in the hopper we’ve been busy listeners of late. Plus, with a marathon podcast recording session on the weekend (the results of which you’ll hear in upcoming episodes of We Have a Technical and We Have a Commentary), we’re going full-speed with no signs of slowing down yet in 2019. Have some Tracks to start your week with us, why not?

Profit Prison

Profit Prison: Thelemically Swole.

CRT, “Blister Pack”
New DKA signee CRT is working raw on their cassette release CS2. Not quite EBM and not quite techno, the lo-fi sounds of “Blister Pack” put us in mind of a blown-out Severed Heads; its funky bassline and a rusty hook adorned with a commanding, distant vocals. This is exactly the sort of thing we go to DKA for, a new to us artist who is working in sounds and ideas that intrigue us but with a spin that sets them apart. Look to a full-review of this release on this site in the near future.
CRT "CS2" by CRT

Randolph & Mortimer, “Despotic”
We’ve been banging the drum for Randolph & Mortimer’s classically-influenced but still fresh and punchy brand of body music for years. Hard hitting while still deftly weaving sample-based social comment, the Sheffield outfit have been releasing tunes exclusively through singles and EPs, the majority of which have been wholly digital. Now, finally, with Manifesto For A Modern World they’re collating “greatest hits, choice cuts and a couple of unreleased tunes” into a unified release. New (to us) tune “Despotic” bangs just as hard as anything in their back catalog, and again shows why they’re a band we’ve been happy to rep for years.
Manifesto For A Modern World by Randolph & Mortimer

Sweat Boys, “I Don’t Love You”
Put your hand up if you were expecting a slice of smooth, eighties style synthpop a la Images in Vogue from a project called Sweat Boys. We admit we were a little taken aback when we first hit the play button on “I Don’t Love You”, but it didn’t take long for the sweet melancholy and simple instrumentation to burrow their way into our ears: it’s that rare track that you can sing along with during a first listen-through. Solid stuff from an act we’ve mostly overlooked ’til now, but this has gone miles in making sure we don’t make the same mistake again.
Nervous Prayers by Sweat Boys

Profit Prison, “A Strange Situation”
You have to love a label like Avant! who can serve up some blisteringly nihilistic dark electro like the new QUAL EP one week and then hip us to some sweetly bubbling italo/minimal synthpop the next. We didn’t check Profit Prison’s 2017 tape on Dom Fernow’s Hospital Productions, but it looks as though the one-man Seattle outfit is approaching this sort of whimsical, emotive style from the same sort of lo-fi/hardcore-background angle as Cold Cave.
Six Strange Passions by PROFIT PRISON

VR SEX, “Landmine”
Speaking of hardcore backgrounds, the trend of folks with roots in that scene digging into post-punk nostalgia continues with VR SEX. Featuring personnel from Cold Cave and legendary gothic post-hardcore wipeout artists Antioch Arrow, the trio’s debut tape is set for release on Dais this Friday. Heavy Red Lorry Yellow Lorry feels from this one, both in terms of vocals and production (not to mention the lyrical “talk about the weather” nod).
HORSEPLAY EP by VR SEX

Razorback Hollow, “The Sanctity of Your Temple is Ruined by Your Inability to Cope”
What would a week of Tracks be without a contribution from Daniel X Belasco, friend of I Die: You Die and artist best known as Glass Apple Bonzai? This time out we have a fresh release from the resurrected Razorback Hollow, Dan’s post-industrial outlet. “The Sanctity of Your Temple is Ruined by Your Inability to Cope” has some elements you might associate with Belasco’s production style; dialogue samples, gated verb snares and a bassline with some movement to it, but check those sinister pads and Dan’s almost unrecognizable vocals. We’d go for a whole album of this, no question.
Your Temple by Razorback Hollow

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Observer: QUAL & IV Horsemen

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QUAL - Cyber Care
QUAL
Cyber Care
Avant!

Bit by bit, William Maybelline’s been honing in on a very specific sound with his QUAL project, though the obvious differences between QUAL and his work in Lebanon Hanover have perhaps obscured that path…until now. Whereas the spacious doom pervading QUAL’s early work appealed simply by virtue of hearing Maybelline working in an exclusively electronic style, 2018’s The Ultimate Climax confirmed Maybelline’s commitment to rough and tumble EBM, a commitment which reaches its apotheosis with the direct, bleak, and utterly slamming Cyber Care EP. From the get go, the raw and distorted delivery both of instrumentation and vocals on the title track conjures classic jams by true-schoolers like Vomito Negro or Xorcist, and the distinctly throwback cyberpunk lyrics (“electrode, diode, chromosome, colour code, central nervous system overload”) maintain an early 90s dark electro mood which is sustained throughout. While the gothic recitation of Patrick Bateman’s emptiness on “I Have To Return Some Video Tapes” could perhaps have appeared on the earlier Cupio Dissolvi EP, just about every other moment on Cybercare feels like a purer refining of the classic sound Maybelline is excavating but also reconfiguring to suit the inescapable hopelessness which has marked QUAL from day one. Whether this is in fact the final form of QUAL’s end boss EBM remains to be seen, but until we hear what’s next Cybercare is a compelling and uncompromising listen. Recommended.
Cyber Care E.P by QUAL


IV Horsemen
Dies Irae
aufnahme + wiedergabe

In a move appropriate to the flavour of their latest music, French electronic act IV Horsemen chants all the songs on their new EP Dies Irae in Latin. With much of the darkwave and post-punk aspects of their previous releases excised, the feeling of the EP is portentuous and dark, with pounding synthetic percussion and scratchy textures. As industrial techno hybrids go, it focuses more on atmospherics than the dancefloor. The martial fanfare of “Judex” is delivered via thudding kick drums and filtered pads that warble with sinister intent. “Fons Pietátis” plays out similarly, but builds up more distant percussion that suggests distant armies on the march. “Cor Contritum” is the album’s straightest track musically, playing at body music in its bassline and springy sound design, but brought in line with the surrounding tracks via the ever-ominous Latin vocalizations. The grimness of the overall pallette on Dies Irae can be somewhat oppressive, although that’s likely the idea; the strange mix of a dead language and grinding synths that make up the release is potent and menacing by turns, invoking secret knowledge all the while.
Dies Irae by IV Horsemen

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We Have a Technical 250: Truth Serum

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NCC

The kids from NCC could have just as easily ended up a 311 cover band as one of the most underrated industrial bands of all time.

We’ve reached our sestercentennial episode of We Have A Technical! Yep, that’s right: 250 episodes are in the can, and to celebrate that anniversary and everyone who’s joined us along the way, we’re cutting through the BS, chugging some Truth Serum, and shooting straight on some hard hitting questions submitted by our readers and listeners. This ain’t your mama’s podcast: we’re sayin’ it! 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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Replicas: Grendel, “Inhumane Amusement At The End Of Ages : Redux”

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Grendel
Inhumane Amusement At The End Of Ages : Redux
Infacted Recordings

What is it?
Aggrotech didn’t exist in an aesthetically meaningful way when JD Tucker’s first record as Grendel, Inhumane Amusement, was released back in 2001. While acts like Suicide Commando and Hocico had already put more than a decade into the harsher side of EBM, carrying on in the legacy of acts like Leaether Strip and the Klinik, the sound that would dominate clubs for a few years in the mid-aughts was still coalescing, using electro-industrial, dark electro and even pre-millenial rhythmic noise as building blocks. While Tucker would go on to be one of the definitive harsh body music practitioners of the era (before moving towards a more melodically rich and musically complex style on his most recent records), his debut stands somewhat apart from that legacy, displaying both his fealty to some of his long-acknowledged influences as well as hints of the musical sensibility that would set him apart from the legions of similar acts in later years. Reissued in 2019 as a remastered double CD with the 2002 End of Ages EP appended to it, Inhumane Amusement At The End Of Ages : Redux provides a window into Tucker’s genesis as a producer and performer.

What’s on it?
As the name suggests, Inhumane Amusement At The End Of Ages : Redux is comprised of the entirety of Inhumane Amusement and End of Ages in a snappy new digital remaster. The music benefits hugely from the fresh mix, as the buried and muddy aspects of the original recordings are given a reasonable amount of separation and space to be heard. Even the comparatively cleaner songs from End of Ages sound reinvigorated, with the pad sounds of the title track coming across more fully, and the tense, crowded percussion and moaning sound design of “Contorted Angel” and “Noisome” having room to be taken in fully.

The real main event is how good the full LP sounds post-redux, and what that means for an already familiar listener. A quick A-B comparison of “Strangers” and “Red Run” illustrates the difference, as each song’s bass, leads and crunchy percussion emerge from the previously murky recordings with a newfound clarity. Additionally, the vocals are by and large louder and more distinct, while still drenched in processing and reverb, maintaining the character of the previous mix. As a result, aspects of the record are more easy to peg that at any time in the past; check the warbling, :Wumpscut:-esque synth patches on “Nothing Like Senses” or the rich timbral strings on “In Solitude”. They’re not new to anyone who knows the record, but feel renewed here.

While still somewhat obscure by design, the reduxed-record definitely feels more connected to its roots, as the melodic and arrangement cues Tucker took from the work of Claus Larsen and yelworC are easier to identify. “Lust”‘s strident chorus and speedy sequences and the leads on the chiming “Controlled Pain” feel descended from those artists, but filtered through Tucker’s emerging sensibility as a producer as he adds noisy percussion and rangy pads. Instrumental “Corroding Conscience” sounds especially invigorated, with the bass and scraping samples clearly pointing to the project’s mid-period works. When so many remasters of older material in this vein end up being little more than the addition of volume and compression, it shouldn’t be understated how much “new stuff” can be heard in the songs on Inhumane Amusement At The End Of Ages : Redux.

Who should buy it?
Pretty much any fan of Grendel and the records represented here should make the effort to hear the release, as it sheds light on both the origins of the projects and its ambitions. As remasters go it maintains the charm and flavour of the original recordings, while uncovering details that were previously obscured, a solid effort to bring value to what could have been a simple 2-disc re-release.

Buy it.

Inhumane Amusement At The End Of Ages : Redux by Grendel

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Run Level Zero, “Swaerm”

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Run Level Zero - Swaerm

Run Level Zero
Swaerm
self-released

The lengthy hiatus taken by Sweden’s Run Level Zero gave us plenty of time to appreciate the trio’s sculpted take on electro-industrial and EBM. After a pair of noisier and perhaps more traditional genre LPs, 2008’s Arctic Noise was a somewhat stripped-down exercise, lightly adorning thumping core rhythms with distinctive production flourishes, while showcasing vocalist/songwriter Hans Åkerman’s interest in the occult and metaphysics. Over a decade later, Run Level Zero have decloaked with Swaerm, a reflective and somber take on their native styles. While never fully abandoning their origins, with Swaerm RLZ push electro-industrial songwriting into some of its most heady permutations.

It’s tempting to speculate when Swaerm‘s individual tracks were written and then cross-reference them against all of the various sounds and styles which have passed through dark electronics in the past ten years. According to old Facebook posts, the record was essentially in the can some four years back, which could arguably date parts of it less than six years on from Arctic Noise, and there are certainly a number of tracks on Swaerm which feel like an organic continuation on from its predecessor. The swinging, mid-tempo thump of “Theodicexual” owes some of the same debt to classic FLA as older cuts like “Black Cinder”, and “Redshifted Light” at least begins with classic EBM bounce.

But be it through the lyrical themes which emerge or the florid sound design, full of pinging bells and wet synths, even the seemingly straight-up tracks on Swaerm quickly blossom into darker shades. The posthuman head-rush of “Elysa” balances its utopian designs with beautiful yet wary orchestral touches, almost recalling the grandeur of Architect’s Mine. On “Memetics” an unanswerable koan, “what’s the colour of death?”, is repeatedly intoned over a shifting bed of pings and chimes, connoting either a forest or swamp depending on how you might try to approach the question. But more than any other track it’s “The Ghost & The Garden” which truly pushes the envelope. With a lullaby-like delivery, you’d imagine its reflective pastoral imagery would seem at odds with the slowly rolling drum programming and throwback synth leads, and yet RLZ find a way to bend and mold what is still recognizably post-industrial instrumentation to fit the song’s purpose.

A track like “The Ghost & The Garden” is a testament to the time Run Level Zero took between releases. It’s tough to imagine a record which so often makes a virtue of slowness and softness being cranked out at a moment’s notice. Like Individual Totem’s excellent Kyria 13, Swaerm makes a virtue of asking fundamental questions about the mood and tone it wants to convey and takes those goals as a challenge, finding new and intriguing ways of using familiar sounds to achieve them. Recommended.

Swaerm by Run Level Zero

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Tracks: March 4th, 2019

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We often use Tracks posts as opportunities to showcase new (or at least new to us) artists, but one of the perks that comes with having run I Die: You Die for over seven years now is seeing how some of our favourite artists have evolved over the years. The six bands featured in this week’s Tracks post are all examples of the latter, and while a band like Covenant certainly needed no introduction to anyone back in 2011, each of the other five are projects we’ve been more or less tracking since their inception. Seven years can go by awful quick when you get to our age, but we’re happy that the musicians featured here have taken every opportunity to grow and progress over the years.

Mr.Kitty

Covenant feat. grabyourface, “False Gods”
We are ready for there to be new Covenant, and it just so happens that we’re getting some tasters hot from the new tour. The band put together a tour-only EP called Fieldworks Exkursion, with tracks created by each member of the band themed around field recordings they made during various live excursions. This one, penned by Daniel Myer and Eskil Simonsson and featuring vocals from French industrial project grabyourface, is all rhythm and momentum, with a motorized beat that takes us back to so many of the band’s classic cuts. Can an album be far behind? We hope not.

Paladin, “BP: BASIX”
You’ve likely seen our coverage the various projects of Chris Gilbert, aka Paladin, aka Molasar, aka Mild Peril, aka a bunch of other distinct synth projects, but it’s been several years since he did anything under his Body Party alias, and we’re hype as hell about it. While technically not a resurrection of BP full-on as far as we know (the track was uploaded to Soundcloud under the Paladin account) the title references the amazingly catchy new beat/body music throwback sound that Gilbert conjured in the small catalogue of releases he did under the name five or six years back. You looking for bouncy bass, gated snares and the hookiest hooks this side of Belgium? Don’t waste time, and hit play on the track embedded below. More like this please, Chris!

Glass Apple Bonzai, “Starlite (Extended Mix)”
Don’t let the synthwave-ish design on the art for the last couple of singles fool you: Daniel X Belasco isn’t switching up his sound to chase trends. The first taster from the forthcoming fourth Glass Apple Bonzai LP, The All-Nite Starlite Electronic Cafe, shows Belasco’s studious approach to classic synthpop. Sober, contemplative, and enveloping, “Starlite” reminds us of the highlights of GAB’s 2015 LP Night Maze. Bit by bit, Belasco has carved out a well-deserved rep as one of Canada’s top electronic songwriters.
Starlite by Glass Apple Bonzai

Mr.Kitty, “Trauma”
As opposed to the fluid stutter of first single “Empty Phases”, “Trauma” shows off a much more rhythmic and strict side of Mr.Kitty’s work as we anticipate the release of double LP Ephemeral. Whether you listen to “Trauma” and hear contemporary avant-garde pop or are having flashbacks to millennial electroclash, the ways in which Forrest Avery Lemaire has expanded his musical range while retaining the raw emotional honesty which was apparent in his first releases can’t be ignored.
EPHEMERAL by Mr.Kitty

Harsh R, “Reciprocal”
It’s been so cool to watch the rapid development of our pal Avi Roig’s Harsh R project over the last couple of years. While the band hasn’t abandoned the caustic, scathing electronics of the early demos, the steps up in production and songwriting have come quickly and consistently. Check new single “Reciprocal” for evidence: Roig’s vocals, the bassline and drums are punky and DIY in the style we’ve come to expect, but also more defined, cutting and present that on any previous recordings. And those unexpected melodic flourishes? So ready for upcoming release Physical World to drop this month.
RECIPROCAL by HARSH R

Kangarot, “Liquid Engineer II”
As we noted back in September, it’s been far too long since we had a full release from Josh Reed’s raw and psychedelic electro-industrial Kangarot outfit. It sounds as though we won’t have to wait much longer, as Kangarot will be “releasing a new full length under a new partnership within the next few months”, and Reed’s offered two non-album tracks of mean robo-funk to tide us over until then.
Liquid Engineers by Kangarot

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Observer: Chrome Corpse & Batch ID

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Chrome Corpse - Gun Spit
Chrome Corpse
Gun Spit
Vertex

Dem boys in Chrome Corpse have never wanted for aggression or confidence. Whether in their energized live shows or on the plethora of singles and EPs they’ve released since their 2017 debut, Chrome Corpse have taken up classic dark electro and EBM sounds with unparalleled rabid passion. This intensity means that when anything other than pure aggression is introduced to their work, as on the new 10-minute Gun Spit EP, it’s all the more noticeable. Don’t get me wrong, Chrome Corpse still sound undeniably mean here, but the bounce in these three tracks and oddball samples point to a new interest in classic EBM’s overlap with Belgian new beat. Check the almost Snowy Red-styled synth lead on “Firing Rate”, framed against a hard rubber bassline, or the cartoon squeals and Run DMC samples in (wonderfully titled) “Non Human Weapons Dealer 2029”. This sort of technicolor fun has always been part and parcel of EBM, of course, but it’s easy to forget about it decades on. That Chrome Corpse are still able to communicate their sardonic fury even in a slightly looser and funkier form speaks to their passion for this sort of material, and their potential to carry forward with it.
GUN SPIT by CHROME CORPSE


Batch ID
Skaab
self-released

EBM act Batch ID occupy a musical space that feels very Swedish; specifically the intersection of rootsy, neo-old school body music and pop sensibility. Like their countrymen Spark! and Sturm Café, the Gothenburg duo are skilled at finding catchy hooks to reinforce their cycling basslines and kick-snare patterns, with a goodly amount of variety in musical presentation to boot. New EP Skaab covers a lot of ground in six tracks, anchoring each track with strident vocals and dry, no frills production that compliments the classic element of their sound. The title track goes all in on some eastern motifs and tweaky leads, as much electropop in execution as it is electronic body music, with “Kuken styr” going even further with light, bouncy leads that recall the mid-eighties. “Ljuga lite” builds itself up around an oompah-band rhythm that works in spite of itself. The song’s jovial tone contrasts with the raspy double-tracked vocals. Closer “Järnrörsdans” presents an even stranger hybridization, with the sardonic crooning of “Be Bop a Lula” over tweaky acid patches and foreboding organ. The union of Gene Vincent and svenska pop-weirdness works far better than you might imagine.
Skabb by Batch ID

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We Have a Technical 249: I Was Worried

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This week’s episode of We Have A Technical careers through a plethora of the genres and sounds we like to talk about, thanks to our Patreon backers! Yep, we have four of our listeners joining us to talk about records by Kraftwerk, Manufacture, Pouppée Fabrikk, and The Cure! 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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OHMelectronic, self-titled

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OHMelectronic
self-titled
Artoffact

OHMelectronic isn’t the same band that released their self-titled debut as OHM in 2013, and no, it’s not just the name that’s different. The collaboration between longtime Vancouver industrialists Chris Peterson (ex-Front Line Assembly, Decree, Unit 187) and Craig Huxtable (Landscape Body Machine) feels remarkably different in their new incarnation, with the wide-ranging sound design and rhythmic aspects of their material honed to a razor sharp edge. OHMelectronic sound leaner, more focused, and effectively meaner on their sophomore release than anyone could have expected.

The shift in temperament is evident from the album’s opening track “Uppercut” which features sharp drum and bass programming, pushing rusty blocks of synth programming while Huxtable intones a litany of accusations with a new confidence born from distemper and ire. If that song sets the tone for the record “Everything is Gone” blows right past it and puts it ablaze, the enormous sliding bass riff and on-the-one snare pattern investing the track with an industrial rock flavour, desperate and furious in equal measures. It’s energizing to hear the band cut loose, but it can’t be overstated how effectively they’ve managed their toolset. Nothing in the aforementioned or the tracks that follow in a similar style like “Disarmed” or “Decline” is superfluous: every programmed sequence and sound is given a purpose. When we say the album sounds rangy it’s almost as though it started off as something much bulkier before being sonically carved down to the sinew and bone.

The album’s irascibility isn’t just for uptempo haymakers though, as Peterson and Huxtable express turmoil through variations. The downtempo grooviness of “With” has almost a Raymond Watts-esque note of the acerbic in its delivery, a cool disdain matches the slow boil of its bassline and splattery snare drum. Late in the album comes “Endless War” where instead of going for speed, the band build up massive towers of programming that send its martial drums clattering to earth from on high with Huxtable half-prophesizing and half lamenting the titular, not-so-metaphorical conflict.

For its ferocity, there’s an efficiency at the heart of OHMelectronic that plays a role in its success. At just over half-an-hour in length, its albumcraft is a reflection of its musical palette and sound design, all tendon and tension with nothing to dilute its potency. The result is a nervy, and above-all bracing effort from two musicians distilling their vast toolset down to the barest of essentials, and using them to hammer their point home as never before. Recommended.

Buy it.

OHMelectronic by OHMelectronic

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Replicas: Lassigue Bendthaus, “Cloned (+Singles)” & “Render”

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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, the reissue campaign of an electro-industrial project forever ahead of its time continues…

Lassigue Bendthaus

Lassigue Bendthaus
Cloned (+Singles) & Render
AtomTM_Audio_Archive

What is it?
As we noted when Lassigue Bendthaus’ debut Matter was reissued by Dark Entries a few years back, the earliest work of Uwe Schmidt may never have received the plaudits of his Atom™ and Señor Coconut recordings, but for folks fascinated by the massive changes EBM and electro-industrial would undergo in the 1990s, Lassigue Bendthaus remains a crucial touchstone. While Matter likely remains the most well known of the Lassigue Bendthaus releases, follow-up LPs Cloned (1992) and Rendered (1994) found Schmidt pushing the limits of post-industrial beats even further, linking them to electronic music’s past and future in previously unimagined ways. As part of his ongoing AtomTM_Audio_Archive project, Schmidt has digitally reissued these two records, along with plenty of extras.

What’s on it? The second and third Lassigue Bendthaus albums are, of course, here in their entirety featuring new remasters by Schmidt himself. Said reworking perhaps brings the bass to heel in Cloned‘s case, but there was little dust to be found on the original issues in the first place. On Cloned, Schmidt fully embraces breakbeats, both sampled and original, and in using them to build upon throbbing EBM basslines calls back to Kraftwerk and the place their records found in early electro and hip-hop. More contemporaneous acid touches are thrown in as well, and one can even hear Schmidt anticipating the breakthrough of big beat. Cloned communicates a sense of deja-vu, repeating and recombining many of the same elements to underscore the larger theme of repetition and loss of individuality the title points to. That feeling is taken to the extreme on this reissue, with a full hour of singles, mixes, and outtakes from the period being included.

If Cloned celebrates musical pastiche and rephrasing, Render offers a broader survey of the mid 90s zeitgeist, replete with pre-millennial tension and postmodern ambiguity. While looser and less rhythmically abrasive than Cloned, its liquid, submerged sound is wholly mercurial, just as capable of leaping into skittering Japanese cuts ups as a proto-garage number like “Blur” or a strangely affecting mini-symphony of bleeps like “Polaire” (certainly a precedent for Forma Tadre). Render also indicates Schmidt’s growing interest in still nascent glitch stylings, which he’d delve further into come his 1998 Pop Artificielle LP, and is fleshed out with a handful of instrumental and alt mixes.

Who should buy it?
Having exhaustive reissues – clocking in at a combined three and a half hours – of these long out-of-print records should be welcomed by industrial historians and crate diggers (Cloned and Render received pressings from Metropolis and KK, respectively), and DJs looking to add some cross-genre flavour to their EBM sets will certainly find an embarrassment of riches. Although it’s tempting to call these LPs “classics” (forgotten or otherwise), Schmidt’s whole body of work dismisses any of the genre formalism that produces an unimpeachable canon, and is an object lesson in just how permeable borders between genres and sounds really are.

Lassigue Bendthaus/Cloned (+ Singles) by Atom™

Lassigue Bendthaus/Render by Atom™

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Tracks: February 25th, 2019

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Ah, the end of February and the onset of Spring, traditionally the time when we start to see patterns emerging and the larger arc of any given year start to take shape in Our Thing. We’ve been so consumed with playing catchup from the end of 2018 and making sure nothing major slipped past us at 2019’s outset that haven’t yet formulated any theories about what the biggest musical trends of the year will be, but that’s actually kind of a relief. There’s so much music coming out (as has been the case for years now) that is pertinent to what we cover, and showing us so much of the variety that can entail, maybe this is just a year of plenty for all the different areas we like to poke around in. Although who knows, maybe 90’s American coldwave will make a comeback and we’ll end up doing a multi-part interview with Eric Gottesman about cassette only Penal Colony demos or something. Who’s to say? Lets have a Tracks while we ponder, why not.

INVA//ID

LEATHERS, “Phantom Heart”
In case you didn’t know, Leathers is a side-project of our beloved hometown heroes ACTORS, specifically Shannon Hemmett and Jason Corbett. Like their sister act, LEATHERS find that sweet spot between post-punk and modern darkwave, but with Hemmett taking the lead on vocals and creative direction, adding some shoegaze to the already potent mix. Touchstones like Curve and Lush are fair comparisons, especially on new track “Phantom Heart”, which has all that 90s alt-pop flavour you could want in a tightly written single fit for dancefloors and bedroom dance parties alike. ACTORS had a banner year in 2018: will LEATHERS follow suit with their new material in 2019? We wouldn’t bet against it.
Phantom Heart by LEATHERS

Run Level Zero, “Elysa”
We’re pretty sure it wasn’t by coincidence that Sweden’s Run Level Zero elected to break their decade long spell in cryo-stasis on International EBM Day. Figurative gestures aside, we’re pleasantly surprised to have the first release from the trio since 2008’s Arctic Noise. You can listen to us talk about that release for context, or you can just jump right in with this sample of what they do best: building rich and emotional soundscapes atop classic EBM basslines.
Swaerm by Run Level Zero

Orange Sector, “Die Fahne”
Speaking of EBM Day, you’d be hard pressed to name a band more stalwart in their adherence to the OG EBM formulas than Berlin’s Orange Sector. We weren’t especially fussy about their last full-lenght, Night Terrors, but at the very least this tune from their new LP Alarm is a bit of bouncy fire very much in the vein of classic DAF.
Alarm by Orange Sector

Headless Nameless, “Sacrificial (I)”
It was just a month back that we were featuring the first track to be released by Alis and Matt of Encephalon under their new Headless Nameless moniker. While “Wild Fire” was certainly a far cry from the sounds we’ve come to associate with Ottawa’s premiere electro-industrial act, new tune “Sacrificial (I)” pushes the morose blues rock sound even further away from any electronic territory. Will Headless Nameless even be in the vaguest of proximities to Our Thing by the time a full release comes out? Who can say, but for now the similarities with mid-period Swans gets them through the door.
Sacrificial (I) by Headless Nameless

Deadly Gear XX, “Talk2”
Fresh from those modern body music connoisseurs down Seattle way Vertex comes Brooklyn’s Deadly Gear XX. Self-described as “cold, raw, wet, unpersonal bodyslime”, they remind us powerfully of the kind of hard-hitting street level lo-fi industrial we’ve been getting from acts like Chrome Corpse, INVA//ID and the like, with maybe even some of the dark atmospherics of fellow NYCers Statiqbloom in the mix as well. If you like your EBM mean and gritty, you could do a lot worse than to check out new EP CRUCIAL IMPACT
CRUCIAL IMPACT by DEADLY GEAR XX

INVA//ID, “Worm”
Speaking of INVA//ID, we have the first taster for their forthcoming LP Masochism in D Minor, due later in 2019. If you checked out any of the project’s previous releases as the solo project of Chris Rivera, then the 90s electro-industrial sounds won’t be any surprise to you, but we’re definitely feeling a big step forward in terms of design and execution on this new track “Worm”. With the addition of new members Krz Souls and Brendin Ross in the production and programming department as well as Rivera’s rapidly evolving vocal style, this is starting to look like the year this young act breaks wide.
Worm by INVA//ID

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