Tracks: November 13th, 2018

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Okay folks, we’re getting real close to last call on reviews, as the end of the year hurtles towards us like a meteor. We’ve been feverishly making lists and scheduling reviews for the last couple weeks to make sure we get in as much pertinent to Our Thing coverage as possible through late November and the first couple weeks of December, but of course we have blind spots and there’s undoubtedly stuff we will have missed. Hence our need for you to help us out. If there’s a record you’ve wanted us to write up but haven’t see here yet, leave a holler in the comments and we’ll see what we can do.

Mad gothick with The Bellwether Syndicate

HEALTH x Youth Code, “Innocence”
We don’t ever really talk about HEALTH on I Die: You Die, but we’ve been fans and admirers for years now. Consequently we were incredibly excited to see them teaming up with fellow Angelenos the Youth Code homies for a new track. Not a remix, but a straight up original new song, made in collaboration (like the recent singles HEALTH did with Perturbator and Soccer Mommy). This is on some “two great tastes” shit, with both acts bringing what they do to the table and the fusion of raw industrial and synthesized noise rock working beautifully. Absolute banger, someone put this out on a vinyl.

Spark!, “Två Mot En”
Long-time readers might recall that while we’ve enjoyed the last couple of releases from pop-inflected SwEBMers Spark! well enough, neither of them have quite recaptured the glory of their incredible Hela Din Värld LP. New single “Två Mot En” might not single-handedly change that trend, but it’s as strong and fun an effort as we’ve heard from the band in years.
Christer Hermodsson’s vocal is commanding yet relaxed, and the whole thing bounces along with the sort of joie de vivre which first attracted us to the group.
Två Mot En by Spark!

The Bellwether Syndicate, “Republik”
We will admit that despite being fans of William Faith’s oeuvre, we haven’t spent much time with his Bellwether Syndicate project. Shame on us, especially where it’s in collaboration with OG goth DJ Scary Lady Sarah. We will however have the opportunity to see them opening for Clan of Xymox this week, which is plenty good enough reason to start brushing up, starting with this new one from an as yet forthcoming album. Blessed good goth rock from folks who don’t just know the genre, but have been major contributors to it.
Republik by The Bellwether Syndicate

Blush Response, “MERCHANT_OF_FEAR_”
Modular synthesist and industrial techno maven Joey Blush keeps delivering the goods with his new one for Instruments of Discipline. The track is a feature for the label’s new compilation Eating From the Orchard of the Heart, which celebrates their four years of existence with 25 tracks from the label’s roster, plus a few friends and associates. Physical media fans may be interested in the ultra-limited USB version of the comp, which comes on laser etched aluminum.

Synapscape, “Dream”
Tim Kniep and Philipp Münch are casting an eye back on the occasion of Synapscape’s 25 anniversary, with new LP Still being comprised of rerecordings of earlier tracks from across the power noise pioneer’s previous ten records. It’s perhaps no surprise that the record begins with a reconsideration of “Dream (Subliminal)”, the track 1/side 1 of their 1995 self-titled debut. The liquid flow of the original’s ambiance is brought into clearer focus, and a newly added beat guides the listener into the world of noise and serenity in which Kniep and Münch have plied their trade ever since.
still by synapscape

“PBK / Spybey / Butcher / Johnson, “First Arc”
Mark Spybey’s never limited himself to wholly electronic experimentation and extremity. Whether through Dead Voices On Air’s more acoustic moments or Zoviet France’s connection to a more catholic tradition of experimental music, he’s always been proximal to sounds far beyond industrial. All those influences and traditions seem to be being brought to bear on his new collaboration with Travis Johnson, John Butcher, and Phillip B. Klingler, all experienced hands in the sort of noisy soup offered up in their Heat On Earth tape.
Heat on Earth (HHR39) by PBK / Spybey / Butcher / Johnson

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Observer: Antechamber & Autopsie d’une ombre

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Instruments of Discipline

Antechamber is the new project from Mahk Rumbae, and trades in many of the same ideas as his main outlet Codex Empire. Like the latter project, the music on the EP explores the now familiar ground between techno and industrial sounds, with a variation in execution to distinguish them. Where Codex Empire creates pulsing dancefloor ready numbers with a veneer of rusted metal and cold atmosphere, Antechamber delves deeper into mechanical rhythms and textures. Tracks like “Destruction and Hope” still have a tempo and and sense of momentum, but arranged beneath layers of noise, wheezing samples and washes of static that give it a feel somewhere between dub techno and the bleakness of power electronics. Elsewhere “Primitive Forces” arranges its kick drums in distinctly non-standard arrangements to give them a halting feel. Once ornamented with numerous other percussion elements, a keening high pitched drone, and distant vocal recordings, the track becomes a particularly heavy ritual industrial number. The EP’s real gem is the heady “Smoke and Sycamore” where drum elements are placed in such close proximity to one another that they start to blur, becoming part of the track’s broader dark ambient scope. That seems like a good lens to view the entirety of Antechamber through: a producer who understands rhythm as a compositional element finds new and different ways to apply it.
Antechamber by Antechamber

Autopsie d'une ombre - Alive Somewhere
Autopsie d’une ombre
Alive Somewhere

One-man French darkwave project Autopsie d’une ombre certainly knows how to conjure atmosphere. Sébastien Espi’s doom-laden baritone and the deep and monolithic bass thrums which run through his second LP conjure some of the mood (if not actual sound) of martial industrial, and the alternately grimy and booming production of Alive Somewhere‘s ten tracks matches the cold and impassive tone of such sounds. But the more one tracks what’s carrying the songs through, the more the distorted and simple synth leads which take the spotlight away from those heavier elements gain a melodic and distinctly hooky feel. After a few tracks, Alive Somewhere‘s comparisons to Cold Meat austerity begin to fade, and the combination of dark production and melody begins to recall the goth-garage of The Horrors or even She Wants Revenge. This clear pop impulse dressed in the most stoic of vestments reaches a peak with the mid-album title track. Part “Goodbye Horses”, part Jerome Reuter in balladeer mode, part Interpol deep cut, it makes the most of its simple and plaintively repeating refrain. That impulse perhaps goes awry on some of the other numbers, which tack on an unnecessary minute or two by simply repeating their choruses until the clock runs out, but on the whole Espi fuses light and darkness with canny swagger.
Alive somewhere by AUTOPSIE D'UNE OMBRE

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We Have a Technical 233: Terrence

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Got yourself a good ol’ fashioned goth band there.

You’d be hard pressed to find records as different from each other within Our Thing as Hypnoskull’s “Electronic Music Means War To Us” and Solemn Novena’s “Kiss The Girls”. But that’s not gonna stop Alex and Bruce from discussing them and hell, even finding some commonalities between raw power noise and second wave goth rock revisited. All that plus talk on the Numb news and current Clan of Xymox tour on this week’s episode of We Have A Technical! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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The Never-Ending Goth Debate

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It is time, Snarklings, for the Lady of the Manners to delve back into a topic that is resurrected wherever goths gather. Well, perhaps "resurrected" is the wrong term, because the Lady of the Manners is very aware that this topic has never died. Ever. This fight discussion probably lurched forward at the very instant the subculture coalesced out of the shadows: what is goth?

Street Sects, “The Kicking Mule”

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Street Sects
The Kicking Mule
The Flenser

Street Sects’ 2016 debut album End Position was roughly as unpleasant to listen to as it was bracing and intense, a blistering white-knuckle blast of noisy self-excoriation that mirrored the intensity of the Texas duo’s disorienting live show. Follow-up The Kicking Mule is no less nihilistic that the former LP, but does feel more ambitious in terms of arrangement. As an album it works a surprisingly musical angle that doesn’t forego the group’s controlled chaos approach so much as it harnesses it, picking up the threads of their various singles and EPs of the last two years.

That doesn’t mean that this is a kindler gentler band by any means. “269 Soulmates” is a raw mixture of screamed vocals, live wire synths and strictly quantized drum programming that flips between outright violence and the anticipation thereof. It’s exciting and dangerous as an opener, but also a bit of a feint, as Street Sects start to really explore what they’re capable of. Contrast it with “Everyone’s at Home Eventually”, an alarmingly frank and confessional account of hitting rock bottom that is no less excruciating for Leo Ashline’s matter-of-fact delivery and the song’s emphasis on guitar. Street Sects are still about brutality, but have figured out how to achieve it without bludgeoning the listener.

Indeed, the terrifyingly literal “Suicide By Cop” is delivered with a grim determination that transitions to sickly sorrow as the song progresses, the wailing and groaning samples moulded to shield a simple synth melody, like someone desperately using their hands to keep a candle from being blown out by a high wind. Single “In For a World of Hurt” sets itself up with angular guitar lines that hold the song together, allowing it to tumble to its knees in an anguished breakdown as Ashline vomits out a litany of grief and recrimination, admitting to being “still between defeats” and demanding that he “stop reaching out”.

Almost in direct contrast to how The Kicking Mule begins, closer “The Drifter” really highlights what Ashline and instrumentalist Shaun Ringsmuth have been able to achieve with Street Sects: while the song still features heavy drum programming and blasts of synthesized noise, the real power comes from its warbling candor and the sonic space carved out for it in the mix. By way of craft and refinement Street Sects are finding new ways to explore their personal hell, even as they chart their path out of it. Recommended.

Buy it.

The Kicking Mule by Street Sects

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Viva Non, “Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy”

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Viva Non - Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy

Viva Non
Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy
Negative Gain Productions

From Continues to Cold Cave, over the past decade there’s been no shortage of raw and impassioned synthpop which borrows as much from hardcore punk’s declarative and confessional ethos as it does the more arch names commonly associated with the history of the genre. Using synthpop to simultaneously convey vulnerability and strength, then, isn’t necessarily reinventing the wheel, but it’s still an approach which allows for a lot of individual expression while still delivering hooks. On their second LP, Winnipeg’s Viva Non dish out breathless narrative and imagery atop sparkling synth sketches.

Debut release Pure on Dub Ditch (the same label which brought us sole member James Hofer’s earlier work with Will To Power) offered a much more bright, dense, and, well, happy brand of synthpop than the moody and recalcitrant compositions which hold sway on Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy. While replete with beats and melody, the tracks here almost seem uncertain about imposing themselves too much, lingering at the doorway for a moment before vanishing. With all but two of the ten tracks clocking in below three minutes, none of Shaping Dust‘s medium-tempo pulsing tunes ever wear out their welcome.

As a result of this brevity, the naked and wearily impassioned deliver of Hofer’s vocals swiftly becomes the calling card of Shaping Dust. The brusque self-evaluation of “Nihilistic Sun” and the utopian daydreaming of “To Breathe” work in Hofer’s favour at the top of the record, but his somewhat limited tonal range begins to yield diminishing returns midway through. “To Sing” and “Calming To Rioting” both find Hofer gulping the same notes and the repetition occludes the actual characters of the songs. Thankfully, things right themselves on that score towards the end, with the simple but emotionally punchy melody of “Killing Time” providing a late-album highlight.

Parallels can be found with Cold Cave or fellow Winnipeg act Kindest Cuts, but the closest contemporary comparison to Shaping Dust I could make would be to Body Of Light. As with the Arizona duo’s latest (and most accomplished) work, Viva Non spin out immediate and well-honed synthpop before electing to chip away at the polished veneer of their compositions. Whether through abrupt endings, unadorned diatribe, or lo-fi charm, Viva Non make a virtue of imperfection.

Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy by Viva Non

Buy it.

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Tracks: November 5th, 2018

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As folks may know by now, this past week we unveiled the Telekompilation release, chock-full of original tracks by members of our Telekon Slack community. The response has been incredible thus far, with far more people downloading the release than we’d ever expected. Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to check it out, and we hope it directs you to some cool new acts you hadn’t heard before. Speaking of which, let’s get you hooked up with this week’s Tracks!

Boy Harsher

Boy Harsher: gardening at night.

Boy Harsher, “Face the Fire”
Following up on their astonishing 2017 Country Girl EP, Boy Harsher are poised for something big with the impending release of their sophomore LP Careful due in February of 2019. First single “Face the Fire” is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the duo: soulful, compulsively danceable synth music that straddles too many genres to name, and is unmistakably them. This record can’t get here fast enough.

Kælan Mikla, “Nornalagið”
We’re still a few days away from the hotly anticipated third LP from Iceland’s premiere post-punk seance clique, Kælan Mikla, and to tide us over we have this second preview. “Nornalagið” brings some classic goth and darkwave feels forward, adding some hooky but atmospheric depth to what’s looking like a much more polished release than the hex-heavy excoriations of their earlier, more violent work. 2018’s winding down, but we think Nótt eftir nótt might have what it takes to be ranked among the year’s best records.
Nótt eftir nótt by Kælan Mikla

Sigsaly, “Your Enemy”
The news of Koban going on hiatus so that its members could focus on their EBM workouts with Sigsaly may have irked some of the folks who’ve been enjoying the moody sounds Brittany and Sam have been plying in the former project for the past few years. But we’re guessing very few of those people live in Vancouver, as those of us here have been able to witness what a driving and cathartic live act Sigsaly’s become, and we’ve also been privy to the excellent material they’ve been stockpiling. With a full-length follow-up to last year’s debut EP just dropping a couple of days ago, everyone else has a chance to catch up. Stay tuned for a full review of Entity

Zanias, “Exuvia (Candela Rising)”
It’s been a couple of years since Alison Lewis’ debut EP as Zanias (ably assisted by Alex from FORCES) emerged, and we’ve been eagerly awaiting the follow-up from the ex-Linea Aspera and Keluar member since. The news of the project’s first LP Into The All is welcome, and it feels like the feeling is pretty common amongst those who are familiar with her work, as the sentiment that accompanied various shares of “Exuvia (Candela Rising)” on social media was resoundingly positive. Like the material on To the Core the single is atmospheric, infectious and immersive, replete with the promise of strange and wonderful things to come.

Leæther Strip + Autoclav1.1, “I’m Just a Man Not a Disease”
The soft and moody spin on IDM and technoid Tony Young’s brought to bear for years through his Autoclav1.1 project isn’t a style we’d normally think of in connection with Uncle Claus, but after a moment’s thought it begins to make sense – Young’s ear for plaintive melodies jibes nicely with Larsen’s affinity for synthpop, and we’re interested to hear how an EP of collaborative work between the two will pan out. As always, Claus is forthright lyrically here, and attends to his concerns about homophobia on a global level.
Commixture by Leæther Strip + Autoclav1.1

Agent Side Grinder, “I’m an Agent”
There’s pretty much zero chance that we wouldn’t enjoy an Agent Side Grinder cover of a Gary Numan song, but believe us, this is quite good. From the forthcoming We Are Electric compilation from Wave Tension Records (which also features Ash Code, SUIR and others), AGS covers “I An Agent”, a nice and not overdone classic Numan cut, which they faithfully recreate with a bit of modern sheen. We’re still trying to get a bead on the new incarnation of Agent Side Grinder, but little tidbits like this act as useful clues.
We Are Electric: Gary Numan Revisited by Wave Tension Records

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Observer: Distortion Six & Crying Skies

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Distortion Six

Norwegian act Distortion Six have always presented themselves differently than most rhythmic noise acts. Where that scene often prizes cold and inhuman aesthetics in concert with its rough and distorted sonics, D6’s Nichlas Schermann arranged his take on the genre as a mixture of lo-fi horror and splattery saturation. His second album for Ant-Zen Ferocious has the feel of his earliest stuff, albeit somewhat developed. Distortion Six still deals in no-frills powernoise but with some wilder extremes. Songs like “Noize” follow the template of genre classics, with saturated kicks, samples crushed and reconstituted in horrible new forms, and the amount of actual noise in the mix forcing rhythmics to the side. “Multiple Kings (Spears)” uses vocals effectively, processing them to the point that they blend with the track’s blown out bass tones and shredding metallic synth sounds. “Wartime” taps into technoid approaches with an almost funky arrangement of percussion and bass that recalls early Hypnoskull, but rendered at a lower and frankly raunchier resolution. Like so many purveyors of extreme music before him, Schermann grasps how keeping things messy and untamed can be a benefit, and how and where that exaggeration can be applied for maximum effect.
ferocious by distortion six

Crying Skies - You Can't Be Wrong
Crying Skies
You Can’t Be Wrong
Detriti Records

The streak Detriti Records is on can’t be denied; regardless of style or country of origin, the German label’s been sourcing out all manner of hitherto unknown but entirely intriguing acts from across the darker spectrum for its tape releases. Its sound is still too broad and fluid to be pinned down, but the quality that comes to mind when Detriti is broached has become its hallmark, a rep the brisk set of beat-driven EBM tracks offered up by Latvian producer Crying Skies helps to underscore. Comprised of hard-hitting basslines adorned with wormy pads and wet, almost tropical harmonizations, You Can’t Be Wrong eschews the concrete blasts of modern industrial-techno crossovers for a more rubbery, roots aesthetic. While some acid house touches funk their way onto a couple of tracks on the tapes’ B-side, it’s the looser and quirkier lifts from classic techno which work best here, like using pitch-shifted vocal samples to the same uncanny atmospheric ends as Forces, and the odd gurgling and melodic synth runs which keep things from ever feeling too grim. Should appeal if you’ve dug recent releases by Human Performance Lab and Fractions.
Crying Skies – You can't be wrong by Detriti Records

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We Have a Technical 232: Just Be Foolish

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Picture the first guy who ever carved a barfing pumpkin seething as he does a google image search

Okay, okay, ahem – Alex and Bruce absolutely were ready to have a podcast up the day after Halloween and definitely didn’t cobble something together at the last minute because their all-night spook-tacular rager left them without research or a tangible topic. No sir-ee. So when they’re picking five Halloween party deep cuts, you can rest assured knowing that this episode of We Have A Technical comes with all the hallmarks of quality you’ve come to expect from! 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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