We Have a Technical 288: See You at the Party

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Call me a CABS

We’ve got an autobiographical-cum-historical Pick Five for you folks this week. What records took a while to reveal their charms to us? Which LPs were we either too provincial or too snobby to enjoy in their own time? We’ll fill you in on that plus a recent show from Hide on the latest episode of We Have A Technical! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Replicas: Forma Tadre, “Brightful Times”

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Forma Tadre - Brightful Times
Forma Tadre
Brightful Times [Extended Edition 1987-1992]

What is it?
Andreas Meyer’s first LP as Forma Tadre has become a genre classic, earning our enduring appreciation as well as that of countless electro and industrial fans. But almost ten years before Navigator Forma Tadre, then a trio, released a four-track EP and went on to demo a significant amount of additional material in the next few years. The original Brightful Times EP, on which Meyer was joined by Hansjoerg Schifferer and Erwin Thom, has now received a digital release appending eight previously unheard tracks. Additionally, a stash of the original EPs has been discovered and is also being sold off by Meyer along with this expanded version.

What’s on it?
The original four Brightful Days tracks are a far cry from the styles Meyer would go on to explore in his solo work. A combination of coldwave, Neue Deutsche Welle, and the kosmische sources from which the project drew its name can all be found in a stylish if somewhat raw execution. Move beyond those four tracks and the purview grows even wider. There’s the high-drama garage goth of “Happiest Day”, and a guitar-accented take on contemporary EBM sounds on “Time To Recall”. A brief interlude called “I Feel Industrial” is ironically the least industrial piece Meyer’s ever released, instead sounding akin to the sort of chiming guitar intro early black metal acts were so fond of. The roots of the sort of dark electro slammer Meyer would perfect on tunes like “Celebrate The Cult” can be found in the oddly literal “Party On Mars” which details an opioid-fulled Red Planet bender. Nods to Meyer’s literary interests in Poe and Lovecraft can be found scattered throughout. While nothing here quite measures up to the heights Meyer would reach years later, this reissue is a document of a fecund period of his work.

Who should buy it?
Much was made at the time of Automate‘s release about the differences between the first two Forma Tadre LPs, and now with this early chapter of the project unearthed, the range of styles Meyer has moved through in his career is revealed to be far wider than hitherto imagined. Forma Tadre die-hards will enjoy searching for hints of what was to come, while fans of 80s coldwave and related genres should enjoy the enthusiasm with which Meyer and co brought far-ranging sounds into the mix.

Buy it.

Brightful Times [Extended Edition 1987-1992] by FORMA TADRE

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Tracks: November 25th, 2019

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Second last Tracks post of the year, which is always both satisfying and a bit scary. As a weekly recurring feature we tend to think of Tracks as a way to measure time, as in how many have we written so far and how many before we start the Year End lists? As we’re gonna be wrapping the site for the year in mid-December with our trad Top 25, it’s time for us to take stock, especially given the large number of late year releases of interest we have on the desk currently. Stay tuned for a few more reviews as we saunter off into the 2019 sunset. Until then, how about some Tracks?

The most SRSQ image we could find

Vlimmer, “Zielzyklus”
German darkwave act Vlimmer continues with their ambitious suite of no less than 18 EPs, and we’re happy to premiere a track from the forthcoming XIIIII release. A languid and rolling piece which could be taken for a last-call number on some alien planet, “Zielzyklus” nicely encapsulates a good portion of Vlimmer’s mystery as a project. It’s by equal parts fully weird and fresh, yet has an uncanny familiarity calling back even further than the earliest roots of darkwave and coldwave.

Kite, “Tranås/Stenslanda”
It was pure coincidence that we recorded a commentary podcast for one of Kite’s EPs within a day or two of the beloved Swedish duo releasing their first new song in two years, but we’re taking it as a good omen. “Tranås/Stenslanda” is a massive track of buoyant synth washes and heavy duty feel, bringing epics like The Cure’s “Plainsong” to mind, as mentioned on that podcast. “Headphones can’t cover that hurt,” Niklas observes here, but we’re happy enough to try for now.

SRSQ, “Temporal Love”
Double A-Side single Temporal Love/Unkept is the first new music from Kennedy Ashlyn’s SRSQ since last year’s stunning Unreality. Like that record, this music reads as a modern-take on classic 4AD ethereal a la This Mortal Coil as interpreted by Ashlyn’s incredibly powerful voice and personality as a performer. “Temporal Love” is as good a song as we’ve heard this year in any genre, with some of the project’s most ambitious arrangement to date, and a wonderful guest vocal turn from The Body’s Isabel Moreno. Buy it, listen to it, fall in love to it.
Temporal Love / Unkept by SRSQ

Schwefelgelb, “Es Zieht Mich (Crystal Geometry RMX)”
We’ve written boatloads about the Berlin techno-industrial crossover sound over the last few years, both in terms of its vitality and the way in which it was quickly co-opted by less imaginative producers looking for a bandwagon to hop on. Thankfully we still have shining lights like Schwefelgelb to help us see the potential and energy the style can entail. The duo of Sid and Eddy have a new remix 12″ en route featuring cuts from fellow proven quantities Broken English Club, Kontravoid, Cardopusher and this one from Crystal Geometry. Put it on, crank it up.
Aus Dem Gesicht REMIXED by Schwefelgelb

Dead Voices On Air, “The Prairie Tides”
Mark Spybey has made himself exceptionally comfortable in the Bandcamp landscape, releasing a plethora of archival, field, and new recordings under the legendary Dead Voices On Air moniker as well as others. His new, BC-exclusive LP Silver the Prows is the second in the Motherland Series of recordings which have thus far highlighted the maritime themes Spybey has returned to time and again throughout his career, and the combination of glitchy samples and beautiful, contemplative acoustics on the lead track is vintage DVOA.
Silver the Prows by Dead Voices On Air

roya, “Blood”
Next, a nice low-key number from Stockholm’s roya. As we’ve come to expect from the solo electronic project there’s a nice mixture of musical genre’s and ideas at play here, conjuring some modern electro-pop and darkwave feelings along with the certain Swedish je-ne-sais-quoi (jag-vet-inte-vad?). Some nice, economical atmospheric electronics for the transition from Fall to winter.
Blood (Single) by roya

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We Have a Commentary: Kite “IV”

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This month’s WHaC is a brief but absolutely frantic run through the roller coaster of emotions, impossibly catchy hooks, and grandiose symphonic ambitions of Kite’s 2011 release, “IV”. The Swedish duo have transcended synthpop both in terms of sound and reach, and their fourth EP acts nexus of all their sounds and moods, and is also an ideal jumping on point. Whether you’re as much in thrall of their work as the Senior Staff, or are only passingly familiar with it, join us on this month’s Patreon-supoorted bonus podcast. 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: grabyourface & Sonsombre

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Summer on Saturn

Many people’s first exposure to Marie Lando’s grabyourface would have been the vocals the project contributed to “False Gods” on Covenant’s 2019 Fieldworks Excursions EP. Although not reflective of a gyf’s work as a whole, that track did convey a lot of the personality displayed on new three track EP Summer on Saturn. Where much of the project’s earlier work struck a balance between lo-fi industrial soundscapes and Lando’s own emotive vocals, the new material is edging ever closer to a slinky darkwave, albeit one with a harsher edge than you might expect. The title track feels very much in line with the earlier grabyourface songs, a burbling sequence that blurs in and our of focus and a simple kick snare drum pattern while Lando carried the entirety of the song’s mournful melody through verse to the sneakily intense chorus. “Pray” plays out quite differently, with distant crunching percussion and a subtle reverse psychedelic synth motif lurk through the stereo spectrum, the track growing more and more sinister with it’s “Pray that I don’t come for you” chorus” resolves itself. Third and final song “November” is the most emotional of the three, with a far more naturalistic spoken performance that expresses sadness and vulnerability, washing away some of the affect of the preceding songs with it’s simple arrangement of synth pads and textural washes. Good stuff from a project that seems to be gearing up for something much more high profile in the near future.
Summer on Saturn by grabyourface

Sonsombre - The Veils Of Ending
The Veils Of Ending
Post Gothic

One-man Virginia act Sonsombre isn’t being coy: Brandon Pybus is unabashed in his presentation of classic goth rock, untouched by the ravages of time and trends. And if the fact that Sonsombre’s second LP is one of the flagship releases on the relaunched iteration of Finland’s Gothic Music Records isn’t enough to cinch the band’s dedication, a quick skim through any of The Veils Of Ending‘s ten tracks will cinch the deal. It’s driving stuff with a consistent hard rock core, standing astride both the first and second waves as well as the British and continental stylings of goth rock. Handy points of reference would include Nephs and early Nosferatu, though given the ouroboros that is trad goth rock, folks could likely name any number of more recent acts, similarly indebted. On the whole Pybus shows off a handy enough talent for grooves: both the easy ridin’ nodder of “Between” and speedier (in both senses of the word) numbers like “The Future Is Black” roll along with well-arranged ease, allowing just enough space for guitar flourishes. The vocals, as is the case with so many trad bands of this ilk, are the notable weak point: self-conscious McCoy and Eldritchisms yield far too much strained gulping, sacrificing both immediacy and the chance to add some personality and charisma to the tracks. The Veils Of Ending might have passed over our desk as a somewhat enjoyable if indistinct genre exercise were it not for the sheer strength of standout track “It’s Alright”. Instantly catchy and anthemic, its riffs measure up with the best of those of Sonsombre’s influences, and there’s something especially inspiring about its earnest and impassioned expression of solidarity with the darkly isolated and depressed. It’s hands-down one of the best goth rock numbers of the year, and its strength alone earns further investigation of the record on the part of those who just can’t get enough of this sort of recreationism (ourselves included).
The Veils Of Ending by Sonsombre

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Replicas: D.H.I., “Machine Altar Transmission” & “Pressures Collide”

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Machine Altar Transmission
Pressures Collide

What is it?
Along with Malhavoc, Death & Horror Inc. – or D.H.I. as they were more commonly known – were a mainstay of Toronto’s Industrial scene in the late eighties and early nineties. Anchored by friends Graf and Vicar, their reputation as a live act earned them a loyal following in their hometown, though they never achieved the level of infamy of many of their fellow Canadian scene acts. Between 1991 and 1996 the band produced two full-length LPs and a smattering of EPs and compilations of lean industrial electronics, accented with crunchy guitars. 2019 finds the long dormant act re-releasing their catalogue via Bandcamp as deluxe digital editions, featuring bonus tracks, demos and remixes. It’s a package that serves as the complete story of a cult rivet act from the genre’s most fruitful era.

What’s on it?
DHI’s debut LP Machine Altar Transmission (presented here with some demo tape tracks and the extant tracks from the Chemical Land EP) is the band at their absolute best. Tracks like “Regenerate” and “Staircase Repetition” have a nasty digital edge in the recording and mixing that adds to their charm, with syncopated drum programming and processed guitars riding big quantized bass sequences. It’s also the record that shows the band’s broader ideas in the best light: sentimental synth closer “No Place for the Cross” still sounds haunting, and the Ebb-inspired bassline of “Chemical Land” pushes hard.

While largely a less impressive record overall, sophomore album Pressures Collide has a few notable moments of its own. Canadian club classic “Pain and Courage”‘s big chugging guitar riffs and warning sirens have a special energy to them to this day, especially as a vehicle for one of Vicar’s most distinctive yowled vocal performances. And despite some dated sound design, “Exanthem” remains a good example of slow-crawling atmosphere. Much of the rest of the record and the attendant bonus tracks are split between thin industrial rock grooves and electronic compositions, more inessential than anything.

Who should buy it?
Those seeking a nice mainline everything-and-the-kitchen-sink 90s industrial listening experience could do far worse than to pick up the complete discography package for $25 Canadian via DHI’s Bandcamp: it includes both LPs and the Emotional Lockout EP. Those who are more interested in sampling the band’s best moments can make do with Machine Altar Transmission, an album that paints a portrait not only of a cult act in their prime, but of the sounds and styles of the era it was produced.

Buy it.

Machine Altar Transmission (28th Anniversary Edition) by DHI (death and horror inc)

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We Have a Technical 287: Skeksis P***

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Roy Baty

It’s November of 2019, and even if we’re not in Los Angeles you’d better believe we’re not missing the opportunity to discuss Blade Runner, arguably the film with the most influence on industrial music and culture. Which samples work and which don’t? How does Chew’s Eye Shop relate to William Burroughs’ control machines? We have all the Blade Runner-themed industrial pontificating you never knew you wanted on the latest episode of We Have A Technical! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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SARIN, “Moral Cleansing”

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SARIN - Moral Cleansing

Moral Cleansing

Emad Dabiri’s SARIN project was well ahead of the curve, zeroing in on the contemporary wave of techno-EBM crossover on the project’s debut back in 2014. Since then Dabiri’s made slight adjustments to the template laid out on Rotten, adding lusher and more ghostly production alongside the thickening of beats, but he’s been resolute in never being lured too far over into pure techno. EBM rhythms and sounds have remained at the center of SARIN’s work, as they do on new LP Moral Cleansing, which offers a more somber post-industrial presentation.

The sense for whip-crack bass and kicks which first drew us to SARIN are on display immediately on Moral Cleansing. “The Culling” is exactly the sort of sharp, economical banger we’ve come to expect and enjoy, though the foreboding pads which bracket it point towards a newly highlighted side of Dabiri’s sound. Charnel atmospherics are woven in throughout the record, sometimes via more ornamental drum fills, sometimes through wheezing pads, and sometimes through cascading, almost symphonic synths as on low-tempo highlight “Amiryah”. It’s a tune which distinctly recalls Leaether Strip’s Serenade For The Dead, but that’s not where the dark electro similarities begin and end. Check the early Apop feels of the thumping “Exocet II” or the Klinik-like yowls on “Images In Your Mind” (possibly the first SARIN track to feature original vocals). Without totally sacrificing immediacy or club appeal, Dabiri’s added some new depth and portent to his work.

That more brooding and morose sonic turn is matched by heavy thematic concerns. While SARIN’s very name has always evoked the modern horrors of war and geo-political unrest, they’re pushed to the fore with tracks like “Amiryah” which samples reportage and condemnations of the (more recent) Iraq War. Samples of the wails and lamentations of the relatives of the dead might be a bit too much for some to stomach when set against beats, but Dabiri is clearly doing so to evoke horror rather than quick rubbernecking, as the pacing of the track shows. Without going on an editorial rant, plenty of post-industrial acts have been guilty of amoral militaristic fetishism while failing to account for the corresponding human cost which Dabiri cites here. Factor in the eerie proximity of the LP’s title to recent normalization of ethnic cleansing in western political discourse and the brutal relevance of SARIN’s aesthetic has never felt more apparent.

Berlin (and the world) remains full of acts working the EBM-techno formula to varied success. Dabiri’s releases within that milieu have been some of the most rewarding to track, and not just for their consistency. Moral Cleansing shows off hitherto under-exploited sides of Dabiri’s musical interests, and SARIN feels all the more important a project for it. Recommended.

Buy it.


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Tracks: November 18th, 2019

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Hurtling towards Year End at an astonishing speed, we’re feeling pretty good about where we’re at in our listen/review/write-up pile. Although truth be told, we’re starting to suspect we may have missed a trick or two in our mad dash through all of the 2019 stuff we hadn’t spent time with yet. So as is traditional, we’re gonna take the time here to ask if y’all could leave us a comment on this post (or on FB or Twitter on IG or whatever) letting us know about records we may have missed, or ones that you’d especially like to here us discuss on the site or the podcast. It’ll be time for Year End lists pretty soon and damn if we don’t try to take whatever we can into account.


Flesh in the flesh (and shroud).

Comaduster, “Decimate the Burden”
The slow trickle of new Comaduster tracks over the last year has been great, though as the date draws closer we’re wondering how these tracks will all fit together on Darker Matter, due mid-December. The sheer variety of tracks in Réal Cardinal’s inimitable style that we’ve heard this far don’t necessarily suggest a full narrative the way the last record Solace, although knowing how the Edmonton producer does it we won’t be surprised to see it all come together. Enjoy the micro-programming, emotional vocals and mind-sheering electronics and get hyped for the album in a few weeks.

Flesh, “Glasmensch (ft. Noire Antidote)”
Feels like it’s been a fair while since we heard anything new from draggy witch act Flesh. The German producer established a pretty dialed-in take on spacey beats which were minimal in construction but high on atmosphere and at first blush lengthy new LP Hexadezimaltod sounds to be continuing in that vein. An entire album themed around modern identity theft and computer crime is pretty much a perfect fit for the project, and we’re digging the shimmering touches of IDM flavour on this number.
Hexadezimaltod by FLESH

Riki, “Napoleon”
Strong freestyle vibes on the new synthpop single from Los Angeles’ Riki, released in anticipation of their 2020 LP due in February. Matia from Inhalt is on the boards for this one and it shows; few producers in the game right now have a grasp on how to make genuine sounding throwback synth music that maintains its edge and doesn’t descend into rote imitation or boring neon style checklists. This one sounds real good on a big system, so crank it up and stay tuned for more info on Riki’s debut LP as it becomes available.
Riki by Riki

Noir, “A Pleasure To Burn”
Some stately darkwave with a lot of gothy gravitas on the first new material from Athan Maroulis’ Noir outfit in a couple of years. The entire EP’s a group affair with contributions from the likes of Jean-Marc Lederman and bassist at large Erik Gustafson, along with remixes from our pals in Seeming and FIRES. This homage to the namesake of Maroulis’ first act, Fahrenheit 451, has a weighty stomp which only puts Maroulis’ always elegant croon into sharp relief.
A Pleasure by NOIR

Soft Riot, “The Lost Weekend”
Quirky yet classic synthpop stylings from longtime friend of the site Jack Duckworth’s Soft Riot. New LP When Push Comes To Shove doubles down on the pinchy yet warm analog sounds Duckworth’s been purveying for years, albeit with an extra helping of early Mute Records and the like influence. Getting some serious John Foxx feels from this gurgling yet also totally mechanized number.
When Push Comes To Shove by Soft Riot

Harsh Mentor, “Salve”
Some straightahead rhythmic noise courtesy of Harsh Mentor, released by the folks at aufnahme + wiedergabe. It’s not the first time that industrialized techno sounds and rhythmic noise of the style that was popular circa the turn of the millenium have come together in a concrete wave of saturation and distortion, but boy howdy does is this hitting the blown out scorched spot right now. Whether you’re coming at this from the perspective of modern industrialized techno or as a power noise movement OG, we’re sure it’ll scrath that same itch.
Salve by Harsh Mentor

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Goth Fashion + Accessibility and Chronic Health Issues

Gothic Charm School -

Dear Lady of Manners My question is less one about etiquette, and more about logistics. I have my own mix of Victorian goth and punky style that I was perfectly happy with until fairly recently. The problem is that around 3 years ago, my chronic health conditions deteriorated, and I had to start using a wheelchair full time. I can no longer stand or walk, and a large portion of my clothing is not suitable for wearing in a powered wheelchair.

Klack, “2400bps 8-N-1”

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2400bps 8-N-1

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

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

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

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

Buy it.

2400bps 8-N-1 by klack

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Amrou Kithkin, “Sensorless”

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Amrou Kithkin - Sensorless

Amrou Kithkin

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

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

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

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

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

Buy it.

Sensorless by Amrou Kithkin

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We Have a Technical 286: House of Angry Cats

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Snow In China

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

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Tracks: Nov 12th, 2019

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

Forma Tadre ’87

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Observer: Mind | Matter & Crystal Geometry

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

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

Crystal Geometry
State of Play
Hands Productions

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

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Totem, “Passage”

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Young & Cold Records

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

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

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

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

Buy it.

Passage by Totem

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