WHaT 154: The Mount Rushmore Conversations – Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy

Perhaps more than any band in existence, Skinny Puppy remains essential to our fandom and understanding of Our Thing. Beyond their critical function in the history of industrial post the initial explosion, this week’s Mount Rushmore conversation focuses on SP’s personal impact on us and how they help define Vancouver for I Die: You Die. From local mythology to personal flashpoints to the enduring strength of their work, we’re talking about everything that makes Puppy who they are, and by extension a good part of what makes us who we are. Brap on ad infinitum. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Dive, “Underneath”

Dive - Underneath

Out Of Line

It really doesn’t feel like it’s been over a decade since we had new music from Dirk Ivens’ long-standing Dive project. The Belgian veteran and innovator of countless styles of dark electronic music certainly hasn’t been far from hand in the interim. Since 2004 we’ve seen the reactivation of Absolute Body Control, a farewell reunion album and dates from the legendary Klinik, plenty of live Dive touring, and a handful of Sonar records to boot. It’s maybe fitting, then, that Dive’s return isn’t just a reiteration of the spasming grinds and pulses Ivens left us with on Behind The Sun, but touches upon nearly all of the sounds and styles he’s pioneered and experimented with in his three-plus decades of work, and updates a few classic formulas to boot.

The range of tunes on display on Underneath might not be immediately apparent for those not especially conversant with Ivens’ work, but long time fans will be catching motifs from across his catalog. For every classic Dive number like the tense and tremulous “Sacred Skin” which seems almost paralyzed by its own anxiety (side note: the parallels between Ivens’ work and that of his adepts in Pure Ground are readily apparent here), there’s a tune like “Far Away”, which feels like an Absolute Body Control piece with its rigid but almost funky synth programming and harmonies. “Howling Ground” sits right in the Dive groove musically, with a swath of buzz and rhythms, but has a classic Klinik flavour to the vocals. “A Man Came” is about as stripped down as electronic music can get: a single bass note echoes while Ivens delivers an occluded narrative, reminding us of his overarching debt to Suicide.

The argument could perhaps be made that Underneath has left behind a portion of the appeal of vintage Dive releases like Final Report and Concrete Jungle; unlike those it’s no minimalist endurance test, where the question of how long a simple, unrelenting sound or figure can be programmed (or tolerated) becomes the music’s galvanizing force. I’d counter that concern by noting how effectively Underneath gets across what’s made Ivens one of the most enduring and influential figures in dark electronics in a relatively short space of time, but never finds him shying away from the future. The song which seems most indicative of what Dive sounds like in 2017 is “Something”. The insistent but stuttering beat never allows you to get comfortable while swarms of pinched drones alternately seem to be flying directly toward and away from the center of things. The lyrics’ prophecy of impending, inescapable catastrophe seems especially pertinent given current political currents, but are abstract enough that they could have been penned in any era about any subject. It’s a perfect encapsulation of what made Ivens such a central figure to the history of post-industrial music, yet also sounds wholly contemporary. It’s a pleasure to have Ivens back, regardless of the project or aegis.

Buy it.

Tracks: April 24th, 2017

Still just lil’ old me holding down the fort while Alex galavants through Rome, taking photos of Goethe’s son’s grave. Pretty sure I’ve got a split EP from Dronning Maud Land and Goethe’s Son’s Grave, but I digress. I’ve been taking the opportunity a couple of weeks off work has yielded to finally indulge in some gaming, specifically Mass Effect: Andromeda. No full review or anything, but we’ve talked on the podcast here and there about how much that franchise means to Alex and I, and it’s fun to revisit that world again, especially with the knowledge that our boy Réal Cardinal wasn’t just a sound designer on the game, but has a handful of Comaduster tracks scattered throughout it. Doesn’t get much better than heading back to your Pathfinder’s quarters after icing some kett and listening to some Comaduster. Anyway, if I say anything else about Mass Effect Alex and I are just gonna end up rehashing our BroShep/FemShep argle-bargle, so let’s get on with this week’s Tracks!

Bill Leeb

Wilhelm Schroeder in the Black Needle Noise booth!

Rendered, “rshift”
It’d be tough to find a release which touches upon as many of the things we love at ID:UD as Daniel Myer showing up for a techno/EBM turn on the impeccably curacted aufnahme + wiedergabe label (the fact that we can actually spell its name correctly from memory says volumes about our appreciation). We’re still tapping our toes waiting for the full Liebknecht album to drop, but until then Myer and French techno maven Clément Perez are dishing out heavy slabs of churning bass as Rendered. The holeinthehead EP’ll be getting a 12″ pressing shortly from a+w, but if’n you can’t wait cop that digital version right now.
holeinthehead by RENDERED

Dive, “Final Report”
Like some others, we took the excellent box set of Dive’s back discography which was released a couple of years ago as a hint that perhaps Dirk Ivens was retiring yet another one of his legendary projects. The last couple of months have certainly put the lie to that, and we’ll have a review of the first Dive LP in thirteen years later this week. But Underneath isn’t the only item of Dive news: Mecanica (who’ve done excellent recent reissues of works by Lassigue Bendthaus and Flash Zero) are releasing Live Razmatazz, a hitherto unreleased recording of a 2003 Dive set from Spain. Check the more breaks-influenced sound on this version of the stone classic “Final Report”.
Live Razzmatazz by Dive

Black Needle Noise with Bill Leeb, “A Shiver Of Want”
Production legend John Fryer has been involved with dark music of just about all stripes in his storied career, and he’s been putting that over-stuffed Rolodex to good use on his recent suite of Black Needle Noise tunes featuring vocals from everyone from Jarboe to Savages’ Kendra Frost to, on this latest number, Bill Leeb himself. It’s odd to hear El Leebo taking a slightly more melodic bent with his familiar gutteral vocals, but holy crap does this whole tune come together wonderfully in the last minute for an excellent slow burn.
A Shiver Of Want by Black Needle Noise with Bill Leeb

Nova Spire, “Days Of Wrath”
A punchy instrumental EBM workout from erstwhile Ottawa producer Nova Spire. Nova Spire always brings a very precise ratio of influences to bear on each of his tracks and releases, and the long build and transmutation of some more prog-heavy sounds while still keeping the core bassline kicking along here is just fantastic.
Days Of Wrath by Nova Spire

Crisis Actor, “Slave New World”

Crisis Actor
Slave New World

Crisis Actor is a collaboration between David Thrussell and Tony D’Oporto, two artists who have over the course of their careers touched on numerous styles of electronic music under various guises. Forgoing the esoteric and chill elements that both have dabbled in at various points (Thrussel as Black Lung and Soma, D’Oporto as Gnome and Gnomes of Kush) Crisis Actor deliver what is mostly a straight electro record, albeit one soaked in modern conspiracy lore and sardonic social commentary.

The best touch point for most of Slave New World is probably Thrussel’s early work as Snog, minus the extensive sampledelica but replete with the same danceable grooves and acerbic lyrics. Early tracks like “Electronic Eye” and “Superstar” feel especially cut from that early 90s cloth, with tweaky reverbed sequences squirming around groovy kick-snare and cymbal patterns and simple EBM basslines. It’s a suitably adaptable template, which in its minimalism reveals a number of solid configurations, from the minimal techno vibe on “The New Dark Age” to the electro funk of “The Dissonant Reality Show”. There isn’t a great deal of complexity in instrumentation or atmosphere between these songs, the album’s variety comes instead from stylistic shifts in arrangement. This is most apparent in its closing numbers, “Tor” and “Abramovic”, where Thrussell’s sneering vocals are abandoned and the rhythm tracks are throttled down to their most low-key, baring something of a resemblance to D’Oporto’s collaborations with Dead Voices On Air’s Mark Spybey.

Thematically there’s certainly a contemporary slant to the LP’s topics, including some trenchant observations about our current inability as a society to distinguish between entertainment and news. Foremost amongst them is “#pizzagate”, wherein the outlandish and wholly discredited conspiracy theory is invoked as metaphor for the rise of internet borne misinformation and its role in shaping our political climate. Elsewhere “Superstar” posits a connection between the burgeoning internet celebrity culture and the concept of crisis actors – false flag boogeymen invented to explain away acts of mass violence. It’s definitely Thrussel’s wheelhouse thematically and in spite of a few missteps (“Death by Selfie Stick” is too on the nose to be the social media as mass extinction event indictment it sets itself up as) most of it reads as being perfectly reasonable given the current political climate.

Social commentary and the dancefloor have always been fast friends, both overtly and discretely, and it seems fitting that Crisis Actor have gone the DJ-friendly route for their debut. It’s probably a little too dry and weird to penetrate the consciousness of audiences reared on big room house and EDM, but those seeking some cutting insight in their industrial club songs should find something to enjoy on Slave New World.

Buy it.

slave new world by crisis actor

WHaT 153: The Mount Rushmore Conversations – Front 242

Front 242

The second of our Mount Rushmore Conversations centers on a band we talk about a lot, maybe more than any other. We wax hagiographic, lionize, and generally fawn over Front 242, albeit mostly from a personal perspective, on this week’s episode of We Have a Technical, the official I Die: You Die podcast. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Broken Thoughts, “Realign”

Broken Thoughts - Realign

Broken Thoughts
Heteromorphism Production

Chinese producer Kejo Luo is still relatively young, but has amassed an impressive list of credentials outside of his Broken Thoughts project. Engineering, mixing, soundtracks, and even an apprenticeship under film composer Klaus Badelt (himself an adept of no less a name than Hans Zimmer) have evidently given Luo experience beyond his years in terms of pure sound design and arrangement. Thankfully, his instincts for mood, pacing, and other nuances of composition aren’t lacking either, and the resulting mix of drone, glitch, and IDM on his latest release, Realign, is a masterclass in atmospherics.

Loops and rhythmic repetition are a theme throughout Realign, but unlike plenty of drone artists Luo doesn’t take them for granted, and instead seems to have given careful thought as to how and when to restate and when to modulate phrases and ideas. The office machine clatter of “Losslessness” seems to embrace monotony as a theme and dares the listener to surrender to its mindless simplicity, while “Douglas Firs” positively seethes with dread as its pads layer atop one another. “The Primal Forces Of Nature” is where Luo’s soundtrack chops really come to the fore, its tense pulses and clicks connoting Mann or Villeneuve-style standoffs.

The mix of difference and repetition (apologies to Gilles Deleuze) used by Luo always feels in service to the individual pieces and moods he’s crafting, rather than the other way around. Given how organically each piece ticks along or unfolds, I gasped aloud when I noticed on my third or fourth pass that each and every of Realign‘s tracks cued up in my media player clocked in at exactly five minutes; not a second more or less. I might be tempted to call such a conceit pretentious or braggadocious were it not for the fact that not a single track on the record seemed to need to be longer or shorter.

The line between soundtrack work and the more ambient side of Our Thing has never felt more blurred: check the heavy dark ambient feels of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Arrival score, or Lustmord showing up on Lovecraft-cribbing flick The Void. Luo has already done time on both sides of the fence, and has no problem synthesizing any of the sounds and moods which these various traditions trade in, as Realign ably shows. It’s that rare album where technical prowess is immediately apparent, yet is also happy to cede the spotlight to the clearly drawn moods and themes they aid. Strongly recommended.

Buy it.

Realign by Broken Thoughts

Tracks: April 18th, 2017

Morning, gang! As has been alluded to on the podcast, Alex is off vacationing in Europa for a few weeks, so you’ll be stuck just with me for the time being. Things were certainly busy on the home front with the second installment of Verboden running smashingly, despite last minute venue hiccups. We were treated to killer sets from local legends like lié, up and comers like Chrome Corpse, and reigning giants of dark music like Bestial Mouths. Huge shouts out to Robert of Weird Candle for putting the whole mess together, and to all the bands for helping build something in our own back yard. But don’t worry, I haven’t been limiting my diet of new tunes just to local fare; here’s this week’s batch of new tracks!

Frame Of Mind

Frame Of Mind circa 1989. We'll admit to being shallow enough that any EBM band rocking this look today would have our immediate attention.

Youth Code, “Lost At Sea (Chelsea Wolfe Remix)”
For such a well-received album, Youth Code’s sophomore LP Commitment To Complications didn’t receive much in the way of remix treatment. Chelsea Wolfe’s pinched and chopped version of the record’s bleak closing cut (with some vocal help from Deafheaven’s George Clarke) is a pretty high profile break from that. Proceeds from the track are going to Planned Parenthood. As we’ve said before, while the renewed necessity of donating to organizations like PP is depressing, the vigor of the bands and listeners rallying to do so is anything but.
Lost At Sea (Chelsea Wolfe Remix) by Youth Code

ESA, “The Release (with Valeriia Moon)”
The EP we were treated to from Jamie Blacker’s ESA a couple of months back had a touch of a folk influence we’d not heard from the project before, likely due in no small part to the contributions of Ukranian folk metal singer Valeriia Bielokosova. This complement to that EP carries that collaboration even further, with Bielokosova’s vocals being given full reign and Blacker’s familiar programming holding far back in the mix until the closing moments. It’s an intriguing combination, to be sure.
The Release (with Valeriia Moon) by ESA

Frame Of Mind & Leæther Strip, “We’re Not Alone”
Obscure German electro act Frame Of Mind just had their never-before-released 1990 record issued under the well-respected Infacted Classics imprint, and are correspondingly reactivating gearing up to release some new material. First on the docket is this collaboration with someone who certainly needs no such preamble: Leæther Strip! As with plenty of Claus’ BC releases, proceeds from this moody track are going to his husband Kurt’s medical bills.
Frame Of Mind / Leæther Strip – We're Not Alone (Benefit for Kurt) by Frame Of Mind & Leæther Strip

Nommo Ogo, “Unseen”
Nommo Ogo’s psyched-out electronic smorgasbord was an unexpected treat when we saw the Oakland by-way-of-Alaska outfit open for Wolves In The Throne Room a couple of years back. Part kosmische, part dark ambient, part detuned electro-industrial, it was some third-eye squeegeeing stuff which seemed very at home in its own ethos. New EP Unknown has a slightly more rhythmic pulse than some of their other work, and should appeal to fans of newer Mentallo just as much as those of classic Klaus Schulze.
Unknown by Nommo Ogo

Pankow, “Glassy Memories”
On the heels of last year’s excellent Throw Out Rite release, the boys at Artoffact have just dropped another reissue from Italian legends Pankow. Headlined by the band’s two first released tracks, the material on the Times 10″ is a far cry from the electronic mayhem they’d come to be known for. “We Are The Joy” and “Wither” have far more in common with the coldwave sound which had already established itself in Italy by the time Pankow debuted in 1982, though the two unreleased cuts added to Times, including this one, perhaps have a hint of what was to come.
Times by pankow

WHaT 152: The Mount Rushmore Conversations – Haujobb

Advanced Daniel & Dejan 2nd Edition Players Handbook

Taking the place of We Have a Commentary this month is the first in our four part Mount Rushmore Conversations series. Essentially designed to reflect a more conversational and discussion between Bruce and Alex, the idea is to talk about the four acts we consider foundational to I Die: You Die, with the conversation going wherever it may: no goals or structure. Just two friends talking about a band they really like. First up: Haujobb! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

We Have a Technical 151: Sabrina

Photo Courtesy Jill Grant @takeitforgranted

Alex and Bruce catch up with Mr.Kitty on this week’s episode of We Have a Technical! Forrest clues us in on the process behind his recent album A.I., and performing and connecting with listeners and concert goers! All that and some discussion of recent shows by Kite and Schwefelgelb, and that :Wumpscut: retirement controversy on the latest installment of the official I Die: You Die podcast! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, http://traffic.libsyn.com/idieyoudie/We_Have_a_Technical_151__Sabrina.mp3">download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

Clan Of Xymox, “Days Of Black”

Clan Of Xymox - Days Of Black

Clan Of Xymox
Days Of Black

It’s been a varied road for Ronny Moorings and company ever since the former reactivated the Clan Of Xymox moniker sans Anka Wolbert and Pieter Noonen some twenty years back. Unlike so many other 80s darkwavers, Moorings has never shied away from the goth fanbase which has clung to his work for nearly three decades. This has made CoX a refreshingly present and accessible act, but on the other has perhaps led to the group painting themselves into a corner with very little distinguishing their last six or seven LPs. The pre-release morsels of their sixteenth (if you include the Clan-less Xymox LPs) record nicely encapsulated this dichotomy. On the one hand, lead single “Loneliness” was immediately memorable, on the other, there was the album art which…let’s just say it’s not up to the snuff of their early releases which benefited from 23 Envelope’s touch. While Days Of Black doesn’t break from the path Clan Of Xymox has doggedly adhered to, it does feature a couple more high points than their most recent efforts.

It’s no shock that like pretty much all CoX records from Farewell forward Days Of Black is a resolutely gloomy bit of business. That said, the theme of lamenting a lost or failing relationship crops up so frequently that the dour tone feels a bit more earned. Sonic parallels between CoX and The Cure, which to be honest I’ve never really heard despite the claims of numerous acquaintances, are actually quite apparent here. Moorings’ slurred yelps on the chorus of “Loneliness” aren’t too far off from Kiss Me-era Cure and neither is the guitar plucking on “I Couldn’t Save You”.

The production and general instrumentation of the record reflects the workman-like care in the studio Moorings has always given to Xymox. “Leave Me Be” and “Loud And Clear” are strident tunes with the forthright goth rock guitar sound the band nailed so well on 1997′s Hidden Faces, and couple of synth-heavy tunes (“The Rain Will Wash Away” and “What Goes Around”) break up the album’s focus on guitars, though the latter does drag a bit. Stashed towards the end, “I Need To Be Alone” is a brash bit of business, the sort of thing I’d expect from a band with a couple of decades less road-wear than Xymox, or Ikon at the very least.

Moments like “I Need To Be Alone” and “Loneliness” show that there is still the odd moment of inspiration in Moorings’ darkwave playbook, but I can’t help but wonder if those are only going to be apparent to those who’ve stuck with Clan Of Xymox through thick and thin. If you’re a lapsed fan who hasn’t checked in for some time you could definitely do worse than Days Of Black, despite what the cover art might suggest. Really.

Buy it.

So Fragile: Scott Fox of iVardensphere

Our So Fragile mixtape series returns with an expansive entry courtesy of long-time friend of the site Scott Fox of iVardensphere. Per Scott, the mix is made up of music new and old which speaks to him, spanning genres like rhythmic noise, bass, abstract techno, IDM and tribal industrial. Could some hints about the iVardensphere LP due this year be hidden amongst the vast canyons and deep crevices of this mix? Only Scott knows. Check out the recently released Exile and then crank this one up: it’s best experienced as physically as possible.

1. Mimetic- Homunculus
2 Max Cooper- Seething
3. Lorn- All In Order
4. Emptyset- Border
5. Biome- Juganu
6. Trifonic- Baalbek (Hecq Remix)
7. Geomatic- Serpent’s Tooth
8. The Haxan Cloak- Excavation Pt. 1
9. Eric Holm- Stave
10. Ben Frost- Hibakusja
11. Shxcxchcxsh- SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs
12. Rawtekk- Aftermath
13. Kaiju- M16
14. Hecq- 0006 1
15. Underfelt- K712
16. Kangding Ray- Amber Decay
17. Iszoloscope- First Transcendental Component
18. Orphx- Walk Into The Broken Night
19. Cervello Elettronico- Prophetic Vision
20. Clipping- True Believer
21. Roly Porter- Departure Stage
22. Mlada Fronta- CO
23. Slaven- Uncharted Territory
24. Subheim- Conspiracies
25. Squaremeter- Sifer
26. Jon Hopkins- Insides
27. Juno Reactor- Playing with Fire

Tracks: April 10th, 2017

Hey friends! If you didn’t know, last week saw the release of the 150th episode of We Have a Technical, our official podcast. We’re pretty happy for to have reached the sesquicentennial mark, especially considering that in the grand scheme of I Die: You Die we still think of WHaT as being a relatively recent development, only a little over half the age of the website it’s attached to. Still, as an aspect of our coverage it lets us engage in what I Die: You Die was always supposed to be about, fun conversation and analysis of Our Thing, both the music and the associated culture. If you haven’t tried it before, you could do far worse than now, as we’re heading into a period with a lot of cool guests and a very special series on some of our all time favourite artists.

Broken Thoughts

We're assuming the limited edition of Broken Thoughts' new LP comes with a pair of 3D glasses.

Divider, Europäisch​-​Amerikanische Freundschaft
Divider has been kicking around in one form or another since the mid-90s, although some of the material you might be able to find under the moniker bares little resemblance to the spare electronic body music of their new EP Europäisch​-​Amerikanische Freundschaft. Mixed by Sid Lamar (Schwefelgelb, Keluar) and released on Haujobb’s Basic Unit Productions, the release finds Bryon Wilson exploring minimal basslines and drum parts without ornamentation or pretense. It’s EBM that eschews the current vogue for techno hybridization while still nodding to much of the excellent classically styled body tunes coming out of underground parties across Europe and North America. Enjoy this excluisive full stream of the EP, which is released via Bandcamp digitally and on vinyl April 14th.
Europäisch-Amerikanische Freundschaft by Divider

Architect, “Deconfiguration (Original Mix)”
Has it really been almost four years since Architect’s Mine was released, an album so impossibly good and timeless in execution that it feels like it’s been with us forever? Daniel Myer is never not working on something, but we must say we’re glad to have this particular iteration of his oeuvre back in effect. New single “Deconfiguration” hides some the lush sound design behind angular IDM structures and busy drum parts, carefully balancing rhythm and ambience into a striking whole. Check out Architect on tour across North America right now, and grab the single from Hymen’s Bandcamp while you’re at it.
deconfiguration by architect

Missing Witness, “The Box”
Seattle’s DJ Seraphim’s assembled a cracking collection of covers recorded in tribute to the late, great Frank Tovey, and has just released Under What Flag as a free download! Don’t let the low price point fool you, though; the comp’s not short on talent. In addition to a host of up and comers from the northwest, vets like Leaether Strip, NOIR, and Manufactura have all pitched in homages to the work of Fad Gadget as well. Here’s those dour darkwavers in Missing Witness taking on “The Box”.
Under What Flag (A Tribute To Fad Gadget) by Coitus Interruptus Productions

DREAD, “A New Dark Age”
Pitch-black dub from Brian Lustmord which references Lovecraft’s cosmic horror right out of the gate? Giddy-the-fuck-up. The connection between dub and dark ambient’s been gestured towards a few times by various folks, but few folks with Brian Lustmord’s pedigree have ever tackled a full-length LP exploring that nexus. The DREAD project’s full LP will be out on ant-zen in a week or so, but until then enjoy this slab of ominous but still harmonious strings and incantations.
In Dub by DREAD

Broken Thoughts, “The Primal Forces Of Nature”
We’ll fully admit to not having a good bead on dark music coming out of China, but the latest LP from Yunnan’s Keujo Luo’s certainly grabbed our attention. Riding the line between drone and IDM it’s got an exceptional flair for sound design which makes the reedy breaths and clicks feel eerily proximate, but also has just enough minimal rhythm and structure to keep the tracks ticking along. Ulver’s soundtrack work perhaps comes to mind? We’ll be digging in a little closer on this one.
Realign by Broken Thoughts

Veil of Light, “Soul in Ethanol”
Swiss darkwavers Veil Of Light put out a very good LP just at the end of last year in Urspring and are already following it up with a new one for Avant!, due May 4th. From the sounds of new single “Soul in Ethanol” they aren’t deviating from what we liked about that last release: classic drum programming and big synths in service of solid post-punk songwriting. Very cool, very sleek and very European, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one for sure.

WeHaveaTechnical 150: Sesquicentennial House Party

House Party

It’s a rowdy episode of the podcast this week, as we swipe aside all plans and orders of business in order to throw a rager! Yep, in celebration of the 150th installment of the We Have A Technical we’re having a house party with a whole bunch of our pals and recurring guests, and you’re invited! Who’s gonna drop by? What are we gonna talk about? Are we gonna get cornered in the kitchen by some guy who wants to interminably talk about property taxes? There’s only one way to find out: get on the road and head out to the We Have A Technical House Party (BYOB)! The passphrase is “NEWT was a really underrated side project”, and all gatecrashers will be asked to list the :wumpscut: discography in reverse chronological order. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

X Marks the Pedwalk, “Secrets”

X Marks the Pedwalk

André Schmechta’s X Marks the Pedwalk has been doing good work since its reactivation in 2010, following 14 years of silence. Each of the LPs produced in the project’s modern era have to varying degrees been a trade-off, losing some of the bombast and club-readiness of X Mark’s classic run of 90s EBM records for a sense of sleek maturity and emotional honesty. The latest album Secrets might be the most developed version of that rubric, situating itself in a comfortable middle ground that eschews bangers without becoming too sedate.

Secrets‘ sonic identity is established right from the jump, with the up-tempo thump of “Masterpiece”, a vehicle for vocalist Estafania (Schmechta’s long-time collaborator and wife) and the intricate arps and sequences that have long defined the project. There’s a deliberate restraint and reserve to the song that are easily identified, and carry over through the eight tracks that follow. Whether in the tasteful arrangement of drums and bass that drives a confessional vocal from Schmechta on the title track or the twinkling synths that adorn ballad “Prisoner”, measured delivery is the rule of the day.

That does mean however that the record loses some immediacy, with most of the songs taking some time to establish their key melodic components, and relying on rhythm programming to compensate in the interim. The album compensates for this by placing some of its most memorable moments in the opening half, culminating with “Photomatique”, a marriage of X Marks’ evolved-body music shot through with a tinge of continental aloofness. As sequencing decisions go it’s a good one, serving to prime listeners for the earnest and occasionally solemn back-half. With that said, a little variety in the atmosphere would really have helped Secrets feel more dynamic. From a production and mood standpoint these songs aren’t especially distinct from one another.

As with much of modern-era X Marks the Pedwalk, Secrets‘ charms are very much going to depend on the individual listener. What one person might twig as maturity or sophistication, another might hear as being listless, or worse, plain boring. In general though, the tempo and succinct run time insulate the LP from inertia and allow the appeal of the considered programming and production to shine through. Nothing about this record comes from a lack of forethought or attention to detail, and by and large that deliberateness ends up being its greatest strength.

Buy it.

Secrets by X Marks The Pedwalk

[:SITD:], “Trauma: Ritual”


Trauma: Ritual

Nearly fifteen years on from [:SITD:]‘s proper debut, one knows more or less what to expect when the German act releases something new. They’ve been consistently releasing super-polished, club-friendly electro tunes delivered with seething vocals, and have honed their production to the point that it feels like we’ve been using out pet “widescreen EBM” phrase to describe them forever. The only question facing each record from the trio is the quality of the individual tracks. Thankfully, after two releases of unremarkable if not embarrassing material, [:SITD:] have put together a solid package of exactly the sort of tunes which first earned them acclaim.

Trauma: Ritual‘s tracks are immediate and straight-forward with kicks driving things forward for the most part, whether its in the form of a stomper like “Genesis” or the more icy “Elegie”. Whatever the tempo or mood, though, what remains impressive is just how clearly thought out and arranged the individual sounds which are brought together in Trauma: Ritual‘s tunes, and half the fun of the record lies in being able to focus in on them. You don’t even need that solid a pair of headphones to notice how the rubbery thump of the drums on “Mundlos” brings out the odd quaver in the sawtooth leads, or the light, graceful feel of the pads on the futurepop-heavy “Companion”. These are the little things which [:SITD:] attend to better than nearly any of their peers, and Trauma: Ritual‘s a fine example of that attention to craft that they’ve always had.

This isn’t to say that [:SITD:] aren’t still making some subtle forms of progress. The synths on opener “Puls:Schlag” sound as though they might be taking just a slight influence from the ubiquity of synthwave. Structurally, the track’s rhapsodic structure is a change-up as well, shifting from a minimal tick-tock of synths to a lusher tone and yielding the vocals to Dennis Schober of Solitary Experiments (certainly one of [:SITD:]‘s closest musical neighbours). Closer “Zenit” makes some similar structural experimentation, moving through a range of moods and movements in just over eight minutes. Elsewhere, Gesaffelstein’s cribbing from EBM is paid back with “Post-Factual Age”, an instrumental (save from some Trump samples) very much in the vein of techno’s current interest in Our Thing.

Trauma: Ritual is not a back to front burner and there are a couple of tracks which feel a bit indistinct in comparison to their fellows, but then again there aren’t any real missteps, either. While listening to its high points, time and again I found myself remembering that there aren’t really any other bands standing capable of pulling this particular style off so well. Without signalling a dramatic shift in direction it’s brought [:SITD:] right back on course. Recommended.

Buy it.

Tracks: April 3rd, 2017

Boy howdy is there a lot going on here at the ID:UD HQ, but that only mirrors the flurry of activity and tour announcements that seems to be fluttering through the industrial world right now. The broader public was evidently as impressed by the Cold Waves line-up as we were, with three day passes selling out almost instantly, and on the west coast tip savvy heads didn’t have to strip their minds to notice which act might have tipped their hand as to an appearance at DB21. For our part, we had a blast at the Kite show in Seattle, and are cooking up something pretty special for this week’s episode of the podcast which we think folks’ll enjoy. Let’s get on to this week’s new tracks!

The Width of this Picture of X Marks is a Metaphor

Borghesia, “Rodovnik”
It looks as though Slovenian true-schoolers Borghesia weren’t back just for a quickie when they reconvened for 2014′s And Man Created God and some live dates. We imagine the wordplay involved in “Rodovnik”‘s text, a poem written by Srečko Kosovel, “Slovenia’s Rimbaud,” is largely going over our heads, but we’re well used to that when it comes to Central European industrial. This beat and vocal heavy number is the first taster of forthcoming LP Proti Kapitulaciji; we’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Rodovnik by Borghesia

X Marks the Pedwalk, “Secrets”
Since he returned from an extended hiatus with 2010′s Inner Zone Journey Sevren Ni-Arb’s output has been more focused on songwriting and mood than on the club sounds that defined peak era X Marks the Pedwalk. We’ll be talking a bit more about this when we review the recently released Secrets in a week or so, but the new material seems to be trying to reconcile the project’s late 90s sound with the more recent material into a sleek, tasteful hole. Plenty to like about that, as evidenced by the title track, which you can hear (and watch!) below.

[:SITD:], “Genesis”
[:SITD:] were standard-bearers for the industrial club scene in the post-futurepop mid-to-late-aughts. Along with Rotersand they offered a specific brand of European EBM that could stand alongside the popular aggrotech sounds of the era, mostly by virtue of the dramatic, widescreen arrangement of their singles. We haven’t checked in on their new LP Trauma: Ritual yet, but latest single “Genesis” is pretty much straight down the pipe club-fare, maybe not as massive as some of their classics but sounding pretty much as you’d expect the project to sound. And hey, if you find my Master System, I’ll have that back too.

Atonalist, “The Road To Perdition”
Saxophone, cornet, ant-zen-type grinding, and Gavin Friday? Sign us up. We’ll admit to not knowing French musicians Renaud-Gabriel Pion or Arnaud Fournier by name, but both look to have long histories in experimental fare and as session hands, and more importantly the first tasters of their new project sound absolutely monstrous. Anyone who can get a legend like Gavin Friday to grace their debut obviously has some juice to spare, and the slinky stomp of this number shows his faith wasn’t misplaced. Since we’re talking about French free jazz/industrial zaniness, it’s of course Audiotrauma who are handling the release.
Atonalism by Atonalist

The Gothsicles, “Unbekannt in Deustchland (Neuroticfish remix)”
Two unlikely great tastes that taste amazingly great together, did you ever think you would hear frigging Neuroticfish remix the ‘Sicles? We never did, but now that it’s arrived we are amped. The Gothsicles write some amazing club tracks (a fact that is often overshadowed by their use of satire and humour) and Neuroticfish are one of the best late 90s futurepop acts to still be active and making material on par with their original run of classics. Check this one on the upcoming Sic Remixes which also features rejigs by Null Device, E-Craft, Fedorahead and Sex Death Religion.
SIC REMIXES by The Gothsicles

Clan Of Xymox, “Loneliness”
It’s been an uneven road for everyone’s favourite darkwave pioneers of late, marked by missteps just as much as shades of former glory. We’re feeling a bit more optimistic about new Xymox LP Days Of Black after hearing this new single. The clipped beat matches up with some of their best recent fare, and Ronny’s really going for a Robert Smith deal on the chorus with good results. If nothing else this goes a way to undo the foreboding prompted by the album art.

We Have a Technical 149: Posse on Broadway

It was hard to find an accurate pic of the 1999 line-up so we used this one.

In anticipation of Industrial Summer Camp, Bruce and Alex are discussing albums by two acts set to play Cold Waves and Terminus respectively, KMFDM and Wulfband! That plus some discussion of a quote from an unusual source on the topic of Gary Numan and the introduction of a bunch of new fancasts, it’s another episode of We Have a Technical! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

Observer: March 29th, 2017

Mortal Bodies
Chondritic Sound

Percolating up from the recesses of Los Angeles’ booming industrial and noise underground is the new release from Mortal Bodies, a duo comprised of Marc Gonya (Granite Mask) and Marfisia Bel. Embodiment is classically industrial in form, wedding squeals of controlled feedback, monstrous drones, and monotone vocals from Bel, all within cavernous reverbed spaces. It’s not an entirely unique sound on paper, although what becomes clear in listening to the release is how artfully structured each track is, and how careful Mortal Bodies are not to tip over into self-indulgence. There’s a discipline inherent in “Peeled Mirror”‘s flapping rhythm track, or the metallic percussion sounds that infest “Social Obligations”, each dialed in exactly to where they can define structure and provide texture without forcing themselves to the forefront. Those sorts of nigh-subconscious details are especially effective on “Light Solution”, a sort of minimal-synth-by-way-of-ultra-slow-motion exercise, in which minor changes in each rhythmic repetition are spaced apart to the point that they take on a seismic, continental quality. When the duo do loosen up on arhythmic closer “Needs” it feels like a structural release; its oddly blunt hammering drums knocking apart the tension built up over the proceeding seven tracks. It’s a relief that only exists in the context of Embodiment as a whole, and evidence of Mortal Bodies dedication to creating a vast, holistic experience beyond the immediate sum of their music’s parts.
Embodiment by Mortal Bodies

Various Artists
Strategies Against the Body vol. 2
DKA Records

Atlanta’s DKA are rapidly becoming a tastemaker label, with their comparatively small catalogue of releases already showing the earmarks of saavy curation. The second volume of their Strategies Against the Body compilation trades in the same robotic minimal and raw body music of the previous installment, and is notable for staying ahead of the curve even as those sounds garner more attention from the broader world of electronic music. The tense reverberating sequences of Passing’s “Sacrifice” hail from post-industrial climes, but its DIY production make it feel immediate and contemporary. Videograve invoke synthwave soundtrack sounds that have become increasingly common in 2017, differentiated by the deep groove of its strictly sequenced bassline. The DKA umbrella is further expanded by the funk-laden darkwave of Tifaret and the throwback electro of Xander Harris’ “Social Leather”, each distinct but not out of the place. That commonality is apparent even in the speed up then slow down chaos of Collin Gorman Weiland’s “Indenture and Stone”, a product of knowing what your label is about and working with the bands that fit that vision.
Strategies Against The Body Vol. 2 by DKA Records

Sleep Clinic, “Stray Light”

Sleep Clinic - Stray Light

Sleep Clinic
Stray Light
Total Black

Jeff Swearengin’s work as a studio maven speaks for itself: credits on records by everyone from HexRx to Youth Code to The Present Moment have cemented his place amongst the current wave of post-industrial still strongly emanating from Los Angeles. His own primary project, Sleep Clinic, exhibits all of the sound design and sculpturing one would expect to find, but often eschews easy classification, even within the wide spread of noise and ambient-adjacent genres. The new Sleep Clinic release is a mammoth double cassette release which shifts between abrasive, squelching noise and deeply meditative drones, but never holds fast to any particular palette for long.

The lines and shapes which adorn Stray Light‘s cover provide some sense as to the aesthetics Swearengin’s working with, ie, generally abstract. The pinging squeals and waves which careen about a claustrophobic Faraday cage in the second of the record’s ten numerically-titled tracks have more in common with pre-industrial experimentalists than any recent noise stylings (or even classic power electronics, if we’re focusing on the cassette format). This isn’t to say that Swearengin (who’s dedicated previous Sleep Clinic releases to the memories of John Balance and Peter Christopherson) is consciously working in a retro mode. The shuddering digital stabs of the fourth piece aren’t too far from some of the deconstructed techno we’ve heard recently from acts like The Sprawl and Herd.

The lengthier pieces found on the second tape cleave towards the ambient end of things, but that’s more a product of how the pieces are constructed rather than their component sounds. A particular tone or timbre will emerge, and then seem to move through the low hums or ambiance which swaddles it, as if Swearengin’s cooked up new sonic organisms in petri dishes and then given them free run to explore themselves and their surroundings. While the second piece on this tape wouldn’t feel out of place on a soporific playlist you might find at a, well, Sleep Clinic, the tweaking waves that follow it certainly wouldn’t produce a good night’s rest. Again, the ambient nature of Sleep Clinic’s work rests in the way sounds seem to maintain but modulate for extended periods, occasionally adhering to meter or melody, but more often simply existing for their own sake.

Stray Light ends with an abruptly cacophonic clatter of some previously languid pitched rhythmic samples, as if whatever experiments Swearengin’s been working on needed to be quickly shuttered. It’s a brusque finish to a record which, while rarely “comforting” in the way drone and ambient often are, is certainly enveloping. Stray Light offers a fully-realised dimension of sound design and reverberation to those who’d care to check easy genre markers at the door.

Stray Light I + II by Sleep Clinic

Buy it digitally or on double cassette.

Tracks: March 27th, 2017

You’ll probably get a chance to hear about it a bunch on the podcast in a week or two, but golly are we excited for our road trip down to Seattle to catch Kite in a few days. It’s not so often that the Senior Staff can arrange a mid-week road trip to see a band, but there isn’t much that would keep us from heading down to Washington state, nighttime highway driving and sleep deprivation be damned. Real talk: mid-week shows are nobody’s favourite thing in terms of logistics, but this is one we daresay you can’t afford to miss. If you see us there, give a holler: we’ll have a drink!


Stockhaussen multitasks.

Comaduster, “Proxaema”
Did you know that the Senior Staff at I Die: You Die fucks with the Mass Effect franchise, like, heavily? We’re still getting a handle on the recently released Andromeda from a gameplay and story perspective, but one thing that has us excited is the inclusion of music by our friend Réal Cardinal, aka Comaduster, on the soundtrack. In addition to working as a sound designer on ME:A, Réal composed three pieces of music that are used diagetically within the game, a perfect match considering the futuristic science fiction vibe that has always played a part in Comaduster’s music. You can check out the new songs over on Soundcloud, or in your favourite drinking hole round Andromeda way. Take care, Ryder.

cut.rate.box, “Slip Away”
90s and very early 2000s electro-industrial act cut.rate.box return, sort of. Per the info on Bandcamp, these are songs that were started around 2006, but never completed. Most of the EP is instrumental in nature, and far less industrial that you might expect, although “Slip Away” (which gets a couple of remixes including a corker from Mangadrive) gets the melodic, clubby sound C.R.B plied on their two LPs. Unsure if this is a sign of a resurrected project or not, but nice to hear some new old material all the same.
Xenophobe by cut.rate.box

Ghost Twin, “Chymical Wedding”
Ghost Twin’s cozy but evocative pagan darkwave’s been a welcome addition to the run of things north of the border, and they were a treat to catch last year at Kinetik. We’re about to get a full length offering from the Winnipeg duo, which looks to contain re-worked versions of at least two tracks from their thoroughly enjoyable Here We Are In The Night EP, including this cut. Bouncy but haunting, it’s a solid representation of the sort of style Ghost Twin work so well.
Plastic Heart by Ghost Twin

Stockhaussen, “Efectos Minimos”
After a handful of self-releases, the first proper LP from Mexico’s Stockhaussen’s getting an official release via Infravox (dedicated readers might remember them giving Spatial Relation their first shine). The Mexican group’s quickly gathered interest for its classic and well executed style of coldwave, and there’s plenty of gothic panache to be found here. Can’t say for certain if Karlheinz himself would approve, but we imagine the cats from Fad Gadget certainly would.
Stockhaussen – Cold Lines – LP by Stockhaussen

Bombadier, “Hypnotic”
The title track from the latest release from LA’s Bombadier, the She EP, holds all of the “sledgehammer smashing into quicksand” murk and aggression we’ve come to expect from Jason Snell. Bur further into the tracks we’re getting a more impressionistic sense of Bombadier which we’ve rarely been exposed to. The shake and shuffle which accompany the simple harmonies on this track kinda makes one think of vintage Meat Beat at points, don’tcha think?
She EP by Bombardier

Leathers, “Missing Scene”
Leathers is Jason Corbett and collaborator Shannon Hemmett, also of local Vancouver post-punk new wave faves ACTORS. Citing a specific affinity for Curve (!!!) in their bio, it’s probably no surprise that the music on their debut single – available now on Northern Light records – has some classic 90s alternative flavours in the mix, along with a healthy dose of guitar feedback. The pop sensibility that has been a major part of ACTORS success is still in effect though, check the totally hummable chorus on “Missing Scene”, embedded below.