Observer: Liebknecht & Sleep Forever

Liebknecht
Produkt EP
self-released

Produkt is the first tangible release from man of Daniel Myer’s long-awaited Liebknecht project, a moniker he’s been using for techno-EBM related sounds for a few years now (and distinct from the comparable but distinct Rendered project he launched this year with Clement Perez). Produced in collaboration with Rinaldo Bite, the tracks on the EP reflect an immediate and distinct take on the crossover sound du jour, sleek and modern but gritty when it’s called for. Key to these song’s appeal is just how front and center they are rhythmically, placing them emphasis on the interplay of punchy drums and classic body music basslines which have been deconstructed and rebuilt to 2017 specifications. A track like “Saint Pete” isn’t too far from the sort of thing Gesaffelstein was peddling a few years back but with the added bonus of highly sculpted reverbs and a suite of squelching effects that give the track a sense of elasticity. “Köln” and “ICE Over Erfurt” each make good use of variation in how their bassy hooks are presented, subtly and overtly using modulation and shifts in programming to keep them fresh. Per the release notes for the EP these four songs are leftover versions from the as yet unannounced album. Considering the fullness and replayability of this teaser, that record should be a rager when it finally emerges.

Liebknecht – Produkt EP by Liebknecht

Sleep Forever - Vertigo

Sleep Forever
Vertigo
Sination

There’s no moss on Veil Of Light’s Markus W. Pretty much concurrent with that project’s latest thundering amplification of coldwave, Front Teeth, he’s released the second EP from his Sleep Forever side project. Less noisy and morose than its predecessor, Alms, Vertigo sounds like a move towards the clearer and brighter sides of coldwave and synth which the last couple Veil of Light LPs have gone out of their way to obfuscate with noise and violence. That said, with initial track “Point Break”, it sounds as though Markus might be going for the same degree of intensity, if not distortion, as his main project. Tense and threatening, it’s very clearly the work of the same person who created Ursprung and Front Teeth. But things soften in both sound and mood as the EP progresses. Barrages of toms kick through the title track, but act in service of the loping, mournful tone of the song rather than seizing the spotlight. Markus’ keening vocals sometimes run flat (pitch-wise, not dramatically), but when he writes to his range, as on “Under My Skin”, they gain an airy quality not found on Veil Of Light records. The snappily sequenced “Disconnected” closes things off with Markus facing “the teeth of the world” – still very much a dour sentiment, but one he’s equally capable of expressing with grace as well as fury, as Vertigo shows.

Buy it.

Vertigo by Sleep Forever

We Have a Technical 170: Hornby Street

Cubanate. Photo courtesy of Jill Grant @Takeitforgranted

An interview with the newly reunited and still wholly fierce Cubanate is the main feature of this week’s episode of We Have A Technical! Phil and Marc talk on the layoff from the legendary project and how it’s renewal has gone thus far. Recent live sets from iVardensphere, VNV Nation, and Gost are also on the docket. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Autoclav1.1/Displacer, “Spacetime”

Autoclav1.1/Displacer
Spacetime
WTII

The sounds that Autoclav1.1 and Displacer’s new split release Spacetime trades in aren’t entirely foreign to either project; spacey textures, elastic mechanical rhythms and delicately programmed sequences figure heavily in both Tony Young and Michael Morton’s work. The two IDM/technoid producers have a similar enough approach to sound design and arrangement that the LP flows naturally back and forth between them, a synergy starkly contrasted by the vast cosmic distances suggested in each song.

The literal theme of the record is the concept of space-time and its associated phenomenon – black holes, relativity and so on – which in practice is a fairly rich vein of audio metaphor. As you might expect both acts play with the idea of space extensively, creating expanses out of subtle pads and reverbs and then filling them with sounds arranged to emphasize their size and scope. The approach varies, from Autoclav1.1’s opener “Cluster of You”, which is made up drones and rich saturated ambience punctuated with twinkling synths to Displacer’s “Horizon” where an orderly rhythm track’s metallic delays and a throbbing bass suggest astrological movement. The latter song is matched by Autoclav1.1’s “Gravitational Lensing”, where the momentum in its trancelike progression creates the sensation of travel across a vast void, complimented by Displacer’s “Cygnus” which uses an orderly set of mechanical sounds to set up an evocative bit of proggy bit of space synth.

Of course the trap of invoking these enormous concepts is the potential to get lost in them entirely, noodling through them instead of mapping them out for the listener. The economy both Young and Morton show is admirable, keeping their compositions tight and comparatively brief. The delicate harplike sounds that wend their way through “Traveller” or the plucky chorused lead on “Uranometria” are excellent examples of their restraint: neither is stretched or spread out beyond its means, and takes up only as much room in the mix as they need to to make their impression on the listener.

Autoclav1.1. and Displacer have each made defined themselves via thoughtful and meaningful choices as producers. For as playful as some of these songs are, there’s always purpose in how sounds are placed and juxtaposed, and in how each song is placed in proximity to the others. In spite of the big ideas it engages with, Spactime is a record of subtleties and exactitudes, held together by a detached but not disengaged sensibility.

Buy it.

Spacetime by Autoclav1.1

Black Asteroid, “Thrust”

Black Asteroid - Thrust

Black Asteroid
Thrust
Last Gang Records

In an era in which nearly every industrial artist’s moving towards techno, nearly every techno producer’s doing their level best to sound more industrial, and flat-out everyone is trying to get into Berghain (sorry, can’t help you there), it’s strange to think of an artist like Bryan Black as being overlooked. His new record features Cold Cave and Zola Jesus cameos and he’s been collaborating with the likes of Rick Owens of late. And yet winding the clock five or ten years back, it’s tough not to look at Motor, Black’s project with Olivier Grasset, as being underappreciated in their own time. Despite landing opening slots for Gary Numan and even Depeche Mode, Motor’s sound seemed out of sync with the trends of the aughts: too techno for rivetheads, too clangy and bangy for technophiles. Now, with the first LP from Black’s solo Black Asteroid project, the times have finally caught up with him.

It’s easy enough to draw some lines between the sounds of Thrust and Motor, though there are some subtle differences. While both use heated kicks and straight-forward sequencing to build a clocked-in sense of anticipation and possibly even dread, the punchy techno rock of some of Motor’s work (which always reminded me of the similarly overlooked Kill Memory Crash) is largely absent; the instrumentation on Thrust is minimal even as the elements which remain saunter up and down scales and arpeggios. Rather than going for the wide-screen, full-court press of some producers who have similarly latched onto the techno-industrial nexus, Black finds a more compressed style which feels both quieter and more anxious, as on “Space Junk”. He’s also made the best of his collaborator’s efforts; the oft laconic Wes Eisold of Cold Cave feels right at home wheezing prescriptive observations on “Black Moon” and “Here Comes Fear”. The fastidiousness of the arrangements becomes its own point of anxiety; a cleaned up iteration of Silent Servant comes to mind, and maybe even some of The Hacker’s sense for riding cymbals into disquiet (see “Sun Explodes”).

The old cliche of “a band’s band” holds true once in a while, and certainly seemed to for Motor. Black’s work is still earning him the respect of fellow artists within and without the techno-industrial matrix, but I can’t help but think that a larger audience is at last more primed for the specific brand of tension his work’s been showcasing for years. Whether Thrust finally clicks with said audience or not is beyond my ken, but if it fails on that account Black certainly can’t be blamed; he has his finger on the pulse and it’s up to everyone else to get their cardio up to speed.

Buy it.

Thrust by Black Asteroid

Tracks: August 14th, 2017

As is our tradition we would like to extend special I Die: You Die congratulations to this year’s winner of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Tournament. Yes, although we were pretty positive that Tetsuya Naito (formerly the Stardust Genius, now the leader of the Japanese chapter of international wrestling faction Los Ingobernables) was a lock to win before things even started, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing how he got to the final. Congrats to him, and we look forward to seeing him challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight title on January 4th at the Tokyo Dome. TRANQUILO.

Congrats Naito, now get a haircut.

Mentallo & The Fixer, “A Lot Like the Truth”
It’s been a whole half decade since Gary Dassing’s last outing as Mentallo & the Fixer Music from the Eather, but it certainly doesn’t sound like the time away has mellowed him out at all. The songs we’re hearing from the forthcoming Arrange the Molecule are arranged in the same controlled-chaos way that all contemporary M&TF songs have been, replete with rhythmic use of found sound and rapidly evolving sequences. Will this new record be a bad trip or a cosmic voyage? Only time will tell.
Arrange The Molecule (Deluxe Edition) by MENTALLO & THE FIXER

AM Tierpark, “Song For Us”
There’s a master’s thesis yet unwritten on the subject of how synthpop came to influence and guide dark electro and all of its descendants, but the Coles Notes version is that Claus Larsen really loved synthpop while growing out. Through AM Tierpark, his collaborative project with John Mirland, Claus has been giving the more melodic side of his muse free rein, and the duo are cuing up sophomore LP Trashy Luxury for release. The no-frills yet still embracing trills of lead tune “Song For Us” are a great example of the simple purity of classic synthpop.
Trashy Luxury by Am Tierpark

Randolph & Mortimer, “Society”
Sheffield’s Randolph & Mortimer have been on the cusp of wider recognition for a minute now. Already a familiar name for heads who keep tabs on the new wave of body music, the band’s excellent Social Futures EP and their remixes for artists like 3Teeth and Bestial Mouths have felt like appetizers for some as yet unannounced main course. We’re still waiting to hear if an LP is in the works, but their latest three track release Hope Tragedy Myths is holding us over; just as nasty groovy as we’ve come to expect.
Hope Tragedy Myths by Randolph & Mortimer

Slighter, “Lights Out feat. Craig Joseph Huxtable (Legendary House Cats remix)”
With the announcement that Slighter’s new album dropping this Fall, we were reminded that multi-disciplinary producer Colin Cameron Allrich had been doing some work with our friend Craig Huxtable of Landscape Body Machine and Ohm fame. Somehow we missed this incredible remix of their collab “Lights Out” by The Legendary House Cats, which brings a super smooth and melodic vibe perfect for late summer. Check in with us for some more Slighter coverage soon! Oh, and by all means spread this one around, it’s compulsively listenable.

Dead Voices On Air, “Papa Westray”
Mark Spybey’s taken to Bandcamp like a fish to water, using it to release archival Dead Voices On Air material, field recordings, off the cuff jam sessions, and now even full BC-exclusive LPs. The orchestral ambient bricolage of Doggerland has just been released, and, as with some of his best work, Spybey’s seasick strings on this piece convey a compelling mix of impassive beauty and unease.
Doggerland by Dead Voices On Air

Dominator, “No Heroes”
We’re really not sure what to make of the first gasps from LA’s Dominator. Part synth-punk, part pure 80s sleaze, there’s something charmingly cheesy about this tune’s 80s throwback feel, despite ostensibly being a screed against such backwards looks. As John McClane once observed, “California…”
COLD WAR EP by Dominator

We Have A Commentary: Necro Facility, “Wintermute”

This month’s Patreon-supported commentary podcast takes up an exquisitely crafted piece of industrial-pop fusion: Necro Facility’s 2011 LP “Wintermute”! We try to identity the secret sauce the duo added to their electro-industrial recipe to develop such an immediate and engaging entree, and end up making some rather unexpected comparisons in the process. What mysteries lie in the Swedish song doctor bunker? Which track could have Neue Deutsche Härte bands eating their Härtes out? Find out as we tour through a record which hasn’t lost any of its shine despite all the turnings of the seasons. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Volt 9000, “Deformer”

Volt 9000
Deformer
Electric Bat Records

The Toronto-based electro-industrial project Volt 9000 has always had a quixotic, free-wheeling quality to its records, due in no small part to the lurching, mutated rhythms and organic textures that wend their way through their songs. New album Deformer is almost alarmingly focused in comparison to their last handful of LPs and the change yields serious results; where the band has always had interesting ideas and a wry outlook, they’ve rarely ever been this potent.

Project mastermind Cory Gorski (with contributions from now former V9K member Andrew Dobbels) packs a lot into Deformer‘s ten songs, filling them with textures, samples and whirring mechanical noises of all kinds, arranging them around solid rhythm programming. In many ways it echoes 2012′s Mutronix in its focus on weirdly catchy hooks, but with an enhanced production style. The warped and degraded sounds that are Gorski’s trademarks take on a more menacing tone then ever before; where Volt 9000 has often used lo-fi-lo-bitrate noise to add character, it sounds positively sharp and acidic when applied here. The keening lead of “Under the Skin” slices across pads and deceptively funky drum and bass synth programming, building to an instrumental freakout that shakes the track down to its component sounds. Despite its hummable melody and vocal line “Monster Party” is downright disquieting, the off-kilter feel enhanced by generous use of glitch and modulation, a club song as heard through the filter of a decrepit, malfunctioning funhouse.

Cory Gorski’s vocals remain one of the project’s most versatile tools, adding dynamics both via processing and actual cadence and emphasis. There are still hints of latter-day Ogre in the delivery, but the specific ways in which Gorski places words and syllables in relation to drums, and uses pitch, doubling and delay tricks to create syncopation feel distinctly like Volt 9000. “Switch and Bait” finds voices either way off in the echoing distance or directly in your ear, the creep factor enhanced by tape-like warble and saturation. The clinical detachment from the medical themes that recur through the lyrics are all part of the act: “Dead on Video” relies on Gorski delivering his lines as robotically as possible, made all the more disquieting when the list of ludicrous ailments is suddenly being delivered like a plea for assistance.

By virtue of its immediacy, Deformer actually makes a case for itself as Volt 9000′s strongest album. Without entirely abandoning the project’s experimentalism Cory Gorski has found a scope and a direction that emphasizes the vitality and energy in his compositions, honing them into sharp and vital instruments. V9K remain as unpredictable and changeable as ever, but for the first time the project sounds urgent and necessary. Recommended.

Buy it.

We Have a Technical 169: I Don’t Care

Jessi from Wire Spine. Photo Courtesy of Jill Grant @Takeitforgranted

It’s the first of a special two part podcast we recorded with Talking to Ghosts during Terminus Festival! We sit down with Michael, Wes and various guests including Brian from The Gothsicles, Jessi from Wire Spine and industrial drummer extraordinaire Galen Waling to talk about a vast variety of topics! You’re getting a triple helping of We Have A Technical style interviews plus plenty of riffing of the Talking To Ghosts ilk, and the fun keeps on going this Monday over at TTG. We also have some chat about the upcoming Das Bunker 21 and Cloak and Dagger fests in Los Angeles and an unexpected double A side single that may leave you scratching your head. All this week on We Have a Technical, the 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.

Sturm Café, “Es Geht”

Sturm Cafe - Es Geht

Sturm Café
Es Geht
SCR

For a band whose songs are so often incredibly minimal in their construction, it’s difficult to pin down what makes Sturm Café so distinct. They certainly carry a good amount of the classic EBM genome, which they hold in common with so many of their fellow Swedes. Their choice of German vocals isn’t especially distinct in that regard either, though polyglot friends have indicated that their use of the Deutsch tongue is certainly idiosyncratic, if not downright quirky. Even their commitment to bringing clear melodies to a genre which often forsakes them for the sake of pure rhythm isn’t wholly unheard of. And yet the odd quirks around the corners of Sturm Café’s aesthetic set them apart from their peers, and those continue on new EP.

On Es Geht Sturm Café musically sit more or less where they did a couple of years back with their excellent Europa! LP. The bare-bones drum machines and basslines of classic EBM are presented sparsely yet softly, a la DAF, and are overlaid with melodic synth work which borrows from synthpop but feels so stripped-down that early minimal wave often feels a more accurate comparison. Despite the apparent softness and approachable nature of their tunes, it’d be tempting to lump them into the same camp as SPARK!, but they never give themselves over to the swing or joy of synthpop. The oddly regimented march of tunes like “Arsenal” is comparable to the Euro-pop nostalgia of early Welle:Erdball, but even they never pursue austerity quite as stridently as Sturm Café. The one curveball in these six tracks is “Traummann”, which sounds more like a remix than an original; synths and vocals are chopped up in sequence to an electro beat which has more in common with The Hacker than any EBM purists.

The vocal delivery of Jonatan Löfstedt really is one of the more underappreciated elements of Sturm Café’s work and goes a long way in helping them claim their own plot of land. Jaunty and whimsical, it’s a far cry from the guttural bark of most of Löfstedt’s peers, and in embracing melody it avoids any movement towards the earnestly anthemic. Instead, it has the carefree reverie of someone recalling the songs of their youth while at the bar or maybe even in the shower, even when he’s singing odes to Swedish regicides (“Anckarström”).

Es Geht doesn’t really break from the established Sturm Café template (apart from the aforementioned “Traummann”), but I’m not sure that it needs to. As familiar as some elements of Sturm Café’s work might be to EBM die-hards, no one else out there is really arranging them with the same mix of stoicism and simplicity, and certainly not with the same cryptic humour.

Buy it.

Es Geht by Sturm Café

Tracks: August 8th, 2017

Morning, folks! No sooner do we get back home from Terminus than the next installment of Industrial Summer Camp (Back To School Edition) is unveiled. Yes, Das Bunker’s 20th anniversary festival was such a success than John, Franck, & co. are getting things together for another anniversary party. The DB21 line-up, headlined by Suicide Commando and Das Ich, has just been unveiled. We’ll be talking about the whole roster (including a once again intriguing undercard) on the podcast this week, as well as some chat about the recently announced Cloak & Dagger festival, but for now let’s get to this week’s Tracks.

Blac Kolor bending space inside your headphones

Comaduster, “Heat Death”
You’ll have to wait a little longer for Comaduster’s sophomore LP Solace, as Réal Cardinal has had to postpone for a week or two to get it ready for wide-release. Good news though, as Cardinal has just released a non-album single, which he calls a “recursive remix” of the record, a document of the sounds, rhythms and ideas that shaped the full length. Few artists pack as much complexity into a single track as Cardinal does in terms of rhythm and modulation, but take special note of the lyrics to this one (which you can read while you’re picking it up on Bandcamp) which provide hints to the overarching concepts of the new material.
Heatdeath by Comaduster

Liebknecht, “ICE Over Erfut”
The long-awaited LP from Daniel Myer’s techno-EBM Liebknecht project is still awaiting release, but Myer’s thrown a bone to antsy heads such as ourselves. The just released, digital-only Produkt-EP features “versions that will not appear on the album, but are, in [his] opinion, just as good”. There you have it! Above and beyond the running theme of tracks named after European cities, the style of Liebknecht is on full display here: a hybrid of sounds which eschews the grime and distortion which are often found in techno-EBM overlap for the precisely targeted and elegantly sculpted echoing sounds only Myer can produce.
Liebknecht – Produkt EP by Liebknecht

Divider, “Undermind”
Speaking of Myer-related biz, we were big fans of Divider’s Europäisch​-​Amerikanische Freundschaft on the Haujobb boys’ Basic Unit Productions label. It’s stripped-down and tensely pinched classic
EBM style felt uncannily contemporary despite owing a good deal to the genre’s progenitors (as if the title wasn’t enough of a clue). Divider’s new single on RND. Records picks up where it left off quite pleasantly; some squelchy passes are added but what ain’t broke isn’t being fixed here.
UV. by Divider

Blac Kolor, “Dark Sky feat. DSX”
There’s a hot joint from the new Blac Kolor EP streaming right now featuring DSX, aka Dejan Samardzic. We’re longtime supporters of Blac Kolor and his particularly monochromatic take on the world of body music, especially when considering how ahead of the curve he was on the hot sound du jour which is approaching saturation. New EP Violate is due August 24th from Basic Unit Productions, and if his past work is any indication will feature steps forward in structure and presentation without losing the cool minimalism that has marked the project’s work up ’til now.
Violate by Blac Kolor

Azar Swan, “Passages”
US darkwavers Azar Swan get lowkey on their new single, “The Golden Age of Hate”. The band’s LPs have been marked by the duo’s dedication to combining pop hooks with uneasy electronics and big drums, as strident and sticky as the song required. These new songs break from that formula a bit, they still have some of the woozy energy we expect, but with a sneaky build-up and release that really maximizes Zohra Atash’s remarkable voice.
The Golden Age Of Hate by Azar Swan

Boar Alarm, “Left Alive”
Good-natured maniac Fredrik Djurfeldt founded Boar Alarm while on sabbatical out here in Vancouver as an opportunity to explore sounds similar to those of his primary project, Severe Illusion, without his long-time musical partner Ulf Lundblad. The first EP under the moniker touched all of the brutal bases we love in Djurfeldt’s music, and it looks like even though he’s back home in Sweden, Boar Alarm will continue. Here’s a blast of Dive-like brutality from the forthcoming second Boar Alarm EP.

Seeming, “SOL: A Self-Banishment Ritual”

Seeming
SOL: A Self-Banishment Ritual
Artoffact Records

We can distinctly recall having a devil of a time trying to communicate the connection between the first Seeming record and the longer histories of gothic and industrial music Alex Reed’s been tied to at various points in his careers as a musician, academic, and author. Sophomore Seeming LP SOL: A Self-Banishment Ritual doesn’t make things any easier on that count. It is explosive and borderless in its musical approach and its thematic overlaps with gothic and industrial culture – the flight from modernity and the existential ennui which accompanies the anthropocene – are concerns far larger than any particular subculture. But SOL grants us a better sense of how Seeming as a project operates, of the mechanics Reed employs to draw listeners into a world poor in name and means but rich in rhythm and communion.

Reed recently told us he views SOL as a literal sequel to 2014′s Madness & Extinction, and spending some time with the former’s lyrics and musical range will definitely yield connections between the two LPs. The ambitious musical scope of M&E is pushed out even further, drawing in soul, funk, and R&B stylings, though none of SOL‘s tracks ever feel like “pure” exercises in those genres, nor in those we’re more accustomed to associating with Reed’s work (folk, goth, EBM). That could just be a function of how present Reed is as a vocalist; his tenor strides confidently across the record, even when it’s communicating panic and despair.

And those are certainly sensations which are bound to crop up when one’s dealing with SOL‘s themes. Few neologisms seem as topical as “ecoanxiety”, and Seeming have honed in on it and provided the soundtrack, albeit from the perspective of the other side of armageddon. The epoch which seems to be passing or changing may be human in origin, but its effects are much broader, and Reed strikes upon the quietus of the entire category of the human as the only option in the wake of such upheaval. To be clear: this isn’t a record about suicide at the individual or species-wide level, but a meditation on what it might mean to give up the taxonomy of the human and to embrace the nameless world of the animal, the shrub, the river. Think of it as “A Report To An Academy” in reverse, perhaps. It isn’t clear whether we’re meant to take the “self-banishment ritual” subtitle of the record to mean that there’s a single protagonist going through said process, but if it’s tempting to try to sketch out a clear concept record narrative rather than just accepting SOL as a set of thematically consistent tunes, that probably speaks to the sheer richness of Reed’s language (and his admirable avoidance of irony) more than anything.

The LP’s first shot across the bow might be one of its most-telling. “Doomsayer”‘s disco strings, burbling electropop bassline, and polyrhythmic percussion eventually giving way to washes of static, sad trumpets and accented dulcimer at turns, even as Reed casts himself as both the titular prophet of doom and desperate confessor making meta examinations of the track itself. It’s a song of movements for an album that deals in the same, shifting effortlessly as needs be from one sound to the next. That fluidity means the uptempo cabaret of “If I Were You” can easily transition into the desperate dual-narrative of “Zookeeper”, a song that juxtaposes chunky Chic guitar strumming with two very different characters from Reed, one as a calmly doubting inner voice and one as desperate chronicler of some unspoken world-ending disaster. On through the LPD-esque flute and synthwork of “The Unspeaking” and the admirably sticky collaboration with indie rapper S∆MMUS – as good a pure pop song as Reed has ever written – Seeming sloughs off each skin and takes the next form required, held together by an understanding of songcraft that transcends any stylistic marker or artistic allusion.

The intertextual nature of these songs really starts to manifest in the album’s center, especially as the complex web of thematics expands ever outwards. Is the oooh-woooing intro of the woozy horn-inflected “Knowledge” a howl for the wolves Reed longingly invokes at the outset of “Feral”? When you know what comes before and what follows it, does “Phantom Limb” take place in the same unnamed wilderness the record is constantly pushing towards? How interesting is it that in SOL‘s lyric booklet the beginning and ending lines of songs are transposed into the preceding and following number? The literary devices Reed employs not just in his words but in the actual composition are myriad: songs foreshadow and allude to one another, and in some cases quote each other each other. There’s even an epigraph right in the heart of things, “Next time lets get raised by wolves” being perhaps the best encapsulation of the LP possible in six words.

Fitting for an album which sets itself to the issue of how to continue on after an ending, SOL is rife with ‘false finishes’; pieces which seem to close a record out only to be followed up by another moment which extends from its predecessor but also seems to promise termination. Drawing upon fearful childhood respect for the unknown, “The Wildwood” marries funk guitar to windswept, shadowy forest, recalling Kate Bush’s “King Of The Mountain”. Coming after the sardonic robo-paean of “I Love You Citizen”, in which the nation-state itself seems to be entreating the individual to stay within its confines, the flight into cthonic nature unstuck in time would seem to be the end, but no. “At The Road’s End”, an ambitious four-part suite, presses on through electro-soul and into space rock, rendering the escape from the self into an astral journey. And yet even after the effacement of harmony, tempo, and identity which a noise freak-out by no less an icon than Merzbow heralds, SOL endures for a final reprise. “Talk About Bones” a recapitulation of the record’s ideas, the passing on of the wisdom earned by the ritual of SOL to the doubters mentioned at the outset of “Doomsayer”. (Can a story of self-banishment actually be a Bildungsroman? We’re not sure…)

The astonishing density of ideas, sounds and styles that make up Seeming’s sophomore LP are dizzying, and yet their accumulated weight never slows or delays its inevitable push from its first notes to its final echoing cymbal crash, the latter preceded by one of the album’s invocation of the morse code for distress. It’s an album of ideas, one of movements and grand gestures and quiet realizations, of messages coded and decoded on the fly as it sings and plays itself into existence. It’s weird to imagine that SOL could somehow be so singularly a product of Alex Reed’s particular muse and yet seem so much like an entity unto itself. And perhaps that’s where the self-banishment ritual the title alludes to comes in; can the maker make something so vast and so full of possibilities and emotion that they themselves are subsumed in the fantastical life of their creation?

Highly recommended.

We Have a Technical 168: Tell Yuri We Sent Ya

Photo Courtesy of Jill Grant @Takeitforgranted

Anyone else got a case of the Terminitus? Back from Calgary fully sated and scratchy voiced, Alex and Bruce are giving a blow by blow account of all the happening at this year’s installment of Terminus Festival. Beers, jeers, and cheers: we’ve got a total rundown of each and every act which graced the stage at the northernmost post of Industrial Summer Camp 2017. Plus, we’re happy to present an interview with Tom Shear of Assemblage 23! Tom spoke with us about the band’s long-earned legacy, songwriting, and his relationship with his fans. Fix yourself a snack and a drink: it’s a bonus-sized edition of We Have A Technical this week! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

So Fragile: Eric Sochocki of FIRES

Eric Sochocki of FIRES

This month’s edition of our So Fragile artist mixtape series is brought to you by Eric Sochocki, whose new project FIRES has just released its first single Morningtidegrey. Tellingly, the working title slapped on the .wav sent to us was “I Like a Lot of Genres”, a statement you can hear reflected in the mix’s wide-ranging collection of sounds from hip hop, synthwave and industrial. That catholic attitude to mixing a matching genres reflects FIRES’ own style, a heady blend of electronics, rock instrumentation and slick, modern production wizardry.

Stream the mix below, and check out FIRES’ debut album Red Goes Grey, out September 8th on Metropolis Records.

TRACKLISTING:
Roly Porter, “Mass”
Lil Ugly Mane, “Columns”
Emptyset, “Speak”
Injury Reserve, “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe”
ho99o9, “United States Of Horror”
Carpenter Brut, “Night Stalker”
Vogel, “Hologram II”
Celldweller, “Jericho (Circle of Dust mix) (Instrumental)”
Signor Benedick The Moor, “Call Of The Wild”
Comaduster, “Winter Eyes”
Clipping., “Air ‘Em Out”
Danny Brown, “Really Doe”
Jidenna, “Long Live The Chief”
Rabbit Junk, “Beast”

Tracks: August 1st, 2017

Hey friends, we’re back and only somewhat worse for wear from Terminus Festival. Even though our ears are still ringing and our feet are still sore from three days of music and socializing at Canada’s premier industrial, synthpop and dark electronic fest (we have so much to tell you about – make sure to check the podcast this week!) we need to take a quick minute to inform you that our Patreon has just passed the $250 mark meaning we will now be returning to a Monday-Friday posting schedule! Plan is to make our capsule review feature Observer a regular Friday thing, meaning we’ll be able to write about all kinds of singles, EPs and slightly smaller releases that might have slipped through our trad review rubric. Exciting times friends: thanks for your support, it means the world to us. Let’s get to Tracks!

HAEX

We're still too post-fest strung out to formulate a "4th Chamber" "throw HAEX" joke, but know that the intent was there.

HAEX, “Daggers”
Getting to see Los Angeles-based esoteric industrial project HAEX this past weekend was really a highlight of our Terminus Festival: it’s not often you see a project of such recent vintage (the trio formed in 2016) look, sound and feel this polished and confident. Their new single “Daggers” highlights their atmospheric approach, especially their use of guitar as both a rhythmic and textural element. We had a chance to chat with them about their soon to be completed album The Ether The Abyss And The Void, which needless to say we’re now quite keen to hear more from.
DAGGERS by HAEX

Comaduster, “The Retracer (The Mirroring Recursion)”
We also had a chance to catch a live set from Comaduster, aka Réal Cardinal at this year’s Terminus. Along with debuting a new three member line-up for the live band, we got to hear a significant number of songs from Solace, Réal’s upcoming (like next week if all goes according to plan) album. “The Retracer (The Mirroring Recursion)” is a fairly good example of where Comaduster is with this release, featuring a combination of incredibly complex bass and drum programming, delicate guitars and Cardinal’s emotive vocals. Don’t even consider sleeping on this record, it promises to be astonishing.

Non Human Face, “Self Inflicted Amnesia”
There’s more new material from Terminus artists in the form of the new project from Robert Caterwaul of Wire Spine and Weird Candle. Non Human Face looks to be a distinctly dark techno project, with a whole lot of Robert’s characteristic lo-fi grit, and maybe some throwback midi flavour.
celestial mechanics by non human face

Double Echo, “High Wind”
Liverpool’s Double Echo have been plunging ever deeper into the darkest of goth waters on their past couple of releases, but the Envelope 23 nod of forthcoming LP Period Rooms perhaps hints a return to their dreamier early days. We’ll have to wait for the full release to know for sure, but first taster “High Wind” indicates that a lighter and more airy approach might be in the works. That said, we think even the most miserablist listeners will enjoy this swirlygoth number.
Period Rooms by Double Echo

Klack, “Synthesizer (v 1.01b)”
The man who couldn’t stop himself, Caustic’s Matt Fanale adds yet another new project to his already considerable portfolio, this time in collaboration with Null Device’s Eric Oehler. What is Klack’s musical purview you may ask? We’re happy to report that it’s good old fashioned new beat, a sound and style we will never, ever tire of. Not much information about the project is currently available – both principles are busy with innumerable other musical endeavours – but their debut single “Synthesizer” makes for an intriguing manifesto to be certain.
Synthesizer by klack

L-Sedition, “What You Get”
Poland’s Mecanica label has done a tasteful job of curating a mix of releases by up and coming acts and (often overlooked) reissues from across the electronic spectrum. Their forthcoming compilation EP Some Have To Dance…Some Have To Kill accentuates the former; names like Millimetric and Randolph & Mortimer should be familiar to readers of these pages, but we have to admit this tidbit is the first bit of work from LA’s L-Sedition we’ve checked out. It’s a nice piece of cool dark electo…not, y’know “dark electro”, but just dark electro. You get us, right?
Some Have To Dance …Some Have To Kill by L-Sedition

We Have a Technical 167: SPITESBITESPITES

Alex Reed - Seeming

A year of exciting new releases from artists who’ve made some of our favourite music of the past few years continues! The sophomore LP from Seeming is just around the corner, so we got on the horn with Alex Reed (and some ghosts who may have stowed away on Skype) to talk about SOL: A Self-Banishment Ritual. What lies beyond an ending? Is there a continuum between jazz and noise? Is listening to too much EBM causing a crick in your back? The ever-eloquent Dr. Reed holds forth on these topics and plenty more on the latest episode of the podcast. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

FORCES, “NEWBODY”

FORCES - NEWBODY

FORCES
NEWBODY
Fleisch

A lot’s changed around Australia’s FORCES in the half decade since their self-titled EP took certain corners of the Internet by storm. The connections between classic techno and EBM which they made have been picked up on by plenty of people, not least of all their countrymen in Minimal Man, and I’d speculate that EBM-native listeners are probably a lot more primed for their Hypercolor fusion of past and present than they were the first time around. But they themselves had to change very little to still sound as fun and of the moment as they first did. Sure, they’ve hopped over to Berlin like everyone else and are a part of the now burgeoning Fleisch collective there. But the differences between that first EP and the just arrived NEWBODY (four new tracks, two remixes) are subtle production tics which only help to add some shade to the corners of their palette.

As bracing and beat-heavy as NEWBODY expectedly is, I was especially taken with how FORCES had found ways of adding tremors, echoes, and other means of smearing their ostensibly rigidly programmed tracks, helping to add claustrophobic and anxious tension. Alex Akers warning that “it won’t be long” with ghoulish abandon on opener “Run” would sound indulgent if not threatening in most other contexts, but surrounded by bricked in kicks and bass, his vocals feel more like connective tissue, blurring lines between sounds which might have felt more separated on FORCES’ first release. Or check out how the bassline in “Idolize” is alternately pinched in and then flanged out into an enveloping klaxon in its remixed form. The hazy, sunstroked confusion and mystery which FORCES’ “The KLF go Mad Max” visual style had pointed to is realized musically on NEWBODY.

Heavy, sweaty, and florid, NEWBODY is very much out on the patch of desert FORCES staked out for themselves a long while back, perhaps only bordered by that wacky oasis Gatekeeper retired to after their proto synthwave style caught on too hard. But once you make the trek out you’ll see why FORCES love their digs so much. Sure, it’s a little kooky, but you’ll probably be taken with how familiar some of its climes are. Classical? Neo-classical? Kitsch? Don’t worry about it. You’ll love what they’ve done with the place, and it’s closer than you think.

Buy it.

NEWBODY by FORCES

Suicide Commando, “Forest of the Impaled”

Suicide Commando
Forest of the Impaled
Out of Line

There’s no getting around it, Forest of the Impaled squanders a lot of the good will Suicide Commando’s Johan Van Roy has accumulated over the last couple of years. Where 2013′s When Evil Speaks and the various reissues and compilations of early tracks that have been released since seemed to suggest that the long-running harsh EBM project was interested in moving back towards the Klinik-indebted dark electro of their earliest incarnation, the new LP wallows in some of the worst of Van Roy’s artistic tendencies. It’s a doofy record most of the time, and disappointing because it has moments that suggest it could have been something more.

Perhaps the best indicator of where Suicide Commando lost the plot on this outing is the project’s remake of 1991′s “The Devil”. Where the original is a not especially memorable but still charming lo-fi instrumental, the version here is propped up with extensive additional programming and percussion and vocals, none of which its foundations can support. It meanders around for a bit and then stops with no fanfare, begging the question: why resurrect a more than quarter century old song and then do nothing with it? One really starts to question if Johan’s recent focus on his history has less to do with rediscovering his roots and more to do with being out of ideas.

That thesis is borne out by the majority of the songs on Forest of the Impaled. “My New Christ”, “Too Far Gone”, “Chasm of Emptiness” all have the big drums, big pads, and harsh vocals of modern Suicide Commando, but feel listless, collections of programming casting around for a hook of some kind. Opener “The Gates of Oblivion” (featuring a guest vocal from Psyclon Nine frontman/modular synth pitchman Nero Bellum) starts off like it might deliver on the goofy black metal tropes of the LP’s title and cover artwork but quickly devolves into a straight and unremarkable harsh EBM number that its double time closing section can’t redeem. The most energetic moment is Jean-Luc De Meyer collaboration “The Pain That You Like”, which musters a serviceable four on the floor rhythm and chattery sequence of stabs. Tellingly, it was originally released as a standalone single two years ago. Even at his most creatively staid Van Roy has always had energy and commitment, and that’s what so many of these songs lack.

Frustratingly, there are moments of real promise that don’t quite develop into full-fledged songs. The rubbery bassline and crunchy percussion at the outset of “Death Lies Waiting” grabs the ear, but they aren’t put in service of anything and the song ends up grinding to a halt before it even gets going. “Crack Up” manages some solid classic electro-industrial programming but lacks a chorus to really make it stick. Of the album’s eleven songs “Schiz[o]topia” is probably the most defensible, a solid vocoder ballad of the type Suicide Commando has done well in the past. It’s not enough to redeem Forest of the Impaled though, and contributes to how inessential all this seems, a record that for all the world feels like it’s fuelled by obligation more than by inspiration.

Tracks: July 24th, 2017

Well, we’re just a few days away from our happiest time of the year: the pilgrimage out to Calgary for Terminus Festival. We’ve already talked ad nauseum here and on the podcast about what makes Terminus so special, and we’ll likely have a post-fest breakdown in the weeks to come. But until then, if you’re gonna be in town for the fest, come up and say hi! First round of the specially branded Terminus brews are on us. And, as luck would have it we’ve got new material from two of this year’s acts, so lend an ear. Industrial Summer Camp Forever!

Android Lust

Android Lust. Photo by Christopher Jon.

Android Lust, “Daughters of Dawn”
Android Lust has never not been legit. From her earliest material on Tin Man, her period on Projekt and her currently self-released stuff on Synthellec, Shikhee has always walked the walk as an artist of vision and integrity. With only one song to go off of, it’s unclear what the recently announced Berlin//Crater V2, the follow up to 2013′s Crater, will sound like, but we’re definitely feeling the analogue synths and percussion in this deceptively simple new track. Good to have you back.
Berlin // Crater V2 by Android Lust

Actors, “L’appel du Vide”
See, a tune like this gets across exactly why local powerhouse Actors work so well. They’ve got one foot in classic, chiming post-punk a la Sad Lovers And Giants or The Sound, and another in an enveloping, warm, and ultimately modern production sense. This is a nice next step for the band after they recently collated their extant work, and we’re looking forward to seeing them win newcomers over at Terminus later this week.
L'appel Du Vide / Crystal by ACTORS

Hex Wolves & Fractured Transmission, “Scripture Codex”
More freshness from Terminus acts! Nick Viola, whose last LP as Fractured Transmission was warmly received around here, teams up with Hex Wolves (one half of D/SIR) for a thumping EP of nice and grimy stuff. Ferreting out the difference between powernoise and techno at this stage of things seems like wading into the debate about the dress in that it’s likely a matter of personal experience and origin, so just sit back and let these tunes give you a solid bruising.
EP by Hex Wolves & Fractured Transmission

Boy Harsher, “Motion”
Y’all need to pay attention when we tell you this: if you haven’t gotten on board with body-influenced funky darkwavers Boy Harsher, you need to do that nowish. The project just announced a new EP Country Girl due in October from Ascetic House, and have been added to the Chicago Cold Waves stage. We were very into the last LP, and have no reason to believe that the new material will be any less chill and danceable. Check new track “Motion” and the attendant video below, and get your head right.

FIRES, “Counting Walls”
You may recall we pointed to some new fuego from the appropriately named FIRES a few weeks ago in Tracks, and as luck would have it the Metropolis Records Bandcamp has another new one for us to share. Having had the pleasure of hearing a lot of the new LP well in advance of its release in September, we think “Counting Walls” might be a perfect taster; it helps define the melodic and pop appeal of the album while speaking to the high level of production and emotional vocal work by Eric Sochocki. We’re gonna have a lot more FIRES coverage coming up, but for the moment enjoy this very catchy number, and know that there’s more to come.
Red Goes Grey by FIRES

Poison Point, “Imaginary Veil”
Some right proper and frenetically driving coldwave from the genre’s spiritual home in France. Two-piece Poison Point seem to have only been around for a year or two but are gigging with the likes of Drab Majesty and Die Selektion. The A-side on their new single shows why: panicked, furious, and good.
Imaginary Veil by Poison Point

We Have a Technical 166: The Blue Pages

We're gonna keep talking about Razed in Black 'til everyone admits they rule.

Cheap Thrills are the subject du jour on this week’s Pick Five style episode of We Have A Technical. What tracks, bands, and trends do Bruce and Alex find themselves repeatedly drawn to despite their “better” critical judgement? It’s an expedition into some of the cheesier realms of Our Thing. That plus what’s happening with new material from Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, and The Klinik on this week’s episode of We Have A Technical. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Eye Steal, “Burning Out”

Eye Steal
Burning Out
Negative Gain Productions

Toronto’s Eye Steal cram a lot of drama and grit into their debut for Negative Gain Productions, such that the individual songs often strain to contain it all. The one-person project of Remi Monroe combines raw electronics with highly emotional vocals, the result of which is a hazy, loping animal of a record, never settling into a comfortable or familiar groove. That works for and against Burning Out: at its best it feels bracing and unpredictable, the flipside of which is that it also has moments that feel aimless or off-kilter.

Eye Steal’s vocals are likely going to be the first thing most listeners latch onto, and despite the heavy emphasis on electronic fuzz and texture, they’re given plenty of room. Monroe has an arch croon often reminiscent of IAMX’s Chris Corner, and he deploys it to good effect conveying disaffect, disgust, high melodrama, or whatever else is required by the song. The contrast between his theatrical delivery and the saturated, buzzy synths and drums that make up the LP’s musical backbone is deliberate and gives the record its charm; Monroe gets to play the down at the heel songbird beset on all sides, shining through his roughshod surroundings. When he takes flight on the excellent “TV Armour” it feels triumphant, raising himself aloft on pure affect.

The record is strongest when it focuses on the tension between Monroe’s voice and the instrumentals, and several good songs like “Just Like You” are a direct product of those elements interacting and bolstering one another. Things are less interesting when the LP places more emphasis on the electronics, while a track like “Push” has a dangerous vibe at its heart it doesn’t build or release in a way that emphasizes it. And although opener “Who is it For” shows Eye Steal can do aggressive reasonably well, deeper cuts like “Better Than You’re Worth” lack the punch their rough and tumble sound would imply. You get the impression that Eye Steal are fine-tuning their approach and some experiments are simply more successful than others.

With that understanding, Burning Out has enough moments of note that you’d be foolish to dismiss them. Songs like “Ordinary Girl” where Monroe recasts himself as a doleful electropop libertines are simply too good to ignore, and the potential they display for the band is manifold. Eye Steal have ideas, they have some songwriting, production and performance chops, and they have a recognizable aesthetic. Once they zero in on how to bring all those elements across on every song they’ll be set.

Buy it.

Burning Out by Eye Steal

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