Tracks: August 20th, 2018

If all goes according to plan, we should be back to full time posting this week Monday to Friday, after a few weeks of reduced content due to staff vacations. Now that we’re both back in town, we plan to have a bunch of reviews, Observer pieces and podcasts served up piping hot for your eye and earholes in the coming weeks, just in time for the traditional fall release rush. Thanks for sticking with us, and why not indulge in this week’s Tracks while you’re here?

Winnipeg’s Viva Non enjoying the greenery

Unconscious, “Necropolis”
More freshness from SARIN’s X-IMG label in the form of a split from Unconscious (Italy) and HKKPTR (Germany). The hubbub surrounding techno and EBM hybridization seems to have settled down somewhat over the last year, but in a positive way: now rather than focusing on the novelty of bringing the two styles together, the pairing is an established genre unto itself, with plenty of albums, singles and splits like this one under its umbrella. Check out Unconscious’ “Necropolis” for a taste of where things are at in 2018, as the state of the art continues to evolve and define itself.
COUNTERMEASURES [XIMG006] by UNCONSCIOUS

Domus, “1955”
The first cuts from DOMUS, the project formed by ex-Agent Side Grinder members Thobias Eidevald and Henrik Sunbring, who exited that band post-2015’s Alkimia. With an instrumental sound punctuated by vocal samples, Domus seems to be favoring moody, hypnotic grooves with additional urgency provided by chiming guitar. “1955” feels both like what we would have expected from these guys given their pedigree, and like a further exploration of the sounds they’ve been associated with in the past, adding layers of extra cymbals, six-string texture and big reverbs that move it closer to post-rock territory. Their first EP appears in September, so it won’t be long before we have a more accurate picture of what Domus is all about.

Viva Non, “Tonally Outside”
Summer is the season for confessional synthpop, so it seems only appropriate that the dog days would be when we got our first taste of Negative Gain act Viva Non, whose album Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy makes it’s debut on September 7th. With short peppy songs, and a pleading vocal style that puts us in mind of Continues (and maybe even a little Kite), we’re definitely keen to hear more from the project helmed by James Hofer.
Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy by Viva Non

Mlada Fronta, “No Trespassing”
So apparently Remy Pelleschi is going full synthwave for his next release as Mlada Fronta, after leaning heavily that way on his last record Outrun. While we don’t spend a lot of time here talking about this particular style, we can’t deny that Pelleschi has a knack for it, summoning those neon tones most associated with the genre, but ducking around some of the easy pitfalls that come with the retro-based aesthetic. While “No Trespassing” sounds pretty down the pipe to us, we’re keen to hear if any of the other myriad sounds Mlada Fronta has been associated with over the years will make an appearance on the album when it arrives in September.
No Trespassing by Mlada Fronta

Reptilicus & Senking, “Delivery”
Way back in the year of our lord 2011 Icelandic synth artist Reptilicus and Senking collaborated on a series of recordings, associated with the shooting of the definitive modular synth documentary I Dream of Wires. While footage of the sessions made it to the expanded release of the doc, no album release had been forthcoming ’til now: having spent a few years mixing, editing the raw material Reptilicus, Senking and Rúnar Magnússon have assembled the album Unity, coming this fall from Artoffact Records. While the names may not be familiar to readers of this site, both Reptilicus and Senking are established acts on the global synth scene, so this one should be a pretty special release.
No Trespassing by Mlada Fronta

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We Have a Technical 221: A GD Human Being

FIRES. Photo Courtesy of Jill Grant @Take It For Granted.

It’s a special two-guest episode of We Have a Technical as we welcome Eric Sochocki of FIRES and Jamie Blacker of ESA to the podcast. We had the pleasure of sitting down with both artists at Terminus, and each offered insight into their history, goals and what the future might hold. Did you wonder what (highly danceable) direction FIRES might be going in? Are you wondering about the beast in the latest ESA record? Tune in true believers! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Lead Into Gold, “The Sun Behind the Sun”

Lead Into Gold
The Sun Behind the Sun
No, So Yes

The original instance of Paul Barker’s Lead Into Gold was born during in the late eighties, when Barker (along with Al Jourgensen) moonlighted from his dayjob as a principle in Ministry to produce and participate in innumerable projects for Wax Trax Records under the pseudonym Hermes Pan. While the project’s LP and smattering of singles and EPs from the era feature contributions from other musicians, its most notable attribute was that it was Barker’s outlet to explore the Wax Trax house style. The Sun Behind the Sun is the first major release of new material since the reactivation of the project a few years back, an LP that reconciles both the original incarnation of Lead Into Gold and Barker’s intervening years as an performer and producer.

On the classic tip, there are several songs here that wouldn’t sound out of place at all next to cuts from Age of Reason and Chicks & Speed: Futurism. The propulsive “We’ll Take Tomorrow” is a particular standout, marrying a trad-machine rock groove with a huge buzzing bass riff and sampled yells, easily capturing the feel of Wax Trax era cuts like “Faster Than Light” without coming off as a retread or a nostalgia cash-in. “These Unknown” achieves similar results, relying on reversed orchestral sounds, big string pads and synthesized bass pops to split the difference between the funky and the sinister.

Where Lead Into Gold really makes its case though is in the tracks that suggest growth from the band’s original template. The closing title track is recognizably the same band, with it’s sliced up drums courtesy of William Rieflin (an original LIG contributor), but uses a degraded sample at its outset to establish a musical theme which is echoed through the track, culminating in an unexpectedly simple melodic bassline. Earlier, “To The Throat” emulates dub’s studio reconstituted rhythms, but minus any kind of warmth and with an unsettling quantized precision that makes Barker’s warbled vocals feel all the more alien.

Returning to Lead Into Gold was a gamble for Barker. Had he gone full-retro he certainly could have hit diminishing returns, where completely divorcing Lead Into Gold from history could alienate drawn in by the project’s legacy. In using history as a jumping-off point for new ideas, The Sun Behind the Sun is both characteristic and fresh, reminding us both of where Paul Ion Barker has been and suggesting myriad new places he could go.

Buy it.

THE SUN BEHIND THE SUN by LEAD INTO GOLD

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Tracks: August 14th, 2018

We were extremely pleased last week by the news that Vancouver’s own peace/post-punk act SPECTRES had signed a deal with Artoffact Records. For years they’ve been one of our local favourite live acts, and readers of the site may recall that we counted their LPs Utopia and Nothing to Nowhere as some of the best of releases of their respective years. Now with a new LP and a proper reissue campaign on the horizon, we checked in guitarist Zach Batalden to find out what Tracks he’s been digging recently…

Vancouver’s SPECTRES are a god damn force on stage

Hi, I’m Zach and I’ve been playing guitar in the Vancouver based Post Punk band SPECTRES since 2005. In the last 13 years it’s been amazing to meet and play alongside so many cool bands, and it seems like now I can’t even keep up with all of the cool stuff going on out there. I was just asked to put together a list of five bands that I’ve been digging lately and immediately I started thinking of new stuff I’m really interested in. In the end narrowing it down to just 5 choices was no simply task as there are almost too many great bands out there right now to keep up with. So anyway here goes, in no particular order:

Molchat Doma, “дома молчат”
I heard this amazing band from Minsk, Belarus on my favorite Youtube channel, Harikiri Diat (whoever you are). I will say I’m generally a big fan of Slavic language post punk, bands like Kino, Paraf, Siekiera and Aljans have all had major impacts on me creatively, and I’ve been fortunate to see and play with my contemporary favorites Belgrado numerous times. So naturally, Belarussian post punk is going to grab my attention before I even press play, and I was not disappointed. I’m a person who likes to listen to full albums start to finish and I always seek out stuff where each song has its own feeling and it doesn’t sound like a) the band wrote the same song ten times over or b) they wrote one or two hits and then a bunch of filler. This album hits in all the right ways. The song writing on С крыш наших домов is extremely versatile with feelings of romance, alienation, total estrangement and transcendent beauty, driven along by uniquely programmed percussion and perfectly cold vocals delivered in a classic style that I think really hearkens back to some of the Slavic language greats I mentioned above.

Padkarosda, “Tétova Lelkek”
Another great new(ish) band from Eastern Europe, Padkarosda hail from Budapest, Hungary. I was completely blown away by them last year when I was fortunate to see them play with Diat in Berlin. It’s not hard to figure out why when you listen to these songs, the vocals are very aggressive and the music has a sense of urgency and tension that grabbed my attention instantly-not to mention the unrelenting basslines sending the whole thing careening forward. Musically they remind me of Musta Paraati but with a very stripped down intensity that I love. For me their music is very evocative of the creeping feeling you get when you walk down empty city streets alone and just maybe something dangerous awaits around the next corner. They have quite a bit of material released and it’s a real shame they don’t get much attention internationally, I think this would appeal to a lot people who find themselves interested in the more punk side of post punk. See what you think here.

Riki, “Hot City”
This demo has been on HEAVY rotation for me since it came out a few months ago. I love to dance, and this is unrepentant dance music that is simultaneously very stripped down and novel in its song writing approach. I like everything about these songs but the vocal melodies are the standout for me. I usually find myself listening to Hot City repeatedly, and I feel that this song more than the other two capitalizes on the great dichotomy in Chelsea and Huck’s vocals. Though I feel that this band will directly appeal to fans of dark music, particularly if you enjoy dance oriented synth stuff, it also really calls to mind some of the best parts of 1980’s pop- particularly “Like a Virgin” era Madonna. As milquetoast as that reference may be, this is (dark) pop at its finest and I think you’ll agree. Listen:

Johnny Couteau, “Is My Baby Love Real or Just a Hologram?!”
I pretty much lost my mind over Johnny Couteau a few years ago when he released From the Infamous Mind of a Psychoactive Runner and have followed along ever since (not that there’s been much output to follow). There’s something so unique about his music and I love his latest release, Repeat Function. The lyrics are very unique and evocative, and I always find myself imagining the strangest scenarios, like mutant romances set in a bombed out beach community long after the fall of society. This bilingual band brings in all kinds of eclectic influences and always keeps me following along to the end of the album, not only because of the addictive melodies but also just to see where they will go next. Oh yeah, and there are fucking saxophones. This Montreal based act is also relatively unknown which is a real shame because as far as I’m concerned this is one of the most interesting bands in this genre right now. There seems to be a renaissance in synth driven music happening and I find Johnny Couteau’s sneering vocals, a-typical arrangements and imaginative song writing very refreshing in what is feeling like an increasingly stagnant pool. Dive in here:

Orion, Execution
I’ve said for many years that for a country of its population size, Australia punches way above its weight class. Orion is no exception to this rule, and I simply cannot get enough of this record. Another great example of a band that knows how to write a record that keeps you listening from start to finish, each song has its own feeling and their influences don’t just beat you over the head as soon as you put it on. There’s a great balance in the guitar, programmed drums and layers of synth and ambient noise on top of the modulated bass. There’s also a clarity and earnestness in the vocals that works perfectly with the composition, I immediately think of Bernard Sumner’s vocals in New Order but it’s not a bite by any means. I find myself looking for something new to listen to and then just being like ‘ah fuck it I’m just going to listen to the Orion LP again’. I expect this band is going to be a really big deal, and rightfully so-they are doing literally everything right on this record. Get obsessed here:

Zach Batalden plays guitar in Vancouver post punk band SPECTRES, now on Artoffact records. You can hear him do his thing here:
Spectresvancouver.bandcamp.com

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We Have a Commentary: Comaduster, Hollow Worlds

It’s a very special We Have a Commentary, as for the first time ever Bruce and Alex sit down with the artist who made the album we’re commenting on. Yes, Réal Cardinal joins us to talk about Hollow Worlds, his astonishing LP of post-rock and bass music flavoured IDM. Stories about it’s inspiration, construction, and legacy are told, and secrets are revealed as we go over every inch of this modern classic of sound design and production! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly and stream from Spotify or the widget below.

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Observer: Sasha Darko & Suumhow


Sasha Darko
Genesis
self-released

Russian producer and video game developer Sasha Darko has a deep resume of obscure releases, both under his own name and numerous other aliases and collaborations. Nestled in amongst techno, ambient, IDM and minimal releases is Sacred Lines Genesis, a soundtrack Darko produced for his own homebrew Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game Sacred Lines back in 2013. Some five years later, Sasha has released Genesis an addendum release to that soundtrack that makes use of some of the same soundsets but is decidedly different in execution. Where the former record favoured ambient and soundtrack moods, the new release dips into numerous genres, many unprecedented in the artist’s own catalogue. “ΞWЬTY HOUSΞS” is a classic witch house number, complete with trap drums, indistinct and fuzzy bass textures and degraded samples, where “UИISOГ” plays out as a succinct burst of electro-industrial weirdness. “VГГ 4 ΞГΞWΞИTS” is an odd bit of syncopated downtempo techno, a definite contrast to “CЯISIS”, the only track where strings of reverbed bleeps and boxy drums speak to the release’s video game connection. How this is related to the original release, and why Darko elected to bring it to light in 2018 isn’t especially clear. What it does highlight is the producer’s own specific brand of quixotic weirdness, forever marching to the beat of his own bitcrushed drummer.
GENESIS by Sasha Darko


Suumhow
Crash_Reports
n5md

Whether intentional or not, debut release by Belgian duo Suumhow leans deep into mid-90s autechre-styled IDM on their debut Crash Reports, right down to the monochromatic abstract digital cover artwork. That’s not a bad thing at all though; while their grasp of how to balance melody and abstraction certainly brings to mind records like Chiastic Slide, it’s done with enough care and attention to detail to warrant the comparison. Check the delicate sequence that bubbles out from behind the scratchy loop that runs through “Carne” or the soft tonal shifts that contrast the indecipherable vocoded vocal sounds on “Brus L”. Or even better, how the syncopated glitches of “Dunningkruger” reinvent the song’s arythmic groove several times over, slipping in and out of recognizable patterns with surprising ease. Most tracks are built around a fairly standard array of glitch and bendy Warp Records tropes, but that doesn’t stop a song from the static-washed “Cetii” from being lovely and emotional, moreso it informs it and provides an easy hook for fans of classic IDM. Those craving a dose of the genre’s heyday could do far worse than to spend some time with this pleasant and listenable LP.
Crash_Reports by Suumhow

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We Have a Technical 220: Say Hi

Claus is in the haus

With Bruce away for a few weeks of well-deserved vacation, Alex digs into the interviews we collected during Terminus Festival for a conversation with Claus Larsen of Leaether Strip. Needless to say this was a bucket list interview for the Senior Staff, and Claus obliged with numerous fascinating stories and perspectives from the past and present alike. What can you expect from his forthcoming album World Molæster and his new project with members of Die Krupps and Fear Factory, Die Klute>? Listen and find out! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Statiqbloom, “Infinite Spectre”

Statiqbloom
Infinite Spectre
Translation Loss Records

Last year’s Blue Moon Blood was an important record for Fade Kainer’s Statiqbloom. Arriving some three years into the project’s existence, it was a definitive statement of sorts, delivering on the murky electro-industrial of the project’s earliest recordings with an eye towards songwriting and structure that spoke to Kainer’s background in experimental and extreme metal. Now joined by bandmate Denman C Anderson, new EP Infinite Spectre feels like something of a jump off from that record, maintaining its focus and sense of purpose but indulging in some interesting stylistic expansion that highlight the project’s individual strengths.

Those familiar with the ideas that Statiqbloom have been working with up ’til this point should find plenty to enjoy in the four new songs that make up the bulk of the EP. “Thin Hidden Hand” and “Ersatz Gaze” are excellent examples of how Kainer inteprets classic post-industrial ideas through his own creative lens, anointing rigid basslines and percussion with ample amounts of atmosphere and texture. The direct rhythm programming and chorus of “Thin Hidden Hand” speak to the project’s capacity for immediacy, belying the often opaque sound design. On the other hand it’s the sneaky sequences that snake their way through “Ersatz Gaze” before the surprisingly clean vocal and foggy breakdown of the song’s climax that illustrate how much variation is possible within the project’s established boundaries.

“Vampire” on the other hand shows off an alternate palette of sorts, pushing fuzzed out percussion and synthlines right to the front of the mix, invoking Ivens-esque dark electro and a touch of rhythmic noise. “Survival II” goes more extreme structurally, starting with an almost EBM-like groove that persists until the song dissipates into pure ambience and distant crashes, travelling from one end of the band’s purview to the other in the course of a single song.

How much of Infinite Gaze is Kainer and Anderson looking to deliberately remodel Statiqbloom versus just following up on the various threads that are already a part of the band’s catalogue isn’t entirely clear. A goodly portion of the project’s success is in how it treads carefully between obscurity and restrained fury, so trying to divine exact answers about where things are going in the future probably won’t be a fruitful exercise for most listeners. Creative motives aside, it’s an EP it has a remarkable amount of meat on the bone, with substance enough to justify it as a release in its own right.

Buy it.

Infinite Spectre by Statiqbloom

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Tracks: August 7th, 2018

Hey everybody, it’s finally here! The website redesign went live last week, and honestly we couldn’t be happier. For ages we wanted a reactive design that looked good on mobile, and an alphabetical listing of reviews (amongst other improvements) and finally we have them! It probably shouldn’t have taken us this long to get our asses in gear to get this work done, but with the able help of our fearless web designer at Fancypants Design Co we finally have a website that looks up to date and easy to read. Of course transitioning to a new site means moving a lot of stuff around virtually and that can lead to some broken links and such. Why not have a look around, and if you notice anything amiss, drop us a comment so we can fix it! Time for Tracks? Yes, yes it is.

Le Chocolat Noir is bittersweet indeed

V▲LH▲LL, “Bonetrees (The Rain Within Remix)”
Andy Deane aka the Rain Within throws some neon synthwave light on our favourite ghost vikings V▲LH▲LL on this new remix of “Bonetrees”, taken from a forthcoming remix disk due later this year. “>If you missed Grimoire back in February, you should probably go and rectify that; it remains one of our favourite releases of 2018 and never fails to bring some nordic chill even at the height of Summer. The wolves that roam stay roaming, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Architect, “Ursuppe (Alternative Modular Version)”
Some of you may be aware that Daniel Myer had a bunch of gear stolen recently, a staggering blow for any musician, especially when they make their living from music. In order to replace what was lost Daniel has put together Find Fund Finish a collection of outtakes, demos and live performance versions of tracks from his Architect project, available now via Bandcamp. Fans of Herr Myer get the double satisfaction of hearing tons of otherwise unreleased material in his inimitable style, and also the knowledge that they’re helping an artist produce more work for them to enjoy in future. Check out this neat version of “Ursuppe”, then cop the release ASAP.
Find Fund Finish by Architect

Le Chocolat Noir, “Caméléon”
Basic Unit Productions recently announced the next volume in their excellent Frost compilation series, the 2013 and 2014 volumes of which yielded inumerable club bangers that still get play in our more techno and synth-minded DJ sets. Volume 3 is set to feature contributions from Divider, Rendered, DSX, Blac Kolor and more, not to mention this cut from Croation minimal body act Chocolat Noir.
Frost Vol. III by Le Chocolat Noir

Caustic Grip, “Left”
In case you missed it last time we mentioned them, Australia’s Caustic Grip are worth taking some time to get to know. New release Volume II is another collection of recently release tracks, once again showing off a range of influences that goes well beyond the namecheck in the project’s moniker. That said, you can definitely hear some of that good good FLA action on “Left”, a track that starts off sounding a bit like Schwefelgelb before sliding into electro-industrial on the chorus. Definitely curious to hear more from these cats soon.
Volume II [ep] by CAUSTIC GRIP

Upsetter, “BIO-HACKER”
Finally, a new one from Pictureplane’s EBM/Industrial side-project upsetter. While Travis Egedy is mostly known for venturing to more chill climes with his main project, you’ve always been able to hear the influence of more harsh and rigid sounds on his work, especially on his last LP Technomancer. Upsetter is just taking those sounds he has flirted with and focusing in on them, with some pretty clubbable results, as on “BIO-HACKER” and it’s equally bangin’ b-side “Fever Dream”.
BIO-HACKER / FEVER DREAM by Upsetter

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Alex Reed, “The Gothic (songs written 1995​-​96, age 15​-​16)”

Alex Reed
The Gothic (songs written 1995​-​96, age 15​-​16)
self-released

The Gothic is comprised of songs written by Seeming’s Alex Reed whilst he was a teenager living abroad as an exchange student more than 20 years ago. Eventually recorded on a break from birthing 2017’s remarkable SOL: A Self Banishment Ritual (our favourite release of last year), the collection should be notable to fans of Reed’s post-gothic, post-everything oeuvre as it presages aspects of his catalogue in some interesting ways, a document of a musician we know well as his voice was still developing.

What might be the most remarkable thing about The Gothic is how accomplished Alex Reed was as a songwriter at 15-16 years old. Tracks like “The Great Green Room” and “Drowning” are very obvious nods to middle-era The Cure, but rather than sounding derivative they come off as pleasing homages that zero in on that band’s eternal dramatic appeal and hooks. And despite having some mildly eye-rolly couplets you have to admire how complete “Famine of the Soul” is from an arrangement standpoint, it’s modulating melody deepening and widening around strummy chords and drum triplets.

Reed has declared that “not one note was changed” in these new recordings, and that his goal was to dash them off quickly but accurately in the style he had envisioned in his adolescence. That contrast between the vibrancy and youthfulness of the songs and Reed’s fully formed persona as a performer and producer yields some notable results. Sometime the contrast is vivid, as the portentous capital-G-goth-rock of “Mother’s Blood” (a song so naively ambitious that it comes complete with a choir on the chorus) is injected with some of the wry and playful delivery Reed often uses as a counterpoint to his more ominous passages. Elsewhere the effect is almost imperceptible as on the folksy acapella opening track “The Deepest Sea of Discontent”, which despite being a touch florid could easily pass for a current Seeming b-side.

The Gothic is a collection of personal juvenalia, sure, but the vibrancy that comes from that innocence is its strength. It’s bracing to hear a song like “Something Dire”, a number so obviously aiming to be momentous, but whose charm is actually in the wide-eyed attempts at worldliness of the kind only teenagers can manage with a straight face. Simultaneously playful, earnest and impassioned, it’s a very literal portrait of the artist as a young man, with all the exuberance and melodrama that implies. Gothic indeed.

Buy it.

THE GOTHIC (songs written 1995-96, age 15-16) by Alex Reed

We Have a Technical 219: Don’t Want to Talk

It’s a very special travelogue episode of We Have a Technical as Bruce and Alex record their impressions of Terminus Festival in Calgary, along with a ton of special guest appearances from performers and friends of the site. Who brought the goods? What did we think of each and every performance? How much can two dudes record in one weekend on less than average sleep and with incredibly hoarse voices from yelling? You’ll have to listen to find out! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Here is the music that was played on this episode:

iVardensphere, “Thin Veil”
Glass Apple Bonzai, “Fire in the Sky (Live)”
FIRES, “Red Goes Grey”
Actors, “L’Appel Du Vide”
Leaether Strip, “Don’t Tame Your Soul”
Boy Harsher, “Underwater”
Mesh, “Taken For Granted”

Tracks: July 1st, 2018

Hey friends! Alex here, just home from a wonderful music-filled weekend at Terminus Festival, filled up with lots of fun stories and fond memories of another industrial summer camp. Bruce is away for three weeks, which means I’m minding the shop solo for a week or two, which means a slightly reduced posting schedule, although we will still have weekly episodes of We Have a Technical, as well as Bombers and We Have a Commentary for y’all to enjoy. I’m gonna crack a beer and get to work on this overdue edition of Tracks.

Paul Barker is OG always

Blush Response, “Live in Fear of Conflict”
Fresh illness from Joey Blush via aufnahme + wiedergarbe in the form of “Live in Fear of Conflict”. Taken from forthcoming 12″ Abuse Your Freedom, the track is pretty much straight EBM but also bridges some of the sounds Joey was working with on his work with Ant-Zen and Sonic Groove, misty textures forming in and around the rapidfire bassline and snappy drum track. More goodness from a producer who has been firing on all cylinders of late.
Abuse Your Freedom by Blush Response

Lead Into Gold, “We’ll Take Tomorrow”
Feels like Paul Barker has been everywhere over the last couple of years, touring with The Cocks and A Perfect Circle, not to mention reactivating his Wax Trax-era project Lead Into Gold. Dropping just as he hits the road with LiG on an opening stint for ohGr, new album The Sun Behind the Sun draws on the bass grooves Barker has laid down on countless classic jams, throws in some of that classic Hermes Pan drum programming and some heavy brass-styled synth pads for a properly epic feel. Great stuff and a record that has shot to the top of our “must-listen” pile.
THE SUN BEHIND THE SUN by LEAD INTO GOLD

Cyanotic, “Time to Move”
Brand new release from Chicago’s industrial rock traditionalists Cyanotic T2 is actually an expanded (by almost 100%) version of their enjoyable 2017 release Tech Noir. This track Time to Move is a slight rejig of that record’s “Deadweight”, pushing the electronics to the forefront and highlighting the synthetic and mechanical aspect of Cyanotic’s game. T2 comes to us courtesy of Armalyte Industries in collaboration with Glitch Mode Recordings, a little trans-Atlantic partnership by labels that keep the machine-rock fires burning apocalypse bright in dark times.
T2 by Cyanotic

Molchat Doma, “Tancevat”
We don’t know a damn thing about Belarus-based act Molchat Doma, but the fact that their new album is being released by the excellent folks at Detriti Records was all the co-sign we needed to check ‘em out. Turns out the band trade in a peppy, drum-machine driven wave sound with plenty of twang and tremolo for the folks who like that sort of thing. And yes, by “the folks who like that sort of thing” we mean us here at I Die: You Die, meaning we’re gonna be keeping a close eye on this release.
Molchat doma – Etazhi by Detriti Records

Freak Dream, “Into the Sun”
Finally, we’re getting some weird rock fumes off Vancouver-based new Artoffact signees Freak Dream, whose debut LP Into the Sun will be released on September 21st. Elliot Langford is drawing from his punk and hardcore background and love for visionary producer-artists like Prince and Trent Reznor to create some seriously twisty synthpunk, replete with dreamy melodic breakdowns, full on grind-assaults and alternately reedy and snarled vocals that don’t seem like they should be in the same postal-code much less the same song. Kind of reminscent of Genghis Tron, which is a pretty good thing in our book.
Into the Sun by Freak Dream

We Have a Technical 218: A Regular CCR

It Was.

On the heels of bidding adieu to their subcultural home away from home for years on end, the Senior Staff are talking about Vancouver’s late great Club 23 West. Alex and Bruce talk about the club’s history in Vancouver as well as how the club’s fate points towards larger trends continent wide. They’re joined by some long-time friends and fellow DJs on this, the latest episode of We Have Technical, along with some last minute Terminus prep! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

aliceffekt, “Noon Guest”

aliceffekt - Noon Guest

aliceffekt
Noon Guest
self-released

Devine Lu Linvega’s path to the current style of ambient he releases as aliceffekt has been a long one. The hyperactive mode of his early work, an interesting blend of glitch, noise, and chiptune, gradually calmed itself and found more a more placid, evocative pace. The thread running parallel to this musical one is Linvega’s work as a video game and app designer (alongside innumerable other design projects). The unmistakable visual style and uncanny effect of his virtual worlds and figures feels very much sympatico with the sparseness of recent aliceffekt releases, which makes the circumstances surrounding new release all the more intriguing.

Noon Guest is the soundtrack to still-in-development indie game Moon Quest, whose quirky throwback 8-bit style seems, at least from a visual perspective, to be of a much different cast than Linvega’s own monochromatic and often highly abstract games (to this casual gamer’s eyes it looks a tad like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP). Sound design remains one of aliceffekt’s calling cards, though the ambiguity of the sources of Noon Guest‘s sounds puts a fresh spin on it. While apparently incorporating “xenomorphic field recordings into 25 minutes of ambience from the game,” it’s not clear whether Linvega himself’s responsible for the original in-game sounds which act as the jumping off point for the soundtrack.

Still, regardless of lineage, the sounds found on Noon Guest carry a great deal of weight, at times reminding me of latter-era Access To Arasaka in their spacey, echoing moments, while at others feeling much more submerged. While there are plenty of clear fluctuations in tones across these pieces (ambient doesn’t necessitate drone, of course), more often than not they seem to fulfill a textural rather than melodic purpose, bringing into clearer focus the pings, attacks, and decays Linvega’s engineered. Whether these are meant to connote landscapes or the habits of the aforementioned xenomorphs is unclear free from the context of Moon Quest. Hell, even the wordplay of the release’s title and those of its tracks (“Loom Rest”, “Womb Nest”, “Tomb Pest”) seems to suggest a conscious abstraction away from the game itself, but either way the minimal yet rewarding groove Linvega’s settled into is well represented here.

Buy it.

Noon Guest by aliceffekt

Jérôme Chassagnard, “Sea”

Jérôme Chassagnard
Sea
Hymen Records

Even if you weren’t aware of the concept behind Jérôme Chassagnard’s new released Sea, the splashing samples that start the record should clue you in right away. Literal as they are, the sounds of waves that permeate each track on the release serve an important purpose, ushering the listener into the record’s playful, atmospheric take on the aquatic.

Even minus the samples, Chassagnard’s sound design suggests water, and specifically being submerged. The short release’s title track opens with the sound of a diver entering the water, and follows it with the sound of a SCUBA breathing apparatus. Even once a gentle electronic melody starts to repeat and the track starts to abstract itself, the deep modulating pads carry the song forward inevitably, like a current. The song “See” does a similar thing in reverse, starting with deep drones with little to no discernible shape or boundary, suggesting the isolated and alien nature of the deep ocean. A simple comforting keyboard line emerges from those depths, occasionally bending under pressure but ultimately carrying the song upwards towards the surface.

The middle of the record plays much more like trad IDM, embellishing the drippy, liquid soundscapes with glitchy percussion and tweaky synthlines. The familiarity of this approach ends up playing against the songs a bit, losing some of the alien soundscape quality so apparent in the release’s bookends. The intricately arranged samples and melodies of “Octopus” have a bit of aquatic flair to them, and reversed sounds that accentuate “Morning Sun” sound like a peaceful lapping tide but they ultimately feel like standard technoid numbers, well executed for that but not as immersive or suggestive as what comes before and after them.

Concept records are the bread and butter of abstract electronic musicians, although there’s frequently little to connect a release to the ideas that inspire it beyond song titles. Sea doesn’t make any bones about what it’s supposed to be about, successfully getting across the beauty, danger and pure wonder of the ocean as interpreted through tasteful electronic composition. With care and even a little whimsy, Jérôme Chassagnard thoughtfully provides the listener with an audio tour through his own fascination with the sea.

Buy it.

sea by jérôme chassagnard

Tracks: July 23rd, 2018

It was with a heady melange of emotions last night that we bid adieu to our long-term club home-away from home, 23 West. The club was the source of countless parties, shows, and memories for both of us, and spinning our sets and tipping our wrists for the last time last night had us more than a little verklempt. Okay, full disclosure: this is being written several hours -before- the Sunday night blowout party, because after what we imagine is going to be a very, very, very, very late night ain’t neither of us going to be in any state to wake up in time to bash out a remotely competent Tracks post. Speaking of which, enough about the past: let’s get to the future of Our Thing with some new music!

Hiro Kone

Hiro Kone featuring Group A, “Pure Expenditure”
New York electronic experimentalist Hiro Kone (who had a collaborative release with Drew McDowall earlier this year) is joining the gang at Dais for her new LP, Pure Expenditure. The title track (featuring the excellent Group A) points towards an intriguing tension between deep, hypnotic phasing that has an unearthly undertow and absolutely precise and concrete programming.
Pure Expenditure by Hiro Kone

Mr.Kitty, “Crawling (Linkin Park cover)”
On paper there might not be a lot of similarities between Linking Park and Mr.Kitty on the surface, but going beyond surface elements there’s some definite commonalities. The former band’s calling card was always expressiveness and emotion, and that’s Mr.Kitty’s stock in trade. Consequently this cover of “Crawling” plays incredibly honest and vulnerable, lacking any trace of cross-genre irony. Once again, MK shows that whether remix, cover or original, one of his greatest strengths is his open sincerity.

Axon Tremolo, “Timeline”
No sooner did we discover that the Vampire Rodents catalog had migrated to Bandcamp than the King Rat himself, Daniel Vahnke, dropped a new album. If we’re following, the Axon Tremolo record was put together some years ago but never saw the light of day ’til now. A quick skim suggests some detours from the wholly sample-based methods on which Vahnke build his reputation for the sake of some smoother jams, or, in Vahnke’s own words, “adult-contemporary new-age synth”. Looking forward to digging into this as an amuse-bouche after the murine feast of the Rodents extant work.
Axon Tremolo by Axon Tremolo

Digital Geist, “Confrontational”
The homeboy Alex K (no, not senior editor Alex K) of Digital Geist just dropped a new EP, and much like his previous output it finds a solid grounding in both techno and body music. The complexity of arrangements and sound design is part of Digital Geist’s appeal, listen to how he arranges seemingly simple percussion patterns, layering them with delays to create syncopation with the track’s insistent bassline. Confrontation features 3 originals and a cover of Front 242′s “Lovely Day” with vocals by Neotek, available now on Bandcamp.
Confrontational by Digital Geist

Anticipation, “Prescription”
The always reliable DKA label has a split in the works between Voice of Saturn, whose tape of alternately smooth and block synth experimentation we dug last year, and Anticipation, a new project from one of the blokes in Pyramid Club. The first taste of Anticipation’s side of the tape points towards stripped down, loping acid which has our interest piqued.
Anticipation/Voice of Saturn by Anticipation

Trust Obey, “The Soul Is A Temple Of Wire Carcasses”
Heads may recall that waaaay back in the year of our lord 1994 John Bergin’s Trust Obey released a soundtrack to James O’Barr’s The Crow, meant to be read as you were reading the landmark indie comic. To coincide with an upcoming remaster of the Fear and Bullets album, Bergin has been putting unreleased live and demo material from the era up on Bandcamp, with an EP in March and another released just last week. Check out unheard choral infused track “The Soul is a Temple of Wire Carcasses”, and be sure to peep that re-release when it comes out, it’s a gem deserving of some more attention.
Fear And Bullets: The Tides Of Sin EP by Trust Obey

Observer: Plack Blague & Imperial Black Unit

Plack Blague
Night Trax Remixes
self-released

Hellbent for leather-daddy DIY EBM act Plack Blague have been breath of fresh (if sweaty) air for the North American industrial scene. Beyond the immediate appeal of a masked man in full fetish club kit singing songs about cruising over rough body music, the project has found a way to balance camp and deadly serious perspectives into a bracing whole. Following up on 2017′s enjoyable Night Trax comes Night Trax Remixes, a decently varied collection of alternate takes that showcases the variability of the original material. There’s some interesting contrasts that come from that, with mixes like Sweat Boys big-saw-industrial club take on “Leather Life” standing in sharp contrast to Lana Del Rabies’ lo-fi noise version of “Destroy the Identity”. Similarly, there’s not a lot of middle ground to be found between Statiqbloom’s bleak and atmospheric dark electro and Cult Play’s hyped up techno, much less Endometrium Cuntplow’s caustic death industrial, but none feel out of place as remixers. One of Blague’s key strengths on record is his ability to muscle his way across genre boundaries, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that there’s unity to be found amongst the disparate cast of artists he tapped for this release. It’s all in the name of Blague, and everyone brings something interesting to the music of the man who fucks the man who fucks with you.
Night Trax Remixes by Plack Blague

Imperial Black Unit - State Of Pressure

Imperial Black Unit
State Of Pressure
aufnahme + wiedergabe

Imperial Black Unit didn’t just impress the folks from Youth Code after gigging with them on the latter’s recent trip down under, but also won over the savvy mavens at aufnahme + wiedergabe, who still have an ear for pure EBM despite all their dark techno success. Don’t get it twisted, though: as much as Imperial Black Unit are well versed in the classics, it’s not so much austere, minimalist anhalt that they’re shooting for as much as it is squelchy and mopey early 90s excess on their debut four track EP. Check the morose pads which adorn “Philosophy Of A Knife”, or the way cascades of tinkling arpeggios on “The White Rose” add post-rave ennui to an otherwise storming metallic banger. We enjoyed the work of one half of IBU, Thomas Chalandon, with his X-IMG-affiliated Templer project, but it’s exciting to see him setting aside its raw and scraping clatter for the moment for the sake of lusher work. Blurring the line between EBM and dark electro isn’t necessarily anything new, but the sound IBU have established quickly feels fresh and relevant, combining equal parts groove and aggression that should hold just as much appeal for Leaether Strip loving true-schoolers as for the Berghain set.
State Of Pressure by Imperial Black Unit

We Have a Technical 217: Almost As Much

Malaria!

The Senior Staff try to save records of note from the memory hole on this episode of We Have A Technical. Alex and Bruce petitioj for why each of the five records they’ve picked which are currently out of print deserve a reissue. What oddball corners of genre crossover will be explored? Which overlooked pioneers will be championed? Tune in to find out, as well as getting the skinny on recent sets by Rational Youth and Psyche. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Replicas: Cyberaktif, “Tenebrae Vision”

Cyberaktif
Tenebrae Vision
Artoffact

What is it?
On paper Cyberaktif’s sole LP Tenebrae Vision is a big deal. The industrial supergroup composed of Front Line Assembly’s Bill Leeb and Skinny Puppy’s cEvin Key was formed just a few short years after the former artist’s exit from Puppy, during a particularly fertile period of creativity for the principles involved. In practice, though, the album has flown under the radar in recent years, mostly remembered for the inclusion of stone classic club number “Nothing Stays”. In fact, despite its considerable pedigree the record had only seen repress once since its 1991 release, until Artoffact did a generous vinyl reissue in 2017. Now available via AoF on a completist double CD, the casual and dedicated fan have the opportunity to really assess Tenebrae Vision‘s legacy and its place in the catalogues of the artists who made it.

What’s on it?
Legend has it that Wax Trax commissioned the Cyberaktif album to try and determine what might have happened musically had Bill Leeb remained in Skinny Puppy instead of leaving the band in the mid-eighties. Whether that oft-repeated tale is true or not, the album doesn’t really answer the question: for one thing Leeb’s replacement in Puppy (and arguably the catalyst for that band’s transformation into genre-defining post-industrial pioneers) Dwayne Goettel was present throughout the recording sessions for Tenebrae Vision, providing keys and sample manipulation. Secondly, Tenebrae Vision feels more like a fusion of what the artists involved were up to in their own projects at the time than it does some alternate history version of SP.

Specifically, songs like opener “The Road Kill” and “Acid Cripple” feel very akin to the sort of sample and sound design exercises Key and Goettel were working with as Doubting Thomas, albeit with vocals provided by Leeb to distinguish them. For his part, Leeb (credited on the original release by his old school alias Wilhelm Schroeder) brought the rigid basslines and mechanical textures of the records he and Rhys Fulber released immediately proceeding and following Tenebrae Vision, 90′s electro-industrial standard-settersCaustic Grip and Tactical Neural Implant. The vocoder heavy “Ruptured Freeks” sounds like it could have popped up on any FLA record of the era without seeming out of place.

In practice the two flavours work reasonably well together without necessarily gelling entirely, never wholly committing to trippy experimentalism or full-on sequencer bending dancefloor assaults. That said, the middle ground between those extremes is explored in some notable ways, like on “Brain Dead Decision” where a mechanical double time bass groove is buffeted by complex delays and oddball blasts of noise, or “Dis Coarse Illusion” where a dubby loop has delicate sequences built over top of it. Aside from “Nothing Stays”, the record’s undoubted highlight for most heads is “Paradiessiets”, which features vocal and writing contributions from Blixa Bargeld, adding a goodly amount of Einstürzende Neubauten’s Haus Der Luege to the proceedings.

The reissue also gathers all the extant material released on the “Nothing Stays” and “Temper” singles, which is not an inconsiderable bonus: b-sides “Black + White” and “Dream Needle” are as good as anything on the album proper and well worth the time for those who are only familiar with the classic LP tracklisting.

Who should buy it?
Cyberaktif was always meant to be something of a one-off, so presenting every track the project produced in one package is a mitzvah to industrial archivists and neophytes alike. Beyond the variable quality of the material, most of which comes in above decent but below essential, it’s a useful historical document, and one that provides some context for other celebrated works by its creators.

Buy it.

Tenebrae Vision by Cyberaktif

Stockhaussen, “XII”

Stockhaussen - XII

Stockhaussen
XII
Infravox Records

Angel Kauff’s been committed to a resolutely analogue sound on the first two records from his Stockhaussen project, and he turned his interests in vintage synths to decidedly coldwave ends on those releases. Without totally moving away from that ethos, Kauff makes some moves towards brighter, or at least peppier, dancefloors with XII. Without betraying his analogue roots or the tense mood of his previous work, here he’s bridging the gap between coldwave and a range of synthpop sounds, often with the help of some notable guests.

The move from sparser coldwave arrangements to more spritely tunes seems to have been no great chore for Kauff as he punches in busier sequences with aplomb. Kauff’s ability to slide in amidst the classic synthpop milieu he’s honoring on XII is nicely demonstrated on “The System”, which features a guest spot from Canadian synthpop OG Tracy Howe of Rational Youth. As luck would have it I saw Rational Youth perform this past weekend, and I couldn’t help but think about how much of Howe’s work both old and new fits well alongside Kauff’s. Both use the bounce and light percussion of their music as something of a feint, putting the often grim themes of their work in sharper contrast.

“The System”‘s followed up by mid-album highlight “Una Posibilidad”, which sticks a simple but imposing vocal chorus over a dead simple synthline to great effect. Simultaneously connoting Din [A] Tod, Welle:Erdball’s NDW fixation, and even Men Without Hats, it’s a testament to how Kauff’s less-is-more arrangements work on XII. A very different mood comes over “Face Of God”, though, when Bestial Mouths’ Lynette Cerezo arrives. Cerezo’s vocals are as distinctive as they are dramatic, and Kauff doesn’t try to swim against their current, and sets aside the bounce which otherwise dominates the record for a suitably slow and echoing piece, recalling his decidedly darker earlier work.

Closing things out is a collaboration with Cimientos Fecundos, a new Columbian act of whom I have to admit ignorance. The result carries no small amount of italo disco in its bubbling, up-tempo arpeggios and simple bass, but between the minor key and the impassive vocals, a sinister pall is cast across “Movimientos Telúricos”, recalling the cold disassociation of Kirlian Camera’s early italo-noir releases. That combination of light and dark is as good an encapsulation as any of the move Kauff’s made with XII: keeping one foot in an icy origin while testing somewhat warmer climes with the other.

Buy it digitally or on vinyl.

L.P. "XXI" by Rational Youth, Lynette Cerezo, Bestial Mouths, Cimientos Fecundos, INMATFABRIK

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