Tracks: March 27th, 2017

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

Stockhaussen

Stockhaussen multitasks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Have a Technical 148: Publicize This

In this week’s episode of We Have A Technical, we’re taking up the weighty question of technology: how has it guided the production and evolution of industrial music over the past decades? How has it been dealt with as a theme in this music? How well-equipped is post-industrial music to address future technological developments and dilemmas? Heady stuff, plus all of the usual fixin’s (and some Depeche Mode real talk) in the latest episode of the I Die: You Die podcast! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

Replicas: Severe Illusion, “Discipline Is Reward Enough”

Replicas is the handle we use to write about reissues and archival releases, offering some thoughts on the original material, and whatever additional goodies or format shifts may have been appended. Today we’re cracking the reissued debut of one of our preferred (and very acerbic) Swedish acts…

Severe Illusion - Discipline Is Reward Enough

Severe Illusion
Discipline Is Reward Enough
Advoxya

What is it?
Severe Illusion was born out of Fredrik Djurfeldt and Ulf Lundblad’s mutual feeling that “the whole EBM scene had turned into cheap pop music“, and 2003′s Discipline Is Reward Enough was the first major product of that sense of dissatisfaction, after a couple of EPs and a self-released demo. In the fourteen years since Discipline‘s release, Severe Illusion have carved out a cult following in some of the more remote corners of Our Thing, both in terms of taste and geography.

Discipline contains all of the caustic cynicism which has become the duo’s trademark. Tracks like “Runner” and “Penalty” (and, hell, the album’s title alone) conjure images of a world in which we are made willing participants in our own oppression (the They Live samples which crop up at a couple of points are appropriate here). After enduring a round of the band’s brusque scouring of the veener of ‘polite society’, one might have trouble identifying a sense of self worth liberating. That’s the unnerving line of questioning Severe Illusion are capable of sending one down.

Musically, the balance between Djurfeldt’s vocals and the programming isn’t as synced in as it’d become in later releases, and the familiar Klinik-like vocal distortion which would be later whittled away sometimes runs the risk of obscuring the band’s thematics. That said, the synths, bass, and kicks are all thoroughly punchy and as biting, with bar after bar of staccato punishment. Severe Illusion have always communicated a sense of dispassionate confrontation to me, and Discipline Is Reward Enough shows that they had that eerie mood on lock from the get go.

What’s on it?
Advoxya’s 2-CD reissue is about as jam-packed with bonus content as could be hoped. The LP’s original ten tracks are complemented by a whopping sixteen additional pieces, with the whole affair crossing the two hour threshold. Rather than just bunging things up with relatively indistinguishable remixes and the like, the bonus material is predominantly previously unreleased versions, live collaborations, and outtakes which span the band’s entire career, from their first demos right up to last year. Trying to triangulate songs based on sound (does this come before or after the original Discipline release?) is a fun enough exercise, though I proved woefully inept at actually placing the tracks in the band’s chronology without checking the detailed liner notes.

Who should buy it?
Severe Illusion’s appeal should be immediately apparent to EBM purists who’ve yet to check them out, and this edition of Discipline Is Reward Enough offers, um, enough reward for those who like their stuff blunt and aggressive, but might also appreciate a break from the neo-trad strains of anhalt. But I’ve always thought that the band’s brand of social criticism, never quite reducible to a simple political platform or reactionary nihilism, deserves a larger audience in North America. If grinding EBM with some fresh takes on themes you’re well accustomed to sounds appealing, I heartily endorse Severe Illusion, and this exhaustive release gives you everything you need to get acquainted with them.

Buy it.

The Rorschach Garden, “Everything Must Burn”

The Rorschach Garden
Everything Must Burn
Bazooka Joe

Philipp Münch’s The Rorschach Garden has been making minimal synth music since well before minimal synth was a commonly used genre descriptor. While the project’s output has bordered on synthpop and gritty industrial (despite never getting close to the sturm and drang of his work in power noise originals Synapscape), the core of TRG has generally consisted of an economic arrangement of synths, drum machines and Münch’s own semi-monotone vocal delivery. New album Everything Must Burn is amongst the most stripped down in the band’s expansive discography, an exercise in doing as much as possible with a pretty spare toolkit.

The press-release for Everything Must Burn makes a point of differentiating between classic and retro, and that’s as good a way as any to define the album’s arrangements. Like a lot of The Rorschach Garden’s most recent material, the specific use of analogue synths and uncluttered production gives a timeless feel that goes beyond aping early genre touchstones like The Normal or Fad Gadget. Songs like the instrumentals “Noël Melancholique” and “View Through Water” feel fresh and alive, solid enough musically to stand up without any nostalgic association. Münch will occasionally acknowledge the antecedents for his current material – witness the pointed Tuxedomoon shout-out on the lively “A Tear for a Funeral” – but by and large he plays it straight and focuses his energy on wringing as much as he can from his songs.

It is notable how much The Rorschach Garden gets out of some pretty spare songwriting. Opener “Happy Modern Humans” puts it all out there in the first twenty seconds, but by way of some clever layering and some occasional extra bits of programming the song seems far more broad than its simple melody and rhythm track would have you believe. Same with “The Plan Behind the Plan” and the proto-body music of the title track, where some judicious funk and extra percussion elements transform each song into a dancefloor contenders. True, at fifteen songs there are some moments when the record feels a touch thin (synth ballad “Truth” is a bit too sparse to carry its sentimental vocal for example) but its surprising variety and brief song lengths keep it moving, much to its benefit.

Everything Must Burn is a pleasant listen, but to speak truthfully it’s more about good choices and optimization than amazing songs. Despite the sincerity and obvious skill in Philipp Münch’s approach, the record lacks any real standouts, everything ultimately achieving a mean level of “nice”. The Rorschach Garden have recorded more than their share of cracking tunes in the past couple years, and the inclusion of a few on here would help lift the album up above the affable median it ultimately rests at.

Buy it.

everything must burn by the rorschach garden

Tracks: March 20th, 2017

We’re right on the cusp of festival season kicking off, but we’re also getting into the thick of some of the records we’ve been most looking forward to in 2017. The new Mr.Kitty dropped a week or so back, the new Statiqbloom is imminent, and it looks as though the sophomore record from Seeming’s in the closing stages as well. By pure coincidence, all three of those projects are ones we’ve been tracking more or less since their inception, and nearly six years into the game it’s pretty rewarding to be able to see the directions acts like these have headed in since. Also by pure coincidence, each of the six acts we’re talking about in this week’s Tracks post are all pretty well-established, but are still dishing out fire. Let’s get to it!

Bestial Mouths

How's the tour in support of "Heartless" going thus far? Bestial Mouths' lips are sealed.

Seven Trees, “Azure”
We mentioned on last week’s podcast that Swedish dark electro act Seven Trees were gonna put out a new LP this year, but hadn’t realized that there was actually a song from the forthcoming release to listen to yet. As for the question we asked about how old school the project would be going after twenty years of inactivity, the answer is very, at least if the track “Azure” is anything to go by. Now that the retro-EBM thing has settled down a bit, maybe it’s time for a revival of Zoth Ommog style 90s dark electro? We wouldn’t complain.

QUAL, “Cupio Dissolvi”
The last time we checked in with William Maybelline (also of Lebanon Hanover) and his QUAL project, we were taken with the resolutely gloomy and fatalistic tack that seemed to hold over everything. On the new Cupio Dissolvi single, things certainly haven’t gotten any brighter, but the cavernously gothic sound of earlier tracks has been hard-swapped for a punishing set of rhythms straight out of the earliest of EBM playbooks. Very promising.
QUAL – Cupio Dissolvi by QUAL

Vargdöd, “Starved To Death”
Our boy Anders of The Pain Machinery and Celldöd has a new project in the works with Jonas Rönnberg of Varg (no, not that Varg). Murky, lo-fi, and menacing, the Brutal Disciplin release should appeal to fans of Muslimgauze, Silent Servant and the like. The stripped down techno both men have been working with in their primary projects is still there, but is nearly smothered under blankets of smoke and ambiance.
Vargdöd – Brutal Disciplin by Vargdöd

Bestial Mouths, “Greyness (FORCES Iridescent remix)”
New Bestial Mouths remix joint came out the other week, with a particularly strong line-up of remixers. Included on Still Heartless are versions by The Horrorist, Die Krupps, Danny Saber, CX KIDTRONIX, Ludovico Technique, Zanias and Australia’s FORCES (who we desperately want some new material from). We loved BM’s LP from last year, and are very keen to see them at this year’s VERBODEN festival right here in Vancouver. Bonus tip: listen to new track “Witchdance” to hear some of the most chilling vocalizations this side of a Diamanda Galas record.
(STILL) Heartless by Bestial Mouths

Manufactura, “Subterfuge: Face To Face”
The word “infamous” gets tossed around so much it’s lost all meaning, but we’re pretty sure Karloz of Manufactura’s earned that adjective (ask the old-timer at the bar in the Noisex shirt if you don’t believe us). After a significant hiatus, Carloz is back in action with Absence: Into The Ether and The Void. The slightly more harmonic elements which had begun to creep into Carloz’s last releases seem to still be present on early passes, but don’t let that fool you: this is still mean and misanthropic stuff.
Absence: Into The Ether and The Void by Manufactura

∆AIMON, “dissolvte (JeRm La Haine remix)”
Has it really been five years since ∆AIMON’s Flatliner (a record that really helped define this very site and what we were interested in covering) came out? Gosh, how the time flies. Of course Brant and Nancy Showers have done all kinds of stuff between then and now, but we can’t help feel a little nostalgic. I guess we’ll throw on this new remix of “Dissolvte” (a song which actually appears on the project’s self-titled LP from 2013) by JeRm La Haine and wistfully recount all the memories that have been made with ∆AIMON as the soundtrack. If you’ve never heard what these guys do, get on it, nowish.
∆AIMON [JeRm La Haine remixes] by ∆AIMON

We Have A Commentary: The Gothsicles, “NESferatu”

The Gothsicles - NESferatu

On this Patreon-supported podcast we do a commentary track for The Gothsicles 2006 scene-skewering classic “Nesferatu”. We run down the nature of parody, the substance of satire and big up everyone we ever met from Madison Wisconsin with some basic video game knowledge to boot. All on this month’s episode of We Have a Commentary! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

We Have a Technical 147: Overjacked

Maria from Ivoux and Battery, you are rad.

On this episode of We Have a Technical the Senior Staff plays the Pick Five game, selecting projects that only had one release! Side projects? New beginnings that never really got off the ground? One-off concept records? We got ‘em all. Plus we chat about the big final Terminus announcements, the upcoming Canadian Severed Heads dates, and toss in a remarkable amount of caffeinated off-topic nonsense on this week’s We Have a Technical! Accept no substitutes. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

Mr.Kitty, “A.I.”



Mr.Kitty
A.I.
Negative Gain Productions

Where Mr.Kitty’s 2015 LP Fragments felt like a victory lap, and a nice cap to the astonishing run of LPs that preceded it, Forrest Avery Carney’s latest is a distinct statement all its own. The Austin based artist still trades in distinctive melancholy synthpop, but A.I. feels more crafted and considered than perhaps any record in the project’s discography. Synthesizing electro, synthpop and darkwave sounds, and paring them down to sticky hooks and heartfelt choruses, the album highlights Carney’s gift for melody and pop songwriting.

From a purely instrumental standpoint it’s some of MK’s best work, forgoing ornamentation for nigh minimal arrangements of synthetic drums, buzzing basses and crystalline lead synths. A far cry from the pastel and neon sounds creeping out of synthwave into so much contemporary electronic pop, Kitty keeps things monochrome, allowing form and arrangement to the work distinguishing the songs instrumentally from one another. There’s nothing especially different in the components of touching ballad “Healing Waters” and the speedily aggressive “Crisis Point”, but they couldn’t feel any more different.

So many of Mr.Kitty’s songs revolve around sentiments of distress, anxiety and heartache, and while those emotions appear frequently here, the way they’re dealt with is entirely new. Take mid-album highlight “No Heart”, where Kitty intones “I’ve seen the light/I hide my face for fear of being found/I’m not myself when you’re around”. It’s about as Mr.Kitty a couplet as any on this record or any other, but the confident rhythmic delivery transposes it from being desperate to cool and aloof, as squared off and tidy as the quantized arpeggio that carries the song. See also closer “I Hope You Fall Apart” where the certainty of performance turns what could be construed as a bitter sentiment into a heartfelt affirmation. The feels are real, but there’s a sense that by rendering and processing them through song Forrest has found ways to resolve and repurpose them.

Still very much a one man band from a production standpoint, it’s in the way that voices are treated on A.I. that it finds its identity. Only two guest vocalists are credited (and one of those is a Japanese vocaloid synth persona), but the stable of different deliveries from Kitty himself gives the proceedings multiplicity. He does the demure lovestruck thing on “Undo” and “Earthstone”, processed anguish on “Lamentation” and “Birds of Prey” and robotic detachment on “Malformed” and “Greater than Us”, each song’s emotional tenor informed by his choice in how to deliver it.

The capper for the transition from emotional producer/performer to pop auteur comes late in the record on the wonderful “Dream Diver”. On it Forrest delivers a somber and distant verse, before giving the over the top emotional release of a chorus to a piece of vocal software, Megurine Luka. It’s a masterful bit of pop artifice that mirrors his own feelings of detachment with a voice from deep in the uncanny valley, a contrast made all the more clear in the song’s nods to hi-nrg and Japanese pop. In it Mr.Kitty is both subject, artist, and prime mover, conducting an orchestra made up of himself. If A.I. is the first step in the next phase of Forrest Avery Carney’s work, than it’s surefooted and true.

Buy it.

A.I. by Mr.Kitty

The Prids, “Do I Look Like I’m In Love?”

The Prids - Do I Look Like I'm In Love?

The Prids
Do I Look Like I’m In Love?
self-released

It’s tough for me to keep a critical distance from a Prids record being released in 2017. I suppose from the outside The Prids sound like a band fusing post-punk with shoegaze, appealing to goths plus a broader indie-listening demographic (whatever that means today), and in that regard Do I Look Like I’m In Love? fits the bill ably. But The Prids were instrumental in my growth as a music fan. They were the act that made me realise that the sounds I associated with a bygone era could be found at the shows I was attending and records I’d start ferreting out. I could guess that their record collections probably looked a lot like mine, but their own records were free of cloying nostalgia and instead were smudged with real, here and now existence. Do I Look Like I’m In Love?‘s wearied but ultimately indefatigable tone, then, is something which is hitting close to the chest.

Much more so than most of their peers, The Prids have a way with building straight-forward, hushed tracks with nodding basslines towards grandiose flourishes at the end, replete with cinematic washes of keys and truckloads of feedback. That classic mode’s certainly on display through much of Do I Look Like I’m In Love?, as on “Lie Here”. That a song about indolence, institutionalization, and denial builds to such a riotous climax is exactly the sort of paradox The Prids’ music – built on the grammar of bedroom sulking but ready to explode into the heavens – rests upon. The interstitial noises, hums, and production tics which crop up through the record have their own vitality, too, and shade it with an earthy but immediate sense of possibility.

Over the years I’ve heard the band name-checked by plenty of people and bands within and without their native Portland. Any act who can be loved by the more dour and black-clad of us as well as by twee popsters The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (who are paid back here with the peppy “Elizabeth Ann”) are doing something right, but the secret ingredient that The Prids have had at least since first proper LP Love Zero is difficult to place. Maybe it’s that the usual “recommended if you like” comparisons don’t tell the full story. I could say that opener “Summer Cult” has Slowdive’s haze or that the title cut feels like a classic Moz number, but the fact that something about the laid-back clip of “Mangled Hearts” connotes a twilight summer car ride feels more important.

I first heard The Prids nearly fifteen years ago when they played in Vancouver. I wrote about their set on my Livejournal. I evidently described them as “tight, frantic, synthy-new wave” and entreated whoever the hell was reading a mopey kid’s proto-social media nattering to check their mp3.com page. The Picadilly Pub, where that show happened, was the first place I ever ran a club night, and is now a gyoza place the last I checked. A few years later, when I left town for a brief academic sojourn, their then new album, …Until The World Is Beautiful was a lifeline. Do I Look Like I’m Love?, as I’ve been listening to it for the past week, is oddly familiar. I’m wondering if it’s been waiting for me, ready to guide me through whatever’s next.

Buy it.

Tracks: March 13th, 2017

We usually keep the plus for our Patreon limited to the podcast (you subscribe to We Have a Technical right?), but it behooves us having just passed the $200 a month mark to drop some thanks hear on the site proper. Patreon has enabled us to make huge improvements to our recording set-up, as well as finance our upcoming (hopefully) site redesign and allowed us to make some charitable donations, all thanks to the generous support of our readers and listeners. We appreciate it kindly, and hope that we can continue to merit your kind support in everything we do. Speaking of which, lets get to the weekly Tracks post, yeah?

Principe Valiente

Principe Valiente, catching some Z's in Kevin Shields' darkroom.

Fixmer / McCarthy, “Chemicals”
While techno/EBM crossover has been a hot flavour for a minute now, you could easily argue that Terrence Fixmer and Douglas McCarthy have been plying it for over a decade at this point. The follow up to their “So Many Lies” single for Planet Rouge last year, “Chemicals” comes to us courtesy of Adam X’s Sonic Groove, the same label that helped bring us that incredible Orphx record last year. Crank it up and get those sweaty body music vibes where they meet ruffcity techno between shifts at the steel mill.
Chemicals (SG1777) by FIXMER / MCCARTHY

Sex Park, “Bather”
We’ve been talking a lot about Terminus and the like on the podcast lately, but there’s festival fun happening in our own backyard! Verboden, that Vancouver celebration of all things dark in the Pacific Northwest (and sometimes further afield) is just around the corner, and a comp’s been released to get the word out and give folks a heads-up about the bands’ sounds. Here are the winners of the Band With Whom We Were Previously Unfamiliar With The Best Name award for the 2017 iteration of the fest, Sex Park, with some propulsive post-punk.
Verboden 2017 Compilation of Artists by Verboden

Hide, “91 Lashes”
Based on our experiences with some of their previous singles, we had expected Hide to be a lot more darkwave and a lot less grinding post-industrial when we caught them live last year. Imagine our surprise at the enveloping, harsh and political performance we ended up on the receiving end of. The material on their new Black Flame EP is much more in line with what we saw from them in concert, all echoing desperation from somewhere between the TG’s more beat-driven numbers and Dirk Iven’s earliest Dive material.
Black Flame EP by HIDE

Principe Valiente, “Strangers In The Night”
It’s been a while since we checked in with Sweden’s elegantly dark Principe Valiente. It looks as though their sophomore effort passed us by, but we dug their smoothly moody debut, and are digging this lush lead single from forthcoming third LP Oceans. Almost makes us think of what might have happened if Interpol had doubled down on gothier elements in their early records.

horskh, “Strayed Away”
A couple years back when grindy dubstep-influenced stadium EDM was a thing a few acts in Our Thing made overtures towards it in their material. Most of them were (to put it charitably) not very good. A few years on horskh seem to be giving us a real blueprint for how those sounds can be boiled down and integrated into a hard electro-industrial milieu. You won’t mistake “Strayed Away” for a track by Swedish House Mafia or deadmau5, but gosh it makes good use of those enormous leads and that glitchy bass without falling into any “wait for the drop” clichés. Very keen on this record, which comes out on April 10th courtesy of the good forward thinking folks at audiotrauma.
Gate by horskh

Dead Voices On Air, “Drie O Indiase”
Mark Spybey digging into his archives is always welcome news. This time, he’s put together a set of tracks which’d go on to form the Frankie Pett plays the Happy Submarines LP. So few people can strike the perfect balance between drone and harmony, but Spybey’s a master of that particular skill at this dreamy cut shows. Also, check the bonus live take on classic Piss Frond jam “Red Kerre”!
Frankie Pett en de Onderzeer Boten by Dead Voices On Air

We Have a Technical 146: The Smoothening

Every picture of Don Gordon ever taken right here.

We return to the venerable two album discussion format of We Have a Technical this week, with some chit chat about Numb and Liquid Divine. We also get real excited about forthcoming albums from some acts we like a great deal! Yup, it’s another episode of the official I Die: You Die podcast, direct from our beer-lubed mouths to your ears, no filter. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

Multiple Man, “New Metal”

Multiple Man
New Metal
DKA Records

The first LP from Australia’s Multiple Man is far more than the sum of its parts. Sure, classic EBM and post industrial sounds carried by a of funky bassline is a standard operating procedure for every song on New Metal, but what makes the record really pop are the subtle and overt nods to all manner of synthesized dance music from the eighties onward.

A lot of those tropes are going to be fairly easy to spot, especially over multiple listening sessions. “Ideal Self” invokes The Art of Noise’s choppy funk and Yello’s synthetic vocal work, while the bleepy pitched up toms on the terrific “Power Fantasy” can’t help but bring M/A/R/R/S’ “Pump Up the Volume” to mind. There’s a healthy amount of electro and pre-sampling hip hop to be found between the cracks of “Luxury Boys”, filling out the growling bass synth groove. Of course the songs don’t begin or end with the aforementioned sounds, and kind of like High-Functioning Flesh (a modern act with whom Multiple Man share some DNA) the canny listener can make a game of triangulating influences and see where and how they’re morphed into new forms.

A goodly portion of what makes New Metal work so effectively is in the composition and construction of these songs. There’s an adeptness in the way a track like “Hotter than Hell” uses percussion to create a sunny and tropical feeling, and in the spacey echoes that transform the bassline from body music to dub and back depending on how they’re situated in the mix. Same with the buzzy synth that pops up midway through “Skin”, adding some serration to the track without ever upsetting the upbeat bounce of its rhythm programming. Multiple Man prove to be real students of structure in electronic dance music, knowing exactly when things need to be perfectly quantized, and when they need to be allowed some latitude and unpredictability.

It might be strange to praise such a wide-reaching and high-spirited record for its efficiency, but it might just be the most important part of Chris and Sean Campion’s approach. For an eight track LP New Metal has remarkable depth and broad appeal, all without repeating itself or falling victim to overreach in its approach. It’s a hell of a feat, and is one of the most enjoyable and compulsively listenable records of 2017 thus far. Recommended.

Buy it.

New Metal by Multiple Man

Various Artists, “Inferno”

Wychdoktor - Inferno

Various Artists
Inferno
self-released

Concept records always seem a tricky pitch, especially when they’re themed around particularly abstract concepts. We’ve seen ESA tackle such a task with the three part Themes Of Carnal Empowerment series, but the instrumental Inferno release curated by Wychdoktor is perhaps even more ambitious. Wheeler’s assembled a crew of artists to plumb the depths of hell and produce dark ambient tracks for each of its circles, at least those mapped out by Dante in The Divine Comedy. The result’s a surprisingly varied (though understandably grim) listen, with a range of thematic and sonic takes on the subject matter.

The specific circles of Dante’s hell are named for the sins of those punished within, which leaves the artists with an interesting choice: address the sin for which one is being being punished, the punishment itself (often very ironically fitting), or some combination thereof. It’s impossible to guess how each artist was specifically inspired by the compilation’s conceit, but plenty of the resulting tracks show some interesting approaches. Oddly, Toronto breakcore act The Rain Kills Quietly’s vision of “Wrath” contains the record’s most serene and pretty sounds…for the first half of the track. Lush and calming choral pads are abruptly pulled away mid-track to be replaced with a galloping barrage of static-flecked beats. V▲LH▲LL’s take on “Treachery” is one of the more clever approaches, using shuddering and pitched vocals samples to communicate the idea of half-heard lies and betrayals.

Just as diverse as the interpretations of the hellish theme are the approaches to dark ambient found on Inferno. While perhaps only a handful of the tracks here would pass muster with purists as “true” dark ambient, it’s cool to hear some familiar names try on a new style. ѦPѺLLYѺN’S ▼ISѦGE layer a hellfire and brimstone sermon on desires for “strange flesh” overtop oozing pads on “Lust”. Matt Gifford of Encephalon (appearing here under his old TerraHurts moniker), on the other hand, is miles away from his established bombast with a smudged and smokey composition for “Fraud” which combines metallic ambiance and deep grinds that connote tectonic shifts.

The exact metaphysical arrangement of Dante’s circles of hell (not to mention their inhabitants as encountered by Dante and Virgil) are, of course, tied to the philosophy and politics of fourteenth century Italy: something not exactly on the docket of most of the contemporary artists working here, I’d presume (nor on those of most listeners, yours truly included). But, like the Bible, the The Divine Comedy‘s proven to be a text which carries resonance well beyond its original intentions and context. Here, in getting a solid group of producers to wrestle with sounds and issues they might have otherwise passed over, its continuing influence is welcome.

Buy it.

Inferno by V▲LH▲LL

Tracks: March 6th, 2017

Not sure what the weather’s been like at your end, folks, but it’s been abnormally crap out here in Vancouver. Snow in March in these temperate climes was nigh unthinkable a few years back, but here we are. With spring feeling a long way away, we’ve been hunkering down in the HQ with mug after mug of tea and, thankfully, a swath of new records to listen to. Hell, if you’re anything like us you didn’t get into this sort of music by being outdoorsy beach folk, so let’s make the best of it with some new Tracks to keep the cold at bay.

Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel

Amanda fears rain, Edward distrusts shoes. This spring, they must put aside their differences and work together to save humanity from a sentient garbage compactor which feeds on palindromes.

Kite, “Demons & Shame”
As hinted at in our podcast with them from a few weeks ago, Swedish synth-mavens Kite dropped a new song on March 2nd. “Demons & Shame” factors in a lot of the grandiose touches that were touched on in the interview, but not the expense of the plaintive pop sounds that make us feel simultaneously elated and a little heartsick. Kite are on tour now, do yourself a favour.

Kangarot, “Iced Coffee And Misogyny”
The lo-fi aggression of Kangarot’s Wholly Hex made it one of our favourite records of 2016. While Josh Reed isn’t totally forgoing that record’s sound with this new cut, there’s a sense of chilled-out disdain mixed in with his characteristic electro-industrial brappage. “Iced Coffee And Misogyny”‘s subject may have something to do with that. Either way, all proceeds will be donated to Our Voice, a North Carolina crisis intervention and prevention agency.
Iced Coffee and Misogyny by Kangarot

In Death It Ends, “Resonate/528/”
Porl King hasn’t just honed in like a laser on the looping and evocative sound his In Death It Ends project has becoming synonymous with; he’s also become quite adept at putting together the sort of deluxe limited sets which go oh so nicely with the band’s crypto-witchery. Forthcoming LP Wish Machine comes with a whole plethora of goodies both sonic and metaphysical. We’ll leave it up to folks more gnostic than we to make head or tail of “symbolic radionic devices”, but in the meantime this lead single should speak to all.

Crisis Actor, “Electronic Eye”
When was the last time you heard a straight ahead electro dance track like this come out on Ant-Zen? Crisis Actor is a collaboration between Snog’s David Thrussell and Tony D’Opporto (aka Gnome), and while you can certainly pick out some more outré sounds native to each producer in “Electronic Eye”, it’s surprisingly down the pipe. That’s not a bad thing though, and there’s surely some fans of Snog who will be happy to hear Thrussell return to the paranoiac dancefloor style of his early material. Toss in some remixes from Assemblage 23, Displacer, and Mike Wimer and you got yourself a party.
electronic eye by crisis actor

The Secret Light, “Mirror Mirror”
Here’s some peppy and poppy darkwave out of Portland which leans heavily on chirping keys. Should appeal to those still pining away after Nightbreed style electro-goth, but updated to speak to current synthwave interests. Also, we assure you that the similarity in album art here and above is entirely coincidental, but if you want to take some message from happenstance, be our guest.
Mirror Mirror by The Secret Light

Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel, “I Can Spin a Rainbow”
We mentioned this track on the podcast last week, during one of our predictably gushy Legendary Pink Dots love-ins. And hey why not: we aren’t particularly big fans of Amanda Palmer’s output post-Dresden Dolls, but she fits nicely into this classic slice of melancholy weirdness. And if this team-up lends some attention to Edward and company’s endless touring and recording, all the better. Who are we to deny some new collaborative work from the Prophet hisself?
I Can Spin A Rainbow (A mere Teaser) by Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel

We Have a Technical 145: Oh, Umpire

We’ve got a veritable Reuters news agency worth of items on the docket this week, folks. Everything from festival announcements to cool video game tie-ins to oddly messy limited edition releases are on the table in a news-heavy episode. Also, we’re tackling the thorny issue of Soleilmoon Recordings and Death In June being identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a story which garnered attention well beyond the confines of Our Thing, but which we feel needs to be addressed by those within it. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

Sixth June, “Virgo Rising”

Sixth June - Virgo Rising

Sixth June
Virgo Rising
aufnahme + wiedergabe

We often talk about the importance of atmosphere in darkwave here at I Die: You Die. Often, though, we gloss over exactly what we mean by that term. Sustained pads? Vocal mixing? Guitar delay? Sure, all of those things can help to produce that intoxicating mix of intimacy and distance which darkwave often connotes. But Berlin (by way of Belgrade) duo Sixth June weave magic on their new record by underscoring the pop elements which have always been present in darkwave’s DNA, but too often go overlooked.

The production on Virgo Rising‘s certainly a level above that of Sixth June’s previous LPs and EPs, but it’s not just in ‘clean’ sound that the record wins out. Check the nodding bounce and shuffle of “Call Me”; none of its pop immediacy is lost as Lidija Andonov and Laslo Antal drape the track’s rhythms in Xymox-esque garb. Andonov and Antal describe Sixth June as “dark electropop”, and if that term bears any substantive difference from “darkwave”, surely it can be found in the canny programming of an instrumental like “Tatjana”, which rides mid-tempo toms to the dancefloor.

Virgo Rising‘s appeal doesn’t just lie in its pop savvy, though. The almost lullaby-like pace at which “Nebo” unfolds, and the coolly knowing vocal delivery Andronov lends to “Knife In The Water” offer plenty of goth thrills and nocturnal elegance. Alongside Andronov’s stellar vocals, Virgo Rising‘s other secret weapon is, I kid you not, saxophone. And not panicked, skittering post-punk sax a-la Bauhaus or Theatre of Hate, but buttery-rich and smooth sax which wouldn’t feel out of place in the bridges of innumerable AM radio hits from across the decades. Sax opens the album up melodically on lead track “Night Before”, and segues with some prog-ish bass worthy of Japan on “My Joy”. Delivered in just the right amount, it offers a thoughtful textural counterpoint to the programming and vocals.

Virgo Rising is a textbook example of atmospherics, to be certain, but its path to those cool and reflective moods is anything but. It would be easy to imagine another record with similar programming becoming rote if it was unable to divide the spotlight equally between vocals and instrumentation. It would be very easy to imagine another record botching the use of saxophone in such a delicate manner. But Sixth June’s instincts for composition and instrumentation keep Virgo Rising from ever becoming generic or too ornamented. By the time a simple sax refrain loops through closer “Falling”, it’s more than apparent that not only do Sixth June know classic darkwave atmosphere intimately, they also know how to build and expand upon it with new sounds and textures, a far more impressive feat. Recommended.

Buy it digitally or on vinyl.

<a href=”http://sixthjune.bandcamp.com/album/virgo-rising”>Virgo Rising by SIXTH JUNE</a>

Observer: February 28th, 2017


Chrome Corpse
self-titled
self-released

One of the oft-noted factors in the recent history of North American industrial has been the number of bands leveraging rougher home techniques in recording and production, and making them into a strength rather than a weakness. The debut from Seattle’s Chrome Corpse is a case in point for that particular sound, the unvarnished aspects of the self-titled LP are actually some of its most compelling elements. Songs like “Bonecrushed Neuroplasm” and “Reanimate to Exterminate” have a loose and punky energy in their delivery, lively and elastic in comparison to the EBM bounce programmed into their basslines. “Roadkill” and “Mangled Matter” lean heavily into eighties post-industrial sounds: the sharper leads and snares are used in contrast to some muddy and obscured synths and samples in a way that creates meaningful tension. There are certainly moments that feel undeveloped – Michael F Ninethousand is less convincing when he isn’t shouting or distorted on “Bodily Dictators” and the pair of noise tracks that finish the album are simply not as interesting as what precedes them – but you can’t deny the promise shown by Chrome Corpse. A song like “Binary Cries” is plain good, and exactly the sort of rickety, gritty DIY mission statement we would want from a new industrial project in 2017.
Chrome Corpse by Chrome Corpse


Cyborgs on Crack
Demur EP
X.O.S. Musick

Cyborgs on Crack have made their reputation by developing a mutant strain of post-industrial that nods to the sunnier moments of the Severed Heads and Psychic TV catalogue, but lately the strengths of Domagoj Krsic’s material has started to make a case for itself beyond those lofty associations. Demur EP is a perfect case in point: its still weird in all the right ways, but the emphasis on melody and the integration of pop vocal tropes into a song like “Crutch” illustrate how canny Krsic has become as a songwriter. It’s not just that he can write a hook (which he can, check the twangy Devo-isms on “Cleaning Jihad”), it’s that he can find ways to make his more outre pieces like sound-collage “Forklift Toupee” and the pretty and distantly mournful “It’s All Over” seem just as weighty and meaningful as his more instantly appealing songs. That’s no mean feat, and is a central aspect of Cyborgs on Crack’s work: the coexistence of the breezy and effortless with the unusual and outlandish.
Demur EP by Cyborgs On Crack

Tracks: February 27th, 2016

Out with February and in with March, as we careen through yet another month of new releases in Our Thing. We wanted to take a quick moment this week to give a shoutout to ‎Gustavo Verduzco who kindly compiles a mix of tracks from our best of Year End lists, complete with robot voiced accompaniment. Like a couple of jerks the Senior Staff completely missed the link when Gustavo posted it on FB back in January, so we hope he’ll accept a sorry, and our thanks for his consistent support. You can check out the mix over on his Mixcloud!

Try saying r.roo in a voice like Nixon on Futurama.

r.roo, “Die In Your Eyes”
Ukraine’s Andriy Symonovych has been running at breakneck speed through the various reaches of technoid and its bordering genres. We caught wind of him back in 2012 with his sparse mgnovenie release, and there have been umpteen LPs and singles since then. His forthcoming LP, shilly-shally, has found a home over at Audiotrauma, and the first taster showcases a heavy dollop of wet and lush ambiance alongside the shearing acoustic elements which initially set him apart from his peers. Should appeal to fans of Stendeck and Balam Acab.
shilly-shally by r.roo

Chrome Corpse, “Mangled Matter”
Here’s some crushing lo-fi industrial from down Seattle way courtesy of Chrome Corpse, and their recently released first LP. You can expect a full length review of the self-titled debut to hit this site later in the week (like tomorrow probably), but this should give you a good and proper taste of what this project has thus far been capable of: classic post-industrial vibes, a little body music for good measure and just the right amount of classic horror samples to round things out.
Chrome Corpse by Chrome Corpse

Actors, “Like U Want 2″
Vancouver’s Actors have regularly been impressing us of late, both on record and live. We think newcomers’ll be pleasantly surprised by their set at Terminus in a few months, and if you’ve still yet to check out the cinematic post-punk act, they’ve just collated and remastered a “Reanimated” set of their early singles to get folks up to speed. Tough not to get caught up in something as hummable as this little number…
Reanimated by ACTORS

Mr.Kitty, “Earthstones”
8 days ’til Mr.Kitty’s A.I. material is upon us, and this teaser is like a tender appetizer for our starved ears. Well sure, Forrest Carney is never totally absent from our listening diet, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t excited for new stuff to supplement the catalogue of one of the artists we follow most closely here at I Die: You Die. This new song “Earthstones” comes complete with the kind of melancholy and melody that first drew us to the project. It’s all feelings, all the time.

Collin Strange, “No Remorse”
Old techno is the new old punk…or something like that. Here’s some hard and grinding acid house from Seattle’s Collin Strange, who weds his anarcho background to his current aesthetic: “no gods / no laptops”, as he says. Strange’s new tape How I Creep is out on Glasgow’s Clan Destine, whom canny folks may recall gave new old-schoolers Spit Mask their first crack at the can. Hat tip to Avi in the Slack channel for this one!
HOW I CREEP by COLLIN STRANGE

Slighter, “Mute Yourself”
Peep this moody slice of industrial rock courtesy of Colin Allrich’s recently reactivated Slighter. One of the most interesting things about this project is the breadth of sounds explored, which touch on glitchy electronics, guitar based chug and moody soundtrack influences. This one leans heavily into that dirgey electronica with maybe a touch of Douglas McCarthy’s solo material for good measure? Have a listen.
Mute Yourself (Single) by Slighter

We Have a Technical 144: Spit Test

Photo courtesy of Jill Grant @Take it for Granted

We’ve got a very special interview on this week’s episode, folks. On the eve of their second trip through North America, we spoke with one of I Die: You Die’s perennial favourite acts, Swedish electropop masters Kite! Topics include the threads of open emotion Kite weave through their music, travelling the world, and what folks can expect from their upcoming tour dates! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music and Stitcher, download directly, or stream from the widget down below.

PreEmptive Strike 0.1, “Through the Astral Cold”

PreEmptive Strike 0.1
Through the Astral Cold
Digital World Audio

Greek electro-industrialists PreEmptive Strike 0.1 aren’t a band we associate with playing it safe. Their experiments with including traditional Greek folk instrumentation and melodies into club-oriented dark electro tracks, and their very recent Eternal Masters EP of collaborations with various black metal bands were intriguing to say the least; whether you liked or hated George Klontzas and D. Argyrakis’ stylistic excursions, you couldn’t deny they were trying to do something different.

2017′s Through the Astral Cold finds the band returning to making some fairly straight dancefloor fare, albeit with some of the epic trappings that adorned their last LPs EPOS V and T.A.L.O.S.. Schwarzblut collaboration “Phantom” speaks best to everything PreEmptive Strike 0.1 are capable of, with a massive orchestral-tinged intro and a suite of choral samples to accompany the song’s processed vocals and bouncing melody. It’s a great example of the band’s best trick: the integration of disparate musical elements into journeyman club songs.

Given that, it’s a little disappointing how straightforward most of Through the Astral Cold is. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with songs like “Killing Protocols” or “Once They Come”: they are ably programmed and performed in a modern dark electro style, and the speedy interlocked sequences that have always been a part of the project’s sound right at the forefront. And yes, “Harbinger” is about as on point as any song in this style has ever been: the expert use of builds and breakdowns are coupled with extensive sampling from the Mass Effect franchise to give it that classic sci-fi club industrial appeal. But it’s impossible for those familiar with their work not to wonder what these songs would sound like with some more of their more unusual ideas folded into them.

There are two totally valid perspectives you can take on that issue. The first is that having walked the walk for a few releases PreEmptive Strike 0.1 are perfectly entitled to make a snappy nine track dark electro record if that’s where they were at creatively. The opposing position is that once a band has established itself as an act that pushes boundaries and takes risks, it becomes much harder to be satisfied by anything but. Whether a listener falls into the former camp or the latter (or like this writer, somewhere between the two positions depending on which song they are listening to at the time), there’s definitely some worthwhile material on Through the Astral Cold, and enough substance to keep our interest in whatever the project’s next move might be.

Through The Astral Cold by PREEMPTIVE STRIKE 0.1

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