Tracks: August 20th, 2018

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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.

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

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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”

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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.


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Tracks: August 14th, 2018

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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:

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Of Struggling with Emotional and Mental Turmoil

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The Lady of the Manners is going to be completely honest here, Snarklings: occasionally there are heartfelt, heartsore, and utterly brave people who write to Gothic Charm School, and the Lady of the Manners worries about how to answer, because what if she says the wrong things, y the wrong sort of advice? Because wanting to help people and be kind to them doesn’t change the fact that the Lady of the Manners is a well-intentioned auntie-by-proxy, and in no way a professional therapist. But. BUT. The Lady of the Manners does want to help, and is humbled by the bravery shown by the readers who reach out to her. Because reaching out to anyone, even an auntie-by-proxy, about emotional and mental turmoil IS an act of bravery. Please never doubt that.

We Have a Commentary: Comaduster, Hollow Worlds

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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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