We Have a Technical 166: The Blue Pages

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

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

Eye Steal, “Burning Out”

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Eye Steal
Burning Out
Negative Gain Productions

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

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

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

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

Buy it.

Burning Out by Eye Steal

Observer: July 18th, 2017

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Phil Western - Neuro-Plastique

Phil Western
Neuro-Plastique
self released

The solo discography of Phil Western should be a familiar template both to fans of his work within the Download/Subconscious cosmos and psychonauts of all stripes. Across nearly two decades, he’s established a warm and florid take on techno which often wanders into downtempo and ambient territory so richly adorned with guitar and other unexpected instrumentation that the codification of it as techno begins to blur. New LP Neuro-Plastique doesn’t break from that mould, but like his best work it skips back and forth across the full breadth of his sound with ease and, at times, joy, making it a welcome and rewarding listen of the order of his classic (and recently re-released) Dark Features. While the pinches and squeaks of openers “Armpit Hair” and “Broke Ass Musician” might give dedicated Download listeners something familiar to hold onto, for my money it’s the woozy harmonic washes underneath the surface where Western’s style really shines, a sound which is given more of the spotlight on “Soul Harvest” and “Garbage Hoard”. The robo-funk of “Shoot Down All The Drones” feels far more aggressive than it probably actually is in such mellow company, while the puzzlingly titled “Guys!” sticks a pleasantly groovy bassline to snappy drums and synths, bringing names like Cut Copy and The Rapture closer to mind than any of Western’s techno or industrial origins. Western puts out singles and EPs on Bandcamp at a solid rate, but Neuro-Plastique feels like the most complete and satisfying opus he’s produced in a good while, making it an excellent jumping on point for any lapsed fans who’ve been wondering what he’s been up to.

Buy it.

Neuro-Plastique by Phil Western

Bonini Bulga - Sealed

Bonini Bulga
Sealed
Hypnagoga Press

Dark ambient sage Pär Boström has evidently tapped into a torrent of creativity since the release of his Kammarheit project’s long awaited LP The Nest. It seems as though every half year there’s some new work from Boström (occasionally working in concert with his sister Åsa). While the Bonini Bulga project and its debut tape is tied in with a zine with what looks to be of a decidedly mystic cast, it’s hard to not hear the stark differences between Sealed and Boström’s existing work. Yes, it is “dark” and “minimal”, but the unnerving presence and manipulation of the drones and tones on this release are a far cry from dark ambient. Rather than any of Boström’s previous projects, the closest comparison I can make to Bonini Bulga is the Nurse With Wound masterpiece Soliloquy for Lilith, but unlike that somnambulant work, it’s impossible to allow the slow manipulation of feedback and pedals on Sealed to become “ambient”, at least in that word’s sense of incidentally occupying space. Although obviously textured and considered, the austere arrangement of Sealed‘s unadorned tones puts the focus on the pained and bleak transitions those sounds go through. Sometimes looping, sometimes descending in minor keys, Sealed‘s sounds feel willful but utterly alien. Although actually hovering around the thirty minute mark, I found myself consistently losing track of time each and every time I played Sealed, and often drifting into unsettling reverie. Whether that sounds like an evening’s good use or not is of course up to you, but this release deserves attention if only for showcasing Boström’s talent for conjuring disquiet well outside of the sonic climes where he made his name.

Buy it.

Sealed by Bonini Bulga

Tracks: July 17th, 2017

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Only a scant two weeks or so ’til we hit Calgary for Terminus Festival for the what is for us the kick-off of festival season. It used to be that things got kicked off way earlier, but with the shift towards holding massive industrial and related music festivals in the fall, we’re not sure if the venerable “Industrial Summer Camp” tag still applies. Still, with Cold Waves holding an event on each coast, Das Bunker holding it down in the hotbed of North American industrial, and a few more events we’re expecting to hear announcements from soon, we’d have to be looking pretty hard for a reason to complain. Let’s check in on a new Tracks post while we desperately try to figure out how to budget for all this goodness.

Laslo Antal

If Laslo Antal's making a Heidegger crack with his new Diesein project, we're too dumb to get it.

Diesein, “You”
You may recall from our review of the last Sixth June LP Virgo Rising that we were very taken by the buttery smooth saxophone used by the Berlin darkwave project. Well, buckle up because Laslo Antal’s new thing Diesein is here and it has sax all over it, acting as a complement to a funky bassline that actually puts us in mind of some mid-80s Chicago industrial sounds. Laslo specifically invokes Miami Vice in his description of that track which is fine by us; as pillaged as the neon 1980s aesthetic has become, we’re always in the mood for hot-nights driving darkness.

Voice Of Saturn, “Ionoco”
As much as we’ve come to rely on DKA Records for our regular doses of pure, sweaty body music and the most gauzy and gothic of minimal wave, label guy James Andrew Ford and company have their busy fingers on the pulses of countless sounds. Witness the hybrid of pure analog psych-outs and early acid on the debut tape from Travis Thatcher’s Voice Of Saturn project. Alternately utterly dreamy and firmly punchy, it’s a nice triangulation of the more outre zones classic synth heads tend to roam between.
Shapeshifter by Voice Of Saturn

The Tear Garden, “Forbidden Zone”
Okay, yeah: things have been pretty Tear Garden heavy around here what with the release of The Brown Acid Caveat. But that new LP isn’t the only communique coming from the distant quadrant of the galaxy cEvin, Edward, and the rest of the gang like to lamp around in. Eye Spy Vol. 2‘s just been released on Sub-Con and Metro, and like its predecessor digs deep into the archives to unearth hitherto unheard cosmic gems. Check this number straight from the Tired Eyes Slowly Burning sessions (previously heard on several Ka-Spel solo releases), now a full three decades old.
Eye Spy Vol. 2 by The Tear Garden

DRIFT., “Genderland”
Dub has been a part of the makeup of post-punk and darkwave since those genres were incepted, but it’s not often that the influence is writ large across them these days. Enter London’s DRIFT. (aka Nathalia Bruno), whose new track “Genderland” goes deep into dub rhythmics and structures in the context of a very rich and sonorous darkwave jam. Could be that it’s summer, could be that we’re excited that people are finally pushing past some of the stylistic barriers that have plagued throwback dark music, but whatever the reason we’re feeling this pretty hard.
DRIFT. – Genderland by AVANT! Records

Tyler Newman, “structure two [vancouver grey]“
Folks might recall that we were really taken with the recent foray Tyler Newman (Battery Cage/Informatik) made into post-metal with his negative_crush project. The harmonic ambiance which lay underneath that record’s sludgy guitars was a big part of its appeal, and Newman’s new aerial structures EP is composed almost wholly of similarly atmospheric pads and synths. And hey, you can take our word for it when we say that Newman’s cinched the je ne sais quois of Vancouver’s cinereal skies.
aerial structures by tyler newman

JT Whitfield, “Justified Craving (Violet Poison remix)”
Not even gonna front like we can keep up with Clan Destine, the post-industrial tape label who seemingly never stop or slow down their release schedule of industrial, darkwave, dungeon synth, techno and various combinations of those sounds. We do like to check in occasionally though, and when we do it’s gratifying to discover stuff that fits right in with our tastes over here at the old ID:UD HQ. Take for example this bodied up remix of Austin’s JT Whitfield, all ugly muscle and lo-fi grit, just the solution if you need to add some gristle back to your diet.
RECOATED AND RESUBMERSED REMIX DOCUMENT by VIOLET POISON

We Have A Commentary: Pretentious, Moi?, self-titled

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Pretentious, Moi?

On this month’s Patreon-supported and selected bonus commentary podcast we’re running through the paces on their favourite pure goth rock record of the new millennium; the long-gestating debut of London’s Pretentious, Moi? Contradictions abound in the band and in the record: it’s a solo project but also a supergroup, the record’s a classic return to the second wave of goth rock but also the debut record from a band formed during the second wave, it’s as pure as goth rock can get but consistently lines itself with overt dance and synth figures. We’ve got a lot to say about the band, the record, and what makes it stand out head and shoulders above so many ostensibly similar records, so join us as we discuss it, track by track. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Summer Goth – Avoiding the Burning Orb

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Snarklings, it's time for a seasonal column. By which the Lady of the Manners means that in the hemisphere she lives in, it's summer; her least favorite season. ::shudders:: Forgive the Lady of the Manners her melodramatic turn, Snarklings. There are many goths who like, nay, even adore summer! Warm weather! Longer days! More plentiful outdoor activities! There are those who are kind of meh about the whole sunlight thing. Then there are those (the Lady of the Manners included) who thanks to genetics, illnesses, medications, or who knows what else, don't deal well with prolonged exposure to sunlight. (As the Lady of the Manners has said before, eventually she'll develop the fun symptoms of vampirism, like mind control.)

We Have a Technical 165: Kalan We Are Not

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Surgyn got looks

Hey listener! Are you excited to listen to two guys who where almost exclusively band t-shirt and jeans talk about the fashion of Our Thing? Well boy howdy, have we got a podcast for you: this one! Can you judge a band by their cover (or their body armor)? At what point does a signifier become a cliche? Are we all just reliving high school clique wars? There’s so much on the table when you bring up the question of fashion. Of course we will end up discussing some other stuff, namely the news that our beloved Encephalon have a new album completed! Golly, what a great week to check out We Have a Technical, the official I Die: You Die podcast! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Synthetische Lebensform, “Extravagant”

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Synthetische Lebensform - Extravagant

Synthetische Lebensform
Extravagant
Synth-Me

The studied industrial fan could be forgiven for thinking they’d gleaned all they needed to about the sophomore record from Russia’s Synthetische Lebensform by looking at its cover art. Would-be Dave McKean style layering and blurring of organic and mechanical forms, not to mention the band’s logo? It all adds up to pure adulation of Front Line Assembly. And make no mistake about it; a good part of the appeal of Vladislav Coffee and Yaroslav Artamonov’s approach on this record stems from their fluency in the most immediate and straight up deliveries of classic electro-industrial tropes. But Extravagant has a couple other tricks and influences up its sleeve, and is able to dish out some more contemporary fun alongside its iteration of those familiar forms.

Like I said, the FLA markers on the album art aren’t just there for show; Extravagant makes many homages to classic, rhythmically driven electro-industrial. The duo have a good sense for classic synth basslines, and their instincts for layering and pacing on highlights like “Bright Worn Gears” and “Impact Of Technology” pay off dividends. Both tunes cinch Caustic Grip style foundations and manage to build enjoyably punchy structures overtop, with a sprinkling of later dark electro overtop.

But Extravagant isn’t as restricted in its scope of influence as the album art would lead one to imagine. Synthwave’s approach to clean melodic lines crops up here and there (check the bouncy synth lead on “Back To Reality”), and I found a fair bit of commonality between Synthetische Lebensform and Encephalon at points: “Ghost Shadows” and “That You Choose” have a similar flair for dramatic, almost metallic builds and breakdowns as some of the Ottawa act’s more stompy moments. I’m not exactly sure what the utility or demarcation of “bonus tracks” is on a digital only release, but those which close the album off do vary the pitch up a bit, taking the form of sample heavy instrumentals and slightly more contemporary techno-inflected pieces.

Extravagant isn’t without its faults. The odd track runs a bit long or falls flat due to an uncertain vocal delivery. It’s wearing its influences very much on its sleeve, literally (again check the cover), and it isn’t reinventing the electro-industrial wheel, armor-plated or otherwise. But it makes a virtue of those homages more often than not, and retains a sense of fun and infectious energy for most of its duration. It’s a genre exercise to be sure, but one which seems motivated by honest love and passion for said genre, and does a more than serviceable job of communicating those qualities to listeners. Recommended.

Buy it.

Extravagant by Synthetische Lebensform

The Tear Garden, “The Brown Acid Caveat”

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The Tear Garden
The Brown Acid Caveat
Sub-Conscious Communications/Metropolis Records

How to characterize The Tear Garden, the more than 30 year collaboration between Skinny Puppy’s Cevin Key and The Legendary Pink Dots’ Edward Ka-Spel? The threads that make up their discography aren’t hard to identify; there’s a baleful wit couched in heartbreak and a melancholic psychedelia that are easy to spot on every LP, EP and non-album track with few exceptions. But just being able to spot those repeated moods and ideas doesn’t get us any closer to understanding the essence of what these two friends have together, or how their divergent musical paths keep leading them back together to make such lovely music.

The Brown Acid Caveat is the first LP of new material since 2009′s Have a Nice Trip and in contrast to that record’s jammy experimentalism (a thing both Edward and Cevin excel at unsurprisingly), the songs here feel more purposeful and concise. Even when they stretch out past the seven minute mark, the deliberate construction hearkens back to the latter era-Nettwerk Tear Garden albums, when many of LPD’s members were involved in the project. Probably not coincidentally, some former Dots – guitarist Martijn De Kleer and dub maestro Ryan Moore – are present here, although it’s unclear to what extent they pitched in or influenced the proceedings. That said, opener “Strange Land” hearkens back to 2000′s underrated Crystal Mass, playing out as a sad travelogue through places real and imaginary, all carried by delicately strummed guitars and Ka-Spel in the wounded sage persona he’s been growing into since his very earliest recordings.

Indeed, while the group has always thrived on a mix of straight songwriting and trippy outer space journeys, Ka-Spel and Key are working hard to reconcile those ideas here. Functionally that means you get more than a few songs, like “On With the Show” and “Kiss Don’t Tell”, that start fully formed before slowly unravelling into ambient tapestries of modular synthesizer, samples and reverb. And while every song feels as though it could go in that direction, The Tear Garden do show some restraint, allowing the lovely repeating synth figure of “A Private Parade” to play itself out fully before swapping in a solo that lands somewhere between a violin and a theremin. Especially pleasant is the excellent “Calling Time” (which features one of Ka-Spel’s best bits of contemporary wordplay “I’ll serve until it’s time/I’ll serve until this bar runs dry”) which marries a propulsive bassline with off-kilter mechanical percussion and a bubbling lead, all delivered in a relatively trim 4:29.

Still, while this is unmistakably a Tear Garden record, from the dubby half-spoken “Sinister Science” to the cathartic exotica of the string-infused “Seven Veils”, we’re no closer to insight beyond simply identifying familiar components. And maybe that’s where some of the magic comes from really. It occurs while listening Ka-Spel crack a little while he partakes in cute wordplay on plinky-plunky closer “Object” that the Tear Garden is almost an in-joke, an insular and obscure province charted by two long-time friends who found a creative unity many years ago and have never let it go. It’s their trip, but we still have the privilege of being guests, and that can’t help but still feel somewhat special.

Buy it.

The Brown Acid Caveat by The Tear Garden

Tracks: July 10th, 2017

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We’re halfway through the year, and as we were intimating on the podcast last week, it’s around now when we tend to start thinking about which records seem likely contender to make year end lists, and what horses, dark or otherwise, are still approaching. What have been your favourite records of the year thus far? Which releases still to come in 2017 are you most excited for? Get at us in the comments, and check out this week’s Tracks, why don’tcha.

The Tear Garden

Seems a likely approximation of what's happening in Edward's head at any moment.

Comaduster, “Selfsimilar”
Speaking of highly anticipated records, it’d be difficult to think of anything still to come this year which we’re more excited for than the forthcoming Comaduster Solace LP (and the accompanying EP of non-album tracks The Strands of Time We Left Behind). Real Cardinal’s comments about the the process and themes of the record have been intriguing to say the least, and we now have the first official track from it. The rhythmic and harmonic shifts “Selfsimilar” goes through are staggering on a first pass, but that first listen also shows just how immediate and, well, catchy Comaduster work can be. Real’s vocals are stellar as always, and the panoply of styles and sounds he’s capable of bringing together has only expanded. A very exciting sign of things to come.

Ancient Methods, “Andromeda feat. Zanias (Daniel Myer Bootleg Clubmix)”
We’re not gonna front like we’re old enough to remember the golden age of bootleg DJ edits and remixes, but who are we to front when Daniel Myer wants to resurrect some of the magic of that era. Inspired by a track off of Ancient Methods’ new EP The Asking Breath Comes to Each (which features “It” vocalist Zanias) Daniel whipped up a good ol’ fashioned club mix of the ethereal original. Thrilling and totally unofficial, play this cranked loud for maximum illicit thrills. And go peep that Ancient Methods EP, too: it features collabs with Azar Swan, Tropic of Cancer, and Huren.

FIRES, “Believe Me (Instrumental Mix)”
Longtime friend of I Die: You Die and recent Metropolis Records signee Eric Sochocki’s project FIRES has just released their debut EP, and man, is it stocked with hot mixes from various folks who hang on our Slack channel. Not to take a thing away from FIRES’ original sound which combines elements of industrial rock, bass music and state of the art production into a fresh whole, but boy were we chuffed to see friends like Ad•ver•sary, Null Device, Dub Jay, Mangadrive, Lain Hiro, Cryo Unit and Wesley Mueller amongst others, all in one spot. Have a listen to one of the EP’s originals below, nab the Morning Tide Grey EP and be ready for some fresh FIRES related content we have coming up soon right here on ID:UD!
MorningTideGrey by FIRES

Phil Western, “Garbage Hoard”
Phil Western’s back in action with a new full-length, and some quick skimming shows Neuro-Plastique to be a snappy and almost sunny variation on the psych-heavy techno sound Phil’s been an undisputed master of for decades. The laid back yet wholly expressive feel on this one hearkens back to the stone classic Dark Features LP.
Neuro-Plastique by Phil Western

Chrome Corpse, “Lonely God”
Folks might remember that we’ve been heartily impressed by the first record from Seattle’s Chrome Corpse as well as the pure punk energy of their live set. A split cassette with Night Terrors is yielding two new tracks from the still very young and fresh act, which deliver plenty of the raw and punchy brand of EBM we’ve come to love from Chrome Corpse, but might also show some slightly more ambitious instrumentation and arrangements.
Night Terrors / Chrome Corpse by Chrome Corpse

The Tear Garden, “Strange Land”
We’re such stans for the long-running collaboration of Cevin Key and Edward Ka-Spel that the release of a new Tear Garden album is basically a national holiday at the HQ. We haven’t spent as much time with The Brown Acid Caveat as we’d like yet, but one thing we’ve noted is how upbeat many of these songs are, not too far off from the band’s latter albums for Nettwerk. We’ve been accused of overstating how sad current day Ka-Spel material seems to our ears, but this is different, reflecting that wry melancholia that has always been his trademark.

Klutæ, “Black Pirahna”

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Klutæ
Black Pirahna
Læbel

Klutæ (or Klute as the project was originally known) has been an outlet for Clause Larsen’s more raw and fiery impulses as a songwriter and producer for more than 25 years. Where his more well known work as Leæther Strip has its share of hostility and anger, Klute forgoes Larsen’s baroque and sentimental inclinations altogether, with aggression as its primary musical focus. 2017′s Black Pirahna follows the blueprint of 2011′s Electro Punks Unite in expressing that pugnacity through raw old school-ish EBM, arranged with a minimum of instrumentation for maximum effect.

Unsurprisingly, many of the lyrical topics Claus has been invoking for decades make suitable grist for the Klutæ mill. Opener and single “The Wire & the Cuffs” is an uptempo S&M anthem, all bass, drums and vocals. “Wake Up the Punks”, which comes complete with a screed about the complacency of the left in the face of rebranded fascism, is delivered with a greasy basement punk show chant and a charmingly plonky keyboard lead. These songs are unadorned and gritty, which works in their favour, letting Claus’ growls and yells have the spotlight while the pumping rhythm section does the rest of the work. When Larsen does throw something extra into the mix it generally works to compliment Black Pirahna‘s style, like the raunchy guitar sounds that show up on “Bømbs”.

To be quite honest, though, at thirteen original tracks and one remix (by SPARK! who are fairly sympatico with this style in their current incarnation) the album feels a touch long. With a strong beginning and an equally strong ending that culminates with “Burning Berlin”, a breaksy collaboration with Needle Sharing, it’s the middle of the record that has some paunch on it in the form of some mid-tempo songs that just don’t have as much torque in them. It’s not all dross though, as “Romania” shows that the project is perfectly capable of doing an effective slow grind, and minus the Network samples “Panic is Bliss” would be perfectly acceptable. It’s hard to fault Larsen for wanting to deliver a big album experience after a few years away from Klutæ, but the record’s impact is lessened by the longer run time.

Still, Black Pirahna serves as an excellent reminder that Larsen can do throwback body music as well as many of the younger acts that have emerged over the last few years. Those craving some old school thrills from an established icon of the style could do far worse than to crank up “Submission” and be reminded just what Klutæ is all about.

Buy it.

Black Piranha by Klutæ

We Have a Technical 164: Gosh Darn Pizza

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Evils Toy, ahoy

On this episode of the podcast, Alex and Bruce take up records by By Any Means Necessary and Evils Toy. Plus, a response to an article doing the rounds about the demographic shifts happening in darker subcultures. Get out of the sun and into the shade of some darker alternatives with the latest episode of We Have A Technical! How has the outside perimeter of electro-industrial changed in the past five years? What can be learned from the hesitant beginnings of deep genre dark electro acts? These mysteries and so many more are plumbed herein. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Die Selektion, “Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt”

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Die Selektion - Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt

Die Selektion
Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt
Aufnahme + Wiedergabe

Die Selektion’s self-titled 2011 debut seemed to be at the crest of a particular historical wave at the time, but history’s found it to have a lot of contemporary currency as well. Mixing warbling electro programming with tight post-punk aggression, it wasn’t hard to trace connections between the young Germans and, say, Lebanon Hanover or even The Vanishing; acts who were infusing coldwave and darkwave with new aggression and seemed to embrace a wide range of instrumentation. Sure, the debut sounded rough, but that was part of its charm, and as it aged the band’s debts to the likes of DAF would only serve to portray them in a brighter light. As acts like Nightmare Fortress, Forever Grey, and Veil Of Light began presenting more dramatic forms of coldwave, often bootstrapped to modern instrumentation, Die Selektion tunes like “Steine auf dein Haupt” and “Du rennst” began to sound like premonitions of what was to come, both tensely minimal and violently propulsive.

I note all this to underscore both how primed for new Die Selektion modern audiences likely are, and how conspicuous their absence has felt. As it turns out, the interim time hasn’t gone to waste. Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt differs from its predecessor chiefly in mood and delivery rather than in pure sound or genre influence, but the distinction between the two records couldn’t be more striking. While Deine Stimme definitely sounds like Die Selektion, it also sounds like an iteration of that band whose confidence and production know-how has grown immensely, and who are more than capable of putting that wisdom to use, even (and perhaps especially) when that calls for some modicum of restraint.

Time and again, Deine Stimme smooths out the rougher edges of Die Selektion’s early work, blending cleanly executed synth and bass lines into Luca Gillian’s vocals which remain bold but have forsaken his impetuous yelps for a commanding and even tone which brings long-standing masters of futurepop to mind. The brass instrumentation which set the band apart from their peers early on remains, but is woven so evenly and subtly into the programming its appeal is harmonic and textural now, rather than simply striking or novel. On a related note, I can’t tell if the actual amount of live bass has been reduced on Deine Stimme but its role has certainly been diminished: programming and rhythms now feel rigidly executed, but with the aim of communicating ease and mastery rather than panic. Dig mid-album highlight “Der Himmel Explodiert”, which starts with a Jan Yammer style bassline but soon evolves into a forceful yet grandiose and well-paced epic, with horns and backing vocals all arranged to sell the chorus. Even when they’re leaving such ambitions aside and heading straight to the dancefloor, as they do on “Der Augenblick”, the amount of work that’s gone into letting the basslines rise and fall is palpable, as is the craft with which drum fills and breathy vocals are woven in and out.

Whether its smoother delivery is an incidental byproduct of the band’s time away or whether said time was needed to get the band to the point of being able to turn something like Deine Stimme in an angels on the head of a pin question. The passion and excitement which drove the band’s music was always apparent, but having those forces marshaled in a more coherent and elegant fashion ends up underlining their impact rather than diminishing it. Recommended.

Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt by Die Selektion

Buy it digitally or on LP or CD.

Tracks: July 4th, 2017

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What a weekend it was! We could tell you about how we spend our stat holiday (drinking beer and listening to records mostly) here in Canada, or perhaps about some of the interesting news relating to the world of Our Thing that have come across our desk. But we know the real reason you’re here: to get our take on New Japan’s G1 Special events that took place this weekend in Long Beach California. Yes, undoubtedly you’re thirsty for our views on the crowning of Kenny Omega as the inaugural IWGP US Champion, whether Cody Rhodes had the best match of his career against Kazuchika Okada (he did) and how Tomohiro Ishii is lowkey the most consistently great performer in the entire world of wrestling. Well, sadly we didn’t have time to write any of that up. We did do a Tracks post though, cold comfort though it may be.

For real though, New Japan has like, a lot of belts.

INVA//ID, “Overdose”
A tip of the I Die: You Die cap to Ryan from Youth Code for bringing this brand new electro-industrial artist to our attention. We know next to nothing about INVA//ID (not to be confused with friend of the site Séamus Bradd, formerly the.invalid), except that they hail from the steaming hotbet of industrial that is Los Angeles, and they like that classic 90s dark electro style. Go to Soundcloud to check out their stuff – including a pretty dope cover of X Marks The Pedwalk’s “I See You” – and keep your ears open for the name; we’re pretty confident you’ll be hearing about them a lot in the near future.

Distorted Retrospect, “Intermittent (V▲LH▲LL Remix)”
There was a time not so long ago when every week brought us either a new song or remix from V▲LH▲LL, but things have slowed down somewhat of late. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, because it makes something like this new mix for Distorted Retrospect (aka Christof Krztov) feel real special, a ghostly visitation if you will. You’ve got the usual spooky vibe and orchestral sounds in full effect, and we’re especially digging the vocal processing being used to bring the whole thing together. Take all the time you need for the next release guys, but don’t be strangers now ya hear?
Intermittent (V▲LH▲LL Remix) by Distorted Retrospect

Sally Dige, “Holding On”
We missed Sally Dige’s 2015 debut on Night School, but even if she wasn’t releasing follow-up Holding On on DKA, we’d have had to check it out after so many friends in the know expressed anticipation over more music from the German/Canadian transplant. The title track has all the cold and elusive markers of classic minimal wave, but is so full, lush, and replete with echoing layers of electro-pop that it’s impossible to think of it having too much in common with such a stripped down genre. Definitely bodes well for the rest of the record.
Holding On by Sally Dige

How Green is My Toupee, “Sense”
Every time we write or mention Cyborgs on Crack, we usually make it a point to mention not to be put off by the name, and that it is not a reflection on the terrific acid house by way of 80s post-industrial sounds produced by Domagoj Kršić. Imagine our surprise at reading his recent announcement that he would be backburnering CoC for a while and concentrating on a new project called…How Green Is My Toupee. Well alright then. On the real though, the name should give you a hint to dada sensibility conveyed by first single “Sense” and the weird left turn it takes about midway through. Always the unexpected with this guy.
Sense [Single] (2017) by How Green Is My Toupee

Ortrotasce, “Primitive Colors”
The new Code EP from Florida’s Ortrorasce is full of spritely coldwave which dashes about with ease and panache, like this number. Should appeal to fans of The Present Moment, automelodi, and older Body Of Light. It looks as though they’ll be playing with High-Functioning Flesh in NY in a couple weeks if’n you’re in the area and keen to hear more.
Code by Ortrotasce

Cretin Dilettante, “Signal Intrusion”
We’re not really sure what to make of the first sounds from the new LP by Dustin Sheehan’s Cretin Dilettante project, especially by the standards Basic Unit Productions has set thus far. It’s pensive and certainly speaks to the bedroom project roots of Sheehan’s first couple of releases, but there’s clearly a good sense for arrangements and instrumentation at the core of a track like “Signal Intrusion”, beneath wet, wobbling frequencies and finely minced and scrambled samples.
Avida Dollars by Cretin Dilettante

We Have a Technical 163: The Sixtennial

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Look, there isn't a lot of cool gothic imagery featuring the numeral six out there okay?

The six year anniversary of I Die: You Die is being celebrated on this episode of We Have A Technical! Bruce and Alex are discussing each of the site’s six favourite records of the year in retrospect. How has the bombastic electro-industrial of Encephalon shaped our understanding of scene records? What have we learned about ∆AIMON that we didn’t know upon the release of Flatliner? And what would Seymour Stein have to say about EBM, anyway? These questions and so many more are answered herein. Thanks very much to everyone who’s come along for the ride at any point over the past six years; we hope you’ll stick around. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

In Conversation: High-Functioning Flesh, “Culture Cut”

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In Conversation is a feature in which the senior staff talk about a record we’ve been listening to, recent or otherwise. It’s a nice informal (and often rambling) way we sometimes like to approach an album we have a lot to say about, like the funked-out third LP from Los Angeles’ High-Functioning Flesh…

High-Functioning Flesh
Culture Cut
Dais Records

Bruce: Now three albums in, Gregory Vand and Susan Subtract’s work as High-Functioning Flesh has not only established its own territory, but seems to be operating almost entirely independently. The combination of sloping funk and rubbery beats which make up Culture Cut really don’t suggest any band to me other than HFF themselves. That could just be a function of me getting more familiar with the things that make the band’s songs tick; it was tempting and fun to wax postulative about influences, especially knowing what we do about Vand and Subtract’s deep knowledge of various arcane musical histories and sub-genres. But after playing Definite Structures pretty much non-stop in 2015 (and 2016), in approaching Culture Cut I was struck by how the band had honed in on all of the things which seemed to make them stand out from their peers (and their influences), and had cut out anything which didn’t seem to fit the HFF ethos as they’d established it. Does that scan with your first passes at the record at all?

Alex: I went back and spent some time with their debut LP A Unity Of Miseries, A Misery Of Unities before really digging into Culture Cut, for the simple reason that I have listened to Definite Structures so much that I needed an actual refresher to really position the new record mentally with the previous ones. In doing so I think it really threw what you’re talking about into sharp relief; this is the record you get from a band who have figured out exactly how they want to sound and are exploring what they can do within that. I’d never damn the album with a backhanded assessment like “If you liked the last record, this is more of the same”, but in considering High-Functioning Flesh from the original cassette demo to present this is less of a jump in terms of mood and presentation and much more of a refinement. Which is a pretty long-winded way of saying yeah, this is a band who have it dialed in.

Okay, so here’s a thought I had during a late night listening session: how much of what High-Functioning Flesh accomplish on this LP is based on the idea of engaging the listener physically? Without getting into a broader discussion of body music, I’m wondering about how the rhythms, tempos and structures of this record are meant to elicit movement and an actual material response on the part of the audience. Even beyond the baseline level that all beat-driven music can invoke dancing, moshing, or whatever, I feel like HFF are exploring how to cut through how we consciously process their music and tap into something a lot more deeply-rooted in our nervous system. Like the breathing at the end of “Drawn Out” is a marker for that idea, a literal suggestion of the exertion of performer and audience.

Culture Cut by High-Functioning Flesh

Bruce: I was listening to the record at the gym earlier today and actually found myself syncing my own reps and breathing with “Drawn Out”, no foolin’! Hell, if nothing else looks at the band name. There are a lot of purposes to which the functioning of our bodies could be lent – dance, sex, violence, athletics – and the oblique way in which HFF’s lyrics refer to impulses, frustrations, and desire means they could all be on the table. But yes, between Susan’s constant grunts and gasps and all of the little synth flourishes it doesn’t just feel like music to move to but music about movement.

I guess that’s as good a connection as any to talk about how underscored the funk element of HFF’s delivery feels in this record. It’s always been a big part of the band’s sound, but right from the get go in the way that a funky rhythm’s pulled out from the stuttering sample of “Talk About”, there seems to be a real focus on rhythmic engagement rather than rhythmic aggression…which is a bit of reductive way to look at the funk/EBM nexus, I admit. However, without changing their thematics around that much the duo really seem to be doubling down on sounds which feel, if not softer, more rounded around the edges and can produce a more groove-based feel. I know we talked along these lines at least in terms of the band’s philosophy when Definite Structures came out, but it really feels like something that’s come into its own musically here. I guess that’s another thing that they’ve dialed in, as we were talking about before.

Alex: Yeah, this is the band at their absolute funkiest. I’m super into how songs like “Gone Home” articulate that; the laidback vocal performance from Susan and the chattering synthline and vocal sample that just bubbles away behind the bassline give it this loose, groovy feel that I don’t think you would have heard from the band at their inception. I love how “Invoking Phantoms”, which follows it directly, kind of reinvents that groove as a vehicle for a very clean and melodic vocal turn and a real singalong chorus of the kind that the band hasn’t really done before. In a lot of ways these tracks are differentiated by the way they apply rhythm, more than things like instrumentation.

Which leads me to another thing I wanted to discuss, namely that this album sticks to a very specific set of sounds pretty much throughout. Not that they’re reusing the same drum sounds or synths on every song, but there isn’t a vast variety in how those component parts are presented across the record. That limited palette really makes you focus on the differences in structure and construction. A song like “Provoke the Wound” is on paper very similar to “Gone Home” but they’re actually very different in practice. All the variety comes from things like how Susan rides the beat as a singer, how the vocal cut ups play against the drums and how those leads swoop in. Speaking of those leads, do you get a jazzy, live feeling from how they’re played? So many of the songs feature prominent melodic parts that don’t seem quantized or edited at all, which is pretty cool and different.

Culture Cut by High-Functioning Flesh

Bruce: I’m almost always terrible at guessing what’s programmed, what’s live, what’s quantized, and what isn’t, but yeah: this album sounds very much like their live sets, in particular the DB20 one we caught last year which was very heavy on new material. I’ve also seen them play three times (I think) between the release of Definite Structures and Culture Cut, so the idea of HFF as a live entity is definitely shaping how I’m approaching this record, and likely just about all of their material from this point forward. My point is that it’s very easy to visualize the pair of them playing this record pretty much as is in a live setting.

When we first got onside with HFF we were really interested in how people from outside familiar cliques and labels were approaching what then seemed like “roots” body music from a very different set of perspectives and scenes than had been common for years. That distinction’s definitely blurred since then (to everyone’s benefit, I’d say), but I like that Culture Cut seems to have set aside issues of lineage and influence, be they sonic or sub-cultural, and instead feels like Susan and Greg zeroing in on what they like about their own music, or at least what sounds or ideas get them up in the morning and into the studio. Final thoughts?

Alex: Albums like Culture Cut are a challenge to make. It’s predecessor felt totally revelatory, a reframing of familiar sounds in a modern context that also happened to be super well-written and compulsively listenable. How do you follow-up a record that done changed the game when you aren’t looking to reinvent yourself or your sound again?

The answer is you dig in hard and work to find new ways to explore your ideas within the rubric you’ve established. Culture Cut is an album made by a band who have themselves figured out, and are getting to enjoy the fruits of their labours by playing with the possibilities of their template. It’s not an album you could mistake for anyone else; this is High-Functioning Flesh, and that should serve to tell you what it sounds like better than any genre descriptor. Recommended.

Buy it.

Culture Cut by High-Functioning Flesh

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