Observer: Puerta Negra & Menthüll

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Puerta Negra - Playa Sola
Puerta Negra
Playa Sola

Portland’s Puerta Negra arrived effectively fully formed on 2022’s Costo Humano, and the four tracks on new EP Playa Sola pick up exactly where it left off. Deft and colourful, Maria Aguirre and Mark Arciaga’s take on modern mutant EBM gets a bit of a polish thanks to the golden touch of Matia Simovich behind the boards, but the EP’s carried by its swiftly shifting plateaus of programming and rhythm, as well as Aguirre’s vocal charisma. With plenty of variety in sound design, even across a mere thirteen minutes, but still holding to the stripped down arrangements which this style necessitates, Playa Sola measures up well pound for pound. “Control” underscores the line between classic NYC electro and EBM with its stuttering kicks and synth toms, while “No Olvidado” carries a hint of early Kas Product in the gloomy synth pads which hover behind the minimal basswork. Direct, mean, but multifacted stuff from the pair once again.
Playa Sola by Puerta Negra

A Proper Ending

Those tracking Quebecois synthpop act Menthüll since they first came to our attention in 2021 since their emergence in 2020 will have noted the Hull-based duo’s shift from dreamier and often bright sounds towards more pensive and smokey ones. It’s a natural fit for the project, whose frequent releases of singles and EPs – 15 in the last three years – have established a continental and melancholic style that borders on minimal and post-punk. A Proper Ending is the purest expression of that vision thus far, leaning into male and female vocals sung in both French and English and more ominous choices in production and sound design. A cut like “Sorrow” with its wiry electric bass and dramatic pads recall the simmering menace of European acts like Rue Oberkampf and Paradox Obscur. It’s a feeling that persists even when Menthüll orient themselves towards the dancefloor; “Dance Cabaret” and “And We Die” let that uneasiness and anxiety show through, the former via a juxtaposition of the disco as getaway and trap in one, and the latter through it’s dance unto death refrain resigned or celebratory depending on your perspective. That last feeling may be the best way to think of the project’s evolution – as the layers of vocals on the beatless electropop of closing track “So Long” rise up, Menthüll find continue to find sparks of joy in the shadows.

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We Have A Technical 461: The Absent Centre

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Hem Netjer. Photo by David Jacklin.

Hem Netjer. Photo by David Jacklin.

We’re speaking this week with Raven Rissy and David from Vancouver band Hem Netjer. The band’s woven a unique tapestry of industrial and darkwave sounds as well as broader folk instrumentation from around the world, with a very particular set of mythological and spiritual themes. We’re also looking back on The Cure’s set here in Vancouver last week. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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Belgrado, “Intra Apogeum”

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Belgrado - Intra Apogeum

Intra Apogeum
La Vida Es Un Mus

It’s been a long time since we heard from Barcelona’s Belgrado; seven years since the dark post-punk/peace punk act’s Obraz LP, to be precise. That’s not just enough time for an individual band’s concerns and aesthetic to have shifted, but also sufficient time for the broader genres in which a band operates to experience a sea change. Both of these possibilities seem to have occurred in the case of Intra Apogeum, a record which reflects how more melodic and synth-focused tunes have become part and parcel in post-punk of late.

One only need take a quick pass at new wave-driven tracks like “Rytmy Wszechświata” to get a sense of how Belgrado have developed over those years. Sure, the jangling, echoing guitar which flares out from solid, moody bass work has some connection to their previous material, but it’s so dreamy, so languid, that it feels like it’s there to simply add colour rather than drive the track. Instead, it’s the roaming bass and electronic toms which propel it, with all manner of pastel synth pads filling out the space left by the guitar. The ear keeps being drawn to the harmonics and textures of the synthesizer on “Nie Zapomnę”, which evokes children’s birthday parties as much as darkwave, or on “Tęsknota” where gurgling analogue flourishes bubble up seemingly at random, giving the use of synths a much more warm and approachable sound than one might anticipate when a band with Belgrado’s discography begins to underline electronics.

In spite of all of these changes, Intra Apogeum still has plenty of threads showcasing the elements which have given Belgrado an international audience (and made them such an impressive live act). Most notably, the vocals of Patrycja Proniewska especially resonate with the band’s new sound despite still having the same swooping and airy croon which garnered well-earned comparisons to Xmal’s Anja Huwe. Yes, she’s singing in major keys a lot more than she used to, but the character of her voice still keeps the band linked to their roots.

As alluded to off the top, Belgrado are hardly the first band to have cut their teeth on darkly driving fare to have let off the gas and allowed a bit more colour into the mix. Spectres’ slow transition to brighter new wave and Double Echo’s dabbling with synthpop and italo disco come to mind, not to mention The Cure’s Japanese Whispers-era transformation (though that could just be the similarity between the synth melody on Intra Apogeum‘s “Na Szlak” and that of “Let’s Go To Bed”). Whether a conscious choice on the part of the band or simply a sign of the times, it’s a pleasant enough move out of the shadows and into the gel lights.

Buy it.

Intra Apogeum by Belgrado

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2nd Face, “utOpium”

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2nd Face

German electro-industrial project 2nd Face’s sophomore LP utOpium picks up from their 2017 debut album Nemesis, with sole member Vincent Uhlig showing some considerable growth as both a producer and as a vocalist. It’s a record that finds Uhlig building out his vast tracks with more complex and layered arrangements and sound design, almost to exclusion of all other concerns. He takes some big swings in terms of scope, and while it doesn’t hit 100% of the time, it does demonstrate some forward thinking ideas.

utOpium‘s best moments are those when Uhlig’s sprawling constructions strike a balance between tunefulness and ornate production. Cuts like “Formula Extinction” don’t put the hook out in front, choosing instead to weave it through different synth patterns, vocal lines and the broader structure of the song; that number in particular sneakily gets its chord progression across via organs, pianos, buzzing basses and Uhlig’s own voice, so by the time a ghostly suite of synth strings picks it up it’s already been subliminally absorbed by the listener. It’s not a traditional verse-chorus kind of record, instead choosing to build each song around movements and ever-changing orchestration, rarely settling in one spot long enough to lose momentum. Songs like “1 of the Others” and “Life(l)over” cram a considerable number of sections together, slotting chiming keys, fuzzed out percussion, basses and samples together without any jarring shifts. It’s quite impressive as a feat of planning and composition, meticulous in a way that recalls some of European industrial’s contemporary masters like the much-missed Interlace.

The problem with the approach is that it’s difficult to latch onto any given song as an individual piece. Even after taking in the record several times, its hard to remember which part belongs to each song; you’ll recognize a particular lyric, bit of programming or snatch of instrumentation, but situating them mentally proves challenging. That’s not necessarily a downside when listening to the album as a whole – indeed, it lends the LP a sort of classic concept-record/rock opera quality where its whole is more than the sum of its parts. But it does mean that Uhlman leaves a lot on the table by constantly shifting between sounds and ideas: “Underneath the Silence” has something like three or four different sections that could have been built out and expanded into whole numbers. Instead they’re heard once and then they’re gone, and you may find yourself wishing for that particular vocal hook or rounded bit of bass synth to make a comeback.

That restlessness and need to keep moving forward with new ideas across each track is tempered somewhat by Uhlig’s own presence. While not the most impressive singer, he knows how to use his own voice and how to produce it to different effect. Sometimes half-singing, intoning solemnly with added pitch-shifting and distortion, or just plain punching through the mix when needed, he brings a unity to the LP that might otherwise have seemed like an assembly of ideas and segments without intention. It’s an important part of a record whose shortcomings don’t come from lack of ambition, but from a disinterest in focusing in on any one of its myriad components. What it lacks in traditional songcraft, utOpium makes up for in grandiosity of effort and in extensive detail.

Buy it.

utOpium by 2̵n̵d̵ ̵f̷a̶c̴e̷ | 2nd Face

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Tracks: May 5th, 2023

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As far as shows with serious significance to both of the Senior Staff, it’s tough to come up with names bigger than The Cure, whose Vancouver show Friday night managed to cut through our jaded middle-aged exteriors and get into the heart of how and why we were drawn to darker music in the first place. You can look forward to some detailed talk about the show off the top of this week’s podcast, but ’til then here are your Monday Tracks!

Slighter goes cyber

Diesel Dudes, “Zamboni”
Everyone’s favourite Bay Area EBM muscle men are back, this time with a track that combines two of their favourite interests: violent sports and machines with big engines. Full of overdriven and flanged programming, this tune draws the line between Diesel Dudes’ yen for EBM (the track fittingly clocks in at 2:42) and the punk structures which often make up the base of their tunes. Hopefully between this and last year’s “Bus Boss” we’re in for a whole new release from the Dudes to listen to while we lift.

Geneviéve Pasquier, “Berühren”
We have to confees that much to our shame we don’t spend nearly enough time listening to Geneviéve Pasquier. Considering how long the she’s been in the game plying a pretty distinct style of noisy electronics and torchy singing – presaging a lot of current developments in vocal noise – we should really be paying closer attention to the long-time Ant-Zen recording artist. And hey, what better way to make good on that than by pumping her latest for that storied label, a 7″ featuring covers of minimal wave act Profil’s “Berühren” on one side, and cult industrial act NOX’s “Cannibal Night” on the other. Heady continental stuff that hits us just so.
indecent behaviour by geneviéve pasquier

Slighter, “Have No Fear”
We’ve come to expect great production and interesting style-bending choices from Colin Cameron’s Slighter, and single “Have No Fear”, a lead-in to new LP This Futile Machine certainly lives up to that. Working some of the trip-hob vibes of his last full-length Automata with some bass music touches and classic industrial sample-work, it’s a crossover styled-track that illustrates Cameron’s capacity for atmosphere and sound design in a clubbable package, especially in the included “Dark Rave Mix”.
Have No Fear (Single) by Slighter

Rue Oberkampf, “Solitude”
We talked a good deal on the podcast about how Rue Oberkampf’s set at Verboden balanced the band’s icy continental cool with their ear for hard-hitting club-driven darkwave, and this new number (which was played at that set if we remember correctly) speaks precisely to that balance. Of the moment but holding onto just enough of the band’s classic influences, this sounds like it would murder on a proper club system, and shows that the trio are primed to follow-up last year’s excellent Liebe with something equally special.
Solitude by Rue Oberkampf

Protectorate, “Capitulate 23”
While we haven’t heard much from Finnish post-industrialists Cardinal Noire recently, we have heard a lot from its component members; earlier this year we got a great death industrial LP from Lasse Alander in his W424 guise, while the other half of the duo Kalle Lindberg has just dropped a new Protectorate single MIXZ. As the title suggests it’s largely made up of remixes but there is a hot new cut in the form of “Capitulate 23”, a body-music flavoured slice of industrial dance that recalls earlier era Necro Facility with maybe a touch of dark electro to set it off just right.
MIXZ by Protectorate

Bean Sí, “Stuck In The Mud (Radio Edit)”
Dublin’s Bean Sí first came to our attention with the thrashy darkwave of “Disco Fever”, and have followed that up with this more oontz and rave-focused track. The raspy teenage angst which drew us in is still very much on full display here, with the duo coming across as synthpunks coming up in the current club environment and latching on to whatever sounds might be at hand.
Stuck in the mud ( Radio Edit ) by Bean Sí

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Outland: Not So Rash Reflections

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It’s been a while since we had a guest post here on ID:UD, so if this is your first seeing one, let us introduce you to Outland – a broad label we use for any contributions to the website that are not made by the Senior Staff. This time we’ve got a monster essay from longtime friend of the site Ian Williams on his personal relationship with Skinny Puppy. Ian was one of the folks we first connected with working for major media outlets that had a proper working knowledge of the genres we cover, and it’s a real pleasure to be able to host his writing, especially on a topic so very close to our own hearts.

I first encountered what the ID:UD masterminds term Our Thing my freshman year of high school. Already deep in the weeds of punk rock, particularly Lookout Records and Dischord, I’d developed an attendant distrust of all things electronic in that specifically Gen X genres as masculinity sort of way. I started catching rides back from school with a senior girl; we shared a Latin class as our final class of the day, and I hated taking the bus. We rode together often during that second semester of freshman year, listening to various albums in her rickety Volvo.

One afternoon, she played Nitzer Ebb’s That Total Age. I told her I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but that was all the residual stuff about the rightness of various types of music speaking. The truth was that I liked it an awful lot and I wanted more, even though my encounters with Our Thing were, in those early years, done in fits and starts as I negotiated the social propriety of a 14 year old punk rocker listening to bleeps and bloops.

The other truth was that I was falling out with punk rock in the same fits and starts. Something about the calls to action rang hollow in a world where Bad Religion (not really productive of bangers in retrospect) and Green Day (very much productive of bangers) were on major labels. And I was depressed, a fact which will underpin this article about Skinny Puppy. That depression demanded something different than punk provided me. I had Joy Division and Nitzer Ebb, but those were starting points, not finish lines.

I hit the music stores and nabbed what looked interesting: more Nitzer Ebb, the requisite Nine Inch Nails, Front 242, KMFDM. Eventually, based on rumors I’d heard and the cool album art, I bought Skinny Puppy’s Too Dark Park. That’s when Skinny Puppy became a presence in my life. It was and is an amazing album: layered, dark, weird, but this isn’t something that needs to be repeated here for the thousandth time. Everyone knows.

Skinny Puppy mostly lingered at the periphery of my musical tastes. It’s not that I didn’t like their catalog but it was too challenging and abrasive to listen to regularly. When I became an Our Thing DJ in the early 00s, I’d break out Skinny Puppy only irregularly, invariably because someone requested “Assimilate”. A fine song but not really what drew me to them. But my personal life was and is punctuated by these intense listening sessions, sometimes stretching for months at a time, in which I would only listen to Skinny Puppy on repeat, working through the albums before starting over, spending extra time spent with Too Dark Park. They were sudden, jagged, strange moments of obsession, and I didn’t have an explanation for them. They just happened.

In spring of 2019, I had something close to a depressive breakdown. I was a successful writer, albeit freelance, and my main source of income, VICE Sports, had shuttered for the second and final time, leaving me with a return to constant pitching. I’d run up credit card bills because the same VICE left my payments for work completed in limbo for six straight weeks. My dog, who had been a source of constant comfort when I was largely housebound with severe Crohn’s disease, died. I’d returned to school late in life to finish my bachelor’s degree and found myself accepted into a PhD program—this was a source of joy but it also felt like an enormous chasm yawning before me. And I simply broke. The depression felt physical: at times I would clutch my head as if it were threatening to split open. I finally got my diagnosis of depression and some Wellbutrin, which helped raise the floor but also completely destroyed my ability to write. So, I stopped taking it.

I’ve never been one to sidestep my depressive episodes. They’re largely infrequent in their acute form and my dirty secret is that I secretly enjoy lingering in them to explore those sensations. Not because they’re pleasant, but because they are not. Because there’s something which feels true to them, even though I reckon that this might not be true in turn. There’s a permeability to the senses which doesn’t escalate to delusion or hallucination but creeps to the border before dying back down again. If this is false, and it almost certainly is, then the alternative of Wellbutrin, forced LinkedIn productivity cheeriness, and TikTok pep talks from Jeremy Usbourne level life coaches seems bleaker.

And I found myself listening to Skinny Puppy again during this episode.

What I’ve realized since is that Skinny Puppy sounds like my depression feels, hence the spikes of interest timed rhythmically to my mental state. I want to be clear about what I mean: it isn’t the lyrics or discrete sounds or a specific meaning but rather the sum totality of Skinny Puppy. I would never, could never, walk up to the surviving members to tell them that this or that song spoke to me or got me through a hard time. There is no speaking, there is no getting through. There isn’t any meaning, though their work is full of it, which speaks to my depression. It feels like my depression feels in a barely articulable way. And I rather like that, as it turns out. I feel not so alone, though I don’t feel better, precisely.

I’m not the only person I’ve met who feels this way. Someone close to me can’t listen to them at all because, they claim, it sounds like their anxiety and they don’t like that feeling. It’s a disruptive reminder that the interior and exterior aren’t as bifurcated as we would assume.

From a 1991 interview with Skinny Puppy, when Dwayne Goettel was asked how it felt to join the band:

Dwayne: “I was scared, it was so loud, I came into the studio and everything was just blasting.”
cEvin: “Dwayne used to hold his ears all the time.”

Ogre has said that he makes music about what scares him. That fear of what’s inside or what threatens to enter you suffuses Ogre’s and Goettel’s statements. I was so scared, I am so scared, yet I keep doing it.

S. Alexander Reed’s Skinny Puppy chapter in the appropriately named Assimilate talks about the repetition of the traumatic as abreaction, as well as the band’s unique (at their founding) connection with female fans in their recognition of the inconstancy of the body and definitions of wholeness. I want to expand by reiterating the terror which comes with those markers. A yearning for some other configuration of the subject/object relationship is present in swathes of philosophy and art: it’s there in Spinoza’s monism, the early Marx’s theory of alienation, Horkheimer’s examinations of Enlightenment rationality, Weber’s disenchantment of the world, the art of Bacon and Beuys, and in Kristeva, who Reed draws upon.

It’s scary for the wall between subject and object to come tumbling down, even as it is an affirmative act to tear it down. It requires living in the wound inflicted upon us in the imposition of (take your pick) capitalism/language/rationality upon us as we are subjectified. The abject is where the wound is, neither subject nor object.

Skinny Puppy is often described as being inhuman in their sounds and motifs. I think the opposite: that they are more human. It’s in the moments of non-music or non-sequitur that they are most that. It isn’t machinic, though they use machines, because the sound in so many heads is the sound of swirl, of clanging, of shrieking. Decoding Ogre’s lyrics is an exercise in frustration, not because they are meaningless but because the act of imposing a settled meaning is exactly the violence which he is observing. Music as fixed, systemic language does the same for Goettel’s samples or Key’s rhythms.

They’re just goofy horror fans, at heart, and it’s true, but therein lies their power. Mark Fisher, in an essay on Joy Division and depression, warns against artificial binaries of aesthetics and empirics. Joy Division were both “the Joy Division of Pure Art, and the Joy Division who were ‘just a laugh’—at once”. This is the power of their, as he calls it, sorcery: it is only the normal person who can work the power of observation. Not observation bereft of politics but a pastoral shamanism which conjures as it observes and foresees the impending terrible. Think of Skinny Puppy’s songs about animal rights which rarely rise to the bait of overt commentary but instead demand you occupy the role of animal. Or the simple story of their name: what would it be like to see through the eyes of a dog? And what would it mean to embody those roles, to cease wondering and commence doing the observation, because observation is never passive?

A simultaneous inside/outside of body, mind, other, self. Ogre’s favorite album is Joy Division’s Closer.

My favorite Skinny Puppy song is “Worlock”. It’s a terrifying song which I’ve been preoccupied with for years and which, in the lead up to this essay, I’ve been revisiting with a vengeance via long discussions with others, to whom I owe a debt for helping me think Skinny Puppy through.

The obsession—and not for nothing I underwent a brief depressive spell early this year—has developed into the iconic repeated sample of Charles Manson stating that “now is the only thing that’s real” becoming shorthand for a philosophical problem: that the past is verboten and the future is only more of the same as now. Again, terrifying.

What is this song? Multiple meanings. I’ve found people claim it’s about the death of the 60s—Manson is right there—or Ogre’s breakup with film professor Cyan Meeks, who he nicknamed Blue. It’s about drug abuse (hot blood guilt optic nerve). It’s a call to action: carpe diem (softspoken changes nothing). But Manson Family member Sandra Good was nicknamed Blue and Horace Badun’s voice actor in 101 Dalmatians was named Frederick Worlock. The song contains all of these meanings and none of them. The ambiguity as we pick out lyrical meaning in Ogre’s words or sonic meaning in Goettel’s wall of noise sampling before collapsing back to a state of unknowing is what matters. In the abject, language falls away.

The search for explication parallels Manson’s search for hidden meanings in “Helter Skelter”, his singing of which is also sampled. All I know is that this pronouncement that now is the only thing that’s real scared me then and scares me now, even as it drives my academic work. If you listen to the sample in its context, more unsettling is that the great villain of Americana, Charles Manson, makes more sense in this moment of a false prophet’s anger than not:

“Look at the madness that goes on, you can’t prove anything that happened yesterday. Now is the only thing that’s real. The truth! They can’t stand to look at the truth in themselves, they persecute themselves. They’re butchering themselves every time they go on the freeway. They hate themselves. Look at the signs: stop, go, turn here, turn there. You can’t do this; you can’t do that. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. This is illegal, that’s illegal, everything’s illegal. The police used to watch over the people, now they’re watching the people. The President doesn’t represent the people, he should be on the roadside picking up his children. But he isn’t.”

How could we disagree after Jordan Neely’s killer gets the stamp of approval from the NYPD? After George Floyd? How can we prove the past when it’s owned by a handful of corporations obliterating film and sound archives daily, if we even want to reference a reviled past which we insist teaches nothing at all? How does the President represent the people in an era of endless wars, felonious conspiracy, and debt ceiling cowardice? What of the by now guarantee of ecological collapse? Does now make more or less sense than Ogre’s lyrics? Than Goettel’s stabbing rearrangements? Than Manson’s observation? Is now more or less frightening than those things?

I do not want to be misread: Manson was a monster. But if you look at that quote or listen to “Worlock” and see a snippet of revelation there, it’s unsettling (unsettling peace, doing crazy things). It should be. What does it mean when our monsters sometimes say true things about the monstrous systems which we’ve erected?

In an interview with Little Punk People, Ogre states:

“Well, blue has always been following me in various forms. One of my ex-girlfriend’s name was Cyan, and cyan is a form of blue. And I’ve always been obsessed with the blue of a form of emotion, which is Picasso’s Blue Period. It was very beautiful. And blue also represents somberness sometimes, and depression. And I’ve dealt, certainly, with my struggles with depression, so I use it as a colorful way to represent some very dark moments. And finding blue and going through it is a very powerful thing to do. Not avoiding it but going into it and learning about it.”

Blue. Lived in depression. Love found and lost. Murder and prophecy. Unheimlich.

I finally got to see Skinny Puppy live in Asheville last month after 30 years of waiting. Two-thirds of the way through, my 45 year old knees were creaking and I had to pee. I told my brother I had to duck out for a few and may not be able to push through to get back to the stage, given that it was wall to wall people. The view from the back was more than fine (Orange Peel, you have a great setup visually). But I felt the buzz of a text against my thigh. It was my daughter, 13 years old, at the show, and more like me than she knows: she broods, too. She’d pushed through the crowd and found her uncle. The text was asking me where I was because the show was awesome.

I made my way back up, but not all the way. I saw her from a distance, hands in the air in time to “Dig It”, little but not as little as they once were, fists punctuating the words. She feels it, too.

Ian Williams is a doctoral candidate in communication at UNC-Chapel Hill and a former freelance writer at Jacobin, VICE, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter as @Brock_toon and he sometimes DJs on Twitch at

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We Have A Technical 460: That’s On Me Baby

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Henric de la Cour

Henric de la Cour

This week’s Pick Five formatted podcast has us discussing some unlikely cover selections. What tracks were we surprised to find taken up by various goth, industrial, and EBM acts, seemingly at odds with their own moods or stylings? Have those selections gone on to shape our understanding of the artists who made them? We’re also discussing the recent allegations made against Rammstein and their associates by various fans over the last week. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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Bara Hari, “Lesser Gods”

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Bara Hari
Lesser Gods
Re:Mission Entertainment

The lead-up to Los Angeles chanteuse Bara Hari’s proper debut LP has proven intriguing; first appearing in 2021 with the rough around the edges Dark New Days, Sam Franco’s exponential growth in terms of confidence in a mere two years and execution is notable. The sound of Lesser Gods is still the pop-leaning darkwave we’ve come to expect from the project, built out with lush arrangements of electronics, guitar, and piano and layers of Franco’s distinctive vocals.

Lesser Gods largely trades in hook-forward tunes that don’t waste time establishing themselves. “Tempest” is an early highlight, both by virtue of Franco’s resolute performance, matching her cadence and delivery to the song’s big piano chords and splashy cymbals, carrying the tune through a whirlwind of breakdowns and quick verse-chorus transitions. That same template is applied to pre-release single “House of the Devil”, albeit spiked with crunchy guitars and strings, playing up budget symphonics to big dramatic effect. On the more electronic numbers Franco stretches herself out a bit more, taking up the space that might otherwise have been dedicated to instrumentation with added application of her voice; “Looking for Oblivion” is relatively minimal instrumentally, but feels big by virtue of how the vocals skip from center across the stereo spectrum, where the trip-hoppy “Agoraphobic” has Franco bouncing atop evolving bass patches.

If the record has a failing, it’s that Franco doesn’t show much emotional range in her performances. The record is lyrically oriented towards a pretty potent mixture of scorn (both towards the performer herself and directed outwards) and anxiety, a mode that lets Bara Hari come across as bold and brash, but doesn’t allow her much vulnerability; on numbers like “Easy Target” which focus on deceit and betrayal, its hard to detect the hurt that fuels her rebukes. And while the vitriolic kiss-off to superficiality and the chase of fame of closing track “Immortal” certainly makes for an excellent thematic capper, it comes on the heels of so many tonally comparable songs it’s hard to situate Franco herself in the narrative.

Then again, the album art featuring Sam in robes, and the title Lesser Gods itself invoke the not inconsiderable pantheon of vengeful Greek goddesses. The wronged she’s channeling don’t need for us to sympathize, nor do they care if we see the reason behind their contempt; as Franco puts it on “Immoral Tales”, ‘You’re gonna hate me/No matter what I say’, a posture that gives her the freedom to call down storms on her enemies without pity, or understanding.

Buy it.

Lesser Gods by BARA HARI

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Zack Zack Zack, “Album 2”

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Zack Zack Zack - Album 2

Zack Zack Zack
Album 2
Trost Records

You’d have been hard pressed to find more enthusiastic champions of Zack Zack Zack when the Austrian duo’s debut EP emerged at the beginning of 2021 than us at ID:UD. Linking modern approaches to darkwave and post-punk with traditional Turkish instrumentation, tunes like “Bütün” were fresh, suave, and had an undeniable sense of cool when encountered on dancefloors. A follow-up LP which expanded on the EP felt rushed, though, without enough substantive new material to hold itself together. Thankfully, the handily titled Album 2 delivers the sort of focused and satisfying experience we knew Yigit Bakkalbasi and Cemgil Demirtas were capable of.

A good portion of what drew us to the band with tracks like “Bak” and “Bütün” is right up front in Album 2 with the slinky lope of opener “Yaradan”, where a hypnotic guitar line swirls above a slowly building darkwave groove, with Demirtas’ vocals weaving through the smoke, making it the perfect set-up for the sort of nightclub ennui to which the lyrics refer. While a bit more speedy and bracing, the modern recasting of dance-punk taken up by “Toprak” is a similarly solid showcase for the band’s sense of classic structures as well as their own unique strengths.

The dialed-in but stripped down programming which shapes much of the record is perhaps its secret weapon, or at least the key to its unity. The dreamy airiness of earlier pieces “Galactica” and “This Feeling” is far less common this time around, with the tight and claustrophic rhythm of “Österreichisches Erzeugnis” which acts as a foundation for its equally tense guitar, or the synthpunk pogo of “EV” holding sway. And when there is some breathing room offered, as on the spiral staircase sax goth of “Luftballon” or the almost Survive-like synth haze of “Oluler Susar”, its all the more effective for its contrast with the rest of the record.

Zack Zack Zack had an incredible amount of potential and personality from the moment they emerged: an ear for modern grooves, the switching between German and Turkish lyrics which reflects their cross-continental musical influences, their droll sense of humour (there’s a manic ode to the efficiency of German rail on this record, for Pete’s sake). Marshalling all of those into a full record, not just individual tunes, may have taken them a couple of tries, but the payoff has been well worth the wait. Recommended.

Buy it.


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Tracks: May 29th, 2023

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With Verboden and a big slate of recent shows now past, we’ve got some breathing room to start looking over the general landscape of 2023 and consider the direction the year is taking. No broad themes have emerged yet that we can see, although a few we’ve identified remain in full swing – the renewed interest in 90’s pop-trance, the French darkwave movement, and a return to DIY rough and ready North American EBM to name a few. This is all of course from our perspective up here in Vancouver, removed from what might be going on in your city, country or continent. Have you noticed any sounds or ideas taking shape we should be up on? Give us a shout here in the comments!

Camlann. Is that Numan cosplay on the right?

Harsh Symmetry, “Glass Tears”
With a slew of upcoming festival dates (including one happening today as of this post at WGT), Sacramento’s Harsh Symmetry very much seems on the come-up after last year’s Display Model LP began to turn some heads. Tunes like new single “Glass Tears” do a good job of showcasing why there’s real interest in Julian Sharwarko’s updating of classic coldwave sounds, with its blend of iciness, melody, and gloom.
Glass Tears by Harsh Symmetry

Camlann feat. Vic Rippa, “This World Is Ugly (Gegen Mann Remix)”
We were feeling Indonesian duo Camlann’s previous single for Russia’s Oberwave Records “Your Death is My Glory”, but damn this remix by label stalwarts Gegen Mann is on some other shit. For one thing the unearthly quality of the manipulated vocals paired with a minimal electro-darkwave instrumental is pretty tasty. Then you get Vic Rippa punching in with a full-on 90s Eurodance rap that had us hooked. Unexpected and very welcome stuff that has us fully paying attention for what comes next.
Camlann – This World is Ugly by Oberwave Records

NOIR, “Fallen”
A very nice slice of North American darkwave from NOIR, the project of Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch, Black Tape for a Blue Girl) and Eric Gustafson (Adoration Destroyed). What fallen captures is a sound and style that few acts of the modern era working in the genre currently are mining – that specific vocal forward mixture of guitars and electronics that eschewed gothic excess in favour of smooth and confident club appeal. The single is a nice value proposition as well with excellent remixes from Paradox Obscur, Silver Walks and a lovely acoustic rendition of the Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way”.
Fallen by NOIR

Beborn Beton, “Burning Gasoline (NNHMN remix)”
“Burning Gasoline” was a standout on Beborn Beton’s last full-length LP, this years Darkness Falls Again; a track that had a powerful environmental feel and the modern synthpop chops and production that has been so much a part of the venerable German act’s appeal. Releasing it as a single seems like a no-brainer, and while we enjoy all the mixes (like the very different take by Cryo) we were most drawn to the version by Berlin electro-darkewavers NNHMN. There’s something about the contrast between Beborn vocalist Stefan Netschio’s rich voice and the funky groove of the instrumental that just hits right. Coincidentally both acts will be sharing the stage at Terminus at the end of July, a rare opportunity for North American audiences indeed.
Burning Gasoline by Beborn Beton

Temple, “Pressure”
We were impressed with the way Portland’s Temple subtly blended the core elements of deathrock and trad goth rock on their first EPs, and are keen to see how they maintain that balance on forthcoming first LP Submission. If tracks like this one are anything to go on, they’re more than up to the task, delivering both propulsion and atmosphere.
Submission by Temple

Alex Reed, “Hooked”
This is a bit of a cheat, but we’ve been so entranced by Alex Reed’s (Seeming) version of Seabound classic “Hooked” for the past couple of years that we have to plug it here, now that it’s out from behind the Patreon paywall and appearing as part of Reed’s Born In Black. A compilation of reinterpretations of goth classics originally selected by patrons, it’s a testament to the way Reed is able to transpose both familiar and unexpected elements of songs we all know like the backs of our hands to new contexts, like the shimmering shoegaze rapture of this piece.
Born In Black: Covers by Alex Reed

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We Have A Commentary: “The Remix Wars – Strike One”

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 vs Haujobb

This month’s Patreon-supported bonus podcast has us taking up a slightly different style of release than the usual LP: we’re talking about the first salvo in that most 90s of rivethead conflicts, The Remix Wars. Yes, in 1996 :wumpscut: and Haujobb squared off, each remixing three of the other act’s tracks for 21st Circuitry, and we’ll be talking about where each of these storied industrial acts were in their respective careers, as well as offering History Channel-styled evaluation of each remix’s military prowess. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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Monolith, “Concrete Playground”

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Monolith - Concrete Playground

Concrete Playground
Hands Productions

A quarter of a century is a long time for an electronic project to release records at an effectively uninterrupted pace, and in the case of Eric Van Wonterghem’s Monolith, more than enough time for the wheel of time to come full circle, at least as far as aesthetic trends are concerned. As one half of Sonar alongside his Absolute Body Control and Klinik bandmate Dirk Ivens, Van Wonterghem’s work in the former project played no small role in the codification of the rhythmic noise genre he’d go on to further explore with solo work as Monolith. New LP Concrete Playground demonstrates how that work has come back into style in recent years, with Van Wonterghem aligning with current club sounds simply by sticking to his guns.

Densely packed rhythmic engines like “The Mighty Gods” and “The Hunter” very much deliver on what you’d expect heading into a Monolith record with this title amidst the broader techno-body music landscape, augmenting core, metronomic beats with scraping textures and feedback. But their mix and delivery is a nice reminder that this sort of sound can be just as menacing below 130 BPM, and doesn’t need to redline kickdrums to the exclusion of all other sounds. It’s nice to hear a more subtle and at times expressive take on this format by someone who helped to pioneer it long before it migrated out of purely industrial climes.

Despite the austerity suggested by the artwork (and delivered on in much of the record), Concrete Playground works some brighter moments in between the pure blasts of rhythmic noise. In keeping with the “everything old is new again” motif, things get lightened up a bit with the speedy bounce of “Push”, which calls back both to late 90s electro floors and the renewed interest in vintage trance being shown by contemporary acts like Soft Crash.

The relative brevity of many of Concrete Playground‘s pieces perhaps underlines the second word in its title. Rather than aiming for epic rhythmic noise constructions, with all manner of endurance-test builds and undulating waves of distortion, a la vintage Imminent Starvation, Van Wonterghem offers up brief figures and exercises, in which each track has just enough time to explore and express its sound design and kinetically react to its own components before recusing itself from the party. Feeling much more like a creative scratchpad (albeit a voluminous one at 73 minutes) than the sort of intractable monument the project’s name suggests, Monolith’s latest is an enjoyable reminder of just how much of the broader industrial-adjacent world Van Wonterghem’s work has intersected with.

Buy it.

Concrete Playground by monolith

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We Have A Technical 459: Another Hero

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Zanias at Verboden. Photo by Laura Montrose, @fleshvoids.

We’re very happy to have our interview with Alison Lewis of Zanias on this week’s episode of We Have A Technical. Lewis spoke frankly and earnestly with us about the personal and musical changes tied in with her new record Chrysalis. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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Blind Delon, “La Métamorphose”

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Blind Delon
La Métamorphose

Toulouse-based post-punk trio Blind Delon have a certain weight to their material, not necessarily a heaviness as we understand that term in relation to rock music, but a carriage and posture that implies gravitas. It’s a product of their oppressive atmospherics and alternating fits of continental ennui and pique, aspects of their sound that are pushed to the forefront of new album La Métamorphose. In practice, it’s also what makes the band read as capital-G goth; the band have rarely sounded so close to the second wave as they do on the plodding ascending guitar and deep-voiced vocals of opener “Le Crépuscule” or on the riffing-rager that is Poison Point collab “L’Envie”.

That doesn’t mean that the band’s longstanding use of electronics for bass and other elements are absent – vocalist and producer Fivequestionmarks’ guest turn on “La Violence” rides on top of a throbbing disco-punk synth bassline that is more manic than mopey, and “L’Homme” makes a meal of synthetic orchestration and giallo-wave markers. Rarely however has Blind Delon indulged goth rock’s big rock theatrics to this degree; working with Curses on “La Mort”, the pairing that could have easily gone full electro-darkwave instead lets crunchy guitar-lines and electric-bass lead into a big singalong chorus, of “Ophelia/I heard you say”, about as gothic a reference as they come.

Whether deliberate or not, the shift is less reinvention than it is the placement of emphasis on what was already there. It’s also not a cage in terms of the song stylings they touch on across La Métamorphose; the instrumental title track that closes the record builds from a lonely melody into a crashing wave of guitar noise that you could find just as easily on a post-rock track, and the choked vocals of “La Noyade” add some crust to the song’s snappy drum machine rhythm. If indeed this is Blind Delon intentionally leaning further towards goth-rock revivalism, than they’ve certainly shown not only a knack for it, but that the underpinnings for the style have been present in their work all along.

Buy it.

La Métamorphose by Blind Delon

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Tracks: May 23rd, 2023

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We’re not gonna lie, having a stat holiday yesterday felt pretty good, even coming on the heels of an extra day off last week due to Verboden. We’re not the raging party goblins we might have been during the heyday of 14+ hours of noise sets at Kinetik, and we need a bit more rest and recuperation in our dotage (Douglas Adams was on to something in imagining a planet which had two Sundays). But with that extra day taken care of, let’s get on with this week’s Tracks!

Die Selektion

Beach Blanket Bingo with Die Selektion.

Odonis Odonis feat. ACTORS, “No One Left”
Toronto industrialized noise rockers Odonis Odonis have always had range – one of the best things about their exceptional 2021 release Spectrums was how many styles they touched on, from noisy EBM, to pure machine rock, to smooth darkwave. New collaborative EP ICON promises the same kind of versatility as evidenced by what we’ve heard from it so far, with new track “No One Left” driving the point home: a collaboration with IDUD faves ACTORS that features bandleader Jason Corbett on vocal, the track goes further into dreamy, melody-driven dancefloor post-punk than we’ve yet heard from them. Really can’t wait to hear what happens when you get these cats together with A Place to Bury Strangers, Patriarchy and SUUNS.
ICON by Odonis Odonis

Die Selektion, “Ascheregen”
New Die Selektion? By gum, it’s been a while. We haven’t heard from the Stuttgart-based, self-professed “Prosecco Wave” trio since their 2017 Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt LP and its subsequent remix EP, but the bounce, immediacy, passion (and of course horns) which they’ve had on lock since their emergence in 2011 are all on display in this track. Here’s hoping its a sign of a larger release to come.
Ascheregen by Die Selektion

Comfort Cure, “Fight and Steal”
Hot on the heels of April’s excellent Not My Taste EP comes the announcement of a new one from one-man Detroit electro-body machine Comfort Cure, this time via the ever reliable DKA Records. The first taste of Design International is a sweet one; we’re big fans of the way that Comfort Cure splits the difference between his homebase’s legacy of minimal but powerful electronics, and EBM muscle, and “Fight and Steal” hits the mark in both regards. Due for release on June 9th, the EP will also feature remixes from Antoni Maiovvi/Ye Gods, Semantix and Brood Faye.
Design International by Comfort Cure

Some Ember, “Touch”
Some grand and romantic drama is offered up here by Berlin’s Some Ember, whose Held a Fragment of the Moon EP drew us in a couple of years ago with a lithe and smooth take on current darkwave. This new single brings brings Dylan Travis’ strengths as both vocalist and arranger to the fore, with the wounded archness of the likes of Bryan Ferry and Billy Mackenzie doing just as much work as the sparkling synths.
Touch by Some Ember

A Covenant Of Thorns, “Grace (Like The Back Of A Fist)”
The reactivation of longstanding dark American synthpop project A Covenant Of Thorns has been running strongly for a number of years, with the third in a recent string of LPs from Scott-David Allen due later this week. Allen’s recurring theme of betrayal and deception runs even more heavily than usual on Ashes, with tracks like this one gaining much from the depth and texture added to their funereal synth processions.
Ashes by A Covenant of Thorns

Mari Kattman, “Swallow”
Mari Kattman has been a constant presence in our coverage for some years now, both as a guest vocalist extraordinaire with favourites like Comaduster and iVardensphere, as one half of Helix with partner Tom Shear, and more recently for her solo efforts under her own name. Kattman’s strength as a performer has always been her power and versatility as a singer; she’s capable of a wide-range of styles and deliveries, all of which are imbued with her own distinctive personality. Her latest single “Swallow” shows that off in fine fashion, welding a slinky crawling backbeat to a half-sardonic, half-wounded vocal that recalls some of Kanga’s earlier work.
Swallow by Mari Kattman

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Devours, “Homecoming Queen”

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Homecoming Queen
Surviving The Game

The title of Devours’ 2023 LP Homecoming Queen is pretty much a mission statement for the record; having escaped the destruction of his doomed paradise Planet Devours (as conceptually outlined on the stunning 2021 LP Escape From Planet Devours, natch) the self-described synthpop gaylien finds himself back on the streets of Vancouver, and grappling with the memories, queer politics and fraught living conditions that entails. It’s a loose framework that proves ideal for Jeff Cancade’s confessional style of mutant synthpop, with his earnest, funny and often utterly heartbreaking persona at the center.

Perhaps even more than Planet Devours, this is a record where Devours not only embraces contradiction, but transcends it through pure undiluted emotion and the power of pop songwriting. Being able to wryly fold in laugh out loud put-downs (“You wasted my time by making me chase it/I stalked you online and you’re totally basic”), criticism of performative politics and inspirational calls to cast off the things dragging you down, all to a hyperpop lattice of beeps and pitched up samples is the sort of thing we expect Devours to be able to do, but damn if “Reverse Ombre” doesn’t still manage to surprise with how effortless it makes it all seem. In the same way, the atonal melody and rapidly evolving palette of synth sounds might seem too frantic for a kiss-off anthem like “Slimer”, but the snappy verses are delivered with such a potent mix of frustration melancholy resignation you can’t help but be carried away by them. It’s not about contrast or the tension between the many musical and lyrical moods of Devours, but the idea that they not only coexist but are intractable from one another.

“Vancouver isn’t boring I’m just getting old” is intoned on opener “37Up (the Longing)”, a reflective examination of aging and yearning that sets the stage for the LP’s thematics in one fell swoop. While very set in the city, Devours’ relatability and likeability makes the portrait of his life in Vancouver so easy to inhabit as a listener. You might not know Shaughnessy’s reputation as an upscale residential area if you aren’t a YVR resident, but you’ll certainly catch the inference when you hear the delivery of “It’s where you belong” on the diary of love gone awry “10 Things I Crave About You”. Likewise, while the various references to streets and landmarks of the city certainly help fill out the world conjured by the record, its more than just lyrical window dressing; the album’s most charged moment is “Jacuzzi My Stonewall”, a track that playfully sarcastically pokes at the commodification of gay culture by suggesting raves at Shopper’s Drug Mart and bears doing body shots at regional family restaurant chain White Spot before transitioning into a an empathetic examination of the generational divides that inform modern queer culture.

Homecoming Queen is a record that trades in plainly stated profundities, never concealing the emotion that drives it, nor the insecurities or experiences that inform it. It can take you to the heights of 16-bit super friendship on “Hairspin” (the world’s first Dixie Kong themed empowerment anthem?), before immediately inverting itself into the struggle to make someone you care about see their own value on “Ghosted Through Ice”, and never miss an emotional beat. Like everything about the artist who made it, it’s singular and universal in gloriously contradictory fashion. Welcome back Devours, we hope you’re here to stay for a long time. Recommended.

Buy it.

Homecoming Queen by Devours

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We Have A Technical 458: Tune In Next Week

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There’s no beating around the bush as the entirety of this episode is dedicated to recapping the three night multi-stage iteration of our local Verboden Festival which went down this past weekend (full disclosure: the Senior Staff served as emcees for the fest). We’re talking about unexpected show stealers, divisive stage shows, and a whole mess of Canadian premieres. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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The Bellwether Syndicate, “Vestige & Vigil”

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The Bellwether Syndicate - Vestige & Vigil

The Bellwether Syndicate
Vestige & Vigil

The duo at the core of The Bellwether Syndicate have likely forgotten more about goth rock than 99% of us within the scene could possibly hope to ever know. Scary Lady Sarah has a claim at being the longest-tenured active DJ in North America, if not the world (and is a key Bandcamp follow for those wanting to stay abreast of new releases), and William Faith has served as both primary songwriter and sideman in at least half a dozen bands who have fundamentally shaped the sound of goth over the past thirty years. Several years in the making, the band’s first LP is a testament to the depth and range of that experience.

Most immediately, the band’s wealth of knowledge and experience ensures that Vestige & Vigil showcases just about every shade and style of goth rock and neighbouring genres the band feel like exploring. With Faith’s veteran hand, they sound just as confident using spindly deathrock to render the horrors of American gun culture on “Wetworks” as they are linking vintage second wave sounds to the modern wave of dark post-punk on “Beacons” (the band’s avowed respect for Vancouver’s Actors seems especially apparent there). The rollicking go-go of “Noir Thing” might read as a weird splitting of the difference between Sigue Sigue and The Stooges, but one doesn’t even have to stray outside of Faith’s own discography to hear some parity with it in his time in streetwise, fun-time LA goth act Wreckage.

That variety plays out well across the entirety of Vestige & Vigil as a full-length. Preceded primarily by arrival statement EP The Night Watch, individual tracks from the LP have surfaced as far back as 2018. That lengthy percolation hasn’t just given the band to fine-tune and select the best tracks they might have bashed out in that period, it also means that the different production and arrangement styles of each tune stand out from one another, with nothing ever blurring into forgettable repetition (with the added benefit of its run-time seeming to zip right by).

The crepuscular, romantic glory of “Golden Age”, the album’s highlight as far as I’m concerned, frames the band’s collecting and shepherding of sounds past into the present. Musically, it brings goth’s underexplored dalliances with dream pop and shoegaze in past decades into contemporary post-punk terrain, while lyrically it speaks to the wisdom and reflection the duo bring to a project with the purview of The Bellwether Syndicate; celebrate the past, they remind us, but don’t make a virtue of nostalgia.

Buy it.

Vestige & Vigil by The Bellwether Syndicate

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Tracks: May 16th, 2023

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Oh boy friends, was this past weekend’s Verboden Festival something. Our duties as emcees/hosts had us running around a bit more than we normally would be at a fest where we could just lay back and enjoy the scene, but we were able to take in a whole bunch of wonderful performances and record a fantastic interview, which we’ll be respectively discussing and sharing in upcoming episodes of the podcast. The rest of the world didn’t stop just to accommodate us here in Vancouver, though, so let’s get you caught up (albeit a day late so as to give us a moment’s respite during the fest) with this week’s tracks.

Photocopy flyer aesthetics with LA’s Scimitar

Scimitar, “Desire”
We keep a pretty close eye on LA, if for no other reason than so much of what has excited us over the last decade has hailed from the city. That means that when something we hadn’t heard any rumblings about like Scimitar pops up, we’re extra keen to give it a listen, as was the case with recent single “Desire”. Classic atonal darkwave guitar and bass mixed with some driving electronic percussion and big reverbed vocals is a mix we can get behind, and is working a musical angle not many acts are doing currently. One to keep an eye on for certain.
Desire by Scimitar

KRSSV, “Descenso”
If there’s a better release title thus far this year than Disco Bandido, we’ve yet to hear it. Coming to us from the always reliable Pildoras Tapes label, Argentinian act KRSSV are keeping their approach to EBM full-bodied yet grimy. This number starts off like any number of German or Belgian classics you’d care to name, but soon adds some lighter and icier flair.
Disco Bandido by KRSSV

New Flesh looks to be another solid comp from the still fairly young but robustly represented Murder imprint from Georgia. It features a number of acts we’re less familiar with than some who’ve shown up on their previous comps, but between a Cyan ID number and this strikingly burly and wheezing number from the always great Notausgang, we’ll be digging into the closer corners of this one.
New Flesh by Notausgang

Executioner’s Mask, “Last Call (MVTANT remix)”
Texas slime-green body act MVTANT meet with the grim post-punk of Executioner’s Mask on the new volume of remixes for the former act’s 2022 LP Winterlong. It’s not a combo that seems like it’d work as well as it does, but there’s something in the incongruity of the deep, dark original vocal and the oozing, throbbing-neon threat of the new instrumental that gives it a nice sheen of biopunk weirdness we’re into.
Winterlong: The Remixes Volume 3 by Executioner's Mask

Trauma Phase, “Sharpness”
Clearly the EP format’s been suiting Polish body music producer Trauma Phase well, with the third in their series of chronologically titled EPs now being released within just six months. After the speedy, futurepop-inflected style of its precedents, III looks to be tossing Trauma Phase’s hat into the italo EBM ring with shimmering lopers like this one.
III by Trauma Phase

Missing Witness, “Night”
Seattle’s Missing Witness return with a new single, showcasing a distinct sound for the project. Previously their material has been a soupy mix of harsh-toned synths and foggy vocals, emphasizing grit and atmosphere. New cut “Night” still has some of those hallmarks but feels somewhat cleaner, with nice tight sequences and deep-voiced vocals, crossing over nicely into modern electro-darkwave territory, with club and dj potential. Always a pleasure for to hear something new from these PNW cats.
Night by Missing Witness

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Observer: Yabibo Hazurfa & WLDV

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sv​ä​rtans tron - yabibo hazurfa
Yabibo Hazurfa
Av​ä​rtans Tron

Don’t let the kosmische arpeggios of “Tystnaden 1977” confuse you; this suite of reissued work from Sweden’s Yabibo Hazurfa is hardly coasting on dreamy ambience. Originally appearing on tape releases back in 2016 and 2017, Av​ä​rtans Tron‘s material shows off Jimmy Svensson’s (Alvar, Nuclear Sludge’s) tastes for industrial drones and the most menacing of minimal wave. Without ever giving itself over to pure noisy abandon, Yabibo Hazurfa maintains a sense of crawling dread, maybe suggesting some of early Nurse With Wound’s early textures being applied to the abyssal pulse of Chris Carter’s synthesis. It’s perhaps Svensson’s tenures in a range of other extreme acts which allows him to make tracks like “Mardrömmar” simultaneously clinical and antiseptic while also connoting grime, rust, and mold (imagine an abandoned operating theatre left to go to seed, perhaps), or apply just a patina of raw black metal distortion to closer “Mörkrets Tron”.
svärtans tron by yabibo hazurfa

Bloodlust Dominion

In contrast to WLDV’s last EPs The Blood And The Dagger and The Fourth Kind which explored the project’s giallo-disco and darkwave leanings, the Spanish producer’s new 4-track effort goes harder on a pure electro-techno feel, pursuing the same effect as his more atmospheric tracks via programming and sound design. The 909 kicks and claps of the winding, acid-infused “I Drunk Her Blood” keeps its synth sequences tight and tense, producing unease less through atmospherics than by ramping up the intensity of the lead’s tweaky filter. “Burst City” follows suit with a more laidback tempo, again forgoing outright spookiness in favour of jittery nerves delivered via a slow and ghostly pad that serves as backdrop for the rhythm programming. While the grinding electro of “Kinky Tale” acts as something of a combo-breaker in terms of subtlety – there’s nothing low-key about its x-rated samples and buzzing bass – there’s still some sneaky good death-disco hiding in the dry-mix of the sinister “Are They Shadows”, saturated drums and warbly synths winding themselves in ever-tightening circles around a distorted vocal mantra.
WLDV – Bloodlust Dominion EP by WLDV

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