Tracks: June 21st, 2021

It’s almost the half-year point of 2021, a marker that seems to have arrived with astonishing speed. On the one hand we’re certainly feeling more positive than we were 12 months ago; live music and club events are slowly coming back, providing us with a needed light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand it feels like we essentially lost a year and change from our collective lives via the pandemic, and that’s making this (hopefully) last stretch of cautious living that much more nerve-wracking. With any luck at this time in 2022 we’ll be well into festival season and be looking back on this time with a feeling of relative relief, but for the next couple months we’ll just have to distract ourselves with new music.

Nuovo Testamento look the part

1919, “Singing to the Universe”
Cult post-punk act 1919 gear up for the release of their third post-reformation record Citizens of Nowhere with “Singing to the Universe”, a sparkling and mournful number with a tense rhythm. The sad passing of founding member and songwriter Mark Tighe in 2017 led to a change in the band’s sound as exemplified on the Futurcide LP, pivoting towards a smoother if no less nervy sound than their celebrated early eighties records – an evolutionary thread that seems to be continuing here. The LP is out June 25 via Manic Depression, why not add it to your wishlist?
MD134 – 1919 "Citizens Of Nowhere" by 1919

Nuova Testamento, “The Searcher”
Another absolutely delightful number from Italian-American act Nuovo Testamento, a trio featuring members of Horror Vacui and Crimson Scarlet. While that pedigree might suggest a more cold darkwave sound, every track we’ve heard from forthcoming LP New Earth is disco-ready italo inflected synthpop, of the sort that you could easily believe was actually released in the eighties. Then again, the strength of the songwriting on “The Searcher” is such that it heads off any accusation of retro-fadism – this is the real deal, from octave bassline to funky drum programming.
New Earth by NUOVO TESTAMENTO

Restive Plaggona, “Ask And It Will Be Given”
Greek producer Restive Plaggona arrives at Fleisch for new self-titled LP due July 5. Like many of Dimitris Doukas’ tracks, preview song “Ask And It Will Be Given” strikes a balance between the hypnotic rhythm of techno and the rawness of classic industrial. The processed and cut up vocals add to the sinister feel of the track, as if a voice is whispering something important to you that you can’t quite make out. This should be a good ‘un.
Restive Plaggona by Restive Plaggona

Stendeck, “Streams of Oblivion”
Has it really been six years since Stendeck’s phenomenal Folgor LP? Technoid producer Alessandro Zampieri’s work has long been a favourite around the ID:UD HQ, the contemplative and emotionally rich nature of his compositions striking a marked contrast with the abstract forms they take. New album Carnage is due at the end of this week, just in time for reading sessions and long night time walks. Expect a review up on the site shortly thereafter, this is highly anticipated.
carnage by stendeck

Bitcrush, “Dead Corners”
Mike Cadoo’s Bitcrush has long been the ex-Gridlock producer’s outlet for post-rock inspired excursions, most frequently released via his own n5md label. New 7″ Dead Corners comes to us via Ant-Zen and sports a pretty remarkable vinyl presentation; the clear record is square cut and features a print on acrylic glass for the cover. It’s a classy presentation and one commensurate with the thoughtful and artful nature of the music on it. Make sure you check out the b-side “On Infinite” for some neat use of horns in a context you don’t often here them.
dead corners by bitcrush

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Observer: Lycia & Ritual Veil

Lycia - Casa Luna
Lycia
Casa Luna
Avantgarde Music

Lycia should need no introduction to anyone reading this, but lapsed darkwavers may not be aware of just what a hot streak the legendary band has been on for the past few years. Far from the “respectable for a band their age” half-measures writers are often prone to, Quiet Moments, A Line That Connects, and In Flickers have all earned rave reviews, and justifiably so. New EP Casa Luna keeps the hot hand going, and for anyone who’s playing catch-up, offers six distinct moods which cover much of the terrain those records have explored in a concise and beautifully executed listen. Pensive opener “A Quiet Way To Go” sits on that mysterious line between mind and landscape Lycia have so often drawn (as we recently discussed), while the winsome synthpop of “Galatea” manages to be both melancholy and peppy at the same time. Both are a far cry from the thudding savagery of “Do You Bleed?”, where Tara Vanflower ominously answers the titular question over no wave sludge: “You will.” The Lycia back catalog, now stretching back more than thirty years, remains one of the most important and foundational in American dark music. That the band are still adding to it with records just as beautiful, harrowing, and captivating as any previous entries is something for which we should all be thankful. Recommended.
Casa Luna by Lycia


Ritual Veil
Keep Looking Down
self-released

In contrast to their last release (2017’s Wolf in the Night) Portland darkwavers Ritual Veil have moved towards synthpop on new EP Keep Looking Down. It’s a good look for the duo made up of Aidan Wolfe and Wolfgang Williams; their previous material has shown a knack for strong pop hooks that shone through the more dour trappings of the post-punky songs. The change is most apparent on the title track, which brings the more italo-influenced Pet Shop Boys cuts to mind with its tom rolls, disco bassline and wistful melody. It’s a genuinely great track that benefits from the retro-trappings in the production like orch hits and scaled vocal samples; the song is strong enough that it transcends from retro-charm to timeless. Follow-up “Misery” is a touch more downbeat in tone and consequently plays things a touch more conservatively, the synthesized orchestration is plainer but not lacking in substance. The releases finishes up with “How I Like It”, a number that relies on a straight rock rhythm and guitar, but keeps with the preceding numbers through it’s synth claps and bubbly bassline and chiming lead. Strong stuff across the board, and a nice promise of what we might expect from Ritual Veil going forward.
Keep Looking Down by Ritual Veil

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We Have A Technical 366: He Does That

Forever Grey

Forever Grey

From the sugariest of highs to the most oppressive of lows, it’s tough to imagine records with vibes as different than the pair up for discussion on this week’s podcast. The mature synthpop of Beborn Beton’s 2015 comeback A Worthy Compensation is considered alongside the abject miserablism of darkwave duo Forever Grey’s Alabaster Chamber. All that plus some griping about guest lists on the latest episode of We Have A Technical. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Templər, “Myths And Consequences”

Templər - Myths And Consequences

Templər
Myths And Consequences
Hands Productions

The new record from Templər, AKA Thomas Chalandon of Imperial Black Unit, might be the sort of reset and reorientation those of us who fixate on sub-genres and the hybridization thereof, especially in these days of techno/industrial dominance. Preceding Templər release Human Hate had at least one foot firmly planted in the techno-body world, but Myths And Consequences quickly shows that its appearance on Hands isn’t the product of happenstance. Much more so than any release from the Imperial Black Unit clique, it’s a powernoise record through and through, and delivers a strong set of tracks in that style.

Fans of classic Hands and Ant-Zen acts have for several years been pointing out just how close to OG powernoise so many current TBM acts sit, and here Chalandon acknowledges that debt, and pays it back in full. From the opening slinky, scraping grind of “Road To Jounieh” and onward, Myths And Consequences sounds like something one might hear emanating from Maschinenfest’s speakers just as easily as Berghain’s. The stuttering rhythms of “Let the Soul Chase the Sorrows” hit like a classic Winterkälte groove, set atop icy pads and feedback. The less aggressive yet still twisting psychedelia of closing tracks “I Shared A Whiskey With A Ghost” and “The Inner Flame” suggests Izsoloscope.

This isn’t to say that the record is an exercise in recreationism for its own sake. “Le Crime par la Pensée” has lift and bounce on its kicks which feel very of the moment, and add some scope and grandeur to the martial yet swaggering arrangement. The near-nine minute “Under Pressure” begins with a straightforward kick right in the modern dark techno pocket, before beginning to mutate into a funkier and more neurotic beast with some pinchy programming and bit-crushed noise.

Chalandon’s work in Imperial Black Unit has done an admirable job of nodding to the roots of electro-industrial while pursuing the new sound of Berlin (something “A True Terror Corporation” also does here), and Myths And Consequences similarly doesn’t feel beholden to purism of any stripe. A “we’re not so different, you and I” bridge across generations and sub-genres, it’s a solid record which reminds one of the enduring appeal of this brand of pummeling rhythm.

Buy it.

Myths And Consequences by Templər

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XTR Human, “G.O.L.D”

XTR Human
G.O.L.D
Braid Records

As recently as last year’s Interior XTR Human was more of a post-punk act, albeit one with a healthy dose of art rock and a touch of new wave in its DNA. New album G.O.L.D finds songwriter and producer Johannes Stabel leaning far more heavily on synthesized instrumentation and percussion, wedding them with both the rock structures that previously defined the project and a healthy dollop of sticky synthpop hooks. The result is something pretty unique, straddling genres and sounds in clever and often unexpected ways.

The basis for most of the tracks on G.O.L.D is thick synth bass and chiming leads, with the middle of the mix left open for Stabel’s commanding if sometimes atonal vocal delivery. It’s a canvas that proves pretty versatile for the kinds of songs XTR Human peforms; opener “Leben ohne Licht”, kicks off as a bit of foreboding teutonic electro before it blossoms into a lovely melodic synthpop chorus, Stabel splitting the difference vocally with Die Selektion’s Luca Gillian for a surprisingly catchy hook. “Maschine” marries a simple bit of moogy bass to an insistent synth sequence, either left bare or joined by brassy horn sounds, all before a rapid succession of pre-choruses cycles through the arrangement. When Stabel does go in on post-punk sounds it’s as something of a counterpoint; the wiry rhythm of “Fleisch” is adorned with orch hits and synth toms, so the guitar chords that usher in the song’s big energetic chorus are an unexpected surprise.

For its cleverness in arrangement and stylistic markers, there’s a consistent sense of gravitas across the record that speaks to Stabel’s preoccupation with the current state of German culture. Some of it should be easy to pick out even for non-German speakers – “Dark Germany”‘s on the nose title matches the song’s frenetic pace and discordant melody – while some touches are a bit more under the radar. “Starker Junge” for example weds a wash of tremolo guitar to its dissection of toxic lad culture, slight notes of contempt apparent in the delivery of the refrain. You could probably rejig “Angst” into a classic sounding new wave number if you were so inclined, but its chintzy organ and whispy melody are weighted with nervous tension and buzzy energy that give it a far darker cast than it might have otherwise had.

There’s a lot going on on G.O.L.D, between its frequent switch ups, gear shifts and big attention grabbing blasts of sound. That ends up being one of its biggest strengths, as it’s not an easy record to tune out while it’s playing, even on repeated listens. What it gives up in subtlety it makes up for with vitality and movement, never lingering too long before the next big rush forwards.

Buy it.

G.O.L.D by XTR HUMAN

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Tracks: June 14th, 2021

Have you noticed that even though first Friday of the month is no longer always Bandcamp Friday, artists are still dropping lots of new material at the end of the week? Friday is a good release day for us regardless of what’s happening with BC since it coincides with when we start assembling these Tracks posts, but it’ll be interesting to see if that has permanently changed the way we think about release schedules going forward. All that said, this Friday will be Bandcamp’s second annual Juneteenth fundraiser, with all their share of proceeds going to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. See your way to buying some music on the 18th and supporting this important initiative won’t you?

ULTRA SUNN

Ultra Sunn: Ultra Swank

V▲LH▲LL, “Eversleep”
It’s been three years since we’ve had a full LP from our favourite Swedish Mystery Vikings, but V▲LH▲LL are back with third LP Eversleep slated for a September release. We’d heard it through the wolfsbane that new material from the duo might tilt towards the poppy side of things, and while there’s still plenty of the icy beats and atmosphere upon which V▲LH▲LL earned their rep, there’s definitely something a bit smoother and more hummable than usual about the title track. Definitely a record we’ll be anticipating throughout the summer.
NEVERSLEEP by V▲LH▲LL

Leathers, “Reckless”
Now collated with the project’s extant three tracks for Artoffact, we have a slick new number from Leathers, the side project from Shannon Hemmett of Actors. While there’s always been some distinctly poppy and new wave flavour in Leathers’ Curve-ish approach to shoegaze, “Reckless” is pure electro-pop through and through, with a halting frailty that has us thinking of Continues as much as Marsheaux. Set this one aside for hazy summer nights spent in solitude.
Reckless by LEATHERS

Ultra Sunn, “Silver Smile”
Ultra Sunn’s “Night is Mine” remains one of the biggest tracks of the year in its various forms (we’ve been feeling the new beat mix lately but they all good), but the Brussels based duo aren’t slowing down. New this past week, we’ve got a new cut “Silver Smile” that effectively splits the difference between funky hard beat (complete with orch hits) and electro-darkwave. I expect their next EP due this summer will have more contenders, but this’ll definitely hold us down til then.
Silver Smile by ULTRA SUNN

Kris Baha, “Into the Dark”
Kris Baha’s name has been remixer of choice for a lot of artists we follow here on ID:UD, from Randolph & Mortimer to Inhalt to Boy Harsher. The Australian producer’s own material has been straying from the EBM sound of his earliest productions for a while now however, and latest single “Into the Dark” feels fully like a darkwave track, albeit one with some added funk in its thick, fuzzy basses. It’s an easy fit and one we’re keen to see developed in future releases.
Into The Dark by Kris Baha

Zack Zack Zack, “Bak”
Did someone say “saxgoth summer”? We were very taken with the sound of Turkish wave act Zack Zack Zack on their EP1 back in February; post-punk, new wave and trad-folk instrumentation mixed up rather well, and with dancefloor potential to boot. New track “Bak” (say ‘Zack Zack Zack new track “Bak”‘ out loud, it’s fun) is all those things again, but with a very low, sinister kinda vibe, with the saxophone and guitar peeling off some very wild riffs. More of this please, all night long.
Bak by Zack Zack Zack

Det Kätterska Förbund, “Sacred Grounds”
Lastly, some punishing yet lush death industrial from the unrelenting Swedish team-up that’s been brewing for a few years. Nordvargr collaborating with Thomas of Trepaneringsritualen makes plenty of sense to anyone familiar with the respective artists, and the forthcoming Lidaverken Del I: Att i Vådeld Förgås LP is an object lecture in texture and tension.
Lidaverken Del I: Att i Vådeld Förgås (CSR265CD/LP) by Det Kätterska Förbund (Nordvargr + Trepaneringsritualen)

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Observer: Hapax & Hallowed Hearts

Hapax - Exile
Hapax
Exile
SwissDarkNights

Italian act Hapax have earned their growing fanbase with a steady stream of direct and well-structured releases, and as new EP Exile shows, have been shifting their focus away from post-punk and darkwave to pure, classic goth rock. It’s a move that suits the trio well here, with six tracks that range from the reflective “A Different Blue” to the speedy first-wave fretworkout of “Silvery Track” to the club-ready title track. Regardless of tempo there’s a clear sense of sober harmony and arrangement to every track, and not a moment’s wasted. The deep and often guttural vocal style, which we so often associate with the heavier, borderline-metal style of continental goth, makes for a nice contrast with the lighter and defter guitar tone Hapax use, perhaps splitting the difference between Berlin and Leeds. Very strong stuff from an act still on the rise and which we’d love to see gain a higher profile here in North America.
Exile by HAPAX


Hallowed Hearts
ruins
self-released

Alex Virlios (Blue Images, ex CRTL and Provision ) and Andrew Sega (Iris)’s project Hallowed Hearts digs further still into the post-punk and goth rock sounds that informed their 2020 debut LP Into the Fire on their new EP ruins. Like the LP that precedes it, the new release has a strong focus on straightforward melodies and smooth, low-key production that allows the songs’ merits to speak for themselves. “Supernova” is largely all dancefloor rhythm and until its descending chorus comes, in providing both the song’s hook and a pathway to variations in the arrangement, with guitars that switch between delicate lines and rock chug and swooshing keys. “Fly” goes even further down the second wave of goth rock pathway, matching its guitar arpeggios to a spooky keyboard melody and one of Virtlios’ more expressive aperformances. The twangy title track pulls back somewhat towards glassy eighties post-punk in the style of Sad Lovers & Giants or Modern English but that proves to be something of a fakeout as the EP concludes with a dramatic take on Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”; while it’s not a song that calls out to be covered again, Virlios and Sega zero in on its theatrical sentimentality and deliver a straight but heartfelt take on the classic rock number. That kind of move shows both the skill and good taste Hallowed Hearts bring to bear on their material, never straying too far from their strengths.
ruins by hallowed hearts

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We Have A Technical 365: Pod Costas

//TENSE//

//TENSE// – Live leather 2011.

After almost a full month away from it, we’re back to the classic two albums format in this week’s episode of We Have A Technical. Voices, the 1998 LP from Lights Of Euphoria, is discussed as a sampling of the styles in European electro of the day, while //TENSE//’s 2011 swan song Escape is revisited as a precursor to the entire next decade of North American EBM. We’re also checking in on the rescheduled Cruel World festival set for LA next May. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Slighter, “V O I D”

Slighter
V O I D
Confusion Inc.

There’s an easy elevator pitch for Colin Cameron Allrich’s music as Slighter; cinematic electronics and touches of industrial programming with trip-hopesque breakbeats and basslines mixed in for good measure. It’s a melange that worked tremendously well on 2019’s Automata and which is refined further on new record V O I D, an LP that is as much about flavorful sound design and atmosphere as it is about individual songs.

That focus on ambience is certainly what first grabs the listener’s ear on a first listen to V O I D. Opener “Broken Unknown” is almost entirely that, a simple spoken word passage from R.A. Desilets setting the stage for several minutes of deep warping basses and warbling electronic sounds. Soundtrack is a word that gets tossed around a lot, but this recurring style of composition in Slighter’s work has more in common with the scores of Jóhann Jóhannsson than it does any of Allrich’s other musical influences. It’s a focus that carries over into the more traditionally structured songs; obscurity is established at the outset of “Oblivion”, it’s massive drones and grinding synths resolving first into a rhythm, then drums and a bassline, with Allrich’s voice, ticking cymbals and eventually slick melodic pads resolving from the darkness to make a mid-tempo head-nodder. That kind of slick, inevitable feeling shift in composition is very much the album’s hallmark, whether on instrumental beatless outings like “Dissolver” or on the tense, rumbling sprint of “Controller”.

That reliance on moody, beatless textures is often associated with drawn out, self-indulgent ambient recordings, but Allrich thankfully keeps the record moving, never losing momentum or wasting time. Allrich puts a lot of his best written songs out in front; “Spill Blood” has a deeply menacing vibe that emerges between the strings, whispered vocals, dialogue samples and wiry synth sequences while “Complicit” jumps into a damnably infectious rhythm that recalls Massive Attack’s darker moments, easily the best club contender Slighter has released yet. Allrich knows what works for him, never stretching his voice outside a soft half-spoken delivery that suits the material, letting individual elements breathe in the mix and not getting lost in the large sonic spaces his music occupies.

V O I D is an effort from a producer whose studio acumen is considerable, but who has zeroed in on how to make that skillset serve his songs. There’s no clinical detachment in an appreciation of the album: as impressive as it is from a craft standpoint, you’ll often find yourself feeling your way through the record as much as listening to it, a testament to Slighter’s continued musical and technical evolution.

Buy it.

V O I D by Slighter

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Ghost Twin, “Love Songs For End Times”

Ghost Twin - Love Songs For End Times

Ghost Twin
Love Songs For End Times
Artoffact Records

Anyone who checked out Ghost Twin’s early self-releases could tell that the Winnipeg duo of Karen and Jaimz Asmundson clearly had an intuitive sense for the elements that make darkwave work, all of which were consolidated on their first LP, 2017’s Plastic Heart. Four years later, Love Songs For End Times arrives with a somewhat wider range of sounds but the same ear for melody, yielding the sort of nocturnal mystery and wonder that is the essence of darkwave, and which has been in such short supply during the lockdown era.

Ghost Twin’s style has always combined immediacy and atmosphere, and much of Love Songs picks up right where Plastic Heart left off in terms of darkwave arrangements. “We Are The Damned”‘s stabby synths are adorned with just the right amount of guitar, and opening track “Strobe Light” has both Jaimz and Karen weaving vocal lines through tasteful, swaying programming. On that tip, Karen’s vocals remain one of the band’s strongest selling points, but they are deservedly given a stronger focus in the mix this time out, adding colour and character to the whole affair.

Love Songs also finds the band stretching out musically and thematically. There’s a flurry of dense and manic sidechained disco programming of an almost Kirlian Camera ilk in the middle of the record on “Babes In The Woods” and “Become Control”. An even more impressive uptempo move, “Blue Sunshine” is an indulgent synthpop confection so lush and inviting one half expects Andy Bell to suddenly start harmonizing with Karen. And beneath its rave-up pulse, the straightforward way “Give Me More” addresses the ins and outs of aging within the scene is a pleasant change-up for a band so often rooted in the occult.

A four year interim in which to work towards a second record would be enough to allay most bands’ fear of the sophomore jinx. But the ease with which the hooks and beats flow through Love Songs For End Times could trick the listener into thinking that tunes this catchy just come naturally to the Asmundsons. Whether that’s actually the case or whether the record’s the product of years of slavish perfectionism, the result strikes a welcome balance between dreamy, otherworldly elements and earthy honesty. Recommended.

Buy it.

Love Songs for End Times by Ghost Twin

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Tracks: June 7th, 2021

It’s another of those weeks which have us struggling to keep up with and to prioritize our coverage of all of the new music that’s been dropping. A quick count made by the Senior Staff over the weekend had us flagging about eight new LPs we were interested in checking out for possible write-ups on ID:UD which had dropped on Friday, which can make for a fun (if at times stressful) question of triage. You’ll find out what records your two humble scriveners decided to tackle first later this week, but for now allow us to try to bail out some water with this week’s batch of Tracks.

Ritual Veil visit the red room

Ritual Veil, “Keep Looking Down”
Strong Pet Shop Boys vibes on “Keep Looking Down”, the latest from Portland’s Ritual Veil, and we mean that as a compliment. Their last release 2017’s Wolf in the Night showed a stronger post-punk influence, but this one is pure synthpop, with maybe some italo flourishes. Those orch hits, that disco bassline! This style is basically like catnip for us, and we’re quite looking forward to hearing how this PNW act explores them further.
Keep Looking Down by Ritual Veil

Years Of Denial, “Lover’s Crime”
Self-described suicide disco act Years Of Denial have just dropped an EP collecting three of their techno and darkwave touched electro groovers which originally saw release on label comps. Each of the tunes on Various 2 are all slow-burners, with
Barkosina Hanusova and Jerome Tcherneyan taking time to let the full harmonic scope of their hypnotic yet bouncy style to emerge. Also, colour us surprised to learn that Tcherneyan was a member of low-key legendary ambient/experimental project Piano Magic!
Various 2 by Years of Denial

Templər, “Le Crime par la Pensée”
Imperial Black Unit’s Thomas Chalandon brings some heat to venerable dealers of rhythmic noise HANDS with his new LP Myths And Consequences. Familiarity with Chalandon’s main project might lead you to believe there would be some techno-crossover in the Templər sound, there’s a lot more rough and tough industrial rhythms than anything else. Excellent production doesn’t take the edge off these cuts, as evidenced by the bangin’ “Le Crime par la Pensée”, coming soon to a noise room near you.
Myths And Consequences by Templər

Adrenochrome, “The Knife”
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Oakland deathrock supergroup Adrenochrome. The more cynically minded might wonder if recent Google Trends for the eponymous substance, spurred by conspiracy nutcases, might have something to do with that, but more important than such sundries is the ear for lithe but weighty melodic dark punk of a classic style the band are show off once again on this flexi-disc single.
The Knife by Adrenochrome

Babes Of Enola Grey, “Freiheit Sicherheit”
Some pitch-black German coldwave from boutique Stuttgart label Crave Tapes. Little to no info about the Frankfurt newcomers is available right now, but based on the first track from the Anfang Vom Ende tape, the duo know how to add just a bit of fuzz and melody to the corners of an otherwise stridently sober bit of business like this, which perhaps calls our dearly departed Din [A] Tod to mind.
ANFANG VOM ENDE by BABES OF ENOLA GREY

FLUX, “Jeune Héritier”
The French scene is popping right now, with more interesting industrial, synthpop and EBM acts than we can really keep up with. We haven’t really seen anyone talking about FLUX yet, and actually have no idea the 20 year old producer’s roots are, but the tracks on the recent DANDY TRASH EP certainly fit with darker-edged electro-darkwave movement that’s in vogue. Check out “Jeune Héritier” for a taste, but the whole release is quite strong.
FLUX – DANDY TRASH EP by FLUX

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Observer: Bara Hari & Ringfinger


Bara Hari
Dark New Day
Re:Mission Records

There’s always been a lot of promise in Bara Hari’s work; her 2020 release Pandora’s Box was a solid entry into the electronic darkwave genre, albeit one more focused on atmosphere than on dancefloor appeal. New release Dark New Day feels like a nice step forward for the LA based artist, developing the sound she established previously with stronger vocal melodies and more substantial production. The lead off tracks “Weapon” and “Ugly on the Inside” are the best showcases for what Bara Hari is capable of; the former fuses a punchy go-go rhythm with chuggy guitars and layers of vocals that convey both anger and hurt, while the latter stretches similar instrumentation into a mid-tempo dancefloor contender. That track’s pensive self-examination segues nicely into “No Hope”, a downtempo number that makes good use of a minimal arrangement to really highlight the strength of the vocals, which are presented with particular clarity and weight. There’s still some room for development; “Artificial” is this close to being a crossover industrial club stomper if the gearshif into the chorus had some more energy, and closer “Purified” has some interesting passages and use of piano but could have been rearranged for more impact. All that said, it’s a strong follow-up that shows that Bara Hari knows where she’s going and has the chops to get there.
Dark New Day by BARA HARI

Ringfinger - Echoes Fade
Ringfinger
Echoes Fade
self-released

The new EP from Vancouver’s own Ringfinger offers up a more classically post-punk flavour of darkwave than we’ve previously heard from them, but that doesn’t mean that the duo have given up on the misty synth atmospheres which made Pressure and One Of Bones low-key hits around the ID:UD HQ. Echo-driven bass kicks off lead two tracks “Floorsong” and “Verblassen”, but it’s quickly trading off the spotlight with delicately pulsing synths and hushed vocals. While it might benefit from an extra hook or two, “Softly Choke” shows a keen ear for the mixing and arrangement of darkwave of this style, with plenty of dynamic shifts and engaging sonic detours. It’s the sort of track which, if pursued, could land Ringfinger amongst the top tier of their peers. At just five tracks and only fourteen minutes, Echoes Fade almost seems to end before it starts; the band are tastefully restrained and atmospheric almost to a fault here, allowing the EP to slip by with ghostly ease, but are also clearly honing in on their own sound with precision and purpose.
Echoes Fade by Ringfinger

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We Have A Technical 364: UK Music Twilight Zone

Gary Numan

The new record from the website and podcast’s namesake is up for discussion on this week’s podcast. Yep, Uncle Gary’s new record Intruder looks to be following in the footsteps of its predecessor in terms of chart success, and we’re talking not just about the ins and outs of the new record and its place within the Numan catalog, but also the long-term shape and legacy of Numan’s longstanding partnership with producer Ade Fenton. All that plus some news bites on the latest episode of We Have A Technical! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Viva Non, “We Grow”

Viva Non - We Grow

Viva Non
We Grow
self-released

Winnipeg’s Viva Non trade in a style of synthpop that’s both gushingly excessive yet also strangely terse and cryptic. While the emotional immediacy of the Pure and Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy records was undeniable, their brevity and haziness kept them somewhat occluded. New release We Grow doesn’t eschew those qualities, but its musical brightness and variety across a deceptively short run-time does well by its title.

Starting with the devotional slow-build of lead track “Go On”‘s synth chimes and xylophone and the restless sunset pulse of “Rise”, We Grow puts its melodic side forward in clear and direct fashion. It’s not necessarily an anthemic record in the mode of so many grandiose synthpop acts before them – Viva Non are still very much keeping their indie and punk influences up front – but in the fashion of Body of Light and Sex Park they’re working in just enough hooks to augment a still somewhat austere (if now squelchier) palette.

While consistently melodic and upbeat (and again brief, clocking in below twenty-two minutes), We Grow manages to keep its tracks distinct and add a good amount of variety: compare the insular and self-explanatory “People Say A Lot Without Substance” with the zip and idealism of “Be”. “Grow”, a closing collab with French producer and guest spotter extraordinaire grabyourface has a speedier Balearic beat yet with a rather Eno-ish cast, feeling more like a one-off track appended as a bonus but still adding some pleasant depth.

In considering Shaping Dust And Our Autonomy I noted the limits of front-man James Hofer’s vocals. We Grow does a nice job of course-correcting in that regard, with Hofer writing to his range and picking his spots when it comes to the bigger vocal moves. Viva Non sounds like an act with a newfound confidence here, and are more than capable of putting themselves in their best light while showing off a newfound melodic ease.

Buy it.

We Grow by Viva Non

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HIDE, “Interior Terror”

HIDE
Interior Terror
Dais Records

Interior Terror is the most difficult release yet from HIDE, and that’s saying something. The Chicago-based duo of Heather Gabel and Seth Sher’s two preceding records of stomach-churning mechanized sound were certainly no walk in the park – Castration Anxiety and Hell is Here dealt with misogyny, illness, and mental and sexual abuse in unflinchingly harsh fashion, with a stomach churning electronic soundtrack as accompaniment. But the new LP is something else entirely, largely abandoning the vestiges of traditional song structures in favour of head-smashed-in sound design and amplification of Gabel’s already deeply unnerving vocalizations.

It’s an increase in discomfit certainly, but the change in HIDE’s posture is a lot more than that. You can still find the grinding industrial rhythms that defined their sound and provided an accessible entryway into their work, but they’ve been stripped of any pretense of relief. “Nightmare” starts with a metallic banging rhythm and screeching samples that promise a taste of stomp-it-out catharsis, but as Gabel spits out “The pain is neverending” the track crashes suddenly into tense drones, never allowing the release to take place. “Spit” has thudding kicks that form a recognizable rhythm, but keeps the intensity of Gabel’s voice and the layers of rattling percussion and grinding electronics at an even keel, creating a forced tension that never climaxes or subsides.

As with so much of HIDE’s material, it’s Heather Gabel’s force of personality that elevates Interior Terror above musically comparable power electronics and death industrial records. Hear her on “Daddy Issues”; she reads a statement from the father of teen rapist Brock Turner before spitting his repulsive “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action” back in an ascending screech that ends with a disgusted, sobbing howl. And while that kind of wounded fury is in no short supply (“Flag” and “Do Not Bow Down”), it’s accompanied by a palpable sense of exhaustion, as on “Price of Life” as she intones “I can’t take this/I’m covered in blood” over and over with increasing desperation. The penultimate number “Laff Track” is little more than a few minutes of fatigued laughter backed by drones, but says it all: after you’ve already screamed yourself hoarse figuratively and literally, what else is left to let out?

We’ve often said that HIDE truly clicks when you see them live; that it’s the deep intensity and discomfort of watching Gabel and Sher as they perform their music that makes you understand where it’s all emanating from. Interior Terror might be the first time one of their records has fully captured that livewire sense of unease and confrontation. Despite being their least accessible sonically, it offers the truest, most undiluted portrait of who HIDE are as artists and the deep well of antipathy and righteous disgust that fuels them.

Buy it.

Interior Terror by HIDE

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Tracks: May 31st, 2021

And so we enter June 2021, and the countdown to I Die: You Die’s 10th anniversary commences. We don’t have huge plans for the birthday beyond some fun merch designs (more on that later) and another volume of our ongoing Slack-based Telekompilation series. We do expect however that we’ll have a lot of reminiscing to do about how we spent the last decade, how things have changed for the website and more broadly for Our Thing in general. We promised not to be too self-involved, but consider this fair warning that the topic of the 10th anniversary will be at hand over the next couple of weeks.

New Haunts

New Haunts

Hapax, “Exile”
Exile is the new EP by Italy’s oft-overlooked (by us as much as anyone!) Hapax, and the title track gives a clear indicator of the style they’ve been plying to solid effect over the past few years. Tight and solid goth rock with the sort of sturdy post-punk foundation which allows their more ornate and atmospheric impulses to be indulged without fear of losing the plot. Expect a full review in these pages soon enough.
Exile by Hapax

Hallowed Hearts, “Supernova”
You may recall the debut LP from Alex Virlios (ex-Provision) and Andrew Sega (Iris) from last year; a fine mix of modern production and post-punk songwriting. New EP Ruins is certainly a continuation of that identity, although we’re sensing a much stronger darkwave and (dare we say it) goth rock flavour in these songs. Check out lead-off track “Supernova” to see what we’re talking about, it’s a peppy club ready number with a smooth hook and a fine guitar hook.
ruins by hallowed hearts

Liebknecht, “Barcelona”
Virtual globetrotting via Daniel Myer’s work as Liebknecht is likely as close to the famed European cities which have lent their names to track titles as most of us in North America are likely to get. While we’re still waiting to get back out and see the rest of the world, Myer and collaborator Rinaldo Bite have another Liebknecht EP on deck, with immediate but somewhat wistful nodders like this one to tide us over.
527.039 by Liebknecht

New Haunts, “Blame”
Some darkwave of a bleepy and shuddering style comes to us from Brixton in the form of the new LP from one-woman act New Haunts. Serious heads might recognize the vocals from a guest turn on last year’s fantastic “All You Need Is Money” banger by Kindest Cuts, but the insomniac monomania of this tune (and much of the rest of Still Dark Sky from a first pass) is of a much colder cast.
Still Dark Sky by New Haunts

Dirge, “Bodyforce”
We admit that we’ve gotten somewhat bored with the instrumental EBM coming out these days. While there’s a few projects in the style we’ll still always check out, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the tracks apart, unless the producer or producers bring something a bit different to the table. Such is the case with Australian act Dirge, whose debut single “Bodyforce/Area” has classic flavour, interesting arrangement choices and a rough-edged feel that speaks to classic muscle n’ hate without slavishly replicating it. One to keep an eye on.
Bodyforce / Area by Dirge

!Bang Elektronika, “Aktivierung! (Randolph & Mortimer Remix)”
Industrial fans may recall !Bang Elektronika, an early 90’s Canadian project with German vocals that had an EBM club classic in the form of “”Aktivierung!”, a tasty slice of compu-funk. Some 30 years after that track’s original release meccanica are reissuing the single with some hot new remixes. And who better to remix it than those Sheffield lads Randolph & Mortimer, an act who understand the power of robotic grooves. The single also features a new mix by The Horrorist, as well as the original and b-side “Ich Bin So Ätzend!”, and is out June 15th.

mecanica · !Bang Elektronika – Aktivierung! (Randolph & Mortimer Remix)

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We Have A Commentary: Aesthetic Perfection, “A Violent Emotion”

Aesthetic Perfection - A Violent Emotion

This month’s Patreon-supported bonus commentary podcast finds us heading back to the still-oontz driven days of the industrial club scene circa 2008 with Aesthetic Perfection’s breakthrough LP A Violent Emotion. We’re interested in reconsidering and discussing the record in light of both the era which produced it and also the ways in which AP’s Daniel Graves has steered the project away from traditional club industrial sounds towards mainstream pop. Can the seeds of Graves’ debts to Katy Perry and Carly Rae be heard in the thumping aggrotech of tracks like “Living The Wasted Life”? Find out in this month’s We Have A Commentary! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Pixel Grip, “Arena”

Pixel Grip
Arena
Feeltrip Records

Pixel Grip’s Arena is a club record released in an era of no clubs. It’s a record uniquely suited to play that role: while the trio of vocalist Rita Lukea and producers Jonathan Freund and Tyler Ommen make music that is well-suited to darkened dancefloors, their tracks go beyond DJ bids and communicate the atmosphere of alternative and queer clubbing in their native Chicago. Filtering those intimate and ecstatic dancefloor feelings through a potent mix of industrial, techno and pop sounds, it’s an album that builds its own context with each song.

You probably couldn’t ask for a better orientation in Pixel Grip’s sound and attitude than lead off-track “Alphapussy”, an unholy amalgamation of a classic EBM bass, breathy reverbs and Lukea’s pointed delivery. It’s a burner that sinks its hooks in from the first bars, with “Your pussy don’t pop/my pussy EXPLODE” as the tongue-in-cheek climax delivered with deadly intent. That build from minimalism to bombast is repeated across some of the record’s best songs like the dark techno groove of “Club Mania” and the swirling lines of blipping synths that shower down over the final minute of the groovy haunted thump of “Pursuit”.

A huge part of what makes these tracks so compelling is the amount of their very specific character that Pixel Grip imbue them with. If the record leaned entirely into crass, rubbery death disco it’d be fine, but it’s how the band can effortlessly shift from that sound to skeletonized synthetic r&b (“Play Noble” and “Alibi”) and grinding darkwave (“Dancing On Your Grave”) and still sound just as at home that impresses. The power of personality is demonstrated on album highlight “Demon Chaser” where experimental artist and musician Cae Monāe trades off profane nursery rhymes with Lukea over thick electro bass, building and releasing tension with a kind of disaffected charm that’s impossible to deny.

If Pixel Grip seemed unsure of themselves, even for a moment, a lot of Arena‘s audacious energy would be lost. But the trio never seem anything less than fully committed, summoning a sweaty, occasionally sweet and often darkly surreal nightclub of the mind, with themselves holding court at its center. As a record with myriad influences across the dark music and electronic spectrum it’s good, but its in how Pixel Grip use those sounds in their own inimitable fashion that makes the record bump. Recommended.

Buy it.

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We Have A Technical 363: Nice at Bomberman

Devours

From beneath you it Devours.

In this week’s episode, Jeff Cancade – AKA Devours – joins the Senior Staff in East Van’s bucolic Robson Park to talk about his fantastic new genre-hopping LP Escape From Planet Devours. It’s a conversation which touches on DIY releases, depression, the allure of nostalgia, making it as a synth-punk act in Vancouver, and which we hope communicates something of what makes the new record so enjoyable. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

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Silent, “Modern Hate”

Silent - Modern Hate

Silent
Modern Hate
Three One G

That Mexican deathrock band Silent have emerged via Justin Pearson’s Three One G label feels rather fitting. Nearly twenty years ago, the label was one of a small number which released a spate of records from post-hardcore bands who hybridized their already spastic noise with goth shadings. While perhaps overshadowed by the more fashion-focused deathrock revival acts of the same age, 31G releases by the likes of Love Life, Camera Obscura, and Antioch Arrow are proper precedents for the wave of more substantive dark punk we’re enjoying now, and the muscular and bellicose Modern Hate is a strong entry in that movement.

More weighty, stately, and bass-heavy than preceding LP A Century Of Abuse, Modern Hate has just enough polish and atmosphere to match the mid-tempo churn which drives the majority of its nine tracks forward. Riffs are lurching, swooping in and out of the fore and underscoring the unease and chaos Silent investigate. While the tightness of the band generally plays well in giving “A New Slave” and “The Witness” a thudding, stony unity, Silent can also spread things out to good effect, as on penultimate pick-slide epic “Empty Spaces” which carries the spirit of Amebix’s most ambitious works.

Most of Modern Hate is founded upon a constantly ramping tension, with cathartic breakdowns few and far between. It’s nervous music for a nervous age, as one could gather just from a glace at the titles: “It Follows”, “Death Is Not An Option”, “Trust No God”. With a political radicalism both rooted in peace-punk’s origins and fueled by recent events, Silent certainly aren’t shocked by the horrors they point to, but that doesn’t lessen the import of the crises. When vocalist Jung Sing calls god out for being a derelict slumlord – “Why don’t you come down here and fix this mess” – it’s as much with a sense of quotidian disappointment as with the sort of grandiose indignation the occasion might seem to merit.

Much like last year’s excellent Living For Nothing by Horror Vacui, Modern Hate elevates deathrock’s core musical elements to a level which matches the heft of its themes, abandoning the more cartoonish elements of the genre. Between climate collapse, racial injustice, and obscene disparities of wealth, the real world holds more than enough horror without falling back on monster flick cliche, and it’s great to hear bands like Silent taking up those issues with a sound which befits them.

Buy it.

Modern Hate by Silent

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