Choke Chain, “Mortality”

Choke Chain - Mortality

Choke Chain
Phage Tapes

Mark Trueman certainly isn’t making the question of how to cross-index his work as Choke Chain within the post-industrial cataloging system any easier. The elements of dark electro and EBM which he brings to bear on the caustic and misanthropic series of releases that solo project has released over the past four years have always intermingled in unexpected ways yet have never obfuscated the seething anger and misanthropy which fuels Choke Chain. That tension grows even tauter with new record Mortality.

That Mortality opens with the funereal instrumental “Sorrow” is the first hint that Trueman’s added an extra layer to his sound. Taking a cue from the more mournful, cleaner, and yes, melodic strains of dark electro, the record places some new, moody ambiance in contrast to its still pummelling rhythms. The clean chimes which bob and weave through the kicks of “Living This Death” suggest the softer side of :wumpscut: or Leaether Strip’s symphonic ambitions, while the heavily flanged string flourishes which close out “Despair” hearken back to vintage Antler Subway fare.

If there’s some intriguing nuance to Mortality‘s specific musical influences and moods, no such ambiguity can be found in its lyrics. Even by the bleak standards of Choke Chain’s extant discography, Mortality is an exercise in pure miserablism, with the meaningless of life, the horrid intractability of death, and the inevitability of suffering in the interim being recurring themes. The closing message of “Cruel”, “What you do in life means nothing in death”, is a rather representative example.

If that extreme degree of nihilism could perhaps be credited to Trueman’s affection for Rudimentary Peni and other similarly bleak punk, the that he’s embracing the more florid side of his dark electro collection at the same time keeps Mortality from ever becoming monotone or feeling rote. It’s a subtle but real step forward for one of the most promising rising figures in dark electronics. We’re all gonna die: may as well listen to some Choke Chain first. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Recommended.

Buy it.

Mortality by Choke Chain

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Tracks: September 25th, 2023

Is it officially spooky season yet? Maybe, depending on whether you start hitting up the Spirit Halloween store the moment Fall officially starts or wait ’til October starts in earnest, but either way it feels firmly like we’ve entered 2023 endgame time and need to start taking stock of the year it’s been and what’s still to come. This is of course a lead in to our annual plea to let us know what albums and releases we’ve not covered yet that you think we should be writing up or podcasting about. We’re just two people, and there’s always stuff that slips past us because of that, but you folks have traditionally done a great job of giving us solid recommendations and we’re always up to expand our horizons, or deep digger into the ones we explore already. Drop us a comment if you feel moved to do so, and then give this week’s Tracks a listen.

Moon 17

Moon 17 throwing hex in Kansas City. Photo by @vertig0s_net.

Pixel Grip, “Bet You Do”
Seeing Pixel Grip return to the stage after nearly a year away at Purple City in August, we were struck again by the things that make the Chicago trio special: their seamless blending of their hometown’s electronic musical traditions from house to industrial, with an emphasis on fat basslines and singer Rita Lukea’s considerable vocal charisma. New single “Bet You Do” is the first new track we’ve heard from them in recorded form in a minute and it fits very nicely with our expectations while also amping them up considerably via some very hot dancefloor ready arrangment choices and excellent production – you can drop this at the disco or the goth club and you’ll get a response in both.
Bet You Do. by Pixel Grip

Moon 17, “Bersicker”
We pointed you to the debut track of Kansas City’s Moon 17 a month back and pointed out how their reads on body music and darkwave run against the grains of both of those genres’ current overarching trends. Follow-up track “Bersicker” picks up right where “Jellyfish” left off, deking around common expectations we’d have when it comes to arrangement and programming in stuff this pugnacious and, yes, dancefloor friendly despite its unexpected bursts of aggression. Taken together, these two tracks point to an act approaching the stuff we love in a very different way and who are definitely worth putting on your radar.
Bersicker by Moon 17

Male Tears, “You Are Your Posts”
Okay, so “Your Are Your Posts” comes hot on the heels of Male Tears’ excellent LP KRYPT and is easily on par with anything on that record, as were preceding non-album releases “Sad Boy, Paint My Nails” and “In This House”. Even leaving aside the stuff we think makes Male Tears such an interesting quantity (their ability to situate goth and darkwave alongside pop and mainstream dance music markers with ease), it’s a track that actually speaks to a real phenomenon, namely the way that life on the internet allows us to disassociate, and the ways that that might not be the best thing for an already anxious and prone to panic generation.
you are your posts by MALE TEARS

Ex-Hyena, “In Slow Motion”
Coming out of Boston, Ex-Hyena are bringing some serious drama to the dancefloor this fall with this lead single from their forthcoming third LP A Kiss Of The Mind. Simple but solid programming casts blacklight beams across the darker side of electropop, while the undertow of the beat keeps drawing you in. A nice combination of emotive maximalism and compositional minimalism which bodes well for the rest of the record.
In Slow Motion by Ex-Hyena

XTR Human, “I Want More”
We’ve been taken with Johannes Stabel’s work as XTR Human ever since the project went from post-punk and darkwave over to full on electro and body music a few years back. Stabel’s own work and that of his label Wie Ein Gott displays a solid understanding of how to execute music that doesn’t veer to far away from clubbability and dancefloor appeal while still injecting some solid songwriting ideas and choices. New cut “I Want More” puts us in mind of comparable material from Arnaud Rebotini if that helps situate it for you.

SØLVE, “kvikks​ø​lv (CENOTYPE REMIX)”
It’s been a full ten years since Brant Showers started his SØLVE project, bringing together his tastes for cinematic, dark ambient, industrial, and witch house production styles with the flair for the dramatic and symbolic which he brought to ∆AIMON. In celebration of a decade of that work, the project’s first single svovel | salt | kvikksølv has been remastered and reissued with a slew of extras, including new mixes from the likes of Harsh R and Red Meat. This mix from Cenotype does a wonderful job of linking Showers’ own tastes for ritual industrial to Cenotype’s linking of that style to classic powernoise, while also keeping the high-def soundscaping of the project in full focus.
svovel | salt | kvikksølv by SØLVE

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We Have A Commentary: The Birthday Party, “Junkyard”

The Birthday Party - Junkyard

For this month’s commentary podcast we asked our patrons which release by Aussie enfents terrible The Birthday Party they’d like us to discuss, and 1982’s Junkyard was the resounding answer. We’re talking about how the record captures a band which forever seemed on the verge of collapsing inward upon itself, the emergence of the themes and fixations which have gone on to define the next forty years of Nick Cave’s art, grooves, spasms, Americana, Shakespeare, and oh so much more. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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Observer: Pol & Wants


It’s easy to look back at the New Romantic movement and view it as a purely fashion-based subset of new wave aesthetics, but as Dutch duo Pol are reminding us on their first EP, there were plenty of musical markers which distinguished Visage, Ultravox, and the like from their broader field of synthpop and new wave peers. That elevated and austere approach can easily be clocked on “Sentimental Figures”, which seems to lift from Japan’s “Taking Islands In Africa” and Ultravox’s “Serenade”, complete with some ARP Odyssey noodling. “Modern Strange Love” links Moroder programming to the anthemic refrain of Animotion’s “Obsession”. If those influences read as a bit arch or poised (did I mention that brothers Ruben and Matthijs Pol are also fashion models?), the speedier “Boys Are” and “Comme Ca” have a bit more bounce and punch, with the particulars of the synth programming taking a back seat to the beat. It’s lead track “L’Amour Fait Mal” which ends up taking the cake, though, finding the delicate balance between atmosphere, harmony, and drive which so much original coldwave lived and died by.
Pol by Pol


The music on the self-titled EP from Calgary’s Wants speaks both to artist Jeebs Nabils’ previous association with that city’s idiosyncratic synthpunkers Melted Mirror, and some very au courant melodic darkwave sounds. Where the smooth guitars and vocals of opener “Decline” place it in the company of club oriented cuts by ACTORS or Twin Tribes, there’s a liveliness to the drum programming that gives it its own flavour. Follow-up “Divine Promises” leans more heavily on Nabils’ vocals, allowing his forthright delivery to add dynamics and give the song body, as does “Fate and Fear” with its more halting arrangement and melancholic mood. Closer “Mention” proves to the most interesting track, working a small amount of playful funk into the rhythm arrangement, porting it over from post-punk to new wave without going full glossy neon.
Wants by Wants

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We Have A Technical 474: Industrial Bowlcut

A group where we all pretend to be boomer goths.

The aesthetics of cringe, that is to say, the reasons why people within and without darker music are likely to view certain examples of it as profoundly embarrassing or amateurish, is the subject of this week’s podcast. The Senior Staff end up talking about social identity, our perceptions of quality, and how and why goth and industrial music are specifically judged, fairly or unfairly. We also have some talk about recent sets from Ms.Boan and Nuovo Testamento. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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Blu Anxxiety, “Morbid Now, Morbid Later”

Blu Anxxiety - Morbid Now, Morbid Later

Blu Anxxiety
Morbid Now, Morbid Later
Toxic State Records

Having moved well beyond the ostensible deathrock origins of the project (and of its members’ history before its formation), New York’s Blu Anxxiety have been careening through a funhouse full of effectively every subgenre and neighbouring territory of goth music for the past couple of years, dishing plenty of pithy political sneering and bitchy ripostes along the way. Electing to call themselves “dark freestyle” is a nod to the band’s distinctly NY latino take on goth, sure, but it’s just as much an acknowledgement of just how many different musical motifs they’re capable of welding to goth’s already heavily mutated corpus. New LP Morbid Now, Morbid Later, while amplifying the electronic quotient of the band’s sound, cinches what’s made them such an irrepressible part of the current North American scene.

If you’re new to Blue Anxxiety Morbidy Now, Morbid Later‘s rapid fire moves through current lo-fi EBM (“Macabre”), classic Suspiria-styled goth rock (“Sister Maria”) and fog-machine-on-the-fritz darkwave (“500 Years”) in its first half. When frontman Dracula Orengo refers to himself as “an alien sex fiend”, you get the sense that it’s that band’s omnivorousness and uncanny ability to transmogrify anything they touch into goth that he’s connoting more than their legendary status. If you’ve been keeping pace with the band for the past few years (or are just a quick study), it’ll be the canny swing on the more electronic and hip-hop flavoured tracks with which you’ll be most taken. As per their own labelling, yes, closer “Running” sounds exactly what you’d expect a latin freestyle track topped by second wave goth rock crooning to sound like, and I’m having a hard time remembering the last time a goth band made a dancefloor bid sound as legitimately funky since Shriekback.

Orengo’s Rozz-isms are still woven through Blue Anxxiety’s music, but sitting in contrast to his synthpunk yowls and rapped verses, it all feels much more like a small part of the stylistic pastiche Morbid Now, Morbid Later. Factor in the clean and melodic darkwave synths and damn-near “Don’t Fear The Reaper” type riffing on “Fog”, and it’s hard to accuse anyone in the band of staying pat for even a minute, let alone biting anyone’s style in an extended fashion. “Goth rules everything around me,” Orengo moans on “Negative Fantasy”, and one gets the sense that he’s maniacally driven to cram as many different shades of that muse into every corner of this record, a la one of Nick Blinko’s horror vacui drawings. There’s even a version of the century-old “Hearse Song” to boot, recast here as if were an ominous threat being read by an antagonist from “Judgment Night” or “The Warriors” (and yes, you’d best believe this record has at least one “can you dig it?” sample).

Irreverent but never empty-headed, Morbid Now, Morbid Later‘s thematics and influences are a reminder that goth’s always had a political streak, it’s always been as much about sheer, riotous fun as miserablism, and perhaps most importantly that its exact musical parameters have always been malleable. Recommended.

Buy it.

Morbid Now, Morbid Later by Blu Anxxiety

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Xingu Hill, “Grigri Pavilion”

Xingu Hill
Grigri Pavilion
Subexotic Records

While Quebec ex-pat John Sellekaers’ legacy at this point is probably more related to his several decades of work as a mastering engineer for his own Metarc Studios, his numerous industrial adjacent projects were a going concern for listeners around the turn of the millennium. The most well-known of these was probably Xingu Hill, which released several well-regarded LPs on rhythmic noise mainstay Ant-Zen and it’s Hymen sub-label. The sound of the project is what was broadly referred to at the time as technoid, an industrialized form of IDM.

While Sellekaers has remained busy with numerous other musical outlets in the years since that particular style’s heyday, the return of Xingu Hill with Grigri Pavilion is somewhat unexpected after so many years laying fallow. Interestingly many of the sounds that seem characteristic of the project now have become far more commonplace. The reverbed synth stabs and rubbery pings of “Electrographic Dreams” are vintage Xingu Hill, but they also bring to mind the celebrated soundtrack work of Haxan Cloak, via their intricate design and stereo placement. Similarly, the slightly arrhythmic shuffle that drives “Moving Mirrors” has more than a little in common with the dubbier end of hyperpop, and by extension the mainstream pop that has drawn influence from that style. You might even imagine hearing the playful twinkling melodies of “Conjectures” in a Youtube video of lo-fi beats, complete with studious anime girl.

While those commonalities are fun to trainspot, there’s still a distinctly old school vibe to the LP. Perhaps its the genre agnostic use of big emotional pads on bookend cuts “Byways & Tunnels” and “Nightcraft”, or the nods to 90s breaks on the rhythm programming of “Eye Contact”, but the record has an almost wistful nostalgia to its construction. Setting aside the pleasing digital clarity of the mix (an area that Selleakers has always excelled in), the record could just as easily have hailed from the early 2000s musically. The emotional by-product of that feeling comes through as a kind of vague melancholy, as heard in the ghostly drones that float through “Hi-Fi Stimulant” and “Ghost Satellite”.

Grigri Pavilion is low-key affair by design, as befits the style of the project’s original run of material. It’s easy on the ears and doesn’t overstay its welcome, both qualities that make it a pleasant if not especially essential listen. Its charms will find purchase with those who still visit the artist’s classic era, and can enjoy a further exploration of its nuances and ideas.

Buy it.

Grigri Pavilion by Xingu Hill

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Tracks: September 18th, 2023

Hey friends! It looks like the recent batch of shirts which we printed and mailed out are starting to make their way into the hands of those who ordered them. Again, we’d like to thank Mason of Ringfinger for the great design, and everyone who ordered one of them. It’s still pretty crazy to us that people find this whole endeavour of ours not only worth listening to and reading, but also voluntarily representing in public, no doubt leading to all manner of halting conversations with baristas around the world. Let’s get to this week’s Tracks!

Generation Askani’Son, er, Cable.

genCAB, “The Badge (Flesh Field remix)”
Okay, this is a real twofer inclusion here at the HQ; we’ve been pretty sweet on David Dutton’s work as genCAB since he reactivated the song-oriented electro-industrial project a few years back, so a new single is always gonna perk our ears up. That “The Badge” also comes with a taste of new Flesh Field (who as we mentioned on the podcast have recently reactivated and have a new album due very soon) is equally enticing – we’re getting noted of the latter project’s classic orchestral oomph along with some very prominent guitar chug, all a fine accompaniment to genCAB’s emotional delivery.
The Badge by genCAB

Antigen Shift, “Where Is Your Rage”
The return of Ottawa’s Antigen Shift continues apace, with the sixth in a series of hard-hitting and hooky singles from Nick Theriault and Jairus Khan. Hearkening back to classic dark electro (an appended Leaether Strip remix ), the current wave of melodic EBM, and maybe even a little bit of the more tasteful sides of synthwave, “Where Is Your Rage” is flashy but also well-considered, with the duo’s skill for crafting instrumental pieces with real movement and progression on full display.
Where Is Your Rage by Antigen Shift

Red Meat, “Providence”
When friend of the site DJ Gilly Woo reached out to let us know about the new single from Manchester based act Red Meat, she described it as “like Filth Pig, in the best way”. That description proves to be accurate, as double a-side Providence/Remission is chock full of mechanized riffs, distorted vocals, and samples, all delivered with some of that uniquely UK flavour of bile and cheek. Not an act we were checking for previously, but certainly one we will be going forward.
Providence by RED MEAT

Blac Kolor, “Zerschmetterling”
Hendrick Grothe’s Blac Kolor found a new kinship with the legendary Ant-Zen label on his Roots EP last year, and it’s a pairing that makes all the sense in the world for new LP Weltenbrand. Sure, the tense and brooding style of dark techno Grothe has been plying since before TBM blew up is still in place, but tunes like this which underpin the beats with a bit more rumbling, metallic clatter owe as much to Ant-Zen’s rhythmic industrial legacy as anything else.
weltenbrand by blac kolor

Meshes, “No Rules”
We haven’t been keeping close tabs on Meshes of late, which is a lapse on our part. When the Russian project (now based in Israel) first came to our attention during the pandemic, it was due to how their hard-hitting body music fit so nicely with the then-current wave of techno-EBM crossover; the tracks felt like pretty pure EBM, but gelled well crossover club DJ sets. The project has never strayed from that ethos, as new EP Always Against testifies with lead-off “No Rules” – it’s pure EBM in terms of bassline and atmosphere, but you could drop this in a hard tech set and have it go off any day of the week.
Always Against EP (Incl. Bloody Mary Remix) by Meshes

Mesmer’s Ghost, “The Dark”
A cross-Canadian project with whom we’ve been checking in here and there over the years, Mesmer’s Ghost trades in a minimalist and atmospheric electro-industrial/dark electro hybrid. The title track from forthcoming new EP The Dark positions a haze of classic atmospherics against tight and tense programming in a manner not unlike that of recent site favourites Kurs.
The Dark by Mesmer's Ghost

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Observer: Dot Drama & Military Position

Dot Drama - Surcos
Dot Drama
Pildoras Tapes

Heads know to go to Pildoras for the absolute best in equatorial body music, but the Colombian label also has its fingers in more exotic pies. Bogotá duo Dot Drama work each of minimal synth, synth punk, and general early 80s tape-based experimentalism into new EP Surcos just as much as they do the more strict rhythms we often expect from Pildoras. To wit: Genders, Suicide, and The Sixteens are much better guideposts for the lurching 808s of “Andar” or the austere tropicalia of “Vodka” than whichever classic EBM sources you’d care to name. The pinched, nasally programming of “Surcos” could probably be linked to Portion Control easily enough, but Ela Vann’s laid back croon takes the edge off its bricked shuffle (and a very solid Filmmaker remix appended here isn’t so far from that act’s recent work). The constantly galloping ahead of itself “Permanence Distante”, where roaring lo-fi synths are constantly burbling over the edge of a seemingly endless series of drum fills, feels like the real mission statement, with bricolaged noise overwhelming the beat.
Surcos by Dot Drama

Military Position
Nothing Lasts Forever
aufnahme + wiedergabe

Harriet K Morgan’s work as Military Position is broadly self-defined as death industrial, although fans of rhythmic noise will certainly find a pleasing amount of that sound on 2023’s Nothing Lasts Forever. Indeed, it’s probably those rhythmic elements that landed her in the orbit of aufnahme + wiedergabe, although this is a far cry from the majority of that label’s output. The sound of the EP is often tightly packed, with corroded kick drums smashing together behind a wall of squelching feedback; tracks like “I Can Enter Your Heart” and “You Don’t Define Me” are pummeling, but are tempered by Morgan’s alternately monotone and furious vocal delivery, even as she points an accusatory finger at the power structures personal and political that inform her work. Those themes come into even sharper focus on the less openly aggressive cuts like “Gaslit”, which while no less caustic in its application of reverbed noise and drones allow more of the project’s messaging to show through. Morgan spits “You’re hearing me in this moment/Sit down and be quiet/shut up and be quiet” through gritted teeth, her barely sublimated anger accented by a sample of a callous talking head dismissing a murdered sex worker. It’s potent stuff in form and execution, uncompromisingly difficult in the best way.
Nothing Lasts Forever by Military Position

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We Have A Technical 473: Evacuated Bon Mots

Noise Unit

Noise Unit storm the studio in 1988. From left to right: Marc Verhaeghen, Bill Leeb, & Mark Burghgraeve.

Records by Noise Unit and Prager Handgriff are prompting Bruce and Alex to get into the weeds regarding cross-pollination of EBM sub-genres, foreshadowing of artists’ future directions, and what is often overlooked when genres are looked back upon historically. Also, do we know as much about the Euro fest scene as our dogpiling on it would suggest? Find out! As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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Harsh Symmetry, “Imitation”

Harsh Symmetry
Fabrika Records

It’s not hard to situate Los Angeles’ Harsh Symmetry in the current dark music ecosphere; the music on debut LP Display Model planted Julian Sharwarko firmly in the school of modern darkwave bands that use the style’s classic template as a launchpad for their own melody driven songs. What distinguishes the project’s work both on that LP and their 2023 release “Imitation” is the careful consideration and minimalism of Harsh Symmetry’s material – songs are reserved without being overly polite, and performed with a quiet confidence that speaks to their deliberate nature.

That’s not to suggest that the LP is sleepy or lacking in energy. Indeed, the drum machine backbeat that pushes most of the record forward is a key to its success, providing momentum and structure for its arrangements. There’s a sturdiness to the pulsing bass synth and snappy drum programming that propels “Makeup Artist”, a foundation for Shawarko’s ringing guitar lines and crooned vocals. And while more than a few cuts play out similarly, the LP throws some pleasing and occasionally surprising changeups into the mix; lead single “Glass Tears” has a round and funky synth bassline that puts the bounce behind its choppy riffs, and “Dressed in White” leverages uses a classic synthpop sounds to add melodic heft.

As the title of the record wryly suggests, there’s a plenty of foundational acts Imitation will remind you of, with The Cure, And Also the Trees, The Sound, and even Gene Loves Jezebel coming to mind during successive listens. But like the best of their contemporaries, Harsh Symmetry’s songwriting is strong enough to push past any accusation of rote mimicry. While Sharwarko doesn’t write big anthemic hooks, he does squeeze as much as he can out of his melodies and harmonies; “Scalpel” gets a lot out of the interaction between vocals, guitars and synths, each kept in careful balance with one another being a key example. That allows for tracks to be kept lean in the mix without sacrificing body: there’s no lack of weight to “Crystal Smile” or the cover of Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” in spite of their relative sparseness.

A year is a really short interval between first and second albums, but the gains Harsh Symmetry has made in that time are clear. As strange as it is to say about an act with such slender and often wispy aesthetics, Imitation is a beefier and more substantial record than its predecessor, one that puts plenty of vigor behind its meticulously constructed and performed material. Recommended.

Buy it.

Imitation by Harsh Symmetry

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Unto Ashes, “Orchids Grew Here”

Unto Ashes - Orchids Grew Here

Unto Ashes
Orchids Grew Here
Projekt Records

I’ll level with you, dear listeners: I’m suffering from a nasty bit of food poisoning right now and it’s taken a round out of me. I’m weak, frail, and even the most ordinary of feelings seem just a bit…louder or heavier right now. And as it happens, that sense of vulnerability likely puts me in an ideal position to be listening to and discussing the latest record from longstanding NY darkwave act, Unto Ashes.

Without breaking from the traditions and influences set forth by Michael Laird & co. some twenty-plus years ago, Orchids Grew Here has enough variety and quality to sate die-hards as well as give newcomers a representative understanding of why the group is one of the most beloved acts associated with Projekt Records. You have the tremoring neoclassical sounds which earned their early work comparisons to Dead Can Dance, brooding neofolk, and pieces entirely of Unto Ashes’ own tradition, often combining a wounded frailty with an intimacy which can at times be overwhelming.

In both content and delivery, it’s a listen which ranks with the band’s best work. “Let My Heart Remain Cold” and “Calendar Leaves” have a stoic and strident neofolk approach which acknowledges Death In June on one hand, but also breaks from that tradition by eschewing its miasmas of fog and estrangement, with Laird’s plaintive and direct vocals. Subtle arrangement and production choices bolster things as well; is the room hum captured in the back of the mix of opening track “Even In Our Sleep (Aeschylus)” meant to suggest a quiet stream as the piece begins to accrue more and more layers of dulcimer? Maybe, but either way it adds an earthy dimension to the otherwise gossamer piece.

The enunciation and delivery of Orchids Grew Here‘s themes and lyrics is varied enough to keep things from ever feeling repetitive (though it’s certainly a unified enough listen). There’s certainly something funereal about the icy synths and refrain of “our lovely garden is dying” on “Orchids Fade”, but as Laird, Bret Helm, and Ericah Hagle all intone the titular phrase, there’s almost a sense of morbid or botanical fascination with the procession of the inevitable. As to how a band with those poetics might approach a cover of Madge’s “Frozen”, well, I’ll let you discover that on your own. Set Orchids Grew Here aside for your next John Keats-esque convalescence, but don’t be surprised if it finds its way on even in moments of vigor.

Buy it.

Orchids Grew Here by Unto Ashes

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Tracks: September 11, 2023

It was an fine but busy weekend of pro-wrestling and birthday celebrations (you can wish Bruce a happy one in the comments if you’re so inclined), not to mention shipping out 12th anniversary shirts to all those who ordered. Thus we don’t have a lot left in the tank for this Tracks intro, beyond saying a quick thanks for stopping by and seeing us at the start of your week. As always, we appreciate you reading our foolishness, your patronage of this website is what makes writing it worthwhile. Cheers, and on to Tracks!

PC World: beats as hard as their name is to Google search

PC World, “At Heaven’s Gate”
Hell yeah, something new from Anglo-Austrian body music duo PC World. Of the acts doing stuff in this loping, old school EBM style, they’ve distinguished themselves by keeping their drums nice and hard and keeping the funky sequences the beating heart behind their compositions. We’ll never get tired of having songs like “At Heaven’s Gate” close at hand when we need a lil’ fix, we’re quite sure the forthcoming Infinite Dream Weapon on DKA will have more goodness in store.
Infinite Dream Weapon by PC World

Sad Madona, “Witch Coast”
Is it just the power of suggestion, or is there a hint of the ol’ witch house in this new single from Parisians Sad Madona? We liked the previous stuff we heard from them, and like those tracks this one works a less-jumped up electro darkwave style with a lot of melancholic european flair. But the difference here is in the pallette of sounds; something in the dry cymbals and saturated lead synth is making us think of the best of the triangle-unicode bands of yesteryear. Its not just us, right?
Witch Coast by Sad Madona

Cyanotic, “Crash Override”
We imagine many folks reading this are aware of the tragedy which befell Sean Payne and the larger Glitch Mode community earlier this year (which we discussed it on the podcast), and so it’s especially heartening to hear Sean back in the saddle and doing what he does best: constructing churning storms of cyberpunk noise, like this number from new LP The After Effect. There is no right and wrong. There’s only fun and boring.
The After Effect by Cyanotic

WLDV, “Cult Liturgy”
We’ve been fans of WLDV’s remixes edits for a while, but the Spanish producers originals have slowly been worming their way into our hearts for a while now as well. Like the werewolf themed EP we wrote up the other week, new single “Cult Liturgy” works the giallo disco angle with atmosphere thick enough to paint your wall (blood red presumably), although the fantastically spooky lead on this cut is fit for a Carpenter soundtrack or a forgotten eighties italo cut, or both.
WLDV – Cult Liturgy EP by WLDV

VOITH, “On The Night Of Halloween”
Sitting on the lighter side of current darkwave, this new tune from one-man Swedish act VOITH’s new A Dreamers Kiss EP seems directly calculated to hit all of the points modern gothy dancefloors are looking for. Watery Seventeen Seconds guitar? Check. Moody harmonic synths? Check. Easily danceable beats? Check. Still, as a genre exercise it holds together nicely and gets the job done.
A Dreamers Kiss by VOITH

The Operative, “SPLNTR (SHFT)”
Picking up more or less where Marching Dynamics left off, The Operative is the latest project from LA noise honcho Shane Talada, showcasing his dubby bass and glitch-minded approach to rhythmic industrial. New EPs Quorum Decorum and Stitches feature plenty of tracks like this, which offer rubbery weight and foundation beneath some classic powernoise kicks.
The Operative – Stitches by mechanismz

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Observer: Desolation Colony & Pavor Nocturnus

Desolation Colony
Mannequin Records

Desolation Colony is the solo project of Joshua Strachan of Azar Swan, and the music on his self-titled EP on Mannequin records aligns in interesting fashion with that project’s various incarnations. Inspired by the writing of Jeff VanderMeer, Desolation Colony’s music wends its way through landscapes both lush and replete with primeval menace, and more stark and barren landscapes. Opener “Burn My Hands in Slow Fire” is the sole track that feels geared for modern darkwave dancefloors, its pinched synthlines and resonating stabs perched precariously on reverbed cliffs that Strachan howls desperately from. It’s a striking number, but what follows is equally intriguing; “Děčín Warning” weds throbbing drum programming to an arrangement of pitched mechanical whines and hisses and lonely synth melodies, voices appearing from the song’s gloom in barely recognizable form. “Everything Old Is New” strips things down further, leaving little more than the thud of kick drums and low humming drones for most of its runtime, the addition of percussive clatter relieving the tension created by its studied minimalism. Closer “Prisoner Cinema” takes that approach and blows it out to larger proportions, its seven minute plus length allowing it room to unfold myriad strains of fuzzed our synths, distorted vocals, and surprisingly emotive melodies, coalescing into a graspable form before breaking down again in it’s final moments to nothing, returned to the wasted landscape it was birthed from.
MNQ 153 Desolation Colony – Desolation Colony EP by Desolation Colony

Pavor Nocturnus - Ecatombe
Pavor Nocturnus
Cyclic Law

Occupying a hazy and smokey interzone betwixt ritual industrial and dark ambient, the latest release from Italy’s Pavor Nocturnus oozes with atmosphere. Enveloping drones, well-sculpted beats, and classical instrumentation and sampling make up the majority of Eugenio Mazza’s palette, all delivered with the sort of hi-def clarity you don’t often encounter in material which aims to be this weighty. Recorded during 2020 and 2021, the promo copy indicates that Ecatombe emerged from feelings of isolation and restriction during lockdown, and its smothering, oppressive production style certainly speaks to that experience. That said, for all of its bleak claustrophobia, the smoothness and seductive warmth of Mazza’s sound design comes across throughout, whether it’s on more clattering and beat-heavy stuff like “La Vergogna”, or on the mournful horns and woodwinds which emerge out of the deep drones of “Abisso” to offer something between Philip Glass and dark jazz. Likely to appeal to those who can appreciate Treha Sektori, or perhaps latter era m² releases, the experience of being buried has never felt as oddly pleasurable as it does on Ecatombe.

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We Have A Technical 472: Adam Pagecole

Strawberry Switchblade

Strawberry Switchblade

It’s one of our vaunted Pick Five episodes this week, with Alex and Bruce each asking “How’d this get here?” That is to say, they’re both selecting some artists whose inclusion within the worlds of darker alternatives might be puzzling to outsiders, or even themselves, at least initially All that plus a little bit of the “what are your first memories of Band X?” game so often featured on Bombers. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

The post We Have A Technical 472: Adam Pagecole appeared first on I Die: You Die., “Black And White” - Black And White
Black And White
THYX Records

Few bands would be capable of spreading a single narrative across seven albums and nearly twenty years…or at least capable of maintaining any sort of audience through such an exercise. Yet are no ordinary band, with an audience that has followed them not only through the twists and turns of their records’ larger story, but through musical shifts which have found them moving from a nominally futurepop-inspired cyber sound to ever more bombastic and prog-influenced sounds, which Black And White revels in to both its benefit and detriment.

As longtime m.i.a.b. fans know, the narrative threading records from 2004’s Lost Alone forward has built to an epic scale, with Black And White depicting the final (?) confrontation between Black, apostate of the Illuminati-esque Agency and White, its head who seeks Demiurge-like control over both the material world and the mysterious Dreamweb wherein music, love, and truth appear as they actually are (check out Synthpop Fanatic’s recent recap of the whole saga for more info).’s musical style has become ever-more grandiose over the last decade to suit this Platonic quest for truth and reality, and Black And White finds Stefan Poiss and his m.i.a.b. collaborators availing themselves of every opportunity to underline the story with as much musical flourish as possible.

After a lengthy table setting track, the spacey and spiralling synths of “Lost And Alone” reach up to wide plateaus with Poiss’ vocals (in all of their variously digitally pitched guises) reflecting on all of Black’s challenges and steeling him and his comrades for their next one. Later, the slow lope of “Sometimes Never” builds towards the sort of keytar-styled solos the band first experimented with back on Crossroads. It’s a record showcasing at their most ambitious. The downside of these extravagances is that with little relief from them apart from minimalist spoken word segues, the record’s maximalism can be overwhelming, especially with the album punching in at a whopping 74 minutes. While those who’ve been waiting years to learn how Black and White’s conflict will resolve will no doubt welcome such excess, newcomers (or those checking in with the band for the first time since Dreamweb, perhaps) are likely to find this all a bit extravagant. Moments like the savvy synthpop-rocker “New Wave Propaganda” are the exception, offering self-contained blasts of’s neon-hued charm.

One subject which must be taken up with regards to Black And White‘s lyrics and story is how eerily its depiction of the Agency’s authoritarian dystopia dovetails with far-right and anti-vax conspiracies concerning “The Great Reset”, microchipped vaccines, and all of the other horseshit we’ve all had to endure in recent years, despite pretty much all governments agreeing to return to business as usual as if COVID had never happened well over a year ago. On the one hand, it’s easy to see how those various conspiracies have tapped into the same heroic narrative of fighting against unjust authority which science fiction narratives have been using since day one (see The Matrix films or Deus Ex games for similar deployments) and to chalk up Black And White‘s resonances with said conspiracies to that shared lineage. However, lines like “medication is mandatory…refusal may result in the loss of your rights” within the context of “the reset of society” are bound to raise some eyebrows.

So, how to parse this? There are at least three possibilities. First, the long-running theme of the Agency using various forms of mind control to maintain its power may simply have accidentally coincided with more contemporary real-world paranoia. Second, recognizing an opportunity to draw perceived parallels with recent events, lyricist Josh Kreger has thrown these allusions in simply to get a chuckle or a knowing nod with relatively apolitical intent. Third, the dog whistles and their political significance – such as praising Black’s armed storming of the Agency’s headquarters as the act of “The Insurrectionist” – are wholly intentional, whether or not Poiss & co. are aware of how North American listeners might interpret the latter verbiage or agree that vaccines are part of a (clearly woefully inept) international conspiracy akin to the machinations of the villainous Agency. Until Poiss or Kreger offer comment, that interpretation must be left to the listener.

It might be tempting to dismiss these questions as hand-wringing or much ado about the trivialities of lyrics (though holding to the latter is to dismiss’s work on the whole – if its substance is of no concern, then why discuss or even listen to it?). But narratives of struggle and conflict don’t exist in a vacuum, and have tractable effects upon the larger zeitgeist (not to mention the sense of disappointment some long-time m.i.a.b. fans are likely to feel at the possibility of a story they’ve invested decades in being paid off in support for January 6ers). If this is simply a case of that zeitgeist having shifted since began this work in 2004, so be it, but Black And White has been released in the here and now. Musically, it serves as a capstone or apotheosis of the ambitions have been slowly cultivating for years, but thematically it raises some troubling real-world questions even as it seeks to resolve many of its fictional ones.

Buy it.

Black and White by

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One-man San Antonio based project MODEBIONICS has been releasing a fairly steady stream of one-off singles and EPs over the last two years, notable for their invocation of a classic style of industrial situated between the first wave of 90s dark electro and mid-decade electro-industrial sounds. More than just capturing the cybernetic aesthetics of the era, new release Precise Control has Rolan Vega showing his capacity for the intricate programming and arrangements that characterize its production style and more importantly, its distinctive atmosphere.

A track like “RESUME FUNCTION” is essentially a primer on how to put together a song in the early Zoth Ommog mold: the chirpy synthline that runs razortight through the track, gated drum sounds and processed vocal samples are cleverly worked around one another in patterns that build, stall and then burst forward paying off the built up tension. Those kinds of unpredictable choices in placement of sounds and sections create a mood of unease that Vega leverages to good effect; see how “DESTRA DESTROY” forgoes any sustained four on the floor beats for much of its runtime, allowing the 16th note bassline and harshly whispered vocals to hold the spotlight as drum triplets and snare hits pop off around them, or how the more rhythmically straightforward “ONE BY WAR” inverts uses its main synth part to flip between verse and chorus.

The strength of the record’s idiosyncratic choices in configuration are matched by a good ear for mood and texture, foreboding and pensive by turns. The more portentous sound is the order of the day on opening and closing instrumentals “ENTER: POPULOUS DELETE” and “EXIT: SOLIIS TRANSMISSION”, their sound design marked by voices both distant and proximal, rich pads flowing between thoughtfully between snatches of drums and blasts of synth on the former, and whirring and wheezing samples that invoke deep space on the latter. The potency of those big swathes of sound is equally potent in busier tracks, such as “REVOLT IN SILENCE” where the pall cast by the cloudy synths that float above the song’s faster moving elements tamps down the mood without losing any of its energy or momentum.

While “PRECISE CONTROL” is certainly reminiscent of the classic run of early singles and albums from familiar acts like X Marks the Pedwalk, Leaether Strip or even Evil’s Toy, it rises above imitation by simple virtue of its thoughtful execution. Its one thing reconsitute the graspable aspects of a vintage sound, but it takes inspiration and consideration to tap into their spirit. With this, their most complete release thus far MODEBIONICS has claimed its spot at the forefront at rising wave of new US dark electro. Recommended.

Buy it.


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Tracks: September 4th, 2023

We’ve been jaunting about for festivals a good deal this year between Verboden in our own backyard, Terminus and Purple City, but even as festival season begins to wind down with Cold Waves and Sanctum closing things out in Chicago over the next couple of months, we still have a couple of smaller shows happening closer to home which we’re looking forward to. On the Cold Waves tip, Front Line Assembly will be heading out on one of those satellite tours often spun out from the festival, and will be joined by Belgian legends A Split Second, who’ve been a bucket list band for both of us for years. In our own backyard, Ms. Boan is coming through on the heels of her striking turn with Boy Harsher.

Forever our faves, Kite

klack, “Body2Body2Body”
We had the pleasure of checking out this new cut from the good wisconsin boys klack live at this year’s Terminus Festival, and it fits nicely with their ever so slightly evolving aesthetic. Where their style originated as sort of a straight homage to classic new beat/EBM, they’ve been slowly integrating some more synthpop melodies and even some crossover techno sounds of late, additions that only add to their immense charm. The EP for “Body2Body2Body” also comes with some hot remixes from none other than Portion Control (!!!) and Crystal Geometry, making it an easy pick up on your next Bandcamp shopping spree.
Body2Body2Body by klack

Kite, “Don’t take the light away (Randolph & Mortimer remix)”
Speaking of Terminus, we can’t help but notice that two of the remixers on the new EP from Kite shared the stage with the Swedish emotional synthpop giants on that festival’s 2022 lineup. Coincidence? Maybe, but still notable that local faves Randolph & Mortimer and Kontravoid got the opportunity to remix “Don’t Take the Light Away” and “Remember Me” respectively. Kite have been such a restrained act when it comes to remixes, only allowing a few here or there over the course of their career, so you know they vetted the contributors for this double A-side single real hard before turning over the keys to them. Hearing the results, we tend to think they made the right selections.
Don't take the light away / Remember Me by Kite

Mannequin Twin, “Threshold”
SLC’s Mannequin Twin have been around for a couple of years (albeit initially under a different moniker), but this bracing post-punk shot across the bow is our introduction to them. The real secret here is in the band maintaining the sort of frenetic drive stuff like this needs to keep from becoming trapped in the morass of its own atmosphere. Invigorating, dark, and big. Should appeal to those who got down with peak Night Sins.
Threshold by Mannequin Twin

Double Eyelid, “Better Than You Were”
We still have a couple weeks of summer left, but Toronto’s Double Eyelid have their hearts set on October with this sober and reflective bit of confessional goth rock. Double Eyelid have long been able to simmer their classic glam-goth influences down to the point that nothing in their moody delivery ever sounds beholden to the past, and instead gives the spotlight to Ian Revell’s pained vocals.
Better Than You Were by Double Eyelid

Skemer, “Overgave”
We legit had no idea that one of the dudes from noted Belgian metal act Amenra had a darkwave project, despite the duo putting out an LP on AVANT! a few years back. New album Toasts & Sentiments is due in November and from the first track we’re hearing Skemer are hitting that balance between modern electro-darkwave and the genre’s classic continental sound. Also, we’re quite into the growl that singer Kim Peers affects at some points on “Overgave”, a nice contrast to her icy posture on the verse.

Confines, “Oro Y Muerte (Kontravoid Remix)”
Brooklyn’s Confines impressed us with their smooth and considered take on modern darkwave and EBM when the project’s debut EP dropped a couple of years back, and we’re happy to have a reprise of that work in a new 4-track remix EP. Taking the stabbing bass which sits at the heart of “Oro Y Muerte” as a starting point, Cameron Findlay of Kontravoid weaves in the sort of classic electro breaks for which he’s known.
Oro Y Muerte Remixes by Confines

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Observer: WLDV & Miseria + Oraculo Records

Embraced by the Moon

While the work of Spanish producer WLDV first came to our attention via their excellent club-ready remixes of classic post-industrial and darkwave cuts, the project’s original releases have leaned in on a more soundtracky vibe, albeit one that has some giallo-disco in it. Such is the case with new EP Embraced by the Moon a quick 4-track listen inspired by cult Neil Jordan werewolf film In the Company of Wolves. While bookended by atmospheric cuts “Fullmoon” and “Transformation” – the former built around a foreboding arpeggio in classic horror movie score style – its the songs that make up the guts of the release that best showcase WLDV’s sensibilities. “Never Trust a Stranger Friend” starts with a simple ascending and descending synth lead that fits just so into the track’s funky outrun bass and cymbal programming, the song generating momentum and movement without foregoing it’s initial air of menace. “Once Upon a Time” works similarly, although draws more deeply from the EP’s inspiration; the dialogue samples are more prominent, but even moreso that film’s dreamy and surrealistic energy, which when transposed by the song’s rhythm programming to the dancefloor becomes hazy and intoxicating.
WLDV – Embraced By The Moon EP by WLDV

Miseria + Oraculo Records Precious Decay Selections
Various Artists
Precious Decay Selections
Miseria + Oraculo Records

From their early releases by Boy Harsher and Blind Delon to recent work by Puerta Negra and Lola Kumtus, Spanish label Oraculo’s been at the cutting edge of body music for nearly a decade. Berlin’s Miseria have been in the game for much less time, but in a couple of years have shown their ability to tap into the current South American, UK, and US scenes with aplomb. This 2×12″ comp showcasing both labels’ rosters is a solid distillation of both labels’ releases from the past year or so, not to mention as handy a cheat sheet for the current wave of body music producers still percolating in the underground as any DJ or dedicated rivethead is likely to find. Alongside acts like Ravetop, Stockhaussen, and Meshes who’ll be familiar to dedicated readers of this site, Precious Decay introduces a host of new (at least to us) acts who are showing how much range and colour their is in broader body music circles beyond the well-trodden TBM format, from Obserst Panizza’s French electro-tinged chills to N8NOFACE’s Suicide-esque nihilistic synthpunk slice of life. As a tune like NoHay’s “Disposable Desire” sets in, managing to find a balance between classic Klinik-style menace and the more modern swing producers like Brixx are bringing to the genre, it’s hard not to feel optimistic about the future of the genre.
Miseria + Oraculo Records Precious Decay Selections by Miseria

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We Have A Technical 471: Basso Profundo Curly

We’re talking about Flesh Field’s Viral Extinction and Project Pitchfork’s Inferno on this week’s episode of the podcast, records which pushed dark electro into a denser, cyber-orchestral direction and into moody, prog-rock influenced territory respectively. We’re also talking about Edmonton’s recent Purple City fest, plus the announcement of new music from the aforementioned Flesh Field. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or download directly or listen through the widget down below. 

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