The Ineffectuals, “First Offering”

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The Ineffectuals - First Offering

The Ineffectuals
First Offering
self-released

Music writing is often viewed from the outside as being a labyrinthine network of prefixes (post, proto, lo-fi) and suffixes (wave, core) used to invent niche microgenres. While there’s a certain truth to that sort of perspective, a lot more can be often be discerned by taking things as a gestalt whole. Take the first LP from Chicago’s The Ineffectuals. If you approached First Offering from a purely anatomical perspective, trying to suss out each particular sound, genre, and influence which went into the band’s mix of post-punk, synthpunk, and EBM would take weeks, but its tongue in cheek funky noise gets across immediately without any such analysis.

Coming across our desks after some discussion of VALIS, the previous project of one half of The Ineffectuals Jeremiah Meese (tip of the hat, Jared!), First Offering is packed with squirming, anxious tracks which feel as though their programming and riffs are about to split apart at the seams and collapse into a morass of quavering vocals and drippy synths. But rather than this tension being the product of real panic or noise, it comes about through the droll and rambling attitude of the band. Check the titling of “Son Of C.H.U.D.” or “Ducktator”, the latter no doubt christened after the band realized that its farty bass line bore a resemblance to a certain memorable cartoon theme, but it’s just as easy to read it as a stoned revising of Kas Product’s “Never Come Back”.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t riffs or satisfying tracks here, though again, those are more the result of mood rather than steely dedication to an aesthetic. The thudding “Gimme A Hit”, with its densely processed, NIN by way of Odonis Odonis guitar doesn’t technically sound like anything that’s come before it, but if you’ve been tracking the traces of a woozy interest in noise rock in the preceding record it scans clearly. The go-go groove of “Good Time” says more about what I have to assume is a pretty healthy interest in old outlaw biker movies than any particular moment in the fractured history of synthpunk.

Whether you’re coming at First Offering from a trainspotter’s perspective or are just up for some new noise, you’ll likely be impressed by the versatility and range it shows off in half an hour, careening through its cache of sounds and influences with all the elan of an insurance salesman on a bender but with the inverse amount of charm. Attitude isn’t everything, but its enough to hold together The Ineffectuals’ riot of noise.

Buy it.

First Offering by The Ineffectuals

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Male Tears, “Paradisco”

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Male Tears
Paradisco
Avant!

Male Tears’ third album comes hot on the heels of their 2023 sophomore effort KRYPT, a turnaround that makes the pivot in the LA project’s sound that much more notable. Where the latter was a fusion of modern electronic darkwave and various styles of synth and electropop, Paradisco is much closer to a purer electronic pop record, albeit one with the same kind of sharp modern lyrical sensibility and melancholy themes as its predecessor.

Then again, project mastermind James Edward has never made a secret of his pop influences, and there’s a genuine sense of continuity between the various post-Krypt singles like “You Are Your Posts” and the new material. “Sex on Drugs” is likely the best indicator of Male Tears’ approach in 2024, leveraging a Pet Shop Boys-esque instrumental complete with choral sounds and orch hits as a vehicle for Edwards’ quavering delivery, bringing the song a sense of melancholia and longing that sits in contrast to its bright musical palette. Most of the rest of the record follows, swapping out some throwback synth and drum sounds for others, but sticking squarely in nu-italo territory.

It’s a mode that suits the project for sure, with each track finding some way to differentiate itself without losing the record’s shared musical thread. Corlyx collab “Leave It Alone” uses her distinctive voice as a counterpoint to Edwards’ hangdog witticisms; “Don’t try to send a voicemail/Don’t try to call my phone/I’m going to try and ghost you” is clever but it’s the drama from the female vocal vamping at the end that puts the cut over the top. Similarly, when Male Tears go New Order on “This Party Ends in Tears”, its a distinction made by summoning that distinctive combination of bitterness and winking self-effacement, a matter of fact approach that cuts through its sentimental pads and snappy percussion.

To be honest, it’s hard to imagine anyone having an issue with the obvious musical and aesthetic changes to Male Tears that Paradisco represents, if only because the record still has the persona the project has established for itself. While not explicitly dark in most senses, it still recognizably the same band, with the same dejected charisma that drew attention to them previously. Whether it’s where they’re going to stay for the foreseeable future or just a stylistic diversion, it gives you exactly what you’d want from a new Male Tears album, with all the youthful ennui and pop bounce that implies.

Buy it.

Paradísco by MALE TEARS

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Tracks: July 15th, 2024

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Probably a good time to note that Terminus, followed by our summer hiatus is just on the Horizon, with next week’s Tracks post being the last one ’til we return in Mid-August. The podcast will continue uninterrupted, but otherwise we will be taking some time relax and catch up on all the music we’re behind on, hopefully so we can enter the last third of the year without feeling like we’re way behind on everything. Will we succeed? History says no, but hope springs eternal.

Unwoman

Unwoman

Ashbury Heights feat Ulrike Goldmann, “A Lifetime in the Service of Darkness”
The announcement of Ashbury Heights’ long-awaited The Ghost House Sessions vol. 1 has us hype for a lot of reasons; firstly because its a massive 25 song double LP that includes the last run of singles, but also because it means more of the well-written sticky Swedish electropop that we’ve long been enamored with. And hey, if we get more cuts like “A Lifetime in the Service of Darkness” which features Ulrike from Blutengel doing a classy guest turn, we certainly won’t be unhappy. One of our most anticipated releases of the year.

Ewiges Feuer, “Kuumeuni (Fever Dream)”
Finnish newcomer Ewiges Feuer makes his debut with New Dark Beat. It’s an EP which certainly carries with it the retro Belgian body music feel you’d expect based on the title, but there’s a surprising amount of subtlety tucked into the corners of a pretty all-encompassing approach. Check the way some rock-solid post-punk bass is worked into this bouncy but slightly melancholy number, almost suggesting a radical reconsideration of early Agent Side Grinder.
New Dark Beat by Ewiges Feuer

Bill Leeb featuring Shannon Hemmett, “Terror Forms”
What does a Bill Leeb solo record sound like? It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves in the days since the announcement of the Front Line Assembly mastermind’s debut record under his own name, Model Kollapse. Debut single “Terror Forms” doesn’t entirely answer the question, although it does provide some clues; yes you are getting Leeb’s classic vocals and lyrics, and some FLA style programming (as is to be expected), but the guest turn from Shannon of Hemmett of ACTORS and LEATHERS, some of the specific textures and bits of production feel different than anything in recent memory from the venerable artist. Can’t say we aren’t intrigued.

Filmmaker, “Rodent Dreams”
It’s a day which ends in “y”, so of courses there’s new Filmmaker music to talk about. Faunes Efe remains one of the most prolific producers in the game, but thankfully Grim Encoders isn’t showing a drop in the quality of his shuffling, blurry, lo-fi style of body music. Check the flashes of electroclash and acid house which ping and echo off the long, stony corridor of this nodder.
Grim Encoders by Filmmaker

Human Trophy, “Tears Of Eros”
There’s been a bit more deathrock around ID:UD of late, but thankfully in enough shades and sub-styles to keep things fresh. Reuben Sawyer (The Column) has a lot of irons in the fire but his still relatively new Human Trophy project has a tight, compressed, overdriven take on deathrock which seems to connote both crossover thrash and the most theatrical of original SoCal deathrock. This cut from Human Trophy’s forthcoming sophomore record has us remembering Turn Pale in their more chilled out moments.
Primary Instinct (LUNGS-281) by HUMAN TROPHY

Unwoman, “Mamas Please Let Your Babies Grow Up”
Finally, a cut from Unwoman taken from the massive two volume compilation Guts and Glory assembled by Steve Saunders of Skull Cultist, pay what you want releases whose proceeds benefit LGBTQA+ causes the Trevor Foundation and Marsha P. Johnson Family Foundation. Lots of good stuff to dig into on both volumes, with this lovely missive from Unwoman setting the tone for the whole affair. Nicely done by everyone involved.
GUTS AND GLORY: GLORY by Unwoman

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Observer: Majestoluxe & Lucifer’s Aid

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Majestoluxe
Solid State
Icons Creating Evil Art

Swedish producers Conny Fornbäck’s Majestoluxe material is a very specific kind of minimal industrial, one that focuses on twisting and wringing as much as possible out of gnarled synth loops and punky arrangements of metallic percussion. It’s a sound that relies on both Fornbäck’s growly voice, and deliberate choices in where to place breakdowns, builds and variations to keep things intriguing. A cut like opener “Assertive Indifference” is little more than a single loop of heavily filtered and saturated body music style bass, and a vocal that holds back on the verse before laying in on the chorus, creating and releasing tension as its drums double and halve themselves. Alternately, a cackling guest shot from J△3 sEUQCAJ of à;GRUMH… is made all the more horrifying by how the little there is to detract from his drawling and screams, tiny spikes of peaky synth and 16th note percussion hits that lay below the surface of the mix. When closer “El Popeah” does break out with a manic arrangement of FM bass and ranted vocals it feels all the more unhinged for the slow boiling builds of each cut that preceded it.
Stolid State by Majestoluxe

Lucifer's Aid - State Trooper
Lucifer’s Aid
State Trooper
Progress Productions

Springsteen and industrial aren’t quite as strange bedfellows as one might think upon first hearing of Swedish industrial act Lucifer’s Aid’s trio of covers taken from the Boss’ immortal Nebraska. Between the mutual admiration and covering of material between Springsteen and Suicide and Springsteen’s confrontational and purely noisy variations of some of his most famous works, Springsteen can be a lot heavier than his biggest AM hits suggest. But even given the working-class desperation and bleakness which makes Nebraska one of the darkest albums ever laid to wax to this day, the gambles Carl Nilsson takes on State Trooper can be rather extreme. The stately lament of “My Father’s House” is closest to the original, the sober and fragile arrangement doing good by that most foundational of Springsteen’s themes, that which is left unsaid between fathers and sons. Carrying “Nebraska” itself away from its ash-white harmonica, six-string, and whispering chimes into Kite-like synthpop grandeur (complete with DX7 bells!) yields mixed results: yes, there is something of the transcendent annihilation Springsteen’s version of spree killer Charles Starkweather years for in all this adornment, but something of the knowing ease with which the narrator reconciles himself to his fate and nature is lost. “State Trooper” finds that balance more easily – the mounting panic in the repetitive bluesy groove of the original is maintained, but in adding a sense of cocky swagger (a la Black Strobe and Depeche Mode’s similar electro repositionings of blues riffs) to the lyrics, Nilsson invites the provocative idea that the narrator might be secretly hoping for an excuse to snap and unleash repressed hell on any cop who does pull him over.
State Trooper by Lucifer's Aid

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We Have A Technical 515: Adrenal-Eyes

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Chrom

We’re talking about an of its era European electro record by Chrom and some off the beaten path video game soundtracking by Daniel Myer on this week’s podcast, plus some talk about general shifts in DJing from both a personal and demographic perspective. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, download directly, or listen through the widget down below. 

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Censor, “Swarm”

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CENSOR
Swarm
ollilaboratories

Jouni Ollila has a deep list of credits across the electronic music spectrum. As a founding member of death industrial pioneers Mz.412 and his involvement with Swedish EBM pioneers Pouppée Fabrikk, not to mention a steady stream of recording and engineering work and solo projects, he’s built a career that touches on a broad swathe of electronic genres. His new project CENSOR is interesting in that it’s hyperfocused on a very specific strain of dark minimal body music, and very specifically on the way in which that style was innovated by Belgian duo The Klinik.

To be clear, this isn’t a subtle homage; Ollila is very directly invoking the dark, woozy EBM that Ivens and Verhaeghen perfected during their eighties run, right down to the seasick rhythms and processed and delayed vocal effects chain. What’s more, he’s unsurprisingly very good at it, with numerous moments that are practically indistinguishable from their primary source of inspiration. Instrumental “Life Endr” has those low moaning synths and unpredictable drum patterns of the Face to Face era down pat, while “Rebirth” trades in the tumbling, disorienting programming that defined classics like “Sleepwalking” and “Black Leather”. Everything from sound design, to lyrics and songwriting, to the very specific atmosphere of dread that defined the Klinik’s classic catalogue is replicated with an almost eerie precision.

It’s a feat that is doubly impressive simply because so few of those who have attempted it before have ever really done as fair a job of it. While early Suicide Commando and a few other assorted acts have given it a shot over the years, there’s a very specific foreboding that is not easily captured and reconstituted. Ollila has the sound so locked in he can even invoke it while stretching its boundaries. The repeated single note piano figure of “Black Needles” isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect to work as well as it does in the milieu, but somehow its hammered repetition perfectly fits between the song’s detuned analogue synths and rubbery bass. Similarly the warm organ tone of the excellent “1000 Faces” adds an almost wistful feeling to an otherwise queasy arrangement of drums, vocal samples and synth sequences.

The appeal of an exercise like Swarm is obviously going to be limited to how much any given listener likes the act being replicated, and those who aren’t fussy about the Klinik probably won’t find much here to enjoy. That said, those who do enjoy that catalogue and like the idea of someone doing a high-definition tribute to it should be pleased by CENSOR’s absolute dedication to the endeavour, and the feverish, uneasy results.

Buy it.

SWARM by CENSOR

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1186, “Histeria”

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1186 - Histeria

1186
Histeria
self-released

A certain degree of slapdash presentation is often part of the charm of a lot of the deathrock which comes across our desks. Like any sub-genre with any connection to punk, too much polish or overwrought presentation can spoil the whole affair. That looseness can also easily lead to laziness or poor quality control, though, with the fly-by-night nature of a large number of bands flooding Bandcamp with demos which should have remained in-house. The debut by Bogotá’s 1186 is the exception to all of these trends, delivering a tight and furious listen which links the most driving strain of deathrock to its neighbouring genres with panache.

Whether due to the pandemic or other unstated issues, it’s been five years since the Columbian quartet formed, and Histeria has only seen release in the last couple of weeks. Most deathrock bands don’t exist for five years, let alone wait that long to record, meaning that 1186 were operating as a tight and well-oiled machine by the time these eight tracks were laid down. From its bright and chiming guitar leads to rock solid drumming to the fatalistic vocals being barked out, Histeria is executed with precision and purpose across its twenty minutes.

Stylistically, the band’s roots in more traditionally street-punk and hardcore acts like Ataque Zero and Trampa are apparent from the get go, but tracks like “Fracaso Molecular” draw upon west coast death rock and early UK peace punk. Hell, even the guitar solos crammed into the bridges of tracks like “Hoy” speak to this hybridized heritage, connoting d-beat, crossover thrash, and first wave goth rock. Without ever letting the pace drop, 1186 find ways of carrying the mood and gothic atmospherics of deathrock through each of these territories.

Like the earliest records by Belgrado and Spectres, Histeria does a fantastic job of zeroing in on what makes deathrock different from either original punk or pure goth, and makes that sense of swaggering doom its focus. But despite its real affinity for the roots of the genre, it never feels like a joyless exercise in neo-traditionalism, and its omnivorous approach to other genres and traditions emerges as one of the most invigorating and refreshing dark rock records you’ll hear this year. Recommended.

Buy it.

Histeria by 1186

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Tracks: July 8th, 2024

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We talk on the podcast a good deal about getting long in the tooth as DJs (“Losing My Edge” doesn’t lose its own edge even after 20), but damned if we haven’t both been having a whole lot of fun behind the decks at our regularly scheduled residencies at Coffin Club in Vancouver. We’d like to think there’s a back and forth dynamic between seeking out new music specifically for ID:UD and doing the same for the club, but regardless of how you’re finding them sometimes the right tunes for the right moment are right at hand. Whether in the club or just on your headphones at work, we hope weekly Tracks posts like this offer you those moments from time to time.

Dame Area

Dame Area

Verttigo, “Fade Into You”
Have you ever wondered what Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” would sound like if it were a Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me era Cure song? Wonder no more, as Edmonton’s Verttigo brings their live set staple to recorded form, a gambit that once you hear it feels totally natural but is also executed with enough class and charm (thanks in no small part to the vocal chops of vocalist Karimah) to win over in the most cynical skeptic. A band on the come up for certain, keep your eye on them.
Snow Angels / Fade Into You by VERTTIGO Cover of Mazzy Star

Dame Area, “Si no es hoy cuando es”
If the last record we heard from Spain’s Dame Area saw them softening the rhythmic focus of their work for some cold and minimal wave iciness, the first taster of its forthcoming partner/sequel LP is as violent and furious as anything we’ve ever heard from them. This cut roars forward with Suicide-like synthpunk simplicity and aggression, ratcheting the hostility and violence up further and further without any catharsis or release.
MNQ 166 Dame Area – Toda La Verdad Sobre Dame Area LP by Dame Area

Trauma Phase, “Expects”
Trauma Phase just keeps trucking along with the fifth in a series of numeronymic EPs the Polish producer has released over the past three years. Savvy, club-friendly gloss keeps being added to numbers like this, and the lines between electro, EBM, futurepop, and techno new and old continue to blur in lithe and fluid tracks like this one.
V by Trauma Phase

Lana Del Rabies, “Tender Creatures”
When we declared Lana Del Rabies’ Strega Beata our favourite album of 2023, it was because we felt nobody in music was making music that felt simultaneously so raw and emotionally fraught, achieving a kind of catharsis through frank self-excoriation. The smattering of new material we’ve had since continues that trend, like new single “Tender Creatures”, a wave of ugly noise sweeping through wide open reverbs, with LDR at the center, bending it to her will even as the effort bends her to the point of breaking.
Tender Creatures by Lana Del Rabies

Eva X, “Fiction”
New one from Eva X really highlights what we’ve been seeing from the Vancouver artist’s most recent stage shows; “Fiction” reflects a fuller, more realized version of the project, with thicker production, stronger songwriting and more of Eva X’s personal charisma showing through in recorded form. While still very much synthetic in nature, much of what we’re hearing is reminding us of the kind of full-band material that the Birthday Massacre deals in.
Fiction by Eva X

Louis De Tomaso, “Game Over”
Don’t tell Louis De Tomaso that the italo body music moment is over. The UK based producer’s new EP for Polari (surely the label with the best artwork going right now) is full of bright flourishes of italo, acid, circuit house, atop an EBM foundation. Should appeal to those who enjoy the Ritmo Fatale catalog and like to imagine their Civic is a Testarossa while cruising and playing tunes at sunset.
Kaiju EP by Louis De Tomaso

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DJ Surreal – July 7, 2024

Descent Sundays -

Combichrist – This is my Rifle
Prodigy – Omen
Pendulum – Fasten Your Seatbelts
Neuroticfish – Skin
Scissor Sisters – Filthy/Gorgeous
Eurthymics – Sweet Dreams
Depeche Mode – Dream On
Echo & The Bunnymen – Killing Moon
Skinny Puppy – Testure
MSI – Never Wanted to Dance (Electro Hurtz Mix)
Aesthetic Perfection – Love Like Lies
Gob – Paint it Black
Korn – Falling Away From Me
Brvmes – Haute
Lazerpunk – Power

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DJ MissBDeath – July 7, 2024

Descent Sundays -

Eva X – Fiction
Snowbeasts – Let’s Be Animals (Obscure Formats Mix)
Kaelen Mikla – Hvernig kemst ég upp?
Velvet Acid Christ – Fun With Drugs
Hatari – Spillingardens
Plack Blague – Wear Your Body Out
Project Pitchfork – Timekiller
Potochkine – Endorphines
Arnaud Rebotini – Shiny Black Leather
Then Comes Silence – Ride or Die
Twin Tribes – Sanctuary
Isaac Howlett – House of Cards
She Past Away – Disko Anksiyete
Cyberaktif – You Don’t Need To See
Wire Spine – Safe

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Selofan, “Animal Mentality”

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Selofan - Animal Mentality

Selofan
Animal Mentality
Fabrika Records

Longstanding Greek duo Selofan’s newest LP is one defined by a focused sound and mood, to both its benefit and detriment. Even more so than preceding record Partners In Hell, Dimitris Pavlidis and Joanna Pavlidou’s style of coldwave is delivered in a blunt, uncompromising fashion with foggy, funereal synths enveloping almost the entirety of Animal Mentality‘s 37 minutes, leaving only the briefest of gaps for melody and adornment.

Much like darkwave, the original French coldwave from which Selofan takes their cue got by on compositional minimalism and atmospheric maximalism. That’s an operating principle Selofan double down on here. Tracks like “Lucille” and “Glassplitter” arrive, play out, and depart with saturnine solemnity, their walls of crystalline, syncopated synths never wavering and only ornamented by minimal guitar, and Joanna and Dimitri’s vocals holding to lamenting or stoic tones.

The trade-off of this unremitting bleakness is that the handful of flourishes which Selofan do allow for stand out by virtue of contrast. At times Joanna’s vocals hit the same wounded, wistful register as Anka Wolbert’s on Xymox’s immortal Medusa. Whether “Love’s Secret Game”‘s use of a descending chromatic scale is meant to connote “The Phantom Of The Opera” or not, the sort of haunted mansion and mist-shrouded courtyards it evokes is on-brand with the rest of the record.

As unremitting as Animal Mentality is, Selofan’s approach of a short run-time with only eight slightly longer than usual songs works in its favor. No one track in and of itself runs the risk of sounding like a pale imitation of a preceding one, and while the album finishes before overstating its welcome, the stately pace of each track means that none of them feel rushed or underdeveloped. Its cleaving to such a pure and austere form of coldwave may well be a non-starter to many – there’s no one single track which transcends the ethos the duo establish in the opening seconds of “Sticky Fingers” – but folks with a yen for fare this steely have a unified and sustained effort in it to enjoy.

Buy it.

Animal Mentality by Selofan

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We Have A Technical 514: Nineties Name Change

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Imperial Black Unit

Imperial Black Unit

In a “wishful beginning” themed episode, we’re each picking five projects which have effectively started and ended in the time that we’ve been running the website. We’ve seen them come, we’ve seen them go; bands who we had flagged for great things but maybe passed the torch on to other acts down the line. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, download directly, or listen through the widget down below. 

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HAMMERSHØI, “D​é​dales”

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HAMMERSHØI
D​é​dales
Kernkrach

French duo HAMMERSHØI make the kind of low-to-the-ground continental synthpop that sounds like it could have been made at any time in the last 40 years or so, largely due to frequent revivals and offshoot genres taking root. The general minimalism of the band’s take on the style and their lean arrangements requires that Anne Dig and Ben Montes’ voices do some heavy lifting in terms of giving D​é​dales its personality. While neither member is necessarily a vocal powerhouse, they have enough charisma and composure to lend the material a pleasing charm.

One of HAMMERSHØI’s key tools is how speedily their songs come out of the gate, and how little time is wasted getting to their best bits. While the gothic organ and far-off chanting that introduces the record on opener “Ouverture” suggests something a bit more grandiose, its immediate follow-up “Sanctuaire” rushes out in a gallop of peppy analogue drums, phased synth bass and a few tossed off 2 and 3 note snatches of melody, leaving plenty of room for Montes and Dig to half-talk-half-sing their way through to its conclusion. Whether on the vaguely menacing pogo of “Emmène Moi Danser” with its octave bass, or the machinegun snares of “Néant”, songs are kept moving and uncrowded with one or two elements keeping the focus.

Even given the relative brevity of these songs, that formula could wear thin pretty quick – there’s only so many ways to keep songs this sparse engaging without expanding their palette. HAMMERSHØI’s approach is to vary how they approach the songs in terms of vocals, using the classic coldwave monotone as a starting point and stretching outwards from there. Staatseinde collab “Diese Seite” notably applies some pitch shifting and breathy gasps in ways that give the song which is otherwise just a collection of stop-start bass licks and gated snares plenty of body. Alternately, “Idées Fatales” layers voices of varying degrees of intensity to create a tension commensurate with its tightly wound rhythm arrangement, with a couple of EBM grunts tossed in for good measure. It’s actually impressive how much they can squeeze out of their voices without straying from their range, all via choices in delivery, production, and by smartly picking their spots.

Still, at ten tracks there’s only so much you can do with an approach like the one HAMMERSHØI uses on D​é​dales, and the lack of any truly memorable hooks caps the enjoyment of the record at solid, never rising to exceptional. It’s fun certainly, and easy to listen to, but no individual song will pull you back to listen on repeat. Thus it’s something of a mood and moment album, guaranteed to be a good time if you throw it on at the right time.

Buy it.

Dédales by HAMMERSHØI

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Tracks: July 2nd, 2024

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Gonna use this space here on Tracks to encourage everyone to go check out our We Have a Commentary podcast with Spahn Ranch released this past weekend, firstly because Dan and Athan were pleasant to chat with and we very much enjoyed having them talk about The Coiled One and secondly because Facebook has made it impossible to link there for vague “violation of community standards” reasons, and so many people may not have seen it. As we often say on the podcast, sharing our stuff is how folks find out about it, and since social media is now just randomly flagging our posts for removal with no means of appeal, it’s even more important. Let someone know about us if you like what we do, we sure appreciate it. On to the Tracks!

1186

1186

Haujobb, “In the Headlights”
We already discussed the new Haujobb single a bit on the podcast last week, and what it may portend for the forthcoming LP The Machine in the Ghost; in summary, we’re getting a lot of the analogue synth and mechanical rhythm action that has defined their last two LPs, and perhaps even a more minimal form than ever before. That suits us just fine, as massive fans of Daniel and Dejan’s work together, it’s hard to imagine a Haujobb LP that doesn’t grab us, and this appetizer is getting us good and warmed up for the main course in a few short months.
In the Headlights by Haujobb

1186, “Ataque Sistem​á​tico”
Here’s some very strong deathrock from Bogota which takes liberally from broader post-punk and goth rock traditions without skimping on the intensity of the former or the precision of the latter. 1186 have been together since 2019 but have only laid down their debut release recently, so it stands to reason that they’d be tightly dialed in, but the material itself and the fury of the vocals takes it to another level.
Histeria by 1186

Sydney Valette, “The Wanderer”
We’ve spoken before about the knack Paris’ Sydney Valette has for classically European darkwave. It’s not just the direct but well executed instrumentation on his latest single which gets that across, but in the sweep and gravity of the vocals finding just the right register with that instrumentation when the chorus kicks in. We’re also catching a good whiff of post-millennial European electro in this one, too. Looking forward to seeing what he brings to the Terminus stage in a few weeks time.
The Wanderer by Sydney Valette

Menthüll, “Spectre”
If you read these Tracks posts regularly, you should be familiar with Quebecois synthpop act Menthüll, and how generally enamored we are of their material. The duo release frequently, but usually only in the form of one-off singles, which leads us to “Spectre”; as laid out in the Bandcamp release notes, this fits into a thematic foursome with the two previously released songs “Parade” and “Culte”, and the yet to be released “Solaire”. We have yet to dig deep into how the songs relate to one another, but this kind of thoughtful, deliberate endeavour is exactly what we come to these cats for. Just a lovely cut, with a bit of continental flavour and sadness for flavour.
Spectre by Menthüll

C Z A R I N A, “Ghost Machine”
Another grandiose effort from C Z A R I N A, this one heading further into a symphonic/prog direction while still maintaining a grounding in club-focused darkwave and electro-industrial. The standalone tracks the Spain-based artist has been putting out over the past couple of years sounds like very little else going today, and should be building up anticipation for her next full length, whenever that happens to be.
Ghost Machine by C Z A R I N A

Velvet May, “Broken Ballad”
Honestly wasn’t expecting something that sounded like this cut when checking out the latest announcement from Veyl, but absolutely on board for it. High tempo, breakbeat driven darkwave with an industrial edge is a very particular mix of ideas and sounds that Velvet May, an act we haven’t been following, absolutely nails here, certainly making the soon to be released Enchanted by the Muse one for us to watch out for.
Enchanted by the Muse by Velvet May

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We Have A Commentary: Spahn Ranch, “The Coiled One”

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Spahn Ranch - The Coiled One

We’re joined by Matt Green and Athan Maroulis on this month’s commentary podcast to discuss their memories of and reflections upon Spahn Ranch’s 1995 sophomore LP The Coiled One, on the occasion of its recent remaster and reissue. Matt and Athan speak with us about the membranes between industrial, goth, and general 90s alternative culture, the role of clean vocals, and plenty more. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, download directly, or listen through the widget down below. 

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A Game Called Echo: June 28th, 2024

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Just in case this is your first time checking it out, A Game Called Echo is a feature where we recommend a record you may enjoy based on how much you like a recognized classic. Simple, right?

Alien Sex Fiend’s Acid Bath (1995), and Blu Anxxiety’s Plaay Dead (2022)

There has never been, and is unlikely there will ever be, a band like Alien Sex Fiend. That uniqueness stems from a fearless pursuit of whatever sounds were of interest to Nik and Mrs. Fiend at any given time, be that punky deathrock, drippy dub, electronic instrumentalism and any and all points in between and beyond. Their beloved sophomore record Acid Bath may not encapsulate the entirety of ASF’s catalogue, but is an example of them at their most primal; the album has garage-punk with a synth-driven engine (“In God We Trust”), mutant psychedelic weirdness (“E.S.T. (Trip to the Moon)”), and rockabilly pisstakes (“Boneshaker Baby”), all delivered with a wink and and a smirk. Its profound weirdness is only matched by its rough and ready sensibility, an energy that is equal parts thrills, chills and toxic waste spills.

Given the Fiends’ uniqueness, you aren’t going to get a 1:1 experience mainlining Acid Bath and NYC act Blu Anxxiety’s Play Deaad back to back. What you will find is that a spiritual kinship between the two bands, with Blu Anxxiety harnessing the same electronic pulse, shrieky deathrock sneer, and cheeky humour that makes up much of ASF’s early catalogue. Indeed, you’ll get cuts like “Cat’s Eye and Corpse” that are about as goth as it’s possible to be, joints like “Black Mass Romance” where freestyle and hip hop make their presence known, and full-on freakouts like the manic “Uninvited to the Funeral Home” that feel like they’re within an inch of flying off the rails at any given moment. It’s that willingness to go there that really makes these records feel so much alike – vocalist Chi Orengo has that livewire charisma that makes every diversion, every stylistic twist feel not just like a choice but an imperative that couldn’t be resisted.

Plaay Dead by Blu Anxxiety

Leather Strip’s Underneath The Laughter (1993), and Modebionics’ Precise Control (2023)

The effect Claus Larsen’s work has had on post-industrial is so massive that it’s difficult to not just lump the initial run of Leaether Strip records into one single monolithic statement. But as we’ve talked about on the podcast, there are real and important distinctions between, say Science For The Satanic Citizen and Solitary Confinement. Coming hot off the heels of the latter and just before Larsen’s first full foray into purely instrumental composition, Underneath The Laughter had some foreshadowing of Serenade For The Dead‘s experimentation, but almost by way of counterbalancing Larsen’s emerging symphonic interests, also includes some of the most rhythmically driven material he’s ever released. The furious percussive density of “Prying Eyes”, “Turn To Stone”, and the immortal “Don’t Tame Your Soul” have all gone on to help define dark electro as a genre which can employ moody atmospherics while still dishing out total rhythmic punishment.

Underneath The Laughter by Leaether Strip

Much in the same way that Sweden and Norway have produced some of the best homages to Vancouver industrial in the past decades, some of the strongest work in the vein of classic Zoth Ommog can also be found on the opposite side of the Atlantic in San Antonio’s Modebionics. While neither seeking to reinvent the wheel nor skimp on composition or production, the first full LP from Robin Vega’s one-man project serves as a bracing reminder of just how engaging and evocative the original dark electro formula can be when it’s done well. Like Underneath The Laughter, tracks like “Destra Destroy” weave icy pads through their dense percussive matrix, and it’s hard not to imagine Larsen getting a kick out of the samples debating the metaphysical nature of evil on “One By War”.

PRECISE CONTROL (mini lp version) by MODEBIONICS

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We Have A Technical 513: Vampy-Jay

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Container 90

Container 90. Photo by Petra Rönnholm.

We’re navigating some illness on the Senior Staff’s part to bring you discussion of records we missed last year by Container 90 and Vacious Cuerpos. We’re also talking about Ted Phelps, Substance, and forthcoming Haujobb and Encephalon records. As always, you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, download directly, or listen through the widget down below. 

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Crystal Geometry, “From the Rave to the Grave”

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Crystal Geometry
From the Rave to the Grave
Bloc Noir

There’s a certainly a literal way to read the title of French producer Crystal Geometry’s latest album From the Rave to the Grave; while the expansive fourteen track LP isn’t devoid of the warehouse-party industrial-techno that brought producer Maxime Fabre to the dance, his modular synth compositions have gotten a lot gnarlier and spookier in tone. Crystal Geometry is just as rhythmic and propulsive as ever, but now feels closer in spirit to ritual industrial like say, Trepaneringsritualen or The Devil & The Universe than any given Berlin-based act du jour.

A large part of that change is contextual more than anything; it wouldn’t have been unheard of for Crystal Geometry to dabble in earthier sounds (as with the hurdy-gurdy sounding patch that backs the glitchy drums and static stabs of “Death Note”), or to hear Maxime provide some growled or shrieked hook (like on the foreboding “Singularité”) but in concert the emphasis on these textural and structural ideas makes the whole record feel a lot different than much of Crystal Geometry’s previous catalogue. It also has the effect of laying groundwork for some genuine departures, as with “Vampyj” which splits the difference between rhythmic noise and lo-fi dungeon synth in a hail of saturated kicks, goblin vocals and horror movie organ sounds.

That gabber-rave-at-the-haunted-house vibe is definitely the most immediately identifiable aspect of the record as a whole, although there’s still plenty of Fabre’s trademark sound design and modular synth wizardry to be found. Check the raging “Fckthnzs” for example; yeah, you’re gonna notice the death industrial howls and the snatches of acoustic and electric guitar first, but listening to the careful way he places those elements in relation to the tight blasts of kick drum programming and synth sequences helps keep each element impactful, distinct and cutting even through the song’s rich, dark reverb. Elsewhere on “Surrender Yourself to S4at4n” you can find some clean 16th note synth sequences doubled and redoubled for maximum tension, a trick present in any number of previous Crystal Geometry tracks, no less effective for this particular instance’s droning bass and Satanic mission statement.

The record does feel a bit long, due mostly to the intensity of the tempo and oppressive atmosphere it deals in. The downtempo combo-breaker “Ashes” comes early on, with the last half of the record feeling relentless to the point of being kind of exhausting if you’re not steeled for it. That said, it’s still a commendable effort from an act who have made leaps forward with each release, eschewing easy categorization and carving out a largely unexplored combinations of sounds and ideas. From the Rave to the Grave is entirely its own thing, with Crystal Geometry free to pursue its ideas further or depart from them entirely as his whims dictate.

Buy it.

From the rave to the grave by Crystal Geometry

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Ortrotasce, “Dispatches From Solitude”

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Ortrotasce, "Dispatches From Solitude"

Ortrotasce
Dispatches From Solitude
Dark Entries

Nic Hamersly’s decade-long tenure as Ortrotasce has moved through a range of styles, especially in the last year and a half. A whole slew of standalone singles, released every month or two, expanded the catchall darkwave purview of the project to include harsher and more aggressive EBM, halftime electro breaks, and more. Trying to intuit Ortrotasce’s next major move based on those tracks proved to be a fool’s errand, as new LP Dispatches From Solitude has a slick and understated unity and aesthetic very much removed from that preceding sprawl and experimentation.

Within seconds of the breezy pings and icy pads of opener “Distant In Time”, Ortrotasce’s approach on Dispatches is apparent: it’s dedicated to a chilly and aloof strain of classic synthpop which brings arch masters of the new romantic like Visage to mind, as well as the more subtle stylings of early Mode records. From the crooning gulp of Hamersly’s vocals throughout the record to the way frantic micro-programming fleshes out the spaces between beats and leads on “No Mortal Harmony”, it recalls the moment in the early 80s when the pure minimalism of the earliest (and in retrospect harshest) synthpop was beginning to augment itself with depth and elegance inspired by the likes of Ferry and Bowie.

Someone with Hamersly’s ear for beats and the technical side of arranging opting for a lighter synthpop touch often refreshes classic tropes of the genre, and Dispatches From Solitude is no exception to that general rule. The rhythmic programming of “Falling Star”, the one previously released single to be included here, sounds dead simple but the way it’s linked both to some muted but still lively bass and more of the previously discussed skittering background programming lends real bounce and loft to what could have easily been a monotone track by any number of bands who’ve been caught in the no man’s land between synthpop and minimal wave. Those chops also work to keep everything aloft for some much longer than expected runtimes.

Die-hard synthpop fans will find plenty to enjoy in Dispatches From Solitude. In addition to the previously mentioned ur-influences, shades of Soviet’s underrated hazier take on the genre, not to mention the better moments in Body Of Light’s recent high-gloss melodies, all seem like fair points of comparison, spanning the decades. For all of these analogies, though, it’s an incredibly unified listen which holds to its smooth, classy, and seductive sound throughout.

Buy it.

Dispatches From Solitude by Ortrotasce

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Tracks: June 24th, 2024

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We’d much rather be using this space to drum up excitement about a couple of new releases on the horizon or projects we have in the works, but it behooves us to put a note here about Ted Phelps and the reactions to his bigoted comments which have occupied a large number of industrial spaces over the past few days. We’ll talk more about it on the podcast, but for now let’s just say that whether these comments came as a surprise to you or not, they’re a reminder of the problems which have never been too far from hand in industrial music despite its origins, and that we can’t take our own sense of belonging within the scene as proof that it doesn’t have issues with this sort of bigotry and ignorance. More to come, on to more pleasant matters like this week’s tracks.

Curses

Curses

Encephalon, “Last Day at the Institute”
The Senior Staff had a conversation last week regarding the at the time unreleased new single from Encephalon, the gist of which was that we had no idea what the Canadian electro-industrial act would be doing next, and how exciting that was. We’re talking about a band that has released incredibly complex, self-referential concept albums and synthetic rock-operas, so who even knows what “Last Day at the Institute” could mean for the forthcoming record – what we do know is that it’s another example of Encephalon’s smart songwriting, and production that splits the difference between classic electro-industrial and modern electronics, all with their own bit of mutant flair. New record can’t come fast enough if you ask us.
Last Day At The Institute by Encephalon

Potochkine, “Endorphines”
Potochkine’s smartly tasteful linking of classic darkwave, coldwave, and EBM made 2021’s Sortilèges a favourite around the HQ, and if anything general circumstances and tastes have moved even closer to the French duo’s aesthetic in the intervening three years. The rubbery bounce of the bass on this new number feels as much a reference to Potochkine’s interests in turn of the millennium electo as it does modern TBM or club darkwave, and the momentum built up by the vocals on this one.
Endorphines by POTOCHKINE

ACTORS, “Dead Inside”
Vancouver’s own ACTORS follow up their tremendous last single “In Real Life” with “Dead Inside”, a nice mid-tempo number that shows the quartet at their moodiest and most reserved. Some of the band’s best and most popular compositions come from this mold (think of fan faves like “L’Appel du Vide” and “Cold Eyes”), but it’s one of their deadliest approaches, as it allows their knack for hooks and Jason Corbett’s versatility as a vocalist to really shine. Another in a string of killer singles. Idea for an ACTORS greatest hits album: Death By 1000 Cuts.
Dead Inside by ACTORS

Curses, “Another Heaven”
Running the gamut from EBM to darkwave to giallo to any manner of other throwback electronic genres, you never really know what sort of a mood Luca Venezia, AKA Curses, has been in of late until you actually click play on his latest tracks. The A-side of his new single, “Elegant Death”, finds him riding a line between low-fi and crystal-clear post-punk in a mode that perhaps fits having Johnny Jewel (Glass Candy, Chromatics) behind the decks, but it’s the grandiose synthpop of the B-side, which oddly the single is named after, half dreamy cinematic prom sequence track, half classic Book Of Love, which has us especially excited to hear what Curses’ next full length, coming in October, will have in store.
Another Heaven by Curses

Null Split, “Matching Bodies”
Remember when early Nine Inch Nails singles were discussed alongside the likes of EMF and PWEI? Remember Reznor’s stated debt to the glammy thrash of Kevin McMahon? Null Split remembers. Or at least we presume that that moment in the zeitgeist was on the mind of Antoine Kerbérénès (Chrome Corps, Dague de Marbre) when this new single was conceived. Quite different from the oddball instrumentation of the last Dague de Marbre record, or even the much speedier industrial metal of the last Null Split EP, the sample-happy technicolor (or dare we say Hypercolor) of this cut and its equally of-the-time remixes are hitting us like the sugar rush of a Capri Sun.
Matching Bodies by null split

Container 90, “Remote Mind Control (Katscan remix)”
Okay so we maaaaay have missed the album Swedish EBM punks Container 90 released last summer, but we’re catching up now – expect some chat about it on an upcoming podcast. That said, there are some remixes from it hitting Bandcamp, and one name stuck out to us, that being Katscan. While largely inactive for the better part of the last 20 years, the UK based industrial act had a stack of cult club hits, including “Screaming Like a Crack Baby” and the iconic “You Love It You Shlaaggs”. So yeah, we’re amped at this pairing, and it proves to a be a fruitful one, with some hard hitting electro-industrialisms added to the oi-bm stylings of the original cut.
Remot Mind Control (Katscan Remix) by Container 90

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