Posts Tagged ‘electronic’

Machine Man Records – 27th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Into the Glow’ is the second single from Michael Haggerty’s upcoming album, Fire Behind The Paper Trees, and his second official release under his real name having previously recorded as Krebs. Perhaps stepping out and being himself is in some way liberating, but whatever the motivation or rationale, it’s fair to say that the results are thus far positive.

There’s something somewhat uncomfortable when critics speak of ‘craft’ in their critiques. Perhaps it’s because ‘craft’ connotes something one works at, and improves, honing to a point whereby a level of quality can be achieved consistently, day in, day out, up at the crack of dawn and chiselling away until sundown, manufacturing… which there is a certain sense to, and it’s valid to a point, but this is to diminish the flare of creativity, the sparks of emotional channelling, the way in which elements of chance and happenstance all combine to make art. Because music isn’t furniture.

‘Into The Glow’ is probably as close to perfect songwriting as you can get. It is crafted: the dynamic shift between the 80s-style electronic verses and more guitar-driven choruses is precise, and balances subtlety with impact. The tempo change is sweet and shifts from reflective to driven, and the production is vast – also crisp, cold, mechanical. Bleak, brooding, but shining with optimism, ‘Into The Glow’ packs so much range into its concise three-and-a-half minutes, it’s a glorious thing.

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Cruel Nature Recordings

Prefacing the deluxe edition of their most recent album, Functional Music, expanded to include tracks from the Hyper-Suburb EP, Russian new wave experimentalists Dvanov have offered up aa video single for ‘Уварово (Uvarovo)’.

The St Petersberg-base band started out as Voda-i-Ryba back in 2013, before changing their name.

And what a time to be a Ukrainian—supporting, anti-war band in Russia, and what a time for Dvanov: ‘Уварово (Uvarovo)’ is the last release with vocalist Vlad Kilin and marks what they call ‘the beginning of a new stage in the Dvanov’s life,’ adding ‘In these songs, the cultural memory of revolutions and childhood memories of anxious summer nights collide with the ghosts of modern capitalism. There are the evening and the ringing of endless fields behind the walls of supermarket, cicadas crackle and there’s nowhere to go. We are releasing this at a tragic time when our country has waged an imperialist war. No war! ‘

‘Уварово (Uvarovo)’ is a crazed, beat-driven frenzy of oddness, a bit noisy, a bit industrial, a bit electro, a lot wtf.

Oh, and all proceeds from the sale of Functional Music are going to a Ukraine crisis support charity – which makes it extra-functional.

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Kranky – 15th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, this is nice. No, it’s not sarcasm or some kind of snide semi-criticism wrapped in a vague compliment. Jacob Long’s third Earthen Sea outing for Kranky, Ghost Poems, was composed and created in New York during the first wave of lockdowns, and conjures a sense of calm , of tranquillity, and captures a sense of the hush that descended over life during this time. For many, there as an underlying rush of panic, of anxiety, as we struggled to comprehend what the hell was going on. The rolling news was little short of terrifying, and from my own vantage over the pond, New York looked like a dystopian movie. People weren’t only dying, but there were queues around the block just to get people into hospitals.

And yes, while all of this madness was going on, all other aspects of life were on hold. This was true of every town and city around the globe, but New York, the city that doesn’t sleep, was held still by a giant pause button. The very idea of New York without bumper-to-bumper traffic, packed sidewalks and parks rammed with joggers and dog walkers seems inconceivable. And yet, it happened.

Ghost Poems soundtracks empty streets, slow air currents and a general absence of everything – people, activity, life. As the title suggests, this is a collection of works which are haunted by the echoes of life, of activity, or movement, and listening it reminds me of my ventures outside in those early days and weeks of lockdown here in (old) York, England, a city usually populous withy workers and tourists, reduced to a ghost town. Social distancing was no issue on leaving the house: you could walk for half an hour is see maybe three other people. It was eerie. It was weird. It felt apocalyptic, like I was one of the last people on earth.

Slow, vaporous synths ebb and flow like a slow tide, dragging back and forth against a sparse, heartbeat pule of a beat on ‘Shiny Nowhere’, and it sets the sparse tone perfectly, and ‘Felt Absence’, with its slow backward-swelling remind into deletion encapsulates the mood perfectly. It’s not about what there is, but what there isn’t: that absence, that lack. It doesn’t feel right; even the air quality is different, and listening through an open window, there is birdsong, there is stillness… and so little else.

Elemental themes run through Ghost Poems: ‘Snowy Water’; ‘Rough Air’, and similarly, the sky is at the heart of the vistas which present themselves: ‘Ochre Sky’; ‘Deep Sky’; ‘Slate Horizon’. Looking out, and looking up, there was a strange stillness, an emptiness, above as below. Where did the time go? Two years have evaporated into this expanse of sky, and life has returned. Talk of ‘the great pause’ and ‘new normal’ have drifted away on the breeze. For all the fear of the pandemic, there was a certain optimism that something fresh and new may rise from the silence, from the space; perhaps a new green dawn, perhaps a kinder capitalism, a world without endless traffic, where the work/life balance may lean more towards life. All of these contemplations are spun into the soft, gentle airiness of Ghost Poems, an album suffused with calm, with a quiet optimism. This may have already been lost, buried in the clamour of the return, but Earthen Sea has captured that moment when there was a reserved sense of hope.

Listening to Ghost Poems compels one to sat back, and breathe in, slowly, deeply, to fully expand the lungs, and then exhale, again, slowly. Perhaps there is still hope after all.

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Over twenty years and a dozen albums, The Birthday Massacre have become prime exponents of goth synth pop. They describe Fascination as ‘at once the most fully realized album with the bands signature blend of haunting vocals, captivating electronica and aggressive guitars and their most accessible’.

It’s this accessibility that immediately announces itself from the outset. The title, ‘Fascination’, immediately makes my mind leap to the song by The Human League, and this is unquestionably poppy, but this is in a different league instead. It’s the title track that opens the album and it’s a colossal anthem. It’s in the slower mid-pace tempo range, and the production is so immense as to be arena-worthy, the slick synths drifting over big, bombastic guitars. Some may baulk at the notion, but it’s pretty much a power ballad. It paves the way for an album that’s back-to-back bangers.

I mean, make no mistake, this is a pop album in a pure 80s vein, and pushes tendencies that were always in evidence in BM’s work. People often seem to forget just how dark a lot of mainstream pop was in the 80s, but listen to A-Ha, even Howard Jones or Nik Kershaw objectively and the currents of darkness are clearly apparent amidst the clean lines of the clinical synth pop production of the day. It’s perhaps time to re-evaluate what actually constitutes ‘cheesy’ – an adjective so often pinned to the 80s with no real consideration – and cast aside the idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ when it comes to a lot of music of the era.

‘Stars and Satellites’ is bold and brooding, and probably the most overtly ‘goth’ track of the album’s nine, although ‘Like Fear, Like Love’ grabs bits of The Cure and tosses them into a stomping disco tune. But those drums… they’re great, they’re huge, but they really are the epitome of the 80s sound. Elsewhere, the guitar line on ‘One More Time’ actually goes 80s U2 with heavy hints of Strawberry Switchblade (and they weren’t goth either). Step too far? Maybe for some craving the chunky chug of industrial guitars, because this is fundamentally a riff-free zone, but Fascination works if you embrace the spirit of its being easy on the ear and accessible.

It feels fresh for the band, but also feels like a relatively safe step in the direction of commercialism. It’s ok, and the songwriting and performances are solid throughout, that much is undeniable. It’s one of those albums that may take some time to sink in, in the way that Editors’ On This Light and on This Evening and The Twilight Sad’s Nobody Wants to be Here, Nobody Wants to Leave, felt just that bit mainstream initially. Digesting an overtly ‘pop’ album or a change of direction – and while the direction of Fascination is something that’s always been a part of The Birthday Massacre’s sound – hearing it placed front and central inevitably feels like a shift. And it is a shift, of course, just not one of seismic proportions.

‘Is anyone real anymore?’ they ask on ‘Precious Hearts’ before the final cut, ‘The End of All Stories’ goes Cure again, only this time with monster power chords that border on metal to fill out the mix.

Dig it, soak it in, play it a few times. You’ll probably like it, even if not on first listen.

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Unique in the modern industrial-electro scene, iVardensphere began as the ambition of Canadian musician Scott Fox to fuse heavy electronics with his love of percussion from all over the world. Since releasing his debut album in 2009, his group has at times been a solo endeavour and at others a fully fledged collaborative effort, but it has always been about his desire to combine sound design with crushing rhythms while utilising his ever-evolving production skills.

Over the course of four further records, Fox and his cohorts have built a diverse and fluid catalogue on which monolithic sounding analogue synths and industrial groove-based instrumental experiments have shared space with exotic tribal drum rhythms and deep, textured ambience.

Fox now presents ‘Ragemaker’, the first single and title track of a brand new album that will be released in early February 2022. A stunning extended video for the track also incorporates his next single, ‘The Shattering Queen’ (out in mid-January), which brings the total duration of the clip to almost ten minutes.

Complex and layered, the ‘Ragemaker’ album weaves electronics with haunting vocals, orchestral crescendos and often complex rhythms, creating hymns to totemic gods of war and rebirth and to ancient goddesses of harvest and hunt, including the tragic mythos of the aforementioned Shattering Queen.
Traditional percussion from all corners of the globe, including Taiko, Surdo, djembe, timpani and more are deftly interwoven with all manner of sourced sounds. Hammers, anvils, slamming doors and even the sound of a waste bin being kicked are sampled and folded into the overall sonic mélange. The result is an immersive and cinematic masterpiece that is the latest evolutionary step for iVardensphere, although it is equally suited to be the score to a post-apocalyptic movie.

‘Ragemaker’ may invite comparison to soundtracks such as ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ by Junkie XL, ‘Midsommar’ by Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak), or even the dramatic escalations of Hans Zimmer, but it can also be seen as a more driven and rhythmic slant on the wave of Nordic artists currently exploring ancient ancestral music, including Einar Selvik of Wardruna, ambient-folk musician Danheim and experimental folk outfit Heilung.

Watch the epic video here:

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10th September 2021

James Wells

Whoever said goths and industrialists have no sense of humour? Or that they hate pop? It’s long been a myth perpetuated by outsiders pedalling stereotypes that goths and fans of industrial music are moody, po-faced twats who mope around looking glum while listening to depressing music and reading depressing literature. Cheer up goth – have an Irn Bru! The early noughties advertising slogan pretty much sums up the popular perception of anyone with dyed black hair and black clothes, but in a position of polarity to so many straights who are crying on the inside, you’ll likely find adherents of shadier subcultures are laughing on the inside, while rolling their eyes at the normies.

There’s a long history of whacky covers going right back to the post-punk roots of the genre, with Bauhaus and The Sisters of Mercy making some inspired cover choices spanning ABBA to Dolly Parton, not to mention Fields of the Nephilim’s stunning take on Roxy Music’s ‘In Every Dreamhome a Heartache’, and Revolting Cocks’ crazed, audacious ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’.

And if the outré cover has over time become rather standard form, there’s always room for a good one, and this, people, is a good one, courtesy of LA-based quartet FleischKrieg, who you’d never guess were influenced by Rammstein and 3TEETH.

Lifted from the forthcoming FleischKrieg album, Herzblut, due out in October of this year, they’ve cranked up the sleaze for this one. It may be a fairly straight cover, but it amplifies the original eightieness and adds a while lot of grind. Instead of blasting up the guitars, the synths are more grating, the drums bigger, more explosive, and of course, it’s the gritty metal vocals that really define it. If it’s a shade predictable in its straight-up approach, then it makes up for it just by being so damn solid. Hurgh!

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Gothic/Industrial Metal band AUTUMN STAY have just unveiled their new video for the single, ‘Closer To The Edge’.

Lyrically, the song dives into the dark side of being an artist and how often artists push themselves to the very brink of insanity. This song has everything from heavy hitting guitars to head bopping synth, to vocal harmonies that make you feel like you’re listening to a Sunday church choir!

Watch the video here:

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Hallow Ground – HG2104 – 13th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

There are few things in life you can really rely on, but Hallow Ground is one of them, if you’re seeking music from the darker side. The clue’s pretty much in the name here: this is pretty dark. Of course it is. It’s also quite an interesting and unusual blend of styles and sounds, for while this forty-minute, seven-track work is predominantly instrumental and ambient in its leanings, it pushes wider and deeper than that, to span a range of territories, with often quite unsettling results.

DarkSonicTales is a project by Rolf Gisler, who was granted an artist residency in a 300-year-old farmhouse in the Swiss countryside in autumn 2019, by the label. How this sort of thing comes about, I’m not really sure, but there it is. I am a shade covetous of artists who get dedicated time and space to work on their art in whatever medium, because the simple fact is that in ordinary life there never seems to be enough time. For anything. And creativity requires headspace and time, both of which are rare and precious commodities.

Rolf seems to have made the most of his time, and the result is an album that’s varied in terms of form and tonality, which makes for a fascinating listening experience. From the mellow chiming of the short intro piece, ‘Info Pandemie’, to the eight-minute drone-swirl of ‘Best Buddies’ that drags the album to a slow-simmering conclusion in a bilious fog of sonic drift, DarkSonicTales is a deeply exploratory piece.

‘I Still Believe’ is a long, slow-burning, low-key, low-tempo gothy tune, where Gisler whispers in a baritone croon over a delicately picked guitar that’s hauntingly atmospheric and pinned down by a distant but insistent drum machine, its cracking snare cutting through the sonic haze.

‘Best Buddies’ brings the finale, and there’s a stuttering heartbeat drum flickering like a palpitation against the slow, majestic musical backdrop.

In some respects, it’s a challenge, simply because however much the album leans towards electronics, the way the instrumentation is used is so widely varied this feels like an album that’s harder to accommodate far more than it actually is. Somehow, the pieces of the jigsaw fit together.

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Stone Giants – the new alias of electronic musician Amon Tobin – shares the third and final single "A Year To The Day" from the debut album West Coast Love Stories, arriving 2nd July on his Nomark label.

“Your phone cheerfully recalls where you were this time last year. What executive committee decided it would be a good idea to have moments from your past randomly intrude on your present day? Memories you’ve either, carefully compartmentalized or buried so safe and deep you daren’t scroll through your photo history. Now at any moment you can be ambushed by an algorithmically generated montage of your most fragile memories set to music. It’s like an AI Psy-Op designed to send us into some kind of spiralling despair.” – Amon Tobin

Listen to ‘A Year to the Day’ here:

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11th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes I find myself in a state of confusion. Sometimes / often. Admittedly, work fatigue, lockdown fatigue, parenting, and beer on an evening are all likely contributors on many an occasion, but sometimes, I’m almost certain that life and situations are simply addling and that’s all there is to it. E42.A8’s press release is a source of a degree of bewilderment for me, as they outline their latest release thus:

‘E42.A8 lies between a place, a process, a group or several, or maybe as we were introduced in Frankfurt once: a Musikkapelle. We like to think that what matters are the following guiding notions: freedom, play with opening(s) & interaction, resulting in music marked by textures, variations between pulse & stretch, moments of varying intensities, détournements (Verwandlung?), oscillations in saturation and silence.’

IIIII is in fact a compilation, a double CD, which draws on a morass of releases spread across downloads, CDr and one tape, and features 21 musicians, in varying ensembles, from 2 to 9 people, recorded during the first five years of the collective’s existence. Said collective, which operates around a ‘disused farm/barn in the countryside in Picardie ( a region spread over the north of France +southern Belgium’ is centred around improvisational works, and as the fifteen pieces, which span a whopping 141 minutes – which isn’t far short of two and a half hours – and which makes listening to this in full a serious time commitment. The chances are that few listeners are likely to repeat it more than once or twice.

And while most of the compositions are under the eight or nine-minute mark, there are are handful of absolutely epic works that sit in the twelve to twenty-one minute mark that really illustrate the expansive plains E42.A8 ere capable of exploring when given the time and the space, and of course, the right atmospherics.

As one might expect from such a loose framework of musicians improvising over such a time-span, this is a pretty mixed bag, centred around immense drones, grinding organs and elongated oscillations. At its best, it’s haunting, evocative, unsettling, while at its worst its clunky, uncoordinated, experimental but without focus. And that isn’t a problem: the avant-garde and the postmodern so often delights in revealing its workings, demystifying the creative process, pulling apart the myth of the ‘creative genius’. IIIII reveals E42.A8 to be multi-faceted and willing to take risks in the interest of progression, of artistic evolution.

Insectoid skitters and creeping drones, scrapes, and all kinds of bleeps and twitters and stream-like trickles combine to forge the peaks and troughs, gulfs and chasms which make up this immense work. Heavy clanks like the sound if a blacksmith mishitting his equipment as shards shower everywhere in such an enclosed space. Chinks and stammers and fractured tonal cracks break the surface, and disruptions and discord and discombobulations abound.

A track-by-track analysis would be even more pointless than Brexit or an episode of Pointless, because this isn’t a work that has standout tracks: compilation it may be, but ultimately it’s an immense document which collates a vast library of experimental ambient electronic works which will shred your brain, make your eyes pop leave you feeling bewildered overwhelmed, which is, in context, a measure of artistic success.

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