Posts Tagged ‘Human Worth’

We absolutely love what Human Worth are doing, both in terms of their humanitarian work and the promotion of some stunning underground and emerging acts. And so the arrival of a second lockdown-period fundraising compilation is a most welcome thing, and the proceeds from this latest release are going to Harmless, a charity that supports metal health, and to assist in the prevention of self-harm and suicide.

For this reason, we’re immensely proud to be serving up an exclusive premier stream of ‘Serenity’, by AJA, the first of the album’s massive twenty tracks.

AJA works with the charity Harmless that they’re donating the funds of this release to – It was her suggestion and she said "I work for an organisation who give their profits from training people in mental health awareness and suicide prevention / intervention directly back into helping support people with free therapy. They are self funded and have been massively affected by covid and they do really amazing work!” For more info, go to https://www.facebook.com/HarmlessUK/

The album drops via BandCamp on Friday 7th August. Check out ‘Serenity’ here:

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Modern Technology have unveiled a video for the second single to be released from their upcoming debut long player, Service provider. Featuring visuals every bit as stark and impactful as the bleak ribcage-rattling bass-driven racket of the song, ‘Blackwall Approach’, it’s a belter. Watch it here:

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Human Worth – 25th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Modern Technology crashed the scene hard with their eponymous debut EP in January of 2019. A devastating detonation of thunderous post-punk nihilism that dismantled consumer culture with half a dozen hard-hitting sonic blasts, it was focused and perfectly formed. It also very much captured the zeitgeist, while plunging sonic depths appropriate to the bleakness of mass consumerism and a culture that favours conformity and the erosion of individuality.

The duo – bassist / vocalist Chris Clarke and drummer Owen Gildersleeve gigged hard for a full year off the back of the EP, proving themselves to be a truly formidable live act: with a clear grasp of dynamics, intensity, and the importance of volume, they not only won a proper grass-roots fanbase, but also used their art for social good, donating proceeds from their Human Worth events and the profits from said EP to a selection of charities, notably Mind, Shelter, and The Trussell Trust.

Service Provider finds the duo even more aflame with fury and frustration at contemporary society, and although they seemed pretty well-honed on their first outing, they’ve taken things up another level or three here. The formula – such as it is – is unchanged, with the compositions centred around repetitive, cyclical grooves, pulverizing percussion and anguished vocals swamped in reverb to forge dense capsules of nihilism. The artwork, similarly, consolidates their identity, and the stark monochrome design with its dissolving text is a perfect summary of the stark images of social decay the band depict in their songs. But now, they’ve triple-distilled their ire, and the mammoth production only enhances the effect.

The first of the eight songs, ‘Therapy’ starts sparse, just Clarke’s brooding baritone voice and a primitive thudding drum beat. Those opening bars contain pure anguish, his voice cracked and distorted. Then, in a sharp squeal of feedback, the bass tears in like a whole troop of tanks crashing in, their caterpillar treads tearing at the earth, before locking into a single grinding note that booms out, each simultaneous strike of drum and bass like an explosion. Part Unsane, part Swans, it’s a heavy-hitter, and sets the tone and weight from the outset.

The bass buzzes and rumbles, the drums are understated, thumping away an insistent slow build, and it’s mostly just a scream of feedback like a jet engine that accompanies Chris’ vocal, an edge of distortion on the epic reverb, while he hollers, half-buried in the mix on ‘Blackwall Approach’. According to Wikipedia, ‘The northbound Blackwall Tunnel is a traffic bottleneck with tailbacks. A TfL study in 2009 revealed that the 1.1-mile (1.7 km) approach to the northbound tunnel took around 19 minutes in rush hour traffic, or a delay of approximately 11 minutes per kilometre.’ As such, it makes sense, the band casting a bleak eye over miles of excess traffic and literally tonnes of CO2 emissions. Because this is how we will die, choking the planet and ourselves in our question for exponential growth. And if you think ‘The Great Pause’ will change anything, then while I applaud your optimism, you are completely deluded: lockdown isn’t even over and there are mile-long queues of traffic to access beaches and beauty spots.

‘All is Forgiven’ is an epic grunger, coming on like an outtake demo for Nirvana’s Bleach played at half speed, with Owen’s powerhouse drumming driving thunderously. It’s raw and dingy and hits with serious velocity. The riff on ‘Gate Crasher’ is cyclical, repetitive, gut-churning, ribcage rattling, an intensely physical experience, which captures the force of the band’s live performances perfectly.

Describing a riff as ‘crushing’ may be a cliché, but fuck it: ‘Twitcher’ is a monolithic doom-weight crusher of a beast. A low-slow stealth verse yields to a thick distortion-ripping chorus that is absolutely punishing.

‘Terra Firma’, the album’s shortest song at a mere two-and-a-half-minutes, finds the band explore their more experimental side in a bleepy intro that gives way to a devastating bass blast paired with a squall of treble that calls to mind early Head of David, and serves as an into to the closer, ‘Life Like’, into which it segues. It begins with a spoken-word narrative, a rolling drum and bass almost serene as Clarke hovers around a calm monotone. Early crescendo threats subside and contribute to a simmering tension. But around the four-minute mark the build really begins in earnest, the bass thickening, swelling, and emerging in a tempestuous burst for an elongated outro that takes it to near the eight-minute point.

As a social commentary, Service Provider gets right to the rotten core of capitalist exploitation, and the way it pitches everyone as competition. The upper echelons are competing for supremacy: the majority are competing for scraps and for survival as the divide grows wider. And yet the irony is that the supremacy at the top is predicated on the rest purchasing whatever they’re selling, and all too often it’s shit they don’t need and can’t afford but that’s somehow become essential to contemporary living.

If anyone believes a world emerging from lockdown after the first wave of Covid-19 will be kinder, more accommodating, more humane, the early signs are that they’re sadly mistaken, as businesses slash employees and push even harder to return profits in the wake of a global financial slump.

We’re all fucked, and Service Provider sells it out loud – very loud – and clear, in stark, brutal terms. It’s a pretty punishing set, and what’s impressive is that they sustain the bludgeoning impact throughout, making for an absolute monster of an album. It’s hard to fault service like this.

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CATTLE and Territorial Gobbing are joined at CHUNK in Leeds by Modern Technology (London), Lump Hammer (Newcastle) and …(something) ruined for a night of noise in aid of Mind and Shelter.

We’re proud to be involved in promoting the event.

Door at at 7pm. It’s £6 OTD and BYOB. Be there: it’s going to be a belter.

Event details here.

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We’ve been bigging up Modern Technology since the release of their eponymous EP – not just because it’s powerful musically and lyrically, but because the duo believe in trying to make a difference in a bleak world. And so we’re inordinately proud to be involved in the latest Human Worth charity fundraiser, which sees proceeds donated to Mind and Shelter, and which sees their first Leeds show in 9th February 2020. It’s headlined by percussion-heavy racketeers Cattle, and they’re joined by one of Newcastle’s heftiest, sludgiest bands in the form of Lump Hammer, Leeds’ finest maker of manic electronic noise, Territorial Gobbing, and relative newcomers, …(something) ruined, a brutal power electronics duo consisting of Paul Tone (Foldhead, Inverted Nepal) and one Christopher Nosnibor.

The event will be held at DIY venue CHUNK, and tickets are a mere £5.50, available via this link. There’s also a super limited run of Early Bird cheap tickets: just 15 in total, then onto Advance Tickets which saves money on door and guarantees entry.

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The primitivism of Modern Technology’s raw sound, coupled with your lyrical content says you’re not entirely happy with where modern technology and late capitalism has brought us. Would you like to walk us through the band’s ethos and politics?

Owen Gildersleeve: When Modern Technology first formed we were going through a really difficult time – The Brexit process had just kicked in and Trump had found his way into power – so it was tough to create anything that felt as though it had any worth. I remember sitting in my studio around that time trying to get on with work just thinking ‘this is all meaningless’.

Chris and I both really needed a place to vent and Modern Technology became just that – Somewhere we could speak out for frustrations and unleash some of our anger about what was happening in the world and the chaos we found ourselves in.

Chris Clarke: Absolutely, Modern Technology was started through a shared catharsis. I see the whole process as a physical and emotional release, using the band as a platform to mirror society and give a floor the injustices and social discomforts that saturate us.

I would align us more towards socially focused than politically focused. Politically there are things we ultimately disagree with, and strands of that weave through our writing. But we tend to focus on the effects rather than the cause in our writing. Sometimes this manifests in highlighting the mundanity, sometimes it’s much more drawn from our own experiences – but ultimately we always try and leave a bit of room for interpretation, both in the way the lyrics are constructed and the themes to hopefully encourage some conversation rather than polarity.

Where did it all go wrong?

Chris: Owen and I were born pre-internet age and have seen the acceleration of technology advance faster than our understanding of the detriment to our mental health. It is something both marvellous and monstrous, and for all its virtues it has been manipulated to really illuminate the cracks in us. Our private lives are now public reality — we break down the minutiae into a public commodifiable event — and then give this away for free through interfaces that profit from our addiction. Politics is stuck and the idealised idea of democracy from centuries past is fundamentally outdated. It’s largely accepted that we can’t continue on this trajectory — It will eventually break.

I feel politically we’re caught in a cycle — hoping for our next liberator — but our focus is all wrong. We should be questioning how we got here in the first place. Only when we understand that we can truly break the mould. My concern is that we’re all products of our own making, too internally focused to think beyond the status quo, and that’s exactly where the governments want us – idle, predictable, safe. Personally for me the true thing is the fear of not knowing — not knowing how this all ends. Where reality is our best shared hallucination.

Was there a specific rationale behind being a two-piece, and do you find there are any particular limitations to operating within that setup?

Owen: It came as quite a natural thing. Before Modern Technology formed Chris and I had been jamming on and off for many years in a variety of different setups, but it didn’t quite click until we came together just the two of us. There was a real raw energy, with both the bass and drum sounds being so clear that you couldn’t hide behind anything. We also enjoyed playing with those limitations – Seeing how far we can push the sound just the two of us, and also stripping back an instrument at certain points to reveal the space.

Chris: To link with your description of us — The primitivism spurs a little from our limitations, both in talent and the constraints being a two piece affords. It’s something we both delight in, allowing the tension between bass and drums to manifest in ways that are quite precise. The limitations are important to us because it truly focuses our music. We know the scope and parameters that we can work within and this often forces us to try sometimes naive and unexpected combinations of things, purely from trying to work around our constraints.

A bass guitar inherently is restricted, it has fewer strings and a low emphasis. We couple that with a set of loud humbuckers and a board of pedals that have a myriad of different distortions and ways of producing slight variances in harmonics. The MT sound comes a lot through mixtures of cheap digital and analog pedals — that help create that tone that’s slightly industrial.

There’s a real transparency that we also enjoy — being a two piece really lays you bare — with Owen and I really having to work hard to stay mechanical and locked rather than being able to hide behind more musicians.

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What’s your creative process? Is it quite structured, or is it something more organic?

Owen: The process is really organic, more so than any bands I’ve been in before. Chris and I really enjoy jamming and that tends to lead to at least a couple of new ideas each practice. Also unlike previous bands Chris doesn’t mind me chipping in on bass riff ideas, kindly not mocking my hummed riffs that I’ll send over from time to time. Although when Chris eventually plays them he does always make them a lot better!

Chris: I guess we have a very explorative approach, we take great joy in just stepping in a room and playing on different trajectories till something eventually overlaps. There’s nothing better for us when that moment clicks and you’ve lost an hour playing the same riff. As mentioned earlier — it’s exactly that catharsis in why we started the band in the first place. It’s a physical and emotional release for us, a chance for us to really vent, where in our day to day we are both quite controlled human beings.

Musically, you sit somewhere in a bracket of noisy, nihilistic post-punk. Who would you say you feel most affinity with, both in terms of precursive influences and contemporaries?

Owen: When we first met, although we had a lot of similar musical interests, there was definitely a bit of a divide in our tastes – Chris coming from a more punk, grind and psychobilly background, and myself listening to more metal, sludge and doom. So meeting in the middle has been an interesting process and I think has led to quite a different sound than we could have expected.

Chris: Owen and I both originally hail from the south west of England, which during our childhood seemed to be the perfect stomping ground for alternative music. Growing up I had a lot of musical influences that crossed a myriad of genres. It’s hard to really pinpoint any specific bands, but there has always been a strong undercurrent of real authentic voice within the music.

I jokingly once described us as a post-truth band, which however forced that terminology might be, certainly describes a step on from where we may be labeled as post-punk or post -industrial to something more fitting of the influences we draw our references from now.

The sound marries a bunch of different inspirations for us. Musically and culturally — What’s important for me is creating an ‘atmosphere’ — one that feels exasperated, worn-out and futile. Which on reflection I guess goes some way to explaining some of the melodrama in the vocal style. It certainly wasn’t an intentional subversion to sing like that — it just seemed to help add depth to the tight, rhythmic pattern the music was developing in.

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The profits from your debut EP went to Shelter and Mind. Would it be fair to say you’re more concerned with societal issues than success in the conventional sense? And why did you choose those particular charities

Owen: We never started the band to make any money or for any sort of success – In fact it’s been quite a pleasant surprise that people are enjoying what we do. So when we started looking at selling our record it didn’t sit well with us to keep the profits and we thought it would be much more appropriate to try to give something back to those affected by all of this mess that our songs explore.

That’s when we decided that any profits we make off the physical and digital release will go to charities Mind and Shelter. Shelter is doing some amazing work with the homeless and people on low income, which unfortunately has become far too common after years of austerity and benefit cuts. Mind is also doing some incredible work for mental health – an area which has in the past been overlooked, but is becoming an ever-growing issue with society’s increasing demands, stresses and strains. Their work also links back to Shelter’s, as a lot of people going through housing issues unfortunately also suffer from mental health problems along the way, so the two charities feel like good close allies.

So far we’ve raised nearly £600 through our record sales and we hope to make even more through our upcoming shows.

You’ve a handful of live dates coming up, and the shows feature some cracking lineups (especially the London show, which is also a charity benefit gig). How did they come about?

Owen: We were contacted by James from Lump Hammer to say they were planning to come down from Newcastle and whether we’d like to do some shows together. We set about making plans and thought it would be nice to try and do something special for the London show – bringing together a range of friends we’ve met through our music and trying to raise some money for charity. The response has been amazing and we were delighted to have so many amazing artists agreeing to get involved!

We’ll be joined on the night by the amazing noise-punkers Bruxa Maria who we’re all huge fans of and who are about to bring out a new album, so expect some of that! A fantastic chap called Mr Christopher Nosnibor will also be joining us for a one-off collaboration with absurdly prolific home-made electronics and noise artist Cementimental aka Tim Drage. The show is being co-promoted by the excellent Total Cult who have put together a Spotify playlist of the line-up, alongside some top Hominid Sounds and Black Impulse selections.

The London charity show will be held at The Victoria, Dalston on Friday 28th June. Tickets are just £5 from Seetickets, Dice & Eventbrite. You can find out more about the show on the Facebook event page. It should be a really fun night so if you’re in London in June make sure to be there!

After that, we then move onto Leicester to play at show with the the brilliant promoters The Other Window and then finally to Brighton to team up with the excellent Pascagoula. It’s going to be one hell of a weekend!

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Could you summarise what you do and what you’re about in a single sentence?

Chris: If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor — Desmond Tutu