Posts Tagged ‘Industrial’

Miasmah Recordings – 16th April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It was the heavyweight score of his debut album, Hold, that provided my introduction to the work of James Welburn, and very much piqued my interest – because in some way, sonically at least, it seems I like to be published. Almost six years to the year on, Welburn delivers another immensely heavy set with Sleeper in the Void.

According to the accompanying blurb, the album ‘feels like a story in two parts, rising lethargically, but with gargantuan power. The second begins with the momentous In and out of Blue, where Juliana Venter’s disembodied, spectral dirge takes center stage among the furious drums and bassy riffs, reaching a full crescendo with seconds to go. Parallel marks a release – Hilde Marie Holsen’s nostalgic soundscapes, pristine as glass, meeting the distant thunder of Welburn’s strings on the horizon. And finally, Fast Moon ends the record in a most surprising way – a tribal industrialized banger, complete with vile distorted beats and every other spice in demand on a blackened dancefloor.’

It’s intense from the outset, and ‘Raze’ is anything but lethargic. It begins with a modestly middling dark ambient drone, but before long, pattering drums are hammering like machine-gun fire and whipping up a frenzy while all around the drones increase in volume and intensity until there’s a veritable cyclone of sound raging all about. The experience is dizzying, suffocating.

The percussion is again punishing on ‘Falling from Time’, but while the sound is still dense and murky, the thundering rhythm, is far more mechanised, more industrial, thudding in a furious frenzy amidst an impenetrable smog of sound. The tempo is fast, and it’s relentless: you could perhaps even dance to it, although that’s not so much my thing: instead, I found my pulse accelerating and a glow of perspiration as the tension grows. Finally, the synths break into a softer swirl, although there are ominous tones eddying around as the drums finally peter out and it’s finally possible to catch your breath and compose yourself. It’s but a brief respite before crushing percussion crashes in on the doomy dirge of the title track: stuttering, stop-start detonations cut through the shoegaze on ketamine crawl of the blurred blizzard of extraneous noise.

Julia Ventner’s vocal on ‘In and Out of Blue’ and ‘Fast Moon’ (the latter of which is a grating, bulbous bass-driven beast of a cut that loops and lunged in a trill of treble and a crackle of fizzing distortion) are haunting, ghostly, and pitched against the lurching cacophony of drums and juddering blasts of noise that hit like a taser to the abdomen, it’s not only a contrast and a change of atmosphere her presence brings, but a new level of trembling intensity.

Sleeper in the Void unquestionably makes an evolution for Welburn: while incorporating many of the same elements fundamentally, their application is quite different on Sleeper in the Void in comparison to its predecessor. The basslines are less overtly structured, and Sleeper in the Void sees Welburn move further from any loose conventions of ‘rock’ toward something more abstract. It may be less direct, less bludgeoning, less reminiscent of early Swans, but it’s certainly no less intense or powerful, and it’s still dense and percussion-driven. If anything, the greater sense of nuance and Welburn’s expanded palette only amplify its menacing resonance, making Sleeper in the Void an album that may be challenging, but achieves optimum impact.

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Cleopatra Records – 23rd April 2021

James Wells

Ahead of their debut album, set for release on longstanding industrial / goth-leaning label Cleopatra Records – who will forever be a favourite with me for their releasing Rozz Williams-fronted Christian Death albums in the early 90s, although their catalogue is impressive in its depth and breadth – Handsome Abominations deliver their debut single, ‘Slave’.

The band are pitched as purveyors of ‘sleaze industrial’ – but then, isn’t that so much industrial? Leading exponents of technoindustrial, like Revolting Cocks, KMFDM, and PIG are aaaaaall the sleaze, and NIN – probably the biggest name in the field – are hardly clean and family friendly (‘Closer’, anyone?). This kind of grind has long associations with dingy nightclubs, latex, and S&M, and Handsome Abominations are all about that scene here.

As Baron VonSchnell says, “When I heard the strong, primeval beat that Tufty Hacka had programmed, I instantly knew that we had to write a writhing, sleazy anthem that would suite a fetish club.” And that’s precisely that we have here: ‘Slave’ is grimy, sweaty, slippy, heaving with all the wrong desires, and it’s clearly pitched at a specific audience.

There’s a whole lot happening, and a whole lot to unpack and discuss. ‘Slave’ is, without doubt a quintessential industrial disco cut that combines that low-down groove and blends it with some less than subtle lyrics that are all the sleaze. Of course it does. Nor would the blurb be justified in promising a song where ‘a sleazy, groovy musical orgy breaks out’ if it didn’t.

But at what point does the world of S&M fantasy stray into something that’s uncomfortable? I’m no advocate of trigger warnings, especially having run into trouble over an absence of them when referencing suicidal thoughts at a spoken word night a couple of years ago, but sometimes it’s possible to wander over lines in the name of ‘provocativeness’. So when Mistress Misha moans ‘Tie me down and rape me’, it sends a prickle. What is the message there? I suppose the question may ultimately come down to an understanding of the scene, in that rape fantasy is an entirely separate thing from the reality of rape, and the rape culture under discussion in the media right now, although it’s likely difficult to understand the distinctions and nuances of the scene for a straight. It isn’t the job of Handsome Abominations to explain this, and nor should art have to justify itself: it’s just difficult to draw distinctions in the current climate. But one thing is without contention, and that’s that ‘Slave’ is a cracking tune.

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Christopher Nosnibor

13x is less of musical project and more of an experience. As such, the katt13x website, the platform of the proudly transgender antiscene artist is a brain-melting labyrinth of sound and image that has a William Gibson-esque retro-futurist vibe that screams cyberpunk while searing your retinas with wildly oversaturated images that often render what’s being presented barely distinguishable.

The EPK video is, without doubt, a perfect summary of everything, as raw, bleeding primary tones melt and glow radioactively through a selection of appropriated snippets and other spliced scenes that takes Burroughs’ cut-up technique to the height of early noughties simplism to create something disorientating, disturbing.

Remember when the Internet was considered scary, because it contained the worst and more terrifying shit, from images from murder scenes and people being hit by trains (the original traingirl video was a blur, but a sickening one)? Pages like gruesome.com seemed extreme, and the porn explosion that was so concerning to many consisted of just so-many thumbnails and low-res .JPEGS of barely 50K because dialling up on 14K modems at a penny a minute, that kind of prurience was actually a fucking luxury. 13x takes us back to a time before YouTube, when eBay and Amazon were in their nascency, and we had Yahoo! Auctions and most people accessed the Internet and email having installed AOL with a free 3.5” floppy disc passed on to them by a friend who’d bought a magazine from WHS.

I’m reminded of Stewart Home’s original Spacebunny-designed website, which was a primitive-looking affair, neon-green text on a black background, and every word was an internal hyperlink. Not because 13x looks like it, but because it’s a reminder of when the Internet was inventive, was crazy, because there were no riles and there was no corporate involvement. No-one really policed the Internet, but then, kids were safe because the fact was, no-one even had Internet. But it was then future, and those who were present were pulsating to race headlong into cyberspace, whatever that was. And this takes us back to the time when we were on the cusp, and is accompanied with a period soundtrack, of sorts.

That soundtrack is an array of glitching, overdriven technoindustrial noise propelled by harsh, smashing snare crashes and squelching, wet fabric thwacking deadened bass beats define the abrasive, disorientating sound. Abrasive soundclashes, with squalls of noise and shards of feedback flare and blare over woozy undulating basslines and retro blippy 16-bit game mzk.

The sound and visuals in combination are an extreme and intense experience, where everything goes off in your face all at once, and it’s magnificent: dizzying, overwhelming, uncompromising, and one that doesn’t just touch, but assaults the sense from all sides at once.

Canadian DJ & Multi-Instrumentalist JHNN has unleashed his highly-anticipated new album, StereoTYP.

StereoTYP is a personal dark album redefining the definition of what it means to be a walking "StereoTYP" who enjoys different kinds of music.

As a taster, he’s unveiled the video for ‘Heroin’: check it here:

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JHNN says regarding the album, "Basically the album was made from 2016 – 2020 and it’s about my biggest pet peeve of society which is the existence of StereoTYPs. It only scratched the surface of what I like to talk about; what it means to be a black man who just likes, is not afraid of experimenting, and making synth pop without being too expressive. I wanted to have fun as well and I wanted to get the point across. I also wanted to show all my sides of trying to cope like in the song "Darkness Will Always Be There", the fact that all the people in power won’t matter; "Children Are The Future", dealing with being anxious "The Warning/Warfare" and some views on religion "Greatest Lie."

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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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‘Perpetual Sequence’ is the ninth full-length album by Croc Shop, an electronic based act featuring long time members Mick Hale and vMarkus. With a post-electro, pop and synth-rock approach over the duration of its eleven captivating songs, the duo also make occasional nods to their post-punk goth and electro-industrial origins.

Originally formed as Crocodile Shop in a flat above a record store in West Berlin, the band released their debut album, ‘Lullaby’, in 1988. Produced by Dave Fielding of The Chameleons, the record displayed dark goth-rock influences that only hinted at what was to come. They subsequently transitioned towards an electronic-industrial sound as they began replacing band members with machines, releasing ‘Celebrate the Enemy’ in 1993.

In 1995 they signed to Metropolis Records and issued the albums ‘Beneath’, ‘Pain’, ‘Everything Is Dead And Gone’, ‘Order + Joy’ and ‘World’. The last of these was a nifty fusion of EBM and synth pop that arrived in 2002 and their first album under the shortened name Croc Shop. 2004 saw the release of ‘SEA’ (Self Extracting Archive), which was a double CD ‘Best Of’ the band’s musical output. Pursuing other musical interests, group mainstays Hale and vMarkus then took a longer than expected break from recording together.

Fifteen years later, with the ‘election’ of and chaos caused by Trump, the band’s creative and political fires were rekindled and they began to work on new material that resulted in the blistering ‘Resist!’, a nine song digital album released in 2020, followed by ‘(TRiP): The Rest In Pieces’, a thirty track ‘Rest Of’ Croc Shop that featured tracks not included on ‘SEA’ as well as a number of remixes.

Croc Shop have toured heavily across North America and Europe throughout their career and have garnered loyal fans the world over. They have shared stages with acts such as Rammstein, Front 242, The Damned, Nitzer Ebb, Project Pitchfork, Xymox, Switchblade Symphony and Numb. Their live show has been described as an “audio-visual-assault”, with multimedia video projections, bold lighting and an energetic stage presence.

Ahead of the album ,they’ve unveiled a video for second single, ‘Secrets’: what it here:

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ant-zen – 18th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Dotla finds ‘accidental one-man project’ kojoohar reunited with purveyors of experimental hip-hop ködzid goo to deliver a follow-up to their 2019 collaborative EP, ‘Дотла’.

The blurb promises ‘heavy lyrics spiked with solemn images and numerous literary references’; and a work of ‘dark, dystopic angst pop with deep aesthetic lyrics and unrelenting vocals… delivered in a blank monotone.’

Now, I’ve long maintained that how and why we respond the way we do to certain music is subconscious, subliminal, psychologically or even genetically embedded. I’ve never found myself able to connect with disco or funk, but music that’s chillingly bleak and inhuman resonates to my very core. And shit, is this bleak and inhuman.

My inability to even vaguely comprehend the actual lyrics is completely immaterial: the characteristically hard-edged Slavic consonants lend themselves perfectly to that detached, monotone delivery, in a similar way to that in which Germanic languages do, and that harshness is much of the appeal of bands like DAF and X-Mal Deutschland (bit not Rammstein, because they always sound like a parody of that Germanic strain of industrial to my ears. I’m not saying I need my Industrial to be po-faced, far from it, but one should be able to take serious music seriously – and kojoohar × ködzid goo are seriously serious, in the best possible way).

Dotla is all the monotone, all the monochrome, thudding industrial beats hammer slow and hard through murky sonic wastelands. It’s unforgiving, relentless: there’s not much light or variation in mood here, and that’s the beauty of it: this is not an album designed to entertain. By the fourth track, the mangled droning trudge of ‘burelom’, you already feel the walls closing in and the light growing dim.

Whereas there’s a popular perception that the heaviest, most oppressive music exists within the domain of metal, electronic music at its darkest, sparsest and most monotonous is, if anything, more intensely claustrophobic.

The production on dotla is also a factor: there’s a lot of low end, rumbling, droney bass, but more than that, there’s a lot of murk. Dotla applies the values of black metal to industrial hip-hop. The drums and vocals are muffled, and there’s, a thick haze that hangs over the whole thing, and cumulatively, it’s almost suffocating. There’s no space or air between the instruments or the notes: everything condenses to form a thick, noxious cloud and a sound so thick and impenetrable it’s nigh on impossible to penetrate and separate the component parts.

The result is like the suction or air from the lungs, the endless battering of blunt objects, and the slow, wading through sludge trudge of ‘typh’ is exemplary. It’s not pleasurable – in fact it slowly grinds the life out of you – but successfully articulates in sonic from every last ounce of the life-sapping oppression of the drudgery of corporate conditioning and governmental oppression, of life. ‘plot’ is the sound of defeat, of self-loathing, of emptiness, of dehumanisation. Feel the pain. Immerse yourself in it. You deserve it.

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Chicago-based industrial rock band Nuclear Sun has released a new single/visualizer clip covering the iconic Nine Inch Nails  hit, "Head Like A Hole."  The track appears on Nuclear Sun’s new tribute release, Couldn’t Have Said It Better Vol. 1, available digitally via Bandcamp and all major streaming services.

Watch the video here:

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15th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

I’ll admit, of those who were highly anticipating the latest output from the ‘Chicago-based one-woman industrial army’ who is I Ya Toyah, I wasn’t among them. No-one can know all of the music, and it actually amuses me rather when obscurants give that stunned look or otherwise make like you’re utterly clueless when you haven’t heard of and aren’t into every ultra-niche act they are, as they make like the artists with maybe 1,500 likes on their Facebook page are household names.

For a cult / underground artist I Ya Toyah has a pretty healthy fanbase, but not enough to guilt me into thinking I’ve been living in a cultural void for however many years. However, the arrival of new single, ‘Out of Order,’ the lead single from the EP of the same title, is a proper punch. It’s a dark, brooding electropop affair with breathy vocals that suggest an array of emotions, and it’s accompanied by a disorientating video that’s pitched as ‘a surreal story of a gradual mental breakdown, caused by an isolation and misinformation fed by media’, which was inspired by ‘the film art of David Lynch and the pandemic’.

It’s probably fair to say we’re all influenced by the pandemic, our every thought and our every move – or lack of. Has lockdown made us more paranoid? Probably. Has revisiting David Lynch been a common and rational pastime? Probably. Lynch was twisting things before everything got so very twisted, and now, the twisted seems fairly rational, or otherwise makes sense as a metaphor for the present if nothing else. And this slow-burning tune fits nicely. It’s not an instant grab by any means, but then, nor has the impact of life in lockdown – it’s been creeping, cumulative, the result being a new kind of fatigue that’s certainly mental, but for many manifests as physical. What do you actually do with that? There isn’t actually much you can do, other than find solace in music. And that’s where I Ya Toyah comes in. ‘Out of Order’ speaks beyond what it says explicitly, and through her art, she captures something about these difficult and desperate times, and about the human condition more generally.

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Sargent House – 2nd March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

What to make of The Armed? The lineup is immense, comparable to Revolting Cocks, Pigface, or KMFDM, to the extent that you don’t really know who does what on which song or even who’s in the band or who just tuned up at the studio or rehearsal session. The videos for new single, ‘Average Death’ and its predecessor, ‘All Futures’ don’t help: is it even the band we’re watching? And ultimately, does it matter?

This second single release, ahead of the album’s unveiling in April demonstrates that The Armed are master of churning noise, differentiated by an uncommon accessibility. That is to say that I have no idea what to make of this. While ‘All Futures; was a raging, rampant blast of noise that called to mind Nine Inch Nails, ‘Average Death’ spirals into some heavy shoegaze. If industrial shoegaze isn’t a thing before now, it should be as of this release. It’s deeply immersive, a glorious wash of soft edges, propelled by a squalling wall of noise and frenetic drumming.

So while The Armed and their videos are all the questions, there is no question over the killer nature of their songs.

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