Posts Tagged ‘Industrial’

Sacred Bones – 11th September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Regular readers will likely have spotted Uniform featured on numerous occasions here at Aural Aggro, and in may ways, they encapsulate everything that inspired me to start this in the first place – namely that reviewing music that moves and affects me isn’t quite enough, because only half of it’s about the music, and the remainder is about that personal reaction, and that’s more of an essay than a review. To some this may seem indulgent, and maybe it is, but the intention is that in explaining my own personal response, there may be something relatable there for other readers – and also, potentially, something for the artist, namely an insight into how their music resonates with fans, what it means to them.

I’m not dismissing the merit of reviews that endeavour to quantify the quality of a release based on various merits and so on, but when confronted with music that exists to convey the most brutal emotions in a way that almost physically hurts, you just have to go deeper, and pick it apart properly, much as in the way you’re compelled to pick at an itchy, crusting scab until it’s weeping and raw and bleeding once more in some wrongheaded attempt to understand the nature of the wound.

The particular thing about Uniform is the way in which they balance unbridled rawness, a rage so explosive and nihilistic that words cannot even begin to convey even the outline of the sentiment, one so deeply enmeshed with a choking fury that renders words worthless, and a rare literacy.

“Thematically, the album is like a classic hard-boiled paperback novel without a case,” says front man Michael Berdan. “It focuses on the static state of an antihero as he mulls over his life in the interim between major events, just existing in the world. At the time we were making the record, I was reading books by Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, and Dashiell Hammet and strangely found myself identifying with the internal dialogues of characters like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.”

These are all authors I have an immense admiration for, on account of the pace of their narrative, their economy, their capacity to deliver plot at pace, and their writing methods. Writing is one discipline. Writing to deadlines and producing quality and quantity quickly entirely another, and one I genuinely aspire to.

Uniform have demonstrated an impressive work ethic since their inception, and have been cranking out an album a year either on their own or in collaboration with The Body on an annual basis for the last few years. And never once has the quality or intensity dipped one iota, and Shame continues this unblemished record.

They have evolved over time, replaving the drum machine with a human drummer, but this hasn’t rendered them any more ‘ordinary’ and even without the harsh, pounding electronic battery of percussion, they’re still cranium-crushingly intense and head-shreddingly harsh.

Admittedly, I’ve had The Long Walk on heavy rotation for some two years now, with ‘The Walk’ not only defining that raw, aggro, nihilism that IS Uniform, but also being something of a soundtrack to life. Because life is short, cruel, and painful an there aren’t many acts who convey this as accurately as Uniform.

Shame explores all of the pains and anguish of shame and humiliation, the desire to bury one’s face or to disappear, and for all its harshness, all its abrasion, and all its brutality, Shame is an album that speaks on a deep emotional level. Shame hurts. It’s also harsh, abrasive, brutal, and as visceral an album as you’re likely to hear, and not just in clusterfuck 2020, but period.

The singles released online in advance of the album certainly give an idea of where it’s headed, but Shame needs to be heard in full – and at full volume of course – for maximum impact.

It crashes in with lead single ‘Delco’, possibly the most accessible of the ten cuts. It’s all relative, and by ‘accessible’ we’re looking at Ministry circa Psalm 69, with driving guitars dominating mangled vocals pegged low in the mix. The album swiftly descends into the depths of darkness, a murky blur of metal fury that combines the detached mechanisation of Ministry and Godflesh with the screeding impenetrable guitar noise.

The title track is tense, bleak, but there are hints of redemption at least in the intro before it turns dark and self-flagellatory. The refrain ‘That’s why I drink / That’s why I weep’ is another intertextual reference, this time made in homage to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episode ‘Night of the Meek’. But it distils a dark intensity that is the essence of an internal pain that can only be soothed by a chemical anaesthetic. It’s so succinct, and so absolutely magnificent, despite being painful and ugly. We’re all fucked up, and personally, I’m more wary of those who present themselves as happy and normal than anyone else. Who are they rely lying to?

‘Dispatches from the Gutter’ is a sub-two-minute blast of gnarly noise that is virtual onomatopoeia, while ‘This Won’t End Well’ is a slow-paced, industrial trudge, and closer ‘I Am the Cancer’ is just horrible, a mess of frantically-paced guitars, mangled to fuck, and vocals, distorted beyond impenetrability, all cranked out fast and hard. And this is how this album would always have to end. It would have to be painful. It would have to be like peeling flesh. It would have to be like murder.

Shame sees no sign of Uniform softening, Moreover, as they try to make sense of this ugly, violent world, their music more conveys the confusion and the pain of being alive. Embrace it or don’t, but with Shame, Uniform captures the spirit and the anguish of life right now.

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NIM – 28th August 2020

The lockdown music mania doesn’t stop, and Plan Pony’s second single crash-lands with the added clout of being released via new US-based DIY label NIM. It’s self-recorded, mixed and mastered, because needs must and all that, and it’s so very representative of how musicians are adapting to things as they are: you can crush culture, kill the means of production, and kill people’s livelihoods, but you can’t stifle creativity in the long term.

Plan Pony, the experimental noise project of Jase Kester has emerged from the dark swamp of time that is the interminable blur of time that has been the majority of 2020, and ‘Slaaab’ b/w ‘Oder Manno’ follows June’s debut, ‘Martyr’.

‘Slaaab’ is a dirty chunk of whirring industrial, murky beats thump against a rumbling mess of dingy low-end; not a bassline as such, more a creaking growl that registers in the lower colon, while above it all, a quavering modular synth sound hovers and hums like a warped siren. Its focus is heavily rhythmic, and it’s quite hypnotic in an uncomfortable, queasy way.

Primitive drum machine sounds and a squelchy looped bass, paired with short vocal samples, give ‘Oder Manno’ an almost hip-hop feel, but there’s a whole load of extraneous noise going on all over everything and the tempo’s all over, and the vibe is very much reminiscent of the first couple of Foetus albums. It’s a bit of a headfuck, of the best kind.

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Coinciding with the single’s release, Plan Pony will be appearing on Isolated Mess 2 on Friday 28th August, performing a collaborative set with midlands-based noise artist Oldman Disgusting. Details of the stream can be found here.

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NYC industrial trail blazers Uniform reveal the title track from their forthcoming album due September 11th on Sacred Bones. “Shame is the song that sets the thematic tone for the rest of the record, which seems appropriate for a title track. It is a portrait of someone riddled with regret in the process of drinking themselves to death. Night after night they sit in dark reflection, pouring alcohol down their throat in order to become numb enough to fall asleep,” vocalist Michael Berdan explains.

“I took inspiration from a few stories of alcoholic implosion, namely Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas. The line ‘That’s why I drink. That’s why I weep’ appears in homage to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episode ‘Night of the Meek.’”

Listen to ‘Shame’ here:

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Photo By Ebru Yildiz

Former New Creatures / Johnathan Christian co-founder Johnathan Mooney and Machinery of Desire’s Adrian Auchrome have teamed up to form the new project THE FUNHOUSE COLLECTIVE.  The duo has announced the release of their cover of Golden Earring’s classic song, ‘Twilight Zone’.  The original song was written by Golden Earring guitarist George Kooymans who got inspiration from Robert Ludlum’s book, The Bourne Identity.

Produced by Johnathan Mooney and Michael Bann, this new darker, post-punk version aptly arrives at a very poignant time in the world.

“Growing up during the Cold War and coming of age when the original came out left me with indelible memories of that era. Add the events past few months to the mix and it seemed this could have new relevance.” Says Adrian Auchrome.

Pitched as being for fans of The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission, to our ears, it’s more reminiscent of technoindustrial gods PIG, and that’s no bad thing. Get your lugs and peepers round it here:

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When an act comes as being recommended for fans of STABBING WESTWARD, Nitzer Ebb and <PIG>, we’re all ears here at Aural Aggro. and ‘Lockdown’ by Thrillsville doesn’t disappoint, mixing a dark bubbling synth bass groove and tense vocals with a bold, bombastic chorus, it’s a strong effort.

Lyrics like “Can’t stop touching my face,” “Don’t even know what day it is anymore,” and “Losing my f*cking mind” convey the mental and emotional strain the crisis has had on all of us.
"This song was directly inspired by the unrelenting restlessness of being “stuck on lock-down.”  In essence it’s a romantic song about longing for a normal night on the town.” – Rani Sharone (THRILLSVILLE)

Check the video here: you won’t regret it 9and besides, you’ve probably not got anything else to do):

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7th July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Another face on the Yorkshire electronic music scene, Ian J Cole is someone I’ve seen – and enjoyed – performing a few times. Obviously, not recently, nor probably any time soon, which makes the arrival of his new album, Black Scars Across My Back, most welcome.

Inspired by Bevin Boy John Copley, who died as a result of working down a Doncaster Mine in 1946, Black Scars Across My Back is a conceptual / narrative-based album in essence, although translating any concept or narrative to purely instrumental compositions means the scope for interpretation is vast. The expanse of the album is also pretty substantial, clocking in just shy of an hour and a half.

The details accompanying the album are minimal, but a spot of research show that Copley, who died aged 21, who is buried in York cemetery, was ‘one of the 48,000 ‘Bevin Boys’ (named after Ernest Bevin who was the Minister of Labour & National Service) who were conscripted to work in the UK coal mines between December 1943 and March 1948.

Then again, music alone can convey meaning and emotions in a way that resonate deeper and in ways that words simply cannot. And what’s particularly noteworthy about this album s that it focuses not on grand narratives, the political or even the personal, but a microcosmic sliver of local history, often neglected. Real history isn’t about wars and politicians, but the lives of the everyman, lived and forgotten about. Yet without these people, what would we have?

The album’s sixteen-and-a-half-minute opener balances elegiac piano with creeping swirls of ambience. It’s delicate, and softly transitions between spaces over the course of its duration, with richly layered washes of sound that interlace and interweave. What does it convey? Nothing… but everything. A certain air of simplicity, of airiness, unhurried and uncluttered breathes through the spacious arrangement, which subtly turns moods from optimism to shades of gloom via plain drifting.

There is only one Elvington Terrace in the whole UK, and located in the centre of York it measures a mere 90 metres: ‘2 Elvington Terrace’ is a haunting piece that drifts and wafts, ghostly and ethereal.

The shuffling groove of ‘Cook, Trowton and Simms’ is unexpected, and unexpectedly buoyant, introducing percussion to the album’s palette and upbeat, lively percussion at that – although there are thunderous rumbles and crashing waves in the distance, which twist the tome a little. Next up, the gloopy tension of ‘The Balloteer’ features looped samples amidst the electronic bubbling, calling to mind early Test Department and the like, and lines like ‘produce for victory’ bear remarkable parallels to the latest slogans like ‘eat out to help out’. Do we ever learn from history? It’s a rhetorical question, and I think you know.

‘Drift Sights’ is a conglomeration of clattering, industrial percussion and sparse notes, while the epic ‘The Bevin Boy’ is a constant flux of tempestuous ambience that’s far from tranquil. It provides a bleak backdrop to segments of spoken-word narrative.

The title track brings a chiming, glistening charm, as well as sprightly bright flashes of light, which bounce across the ripples and creaks of metal-cast shade, before the album’s last piece, ‘She Left Flowers on is Grave’ draws the curtain with a dolorous finality.

Black Scars Across My Back may not expressly articulate the life of its subject, but is highly evocative, and knowing the story, the context, imbues it with a sadness that’s affecting. It’s hard not to be touched by its quiet intensity.

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Love Love Records

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s no secret I’m quite a fan of Matt Cargill and Co’s oddball, off-kilter approach to freeform experimental weird noisy shit that stubbornly defies genre categorisation – largely on account of the fact that it is weird noisy shit that stubbornly defies genre categorisation (although the blurbage that accompanies Walk it Dry, the follow-up to 2019’s Gentle Persuaders describes them as ‘London’s neo-jazz wrecking crew’.

Sly have trod themselves a unique path, and find themselves in the curious position of being one of the most obtuse bands beloved by almost everyone I know in underground musical circles. I’d like to think it’s a combination of their uniqueness and the fact that they are unequivocally

On this outing, they promise ‘the familiar sound palette of skronked electronics, bulging noise blasts, wailing sax & Kalashnikov drums that was found on ‘Gentle Persuaders’’ but at the same time say that this ‘is a very different beast. The tracks here are shorter and punchier as the band digs deeper than ever to find increasingly potent sonic pockets.’

Mad horns and a crushing, slow-paced jazz beat explode from the speakers the second the ‘play’ button his hit, and with ‘A Black Uniformed Strutting Animal’ they plunge into a collision of heavy rhythms and divergent notes that counteract one another in a battle between order and chaos, where there is no clear winner.

‘Dead Cat Chaos Magician’ is frivolous, glooping electronics, with a fast-paced jitter of tension and some ragged blasts of drums that are nothing to do with rhythm and everything to do with dramatic punctuation, sudden explosions that disrupt any semblance of an emerging flow.

The compositions on Walk it Dry are difficult, dissonant, and while they are indeed more succinct than the bult of the pieces on previous outings, they condense those dank, disrupted soundscapes into dense chunks of ‘Bulgarian Steel’ brings the kind of swampy mess of nose that’s quintessentially Sly, dominated as it is by booming beats and murky mid-range, before ‘Shrieking Grief’ steps the torturous din up a notch, with more thunderous rhythms bashing frantically into a void of grinding greyness while horns flash and flail

The lack of pun-based titles is compensated to an extent by ‘Sunken Disorderly’, while ‘My Torso is a Shotgun’ is a cranium-crushing morass of tension, a bludgeoning battery of hammering and noise.

This all stacks up to an album that’s classic Sly: the same dark industrial clanking, doomy undercurrent and warped jazz overtones, but in much shorter segments. It’s still dark, dingy, difficult, jazzy, otherly, and there’s no other band who quit straddle so many boundaries. Walk it Dry may mark a certain evolution, but more than anything, it’s the work of a band who simply don’t do compromise. And that’s why we love them.

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5th May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Starless is a new musical project from Yurii Samson of Ukranian industrial noisemakers Kadaitcha. It’s pitched as being ‘less industrial and noisy than Kadaitcha, but more acoustic and lyrical’, although this very much depends on the strain of industrial you’re angling towards.

Admittedly, my first thought is less ‘more acoustic and lyrical’ than Kadaitcha, but ‘fuck me, this is spaced-out experimental jazz!’ ‘Entro’ piles in haphazard and chaotic, as a riot of parping horns hoot and honk seemingly at random though a twittering electronic oscillation with bleeps and quirts, and wandering notes that are difficult to assimilate, stylistically or psychologically. There’s a lot going on at once.

But the title track goes much more industrial / dark ambient, a restless thrumming providing the backdrop to a distanced, echo-heavy vocal and squalls of extraneous noise, swells of feedback and layers of serrated electronica, whole distorted impenetrable vocals ring out with a bold authority. It’s the sound of Big Brother’s dictation, monotone, cold, flat, and impervious, while metallic noise spirals and swirls.

Next up, ‘Chudovys’ka’ begins all aclatter and aflutter, a clicking flicker or delicate beats, before a warped vocal begins to nag away in the background. And then, before long, it goes full Throbbing Gristle with churning electronic rhythms and hard-edged noise butting up against them. And this is a sustained sonic attack, the best part of ten minutes of difficult noise that simultaneously rumbles and screes, a low-end wash that rolls and throbs while clattering percussion ricochets off in all directions.

‘Kiviten’’ goes all-out with the heavy-duty percussion, calling to mind the thunderous battery of Test Dept. It also brings droning church organ and shrieking feedback that hurts the ears and bends the brain, as well as heralding introduction of epic choral voices on the scale of Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’, only distant and dissonant. It’s big on drama, and also disquiet.

Closer, ‘Saga’ is also impressive in its depth, and equally the depth of the discomfort it discharges as wheezing monotone vocals drone out over a shifting soundscape of hesitant beats, creeping jazz horns and scrapes and bubbling synths. It’s sparse, low, slow, and trepidatious, making for an unexpectedly Low-key conclusion that also happens to leave the listener hanging on the edge of a swamp hidden by fog, wondering what lies beyond.

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Sacred Bones

Christopher Nosnibor

Fucking yes: the news of a new Uniform album is welcome news. Not that a new Uniform album is ever going to be an uplifting experience, but a soundtrack to the torment of modern life. Few bands – not only now, but ever – have so perfectly articulated that noise in your head, the pain of being alive and completely fucking trapped on this planet with so many examples of a species who seem hellbent on bringing about their own extinction, and what’s more, completely deserve it.

Many fans will be devastated to hear, then, that they’ve gone pop on the lead single for their upcoming fourth album, Shame.

Of course I’m kidding. ‘Delco’ is less gnarly than previous outings, with actual chords distinguishable among the churn, and overall the sound is more balanced, less abrasive. But these things are relative. ‘Less abrasive’ means something approximating Filth Pig era Ministry, only with a shade less treble. It’s still a heavy grind, a relentless trudge of repetitive chord cycles and petulant, pissed-off vocals channelling all the angst. Still keeping it brutal.

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Sargent House

Christopher Nosnibor

Chelsea Wolfe and her band drummer Jess Gowrie came together while touring Wolfe’s Hiss Spun album in 2017. I reasonably expected Chelsea to be the dominant force here, and it’s perhaps because of that expectation that Self Surgery, the fruits of their collaboration under the moniker of Mrs Piss, hits as hard as it does. It’s the best kind of collaboration, greater than the sum of its parts, and finds Wolfe standing equal creative billing.

If Wolfe’s albums are marked by a degree of poise, control, balance, then those are tossed to the wind in a deluge of noise on Self Surgery. It’s unrefined, even messy in places, and all the better for it. It feels like a true exploration as the pair cut loose, dredge deep, and find what’s really inside themselves.

‘To Crawl Inside’ is but an intro track, 43 seconds of no-wave buzz and a vocal stew that bubbles discord and disquiet. It sets the tone in that it’s raw and ragged, angular and challenging, but it barely begins to set the levels for volume and abrasion. On Self Surgery, Wolfe and Gowrie crank it up and go all out.

‘Downer Surrounded by Uppers’ blasts headlong into a grunge blast, and we’re talking more early Hole than the stereotypically formulaic quiet/loud dynamic of what’s come to be associated with grunge since Nevermind and Live Through This redrew the template and rendered it accessible. It’s not the only full-throttle grunge explosion: ‘Nobody Wants to Party with Us’ is throws in some skull-cracking percussion and an industrial edge that lands it somewhere between Pretty On the Inside and The Downward Spiral. It’s heavy-duty.

‘Knelt’ finds Chelsea in more familiar territory, with a grinding, low-registering bass and swirling maelstrom of distorted guitar providing a dense, murky backdrop to a breathy, brooding vocal that’s reminiscent of ‘Spun’. But while still cinematic, and also deep, dark, and weighty, as well as simultaneously ethereal, the guitars wrapped in layers of effects and drenched in reverb, there’s a different feel to the production here: less polished, less precise, everything is more up-front, more direct.

If the first half of the album is intense, the second is next level: muscles twitch and nerves jangle in the face of the upshift in pace and intensity that begins with the driving riffery of ‘M.B.O.T.W.O.’ and steps up with ‘You Took Everything’, which is shadowy, gloomy, gothic in mood, stark snare ricochets shaping the direction as screaming banshee backing vocals fill the backdrop with a fearful hauntology.

The title track is a daunting morass of dingy bass and pulverising percussion that paves the way for the mess of no-wave noise that is the pair’s titular tune and sums up what their about perfectly, as the guitars and dual vocals swirl in currents of feedback before a driving drum thrash that calls to mind Bleach-era Nirvana hammers to an unexpected moment of calm to fade.

Because of its timing, and its staunchly uncommercial titling, this project could well be a bit of a sleeper, but the fact is, it’s as strong as anything Wolfe has released during her career to date, and is a truly killer album in its own right.

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