Posts Tagged ‘KMFDM’

The latest release from the darkly delicious mind of Raymond Watts aka PIG is ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’, a brand new EP awash with religious lyrical fervour and riffs that could effortlessly crush a tank.

Teased in early May, the relentless juggernaut of a title track opens proceedings and is followed onto the dancefloor by ‘Speak Of Sin’, which sounds like an instant PIG masterpiece and of which Watts says “I wanted to brew up a song of bounteous horrors and delights for the barren of belief, bathed in the brutality and beauty of pure electronic savagery.” The song sports a matching video, with Watts simply explaining: “Who else to turn to but Ed Finkler? His acid soaked visuals are the perfect balance to burn your eyeballs like a sacred heart will seduce the soul.”

Things then take a turn for the sublime as ‘Tarantula’ sinks its pernicious fangs deep into the psyche, clasping the listener tight in its electronic web, while closing out the release is the slower but no less ecclesiastic ‘Shooting Up Mercy’, an epic paean to the cosmic joke that is human existence.
Accompanying these four new slices of PIGgish playfulness on its 12” vinyl format are three bonus extended versions added to the digital release to fully sate your fix.

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ completes PIG’s tarot quadrilogy, a tragedy in four parts that also includes the earlier volumes ‘Sex & Death’, ‘Pain is God’ and ‘Drugged Dangerous & Damned’.
Providing blessings, but hopefully not the bleeding, on this particular release are regular PIG collaborators Steve White, En Esch and Michelle Martinez.

As with the other releases in the set, Watts has determined that presentation is paramount, and the spellbinding physical edition of ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ comes on opulent 12" white vinyl in a die cut custom sleeve that houses a printed inner sleeve and three brand new tarot cards.

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The latest release from the darkly delicious mind of Raymond Watts aka PIG is ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’, a brand new EP awash with religious lyrical fervour and riffs that could effortlessly crush a tank. The title track is a relentless juggernaut before ‘Speak Of Sin’ takes to the dancefloor. It sounds like an instant PIG masterpiece.

Things take a turn for the sublime as ‘Tarantula’ sinks its pernicious fangs deep into the psyche, clasping the listener tight in its electronic web, while closing out the release is the slower but no less ecclesiastic ‘Shooting Up Mercy’, an epic paean to the cosmic joke that is human existence.
Accompanying these four new slices of PIGgish playfulness on its 12” vinyl format are three bonus extended versions added to the digital release to fully sate your fix.

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ completes PIG’s tarot quadrilogy, a tragedy in four parts that also includes the earlier volumes ‘Sex & Death’, ‘Pain is God’ and ‘Drugged Dangerous & Damned’.

Providing blessings, but hopefully not the bleeding, on this particular release are regular PIG collaborators Steve White, En Esch and Michelle Martinez.

As with the other releases in the set, Watts has determined that presentation is paramount, and the spellbinding physical edition of ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ comes on opulent 12" white vinyl in a die cut custom sleeve that houses a printed inner sleeve and three brand new tarot cards.

Watch the lyric video for ‘Baptise Bless & Bleed’ here:

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3rd December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

If there’s ever been an emerging theme across music of all genres in the last year and a half, it’s isolation. Yes, if a global pandemic has achieved one thing, it’s brought everyone together in their feelings of isolation.

And so it is that we learn that the tracks on Graceful Isolation ‘address the feelings of isolation and coming to terms with new norms that the past year has brought. The title is derived from the fact that over the course of the album, none of the collaborators were ever in the same room.

One could counteract that in creating an album featuring numerous collaborations (notably Kimberly Kornmeier of brooding orchestral electro goth act Bow Ever Down on vocals on three songs, but also a slew of remixers), Dave McAnally has been far from alone despite being forced to work in physical isolation, yielding an album that demonstrates that distance is no object and geography is a state of mind, even if it is no substitute for proximity.

‘Poison My Skin’ makes for an atmospheric opener, with stark, minimal synths and drum machine providing a cold backdrop. ‘You’re never gonna touch me again’, Kimberly croons in a detached, robotic monotone, with subtle hints of Siouxsie, while giving voice to the thoughts that have echoed around my head that there are likely many people I have seen, heard, and been in the presence of for the last time in my life. I don’t miss the office, I don’t miss the people I used to work alongside in that artificial, uncomfortable, unnatural space, and yet… well, none of us expected that way of life to be curtailed, and certainly not in the way it was, an instant switch-off. March 2020, on being told to go home to work, I never anticipated being away more than a few weeks. And here we are… people have moved on; people have left; people are no longer with us. It’s been a long and painful couple of years.

‘All the Pieces’ and in particular ‘Impossible Dreams’ are stripped-back and sparse in their arrangements – not quite demos, but certainly skeletal, with stuttering drum machines providing the brittle spine to the songs. The lack of flesh on the bones is integral to the appeal here.

‘Drowning in the Past’ and ‘Illusions’ are tense, queasy in their taut atmosphere. McAnally resumes vocal duties, and said vocals are pegged low in the mix, compressed, accentuating the dislocation and distance. The former pegs a particularly expansive guitar solo to some nagging synths and comes on like a proggy James Ray, and it’s some good shit if you’re on the market for dark, gothy electropop.

My only niggle – surprisingly or perhaps not so much – would be that the thirteen tracks on the album consist of only five individual songs, and with three mixes of ‘All The Pieces’ slap bang in the middle, in addition to the original version, plus three versions of ‘Drowning in the Past’ it’s does get a little bit repetitive, and it may have worked better as an EP and a remix EP rather than a full-length album in its own right. Put another way, I’d play the grooves off the EP, but would probably only spin the remixes every now and again – not because they’re poor remixes, but because the original cuts hang together so well, it feels like a fully-realised document that requires no adornment.

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Cleopatra Records

Christopher Nosnibor

As a label, Cleopatra has arguably established itself as the home of goth and dark music, with leanings toward the vintage period where goth emerged from post-punk – alongside some classic 80s acts, old-school punk, and some weird shit, of course.

Belgian ‘band’ Controversial – the vehicle of Bart Coninckx – mines a largely industrial seam in the vein of Wax Trax! – early Ministry, KMFDM, Skrew, blending stark synths with grating guitars and thumping programmed beats.

It’s a bleak, barren start to the album with the eerie dark drone of ‘The Trauma of Birth’ that ruptures the haunting, ethereal choral sound with dirty guitars and grainy samples, before things get 80s motoric with the cyclical synth groove of ‘With a Vision of Death’: plinking videogame laser sounds give way to the heavy chug of a metallic guitar, and, low in the mix, a distorted, Al Jourgensen style raspy roar that growls and spits and snarls its way through a cacophony of tortured howl.

Having done birth and death, we’re into the myriad shades of pain of the human condition, from recent single ‘Violence’ – an absolutely relentless riff-driven pounder – to the brooding piano-led ‘Is This the Best’ via serene theatricals of ‘Crying’ that swerves into an epic prog guitar solo. You couldn’t accuse Controversial of being predictable or one-dimensional.

Over the course of thirteen muscular cuts (plus a couple of bonus remixes courtesy of Die Krupps and Laether Strip) dominated by some brutally heavy, hard-edge riffage, Controversial tears through modern society like, like a typhoon, like a forest fire, like a juggernaut with the brakes cut.

‘Commercial Breakdown’ blasts its way through pandemic control mechanisms and leans heavily on both ‘NWO’ and ‘Psalm 69’ but works because of it rather than in spite of it – because if you’re going to be overt, best to take a solid source of influence, and while much of the album is geared toward the grating guitar sound, a handful, like ‘Suffering Unseen’ (which nabs the drum fill from Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Nag Nag Nag’) go all out technoindustrial / aggrotech. The songs tend to be centred around heavy repetition, both with circular, repetitive riffs and motifs, and looped samples, pitched around the optimal 120 BPM to render them instant grippers.

No two ways about it, Second Genesis is a solid album with plenty of attack paired with an unexpected range.

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16th May 2021

James Wells

The government has a vested interest in controlling information. The media is driven by its own agenda, be it pro- or anti-government. Everyone has an agenda. Social media is war, and inchoate babble of conflicting views, most of which are based on opinion rather than information. But then information is suppressed, manipulated, statistics cut to suit specific ends… who can you trust? Well, probably no-one.

When governments and people in power blatantly lie, it’s no wonder people get suspicious and there’s a spreading air of mistrust – and of course, that’s when conspiracy theories spread like wildfire. In this kind of information war, what can you believe?

As Ilker Yucel of ReGen Magazine writes, ‘Talk City’ was written ‘with lyrics addressing the spread of misinformation and the resulting distrust that pervades modern society’ during the Summer and Fall of the pandemic in 2020. ‘Talk City,’ then, has a very clear message, that is one should not believe everything they read or hear in the media, but rather, research and find the truth.

Things have become deeply clouded and also deeply divided of late, with an ever-growing ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. It seems that questioning the media – who we’ve long known to be skewed by agendas, be they left, right, pro-government, or whatever – now automatically makes one a conspiracy theorist. We live in a polarised world, in which anyone who isn’t pro-Tory or pro-Trump is a communist, anyone who didn’t vote to leave the EU is a remoaning lefty, and so on. There are no grey areas anymore. Anyone with reservations about vaccine side-effects is lambasted is an anti-vaxxer. Debate is dead. Might is right. But there’s a vast difference between questioning what you’re fed and buying into conspiracy theories, and that’s the message here: think, question, do your research.

‘Talk City’ is a pretty catchy tune, the perfect coming together of pop hooks and grainy industrial guitars and thunderous beats. It’s a combination of gritty industrial percussion, an insistent bass groove and growling vocals, that’s reminiscent of RevCo, KMFDM, and PIG. It’s solid stuff and has real bite. Right tune, right time.

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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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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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Metropolis Records – 20th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Despite their associations with both KMFDM and Foetus (Raymond Watts has been a touring member of both, and En Esch has returned the favour by contributing to PIG), and playing as the main support to Nine Inch Nails on the European leg of the Downward Spiral tour and releasing albums on Interscope around the turn of the millennium, PIG remain something of an obscurity, a band revered by those in the know. I can’t help but think that it’s because, for all their adoption of the aggrotech / technoindustrial stylings of KMFDM, and the grandiose extravagance of Foetus, they don’t really sit comfortably anywhere.

Their recent releases, which have been coming thick and fast in the past few years, while adhering to the fundamentals of their earlier blueprints, with thumping beats and grating, heavily processed guitars, have taken a poppier, and also more glam leaning. It’s a style that suits the flamboyant Watts, who’s always revelled in the theatrical and the performance aspects of rock ‘n’ roll. Pain is God continues to incorporate the glammy elements that first came to the fore on 2016’s The Gospel, particularly on stomping single cut ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Refugee’ – but then, this is being a PIG album, it incorporates so many elements, spanning eurodisco, industrial, and aggrotech, all tessellated together to form a perfect assembly. The ‘Militant Mix’ of ‘Mobocracy’ (the original version of which was the lead track on a limited tour-only EP released last year) melds grating slabs of industrial guitar to a thumping dancefloor beat, breaking down to piano and grand strings.

‘Badland’ brings a bold funk strut and a barrel load of brash brass. Orchestral details lace the slow grinding greasy girth of ‘The Wages of Sin’, while ‘Kickin Ass’ does just that, with a thick bass groove and a guitar line that’s more hair rock than glam rock, but still manages to avoid being remotely corny. The lighter-waving anthemic ‘Suffer no More’ which draws the curtain on the album does teeter perilously close, but gets a pass by virtue of its incongruity and sheer audacity.

If the album and song titles are thin on porcine puns, the themes and tropes are the same as they’ve been since the very start of Watts’ career under the PIG moniker – sex, death, pain, evil – with a generous scattering of religious references, predominantly around Catholicism (the cover art is a reasonable starting point), and a superabundant splattering of sleaze. And with the sultry seduction of ‘Drugged Dangerous & Damned’ Watts manages to shoehorn in one of his signature triple alliterations. For some reason, it never gets tired. I suspect this is, at least in part, because Pig balance all the self-knowing parody, the supersaturation of cliché and repetition with a flair for invention, stylistic range and, above all, decent tunes.

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Raymond Watts aka PIG began his musical crusade in a Berlin basement in the shadow of the Wall back in the mid-1980’s. Perhaps it was the terror and turmoil that  lends a certain sense of menace to the trademark decadence of his group’s sound. When the Wall fell, our salacious saviour set out into the desert on a journey that has spawned countless albums and projects….not only PIG, but some of KMFDM’s finest material and numerous other collaborations that have included scoring for Alexander McQueen shows, as well as installations and exhibitions.

Our sacred saint of all seven sins has now delivered a new divine declaration in the form of Pain is God. Fourteen tracks of swine and swagger, it is an exegesis of excess – glitches and guitars, allure and libido, danceable decadence – and the weaponised word of the Lord of Lard, here to save your skin from the wages of sin.

A single from the album entitled ‘Rock N Roll Refugee’ is out now. A delicious taste of electronic rock, Watts describes it as “the demon seed of glam and electronica stirred to an apotheosis of ejaculating guitars and lamenting vocals. A song that’s loose enough for your vices and tight enough for your virtues.” The hook heavy song features backing vocals from Michelle Martinez to add an extra touch of soul, and also sees Watts reunite with guitarist Steve White on record for the first time since PIG released albums via Nothing Records and Wax Trax! in the 1990’s.

A video for ‘Rock N Roll Refugee’ (directed by E Gabriel Edvy) is a decadent dive into Pop art influences, but can be seen as more of a nod to the Fluxus movement and the likes of Nam June Paik or George Maciunas rather than the mainstream Warhol-ian aspects of the genre. The song and video interplay as a homage to Intermedia, filtered through the mind of the Swine.

Watch the video here:

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7th August 2020

James Wells

This, the third single from NKOS, is one of those tunes that just grows and grows, layer by layer, until it’s absolutely immense. Starting out subtly and slightly sinister, the beats build until the drums properly kick in, and it’s such a tight, punchy percussion, t smacks you right between the eyes, while a looping, cyclical groove eddies around to create a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere. Techno meets hip-hop meets electrogoth as a grating bass and heavily processed vocal snarls all over, calling to mind KMFDM and PIG.

With additional production from Jagz Kooner, who we can forgive his work with Kasabian and Oasis on account of his work with Radio 4, Ladytron, and the cult but so-underrated Officers, ‘Lonely Ghost-Self’ is hard-edged without being overtly aggressive, attacking without being excessively abrasive, and successfully avoids cliché, and ‘Lonely Ghost-Self’ has a lot going in its favour.

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