Posts Tagged ‘PIG’

Metropolis Records – 27th May 2022

Christopher Nosnbor

We’re playing serious catchup here: the band have been on such a (bacon) roll of late that I’ve struggled to keep abreast of their output. It’s quite a contrast to the early post-millennium period, which saw the emergence of Pigmartyr / Pigmata in 2004 or 2005 (depending on your location), fully five years after Genuine American Monster, followed by silence until 2016. It looked for all the world as if Watts was washed up, wiped out, sunk, spent, stopped. The phoenix-like re-emergence with first The Diamond Sinners EP, followed by The Gospel flexed muscles only hinted at on the tentative collaborations with Marc Heal and Primitive Race the year before, and found Watts reinvigorated, revelling in the glammier aspects of industrial sleaze and going the whole hog on the alliteration – and it turned out to be just the (re)beginning. It turns out that next month will see the release of The Merciless Light, the fifth PIG album in six years, and it lands hot on the heels of Baptise Bless & Bleed.

Like many recent PIG releases, this EP features four new tracks, accompanied by remixes of three of them, and the lead track is that quintessential PIG hybrid of low, pulsating synth that bubbled, bumps, and grinds while Watts croaks and groans breathless sleazy and seductive about pain and crucifixion, before it bursts into a bombastic blast of extravagant gospel propelled by a thudding kick drum and chugging guitar with serrated edges.

For all of the crossover with KMFDM and various other industrial contemporaries, not to mention Watts’ formative work alongside JG Thirlwell, the bottom line is that PIG sound uniquely like PIG, with a uniquely hybrid sound of techno and industrial at its heart, but then with glam, goth, and gospel all whipped into the mix, while thematically, it continues the thread that runs from ‘Shit for Brains’ on the 1988 debut single.

‘Shooting Up Mercy’ marks a change in tempo, slowing things down and ramping up the gospel chorus, before throwing in an extravagant guitar break of Slash proportions. There really is never a dull moment, and on this outing, Watts has gone proper maximalist, and it’s delightful, despite / because of its dark overtones.

The remixes are tidy enough, particularly the eight-minute reworking of ‘Tarantula’ that trudges and thuds along with bleeps and squelches along the way, before hitting a deep slow dance groove; it’s the most restrained track on the release, but has no lack of grunt or grind, and the solid chorus remains intact and infectious, reminding us – as if we needed it – that Watts has a knack for a hook, meaning that with this latest offering, we are indeed blessed.

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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.

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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16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Initially intended as a straight follow up to their 2019 debut, Digital Scars, Chemical Violence evolved as a more technoindustrial work, with less primacy given to the guitars. But having said that, the band explain that they were keen to present a range of elements across the album: ‘We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant. We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant.’

The album slams straight in with the shuddering synths and thumping beats with the hard-edged stomp of ‘Prototype’. The vocals are gnarly, mangled, snarling, robotic – yes, derivative of Twitch era Ministry and a million Wax Trax! releases from 86-89, but that’s entirely the idea.

It was The Wedding Present who turned a negative music review into a T-Shirt bearing the slogan ‘all the songs sound the same’ and while it served to turn the criticism back on itself, it raises the very fair question of ‘what’s the problem?’ Certain genres particularly require a significant level of sameness.

Dance music is necessarily constructed around a narrow range of tempos, and this strain of electro-centric industrial is in many respects, an aggressive rendition of dance music (no, I’m not going to call it fucking EDM. Or EBM, either. Because there is just so much tribal wankery around genres, and rebranding shit doesn’t make it new shit, it just makes it the same shit rebranded. I never blame bands for this: it’s a press and marketing thing.

Chemical Violence most definitely isn’t shit – it’s an astute work that sees the band really exploit the genre forms to their optimum reach, and the point is that the further you delve into a genre, the more important the details become. Malice Machine know this, and this album is the evidence. ‘Dead Circuit’ presents the grinding sleaze of PIG, while ‘Machine Hate’ is pure insistent groove that’s overtly dance – most definitely drum dominant – but clearly has its grimy roots in that Chicago c86 sound. Flipping that, ‘Techno Pagan’ goes full raging Ministry industrial metal in the vein of ‘Thieves’. It wraps up with a killer rendition of Tubeway Army’s ‘Down in the Park’ that’s quite a shift, being both organic and robotic at the same time, and very much captures the stark spirit of the original. Covered by so many, from Marilyn Manson to Foo Fighters, and it’s become a synth-goth classic. Malice Machine seem to take some cues from the Christian Death version, but brings something unique to the party as well.

Where Malice Machine succeed with Chemical Violence clearly isn’t in its innovation, but its execution, and they don’t put a foot wrong, making for an album that really is all killer.

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Blind Mice Productions – 18th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

As the liner notes to Australian electro-industrial band SHIV-R’s fifth full-length album explain, ‘there is a Zen teaching that if you meet God on the road, you must kill him… What the killing of God means to each listener will be a unique and personal revelation. In a world full of gatekeepers and figureheads whose only interest in you is to tell you what to do, illusions will need to be shed and those who profess to have all the answers will need to be confronted’.

The title track launches the album with some harsh metallic guitars pitched against a pounding technoindustrial groove, where beats and synthesized bass are melded together perfectly. And while a lot of bands in this vein – even the likes of KMFDM to an extent – peg the guitars back in favour of pushing the synthesised elements of the instrumentation to the fore, to give a harsh, but ultimately slick, digital vibe overall, SHIV-R to crank up the guitars, and they punch hard, providing a strong counter to the danceable, mechanoid beats and throbbing low-end.

While growly or distorted vocals are common to the genre, it’s often strained-sounding or raspy, whereas Pete Crane has a rich, full-throated metal roar that has real depth and proper guts. That said, on ‘Spark’ and ‘Promises of Armageddon’ where they slip into grinding electrosleaze mode, evoking Pretty Hate Machine era Nine Inch Nails and mid-90s PIG, Crane shows a cleaner tone that’s poppy, but dark – which is a description that fits the slower pace of the Depeche Mode-like minimal electro of ‘Blue Turns to Black’. It’s well-placed at what would conventionally mark the end of side one – and highlights another strength of Kill God Ascend: it feels like an album in the classic sense, with ten tightly-structured and concise tracks that are sequenced in such a way as to drop the tempo, and conversely, slam in with an absolute banger, at just the right time. More than anything, it’s reminiscent of Stabbing Westward’s debut – but at the same time, Kill God Ascend is very much an album with its own identity.

Sixth track, ‘Empire’ is exemplary, kicking off virtual side two with a dark stomper on which Crane snarls, “I’m on my own path. Get the fuck out of my way.” He sounds like he means it, too.

There are some solid hooks, and Kill God Ascend sustains the angst from beginning to end – even when they bring it right down for the brooding penultimate song, ‘Valley of Death’, it’s as a prelude to the epic finale, the dark, slow-burning ‘Turpentine’ that’s gnarly and hefty and brimming with twists, turns, and glitches, a track where the machines finally devour the human components in a mangles mess of rust and dirt, blood and guts. And it’s at this point, you realise that god is indeed dead.

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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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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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