Posts Tagged ‘synth’

Temple Invisible have unveiled their arresting new single ‘Over My Feet’, taken from new ‘Chiasm’ EP coming next month.

Fusing chiffon vocals with impending electronic beats, ‘Over My Feet’ comes as the third single plucked from Temple Invisible’s forthcoming ‘Chiasm’ EP, and boasts the breadth of the genre-defying duo.

Showcasing the two-piece’s knack for creating evocative electronic-tinged tracks that are as dark as they are diaphanous, “Over My Feet” feels eerie and overcast yet optimistic and inviting all at once.

Speaking of the inspiration behind the track, vocalist Irina Bucescu explains:

“’Over My Feet’ is like a walk in the forest. It draws its roots from the deep and rich life of the underground — the mycelium. As you progress deeper into the forest, you connect with the life force, inside out, and blend the deeper and more disturbing truths into a multi-layered view of reality. The metamorphosis of death can be a beautiful thing when you walk in the forest.”

With its opening moments unfolding like a silken ballad — gauzy vocals and gentle key taps wind themselves around one another with cushiony ease — the docile ambience is soon underpinned by swirling electro rhythms that steadily threaten to erupt, before overflowing into a meticulous amalgam of rippling instrumentals.

Watch the video here:

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Pagan synth duo, Esoterik have unveiled their new full-length LP, Alchemy.

The concept of Alchemy has many different forms and interpretations but the analogy holds true for any artist in that we take elements or ingredients, which on their own have a certain character and then take on a transformation into something that didn’t exist before.

Is it magick or is something more tangible? Who’s to say? But there’s no denying that words have power and music in itself has the ability to illicit a variety of emotions that time stamp our journey throughout life.

About the album, Alchemy, the band says the following, "We took a different approach with this album than we have in the past with a clear vision from the start thematically of what we wanted to achieve and then crafted each track around that."

As a taster, they’ve delivered a video for ‘Tria Prima’ which you can watch here:

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Cool Thing Records – 25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Cool Thing isn’t just a name: it’s essentially a manifesto. Established in 2014 as a conduit for Asylums to release their music, the label is truly a beacon of DIY independence, with in-house PR, the lot. One suspects the success they’ve achieved is in no small part to the calibre of the releases they’ve put out, not only for Asylums and side-project BAIT, but also the various acts from their locale of Southend-on-Sea, and occasionally London that they’ve given a home through the years.

The latest is ‘Submission’ by Southend electronic duo A Cause In Distress’, the follow up to the band’s third single, ‘Paraffin’, released just short of a year ago.

The band describe themselves as ‘The lovechild of Nine Inch Nails, Fugazi & Radiohead, if it was fathered by David Lynch’, and on the basis of previous press coverage, they’re everything all at once, which sounds like a tightrope walk that could be spectacularly amazing, or the most disastrous plunge into a catastrophic platter of shit imaginable.

Cool Thing know how to pick ‘em, and this is an outstanding hybrid that packs a throbbing synth that weaves and waves, propelled by an urgent shuffling beat and a vocal reminiscent of Morten Harket: it’s as if Factory Floor had perfected soaring melodic pop instead of running out of steam and ideas after just two EPs. At three minutes, it’s succinct, and it feels like half that. The cyclical groove just sucks you in, and tugs you along, and you’re completely immersed. It’s not music, it’s alchemy. Give in to it.

A Cause In Distress - ‘Submission’ _ Artwork

Lia Hide – Dinner

Conch Town Records – 25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Such a contentious word. Two syllables, it kind of has a satisfying downbeat in the middle before an inflection, and on the face of it, completely innocuous. But ‘dinner’ is a territory of dispute that denotes and divides regions. It’s all about positioning – whether it’s ‘breakfast, dinner, and tea, or breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is essentially an English debate, and personally, I believe cricket has the answer the end all debate, stopping for lunch and tea – afternoon tea. That and the fact that no pubs display a ‘dinner’ menu at lunchtime.

So, while Lia Hide is from Greece, I’m working on the premise that the follow up to the absolutely cracking ‘Proposal’, the first single from her forthcoming fourth album, The Missing Fourth Guest, is about an evening meal, with the lighting low – probably candles – and a long evening in prospect.

As she explains in the accompanying notes, “It’s an invitation to dinner , so we can mend things that went wrong. I go from being alone in my own head, in my mess, to reaching out for some communication with someone, anyone, so we can have dinner, discuss and focus on being alright.”

It sounds like a pretty nervy meal in prospect, and the track has an appropriately tense start, which burred whips of electric tension and glitching distortion cutting across the gentle piano and subdued beats. ‘Can we focus on being alright?’ she sings in a low-key, ponderous tone. Beats burst and stutter all around over a rolling piano before, seemingly from out of nowhere, brass bursts and blossoms, introducing an unexpectedly jazz feel to this roiling, multi-faceted electronica.

It’s anything but obvious, but it’s magnificently executed, and makes you hungry for more. Who’s for supper?

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Cruel Nature Recordings –11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m not sure if it’s irony or simply appropriate that VHS¥DEATH should have their latest EP released on cassette, but then London-based Natalie Wardle is also a member of industrial/art-punk band Returning Videotapes, so there’s certainly a vintage media theme here. I write that as someone who remembers when the CD was the future which would render both vinyl and cassette formats obsolete at the end of an era where home taping was allegedly killing music. Who could have predicted that not even home downloading would have killed music, but that the instantly would have killed itself by slowly choking itself with greed and sputtering its death throes over streaming platforms raking in millions while paying artists fractions of a penny per hundred streams?

The relevance of this digression is that the six tracks on Corrupted Geisha – the follow up to ‘La Llorona (Love & All The Hate)’ released last year, sees Wardle incorporate – as the Accompanying notes observe – ‘breakbeats and hip-hop / UK garage stylings alongside spoken-word samples and dark synth-laden bass-heavy soundscapes’.

‘Space Bankers See You, the End is Near’ opens the EP in magnificent style, a near-perfect hybrid of hip-hop and experimental, samplist collaging, and there’s a lot of rants against capitalism in the mix here. It’s a layered piece where the samples dominate the musical backdrop that transitions from chunky hip-hop to minimal country. It’s like flicking through TV channels in the mid to late 90s, like stopping by your stoner uni mates’ house to find them whacked and listening to Wu-Tang.

The Dystropian mix of ‘Falsehood of Man’ works without any familiarity with the original mix: samples and rapid-fire drum ‘n’ bass percussion collide in what is ultimately a rather tensely-delivered list of psychological disorders, and ‘666 Pounds of Zedro Gravity’ follows this trajectory, a dark doom drone of synths providing the backdrop to tense samples.

‘Snakes in the Grass’ makes a sharp left turn into the domain of the weird with its rippling vocal effects and thick,, squelchy beats, not to mention downtuned, dolorous guitars. It’s intense and powerful: it’s not pleasant.

The lo-fi indie-goth of ‘What’s Your Worth, Vampire?’ is of such different sound and sound quality that it feels like a different band. It very much highlights the diversity and eclecticism of VHS¥DEATH, but it’s not a quick or easily assimilation in terms of stylistic mode.

The EP closes with a pretty faithful cover of Ministry’s ‘(Every Day Is’) Halloween – their first on Wax Trax!, but at the point they still hadn’t really evolved beyond Depeche Mode-y electropop. But then, faithful doesn’t account for the additional darkness, murk, and ethereal shades this version brings to the party, and it perhaps tells us more about VHS¥DEATH than is immediately apparent.

Corrupted Geisha isn’t an instantly digestible set by any means, and at times, its range is difficult to assimilate. But that shouldn’t be taken as a lack of focus or identity, so much as an indicator of an act whose sound and style is hard to pin down. And that alone deserves applause.

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Everest Records – 14th January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Language is fluid, it evolves. Sometimes I appreciate that, and like the fact. Other times, this is something which can be intensely frustrating, and it seems the meaning of hypernormal has evolved – seems to have been reconfigured, rechannelled – with remarkable rapidity. Initially, it was something of a colloquialism, an on-trend sassy term to describe something that was so normal it was beyond bland.

The connotations of the scarily mundane, the individual who was so lacking individuality that they made clones appear unique, which emerged late in the first decade of the new millennium remained largely stable until Adam Curtis delivered his seismic three-hour documentary in 2016, which espoused the theory that HyperNormalisation is a process whereby a mundane, readily-digested version of life and society has been superimposed over the complex world by those in power. And so according to this, we now live in a ‘fake’ world. And this concept of a constructed reality overlaying the true reality seems unsettlingly feasible. What, and who can you trust or believe? Trust no-one; believe nothing.

Perhaps because I think too much and don’t sleep enough, I’ve wondered ever since I was a child if the world we live in is real, or if we’re all figments of our own imagination, and if reality is a construct. Yes, I experienced existentialism combined with some kind of take on The Matrix at the age of five. But I digress, and there is a point to all of this, and that is that nothing is fixed, nothing is certain. We know so little, we don’t even know ourselves.

Pless’ hybrid sound is absolutely not normal, and it’s certainly not normal beyond normal so as to be the next level of mundane; but nor does it feel entirely like a carefully-constructed fiction which bears the ultimate lie. That said, there is a certain element of deception here: the façade of simplicity, of minimal, semi-ambient electronica belies the detail and complexity of these layered compositions, and as such, it’s something not normal, disguised as something that resembles normal, or at least familiar. Ultimately, it’s something else entirely; something mellow, something layered, something dark and something light. All of this filters into cognisance in the first piece, the slow-paced, semi-abstract ‘Azure’, whereby spectral synths drift around a metronomic drum and ever-moving bass tones.

The drum sound is noteworthy: it’s somehow immediate, up-front, and dry, as well as reverby, landing between Joy Division and Duran Duran.

The synths of ‘La Cienaga’ lean towards A Flock of Seagulls, but the stuttering drums and stammering incidentals contribute to transporting this track to another place entirely, one filled with dark shadows cast by brooding electropop and darkwave. Meanwhile, the six-minute ‘La Grenouille Volante’ has a bass that thrums like an engine throbbing at the dark heart of its soft ambient washes and distant drums. Around two-thirds in, it unexpectedly revs up a gear, and while the same, the additional volume translates to additional intensity, too.

The haunting, spectral organ drone of ‘Ante finem’ is blasted through with hefty tribal percussion, gradually shifting to a slow, deliberate bass-driven trudge, while ‘Fog City’ is every bit as murky and disorientating as you would likely imagine, with vocal samples and reverberated snare cracks echoing through stark synth stabs, and ‘Hot God’ comes on like a collision between Kraftwerk and DAF with a dash of early New Order, mining a deep seam of late 70s/early 80s electronica. The final track, the ten-minute ‘Reodorant’ is a dark-ambient epic in every sense, deep, moody, a little unnerving.

Each of the pieces shifts as it progresses, and evolves over the course of its duration, often subtly, twisting through expansive soundscapes front one plateau to another. Under the cloak of minimalism is shrouded considerable detail, and a quite remarkable focus on texture and movement. Even in the most stagnant of moments, there isn’t an element of stillness here. It may be cold, it may be distanced, but it’s also quite its own work. Normal? What even is that anyway? Stark, sparse, yet so, so rich, with Hypernormal, it becomes clear that Pless is more.

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Time to Kill Records (TTK) – 15th December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

A good slogan or manifesto can say so much more than the words in themselves. And so it is that Vonamor introduce themselves with a bold statement that hints at Dada or perhaps the more arch and ironic Neoism in a way.

Vonamor state that:

VONAMOR is music and movement. VONAMOR is real and virtual.

VONAMOR is the end and the beginning. VONAMOR is from love, of love, for love.

Vonamor are more than simply a band, then, and more an aesthetic, a single-act movement. They exist in the space between simultaneous contradictions, the likes of which have informed poetical works since the Renaissance, with Sir Thomas Wyatt’s ‘I Find No Peace’ sonnet effectively setting a blueprint for modern literature.

Postmodernism, and Neosim in particular positively revelled in those contradictions, taking the avant-garde idea of self-awareness and self-destruction as a means of creating anew, and this, on the strength of Vonamor’s statement, is their primary objective: to be everything, and therefore nothing: to exist, they must cease to exist.

How seriously to we take this? They look pretty serious to me, but that may all be part of the performance. The next, and perhaps most important question is, does the music validate the bravado and high art bombast?

‘Take Your Heart’ is a smart slice of stark, minimal electronica, dark pop with a gothy, post-punk leaning, a collision of Siousxie and Florence and the Machine that’s both spiky and groovy, five minutes of mid-tempo doom-disco with an industrial edge – I’m talking more later Depeche Mode than Nine Inch Nails. It’s daring in the adherence to the adage that less is more: it’s tight and claustrophobic, and this gives the song a particular intensity.

No question this is a low-budget effort on all fronts, but that’s a significant part of the appeal. This isn’t some major-label act masquerading as something cult and underground to score kudos and cool cachet; Vonamor are clearly a fringe act with big, bold ideas and a strong sense of identity, and ‘Take Your Heart’ is understated but strong.

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7th December 2021

Crimson Brûlée emerged in 2019 as an offshoot of guitar-driven goths The Witch-Kings, after a difference of opinion over the incorporation of synths. No diss to The Witch-Kings, but Tragica presents a magnificent sound.

It’s a pretty awkward band name and so-so title for a great album, but there is context, at least for the latter, in that the EP is delivered in homage to the band’s original bassist, Johan, who passed away in early 2021.

He would likely have been proud. With Tragica Crimson Brûlée really nail their position as a top-notch goth act. It’s billed as an EP, but comes with a stack of remixes which bulks it uo to nine tracks, which is effectively an album or two EPs.

‘I Came Back to You’ is a strong opener, combining trad goth with the sound and feel of early Psychedelic Furs, packing minor chords and an insistent beat in the verses, that burst into something wonderful in the choruses. Light explodes and it feels redemptive. It could easily be a Talk Talk Talk outtake. The intro to ‘Nothing Dies Forever’ invites comparisons to She Wants Revenge: it’s dramatic, bold, bombastic, synth-led but driven by some meaty guitars, and absolutely fucking epic, and never lets up for its five-minute duration.

It’s the strolling bass that dominates ‘Restrained’, which is anything but in terms of its epicness. All bar one of the songs are over the five-minute mark, but ‘Where the Tarantulaa Roam’, extending beyond the six-minute mark, is an absolute beast, and one that calls to mind Susperia, only with swirling backing vocals reminiscent of All About Eve’s Julianne Reagan. With the synths backed off but sweeping all around, the mix is immense.

‘Why I Wear Black’ is more guitars, more SWR-like. Yet for all the references, this feels fresh and innovative: this is not an album that deals in tropes and the lyrics are personal and genuine rather than contrived.

It’s a really, really strong suite of songs, The remixes are pretty good, to be fair, but non-essential.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Over recent months – and more – we’ve unravelled the series of releases by experimental oddballs Kröter, via their affiliation with the king of quirk, Mr Vast, formerly of cack pop maestros Wevie Stonder, aka Wevie De Crepon. You can never have too many side-projects, offshoots, and affiliated acts, and so it is that Kröter-associated Hunger give us Wollufos. (Hunger is Christoph Rothmeier & Jörg Hochapfel; Rothmeier is the other half of Kröter along with Henry Sargeant, aka Mr Vast). This is their eighth self-distributed album, and their first on vinyl.

Have you managed to keep up so far? Good, because it’s only going to get more complex and convoluted, because these guys are a prolific, self-contained community cranking out endless oddities, and Wollufos is no exception. They pitch it as ‘mixing fake folk acoustic instrumentation like banjos and open tuning guitars with Harry Partch-style homemade devices’. Fake folk?

From the springy sproingy lo-fi shuffling synth whackout of the brief intro piece that is ‘Zwergenfieber’, it’s immediately apparent that this is going to be a substantial serving of quirky, off-the-wall music that doesn’t conform to any conventions, even their own. The Berlin-based duo work across time signatures and genres at the same time, with some woozy, warpy synths and picked guitars existing in the same space but seemingly playing different songs. Then there’s the leaning towards titling their quirky, heavily rhythm-orientated instrumental ditties in French.

‘Mambo Momie’ is an exercise in bleepy motoric minimalism, and the album is brimming with minimal beats and squelchy synths, as is nowhere more apparent than on the strolling ‘Sunset Sling’. When it comes to making music with all the bells and whistles, Hunger take this quite literally: download bonus cut ‘Schuhe aus Brot’ sees them pull out all the stops to create something that borders on the overwhelming, with additional droning horn sounds and blasts of noise on top of the stuttering, clamorous percussion, before winding down to trickling chimes.

There’s some kind of half-baked wonky country / space crossover on ‘Chariot de Pipi’, and the atonal, off-key pickings of ‘Macramée Cramée’ are truly brain-bending. And then there’s the twelve-minute ‘Hundenebel’, a quivering proggy space-rock workout that makes optimal use of space and distance and of Daniel Glatzel’s clarinet to forge a vast sonic vista. Great, yawning siren wails rub against bubbling synth swells, and there are so many contrasts, to may layers, so many juxtapositions.

Why do we find discord so difficult to process? Even while I enjoy it, I find that numerous things that are seemingly disconnected or otherwise independent create something of a sensory overload that isn’t always entirely pleasurable, and can at times prove quite disorientating and uncomfortable. It messes with our orientation and equilibrium, trips our sense of balance and spins us off centre. Wollufos will leave you dizzy. At times it’s quite bewildering, but it’s never dull or lacking in inspiration.

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12th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Cyborg Amok’s eponymous debut. Sure, there’s the press release, and no, it’s not lazy journalism to take cribs and pointers from press releases. This one forewarns that Cyborg Amok ‘resides somewhere between the brilliance of twilight and the apocalyptic darkness. Their gothic infused synth-rock sound delivers the listener to a panorama of synthetic waves, twisted organic tones and a slightly pop crust … the language angels speak in the darkness.’

I don’t entirely compute the implications of this, can’t even really unravel them, not least of all because I can’t always grasp what passes for ‘gothic’ these days having lost the thread some time in the mid to late 90s with the emergence of cybergoth, which sounded just like so much bad techno to me, and a million miles from the post-punk origins of the genre, and the subsequent ‘waves’ of goth which coincided with myriad hybrid mutant strains. Perhaps I am something of a pursuit in my personal tastes, but as a critic, I try to be more accommodating. But sometimes, you just have to accept that music is music and it’s either good or bad, because your audience are unlikely to share your prejudicial quirks.

Cyborg Amok is Greg Bullock (formerly the keyboardist with RealEyes and Shamen) and drummer Brydon Bullock (no relation as far as is obvious), and their debut album is in fact bringing together their first two (now deleted) EPs, so, if I’m being picky it’s not really a debut album but a compilation (which is also true of The March Violets’ Natural History among others. Not that it detracts from the force of these seven songs pulled together in one place. Oh no. Cyborg Amok kicks.

‘Burden Away’ brings bulldozing bass and stuttering mechanised drums. The rhythm guitar trudges and grinds, while Greg’s brooding baritone vocals registers in the ribcage – but while it’s so much industrial grind, the lead guitars are warped country, and there’s a twangy inflection in the vocals to match. It’s solid, but if you’re looking for a pigeonhole, you’re going to struggle. Things get even more complicated with ‘Still Too Far Out’, which straddles Nightbreed-flavoured second/third wave goth with its organ synth sounds evoking sepulchral gloom against guitars that fizz in a swathe of chorus and flange… and then there’s a fuck-off keyboard solo that’s B-Movie and Ultravox and it may be incongruous by 2020s standards, but perfectly in place in context of those precursors.

With its space-themed title and snarling, bulbous, electronics, ‘Dancing on the Floor of the Sea of Tranquillity’ provides more of the vibes the moniker and title perhaps evoke, and if it suggests extravagant prog enormity, it’s no criticism to say that after its dark, stark intro, it slips towards 80s electropop in the vein of A-Ha.

There are some Cure-esque moments scattered about the album, too, but then this is an album, that assimilated huge swathes of 80s that’s not exactly band-specific, but the zeitgeist.

There’s some overblown prog guitar that’s Yngwie Malmsteen overdone, but once they’re done with the moments of indulgence (‘Choice Not Taken’ is perhaps the greatest showcase of guilt), they deliver some impressive musical moments, where the ambition is equalled by the ability.

They’re at their best when they keep it minimal, sparse, nailed down: last track ‘Another Turn’ bears solid – and favourable – comparisons to Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, with its steely beats and grey, steely guitars backing a gruff, ragged vocal delivery. It’s a style that works well, and while this compilation must provide a point at which to assess the trajectory of their career, the evidence here is that they’re doing everything right and need to forge ahead and capitalise on their work so far, because this is a strong dark album.

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