We Have a Technical 219: Don’t Want to Talk

It’s a very special travelogue episode of We Have a Technical as Bruce and Alex record their impressions of Terminus Festival in Calgary, along with a ton of special guest appearances from performers and friends of the site. Who brought the goods? What did we think of each and every performance? How much can two dudes record in one weekend on less than average sleep and with incredibly hoarse voices from yelling? You’ll have to listen to find out! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Here is the music that was played on this episode:

iVardensphere, “Thin Veil”
Glass Apple Bonzai, “Fire in the Sky (Live)”
FIRES, “Red Goes Grey”
Actors, “L’Appel Du Vide”
Leaether Strip, “Don’t Tame Your Soul”
Boy Harsher, “Underwater”
Mesh, “Taken For Granted”

Tracks: August 1st, 2018

Hey friends! Alex here, just home from a wonderful music-filled weekend at Terminus Festival, filled up with lots of fun stories and fond memories of another industrial summer camp. Bruce is away for three weeks, which means I’m minding the shop solo for a week or two, which means a slightly reduced posting schedule, although we will still have weekly episodes of We Have a Technical, as well as Bombers and We Have a Commentary for y’all to enjoy. I’m gonna crack a beer and get to work on this overdue edition of Tracks.

Paul Barker is OG always

Blush Response, “Live in Fear of Conflict”
Fresh illness from Joey Blush via aufnahme + wiedergarbe in the form of “Live in Fear of Conflict”. Taken from forthcoming 12″ Abuse Your Freedom, the track is pretty much straight EBM but also bridges some of the sounds Joey was working with on his work with Ant-Zen and Sonic Groove, misty textures forming in and around the rapidfire bassline and snappy drum track. More goodness from a producer who has been firing on all cylinders of late.

Lead Into Gold, “We’ll Take Tomorrow”
Feels like Paul Barker has been everywhere over the last couple of years, touring with The Cocks and A Perfect Circle, not to mention reactivating his Wax Trax-era project Lead Into Gold. Dropping just as he hits the road with LiG on an opening stint for ohGr, new album The Sun Behind the Sun draws on the bass grooves Barker has laid down on countless classic jams, throws in some of that classic Hermes Pan drum programming and some heavy brass-styled synth pads for a properly epic feel. Great stuff and a record that has shot to the top of our “must-listen” pile.

Cyanotic, “Time to Move”
Brand new release from Chicago’s industrial rock traditionalists Cyanotic T2 is actually an expanded (by almost 100%) version of their enjoyable 2017 release Tech Noir. This track Time to Move is a slight rejig of that record’s “Deadweight”, pushing the electronics to the forefront and highlighting the synthetic and mechanical aspect of Cyanotic’s game. T2 comes to us courtesy of Armalyte Industries in collaboration with Glitch Mode Recordings, a little trans-Atlantic partnership by labels that keep the machine-rock fires burning apocalypse bright in dark times.

Molchat Doma, “Tancevat”
We don’t know a damn thing about Belarus-based act Molchat Doma, but the fact that their new album is being released by the excellent folks at Detriti Records was all the co-sign we needed to check ’em out. Turns out the band trade in a peppy, drum-machine driven wave sound with plenty of twang and tremolo for the folks who like that sort of thing. And yes, by “the folks who like that sort of thing” we mean us here at I Die: You Die, meaning we’re gonna be keeping a close eye on this release.

Freak Dream, “Into the Sun”
Finally, we’re getting some weird rock fumes off Vancouver-based new Artoffact signees Freak Dream, whose debut LP Into the Sun will be released on September 21st. Elliot Langford is drawing from his punk and hardcore background and love for visionary producer-artists like Prince and Trent Reznor to create some seriously twisty synthpunk, replete with dreamy melodic breakdowns, full on grind-assaults and alternately reedy and snarled vocals that don’t seem like they should be in the same postal-code much less the same song. Kind of reminscent of Genghis Tron, which is a pretty good thing in our book.

We Have a Technical 218: A Regular CCR

It Was.

On the heels of bidding adieu to their subcultural home away from home for years on end, the Senior Staff are talking about Vancouver’s late great Club 23 West. Alex and Bruce talk about the club’s history in Vancouver as well as how the club’s fate points towards larger trends continent wide. They’re joined by some long-time friends and fellow DJs on this, the latest episode of We Have Technical, along with some last minute Terminus prep! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

aliceffekt, "Noon Guest"

aliceffekt - Noon Guest
Noon Guest

Devine Lu Linvega’s path to the current style of ambient he releases as aliceffekt has been a long one. The hyperactive mode of his early work, an interesting blend of glitch, noise, and chiptune, gradually calmed itself and found more a more placid, evocative pace. The thread running parallel to this musical one is Linvega’s work as a video game and app designer (alongside innumerable other design projects). The unmistakable visual style and uncanny effect of his virtual worlds and figures feels very much sympatico with the sparseness of recent aliceffekt releases, which makes the circumstances surrounding new release all the more intriguing.
Noon Guest is the soundtrack to still-in-development indie game Moon Quest, whose quirky throwback 8-bit style seems, at least from a visual perspective, to be of a much different cast than Linvega’s own monochromatic and often highly abstract games (to this casual gamer’s eyes it looks a tad like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP). Sound design remains one of aliceffekt’s calling cards, though the ambiguity of the sources of Noon Guest‘s sounds puts a fresh spin on it. While apparently incorporating “xenomorphic field recordings into 25 minutes of ambience from the game,” it’s not clear whether Linvega himself’s responsible for the original in-game sounds which act as the jumping off point for the soundtrack.
Still, regardless of lineage, the sounds found on Noon Guest carry a great deal of weight, at times reminding me of latter-era Access To Arasaka in their spacey, echoing moments, while at others feeling much more submerged. While there are plenty of clear fluctuations in tones across these pieces (ambient doesn’t necessitate drone, of course), more often than not they seem to fulfill a textural rather than melodic purpose, bringing into clearer focus the pings, attacks, and decays Linvega’s engineered. Whether these are meant to connote landscapes or the habits of the aforementioned xenomorphs is unclear free from the context of Moon Quest. Hell, even the wordplay of the release’s title and those of its tracks (“Loom Rest”, “Womb Nest”, “Tomb Pest”) seems to suggest a conscious abstraction away from the game itself, but either way the minimal yet rewarding groove Linvega’s settled into is well represented here.
Buy it.

Jérôme Chassagnard, "Sea"

Jérôme Chassagnard
Hymen Records

Even if you weren’t aware of the concept behind Jérôme Chassagnard’s new released Sea, the splashing samples that start the record should clue you in right away. Literal as they are, the sounds of waves that permeate each track on the release serve an important purpose, ushering the listener into the record’s playful, atmospheric take on the aquatic.
Even minus the samples, Chassagnard’s sound design suggests water, and specifically being submerged. The short release’s title track opens with the sound of a diver entering the water, and follows it with the sound of a SCUBA breathing apparatus. Even once a gentle electronic melody starts to repeat and the track starts to abstract itself, the deep modulating pads carry the song forward inevitably, like a current. The song “See” does a similar thing in reverse, starting with deep drones with little to no discernible shape or boundary, suggesting the isolated and alien nature of the deep ocean. A simple comforting keyboard line emerges from those depths, occasionally bending under pressure but ultimately carrying the song upwards towards the surface.
The middle of the record plays much more like trad IDM, embellishing the drippy, liquid soundscapes with glitchy percussion and tweaky synthlines. The familiarity of this approach ends up playing against the songs a bit, losing some of the alien soundscape quality so apparent in the release’s bookends. The intricately arranged samples and melodies of “Octopus” have a bit of aquatic flair to them, and reversed sounds that accentuate “Morning Sun” sound like a peaceful lapping tide but they ultimately feel like standard technoid numbers, well executed for that but not as immersive or suggestive as what comes before and after them.
Concept records are the bread and butter of abstract electronic musicians, although there’s frequently little to connect a release to the ideas that inspire it beyond song titles. Sea doesn’t make any bones about what it’s supposed to be about, successfully getting across the beauty, danger and pure wonder of the ocean as interpreted through tasteful electronic composition. With care and even a little whimsy, Jérôme Chassagnard thoughtfully provides the listener with an audio tour through his own fascination with the sea.
Buy it.

Tracks: July 23rd, 2018

It was with a heady melange of emotions last night that we bid adieu to our long-term club home-away from home, 23 West. The club was the source of countless parties, shows, and memories for both of us, and spinning our sets and tipping our wrists for the last time last night had us more than a little verklempt. Okay, full disclosure: this is being written several hours -before- the Sunday night blowout party, because after what we imagine is going to be a very, very, very, very late night ain’t neither of us going to be in any state to wake up in time to bash out a remotely competent Tracks post. Speaking of which, enough about the past: let’s get to the future of Our Thing with some new music!

Hiro Kone

Hiro Kone featuring Group A, “Pure Expenditure”
New York electronic experimentalist Hiro Kone (who had a collaborative release with Drew McDowall earlier this year) is joining the gang at Dais for her new LP, Pure Expenditure. The title track (featuring the excellent Group A) points towards an intriguing tension between deep, hypnotic phasing that has an unearthly undertow and absolutely precise and concrete programming.

Mr.Kitty, “Crawling (Linkin Park cover)”
On paper there might not be a lot of similarities between Linking Park and Mr.Kitty on the surface, but going beyond surface elements there’s some definite commonalities. The former band’s calling card was always expressiveness and emotion, and that’s Mr.Kitty’s stock in trade. Consequently this cover of “Crawling” plays incredibly honest and vulnerable, lacking any trace of cross-genre irony. Once again, MK shows that whether remix, cover or original, one of his greatest strengths is his open sincerity.

Axon Tremolo, “Timeline”
No sooner did we discover that the Vampire Rodents catalog had migrated to Bandcamp than the King Rat himself, Daniel Vahnke, dropped a new album. If we’re following, the Axon Tremolo record was put together some years ago but never saw the light of day ’til now. A quick skim suggests some detours from the wholly sample-based methods on which Vahnke build his reputation for the sake of some smoother jams, or, in Vahnke’s own words, “adult-contemporary new-age synth”. Looking forward to digging into this as an amuse-bouche after the murine feast of the Rodents extant work.

Digital Geist, “Confrontational”
The homeboy Alex K (no, not senior editor Alex K) of Digital Geist just dropped a new EP, and much like his previous output it finds a solid grounding in both techno and body music. The complexity of arrangements and sound design is part of Digital Geist’s appeal, listen to how he arranges seemingly simple percussion patterns, layering them with delays to create syncopation with the track’s insistent bassline. Confrontation features 3 originals and a cover of Front 242’s “Lovely Day” with vocals by Neotek, available now on Bandcamp.

Anticipation, “Prescription”
The always reliable DKA label has a split in the works between Voice of Saturn, whose tape of alternately smooth and block synth experimentation we dug last year, and Anticipation, a new project from one of the blokes in Pyramid Club. The first taste of Anticipation’s side of the tape points towards stripped down, loping acid which has our interest piqued.

Trust Obey, “The Soul Is A Temple Of Wire Carcasses”
Heads may recall that waaaay back in the year of our lord 1994 John Bergin’s Trust Obey released a soundtrack to James O’Barr’s The Crow, meant to be read as you were reading the landmark indie comic. To coincide with an upcoming remaster of the Fear and Bullets album, Bergin has been putting unreleased live and demo material from the era up on Bandcamp, with an EP in March and another released just last week. Check out unheard choral infused track “The Soul is a Temple of Wire Carcasses”, and be sure to peep that re-release when it comes out, it’s a gem deserving of some more attention.

Observer: Plack Blague & Imperial Black Unit

Plack Blague
Night Trax Remixes

Hellbent for leather-daddy DIY EBM act Plack Blague have been breath of fresh (if sweaty) air for the North American industrial scene. Beyond the immediate appeal of a masked man in full fetish club kit singing songs about cruising over rough body music, the project has found a way to balance camp and deadly serious perspectives into a bracing whole. Following up on 2017’s enjoyable Night Trax comes Night Trax Remixes, a decently varied collection of alternate takes that showcases the variability of the original material. There’s some interesting contrasts that come from that, with mixes like Sweat Boys big-saw-industrial club take on “Leather Life” standing in sharp contrast to Lana Del Rabies’ lo-fi noise version of “Destroy the Identity”. Similarly, there’s not a lot of middle ground to be found between Statiqbloom’s bleak and atmospheric dark electro and Cult Play’s hyped up techno, much less Endometrium Cuntplow’s caustic death industrial, but none feel out of place as remixers. One of Blague’s key strengths on record is his ability to muscle his way across genre boundaries, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that there’s unity to be found amongst the disparate cast of artists he tapped for this release. It’s all in the name of Blague, and everyone brings something interesting to the music of the man who fucks the man who fucks with you.

Imperial Black Unit - State Of Pressure
Imperial Black Unit
State Of Pressure
aufnahme + wiedergabe

Imperial Black Unit didn’t just impress the folks from Youth Code after gigging with them on the latter’s recent trip down under, but also won over the savvy mavens at aufnahme + wiedergabe, who still have an ear for pure EBM despite all their dark techno success. Don’t get it twisted, though: as much as Imperial Black Unit are well versed in the classics, it’s not so much austere, minimalist anhalt that they’re shooting for as much as it is squelchy and mopey early 90s excess on their debut four track EP. Check the morose pads which adorn “Philosophy Of A Knife”, or the way cascades of tinkling arpeggios on “The White Rose” add post-rave ennui to an otherwise storming metallic banger. We enjoyed the work of one half of IBU, Thomas Chalandon, with his X-IMG-affiliated Templer project, but it’s exciting to see him setting aside its raw and scraping clatter for the moment for the sake of lusher work. Blurring the line between EBM and dark electro isn’t necessarily anything new, but the sound IBU have established quickly feels fresh and relevant, combining equal parts groove and aggression that should hold just as much appeal for Leaether Strip loving true-schoolers as for the Berghain set.

We Have a Technical 217: Almost As Much

The Senior Staff try to save records of note from the memory hole on this episode of We Have A Technical. Alex and Bruce petitioj for why each of the five records they’ve picked which are currently out of print deserve a reissue. What oddball corners of genre crossover will be explored? Which overlooked pioneers will be championed? Tune in to find out, as well as getting the skinny on recent sets by Rational Youth and Psyche. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Replicas: Cyberaktif, "Tenebrae Vision"

Tenebrae Vision

What is it?
On paper Cyberaktif’s sole LP Tenebrae Vision is a big deal. The industrial supergroup composed of Front Line Assembly’s Bill Leeb and Skinny Puppy’s cEvin Key was formed just a few short years after the former artist’s exit from Puppy, during a particularly fertile period of creativity for the principles involved. In practice, though, the album has flown under the radar in recent years, mostly remembered for the inclusion of stone classic club number “Nothing Stays”. In fact, despite its considerable pedigree the record had only seen repress once since its 1991 release, until Artoffact did a generous vinyl reissue in 2017. Now available via AoF on a completist double CD, the casual and dedicated fan have the opportunity to really assess Tenebrae Vision‘s legacy and its place in the catalogues of the artists who made it.
What’s on it?
Legend has it that Wax Trax commissioned the Cyberaktif album to try and determine what might have happened musically had Bill Leeb remained in Skinny Puppy instead of leaving the band in the mid-eighties. Whether that oft-repeated tale is true or not, the album doesn’t really answer the question: for one thing Leeb’s replacement in Puppy (and arguably the catalyst for that band’s transformation into genre-defining post-industrial pioneers) Dwayne Goettel was present throughout the recording sessions for Tenebrae Vision, providing keys and sample manipulation. Secondly, Tenebrae Vision feels more like a fusion of what the artists involved were up to in their own projects at the time than it does some alternate history version of SP.
Specifically, songs like opener “The Road Kill” and “Acid Cripple” feel very akin to the sort of sample and sound design exercises Key and Goettel were working with as Doubting Thomas, albeit with vocals provided by Leeb to distinguish them. For his part, Leeb (credited on the original release by his old school alias Wilhelm Schroeder) brought the rigid basslines and mechanical textures of the records he and Rhys Fulber released immediately proceeding and following Tenebrae Vision, 90’s electro-industrial standard-settersCaustic Grip and Tactical Neural Implant. The vocoder heavy “Ruptured Freeks” sounds like it could have popped up on any FLA record of the era without seeming out of place.
In practice the two flavours work reasonably well together without necessarily gelling entirely, never wholly committing to trippy experimentalism or full-on sequencer bending dancefloor assaults. That said, the middle ground between those extremes is explored in some notable ways, like on “Brain Dead Decision” where a mechanical double time bass groove is buffeted by complex delays and oddball blasts of noise, or “Dis Coarse Illusion” where a dubby loop has delicate sequences built over top of it. Aside from “Nothing Stays”, the record’s undoubted highlight for most heads is “Paradiessiets”, which features vocal and writing contributions from Blixa Bargeld, adding a goodly amount of Einstürzende Neubauten’s Haus Der Luege to the proceedings.
The reissue also gathers all the extant material released on the “Nothing Stays” and “Temper” singles, which is not an inconsiderable bonus: b-sides “Black + White” and “Dream Needle” are as good as anything on the album proper and well worth the time for those who are only familiar with the classic LP tracklisting.
Who should buy it?
Cyberaktif was always meant to be something of a one-off, so presenting every track the project produced in one package is a mitzvah to industrial archivists and neophytes alike. Beyond the variable quality of the material, most of which comes in above decent but below essential, it’s a useful historical document, and one that provides some context for other celebrated works by its creators.
Buy it.

Stockhaussen, "XII"

Stockhaussen - XII
Infravox Records

Angel Kauff’s been committed to a resolutely analogue sound on the first two records from his Stockhaussen project, and he turned his interests in vintage synths to decidedly coldwave ends on those releases. Without totally moving away from that ethos, Kauff makes some moves towards brighter, or at least peppier, dancefloors with XII. Without betraying his analogue roots or the tense mood of his previous work, here he’s bridging the gap between coldwave and a range of synthpop sounds, often with the help of some notable guests.
The move from sparser coldwave arrangements to more spritely tunes seems to have been no great chore for Kauff as he punches in busier sequences with aplomb. Kauff’s ability to slide in amidst the classic synthpop milieu he’s honoring on XII is nicely demonstrated on “The System”, which features a guest spot from Canadian synthpop OG Tracy Howe of Rational Youth. As luck would have it I saw Rational Youth perform this past weekend, and I couldn’t help but think about how much of Howe’s work both old and new fits well alongside Kauff’s. Both use the bounce and light percussion of their music as something of a feint, putting the often grim themes of their work in sharper contrast.
“The System”‘s followed up by mid-album highlight “Una Posibilidad”, which sticks a simple but imposing vocal chorus over a dead simple synthline to great effect. Simultaneously connoting Din [A] Tod, Welle:Erdball’s NDW fixation, and even Men Without Hats, it’s a testament to how Kauff’s less-is-more arrangements work on XII. A very different mood comes over “Face Of God”, though, when Bestial Mouths’ Lynette Cerezo arrives. Cerezo’s vocals are as distinctive as they are dramatic, and Kauff doesn’t try to swim against their current, and sets aside the bounce which otherwise dominates the record for a suitably slow and echoing piece, recalling his decidedly darker earlier work.
Closing things out is a collaboration with Cimientos Fecundos, a new Columbian act of whom I have to admit ignorance. The result carries no small amount of italo disco in its bubbling, up-tempo arpeggios and simple bass, but between the minor key and the impassive vocals, a sinister pall is cast across “Movimientos Telúricos”, recalling the cold disassociation of Kirlian Camera’s early italo-noir releases. That combination of light and dark is as good an encapsulation as any of the move Kauff’s made with XII: keeping one foot in an icy origin while testing somewhat warmer climes with the other.
Buy it digitally or on vinyl.