Tracks: May 28th, 2018

The run of exciting show announcements we’ve been detailing on the podcast just keeps on going, with the unveiling of a reprise of Clan of Xymox’s North American tour. Ten more dates are on the docket in the fall, focusing on the west coast and including Vancouver! Regardless of the ups and downs of the band’s latter era work, their early catalog remains an unimpeachable force in the ongoing history of darkwave, as we recently discussed in our commentary for Medusa. Despite our grizzled fossilgoth statuses, neither of us have ever caught Xymox live, and them passing through our city during what we’ve dubbed the Year of Darkwave is most fortuitous. On with this week’s Tracks!

Schwefelgelb
Schwefelgelb: Cumulously disruptive.

Caustic Grip, “Burn feat. Veronica Sawyer”
Tip of the hat to Michael from Chrome Corpse for the hot lead on new Australian electro-industrial act Caustic Grip, who just compiled several previously released tracks into a single release via Bandcamp. The project’s name certainly displays one of their major influences, but we’re getting some pretty serious 90s dark electro in the mix on these songs as well. We’re especially enjoying some of the choices in percussion sounds used on “Burn”, adding some interesting flavour to a track that built around space and mood.

Collide, “Winter Kills”
Did you ever check out our commentary on Collide’s classic 90s darkwave/triphop release Chasing the Ghost? One of the things we talked about on it was how perfectly kaRin and Statik can do torchy when they feel like it, and boy howdy did they feel like it when they decided to cover Yaz’s “Winter Kills” for new remix/b-sides/covers release Mind & Matter, the companion to last year’s Color of Nothing. Production and performance are on point as they always are with Collide, serving you a blast of frosty torchsong realness just in time for summer.

Daniel B. Prothese, “Hoheren ebene”
The new solo record from Daniel B shows just how far afield the interests of 242’s members lie. It’d be difficult to find something more removed from what’s come to be recognized as 242’s home turf than the bright and melodic fields of pastoral synths which make up this, the opening track on his new HollEKtroKraut​​/​​HellEctroKraut LP. While the “Kraut” in the title is certainly earned, with loving homages to Schulze and Neu! abounding, we’re not so sure about the “Holle” part; pieces like this one sound utterly heavenly.

Altstadt Echo, “Exhumed I.III”
Some dark and chilly techno from right out of Detroit courtesy of producer Altstadt Echo. With an equal amount of the funerary dust connoted by this EP’s graveside art and a light swing to the beats, the Exhumed Tapes release is present without ever becoming oppressive. Should appeal to fans of Lorn and mid-period Haujobb alike.

Schwefelgelb, “Fokus (SARIN Remix)”
Two of the shining lights of the current club-based EBM movement come together for a dancefloor slayer. The definitive element of Schwefelgelb’s recent productions has been the bounce they put into their rubbery bassline, which makes for a hell of a starting point for SARIN’s aggressive take on technofied EBM. Released on a 12″ by Khemia Records (the other side of the release is a track by Blind Delon remixed by HIV+), it’s another testament to two modern body acts that are on top of the proverbial game right now.

Donna Haringwey, “Lester’s Goodbye”
More great lo-fi electronics from Germany’s Smashing Tapes. British producer Toni Quiroga offers grimy, echoing, and mean tunes which draw upon minimal wave, EBM, and power electronics. We’re not entirely sure of the connection between a scraping blast of violence like this and the brilliant theorist from whom the project takes its name, but she can certainly add this to her CV in terms of cyberpunk cred alongside the Ghost In The Shell 2 shout-out. “Staying With The Trouble”, indeed.

We Have a Technical 209: His Name Is

Gridlock
The Mikes in Gridlock-step.

It’s a Q & A episode of We Have A Technical this week, with Patreon backers supplying questions both broad and specific. From drugs to Gridlock, from DJing to Trust Obey, we’re fielding queries dealing with all corners of Our Thing! You ask: we answer. Or at least use your queries as an opportunity to climb aboard some of our favourite hobby-horses. Also, comments on recent shows by Poptone (Tones On Tail, Love & Rockets) and Fever Ray! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Tracks: May 22nd, 2018

You know, we keep saying to ourselves that some day we’ll make the trip to WGT, just to have the experience of seeing a bunch of Euro bands that never come to North America, and just to soak up the ambience of 10,000 goths in a city not much more populous than Edmonton. For now though we have to settle for scene reports from friends who made the trek including which bands got wreck (we hear Wulfband and ACTORS scored big unsurprisingly), and exactly how bananas the line-ups to get into the venues were. Were you there this year? Holler at us about what you saw that was good in the comments! On to Tracks!

Inhalt in their natural habitat

Body Break, “four”
Ask a Canadian of a certain age about Body Break and they’ll probably say something about Participaction or namedrop Hal Johnson or Joanne McLeod at you. We have no doubt that those TV ads served as the inspiration for the name of the new project from Wire Spine/Weird Candle’s Robert Katerwol and Robert Recluse of Void Mirror, which sits nicely in the new beat/italo/EBM pocket. Word is that these demos will be developed a bit more with some guest vocalists and then compiled into a full release at a later date, so here’s your chance to get ahead of the curve.

Rhys Fulber, “Limited Vision”
Few people native to Our Thing have as many decades of studio experience in as many genres as Rhys Fulber. While the man himself needs no introduction, the notion of him tossing his hat into the techno/industrial ring (with a release on no less notable a label than Sonic Groove, to boot) merits some extra consideration. Having had a large hand in forging the sort of sounds and textures many contemporary producers are currently reaching for, it’s likely that his Your Dystopia, My Utopia record will offer a new perspective on that oh-so happening nexus. Expect a full review on this site shortly, and notice the slowly unfolding cinematic pads Fulber uses to add grandeur to this track’s core tension.

Agent Side Grinder, “In From the Cold”
The second taste of the new incarnation of Agent Side Grinder is suiting us just fine, thanks for asking. When the video for “Doppelgänger” dropped last month we commended AGS for going in a new direction that seemed commensurate with the new line-up, leaner and more tense and hypnotic. “In From the Cold” isn’t quite so rangy but does make good use of angular sequencing and a pleasingly melodic chorus to compliment the cold war samples that adorn it. We’re ready to hear what these good Swedish cats have in store for their first full-length in the new configuration.

Roya, “Away”
Here’s some gauzy work which rides the border between darkwave and synthpop with plenty of personality. Hailing from – where else? – Sweden, Roya’s tracks are full to the brim with atmosphere, and despite using some rather left-field instrumentation choices, presents her work with sharp senses of timing and songcraft. Worth digging into at greater length, we think.

Inhalt, “Alles”
Why, just the other day we were having a conversation about San Francisco’s Inhalt, with the question being when we would next hear new material from them. Turns out that the next release Content will be coming direct from Dark Entries, and consist of four new tracks and their instrumental versions. Hard to tell what direction the act has gone in although from the instrumental version of “Alles” linked below they haven’t abandoned their knack for retro-synth, with some added body music and komische flavour. Very keen to hear the rest of the EP, as we’ve noted before the fact that Inhalt have garnered so many fans on the basis of such a small catalogue is a testament to just how good their stuff is.

Dame Area, “Sfingi”
Lastly, from Barcelona come Dame Area, a duo who cite Coil and TG alongside Italian pop auteur Franco Battiato as influences. The pair trade in what might be most easily recognizable as minimal wave, but often offset with metallic percussion and a flair for the dramatic which isn’t often found in a genre commonly taken to be recalcitrant. Murky yet strident, it’s an interesting spin on some familiar styles.

Observer: Makeup And Vanity Set & Webdriver Torso


Makeup And Vanity Set
Pris
self-released

Matthew Pusti’s work as Makeup And Vanity Set has favoured a cinematic sound, forgoing some of the neon markers of his synthwave peers to ply soundtrack-inspired compositions that owe a debt to pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. The latter influence hangs heavily over new EP Pris, which as you can probably surmise from the title draws a great deal of inspiration from Vangelis’ legendary score for Blade Runner. Tributes that particular landmark in electronic music are plentiful, but Pusti can be commended for digging into some of its more interesting rhythmic and structural components. “Lover(s)” invokes both the film’s “Love Theme” and “Like Tears in Rain”, finding some commonality between the smooth and smokey jazz and the mournful synth strings that define each track. “Last Shuttle Home” digs deep into the use of arpeggiation, shifting the range of notes from bright and melodic to dark and bassy, and altering the shape of the envelope to suggest different moods a la Blade Runner‘s end titles theme. The most original track, “Crush”, departs from broad homage in its use of rubbery bass and wavering pads, speaking to some of Makeup and Vanity Set’s own previous work in soundtracks both real and imaginary, and in the project’s capacity for classic synth composition that doesn’t begin and end with retro sound design.

Webdriver Torso - Listen_Die_EP
Webdriver Torso
Listen_Die_EP
self-released

It’s not unusual for a contemporary act to be drawing from the legacy of 90s industrial. But when that act has one foot in contemporary underground darkwave and another in the most garish examples of 90s crossover acts, well, interesting things happen. Seattle’s up and coming Webdriver Torso proudly cite their generational markers (“Chris & Cosey raised on Marilyn Manson”), and even if their debut EP isn’t quite at schismatic as that pairing might suggest, it does a nice job of bringing some day-glo excess to today’s more dour stylings. Croaks and growls hang about the background of “Web_006″‘s wistful croon before seizing the controls and kicking the next number through pinball-machine rubbery kicks and screwball synths. Despite being relatively lo-fi, enough consideration’s been given to the shape and sound of the EP’s elements to keep things interesting, and the pitch and presentation of Webdriver Torso’s material doesn’t overshadow the actual tunes themselves. Regardless of the eras of their influences or differences in their style, the duo are able to bring them to heel when it comes time to put themselves forward.

We Have a Technical 208: Brother Hero

Anna-Varney
Anna-Varney points the bone at you.

This episode of We Have A Technical doubles down on ur-goth realness with discussion of early records by Alien Sex Fiend and Sopor Æternus and the Ensemble of Shadows. What are the roots of goth’s connections to rockabilly? How has Anna-Varney Cantodea gathered such a web of mystery to herself? In addition, we’ve got takes on the new Nine Inch Nails track and a recent live performance from Merzbow, plus all the horsing around you’ve come to expect from the official IDieYouDie.com podcast! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Tracks: May 14th, 2018

The spate of shows rolling through our neck of the woods continues, with a bit of an emphasis on old legends recontextualizing their work. Peter Hook brought his band through town to play through both Joy Division and New Order’s Substance comps, but we were both too bushed to go (ask us sometime about dancing onstage to one of Hooky’s DJ sets years ago). And this coming weekend, after a couple of cancellations and reschedulings, Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash will be bringing their Poptone project to the stage. We’re keen to hear how the classic (yet always somehow obscure and underrated) Tones On Tail catalog sounds in this new incarnation. On with this week’s tracks!

Second Still
Second Still

Front Line Assembly, “Mechvirus”
The new track from Front Line Assembly is notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a taste of the follow-up to Airmech, FLA’s lauded soundtrack to the game of the same name, which showed the project’s capacity for atmospherics as expressed through ultra-modern production. Secondly, it’s the first new music we’ve heard from the band since the untimely passing of Jeremy Inkel, and his influence as a writer, designer and arranger (along with Sasha Keevill, with whom he collaborated on recent Front Line material) is all over this. It’s a great track and a testament to Bill Leeb and company’s continued relevance in electronic music some 30 plus years since the band was founded.

Imperial Black Unit, “The White Rose”
Australia’s Imperial Black Unit just finished up some dates in their own backyard with Youth Code, and it’s through the latter that we were tipped off to this hotness. Their debut release on a + w, State Of Pressure, still doesn’t have a release date, but until then check out this hypnotic gem that owes more than a little to A Split Second but feels wholly fresh. Not sure if the title’s meant to honour die Weiße Rose or not, but it’s a nice thought.

Kollaps, “Heartworm”
Fellow Aussies Kollaps are also making waves beyond their home continent, though of a far more harsh variety. A new compilation tape from Italy’s excellent Infidel Bodies label finds Kollaps dishing out deep and gashed death industrial noise which makes an art out of procedural levels of distortion, but offsets things with some interestingly blunted drum programming. Nasty stuff to be sure.

Glass Apple Bonzai, “Fire in the Sky”
Your friend and ours Daniel X Belasco is back with a new single from Glass Apple Bonzai, Canada’s champions of charming neon retro-synthpop. As with many of GAB’s material this taps into the intersection of retro-futurism and good old pop music longing, hella melancholy while not being gloomy or turgid. And hey, the single also features a remix from likeminded artist Andy Deane’s The Rain Within and a wild-ass Jesus Jones-esque slice of sampledelia called “What’s Your Vector Victor”, so you’ll want to be picking that ASAP.

Second Still, “Ashes”
LA post-punk trio Second Still have a new EP out hot on the heels of their new Part Time Punks session being released. A quick first pass at Equals suggests that it contains the same lo-fi swagger that made their self-titled LP from last year one we felt stupid for having missed at its release. Some of the lighter points on the EP hint at Roxy or 10cc archness, but this churning number just grinds darkly.

Panic Priest, “Gaffer”
Chicago-based darkwavers Panic Priest are new signees to Negative Gain Productions, bringing some new American gloom to the label’s already impressive roster of dark music artists. Not much to go on yet beyond the tracks available on the Bandcamp pre-order, but we’re getting some hints of classic darkwave, some nice male vocal harmonies and a bit of the synthrock energy ported over from Jack Armando’s other project My Gold Mask. Good promising stuff, and only a few days ’til we get to hear the whole thing.

Observer: Hex Wolves & Monolith

Hex Wolves - Another Man Made Tragedy
Hex Wolves
Another Man Made Tragedy
DTH X CMP

The titles of Hex Wolves’ Another Man Made Tragedy and its tracks which refer to mining disasters seem well timed to the Don Blankenship campaign, and whether that’s intentional or not the LA producer’s techno compositions are as soiled as Blankenship’s soul. Though only three tracks long, Another Man Made Tragedy quickly establishes its own ethos and delivery. Alternately delivering rubbery bounce and high, insistent sine waves which at times connote the sensation of chewing tin foil, the rapid speed with with Hex Wolves’ tracks shuffle the focus of their component tracks adds another layer of disquiet to an already confrontational style. The breakish chaos of the first two tracks is brought to bear on closer “Survivor’s Remorse”, in which a robotic funk beat chugs through at a regimented pace, though it’s the tension of “Just An Insurance Write-Off” which remains after the EP ends. The contrast between its submerged beats and the far-off shrieks which could be emitting from a train derailment or the restless souls of dead miners is nothing short of unnerving.


Monolith
Falling Dreams
Hands Productions

Eric van Wonterghem’s Monolith has been a pretty constant fixture of the rhythmic noise scene for over two decades at this point, acting as a solo outlet for the producer between stints with Sonar, Absolute Body Control, and Insekt amongst others. Falling Dreams certainly speaks to van Wonterghem’s legacy in industrial circles via crunchy powernoise tracks like “Corpus” and “The Attack”, but also delves into some techno crossover sounds that fit very naturally within the project’s aesthetic. Numbers like “Sleeping Sun” and “High Carbon Steel” ease up on the saturation and distortion and focus more on big atmospheres and variations in rhythm programming, and even dashes of funk in their basslines. The two stylistic variations are kept distinct on a track by track basis, but occasionally come together in pleasing fashion: “Driving Blind” is built around techno minimalism and a a noisy soundset, and “Man Disconnected”‘s deep pulsing heart could hail easily hail from either genre. It’s not the first time Monolith has played with these ideas toghether, but in 2018 when more producers than ever are seeking to hybridize industrial and techno, it’s good to hear a practiced hand like van Wonterghem stir the mixture up.

We Have a Technical 207: Catch the Taste

WHO WILL ENSURE THE RADIO EDIT OF 'DEEP' IS PRESERVED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS?

The I Die: You Die podcast takes a somewhat epistemological bent this week, with the issues of the archiving and collecting of dark music being taken up. Has the Internet archived everything from Our Thing? What responsibilities, if any, do we have as collectors? If an obscure futurepop demo arpeggiates in the woods, does it make a sound? Alex and Bruce dig into these issues and recap recent live shows in the PNW on this week’s episode of We Have A Technical! Don’t forget to rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, or download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Tracks: May 7th, 2018

Things are busy as always here at the ID:UD HQ as we gear up for festival season on top of the usual deluge of new releases that need listening and podcasts that need recording. Fortunately we’re feeling kind of high on life in Vancouver right now, what with the great run of recent shows, respite from the ceaseless rain and the general pleasant vibes that have been floating around the city this past week or so. Say what you will about this town, it’s expensive, it’s hostile to underground arts, it’s grey as fuck for like 8 months out of the year, all true but we love it and wouldn’t ever think of leaving. Enjoy some new Tracks with us won’t you?

Iver look kinda like Iver sound

Webdriver Torso, “Web_006”
Word trickling up from Seattle is that the city’s own relative newcomers Webdriver Torso impressed at Mechanismus Festival this past weekend. We weren’t able to verify that impression in person, of course, but the new EP from the duo is certainly an intriguing mission statement. Rhythmically sharp, the serially-titled “Web_006” shows good darkwave instincts as well as an interest in decidedly 90s industrial rock. Fans of fellow Seattleites Nightmare Fortress should lend an ear.

Missing Witness, “Try Harder”
Speaking of bands from down Seattle way, our pals in Missing Witness put out a head nodding EBM banger to go along with their appearance at Mechanismus Festival this past weekend. The band have dabbled with these sorts of basslines in the past, but this is the purest take on body music they’ve yet put out, coupled with a vocal experimentalism that reminds us Interlace a little. A great regional act who seem poised to break out on to some more prominent stages.

Acid Vatican, “Repent Motherfucker”
We’ve been tracking Antoni Maiovvi’s work for years at ID:UD, though the dark space disco producer has enjoyed acclaim in fields quite a distance from our native post-industrial climes. We were somewhat surprised to see his new Acid Vatican collaboration with fellow Giallo Disco founder Vercetti Technicolor being issued by aufnahme + wirdergabe; the bright, garish splashes of horror disco colour we’ve come to expect from Maiovvi are still present, and the duo aren’t jumping aboard the techno-industrial bandwagon. But the dark, pulsing drive of tunes like “Repent Motherfucker” certainly isn’t too far askance from a + w’s style.

C/A/T, “Retire Theory”
Brand new music from Ben Arp’s C/A/T project, the first new stuff he’s released under that moniker since 2009. We were keen to hear what Ben would do musically since he reactivated the name at last year’s Das Bunker anniversary in Los Angeles, and now we know: the sound of new EP Complex Client is both new and familiar, with the distorted beats that defined much of C/A/T’s history, but layered with the atmospherics that seem more in line with the post-witch house sounds he was exploring in interim project Corvx de Timor. You can check out the whole EP over on Bandcamp and we’ll keep you in the loop as a clearer picture of C/A/T 2018 emerges.

Iver, “Before”
Not since Myspace has there been a platform as good as Bandcamp for randomly discovering new music. True, there’s a lot to sort through, but it’s worth it when you uncover an act like Iver right at the first blush of their career. Their two track demo release is on some classic darkwave styles, complete with automated drums, strummy bass guitar, frosty pads and a mix of sombre male and female vocals. It’s the sort of style we’re always happy to hear from a new act, and is execute with enough aplomb to add the band to our considerable list of new acts to keep tabs on.

The Causticles, “Bad Coworker”
Lastly, Matt Fanale and Brian Graupner’s orbits have once again come into harmonious alignment. However, unlike natural events of uncanny beauty like solar eclipses, they’re just here to fart around and kvetch about officemates. Is this just a one-off or are we just getting the first glimpses of what a follow-up to their far too meta for their own good Eric Gottesman LP? Only time will tell, but until then, enjoy “Bad Coworker”: truly music of the spheres (the spheres are Matt and Brian’s butts in this analogy).

Observer: RadioVoid & Visions/Phurpa


RadioVoid
Violence Acts
self-released

While the description “antifascist industrial music for the coming dark ages” might lead you to believe Montreal’s RadioVoid were a chaotic and violent band, the sound on their recent 3-track Violence Acts is of a pretty subdued nature. Situated at the minimal end of the European coldwave spectrum, the duo keep things simple in their compositions, with sparse arrangements and limited building blocks. The results are monochromatic in nature, relying on rhythm and repetition more than bombast to engage with listeners. “Stones” opens with a bold synthline, but when a thudding kick and gated snares come into the mix it settles into a straight groove, with delayed vocals layered affectlessly over top. Late in the song a feedback drone is introduced, slowly growing until the already familiar drum hits have to carve themselves a place in the mix, changing the dynamic of the track considerably. “Secluded Sunset” plays it a bit more straight, feeling like a classic Mute records number a la the Normal or Fad Gadget, albeit with less manic energy and a more disinterested outlook. The title track departs considerably from the preceding songs, starting with a distant percussion loop that is slowly dragged underwater and lost by massive drones and reverbed pads, with only the occasional cymbal breaking through to the surface to remind you of the song’s origins. It’s interesting stuff, if not necessarily the most urgent or attention grabbing, dealing in implication more than immediacy.

Visions & Phurpa - Monad
Visions & Phurpa
Monad
Cyclic Law

Dark music aficionados will likely be most familiar with Frederic Arbour as the man behind Cyclic Law, but he has dark ambient work of his own in addition to promoting that of others. Arbour’s taken up his Visions project for the first time in a number of years, and is doing so in order to collaborate with Phurpa, a Buddhist liturgical collective based out of Moscow who focus on ritual chants (never let it be said that you don’t meet life’s more outré travelers in dark ambient). The end result is a slow and weighty listen which seems to press in upon the chest and the soul, simultaneously crushing and liberating both. While never sounding either “stygian” or “cosmic”, Monad does conjure a sense of the otherworldly if only by pressing in on the senses to the point that one’s own self begins to feel alien and unfamiliar. Sonically, while there are slow moving harmonic shifts to be teased out of Monad‘s pads, much of its traction comes from the textural tension between its buzzing drones and the slow, gutteral timbre of Phurpa’s chants. Without ever reaching catharsis or release, the glacial back and forth of Monad‘s four pieces build patterns which aren’t so much rhythmic as cyclical, matching the processes of bodies adjusting to move, breathe, and function in keeping with the tones resonating from Phurpa’s throats without beginning or end.