Tracks: April 30th, 2018

Between this week’s Mechanismus Festival, Verboden, Cold Waves, Terminus, and all of the other festival biz we try to talk about on the podcast, it’s easy to forget about other touring concerns. Hell, fresh off our trip to see Front 242 we have upcoming shows from Poptone, Alice Glass & Zola Jesus, The Body & Lingua Ignota, Fever Ray, and the Canadian double-whammy of Rational Youth & Psyche passing our way in the next couple of months. As much as festivals have proven to be a great strategy for some of the scene bands we cover, the day in, day out grind of regular touring continues unabated for plenty of acts across the dark spectrum. What summer tours are you excited to see coming through your neck of the woods? Get at us in the comments after checking out this week’s Tracks.

Ash Code
Ash Code: coiffed for success.

Caustic, “Stoma (HAEX Mix)”
Never one to let a project lay fallow, Matt Fanale has just released the first volume of remixes from his politically charged 2018 album as Caustic American Carrion. Dead Meat Vol. 1 features mixes from GoFight, 7th Victim, Coldkill, Seeming, Chrome Corpse, The Rain Within and more, not to mention this bit of sexy slow grind industrial from Los Angeles’ raining witchdustrial champs HAEX. Apparently a volume 2 is on the horizon, so probs best to get with this one now and get ahead of the ol’ Caustic curve.

Ash Code, “Perspektive”
We enjoyed “Icy Cold”, last year’s single from Italy’s coldwave act Ash Code, and the coldwave trio are following up on the (understandably) chilly impact of that single with their third LP, Perspektive, in a couple of weeks. The title track has all of the dour drive of “Icy Cold”, but the oddball time signatures and drum programming keep the listener from ever getting too comfortable, even as it turns towards the anthemic in its second half.

Pure Ground & Luminance, “Last Stand”
Having just completed a tour together, Los Angeles minimal body act Pure Ground and Brussels-born synthesists Luminance have put out a split 12″. We mostly know the latter act from their other collabs with Psyche and ex-Agent Side Grinder vocalist Kristoffer Grip, but the former band are ID:UD faves and it’s always exciting to get something from them. And hey, on top of two collabs, you also get three originals from each band, making this a pretty solid get any way you wanna slice it.

Blackcell, “Remote Viewers”
Colorado’s Blackcell have been around for a donkey’s age and their stripped-down, analogue sound has a history far longer than we could chart here. However, we like the theory behind their recent trio of “Phase 6” releases: brief cassettes featuring live tracks hitherto unrecorded. They’re pitching the series’ art as being “inspired by the original Industrial Records cassettes from the late 70s”, and if that wasn’t enough of a tip off as to their influences, surely the title of this minimal and tense track is.

Nevada Hardware, “DMCF”
Info about newcomers Nevada Hardware is scarce right now, but the sounds referenced on their debut EP No FutureM are as good a calling card as any. Classic cyber-rave samples and passages meet modern club programming, plus a large amount of vintage Wax Trax sneering befitting the project’s home in Chicago. Retro futurism’s nothing new in the post-industrial world, but we dig how of the grebo-cum-rivethead style of the past Nevada Hardware are able to mine.

The Gothsicles, “Merry Christmas Mechanismus”
Did you peep our interview with DJ Savak about the upcoming Mechanismus Festival in Seattle on We Have a Technical this week? Go listen to that for some context. Anyways, as you might be aware, The Gothsicles have a habit of releasing songs to commemorate festival appearances, hence “Merry Christmas Mechanismus”, an ode to the fest, the bands playing, Seattle itself, and of course the dope vegan food at The Highline. If ya’ll want more fest info you can find it here, the ‘Sicles play Night 1, if you’re gonna be there please send us any photos of Brian playing Street Fighter II and high-fiving Grendel. We’d like to see those.

Haujobb, “Alive”

Haujobb
Alive
Metropolis Records

A live album from Haujobb is an enticing idea: moreso than many of their peers in the world of industrial, Dejan Samardzic and Daniel Myer have made efforts to make their live shows distinct from their albums. In practice that means trading a small amount of studio exactitude for dynamic live percussion, keys and vocals. The press release for Alive makes a point of noting how much of their catalogue the live document covers, but its value lies less in acting as a career retrospective and more as a snapshot of who the long-running act are in the second decade of the millennium.

Starting with 2011’s New World March the sound that Samardzic and Myer’s work has been placing more emphasis on rhythm and structure, and how percussion and sequencing fit together inside their high-sheen production aesthetic. Consequently the tracks from that album and its follow-up Blendwerk feel most potent in these recordings. The way “Machine Drum”‘s whirling string sample gives way to the workmanlike pulse of a kick drum and manually filtered synth sweeps as Myer lets loose vocally is instructive, bringing the song closer in line with slightly more recent numbers like “Meltdown” and “Input Error”. Those latter songs’ detuned analogue sounds remain fairly intact from their studio incarnations; understandable given how the project’s most recent recordings have likely influenced how they bring their music to the stage.

While it’s the recent material that feels most natural on Alive (check the slightly renovated but totally comfortable versions of “Crossfire”, “Dead Market” and “Lets Drop Bombs”) some of the classics benefit equally from the shift. Fan favourite “Anti/Matter”‘s speedy breaks are given a kosmische drum machine makeover and Myer going way over the top when called on to shout, injecting a different energy into a number that traditionally represents the group at their most precise and sleekly digital. Conversely, stone electro-industrial classic “Penetration” omits the rhythm track for a good portion of its run time, making the entrance of a motorik beat halfway through all the more impactful. Some selections (“Eye Over You”, “Dream Aid”, “Renegades of Noise”) aren’t especially enlivened by the translation to the stage, but are generally legacy numbers that don’t lose anything from being presented in their most familiar forms.

Like most live albums, Alive‘s primary appeal will be to those who are already familiar with the material, and wish to hear how songs new and old might sound in the more active and unpredictable live setting – check final track “Let’s Drop Errors” for an example of those latter qualities in action. Those same fans might however be surprised by exactly how much of Haujobb’s current goals and strategies are reflected in these recordings, and how it serves to illuminate the fluidity of an act who show no signs of slowing down creatively some 25 years since their formation.

Buy it.

We Have a Technical 205: As We Get Older

Jean Luc and Front 242: Body Gains for the Body Gods

After settling into the new HQ, the Senior Staff are taking about last weekend’s excellent Front 242 show in Seattle! The elder gods of EBM were on point and the full breakdown is here. Also, in keeping things on an Emerald City tip, DJ Savak stops by the podcast to talk about the four day Mechanismus festival he’s bringing to Seattle. Find more information about Mechanismus Festival at their website, including line-up and ticket information. You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Sashcloth and Axes, “M.A.R.K. -13”

Sashcloth and Axes - M.A.R.K. -13

Sashcloth and Axes
M​.​A​.​R​.​K. -13
Lament Records

While catching Sashcloth and Axes at this year’s Verboden festival, I was initially struck by the aplomb with which the California based one-man act was balancing noise and melody in his set. The distortion and density with which Richard Douglas’ material was delivered was a nice counterpart to the synth melodies and catchy rhythms which were also shaken in. I might have been missing the forest for the trees, though, as proper listens of his new LP M​.​A​.​R​.​K. -13 reveals how much of his style of synthpunk is rooted in EBM rhythms, some of which are shared with fellow new-school mutants like High-Functioning Flesh, going back to the genre’s most minimal roots.

The repetitive simplicity of opener “Hardware” is something of a feint, designed to prepare you for the phased synth sound which acts as a guiding thread through much of the record, but bereft of the stacks of drum fills and noise-blasted vocals which adorn much of M​.​A​.​R​.​K. -13‘s body. Once through the gates, though, Douglas is off and running pell-mell through an amusement park loaded with punchy body music rhythms and garish synth excess. Tracks like “A.I. 32” and “Breakdown” are build on rock-solid tempos which offer enough propulsion for the former’s sampledelica and the latter’s floorpunching vitriol to liftoff.

The pairing of simple and raw programming with barked vocals Sashcloth and Axes showcases might have some folks thinking of the likes of Spit Mask, but for my money the quirky stylings of Kangarot are a closer comparison. “Mind Waste” kicks along with a spritely and almost funky bassline, kicked off by simply programmed fills, but punctuated by Douglas’ guttural moaning the whole affair becomes woozy and disorienting. For all its lo-fi engineering, M.A.R.K. -13 displays an omnivorous appetite for EBM, funk, noise, and all points between.

The line between “synthpunk” and “roots EBM” is a blurry one to be certain, and likely has more currency with regards to personal histories and interests in music rather than any claim of objective aesthetics. Regardless of genre, Sashcloth and Axes’ brutal yet undeniably fun tour of the noisy electronics carnival hits the mark at the levels of both the dancefloor and the primal id.

Buy it.

Tracks: April 24th, 2018

Hail friends, this is the very first post coming to you live from the new HQ, located in scenic East Vancouver. All things considered the move went tolerably well with a minimal amount of frustration (aside from last week’s podcast gaffe, our apologies), and with the new digs comes a little more dedicated space to bring you all the quality ID:UD content you’ve come to expect. Like the endless gushing about Front 242 we have on tap, having just seen them in Seattle this past weekend. Anyways, here’s Tracks: enjoy this new but largely indistinguishable to the reader era of I Die: You Die.

Horror Vacui
Horror Vacui: as crusty as they wanna be.

FIRES, “All My Dreams Are of This Place”
Nashville electro-rock act FIRES offers a one-off single highlighting the mix of guitar, synthwave and emotion that made their 2017 debut Red Goes Grey so notable. Interestingly, the guitar production on this number is a little more natural and twangy than we’ve heard from Eric Sochocki in the past, acting as a real contrast to the synth bass and vocal cut-ups that make up the rest of the track. A nice little variation on the sound the project has previously established, and another reason to get excited to see FIRES perform at Terminus this summer.

Feral Body, “Chain Ritual”
Here’s some dark and smokey darkwave which doesn’t come from the likes of Vienna or Naples, as its sound might suggest, but instead from Detroit. Having Jeff Swearengin in the booth certainly can’t detract from the atmosphere, but the combination of cold, static-heavy beats and ghostly wailing which is maintained throughout this three track release speak to a new act with a clear sense of what sounds and moods they’d like to evoke. Tip of the hat to our man in Detroit Marc Church for this one.

Agent Side Grinder, “Doppelgänger”
Our first real taste of the new line-up of Agent Side Grinder is here, and yup, it’s different. New vocalist Emanuel Åström is pretty distinct from the departed Kristoffer Grip and the lack of bass guitar is a bit jarring, but ultimately those changes may be for the best: if this is to be a new incarnation of Agent Side Grinder, there should be a distinct break from what came before. And hey, if you were into ASG’s trippy, hypnotic loops and subtle nods to krautrock and acid, you’ll still find those here on “Doppelgänger”. A promising new beginning from these Swedes.

Horror Vacui, “Don’t Dance With Me”
Our favourite Italian gang of anarcho-crust goths are back. Horror Vacuii’s third LP New Wave Of Fear is out and looks to continue the able tradition of mopey yet muscular goth they’ve been lobbing about squats and crypts for a good while. We’ll likely have a full take on the record shortly, but in the meantime here’s a snotty and fatalistic missive from all of the wallflowers creeping about the corners of the dancefloor.

Low Factor, “Facedown”
Montreal act Low Factor’s new album being released on German label Young And Cold is as good a hint of their sound as any, at least to those familiar with Kas Product. Like their label’s namesake, Low Factor have a yen for tightly programmed synthwork which borders on the anxious while also riding a cocky sense of disaffection. Check out the mix of thudding beats, lithe synths, and too cool for school vocals on this number.

Nordstaat, “Linientreu”
Another taster from the upcoming X-IMG (the label curated by techno-ebm wizard SARIN) compilation Self-Aware III. Nordstaat are as far as we can tell a relatively new act, who refer to their style as “black techno”, due to the influence of black metal and power electronics on their work. Those characteristics may not be super apparent on the track embedded below, but it’s a techno-industrial banger nonetheless, all speedy sequences and kick-cymbal drums for maximum dancefloor impact.

We Have a Technical 204: Learn to Shut Up

Harsh R
Harsh R

The third installment of Vancouver’s own Verboden fest is in the can, and we’ve got the rundown on all the happenings for you in this week’s episode of We Have A Technical. From the vascular shenanigans of Diesel Dudes, to the new body rocking of Sigsaly, through the experimentalism of Ivory Towers, we have four days of dark music from Cascadia and beyond to discuss! You can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from Spotify or the widget down below.

Observer: Kontravoid & Vanligt Folk

Kontravoid - Undone
Kontravoid
Undone
Fleisch

A lot’s happened in dark electronics since Kontravoid’s last major release. The combination of darkwave and minimal wave sounds put forth on the Toronto producer’s 2012 LP put him ahead of the curve at that point, but the embracing of industrial and noisier textures in the broader electronic world in the interim has been significant. That Undone, the project’s first sustained release since 2013 (presaged by stand-alone 2017 track “So It Seems”) has been released by the razor sharp Fleisch collective out of Berlin speaks to how Kontravoid’s responded to that change. And yes, a marked EBM influence is apparent right from the start on Undone to be sure. It’s never been too far from hand in Kontravoid’s previous work, but tunes like “Hold Nothing” and “Not Your Dream” are kick-forward EBM bangers from start to finish. That said, Kontravoid hasn’t rushed into a wholly generic EBM template in seeking to update his sound. Plenty of the quirks of his original sound design and synth-work remain, offering fuzzy and bendy fun even as the rhythms remain strict. The combination of oddball synth squalls alongside new-school EBM fascination ends up being somewhat reminiscent of //TENSE//’s trailblazing work, but is also clearly in line with the more synthpop-oriented tracks on Kontravoid’s early releases.


Vanligt Folk
Svenskbotten
self-released

Despite listening to the band for about five years, we’re still pretty much at a loss when it comes to describing Swedish trio Vanligt Folk. While their earliest recordings suggested a link to EBM, every subsequent release has pushed their oddball mix of sounds further and further afield. Settling into a striking combination of sounds that prominently includes IDM and dub, new release Svenskbotten still has the wry sense of humour of their earlier synthpunk material, but perhaps a little more laidback. “Kall Mat” pairs a springy, tropical electro vibe with punch vocals, the whole track revolving around a plain cymbal groove. “Kastas I Soborna” is reminiscent of The Bug or Kode 9, with a springy bassline that comes across as sinister, especially when peaky synth pads and and breathy hits elbow their way into the mix. Bookended with tracks that take distinctly opposite approaches: “Köad” is all whirring vocal cut ups and syncopated kick-snare patterns, “Lik Null” is filled with lush reverbs and rich keyboard sounds. It’s another distinctly WTF release from a band who consistently walk the walk of experimentalism, never settling for what they’ve done before. At this point it’d be foolish to expect anything else.

Ganser, “Odd Talk”

Ganser - Odd Talk

Ganser
Odd Talk
No Trend Records

Discussions of post-punk (including those native to this site) often speak of its mood as if there’s a direct corollary between it and a certain type or style of instrumentation. Is it “dour”? Well, then of course we’d be talking about slow, low-key bass guitar heavy music. Is it “anxious”? Then we must be in the sort of up-tempo, groove and jagged guitar territory which lights up dance floors every few years. The latest from Chicago’s Ganser throws all of that out the window. Odd Talk has moods, to be certain – it’s a frustrated record, an uneasy record – but it reaches them with clashes in sound and an almost pastiche like approach seemingly designed to keep the listener on edge.

Some of the above restlessness in instrumentation and feel can perhaps be explained when the influence of original no wave on Ganser is considered, both musically and spiritually. Guitar and bass rarely speak the same language let alone move in the same direction on Odd Talk, and the results are disquieting from the start. It’s often left to the vocals, traded between Alicia Gaines and Nadia Garofolo to guide the tracks, and they’re rarely heading anywhere comforting. “Don’t disappoint, don’t overdo, don’t die, like, really die” Garofolo demands of herself in opening track “Comet”‘s personal reflection.

Brief interstitial pieces of music, some sampled (the bossa nova-type rhythm at the end of “YES NO”), some originally composed (the gentle synth refrain which opens and closes “Revel”), offer respite from the oppressive and clattering sound Ganser pursue, but that’s short-lived. The churning and borderline atonal fretwork of “PSY OPS” certainly feels like the musical equivalent of its namesake. A more permanent resolution comes right at the end, in the form of an out of left field shoegaze number, “Touch Insensitive”. The regretful and mournful lyrics which make up much of the rest of Odd Talk are still in place, but clad in Medicine-like garb some degree of succour is finally reached.

Their first full-length after two EPs, Odd Talk is far more fragmented and discordant in its delivery than Ganser’s preceding work. Ironically, that sense of fragmentation and difficulty gives the group a much firmer identity. Regardless of its apparently perpetual state of unease, the experimentation of the record’s construction give Ganser a new purpose and intensity.

Buy it.

Michael Idehall, “Prophecies of the Storm”

Michael Idehall
Prophecies of the Storm
Ant-Zen

Like his previous releases for Ant-Zen, Michael Idehall’s newest Prophecies of the Storm is an exploration of his self-coined “seancetronica” sound. In practice, the Swedish producer/performer mixes up ambient, power electronics and rhythmic noise signifiers into a whole, with a strong streak of esoteric thematics and personal poetics shaping the mood and tone. As with all his work, Idehall himself is something of a focal point, his rich baritone intoning ritual chants and secretive whispers that further highlight the arcane bent of the music.

Even by Idehall’s standards, there’s an opaque, impenetrable air to the music on Prophecies of the Storm. Moments of clarity exist, like on the cleanly mixed drone n’ noise number “Gordian Knot”, but more often the album uses washes of noise and bass (“One Who Sees All”, “Another Prophet of the Storm”) or cavernous reverb textures and glacial loops (“Bear Nemesis”, “In the Dark Vapour”) to blur the edges of each composition into obscurity. Sometimes both approaches meet in a controlled cacophony, as on the slow-rolling “Another Prophet of the Storm”, whose pulsing beat creates a visceral, physical reaction even at lower volumes. There’s a weight to how each song is rendered, as vast fields of slowly expand, growing in mass and then dissipating with surprising transience. You would think this mode of operation would best lend itself to lengthy track times, but only one individual track breaking the five and a half minute mark, a secret sign of Idehall’s reservation as a an arranger.

Still, the album is forceful, and its intensity is both discomfiting and beguiling. While its vastness and carriage has the effect of making the music harder to parse, it also draws in the ear, as whirring, crackling energies flit across the stereo spectrum, beckoning. Idehall works that push-pull of exceptionally, hiding himself in behind simile and ducking sonic elements in the mix, while still showing enough of himself that he himself isn’t lost. Oftentimes the record’s explorations feel like a kind of metaphorical chase, as Idehall forges forwards through unmapped territory, sometimes disappearing briefly from the listener, and then reappearing in the distance, or even right in front them. The lack of an easy path for pursuit is part of the experience, Prophecies of the Storm‘s uncertain destination its central appeal. Recommended.

Buy it.

Tracks: April 16th, 2018

What a weekend it’s been! Verboden is officially in the can, and after four full days of cramming in as much live dark music as we can, we’re pooped. So pooped, in fact, that we thought this would be a great week to turn things over to the community in the Telekon Slack channel we run with Talking To Ghosts. The crew there are talking about new music non-stop, and with the mix of artists and aficionados we have, we knew they’d come up with a great slew of tracks!

Lana Del Rabies

Maenad Veyl, “Talon”
Lately I’ve been very hungry for a specific type of EBM/techno fusion, and while perusing the “ebm” tag on Bandcamp, this track from Italian techno producer Thomas Fereiro (AKA Avatism) under the moniker Maenad Veyl grabbed me very hard indeed. With a gritty metallic staccato to the dominant synth riff and deep, echoing percussion, the ebbs and flows call back to a classic acid sound that sits this track down in good company with the current crop of techno producers pulling influence straight from the backcatalog of EBM’s halcyon days. – Hexcession (FKA Pathogen)

Gör FLsh, “Long Roads”
Hailing from Québec City, Gör FLsh blends heavy metal, industrial and a dash of EBM and whips it into a frenetic track that challenges the electronic genre. Durand’s seamless mixing of complex sounds begs one to don the 80’s metal jacket you wish you had stashed in your closet and to rock our with fingers raised. A little retro, a lot modern and thoroughly fun. – Aisha

Lana Del Rabies, “Vicious End”
Under the appropriately transmutative name, Lana Del Rabies, Phoenix based artist Sam An continues to confront the chaos and uncertainties of this anxious world with her harrowing and visceral work. Released March 23rd on Deathbomb Arc, her new album, Shadow World, offers an unflinching blend of punishing rhythms and unsettling vocals – revealing darkness and a personal intensity, equally on display, as seen in the video for Vicious End. In producing Shadow World, Sam An writes that she found herself dealing with an incredibly difficult year, partly due to the current political climate, but also for personal reasons. She states: “I felt a lot of darkness in the public consciousness as well as a lot of darkness in myself. Things happened that were out of my control, things happened in situations where I lost control of myself.” This seems to underline a tone of deep purging presented in Vicious End. Its repetitive dissonance and uncomfortably pure catharsis shares a beautiful expression of honesty cut clearly through the noise. – Brant Showers of ∆AIMON

Peter Turns Pirate, “Jaw Drop”
The one man force of nature known as Peter Turns Pirate is back at it again with a new EP. “View As Strange” features five new tracks and as an added bonus, tracks from his last EP. However, this particular track is a favorite of mine. A hard driving, body moving three minutes and twenty-six seconds rife with braggadocio with pop qualities laced in it. Pop seems to be a dirty word in industrial, but this song makes it work pretty damn well. It’s as frenetic and action packed as the singer himself. I think it’ll get even the staunchest Goth up and moving. – Danesha Artis, Standard Issue Citizen

Locked Club, “Osaka Madness feat. RLGN”
I can’t find much about Russia’s Locked Club, but their track “Osaka Madness” with RLGN has made me excited to hear what else is going to be coming on their ЛОМАЙ EP. Pulling more towards techno than EBM perhaps, a simple bassline pulses through the track, complemented by a bright, sort of lo-fi pluck that carries the pace of the song. The song constantly evolves – driving hats and the pluck flow into claps layered with metallic clangs, contrasting with a sort of soft pad, which gives way to a hard, driving bass line that makes your body move for the full five minutes. –
Wesley Mueller, The Blood Of Others, Talking To Ghosts

Relic, “Pray”
Cincinnati’s Relic may be one of the most aptly named projects in the industrial rock genre, drawing heavy influence from its golden age of the early 1990’s. Their new EP, Social Drift, would not sound out of place on either the Re-Constriction nor Fifth Colvmn labels from that era. With several highlights over its six tracks, one of the numbers standing out it is “Pray”. It’s very reminiscent of the output of Numb’s early catalogue, replete with stabbing synths & sub-automatic basslines. This is definitely an act to keep your eyes on. -JSun Lhundub Dorti Bruner, Dharmata 101

Sophya, “Technicolor”
Israel’s Sophya are releasing their first proper studio album since 2006’s Third Wish. The teaser they’ve given us with “Technicolor” showcases their cross-pollination of darkwave and dreampop, with shimmering guitars and woozy synths forming an ambiance that is simultaneously warm but somber, soaring but withdrawn. Sonja Rozenblum also sings in the band’s native language on this track (I assume). I Die: You Die has been speculating that 2018 is the year of a major darkwave revival in the universe of Our Thing. If that holds true throughout the year, then Sophya’s return could not have picked a more fitting time to release a new record. Broken Mirrors comes out April 21st. – Zander, Lilith, PhxGoth.com