Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley

(Blood Music, 2016)

Although the Paris-based Synthwave-artist James Kent has quite a number of releases in his discography (since 2012), Perturbator is a name that most likely started to spread more widely after the release of his previous album “Dangerous Days”. In this age of total retro-mentality, of hardcore vintage-worship, of complete copying of vibes of the past, it is no surprise numerous Electronic artists with a huge boner for the eighties (and its neon-lighted palm-tree-shadowed arcade-sounds) fill the underground, with names like Carpenter Brut being synonymous of THAT feeling.

Personally I enjoy (for example) the massive orchestral and symphonic soundscapes merged with the minimal vintage synth aesthetics Daft Punk gave us on the “Tron: Legacy” OST as opposed to the pure eighties-copying done by some 18 year old (which is way more common these days than the first mentioned approach), and luckily Perturbator gives us something a bit more experimental and diverse as well on this his latest effort.

The album has apparently been conceived during a two years period of intense music making, and is a concept album of sorts with a very well-thought narrative in the background (something we will not dive into in this review), and this can be heard in the variation of the songs and musical material. As is mentioned in Wikipedia, Kent has some background in playing guitar in Black Metal bands, and apparently for this reason this kind of hard-hitting Synthwave is quite popular among fans of more Extreme Metal-oriented tastes (as well), but I can’t personally find too much of Metal “influences” in this material, per se. The style is intense enough as it is.

While “Dangerous Days” was perhaps a more “traditional” album in the sense it offered the soundscapes which could have been heard in the eighties, Uncanny Valley (a term used describe the feeling of unease when a human being confronts an artificial intelligence or almost-realistic computer-generated surroundings, for example) is often far more intense and aggressive with its soundscapes. The synth sounds are often more threatening and intrusive than for example the bass-drums, giving the malicious technological rhythm and groove to many of the songs, and often letting only the snare to break their intense attack upon the ears.

Multiple layered melodies fill up the rainy neon-flashing nightly streets and glowing sky of the city which is this album. The varied and versatile melodies (or riffs if you will) usually work well together, and when there are moments where the song is taking a turn to an uninteresting, too-repetitive or dissonant direction, some sort of an interlude or a bridge takes our attention to the next part of the song, giving us a feeling of the good skills of the musician when it comes to arrangement.

While many of the songs have the action-packed intensity of a battle between two clashing cyberpunk gangs, there are many calm songs as well, in the true cinematic tradition (reminding often of course of works like the classic “Blade Runner” OST by Vangelis). Jazzy parts, female vocals and narration, and other atmospheric elements take our minds often to even philosophical realms in the true sci-fi tradition. This stuff would of course work perhaps the best in the background of some animated film or series, but the inner visions it gives on its own are strong enough to consider this album to be an “audial film” of great inner / personal qualities, depending on the listener.

The overall quality of the compositions, the soundscapes (the choosing and creation of the synth-sounds), and the general editing / arranging and mixing make this album of course (as undoubtedly expected by fans) one of the very best of the genre. Still, if you do not have that personal connection to the eighties, either via existing in that decade of childhood arcades and video game and film gems, or by pure retro-absorption, you most likely will be at very unease states here (as the name of the album implies). The rest of us who know the deal, will find this a very pleasant and cool experience, either as background music (in our daily personal films) or as a trip to something much more deeper and perhaps even more real.

Altho streaming for free online, with 13 songs (of lengths ranging between about 4 and 7 mins) this album has tremendous relistening value, making it a good purchase as a physical entity as well.



Blood Music

Interview with Yasmin Gate

I became familiar with the very personal, intense and sensual voice (and the all-over atmosphere) of the artist known as Yasmin Gate after hearing her awesome collaboration “That’s All” with Equitant. Constantly evolving and finding new portals for creativity, Yasmin is currently situated in Berlin, busy with her current projects such as her record label (and music blog) Killerrr.

Hey Yasmin! Where are you right now, writing this, and how has the year fared you so far with your projects?

Hi! Now I’m in Berlin. This year has fared wonderfully. In march I made a super nice tour in Argentina and I’m already developing ideas for the next tour. On top of that, we are about to release the new Dualesque Album with Killerrr in which I am featured in the first single. We’ve already shot the video in Buenos Aires and the edit is almost finished.

Originally from Buenos Aires, you have migrated from Argentina to Madrid and back to Argentina again, now grounding yourself in Berlin. How would you compare the different musical climates of the places you’ve been living in? Do you find Berlin to be a perfect place for you right now?

There are completely different musical climates in these cities. When it comes to Electronic Music in Argentina, I have a feeling that it’s always tinted with Rock guitars. It is a nice sound, more raw yet naive at the same time. Argentineans love Rock Music and you can feel it even in the Electronic scene. Of course this is a general approach, there are also a lot of good Techno producers.

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Picture: Quique del Bianco

Madrid has great producers as well as Barcelona. I started my career in Madrid and it was a nice homebase. Anyway Berlin is the place to be for me right now, in a musical way and in a personal way. Berlin has a good range of opportunities for artists who want to experiment. The music scene is enormous! Thousand times bigger than in Madrid or Buenos Aires, which makes Berlin easy and difficult at the same time.

I heard your voice first on your collaboration(s) with Equitant (previously of the awesome Metal band ABSU), in a more traditional Techno-oriented soundscapes, but you have recently moved into more Trap-sounding realms. Was this a conscious decision coming from you, or more a byproduct of your work with the producer-duo Dualesque?

The truth is I was interested in developing more of a Pop Album than what I have done before. For me it is always important to challenge myself and I wanted to sing more than to narrate. I see “Dollhouse” more as an album with modern sounds and arrangements.

If you take a look back, from Dirty Princess (my first Electronic band) to today you will find a clear evolution towards musicality and experimentation. By the way, I’m already working on my next album and you will be surprised, it will be something new again, none of the things I have done before. That is what keeps me doing art, to share and discover new borders.

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Picture: Theo Lafleur

Whatever the beats, when it comes to Electronic Music production you have always been clearly influenced and enthralled by the more traditional and vintage (mostly eighties?) synth-aesthetics. Using unique synth-instruments in live situation etc., are you more of a software freak or a hardware geek?

I love technology. I’m always trying to find new instruments to play live with. For me software and hardware are both great. Each one has a function and they can complement wonderfully.

As your music videos, release-covers  and promo-pictures clearly show, visual aesthetics seem to be as important to you as the music itself. Do you have a background in visual arts or for example styling, either by studies, work or both?

All the graphic work, videos and pictures are done by me because I enjoy so much doing it! When I was living in Madrid I went to the University to study “Art History”. It is a beautiful career, I guess that opened my eyes in more than one direction.

As an artist who has toured a lot and has much experience from live performances, how important do you see the whole touring-aspect of the (Electronic) music industry these days? Which setting do enjoy more, the festival or the club?

I believe touring is the most important part of the whole deal. It is the only way you still can get in touch with the audience. Humans need Humans in order to feel more deep emotions, and this is what Art is about: emotions.

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Having experience of DJing as well, what kind of advice would you give to an aspiring DJ of for example underground Techno music? Do you personally enjoy performing your own material more, as opposed to material by others?

I enjoy doing more other’s material and I love to play my own songs live.

How do you see the progression and future of underground Dance Music in general, do you see more progression and new ideas, or classy vintage vibes in the future? How much of the wheel is worth reinventing?

I see a great evolution coming up. I don’t know exactly how it will be, but I guess it will be super interactive. Reinventing and adding up new hardware and software is the wheel of progress so it is more than welcome to come. The bases for the future are wirelessly wonderful. Music translates feelings and it will remain like that, but the way those feelings will be transmitted will tell us a new story.

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Thank you very much for this short interview! What does the rest of the year of 2016 have in store for you and your projects?

Hopefully I will finish my new album. There’s also the new Dualesque album coming up with several video releases, plus new releases on Killerrr from two wonderful women and artists: Carmel Zoum and Lotis Tyr.

On top of that Killerrr and Fulmen Records have started a new event series called “Matematic” to showcase Latin-American Electronic Arts in Berlin, we’re looking forward to give a space to new and young talents. As well as the “Killerrr Club”, which is our beloved label party, will have several editions this year.

Yasmin Gate

Killerrr Records

This Is Killerrr

Dieselsex – S/T

(Self-Released, 2016)

The musical visions of Keegan O’Reilly (A. Octo) came to my attention in 2014, in the form of his previous Atmospheric Black Metal project Death Sigh Ritual, which left a very good (twisted) taste into my mouth, when it comes to things like honesty of the music and sheer emotion straight from the depths of the artist.

Now he is back with a new project, this time using the means of classic Industrial Music and Punk Rock, two styles that can be often mixed together in a very cheesy way. Fortunately, this project has turned out surprisingly original and entertaining.

Again the “naked”, honest approach of the musician is very present. In fact, the dedicated and passionate attitude of the man can be clearly seen in one of his hobbies (I know of) outside making music, namely knife throwing. Picture that shit translated into creating music and you know what I mean.

This EP offers four songs and about 12 minutes of very vintage-sounding, unpretentious or ungimmicky Industrial (Punk) Rock with strong nods to the (eighties) origins of styles like EBM and Electropunk, while maintaining the gritty organic feeling of classic Punk. The term Anarcho comes to mind just as often as names like Ministry or Borghesia.

The drum-beats are nicely electronic and pounding but not by any means as massive as one might suspect from modern Industrial, reminding us of the “unimportance” of the drum-sounds (according to many minds) in Punk Rock, executed in a very classic drum-machine-like way while using quite organic sounds in all areas.

The guitars are pretty fat and growling, altho not too heavy on the low frequencies, still basically functioning as both electric bass and electric guitar in the more organic sense. The riffs are half of the nature as an Industrial artist would use his/her synth, and half of the Punk-mentality. Many samples and background synths (such as bass-lines and noises) make the whole spectrum a bit more livelier.

The vocals are shouting coming from quite up high, in an aggressive but not too preaching way. While the accent is quite clearly American, the general style of the performance usually reminds me of the British eighties. The words are also often spit out in cool rhythms and grooves, functioning as an instrument of their own.

As the four songs pass through me quite quickly, and leave me wanting more of the same stuff (or longer songs perhaps), this EP has made a very strong impression on me. It is always cool to find a younger generation finding so much atmosphere in the music of past decades one can create and perform “retro”-stuff in a passionate and generally honest way, but projects like this make me wonder if the music would have turned out pretty much the same anyway, without the artist digging the works of the past.

This is again a very ready package from Keegan, let us hope he continues this extremely positively surprising project. For all fans of hard-hitting vintage electronics and anarchist leather and denim -clad attitudes. A very cool (human) cyber-attack against the programming of modern minds.



Unru – Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nicht

(Sentient Ruin / Monotonstudio Records / Supreme Chaos Records, 2016)

At the latest, after the success of bands such as Deafhaven and Altar Of Plagues, it sometimes feels like every hipster wanted to create a raw Black Metal band, often with Crusty or more artistic influences (which is fine by me since art should be free for all men and women to create), but while most of these bands end up sounding pretty similar and boring (unoriginal), one can occasionally come across something unique, when it comes to “Blackened Neo-Crust”, such as this young German band.

Without any info of the previous doings of the band members, I do know this is their first full-length release after a demo, a single and two splits. What makes the music fresh and original enough (to get my attention) is the way the band incorporates the more ferocious blastbeats and classic tremolo riffs with some for example more progressive rhythms or doomy elements (as well as small hints of other styles) usually unheard of in the more popular bands of this genre, as well as some truly twisted vocals and hypnotic song-structures / arrangements, just enough to stick out of the mass in a good way. The outcome is of the sort which keeps things interesting, thoughtful and very atmospheric throughout this release.

While the faster Black Metal parts – besides the obvious more monotonous nineties-worship – often reminds me of the intensity of newer bands like Katechon (or even the classic odd-bird of the early nineties, “Blood Must Be Shed”), a few more groovy and rhythmic parts here and there bring to my mind stuff like Industrial and even Tribal music. There is also a very Doomy and Deathly part to be found in one of the songs, spicing things up nicely. I only wish there would be even more of these varied parts in the music.

The arrangement of the songs as well as the melodic yet repetitive nature of the riffs usually lifts the music to truly epic and even transcendental heights, making this a release of much atmospheric value, which is unarguably the mission of the music style in question. The melancholic apathy towards mankind and the vanity and desperation of all things human can really be sensed thru this stuff.

One major thing that makes the sound of the band a bit more original are the beforementioned vocals, which are not your typical Black Metal screaming nor the average Crusty shouting, but fall somewhere in between the two, often turning into even quite clear vocals, resulting as something truly twisted, desperate and hateful, fitting the music perfectly.

The overall handling of the instruments is good (props for the basslines which are often played quite high, giving these parts also a bit more personal touch as well), and the production of the album is fine when it comes to the style in question, with maybe a bit too much reverb here and there, which on the other hand increases the deep atmospheres of the music.

This album offers about 35 mins of good quality, raw and organic, thoughtful, epic and artistic Crusty Black Metal with enough unique touches to make the band worthwhile a deeper look. Released by the extremely cool label Sentient Ruin, as well as Monotonstudio Records and Supreme Chaos, I definitely urge you to check out this (in all its apparent simplicity) genuinely fresh and original band!

Sentient Ruin
Monotonstudio Records
Supreme Chaos Records

Natvre’s – Wrath

(Self-Released / Clean Head Productions, 2015)

Natvre’s from Thessaloniki (Greece) are a three-piece made of members not “publicly” familiar from earlier projects (at least according to Metal Archives), formed in 2014, this full-length being their first release. And what a strong first release it is.

As is the case with many of the more interesting newcomers, Natvre’s has decided to perform a style of Black Metal which takes a lot from the old-school vibes of the nineties, and fuse it with other (often a bit more interesting?) elements, such as good old Punk Rock and other more Avantgardish and Abstract styles of music. And the fusion works extremely well.

The album gets straight into business with the opening track “Lazarines”, introducing eerie tremolo and picking riffs reminding me of classic Thorns and Mayhem, mixed with more straightforward Rocking Punk riffs and vibes (and partly Darkthronish and Burzumish or even Aura Noirish attitudes if you will, besides the more Avantgarde atmospheres, as the album progresses). To the end of the song we get some blast-beats as well, reminding us of the Black backgrounds of the music in general. The vocals (with their heavy distortion) bring to my mind a more groovier version of Aldrahn in “Satanic Art”, with the same amount of passion and madness. The whole thing is put through filters of extreme weight (being heavy and hard-hitting as fuck) and razor-sharp Blackened violence.

The next seven songs offer the same stuff (with an exemption of a more obscure long instrumental guitar-driven song in the middle of the album), with more variation in the drum-beats and some vocal-parts, while the riffs stay pretty much the same. What makes this album so cool, is the right amount of new more “artistic” and just plain imaginative tricks up the sleeves of whoever has composed and arranged these songs, of new styles and ways to present this Art, while keeping the overall feeling of the album similar throughout the whole shredding journey.

Altho the basses and guitars, the drums, and the vocals are all recorded at three different studios, the main mixing has brought all the elements in prefect (dis)harmony. The bass-drums pound like fists, while the balance of warmth and heaviness, coldness and sharpness created by the basses and guitars merge splendidly with the insane yet Rocking Blackened vocals.

This release offers basically nothing new under any suns, but still manages to give about 45 mins of something genuinely fresh and cool to the intelligent and open-minded fan of different musical styles, with main emphasis of course in Black fucking Metal. This highly recommended album is released as a digipack by the band (with the help of Clean Head Productions).



Interview with Sordide

Sordide from Rouen, France is one of those bands that manage to keep the whole concept of “Black Metal” interesting to me. Rather than following the current trends, the band has found themselves in the traditional nineties Blackened realms, adding the rawness and primitivity of Punk and even Garage Rock elements (as well as more purely artistic and Avantgarde elements) into their sound. In all it’s primitive and raw complex beauty, the creative process behind their music demands clarification.

Bonjour Sordide! How has the year drawn to it’s closure over there in Rouen?

Bonjour Antti! Last weeks were a turning point, as we had our first tour in France. An important experience, with great meetings and very good feedback. We toured with Nebehn, Sordide’s new bass player. He joined the trio from the very first gig, without any rehearsal (we called him the day before going on tour). Continuing ahead, we are currently working on new material for the next release.

The members of the band have been active in the local music scenes for quite some time. Extreme Metal seems to be the main style of your preference, but are there other styles to be found in your musical lives?

Indeed we’ve mainly been playing extreme music, be it Black, Doom, Hardcore, but also Experimental, Improvised or Classical music.

As you have taken a very traditional (mostly nineties-sounding) approach to your brand of Black Metal, do you still feel this as the most powerful path of the art, as opposed to current trends?

We don’t care about trends. In fact, we just play music as we feel, each time trying to keep a similar energy. Our sound and sensibility have obviously been affected by first wave of Black Metal, but not only nor mainly. We cannot say how much. Some bands kind of lose themselves in the studio, overdubbing everything, triggering the drums… It’s like they anesthetize the music and lock it in a cage. We want to keep it wild and alive.

The other elements of your music include (in my opinion) Garage Rock, French “Folk” Music, and Post Punk. Has this been a mutual collective choice, or do the different elements come to the band from the different individuals creating the music?

At the beginning, we only wanted to play Black Metal together. We’ve never had any precise plan, only a common will and that style in mind. Then, our collective and individual influences, experiences and feelings made a “strange” musical alchemy, crafted what you can hear: Not only Black Metal, we are often told. Pinpointing all influences would be both a pain and useless. We couldn’t even tell. As often, there’s no precise intention to cross over trends, musical styles or areas, it just happened…

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Talking about the raw energy in your music, there is no denying the strong influence of Punk in styles like Thrash, Death and Black Metal. That is also something I’m personally hearing in your sound (at least), besides the more artistic approaches to the riffs and songs. Is this mostly intentional or unintentional?

Yes, it was clearly intentional. Our music had to be raw. No polishing, no compromise. We want to keep it real, on stage as on records. Keep it simple, wild, alive… In a way, the Punk influence you underlined.

How about the lyrical side of Sordide? Without any knowledge of the French language, I am guessing the topics include social and personal issues, ponderings on what it means to be French today?

Lyrics effectively deal with social and personal themes, but are way wider than national ponderings or issues. They’re composed of various visions of situations we can live or behold. They mainly bring contemporary but also long tradition values into question. Titles are meaningful : “Ni Nom Ni Drapeau” (Neither Name Nor Flag), “Gloire” (Glory), “Violence”, “Blâme”, “Pauvre Histoire” (Poor History) or “La France A Peur” (France Is Afraid) – This latter being from a 1976 TV speech.

I can understand when some bands want to keep political opinions out of their music, even when dealing with social issues (and let the listeners decide for themselves), while some bands want to speak out their mind under a certain ideology, may it be Left, Right, Anarchist, Fascist, or whatever. But is there a clear attitude or philosophy to be heard in the art of Sordide?

We claim to have a “neither name, nor flag” -attitude. You can interpret it politically or artistically. Those were our first words, and part of the art of Sordide. The band is not claiming specific political opinions, or a straight musical path. We do experiment, nothing is black or white.

Are you active in the local music scenes? Do the local bands help each other out when it comes to things like rehearsing and gigs? Are people of different genres open-minded, or do the different musical scenes stay separated?

Rouen musical scene is quite rich and musically open-minded, but not that much socially. It is said to have known a real Punk Rock background from the late 60’s to 80’s. Nowadays, like in a lot of the cities of France (and Europe perhaps), we’re lacking places to organize shows. Rouen has no squats or independent venues. In a nutshell, lots of bands and a few places…

We must admit we’re not very active in local scene, often supporting gigs, but we do not organize gigs more than twice a year. We intentionally chose not to play in Rouen before a year, thus focusing on other cities.

How has the reception been towards your amazing first full-length “La France A Peur”? Has the reception been better in France or abroad? You are currently in the process of creating a second album?

In France and abroad, the album has been very well received. Lots of positive reviews, download-statistics and radio broadcastings are good evidence it was. We’ve heard of some negative opinions regarding lyrics, and perhaps misunderstandings concerning our approach (it is a hen, in fact…). Anyway, among most amazing feedbacks we had, the ones following gigs surprised us. We often met people who came to hear us, some of them even knowing lyrics. And when some just discovered our music, we’ve often been thanked. What better reception could we hope ?

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How does the year of 2016 look to Sordide? Is the band something you can all invest in full-time, or is your time (as a band) limited when it comes to musical activities?

It already looks like an important year. We are currently working on the next album. Recording session early February: That is a challenge. Everything hasn’t been composed yet and we have to affirm the new line-up. Moreover, we can’t invest in full-time because of jobs and have to invest in other bands too.

One thing is sure, new material will be more violent. Satisfaction is already here and we will continue our breathless work till recording is over. Then, we’ll be eager to tour again.

Many thanks for your attention and interest, Antti.




Mädäntyneen Jumalan Silmä – Musta Myrsky

(Self-Released, 2015)

Black Metal, as a definition, is definitely a question of taste. There are so many music styles out there labeled Black Metal, that it really comes to the question of ideology and attitude rather than the actual music, when the various scenes of various ages compare each other’s music, often in a very competitive (musical-fascist) way. There are people who say that playing skills are not important in Black Metal, and it’s all about the atmosphere the music summons. There are also those who say the same about the overall production and soundscapes of the music, often meaning “the crappier the better” (authentic). And there are those who have nothing against decent playing skills and listenable production, on the contrary, even in a such a violent music style as Black Metal.

With this their first release, Mädäntyneen Jumalan Silmä (from Finland) falls somewhere between the two opposites of minimalistic and low-fi atmospheres and well-produced quality.  The band consists of unknown musicians (to me), with the exception of one member with whom I have done similar kind of (but not as good) music in the past.

What strikes to me the most about the music is the fact it mostly seems to be coming straight from the nineties (my favourite decade of Black Metal of course), and even more so straight from this very country. There were a few bands around here which managed to sound original (in the sense they didn’t totally copy the Norse bands), altho pretty minimalist and low-fi, bands like Nidhoggr. Still, there are also a few Norse-sounding (at least to my ears) parts in the songs, mainly in the form of melodies resembling (very simple) versions of for example “For All Tid” or “Written In Waters”, but these parts could also be compared to some other more modern stuff by someone else. However, the main pulse of the music comes from the (relatively) slow blast-beats, dragging and Doomy parts, and almost (old) Gorgoroth-like rocking vibes. When talking of minimalist aggression and groove, even stuff like classic Hellhammer comes to my mind at times when listening to these riffs.

The performance of all the instruments on these recordings (which were recorded live somewhere in northern Finland if I’ve understood correctly) is not bad, altho nothing special either. The sounds of the tracks making these songs are definitely not of high quality per se, but nevertheless mixed in a way which makes the end result sound truly clear yet hateful, aggressive, and dark. Most importantly: it sounds above else like genuine Black Metal. The riffs and the arrangements of the songs are quite minimalistic, yet handled with enough precision like a quality live-performance (which it apparently is). The vocals are quite original, bringing to my mind a more “masculine” (not so whining) version of classic Burzum, being nothing too special, but still giving the overall atmospheres of the band a unique-enough touch. The lyrics apparently deal mostly about subjects such as disappointment, despair, nihilism, misanthropy and so on, being as in-your-face as the music itself.

This release offers about 18 minutes (four songs, plus an intro and an outro) of extremely hard hitting, violently pounding and massively sounding traditional Black Metal with a strong nod to the Scandinavian sounds of the nineties, and with some more “modern” artistic and avantgardish elements. A recommended new band to be checked out, for all fans of straightforward and gritty classic Black Metal. Released as 66 copies, the Tape can be obtained from the band itself.