Der Blutharsch – the already 20 years old lovechild of the psychedelic visionaire and an all around jolly fellow Albin Julius – continues on the same progressive road which has taken form on the groups latest releases. In the empire of Der Blutharsch, the roads have been lately paved with some trippy vibes indeed, and they all lead to inner worlds of cosmic and magickal proportions.
The first song starts with a hypnotic sampled clanking sound and some buzzing riffing from the stoned guitar, slowly adding some percussives and jamming leads. When the song has already cast it’s trance-inducing spell upon you, Marthynna’s eerie whispering and preaching vocals suddenly shake you a bit, while the song continues to jam away very slowly with a bit more eventful drumming and synth-effects.
The second song continues along the same lines as the first one, built on top of a cool retro-sounding synth-bass-line, adding a bit more rhythm and speed to the ritual, and a bit more melodic singing from Marthynna, ending in a weird awesome spoken sample.
The thrid song goes a bit more experimental with the synth-lines and riffing, being almost comical, but it gets you in a good mood for sure. However, the fourth song is the best one yet, with it’s epic synths , tribal percussions and moody guitar leads. The fifth song is again a bit more tongue-in-cheek and amusing deliverance of psychedelic Rock, and makes you realize how well the more dark and slower songs work great next to these more cheerful songs.
The sixth song is an awesome ambient piece while the seventh song is again a quite tribal-oriented, with a massive crushing bass. The eight song has an extremely beautiful and atmospheric piano-like melody coupled with buzzing guitars, basses ambient synths and weird choir-like singing. Altho without any percussions, this song is definitely one of the highlights of the album.
The ninth song features a pretty weird heavily effectizied and almost disturbing percussive sample and organ-sounds, and the tenth song consists of a synth-sound so bassy, heavy and vibrating, I thought my speakers are going to explode. Definitely a powerful way to end this album with a bang.
The soundscapes of the album range from pretty murky and mysterious frequencies to clear outputs, keeping the two worlds in a good and atmospheric balance. Mastered by Thomas Tannenberg (of the Austrian experimental Black Metal band Abigor), the overall audial quality and mentality of the album is great for trippy stuff like this.
This release gives you the safe (?) and sound Der Blutharsch psychedelia we have grown to love in the last years, with no big surprises, but the trip is again high quality ritualistic stoner ambience and groovy jamming. Fans of the band will naturally get this release, and if you haven’t yet been exposed to the music of the band, this album is a splendid introduction.
Street Sects made a name for themselves in 2014 with a few intense singles, but now with the release of their debut full-length “End Position” the shit of humanity has hit the fan once and for all and the skeletons are marching furiously out of the closets. The band’s incorporation of classic Industrial, Punk Rock and Power Electronics seems to come straight from their suffering hearts, and demands a chat.
Hello! Where are you currently writing this, and how has the day fared you so far? This half of the year has most likely been eventful for you, with the release of your masterpiece “End Position”?
SHAUN: I’m writing the answers to this on a notepad while waiting in a Firestone Auto lobby. Thinking of the eventfulness of End Position, I’m now reflecting mostly on the west coast tour we just finished. However, the best part of all of this, for me, has been the people writing to us to personally say the record resonated with them. That has given me some happiness, as well as some great sadness for all the years I wasted on bullshit.
LEO: I’m in Dallas right now, visiting my girlfriend. The day has just begun. And yeah, things have definitely been busy since the record came out. It’s been exciting, but I’m hoping things will be even busier next year. I’d like to think that our “masterpiece” has still yet to be written.
You are formed in Austin Texas, creating music that hasn’t really been in the minds of wider audiences, besides the nostalgic and retro-obsessed Industrialists and Electro-punks. How is the local scene, or the scenes of the US for that matter, when it comes to stuff like yours?
SHAUN: The local scene is comprised of many genres, from Country Western to Metal to analog Electro to deejay culture–and then everything that goes with three major music festivals per year. There isn’t a scene for the music we’ve written in particular, but there are many talented, experimental Electronic artists in Austin.
LEO: There’s a pretty vibrant dark Electronic music scene here in Austin. Most of it is either Noise or analog synth based stuff, but there’s a small handful of artists who exist somewhere outside of those two camps. We don’t always fit well on most bills around here. That seems to be the case on tour also. Because we don’t fall neatly into a category, we tend to find ourselves on all different kinds of bills, which sometimes works out, and sometimes backfires. For every one person that seems to dig what we’re doing, there’s definitely at least one or two who can’t fucking stand it. That’s great in a way, but it makes finding the right crowds who appreciate what we do a bit more of a challenge. I think a lot of people who frequent dark music shows have a pre-disposition of what they expect certain genre artists to sound like or adhere to, and we don’t really fall in line with that.
Personally, I like to think of genres as being colors on a palette, as tools or resources to be used in service of creating something unique, rather than as established categories to be filed under. Other people came up with these ideas of genre. As singular concepts genres are limiting and repetitive, but if you think of genres as being historical data or raw materials to be explored and exploited, it can be energizing and inspiring. I’ve seen people online arguing about our record, and whether or not it’s Power Electronics, or Industrial Metal, or Gabber-Noise or countless other goofy genre tags… I think some of these people might be disappointed to learn that we seriously couldn’t care less about any of that bullshit. We don’t sit around listening to Industrial music all day. There’s a lot of artists from the genre that we dig, of course, and we certainly respect the legacy and craft of the early innovators, but we aren’t trying to carry a torch for any of that stuff. Industrial music is an inspiration for us, not a blueprint.I probably listen to more seventies Rock than anything, because I like the production from that era. The attention to detail, the three dimensional warmth. The entire year or so we were working on End Position I don’t think I listened to much of anything, regularly, besides Street Sects demos and Roxy Music. Part of that is because I get ear fatigue from working at a venue and listening to the demos Shaun sends me, but part of it is also because I’m not trying to steep my brain in heavy Electronic music constantly. I don’t blast Death Grips and Skinny Puppy on my way to work. Those guys are great, but I don’t find myself in the mood to listen to that kind of stuff very often. For me, Street Sects is very much about creating art for selfish reasons. It feels good to create and perform… It scratches a certain kind of primal itch. It’s not about writing a love letter to our predecessors.
What other styles of music have you been into, besides the obvious influences of your music? Have you been or are you currently active with other bands before Street Sects?
SHAUN: Leo and I have played together in a few bands before. Mostly it was guitar driven music. Guitar was my primary instrument for a long time. I started taking lessons around eleven years of age. Growing up, I listened to a lot of Rap. Kids in my neighborhood would get together to play basketball and play on cassette all the Deathrow Records stuff, and then Wu-Tang. Later on I got into Metal, followed by Jazz.
LEO: I was born in 1980, so as a kid I was obsessed with MTV. During grade school it was everything to me. MTV, comic books, and video games. My dad was an ex air force guy who’d held onto all the records he’d bought while he was in the service, traveling the world, and he played me a lot of great stuff when I was young. Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, those are some of the ones that stuck with me. He wouldn’t let me use his record player when he wasn’t home, so I would just flip through his records and obsess over the album art and lyric sheets when he was at work. I had a cassette player in my room, and my parents would buy me tapes for my birthday and Christmas, but tapes were never as cool to me as my dad’s records. The artwork was so much bigger and he had these really nice old Bose speakers he would play them through. Everything about it made the music seem so much more alive to me. I remember a really definitive moment for me was when I saw the premiere of the music video for Metallica’s “One” on MTV. It blew my fucking mind. My cassette player had a built in microphone in it, and you could put in a blank tape (or a regular tape with scotch tape over the two holes on the bottom) and record audio onto it. I used to put the tape player up to the TV speaker and record songs off MTV that I liked. The next time I saw “One” come on I recorded it. I listened to that tape until it was worn out. When I finally got a proper version of And Justice For All on cassette for my birthday or whatever that year, I was really disappointed with the album version of One because it didn’t have all those badass samples from Johnny Got His Gun that were in the video version. If you listen to that version, especially the ending, with the machine-like drumming and those samples laid over it, it has a very Industrial feel to it.
In terms of other projects, I started off playing in Hardcore bands in the mid-late nineties, the most notable being Failsafe, an off kilter, DC inspired Hardcore band I was in with Terence Hannum (now of Locrian), and Jon Glover (now of Ars Phoenix). Another band I was in with Jon, back in the early 2000’s, was a band called Kilborough. We had sort of an uncategorizable sound that blended of a lot of different elements. The couple of years I spent in that project were instrumental to how I work as a musician today. One of the members in that group, Todd Pendv, was kind of like a mentor to me in some ways during that time. He opened my mind up to a lot of new music, art, film and literature, and really helped me redefine my creative approach. I can be a very stubborn, one track minded person sometimes, and he kind of beat into me the importance of experimentation as exercise, and also to take my time with things. When I was younger I was always in a hurry to finish projects, and that’s obviously not the best approach when you want to make something of lasting value. Todd went on to start Pendv Sound Recordings in NYC, and he released records by Chelsea Wolfe, Sasha Grey’s Atelecine and more before leaving behind the music world entirely for a successful career in the fashion industry.
Street Sects is the only currently active project that I’m involved with right now. We’ve got more than enough on our plate to keep me busy. However, I did contribute vocals to an EP for a project called History, which is a thing I did a few years back with Daisy Caplan (formerly of Foxy Shazam). It’s kind of his solo thing, in a way, and I just sang on it, but it’s significant to me because I did about half of it while I was still an alcoholic/drug addict (when I was literally at my absolute worst), and the other half I did after I got out of rehab and was living in a halfway house in Jacksonville FL. So to me it kind of represents this huge transitional phase in my life. Daisy and his wife Rachelle also played a huge role in me getting sober, but that’s another story. We finally had that record mixed and mastered this past year and it should be coming out on Realicide Youth Records sometime in 2017.
As you work musically mostly with electronics and samples, are you pretty much fed up with so-called organic music, or is this just the way of this particular project? Has Electronic music been something that has interested you since a kid?
SHAUN: Electronic music has allowed me to move outside of expressions I’ve learned over the years with guitar. Also, yeah, I go back and forth on wanting to hear recognizable Rock n Roll sounds in music. I need a combination of things now. A process that isn’t focused on gear but rather an emotional reaction to a particular sound, no matter how that sound gets documented.
LEO: I wouldn’t say that I’m fed up with organic music at all. Electronics are a means to an end. I don’t see Street Sects relying entirely upon the same means indefinitely. For now, it works
I was more into Rock and Heavy Metal as a kid than I was anything Electronic based. The first Wlectronic bands I really got into were definitely Industrial bands. Ministry’s Psalm 69 and NIN’s Downward Spiral were both pretty huge records for me when I was young, but by then I was about 12 or 13.
The themes of the album seem to be coming from personal places of deep disgust, depression, apathy and even self-destruction. The creation of the album has most likely been a purifying experience for you?
LEO: Not really. Speaking for myself, I don’t use music as a way to work through my problems. It’s self reflection, sure, but I don’t see it as therapy. At least not at this point. I mean, say you’re an artist, and you hate your face. So you sit in front of a mirror and draw a self portrait. You draw it as accurately as you possibly can. When you’ve finished the drawing, do you find that you dislike your face any less? I don’t think it’s that easy.
The clear and melodically sung vocal-parts of your music are performed very professionally. Is this approach, besides the more screaming aspects of the vocals, something you had in mind from the start of the band or something you realized could work later on?
LEO: It was something I wanted from the beginning. If you listen to the early 7″ stuff, the singing parts are there, they’re just buried under a lot of effects and poor mixing. Shaun and I have had a few other projects together where clear and melodic singing were a primary focal point of the music. With this project, I wanted it to be glued to the mix in a way where it becomes sort of another texture, but still prominent enough to draw you in, to exist as the emotive, human element amidst the Industrial soundscape.
As you play live as well, how would you compare the performances on the stage to the work at the studio? What is the typical Street Sects song-creation process like in general?
SHAUN: There are times when the workflow is good and strong and I’ll sketch a song all in one go, but often I prefer to make a song piecemeal, sending Leo sketches and asking for detailed impressions, then manipulating texture and tone until something sticks. As for studio compared with live, they’re completely separate experiences. I love studio work and also love listening to records in headphones. I’ve always loved listening to recorded music more than listening to it in a live setting. That being said, we aim for detailed work on the records and then punishing volume live. Our live show is meant to induce other reactions not necessarily felt in the safe space of the headphones experience, like total bodily immersion, fear, tension, etc.
LEO: The live show is meant it be immersive, and in some ways, interactive. I have a short attention span when it comes to live shows. I get bored very easily, and nine out of ten times I’d rather go see a movie than go see a band. So for me the goal with our live shows has always been to put on a show that I would be entertained by, if i were an audience member. It needs to be more than some rockers up on a stage doing their best Rock and Roller routine, or some fucking haircuts hunched over a table, massaging their overpriced analog gear. No offense to any of our friends out there doing their thing, but I’m just fucking bored of the same old show. I need something that wakes me up and makes me a little uncomfortable. That said, our live show is always a work in progress and it’s nowhere near where we’d like it to be. We are working within our means right now, but it’s going to evolve and improve. The recorded work is an entirely different approach. You can’t bottle up the live experience into an album. So we focus on the songcraft, on writing pieces of music that hopefully engage the listener on both on emotional and an intellectual level.
Your album was released by an underground label The Flenser, which suits your stuff perfectly I can imagine, but are you personally supporters of the DIY-mentality opposed to being on a major label? How important do you see promotion (and for example touring) when it comes to your music?
SHAUN: All I have to do is look at the amazing roster of artists on The Flenser to know we’re in the right place. As for DIY, it definitely played a part in our live set up, from deliberately booking DIY venues for intimacy and intensity to financing our own multi tiered PA system–which fucked my credit last year–to ensure that every audience would get the exact same punishing experience.
LEO: DIY is everything. It has to be, whether you like it or not. Look around you. The money is gone. It’s been gone. The nineties are over. No one gets a free ride anymore. If you want something to happen you have to get off your ass and do it yourself. You have to tour, you have to self promote, you have to book, manage, everything. We’re very fortunate that a label as hardworking and respected as The Flenser believed in us and gave us an opportunity to be included on their roster, but I don’t think they would have even considered us if they didn’t think we were 100% committed to making this project happen, with or without help.
Thanks for this interview! What are your plans for the rest of the year? Are you already working on a follow-up to your first album, or are you letting it sink in to the audiences first, and see later on which approach to take next?
SHAUN: We’re definitely not waiting. For me the impulse to write is every day, even if I only write out the music idea as a sentence in a notebook. Earlier this year, we started work on an EP, much of which is now finished. Likely that won’t come out until next year. It contains much of what was learned while making End Position but also has instrumentation and textural range that was excluded from writing that album. We feel an Ep is an opportunity to experiment with sound while in between larger ideas, so it’s not indicative of what to expect from the second album.
LEO: Thank you for your interest! We’ve got a lot of things in the steamer right now. Realistically, the proper full length follow up to End Position won’t be coming out until 2018, but we’ve got a few other things in the works, so 2017 definitely won’t be a quiet year for us. We’re also planning on touring again in the spring, so there’s that to look forward to.
The global live-screen-printing and musical collective Hit+Run has been putting out interesting stuff for many years, including names like Crimekillz, Kate Mo$$, Kutmah, Skrapez and Zackey Force Funk. The name has been to me synonymous with originality, creativity and DIY-mentality, and this album by the Los Angeles native Zeroh is certainly no different.
The music on this album ranges from Madlib-like beat-crafting to full on cacophony. Half of the songs don’t even have a beat, and dance somewhere between rhythmic Ambient and Noise (and Industrial Music if you will), and some have very traditional but minimalistic Hip Hop vibes to them. Always gritty, noisy, full of effects and experimental (playful) as hell, the production of this album often brings to my mind a mixture of Ka’s “Honor Killed The Samurai” and Gonjasufi’s “Callus”. Still, this stuff stands originally on its own, and shows the awesome skills of Zeroh as a producer.
The rapping gets the same treatment as the music, when it comes to heavy effects and experimental production. Besides that, Zeroh is one of those MCs who uses his voice like an instrument for jamming, and his verses are thoughtful and cool as fuck. He likes to play with his voice, changing style even many times in a sentence, wacky as shit, but still sounding totally in control. At times he sounds dark and serious, and at times he sounds cartoonish and comical. Which fits his style of writing lyrics perfectly. The symbiosis of the two put you in a concentrated yet psychedelic and sometimes even spiritual zone. The previous comparison with Gonjasufi often applies to the vocals as well, but there is so much more going on here. Zeroh is in a league of his own. The only two guests on this album, The Koreatown Oddity and Low Leaf, blend splendidly with the rest of the material.
This album is a treasure-chest of lyrical and vocal imaginativeness and hazy musical experimentality. Given the apparent skills of Zeroh as a producer of music (besides being an awesome rapper), I would have liked to hear a bit more variety on the beats (such as more drum-beats), but then again the stuff on this album works great as a whole, and does justice to the awesome cover-picture (or vice versa). If you are into experimental Hip Hop and interesting textures of sound, check this totally impressive album out. And while you’re at it, check out the collaboration-album between Zeroh and Jeremiah Jae, “Holy Smoke”, as well. Pure bliss.
Gonjasufi came to my attention in 2010 with his Warp debut “A Sufi And A Killer”, and after 2012’s “MU.ZZ.LE” I’ve been very eager to hear more of the Sufi’s deeply personal and original, melancholic experimental psychedelia. It took about four years but now the next chapter of Gonjasufi is out, taking his music even into more darkly psychedelic and intimate directions.
The music of Gonjasufi has always been rooted in Hip Hop culture, the Sand Diego scene to be exact, and he has done collaborations with awesome artists such as Flying Lotus, The Gaslamp Killer and The Bug. The minimalist and low-fi atmospheres of his sampling and instrumentations, which are usually a blend of urban and almost shamanistic vibes, have been as individual as his voice, which is hard to compare to anyone else, and once familiar with it you will definitely recognise it.
When it comes to musical atmospheres and of course his voice, this album can be immediately identified as Gonjasufi, but there are a few new things he is trying out here. I’m getting almost Lynchian feelings of grey scenes of nightly California, intoxicating and hot under the silhouettes of waving palm trees, with flashing neon lights here and there telling of the liveliness of these grainy and strongly contrasted inner soundscapes. The term “noir” comes to my mind constantly. The heavy and slow very organic drumbeats mixed with distorted and reverberated guitars and basses often give an almost Doom-like feeling. On other times the classic Punk influences are very clear and function perfectly with the rest of the musical styles encapsulated on the album.
There are actually not many purely Electronic-sounding moments in these songs, and when they do appear, they are glitchy or vintage-sounding and delightfully noisy, which fits the overall atmosphere of the album nicely. Parts and samples of Ethnic music add to the psychedelic agenda of the album and the persona of the artist himself. The at the same time sensitive and strong vocals are again put through filters of strong reverbs and distortions, making them sound almost like samples of some weird movies, as the music is also highly cinematic in nature.
The whole experience is actually pretty 3D cartoon-like and very dreamy, with each of the 19 songs displaying a different scene strong in mental aesthetics.
If you are a fan of Experimental Hip Hop (with a strong emphasis on low-fi and DIY-mentalities), and especially of cinematic music, you should definitely check this album out. And if you are already familiar with Gonjasufi and liked his previous stuff, this album will not disappoint you. One of the best ones this year.
(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!
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).
Kenneth K. is a very productive musician (this is not the first release of his appearing on these pages), dealing mostly in soundscapes of various kind (his other projects besides [ówt krì] include for example Static Continuum and Aluminum Foil), and knowing the man personally, I have a strong impression regarding most of his projects, he would rather let the music speak for itself rather than analyse his work. So that is what we shall do, since Ambient is an extremely potent style of music for creating different inner visual sceneries in different individuals anyhow.
Kenneth has not been a stranger to experimentation with electric guitars through various pedals and effects in his Ambient music in the past (something that comes naturally from his Metal and Prog background in music), and this work is no exception. The theme of the album is of course a spiritual journey of some sort, letting the listener decide the outcome. Is the journey more important than the destination, and is the destination something negative or positive?
The album starts with a collaboration-track with the individuals from his other project Static Continuum, which is apparently an improvisation with very nineties-sounding keyboards and a couple of different guitars. Although quite Progressive in feeling, the attitude of the electric guitar leads is mostly quite “rocking” in nature, reminding maybe more of artists such as Steve Vai rather than for example 70’ies Prog Rock, which most likely appeals to some people more than others. There are moments when the guitars solos are picked and shredded with such speeds and emotion, they sound almost like taken from a technical Power Metal song or similar.
The second song continues with the same atmospheres when it comes to the synth-ambience and sounds, adding different bell- and chime-like sounds through various psychedelic filters in the mix. The third song however adds some organ-sounds to the journey, making it even more ecclesiastic and holy sounding. There are parts when the melodies from the synths are not in complete harmony with the guitars (which is most likely intentional), making the whole experience reach some psychedelically twisted and otherworldly heights. The fourth song features percussions besides the again very nineties (Cold Meat Industry era etc.) sounding synths, giving us a first song with clear rhythmical patterns rather than just pure improvisation. There is a very strong growing Prog Rock vibe coming through again halfway of the song.
The fifth song takes us into such deep spaces of the human inner cosmos, I haven’t experienced this kind of bliss in a while. Still sounding kinda like a mixture of eighties Tangerine Dream and an intro or outro of a nineties Atmospheric Black or Death Metal band, I am sitting in a planetarium of such proportions I am deeply amazed. Extremely cool vocal effects accompany the vintage keyboard-sounds in such a way you realize modern technology is never necessary in creating highly sophisticated and abyssial atmospheres. The vocal experimentation continues in the sixth song, using different layers of real and synthetic choirs and singing as instruments in the cool meaning of the word. The seventh song is a very ominous and eerie play of guitars, synth-sounds of bells, and a bit more drony ghosts and ghastly vocals, acting as a cool bridge towards the eight song and the end of the journey, which is a more melodic and beautiful piece of pianos, deep bassy sounds, jamming drums, and spoken vocals, ending the Pilgrimage in quite experimental and psychedelic feelings.
The album is mixed by none other than Dan Swanö, which may or may have affected the final outcome strongly, but nevertheless adds a very cool aspect to the general atmosphere of the release. A heartily recommended album to everyone into Ambient and Progressive soundscapes and mindsets.
Jérémie Jones is a Montreal-based experimental musician (and an experienced bass player), whose work has appeared on many critically acclaimed albums. He has also toured all over the world, naturally drawing experience into his art from many different surroundings. This album functions as an imaginary soundtrack of a boy crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a ship, in 1952.
The music is mainly done by Electronic means, but features guest musicians playing instruments like the flute, clarinet, oboe, piano and drums. The material can however be described as a highly active form of Ambient music, consisting of many layers and elements. Layers of synthetic ambience flow and drift across the album like the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, accompanied by an amazing amount of audial details and sceneries of various kind (brought forth by different synth-sounds, effects, melodies of contemporary or postmodern classical music via acoustic instruments, choir-like female vocals, and so on) passing by the listeners inner eyes.
The whole experience indeed feels like being inside the cabin of huge ship, looking outside the window, or sometimes wandering on the deck of the vessel, admiring the psychedelic spectacles unfolding all around the ship. The amount of audial details resulting in numerous inner visual sensations and scenes brings to my mind the work of visual artists such as Hayao Miyazaki (imagine something like “Spirited Away” happening on a ship) and audial artists like Vangelis (comparing to the “Blade Runner” OST in terms of visuality of sound).
This album is a brilliant display of the possibilities of sound, even when staying within the borders of terms and concepts such as Ambient music or Contemporary Classical music, or other similar. Very much recommended to all whom share Noordwiijk’s love for experimental ways of sound resulting in inner visuals of great beauty and marvel.
Natascha Schampus (a pseudonym inspired by the kidnapped Austrian woman Natascha Kampusch) is an Electronic, Industrial and Ambient (among other styles) musician also active for example in the groups Exploding Mind and Naum. This new album by him and William Lee was introduced to me by Albin Julius (of Der Blutharsch in case you are unfamiliar with him), also released by his Hau Ruck! label.
The theme of the album seems to be a Cafeteria kind of dreamlike atmosphere, and keeping all the more avantgarde and artistic sides of the Industrial genre (throughout the years) in mind, the album indeed feels like sitting in a living museum-like surroundings of some Café, occupied by weird characters as in a dream, with paintings alive on the pulsating walls each showing a different side of this musical style working as a basis for all things truly bizarre.
The first song features weird liquid clicks and drips, like a clock ticking next to your bed while you astrally travel, and church-like male vocals / chants by Gábor Szohr, on top of Ambient soundscapes. A very trancelike and ritualistic start for the album. The second song consists of more vintage electronic synths, basses and bleeps/keys, and vocoder-vocals, while being just as trance-inducing as the first song. A comedic spoken sample of Glenn M. Wallis fits the atmosphere of the song perfectly. The third song continues with the analogue synth-feelings of the second song, with more violent Industrial sounds accompanying the very Tom Waits-like speech of Peter Hope.
The fourth song is a more calm, eighties-reminding and spacy piece with the vocoder vox returning, keeping the vintage synth-theme of the album so far intact. The lyrics (and speech) of Eric Random gives the song a COILy feeling as well. The fifth song is originally recorded live, with additional synths and hammond added later by Albin Julius. Again a very eighties and Tangerine kinda song, also with nineties IDM-vibes in the logic of the song, full of atmosphere. The sixth song starts with a nice piano-part, reminding us of the musical Cafeteria-mileau theme of the album, before going again more harsh and noisy realms with the synths, featuring a very improvised and live-like feeling with spoken parts by Barbie B.
The seventh song is a mixture of very classical Industrial “Gothic” feelings and organic tribal percussions, resulting in a very cool outcome indeed. Once more, the drunken vocals of Peter Hope fit the song splendidly, echoing of the beginnings of the genre in their aesthetics and lyrics. The eighth song is also equally harsh and very eighties and nineties-sounding piece with a slow snare-driven beat and the familiar vocoders. Again, a strong nod to the historical development of the genre in general. The album finishes off with a sibling-version of the first song, featuring the same soundscapes and vocals, leaving a fantastic taste in my mouth from all the drinks served in the Café by this album.
If you are into the not-so-recent currents of the Industrial scene by reasons of nostalgia, or a younger person interested in the more vintage aspects of the genre, or just an Electronic music freak in general, I definitely recommend you to spend a night at the Café summoned in a lucid dreamlike existence by this album. It is totally worth your time.
Ariadne from Brooklyn consists of Christine Lanx and Benjamin Forest, both graduates of Indiana University’s school of music. The name of this album, “Tsalal”, is a Hebrew term meaning “to grow or become dark”, a very Jungian concept indeed.
There is certainly something very dark in the overall atmosphere of this album, in the dreamy unconscious way, but not by any means in a depressive or anxious way. On the contrary, despite its occasional harsh and violent soundscapes (which I like to picture relating in the meeting of ones Jungian “shadow”), this music brings upon a very calm and positive feeling in general.
Most of the musical material of the six songs consists of glitchy electric synthetic currents and samples of noises, hisses, thuds, clanks, spiced with synth strings, breathing effects (reminding me of COIL’s magnificent “Are You Shivering”), and most of all beautiful female Gregorian chants.
Despite (or because of) its quite minimalistic nature, there is a very strong sense of spirituality and even eroticism in the obscure rhythms and trances of the album. I could picture the songs working as a background of an art exhibition, a long ritual of some kind, or as the soundtrack of a short film (or a long music video, which is actually reality, since the physical release includes videos for the songs).
If you can consider yourself liking for example a more minimalistic and stripped down noisy version of something Dead Can Dance might have done during their “Within the Realm Of A Dying Sun” era, or perhaps a more “Gregorian” version of the more Ambient material by the aforementioned COIL, or if you long for the atmospheres of the nineties cult label Cold Meat Industry, I urge you to check this album out.
Released by the very cool label Auris Apothecary as a 4GB black microSD card inside a miniature plastic case (limited to 100 pieces), this album is very special and rare item indeed.