Eidulon – Combustioni

Eidulon – Combustioni CD Malignant Records 2018

For background context Eidulon issued their debut CD Idolatriae on Malignant Records back in 2007, but then receded into the shadows for over a decade before returning to issue this second album. Although perhaps in truth there was not complete silence from the group following the debut, as in the intervening 11 year period contributions were made to a number of the respected Malignant Records/ Kalpamantra compilations between 2009 and 2018.

With reference to the first album, it was a quite minimalist and abstract take and experimental and industrial tinged dark ambient, Combustioni is an altogether different beast. Being a solid blend of sub-orchestral dark ambient, martial tinged industrial and apocalyptic neo-classical expression, Combustioni is varied in its sonic execution, which is perhaps partly explained by guest contributions on various tracks including: Nordvargr, Kammarheit, Naxal Protcol, Caul and Luca Soi. Specifically speaking, the guest vocals of Henrik Nordvargr Björkk are unmistakable on A Shimmer In The Void and The Hierarchy Of The Inner Planes, but perhaps coincidentally the backing music is not too dissimilar to Nordvargr’s last storming full length Metempsychosis, albeit more doomy and orchestral in execution here. Luca Soi also provides guest vocals on two tracks, with the first being on Grande Rosso which are in a croaked rasp more resembles an underground metal style, while the musical backing features towering orchestral brass horns and slow booming martial drums. Yet in a complete opposite form of vocal expression Luca’s vocals on Immanence are presented as clean sung and chanted, which is a standout element of the album and highlights yet further stylistic variation. Late album track Averni Flammas Transivi features contributions of Kammarheit which results in a droning soundscape which elevates to moments of shrill orchestral strings, while Stratificazione Settima concludes the album as an instrumental dark ambient offering containing muted sustained melodies and floating/ droning textures.

Not an overly long album at 42 minutes, it still packs a multitude of strong ideas in that run time. While the first CD was minimalistic in scope and sound, Combustioni is anything but, where the music is memorable with strong and rousing impact. To round out the physical presentation, the slick graphic design of the high gloss digi-pack includes stunning grey-toned imagery and full lyrics, which has been formatted to fold out into a Maltese Cross. A worthy release.

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Coil Presents Black Light District ‎– A Thousand Lights In A Darkened Room

Coil Presents Black Light District A Thousand Lights In A Darkened Room CD Infinite Fog 2018

Originally issued on CD and vinyl in 1996, a few unofficial versions have been issued over the years, with this new version containing original tracks and an additional two bonus tracks for good measure. But personally speaking while I more than familiar with Coil, at the same time I am far from an obsessive Coil fan, which means that I have dipped in and out of their catalogue over the years, but have not heard this particular release before now. However, of note I am aware that this album marked an important transitional period for the group, where their working methods moved towards involving new external collaborators, with this album including inputs of Drew McDowall and Danny Hyde (with a collection of others). It also seems there is an ongoing spat about the validity of this version, particularly in light of the untimely deaths of John Balance and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and the apparent lack of clarity around who officially owns and can administer the ongoing music rights (note: this release has been sanctioned by Danny Hyde).

But to speak specifically of the music, as an album A Thousand Lights In A Darkened Room can be described as being within an experimental ambient style, where one constant Coil thematic hallmark is present, being that particular wonky, surrealist and disorientating edge which shadows the majority of sonic proceedings. It is perhaps these slightly more playfully weird sonic elements which do not always gel with me, and explains why I am not a Coil obsessive, but equally, it is this quite unique sonic hallmark that Coil retained over their varied output that appeals to many.

The short Unprepared Piano opens the album, which to my ear is an awkwardly jarring track and something akin to abstract jazz piano or a cat tapdancing on a piano. This is followed by the wonky and rhythmically throbbing track Red Skeletons, but it too is overtly distracted by the inclusion telephone conversation snippets. Yet the album really hits its stride on track three, which is the lengthy ten-minute Die Wölfe Kommen Zurück, which is a particular standout with its warm enveloping and intertwining drones and cyclic factory-esque rhythmic loops. Refusal Of Leave To Land is also noteworthy for its time shifting aquatic churn, which builds across its musical span and includes a short emotive vocal croon late track. After a further run of slithering and partly rhythmic experimental soundscape styled tracks, this changes with late album track Blue Rats which stands out based on its direct minimalist programmed song focused structure and whispered/ sung vocal line. Likewise, one of the bonus tracks is Lost Rivers of London (incorrectly listed on the cover as London’s Lost Rivers), is a moody song-based format with low croon and spoken vocals of John which foreshadowed the tone Coil would later explore on Musick To Play In The Dark 1 & 2 and Astral Disaster, and here is darkly moody and contains a creepy unnerving melancholia in a way only Coil can evoke.

Despite my own reservations of the more playful and purposefully weird aspects of this album (and Coil’s sound overall), equally those elements will specifically attract Coil devotes, so no doubt you will already know if this is a Coil reissue for you. A four-panel digi-pack with original artwork and 4 panel insert with new liner notes rounds out the presentation.

Found Remains tape batch 2018

…newly found remains…

Found Remains are a relatively new American label, launched in 2016 and having issued six cassettes in that time. Armed with a tag line of “An electronic label adhering to the shadows of thought and sound” it clearly alludes to stylistic diversity within their catalogue, where following below are reviews of two of the recent June 2018 batch.


Kjostad – Environment Electronics MC Found Remains 2018

It should be apparent to long term readers of Noise Receptor Journal that harsh noise does not really feature in my listening preferences, and while the publication title includes the word ‘noise’ that functions more as a play on words (but the full explanation of that wordplay is not warranted here). Yet in this context I am aware that Kjostad is a project of Stefan Aune, who is also of the harsh noise project Breaking The Will, which for reasons outlined above I know by name only. However with Kjostad, it would seem that Stefan is intent on blurring the line between environmental derived sounds (aka field recordings) and man-made elements. In effect the title of Environment Electronics is a perfect synopsis of intent and approach. Track titles such as Granite Canyon Falls, Birdsong 1# and Amplified Forest gives a clear indication of originating sound sources detectable within the sonic tapestry, which are further manipulated through studio sonic treatments.

Granite Canyon Falls functions as a short opening cut, while the lengthy following piece Lake Day is an exercise in elongated and abstracted drone minimalism (is that perhaps the low hum of a boat engine?), while light washes of static merge and counterpoint singing birds, before a minimalist ‘crunch and rumble’ workout draws central focus. Boreal (Cutting into the Roots of the Timber) has a deft organic tone to the muddied sonic minimalism which gradually builds intensity with a series of scrabbling looped textures. Birdsong 1# functions blends the obvious bird calls with light metallic ‘clicking’ loops and minimalist static, while final track Amplified Forest spans close to 10 minutes, and is the most animated composition. Featuring bass rumble and mid spectrum static through which bird songs on occasional can be detected, there is a controlled choppiness to proceedings which at times verges towards the unhinged, but also stopping well short of a full noise attack.

From concept to execution this is extremely well-done tape, which carefully balances the organic and man-made tonal elements, and although clearly field recording derived Environment Electronics is far from an academic exercise, given the end result sits well towards an industrial noise approach.


C.L. Lobbestael Particle Dissolution MC Found Remains 2018

This is the first release I have heard from Cody (aka C.L. Lobbestael), where based on this EP the produced music is of an evocative and understated cinematic ambient type, which is effectively subtle synth exploration of melody and mood.

Like the cold and clinical nighttime image of a city skyscrapers which adorns the cover, a distant and forlorn melancholia permeates the tape, where abstracted orchestral toned and minor keyed melodies evoke late hours melancholia which comes from urban desolation. With a strongly filmic sonic aura of swelling grey tones bleeding off into the blackness of the murky horizon, the atmosphere across the 4 tracks and 28 minutes is consistently bleak, yet warmly enveloping. Likewise, the central melodic motifs provide a degree of consistency, but noting these equally shift and mutate across the four tracks.

Being subtle, moody and contemplative, personally I have found this tape an extremely enjoyable one, particularly as it functions to counter-point the bulk of harder, harsher and aggressive material covered by Noise Receptor Journal. In a word – recommended.


 

Puissance – Let The State Collapse

Puissance – Let The State Collapse 3xCD Infinite Fog Productions 2018

In terms of historical context, Puissance (the Swedish duo of Fredrik Söderlund, Henry Möller) spearheaded and were a front runner of the martial industrial/neo-classical movement of the mid 1990’s. That sound was particularly big by the turn of the century and extended through to the mid 2000’s, but the style gradually fell out of favor due to the scene being flooded by lacklustre second tier acts and bland releases. But in parallel to that, Puissance gradually honed and evolved their own approach, and garnered strong praise and a loyal following with their apocalyptic and misanthropic worldview set to rousing neo-classical infused martial industrial movements.

Noting that Puissance been mostly inactive over the last decade (save for a single track Nox issued in 2014 on the Pylons Of The Adversary split album), Let The State Collapse functions to collect together various scattered threads issued outside of the main albums, including: the first two demos; a number of 7”EP’s; various compilation appearances; interlude tracks written for other bands; the Hail The Mushroom Cloud EP; the War On compilation collection; as well as a number of previously unreleased alternate versions. Although for reasons unexplained, it is noted that 1997’s Totalitarian Hearts 7”EP has been omitted from this set.

CD1 starts from the earliest Puissance works with the inclusion of the fledgling steps of the group as illustrated on their first two demos. The first demo Krieg from 1995 sits squarely within a rough post-industrial soundscape style, where the muted and ominous mechanical drones and stilted factory rhythms evoke abstracted orchestral undertones, but overall Krieg is a minimalist death-industrial affair than a neo-classical one. Releases the same year, the second demo Obey, Hate, Die then showcases a marked shift towards orchestral neo-classical sound and martial drumming sensibilities, which would become the main focus of the debut album Let Us Lead released a year later in 1996 (in fact, a number of songs from Obey, Hate, Die where included in upgraded and more powerful versions on the debut). Apart from archival completion, the importance of the inclusion of these demos here is that they illustrate how quickly Puissance evolved over an extremely short space of time, where the following collection of seven tracks from various 7”EP’s highlights the further honing of their sound. Of particular note is A Call to Arms from 2000, which is a rousing track framed around a melancholy infused piano line and strident martial rhythmic backing. Anthemic and apocalyptic is the best way possible.

Moving onto CD2, it functions to collect together five tracks from various compilations; eight interlude tracks contributed to the albums of underground black metal bands; and three previously unreleased alternate versions. In an overarching sense the majority of the tracks on this set are short instrumental neo-classical/ orchestral pieces, which reflects their role on the original releases. This however makes for slightly patchy listening and flow between tracks, and where some tracks suffer from a slightly over synthetic orchestral sound. But these are also minor issues, given the benefit of them having been complied on one CD for convenience, and for which many of these I have not heard before previously. Standouts of this CD include: Speak My Voice (instrumental); An Incarnations Dream (which features rousing sampled choral vocals and pounding militant rolling snare drums), and the beyond epic unreleased version of Biological Waste and A Call to Arms (instrumental).

CD3 rounds out the set and collates the Hail The Mushroom Cloud EP and the War On compilation. Hail The Mushroom Cloud was originally issued in 1999 shortly after the third album Mother Of Disease, where the four tracks are titled Act I through Act IV. With each track being instrumental, they are noteworthy for the first use of a purposefully synthetic programming sound for the underpinning militant beats and rhythms, which would become a mainstay of Puissance’s sound through the mid 2000’s. Sampled choral vocals also feature heavily to further amplify the neo-classical bombast of these tracks. Following the Hail The Mushroom Cloud EP is the War On which in its original form was a remix complication of sorts. Featuring eight tracks it effectively lifted two of the most militantly bombastic/neo-classical songs from each of the first three Puissance albums (Let Us Lead, Back In Control and Mother Of Disease), provided those tracks a sonic refurbishment and update, and combined them with a further two unreleased tracks. The inclusion War On tracks here is clearly welcomed addition, as it again illustrates the rousing Wagnerian heights Puissance reached with their martial industrial/neo-classical hymns.

For me personally, this collection strongly showcases the rapid evolution of the project and hits a particular sweet spot of Puissance’s martial industrial/neo-classical sound which extended to through to the early 2000’s. The period showcased on this set was somewhat superseded by the albums from the mid 2000’s forwards, which shifted to a more streamlined song based format, with a much heavier focus on programmed rhythmic beats which at times bordered on militant and misanthropic angst-pop structures. But to conclude on this release, the lavish digi-book cover and newly designed artwork does this set complete justice. Apart from being a beautiful physical archive piece, it has been a very rewarding and nostalgic experience to revisit the early and most productive period of the project. Recommended.

Himukalt – Come October

Himukalt – Come October MC Found Remains 2018

Following quickly on the heals of the recent Knife Through The Spine vinyl LP issued on Malignant Records, Come October is the sixth release since 2016 from Himukalt, which is the solo project of Nevada based Ester Kärkkäinen.

With a sound that is rough and decidedly gritty, the analogue derived tones are soot and rust infused, while the vocals feature as emotional and bile drenched (aka echo distorted/ treated). Minimal structure is employed throughout, based around crude abstracted rhythmic programming, choppy static, shuddering distortion and occasional tonal blasts, but the end result is an industrial noise ‘post-mortem’ style than anything typically of a harsh noise variety. The minimalist approach to sound and composition gives a clear nod to the likes of the psychological and death obsessed sounds Atrax Morgue, while the sonic treatment of vocals renders them for tonal impact rather than decipherable intent. Yet based on their at times pained delivery, I gather their lyrical content functions for a degree of personalized catharsis that anything resembling a role for externalized ‘entertainment’.

Opening track Ruined-Raped is an absolute stormer and functions to illustrate Ester’s command of compositional restraint, as well as the perfect execution of controlled tension in building it to a liberating release. Again and Again is another standout track, structured around a rhythmic percussive junk metal loop, upon which fluttering textures, distortion smears and treated agonized vocals are laid, where all elements are gradually elevated in intensity over its elongated length. Apology uses composed minimalism in the best way possible, where wavering tonal elements, needling drones and apathetic but heavily treated vocals gradually makes way for throbbing beat before abruptly concluding. For the late track No Longer Her Dominant, a pathological atmosphere pervades proceedings, which carefully balances the minimalism of its tonally droning sonics, where it is also the only track where the spoken vocals are (partially) decipherable.

In a relatively short space of time Ester has clearly garnered positive attention within the underground, which is solely down to the strength and intensity of her output. With six tracks feature on Come October, and running to just short of 40 minutes it makes it an effective album length tape, and is as good a place as any to either be introduced to or otherwise better acquainted with Himukalt. For the physical edition, the tape is professional printed, with clean graphic design, and comes with a download code for those so inclined.

Kontinent – Pornography of Power

Kontinent – Pornography of Power MC Unrest Productions 2018

As an initial comment I am not sure if Kontinent should be referred to as a ‘side project’ of Kevlar, however putting such designations aside, Kontinent is the solo project of one of the duo behind Kevlar. In then noting that Kontinent’s past releases have broadly been within a modern post-industrial/ power electronics style, this is no different to what is displayed on Pornography of Power, albeit there is a noted increase in aggression and sonic fieriness.

This new release follows relatively quickly on the back of 2017’s album Statis, where Pornography of Power is another expertly crafted release, featuring eight brisk and focused tracks within an industrial meets heavy/ power electronics framework. On the thematic front, song titles such as Pure Power, Bring Back The Violence and Higher Civilisation provide a hint at preoccupations, given the vocals can only be deciphered in a fragmentary fashion due to sonic treatment. Yet the cover imagery provides further context, which of note includes an image of Anders Breivik and a quote appearing to be attributed to him, being: “violence is the mother of change”. As for the sonic content, the detailing and layering of the tracks provided variation and complexity throughout, where looped elements converge and intertwine, while gradually falling in and out of sync to disorientating effect. The distorted and echo treated vocals make them a standout element in their anger infused, proclamation styled delivery.

To some degree there is a certain blurring of lines between the sound, style and approach between Kontinent and Kevlar, which is be expected given who is involved. Yet there is simply no complaint on this point if the high calibre material such as this continues to be issued from both projects. With Pornography of Power being limited to 123 pro-duplicated tapes, I suspect this may get a re-issue on vinyl at some point, which would be a welcomed prospect.

Compactor ‎– Technology Worship

Compactor Technology Worship CD Oppressive Resistance Recordings 2018

Compactor is the latest project from long standing New York underground musician Derek Rush, who is perhaps best known for Dream Into Dust, as well as other collaborative projects A Murder Of Angels and Of Unknown Origin. Yet within the context of Compactor, Derek has forgone using own name, instead adopting the moniker ‘The Worker’, who is an employee of a corporate entity known as Waste MGT (aka Waste Management). To then set the scene for this review, prior to listening to this album I had heard a couple of Compactor tracks here and there, and from those noted a fair dose of influence from underground club-related genres. In truth, those elements were not typically to my liking, but by way of comparison they are effectively absent from Technology Worship, which then functions to frame this album far more towards my own listening preferences, namely post-industrial sounds of power electronics and noise-infused industrial.

To first speak of the sound of the project, this deviates quite significantly from the musical approach which Derek has produced in the past. On face value this would seem to be derived from the approach of using a range of obsolete technology, and bending and abusing the output to desired effect. On select occasions it perhaps leaning towards the cleaner and rhythmic sounding end of the underground industrial spectrum (i.e. that labels like Ant-Zen typically deals with), where album opener Ease Of Use is a clear demonstration of this approach with its mid-paced pounding industrialised rhythm. Yet equally, there are numerous other tracks which are in no way rhythmic derived or focused, rather focus on varied frameworks of distorted loops, flayed noise and splitting and glitched distortion. Vaporware stands out from the bulk of other material given the greater spaciousness of its industrial noise soundscape, although the track evolves into a harsh crumbling distortion workout at the end. The partly rhythmic but fully ominous and tensile structure of Screen Hypnosis is another excellent track, but at just short of three minutes is far too short.  Final album track Church of Virtual Reality spans close to eleven minutes, being a good sonic representation of a grinding distortion and furnace blasting sonics.

In essence Compactor is effectively the most straightforward and direct music I have heard from Derek to date, but where he has applied a heavy degree of compositional focus and control which in turn has achieved a tonally varied output. By embracing elements of sonic chaos but bending these to structural and focused effect, Technology Worship is an solid and direct listen within a clean industrial noise and power electronics infused style, further bolstered by a strong thematic concept.