Institution D.O.L. – Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World

Institution D.O.L. – Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World CD TORM Ent. 2019

Three years on from 2016’s Exzess (reviewed here), Institution D.O.L. have returned with a new album and which features a title previously utilised as a manifesto tag line on the last release. To then mention some early pre-release promotion, I remember reading that this would be the final album from the project, but I am also not sure on the current validity of that statement. But onward with the review.

In wasting no time, Invocation blasts forth from the speakers with loud and digitally crisp industrial textures, which are counterpointed by (sampled?) religious choirs and chants and dour organ melody. Throbbing oscillations then characterizes We Are The Black Ones, mixed with a decent dose of echo and raw junk metal crunch and shattering glass, while processed vocals and samples of crowd riots and gunfire ratchet up tension. Structured around mechanized loops and sharp spitting textures You Are All Lost, these tones bleed into the following Abschlachtung, but which is differentiated by deep melancholic sub-orchestral synth pads which underscores the majority of the track. Absolute Hell delivers more heady power electronics, which sonically spans the both rough and clean sonic textures, yet the latter half deviates completely though the use of a tragic toned piano line, which is offset with an evangelical preacher sample. In Dust and Death is by far the most rhythmic track on offer, but it is of a crude and simplistic style and not at all of a dance floor ‘rhythmic industrial’ type, while the title track rounds out the album and is the longest offering by far at twelve minutes. The first segment features brooding overblown noise and cavernous echo, but by the two minute mark the piece opens out into widescreen cinematic tones synths and from the five minute mark shifts to a beautifully melancholic piano melody which extends through to the end of the album (with only subtle noise sweeping and panning in the background). Perhaps the only slight drawback of this track are the vocals, where the emotional overwrought style of delivery detracts from the overall mood, although I am clearly missing the meaning of the words as they are being spoken in Austrian.

As with earlier albums the production sound is top notch but at only 37 minutes this is a very short and to the point album. But even so, it crams a wide variety of styles and sounds into the mix, while still managing to sound as a cohesive whole. Certainly being a solid album, if you have liked prior output of Institution D.O.L, you would no-doubt like this.

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Code Neda – Tomorrow Double The Body Count

Code Neda – Tomorrow Double The Body Count MC Unrest Productions 2018

For context, Code Neda’s debut tape from 2017 can be broadly bracketed under a death industrial sound tinged with ritual heavy electronics (reviewed here). However, on this follow up it features a more direct heavy electronics sound, where ten track make up an album length tape.

The streamlined approach is immediately evident when the opening track The Devil and the Child bursts forth from the speakers with grinding bass emissions, sweeping static and heavily processed/ morbidity toned vocal proclamations. System is another display of honed simplicity, with a central mechanised ‘beat’, blended with layered bass pulsations and again with the treated vocals. In its maintenance of a strikingly direct  heavy electronics approach, sonic variation is delivered with air-raid sirens (Europe Was Lost), corkscrew spiralling drones (Jackie Duddy), subdued power-electronics menace (Confession) and fast-paced rhythmic pulsations (Blood On Your Hands), while the tape concludes with the subdued Bloody Ritual with is stilted and repetitive loops and morbid vocalisations.

Clearly Unrest Productions is pretty much a perfect label for material of this fare, and while clearly working within the broader parameters of its chosen genre, Code Neda has demonstrated a wealth of ideas and skill of sonic execution which makes for a excellently honed heavy electronics release. Pro-printed tape and cover round and the physical packaging. You know what to do.

156 – Memento Mori

156 – Memento Mori 10”EP Fear of Hate and Fear 2016

Although 156 are a project I have little awareness of, Adel Souto appears to be main member and key contributor to the project. With a handful of releases issues since 2012, this EP is one of the more recent offerings. While I am not sure how this compares to other releases, on Memento Mori all tracks have been composed and recorded using only human bones as percussive or wind instruments (i.e thigh bone trumpet). Thus taking ques from one of the earliest ritual industrial pioneers Zero Kama (and more broadly Nekrophile Rekords), there is a deftly archaic and moody in feel and atmosphere to Memento Mori. However such a contextual reference point is more than a mere compassion, given that one of the tracks (Starlit Mire) is noted to be a cover of a Zero Kama track from The Secret Eye Of L.A.Y.L.A.H. 

As for the resultant sonics, the material is relatively simple and straight forward in execution, including minimalist percussive thrum, micro-tonal scraping textures and wailing atonal bone trumpet notes. Yet clearly the source material has been subject to studio treatment in the form of manipulating the recordings into series of structural loops and more widescreen soundscape drones. With nine tracks in all, each is a relatively short exploration of its tone and mood (with tracks ranging from one to five minutes each), with some being meditative and ritualistic, while others are heavily percussive driven. Rather intriguingly, the vinyl has been cut at 45rpm, with the intent that it can also be purposely played at 33rpm to create a slower elongated experience of the offered tracks.

For the physical manifestation, the music has been pressed into a hefty slab of bone coloured vinyl. The printed cover is then noted to feature a colour scheme which gives a further nod to Zero Kama, given it replicates the colours of The Goatherd And The Beast 10”EP. Archaic and obscure in the best way possible, Memento Mori is very much worthy of investigation.

Graustich – Morality Ends

Graustich – Morality Ends LP Tordon Ljud 2018

As an introductory comment, I must admit this album was very much a slow burner for me. After I tracked down a copy of this debut album from this obscure and anonymous project, I gave it a few spins and thought it to be a quite OK example of German toned heavy electronics, but then promptly forgot about it with a mountain of other new material to listen to. In fast forwarding a few months I then kept seeing people online singing its praise as one of the best albums of 2018, which raised my interest me revisit and reevaluate, which I am really glad I did as this is a truly excellent release.

To speak broadly of its sound, Morality Ends is built around molasses thick bass structures, which in slow laborious loops forms the broader sonic approach. Yet subtle variation in both structure, sonic intensity and sampling maintains interest across the album’s eight tracks. Gralsritter opens the album in relatively subdued bass toned loops, prior to the real action commencing with Let the Guns Begin, which steps up with squall and static and a number of nationalistic styled samples through the later half. Our Justice reminds of a particular windswept heavy electronics sound prevalent German project in the early 1990’s (think early Predominance sans keyboard melodies), while Greensboring is a complete standout by virtue of it its pulsing bass, mechanized metallic loops, short wave radio static, ominous programmed beat and semi-buried crowd and dialogue samples (which I am assuming relates to a 1979 incident in Greensboro, North Carolina when five members of the Communist Workers Party who were participating in a ‘Death to the Klan’ rally were shot to death by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis).

Side B presents a further four quality tracks, with Puppet of Masters being another standout cut framed around a militant thudding beat, orchestral styled drone, building washes of distortion, and yet more semi-buried samples. To then make reference to the variety of chosen samples, a number of these begin to paint a vague conceptual framework which focuses on the racial divide which underscores American society both past and present, but like any good underground post-industrial music, the use of such samples raises clear questions about meaning, message and intent. Drilled to Kill is one of the most animated pieces of the album, and while it stops short of being blood boiling it is certainly amped up compared to other tracks given its grinding loops and fast paced pulsing structures. This mood continues with the faced paced panning between speakers on Church of Death, which creates a very disorienting effect, while Noble Hate closes out the album with vigorous layered loops, mid-toned static and prominent current affairs sampling addressing the KKK and the White Power movement.

Given I am now singing the praise of Morality Ends, credit needs to be given to those individuals who highlighted on social media platforms as being an excellent release, as otherwise the LP would have been relegated to a semi-forgotten release on my shelves. Ultimately, I think my initial impression was perhaps more of a case of sonic fatigue at the time, yet in the re-listening Morality Ends clearly benefits substantially form significant volume in order to bring the deeper semi-buried elements to the foreground. As for the physical presentation, a no frills black and white cover rounds out a very solid release.

Am Not – Incursions

Am Not – Incursions MC Zaetraom 2018

Tamon Miyakita’s project Am Not is very much a current ‘leading light’ in the underground. With a sound built upon an established bedrock of the post-industrial scene, Am Not have also developed a highly recognisable approach within a heavy electronics/ power electronics/ noise industrial style. In then noting that the key releases from the project being able to be counted on a single hand, Am Not’s discography is already extremely focused, meaning the project is yet to disappoint. This new release continues this established modus operandi, and pleasingly contains an album’s length of new material (approx. 40 minutes).

The tape opens with the track Into Hostile Space and features an archival sample of George Bush Jnr, which in today’s context is far more interesting given the current US political climate. Musically speaking it features all the hallmarks of the best elements of project, where roughly hewn metallic tones are offset against crushing loud and sonically thick loops and mid-toned tensile drones, as the heavily process vocal barrage rounds out a storming opening track. But in moving away from a now recognisable sound Am Not, Incursions is noteworthy for its willingness to experiment and push into uncharted territory. Once such example is Feindes Land with its initial blending of neo-classical and dialogue sampling, which quickly gives way to a swaying, electronica tinged industrial track, completed with spoken vocals courtesy of Hermann Kopp. As for another significantly deviating track, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet could perhaps be playfully described as an unnamed Soviet era project trying to emulate Kraftwerk! Continental Drift III is also sonically differentiated from the rest by the fact of how subdued it is, and is framed around deep sub-orchestral drones, passive echo treated junk metal sounds and spoken Russian female vocals. Elsewhere a perhaps more ‘typical’ highly composed power/heavy electronics sound of the project is employed (i.e. top notch), but one striking example is Irruption where the rabidly intense vocals are immediately recognisable as that of S.T.A.B. Electronics.

Thematically speaking prominent dialogue samples are strongly represented, while guest vocals are employed and feature on a number tracks, where I was later informed that Tamon’s (English) lyrics on the opening track are repeated in different languages on three other tracks (including: German, Gaelic, and Russian), thereby subverting its meaning and message from a singular perspective. Thus, apart from the outstanding strength of the music featured on Incursions, part of the enjoyment of engaging with a release such as this is carefully listening, picking apart and interpreting both samples and lyrics (where detectable). To that end at a most simplistic level the thematic preoccupations of Incursions could be interpreted as a multifaceted analysis of nationhood, identity, sovereignty and associated political influence in a globalised context which has emerged following the Cold War (but as always there are likely to be elements I have perhaps either misinterpreted or otherwise completely missed). Seemingly not short on sonic or conceptual ideas, Am Not are going from strength to strength, where Incursions is yet another mandatory release.

Sutcliffe Jugend – The Hunger

Sutcliffe Jugend – The Hunger 2xCD Death Continues 2018

Over the past twelve years Sutcliffe Jugend – the duo of Kevin Tomkins and Paul Taylor – have been rather productive and issued 20 releases in that time-frame. Specifically 2006 appears to be the particular point in time when the project was reactivated, following a five year gap from 1999’s viscerally direct The Victim As Beauty album, while also shifting towards wider sonic experimentation. Although today’s version Sutcliffe Jugend is a very different beast from the sonic brutality issued during the initial 1980’s phase, they have remained a power electronics act at heart and in overall attitude. But in forging new paths by dialing down on the all-out sonic assault and seeking out far more diverse sonic treatments and stylistic experimentation, this approach is in full display on this sprawling double CD.

On the early album track The Mute Shall Speak, the crisp digital noise squalls is perhaps partially reminiscent of later era Whitehouse, while Sehnusucht features a stuttering fast paced rhythmic programming coupled with jagged digital shards stabbing at the ears from the background. This track is also noteworthy as it demonstrates the vocals of Kevin Tomkins being in a strong trademark style, which are delivered in a drawling semi whispered rant which on occasion steps up to being half sung and half screamed. Lyrically the album is noted to be densely rendered, which have a particular psychoanalytical bent in various description of the power dynamic in personal relationships; first person internalised dialogue; and at times ‘stream of conciseness’ narration. Yet Cause comes as the first major surprise by featuring a ‘doom jazz’ sound of minimalist piano and double bass (and consequently wholly reminiscent of Bohren & Der House of Gore), yet further augmented with spoken vocals and swathes of minimalist backing distortion. But not to stop there, the sonic surprises just keep on coming, where Crushed delivers pump organ, synth drones, sparse xylophone and meditative spoken vocals, and Unashamed with its quirky programmed electronica. From there the rest of the first CD deviates through musique concrète (Dissonance); maudlin piano melody and abstracted strings (Angels Flying Into The Burning Gates of Hell); emotive sub-orchestral drones (A Room Full of Knives and Eulogy); while the closing track The Pain Will Take Everything Away is a doom drone oriented work with treated ethereal female vocals and moody bowed cello etc.

The second CD delivers a further ten tracks spanning an hour which builds upon the wide frame of experimentation of the first disc. The Lost is built around misfiring digital noise and a rabid vocal attack, but is quickly offset by the moody and contemplative Authors Note of sonically over-processed synth line. Blindfold charts more abstracted sounds and half formed melodies which at times verges on musique concrète, while the loose guitars of Dancehall Etiquette evokes the sound of noise rock (minus drums). Perhaps the only major misstep of the entire two CD set is All I have Forgotten, which sounds to be based on improvised abstracted piano and accompany cello, but sonically the tinkling piano awkwardly jars the prevailing album atmosphere. As for the title track, this arrives as a 15 minute monster of sprawling yet tensile shifting bass drones sub-orchestral elements, as the spoken vocals gradually ramp up in aggression to match the upward trajectory of the choppy and chaotic digital noise. As for the final album cut My Crumbling Walls, it is an instrumental offering it is quite cinematically toned with its building string orchestral elements, which build and recede in intensity.

Apart from the 2xCD version, there is a special bonus third digital album, recorded at the same time at The Hunger. Featuring 6 tracks across 50 minutes, this bonus album is limited to 100 by virtue of only being available via plastic business card sized plastic download card. On a whole the bonus album is more subdued overall, by broadly opting for a series of tensile sub-orchestral droning tracks, where vocals do not rise above a narrative whisper.

Given that 2016’s Offal and 2017’s Shame (reviewed here) were albums with a more singular sound and musical vision, The Hunger stands out by the sheer diversity displayed, and consequently is a far stronger album for it. Likewise, while unhinged aggression is an underpinning element of The Hunger, this is more a case of being implied through tonal tension and lyrical phrasing, rather than actual sonic execution. As an album issued so far into Sutcliffe Jugend’s extensive discography, The Hunger is an extremely well executed and sonically diverse collection of tracks, where it seems there is no shortage of musical and lyrical ideas, nor any sense of slowing down from the Sutcliffe Jugend camp. Recommended.

Various Artists – Troum Transformation Tapes: The 20th Anniversary Celebration (1997-2017)

Various Artists – Troum Transformation Tapes: The 20th Anniversary Celebration (1997-2017) 2xCD Transgredient Records 2018

The idea behind this compilation was to gather like-minded artists to help celebrate 20 years of Troum. But rather than being a ‘mere’ remix of existing Troum tracks, contributor were invited to do whatever they like – be it covering, reinterpreting or reprocessing existing Troum sounds. So, while perhaps my first expectations were for a double CD of predominantly drone related material (and while drone does form a backbone of sorts), there is also a rather wide variety of diverse and quite surprising results found on this set. To then speak of contributing artists, this is a stellar line up, including (in alphabetical order): Allseits, Bad Sector, Cisfinitum, Contrstate, Dual, Inade, Marrow C, Martin Bates, Moljebka Pvlse, [Multer], Nadja, O16 vs. Myrrman, QST, Raison D’etre, Reutoff, Tarkatak, Ure Thrall, Vance Orchestra & V.O.S. Thus, with the sheer number or artists on this compilation, it is perhaps more useful to highlight some of the most interesting and divergent pieces on offer, rather than provide a track of track review of all contributions.

Allseits’ track Times functions as an effective warm up for the first disc of the compilation, which features a widescreen, sub-orchestral droning ambience. But things then quickly shift sideways on Contrastate’s track The Silent Fish, which features the distinctive shimmering abstract guitars and post-industrial sounds, while the poetic and impassioned spoken vocals are a trademark element (yet overall the track and lyrical component is far too short). With reference to the contributions from the rather well known Inade and raison d’etre, both tracks are good if not perhaps expected is style and sound (i.e. Inade = archaic cosmic toned ambience and raison d’etre = sacral meditative framed ambience), so functionally do not warrant further detailed analysis here. However, the previously unknown to me Tarkatak delivers an excellent minimalist track of low bass rumble, sparse ritual percussions and ethereal chanted vocals. Nadja also impress with Mirrored In You, a tracking a cyclic loops which builds to quite forceful intensity over its ten-minute span. [Multer] closes the first disc with a subtle and contemplative 15-minute windswept composition of muted sub-orchestral drones and subtle mechanised rhythmic loops for great effect.

Moving on to the second disc, Kapotte Muziek opens with a most surprisingly unexpected swaggering and snappy electronica beat driven track, which gives way to Ure Thrall’s slow morphing, moody and contemplative drone-scape with what sounds to be abstracted shimmer guitars. Equally, the mid paced driving beat driver affair of O16 vs. Myrrman channels a dark underground vein of dance oriented vein, while Dual also deviates from expectation with their low-key piece of sweeping melancholic electronica. Although perhaps within an expected frame of reference, Bad Sector do not disappoint with their technological toned power drones and sub-orchestral melodies, while Ruutoff also excels with their blend of rhythmic loops, throbbing driving beat and minor keys floating melodies. Impressive stuff. Moljebka Pvlse then closes out the second disc and the overall compilation with a minimalist and contemplative forlorn drone work.

Apart from the top notch sonics spread across the two discs, packaging wise, it is presented in 6 panel digi-pack sleeve (complete with jewel-case tray holders for CD which gives a nice solid feel), along with a 16 page booklet with liners notes. All in all a quite impressive set and worthy celebration of Troum’s 20th anniversary.