John Murphy / Ben Taylor – self titled

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John Murphy / Ben Taylor – self titled CD Cipher Productions 2014

Here we have a collaborative album featuring the combined inputs of the known John Murphy (of Knifeladder, Kraang, Shining Vril and MANY others), and the likely lesser known Ben Taylor (of Ebola Disco & Bordel Militaire).  From the liner notes it also seems these recordings are already a number of years old (dating from 2004-2005), yet there is no indication of the reasons for its delayed release.  Nevertheless this album can be filed under a broad experimental industrial style, which also feels as if it has roots in an analogue, tape culture oriented sound.  Interestingly the conceptual content and focus of the release have been kept to a minimum (or purposefully excluded altogether), given the lack of project moniker, album title or even titles for individual tracks.  Clearly this means the material on display needs to be appreciated on sonic quality alone.

From the album’s opening untitled cut, which offers up slow oscillating and shimmering drones, it sets a slow meditative pace which continues into the following composition, albeit upping the tension slightly with a range of more forceful ‘industrialised’ sonic layers and scattered percussive sounds.  Track 4 then delivers an excellent example of a ritual ambient style, with a deeply cavernous sound production and low chanted vocal textures.  Alternately track 6 represents the noisier end of the scale for the album, where it edges towards an overblown style of cacophonous industrial / atmospheric noise, although does maintain some harmonious textures which are partially buried within the texturally dense mix.  Representing a particular album standout, track 9 with its ambient/ industrial tone, reminds of Anemone Tube’s recent outputs. Here the complex multi-layered track featuring some heavily processed field recordings, looped vocalisations and micro-tonal textures.  In the later third of the album, track 11 opts for a heavy ritual industrial sound based on catatonic bass thuds, shuddering electronics, ritual chimes and a series of garbled vocalisations.  Likewise although late album track 14 does not deviate heavily from the preceding tracks, it delivers an animated, droning industrial/ ambient piece, which bleeds into the final composition, being a shorter repetitive number based on slightly wonky and hallucinogenic toned loops.

From the liner notes the range of instruments used on the recording these include: ethnic instruments, pan-pipes, harmonica, theremin, tapes, processors, oscillators, pan-pipes, harmonica etc.  However as these represent source inputs and sound processing tools, seeking to identify individual instruments within the mix is ultimately a pointless task.  Yet in an overarching sense there is a ritual industrial quality to the album’s atmosphere, however this is arrived at from the perspective of tonal range and sound, rather than specific ritualised intent (…for comparative purposes the Aural Hypnox collective could be referenced as an example of where ritual forms a key aspect of their approach).  Also whilst some of the album’s passages clearly display an improvisational stylistic slant, this never descends into messy or out of control sound experimentations, rather articulates an unhurried pacing and clear control to these experimental compositions.

Of the 15 untitled album tracks, each spans around 3 and 7 minutes which results in an album which pushes the limit of the CD format (71 minutes in all), meaning a fair amount of sonic territory is covered under its chosen experimental industrial style.   Thus without attitude, ego or pretence, Mr Murphy and Mr Taylor have issued an album which delivers a solid slab of darkly (and occasionally noisy), experimental/ industrial meditations.

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Negru Voda / Knös – Face Without Face

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Negru Voda / Knös – Face Without Face CDr Malignant Records 2013

This new release from the Malignant Records stables constitutes a split album featuring two Swedish underground industrial projects, of which Negru Voda will be the more well-known given Peter Nyström’s long establishment under the Negru Voda moniker (…as well as his previous involvement in the legendary Megaptera).  Regarding Knös, whilst there is not much available information (other than being a solo project of one Fredrik Djurfeldt who issued a CDr back in 2008), their sound is at least entirely comparable and complimentary to that of Negru Voda.

For this split each act present 5 tracks each (first half to Negru Voda and the second half to Knös), which can be broadly categorised under an old school Swedish death industrial banner and a collective sound which emulates the gloomy analogue sound set down during the birth of the genre (aka early 1990’s).  Yet given how closely these two acts align in feel, there is not much to be gained by splitting hairs to differentiate the sound between the two halves.  Ultimately what we have here are two separate acts that are individually focused on delivering grim and pitch black, death industrial music.  Being entirely driven by the ambience of idling engines and the clatter of mechanical factory processes, a heavy dose of random deep bass thuds, distorted radio chatter and smatterings of metallic clangs all add to the general meat grinding atmosphere.  Whilst selected tracks are slow and murky in pace, alternately others step up a notch with heavy, pounding industrial beats in both rhythmic and arrhythmic patterns.  However as is characteristic with this style, these never representing anything close to a dance floor beat.

Spanning 52 minutes ‘Face Without Face’ is utilitarian in approach and is exactly what should be expected from old school Swedish death industrial music.  Clearly as neither act is looking to break conventions, this simply achieves a solid slab of caustic death industrial musings.  Although a Cdr, this is pro-duplicated release in a limitation of a mere 150 copies.

Te/DIS – Black Swan

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Te/DIS – Black Swan 7”ep Galakthorrö 2013

Here we have the debut 7”ep from Te/DIS who seem to be a relatively new project, where incidentally the ‘coded’ moniker is shorthand for ‘Tempted Dissident’.  However other than this basic information there is not much else regarding the origins and heritage of this project.  Nevertheless what is presented is hard rhythmic electronic/ industrial musings which verge towards a coldwave / post-punk style, thus fits perfectly within the broad sound of the Galakthorrö roster.

The opening title track ‘Black Swan’ sets the template by featuring icy cold, mid paced industrial percussion, wavering synth melodies and monotone partly spoken/ sung vocals, which direct the sound towards a post-punk aesthetic.  ‘OvID’ then follows with a similar mid paced programmed post-punk style, but here features a more catchy combination of dour synth melody, rhythmic bass, mid paced pounding industrial programmed beat, again with the obligatory commanding sung/ spoken vocals. ‘Tautology’ opens the flip side of the vinyl with a more urgent and anxiety inducing tone, based on its faster paced electronic rhythm, pulsing static bursts, droning synth lines and aggressively delivered vocals. ‘Wait and See is the final of the 4 tracks which reverts to a mid-paced rhythmic programmed beat which is mixed with a maudlin toned synth work out.  With particular reference to the echo treated spoken/ sung male vocals, in many ways these reflect the more subdued output of later era Haus Arafna.

Despite being only a 7”ep release, Te/DIS manage to accomplish a highly varied sound and approach across its 4 tracks.  Likewise with its stylistic minimalist design, pressing on slick black vinyl and issued in a limitation of 489 hand numbered copies, this is yet another collectable release from the Galakthorrö stables.

Olle Oljud – 27/28

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Olle Oljud – 27/28 7”ep Lamour Records 2014

Lamour Records is a relatively new Swedish label (lauched in 2012), which focuses on electronica, ambient and soundart.  Although this is my first introduction to both this act and label, according to the promo sheet: “Lamour records proudly presents composer and visual artist Olle Oljud, one of the most beloved artists in the Sweden’s experimental music sphere”.  I am not sure if this blurb is being slightly facetious, but this perception is partly due to having not heard of Mr Oljud before.  That said, he may actually be extremely well regarded in the experimental circles he operates within – and I guess that is the nature of things when it comes to underground music and the potential reach of micro-scenes within a global context.  But I digress.  Here we have a 2 track 7”ep which seeks to showcase two differing sides to Olle’s experimental sound works.

The first side presents ’27 minimal’ which does not take too much of a stretch of the imagination to discern that this particular track is minimalist in style, where here the composition aims towards a series electronic hums and drones.  The track contains occasional ‘cut up’ stylistic textures which are also mixed with oscillating frequencies, which gradually build in intensity over its 7 minute length.  Overall ’27 minimal’  manages to be equally sharp yet subdued in tone, where it textural electronics creates a ‘swarm of wasps’ type sonic atmosphere. The track also balances a sound which feels partly controlled and partly improvised.

On the flipside ‘under 28’ takes a more forceful route, with a stratum of mid ranged static and electronic distortion.  Noting that this does not constitute harsh wall noise nor controlled power electronics styled distortion, this track achieves a sound which sits somewhere in-between.  Mid track things slack off slightly to allow for some micro-tonal type experimentation and more broadly in amongst the waves of static there are some oscillating loops partially buried in the mix.  These loops function to hint at some semblance of structure, thus avoiding the perception of being all out noise experimentation. Again the track manages to chart a course between the partly controlled and partly improvised.

For its presentation the two toned red haze coloured vinyl includes an individually hand painted abstract painting for each of the hand numbered 250 copies.  With its varied focus this is an interesting 7”ep, particularly if your interests align towards the experimental sound art side of underground electronic music.

The Siamese Pearl ‎– Death-Darting Eye

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The Siamese Pearl ‎– Death-Darting Eye MC Spine Scepter 2012

One of the joys of writing about underground music is that quite out of the blue you can made aware of obscure hidden gems.  ‘Death-Darting Eye’ from The Siamese Pearl is one such obscurity and whilst there is limited information on the project, here we have a super limited, deluxe packaged 30 minute cassette. With its dank and occult infused atmosphere, it is immediately evident that The Siamese Pearl channels an 80’s lo-fi analogue industrial sound, which also contains selected rhythmic elements which hint at cold wave / post punk synth tone.  Interesting this release is far more ‘European’ in style, appearance and flavour and by no means typical of what you might typically assume from an underground project hailing from Miami, USA (…of all places).  To provide a sonic marker, some particular parallels for this would be the early ritual/ ambient/ experimental/ industrial based sounds of Coil or Current 93, and to a lesser degree the early works of Archon Satani. In other words The Siamese Pearl comfortably sits alongside some positive company.

On ‘Stretch of the Unkind’ it opens the tape in fine form, being a brooding ritual industrial / dark ambient track, containing a variety of layered loops and drones.  The following track ‘Hermetic Hermit’ then steps things up a notch, being based on a pulsing coldwave synth line, mid range distortion and echo treated, monotone spoken vocals.  A similar programmed synth, is also evident on ‘Night Specter’, but here follows the introductory segment containing abstract dark ambient, tape manipulations and distant horn like wails. ‘Chimera’ then opts for a composition of loosely scattered noise and abstract grinding industrial soundscapes, prior to ‘Oedipus Of The Black Orifice’ rounding out the first side of the tape with a short display of abstract tape loops, again featuring the nihilistic spoken vocals.

‘Attributable Decay’ opens the flip side which again displays a relatively melodic piece, again with coldwave synth characteristics coupled with grinding manipulated loops. Interestingly on this track an additional vocal line is paralleled with the monotone spoken vocals, which are almost rap like in their delivery.  Whilst this second vocal is rather perplexing at first, these are not as jarring as might be expected and in the end works well within the tracks sound. Up next is ‘Turnip Blood’ which presents one of the tape’s heaviest tracks, featuring looped grinding industrial factory clatter and again with the obligatory echo treated spoken vocals.  ‘Axe’ changes things up slightly with a ritual atmosphere being driven by synth drones and militant rhythms (which upon closer inspection are a looped breathing sample), constituting a solid basis for the stoic vocal invocations.  ‘He’s Not Kind To Other Wraiths’ arrives as the final of the nine tracks, and concludes the tape with a lo-fi analogue windswept soundscape of Archon Satani-esque factory ambience. Excellent to say the least.

On the packaging side of things, the snake-skin printed cassette is housed in an oversized, screen printed cardboard box (adorned with with serpent motif no less), and includes a separate lyrics booklet.  From its musical content, through to its packaging and associated occult themed visuals, ‘Death-Darting Eye’ manages to hit all the right ‘esoteric’ markers.

Spectrum Magazine Issue 4# – 2 x rare copies available!!

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I have just discovered two absolutely MINT and UNREAD copies of the LONG sold out Spectrum Magazine Issue 4#, released all the way back in October 2000.

The issue features interviews with: Bad Sector, Black Lung, Cold Spring, Der Blutharsch, Desiderii Marginis, Dream into Dust, Grunsplatter, Ildfrost, Law, StateArt, Warren Mead and Yen Pox.  Plus: Death in June show report, Inade profile, & extensive review section (150 releases reviewed).  A4 magazine size, professionally printed in greyscale and 72 pages in length.  500 copies were published and have been sold out since the early 2000’s.

These are available for 25 euros each, post paid with international airmail postage to anywhere in the word.

Contact to reserve a copy and Paypal payment via: richardineuropa@hotmail.com