Herz Jühning – Paradise 7”EP Galakthorrö 2014
Herz Jühning is an existing member of the Galakthorrö roster but has only issued three releases since 2007 (consisting of two 7”EP’s and a full length album). This is his third and latest release containing 4 tracks spread across 15 minutes of wax. Whilst drawing broadly from an German industrial and power electronics sound it is also driven by a more song focused sensibility to be the epitome of the ‘angst pop’ style which defines segments of the Galakthorrö roster. The sound of ‘Paradise’ is also noted to slightly differ from the more direct industrial/ power electronics approach of Herz Jühning’s earlier material.
‘My Confession’ is the first track and is based on a clinical and jittery beat and squelching rhythm. Likewise with the inclusion of understated female lead vocals it definitely spans a German ‘industrial’ style (in terms of sound and productions) and ‘song’ approach (in terms of succinct catchy structure), hence justifying the aforementioned ‘angst pop’ tag. ‘To The Stars’ follows and for this reviewer is the absolute stand out track of the EP, featuring a throbbing rhythmic groove and energetic mid paced ‘pulsing’ programmed drum machine structure. Additionally the monotone heavily accented German vocals (half sung/ spoken in English) perfectly suits this melancholic yet head nodding tone of the track.
‘Road To Paradise’ opens the flip side and is more of a minimalist industrial composition consisting of clinical programming, minimalist synths, meandering bass and understated semi-chanted/ spoken vocals. For the final of the four tracks ‘Im Totraum’ is the most understated and ‘industrial soundscape’ track on offer, where maudlin spoken vocals, vague industrial rhythmic clatter and shuddering bass toned synths characterise proceedings.
On ‘Paradise’ (and with particular reference to side A), Herz Jühning has certainly nailed the ‘angst pop’ sound within his general approach. Whilst this release won’t alter anyone’s established perceptions of ‘angst pop’ influenced German industrial, this is of little consequence as the physical format of 659 copies is long sold out from Galakthorrö, obviously snapped up by fans and aficionado of Herz Jühning.
Krank / The Grimsel Path – Verdant Hum MC The Epicurean 2014
This split tape features two of John Murphy’s current musical outlets and contextually functions as a sort of unofficial addendum to the recent Last Dominion Lost ‘Towers of Silence’ LP, particularly as the two releases were issued at the same time and via the same label. By way of background Krank is John Murphy’s long running solo project which has a legacy spanning back to 1981 (under the original Krang Music name), but is assisted here by Till Brüggemann, who incidentally also guested on Last Dominion Lost’s recent album. Alternately The Grimsel Path features the two main Last Dominion Lost members John Murphy and Jon Evans, noting also that the moniker The Grimsel Path has contextual links back to Last Dominion Lost, with this project name being a track title off the first Last Dominion Lost album.
With background context out of the way Krank lead off the tape with the single 20 minute composition ‘NAOS Number 1’. The piece is an 80’s sounding ritual industrial soundscape, consisting of grinding synth textures, scattered wavering tones, fragmented sonic oscillations and occasional percussive elements such as bells and singing bowls etc. The composition is quite loosely structured with not real driving rhythm or beat, rather is built around blown out abstract synth chords, with a very analogue tone and associated sonic warmth. Also featured are liquidous sounding ‘micro’ tones and contact mic-ed clanging metal on metal arrhythmia. Whilst there is an element of freeform improvisational playfulness its sound, the track is also carefully controlled and paced to generate its grimly dissonant atmosphere.
For The Grimsel Path’s six tracks, these are live recordings from 2012 when the group performed at the Foetus Frolics Festival in Berlin and inhabits quite a similar tonal sphere to Krank’s side. In fact if you were to not closely listen to the material you might be of the impression that both sides of the tape are from the same project. Nevertheless where The Grimsel Path’s side differs is that it is slightly more focused due to the format of shorter stand alone tracks and includes sporadic vocalisations which are wholly absent from Krank’s side. The sound could also be described a slightly less refined version of the experimental/ industrial/ ritual soundscapes found on the recent Last Dominion Lost offering. Unhinged clanging electronics, misfiring machinery and general industrial debris mark the opening piece ‘Deviation’, whilst ‘Scortched Earth’ features humming suspenseful horror synths (aka Angelo Badalamenti style), otherworldly vocalisations and a production of cavernous echoed depths. ‘Run Please Master’ then ups the ante somewhat with a stilted rhythmic drive and cinematic synths late in the track, whilst ‘Sideshow of the Soul’ features a low bass throb, over which a mostly subdued but sometimes chaotic scattered industrial noise soundscape is positioned.
For the visual side of things the collage artwork courtesy of Kristian Olsson is suitably grim and ‘industrial’ in tone, with the music featured on a pro-duplicated tape. Where ‘Verdant Hum’ succeeds is in the fact that it is another fine example of a release featuring the best elements of an early industrial ritual sound without sounding purposefully ‘retro’ or ‘old school’. A worthy release warranting more than the limitation of 100 copies which were pressed, and perhaps demands a vinyl repress at some point.
Nyodene D – Mouths That Reap The Harvest LP Urashima 2014
Following the excellent full length ‘Edenfall’ on Malignant Records (from 2012 – reviewed here) and the ‘Atop Masada’ MC on Nil By Mouth Recordings (from 2013 – reviewed here), Nyodene D return with a new album on the cult Urashima label. However with this release containing three lengthy tracks spanning around 28 minutes of music, this feels more like an extended EP than a proper full length.
To place the sound of this LP it needs to be considered within context of the focused power electronics sound of ‘Edenfall’, as well as the more expansive and experimental sound of ‘Atop Masada’. Thus where ‘Mouths That Reap The Harvest’ stands is that it continues the template of the later MC by encapsulating longer form and slowly evolving tracks. Side A is taken up with the single extended track ‘Ansuz Ascending’ where its structure follows a long drawn out build-up, consisting of a central pounding beat, grinding drones and cyclically elevating noise. The track’s upward movement is slow and ominous where the distortion is mid-range and skirts the edge of a higher pitched and sonically invasive tone. It is then only towards the latter half of the track that the aggressive yet slow drawled and flanged vocalizations kick in with morose intensity.
For side B ‘Jera In Merkstave (Black Harvest)’ opens with a militant thrum which is soon coupled with slow looped static and antagonistic vocals which radiate off into the distance due to the slow echoed treatment. With its oscillating structure and wavering drone undercurrent this piece provides a more direct power electronics feel. ‘The Thunder Comes’ is the third and final track and is slightly more morose overall. Here it uses an atonally wailing trumpet to excellent effect, coupled with a relatively minimalist drone-scape and subdued but heavily flange treated vocals. Within the later section the grinding looped noise subtly builds, as the warbling and wailing trumpet also increases in playing intensity. Noting the use of a non-typical instrument, the trumpet on the piece begs a comparison to mind IRM due to their similar use of similar brass instrumentation on their ‘Four Studies For Crucifixion’ 10”EP.
Overall there is a rougher and slightly noisier edge to the sound of the LP, being less ‘polished’ than the shaper sound found on ‘Edenfall’, which also probably has a lot to do with the analogue format of the vinyl. As such ‘Mouths That Reap The Harvest’ is another excellent addition to Nyodene D’s quickly expanding discography and pretty much with all Urashima’s outputs 99 copies simply feels too few, so move quick before this disappears for good.
Gnawed – Feign and Cloak CD Malignant Records 2014
2012 was the year the formal debut Gnawed album ‘Terminal Epoch’ was issued, which incidentally was a highly lauded release around these parts (reviewed here). So with a bit of background investigation it seems that a further 5-6 tapes (including splits releases) have been issued since then, where ‘Feign and Cloak’s forms the second album and first for Malignant Records. Noting that ‘Terminal Epoch’ was described by this reviewer as: “a heavy, no frills, and straight to the point power electronics/ death industrial album”, much the same descriptor could be employed here. Yet in doing so this would ignore some of its subtle difference. More specifically what sets this new album apart is the fact that it is slightly more subdued, where a restrained brooding intensity has been elevated to the fore, meaning this album perhaps leans more towards death industrial than typically aggressive power electronics.
8 tracks spanning 44 minutes forms the context of ‘Feign and Cloak, where a rough and guttural tone is instilled at the core the album – a tone which gradually seeps out of the speakers as rust stained filth. Whilst the opener ‘Time Undone’ includes some background metallic clatter, it is as if the scrap metal abuse is occurring somewhere far off in a subterranean basement rather than being front and centre in the mix. Yet as the metallic rumble cyclically builds to increased prominence, it is as if you the listener is slowly creeping forward to catch a glimpse of what is creating the metallic cacophony. So in this context if the opening could be considered as somewhat subdued, the second track ‘Burning the Hive’ is a direct kick to the chest with its heavy rumbling industrial loop and sustained organ dirge blast. Likewise when the static infused ripping vocals arrive, this is an example of where Gnawed absolutely excel in their chosen sound and one of the album’s tracks which verges on a power electronics tone. The title track (located towards the middle of the album), is another excellent offering, featuring mangled militant rolling snare, waves of rolling inky black distortion, as the sparse spoken to hoarse yelled vocals bleed out of the speakers as an unintelligible sonic mass. ‘Pestilence Beholden’ follows based on a backbone of heavy rhythmic death industrial, formed by a pulsing analogue tone and metallic infused loop, again with the searing distorted vocal attack. The late album track ‘The Drowning Fire’ articulates a shuddering, creaking metallic avalanche of sound which is both crushing and brooding in its atmosphere, while the final album track ‘Torch to Ceder’ round out the album with a blend of sustained drones and crumbling static which coalesces into semi-structure via its multi-layered approach.
Clearly with ‘Feign and Cloak’ Gnawed are not deviating from their chosen direction, rather are seeking the further refinement of their sound to absolute honed intensity. Noting that only Gnawed’s 2 main albums have been heard around these parts – and both being excellent albums from the US death industrial/ power electronics scene – maybe it is time to track down some of the more obscure cassette releases.