Distel – nord / Veil of Light – Head/Blood/Chest

B2 B1

Distel – nord 7”ep Beläten 2015

Veil of Light – Head/Blood/Chest 12”ep Beläten 2015

Since the last batch of tapes reviewed from the Beläten stables the label has grown substantially in profile and output. To this end the releases have evolved from tapes alone by stepping out with a number of vinyl pressings. Here are two more recent vinyls which highlight the label’s focus on ‘post avant-garde pop’, but again which highlights the diversity of sounds which can be captured under this banner.

Up first is the relatively new ‘angst pop’ duo Distel from the Netherlands, with this being their fourth release since 2010 (album, mini-album and two 7”ep’s). Fitting very much within a programmed synth-pop style, the cold electronics and ‘angst’ tag clearly directs it towards an audience of the lighter moments of the Galakthorrö label discography. The title track is a driving programmed percussive and synth heavy minor keyed mid paced song, complete with understated half sung male vocals and perhaps drawing reference to the Knife at their quirkiest. This is followed by ‘Zelf’ is then slightly more understated in its programming and abstract with the application of melody, to create a darkly twisting mood. The final of 3 tracks ‘raaf’ takes up side B, which is a longer form, more understated angular track built around a low techno throb, and interweaving elements, includes sparse synths and morphed vocals. All in all a very tasty, darkly hued synth-pop 7”ep.

Veil of Light from Switzerland are next, fitting more within a ‘post-punk’ frame of reference and have 5 releases out since 2013 (album, 7” single, MC ep, digital ep and this 12” ep). This 45rpm 12”ep contains 4 tracks (2 per side), where opener ‘All You Have’ demonstrates a clear adherence to ‘classic’ hallmarks of an 80’s post-punk style and sound where stoic mid paced kit percussion, gothic tinged keys and atonal male vocals are wrapped up in a sparse and deep analogue toned production. Simply sublime. Although following a similar tone, the sparse bass drum kick on ‘Adonis’ is processed to sound akin to exploding mortar shells, which giving the track a particularly distinctive edge. The first track on Side B ‘purple’ lightens the mood somewhat with a heavier focus on lighter synth melodies and slightly snapper and more urgent programmed percussion, with additional sparse synth stabs and emulated trumpet bursts. The final of the 4 tracks ‘MMZ’ – pulling back on the drive, the percussion is slow and understated, with the mood being driven forward by a lone guitar melody and single counterpointing synth line which builds to quite shrill crescendo heights over its length. Although quite ‘classic’ in sound and ‘retro’ in feel, Veil of Light manage a sound which replicates an obvious personal obsession for 1980’s post punk but deliver their music without sounding jaded or cynical.

Advertisements

Shift – Ruminations

shift

Shift – Ruminations MC DumpsterScore 2015

After the monumental ‘Altamont Rising’ album from 2014 Shift have returned with this new 20 minutes tape which features two lengthy untitled tracks. Noting that Shift’s sound has evolved over a number of releases to gradually step into more aggressive power electronics territory, this tape continues this evolutionary process. So whilst Shift’s trademark laborious layering again forms the general approach, here the layering is also used for maximum dynamic impact.

Track 1 quickly beds down a number of loops to provide basic structure which set the scene (i.e. idling machines, slow metallic thumps, loop of a youth yelling something unintelligible etc.). But things REALLY kick in when the distortion flayed vocals of Martin arrive (mixed prominently upfront), followed by yet more sonic layers of what can only be described as ‘jet engine’ powered distortion. As such the layered elements are gradually added which slowly build the track to monumental proportions and then sustained for the remainder of the piece. Likewise with its multi-layered approach the sound is thick and loud where each layer is clearly balanced within the mix to create a colossal sound. Track 2 then side steps the direct power of the first side somewhat by being a touch more subdued, although the sound still maintains a crushingly heaviness. As such the piece is constructed around intertwining queasy ascending/ descending atonal analogue drones, coupled with a slow rhythmic thud whilst the roared/ distorted vocals sit more to the centre of the mix (…yes, another great track).

It seems Shift are really going from strength to strength which is evidenced by the gradual refinement and honing of their overall approach towards more aggressive power electronics realms. Although being characteristically of the sound which can be recognised as that of Shift, the increased urgency and aggression of these tracks really given it a more focused and direct impact. Pro-printed blood red cassette and double sided J-Card rounds out the physical packaging. Limited to 100 so you know what to do.

Untergeschoss of Filth, Violence & Terror

R-7248848-1437133326-8460_jpegsnuffR-6973292-1430915656-2047_jpeg

Sewer Goddess – Hymns Of Infliction CD Filth and Violence / Terror 2015

Snuff – III CD Untergeschoss / Filth and Violence 2015

S.T.A.B. Electronics – Born For Righteous Abuse / Temple Of Self-Disgust CD Untergeschoss / Filth and Violence 2015

With reference to the modern mantra that ‘nothing is shocking anymore’, Filth and Violence have seemingly taken this sentiment as a direct challenge to see how far they can push matters of unsavoriness and distaste within the underground (…or failing that, perhaps the agenda is more personal and is all about reveling in squalor and finding beauty in humiliation and depravity?). Regardless of the label’s motivations, here we have a few more examples of visual filth and audile violence from their roster, but with all of these albums’ having been co-released with either Untergeschoss (also from Finland) or Terror (from Lithuania).

‘Hymns Of Infliction’ from Sewer Goddess is up first and an intriguing listen given this recording steps back into the murky past of the project and when their sound was staunchly death industrial and essentially the solo project of Kristen Rose. This album represents the project at a time before an evolution into a full band formation to encompass a honed guitar/ drumkit driven death industrial approach (as showcased with scalpel sharpness on the latest offering ‘Painlust’). For this album the contents are derived from 2008-2009 and feature 8 tracks at a total length of 34 minutes. Dank and foreboding death industrial soundscapes are the central sonic preoccupation, driven by grim distortion, mechanized loops, dank pounding structures and smatterings of dialogue samples. Although vocals are not present on all tracks, where they do feature they range from wailing screeches and screams through to a more understated spoken drawl. Perhaps lacking the direct and focused impact when compared to current material, this is still a strong collection death industrial musings and far from being disposable ’throw away’ material.

Moving on to Snuff’s album, having not heard ‘I’ or ‘II’ from the group I am not sure how ‘III’ compares, although the group can easily be bracketed alongside the quintessential disturbing sounds and thematic visual approach of what might be coined as ‘Finnish filth’ which characterized a large bulk of Filth and Violence’s output. Generally speaking this is power electronics at its nastiest, based on rough, crude and overblown distortion. Likewise with the degree of erupting feedback and general sonic cacophony, it very much sounds like a live in studio recording derived from large banks of bass amps to inflate the distortion to extreme levels. Being relatively loose and unpolished in execution this has been performed in a way to create a sickeningly filthy atmosphere, which is accentuated by the ragged and gruff vocals, which here features the dual attack of two separate and distinctive vocalists, often repeating the same vocal lines. However for all its overblown intensity, a couple of tracks do take more subdued routes of stalking restraint. With this approach it delivers a disturbing and morbid tone, which is accentuated by the looped sample of a child’s voice speaking Finnish on the opening untitled track, or the a gruff male voice on the late album track ‘Driven’ which repeatedly states: “I can give you a ride” (…along with other statements which hint at far darker scenarios). Regardless of whether being in aggressive or restrained guise, Snuff deliver unhinged power electronics at its most depraved. You have been warned.

Up last and similar to the Sewer Goddess CD, the S.T.A.B. Electronics is a CD release of the two earliest tapes from the project. But following some background investigation it seems that ‘Temple of Self Disgust’ was originally issued in 2010 as a 12 track self-released promo CDr, which was then released as two separate tapes by Filth and Violence.  All 12 original tracks are featured on this CD, which showcases S.T.A.B. Electronics at a time when their sound and approach was being bedded down. With raw grit and general aural nastiness these noise infused power electronic recordings are notably less honed and focused than later albums.  As such the raw aggression and spiteful level of hatred displayed exceeds even that of later albums, which pushes the atmosphere here into all encompassing and emotionally draining realms. On selected tracks such as ‘Born For Righteous Abuse’ there is a rather large similarity to the works of Con-Dom, by featuring a bulldozing ‘barely structured’ noise-scape, coupled with whipping flange treatment of the vocals. So although later material from the group illustrates a more individually distinctive sound (both sonically and vocally), this album is still a strong early statement of intent and of clear interest to see where the project has evolved to from these early works.

Damien Dubrovnik – Vegas Fountain

DD

Damien Dubrovnik – Vegas Fountain LP Alter/ Posh Isolation 2015

Damien Dubrovnik is the chosen moniker of Danish duo Loke Rahbek and Christian Stadsgaard, who are also integrally related to the Posh Isolation given they run the label (and having established a musically diverse roster with over 150 releases issued since 2009). Although being generally aware of Damien Dubrovnik’s activates over recent years (i.e. focused experimental noise/ industrial material); ‘Vegas Fountain’ completely caught me by surprise by how sonically refined it is. Evidently the material featured on this album has been first developed through live performances, which can certainly be heard in the meticulously layering and detailed construction of these experimental noise compositions, despite its broadly abstract and ‘non-song’ based format.

‘On the Double’ is the opening 11 minute statement of intent, which includes a minimalist opening of atonal synth drone washes, sporadic knocking sounds and distant metallic clatter. It then gradually adds additional elements for elevating effect, including plucked bass and deep bass thuds to chart an upwardly building trajectory of tensile experimental electronics. Despite hitting quite heavy sonic territory by the tracks end, there is still an amazing degree of clarity, space and separation of tonal sounds, where it is minutely detailed and highly complex in construction. Spoken vocals also feature, which increase in urgency as the track progresses and noting their delivery in a dour and anxiety riddled style, it brings to mind the spoken vocals of Martin Bladh. Yet equally I don’t get the impression that Damien Dubrovnik are specifically inspired by or seeking to emulate Martin, rather they have simply ended up in a similar frame of presentation (…and regardless of this comparison the vocals of Loke perfectly suit the clinical and focused tone of the album). The next instrumental piece ‘Interior 1: Upper Lip’ is much short and straight forward piece of abstract industrial minimalism, with an assemblage of analogy rhythmic pulses, higher pitched needling tones, and semi buried knocking thuds which interweave and overlap. The final track for Side A is ‘Fingers Into Majorelle’, a moody industrial soundscape of depth sounder/ radar pulses, lone reverberating piano note, sweeping textural sounds and spare noise blasts.  With the tensile clinical atmosphere being ramped up over its span, in opposition the vocals are presented in close proximity (…as is they are being whispered directly into the ear of the listener).

Side B opens with ‘Interior 2: See Water Glass’ which seeks calmer levels of sonic expression via a piece of droning minimalism, where within its cinematically tinged framework hints of slightly harsher industrial elements gradually make an appearances as the track elevates with weighty sonic momentum.  Following the sparse and tonally abstract and ‘echo chamber’ styled ‘Interior 3: Matching Window Blinds And Lampshade’, the title track closes out the album at close to 10 minutes. ‘Vegas Fountain’ effectively arcs back to the feel and sonic presentation of the first track, where it charts a course from minimalism to heavier sonic realms. Here shrill atonal drones, sparse metallic textures and thudded sporadic piano notes flesh out framework, which is then sonically ramped up over its duration into a rather tensile atmosphere, including (again) the anxiety infused and slightly treated spoken vocals which build to roaring intensity by the end. Likewise a sub-orchestral synth line provides a more maudlin aspect to counterpoint the harsher elements of this composition.

Through their sonic, visual and lyrical approach, Damien Dubrovnik are creating a quite different and more ‘artistic’ take on elements of noise, industrial and power electronics and in the process sidestepping many of established clichés relating to such music. Rather than merely emulating established themes and directions, their divergence of approach makes them all the more intriguing; where psychoanalytical themes are hinted at through their fragmentary style of lyrical writing, rather than it being a barrage focused or over the top type lyrical approach. Although linage can be drawn to earlier material of Damien Dubrovnik, here the refinement of approach and clarity of production means it is also leagues ahead of their own prior output. With ‘Vegas Fountain’ representing such a strong album of clinically tinged, sonically diverse and extremely intense experimental noise/ industrial offerings, it represents their pinnacle release to date; meaning it is also going to be very interesting to see where the Damien Dubrovnik takes their sound next.