Tower Transmissions VI Festival 2016 Review


Tower Transmissions VI Festival 2016: 16th/ 17th September, 2016

Club Puschkin: Dresden, Germany

Friday night: Salo Salon, Satanismo Calibro 9, Nocturne, 1997EV, Club Moral, Snuff

Saturday night: Sick Seed, Soldergeist (did not perform), Satori, AIT!, Genocide Organ, Einleitungszeit


Tower Transmission VI: show report

Review: Richard Stevenson

Photos: All photos by Nero Azzolut, except for above ‘Groupo de Autodefensa’ photo of Genocide Organ above by unknown

Although 2015’s Tower Transmission V was an excellent event (reviewed here), the fact that Genocide Organ has to cancel their headline slot created an ‘unfinished business’ scenario for me, which resulted in my return to see them headline 2016’s VI edition of Tower Transmission. Thus the long journey back to Europe was facilitated as part of a two-week vacation, with attendance at Tower Transmission VI being the centrepiece of the trip. Being held again at Club Puschkin: a nightclub venue with dedicated stage, sound booth/ sound system and bar, as per last year mechanise from various sellers (myself included) was available in the space between the main stage and bar area, with further large circulation space in a ‘chill-out’ back room and further outdoor area. After arriving at the venue around 6pm on the Friday, time was spent drinking and chatting with some of the Finnish crew in attendance, before moving inside to set up at the merchandise table and to watch the first act.

Seemingly relative newcomers, Salo Salon were in the perhaps unenviable opening festival slot. For their show, it featured both banks of pedals and noise equipment at side stage, and oil barrel and other mic’ed up sheet metal to the centre of the stage (…in addition to the use of a video backdrop). With both members clad in black and balaclavas, it started with using the noise equipment to build a base of hard industrial noise clatter and further augmented with live junk metal abuse and manipulation. Although there seemed to be clear aggressive intent on the part the duo, this was however not fully reflected in final stage performance and in the end seemed to lack impact and appeared to be not much more than an improvised and rather uninspired ‘bashing randomly on junk metal’ session with an industrial noise backing. Generally it all lacked ‘something’ in final execution and while perhaps the project will improve in the live arena with more stage experience, it did not hit the mark this time around.ss2ss1 ss3

The Italian ritual industrial trio Satanismo Calibro 9 were up next and from my perspective delivered the first highlight of the festival. With all three members sat on the floor in front of various noise implements, this allowed focus to be equally on the video backdrop, a small ritual alter to centre stage and the members themselves. With the main vocalist being sat in front of a ‘rat’s nest’ of cables, throughout the show he delivered commanding and low drawling vocal chants, which were coupled with additional noise created from contact mic’ed ritual bones and sheet metal. The other two members focused also on providing layers within the ritual soundscape, while the ritual aspects were further realized through one member drawing sigils on sheets of paper and burning these at the ritual alter at key points throughout the performance. Although being perhaps more ritual dark ambient on record, in the live setting the presented sound represented a heaving maelstrom of droning industrial / ritual chanted soundscapes with both force and presence, where Satanismo Calibro 9 presented a very strong and excellent performance, with controlled pacing throughout.sc96sc91 sc92sc95sc93sc94

Up next was Nocturne, where it has been many years since I have paid attention to their musical works. Although I appreciated their very early ‘Les Joyaux De La Princesse’ styled martial industrial material, it was their overly long industrial noise show at the two day Stigma Industrial Festival in London in 2001 which turned me off the project, and meant I did not follow any subsequent output. Given this context I was then most surprised when Saphi and supporting female member Cecile delivered a set of minimal synth & martial industrial pop songs, thus charting a new sound and direction for the project. Featuring Saphi on mostly the synths and musical equipment and Cecile on violin, with both members sharing lead vocals depending on the track. A clinical/ medical/ phycological slant appeared to be the main thematic focus as demonstrated through both the lyrics and lab-coats being worn, noting that both members also engendering a strong stage presence and holding character relative to the spoken/ sung lyrics being delivered. Although this style of music is not one that I would listen to at home, in the live setting it was a strong and entertaining performance.n1 n2 n3n4

Being a project I was previously unfamiliar, 1997EV are evidently a cult-revered project in some quarters. In the end 1997EV revealed themselves to be a psychedelic noise rock act framed around 2 guitars and drummer, but given this is a style and type of music which is not typically to my taste I took the opportunity to instead mingle with other guests of the same view.  Can’t like everything as they say!97-1 97-2 97-3

The technical headliners for the Friday night were long standing Club Moral who have been operating in various formations since 1982. Although I am partially aware of the legacy of the group, musically they are a project that have simply passed me by, so I was left with no option to experience their performance on face value. Although initially delayed with some sound equipment issues, the male/ female duo soon launched into a set of vocal lead minimalist synth/ atonal industrial ‘songs’. For the performance it involved Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven seated at a table to manipulate a sound equipment, while the main focus of Danny Devos was to deliver the vocals while either stalking the front stage or making random angular arm gestures at the microphone stand. My main impression from the performance was that Club Moral exemplifies the initial early era of ‘industrial’ music, where there were little or no genre classifications and the music reflects a perspective that the music can be whatever it is, without compromise. Although musically not being to my personal taste at all (particularly given there seeming to be a lack of seriousness), the performance was definitely well received by the bulk of the audience, where the crowd reaction also managed to generate an encore from the group. Later discussions with various attendees also highlighted that the show was considered excellent as it was based on numerous old ‘hits’ from the group, rather than a set of more academic ‘sound-art’ material which I was informed that have delivered in recent times.cm1 cm2 cm3

Thus the final closing act for the Friday night was Snuff, being a Finnish project associated with the Filth & Violence label and a collaborative duo featuring Pasi Markkula (aka Bizarre Uproar) and Pekka PT (aka Sick Seed & Gelsomina). Talking with Pasi and Pekka over the course of the festival I was informed that apart from a private performance the TTVI show was the first public performance of Snuff, but given both of their extensive experience in the live arena, the show promised to be a strong one, which in the end amounted to the standout show of the Friday night. Appearing to take on an archetype and ‘stereotypical’ appearance of a sex offender, chosen stage wear consisted of sweat pants, zip-up sports jumpers/ hoddies and ski masks. With both members utilizing racks of noise pedals and associated equipment, a number of large stage speakers were also employed to facilitate a wall of shrieking overblown feedback. Over the course of the set a fierce power electronics / filthy noise industrial set was constructed, with both sharing turns howling aggressive vocals. As for the set Snuff’s potential ‘hit’ single ‘Male Supremacy’ got an airing, along with other recognisable tracks from other recent albums. Late in the set the stage antics descended into a ‘celebration’ of the male gut with both members suggestively rubbing their middle girth. Clearly playing off a perspective of ‘pitch black humour’, the sonic approach and vocal barrage were nevertheless presented with complete seriousness and dedication to their sonic craft, which showed in quality, aggression and volume of the set, meaning I left the first night of the festival happy having been suitable brutalized by punishing power electronics and industrial noise filth.s1 s2 s3 s4 s5 s6

With Pasi and Pekka effectively closing the Friday night, both returning to open Saturday night, yet this time it was Pekka’s main project being featured with further live assistance being provided by Pasi. Although of the industrial noise/ rough Finnish power electronics slant, the mood and tone was of a more desperate and mournful style, particularly provided by the anguished, but clearly enunciated spoken presentation of Pekka’s vocals (…delivered while stalked back and forth across the stage). Given that much of PE type vocals are lost in the distortion and delivery, here there lyrics could have perhaps been more fully audible if they were elevated in the mix, which seemed a missed opportunity. As for the stage setup this involved Pekka manipulating his side table of equipment and providing vocals while further backing noise manipulation assistance came from Pasi’s further table of noise equipment and bass guitar providing atonal low end sonic input. All in all a strong, enjoyable but quite short set, which had me wishing it were longer.

sick1 sick2 sick3 sick4

Soldnergeist were meant to follow and although not necessarily an act I am obsessive about, I was at least looking forward to seeing this German power electronics project in a live setting (…as were many others I chatted with). However this was simply not to be, as Soldernergeist did not show up to the festival and without explanation being provided. When later speaking with head promoter Eric the reason for their absence was unknown and remains unknown and unexplained at this point in time.

The UK project Satori were the next act to follow and although featuring a revolving lineup (and in the later era with no original members), in 2014 an original member Dave Kirby took over the name again as a solo project, which is who performed here. Although pushing towards a dark ambient sound in terms of execution and sonic clarity, the sound was also far heavier and driving that typical dark ambient fare, given the equal focus on a heavy electronics and industrial slant. With Dave behind a low table with laptop and effects units he had a high degree of stage presence, and with the music presented being manipulated to be in sync with a specific backing video. As such the generated rolling, heaving and constantly evolving vortex of sound made it was virtually impossible to become fully impressed in the set and for me was another highlight of the festival.satori1 satori2

AIT! followed, being an Italian project of Tairy Ceron who is perhaps more recognised as his earlier project …Today, I’m Dead which was associated with Marco Corbelli’s Slaughter Productions. For his performance in consisted of mournfully toned industrial/ dark ambient/ drone soundscapes with apathetic spoken styled vocals, where Tairy was stationed at the back of the stage and being only barely visible due to the video backdrop and strategically placed curtain screens (…in addition to a bizarre garden flower arrangements placed at the front of the stage). Although being sonically acceptable, it appeared that the performance involved live vocals to backing tracks being played from a sole laptop. Given there were clear breaks of silence between tracks (and making to appear if Tairy was just queuing the next track), it tended to break the mood of the performance and made it less engaging that it could have otherwise been, which resulted in me opting out of the later half of the set to catch up with various people.ait1 ait2

Moving on to Saturday night’s headliner Genocide Organ, after so many years of wanting to see the group in a live setting, there was a worry on my part of potential personal hype leading to disappointment – yet any such concerns were in the end completely unfounded as they group demonstrated they are simply in a league of their own. Also noting that Genocide Organ grace the stage infrequently and are known for preparing and presenting ‘stand-alone’ live performances which are not repeated, and in this context the attendees at TTVI were treated to a specific performance centred around the new album ‘Obituary of the Americas’ (reviewed here). Sonically the performance was perfectly loud and forceful (‘chest rumblingly’ loud in fact), allowing the live renditions of album tracks to be clearly followed (…which also included the various dialogue samples used on the album). Apart from the opening and closing pieces material was drawn almost exclusively from ‘Obituary of the Americas’, where the final aggressive rendition of ‘Vive La Guerre’ (previously only known from the 2007 expanded re-release of ‘Remember’), which with it mercenary focus conceptually aligned with the balance of the presented set.

With a sole member at the back of the stage (Doc M.Riot? …not absolutely sure), flanked by a backing video projection, the introductory track provided a sonic backdrop of a rain soaked jungle with helicopters circling low overhead, before the remaining 3 members (Wilhelm Herich, Brigant Moloch & D.A.X.) marched through the crowd and joined the stage, being also accompanied by a further two ‘commandos’. With all members wearing camouflage face covering and some with brimmed jungle bush hats, interestingly this new stage attire was noted to specifically reference the cover image of the CD version of ‘Obituary of the Americas’, and functioned to illustrate the depth of thought which the group put into the presentation of their themes. In addition to the headwear, all members were clad in camouflage trousers and Genocide Organ branded ‘Por Una Vida Libre / Grupos de Autodefensa’ t-shirts, which based on later investigation were noted to be specific replicas of the design of the Mexican ‘Policia Comunitaria / Autodefensa’ group/s (aka Community Police / self-defender group/s). Once on stage both vocalists Wilhelm Herich and Brigant Moloch stood front and centre, menacingly brandished machetes as well as using them as specific implements to generate further noise when being symbolically ‘sharpened’ on the edge of a contact mic’ed oil barrel.

The lengthy opening section demonstrated further dedication to thematic cause, given the vocals were exclusively presented in Spanish and as if being a proclamation/ sermon from a South American Jungle Militia leader, and continued within the first recognisable album ‘Autodefensa’ which sonically hit hard. To speak further of the vocals, the impassioned delivery of Wilhelm Herrich on ‘Formacion de Guerilla’ were another specific highlight, as were the imposing shared vocal approach on ‘Todo por la Patria’ and ‘Escuela de las Americas’, with the later being coupled with specific hand gestures to reflect lyrics of: “your mind is in our hands: our hands are in your mind”. As the momentum and elevating heaviness of set progressed the perhaps now obligatory aggressive shoving match at the front of stage broke out. But noting also the controlled aggression of the new album, the unhinged nature and more direct aggression of ‘Vive La Guerre’ was a perfect way to conclude the performance, with no encores to be contemplated or provided, despite the vigour of the crowd reaction.

The focus of the group in their presentation of specific theme within a live setting was further demonstrated when early in the set the two assisting ‘commandos’ were instructed to hand out white versions of the ‘Por Una Vida Libre / Grupos de Autodefensa’ t-shirts to select members of the audience, where interestingly this very action threatened to pull focus away from stage as there were minor scuffles as audience members attempted to procure one of these ‘exclusive’ Genocide Organ rarities. However for those who did receive a t-shirt, they were instructed to put in on immediately so as to show faith to the cause, but were then specifically targeted later in the set by Brigant Moloch when he entered the crowd to apply camouflage face paint to such marked audience members. When noting such attention to detail of how the music and themes presented on stage, conceptually it was extremely strong and perfectly executed and far from being a mere live rendition of new album tracks.

By way of an observation regarding stage performance and aggression, it is widely recognized that the group demonstrated an extremely violent and visceral approach on stage in their earlier days; where this early phase of the project is documented on the Heavy Electronics: Two Days of Agony VHS (a live recording made at the 1993 Heavy Electronics festival where the project performed). What is evidenced on this video stands in stark contrast to what can be witnessed on stage in the current era; where there is a much more reserved and calculated stage performance element; and where the violence and aggression is implied through posture, gesture and imposing stage presence as embodied by Wilhelm Herich and Brigant Moloch. Although some elements of the audience were effectively wanting to see the group of yesteryear, to my mind this is completely missing the point of how the project have evolved their sound and thematic approach over the last 2 decades, where the Genocide Organ of today absolutely demands focus and attention based on the strength of their stage presence.

Another observation to be made of the performance followed on from a conversation with Klaus (Wilhelm Herich) after the show, where it was confirmed that and the total live performance concept was intended to be delivered at Tower Transmission V last year, (i.e. prior to the actual release of “Obituary of the Americas’), and at the time would have been the first time anyone heard the new material from the group. Despite this scenario not eventuating, it perhaps allowed the majority of the audience to be well acquainted with the new album, where for me the TTVI performance functioned to reinforce how strong the themes underpinning ‘Obituary of the Americas’ are.

The only this left to say is that having waited for many years to see Genocide Organ live, with their total commitment it resulted in an amazing performance which will be etched in my memory for a long time to come.g12g1 g2 g3 g4 g5 g6 g7 g8 g9 g10 go13

Noting the totality of Genocide Organ’s performance it must have been a potentially daunting task for Einleitungszeit to follow and to effectively close the festival. Yet this in the end was not an issue at all, given they completely embodied and owned their own unique approach. Although another project I have not extensively followed, Einleitungszeit are a Slovak-Czech ‘power industrial noise band’ which presents a sort of ‘industrial theatre’ type approach (…and which even including a ‘chorus line’ bow at the end of the show). With the 5 members utilising a wide variety of stage costumes (including body paint, gas masks, radiation suits, cyborg face-masks etc.), a clear impression was provided of a post apocalyptic/ nuclear fallout type theme, which itself is reflective of the country of origin and that key original members would have grown up during the cold war era. Further stage antics included aggressive dual male/ female vocals, fire breathing (i.e. directly in the faces of the front row audience), and sprayed arcs of metallic sparks generated from sheet metal and angle grinder abuse. Sonically it was partially rhythmic and totally chaotic with its wild industrial/ noise/ junk metal abuse approach, where the over the top nature of both costumes and performance meant it was an extremely engaging show. Straddling a playful and bizarre yet equally serious approach, it was all very entertaining and in the process allayed any concern of how a project could possibly following Genocide Organ, given the project completely owned their own unique approach.e4e2e1e8e3e9 e6 e5

Returning to Tower Transmissions for a second year running was again a pleasure, and thankfully the niggling sound issues at the 2015 event were completely rectified this year, with all acts sounding excellent (…both in terms of clarity and volume). The organisers of Tower Transmissions should again be commended for pulling together an excellent festival lineup, and while not all acts were necessarily to my personal liking that is also missing the point. Clearly the organisers have sought to pull tougher a diverse roster of acts from the various genre corners of the broader post-industrial underground, which also provides opportunity for newcomers, current projects and long standing acts to share the stage. From this perspective Tower Transmission VI was another total success and personally provided more than ample performances that were specifically targeted my music tastes and interests. The festival providing an opportunity to chat with various friends and long-term contacts in person, which such opportunities for me are few and far in-between. Until next time? We shall see.

More Neuro Azzolut photos from all acts available: here

low inventory stock of issues no.2 & no.3


low inventory stock of issues no.2 & no.3

While I still have ample stock of the recently released issue no.4 of noise receptor journal, I have just checked my inventory of back issues and note I am down to around 10 copies each of issue no.2 and issue no.3. Issue no.1 is already SOLD OUT.

As I do not intend to reprint back issues, it is getting to a ‘now or never’ stage to order issues no.2 & no.3 before they are gone for good.


Henrik Nordvargr Björkk / Margaux Renaudin – Anima Nostra


Henrik Nordvargr Björkk / Margaux Renaudin – Anima Nostra CD Cold Spring 2016

The long established, prolific and always dependable Henrik ‘Nordvargr’ Björkk, has teamed up with Margaux Renaudin – a name I do not recognise.  Despite this unfamiliarity with one half of the collaboration, from the outset it is worthwhile acknowledging that ‘Anima Nostra’ is not too far removed from the sonic worlds Nordvargr inhabits, but equally that it is slanted towards the ritual/ rhythmic/ sub-orchestral sounds of MZ.412.

The pairing of opening tracks ‘Sunyata’, ‘Spiritus Omni’ take no time in setting the scene with driving tribal/ ritual percussion, guttural vocal chants, ominous sub-orchestral drones and drawling horns of death. Simply magnificent. ‘Morning Star’ is then a surprise feature, (being a reworking of an MZ.412 track), where the driving tribal/ ritual percussion and ominous droning foghorns of the original has been augmented with booming sub-orchestral horns, sweeping noise and additional vocals (both whispered and electronic treated).  A further pairing of ‘Kmt’ & ‘Runik Haxagram II’ present high calibre abstract, ritualised/ percussive dark ambient soundscapes, while ‘Gjallarhornet Ljuder’ steps up with a track of sonically forceful, multi-layered power-drones.  ‘Lavenement du neant’ functions as a particular album standout, which mixed a lamenting and extremely cinematic neo-classical melody, spoken female French vocals (assuming this to be Margaux Renaudin?) and driving poly-rhythmic tribal percussion. Absolutely sublime.  Final album offering ‘Maladia Skandinavia’ sprawls out over a 9 minute expanse, and although ‘drone’ in intent, the tolling church bell and focused melodious chants (which themselves have been further treated into a droning texture), are further offset by rolling ritual percussion and forceful sub-orchestral tones.

Apart from being one of the strongest examples of ritual and neo-classical tinged dark ambient in recent memory (as well as being the closest Nordvargr has come to date in emulating the sound of MZ.412), the 6 panel digipack and 8 pages cover insert are also worthy of individual mention. Courtesy of Margaux Renaudin the cover features stunning graphic presentation of esoteric symbolism in metallic copper on black print.  As a final comment, evidently since the release of this album the project has evolved into to more defined band and relabeled under the Anima Nostra moniker. Accordingly further material in this vein is an absolutely welcomed prospect: but in the interim the album ‘Anima Nostra’ is very much worthy of your attention.

Concrete Mascara – Perennial Disappointment


Concrete Mascara – Perennial Disappointment CD Malignant Records 2016

Excluding splits, cassettes, live recordings and album length ep’s, ‘Perennial Disappointment’ is Concrete Mascara’s latest and second ‘official’ full length album and with being released on Malignant Records will do doubt increase awareness of this leading American power electronics project.  Given in recent years there has been a recognizable American power electronics/ death industrial sound (…spearheaded by a broader collective of projects), Concrete Mascara have sharply deviated from this template and forged their own (and by now) distinctive sound.  Although the sound and style of ‘Perennial Disappointment’ does not drastically differ from the sound the project have previously explored, but at the same time there is a degree of refinement in compositional approach as well as a step up in sonic aggression and harshness.  To speak of such harshness, this comes down to the final mastering, which has made the album loud, crisp and rather unrelenting across its 40 odd minute span.

The short introductory piece ‘Flesh of This World’ (…based around ominous drones and dialogue sample referencing human technology in context of unexplained phenomenon), lulls the listener into a false sense of security before launching into ‘Area Trinity’, – an overdriven and barely structured static maelstrom and distortion roared vocals.  ‘Delusion of Sacrifice’ then features as one of the more structured pieces, which is based on a centrally prominent ‘machine gun’ beat, and with other rhythmic elements being semi-buried under mid-toned squall (…again with the vocals presented in an anguished delivery but processed to the point of indecipherability).  Mid album track ‘Mouth Of Flies, Tounge of Maggots’ provides some respite from the unrelenting harshness, being a divergent highlight, given it is a mid-paced rhythmic offering which has pared back on the noise squall (…and interestingly plays out like a modern homage to Genocide Organ’s track ‘At Judas’).  Following this is the final third of the album, where the remaining three tracks retain absolute intensity both in terms of sonics and delivery, where various combinations of spitting static, electrics shards, semi-buried but all out aggressive vocals are the order of proceedings.

Without doubt this is a great album in terms of Concrete Mascara’s discography. Yet at the same time it is noted that the mastering/ production of the album has pushed the sound to an overblown point where it has reduced sonic depth and general tonal separation.  Clearly there is substantial layering of structural elements, synth lines and other sonic detailing underpinning each track, but many of these elements are effectively buried due to the production which is harsh, overblown and brutally loud.  Although this is perhaps a minor gripe it is gripe all the same, given to this ear it slightly hampers what is otherwise a extremely strong and intense listen. Punishing indeed.

Manifesto – Exit


Manifesto – Exit CD Reverse Alignment 2016

Manifesto is the solo project of Swede Magnus Zetterberg who has been issuing material under this name since 2000. Having previously released a series of albums, splits, live recordings and ep’s, ‘Exit’ is his latest 19th release and follows 2012’s ‘Rust’ album on Silken Tofu. Sonically Manifesto deal with soundtrack styled ambient music of a darker hue (aka ‘dark ambient’ for a more straight forward genre descriptor), which also fits within the recognizable traits of such music coming from northern European spheres.

Musically speaking dank sub-orchestral drones provide the sonic bedrock, which is then augmented with a meticulous level of textual sonic detailing. The sound palate is also embedded with a high degree of mechanized tonality and jagged industrial based distortion in a few fleeting moments.  Evidently Magnus has had formally trained in sound engineering and music production, with the results of this being absolutely demonstrated within the refined dark ambient approach on display. 5 tracks are featured, with each ranging from 5 to 13 minutes and which play out as variations on established dark ambient genre traits, where some pieces are dour and brooding, whilst others featuring driving and rhythmically pounding undercurrents.  Yet collectively the greatest impression of ‘Exit’ is a strong ‘cinematic’ atmosphere and specifically that of a dystopian science fiction type motion picture.

Although not necessary turning the tables of what can be expected from dark ambient music in 2016, this is still a complex, diverse and enjoyable listen, to very much constitute a soundtrack to a non-existent film. Mini gate-fold cardboard sleeve rounds out the packaging.

Satanismo Calibrio 9 – Kymah Rising


Satanismo Calibrio 9 – Kymah Rising CD Old Europa Café 2016

The Italian based Satanismo Calibrio 9 are one of those projects I have been aware of by name, but have not previously heard until now.  Likewise given they have issued just short of 30 releases in their 10 years of activity, this means I don’t have a specific frame of reference to how ‘Kymah Rising’ compares, so have to review it ‘as is’.

Evidently ‘Kymah Rising’ is final release in the ‘Rising Trilogy’ and has been issued on the long running and respected Italian Old Europa Café.  This is their 12th release on the label and clearly fits within a ritual industrial/ dark ambient classification.  But by forgoing potential harder and harsher ‘industrial elements’, it is the organic ritual ambient elements on ‘Kymah Rising’ that allows to fit alongside the sound associated with the Finnish Aural Hypnox label.  Equally this then sets itself apart from its central and prominent use of layer vocals (male and female chants, screams, whispers etc.) which themselves function with obvious invocation based intent.

6 tracks in total feature, and by spanning 6 to 11 minutes each it is indicative of its sprawling catacomb oriented mood.  Echo and reverb play a key role in generating a murky droning atmosphere, where other ritual percussion, random thumbs and general industrial wasteland sonics bulk out the sound.  ‘Maha Kymah’ is an atmospheric standout with its thick drones, elongated chants and bass rumbling mass, whereas ‘Drifting in Perdition’ is less sonically weighty by use of its mid-toned drones.  Based on personal preferences, perhaps the vocals are too prominent and centrally focused for my liking, which tends to take away from the meditative aspects of the of the music (…I do acknowledge this as being a personal point of view rather than specific criticism).  ‘Rapture In Scorpio’ is one such vocal heavy example, however other pieces such as the title track ‘Kymah Rising’ strikes an appropriate balance between its sonic backing and understanding, chanted and whispered vocals.

Aimed squarely at a ritual focused industrial/ dark ambient sound, Satanismo Calibrio 9 have utilised a range of genre staples and twisted them into a sound which is not derivative of other similar projects or themed material.  No doubt the specific ritual aspects of this will be of further interest to those more versed in such matters, but I am afraid I am not one of them so can’t comment further.

Shredded Nerve ‎– In The Shadow Of What Never Was


Shredded Nerve – In The Shadow Of What Never Was LP Chondritic Sound 2016

Shredded Nerve are a relatively new US industrial/ noise unit with a handful of cassettes and 7”ep’s to their name since 2013.  This is their first full length vinyl album, although I am then not sure if any of the cassette releases are themselves to be considered as proper full length releases.  So, although this can be broadly described as ‘industrial/ noise’, this rather rudimentary classification could also potentially be misleading, given it does not fully capture the diversity displayed on this complex and experimentally tinged recording.

Album opener ‘Closer To The End (in The Shadow Of What Never Was)’ kicks things off with a single LP sided track (18.5 minutes), which charts upward building motion over its lengthy span.  Despite being a single track there are distinct sections or ‘movements’ found within, where the initial crude scratchy loops and the minimalist ‘metal on metal’ experimental field recordings give way to a ritualized soundscape dirge (i.e. echoed percussion, watery textures and garbled vocalisations).  For the final third the mood shifts into industrial drone territory, including throbbing bass and mid toned fluttering textures which becomes progressively more chaotic through to tracks ends.

On the flip side of the vinyl it delivers 4 shorter tracks between 3 and 7 minutes each. The first half of ‘Stone, Lead and Gasoline’s is sonically excellent, being dour and contemplative in sound, mixing shimmering drones, minimalist synth melody and scattered textural field recordings (echoed knocking sounds, aquatic tones etc.).  Yet without warning the latter half of the track ‘flips a switch’ and lurches into piercing and stabbing noise which are structured as ‘industrial strength’ loops.  On the following track ‘Threat Becomes Clear’ it is very much a studio work out of source junk metal recordings, which have been roughly hewn into tonally jagged and fiercely intertwining loops. Conversely ‘Time Inside’ is piece of quiet restraint, where it is structured around vague ‘metallic scraping’ loops, there is distance and depth between sonic elements (…thereby allowing microtonal textures to come to the fore).  Overall is a track which clearly balances its underground industrial focus and more experimental leaning, and very much reminds on the sound a feel and industrial tape experimentation coming from the Swedish scene (i.e. Arkhe, Ochu, Niellerade Fallibilisthorstar etc).  ‘Without the Hindrance of Man’ concludes the album with a further understated experimental track. Being sparse and cavernous, it is highly atmospheric with grit and grime, based on crepuscular scraping textures, distant knocking resonances and what may be disembodied vocal groans.

Although at times quite experimental in approach, the sound ‘In The Shadow Of What Never Was’ is staunchly underground with its dirty and caustic feel.  Although I don’t know how this compares to earlier Shredded Nerve output, here the sound is very much focused on tone and atmosphere, rather than straight aggression or sonic extremity, where the results are varied, focus and above all else amounts to an appealing listening experience.

Tesla Sect – The Nikita Mill


Tesla Sect – The Nikita Mill MC Cipher Productions 2016

Cipher Productions have dug up another act whom I have not heard of before, but according to the release blurb Telsa Sect are a duo from Adelaide, Australia, with this being their first release, being: A Dionysian exploration of tape decay, harsh electronics and the defect-prone qualities of analogue consumer electronics.

So, first up the packaging deserves a mention, with the tape being beautifully housed in an oversized and repurposed 7” tape reel cardboard box, with cover image separately affixed to the front panel (artwork courtesy of Mark Groves of Dead Boomers, Sabbatical etc.).  As for the sonics, the tape then covers around 30 minutes of music in total, the sound is one which is typically harsher than spheres covered by typical tape experimentation, whilst also being too loose and freeform to be classified as power electronics proper.  So essentially the sound is one which manages to have a foot in both camps without being slavish to either.  Some sense of structure comes from various stilted loops, but these also are in fractured and misfiring ‘idling machine’ style, to keep the sound loose and chaotic.  The tracks construction is also choppy and chaotic, although not sounding to be result of random improvisation either.  With no specific or individual tracks listed, there are defiantly segments or sections which are clearly akin to specific ‘tracks’, but at the same time it is best to simply enjoy this tape in its totality, where the sound swings from moments of restraint to others driven by sonic shards, creaking metal, bursts of electronic static and fractured loops etc. (…perhaps more succinctly described as sonic chaos delivered with direction and purpose).

Given its meagre limitation of 32 copies (perhaps dictated by the availability of the box it is housed in?), I assume this may already be sold out.  But if not, this should be checked out as a strong, non-typical sounding release in the fields of (harsh) tape experimentation.  As a final comment it is noted that each sides of the the tape is labelled ‘C’ and ‘D’, which then begs the question – where are sides ‘A’ and ‘B’? (…something to mull over…or perhaps not…).

quick fix of cassette fifth


Luke Holland Odium 2xMC Moral Defeat 2016

Blut Bound & Gagged MC Trapdoor Tapes 2016

Luke Holland (head honcho of Trapdoor Tapes) has recently issues some more of his solo works on the Danish micro-label Moral Defeat (which mostly deals with tapes but has been known to delve into vinyl formats).  For this new double tape release it features 4 tracks (recorded in 2016, spread across the 4 sides), which amount to further explorations in minimalist industrial/ droning noise.

‘Traumatic Bonding’ opens the set and furrows a throbbing, modulating form, before forceful and blown out rumbling noise elevates the sound.  Nice.  Flipping over to Side B ‘Power And Control’ delivers idling noise and crumbling static to spawn a attitude of unmoving stasis, although the later introduction of a mid-paced pounding/ stilted beat provides some forward momentum.  Moving onto the second tape, whilst the title track ‘Odium’ does not overtly alter the sound or approach, it is delivered with grim intensity and more grinding and forceful than what has proceeded it.  The final of the 4 tracks ‘No Longer a Victim’ retains a similar forceful, driving and pulsing tone to ‘Odium’, but as with the entirety of the tape it maintains an obscure and introspective edge throughout.

With the stylistic approach being of an elongated and minimalist ‘rough’ industrial style, clearly the focus is on thick layers of analog filth which coalesce into meditative ‘noise-scapes‘.  Thus over the 4 tracks Luke positively demonstrates variations on this theme, which also displays differing degrees of sonic force depending on the track.

Moving on to the debut tape of Blut, they are a purposefully anonymous project on Trapdoor Tapes, which through both titles and artwork addresses it themes in a direct fashion.  To speak first of concept, although S&M themes are hardly a new idea, conversely over the decades it has perhaps been overused within the industrial underground, which has subsequently reduced its subversive and transgressive potential.  So while although Blut may have much deeper and personal interests in the themes broached, based on this tape it mostly comes across as a rather formulaic industrial trope.*

But what of the music? Well pleasingly, this tapes contains some excellent high calibre material.  The opening title track sees the use of some blisteringly flanged vocals, which are heavily processed to the point of emulating an echoed robotic style.  These are then mixed upfront to float over a grimy undercurrent of rough, grinding tones, idling clatter and crude dive-bombing textures.  ‘Whip Therapy’ continues is similar sonic guise, but the slow pounding, echoed oil barrel percussion gives it an excellent cavernous sonic depth (…and in part brings to mind a subdued version of Bizarre Uproar).   The minimalist industrial noise-scapes featured on ‘Slaves Lesson: Part 1 & 2’ are relatively loose form and meandering (with understand grinding filth and sex tape sample), but due to extended length are less focused and engaging than preceding material.  Yet the final two tracks on Side B return to focused gutter-noise/ power electronics, where ’Hog Tied’ is an exploration of looped caustic modulations, while final track ‘Punishment’ is built around queasy layers, distant blown out noise, buried industrial pulse and the inclusion of Blut’s rather trademark robotic vocal treatment.

By way of a concluding comment, if you are seeking a quick fix of obscure caustic analogue industrial fifth, these two cassettes absolutely fit the bill. Nothing more nothing less and you should know by now if you are the intended target audience.

* –  Although such themes have become in part a thematic mainstay of underground industrial music, in parallel a project like Bizarre Uproar has adopted such themes and pushed them far beyond being a cliché.  This has been achieved by main member Pasi making his personal fetishes and obsessions central to the project, which have been reinforced by his unflinching willingness to hold nothing back in his desire to publicly revel in filth and humiliation.  The consequence of this has been to demonstrate that ‘boundaries’ within the underground can still be pushed some 4 decades on from the origins of industrial music, and also functions make any other project broaching such themes without similar dedication appear shallow or merely surface level.

Halo Manash – Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation


Halo Manash – Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation CD Aural Hypnox 2016

First things first, this is not a new album from this Finnish ritual collective, rather it is a release which has been excavated from their past archives.  In this context ‘Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation’ functions to bring to light a series of previously unreleased tracks which were presented at Halo Manash’s first live performance in 2005, which itself followed their 2004 ‘Syoma’ album.  9 tracks or ‘movements’ feature herein, and despite each constituting part of an interlinking whole, they are contextually split under sub-headings of ‘The Trial of Bones’, ‘The Path of Fire’ & ‘The Ghost Ceremony’ to reflect the intended ritual cycle.

Musically speaking, the trajectory of Halo Manash over time has been one which has demonstrated an gradual evolution toward greater abstractness and musical restraint.  ‘Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation’ then differs ever so slightly from the ritually minimalist and amorphously ethereal sounds of later Halo Manash works. So although the music is clearly recognizable as that of Halo Manash, there is also a degree of musicality, drive and urgency here, which can perhaps be explained by that the material was presented in a live setting.  Yet this is also not to say that this album presents actual ‘songs’ or ‘melodies’, it is rather a case the synths, chanted vocals, structural loops and tribalised percussion is in the most part more forceful and driving than usual.

From the opening moments tribal floor-tom percussion, swirling percussive textures, snaking synths and ritualistic chants/ horns introduce the album, and from this point the listener is dragged into a dynamic 40 minute ritual ambient morass.  Although the tone ebbs and flows in intensity (depending on the track), and despite it ‘atypical’ musical form, the presented movements never feels improvised.  As a listening experience this is as strong as any other album within Halo Manash’s canon, but it can also be considered an important document of the evolution of the group from its earliest phase, given its sonic focus and drive which pushes ever onwards through the 9 presented movements.

Packaging wise, the regular edition features an 8-page booklet, 8 postcards and additional insert, all housed in an oversized screen-printed cardboard which upholds the instantly recognisable aesthetic of the Aural Hypnox label.  Also available in a limited special CD edition and limited cassette edition.