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.