Screloma – Dirt / Rotten Sarkoma

Screloma – Dirt MC Vanity Recordings 2020

Screloma – Rotten Sarkoma MC Vanity Recordings 2020

Screloma is a Japanese solo industrial noise project Jun-ichi Takahashi operating since the early 2000’s. Yet these two tapes do not feature new material, rather are reissues from the earliest phase of the project, namely the debut Dirt from 2004 and the sophomore Rotten Sarkoma from 2008.

Straight out of the gate Dirt, displays a thick and punishing industrial ‘rhythm and noise’ approach which was very much in vouge in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and catagorised by labels such as HANDS and ANT-ZEN. Given its original issue of Dirt in 2004 it place it very much the middle of the movement of that style at the time. Featuring over the top mid to fast paced clanging metallic beats, swirling noise and thick pulsing basslines, the sound is still nowhere near the ‘over the top’ sound of another Japanese industrial project Dissecting Table. With each of the six tracks which make up Dirt exceeding fives minutes in length, the longest track Skum-Teck is the longest at nine minutes and by doing away with a driving beat and dialing up on the distortion is the sonically most freeform. Likewise, although Rosten provides some early respite with a slow elevating intro, but soon enough it launches headlong into a chaotic maelstrom of fast pummelling beats, throbbing bass, air raid siren tones and lashings of distortion.

Released four years after Dirt, Rotten Sarkoma immediately displays a reorientation in sound and approach from industrial ‘rhythm and noise’, to a hasher and more freeform noise and power electronics frame of reference. Beats are present, yet are buried under a plethora of distortion, and wile bass is also present, it is generally not as a central driving element, thus the greater mood is one of rough and blustering industrial noise / power electronics with occasional random samples and vocals making an appearance. In fact, the main stylistic link between the two tapes is the new hash noise blasted version of Skum-Teck II [At 20000V], which is the most divergent track to the rest of the material on Rotten Sarkoma, being partially structured, spitting and fierce material, yet which also knows when to show moments of moody restraint. Atomic Test is a particular standout of mid-paced swaying loop, charred vocals force-fed through warbling distortion effect. Nuclear Winter is another standout with its slow pounding oil barrel and freeform metal type percussive approach, where the scorched vocals are rendered as a layer of noise.

Perhaps my general appreciation of the material featured on Dirt comes for the perspective of it being a heady ‘blast from the past’, rather than something I would typically seek out to listen to today. While on the other hand Rotten Sarkoma clearly feels to have a far greater individualistic / stylistic bent and more closely aligns with my current listening preferences. As for presentation, each tape is pro-duplicated with pro-printed case and j-card, and limited to run of only 100 copies each.

TROU – Grjòthaugr

TROU – Grjòthaugr CDr No Part Of It 2020

Evidently this French project TROU are more recognised for their harsh noise exploits, yet Grjòthaugr is anything but harsh, or even close to being noise for that matter. Rather this album focuses on heavy industrial looped based material which sprawls out at extended length. This is evidenced by the fact that the album contains only three tracks, with the shortest being 15 minutes and the longest at 34 minutes.

From the opening second of No Above, No Within, No Below the listener is thrust into the middle of a cyclic blast furnace toned industrial noise maelstrom. There is a sense of both stasis and movement, where the mechanized loops and rough lo-fi industrial noise aesthetic implies forward momentum, yet the equally the tone of the loops remains unchanged, which therefore anchors the work in a state of non-movement. This approach then tends plays tricks on the mind where you perceive sound is ever so slightly changing and morphing, but equally wonder if that perception is a fallacy of focused listening. Herbspalast follows and is rooted with a percussive rhythmic loop, roughly echoed drones and muted static, yet soon achieved the same mid-point feel of movement verses inertia. The final of the three tracks Onwards, To Múspellsheimr follows the prevailing approach, but the sound is a mid-point between the first two, containing both looped and rhythmic elements, which are mid-paced and with ample sonic heft.

More than anything the material is best appreciated when shifting your mindset to a space where there is no past and no future, allowing oneself to focus on the ever-present current moment. Artwork wise has the appearance of an obscure and forgotten lo-fi black metal album 1990s, where the chosen artwork by Zdzislaw Beksinski appears to be a visual representation of the Nietzsche quote: “if you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you”. As darkly surreal as the cover, this is intriguing and engaging release.

Note: – although a CDr release, this is a pro-printed disc and cover.

Murderous Vision – Abscission

Murderous Vision – Abscission CD Chthonic Streams / Live Bait Recording Foundation 2020

By way of background Chthonic Streams released the limited tape version of Abscission in 2019 (effectively an EP in length), which also marked 25 years of activity of the Murderous Vision. Those four original tracks have now been expanded with three additional compositions to now make Abscission a full-length album.

Noting that Murderous Vision have always been broadly defined by a murky death industrial style characteristic of the now classic 1990’s era, more recent output has displayed a greater degree of experimentation. Yet interestingly, the material featured on Abscission, harks back to the early era of the project. Tape opener Breaking the Bonds of Light announces intent with horror synths, militant percussion and murky drones which border on choral chants, but things take a noted step up with the following track Echoed Voice. The first a section of darkly brooding cinematic ambience and spoken vocals, prior to the second half featuring chanted male vocals against rolling, echo processed percussion and rising tide of grim distortion. Following next is the pairing of two new tracks Blood Moon Ritual and Veiled Ghosts. The first is a tensile minimalist piece of sub-orchestral dread, garbled vocals and catatonically slow drums of doom. The second new track up the pace with rolling beat and forbidding tone of oscillating loops, while morbid proclamation style spoken vocals arrive mid-track. Autumn Black follows and begs a partial comparison to the brooding, cinematically tinged and percussive death industrial of Megaptera. With an excellent display of restraint, the driving percussion only arrived in the later half of track to ratchet up the tensile mood. Open The Night Sky features as the heaviest and most direct track, featuring slow pummelling beat, grinding looped bass distortion and aggressive heavily processed vocal barrage. The album finishes with another new composition Machinery of Life. Low drones blend with a contemporary classical mood, featuring shrill strings, sparse tympani percussion and choral vocals (all sampled?), before the track arcs off into a long section of mechanised death industrial, before the classical strings reappear later track. As a concluding track it certainly delivers an excellently paced and darkly moody piece.

With seven tracks spanning 50 minutes, this hangs together as a coherent album, which delivers a distinct and individual sound within a broader death industrial framework. Assuming many missed the original extremely limited tape edition (50 copies), this expanded edition in a more generous pressing (300 copies) is well worth the attention and investment.

Nital Etch – Simulacrum

Nital Etch – Simulacrum CDr No Part Of It 2020

Nital Etch is the solo project of American Kevin Lewis, featuring music of an experimental/contemporary classical/dark ambient bent. This release appears to be the debut album which has been compiled from a selection of highlights from earlier unreleased recordings. Other than that scant information, I know next to nothing about this project.

But what of the sonics? Evidently the music was created using only strings and pedals, it is not at all clear how this material would have been composed and recorded, given the end result feels far more varied and complex that such basic equipment implies. The overall atmosphere is one of frayed and faded sepia tone photographs of desolate wintery landscapes, skeletal leafless branches and decaying abandoned buildings. On the opening track Outro is an excellent statement of intent, featuring mournful cinematically edge, with sub-dour orchestral tones and floating violins. Incisions follows, with a similar filmic tone of minimal melody and moody bass drone, but mid track shifts off into sparse field recording elements and piano being played somewhere in the depths of an abandoned mansion. You Poor Thing commences as an abstracted soundscape, yet from mid track onwards features achingly sad violin melody and string backing. The track Barabara changes things up, where the experimental industrial sound comes to the fore through a a forceful mid-toned industrial drone which builds to avalanche intensity against which an old documentary sample is set. Loss is perhaps the most contemporary classic type piece on offer, building around string backing and serpentine violin melody, while Obsolescence plays out as another cinematic piece of tensile edged and slowing elevating orchestral strings. With regard to the back half of the album, it features around 25 minutes of material, being denoted as excepts of 1 through 4 of a longer piece titled Glass Tube Roses. In overall tone these tracks are slightly less refined looser in execution. Generally being more subsumed with a foggy production, thus perhaps having a stronger dark ambient tone than the experimental contemporary classical soundscapes of the album’s front half, yet they still maintain the same dour, sepia toned cinematic flavour.

As an introduction to the music of Nital Etch Simulacrum is a wonderfully dark and emotive album which through its sparse musical motifs and cinematic washes of sound, articulates shifting moods of misery, loss, abandonment and decay. Recommended.

Note: – although a CDr release, this is a pro-printed disc and cover.