Dream Into Dust – Fragments Of Legacy

Dream Into Dust – Fragments Of Legacy CD Chthonic Streams 2020

Dream Into Dust are a project helmed by Derek Rush with a rotating cast of contributors, but has been on a long hiatus given the group never officially disbanded. Although Dream Into Dust are well respected in facets of the post-industrial underground, more to the point they perhaps never received wider recognition they deserved. Musically the early works drew together disparate elements and influences from dark ambient, neo-folk, martial industrial, gothic and neo-classical, while later material incorporated some more contemporary influences and production techniques drawn from alternative, rock and pop.

As for Fragments Of Legacy it draws together 15 tracks, which were previously released on various compilations, or intended for compilations which never eventuated. With the collection of tracks being exclusively lifted from earlier phase the project, this suits my stylistic listening preferences, as personally I was less interested in the later evolution of the sound of Dream Into Dust. Given its musical leanings, Fragments Of Legacy comfortably sits between the sounds coming from Cold Meat Industry and World Serpent Distribution during the late 1990’s. Quite some territory is covered across the span and while martial industrial and neoclassical forms a consistent stylistic underpinning of these cinematically tinged soundscapes. But rather than stoic and bombastic, the overall atmosphere is forlorn and mournful. Equally the elements of neo-folk reinforce this archaic atmosphere which seems to sonically articulate a yearning for a lost time, with this general sentiment being specifically referenced by the title of their debut album The World We Have Lost. Yet with all that said, tracks such as The Chariot and Invictus notably stand out in all their strident neo-classical bombast. To make mention of further stylistic diversions, the album opener Stormbringer displays neo-classical and martial industrial elements, yet these are framed with a muted goth rock tone provided by the clean guitar and part sung/part spoken vocals. Other tracks like Totestadt are framed around fragile simplicity of clean guitar and piano, backed by creaking field recordings and spare neo-classical elements. Fields of Night features as an emotive and stripped back acoustic neo-folk tinged instrumental track, complete with sparse yet stormy martial percussion, while Out of Chaos Stars Are Born is also of note, coming fully formed as a shrilly intense soundtrack styled orchestral composition, moving through a crescendo and following passage of fragility. Late album track London, while neo-classical in tone also contains a whimsical Victorian gothic flavour to its core piano melody and cyclic musical motifs against which Derek recites a poem of William Blake. As for the final track The Trial Invisible, it stands apart from the rest. Deviating from the predominant atmospheric soundscapes, it is a moody and direct neo-folk song, complete with strings and cleanly sung lead vocals, thus give a partial nod to the later direction the project would take.

Packaging wise the CD comes as an 12 page colour printed booklet sleeve, with detailed liner notes on the origins of each track and pick up on some important conceptual influences, such as: poems of William Blake, The Trial by Franz Kafka, films such Slaughterhouse Five, M, Metropolis, Ulysses’ Gaze, While Fragments of Legacy may be effectively a collection of compilation tracks, it is surprising how well this disparate material hangs together as a complete album. Ultimately Fragments of Legacy is a positively conceived and compiled album, and very enjoyable document of the early phase of Dream Into Dust, regardless if you are an existing fan or perhaps a new listener to the project. A legacy of intent if you will.

Griefer – Communication Denial

Griefer – Communication Denial MC Absurd Exposition 2020

Griefer, a Canadian power electronics / death industrial project have been releasing material since 2004. Although this new 2020 cassette is the fourth album releases, it functions as my introduction to the project.

Of immediately note is the relatively clean sonic tone of the overall sound, which perhaps reflective of or at least aligns with the technological slant of the lyrical focus. Sound wise it features revving tones, looped metallic textures, wailing ‘air raid siren’ sounds, and echoed field recordings, which have been chopped and hewn into a series of compositional structures. Select tracks have a more focused power electronics bent, yet others contain a more ominous death industrial core, based on deeply echoed soundscapes, caustic noise and slow thudding beats. On the tracks which are based on looped structures, this gives a rhythmic aspect to the sound, yet this is not of the rhythmically driven type generated through programmed beats. Vocally, this also functions to set the material apart as they feature as a gruff yell with minimal treatment and which are balanced within the mix.

Seven tracks in all feature, with a total run time of around 35 minutes, which demonstrates Griefer to have both individualism in sound and sonic skill to back it up. Despite its adherence to a power electronics / death industrial sound there is a quite surprising degree of sonic and stylistic variety within this framework, making for varied and far from one dimensional listening.

System Body – Cast No Light

System Body – Cast No Light MC Damned Gates Recordings 2020

System Body are an Australian project who sonically inhabit the intersecting spaces of rhythmic noise, dark ambient and elements of moody industrial tinged techno (but sans any 4/4 kick drums). Cast No Light contains an EP’s worth of material with four tracks spanning around 30 minutes of material.

Blood Statue opens the tape and is a monolithic, fifteen-minute, Side A spanning track. With the first half being based around melodious intertwining power drones, it partially reminds of current era Yen Pox. Yet the latter half surges ahead with throbbing mid-paced rhythmic bass, melancholic synths and sparse martial inflected beat. Side B bring a further three tracks, with each around 5 minutes each. Eaten is the first, being framed around a mid-paced lurching programming, semi-buried half sung half chanted vocals and underpinned by throbbing bass addled distortion. The title track is next, being a freeform piece of layers synth elements sweeping and crumbling static, while the thick tonal bass beat elements are processed to overblown proportions. Shadows Shown To Shadows is the concluding track, being based around crushing and overblown bass tones which are hewn into loosely constructed and slow evolving rhythmic pulsations.

Of the four tracks, the epic Side A piece Blood Statue is the clear standout, yet the remaining tracks are not too shabby either, where Cast No Light functions as a strong example a modern toned yet staunchly underground sounds. For the physical packaging the tape is housed in an oversized black clamshell package. All in all nicely done.

Autopsia – In Vivo II

Autopsia – In Vivo II CD Death Continues 2020

Autopsia have been active since 1980, but on a superficial level of artwork and sound the project have perhaps remained in the shadows of Laibach who have been operating for a similar amount of time. Sonically speaking early Autopsia works were of a lofi dark ambient / ritual industrial style, which gradually morphed towards more composed neo-classical structures, and much later sought to draw in modern sonic elements (i.e. glitch and programmed beat driven sounds). But In Vivo II is not concerned with the current phase of the project, and as per the sub-title of the album clarifies the album is: ‘Autopsia Archive Recordings 1980-1988’. More specifically, over this period Autopsia issued numerous compilation tapes under the same title of In Vivo, where the 17 tracks collated here are sourced from different compilation tapes, and with selected tracks previously not released. In Vivo II is also the second archive album to be issued on Death Continues.

Of the disparate tracks collected here, there is a fair amount of variation which span the differing sounds of Autopsia from dark ambient, to experimental soundscapes, to martial industrial and neo-classical elements. Likewise, some tracks collected here are mere minutes in length, thus play out as short fragments of sonic ideas. Kissing Jesus In the Dark opens the collection, with sampled Tibetan throat singing offset with stoic industrial percussion, which highlights Autopsia’s martial and experimental tendencies. There is also a notable use of tape loops on various pieces, such as the early track Aqua Permanens has a strident martial industrial sound, based on sampled orchestral strings and slow pounding martial percussion. An excellent track. More variation is displayed on ESOTerIC II – The Machine also stands out as composition based on an organ dirge in full flight, where it is not immediately clear if this track was sample based or specifically composed and played. In further sonic deviation, the ritual dark ambient track Red Nights, complete with sampled female vocals, is noteworthy, given plays out very much as a precursor to the stylistic approach would refined by Cold Meat Industry artists’ through the mid-1990’s. Equally the track Relaxed with its industrial soundscape and pornographic dialog sample seems to have been specifically influenced by the earliest phase of SPK (i.e. Information Overload Unit and Leichenschrei). Recomposing A Dismembered God is the longest track at over twelve minutes, and another standout of the collection, being a shrill and stormy classical soundscape based on interlinking orchestral loops. On the concluding track We Area Death, it perhaps is the most refined example of sampled orchestral and choir based loops, being a slow and moody track, charting a tone which wavers between the ominous to the serine, and a sublime conclusion to the collection of tracks.

Given the nature of In Vivo II being an archive release, the correct way to approach this is as a disparate collection of early experimentations from the group, and not as a proper album. This means that some tracks clearly not a strong or refined when considered as individual standalone tracks, but that is not the point either. In Vivo II exists to bring to light a collection of the earliest working of the group and their varied development in conceptual approach to sound and composition. To that end, the release does its job perfectly.

Blood Rhythms ‎– Zerrissenheit

Blood Rhythms ‎– Zerrissenheit CDr No Part Of It 2020

The first material I heard from Blood Rhythms was 2019’s Civil War (reviewed here), where the approach on Zerrissenheit deviates quite significantly, given it is instrumental and based on subdued industrial loops and abstracted experimental soundscapes. The promo blurb then notes the album constitutes: ‘Mainly what Arvo Zylo did with recording sessions playing on John Cage’s first prepared piano! It is worked over in Zylo’s signature style of excessive layering and looping, and also features contributions from Dave Phillips, Bruce Lamont, and Blake DeGraw’. Of the seven tracks spanning 40 minutes, each piece is titled the same as the album, which translates from German to mean ‘conflict’.

Leading off the album, the first track delivers a lengthy piece based around rhythmic loops and moody sustained drones, and thus is relatively straight down the line. From here however the direction starts to deviate, where the second track acts as a short abstracted piano intro to the third, which itself is a tensile horror soundscape, featuring shrill strings, echoed field-recordings and sparse atonal piano notes, and is an excellent post-industrial/dark ambient offering. A brief piano motif characterises track four, which is then treated with sustained echoed and looped ad infinitum, while the track fifth throws a complete curveball with looped jazz freak out saxophone and aggressive atonal piano note stabs. Heading back to raw underground territory, track six is based on a rough and heavy yet relatively simple looped structure which sprawls over with little variation of extended length. The final track follows a similar approach, yet in its later segment chaotic piano playing makes an appearance.

If Zerrissenheit does anything, it is a clear statement that Blood Rhythms ‎are intent on ignoring all typical genre confines, and are willing to purse and sound which charts the artistically experimental world as much as it does the post-industrial underground.

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