Beckahesten – Vattenhålens Dräpare

Beckahesten Vattenhålens Dräpare CD Cyclic Law 2020

Sweden’s Beckahesten is a recently formed trio of musicians: Peo Bengtsson, Per Åhlund, and Viktoria Rolandsdotter. Blending the darkly gothic bleakness of mid 1990s Cold Meat Industry-style dark ambience with a more archaic-edged ritual ambient sound, Beckahesten certainly surprise with their debut album. The promo blurb also provides a glimpse of its tonal aesthetic through the following description: ‘Their sound lingers within the shadow lands of ritual and folklore where solemn harmonies and rhythms intertwine with lyrical poetry, becoming rites and omens. Taking its name from an ancient folk tale of a horse that takes children onto its back to then bring them to a nearby lake and drown them.’

Opening track Förnimmelsen immediately brings shades of the classic sound of Aghast, with whispered vocals and shifting icy soundscapes, albeit here with a slightly elevated sub-orchestral tone. The following track Ropet abruptly shifts to an almost doom drone texture due to its thick affecting bass; yet, the sweeping synth pads and chanted male vocal arcs provide a clear Nordic ritual ambient underpinning. The pairing of Skuggan and Dödsfålen deviates further, where the sublime shadowy soundscapes and twilight ambience are driven forwards with slow ritual percussion against which the sparse and achingly subtle vocals of Victoria are delivered as chants and invocations to twilight omens. Hotet is the final and longest track at over 10 minutes, a solemn evolving track of throbbing drones, ritual chimes, sweeping synths, and the commanding sung/chanted vocals of Victoria, while the rhythmic musical backing elevates to cresting crescendos before receding again.

This debut album is clearly not a lengthy one at a mere 36 minutes, but it packs significant impact into that timespan, with a sound that is both individualistic and aware of its influences. The album in its physical form is available on CD, or vinyl if that is preferred.

Human Larvae – Methods of Submission II

Human Larvae – Methods of Submission II MC Cipher Productions 2020

Methods of Submission II follows the first tape in the series from 2017 (reviewed here). That earlier tape featured two lengthy tracks of churning industrial noise filth, which deviated from the usual refinement found within Human Larvae’s main albums. Although this new tape includes 10 distinct tracks, like the first tape it explores harsher and nastier sonic territory.

Playing out very much as a full-length album, Methods of Submission II has pushed a filthy and nasty atmosphere into the foreground. This is articulated through track titles and dialogue samples, such as the lengthy scat film sample used on the opening track Shit Slave, which is set to little more than a distant humming drone. Need Violence then follows, with an excellent cut based on a straightforward bulldozing loop, shuddering distortion, and roared aggressive vocals. Elsewhere tracks such as Sick leap headlong into noise territory, featuring charred scrabbling noise within a mid to higher range squall, while the trademark vocals pull it back towards power electronics territory. On Your Knees rounds out Side A and pulls back to a simplistic needling loop coupled with a sample of a wailing woman that, while decent enough, simply does not match the meticulous layering and detail of the standout tracks of Human Larvae. Sadistic Pleasures opens Side B and provides a blasting track of harsh noise, while Slave Training initially pulls back on the sonic intensity, instead opting for hollowed-out idling distortion and partially buried dialogue samples, but which elevates with crumbling static over its extended length. And The Dog Ate From Its Bowl is an excellent example of a forceful industrial drone, framed around multiple sonic layers, while a crude stilled loop with monologue spoken vocals features on Burden. As for the final track Total Submission, this shifts back into the trademark slow rhythmic scrap metal structures and fiercely bellowed and distortion-charred vocals.

Given the prevalence of harsher sonic elements and the overall nasty and oppressive atmosphere created, Methods of Submission II could be said to comfortably align with the material being released on the Filth and Violence label, and therefore slightly differs from the meticulous level of layering and sonic detail typically associated with the project. Packaging wise, this new tape reflects the same aesthetic as the earlier album, with the tape and four-panel booklet housed with the tape in a canvas over-wrap and front panel cut-a-way.




Infinexhuma – Frontier

Infinexhuma – Frontier DCD Alchemy Labor Unit 2021

Infinexhuma are a previously unknown project for me, but seven albums including this new album have been issued since 2018. With 12 lengthy tracks spanning 100 minutes and two separate CDs, three of the tracks feature collaborations with Blood Box, NERATERRÆ, and Common Eider, King Eider. Given the album collaborators, this is an album to be filed under a broad dark ambient banner.

The first notable feature is the artwork of Frontier’s six-panel digipack, which features images of monolithic elements of nature, including the ocean and mountains, coupled with other earthbound visuals and abstracted colours and shapes. This gives a strong indication that the sound is one which is concerned with sonically articulating the colossal scale of the elemental forces of nature, although at times the tone could also pass for galactic-scale dark ambience and cosmic deep space drone. Accordingly, this means a large part of the album in concerned with spiraling corkscrew drones that seamlessly blend widescreen sub-orchestral atmospheres and rhythmic emanations from cavernous depths. Far from being one-dimensional, there is a meticulous approach to composition and complex sonic layering, where hints of vocal chants, chimes, and other abstracted field recordings are dotted throughout, further adding to the sonic depth. Yet, rather than the general mood being a sedate or catatonic affair, the overall tone has bulk, heft, and strong sonic drive, making for a commanding sonic presence. Given how strongly active the tone is, this invites detailed attention and focus rather than receding to be mere atmospheric background music. Apart from the deep sub-orchestral spheres and isolationist ambience sonics, there are a few further curve balls thrown in on the second disc. One example is In The End, which features a mutated driving industrial electro beat that, along with the gruff half-sung emotive vocals, makes for the most deviating and anthemic song-focused track of the album, a genuinely positive surprise. Equally the mid-section Every Door flirts with a passage of clinical-tinged death industrial bluster before the late section introduces loosely played and abstracted guitar riffing.

Much of the material found on Frontier very much aligns with the monolithic dark ambience of similar material on the likes of Loki Foundation or Malignant Records, and this is a comparative marker of the quality found here. Yet, the willingness of Infinexhuma to push their sound beyond strict genre confines on selected tracks makes for a refreshing listen, and an excellent album overall.

Trust Collective mini-showcase

Trust Collective mini-showcase

Trust Collective are a new tape label from America, operating in the fields of noise, power electronics, ambient, and experimental. Having only been operating since 2019, they have already amassed over 40 releases, with tapes issued in small batch print runs but backed up with an online digital availability. Following below is a brief rundown of a couple of recent label releases which are of the more ambient and experimental variety.

Anasisana – Perfect Stranger MC Trust Collective 2020

Being wholly unaware of Anasisana prior to this tape, they appear to be a young project with a handful of releases since 2018. Perfect Stranger is a short four-track tape of melancholic drone and drift, ambient-framed electronic music. Across the four compositions the slow shifting sustained melodies articulate a late-night mood of dour contemplation. Those melodious elements are further backed by a subtle drift of field recordings, subdued atonal textures, and even treated spoken vocals in one track. With a short runtime this tape leaves me wanting more, and is a good example of modern ambient electronic; current material on the Posh Isolation label would be a logical comparison to make.

Volunteer Coroner / Yolabmi – split MC Trust Collective 2020

On this split tape Volunteer Coroner leads and takes up Side A with the single lengthy track Moments Measured By Grief. As might be suggested by the title, it has a melancholic mood where the slow and minimal synth melody is both fragile and gloomy. From mid-track onwards an undercurrent of crumbling static is revealed yet remains as a separate sonic element which never overtakes the primacy of the main melody line which is an achingly bleak composition. Yolabmi take up Side B with the single track Breathe, an experimental sound collage-type composition. As such tonal fragments are added and subtracted in quite an academic fashion, there is a loose progression to the sound which is sonically clean but supported by a vague aquatic churn. Yet, from mid-track a minimalist drone appears that provides tonal focus around which the other sound textures are framed. Although both sides of the tape are completely different from one another, if I were to play favorites, given my own sonic preferences the Volunteer Coroner track is the pick of this tape.

White Stains – Beauty & Structure MC Trust Collective 2020

No, this is not the early 1990s Swedish experimental band White Stains with links to Genesis P-Orridge. Rather, this White Stains is the solo project of Belgian Koenraad Impens who has issued a clutch of tapes since 2018. Five tracks and approximately 20 minutes of material feature on Beauty & Structure, which sonically delivers cinematic synth-driven electronic music with a strong sci-fi bent. Moody sci-fi tinged melodies float and drift, while a mid-paced programmed rhythmic beat pulls the compositions ever forwards. Intriguingly, opening track Silence Observed on Side B features an almost minimalist dungeon synth atmosphere, yet soon enough the programmed rhythmic beat element returns on Neon Streams Are Almost Transparant Now to push the mood back towards a cinematic sci-fi sound. All in all, Beauty & Structure delivers an enjoyably moody respite from the harsher bluff and bluster of the underground material typically covered in Noise Receptor Journal.

Ybalferran – Inflorencense MC Trust Collective 2020

Yet another obscure and previously unknown project for me, the seven compositions of Inflorencense deliver droning synths and experimental soundscapes. With a vaguely sub-orchestral tone, the deep synth drones either drift along or function in broader structural loops, with other shimmering and sweeping sounds taking up the mid to higher sonic register. Select tracks do register a lower bass tone rumble, along with occasional vaguely rhythmic textures but these mostly sit within the background, and with a generally slow forward pace, the tracks slowly morph and evolve in a moody experimental way. The final track Fields Of White Lichen stands apart from the rest, given that it features a musically-focused synth melody and spoken vocals. Given its slightly abstracted experimental approach to composition, my overriding impression of this tape is that it is decent enough and certainly enjoyable to listen to – nothing more, nothing less.

Linekraft – Death Still Persists

Linekraft – Death Still Persists CD SSSM 2020

Death Still Persist is Linekraft’s relatively quick follow-up to 2019’s exceptional Subhuman Principle LP issued by Tesco Organisation (reviewed here). Being issued on the Japanese label run by Hiroshi Hashimoto of Contagious Orgasm, the acronym SSSM stands for ‘Seeking Sensation Scale Music’.

On this new album, Linekraft continues with a composed style involving a supreme blending of Japanese industrial noise which has clearly been inspired by a composed European-style power electronics. Yet there are some other more melodious and mellow experimental synth elements added in for good measure which draw comparison to the 2020 tape Industrialized Criminals History (reviewed here). As for the theme, the focus has shifted well outside of Asia, this time focusing on Ukraine, as alluded to by the promo blurb: ‘Music presented here is a soundtrack for people who live a reality survival life in north of black sea’.

Opening track Ravage features sweeping junk metal tones, thick acidic drones, and garbled radio chatter, and loose industrial rhythm late in the track. Kill Campaign then clearly deviates with its nationalist-style music motif before leaping headlong into a fierce track of loosely constructed pulsing noise, arcing static and heavily processed vocal barrage, and from there further morphs into a percussive-driven track. Fantastic stuff! This general approach continues over the following clutch of tracks, essentially playing out as a variation on the sonic approach of balancing loose rhythmic structures and chaotic tonal outbursts, further complemented with sampled radio voices and the fiercely processed vocals of Masahiko. Monitor The Death then shifts away from this prevailing mood with an excellent track framed around a dour melodious synth line, which is on par with the material featured on the Industrialized Criminals History tape. Still Persist then rounds out the tape with a track built around mechanised conveyer belt loops and incessant machine alarm.

Packaging wise, the CD is housed in cardboard mini-gatefold sleeve, with suitable cover imagery relating to the album’s theme. Another exceptional album within Linekraft’s expanding discography.














Crawl of Time – Operation Black Widow

Crawl of Time – Operation Black Widow CD Chondritic Sound 2020

Crawl of Time is the solo project of Sam Montero Torres, who is one half of the American power electronics group Terror Cell Unit. Operation Black Widow is the debut cassette album, following an early split release (2017) and a short promo tape (2019). In its original version, this album was issued on cassette by Fusty Cunt in 2020, but after selling out at a rapid pace Chondritic Sound ‎decided to reissue it on CD.

Sonically speaking, Crawl of Time is not dissimilar to Terror Cell Unit, yet the differences are more substantial than the sonic comparison which could be made between Terror Cell Unit and Koufar (another side project helmed by the other half of Terror Cell Unit, to which Sam also contributes). Whereas Terror Cell Unit is focused on a hyper-aggressive sound with a cultural terrorist manifesto edge, Crawl of Time differentiates itself with a slow and laborious industrial noise / power electronics bent. Whereas in the former the themes at play are more of an observational documentary type, here there appears to be a broad focus on gangs and prison culture. With the overtly aggressive elements slightly dialed down, the eight tracks are built around cyclic loops, well-sourced and placed samples, clean shredding mid- to higher-pitched drones, distortion, and squelching modular sounds. Vocals are predominantly spoken, sometimes with and sometimes without sonic treatment, but blend in within the mix. There are select tracks that stand apart, such as Tyrant And Slave (The Greatest War) with its stilted militant pounding beat, and Section V (Fratricide) with its harsh and needling noise assault approach.

The CD pressing is on a handsome six-panel digipack with thick card stock and separate foldout mini-poster, while the use of the ‘Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics’ logo on the cover is a nice touch of pitch-black humour. Over the one-hour run time, Crawl of Time demonstrates a wealth of ideas and a meticulous approach to sonic compositions: the end result is unhurried and impactful, making for an extremely strong debut album which justifies the additional 300 pressing on CD. Clearly, a project to keep an eye on.

Utøya – Lay Down And Rot

Utøya – Lay Down And Rot MC Cipher Productions 2020

When I previously tried to check out Utøya I missed out on available stock when attempting to order from various distros. I was luckier with Lay Down And Rot which is the third solo release from this newish project in as many years, and it functions as an excellent introduction. The presentation of the release immediately sets a grim tone, with the ‘standard’ edition featuring a cover image affixed to a hand-painted paper envelope. The ‘special’ edition includes the same cover image affixed to a black zip-loc bag which is wrapped in sturdy wire and slathered with thick tar paint.

Five tracks are spread across the two sides of the tape, and there is a degree of singularity in the approach to tone and composition which generally sits within a heavy/power electronics frame of reference. Specifically, the tracks are structured around raw static, buzzing noise, looped oscillations, morbid sustained synth tones, and semi-buried samples, rounded out with guttural vocals. There is also a notable hollowness to the tone, where its sonic elements are amply separated, while the slow rhythmic loop and sustained alarm wailing on Enough Is Enough injects a clear death industrial tone to proceedings.

Overall Lay Down And Rot demonstrates a clear directness, although not necessarily ‘unique’ or bringing something new to the genre. Despite this, it is still an extremely enjoyable tape of straightforward death industrial and controlled heavy/power electronics sounds.