Trapdoor Tapes batch 2019

Hal Hutchinson – Steelwork Fabricators MC Trapdoor Tapes 2019

Modelbau – The Whole Truth MC Trapdoor Tapes 2019

Luke Holland – Virtues Of Torture MC Trapdoor Tapes 2019

Being well aware of Hal’s activities in his other projects, I am then not as well versed with his solo output – other than understanding it is of a raw scrap metal noise type. Steelwork Fabricators features two untitled tracks, which are both excellent examples of what can be achieved with slow control noise, opposed to an overtly chaotic noise attack. Thus a laborious and roughly hewn scrap metal approach is the order of the day. Clearly not being from a singular improvised recording session, Hal has taken a multi-layered approach, where the tracks are carefully constructed layered for maximum impact. With a slow, jagged, hefty and ripping bass tone, the production is also thickly hollow, and in select moments contains a thunderous but abstracted oil barrel beat. In essence the sound is amazing and could be creatively described as an the rusting hulk of an abandoned steel cargo ship being slowly crushed and swallowed by expanding sheets of ice. With only 20 minutes run time, this is far too short and leaves me wanting much more.

Regarding Modelbau I I had not heard of the project before before, but then immediately recognised the name behind the project – Frans de Waard – formerly of Kapotte Muziek and the Staalplaat shop/ label, and currently of the Vital Weekly online publication. But to talk specifically of Modelbau, the project is concerned with densely detailed tape experimentation, where two length tracks feature on each side of the tape. The title track leads off with highly animated lo-fi noise, which is blended with treated bells or gongs and a plethora of detailed natural field recordings elements (wind, water, birds, voices etc). Extremely dense in sound, the atmosphere is one of an elevating maelstrom of sound than anything remotely ambient or relaxing. Back There features on Side B, and steps the sound up a notch with a more direct sound which verges on industrial-noise. Here scrambling and scattered distortion sit in the foreground, while abstracted metallic tones and distant echoed field recording elements site far back within the mix. With around 50 releases issued since 2012, this is an intriguing introduction to Modelbau and their forcefully detailed, yet engaging low-fi approach.

On Virtues of Torture, Luke Holland delivers a single lengthy 28 minute track of his particular brand of muted industrial noise. But from the lead off, it is immediately apparent that the the track displays more of an affinity with a loosely rhythmic death industrial sound. As such the slow ‘two note’ rhythmic pulse and windswept oscillating layers generates an excellent dank minimalism, which sits at a mid-point somewhere between Atrax Morgue and early Brighter Death Now. Being an instrumental track and with its elongated length, the track takes its time to gradually morph and shift, but generally not straying too far from the core framework, until a quite dramatic shift late in the track to a section of crumbling distortion, forceful bass tones and wailing horns of death. All in all another solid offering from the Trapdoor Tapes label head.

Advertisements

Megaptera – A Horse In The Eye Is Part Of The Art

Megaptera – A Horse In The Eye Is Part Of The Art  LP/CD Cloister Recordings 2019

In the early to mid-1990’s Mepaptera were a leader and mainstay of the early Swedish death industrial sound. In noting that the last proper album The Curse of the Scarecrow dates from 1998, focus on the project has been maintained over the following years based on sporadic live performances, as well as a slew of releases including: live albums, reissues, compilation collections and remixes. But A Horse In The Eye Is Part Of The Art is a welcomed release as it features new music from project mainstay Peter Nyström, indicated to have been recorded between 2012-2018.

Lobotomy leads off in classic Megaptera fashion with pulsing bass tones, shuddering factory ambiences, scrapping metallics, rupturing fissures of sound and medical lecture samples which all laboriously unfurl over a ten-minute span. Bipolar (Type 1&2) follows and displays another side to the Megaptera oeuvre, with a semi-stilted ritual drums, wavering horns and dank echoed factory ambience, again slowly unravelling over ten minutes, where additional beat programming, grinding distortion and junk metal crunch are added for good measure. Side B leads off with a remix of Second Recovery by Stephen Petrus, being a slow maelstrom of mid to lower ranged swirling/grinding layers. Further blended with various rolling programmed beats, treated vocals/samples it generates an overall grim result. Final of the four tracks is Walking Death, and spans a 14 minute run-time. Scrabbling conveyor belt metallic textures and rumbling windswept ambience features heavily, while fractured voices can also be detected but are semi-buried in the mix. From the midpoint of the track stilted metal clanging elements provides further structure and forward movement, with a gradual elevation of urgency through to its conclusion.

For good measure a bonus CD is included along with the vinyl LP, and features a live recording from The Epicurean Escapism Festival 2014. Previously issued as a digital only release, it spans a play-time of 41 minutes and features classic cuts such as The Final Day, Don’t Desecrate The Dead and The Curse Of The Scarecrow. With a foggy and distant depth to the recording and detectable crowd chatter, this is definitely not a direct soundboard recording. But equally this only adds to the murkiness and general dank death industrial atmosphere.

From what I understand, this may be the final swansong album from Megaptera. While this is a shame, equally this album was not perhaps not even expected given the length of time since the release of the last proper album. If it is indeed the final album, is at least a fitting epitaph for the project, where the industrial decay illustrated on the cover is a suitable visual representation.

Terror Cell Unit – Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

Terror Cell Unit – Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God MC Oxen 2019

With six new releases issued in 2019 alone, the determined forward march of Terror Cell Unit continues. This short 20-minute cassette features four tracks, noted to have been recorded in March, 2019, and based on the chosen cover imagery it appears the thematic focus may be Christian fanaticism and evangelical firebrand preaching. Although this cannot be confirmed as the lyrics are not included and much of the vocals are processed beyond recognition.

A Watchful Eye solidly kicks off proceedings featuring monumentally thick throbbing bass, heavily treated vocals and relatively clean mid-toned sound. The following A Different Path lives up to its title, given it veers towards a pounding death industrial structures based on a massive drubbing beat grimly smeared synth layers and the heavily processed rabid vocals sitting semi-buried at the centre of the mix. Side B brings a further two tracks where a religious focused sampled introduces His Wrath Setting Fire In The Sky, being a track of layered looped elements, where the noise wheezes, crumbles and squelches in equally measure. Calling Your Bluff finishes on a particular high note with tonal drones and loosely looped rhythms, and when the vocals appear, apart from a slight delay treatment, are fully intelligible.

Embodying a now immediately recognisable sound of Terror Cell Unit which showcases a modular synth derived and sharply incisive tone, this is another high calibre industrial strength power electronics release.

Galme – Obducentens Hopplösa Sökande

Galme – Obducentens Hopplösa Sökande MC Styggelse 2019

Galme are a new and entirely obscure Swedish project. Clearly they are obsessed with the earliest expressions of what would become known as a death ambient/death industrial, but also features enough sinister obscurity to also be tagged with the ‘post-mortem’ descriptor. Likewise, the phase on the cover ‘spektral elektriks’ is a suitable descriptor of the atmospheric qualities of this tape

With what is effectively a singular long form track, Obducentens Hopplösa Sökande traverses through a myriad of interlinking movements. Slow pulsating emanations provides a forward drive, while sections of muted conveyor belt rhythms, stilted ritual beats, cryptic melodies, and dank tonal washes generate a sickly ethereal mood. Predominantly an instrumental affair, on occasion disembodied radio voice chatter flits in and out of sonic frame, much like EVP recordings cutting through the ether onto the magnetic tape. Production wise there is nothing remotely modern with the tone of the recording. Rather this embodies the atmosphere of the earliest 1980’s phase of industrial music which spawned the likes of Korpses Katatonik and what would follow. But thankfully this does not sound in any way purposefully retro or otherwise pastiche of what has come previously.

For the physical presentation, the austere colouring and visuals of the j-card, inserts and table label suits the sonics perfectly. Much like all of the material issues on Styggelse, this is purposefully obscure, is limited in edition and difficult to obtain due to lack of wide distribution. Likewise with no digital versions available, it only elevates the impact of the music when a post-industrial underground obscurity like this can be obtained. Yes – this is recommended.

Murderous Vision – Abscission

Murderous Vision – Abscission MC Chthonic Streams 2019

Consistent longevity in the underground is no easy feat, yet 2019 is revealed as the 25th anniversary of Stephen Petrus’ solo project Murderous Vision. Having always been broadly defined by a murky death industrial style characteristic of the now classic 1990’s era, recent output has displayed a greater degree of experimentation. Yet of the four tracks which feature on Abscission, it 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 brooking 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. Autumn Black 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. For the final of the four compositions, Open The Night Sky round out the tape as the heaviest and most direct track, featuring slow pummeling beat, grinding looped bass distortion and aggressive heavily processed vocal barrage.

At around 27 minutes of music, this is a short and to the point released, but also packs a major impact in that time, where each of the four track deliver a distinct and individual sound within a broader death industrial framework. Abscission is great tape and fitting celebration of a quarter century of activity. But with an extremely limited physical edition, this would also be a great candidate for a vinyl reissue.

Schloss Tegal – Psychometry

Schloss Tegal – Psychometry DLP La Esencia Records 2019

Thirteen long years have transpired since the last Schloss Tegal album, so you could have been forgiven for thinking a new album was an impossibility – yet here it is. Granted there was a two track 7” ep Procession Of The Dead (Undead) released in 2017, but that release did not include new music, rather featured a remix of an old track and another live recording from 2008.

Based on first impressions of Psychometry, the stunning sleeve design of the gatefold vinyl with spot varnished geometric patterns needs to be acknowledged. In my estimation this visual presentation does absolute justice the album’s conceptual themes, which themselves hark back to 1999 Black Static Transmission. Although the artwork of that earlier album let it down somewhat in term of feeling slightly amateurish in early computer-based design. Sonically speaking, Psychometry also feels to have clear linage to Black Static Transmission rather than the direct sound employed on 2006’s album The Myth Of Meat (which is explained by its source material having been drawn from sounds recorded in a working abattoir). But apart from focusing on sonic differences, Psychometry still embodies a particular sound established and easily recognized as that of Schloss Tegal. This means it is too sonically forceful to be described as dark ambient, but equally is not abrasive enough to become noise/industrial.

From the outset the album delivers grim maelstrom drones blend with dour muted melodies, while other erupting fissure of sounds seem to articulate the tearing at the hidden fabric of one sub-conscious (refer to Pyschpompus and Incorporeal Being as prime examples). The Invalid Earth is an early standout with its throbbing ritual pulse, swirling drones and disembodied radio chatter. Krononaut (Time Zero) articulates further churning emanations from the void, complete with prominent EVP voices, and based on their scratchy semi-unintelligible it gives off an unnerving and eerie effect (EVP recordings appear on a number of tracks throughout). Black Vessel then delivers a foreboding tumult of layered electronics and is one of the more direct and heavy tracks on display. Moving towards the end of the album Body Farm delivers a tensile, and shrilly cinematic composition, but which is far too short in run time. As for the concluding track We All Become Gods blends deep cinematic tinged textures with widescreen drones and (again) with an unnerving disembodied voice.

Over their discography Schloss Tegal have excelled at sonically articulating a psychic space which blends the real and perceivable with an ‘unknowable otherness’ of inter-dimensional states. Without question Psychometry is another excellent example of this approach. In a general sense this feel of being a collection of individual and separate tracks rather than the sprawling and interlinking movements on Black Static Transmission. But this is only a compositional observation and not in any way a criticism. Not to call Psychometry a ‘return to form’, as that would allude to some sort of prior drop in quality of output, rather Psychometry is a welcomed and long-awaited continuation of unique sound and approach that Schloss Tegal have always displayed. Recommended and absolutely worthy of investment in its stunning physical edition.

Himukalt – Sex Worker

Himukalt – Sex Worker MC Total Black 2019

The meteoric rise of Ester Kärkkäinen’s project Himukalt in underground circles continues, with this new tape the eighth release in three years. While that might seem like a lot of output in a short space of time, far from being shoddy or rushed, all releases to date have been careful composed and honed to razor sharpness.

In many ways this new release is a continuation of what has come before, and the opening cut is particularly impactful with its sharp and cutting noise hewn into rhythmic blasts, as the vocals are apathetically delivered from the background. But as the album progresses, a greater harrowing tension is revealed and becomes the characteristic element. Essentially this restraint has been employed to allow the multitude of female sex worker interview samples to take central prominence. The use of such first-person narrative of the interview subjects gives a strongly personal edge to the tracks and is particularly affecting on the later track Cold and Empty, where the subtle backing sound embodies a low humming drone of creeping dread. Likewise, the low industrial throb and distortion-smeared vocals of Transactional are the effective embodiment of building tension, which also ruptures in moments of ecstatic release. The final of the eight tracks, No Safe Distance, rounds out the tape on an absolute high, based on a basic drum loop and another moody loop which are interrupted by jarring distortion slashes and cutting vocal barrages. Excellent stuff.

If you have not bothered checking out Himukalt to date, that situation should clearly be rectified. Sex Worker is as good a place as any to become better acquainted, but you pretty much can’t go wrong with any of the other releases either. Recommended.