Post Scriptvm – Variola Vera

Post Scriptvm – Variola Vera LP Tesco Organisation 2019

Variola Vera comes as the eighth album for Post Scriptvm in twenty years of activity. While the project has perhaps slightly flown under the radar compared to other post-industrial projects, they continue to blend, splice and manipulate elements of dark ambient, death industrial, and heavy / power electronics into quite uniquely sounding material.

As with earlier works, the broader feel of the album is one of a paranoid ‘Kafkaesque’ disassociated miasma of ever shifting sound textures, sonics treatments and disembodied voices, which equally would not be out of place as an alternative sound-score to the classic sci-fi film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. Yet these impressions do not cut to the core of the album’s theme, given the promotional notes identify that it is: ‘Titled after the outbreak of smallpox in the 1970s socialist Yugoslavia, unintentionally brought in by the pilgrims returning from a quest for divine illumination, Variola Vera is the soundtrack to the somatic and the metaphysical epidemics steering the human enterprise towards its termination’.

For its broadly consistent stylistic approach Born Into Trauma stands out based on its partly experimental and partly heavy electronics menace. Infected with a mutant strain of industrial techno, interestingly an underpinning bass kick is entirely absent, yet the techno pulse remains as a constant thread, while the aggressive, treated vocals push a perilous tone. Another particular album standout which functions to draw together all preceding sonic threads is Storm Puppets based on wonky and warbling intertwining textures and processed scrap metal clatter which are pushed into a heavy electronics expression, complete with treated, seething vocals is one of the album’s standouts. Fondamenta Degli Incurabili concludes the album with a piece of floating abstracted melancholia, where muted synth melodies float and waver. Mid-track some slow thumping and rhythmic textures emphasized a drugged sway which carries the album to its conclusion.

Rather than being any sort of significant deviation from Post Scriptvm, this is an album which demonstrates a honing and refinement of their established sound, which is subtlety more active, varied and sonically complex, building to occasional moments of menace and aggression. Clearly Variola Vera will absolutely be to the liking of ardent followers of the project, yet it is also important to highlight that it is also some of the strongest and varied material to come from the project yet. The printed cover and inner sleeve rounds out the visual side of things with darkly abstracted and slightly surreal visuals. Yes, this is recommended.

Analfabetism ‎– Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur

Analfabetism Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur Not On Label (self-released) 2019

Following a couple of albums on Malignant Records in 2015 and 2017, Analfabetism have issued two self-released albums in 2018 & 2019. Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur is the latest album from mid-2019.

Based on the earlier Malignant albums I have heard, they displayed a distinct Swedish death industrial angle. Clearly that sound remains here, but from the opening moment of Vættr there is a greater display of experimentation, where dank liquidous tones and deep bass rumbles blend with up front ‘micro-tonal’ textures, while the second have the track focuses on heavier atonal industrial elements. On the following track Kråkeld, given its murky production, distant rhythmic elements, erupting fissures of distortion and garbled voices it is an effective case study in Swedish death industrial. Pushing a more direct and aggressive tone, Vedergällning evokes a mood of seething menace, with the mid-toned droning layers pushing up towards higher pitched distortion, coupled with the vocals being rendered as another seething layer. Elsewhere Miðgarðsormr deliveries a track of thick and laborious muted bass tones, which mid track briefly explodes with noxious distortion. Ihjäl de vittra rounds out the 50-minute album with more muted bass rumble and features an effective use of panning voices between speakers to generate an off kilter feel.

As a general comment I would say that Analfabetism are something of a workhorse project, who with little fanfare delivers strong and varied material within the chosen niche style. As such everything I have heard from the project, including this new album, is both top notch and certainly an enjoyable genre piece. Also, don’t let the ‘self-released’ status colour your impression in any way. The cover is slickly designed and has been professionally printed as a 6 panel dig-pack that suitably rounds out the physical presentation.

Deutsch Nepal – Staring At My Wall

Deutsch Nepal – Staring At My Wall CD Entartete Musikk 2019

By now Lina Baby Doll’s project Deutsch Nepal is recognised as a long standing, unique and ever dependent fixture of the post-industrial underground. Staring At My Wall comes some four years on from 2014’s Alcohology, although in between there was a couple of splits and compilation collections, as well as a vocal collaboration album Easting the Dust with Reutoff.

In leaping straight in, the music of the opening title track is notable as it specifically harks back to the classic sound of the long regarded classic first album Deflagration of Hell. As such the stellar track features mid paced hypnotic looped rhythms, driving beat and dark drones, while the vocals themselves are also recognised from the track Terrible Place featured on the collaboration album with Reutoff. With this basic structure set, the album rolls through collection of tracks of quintessential vocal lead Deutsch Nepal compositions. This means that some tracks are ambient and mellow, while others are more direct based on looped percussion and bass rhythms, all the while Lina’s bellowed and crooned vocals gives an immediately distinct edge. Butterfly is then notable as it charts both of these styles, where the first passage is a mellow ambient soundscape, before launching into a rousing looped rhythmic and vocal led passage for the balance of the track. How Low in its original form was on 1999’s Erosion but is featured here in a completely new version titled How Low… 2017. While the original featured low crooned vocals and an atmospheric soundscape articulating a floating drugged haze, here in its new version it features brute force martial percussion and commanding vocal delivery, thus very much feels to be a completely different track. Pasolini also stands out positively brooding orchestral drones, muted ticking/ swaying rhythmic elements and surreal and dreamlike lyrics. The final track Let Go And Slip Away then completely surprises given its upbeat and happy ditty of a melody and sporadic hand-clapped beat, yet with Lina’s vocals and mid track twist into nightmarish territory provides enough of a surreal edge to keep a foot squarely in the Deutsch Nepal camp.

With near enough to three decades of activity by now Deutsch Nepal should be a household name in the post-industrial underground. So, while on one hand Staring At My Wall certainly delivers a sound that could only be from mind of Lina. But on the other this new album is both playfully creative and addictively engaging, and a clear demonstration that Lina is still on his game. A worthy addition to the Deutsch Nepal discography.

Ergomope – Етиологии

Ergomope – Етиологии 2xMC AMEK 2019

AMEK are a Bulgarian underground experimental label and while I have not followed all of their output, from what I have heard they are releasing a decent amount of atypical post-industrial music. In this context I have not come across the Ergomope project before, but that is also perhaps explained by the fact that Етиологии appears to be their only release to date.

Opening with short experimental and evocative piano motif which has been layered and treated in studio, it immediately catches attention in the most positive of ways, before shifting off into a length 15-minute track framed around grey hued sonic treatments of obviously urban based field records. But not to be based on raw field recordings alone, those elements are coupled with sonically melodious and shimmering drones which blend and intertwine and carries the material forward at a generally unhurried pace. Likewise, though a number of tracks the minimalist field recordings elements have been looped for vaguely rhythmic effect, while on occasion the drones and field recordings elevate in pressure and force towards an heavier post-industrial frame of reference, where the sound builds to a peak before recedes again. In other sections there appears to be what sounds like abstracted playing of a treated piano, and sections of shrill orchestral strings and percussion which have been mutated in a studio environment. Of individual note, lengthy track Whiteout functions as a sort of album centrepiece given its more prominent musicality, including layered piano playing, plucked string instruments, and elevating melodious drones late in the track.

Clearly there is lot to digest across the two cassettes, amounting to a run time of around 80 minutes. But with emotive experimental ambiental music such as this, appreciation is rewarded from an unhurried listening, allowing the shifting and morphing sonics to unfurl at their own pace. For the sake of comparison, the likes of the material released on Touch, and specifically the likes of Fennesz and BJ Nilsen comes strongly to mind, which is testament to the quality of this material, despite its relative obscurity. In then noting that the Black Sea is referenced in the promo text, and is a title of a Fennesz album, perhaps my comparative impressions are more than mere coincidence? Either way this has been both an enjoyable and rewarding listen.

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.

Blood Rhythms – Civil War

Blood Rhythms – Civil War LP No Part Of It 2019

The Blood Rhythms project is primarily helmed by Arvo Zylo who also employs the collective inputs of a raft of other musicians. This collaborative process has led to a broadly power electronics defined expression, but which also flirts with varied experimental elements and musically tinged post-industrial sounds.

The first thing of note about Civil War is the packaging, with the beautifully designed, high gloss gate-fold cover and large 11” sized 16-page art booklet, also printed on weighty high gloss stock and containing a selection of darkly abstracted images. For the sonic side of proceedings (En) Closure (Heart’s On Fire) kicks off the album, and based on the layered atonal horn blasts it is immediately clear that Civil War is far from a ‘business as usual’ power electronics album. Embodying an abstracted dark experimental jazz-noir mood in the first section, by track’s end the jumbled vocals and scratching textures have gradually built into a heady noise piece. Onism (Sick Skin) follows and is very much an exercise in endurance given its high-pitched needling textures which are sustained throughout. With its raw unhinged vocals and overblown noise approach, as a comparison it reminds of some of the nastiest and rawest material to come from the Filth & Violence label in recent times. Locked Away provides some welcomed respite being far moodier with slow crumbling drones and muted melodies. Yet the elevating distortion, driving mechanical whine and slow drawled vocals places the track squarely within post-industrial spheres. Paris Window is the most atmospheric track on offer with sampled film-noir melody and windswept melodious drones, yet a fleeting vein of muted noise is also noted. The Face is perhaps the most song-oriented track of the album, where its digital squelching loop is reminiscent of late era Whitehouse, while the slow drawled/yelled vocals completely sets it apart. Mid track it launches into an atonal jazz saxophone freak-out (where the shrill layering verges on Penderecki style strings), before diverging off into a trial percussive rhythm and noise section. The album is rounded out with Alchemy & Grief (Part I & II). Part I features blown out noise, radio chatter, creaking junk metal and ritual styled gongs. On the other hand Part II is a concluding highlight featuring a sluggish pounding bass pulse, slow panning saxophone melody and roughly bellowed vocals, while detailed noise and general backing clatter fleshes out the throbbing post-industrial sound.

Far from being a power electronics ‘genre’ piece, this is a wildly varied and creative release, where Civil War manages to continually surprise despite its relatively short overall run time. If it is not already apparent, Civil War is a perfect album for those craving sonic diversity well beyond the expected norms of a more typical ‘power electronics’ offering.

Entre Vifs – Offranfe et Partage

Entre Vifs – Offranfe et Partage CD Aussaat 2019

Despite having releases extending back 30 years, I am less than familiar with Entre Vifs’ output, but I am aware they are an exponent of a ’bruitism’ approach to music – aka ‘the art of noise’. The material on this new album is derived from live recording sessions using a variety of homemade electronics and noise equipment (as pictured in the booklet), and recorded as a duo March and April, 2018.

Four tracks span 74 minutes of ‘bruitism’ focused sonics, with the longest piece being 23 minutes, and the shortest being nine. Despite what I assume is the improvisational nature of the recordings, the tracks have compositional flow where there is a real sense of ‘cause and effect’ between the presented sounds, which is indicative of interplay between the two members during the recording sessions. Sonically speaking the sound features raw blown out metallic textures, blended with moments of stilted rhythmic pummeling. Further variety comes in the form of creaking atonal junk clatter, slashes of random electronics sonics and wonky bowed springs. Recording wise the tone is textured and detailed and while ‘noise’ derived, it is not harsh noise by any stretch and fits more within a rough industrial noise frame of reference. Consequently this means there is space for the layered sounds to breath within the mix, while sounds rapidly panning between speakers functionally increases the disorientating effect of the mid-paced industrial noise maelstrom. Beyond my more pragmatic descriptions, the title of the third track is also quite an apt descriptor of the album overall, titled A Benevolent Storm Front.

Being sonically textured, highly detailed, chaotic and warped, yet somehow strangely soothing at the same time, Offranfe et Partage is an intriguing and enjoyable listen, even if I am I am not sure to how often I may revisit this. But in being both noisy and clearly artistic in approach, the agenda to functionally realise ‘bruitism’ has been achieved.