Inade – The Nine Colours of the Threshold

Inade – The Nine Colours of the Threshold CD Loki Foundation 2018

Inade have never been the most prolific of projects, instead opting to seek stunning quality, over potentially mundane quantity. In this content this new album comes nine long years since the last formal full-length, and perhaps it is only a coincidence that the nine gap also reflects the album’s title. But putting such questions aside, The Nine Colours of the Threshold represents only the fourth formal full length issued during Inade’s 27 years of activity, which includes: the debut Alderbaren from 1996; The Crackling of the Annonymous from 2001; and The Incarnation Of The Solar Architects from 2009’s (note: Samadhi State is not a formal full length, nor are any of the live recordings and archive collections).

To speak of the arch of Inade’s evolving compositional approach, over the years it has moved from evolving album length evolving soundscapes (i.e. Alderbaren), to more compact individual tracks and on occasion quite song structured compositions (i.e. The Crackling Of The Annonymous and The Incarnation Of The Solar Architects). The Nine Colours Of The Threshold partially differs, in that it sonically bridges the earlier and later phases of the group, which is predominantly due to a calmer overall mood and slightly more abstract approach to composition than recent material. This means there are no immediate ‘hits’ to be found, such as was represented by earlier vocal led songs such as Chapel Perilious from The Crackling Of The Annonymous; or A Lefthanded Sign from The Incarnation Of The Solar Architects). Thus where vocals are present on this new album, they are used sparingly are spoken in a subdued proclamation style, but not delivered as a a song based lyric. To then clarify their chosen approach, the group themselves elaborated on this in a recent interview where they stated: “The title rises from the cosmos inspired by the visionary literature of the 1920s. There are links to G.Meyrink, H.P. Lovecraft, F. Strobl and P. Shou and many other occult authors of this era. Regarding the sound the album it is more electronic and calm than the precursor but there are always references to older sound resources combined with new technology. We even bought the same synthesizer we used during the recordings of the Aldebaran album and somehow the circle is closing again” (Inade interview published via Noise Receptor Journal – Issue No.5, October 2017).

Sonically speaking The Nine Colours of the Threshold spans 9 tracks and 50 minutes length of refined mystic and ritualized soundscapes of the highest order, where meticulous detail has been paid to every element, no matter how minute. While recent material from the group has focused on a grand galactic scaled and mythologically infused sound sculptures, on this new album the feel is of an earth-bound perspective, seeming to articulate the universal spiritual yearning of the human condition in seeking truth and understanding at the abstract edges and limits of human consciousness. The second track Beyond All Thoughts and Entities arrives as being partially recognizable (as if something akin to a half remembered dream), where it transpires it a new studio version of a live track featured in live sets in recent years and known by its working title of Daahr *. To then reference perhaps the most directly song structured piece of the album, this comes on the form of the slow rhythmic beat driven structure and sub-orchestral drones of The Nethermost Chambers of Night, and and although a stunning track in its own right, without a central vocal line, it stops just short of fulfilling the ‘hit’ song role mentioned above. To also reference the groups comments of ‘closing the circle again’, this comes in the form of some some clear nods to earlier works, where the treated deep chanted vocals and drawling foghorns of The Pinions of the Sacred Time hark back to the use of the same elements during the mid to late 1990 period of composition **. The Lost Homeland is another highlight track located at the back of the album, which perfectly blends the now trademark elements of time stretching textures, slow cataclysmic tribal beats, sub-orchestral drones, monolithic foghorns and ominous treated vocals.

Like any long established group, expectation can weigh heavily on any new release, and particularly so when nearly a decade has passed since of the last full length. Yet at the same time Inade have never faltered, regardless of where they have chosen to push and evolve their sound within a ritual/ dark ambient framework. In this context The Nine Colours Of The Threshold is yet another release which absolutely meets expectations, and while there are not any immediate ‘hits’ which automatically stand out, it is a case where the album as a collective whole is more of a subtle slow burner, which reveals more vivid colours and variations the more it is appreciated. Nine years is a long time to wait, perhaps too long, but Inade have rewarded the faithful with another pinnacle addition to their illustrious canon.


* – as featured on the Live At The Maschinenfest 2014 cassette.

** – as featured on the V.I.T.R.I.O.L. 7”ep from 1999, and on the bonus tracks included on the Burning Flesh CD reissue from 2000.

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Anenzephalia ‎– Programmatika

Anenzephalia Programmatika MC Hospital Productions 2017

For whatever reason I did not order this tape immediately upon release, where the limited 200 copies then completely sold out in a matter of days. Given that Anenzephalia are an artist who could easily sell 500+ copies, I then consoled myself with an vague assumption that its limitation implied this collection of outtakes and unreleased material might have not been up to the same standard as other main releases. But in proving that assumption completely wrong it did not take long for word to filter out regarding how great the tape was, and after a bit of searching I managed to obtain the tape at a fair price. In now having had a chance to listen to the tape myself, in my estimation Programmatika features some of the strongest material from the project in years.

Thematically Programmatika uses artwork and samples to cleverly comment on social engineering which seeks an idealistic Utopian future, but juxtaposes this against the creation of a soulless Dystopian nightmare. The tape features 18 listed tracks, which in reality each bleeds into a larger continuous composition. Sonically this perhaps sits towards the slightly more subdued sounds from the project post the year 2000, yet equally there is lots of sonic variety and detailing to maintain attention. According to the liner notes, all sounds were created 1989-2006 and further remastered 2016, however it seems that there are a variety of sonic elements which have been used in different formations on other releases. One of the most obvious of these is the clearly recognizable sample from A Tribute, featured on 1998’s mini LP New World Disorder. During a few select moments Programmatika features heavier industrialized textures, including atonal metallic clanging, swarming analogue distortion and queasy disorientating rhythms, but in the most part the mood is subdued and controlled. Likewise radio chatter and what sounds like German political speech samples occasionally bleed into the mix. Also of particular note, the end of Side B mirrors the first moments of the tape on Side A, while the end of Side A replicates the start of Side B. This functions to effectively create a conceptual ‘infinity loop’ of unchanging stasis, which would seem to represent the perpetual unchanging present without the possibility of a past or a future. To further frame the conceptual commentary, Programmatika is concludes with a deadpan voice repeatedly instructing the listener to “be happy”.

Without doubt I have been extremely surprised by how strong Programmatika is as a complete and focused release, and in no way feels to have been cobbled together from outtakes or throwaway material. As such Programmatika deserves to be heard by more that the few hundred that a 200 copy edition without a digital version allows, so here is hoping that a repress will be issued at some point. Vinyl perhaps?

Nil By Mouth batch reviews

ANTIchildLEAGUE / Cronaca Nera Bruises and Bites MC Nil By Mouth Recordings 2017

ANTIchildLEAGUE (aka the solo project of Gaya Donadio), has teamed up with Cronaca Nera whom I have not come across before. Although it appears they are an Italian project who issued two release back in 2001, which was then followed by a period of 13 years silence before reactivating in 2014, and now seems to be a trio including the involvement of Andrea Chiaravalli (aka Iugula-Thor).

For this collaborative tape Bruises and Bites features sonically fierce power electronics, and at times sounding completely psychologically unhinged based on the veracity of the vocals courtesy of Gaya. The title track opens the tape and complete sets the scene for the entire tape. Featuring saturated fried static, pulsating and grinding noise and aggressive echo and distortion treated vocals, these sonics elements have been cleaved into thick and punishingly loud structures which are pushed to overblown intensity. To then speak of the vocals, these are a standout element, where depending on the track, the voice appears to be barking orders and demands, and set against a secondary voice of variously choking, rasping and crying tones. Although sonically the material is choppy, loose and at times quite chaotic, there is clear compositional focus and intent which is clearly detectable under the more outwardly unhinged sonic elements.

The six distinct tracks span in the order of 30 minutes of music, which is further housed in a faux leather slip-sleeve, with further printed insert and postcards featuring group imagery in an S&M style. Issued in an unknown limitation, this is harsh, hard and high-calibre modern Italian power electronics.


Instinct Primal / Purba Forest Ritual MC Nil By Mouth Recordings 2018

Here is a collaborative release between Instinct Primal (the solo project of Jan Kruml), and Purba who is a Russian musical project focusing and Bon ritual music. Purba in its current form is the solo project of Svyatoslav Ponomarev, but of note is that an earlier incarnation of the group included the membership of Alexei Tegin (from 1996-2001), who is currently recognised as the leader of the Phurpa and who also play ritual music in the Bon tradition. But aside from that point of interest and link to Phurpha, this is a Purba release where evidently Forest Ritual is the first recordings made in 18 years. Musically speaking the material on Forest Ritual, features two lengthy ten-minute tracks and is as archaic as they come, with the basis of the recordings made in October, 2016 in a forest close to Kutna Hora, Czech Republic, which is the town where the infamous Sedlec ‘Bone Church’ is located. The cover then identifies the music is: “featuring snow, wind, trunks, stumps, and rusty nails in an ambient ritual of earth and fire”.

Day Forest Ritual (Part One) Holy Fire sonically features a myriad of field recordings including: frozen winds whipping through trees; creaking branches; footfalls tramping in the snow; and wood chopping for thudding percussive impact. Mid track contains some static noise hum before receding again and making way for throat derived vocal chants which are raw and animalistic in their delivery. The final section has the feel of being a studio treated recording of a roaring fire but elevated to shrill intensity. Night Forest Ritual (Part Two) features yet more forest derived sounds merged into vague ritualistic soundscapes, but here with a more prominent droning framework (again assumed to be the result of post recording studio treatment), and late passage contains a lone ritual drum and low garbled voice.

Definitively organic and ritualized in all aspects of sound and presentation, this is evocative and obscure in the best way possible and sits alongside the more abstract ritual sounds from the Aural Hypnox collective. The packaging also suits the feel of the music perfectly with the tape and multiple inserts with forest and nature imagery wrapped together with stained cheese cloth, twine and wire. At this point of the review, clearly you will know if this is an underground ritual obscurity for you.


Naxal Protocol The Stasi File MC Nil By Mouth Recordings 2015

Being a couple of years old already, I have had this tape for some time but only recently learned that the project is helmed by Piero Stanig of the older Italian experimental noise industrial project Cazzodio. To then highlight differences, with Naxal Protocol ‎the sound is originated towards a controlled heavy electronics style, where two tracks of around ten-minutes each feature on The Stasi File.

Stop And Frisk Induction features first and is a track of ominous cyclic drones with controlled bass driven undercurrent of vague rhythmic elements and buried samples of ill-defined and undecipherable meaning. Tumultus Et Urbanae Seditiones follows on the flip side and is choppier in execution, with rough thick distortion and friend noise hewn into rough looped structures, with occasionally detective crime interview dialogue samples, but mid paced and controlled overall. Mid track the loops elevate in intensity to more direct impact, before receding again into the final section.

All in all this is an enjoyable albeit short release, where the special packaging of a ‘top secret’ envelope with various printed inserts addressing societal control via police/ government/ military force is a nice touch (and limited to a 130 copies).


 

Ausströmen – Immobilise

Ausströmen – Immobilise CDr Faktion 2018

Ausströmen is a name I recognised from somewhere, which was then revealed to be due to the inclusion of their track Pornography Of Violence on Tesco Organisation’s lavish 4xLP compilation boxset Projekt Neue Ordnung II from 2017. That track is also featured here on along with another nine tracks, and with a total run time of 45 minutes it provides an indication of the compact nature of featured material.

Sonically speaking Ausströmen’s debut Immobilise is of an industrial and power electronics style with a thick bass driven approach, where the production of is clean, sharp and loud, while the sharper textures are mid-toned rather than higher pitched. Musically the ten tracks are clearly composed and of a definite song style based on programmed beats and structured layering of hostile pulsing textures, fizzing tones, and rupturing electronics. At times the approach leans towards a heavy rhythmic industrial sound, such as is displayed on Slow Burn, Pornography Of Violence and Dead Machine, yet at the same time it stops well short of being dance-floor focused or oriented. Male vocals are also present, but partially buried in the mix and deviating from apathetic spoken passages to partial proclamations. Perhaps the less rhythmic and more sonically abstract tracks as Voyeur, Faktion, Keppra, Glass appeal more to my own personal preferences, yet there is still both variation and sonic coherence displayed across the album as a whole.  The concluding track Solar Decay is also of note, based on its militantly maudlin approach of plodding rhythmic beat and deep moody drones. Given the honed, clean and at times clinical production, I would perhaps surmise that there is a degree of influence from the Galaktorro label (and particularly mid to late era Haus Arafna), and if this comparison is in fact incorrect on my part, it does at least serve to indicate where Ausströmen’s approach sits within an underground context.

To speak of chosen format, usually I avoid CDr releases like the plague, due to the bad taste left from the slapdash approach to the format within the underground during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Thankfully this is not the case here, where the lavish slider box with silver foil blocked/ embossed logo houses a pro-printed disc in a black clam-shell, along with an 8 page booklet and individual Polaroid photo. Sonically and visually Ausströmen have delivered a strong debut, but with the original limited edition of 50 copies already sold out, it would seem logical and sensible for a less limited repress to be issued.

Alberich / Lussuria  ‎– Borgia

Alberich / Lussuria  Borgia LP Hospital Productions 2018

Here we have a reissue of a 2016 collaborative tape between Alberich and Lussira, which according to the liner notes was: “recorded live to tape using Korg Digital Synthesizers”.  With this release then being billed as ‘dark ambient’ it should be relatively clear that Lussuria has had a greater influence over the sound, particularly as what is offered differs substantially from the recognized driving and rhythmic industrial meets heavy/ power electronics sound of Alberich. However at the same time the sound is a fair bit more animated and digital in tone when compare the usual abstract approach and timeless quality which is characteristic of Lussuria.

Album opener Continuum features tensile but melancholic dark ambient styled atmospheres, while the following cut Antechamber amalgamates cyclic drones and washes of crumbling distortion which refract and fold in on themselves. Anti-Renaissance stands out in that pushes towards something resembling an Alberich rhythmic approach, yet here is remains muted in execution and backed with distant and cavernous squalling noise. Untenable is also noteworthy based on its incorporation of smatterings of sparse tribal-esque percussive textures within a maudlin power-drone framework. Alabaster is another offering which appears to be more strongly driven by Alberich’s influence given the programmed driving rhythm and melancholic synth elements, but they still remain understated in the overall sonic framework. For the final track Voice Of The Dagger it is an animated piece which features an excellent blend of sub-orchestral drones, micro-tonal metallic textures and rhythmic throbbing undercurrent.

Although being billed as ‘dark ambient’, Borgia is varied in both approach and resulting atmosphere and maintains a strong sense of animated movement throughout. Although differing quite significantly from the typical approach of either project, both have a clear appreciation of the use of melancholic elements within an experimental dark ambient framework, meaning Borgia is a very enjoyable collaborative release. An edition of 500 copies (200 in purple and 300 in black vinyl) will likely serve demand, but won’t hang around long either.

Alberich – Precursor

Alberich – Precursor MC Hospital Productions 2018

Kris Lapke has been issuing material under the Alberich moniker since 2005 and has amassed 18 releases in that time. But with many of those being issued on cassettes and in small runs, it has made it rather difficult to keep track of Alberich’s output, which in turn has created an elusive aura around the project. However, 2014’s 2xLP reissue of the 8xMC NATO-Uniformen (in a larger edition of 700 copies), functioned to raise greater awareness of the project and showcased the distinct blend of rhythmic industrial arrangements and controlled heavy/ power electronics atmospheres. While Precursor is technically the latest release, in actual fact it is a live recording from 2017, where the title should then perhaps be read as a statement given it has been issued prior to the upcoming and anticipated new full length Quantized Angel.

With Precursor being a live recording, as might be expected it plays out as a singular interconnected 35 minute piece which moves through a series distinct tracks and passages. In the process it then delivers all of the recognized and lauded elements of the project’s style, including: the driving rhythmic industrial beats, the pounding techno-esque movements; minor keyed melancholic synth washes; and sporadic but heavily treated vocals. In fact there are some massive artillery grade and explosively pounding beats on display here, with the melancholy synth washes offsetting those by providing an otherworldly tone.

Being expertly crafted and controlled in its delivery, on face value the recording does not at all sound to be a live recording, so I gather it has been made directly from the soundboard due to the clarity and volume of the sonics. Likewise, with is relatively short run time and brisk pacing of material the tape breezes by and concludes all too quickly, leaving a distinct sense of wanting more – a lot more in fact. So, here’s hoping that such demands will be duly sated by the upcoming full length – which is then pretty much guaranteed given it seems this live set features live versions of various new tracks. In the meantime this is a rather worthy tape to track down, issued in an edition of 300 copies.

Stromstad ‎– New Devoted Human

Stromstad New Devoted Human LP Malignant Records 2017

This debut release from Stromstad is revealed to be collaborative album between the Finnish duo STROM.ec and Norwegian Kristoffer Oustad – and what a debut it is. With STROM.ec being recognized for a highly refined blend of industrial and heavy electronics and with Kristoffer Oustad inhabiting an evocative industrial smeared dark ambient sound, the creative collaboration between the two was always going to be an interesting one. Yet the creativity and flair on display completely exceeds any initial expectations.

Noting that each of the eight tracks are relatively confined (between three and six minutes each), this functions to generate a sense of urgency across the album, where its shifting and morphing elements draw from abrasive mechanical programming, controlled noise, lush sub-orchestral pads and gruff processed vocals. As an example, the fizzing/ buzzing looped static of the album opener Inherent Resurrection soon gives way to rolling tribal percussion and rough yelled vocals (clearly recognisable as those of STROM.ec), and functions very much as a statement of intent of what is explored over the balance of the album. Fever Wave Dream Function quickly following with woozy drones and off-kilter metallic clatter, shimmering synths and all underscored with a throbbing programmed element which leaps into heavily rhythmic section late in the track. The central buzzing tonality and stilted mechanical textures drives Blood Consciousness and when coupled with the gruff, slightly treated vocals is perhaps the piece most comparable to a straight STROM.ec composition.  The sub-orchestral strains of Nattsvermer constitutes the first effective respite of the album, being a semi-melodious cinematic drone-scape which reminds of mid era raison detre (and particularly so where some distant choir textures are used). In a somewhat unexpected guest contribution, Grutle Kjellson from Enslaved provides vocals on Reluctant Traveler, another track of stilted mechanical rhythms and buzzing fissures of static mixed with moody orchestral textures, while Gruttle’s vocals range from spoken, guttural chants and urgent yells (a late track guitar gives a partial nod to the current prog metal direction of Enslaved). The title track is positioned towards the album’s ends is in some ways the most straight forward with rapid fire looped beat, tempered static and vocals relegated to the middle of the mix, but in the later half it veers off into moody sub-orchestral territory, while the final album track Kosto then deviates the most, with a synth derived neo-classical piece of moody swelling strings, and with a definite modern sci-fi edge to the sound.

Not being an overly long album, all the same it delivers a heavy impact across its multiple creative arcs, and which consequently makes it feel to be a much longer album than its actual run-time. While New Devoted Human could be said to be of the genres it draws from, at the same time it steps well beyond them given its inspired use and application of such influences. Effectively the album excels by the fact of how vital the finished result sounds, and in the process generates new creative ways of approaching recognizable genre sound elements. Issued on vinyl in gate-fold sleeve, CD or digital formats, it is simply a matter of taking your pick of preferred format. But as a word of advice, do not let this album pass you by.