Puce Mary ‎– The Drought

Puce Mary The Drought LP Pan 2019

Already three years since the release of the excellent album The Spiral (reviewed here), Frederikke Hoffmeier’s new Puce Mary album has finally been released. Although technically speaking the digital version of the album was available in October, 2018, the physical vinyl version was plagued by delays and was not released until April, 2019. While not being entirely clear as the to the reason for the delay, it has been absolutely worth the wait to have this on vinyl.

In building upon the template of the last album, The Drought is another standout and a joy to behold the meticulously way in which Frederikke approaches noise as a compositional element to generate building tension. Each track is distinct in stylistic character, where sound elements are constructed for maximum impact, including sustained noise which becomes to resemble shrill orchestral strings, while grinding bass loops and abstracted monolithic thuds provide vague rhythmic structures. Compositions are carefully layered to ratchet up tension, such as is expertly displayed on A Feast Before The Drought which runs a knife’s edge through to an explosive crescendo. To Possess Is To Be In Control charts slightly new territory by commencing with an almost modern classical tone and confessional spoken vocals, but soon enough the sound veers off into a tensile high calibre industrial track. A similar nod to an experimental modern classical tone extends through the middle and back half of the album, covering tracks such as Red Desert, Coagulate, The Size of Our Desire and The Transformation, where synth elements given the impression of shrill orchestral strings. But even with these shrilly melodious semi-orchestral moments, the compositions do not forgo scattered micro-tonal noise and pummelling industrial elements. Likewise, the mid paced throb and sweeping distortion of Fragments Of A Lily has an undeniable fist pumping quality, and the album concludes with Slouching Uphill, another expertly executed track of elevating tension and subsequent emotive release.

As an artist Frederikke Hoffmeier displays absolute mastery of her craft, and in the process has developed a sound which is immediately recognizable and wholly her own. Building on what has come before, but also pushing her sound yet further into uncharted territory makes for another stunning and absolutely mandatory album.

 

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Feberdröm – Blind Eden / Offerlammet

Feberdröm – Blind Eden MC Emesis 2018

Feberdröm – Offerlammet MC Emesis 2018

The Swedish project Feberdröm (translating to ‘fever-dream’) have been lurking around in the post-industrial underground since 2011 and amassed fifteen releases in that time (mostly issued on cassette). Emesis is then noted to be run by the same person behind Feberdröm, with these two tapes being the first items issued on the label. On the musical front Feberdröm are slightly difficult to classify, given they draw from a wide cross-section of underground sounds, including: industrial noise, abstracted rhythmic/ ritual movements, caustic heavy electronics, experimental guitar drone and other more ethereal atmospheres. But perhaps a descriptor of ‘abrasive ambient’ is a suitable catch all.

Blind Eden is then characteristic of this wide stylistic palette, where the track Blind Eden Falls is a particularly good example of moody droning atmospheres, abrasive textures and agonized ranted vocals. Likewise, the stilled rhythmic elements as featured on Death Of A Snake warrants a fleeting comparison to another Swedish project Stratvm Terror. Incinerators opens side B and mines a heavy electronics tone, as does the grindingly morose Concrete Apocalypse, while The Deed is Done rounds out the tape with sub-orchestral synth pads and a generally ethereal mood. On a whole Offerlammet is slightly less varied than Blind Eden, although there are abstract noise-scapes sitting adjacent to other tracks of programmed drums and atonal guitar drone. In fact Offerlammet is characterized by its greater reliance on guitar which is wielded in an experimental fashion than anything resembling standard playing, therefore resembles a doom-drones style at times – albeit without obvious riffs.

Given both tapes feature eight tracks each and both span 40 minutes, as a general comment I would say there are some excellent tracks which sit alongside more standard or typical ones. Thus perhaps then with a more focused and discerning track selection, it would take the material in a step up towards greatness. But even with that said, there is a lot to enjoy here and certainly nothing that it poor or woeful. Also for my own personal preferences, I find tracks which use abstracted guitars to be less engaging overall, which makes Blind Eden my pick of these two tapes. In noting the above, I imagine Feberdröm are a project to keep a watchful eye on.

Zyklon SS – Racial Superiority

Zyklon SS – Racial Superiority LP Viva Angel Press 2019

After numerous releases since the debut cassette in 2014 (including: various tapes + CD reissues, a further live CD, a DVD, 7”ep and 10” ep), Racial Superiority is billed as the formal debut album from the project. To then make mention of the ZSS’s previously self-described ‘war against moral remediation’, the fact this is issued on a label from China functions to up the stakes and amplify the confusion around what is the actual meaning and message of the project, particularly when taken context of its title. This situation is then further reinforced by the statement on the back cover which notes: ‘wielded in faith, illusion is the ultimate weapon’.

From the liner notes, the material which forms the eight tracks of the album were recorded and assembled over ten years spanning 2008 to 2018, which technically speaking the earlier years predate the first release from the project. But sonically this sit squarely within the ongoing evolution of the project’s sound, where it displays a further reduction of the raw noise and increase of the structured and brooding industrial elements. Thus with the incessantly oscillating noise and slowly grinding loops, the prevalent atmosphere of this album is one of laboured and morose stasis, and quite noticeably only five tracks featuring the morbid toned phaser/ flanged vocals.

On Side A, the admittedly excellent vocals are sparing used and only feature on one track, given two tracks are instrumental, while a fourth Ascension Cycle then utilises a prominent looped sample of the Lord’s Prayer atop cavernous rumbling loops and ominous industrial soundscape backing. Given the use of controlled restraint, it is not until the end of Side B when the mood shifts towards blood boiling intensity, with the final two tracks providing suitable tension release. We Belong To The Lord  brings the goods with a mid-paced waivering drone and ominously pounding beat, as the brutal and antagonistic processed vocals rip through the centre of the mix. Bullets Of Flesh rounds out the album a steps up another notch with a forceful and militant beat, and incessant industrial drones, while the phaser treated vocals generate a clear anthemic quality.

In a general sense the atmosphere feels perhaps overly subdued on initial listens, but on repeated listens gives ways to a mood of controlled tension created through careful restraint. But when played at suitably high volume the massively seething bass layers add a solid sonic punch. Thematically the album appears to be mostly focused on religion, belief and fanaticism, while the overall mood and feel of the album draws a clear parallel to Genocide Organ’s The Truth Will Make Your Free album from 1999, which itself was a clear exercise in control and restraint, as is mirrored here. Limited to only 100 copies, this was promptly sold out, so will no doubt be highly sought after, but don’t despair as it would seem that a CD reissue on Freak Animal is already planned.

 

 

 

Institution D.O.L. – Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World

Institution D.O.L. – Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World CD TORM Ent. 2019

Three years on from 2016’s Exzess (reviewed here), Institution D.O.L. have returned with a new album and which features a title previously utilised as a manifesto tag line on the last release. To then mention some early pre-release promotion, I remember reading that this would be the final album from the project, but I am also not sure on the current validity of that statement. But onward with the review.

In wasting no time, Invocation blasts forth from the speakers with loud and digitally crisp industrial textures, which are counterpointed by (sampled?) religious choirs and chants and dour organ melody. Throbbing oscillations then characterizes We Are The Black Ones, mixed with a decent dose of echo and raw junk metal crunch and shattering glass, while processed vocals and samples of crowd riots and gunfire ratchet up tension. Structured around mechanized loops and sharp spitting textures You Are All Lost, these tones bleed into the following Abschlachtung, but which is differentiated by deep melancholic sub-orchestral synth pads which underscores the majority of the track. Absolute Hell delivers more heady power electronics, which sonically spans the both rough and clean sonic textures, yet the latter half deviates completely though the use of a tragic toned piano line, which is offset with an evangelical preacher sample. In Dust and Death is by far the most rhythmic track on offer, but it is of a crude and simplistic style and not at all of a dance floor ‘rhythmic industrial’ type, while the title track rounds out the album and is the longest offering by far at twelve minutes. The first segment features brooding overblown noise and cavernous echo, but by the two minute mark the piece opens out into widescreen cinematic tones synths and from the five minute mark shifts to a beautifully melancholic piano melody which extends through to the end of the album (with only subtle noise sweeping and panning in the background). Perhaps the only slight drawback of this track are the vocals, where the emotional overwrought style of delivery detracts from the overall mood, although I am clearly missing the meaning of the words as they are being spoken in Austrian.

As with earlier albums the production sound is top notch but at only 37 minutes this is a very short and to the point album. But even so, it crams a wide variety of styles and sounds into the mix, while still managing to sound as a cohesive whole. Certainly being a solid album, if you have liked prior output of Institution D.O.L, you would no-doubt like this.

Code Neda – Tomorrow Double The Body Count

Code Neda – Tomorrow Double The Body Count MC Unrest Productions 2018

For context, Code Neda’s debut tape from 2017 can be broadly bracketed under a death industrial sound tinged with ritual heavy electronics (reviewed here). However, on this follow up it features a more direct heavy electronics sound, where ten track make up an album length tape.

The streamlined approach is immediately evident when the opening track The Devil and the Child bursts forth from the speakers with grinding bass emissions, sweeping static and heavily processed/ morbidity toned vocal proclamations. System is another display of honed simplicity, with a central mechanised ‘beat’, blended with layered bass pulsations and again with the treated vocals. In its maintenance of a strikingly direct  heavy electronics approach, sonic variation is delivered with air-raid sirens (Europe Was Lost), corkscrew spiralling drones (Jackie Duddy), subdued power-electronics menace (Confession) and fast-paced rhythmic pulsations (Blood On Your Hands), while the tape concludes with the subdued Bloody Ritual with is stilted and repetitive loops and morbid vocalisations.

Clearly Unrest Productions is pretty much a perfect label for material of this fare, and while clearly working within the broader parameters of its chosen genre, Code Neda has demonstrated a wealth of ideas and skill of sonic execution which makes for a excellently honed heavy electronics release. Pro-printed tape and cover round and the physical packaging. You know what to do.

Graustich – Morality Ends

Graustich – Morality Ends LP Tordon Ljud 2018

As an introductory comment, I must admit this album was very much a slow burner for me. After I tracked down a copy of this debut album from this obscure and anonymous project, I gave it a few spins and thought it to be a quite OK example of German toned heavy electronics, but then promptly forgot about it with a mountain of other new material to listen to. In fast forwarding a few months I then kept seeing people online singing its praise as one of the best albums of 2018, which raised my interest me revisit and reevaluate, which I am really glad I did as this is a truly excellent release.

To speak broadly of its sound, Morality Ends is built around molasses thick bass structures, which in slow laborious loops forms the broader sonic approach. Yet subtle variation in both structure, sonic intensity and sampling maintains interest across the album’s eight tracks. Gralsritter opens the album in relatively subdued bass toned loops, prior to the real action commencing with Let the Guns Begin, which steps up with squall and static and a number of nationalistic styled samples through the later half. Our Justice reminds of a particular windswept heavy electronics sound prevalent German project in the early 1990’s (think early Predominance sans keyboard melodies), while Greensboring is a complete standout by virtue of it its pulsing bass, mechanized metallic loops, short wave radio static, ominous programmed beat and semi-buried crowd and dialogue samples (which I am assuming relates to a 1979 incident in Greensboro, North Carolina when five members of the Communist Workers Party who were participating in a ‘Death to the Klan’ rally were shot to death by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis).

Side B presents a further four quality tracks, with Puppet of Masters being another standout cut framed around a militant thudding beat, orchestral styled drone, building washes of distortion, and yet more semi-buried samples. To then make reference to the variety of chosen samples, a number of these begin to paint a vague conceptual framework which focuses on the racial divide which underscores American society both past and present, but like any good underground post-industrial music, the use of such samples raises clear questions about meaning, message and intent. Drilled to Kill is one of the most animated pieces of the album, and while it stops short of being blood boiling it is certainly amped up compared to other tracks given its grinding loops and fast paced pulsing structures. This mood continues with the faced paced panning between speakers on Church of Death, which creates a very disorienting effect, while Noble Hate closes out the album with vigorous layered loops, mid-toned static and prominent current affairs sampling addressing the KKK and the White Power movement.

Given I am now singing the praise of Morality Ends, credit needs to be given to those individuals who highlighted on social media platforms as being an excellent release, as otherwise the LP would have been relegated to a semi-forgotten release on my shelves. Ultimately, I think my initial impression was perhaps more of a case of sonic fatigue at the time, yet in the re-listening Morality Ends clearly benefits substantially form significant volume in order to bring the deeper semi-buried elements to the foreground. As for the physical presentation, a no frills black and white cover rounds out a very solid release.

Am Not – Incursions

Am Not – Incursions MC Zaetraom 2018

Tamon Miyakita’s project Am Not is very much a current ‘leading light’ in the underground. With a sound built upon an established bedrock of the post-industrial scene, Am Not have also developed a highly recognisable approach within a heavy electronics/ power electronics/ noise industrial style. In then noting that the key releases from the project being able to be counted on a single hand, Am Not’s discography is already extremely focused, meaning the project is yet to disappoint. This new release continues this established modus operandi, and pleasingly contains an album’s length of new material (approx. 40 minutes).

The tape opens with the track Into Hostile Space and features an archival sample of George Bush Jnr, which in today’s context is far more interesting given the current US political climate. Musically speaking it features all the hallmarks of the best elements of project, where roughly hewn metallic tones are offset against crushing loud and sonically thick loops and mid-toned tensile drones, as the heavily process vocal barrage rounds out a storming opening track. But in moving away from a now recognisable sound Am Not, Incursions is noteworthy for its willingness to experiment and push into uncharted territory. Once such example is Feindes Land with its initial blending of neo-classical and dialogue sampling, which quickly gives way to a swaying, electronica tinged industrial track, completed with spoken vocals courtesy of Hermann Kopp. As for another significantly deviating track, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet could perhaps be playfully described as an unnamed Soviet era project trying to emulate Kraftwerk! Continental Drift III is also sonically differentiated from the rest by the fact of how subdued it is, and is framed around deep sub-orchestral drones, passive echo treated junk metal sounds and spoken Russian female vocals. Elsewhere a perhaps more ‘typical’ highly composed power/heavy electronics sound of the project is employed (i.e. top notch), but one striking example is Irruption where the rabidly intense vocals are immediately recognisable as that of S.T.A.B. Electronics.

Thematically speaking prominent dialogue samples are strongly represented, while guest vocals are employed and feature on a number tracks, where I was later informed that Tamon’s (English) lyrics on the opening track are repeated in different languages on three other tracks (including: German, Gaelic, and Russian), thereby subverting its meaning and message from a singular perspective. Thus, apart from the outstanding strength of the music featured on Incursions, part of the enjoyment of engaging with a release such as this is carefully listening, picking apart and interpreting both samples and lyrics (where detectable). To that end at a most simplistic level the thematic preoccupations of Incursions could be interpreted as a multifaceted analysis of nationhood, identity, sovereignty and associated political influence in a globalised context which has emerged following the Cold War (but as always there are likely to be elements I have perhaps either misinterpreted or otherwise completely missed). Seemingly not short on sonic or conceptual ideas, Am Not are going from strength to strength, where Incursions is yet another mandatory release.