Silence Of Vacuum ‎– 6: The Rubberist

Silence Of Vacuum ‎– 6: The Rubberist MC Institute Of Paraphilia Studies ‎2020

For those unaware, Silence Of Vacuum is a side project of Mikko Aspa focusing on the specific theme of rubber fetishists, articulating this through visuals and sound.

As per the title this is the sixth in the series and features two untitled 10-minute tracks. Each of the tracks is based around laboriously grinding and seething layers of mid-toned droning distortion which is equally muted and minimalist. Clearly there is a muffled and ‘suffocating’ aspect to the atmosphere which aligns with the theme perfectly; there is limited sonic movement or tonal change displayed over the 20-minute run time.

As for the presentation, the tape is housed in an oversized black plastic box with a 20-page full colour booklet of vintage rubber fetishist imagery. Between the sound and the visuals, you can almost smell the latex, talcum powder, and sweat.

Streicher ‎– Genius Of Victory

Streicher ‎– Genius Of Victory LP ASRAR 2020

ASRAR’s vinyl reissue campaign of early Streicher material continues, with this being the third LP following Annihilism and Hammerskins. Although Genius Of Victory technically constitutes a new title within the Streicher discography, in actuality it is a compilation collection of three impossible to find early 1990s tapes, including Der Stürmer, Gnadelos, and Oi Terroristen.

Der Stürmer opens the album and is a track demonstrating the basic essence of industrial noise, being framed around coarse monotones and sustained synth static and crumbling textures. Streicher Skins follows with a more militaristic approach that very much embodies the self-described ‘tactical electronics’ descriptor, with upfront incessantly oscillating tones paired with a looser undercurrent of semi-rhythmic metallic loops. Des Stürmers Kampf differs through its use of a sampled orchestral nationalist militaristic song, before diverging into a bulldozing track of interweaving and pulsing bass tones and sampled crowd chanting; again, simplicity and directness is the order of the day and absolutely succeeds with the end result. Side B brings a further three tracks, where Purimfest 1946 stands out with its high-pitched needling texture offset against a lower-end idling machine tone and further crowd chanting, while the latter half of the track arcs back to another sampled orchestral nationalist militaristic song. While the crude and basic sonics of Boot Party retains the consistent ‘tactical electronics’ approach, this is coupled with the trademark gruff ‘skinhead thug’-style vocals of Ulex that makes Streicher so immediately recognisable. This approach also follows on final track Skragkraft,but is more sonically consistent with Streicher Skins given its framing around invasive high-pitched modulating tones against a shifting tide-scrabbling lower bass static, while Ulex spits gravelly vocals referencing “skinhead survival”.

Given the focus of the featured tracks, there is a singularity of approach which provides a surprising directness and immediacy that hangs together excellently as a standalone full length, rather than potentially being a disjointed compilation collection. The white vinyl pressing is of a thick 180g weight, as is the chosen card stock of the cover; this and a double-sided insert including reproductions of the original cassette artwork does this release suitable justice.

Sadio – Copycat Killer

Sadio – Copycat Killer MC Freak Animal Records 2020

When I first noted the title of this new Sadio release, it did not immediately click that it was a clever reference to the fact that this tape consists of cover tracks of the following legendary power electronics projects: Final Solution, Con-Dom, Intrinsic Action, Whitehouse, Grey Wolves, Atrax Morgue, Genocide Organ, and Taint. As Sadio is concerned with a sound and themes slanted towards the nastier end of power electronics, the chosen selection very much reflects this.

With the wide scope of sound of projects covered herein, it is noteworthy that the covers are faithful to the originals, and clearly recognisable as specific cover songs. Yet they also contain the particular sonic hallmarks of Sadio material; in this context the Finnish accent on the vocals certainly gives these covers a distinct Sadio slant. To talk specifics, the driving noise, backing loops, slow pounding beat, and ranted vocals of the cover of Con-Dom’s Moor Rapist hits its mark perfectly, while the covers of a Sutcliffe Jugend (Right to Kill) Whitehouse track (Tit Pulp) elevate the harsh needling and higher range ‘whistling’ sonics of the originals. Elsewhere the shuddering and crumbling loops of the cover of Grey Wolves’ Dominate Her features an aquatic squelch coupled with excellent heavily processed vocals. The cover of Dogday by Genocide Organ equally hits its mark with its militant bulldozing distortion and urgent and angst-filled vocals that are themselves heavily processed.

In the hands of lesser acts this sort of cover album concept would likely have fallen flat in hitting its intended mark. But in the hands of Sadio, it is completely successful in terms of concept, its varied track selection, and its final sonic execution. The packaging is a simple black and white J-card, featuring hand-scrawled text from a letter of David Richard Berkowitz aka Son of Sam (the text relating to the Genocide Organ track Dogday), and sketches by the lesser known suspected serial killer G.J. Schaefer (as documented in the long out of print book Killer Fiction).

Grunt – Spiritual Eugenics

Grunt – Spiritual Eugenics 2CD Freak Animal Records 2020

Following 2009’s sprawling album Petturien Rooli, Grunt slightly reoriented their approach to issue a series of albums based on distinct and individual tracks, including World Draped In A Camouflage (2012), Myth Of Blood (2015), and Castrate the Illusionist (2018). Spiritual Eugenics continues that approach, yet the number of tracks has increased to a length which here spans two 40-minute discs. Interestingly the CD cover lists the 20 tracks in four groups of five tracks, which replicates the track order as presented over the four sides of the 2xLP edition. Given that all tracks could have potentially been squeezed onto the one CD, this speaks volumes about the chosen physical presentation and the way the listener is expected to engage with the presented material.

In taking in the substantial volume of material here, Mikko Aspa yet again demonstrates beyond all question that he is a master craftsman when it comes to the production of power electronics, noise, and industrial-related material. Across the tracks the sound palette is forever varied, and despite its outwardly aggressive and angst-fuelled atmosphere, there are moments of more experimental and sonically spacious respite. Clearly every sonic element is focused and considered, and composition is key here. While base sonics may have been derived from various separate improvisational recording sessions, it is clear they have been specifically selected and combined to gain the end result. As perhaps expected, a myriad of sonics are presented including blustering bass tones, scrap metal abuse, granular noise, morse code distortion, wavering oscillations, looped metallic rhythms, and smattering of samples. The vocals are equally varied in sound treatment and delivery, ranging from deep bellows to angst-fuelled cries.

Lubricant Of The Rebirth stands out with its central conveyor belt loop, further fleshed out with thick droning bass, choir samples, and angst-ridden vocals. The instrumental Tehotuotettu Ihminenis notable for its hollowed-out sound which nudges Grunt’s sound towards the experimental end. Another instrumental track JOB 36:33 blends almost organ-like melodious drones with spitting static and clashing metallic noise, which can be considered in the context of the relevant bible quote: ‘The thunder announces his presence; the storm announces his indignant anger’. The opening track on second disc Inside the Walls is an excellent anxiety-inducing offering, framed around screeching metallic textures, raw junk metal tones, sustained bass drones, and aggressively spat vocals. For yet more variation the slow off-kilter loop of Eight O’Clock has a quite traditional European power electronics tone, with vocals and other flanged elements pushed into the background. Flesh Engine is also notable for its squelched idling loop, general scrap metal clatter, and unhinged shrieking vocals. Immeasurable also stands out by virtue of its fast-paced pulsing undercurrent, over which more unhinged noise is smeared.

To briefly mention the equally stunning physical presentation, this features a multi-panel digipack (including separate eight-panel booklet), pressed into thick matt card stock and containing various collages and artworks, which although uncredited are also from the hands of Mikko Aspa. Spiritual Eugenics is yet another excellent and mandatory album from Grunt, which is also available in a 2LP vinyl edition.

SZNUR – SZNUR

SZNUR – SZNUR MLP Tesco Organisation 2021

SZNUR are a new signing to Tesco Organisation, with whom I am not previously familiar, but they appear to be a Polish duo. Two untitled tracks feature, totalling just shy of 30 minutes of controlled power electronics with smatterings of harsher noise.

Setting the scene with a lengthy poetic monologue on the ills of post-industrial modernity, soon a thick yet clean atonal synth drone/pulse emerges. Soon, angst-filled noise and echoed treated vocals appear, but keeping a general sparseness and separation to the sonics, which remain a hallmark throughout. With the lengthy format the track shifts off into a further segment of slow and brooding echoed synth stabs, while the dual attack vocals are given a distinct sonic treatment (and seem to give a nod to the early works of IRM or Iron Justice). The final segment of the first track coalesces around a slow beat and controlled wavering distortion, again with the impressive dual vocal approach. Side B sticks with the established format and approach, but ups the general anxiety and aggression, where the backing loops have been elevated in pace and intensity against which the dual vocals are bellowed, while brooding synth lines and further higher-pitched harsh ‘whistling’ noise are added for good measure.

Clearly this MLP fits within its chosen style yet contains ample ideas and an individual sonic character, so as not to sound derivative or a pastiche of the works of others. As a debut this is an impressive release and it is quite obvious why Tesco have chosen to release it. A project to watch with interest.

 

Genocide Organ ‎– Juhayman Al-Utaybi

Genocide Organ ‎– Juhayman Al-Utaybi 7” EP Tesco Organisation 2020

With 32 years of activity and counting, Genocide Organ forge ever forwards without slowing down or altering their uncompromising approach. Juhayman Al-Utaybi is the third 7” EP in a more recent series that focuses on various expressions of religious extremism. Specifically, this release focuses on the armed civilian insurgent occupation of the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia over the course of 14 days in November and December 1979, where Juhayman al-Otaybi led a group of approximately 500 men. Ultimately, the takeover was not successful. Al-Otaybi and 67 of his fellow insurgents who survived were captured and later beheaded.

Bid’Ah takes up Side A, and delivers thick overblown bass rhythmic pulse, mid-toned maudlin wavering drone, and other crumbling distorted textures, yet it remains controlled overall. A preacher’s call and chanted crowd response draws the focus during the first section, while later the heavily-treated spoken vocals and dialogue samples further flesh out the theme. Wilayat Al-Faqih on Side B ups the aggression a few notches towards blood-boiling intensity, with the drones being more urgent and the static elements fizzing and incessant. Again, the vocals are heavily processed, rendered all but indecipherable, while other sampled speeches are buried in the background.

With one track brooding and controlled in execution (Side A), and the other elevating to more intense territory (Side B), both compositions are direct and to the point, relying on relatively simple and straightforward elements, but shaped and sonically framed for maximum impact. In essence, Genocide Organ again nail their long-established sound perfectly and seemingly with the utmost ease. Recommended.

Young Hustlers – Hiding In The Open

Young Hustlers – Hiding In The Open LP Skuggsidan 2020

A number of years in the making, this debut full length from the Swedish Young Hustlers has finally been released following the debut cassette Encaged in 2016. Upon further investigation, the recordings for Hiding In The Open were made between 2017–2019; four of the album’s nine tracks were previously released, two tracks from the 2017 split tape with Alfarmania and two from Styggelse’s 2018 compilation tape Stadsbranden 3.

Before the needle drops into the LP’s groove, an aura of decayed urban settings and associated angst and malaise is immediately evident from the chosen images and graphic presentation. Then, when the sound breaks forth from the speakers it is an immediate metaphorical switchblade held to the throat. Simple structures of queasy oscillations, bulldozing distortion, buzzing static, sustained corrosive noise, and ripping heavily-treated vocals constitutes the general approach. Accordingly, this roots the album in a classic, aggressive, and certainly no-frills European-toned power electronics attack (self-described as ‘Hustler Electronics – Urban Decay’). Yet, the fact that the material spans various recording sessions functions to substantially widen out the sonics, which may have risked becoming one-dimensional if all material was recorded during the same recording session with the same studio and equipment settings. This provides for positive variation in what is ultimately quite a direct and straightforward approach, where the visceral nature of the sonic aggression is reminiscent of the white-knuckled rage and antagonism of early Grey Wolves material – which is no doubt high praise to give.

Honed and more direct than the debut tape, Hiding In The Open is an album that fully delivers on the promise demonstrated on Encaged. When a no-frills and to-the-point album is executed with such fierce conviction and aggression, it results in an absolutely fantastic release.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shredded Nerve – Acts of Betrayal

Shredded Nerve – Acts of Betrayal CD Chondritic Sound 2020

Shredded Nerve is an American project of Justin Lakes who has issued a slew of releases since the early 2010s. Having not kept up with this output that now spans around 30 releases, I have to take Acts of Betrayal at face value, rather than how it may compare to or has evolved from other releases.

Although an instrumental experimental noise album at its core, Acts of Betrayal covers a wide variety of stylistic elements across its seven tracks and hour length, including jagged noise, caustic drone, scrap metal-infused industrial, and power electronics bluster. The lengthy opener Coup D’Etat is demonstrative of this, with a slow-moving yet tensile drone ambience which gradually elevates with hollow scrap metal sounds and a rising tide of crisp distortion. Flowing immediately into following track Dragged Through The Mud, the manipulated scrap metal tones are brought to the fore to create significant sonic heft, sitting in the mid to higher tonal range. Given its 15-minute length, Meridian takes ample time to unfold from the early passage of electroacoustic minimalism, but builds to a monolithic maelstrom of multilayered noise of roaring jet engine proportions. Following the hefty peaks of this track, a couple of more subdued and controlled tracks feature (Fate Deciding Life and Death and Times of Grief), which can be broadly bracketed under the descriptor ‘industrial noise meets electroacoustic experimentation’. As for the title track, it gradually increases in intensity, although a series of slowly elevating industrial-toned corkscrew loops with raw and shredding noise is added for good measure towards the track’s end. Divergent Paths features scrabbling scrap metal sonics and dour underpinning synth, plus a tone of power electronics bluster. Final track Nights Of Endless Fire spans electro-acoustic soundscapes and tensile drones, but through the last half features one final rising tide of scrap metal sonics and harsh noise chaos.

For me personally, it is the slower and more sonically spacious moments of the album that work best, but that observation says far more regarding my own listening preferences: noise heads would clearly revel in the moments that build to maelstroms of cascading sonics. But with moments swaying from those of a jagged and harsh tonality, through to segments of controlled and contemplative experimental noise atmospherics, it demonstrates both craft and attention to detail. A strong and commendable album is the result, with the CD housed in a high gloss, four-panel, colour digipack.

Contrastate – The Illusion of Power

Contrastate – The Illusion Of Power CD Old Europa Café 2020

The Illusion Of Power comes eight long years after the last Contrastate album in 2012, A Breeding Ground For Flies (while 2016 saw the release of No Eden Without Annihilation, that is effectively a live collection and considered to be a ‘sister album’ to A Breeding Ground For Flies). So, given full-length albums from the illustrious Contrastate are a rare occurrence, this is reason for long-term fans to rejoice.

From a cursory review of titles and lyrics, it is fairly obvious that the album addresses the current state of England as a consequence of Brexit, while the artwork appears to refer to the wider refugee crisis facing Europe in recent years. As to the sound and style of Contrastate, since reforming in the early 2010s their approach to recording and production is clearly differentiated from the earlier phase of the project. The current era has a cleaner and sharper digital tone to production and a varied and layered approach to composition, where various musical fragments and rhythmical segments are woven together into longer compositional structures. This album follows this approach but its five tracks clock in just shy of 40 minutes, which differs from the usually lengthy releases. Of the five tracks, three are vocal-led, forming the start, middle, and end of the album, with each separated by two shorter instrumental tracks.

English Pastoral opens the album, and lyrically speaking it is a sorry indictment of the current political state of England as a consequence of Brexit, as well as a broader comment on the decline of an Empire and its standing on the world stage. Musically it spans close to 10 minutes and shifts through a number of phases: early sweeping neo-classical strings and doom-addled sub-orchestral drones act as a backing to spoken vocals, before shifting into a lengthy rhythmically-swaying passage with further monologue-based vocals. The first instrumental track Interregnum follows and maintains conceptual adherence, given the term means ‘a period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes’. Sonically it features sparse piano and guitar motifs, coupled with subtle melodious drones and a variety of post-industrial textures (sped-up typewriter perhaps?). War Against The Other is the centrepiece of the album, and while no lyrics are printed for the track, it is strongly vocal-led; the vocals sound to be sung in both Latin and Arabic as a religious lament, while the musical backing charts an amorphous space between sub-orchestral drones, swelling classical strings, and scrabbling metallic, aquatic, and electric textures. Second instrumental track Appointment In Samarra maintains a metaphorical conceptual link, as the title would seem to be referring to John O’Hara’s 1934 novel of the same name. Incidentally, the title is a reference to W. Somerset Maugham’s retelling of an old Mesopotamian tale, relating to a character’s chance meeting with death, while in O’Hara’s novel it follows the main character Julian English over three days where a series of self-inflicted acts culminate in his suicide. Sonically the track follows an understated ritual ambient tone, which builds to a number of minor sonic peaks, but ultimately feels like a bridging piece to the final track Hard Border No Border. This final track is another lengthy affair that moves through a number of distinct segments. The first scattered, fragmentary, and atonal opening section gives way to an experimental passage of wonky and surreal tones, before abruptly shifting into a section based around a pulsing bass rhythm, to which the upfront spoken vocals are rhythmically-framed in response to increasing speed. The final moment of the track and album are then coupled with a rising melancholic orchestral melody. A sublime conclusion.

It perhaps goes without saying that The Illusion Of Power is an album that sounds only as Contrastate can, but to be more specific it clearly sits within the modern phase of the project, which commenced with Breeding Ground For Flies. Conceptually there are ample ideas to unpack, including myriad fragmentary sampled voices used throughout, which makes for attentive listening on repeat spins to unpack potential clues. The main impression I get from the album is that it is an almost sorrowful observation of the current state of affairs facing England, but that offers little in the way of solutions to what are indeed extremely complex issues and clearly not as simple as current populist politics presents them. If I am to level any criticism at The Illusion Of Power it is regarding its brevity, as additional length would be welcome. But this is hardly a criticism of the excellent material which is presented, and regardless of this, this is another exceptional album within the Contrastate discography.