Salford Electronics – Communique No.2

Salford Electronics – Communique No.2 CD Tesco Organsiation 2017

Now that The Grey Wolves have ceased activity, former member Dave Padbury will be continuing in solo guide under the Salford Electronics moniker. In then noting that Salford is a suburb of Manchester, UK it may be reasonable to assume this is where Dave resides and it has duly informed the project title.

Perhaps of note, this debut Salford Electronics album was released a couple of months before The Grey Wolves final album Exit Strategy (reviewed here). Now having had a chance to listen to both albums in detail, there appears to be clear conceptual linage between the two (and perhaps this observation better frames Exist Strategy as being an album strongly influenced by the current sonic mind sent of Dave as evidenced on Communique No.2). Likewise, with reference to the soundtrack/ soundscape style of Exit Strategy, this mood also threads through Communique No.2 albeit in a far more controlled and ambient guise. The promo blurb also draws such parallels given its description of: “Salford Electronics is the follow up to The Grey Wolves – Communique 2 is a perfect Interzone eternal night noise or neon rain-soaked stalker science fiction vibrations for would-be blade runners, A soundtrack to the hollow hours empty of sleep”. Although ultimately differing in sonic execution, Communique 2 and Exist Strategy are two albums which work rather well together, given they explore similar thematic territory, but with slightly differing sonic result.

Given that Communique No.2 spans 41 minutes across ten interlinking tracks, it is best taken as a complete musical work. As such it is an album that is darkly moody and which sonically articulates a dystopian malaise of the dead hours of night, where the atmospheric industrial-noise/ dark ambient  soundscapes slowly ooze forwards in a minimalistic and cinematic guise. Here darkly moody elongated drones mix with sparse washes of noise, buzzing distortion, semi-buried rhythmic elements, but all the while maintaining a controlled and minimalist tone. But not being of studio construction alone, Prestwich is constructed around dank urban field recordings, minimalist electronics pulses and semi-buried radio chatter. Yet to speak of differences, This Sickness positioned at the centre of the album differs from the bulk of the album given its programmed/ electronic rhythmic structure.

With the effective ‘non-existent’ album artwork giving no visual reference points, it functions to redirect all focus on the musical framework, which reveals a highly detailed work of dank minimalist atmospherics and interspersed with occasional moments of biting tensile sonics. The fact that such a strong solo project has emerged from the ashes The Grey Wolves should be welcomed news, and hopefully bodes well for more high caliber material being delivered by Dave Padbury via the Salford Electronics moniker. Recommended.

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The Grey Wolves – Exit Strategy

The Grey Wolves – Exit Strategy LP Tesco Organisation 2017

So here we are, 14 years on from the last official Grey Wolves album Division released in 2003. Being many years in the making, Exit Strategy has also been announced as the final album from this long standing and rather revered group, with its release also coinciding with their final live ‘action’ at Tesco Organisation’s 30th Anniversary show in Mannheim in October, 2017. So as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end” – and end they have, but not before this ‘exist strategy’ was devised.

Having spent some time becoming acquainted with Exit Strategy, from the outset there is no way of getting around the fact that the sound of the album is not representative of what would typically be expected from The Grey Wolves. This comment is then made in full acknowledgement that the project has over their 30+ years of activity covered a diverse range of sounds, which has included: atmospheric dark ambient; murky industrial noise; and harsh power electronics. However much of the perception of Exist Strategy not sounding like The Grey Wolves comes down the general cleanliness of the sound and the clarity of the production.  This situation would then seem to be somewhat explained by the album’s liner notes that: “Exit Strategy was produced, mixed, mastered with additional audio and artwork by Jerome Nougaillon” (aka Propergol – and perhaps tellingly if Exist Strategy were played to me without being told who it was, chances are I would have said it sounded like the sharp and clinical approach employed by Propergol). So, although far from confirmed, I suspect that Jerome had a central role in the creation of this album, and this may have gone as far as being responsible for reworking and finalising a range of source material and/ or unfinished tracks from the group. Whether or not the truth on how the album was completed comes to light, remains to be seen.

To then speak of the album’s construction and flow, it is an instrumental and soundscape oriented in style and approach. A heavy dystopian mood and cinematic atmosphere permeates the album, where this perception is duly confirmed by the promo blub which states: “The soundtrack to an as yet unmade Hong Kong splatter movie. A seemingly endless march through cinematic urban decay. The original sound reduced to its basic structure through loops, repetition, distortion and other alienation techniques. it’s time to think about an Exit Strategy. The sodium orange hours of the city make you believe in the apocalypse”. Yet given the ‘soundtrack to a non-existent film’ format, there is also a conspicuous absence of the trademark vocals which are without doubt a sorely missed element. But to speak of specifics, the opening track In Our Time is a strong and tensile introduction based around pulsing textures, driving drones, a lone pounding ‘beat’ and mid-toned static shards. The Precinct then steps up a notch in urgency with a shuddering obliquely rhythmic framework with is further coupled with radio chatter for further cinematic effect. Another track worthy of individual mention is In Too Deep with it scattered sweeping textures and sparse programmed ‘Morse-code’ type rhythm.  Seizure then deviates completely from a recognized sound, given its hard pounding programmed beats and static blasts resembles a type of industrial techno along the lines of Alberich (and for this reason alone is likely to be the most divisive track on the album). In rounding out the album Flatline uses a prominent movie dialogue sample of Samuel L Jackson, and while for me personally it negatively jars the overarching mood and would have been better excluded altogether, thankfully it is used only once and not repeated (as often dialogue samples tend to be in this type of music). Sonically speaking this track is a tensile blend of jarring (digital?) noise, sporadically rhythmic outbreaks and doom addled atmospheric drones.

Although this review may on face value appear to be overly critical, such commentary should be taken more as observations which highlight the clear differences between initial expectation and the actual reality of the final The Grey Wolves album. Ultimately Exist Strategy IS a strong and enjoyable album in its own right, but can only be acknowledged after getting over the initial expectations of what you may want it to be. So, if you are able to divorce yourself from expectations that this album should be something like The Grey Wolves’ magnum opus, and instead simply approach it for what it is, some excellent material awaits and functions as a sort of unexpected addendum to their established and celebrated legacy.

Alfarmania & Proiekt Hat – Flugornas Herrar

Alfarmania & Proiekt Hat – Flugornas Herrar MC Styggelse 2017

The prolific collaboration between Alfarmania and Proiekt Hat rolls on with Flugornas Herrar released in time to coincide with their performance at Tesco 30th Anniversary Festival. This new album length tape follows on from 2016’s honed and rather short Mardrömd Dödsström LP (reviewed here), and shifts gears into a sprawling long form format spanning 16 tracks and over 80 minutes of material. The liner notes then reveal the material itself was recorded between 2010-2017, while the title appropriately translates to: ‘The Lord of the Flies’. As an initial general observation Flugornas Herrar pairs back on the more urgent sonic elements of prior collaborative material, the general mood of the album is one of slow stalking morbidity and controlled psychedelic angst. 

On side A (its subtitle translating to: “Though Enchanting Atmospheres”), an early track In the Dungeon of Solitude plays out as the duo’s interpretation of the early death ambient approach of Brighter Death Now (aka Great Death era), with its two note plodding bass, creaking metallic textures and garbled vocal chants. Then on Life-Extinguisher of Multitudes the wavering sonic tones, grinding synth lines, sparse symbol crashes and deep bass addled elements elevate the mood slightly, while the fantastically titled Soul Searching at Gunpoint, demonstrates how a darkly morbid tone can be generated with minimal of sonic elements. Rain of Oblivion round out the first side of the tape with a short piece based on a wonky synth line and myriad of looped elements. Effective and to the point.

Like the translated subtitle “Through Oppressive Atmospheres” of Side B suggests, the mood takes a downward turn on an already negative tangent. Featuring a collection of tracks with a heavier grinding approach, this includes Genom Förtryckande Atmosfärer with its grim tone which builds to heavy sonic intensity, and the invasive tonal shards and creaking metallic resonance of Abnormal Gestation Termination. Late album track  Magplask I Ett Bollhav Av Glödlampor rates a mention given its general sonic negativity, while another short track Soot Gruel focuses on pulsing and interweaving synth elements of queasy tonality.  To then conclude the tape, the suitably titled Exact Moment Of Death Prolonged A Thousand Times features a hypnotic vortex of spiralling mid-toned synth lines, creaking metal and a dour organ sounding element to create yet more top notch material.

It a general sense it would seem that the pairing of the minds or Mr Alfarmania and Mr Proiekt Hat and functions in such a way that high calibre material is generated with apparent ease, particularly given the wealth of material which has been issued in recent years.  While this tape functions as a collection of individual tracks, there is still distinct flow between each piece, where final track ordering would also appear to have been carefully planned. Packaging wise, it consists of an 8 panel fold out J-card with suitably grim artwork and layout courtesy of Mr Alfarmania. Without it being a case of Flugornas Herrar being ‘better’ or an ‘improvement’ on earlier material, this is simply on an equal level to what has come before, meaning it is another mandatory release from the duo.

Genocide Organ – Kahane Chai / Ke/Hil – Atopical Exercises

Here are two new Tesco Organisation releases, both of which were issued as special items as part of the Tesco Organisation 30th Anniversary Festival in October, 2017.


Genocide Organ – Kahane Chai 7”EP Tesco Organisation 2017

Any new release from Genocide Organ is welcomed news, where for this new 7”EP the group’s analysis of ‘nationalism’ in all its varied perspectives has been applied to Rabbi Kahane and his radical Israeli Orthodox Jewish ‘ultranationalist’ political party Kach, which later splintered into Kahane Chai – a hard-line Israeli militant advocating for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel. Interview samples of Rabbi Kahane are used within both tracks, where it it becomes quickly apparent to why Kach as a political organisation was barred from elections on the basis of inciting of racism against Arabs. Two dates are also printed on either side of the vinyl, which reference the date of his birthday (1 August, 1932), as well as the date of his assassination (5 November, 1990).

To speak of the music, Kahane Chai on Side A features a backbone of straight forward wavering synth loops, mixed with mid-toned squelching textures, while the vocals differ form the usual style in that that are treated in a heavy wash of blurred distortion which bleeds from the top to the bottom of the mix (and consequential picking the lyrical content becomes extremely difficult to decipher). Kach on Side B is far less aggressive than the first, featuring a lone low pulsing synth line and coupled only with interview samples and slightly treated whispered vocals, and while extremely minimal by usual Genocide Organ standards, it is still a very effective mood driven track.

Via the two short tracks Genocide Organ again demonstrate their total mastery of using the simple and/ or minimal sonic elements, but wielding them in such a way to make them sound far more powerful than the sum of their mere parts. When this then is coupled with the strong conceptual underpinnings, it makes for yet another excellent release in their discography.  The festival edition of 250 copies (blue vinyl), and the regular edition (black vinyl) are already sold out (as might be expected), so happy hunting if you want to track one down at a reasonable price.


Ke/Hil – Atopical Exercises 12”EP Tesco Organisaton 2017

With many lamenting the demise of Anenzephalia in 2014 (excluding the brief reformation for the live performance at Tesco 30th Anniversary), the continuation of Ke/Hil was a partial consolation given it features the same duo of Brigant Moloch and Wilhem Herich. It has been a bit of a revelation to see exactly how far the project has evolved in sound and approach from the 2010 Ke/Hil debut Hellstation.

This new three track 12″EP Atopical Exercises has followed quickly on the heals of the third album Syndrome/Antidrome (also from 2017 and reviewed here). Repulsive Appreciation leads off and sets the scene with wailing emergency sirens and a heavy and hollowed out loop, before a wonky rhythm and maudlin synth drone kicks in hard along with the apathetic yet semon styled vocals (which aligns with the established theme of social conditioning through urban design). Very much of the now established Ke/Hil heavy electronics style, this is also a pinnacle track within their catalogue.  Little Rose follows in a laid-back style, and while simple in construction, it is a very effective example of hard hitting minimalism. With a central revving ascending/ descending drone and a scattered backing of echoed junk metal elements and a muted vocals delivery (which rather than lyrics appears to be the reciting and repeating two lines of a poem). Syn/Kope features as the final track on Side B and is more akin to a sprawling death industrial style given its slow bass kick, wavering lower end textures and cavernous sonic aesthetic. While a dialogue sample also sit within the mix, it takes a secondary position to the main vocals which sit prominently front and centre, which strongly advises us to “beware the beast-man”.

A clear observation to be made is that this new 12”EP is very much a continuation of the gradual honing of the sound of Ke/Hil, and certainly bodes very well for what is anticipated to still come from the project. Limited to 250 copies and surprising that it is still available at the time of writing.


 

Unsound Recordings – New Releases 2017

Unsound Recordings functions as a side label to Unrest Productions, where I understand its role is to allow smaller releases to be issued more quickly with simplified packaging. Although the last items on the label date from 2015, now in 2017 it brings new releases from two young projects and new signings to the roster, namely Detrimental Effect and Code Neda. A brief rundown on each follows below.


Detrimental Effect – To Brandon Bryant MC Unsound Recordings 2017

Thematically speaking, the US military/industrial complex may be nothing new for industrial and power electronics music. However, on this debut tape Detrimental Effect have taken a different and interesting angle by focusing on Brandon Bryant – a US drone pilot and later whistle-blower who highlighted the detached methods of killing in modern warfare. Musically speaking this is clean, loud and modern sounding, which also draws heavily from traditional German power electronics/ heavy industrial sound (and perhaps Ex.Order is the closest comparison to make?) . As such the tracks are based on honed structures of shuddering loops, waving sonic elements and bristling distortion which gradually ramp up in intensity. The mood is further elevated through the heavily treated vocals (flanged and echoed), and delivered with spite and tinged with indignation.

Specific samples relating to the theme further fleshes out the concept and are used as intro or outros, or otherwise are incorporated within tracks. That Others May Die is individually noteworthy based on its base of scattered distortion, queasy central oscillation and deadpan spoken vocal line (slightly treated and echoed). Equally noteworthy is the overt fierceness of the final track Total Denial with its tonally buzzing loops and antagonist vocal attack, amounting to a very effective power electronics barrage. Direct and to the point, the material on this debut is delivered with both skill and conviction, which on occasion rises to blood boiling intensity.

Six tracks in all feature on the tape, with perhaps 30 minutes of material on offer. Without doubt Detrimental Effect is project to keep an eye on, given it also fits neatly alongside many of the other projects on the parent label Unrest Productions (such as Kevlar, Kontinent, Uncodified etc.).


Code Neda – The Death of Neda MC Unsound Recordings 2017

Code Neda are another new project signed to Unsound Recordings, but this time I know nothing about this project or who is behind it. This however appears to be Code Neda’s debut tape, and limited to 80 hand numbered copies.

Musically speaking it features sweeping death industrial which on occasion is blended with elements of ritual tinged heavy electronics (something akin to mid to late 1990’s heavy electronics sound of Loki Foundation projects is a partial comparison).  To speak of notable tracks, Tigray uses stilted heavy rhythms which provides structure to a widescreen atmospheric soundscape and sampled religious chants. Another particularly noteworthy track is ABC – Protection, which is framed around deep sub-orchestral drones, militant percussion, scraping textures and muted garbled vocals. The final track The Machine Will Be Prevented from Working at All, is perhaps the most direct death industrial track based on its heavy pounding structures, bristling loops and treated samples (and perhaps vocals? Not completely sure).

On the one hand Code Neda’s sound is dank and pounding in tone, but on the other it is balanced with other ritualistic and atmospheric elements, which functions to create an individualistic approach. Thus with six varied tracks and around 20-25 minutes of material, Code Nera have issued a very strong and interesting debut release and consequently are another new project to keep a keen eye on.


 

Fall of Nature Batch 2017

Fall of Nature’s recent batch of tapes reveals four projects working within the spheres spanning dank and minimalist death ambient, to abrasive and harsh death industrial. With each project demonstrating their own twist and personalised take on these styles, following below is a brief overview of each of the four releases.


N. – Hospital Murders MC Fall of Nature 2017

With this long standing Italian project, their approach is of a sustained and minimalist death industrial type. Twelve tracks span both sides and with the recordings themselves deriving from 2003 this is a reissue of a tape from 2004 (but also issued on CDr in 2016). After a lengthy intro (based on a dialogue/ soundtrack sample), things get down to the business of issuing tracks based on moribund and loosely wavering oscillations. Despite the material being relatively simplistic, an all-important morbid atmosphere sits front and centre, regardless of whether the tracks are slowly plodding; or bass tone rhythmic; or minimal and soundscape based (Side B also contains a couple of tracks which use some prominent samples). Overall N. very much embodies an Italian underground minimalist death industrial sound (think Atrax Morgue for good measure), and this alone will give an idea of the quality to expect.


 

Subklinik – Monothestic Entrance of Seclusion MC Fall of Nature 2017

Subklinik is the solo project of Chad Davis, and on for this release it is a physical edition of a previously a digital only release from 2015. Taking its sonic reference from a grim death industrial sound, this has been distilled down into a minimalist death ambient/ dark ambient hybrid. With muted sub-orchestral elements (i.e. treated elongated vocal chants) and dank catacombal droning ambience, the sound is equally widescreen as it is enveloping. A general mood of muted stasis vs catatonic drift features across the 3 lengthy compositions. It also reminds of Lustmord’s heralded classic Heresy on more the a few moments, particularly as the sound and tone is not in any way clean or digital (more like choking grey to black toned). An excellently minimalist and deathly atmospheric tape.


 

Vitriol Guage – Gone Septic MC Fall of Nature 2017

Vitriol Guage are an American solo project of Anthony S. Kuchta III (operating since 2012), who incidentally recently joined another American project United Front as their permanent vocalist. As for his solo works, on Gone Septic the sound is a murky but extremely heavy, and is delivered in a direct and pounding death industrial style. Generally the sound is based on heavy and slow bass driven layers which are mixed with muted minor keyed synth loops, but on occasion it pushes towards harder power electronics intensity. Likewise, when vocals are used they are either a blurred mass of distortion (fierce in their tone and delivery), or otherwise presented in a drawling spoken chant. Nine tracks are spread over the two sides of the tape, and while the tracks are each relatively short and to the point, they hit hard in the time they hang around. Being very much aligned with other current American projects such as Gnawed and The Vomit Arsonist, this is a very strong tape and a great introduction to this project.


Kadaver – Hypothermiasma MC Fall of Nature 2017

With Hypothermiasma the long standing and prolific Israeli solo project Kadaver delivers a sonically fierce tape . From the outset the sound is multifaceted and shredding, and stepping beyond a strict death industrial sound, given the sound features a swirling sonic maelstrom of loose noise and intense feedback. In the most part the tape is an exercise in the abrasive over the atmospheric. On Side A two of the four tracks are effectively straight noise workouts, while the other two are based on a variety of forceful loops that intersect and intertwine (and fall in out of sync based on some being slow and others fast and chaotic). The humorously titled 23 Shades Of Decomposition (first track on Side B), bring some respite given its ritual tone, sampled chants and minimalist soundscape, but this is short lived given the later introduction of an invasive needling tone. Likewise the following track Maruta reverts to obliterating overdrive, while the final track Pink Sabbath is of a muted death industrial type. Perhaps more chaotic in tone than what I would usually choose to listen to, this is still an expertly executed tape.


As noted in the introduction, there is clear diversity in approach to be found on these four tapes, but based on my own sonic preferences, Vitriol Gauge is my pick of the bunch and followed closely by Subklinik.

Trapdoor Tapes Batch 2017

Here is another batch of underground goodness from the ever-reliable Trapdoor Tapes label, with a short overview of each provided below.


Luke Holland – Purgatory Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Purgatory is another solo release from the Trapdoor Tapes head honcho, but upon further investigation it is noted to be a re-issue of a 2015 tape released on Altered States Tapes. Featuring a single track of around 16 minutes (repeating on both sides), the sound is rough yet muted, minimalist death industrial. Accordingly slow morphing and oscillating textures set a grim and minimalist mood, while the later section is differentiated by a dose of heavy thuds and distorted rumble. Short but effective and certainly to the point.


Luke Holland / Mama Baer – Split Trapdoor Tapes 2017

On Luke’s split with Mama Baer, each feature around 20 minutes of material. Luke takes the first side with two tracks of his death industrial meets industrial noise crudeness and which effectively bleed into one longer continues piece. While continuing its repetitive and minimalist approach, the sound is quite bit more animated than Purgatory, featuring splitting and grinding loops to hammer home an invasive industrial noise atmosphere. Being absolutely grim in tone, it also ratchets up its squalling intensity with late sonic textures reminiscent of distant wailing fog horns, and overall is more ‘on point’ material from Luke.

Having then not come across Mama Baer before, it is the solo project of A. K. I. Hjuler and based on this material this sits more towards an experimental industrial approach. The first track Matecto is a wonky layers soundscape of pulsing sound and swirling textures and processed chats/ vocalisations, while other random sound cut and slash across the track, while on Regina which follows and spans a sweeping dark ambient piece, fused with a heavy dose of spitting static. However, the final track Seaworld is not really to my sonic taste, based on its weird playful mood derived from programmed rhythms and stilted musical elements ( and two out of three is a reasonable strike rate though).



Nothinghunger – Livestock Management Strategies Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Nothinghunger, this is the (death) industrial project of Jael Edwards who is perhaps more recognised from his underground death metal band Ignovomous. However Nothinghunger is then not to be considered a ‘fly by night’ side project given it is reflective of his decades long interest in the post-industrial underground. Commencing with a sample relating to society control the first piece Illuminate quickly establishes a brooding mood of a churning mid paced rhythm, layered sustained drones and associated burrowing tones. The following cut Livestock Management opts for a more minimalist path of muted rumble, wavering drones and occasional dialogue sample, which all sprawls out over extended length. Only For Slaves rounds out the tape, following a similar path by featuring minimalist wonky loops, repeated sample and occasional tonal stabs for good measure.

In an overarching sense the approach displayed on of Livestock Management Strategies reminds of the no-frills death industrial sounds being explored on early Sound Source or Old Europa Cafe cassette tape releases from the 1990’s (or even the approach of Puissance as featured on their two early demos before they headed off into far more produced martial industrial and neoclassical realms). So while Nothinghunger certainly engender a sound rooted in the 1990’s northern European industrial underground (complete with a large number of dialogue samples peppered throughout), the resulting impression is this tape is not purposefully regressive, rather is the simply the resultant sound of Jael’s writing and recording process. Perhaps sitting midway between dark ambient and death industrial mood, this is a decent tape for those yearning for ‘that’ particular sound of yesteryear.


Rudolf Eb.er – 4444 Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Rudolf Eb.er (aka Ruzelstirn & Gurglestock), is someone I have been aware of for a long time, but admittedly have not familiarised myself with his recording output due to the rather imposing back catalogue. This tape now rectifies that and while I get the feeling the sounds on 4444 does not deviate from his established approach, equally I am not certain on this either. Anyway, on 4444 it feature disorientating and minimalist experimental industrial soundscapes, being framed around sustained yet sparse mid-spectrum tones, and static washes which are further augmented with lots of unidentifiable minute ‘up-close’ elements and on occasion a slow ritual like thudding beat.

Although four tracks are featured, these play out less as individual pieces, rather the tone is akin to listening to the audio track of an experimental film but without benefit of seeing the visuals, with this impression only being amplified by the fact that over the course of the tape with the sound randomly flicking or cutting between segments. Adding to the surreal edge are various morphed and twisted voices, choking vocal sounds and a multitude of field recordings elements, but also the material never sounds random or improvised, given it has been meticulously constructed (and also executed in line with the agenda of the artist which has been described on Discogs as:“Combining abreactive and cleansing actionism with sonic rituals and psychoactive acoustics, Eb.er generates audio-environments into which he plants grotesque psycho-magic rituals and tantric exercises to trigger a higher awareness”).

In essence 4444 has caught me by surprise and is an excellent and particularly rewarding experiencing if fully submitting to its slightly surreal and experimental approach (which is also a slight deviation from the harder and harsher focus of many of Trapdoor Tapes releases).