Pterygium – Grip

Pterygium – Grip MC Algebra of Need 2017

Pterygium are an Australia based solo project of Hank Gillett who recently had an excellent contribution on the Tesco Organisation Projekt Neue Ordnung II 4xLP boxset.  Noting also that I have previously reviewed Pterygium’s debut tape The Revival Of Unwritten Laws (reviewed here), while it was an interesting in concept and stylistic execution, at the same time was not a release that I returned to for multiple listens. However with Grips substantially differing in sound and approach to the debut, it has resulted in a tape that has been on high rotation for the last month or more.

In an attempt to categorise the sounds on Grips a general descriptor of ‘dark ambient meets industrial noise’ might be a good tag to apply given its multi-layering and dual focus of the majority of compositions.  Effectively the tracks are doubled-edged where maudlin elements mix with the abrasive; and the minimalistic yet melodic tones blend with sharper distortion squalls.  A comparison to other artists like Ke/Hil or Damian Dubrovnic is then highlighted, but not so much for sounding anything like either, rather Grips is similar by virtue of its cold, clinical and controlled approach, and where layers and loops are added and sub-tracked with clear compositions focus and intent.

The Male Antipathy leads off the 6 compositions with deep grinding drones, mid toned synths, yet the rising layered washes of static push the piece into headier territory.  Facult of Rapture then follows a similar trajectory, yet the distortion of this piece if heaver and more invasive. Playing with sonic depth and sparse composition A Child Council is an excellent example of sonic restraint to generate is maudlin atmosphere (…although the sharper static briefly makes an appearance late track). In the later part of the tape fractured minimalist rhythms, morse code blips and floating synths form the backbone on Quitting Towards a Solid Surface, while Drainout Extort is perhaps a standout for its sparse and meandering dour cinematic/ sc-fi type mood.

On Grips Pterygium have opted for an instrumental approach which is considered, refined and delivered with clear artistic intent, which is in clear contrast to some current current strains of underground post-industrial music which churns pure filth and nastiness. With its 6 tracks spanning a mere 34 minutes, the play time is short and leaving me wanting more (…much more in fact), but this is a far better position to be in rather than dealing with a release which simply drags for being overly long.  Don’t let the obscurity of the project or label deter you, this is high caliber stuff.

…Hagshadow’s Anti State Jugend…

ANTIchildLEAGUE – Holy Ghost CD Hagshadow 2016

Godlesstate – Godlesstate CD Hagshadow 2016

Sutcliffe Jugend – Shame CD Hagshadow 2017

For this label showcase it is important to highlight that Hagshadow is run by Gaya Donadio: an Italian national, yet long term resident of London and a staple of its underground scene as a gig promoter via the Hinoeuma the Malediction banner.  Although Gaya’s role as a promoter may have reduced somewhat over the last decade (…when compared to the monthly shows in the early 2000’s), Hagshadow has been operating as a label since 2008 (…and mail-order prior to that).

Up first is ANTIchildLEAGUE, which is the solo project of Gaya herself, where ‘Holy Ghost’ appears to be the third in a trilogy of album’s starting with ‘The Father’ in 2008 and ‘The Son’ in 2014. However I am afraid to say that apart from hearing a few selected tracks from ANTIchildLEAGUE over the years, I have not heard these other trilogy releases, so cannot comment on how ‘Holy Ghost’ continues or differs from their sound. With that said, what ‘Holy Ghost’ brings is a sharp and clinically edged industrial album which bristles with fierce energy. With its 13 tracks spanning 47 minutes, the general impression is that of a collection of tracks, where differing sounds and moods are explored throughout.  With the opening title track being more of a introductory piece (i.e. solo female religious styled singing), ‘I Hate You’ follows and is a sharp and buzzing piece of looped power electronics (…think of the clinical and clean tone of Haus Arafna), with Gaya’s vocals being aggressively spat and slightly treated (…an excellent start).  As the album progresses from there, a pattern is then noted where some tracks are constructed around rhythmic programming and minimalist synth pads, while others following a stricter adherence to industrial and power electronics expression. With the vocals covering everything from spoken whispers to banshee like wails, these also mirror the moods of the tracks which themselves range from calm yet tensile, to those of controlled and/ or unhinged anger.  With some absolutely excellent tracks in among other generally solid offerings, it is perhaps an appropriate time to dig into ANTIchildLEAGUE’s back catalogue to check out what I have already missed.

Up next is the debut album from Godlessstate, but rather than being a young new project, it has significant pedigree in being helmed by Patrick Leagas. Noting this former Death In June member departed in 1987 and continued recording under the Sixth Comm banner, for whatever reason I have never properly investigated his releases over the years. Yet now some 30 years on from the creation of Sixth Comm comes Patrick’s new debut solo project under the Godlesstate moniker, and being: “a personal attempt to codify audibly the somewhat unfathomable ritual religious practices of our collective pre history..”.  What has been created is a rather imposing experimental tribal industrial album, based heavily around intense soundscapes and complex rhythms driven by martial drumming and hand percussion depending on the track.  The album’s rhythmic focus is further complimented by chimes, wailing horns, dulcimer, mouth harp, sub-orchestral synths, field recordings and varied vocals (i.e. whispers, chants etc. which function mostly as backing layers than providing central focus).  Selected tracks feel entirely organic in presentation, while others opt for elements of programmed electronic percussion to merge the archaic and modern (…although the consequential atmosphere is rooted in an 80’s post-industrial approach). Likewise while exploring different sounds and moods, the rhythmic approach is noted to range from Middle Eastern styled to more Euro-centric rooted sounds. With straight forward tribal industrial tracks and others of fully fledged ethno-ambient expression (…and which brings to mind a classic but short lived CMI project Memorandum), all in all this is a varied and interesting tribal industrial styled album.

Moving finally on to Sutcliffe Jugend, over the years the aura surrounding the project has been maintained by the sheer force of the extremity of their early power electronics approach, and in particular their highly coveted ‘We Spit on Their Graves’ 10xMC box-set from 1982.  Noting then then potentially difficulty in maintaining such levels of extremity, some 25 years later it was during the late 2000’s that the duo of Paul Taylor and Kevin Tomkins pulled back on the extremity to allow a greater degree of variety and experimentation to their sound. Furthermore the pair currently seem to be on a bit of creative streak as 6 albums have been issued since 2016 (…including this one). Although I have not necessarily kept up with all of the recent releases, ‘Shame’ is a considered and controlled album (…by Sutcliffe Jugend’s standards), and includes close to 50 minutes of material spanning 5 tracks. The title track opens the album, and with being based around a discernible guitar, the sound is one quite close to that of noise-rock (…sans drums) – or perhaps doom drone where the riffing has sped up to less catatonic pace. Although some nosier synth slashes are included, the guitar elements remain as the main focus throughout and the track definitely expresses a song format which extends to the vocals delivered in a half shouted/ half sung wail. Despite the musical focus of this track being far from what I initially was expecting –  it most certainly works as a listenable and engaging approach. The following track ‘Sledge’ is then more experimental with sparse atonal plucked notes and percussive sounds, leaving the vocals to issue a semi-aggressive rant.  This mood of restraint continues on ‘Hurt’ with its tensile and suspenseful tone, yet conversely the vocals are far more chaotic and unhinged in delivery and sonic treatment. Moving into the back third of the album, ‘Bait’ opts for a straight forward, mid paced pummeling riff, pounding rhythmic thuds and synth squall which are combined into a song style, which is reinforced by the ranted, half sung/ half screamed vocals. For the final of the 5 tracks, ‘Blood’ is an instrumental piece which bookends the album with a lengthy industrial soundscape of looped drones and cinematically tinged elements, which is calm yet tensile in equal measures (…and consequently and excellent track). Although I do not know how reflective this is of other recent albums and despite its quite significant deviation for my own (…perhaps ill informed) expectations, I have very much enjoyed this album.

Streicher – Global Gas Chamber / Totenrune – Bellum Internecinum

Streicher – Global Gas Chamber / Totenrune – Bellum Internecinum 10″ep Unrest Productions 2007

With the original edition of the tape being limited to a mere 100 copies (reviewed here), unsurprisingly it promptly sold out upon release. But given the quality of both project’s contributions and that it heralded the reactivation of the dormant Striecher, Unrest Productions quickly stepped up to ensure the tape did not languish in obscurity. For this new edition the vinyl has been pressed in a slightly less limited edition of 200 hand-numbered copies, and features elements of the original artwork but re-contextualised for the square format of the cover.

Sonically both tracks from Streicher and Totenrune sound fantastic on black wax, which it very much providing a suitable tonal depth and heavy analogue crunch.  There is also some small adjustments to the Streicher track, where a slightly different mix is featured and instead of an ending fade out, it abruptly cuts off with a heavy metallic thud (…like a monolithic iron door slamming shut).  The Streicher track is also an excellent example of how one’s own perception can colour the interpretation of presented material.  By way of example, when first listening to the cassette I took the pig squealing as a sample of a terrified animal being put to death, but rather amusingly I was later informed that it is actually a sample of pigs copulating! (…live and learn as they say).

There is not much more to say other than if the cassette passed you by, do not let the potential to pick up this new version slip through your grasp. Recommended.

Various Artists – Poison Vol.II

Various Artists – Poison Vol.II MC New Approach Records 2017

Over the years the post-industrial underground has clearly placed a high degree of importance on packaging and presentation, and in this context the special wooden box casing of this cassette compilation immediately caught my eye.  With it then being noted the tape features recognized artists of Kontinent and Wertham (…and the contributions of a further 4 artists), it represented a coveted item to track down.  Likewise with only 6 tracks featured it warrants a brief comment on each contribution:

  • METEK open the set with their piece ‘Prey’ features suffocating tape hiss, slashes of radio static and choking bass riddled resonances, which teeter on an ‘industrial-noise’ edge between controlled and freeform (…and a solid intro piece as a result).
  • Kontinent follow with a dose of their heavy electronics sound on ‘Hive Mind’, and is an excellent piece of droning synths, static shards, layered noise and treated dialogue samples to create a heavily paranoid vibe (…and is one of the best and immediately impacting tracks I have heard from this newish UK project).
  • Wertham are up next and do what they do best on ‘Diagram For Delinquents’, which a bulldozing wall of muted ‘blown-out’ analog distortion which resembles hissing gas in loose looped form (…but perhaps the sound is also less immediate of can usually be expected from Wertham’s given the absence of Marco’s trademark and heavily accented vocal barrage).
  • See Through Buildings opens side B with ‘Ototoxic Agents’, which is direct in its loose and chaotic noise approach (…being squalling and freeform in its distorted mid to higher pitch sonic attack, but perhaps the least to my liking given typical noise sits within my listening preferences).
  • Deterge (…who I know by name only), feature their track ‘Hg(CH3)2’, being a minimalist and droning industrial track and gruffly yelled vocal which generates an excellently morbid atmosphere (…and another tape highlight).
  • Instinct Primal then concludes the set with ‘Resonant Peak 2’, and sits towards an experimental dark ambient sound of expertly crafted proportions (…shifting droning layers mingle with micro-tonal elements to create a widescreen and barren landscape styled atmosphere as a calm conclusion to the tape).

Overall I would say this is a strong compilation, but all the same is perhaps not quite to the level of a mandatory one. But with that said the packaging absolutely targets the fetishistic aspects of the post-industrial underground and certainly makes for and adds to the overall experience of listening to the contributions on the cassette and one I am glad to have tracked down.

Totenrune / Insurgence – Totenrune / Insurgence

Totenrune / Insurgence – Totenrune / Insurgence MC Lost Empires Records 2017

Following quickly on the heels of the split with Streicher, Totenrune has returned with another split, but this time with the noise/ industrial project Insurgence, and with the tape being issued on a new French based label.

For Totenrune’s 3 tracks it lead off with a murder confessional sample on ‘Libertine Atonement’ before the raw mass of distorted rumble and heavily treated vocals which provides a rough power electronics slant to the industrial-noise approach, although is also quite laid back in actual sonic agression. Being slightly more tonally forceful, ‘Rapture in Homicide’ then features spitting distortion and loose sense of structure and forward momentum (…although still relatively calm), while the final track ‘Mors Triumphalis’ is built around a prominent grinding loop and looser underpinning echo and rumble (…again being relatively laid back than what might be typically expected). As a general observation when comparing Totenrune’s tracks here to their earlier material on the Streicher split, the mood is more subdued and comes across as being more controlled and considered as a result.

In moving on to Insurgence’s contributions, although not having heard them before I am aware they have been compared to Deathkey, which is a somewhat valid comparison despite not achieving the same over the top fierceness. Regardless of this, the first of 2 Insurgence tracks is ‘Lost Innocence’ and demonstrates a step up in sonic intensity from Totenrune’s contributions.  The first segment of the track is based on a prominent ‘stones in a cement mixer’ styled loop (…coupled with samples, static and raw junk metal), before the second segment takes a further step up with blunt-force, churning noise and unhinged vocals (…all force-fed through a feedback grinder and treated with a heavy dose of echo and reverb). The second Insurgence track ‘Shine’ heavily deviates where it commences on ritual industrial routes with chanted vocalisations and cavernous catacomal ambience, before moving back towards to a brutal and chaotic and junk metal noise sound (…complete with shuddering/ burrowing structures and unhinged/ overblown vocals before coming to an abrupt conclusion).

Packaging wise a raw collage is featured on the colour J-card which is stylistically perfectly suited to the sonics on the tape.  Obviously this sort of release is not about bringing something new to a raw and ripping industrial-noise / power electronics sound, rather both projects simply deliver a solid dose of underground grit for the faithful.

Le Syndicat Faction Vivante – Morceaux De Choix

Le Syndicat Faction Vivante Morceaux De Choix CD Aussaat 2017

By virtue of the project’s name the direct relationship with the long standing French project Le Syndicat should be clear. Likewise with some further sleuthing it reveals that Ruelgo (…currently the only permanent member of Le Syndicat), has been joined by Saphi of another French project Nocturne (…but even then it is still not clear as to whether this pairing is for this album only or on a more permanent basis, or whether his joining is the reason for the slight moniker variation).

To speak of its sound and style, personally I do not have a clear appreciation of Le Syndicat’s rather extensive back catalogue (…extending back to 1982), thus I can’t say how this new album generally compares.  Yet from direct listening it can be deduced ‘Morceaux De Choix’ is rooted in a general amalgam of experimental, noise and industrial styles. The promo sheet further indicates that a particularly studio process referred to as ‘reflex piloting’ has been used in album’s production, which: integrates the loss of control and the surprise of generative errors, creating new unexpected sound forms.  Noting this statement provides a brief explanation of the creative process of recording, it provides some clear cues as to how the album sounds.  Equally the final results seem in part to emulate a style and approach derived from a much earlier era of experimental industrial noise music (…meaning the 1980’s from a time where sub-genres where far less defined).

With its mixed sonic approach, the tracks meander and swing wildly between moments of calm and chaos, where the overt layering of sound elements provides a high degree of complexity to the material.  Selected tracks follow atonal rhythmic industrial approach (…formed around pounding and manipulated programmed beats); while other pieces feature fractured higher pitched ‘needling’ elements and panning stabs and slashes of distortion; and yet others employ fast paced and disorientating sonic cut-ups (…which embodies a sense of creative control, despite these looser and jagged tonal elements).  As for the sound production, it has achieved a sharp and clear sonic palate, and with its forceful and clinical edge it at times articulates a type of ‘mad sonic professor’ vibe.

With 10 tracks spanning the best part of an hour, this is an interesting concept but based on my own sonic preferences which does not extend to being a ‘noise connoisseur’ I am not likely to return to on a regular basis, thus this release is best suited to those who lean towards an appreciation of controlled and occasionally frenzied dynamic noise (…with more fleeting industrial and experimental type sonic textures).

Human Larvae – Methods of Submission

Human Larvae – Methods of Submission MC Cipher Productions 2017

With new material from Human Larvae always being a welcomed prospect, this release has followed quite quickly from the last exceptional album ‘Behind Blinding Light’ (reviewed here).  On ‘Methods of Submission’ it features in the order of 30 minutes of material via a single untitled track on each side of the tape, thus noting that this new tape shifts into a longer, freeform style, it steps away from the more focused power electronics and death industrial sound of recent albums.

Side A reveals a long form cut of rough and caustic, mid-toned and mid paced industrial noise. Featuring a heavily layered approach, various elements of churning distortion, spitting static and a solid industrial crunch (…which may just be sourced from junk metal). Sonically this track sits at the mid to lower ranged realm, and does not reach anywhere near ear shrieking intensity, but also pack a weighty sound all the same.  Side B follows a similar elongated sonic path, yet here the static and distortion are tonally pushed up a notch, while a number of forceful droning loops provide a sense of drive and forward momentum (…a half buried screaming sample introduced later in the piece also functions to generating a sadistic edge to the mood).

Although perhaps lacking the immediacy of tracks found on ‘Behind Blinding Light’, ‘Methods of Submission’ is a solidly intense and unrelenting dose of churning industrial noise filth, which certainly suits and reflects the BSDM theme of the artwork.  Packaging wise, Cipher Productions have produced more excellent results, with the cover featuring a small 8 page booklet housed with the tape in a canvas over-wrap and front panel cut-a-way.  With a short limitation of 75 copies, this is unlikely to be available for long.