Arktau Eos – Erēmos

Arktau Eos – Erēmos CD Aural Hypnox 2018

After the abstracted and minimalist Catacomb Resonator CD/LP from 2017, Arktau Eos have returned to a slightly more direct musical form, although this is clearly still within the enveloping ritual ambient framework for which the group is known and lauded. As is typical with this form of music, it’s structured around interlinking movements to aid flow and meditative/immersive impact; Erēmos features nine tracks, spanning 49 minutes of dour, slow evolving, minor-tuned melodies, droning soundscapes, and subtle field recordings.

The Liminal Pilgrim opens the album with swelling drones, catatonic drum pulse, and looped elements (sounding like twittering birds) which evokes a very organic and ritualistic sound, far from a computer-generated sounds palette, while a variety of other subtle layered sonic elements create diversity despite the minimalist ambient framework. After the extremely short one-and-a-half-minute track Facing The Exarchs Of Desolation, the following piece He Who Drinks The Light Of The Stars arrives with slow and sustained intertwining minor-keyed melody lines and pulsating synth tones, which further blend with various shimmering and metallic-toned ritual percussion. Autochthon is perhaps the most divergent piece by virtue of its swirling vortex of animated and surreally disorientating layers. Likewise, late album track In The Jaws Of Basalt Lions is a particular standout with its forceful droning framework, ascending/descending melodic line and sparse ritualistic percussion.

Of particular note on Erēmos is the archaic ritual- and occult-infused atmosphere embedded throughout, which is mostly derived from the deep analogue tone of the synthesizers. This generates a strong sense of mysterious and ethereal otherworldliness, but is also tinged with a strong degree of musicality in both sound and general direction, even if the instrumentation is atypical, such as a hand pump organ, archaic-toned synthesizers, and various ritual percussive implements. Although pretty much everything issued on the Aural Hypnox label constitutes mandatory listening for me, Erēmos is a pinnacle album which continues to reward with newly noted sonic details and nuances on repeat listens.

Advertisements

School For Cadavers – Re Education

School For Cadavers – Re Education MC Trapdoor Tapes 2018

School For Cadavers is a new project featuring Jon Evans and Julian Percy, who are both members of Last Dominion Lost. In noting that context, there are clearly some strong parallels which can be drawn between the sound of these two project. Yet with reference to School For Cadavers, the tribal industrial elements of Last Dominion Lost has been toned down for a more streamlined industrial noise approach, which on a few occasion furrows within a dank death industrial style.

The tape features seven tracks in all and while three of those are denoted as being live recordings, this is not immediately evident given the consistency in recorded sound spanning all tracks. Sonar opens the tape with a screeching distortion, indecipherable yelled vocals and underpinned but an understated rhythmic loops, while the following track Spirit Of The Air contains a quite distinctly wonky and disorienting tone. Dead Time is a clear standout piece, based around cyclic throbbing mid paced layered loops and other sweeping tones which build in intensity, while other random slashes and cuts of churning sounds continual interject and gradually take over. Side B brings the absolute standout track Demise Of Logic, which is a monolithic pounding ritual death industrial track, completely with wailing air raid sirens, shuddering synth tones and garbled evocations. As for the final track Last Look blends a suspenseful horror soundtrack styled mood and coupled with a central slow pounding death industrial beat, while another screeched distortion layer ratchets up the tension. Great stuff.

Like the very much underrated and under appreciated Last Dominion Lost, School For Cadavers deliver expertly executed high calibre material, and should not be ignored or overlooked.

Announcement: Spectrum Compendium book cover released!! 

I am extremely proud to reveal the finalised cover of the Spectrum Compendium book!

After a couple of design options, in the end it was decide to go with a cover design both keeps and builds upon the feel and aesthetic of the original Spectrum Magazines, which to my mind has come out as a very strong and striking visual.

The book layout is still being worked on by the publisher, but evidently I will have a copy to proof and approve this month (October, 2018).

More details on publication date will be announced later when known but getting very close now!!!

Zos Kia – 23

Zos Kia – 23 CD Infinite Fog 2017

For background context Zos Kia was the primary 1980’s musical vehicle of John Gosling and holds a special place within the early development phase of industrial music. This is predominantly due to their only official album Transparent, issued on cassette in 1984 via the cult label Nekrophile Rekords, and while that album was labeled as a split/collaboration with Coil, the group membership at the time were effectively interchangeable between the two. As for musical content Transparent, included a live recording of Zos Kia on Side A, being a performance made at the Berlin Atonal festival from 1983, while Side B contained a series of tracks credited to Coil/Zos Kia. In an overarching sense Transparent features early proto ritual-industrial, where tonal noise shards slash across rumbling guitar feedback and underscored with clanging metallic ritualized percussion, sampled dialogue and wailing/ screeched evocation-based vocals. But apart from this lone release, Zos Kia also issued two EP’s in the mid 1980’s, where 23 functions to collect together those EP’s and archive them with a large volume of Zos Kia recordings made over the years, with the addition of a couple of extracts from the Transparent album itself.

Having not delved into Zos Kia recordings outside of Transparent, I was immediately surprised by how different the material in 23 is in sound and execution, where the opening track Black Action has a guitar-based band groove and swagger, with spoken vocals and is unlike anything I would have ever expected from the group. The following track Be Like Me equally surprises when the solo piano format breaks out into an almost electro-funk number of constant kick drum, driving bass and central piano riff and swirling guitar line. It is only when 10 Miles High arrives that the attitude and sonic dissonance of earlier material makes an appearance, and the sinister soundscape throb of Rape calls to mind a hazy drugged sound that Coil would hone in later years, while An Absolute manages to meld the earlier sound of the project but within a ridged guitar/ programmed drum format. As for the second electro-funk excusion on Muggy The Staff, to my ear at least is an entirely redundant attempt at a commercial sound, and has me again scratching my head that this is actually the same band as featured on Transparent. As for the last quarter of CD1, this includes a number of remixes of earlier featured tracks, but which really do not warrant further comment.

CD2 opens with Ake, a squalling feedback and gabled voice-based track, and quickly follows with a doomy synth version of An Absolute, which deviates enough from the original to be individually interesting. The flowing tryptic of the lengthy unreleased tracks from 1982, including Era Vulgaris A1, Era Vulgaris A3 and Harry Wouldn’t Like It, sound to be live recordings or rehearsals and sonically reflects the chaotic ritualized dissonance of the Transparent recordings. In then moving well into the run order of the second disc, it features a short 1984 live recording of Be Like Me, as well as three tracks from the Transparent album (two tracks Baptism of Fire and Poisons from the 1983 Berlin Atonal show, as well as the lengthy tensile guitar feedback soundscape Sewn Open). The archive set is then rounded out with two unreleased tracks, including Sways Backwards from 2006 and Sleazy Said from 2000 and with their respective throbbing/ stilted programming and pulsing choral soundscape gives a clear nod to the surreal atmospheres of late area Coil. In fact, Sleazy Said is noted to be a musical collaboration between John Gosling and the late Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and for me are perhaps the best and most interesting compositions of the entire two CD set.

Noting that I have never been a Zos Kia obsessive, which then means that while 23 is an interesting collection, from this perspective it is personally a non-essential release, particularly due to various tracks falling well outside of what I would ever bracket under an industrial/ post-industrial banner. Yet for others who Zos Kia is a pivotal artist of influence, this extensive double CD set will be of absolutely intrigue to the early industrial (and beyond) experimentations of John Gosling. A digi-book sleeve and detailed liners notes in an eight-page booklet rounds out a slick presentation.

Presidiomodelo ‎– Внутренняя Империя

Presidiomodelo Внутренняя Империя MC NKT 2018

Since 2016 the UK based NKT label has been the outlet for a small clutch of cassette releases from the aligned project Nokuit, where I personally became aware of both label and project via a 2017 release (reviewed here). Now the label has branched out to issue a new project Presidiomodelo which is a Siberian ritual ambient trio where the title of the tape Внутренняя Империя is then noted to translate to “Inner Empire”.

Being ancient and archaic in expression and execution, the single composition spans around 31 minutes of music in total, which is split across the two sides of the tape. Covering a wide variety of interlinked sonic moods and themes, the patter of rain provides a naturalistic setting from the outset, before droning mid-toned synths sweep into sonic frame, undercut with low key metallic scraping textures and other field recording elements, before settling down into a muted looped industrial rumble. Soon enough things evolve again with deep percussive thuds, ritual signing bowls, metallic chimes and atonal wailing of woodwind instruments, while heavily echoed treated vocals evoke a choir like effect and offset with more naturalistic elements grounds the mood in an earthbound perspective. While the mid-section it is categorized by animated and forceful cyclic drones, just a quickly the tone shifts off into varied segments of: fast paced ritual percussion; minimalist ritual chimes; sparse woodwind instrumentation; widescreen droning synths; churning bass toned thrum; while the pattering rain returns at the very end to close the loop.

On more than a few occasions I was reminded of the obscure French project Chöd and given the ritual ambient context of this release it is perhaps inevitable that a comparison to the Aural Hypnox Collective could also be made. Yet these comparisons should be read as a mark of quality, as this in no way feels to be copyist or derivative, given its own distinct compositional approach, and with at times a more muted industrial churn. Fold out multi-panel J-card with suitable archaic and ritualistic imagery rounds out the physical presentation, with a digital download also provided for good measure.

Inade – The Nine Colours of the Threshold

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

DE·TA·US·TO·AS ‎– The Immaculate Triumvirate

DE·TA·US·TO·AS The Immaculate Triumvirate 12″EP Bestiarie 2018

Although I am not at all familiar with this Spanish project DE·TA·US·TO·AS, I am at least familiar with the label who released it, as they have recently re-issued an early Trepaneringsritualen tape Martyrium on 7”ep + CD. That context then becomes quite relevant to this review as the feel and stylistic approach of The Immaculate Triumvirate embodies grim ritual ambient/ death industrial soundscapes coupled with hoarse croaked vocals. Essentially, if I heard this without context I would have sworn I was listening to Trepaneringsritualen, and with particular reference to the earlier releases in a more ritualized and less song structured style.

As Above So Below leads off as the first of four compositions, and opens at a funeral march pace with shrill strings, grinding bass drones, sparse gongs and other ritual implements. These elements combine as the semi-abstract backdrop for the heavily echoed and smoke charred vocals which are moaned, and throat chanted somewhere off in the murky cavernous depths. The following track The Infliction Apex charts more tribal spheres in a loose song-based format, with heavy rolling mid paced percussion, drawling horns, and vocals split between droning throat chants and a rasping croaked style. Zealots opens side B and is another piece which perfectly balances abstract ritual soundscape drones and rhythmic percussive structured elements, this time sounding to be heavily treated oil barrel type percussion, while the muttered and echo treated vocals bleed across the sonic spectrum. The final of the four tracks is Sanctuary Serenity Scourge and steps back into calmer ritual ambient territory, framed around gongs, flickering fire like analogue textures, slow thrumming bass rhythm and dual deep throat chants and rasped ritual invocations.

In many ways the influence of Trepaneringsritualen weighs heavily on this release, yet at the same time this influence does not feel to be in any way cynical, particularly given how strong the end result is and the fact that DE·TA·US·TO·AS has twisted such influences to their own and very positive ends. Packaging wise, the clean graphic design style sees a number of symbolic references embedded within the font style and layout, while the band logo is printed on the outer plastic slip sleeve. Sonically and visually, this is a recommended release.