JT Whitfield – Pressed Pill

JT Whitfield – Pressed Pill 7”ep Damned Gates Recordings 2021

The name JT Whitfield was vaguely familiar when I received this, although equally I could not immediately place it. But with further investigation it is noted that JT is a Texas based artist operating within the underground and specifically the in-between spaces where noise, industrial, dark ambient and experimental techno collide. In further contemplating the abstracted skull image of the cover and the unintelligible font (which is somewhere between a black metal logo and calligraphic scrawl), it belies the actual musical content pressed on the wax.

As for those sounds, the 45prm 7”ep features two tracks of lumbering, caustic and stilted industrial rhythms which equally hints at a tone of experimental noise and industrial techno without fully embodying these either. A thick fractured bass pulse and fleeting horror synths kick things off on Press 1, while further fractured off kilter rhythmic elements keep thing darkly wonky. Slowly tidal washes of rising distortion are added for good measure and there may be a vocal line in there too – or is that just another noise texture? Not quite sure. Press 2 follows on the flipside, and contains more of a mutated techno kick combined with mid toned scrabbling textures, but it too retains an off kilter and slow-paced forward roll. Also, although not specifically recommended, I did note that this can also be played at 33prm without sounding wrong and actually provides an positive ‘screwed’ effect – meaning that of a drawling drugged haze provided by the slower speed.

The limited run pressing of 50 copies also comes with a series of screen-printed insets, rounding out a decent little release, issued on this boutique Melbourne based label.

System Body – Cast No Light

System Body – Cast No Light MC Damned Gates Recordings 2020

System Body are an Australian project who sonically inhabit the intersecting spaces of rhythmic noise, dark ambient and elements of moody industrial tinged techno (but sans any 4/4 kick drums). Cast No Light contains an EP’s worth of material with four tracks spanning around 30 minutes of material.

Blood Statue opens the tape and is a monolithic, fifteen-minute, Side A spanning track. With the first half being based around melodious intertwining power drones, it partially reminds of current era Yen Pox. Yet the latter half surges ahead with throbbing mid-paced rhythmic bass, melancholic synths and sparse martial inflected beat. Side B bring a further three tracks, with each around 5 minutes each. Eaten is the first, being framed around a mid-paced lurching programming, semi-buried half sung half chanted vocals and underpinned by throbbing bass addled distortion. The title track is next, being a freeform piece of layers synth elements sweeping and crumbling static, while the thick tonal bass beat elements are processed to overblown proportions. Shadows Shown To Shadows is the concluding track, being based around crushing and overblown bass tones which are hewn into loosely constructed and slow evolving rhythmic pulsations.

Of the four tracks, the epic Side A piece Blood Statue is the clear standout, yet the remaining tracks are not too shabby either, where Cast No Light functions as a strong example a modern toned yet staunchly underground sounds. For the physical packaging the tape is housed in an oversized black clamshell package. All in all nicely done.