Augure Concret ‎– An Act Of Desperation / Cephalophore

 

Augure Concret An Act Of Desperation MC Fall Of Nature 2017

Augure Concret Cephalophore MC Unrest Productions 2018

Augure Concret are a new industrial / power electronics project from the UK who have issued two tapes in relative quick succession (in November, 2017 and February, 2018 respectively), however I have no idea as to the time-frames over which the material on these two tapes were composed and recorded. Regardless of this, An Act Of Desperation is the debut release, featuring eight compact and to the point tracks which are framed around an ominously aggressive mood. Compositionally the track feature layering of caustic loops, deeps slow percussive thuds, raw junk metal type noise, semi-melodious loops and somewhat distant vocals which are still decipherable in their yelled presentation with slight echo treatment. The overall sonic tone is thick and hefty, where the slow plodding motion of the tracks gradually elevates in intensity. Some tracks specifically bring to mind Grunt of Human Larvae and their penchant for using creaking junk metal sound sources as a central part of their sonic framework. Therefore such comparisons should give an indication of the detailed compositional approach and rawer and ripping noise infused edge of the material found on An Act Of Desperation.

Cephalophore is the second follow up tape and demonstrates a clear evolution in sound and approach, given it features four untitled longer form tracks which sprawl out over greater length. Thick and spitting distortion open the album as a backing to a dialogue sample discussing schizophrenia, before launching into a chaotic noise infused ‘rocks in a cement mixer’ loops, while a melancholic synth line cuts through strongly and the vocals are rendered unintelligible through their distortion treatment. The second track is split into two halves, where the first segment incorporates whistling noise, mid-toned tensile drones and roared vocals, while the later section is instrumental in scope and shows a willingness of the project to explore controlled and atmospheric spheres through the use of looped and layered orchestral strings which are underpinned by a plodding bass hum and muted mid-toned static. Excellent stuff. The first track on Side B is a particular standout with its shuddering cascading loops, distant underpinning synth line and semi-buried gruff vocals, with gradually elevating momentum and mid pitched noise.  For the final track it is controlled rather than outwardly aggressive, being subdued and sparse overall, vocals are cavernous and distant and mid-toned, chattering noise.

Clearly both of these tapes demonstrate Augure Concret to have definite level of skill and a wealth of compositional ideas. However in comparing the two Cephalophore stands above An Act Of Desperation, as it is more varied overall in style and approach and willingness to pair back on overt aggression and bodes well for Augure Concret caving out their own niche sound and approach within a power electronics infused industrial style. Best be quick if interested in these as both of these professionally duplicated tapes are extremely limited – 60 copies for An Act Of Desperation and 121 copies for Cephalophore.

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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.

Streicher – Global Gas Chamber / Totenrune – Bellum Internecinum

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Streicher – Global Gas Chamber / Totenrune – Bellum Internecinum MC Fall of Nature 2016

As a first observation this split function as evidence there is still movement in Streicher camp, given the formal status of the project has been somewhat unclear in recent years.*  But in keeping with the ‘political lighting rod’ role Streicher have played in the past, this modus operandi remains steadfast in 2016, but has been updated here with a concept to specifically address current socio-political events playing out on the world stage.

‘Global Has Chamber’ commences with a media sound-bite to inform the context and concept of the track, which is quickly followed by jagged scrap metal crunch and the terrified squealing of a pig.  This sample of ‘base animal terror’ is soon replaced with the screaming of a mass of humanity and further set to a sample of hissing gas – just to leave no shadow of doubt of meaning.  All this is further underscored by distant mid toned noise, crude analog filth and the gruff garbled vocals of Ulex Xane.  Once this initial sound is established, a foreboding monotony takes over which functions to hammer home the impact of the track, where the lone sobbing of a female late in the track being an additional grim touch. The mood and feel of the track is quintessentially that of Streicher’s established power electronics sound, although there feel here is that of a ‘soundscape’ style as opposed to overtly rhythmic approach.

On the flip side of the split, this is my first introduction to Totenrune, which is the solo project of Karl Rogers, who is also the label boss of Fall of Nature. Although primarily being billed as ‘noise’ upon listening to this single track ‘Bellum Internecinum’ (meaning: “a war of extermination”), it has a much greater rough ‘industrialised’ noise feel, given the source material is derived from scrap metal abuse. Rough layers of ripping static and crumbling distortion make up the bulk of the sound, where there is a mid-paced cyclic feel to how the piece plays out over its length. The cover states that this track was created in one take, which on the face of it appears to have been executed with intent rather than being merely improvised on the spot – but I am not sure of the truth of this either way. Regardless, this has more than adequate focus and rough industrial noise tonal aesthetic to make it a solid and enjoyable track that sonically and thematically suits the split format with Streicher.

The tape itself has a pro-printed doubled sided J card, with suitable rough b&w photocopy artwork (courtesy of Luke Holland of Trapdoor Tapes with 5 different covers produced), while the hand drawn runes on either side of the black shell cassette to indicate the artist is a nice touch. With its small limitation, it is likely this tape is already sold out. Too bad for those who have missed it.


* – Besides from a number of archival reissues, Ulex appears to have been mostly inactive on the Streicher front since 2003’s ‘War Without End’ album, and although there were Streicher contributions both the Death Pact International ‘Australian Units’ CD from 2014 and the ‘Fight Your Own War’ book compilation from 2016, it is not clear when those contributions were recorded. Likewise the split MC with :M: from 2013 featured an private archival Streicher recording.

Fall of Nature tapes 2016

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The Temple of Algolagnia/ Funeral Mantra – Fremitus Ortus Cum Defuncti MC Fall of Nature 2016

Ectoplasm – From the Extrasensory Sphere MC Fall of Nature 2016

Issued under the new umbrella title of ‘Fremitus Ortus Cum Defuncti’, The Temple of Algolagnia/ Funeral Mantra split was originally issued as a digital only release on Kalpamantra in 2012.  Fall of Nature have now seen fit to give this release a repress on physical format, including remastered recordings and newly updated artwork.

The Temple of Algolagnia take up the first side with occult infused dark ambience and perhaps could be compared to the funeral doom project Nortt and their mostly ambient album ‘Galgenfrist’ (…but for clarity it is highlighted that no metal elements are featured here).  The opening cut ‘Translucent Ebony Statues’ sets the scene with sparely forlorn atmospheres and an understated lone piano melody haunting proceedings. The next piece ‘Catacombs Above Ground’ features field recordings elements of rain, dripping water and distant crow cries embeds a very strong cryptic tone (…low bass drones rumble ominously throughout).  ‘Cantibus Ad Messorem, Sanctus Mors’ then up the sound towards death industrial spheres with a thumping percussive framework, tolling church bells and more animated quasi-orchestral synths and whispered invocations (…comparable to being a subdued version of In Slaughter Natives’ satanic orchestral industrial). ‘Death Libations’ features as a short bonus track and rounds out Side A with sparse clanging discordant piano notes and scant wailing funeral strings.  A strong yet sullen conclusion to The Temple of Algolagnia’s offerings.

Funeral Mantra are to be found on Side B and take a further step down into the catacombs via dark ambient atmospheres of choking soot and ash, which contain a sense of dread and non-movement.  The lengthy 9.5 minute opening track ‘The Source of the Black Poison features a muffled tone and feel of suffocating inky blackness and with its distant, forlorn and muffled choir chants, is something akin to a more sparsely rendered raison d’etre.  Likewise ‘Necrolust Obsession’ works particularly well, with distant droll funeral procession percussion, windswept ambience and male chanted choral vocals, coupled with scrapping metallic textures in the foreground.  ‘Throne of Death’ is the final offering from Funeral Mantra, being a touch less echoed and dour in feel, given the sampled choral vocals make a return but this time are mixed prominently upfront, with the lurking synths providing an ominous edge.

Moving on to the Ectoplasm tape, it would seem this is side project of Funeral Mantra and the debut release at that.  Although not straying too far from the sound of Funeral Mantra, the sound Ectoplasm still differentiates itself by accommodating a more dynamic soft/ loud production which is coupled with a strong presence of unintelligible disembodied voices.  The opening piece ‘Cataleptic Transmissions’ is rather quasi-orchestral in approach by building to shrill crescendos, which is also undercut by ominous tones and general catacomb ambience (…sparse bells/ rattling chains/ opening of rusty hinges/ anguished cries).  ‘Ectenic Crytotrance’ is another focused and tensile dark ambient composition, where the sound of a record needle on an old 78rpm record is a nice touch.  ‘Spectral Autopsy’ then sets itself completely apart by breaking out into section of slow paced lo-fi black metal/ rasping funeral doom (complete with treble toned razor sharp guitars, slow booming drums and shrieked vocals), but as quickly as this section arrives it recedes into the background leaving twilight hours field recordings, rumbling bass and sparse gong tones.  ‘Transition’ is the final of 4 tracks from Ectoplasm and concludes the tape over a 14 minute expanse of echoed desolate soundscapes, floating spectral vocalisations and occasional doom laden thuds.

Given both tapes broadly exist within similar tonal sphere – namely obscure, occult infused dark ambient musings – both of these tapes deliver in spades for this style and despite their limitations (120 and 100 copies respectively), both are pro-pressed and exquisitely designed.

Wilt – From Depths Profound And Inconceivable / A Daemonic Alteration

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Wilt – From Depths Profound And Inconceivable CD Fall of Nature 2015

Wilt – A Daemonic Alteration MC Fall of Nature 2015

Wilt are a project I was vaguely aware of in the early 2000’s but dropped off my radar for whatever reason, but if remembering correctly the project focused on experimental dark ambient with a slightly noisier slant. From a quick look at their ‘Discogs’ listing Wilt have remained continually active since 1999 and over the last 15 years have been extremely active in fact, with in excess of 70 releases to their name. Here are two new releases from the project, issued at the same time, but on differing formats. On the aesthetic front, it appears the group have evolved towards a more occult focus as evidenced by both by titles and the darker, yawning, black noise tinged dark ambient sound.

‘From Depths Profound And Inconceivable’ features 14 tracks (between 3 and 7 minutes each), with nearly 70 minutes of music. Although all generally dark and brooding in sonic texture, there is a myriad of musical angles on display; some being staunchly dark ambient, whilst others having a doom drone frame of reference due to the use of guitars (both distorted and clean depending on the track). A crumbling, distorted rumble which underpins many pieces indicates a rougher edge to proceedings; yet depth and space is also evident within the drone framework, thus providing a broadly expansive and enveloping tone. Regarding particular tracks, ‘Buried Temples of Belial’ starts the album strongly with sampled Tibetan throat chanting, before the introduction of a heavy and prominent (slow plucked) atonally distorted guitar.  Although the introductory programmed synths on ‘Into the Sightless Vortex of the Unimaginable’ are rather uninspired and stock-standard; later the sound morphs positively to include a multitude of caustic and distorted layers (abstract guitars and overblown ritual singing bowl playing?). ‘Shadowed Souls Around A Blazing Alter’ represents a particularly doom drone focused piece, of rising /falling static riddled cyclic guitar waves while ‘An Ancient Circle of Monoliths’ is a great example of the ‘yawning abyss’ style of echoed abstract synth derived dark ambience (including mid-range static coursing through the centre of the composition). After a series of both noisy and subdued droning styled pieces, the final album track ‘Desolate Mountains’ provides a nice deviation with its dour interweaving acoustic guitars and distant rumbling backing.

Moving on to ‘A Daemonic Alteration’, it forms another complete album with 9 tracks in all, but with each being on the shorter side the overall play time is far less than the companion CD. The title track which opens the tape includes buried mechanised rhythms which intermingle with crumbling sub-orchestral drones, whereas organ dirge tones and treated abstract guitars are added to ‘Fallen’ as a slight deviation to the ambient drone framework.  The short piece ‘Some Nameless Thing’ is then cut from a darker hue, with its layers and heavier toned bedrock distortion which cyclically push towards a death industrial tone. Side B opens with ‘A Shadowed Portal’ which is far weightier and crushing than preceding material (blast furnace walls of industrial distortion and doom drone feedback), before the sustained and elongated quasi-orchestral drones of ‘An Abyss Of Seething Chaos And Cerulean Splendor’ take over. The final track ‘Winter Solstice Procession’ maudlin mood of slow manipulated choir like textures, sparse clanging elements and minimalist undercurrent plays out like a raison d’etre cast off (from the early days of the project), which although hardly original, nails this sound and tone with flair.

To directly compare the two releases, the cassette comes across as the more focused work whereas the CD plays out as a sprawling collection of individual pieces, yet each demonstrates interesting ideas through their blending of elements drawn from black ambient/ dark ambient spheres as well as smatterings of a doom drone sound, without necessarily being slavish to either of these genres.

Funerary Call / Crown Of Bone – Self-titled / Trauma – After Visiting Hours

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Funerary Call / Crown Of Bone – Funerary Call / Crown Of Bone MC Fall of Nature 2015

Trauma – After Visiting Hours MC Fall of Nature 2015

Although Fall of Nature was effectively silent during 2014, 2015 is off to a strong start with a swag of new releases; two of which are reviewed below.  The first cassette is a split between the ritual dark ambient Funerary Call and the harsh noise Crown of Bone, whilst the second tape is a re-release from an obscure UK death industrial project Trauma.  Both releases are slickly presented, including professionally pressed and printed cassettes and J cards, which is noteworthy given the small editions of each.

On the split cassette Funerary Call lead off by featuring two lengthy tracks of sparse yet intense dark ambience, and whilst building upon their recognized ritualised aesthetic the tracks sit at the longer, free form and abstract end of what the project do.  The first track ‘Idols Of Perdition’ is more animated and heavingly heavy than usual and works on two broad levels, including yawning cavernous black depths and focused micro tonal ‘scratching’ elements. Grinding synths (emulating hellish horns of death) and creaking metallic elements also substantially augment the mood, and when vocals are also present which amount to a hoarse whisper bleeding into the overall sonic mass.  The second piece ‘Silent Prayers Of Execration’ commences in sparse ritual chimes and sustained wailing elements, before a prominent cyclic bass drone gradually sweeps the track to its conclusion.  All in all a solid two track offering from Funerary Call.

Noting that straight forward harsh noise has never quite been my favorite of styles, Crown of Bone’s side was always going to compare with difficultly to Funerary Call’s side.  Nevertheless Crown of Bone deliver two lengthy tracks of grim static and blasting back noise which effectively combine to form a single cassette side track.  As such a sustained mid-range distortion is coupled with lower bass rumble, whilst vocals of a grim black metal rasp can be detected semi-buried within the mix.  Likewise underneath the wall of static there are detectable dynamics, constituting a gradual shift and flow to various the layers of distortion, where on occasion the mid-range elements fall away to reveal the underpinning/ grinding bass tone structures, which then themselves are gradually elevated in bulk and force.  Mid-way through their side of the tape the blasting wall of mid-range static sheds back into the mix, again with the grim static shredded vocalizations.

Noting my own personal listening tastes, Funerary Call’s side was always likely to be preferred side (and has been proven in the detailed listening), however Crown of Bone do a commendable grimly focused black noise approach, which compliments the occult thematic stance of the tape, as evidenced by its visuals.

For the second reviewed release Fall of Nature have dug up a rather obscure UK project to reissue their 2008 CDr  ‘After Visiting Hours’ on tape.  Self-described as “Slow Growing Surgical Death Noise”, this is good descriptor of what to expect.  As such the material is sparsely constructed, where there is definite room to breathe between sonic elements, including loose looped mechanical rhythms, clinical toned drones, throbbing textures etc.  A slow and controlled pacing across the 8 tracks is also a clear hallmark, where each piece averages a length between 5-6 minutes.  Occasional dialogue samples are utilized to compliment the basic medical themes, whilst there is also definite affinity with the sound and visual aesthetic of early Slaughter Productions releases.  Noting its mid-90’s minimalist style it is impregnated with a certain clinical morbidity and although Trauma’s tape will not change perceptions of this type of material, this has an unrefined and obscured charm all the same.  Clearly Fall of Nature should be commended for excavating this from the underground to give the project some greater spotlight and evidently new material from Trauma will be released on Fall of Nature will be issued in future, so something to look out for.

Funerary Call – Beckoning at the Black

Funerary Call – Beckoning at the Black CD Fall of Nature 2012

This new release from Funerary Call, does not contain new material per se, but constitutes the resurrection of earlier material previously released on a limited CDr via the Fossil Dungeon in 2004 – with an extra track added for good measure.  So, when ‘Beckoning at the Black’ is contemplated in context the organic / ritualistic direction of recent Funerary Call, this older material clearly has more direct linage with 90’s sounds coming from Cold Meat Industry, i.e. the orchestral / industrial / ambient material of In Slaughter Natives, or the more composed and percussive material of early Raison D’etre etc.  Yet not coming off as a bland copy, Funerary Call evokes a certain dark classic horror soundtrack type vibe that sets it apart.

In broad terms the 7 tracks are built around a framework of doom evoking orchestral elements, which (dependant on the track) includes: wailing horns, pounding ritual drums, shrill strings, operatic wails, sparse piano / flute melodies, a heavy dose of echo and reverb and whispered / treated vocals which arise out of the sparse aural muck.  Also to provide another comparative marker, the mix of ambient washes of sound and sparse ritualistic persuasion of ‘Hel’s Hymn’ and the moody orchestral strings, horns and piano of ‘Of Death’s Breath’ brings to mind early Desiderii Marginis, which is certainly a compliment from my perspective.

Whilst ‘Beckoning at the Black’ constitutes a deviation in sound from the current direction of Funerary Call, this is a worthy release, including a great cover image (taken the 1970’s motion picture Wicker Man), to provide a suitable visual counterpart.