Death Pact International – Australian Units


Death Pact International – Australian Units CD L.White Records 2014

Here is another instalment in the Death Pact International (DPI) conceptual ‘cultural terrorist manifesto’ experiment, where the following statement provides important context: “A moniker devised in 1985 by members of what are now The Grey Wolves. Anyone may use the DPI name to release music, publish printed material, or perform at live events. Such material has no copyright and is the property of everyone. It may be reused or reprinted by any person in any manner, provided that the DPI name is retained”.

This time around DPI constitutes a loose collective of Australian artists which should have already been self-evident from the album’s title.  Although identifying individual contributions to this album is really missing the point, nevertheless ‘Australian Units’ has been developed with the inputs of both recognized and obscured projects, including: Bonsai Kitten, Burden of Administration, Chrysalis, Die Like A God, Ebola Disco, Isomer, Michael J Ellingford, Screwtape and Streicher.  Sitting at the more scuzzy end of industrial and combined with unrefined power electronics, some pieces also veer towards a dark ambient and/ or noise vein, which collectively span a whopping 75 minutes. Yet without attempting to match tracks to contributors, some impressions and highlights of the 16 tracks are outlined below.

‘Intro’ leads off the album being a relatively subdued and short piece of industrial noise built with shuddering tape loops, junk metal abuse and looped sample, before the 2nd ‘untitled’ track launches into a full power electronics barrage of loosely layered and distortion blizzard focused angst, including partially buried barked vocals. Both pieces are crude, aggressive and certainly hit the mark.  On the other hand the 4th track ‘Void’ is focused on chaotic distortion blasts and choppy noise cut ups where its intensity is emphasized due the sporadic gaps of almost silence. The 5th piece ‘Degenerated Blood’ then features a militant orchestral underpinning (mangled samples perhaps?) counterpointing its rough industrial noise, building to cascading intensity over its length. ‘Sins of Memory’ stands out from the bulk of material by virtue of being more industrial tinged dark ambience with its maudlin sub-orchestral synth textures and looped Australian accent inflected sample, as an agonised voice screams somewhere off in the depths of some cavernous space.  The 9th ‘untitled’ track then marks its approach with shuddering industrial noise and semi-buried vocals, with an underpinning sustained quasi-orchestral drone for solid effect.  The 12th (again) ‘untitled’ piece provides some respite from the sonic chaos of preceding pieces, where it is built around cavernous factory basement drones (…as machines slowly grind on the levels above…), with the whispered vocalisations providing an unnerving element.  Late album cut ‘You’ is a short track embodying an atmosphere of urgency, driven by harsh cyclic distortion, squalling noise and unintelligible treated vocalisations, being focused and absolutely to the point. ‘Wall of Spiders’ then forms the last official track (a 16th unlisted is featured), being chaotic and barely structured tempest of mid toned noise.

Intriguingly the final unlisted track features a prominent sample of an aggressive and psychologically unhinged phone conversation with a call centre operator (which itself is echo treated and mixed with a sweeping industrial noise backing).  Thus this sample along with a number of other excellent samples scattered throughout the album functions to collectively illustrate the harshness of the Australian accent, as well the psyche of certain aggressive and antagonistic character types, and provides a positive degree of local flavour to this particular DPI unit.  In an overarching sense ‘Australian Units’ is sprawling in feel which clearly can be put down to the multiple sources of sonic input.  Yet at the same time a general degree of coherence is provided by the generally unrefined, brutal and loose approach to its mix of power electronics and industrial, meaning the album does not feel like a collection of disparate tracks on an unfocused compilation.  For its presentation a slick ‘slim line’ DVD case with printed DPI manifesto completes the well rounded package.

Mshing – Exterminate


Mshing – Exterminate 3”CDr L.White Records 2014

Mshing constitutes an Australian project (helmed by Luke Holland), whom have not cropped up on this radar before but incidentally have been around since 2005.  Noting that Mshing already have 20+ releases to their name, evidently earlier material was more of a harsh noise variety, whereas on this release the project has gravitated towards a death industrial/ power electronics style and sound.  Given that the harsh noise does not amount to much of this reviewer’s listening habits whereas obviously a lot of death industrial/ power electronics does, it seems an opportune time to check out the project.

The short 2 minute track ‘Cleanse’ opens proceedings with festering analogue death industrial piece, where a vague element of structure provided by a slow thumping rhythm (distorted bass or drum machine – not sure?). ‘Exterminate’ is up next with a more loosely constructed rumbling mass of bass heavy sonics and seething, semi-buried, distortion and echo treated vocals which are spoken in delivery rather than the typical aggressive shouted/ yelled delivery.  The instrumental ‘Defile’ continues with a similar sonic sphere, but contains a slightly greater sense of structure with its throbbing and cascading mid paced rhythmic loops. Certainly a solid offering. For the final track ‘Weaken’ it elevates towards a more direct yet loose power electronics squall, with sharp mid-toned shuddering distortion and unintelligible aggressive treated vocalisations.

Overall this mini-release is both heavy and seething, but at the same time somewhat subdued compared to typical overtly aggressive elements of genre, meaning aural violence is implied rather than executed through an all-out sonic assault.  Given that on this short 21 minute release Mshing display strong abilities with a bleak death industrial/ power electronics sound, it will be interesting to see where the project heads on future offerings.

Human Larvae – Womb Worship


Human Larvae – Womb Worship CD L.White Records 2013

Human Larvae is one of the newer guard of German projects, being the solo project of Berlin native Daniel Burfoot.  Choosing to operate at the edges of death industrial, power electronics and experimental noise, Human Larvae align comfortably with similar acts who function within the grey spaces between various abrasive underground ‘industrial’ related genres. Noting the solid debut album ‘Home Is Where The Hurt Is’ was issued in 2008, Daniel issued a 2011 tape as part of the refining of his sound to a razor-sharp point for this sophomore album.

‘Perdition from the Virgins Mouth’ opens the album in stunning fashion, where a gloomy, catatonically played piano note ring out against scratching junk metal tones, low bass thuds and agonisingly yelled/ distorted treated vocals.  ‘The Truth I Failed To See’ follows, yet operates in far more subdued territory, containing looped breathing sounds, understated wavering synth tones, distant conveyor belt rhythms and thematic dialogue sample.  ‘Slave To Violence’ steps up the tone in a more classic power electronics vein, relying on a bass loaded undercurrent, overblown metallic junk metal distortion and prominent screeched vocals, which in many ways reminds of the aggressive yet densely detailed sonic approach of recent Grunt material.  In more direct terms – excellent.  By pulling back on the throttle ‘Entwined In The Umbilical Noose’ delivers a lengthy track with a cavernous wind tunnel aesthetic.  Across its span the piece shifts through various segments involving: a lone organ dirge; grating tonal textures; wheezing noise and droning three note melody. Located towards the centre of the album, ‘Methods of Possession’ brings to mind the focused intensity of IRM, which is used as a positive comparison to highlight the quality found here.  This particular track works on multiple levels by merging chaotic micro-tonal sonic detailing with organic sounding drones, over which the layered, distortion saturated vocals are delivered with desperate intensity.

Given that the use of abuse related dialogue samples is by now considered ‘de rigueur’ for this type of material, this can lead to the listener being somewhat desensitised to the intended impact.  This is clearly not the case on ‘Wrapped In The Warm Sheets Of Mother Love’, being a track of driven distortion and burrowing noise, over which a sample referencing sexual abuse perpetrated by a mother (as recounted by the son) creates a strong and nauseating impact.  This nauseous tone remains on ‘Obsession Intermezzo II’ (despite containing a totally different sound to the preceding track), here featuring minutely amplified ‘wet’ textural sounds, low bass drone and menacing synth melody. The title track arrives as the concluding album composition, which expertly balances an atmosphere which is equally heavy as it is ominous. Here vaguely rhythmic drones, grinding textures, scattered junk metal noise and heavy echo distortion treated vocals are the order of the day, and whilst not necessarily covering new sonic territory for this style, Human Larvae nevertheless nails the sound perfectly.

Whilst ‘Womb Worship’ is not a long album at 43 minutes, not a single minute of its play time is wasted on any second-rate filler.  The mastering provided by James Plotkin is solid, hefty and suitably loud, yet also contains depth and tonal separation to allow the quieter tracks to breath with ample sonic space.  With its tonal diversity and threateningly weighty atmosphere (even in its quieter moment), Human Larvae have succeeded in delivering a diverse and distinctive sound.  By displaying an equal balance of aggression and restraint, ‘Womb Worship’ is delivered with an absolutely convincing degree of focus and control.  This album has already garnered extensive rotations around these quarters and is exactly the type of album to warrant many more repeat rotations in future.