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.

Sektor 304 – Communiphones / Ruby

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Sektor 304 – Communiphones CD New Approach Recordings 2014

Martin Bladh & Sektor 304 – Ruby CDr Annihilvs 2014

Over a number of years Sektor 304 have become a highly lauded group for their ‘band collective’ take on classic industrial music elements. However here are a pair of Sektor 304 albums which are not of their recognized style; rather both sitting squarely within a dark ambient/ experimental frame of reference.

‘Communiphones’ is up first, being a single 35 minute experimental composition (the recording dating from 2012), which has been composed by the main dup of Andre Coelho and Gustavo Costa. Here the piece seems to be underscored by factory/ warehouse based field recordings and an undercurrent of buzzing static drones, over which multi-layered micro-tonal metallic scrapping sounds and textures are arranged. The pacing is slow and controlled, with tonal washes of sound bleeding in and out of the mix over extended passages, which function to highlight specific segments or movements. Additionally a mood of general tenseness permeates the overall atmosphere, with the impression created by the creaking, twisting and generally jagged metallic tones off the field recording elements. Through the middle of the piece the piece falls away into a lengthy passage which oscillates between a low ambient throbbing hum and windswept cavernous drones, again with the distant sound of metallic objects being shunted around on a factory floor. The final third then moves towards its conclusion with a gradually building synth drone, and despite its long form composition and general abstract tonality ‘Communiphones’ maintains drive, direction and interest throughout its duration.

Up next is ‘Ruby’, a collaboration between the group and IRM vocalist Martin Bladh, which is presented as another single track (52 minutes); although the album cover does designate 8 separate pieces or segments (‘I’ through ‘VIII’). Noting that Sektor 304 have previously collaborated with Martin Bladh on their half of the ‘Utopia / Decay’ split LP with Dissection Table, perhaps ‘Ruby’ can be considered as an extension of that collaborative process. The ‘Ruby’ recording dates then from 2012-2013 and apart from Martin’s text and vocal contributions, features the inputs of 5 individuals (Andre Coelho, Gustavo Costa, Joao Filipe, Henrique Fernandes & Angelica Salvi). Although broadly experimental, the music has a feel of being slightly more ‘band’ or ‘collective’ focused, given the tracks are slightly more composed and urgent.  Yet with an amorphous and abstract feel ‘Ruby’ is a far cry from the song based material of other Sektor 304 albums. As such the musical movements are soundscape oriented with vague thrummed bass, sparse metallic/ junk metal percussion, experimental drones and general waves of distortion. Martin’s vocals are then dispersed throughout and either spoken or whispered in delivery and presented in a general narrative and/ or personal ‘psychoanalytical’ type style and intriguingly sound bizarrely childlike at times (from either pronunciation or having been warped in post-production). Given its general abstract experimental style, one segment stands out due to its divergent use of a solo harp melody and the lone accompaniment to Martin multi-layered whispered/ spoken vocals. The final track has a sound of a ‘typical’ band formation, but here is far more of a standard alt-rock feel (aka SWANS), given its straight forward guitars and percussion, but with that said the sweeping electronics drones and metallic percussion giving it a more underground industrial edge.

Noting both albums have little benchmarks or points of reference to the main Sektor 304 albums, these are still excellent recordings for completely different reasons. But rather than pointing to new territory, it seems these albums may be a means to issue the last remaining recorded output of the project given Sektor 304 have quietly called it a day as an active project. Given it is an absolute shame that Sektor 304 has ceased recording activity, these recordings stand as testament to the varied output and approach of the group.