Post Scriptvm – Variola Vera

Post Scriptvm – Variola Vera LP Tesco Organisation 2019

Variola Vera comes as the eighth album for Post Scriptvm in twenty years of activity. While the project has perhaps slightly flown under the radar compared to other post-industrial projects, they continue to blend, splice and manipulate elements of dark ambient, death industrial, and heavy / power electronics into quite uniquely sounding material.

As with earlier works, the broader feel of the album is one of a paranoid ‘Kafkaesque’ disassociated miasma of ever shifting sound textures, sonics treatments and disembodied voices, which equally would not be out of place as an alternative sound-score to the classic sci-fi film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. Yet these impressions do not cut to the core of the album’s theme, given the promotional notes identify that it is: ‘Titled after the outbreak of smallpox in the 1970s socialist Yugoslavia, unintentionally brought in by the pilgrims returning from a quest for divine illumination, Variola Vera is the soundtrack to the somatic and the metaphysical epidemics steering the human enterprise towards its termination’.

For its broadly consistent stylistic approach Born Into Trauma stands out based on its partly experimental and partly heavy electronics menace. Infected with a mutant strain of industrial techno, interestingly an underpinning bass kick is entirely absent, yet the techno pulse remains as a constant thread, while the aggressive, treated vocals push a perilous tone. Another particular album standout which functions to draw together all preceding sonic threads is Storm Puppets based on wonky and warbling intertwining textures and processed scrap metal clatter which are pushed into a heavy electronics expression, complete with treated, seething vocals is one of the album’s standouts. Fondamenta Degli Incurabili concludes the album with a piece of floating abstracted melancholia, where muted synth melodies float and waver. Mid-track some slow thumping and rhythmic textures emphasized a drugged sway which carries the album to its conclusion.

Rather than being any sort of significant deviation from Post Scriptvm, this is an album which demonstrates a honing and refinement of their established sound, which is subtlety more active, varied and sonically complex, building to occasional moments of menace and aggression. Clearly Variola Vera will absolutely be to the liking of ardent followers of the project, yet it is also important to highlight that it is also some of the strongest and varied material to come from the project yet. The printed cover and inner sleeve rounds out the visual side of things with darkly abstracted and slightly surreal visuals. Yes, this is recommended.

Detrimental Effect – Your Truth

Detrimental Effect – Your Truth CD Tesco Organisation 2019

With little fanfare, hype or even basic promotion before the actual release, the second full length album from Detrimental Effect has been dropped on an unsuspecting underground (…perhaps akin to a covert dirty bomb attack…). Noting the last album was on Unsound Recordings (a side label of Unrest Productions), this new release has been issued on Tesco Organisation.

Thematically speaking a phrase featured on the back cover provides some context: ‘and you obey in advance, as you compromise your values, your principles, your heedless acts of conformity’, while an under-tray image provides a visual of what appears to be an example of testosterone fueled, chest beating nationalism. But with little more in the way of explanation, listeners are left up to their own devices to glean their own ‘truth’ of what the album is about. On the sonic front the album tracks draw from a similar analogue sound palette to the debut Be My Enemy (reviewed here), which includes: pulsing and revving distortion, vague looped structures, vocals to processed to the point of unrecognizability and smatterings of dialogue samples. Yet these elements are harnessed and creatively employed compositionally to generate distinctiveness and variation between each piece. Likewise while clearly building on the already established industrial / power electronics sound, Your Truth has ever so slightly dialled down of overt aggression and unhinged sonic elements. Thus by pulling back slightly it has created create degree of brooding restraint which in turn has pushed the industrial sound slightly more towards a controlled heavy electronics frame of reference. After the bristling opener A Righteous Conflict, the following track Cruci-fiction is very much a case in point of this perception, itself being a track based on a low throbbing pulse, sustained needling textures sampled interview dialogue and other distinct layered elements, coming across as a brooding heavy electronics track of the highest order. Homeland Security is also an example of impact through simplicity, framed around a dive-bombing loop, caustic vocal layers and semi-buried dialogue samples. The Lie of the Land is also noteworthy based on its laborious militant pulse and a multitude of sweeping textures, while the final title track ends with a  track of sustained spitting and squelching loops and one final flanger treated vocal barrage.

Matt card stock of the 4-panel digipack features simple artwork, which stylistically matches the design of debut and like the artwork the is album is both direct and to the point. Without being a mere retread of the debut, Your Truth is both a refinement and expansion of Detrimental Effect’s now established sound, and consequently has delivered a storming release in the process.

Pterygium – Concealing The Past

Pterygium – Concealing The Past CD Tesco Organisation 2018

The relatively new Australian project Pterygium have returned with their second full length album Concealing The Past, which follows the 2017 debut Grip (issued on a small cassette run on Algebra Of Need and reviewed here). Also of note, Pteryrium had a track on Tesco Organisation’s 2017 Projekt Neue Ordnung II 4xLP boxset, where Tesco has now subsequently issued this new and admittedly excellent sophomore album.

In noting the dual sonic approach of Grip, which blended minimalistic melodic tones with sharper distortion squalls, that approach has been both repeated and further honed here where the tonal range has been further refined and sonic depth amplified. As an album Concealing The Past is structured around nine distinct and individual pieces of between three and seven minutes each, which on the most part follow an understated melodic and minor keyed compositional framework. Being effectively an instrumental album, a variety of discreet sampled ethnic/ religious framed vocals provides an ethereal touch, as does the melancholic elements (such as piano lines, neo-orchestral strings etc.), which evokes a detached yet strongly emotive resonance (such as is immaculately displayed on A Vacant Regret). Yet there is still a willingness to let loose on select with heavy menacing drones and higher-toned noise squalls such as displayed on Entry_Exitpoint which has a raw tonal sharpness which perhaps is indicative of a live in studio recording technique. A pair of late album tracks (Siphon Like Parasites & And Love Became A One Way Street) both balance on a knifes edge between the dual sonic approaches, on the one side featuring crude distortion blasts and choppy loops, which on the other are offset against bass addled drones and swelling sub-orchestral melodies.

Thematically Concealing The Past clearly fits within the broader post-industrial network, but to its credit does not sound in any way typical or derivative of a particular sub-genre. Rather, it draws extensively from various elements to create its own internalized sound and logic and is all the stronger for it, but for comparative sake the multi-faceted sound displayed by Prurient on Frozen Niagara Falls is perhaps a reasonable reference point.

Although some people continue to complain that the post-industrial music is broadly redundant for lack of new ideas and approaches, and further accuse newer projects of being mere copyists of the originators, Pterygium is the effective antithesis of that opinion. Solo member Henry Gillet clearly understands the underground scene Pterygium operates within, but armed with a wealth of musical ideas he has creates a strong and individual sound which sidesteps being in any way derivative of genre confines of noise, industrial, dark ambient and power electronics. If the current and next generation of projects can match the creativity displayed on Concealing The Past, there is still much new ground to be explored and much to look forward to and be celebrated. A resounding recommendation from these quarters.

Trepaneringsritualen ‎– Kainskult

Trepaneringsritualen Kainskult LP Tesco Organisation 2017

Some three years on from 2014’s Perfection & Permanence (reviewed here), Thomas Ekelund has returned with the follow up full length Kainskult, issued via the cult industrial label Tesco Organisation. Sonically speaking this new album demonstrates the further honing and refinement of the evolved rhythmic song-based approach, where everything about Kainskult feels as it has been stepped up a notch: from the song writing; to vocal delivery; to recording; and finally to the production. Yet with reference to the production, it is far from being clean and polished as it maintains harshness and grit befitting of its chosen ritual death industrial style, so is more a case that all elements have been elevated in sonic intensity. The methods of recording also illustrates the use of programmed elements blended with real instrumentation such a s standing drum kit (floor tom and cymbals), junk metal type percussion, distant ceremonial horns and other ritual percussion, while the vocals are on occasion multi-tracked, or presented as a backing chorus.

With a distant gruff voice proclaiming “Fratricide! Fratricide! Fratricide!”, Death & Ecstasy opens the album which is a vocal led number set to a minimalist rhythmic thump and with the semi chanted vocals comes across as a mantra of sorts. With this relative slow burner as the album opener, it only functions to amplify the impact of Maðr Malformed which is heavily driving piece based around rolling militant percussion, swaying bass rhythm and gruff vocals following a perhaps now trademark verse/ chorus/ verse format. All Flesh Has Corrupted is also noteworthy for the lyrical approach where the multi-tracked vocals are rhythmically delivered to follow the bass and ritual drumming. One of the longest tracks of the album (at 7 minutes) is which sits towards a soundscape styled offering, although bass and slow pounding drums provides a ritualized framework, while the following pairing of Feral Me and Serpent Seed demonstrates the album in its strongest song-based format. Feral Me features some fantastic roiling metallic percussive elements, while Serpent Seed is by far the album standout, with its monolithic pounding bass, counterpointed clanging metallic beat, and gruff multi tracked vocals which again demonstrates Thomas’s skill in executing vocal delivery which perfectly melds within the tracks percussive and rhythmic structure. An Immaculate Body Of Water is another 7 minute track, and while it is effectively double the length of the majority of tracks, it does not feel as long as this even with its slow pacing, where grinding drones, slow bass thuds and garbled vocals are the order of proceedings. With a blink and miss it length of at 29 seconds, the album concludes with V V V, being one final song based percussive rhythmic based track, again with thick bass drones and militant rolling beats.

Thematically speaking, the title of the album clearly alludes to the continuation of an esoteric and symbolic exploration of the Cain and Abel mythology, which is also reflected strongly in both in lyrics and visuals. It would then seem there is further meaning embedded in the cover artwork, yet I have yet been able to decipher the clues within select lyrical symbolism and typographic design to determine what the hidden message may be. But aside from such conundrums, this review has been written some months after the original release in October, 2017, where it was then observed that the first edition issued in 250 copies each of black and white vinyl pressing sold out at lightening speed, and has since been repressed in a red vinyl edition (500 copies). Based on those sales this obviously evidences that Kainskult has been a very popular album, but perhaps it is also indicative of interest being shown outside of the core underground post-industrial scene. This can then be explained by the fact that Trepaneringsritualen have toured extensively as a support act with a number of underground black metal bands, which is likely to have fostered a diversification of a typical audience for this sort of material. Likewise, given the occult and esoteric thematic focus and the strong rhythmic song based approach, it is easy to appreciate why black metal listeners would find a certain affinity with Kainkult. But regardless of where the current audience interest in Trepaneringsritualen is coming from, this is ultimately irrelevant to the fact that Kainkult functions as an expertly crafted, stormer of an album.

Genocide Organ – Civilzation

Genocide Organ – Civilzation 3xLP Tesco Organisation 2017

In the ongoing re-release campaign of Genocide Organ’s back catalogue, the time has finally come for Save Our Slaves to receive due attention, with this expanded compilation format already having been many years in the making. Save Our Slaves was first released on Tesco Organisation in 1991 (as Tesco04, and now already 26 years old), and is the central element to this re-release. In context of Genocide Organ’s discography Save Our Slaves arrived as the second album for Genocide Organ and followed their debut Leichenlinie released two years prior in 1989. Although the impact of Leichenlinie in undeniable in first establishing the group, Save Our Slaves stands out as a landmark release that cemented Genocide Organ’s cult underground status and particularly highlighted their willingness to present potentially controversial thematic material without explanation or qualification.

Noting that the original format of Save Our Slaves contained a 12”LP & 7”EP (six tracks totalLing around 35 minutes of music), rather than simply re-releasing that material Civilization constitutes a complete re-contextualization of original content. Here the set has been substantially expanded with the inclusion of the two tracks from 1998’s Klan Kountry 7”EP, and a further five tracks taken form various compilations from 1991 to 1997, along with a further LP that documents the audio of a live performance from 1990. Cleverly all additional content is conceptually tied together by having a similar American thematic focus, the original title has been altered to ‘Civilisation’, which itself takes its title from the live performance video Save Our Slaves: The Rise Of American Civilization, which was only included with the ultra-limited special ‘metal box’ version of Save Our Slaves (limited to a mere 18 copies).  Thus, with the inclusion of additional material spanning the years of 1990 to 1998, it functions to seamlessly ties together these scattered thematic threads under the Civilzation banner.

With reference to musical content, obviously Genocide Organ’s prototype, aggressive, and barely restrained power electronics forms a large proportion of the musical scope, which involves rumbling noise, blasting static, loosely composed oscillating forms, and antagonistic distortion drenched vocals (i.e. Kill Useless Nations, Klan Kountry & We Grow). Alternatively, other tracks function to cover the industrial-noise styled approach of the group, such as is displayed on Patria Y Libertad, Search for a Place to Die & Violent Coordinating Committee. Likewise, the throbbing rhythms, cinematic synths, squelching noise, and sweeping drones of selected compositions see Genocide Organ operating at their most melodic, such is the case with I Want James Meredith & Weg Der Verlorenen). Last of all, John Birch Society (a highly recognisable track within Genocide Organ’s canon), is a clear standout with its simplistic structure, crude but almost upbeat programmed drum machine, aggressive distorted vocals, and further treated with harsh noise.

On the third live LP Live At Lever Sunlicht / Mannheim 15.12.90, this is the audio from the Save Our Slaves: The Rise Of American Civilization VHS, where the production is raw and harsh as one might expect for a live recording from 1990. Yet despite the harshness of the sound, the set list does not constitute an all-out jugular attack, but rather it opts for a series of industrial noise soundscapes, vague shuddering factory rhythms, squelching noise, and snarled vocalisations. The final chaotic triptych rounds out the live recording and, in the process, amps up the mood more towards an expected power electronics assault with Patria Y Libertad.

For the packaging and presentation, no attempt has been made to recreate the special format of the original box-set, which was a rough painted, hand assembled cardboard box with banderole striping, pasted image and text stickers, combined with additional inserts. Here an entirely new box-set design has been devised, which involves a newly designed outer slip box in which three single LP’s/ jackets are housed, along with a fourth LP jacket to house the 24 page A4 booklet (which fleshes out the thematic context), along with a series of three printed inserts and a woven patch. With the presentation following Genocide Organ’s recognisable design aesthetic, and while completely different to the original Save Or Slaves presentation does absolute justice to the expanded set.

Considering its original impact in 1991, coupled with its revered status today, Save Our Slaves stands out as the landmark release that definitively executed each hallmark element of sound, visuals and strong and uncompromising thematic content with flawless accuracy. As a re-contextualized version of this Genocide Organ classic, Civilization can easily be categorisaed as another celebrated addition to their illustrious discography. Already sold out in its vinyl version (limited to 500 copies), a double CD, A5 sized cover and 24 page booklet* housed in an outer slip-case will have to suffice.


*  – in full disclosure, I was asked by the group to write a separate article about this box-set. Parts of that text were used as the promotional text for this release, and short fragments of it were also used in the booklet to provide further thematic context.

Salford Electronics – Communique No.2

Salford Electronics – Communique No.2 CD Tesco Organsiation 2017

Now that The Grey Wolves have ceased activity, former member Dave Padbury will be continuing in solo guide under the Salford Electronics moniker. In then noting that Salford is a suburb of Manchester, UK it may be reasonable to assume this is where Dave resides and it has duly informed the project title.

Perhaps of note, this debut Salford Electronics album was released a couple of months before The Grey Wolves final album Exit Strategy (reviewed here). Now having had a chance to listen to both albums in detail, there appears to be clear conceptual linage between the two (and perhaps this observation better frames Exist Strategy as being an album strongly influenced by the current sonic mind sent of Dave as evidenced on Communique No.2). Likewise, with reference to the soundtrack/ soundscape style of Exit Strategy, this mood also threads through Communique No.2 albeit in a far more controlled and ambient guise. The promo blurb also draws such parallels given its description of: “Salford Electronics is the follow up to The Grey Wolves – Communique 2 is a perfect Interzone eternal night noise or neon rain-soaked stalker science fiction vibrations for would-be blade runners, A soundtrack to the hollow hours empty of sleep”. Although ultimately differing in sonic execution, Communique 2 and Exist Strategy are two albums which work rather well together, given they explore similar thematic territory, but with slightly differing sonic result.

Given that Communique No.2 spans 41 minutes across ten interlinking tracks, it is best taken as a complete musical work. As such it is an album that is darkly moody and which sonically articulates a dystopian malaise of the dead hours of night, where the atmospheric industrial-noise/ dark ambient  soundscapes slowly ooze forwards in a minimalistic and cinematic guise. Here darkly moody elongated drones mix with sparse washes of noise, buzzing distortion, semi-buried rhythmic elements, but all the while maintaining a controlled and minimalist tone. But not being of studio construction alone, Prestwich is constructed around dank urban field recordings, minimalist electronics pulses and semi-buried radio chatter. Yet to speak of differences, This Sickness positioned at the centre of the album differs from the bulk of the album given its programmed/ electronic rhythmic structure.

With the effective ‘non-existent’ album artwork giving no visual reference points, it functions to redirect all focus on the musical framework, which reveals a highly detailed work of dank minimalist atmospherics and interspersed with occasional moments of biting tensile sonics. The fact that such a strong solo project has emerged from the ashes The Grey Wolves should be welcomed news, and hopefully bodes well for more high caliber material being delivered by Dave Padbury via the Salford Electronics moniker. Recommended.

The Grey Wolves – Exit Strategy

The Grey Wolves – Exit Strategy LP Tesco Organisation 2017

So here we are, 14 years on from the last official Grey Wolves album Division released in 2003. Being many years in the making, Exit Strategy has also been announced as the final album from this long standing and rather revered group, with its release also coinciding with their final live ‘action’ at Tesco Organisation’s 30th Anniversary show in Mannheim in October, 2017. So as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end” – and end they have, but not before this ‘exist strategy’ was devised.

Having spent some time becoming acquainted with Exit Strategy, from the outset there is no way of getting around the fact that the sound of the album is not representative of what would typically be expected from The Grey Wolves. This comment is then made in full acknowledgement that the project has over their 30+ years of activity covered a diverse range of sounds, which has included: atmospheric dark ambient; murky industrial noise; and harsh power electronics. However much of the perception of Exist Strategy not sounding like The Grey Wolves comes down the general cleanliness of the sound and the clarity of the production.  This situation would then seem to be somewhat explained by the album’s liner notes that: “Exit Strategy was produced, mixed, mastered with additional audio and artwork by Jerome Nougaillon” (aka Propergol – and perhaps tellingly if Exist Strategy were played to me without being told who it was, chances are I would have said it sounded like the sharp and clinical approach employed by Propergol). So, although far from confirmed, I suspect that Jerome had a central role in the creation of this album, and this may have gone as far as being responsible for reworking and finalising a range of source material and/ or unfinished tracks from the group. Whether or not the truth on how the album was completed comes to light, remains to be seen.

To then speak of the album’s construction and flow, it is an instrumental and soundscape oriented in style and approach. A heavy dystopian mood and cinematic atmosphere permeates the album, where this perception is duly confirmed by the promo blub which states: “The soundtrack to an as yet unmade Hong Kong splatter movie. A seemingly endless march through cinematic urban decay. The original sound reduced to its basic structure through loops, repetition, distortion and other alienation techniques. it’s time to think about an Exit Strategy. The sodium orange hours of the city make you believe in the apocalypse”. Yet given the ‘soundtrack to a non-existent film’ format, there is also a conspicuous absence of the trademark vocals which are without doubt a sorely missed element. But to speak of specifics, the opening track In Our Time is a strong and tensile introduction based around pulsing textures, driving drones, a lone pounding ‘beat’ and mid-toned static shards. The Precinct then steps up a notch in urgency with a shuddering obliquely rhythmic framework with is further coupled with radio chatter for further cinematic effect. Another track worthy of individual mention is In Too Deep with it scattered sweeping textures and sparse programmed ‘Morse-code’ type rhythm.  Seizure then deviates completely from a recognized sound, given its hard pounding programmed beats and static blasts resembles a type of industrial techno along the lines of Alberich (and for this reason alone is likely to be the most divisive track on the album). In rounding out the album Flatline uses a prominent movie dialogue sample of Samuel L Jackson, and while for me personally it negatively jars the overarching mood and would have been better excluded altogether, thankfully it is used only once and not repeated (as often dialogue samples tend to be in this type of music). Sonically speaking this track is a tensile blend of jarring (digital?) noise, sporadically rhythmic outbreaks and doom addled atmospheric drones.

Although this review may on face value appear to be overly critical, such commentary should be taken more as observations which highlight the clear differences between initial expectation and the actual reality of the final The Grey Wolves album. Ultimately Exist Strategy IS a strong and enjoyable album in its own right, but can only be acknowledged after getting over the initial expectations of what you may want it to be. So, if you are able to divorce yourself from expectations that this album should be something like The Grey Wolves’ magnum opus, and instead simply approach it for what it is, some excellent material awaits and functions as a sort of unexpected addendum to their established and celebrated legacy.