Inflated Climax – Inflated Climax

Inflated Climax – Inflated Climax MC Trapdoor Tapes 2018

Inflated Climax are a new anonymous project on Trapdoor Tapes where their self-titled tape delivers crude and lo-fi industrial noise/death industrial sounds.

This self-titled tape contains a single lengthy untitled instrumental track, which repeats on both sides. The composition has then obviously been spliced together from a series of recording sessions as the cover indicates this was recorded between 2015-2017. Overall the mood is dank and morose which is achieved through atonal, slow throbbing rhythms which are mixed with thick bass driven distortion. In one section, the slow throbbing beat rolls catatonically onwards, akin a container train lurching forwards to the end destination of an unidentified death-camp, while other segments feature stasis inducing minimal looped rhythms, or looser tonal modulations infused with soot and ash. In some way this reminds of some of the long form experimentation of Atrax Morgue, but where that project’s free form sound was often clinical and mid to higher pitch, here the sound is a deep rumbling lo-fi death industrial approach in a restrictive and suffocating way, which certainly matches the visual cues of the cover.

Obscure, crude and understated in equal measures, packaging comes in a plastic pocket with two double sided photocopy sheets with rubber fetish imagery.

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School For Cadavers – Re Education

School For Cadavers – Re Education MC Trapdoor Tapes 2018

School For Cadavers is a new project featuring Jon Evans and Julian Percy, who are both members of Last Dominion Lost. In noting that context, there are clearly some strong parallels which can be drawn between the sound of these two project. Yet with reference to School For Cadavers, the tribal industrial elements of Last Dominion Lost has been toned down for a more streamlined industrial noise approach, which on a few occasion furrows within a dank death industrial style.

The tape features seven tracks in all and while three of those are denoted as being live recordings, this is not immediately evident given the consistency in recorded sound spanning all tracks. Sonar opens the tape with a screeching distortion, indecipherable yelled vocals and underpinned but an understated rhythmic loops, while the following track Spirit Of The Air contains a quite distinctly wonky and disorienting tone. Dead Time is a clear standout piece, based around cyclic throbbing mid paced layered loops and other sweeping tones which build in intensity, while other random slashes and cuts of churning sounds continual interject and gradually take over. Side B brings the absolute standout track Demise Of Logic, which is a monolithic pounding ritual death industrial track, completely with wailing air raid sirens, shuddering synth tones and garbled evocations. As for the final track Last Look blends a suspenseful horror soundtrack styled mood and coupled with a central slow pounding death industrial beat, while another screeched distortion layer ratchets up the tension. Great stuff.

Like the very much underrated and under appreciated Last Dominion Lost, School For Cadavers deliver expertly executed high calibre material, and should not be ignored or overlooked.

Grim – Primary Pulse

Grim – Primary Pulse MC Trapdoor Tapes 2018

The long standing and cult Japanese project Grim returns with a new five track recording (from 2017), issued via Trapdoor Tapes. Contextually speaking Grim has always had a left of centre approach to their power electronics/industrial noise material, with the often-weird juxtaposing elements thrown in for good measure, which is certainly continued and exemplified on Primary Pulse.

Hermit opens the tape with loose windswept noise modulations blended with manipulated voices, before Volcano Flower kicks in, framed around a series of burrowing pulsing tones which coagulate into a driving rhythmic structure coupled with distorted agonised vocals, which is a clear standout track and very much in a distinctive Grim style. The third track for Side A is Assassin’s Room, which is categorised by a wonky and off-kilter looped rhythm, while the vocals are of a garbled spoken type, prior to a classical music organ motif and stoic industrial pulse features in the final moments. Side B features another standout piece of Grim weirdness, with Melting Man featuring a strong throbbing element, central sub-orchestral melody and wailing chants of sole project member Jan Konagaya, with the atmosphere becoming progressively more unhinged as it progresses. G.T.R. concludes the tape with a blend of elements including an Asiatic toned loop, rolling industrial drums, sweeping abstracted guitar, squalling noise etc., yet never succumbs to sounding like an industrial band.

Although not overly long, Primary Pulse is an absolutely great underground industrial tape and again exemplifies a sound wholly unique to GRIM. Trademark blown out photocopied artwork courtesy of Trapdoor Tapes rounds out the perfectly suited lofi presentation.

Trapdoor Tapes final batch 2017

Browning Mummery – World of Shells MC Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Browning Mummery are a long standing and somewhat obscure Australian experimental/ industrial project whose activities dates back to 1983 (including a couple of early tapes issued on the cult Extreme and Zero Cabal labels). Being primarily the creative vehicle of Andrew Lonsdale, the lineup has also sporadically featured the late John Murphy, in addition to the contributions of many others over the years. While not having been necessarily the most active project (and there seeming to be a gap of activity between 1996 and 2008), World of Shells arrives five years after the last full length, and was recorded in 2014 as a collaboration between Andrew Lonsdale and Yvan Volochine The tape features four lengthy compositions to span around an hour of material, where the sound covers some diverse sonic scope within a broad experimental industrial style.

Predominantly the sound of the tape features deep cavernous tones framed around layered washes of muted industrial distortion. Being mid-paced and slightly muted, the tracks surges forwards with idling/ misfiring machines, squiggly sonics and a decent amount of ‘creak, crunch and clang’. By being meticulously layered, there are a multitude of sounds and textures to focus on throughout, and while loosely structured there is still clear composition as play (including some disorientating left/ right channel panning and wonky mid to high toned whistling sonic treatments). Of note, the third track Fibroscan 1 deviates from the rest given it is more meditative drone in execution, where some playful disorienting sonics build to a muted rhythmic thrum and the material coalesces into headier territory.

While not being overtly dark or morbid in tone and quite playful on occasion, World of Shells wears an ‘experimental industrial’ tag like a badge of honour in delivering a worthy release.


Halthan – Live at Obscurex Kontti MC Trapdoor Tapes 2017

As per the title of the tape, this is a live set which consists of five distinct tracks spanning around 30 minutes. Crude and back to basics power electronics is the name of the game from this Finnish project who I have not checked out before, despite them being active from around 2004.

In general terms loose rumbling looped structures act as sonic bedrock, while the vocals are spat in an agonised roar and heavily echo/ flange treated to create a result quite reminiscent of those vocals of Survival Unit. Likewise with its thick grinding industrial debris, hollow tonality and repeated semi-buried samples also reminds (positively) of The Grey Wolves approach to lofi industrial noise infused power electronics. As for the recording the sound is raw and slightly distant in feel, which I am not sure if this is down to the recording or is perhaps representative of the live venue sound (as I understand it the venue it was performed in is in fact a metal shipping container, which would no doubt impact on any live sound created and any recording made thereof). Regardless, the sound is still hefty and thick, with the mood being one of subdued anger with occasional aggressive outbursts (i.e. vocals).

Overall this live tape is no frills and lofi, but definitely to the point, and very effective for it.


Kultur Operating P:N:S – Repeat Offense MC Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Knowing virtually nothing about this project, it seems they are more commonly known as K.O.P., where the three letters are variously used to stand for different interchangeable phases (as per the protocols established by early industrial pioneer SPK). From what information there is available, K.O.P. is a Japanese project active back in 1988 when the first tape was issued, and with a further six tapes, a 7”ep and CD issued through to 1993 before the project disappeared. Now some 25 years later the project has returned with new recordings dating from 2015-2017.

Having not heard earlier material from the project, I can comment on how this sits as a ‘comeback’ recording, but from listening to this the sound is rough, chaotic and crude in a general noise/industrial style, but also leaning more towards a nosier aesthetic.  Twelve tracks spanning around 45 minutes of material features on Repeat Offence, where Some tracks are based around fiercely raw and chaotically overblown distortion which is staunchly analogue (perhaps derived from junk metal sources?). Conversely other tracks are of an apparent digitized source and rapid-fire style, with a clean and sharp sonic tone. Yet to speak of unifying elements, the mood and feel is chaotic and choppy throughout, and where there is limited overtly rigid structure, rather being freeform and amorphous and where tracks abruptly cut out before lurching into the next piece.

With myself personally not being an avid noise listener, it is those compositions which slightly dial down on the higher pitched and harsher overblown textures which (for me) work best (such as the ambient noise mixed with radio chatter which closes out the tape). But equally that description alone will give a clear idea of whether Repeat Offense is right up your ally.


Neurasthenia Psychological Reincarnation MC Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Neurasthenia ‎is a new Japanese/ Australia collaboration born out of a recording session when Luke Holland (of Armour Group, Mshing, Word Of Life Church SS, Trapdoor Tapes etc.) and Tom Miller (of Word Of Life Church SS, Psychward etc.) toured Japan in September, 2016 and met up with Hiroshi Hasegawa (of C.C.C.C., Astro, Mortal Vision, Nord). According to the notes on the cover, the two tracks on this 60-minute tape (one lengthy track per side) were recording live in a single take and delivers a solid dose of archaic industrial noise.

The title track features on the first side of the tape and steps through a number of distinct passages. Commencing with detailed dynamic noise and spitting/crumbling static, the mood gradually moves towards a passage of hollowed out industrial rumble and the inclusion quasi ritual elements provided by junk metal clatter. Later segments feature crude loops and sparse crumbling textures which resemble the distant thunder of heavy waves. Cardiac Neurosis follows on the flip side and is a more subdued and controlled offering. Initial segments are sparse and cavernous in tone and complimented with ritual chimes, before a rough base of sustained and modulated ‘catacomb’ distortion is set down and gradually tweaked and twisted.  Late sections are further augmented with radio frequency type scanning noise and garbled semi-buried vocals, before ramping up to more chaotic and forceful intent in the final segment.

Given the ‘live in a single take’ method of recording, based on the end results it appears there would have been some clear discussion and pre-planning, as this sounds to be much more than a basic improvised session and particularly given its careful balancing of chaos and restraint (and being able to strategically pull back on the harsher elements throughout the tape for added sonic impact). So, all in all Psychological Reincarnation is a convincing and enjoyable tape in a style which radiates a sound of decades past than anything remotely modern.


 

Trapdoor Tapes 2015 / 2016 batch

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Mshing / Sentenced to Life – split MC Trapdoor Tapes 2016

Luke Holland – Stir MC Trapdoor Tapes 2016

World of Life Church SS – The Ceremony of Life and Death MC Trapdoor Tapes 2015

The first tape for review sees two obscure Australian projects Mshing and Sentenced to Life team up to each take a side of the tape each.  Mshing is the solo project of Luke Holland (also of Armour Group) and delivers a live recording or as it is referenced on the cover ‘Live Assault 2015/2013’.  Commencing with a cyclic death industrial throb it hits an early groove, but then moves into more obscure grinding noise industrial territory with semi-buried samples and gruff vocalizations. While the track is decent enough, with the distant muffled sound of the recording it only serves to hint at the actual live performance/s being of far greater volume and sonic impact.  Sentenced for Life take up the flip side, with the single track ‘Despertar De La Bestia’ and presents an atmospheric ‘post-mortem’ soundscape of muffled layered analogue filth.  Featuring a broadly cyclic approach, there is an interweaving interplay between the layered elements which generates an excellent complexity of rumbling industrial distortion, revving drones, distant sirens, cavernous clatter and indistinguishable voices.  This is both a strong track and the highlight of this tape given its murky and immersive qualities.

On the ‘Stir’ MC, Luke Holland goes it alone (again) but here functioning under his own name.  Compared to the last solo tape ‘Decomposition’, this time around he has taken a rougher, a more caustic industrial-noise approach.  With the single 16 minute track (repeating on both side), the squalling mid to high pitched chaotic noise is coupled with a deluge of dialogue samples.  Featuring a sense of improvised urgency the samples are then taken from Australian 1980s film ‘Stir’, referencing prison life, outsider attitude and cut throat violence. Some ritualistic clanging elements change up the sound mid piece to offset the more intense and sustained background distortion, while the piece bleeds out into looser, scattered abstract across the last section before abruptly cutting out.  Noting the driving urgency this tape of greater impact that than the ‘Decomposition’ recording.

Lastly, the World of Life Church SS tape features 5 untitled tracks in all, the first track being driven by a direct militant industrial ‘beat’, around which scattered noise and distortion interweave, all capped off with barked/ spat distorted vocals.  Rough and direct it is an excellent opening, while later tracks are broadly looser and more chaotic in their rough analog approach: essentially charting a course in a broad spheres relating to scattered noise-industrial to overblown power electronics squall.  With a sound which is a perfect fit for the obscure sounds Trapdoor Tapes is known, this delivers strong results, although admittedly it sounds more like a solo or duo project, than otherwise might be expected from a project featuring 4 members.

Concrete Mascara – Blossoms of Shame / History of Ruin

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Concrete Mascara – Blossoms of Shame CD Corrosive Art Records 2014

Concrete Mascara – History of Ruin MC Trapdoor Tapes MC 2015

Concrete Mascara are an American power electronics trio who have been around since 2011 and in that time have issued a handful of tapes, a split CD (with Umpio), 7”ep and some digital only recordings.  In a general sense given the group approaches their style of power electronics with a rougher noise and junk metal infused sound, it sets the group apart from the sound and feel of many other current American death industrial/ power electronics projects.

The full length CD ‘Blossoms of Shame‘ from 2014 contains 9 tracks over 43 minutes and is rather diverse in approach. Featuring a general loose semblance of structure, its sonic construction includes: buzzing drones, saturated noise, erupting distortion, metallic clatter and aggressive unhinged vocals partially buried within the mix (refer to opening track ‘The Duality of Sin’ as a prime example). ‘Attrition’ then features some sporadic squalling noise which evidences a more harsh noise tonal aesthetic, although there is a degree of control to its execution. Moving toward a more subdued sound, the pairing of early album tracks ‘True Beauty Never Dies’ and ‘Monochrome’ both feature a similar a low death industrial throb; the first containing treated spoken vocals which articulate a drugged out haze, whilst the later infuses some field recording elements for tonal diversity. ‘When Only Pieces Remain’ then delivers a powerful track based on its saturated overblown junk metal distortion where the aggressive vocals barely managed to break through, while further variation is found on the slow stalking feel and tensile atmosphere of the lengthy ‘Labyrinth of Doubt’ (distant pulse, ‘upfront’ micro-tonal metallic textures and morbid spoken vocals). Late album track ‘Scalpel’ is an excellently tensile piece featuring a heavy focus on a junk metal aesthetic, where loud and detailed sounds of solid metal scraping on concrete features prominently over a low analogue drone. Further sound elements include twisted piercing noise and a saturated overblown metallic production, again with the vocals being spewed forth from the background to create a very strong track indeed. ‘A Vision Of Love’ constitutes the final composition to rounds out the album in quite divergent form. Differing in sonic guise the track features a driving/ pulsing programmed rhythmic element (a quasi-techno bass throb over which washes of noise and sweeping static are laid), although in overall execution feels relatively undeveloped compared to the balance of the album.

Moving on to their latest release, this is an 8 track 46 minute tape where their sound seemed to have evolved a touch, despite only being a year on since ‘Blossoms of Shame‘. On ‘History of Ruin’ the generated atmospheres are highly tensile, but more subdued in execution, whilst at the same time the vocals have been pushed forward and up within the mix to greater prominence. Although sharper tonal elements are use these are again presented in a controlled way; where the wailing agonized vocal style then feature as the most unhinged element to counterpoint the subdued distortion undercurrent. Opener ‘Aftertaste of Shame’ features crumbling static base with pained and agonized (slightly processed) lead vocals, which is the mirrored by a second partially burred and static infused vocal line. ‘Narcotic Vixen’ with its low buzzing static and distortion squalls moves towards noise territory, but then pulls back again on ‘History of Ruin’, being a tense stalking atmosphere (‘heart beat’ bass thumb, buried distant vocals and sparse upfront metallic textures). ‘Unending Muck’ rounds out the first side with two separate howling/ wailing vocals spat over minimalist buzzing base, being an excellent tensile atmosphere of angst and pain and highlighting the vocals as being a standout rabid element of Concrete Mascara’s sound.

‘Under Black Waves’ commences Side B with rabid static abuse and unhinged vocals, before falling away into a section of muffled distortion and ash cloaked ambience (which does burst forth into more caustic sounds late in the piece). ‘Funeral Shroud’ is another great example of the more subdued tensile sound, where noise frequencies sit in the background, as two separate vocals lines are mixed prominently upfront and being the main central focus of the piece. ‘Nothing Left To Burn’ is the most rhythmic track on offer with its mid-paced pulsing bass throb and completed with fizzing static and semi-buried gruff vocals, and although simplistic in approach makes a very strong impression. ‘Juggernaut of Truth’ is the final track to round out the tape relying on layers of caustic noise, throbbing static and unhinged vocals, but with its rudimentary approach forgoes a tensile atmosphere and consequently is not as engaging as earlier material.

Although having not heard all of Concrete Mascara’s recording output to date, from the few releases I have heard, personally I would favor their most recent material, where the tensile sound and prominent dual vocal barrage is extremely effective. Although ‘Blossoms of Shame’ is a strong and varied album, the newer ‘History of Ruin’ tape is also step up and standout, particularly on the vocal front.

Praetorian Guard – Ever Bloom Those Flowers of Rome

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Praetorian Guard – Ever Bloom Those Flowers of Rome MC Trapdoor Tapes 2015

Praetorian Guard are a group focusing on militant tinged industrial soundscapes, being the collaborative result of Matt Casey and Ben Taylor of Ebola Disco and Andrew McIntosh of Screwtape (but also not sounding nothing like these projects). I have no idea if this is a one off recording collaboration or something more permanent, but ‘Ever Bloom Those Flowers of Rome’ appears to be their only available recording.

With the stormy industrial soundscapes on display, there is a miasmic swirl to the layering of sonic elements and general analog roughness to the sound, thus providing a muted windswept quality. Sustained synth textures and rumbling bass addled distortion provide the backbone, where a semi-buried militant orchestral feel is also apparat, but it is not really a case of there being prominent orchestral elements rather just a feel of this to drones and on sporadic occasion partially buried violins and trumpets (samples or synths? Not sure). In other segments a militant percussive thump gives a greater degree of movement, coupled with sampled choir vocals. Vocals are also featured throughout, taking a variety of guises, including: spoken style but blended low within the mix; pitch shift morphed beyond easy recognition; or agonisingly yelled to match the passages pushes towards slightly more chaotic and overblown territory.

Although the militant industrial atmospheres created do in part hit their intended mark, with the material spanning 2 hours and containing no individual tracks (elongated soundscapes span the entirety of each side of the tape), the overall release is in part ambling and aimless, thus ending up being a bit of a slog to maintain interest and focus for the entire duration. So although this tape suits its purpose in short doses, it is also something I have not listened to in its entirety of a single listening session. Regardless of whether Praetorian Guard are intending to continue as a project, some greater focus and shorter length would no doubt strengthen the end result.