Armour Group / Isomer – Desire To Fight MC Trapdoor Tapes 2017
By way of background this split tape was released to coincide with the London UK festival United Forces of Industrial IV which both Australia project played at in April, 2017. Obviously this tape is now benefiting from a wider distribution, and is welcomed on the basis of the quality of material from both.
Noting that Armour Group’s debut mini album Purge (reviewed here) dates from 2015, and having seeing the group perform numerous times since then, it is pleasing their side of the tape contains a number of tracks recognised from live shows. With the cover image featuring an image of Julian Knight (the infamous Hoddle Street, Melbourne mass shooter), the opening track Kill In Combat picks up this theme with a lengthy intro of radio and TV soundbites and wailing sirens to set the scenes, but the real action kicks in with an mid paced roughly grinding loop and echoed and distortion spat vocals. (easily the standout track of their side). Although also containing a large volume of crime reporting samples, the following instrumental cut Desire To Fight is more mellow in comparison, and aligns more with a slow menacing death industrial throb. And although relatively simple in construction the fast paced pulsing throb of Slaughter (another instrumental piece) is straight forward and effective, with crumbling distortion adding to variation. The final of four tracks is Punishment does not buck the prevailing trend of rough stilted synth loops and a murky bed of grey toned distortion, yet the vocal barrage absolutely elevates it in strength and intensity. To my ear this is a step up from the Purge material, particularly as is demonstrated on the first track Armour Group are absolutely nailing their chosen concept and sound.
David Tonkin aka Isomer handles Side B and the first of three tracks Firebrand is a standout industrial/ power electronics oriented track of intertwined (mechanised) loops, junk metal clatter, layered panning noise, maudlin synth line and distinctive agonised vocals (…and is equal to the best tracks off the last album Three Kestrels reviewed here). Hard Signal is then quite a bit more atmospheric and soundscape oriented in its post-industrial approach – spoke vocals and sparse layered noise textures framed around a constant throbbing and unchanging loop. Snakes In The Grass rounds out Isomer’s varied side and opts for atmospheric industrial noise with post-mortem leanings (which translates to lots of raw junk metal derived sounds, controlled feedback and queasy ascending/ descending tones).
Desire To Fight is an excellent release from the perspective that it is pairing of two of Australia best underground power electronics/ industrial acts, but is even better that it features top notch material from both which showcases their individual strengths and approaches. Recommended.
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.
I was recently asked by Jennifer Wallis editor of ‘Fight Your Own War: Power Electronics and Noise Culture’ book, to prepare a short list of 5 classic/ landmark power electronics tracks and to explain why they were personally important.
There are probably not too many surprises in my chosen selection, but that is also for very good reason, given what did make the cut. Enjoy. Link here
Also, for anyone living under a rock, I contributed two articles/ chapters and a number of reviews to ‘Fight Your Own War: Power Electronics and Noise Culture’.
As required more information here
low inventory stock of issues no.2 & no.3
While I still have ample stock of the recently released issue no.4 of noise receptor journal, I have just checked my inventory of back issues and note I am down to around 10 copies each of issue no.2 and issue no.3. Issue no.1 is already SOLD OUT.
As I do not intend to reprint back issues, it is getting to a ‘now or never’ stage to order issues no.2 & no.3 before they are gone for good.
Tesla Sect – The Nikita Mill MC Cipher Productions 2016
Cipher Productions have dug up another act whom I have not heard of before, but according to the release blurb Telsa Sect are a duo from Adelaide, Australia, with this being their first release, being: “A Dionysian exploration of tape decay, harsh electronics and the defect-prone qualities of analogue consumer electronics”.
So, first up the packaging deserves a mention, with the tape being beautifully housed in an oversized and repurposed 7” tape reel cardboard box, with cover image separately affixed to the front panel (artwork courtesy of Mark Groves of Dead Boomers, Sabbatical etc.). As for the sonics, the tape then covers around 30 minutes of music in total, the sound is one which is typically harsher than spheres covered by typical tape experimentation, whilst also being too loose and freeform to be classified as power electronics proper. So essentially the sound is one which manages to have a foot in both camps without being slavish to either. Some sense of structure comes from various stilted loops, but these also are in fractured and misfiring ‘idling machine’ style, to keep the sound loose and chaotic. The tracks construction is also choppy and chaotic, although not sounding to be result of random improvisation either. With no specific or individual tracks listed, there are defiantly segments or sections which are clearly akin to specific ‘tracks’, but at the same time it is best to simply enjoy this tape in its totality, where the sound swings from moments of restraint to others driven by sonic shards, creaking metal, bursts of electronic static and fractured loops etc. (…perhaps more succinctly described as sonic chaos delivered with direction and purpose).
Given its meagre limitation of 32 copies (perhaps dictated by the availability of the box it is housed in?), I assume this may already be sold out. But if not, this should be checked out as a strong, non-typical sounding release in the fields of (harsh) tape experimentation. As a final comment it is noted that each sides of the the tape is labelled ‘C’ and ‘D’, which then begs the question – where are sides ‘A’ and ‘B’? (…something to mull over…or perhaps not…).
PRE-ORDERS for issue no.4 of noise receptor journal can now be made. Print proof approved this morning so out in about a week.
Also I expect the ‘usual suspects’ will be stocking copies internationally.
Note: no questions will be answers in the next 5 days as I am moving house.