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.
Last Dominion Lost – Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden LP The Epicurean 2015
There is little room to avoid the fact that the release of this record in late October, 2015 was overshadowed by the untimely passing of core project member John Murphy on 11 October, 2015. Yet conversely the album now functions as a fitting tribute to John, as an ardent underground figure who never abandoned his personal drive for musical expression within industrial and experimental musical spheres. Whilst this album is technically not a new studio recording (it is the result of a live recording from 2011), you would never guess this from the sound alone, as there production is clean and clear and there is no background crowd noise (…perhaps being removed from the mix when undergoing mastering by luminary James Plotkin). The fact that the live set also consisted of exclusive and up until now unreleased material, further sets it apart from a ‘typical’ live recording.
When contemplating the diversity and refinement of material found on the ‘Towers of Silence’ LP from 2014 (reviewed here), the music on ‘Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden’ (name borrowed from the title of an Aleister Crowley book), has a more direct and consistent approach, which is slightly rougher and looser in execution (…thereby reflecting the live nature of the recording). Thus across the 8 tracks (…40 minute approx. play time), there is definite singularity to its style and sound, which is evidenced through the use of weird tonal vocal treatments, where spoken/ chanted vocals (or vocal samples?) and mangled into a garbled and schizophrenic ‘hearing voices’ type style. It also broadly contains that particular disorientating and ‘wonky’ 1980’s industrial sound which Last Dominion Lost have made their own. Swirling miasma of dissociative and disorienting electronics, metallic derived clatter, industrial/ ritual/ martial percussion and the aforementioned vocals intermingle into an (abstract) industrial sonic soup. Cascading avalanche of loose militant to ritualized percussive and metallic textures also feature alongside twisting and morphing analog electronics. Very much with its basis in a classic industrial frame of reference, there is also clear nods to ritual aesthetics with the wailing ritual horns and driving percussion.
Although I initially assumed ‘Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden’ might be Last Dominion Lost’s swansong release, this is not the case. Evidently the other core project member Jon Evans and Julian Percy have now been joined by earlier guest collaborator Till Brüggemann and have decided to forge ahead, where work on the new album has commenced. Given that John’s sonic contributions hold a very strong influence over Last Dominion Lost’s sound (and in particular with reference to his twisted analog electronics and distinctive percussive style), it will be intriguing to hear what the new album with his absence will bring. But for now, ‘Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden’ stands as a fitting celebration of John Murphy’s dedication to the industrial underground.