Who doesn’t enjoy a good old ghost story that causes the hair on the back of your neck to rise, your flesh to goosebump and eyes to water without warning? It is human nature to be curious of that which we do not understand and Syd.31 explores those places in the dark where the shadow people lurk, waiting for you in the single release, “Demon Night“. Syd.31 is Dr Magic who is based in Manchester in the UK and the United Kingdom, like all cultures, is steeped in tales of the paranormal.
“When I was a kid, we lived in a haunted house. Some ‘thing’would walk down the hallway, into my room and just stand at the end of my bed. It looked like an old lady and it scared the hell out of me. Other people saw it too, but didn’t tell me until years after, thankfully. I still struggle to sleep alone with the light out…” – Syd.31
The video was shot in the haunted Antwerp Mansion, the infamous Whitby Krampus makes his presence known and if you look carefully, maybe there hints of the ephemeral shadow people. You can hear the near panicked fear in Dr Magic’s voice because they are waiting for him to be alone in the dark of the night, so they may play. There is a psychobilly aspect to the number, not just with the chord progressions but also the use of a Gretsch guitar. All this lends itself to a nicely blended industrial rocking tale of misery. Plus, have to love the middle eastern style drumming at the beginning. “Demon Night” comes off the Syd.31 album, Machine Ready, that was launched in April this year.
I will add my own side note to this. As I wrote this late in the night, the online radio ceased to work. It seems the new router we had received had gone offline but the thing is this one guaranteed to work unless there is no power. It did come back on of its own accord, most unusual…..
Permafrost began as a post-punk band in Norway, in 1982 and released their first album in 1983. Recently, this five piece launched three singles, all on vinyl only and due to the positive response they received, decided to collate these into a self titled EP, released October the 15th, 2021.
It is evident from the beginning that the guys from Permafrost never lost their love of the post-punk sound from the 80s. The prominent, deep plucked bass and energetic drums are all prevailing, the bread and butter for those with a penchant for Joy Division. “Sugarcubes” definitely tips the hat towards Magazine and is instantly likeable with it’s playful manner. A far more sombre tone for “Kingdom” which is slower and conveys a mind full of doubt, yet the music is incredibly beautiful in the seriousness of it. In complete juxtaposition is “Lifetime Commitment” which is actually quite poppy, full of life and strands of forever love. The final track is a Japanese remix of “Sugarcubes” with additional female vocals that are really quite cute.
These are carefully thought out songs and although they harken back to a time when punk had fallen out of favour for a more nihilistic and shadowy style of music, this still feels fresh and modern. Permafrost’s EP will infinitely draw in those that are moved by the music of Joy Division or Interpol.
If you are old enough or a devotee to the 4AD label, the name Robin Guthrie brings up memories of dreamy guitars and iconic melodies due to being a driving force of the eternally beautiful Cocteau Twins. Since the end of Cocteau, Scottish born Guthrie has still been involved in the music scene with solo projects and working with other artists. Now based in France, he released the EP, Mockingbird Love on October the 15th, 2021.
There are four instrumental tracks, which starts with “Copper“. Slow, near sensual piano strokes, whilst eventually the guitar chimes in. It is unhurried and simple and flows into “Eight East” which feels like a stream of consciousness, as it floats through, though a part of my mind is aware of a tinge of sorrow.
Again, “In Love And At War” bathes in a warm light and still a darkness slips through in the background. Something so beautiful as love can make hardships better and yet break your heart when that bond is stretched or broken. There is definitely a yearning in the the piano lines. Last track, “My Courtesan“, just speaks of passion and longing. It is the most verbose of the tracks and it swirls away like the sands of time.
I can hear what made the Cocteau Twins sound so unique still in this EP. Guthrie has always had this amazing talent for filling in the spaces with nearly imperceivable, harmonic noises.The EP is gorgeous with the ambient, ethereal sweetness based in real life and it is almost too short.. well that’s my complaint because I was enjoying it far too much. Luckily for us, Robin Guthrie will be giving us an album on November the 5th, called Pearl Diving. In the end this is a graceful and sublime release, however one cannot help but wonder if the title Mockingbird Love refers to the birds that hide the product of their mating in other bird’s nest…maybe that interpretation is up to you.
October the 1st, saw the release of a new Mach FoX single, “Hollow Moons“. Zwaremachine is Mach”s main project but he has always maintained his own musical outlet since 2005. “Hollow Moons” was written with Dbot and also recorded with Dein Offizier, whom both are members of Zwaremachine.
There are feather light synths that delicately highlight the darker edge to this number. Mach’s singing fits perfect with the textures and beats which gives us a science fiction future where the world has been used up and only those with enough wealth will be able to afford to live in the new, lush settlements in the hollowed out moons.
Originally meant to be on the latest Zwaremachine album, I can hear why they decided to not add it. Not because this in any way a bad song, to the contrary, but rather it does not fit the more hard industrial sound cultivated by the band. “Hollow Moons” has a far more pop industrial feel, smoother and no growled out vocals. Really enjoyed the more synth/future pop vibe and hopefully we will hear more of this side of FoX’s musical endeavours.
My first experience of October Noir, is via this new album, Fate, Wine And Wisteria, that was released on September the 22nd. It is rather confronting at first to think of a band actively trying to take up where Type ONegative sadly could not due to the untimely death of lead singer Pete Steele, especially when the band themselves could not find the heart to continue without him and followed with other projects such as APale Horse CalledDeath.
Down in Pensacola, Florida, the weather is warm and the wisteria grows wild in the lost places, so to the album has thirteen tracks, though to be fair the tracks “Fate“, “Wine” and “Wisteria” are kind bridging instrumental pieces and maybe a minute long at the most. “Windows” is the first track with vocals and the single off the album. Fairly taken aback how much this actually sounds like a Type O number, There is the longing in the deep vocals and the long guitar riffs that drift away to then crash back in a revisit.
This is indeed a strange experience. It pays to read the lyrics at times as well. “Effigy” almost seems to be based on one of those teenage horror movies where they go down to the lake and the main character is lured away with the promise of carnal delights, only to find all their friends have been murdered and being Halloween, did they do it?! Equal parts defeat and howling anger in the Greek inspired “Persephone” and “Wanderlust” really reminds me of the iconic “Everything Dies” in places.
Really liked “Sistinas” with the moody harpsichord and the extremely low vocal range that was being plumbed. Anyone that ever listened to Type O Negative, would know that often Steele would firmly have his tongue placed in cheek and liked to create songs about forbidden encounters or the nitty gritty of sexual lust and October Noir have followed post haste in their footsteps with the tracks “Reverence(Make You Love)” and “Proverbs“. Whatever the theme, there is always that underlying darkness that humans are fallible and prone to causing great pain and misery as well as picking others up from the deepest pits of despair in this album.
It was the first time hearing their sound which floored me a little to hear a band that sounded so like Type ONegative, from the bass lines, to the guitar chords and unmissably the vocals so hauntingly like Pete Steele’s. Now some will say they are copy artists and that often happens a lot, ie all the bands that want to be Sisters OfMercy, though unfortunately they are flawed and normally unable to do this well. October Noir don’t hide the fact they are standing in Type O Negative’s shadow but rather embrace the fact and actually create new music I think that even Steele would have been impressed by.
Slated to be the second track on the soon to be released full length album, Horses In The Abbatoir, TRAITRS‘ latest single, “Mouth Poisons” is yet another teaser with yet another very slick, very professional video of an eerily macabre nature. The single was released on September the 17th, 2021 on Freakwave Records by the Toronto duo, Sean Patrick Nolan and Shawn Tucker.
“The core sketch of this song was written late at night at a very good friend’s place in Frankfurt, Germany. ‘Mouth Poisons’ is an extremely personal song and lyrically I set myself up as the main target. It carries an air of ‘come see what’s going inside of me that wants to burn down everything in sight’. Definitely my favourite single we have ever released to date,” says Shawn Tucker
“‘Mouth Poisons’ was initially supposed to be a fast, angular punk track and it remained in this form for several months until Shawn wrote the bass guitar part and completely changed the way I heard the song. His melodic bass line brought out a sadness and vulnerability in the track that I didn’t know was there. All of a sudden this frantic punk song sounded more like The Smiths or New Order, so I completely rewrote my synth part to tease out those elements even more. The break before the outro is one of my favourite parts on the album,” says Sean-Patrick Nolan
Nolan was not joking about sounding like New Order, though for my money, I would have to say The Cure has to have been a big influence. The vocals are like listening to Robert Smith himself, mournfully gliding over the top of the insistent guitar while the synths gleefully run rampant in this still rather upbeat piece, in that joyfully manic way. For added extra enjoyment and killer chiller vibes, don’t forget to indulge in the sumptuous video.
A project called HOSTILE ARCHITECT was launched just over a year ago, with Brisbane based MitchKenny, finding himself being picked up by local radio programme, Dark Essence with Josh Guinan, followed hotly by international shows such as Scott Durand’s Dark Indulgence and then being signed by the recently created label, Brutal Resonance Records with Steven Gullotta at the helm. Most recently the debut album LOWGRADELIFE was released and the ARCHITECT’s first venture onto a live stage, in a showcase of Brisbane industrial acts called Factory Reset.
Welcome to the rabbit hole that is Onyx, Mitch Kenny. We have been watching your progress since the first single from HOSTILE ARCHITECT was released with great interest and now there is this wonderful debut album.
Did you find the process of creating LOWGRADELIFE easier as you went along and is it a different mind set than writing singles?
Hey Del, thanks for having me! It’s actually funny, I started the project with the express idea that I wanted to release a serial album in small chunks and never actually compile it into a full release. But that was when I was fully expecting to release the music into the aether and have no one really listen to it as per what I was used to with my other project; so much so I didn’t even intend to have separate social media accounts for H/A (HOSTILE ARCHITECT). Obviously I changed tactics a little bit when people started getting behind the project and I realised I should probably take this a little bit more seriously than I wanted to at first. You can see it most prominently in the title track, the original single version of the track is fairly static and more EBM influenced but after releasing “SEMTEX” and it being my most popular track I knew LOWGRADELIFE needed to be retooled to include the elements that drew people to “HOSTILE THEME” and “SEMTEX“. It’s definitely been a learning process!
You also belong to another electronic act called Abelisk. What or who drew you to electronic music in the first place and what was the inspiration to go solo with H/A?
Abelisk has only been a two person project since the most recent EP, before that it was always a me thing. Some of the songs on my first album were written when I was still in high school so for me it’s something with legacy, but only for me I guess. That was really the biggest thing that made me want to get a new project going with H/A, it was just super nice to not have my own expectations and plans weighing me down. H/A was just me trying to make the music I was into at the time and not really worrying if it fit a self imposed ‘brand’ that no one but me gave a fuck about. To answer your actual question though, I think the stuff that got me into electronic/industrial in the first place is a bit generic but definitely NIN or Marilyn Manson. Project’s like that really got me into the idea of rock and roll mentality with weirdo extra instrumentation and strange FX timbre.
It is always hard to pin down influences but who do you feel now gets your creative juices flowing?
I definitely wear my influences on my sleeve with H/A I think. The whole project was born out of frustration that I couldn’t connect Abelisk with an audience so it was a bit of a back against the wall fuck it attitude that had me specifically targeting a genre that I thought I could have fun with and then cosplaying as bands I like in that genre. The best example of that would probably be “EVERY FOLLOWER A BOT”, which was my best attempt at ripping off the vibe of a Blush Response song. It legit sounds nothing like Blush Response but I’m not too bothered because it ended up being one of my favorite tracks on the LP; who really cares if I didn’t hit the mark exactly. I think I’ve settled into more of a groove with the H/A sound now anyway, I know what I’m aiming for when I start a new song more so than a year ago. Likely the next single will be in the vein of “SEMTEX” and “HOSTILE THEME“ but have more than one stanza of repeating lyrics which might be a nice change of pace!
It must have been thrilling to hear yourself on local radio and international podcasts. Brisbane in Australia isn’t a huge city but how do you percieve the local music scene?
Legitimately getting airtime on Dark Essence Radio back in June last year was an earth shattering experience for me, it definitely gave me the confidence to really go whole hog with this project and helped connect me with everyone else in the scene here, honestly I wish I got out of my own bubble much sooner! Getting to work on remixes and having people remix my work has been really rewarding too, everyone’s in the same ballpark of interest so it’s super easy to get something going and the results have been universally awesome in my opinion. The ‘Ozdustrial’ scene has a seriously bright future and I just can’t wait to see what some of the local Brisbane projects have got up their sleeves coming out of these uncertain times.
Covid has really caused a lot of heartache for musicians and those whose livelihoods are connected to the scene, however do you think there have been positive outcomes as well if any?
I’m hoping that when everything starts getting back to normal the music scene in general will bounce back. Factory Reset the other week was a good indicator that people in Brisbane definitely want this kind of music out there and are willing to support it when they can so hopefully it was a good litmus test for future industrial/EBM/dark electro gigs in our sleepy little city. I know Metalcore in Oz is having a bit of a moment right now with seriously amazing albums coming out what feels like every week since the start of 2020 so I’m hoping the isolation and the rapidly approaching end of the world will do the same for niche goth dance music.
You just had your debut live show which we have to say was most excellent. What was this like for you and how do you perceive live events in the future?
Thank you so much for saying so! It was definitely an experience that’s for sure. I think I’m just very lucky I was in an extremely supportive environment that was happy to overlook the myriad technical issues I had during the set. I know we joked in person about it being an impromptu harsh noise remix but damn in the moment up on stage my brain was definitely melting down that I couldn’t do anything to fix the problem. Overall it was a really great experience and I know where my weaknesses are now. I can take that back to the studio and prepare for H/A Live 2.0 which will probably involve a laptop that was made this decade!
We can’t finish the interview without asking who is the ARCHITECT and why is he so HOSTILE? Is this a character or a side to Mitch Kenny and WHY IS HE ALWAYS YELLING?
Yes, definitely, ‘THE ARCHITECT’ is a character! People seem to always think I’m yelling too but honestly I always envisioned it as more of a ‘constantly above speaking volume Ohgr impression’ mixed with the way The Board speak from the game Control. The more weird and detached from normality the character seems on social media the funnier it all is to me. Not sure if other people find it as fun as I do but I plan to get more into the character angle on future releases so I hope it doesn’t turn off too many people.
Thanks so much for your time Mitch and we wish you all the luck in the future.
A new industrial project has hit the scene, with the debut single, “Pews In A Panic“. They are called The Royal Ritual, a solo act featuring the talented David Lawrie. Fans of London After Midnight might recognise his name from being a live tour member, however Lawrie also works as a sound designer for films as well as being a composer/producer in his own right.
From the beginning of the single, the beats are harsh and ring clean, insistent for your attention. Commercial religion is the focus, with its constant demands for money and blind obedience, using and abusing followers until there is nothing left because in the end everything belongs to you, but you belong to me. “Pews In A Panic” is just a really great industrial song that has something to say. The b-side is a cover of fellow Brit and singer/composer Phildel’s “Glide Dog“, that originally was released in 2019, This so different musically to “Pews In A Panic” and yet there is this tone of something brutal under the seemingly smooth surface. Lawrie gives “Glide Dog” the electronic cool treatment and it slips along giving one the feeling you shouldn’t dwell on what lays beneath the surface.
It is really amazing when you listen to “Pews In A Pandemic” and every time you heard a new or unusual sound that isn’t necessarily a traditional electronic one. More than likely and due to his profession, Laurie has more than a passing interest in incorporating left of field recordings to accentuate his music. This creativity only points to the looming album being anticipated as a corker and we are looking forward to hearing more of The Royal Ritual.
The latest single from the Boston lads, Cristian Carver and Johnny E. Veil, aka MAN1K1N, hit us on October the first. Cryptically named “Don’t Let Me Try” is their attempt to put into words and music how the pandemic has affected them and others, both mentally and personally.
‘The heavy solitude of this past year during quarantine was a poignant influence in the moment this song exists in. Too often, suicidal ideation is regarded as a trope. But the anguish felt in those private moments is threatening and devastatingly lonely.‘
From the start, the music has a weight to it, oppressive and even a little bitter-sweet. The desperation is in the groaned and growled out lyrics, as the synths swirl and pulsate in a menacing manner. The lyrics speak to the frustration and a hollowness of the drudgery that life has become, taking a toll of one’s mental health.
Definitely a powerful piece that builds and diminishes just as waves of hope and despair do. The anguish in Veil’s voice is palpable and Carter’s rhythms mix so well with the searing electronics. Interestingly, Tom Baker was brought in to master engineer this single and for those in the know, Baker has been involved with mastering Nine Inch Nail’s Downward Spiral and Ministry’sPsalm 69. Having this craftsman onboard has lifted the number and given it extra polish, so you should have a listen to “Don’t Let Me Try” by MAN1K1N.
What sort of music do you get if you mix David Wolfenden aka Wolfie of Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry and Caroline Blind? A band called Voidant and perhaps a style you were not expecting. With an illustrious roll call of contributing artists, on baritone guitars RichWitherspoon (TheWake), bass guitars SimonDingArcher (RedLorryYellowLorry, 1919) and AdeClark (BlackChapel) and pianist DavidGregory.
The first track, “Heart/Feather” has a tribal taste to it and the reference is rooted in Egyptian mythology. When you die, your heart that holds your sins, will be weighed against the feather that is Maat (goddess of truth and justice), watched by Anubis and if found unworthy, eaten by Ammit the Devourer. Hence there is an Eastern flare in the guitar work.
The single “La Loba” is an ode to the wolf. An implored request for the wolf to finish the remains after Blind has sung that she could not continue and succumbed to the snow. A slow love song to be one with the wilderness.
Whispers and an insistent synth line that wanders through your head in “PhantomEx“. The shadow of a previous relationship, that took a toll on someone whom you dearly want to see you as a potential healing lover. “Ghosted” has a great incongruity between the piano lines and guitar work, giving a slightly unhinged atmosphere.
“SGTruth” has a trip hop feel fused with a modern jazz sensibility. It keeps you off balance as it weaves it’s way. Dreams of the “Summer ‘78“, of Irish migrants fleeing across the sea, which for some would be their last journey. A story of memories perhaps stored in your DNA and like all good stories it is sung in a tone to lure you in and feels as delicate as a woven spiderweb.
There are two cover on this album and they sit side by side. “7 And 7 Is” was originally performed by Love in 1966 and also covered by Alice Cooper in 1981 and The Ramones in 1993. There is this wonderful juxtoposition of Blind’s punk vocals and the surreal electronics. It’s a great cover of this proto-punk classic.
In 1964, Buffy Saint Marie wrote and released “Universal Soldier“, which later became a hit for both Donovan and Glenn Campbell. A song about seeing things from another perspective and ultimately an anti-war piece. This is so tranquil with Blind near singing a cappella, if it wasn’t for the percussion and low grade whirring beneath.
“Vortex” is the last track and it is a little transcendental with the hypnotic beat and guitar transitioning from a bit country, then a bit funky and then wailing. It is a rather groovy way to finish the album because as we all know, the eye of the storm is the calmest place to be.
Recorded between Leeds in the UK and New Jersey, USA, this is not the normal gothic fare but rather a darker form of storytelling which is sometimes trance inducing in its beats and minimalism. Some things can be better felt in the spaces that aren’t filled in. Voidant do this so well as well as also breathing new life into classics and I encourage you to have a listen.