New Zealand in the 80s, among its many acts, had Vietnam, who were active from 1981-85 and are back after a long hiatus, with a new album called This Quiet Room. Previously they had released their debut, self titled album back in 1985, so this makes This Quiet Room their second album ever, making it a long time between drinks but some things are worth waiting for. The guys are older, maybe a little more world savvy but still full of passion. Making up the band are Shane Bradbrook (vocals), Cranston Brecht (guitar), Barn Coren (guitar), Geoff Lerwill (keyboards, piano, organ), Joe Neufeld (drums, backing vocals) and Adrian Workman (bass, bass VI, guitar, modular synths, piano, backing vocals).
All up there are 12 tracks for your listening pleasure here…. well 11 as “Leon” is this odd bridging piece of what sounds like an audience in a pub. “In Another Desert” sets the whole tone really, where the raucous pace picks you up and those wonderful guitar lines ring out at you. I hear lots of influences within, such as the Billy Bragg like “I OnceSaid“, and a cover of “Kidney Bingos” by Wire, which also has a Johnny Marr edge to it. Magazine could have written “WhatHave I Done“, which is also one of my favourites, and the reflective “Do It for You” and “It’s All Around“, with its swelling chorus. There is the much more poppy “Always Hotels” and at the other side of the spectrum is the almost darkwave “Whispers To Ignore”. The plinking bar piano and smoky ambiance of “Lost In The Flame” could be Portishead, while the ghost of Australian band Hunters And Collectors inhabits “Truth Vs Love“. It is actually the last song on the album that is the latest single, called “Where Is My Happiness?“. A lament about being let down by those that never should, and yet the the guitars are light in opposition to the lyrics.
Australian and New Zealand music scenes in the late 70s and early 80s were very intertwined. There was the very Antipodean sound coming out of the post-punk purveyors of the time, with bands traveling the Tasman Sea to tour and many New Zealand bands eventually settling in Australia. At a time when most bands were coming from the South Island, giving rise to the Dunedin Sound, Vietnam were from Wellington on the North Island. Obviously in the 80s, the members of Vietnam were unable to keep the band together at the time but now, post-punk is seeing a great revival (though for some of us it never went away) and many great bands of the period are seeing people take interest in their music again, making it easier to reach an audience. This Quiet Room has the wonderful jangle and exploding with dark exuberance. The atmosphere created by Vietnam NZ is joyous nihilism with good solid songwriting and years of honed practice. Have a beer, a dance and turn up This Quiet Room.
Ah Valentine’s Day…. it just keeps coming around doesn’t it?! Some of us will wish to sleep that day away but others will be deeply in the thralls of love or desperately want to be. Hateful Chains are giving you a romantic single to woo that other person for this special day and it is a cover version. The only catch is, it’s in Finnish. The cover is of the Finnish love song “Yölento” originally written and sung by Juice Leskinen, from the album of the same name released in 1986, which was also their best selling release.
“Yölento” literally means night flight and there is no doubt that this track conveys a seductive darkness. Lead singer, Flora’s deep and sonorous vocals caress ones ears. She really has a beautiful tone and it is accompanied by the wandering piano and the guitar that almost seems to be forlorn as it cries out.
The overall impression is about longing and waiting to be with another, knowing it might never happen. It is rich and full of unleashed passion. You don’t need to understand Finnish to have this song to pull at your heart strings which is the power of music, language is not a barrier in enjoying or reveling in a great song…. all great songs will evoke emotion. Hateful Chains chose well and the execution is this shadowy melancholy piece that is tinged with a yearning dream. Come on a “Yölento” with me…..
Not many musical acts can say they have continuously been creating and performing for 40 years. ATTRITION is one of those groups that have weathered the British music scene since their evolution in 1980, to become a force spoken in hushed tones, passing from an electro/industrial band to being something legendary within the scene. Martin Bowes had been at the helm consistently, throughout all the band changes. He was approached by Sleeper Records to release a special vinyl album to celebrate this milestone. They decided to pick music from the period 1986 to 2004, as this music has never been released on vinyl until now.
This compilation is named A Great Desire, containing ten tracks that can be found on a variety of albums which were all originally only released on Compact Disc, which was crushing the sales of vinyl by the end of the 80s. There are a selection that includes the wonderfully brass filled and brash “To The Devil“, the delicate and sinful “Acid Tongue“, the sexy “Sister Teresa” and the experimental and extraordinary title track, “A Great Desire“. To that end, Martin Bowes spoke to us about the new album and the past, present and future of ATTRITION.
Welcome to the rabbit hole that is Onyx, Martin Bowes.
Thank you for having me!
Did you ever foresee ATTRITION lasting more than 40 years and still making relevant music?
I don’t think I really thought that far ahead in 1980! And I still often get the feeling I have only just started in music… which propels me to make the next album or shows or videos or artwork…. I write music for myself… a cathartic thing… so the relevance I feel is only ultimately for me… but I know other people get something from my music and that makes me smile…
ATTRITION started in Coventry, your home city, which you have never really left and have your studio, The Cage there. Until the 90s, it has a been a city that bore the scars from the Second World War. Do you think in part this has been a catalyst for the sound and imagery of the band?
Well I arrived in Coventry as a 5 year old in the mid sixties, my parents moved here during the post war car manufacturing boom town era. I saw it falling apart in the eighties when the factories closed down (becoming a ghost town, as the song says) and after the first ATTRITION album in 1984 and first european tour (with the Legendary Pink Dots that same year) we all uprooted to London for a couple of years… after which I moved to Holland for another couple…. Coming back to Coventry in 1989. I think the industrial decay of my home town has definitely had an impact on the sound of ATTRITION, but it is also a very historic town…thankfully being restored these days… and that love of history has always been with me too.
Could you tell what influenced you into starting ATTRITION and how the band began?
I was blown away by punk rock in 1977…. It was there for me at just the right time…what an angry teenager needed… helped make sense of the nonsense I could see around me…. And it still does. I had absolutely no musical skill or knowledge but needed to get involved in this… so in 1979 I started my punk/post-punk fanzine “Alternative Sounds” , writing mostly about the scene in and around Coventry at the time, which was a wonderful scene… the Specials and Two Tone being a very famous part of it but there was so much more…. I did 18 issues and a special for the BBC TV Something Else program at the time. In 1980 I finally started to mess with recording sounds and instruments and a fledgling ATTRITION was born…. We played our first few shows in December 1980 as a kind of anarchist/post punk guitar, bass, drums and vocals line up…After those shows we soon started to trade in guitars and drums for synths and drum machines….
February see the release on vinyl of A Great Desire (1986 – 2004), which is a collection of songs from that time that that were released on CDs. It was around 1986 when the CD was coming into vogue and many said that vinyl was nigh. What inspired you to do this release and is it satifying to see these tracks going to the classic and dare might I say, beautiful vinyl?
We have started to have some new vinyl releases or reissues and we were asked by LA/Berlin based label Sleepers records to release this vinyl… they actually chose the track listing which I found interesting as I always do it myself and it was good to have a different opinion. Its wonderful to have music released in any format but of course vinyl is very special…. They have included 2 posters with this too which is something you can only do with vinyl!
You remastered all the tracks at The Cage Studio. Was it a good feeling to wander down those musical lanes of memory and was it a big task to do the remastering?
I have a large box full of all the old DAT tapes from that era and it didn’t take too long to track down the original mixes and master them specially for vinyl this time… I’m really pleased with how they turned out… well I master music here almost every day so I’ve had enough practice by now! Its always a strange but ultimately nice experience… like looking through old photographs or diaries…. I’m happy with the past….
Was there anything that you would have liked to change or did change?
It was more just getting the old recordings to sound as good as they can… and have recordings from different eras and studios sit together well…. I think it worked!
You also run the record company Two Gods which was originally created to release the ATTRITION albums. Since then you have opened up the label and put together some rather interesting compilations. What does running Two Gods mean to you personally?
Yes I started the Two Gods label (taken from the song of the same name) in 2006 when I was releasing music through a larger distributor … so it was all the old ATTRITION albums, and some live and compilations or remix albums at first…I then took it further and digitised/mastered a lot of old recordings from cassette etc for digital only release… it made sense for the recordings that didn’t warrant a physical release but I still wanted to get out there… I expanded this for side projects like ENGRAM and took on some other bands for digital only release… that part was an experiment and I didn’t have anywhere near enough time to market the other bands…I’d thought of it more as a collaboration using my networks… so after a few releases and label samplers I decided to take it back to ATTRITION only and give me more time for me…
Since you released Death House in 1982, how do you think the sound of ATTRITION has changed over the years?
The sound has always evolved and changed…and there has always been two sides to the sound… a more upbeat, rhythmic side to ATTRITION, and I have also been interested in sound tracks… as a visual artist origionally I still see music in terms of pcitures, of landscapes… so I relate to soundtracks… This Death House was the first soundtrack we ever did… in amongst all the “strange” experimental electronic songs we were mainly recording… It was reissued on vinyl too last year and we finally got to perform it live… I got the original line up together for that and we performed it as “Death House Variations” with a new take on it…
Just before ATTRITION came into being, there had been several waves. Glam rock, followed by punk which then morphed in the post-punk. Yet, under all that was this odd electric style being pioneered in Britain by the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Clock DVA etc. What bands or music inspired you in your youth?
So many… I first got heavily into the glam of Roxy Music, Marc Bolan, Cockney Rebel, and Bowie of course…then I got into rock n roll in that boring period for new music of the mid seventies… then Punk totally captivated me… politically at the very least…post punk of bands like Kraftwerk, The Cabs, Magazine, PIL and Joy Division influenced the early ATTRITION sound…and then over the years I have taken in more and more influences… as much from life itself as from art….
Do you remember the first live band you ever saw?
I remember it well…it was The Stranglers here in Coventry in June 1977. A good time to be alive.
What acts or bands do you listen to now or find enlightenment in?
So many from the past still…I still listen to lots of old punk records… love The Fall… and over the years I got into classical and neo-classical… and bands like The Prodigy and drum n bass and rap from bands like Public Enemy …I get to hear so much new and “new to me” music in my studio all the time…. It’s all good.
I noticed on social media that ATTRITION has been featured as a exhibit, with flyers, posters and such things in Coventry. How does it feel knowing you are now woven into the fabric of that city?
Coventry is the UK City of Culture 2021/22 and I have been a part of that… my fanzine was featured heavily as part of the Two Tone exhibition here and as part of a Coventry music mural in the town centre… was great to see a photo of me up there… I offer to take anyone to see it when they visit… ATTRITION has featured as part of a Coventry music scene of the early eighties photo exhibition (we played a show as part of that too) and I had some music commissioned as part of a City compilation of bands… Despite living here in Coventry I never had to much to do with the place musically (I had so much of the world to get to) so its been nice to have the recognition now.
You did the mastering for the Thanatos album Covered Country. I am still trying to think of payback to inflict on a certain Kiwi that tricked me into review it (country and I don’t mix). How did you find listening and mastering this genre?
Haha! That’s my old friend Pat Ogl! He used to work for our old US label Projekt back in the nineties and we always stay in touch…. I love his songs! I’m also a Johnny Cash fan so give it a few more plays, it will grow on you!
I know you do a lot of mixing and mastering for others. Has covid affected how you go about playing and promoting with ATTRITION?
Well between Covid and Brexit we haven’t been able to play abroad since we went to Tokyo in December 2019… have been playing some more low key UK shows recently so I’m hoping things get better again soon…I am used to touring all over the place (we have played on 4 continents so far) so I’m missing all of it… I know its been the same for so many bands… promoting isn’t too bad, I can still do that in other ways… and for my studio, I’ve actually had more music sent to me to mix/master than ever, as more bands concentrated on recording.
What plans lay ahead for Martin Bowes in the future and what shall we hear next with ATTRITION?
My long delayed new album, The Black Maria… will be finished soon and out later this year (planning vinyl of course) and I am also planning to release a lot of the older CD only albums we did in special limited runs…. And then I’ll be onto the next album and hoping to get out to play near you sometime soon!
Thank you for so kindly for talking to us.
Thank you for the interview…. Martin Bowes, Coventry, England. February 2022
I am going to tell you a little about AMMO and then you will need to listen to her music. She is a director, photographer, a composer/singer/musician and a voice whom has been at the fore of helping women and LBGTQ+ people tell their stories. So AMMO has dropped the video for the single “A Cold War City“, this month, on the label Mourning Sun Records, which was co-produced and recorded with Alex Posell, whom also contributes on percussion.
“A Cold War City is an exploration of human memory and its fickle nature. We rewrite details of past experience over and over until eventually a fiction replaces our recollection. We are the authors of our own memoirs which are under constant revision,” says AMMO.
This track is so utterly beautiful and you can hear there is that nucleus of darkness and doubt, in this devastatingly ethereal track. Her soft and entrancing vocals glide effortlessly into the void of echoing and reverberating sound that seems ever so expansive. The layers of vocals are an added angelic sprinkling.
I think the metaphor of using the cold war is a clever one. The time of the cold war was marked by secret agents, spies, double agents, propaganda and misinformation, where people were second guessing themselves. In essence, this is what this track is about. Are you memories real or just influenced by everything around you, so can you trust those memories? Dreams become self perception. Definitely a song you should check out if you are a fan of shoegaze, dream pop and ethereal wave like Cocteau Twins. AMMO is hauntingly perfect.
Washington DC is the town where you find gothic rock duo, Amulet. They released their debut album, The House Of BlackAndWhite in 2021 and it has a whopping sixteen tracks on it. Talk about getting more bang for your buck. Stephanie Stryker and MJ Phoenix have created an album full of quintessential inky gloom and a southern gothic feel that will warm the cockles of many a darkling’s black little heart. They remind me a lot of the wonderful Concrete Blonde with that heavy bass and ringing guitar, along with the laconic and unhurried drawl of the vocals, giving it the feel of a night out with Anne Rice’s vampires, in New Orleans, with the heady aroma of wisteria in the air. They have started to also collaborate with other acts and as a result we also have the amazing electronic remix of “Falling Down” by unitcode:machine which should be on high rotation on dance floors and sound systems. So we decided to open up a vein and ask Amulet a few questions which they kindly did between gigs.
Welcome Amulet to the darkside of Onyx.
Amulet is a fairly new project. How did it all come together?
MJ Phoenix: In October 2019, we wrapped a rehearsal with our old band that played a repertoire cover songs. I said I wanted to write a concept album of original music. So three of us from that group began to write songs. As we went through the writing and producing process, Stephanie and I felt it would be better to form our own group, independent of our third member, due to diverging musical styles. He agreed and Amulet was formed!
Stephanie Stryker: Most people say things and don’t do it, but a few months later during lockdown, tracks started appearing in my email from MJ. We spent over a year writing while he lived in Washington, DC and I lived Dallas, TX. Now I’ve returned to the DC area and we have formed a live band!
Are you both from a goth rock background with other previous bands?
SS: Nope, our previous band was a classic rock cover band, and MJ’s bands before that were a diverse mix between funk and rock jam bands. I am a goth/industrial head though, so it makes me very happy to make music that I like to listen to also!
Your debut album House of Black + White has a Southern blues style to it at times, that musically reminds me a lot of Concrete Blonde while at other times there is a post-punk vibe with the bass and percussion. What was the process in creating the album?
MJ: Almost all the tracks started with bass parts. When I write, I let the instrument feel its way to where it wants to go for that song. I also almost always start with bass lines written in minor keys. Once the bass line reveals itself, I play around with guitar parts to compliment. From there, I pass to Steph for vocals, sometimes with melodies and sometimes not. While I wrote most of the guitar parts on the album, many of the final guitar recordings were played by Stephanie’s brother John Taylor, a professional guitarist from Nashville, TN. Keys were added later by both John and I to round out the sound.
SS: This is the first recorded music I’ve done so the learning curve was steep! As MJ mentioned, he would mostly send me close-to-finished drafts and I would record demos for vocals in Logic. I would often write or contribute to the vocal melodies. Two of the songs on the album are written by me, Last Ditch and Witchfinder. With Last Ditch, I sang the whole thing a cappella and handed to MJ for music. With Witchfinder, I produced a musical skeleton along with lyrics and vocals which we both developed the final track from there. After our drafts were done, we hit the studio for many hours of vocal recording, mixing, and mastering!
Did it feel a little ambitious releasing a 16 track album asyour debut?
MJ: We actually had trouble stopping. We have many more tracks that could have been made but we had to stop somewhere. Clear Blue Sky was the last track. I wrote it quickly and it made itself very clear it needed to live on this album.
SS: As someone who was a teen in the 1990s, I fully expect albums to have at least 12 tracks (usually closer to 15) in order for me to consider it a full album. My favorite album of all time is Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, which is a double album. So, I really wanted to give people their money’s worth. These days, an album on Bandcamp is only $7 USD, so for 16 tracks, that’s a damn good deal I’d say! We actually have more tracks that could have made it on there, but we just needed to put a cap on it at some point.
Your music seems to touch some very personal subjects, so are you writing from experience or as an observer?
SS: MJ’s been dumped a lot of times, ha! I wrote my songs on this album from an observer’s perspective. This was my first foray into writing, so I didn’t dive as deep into my personal issues. Writing more and working with MJ has taught me a lot about using music to express that side of my life, as well. Expect more sad, emotional tracks from me in the future!
MJ: While there is plenty of my own life in the album topics, it is also an expression of general dissatisfaction and a comment on those experiences that most people go through. Though mainly about relationships, there are also a few tracks about dissatisfaction with the modern political climate, which again, I think most people can relate to.
You had other musicians play on the album with you and Amulet has been playing live shows, so do you play with backing tapes or do you have a live band to play with you?
SS: We have a six-person live band now! They are not the same folks who played session work on our album, but local musicians from the Washington, DC area. We have MJ on bass, myself on lead vocal, Damian Himeros on lead guitar, Bob Carr on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Alison Freyja on keyboard and backing vocals, and Thomas Grothe on drums.
How did you find trying to release an album during the pandemic and how has it changed the way you do business?
MJ: Not much to compare it to since this is our first album. Since so many people were stuck at home, there is probably more competition than there was. We’ve also had to take a little more time to go live due to the pandemic, but we’ve used that time to build the live band. The real challenge is breaking through the mass of music and other information on the internet and just getting the album into people’s ears.
Our formative music choices often colour our tastes, so in that vein, what acts did you listen to when you were younger?
MJ: I grew up in Liverpool, UK in the 1970s and 80s so I was greatly influenced of the counterculture music of the time. Sex Pistols, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Blondie, Led Zepplin, Gary Numan, punk, new wave, reggae, and funk (even played in a funk band).
SS: I was a suburban 90s mall goth, so I loved the dark alternative giants of the time: Nine Inch Nails, Manson, Skinny Puppy, Stabbing Westward, etc. Graduating high school, I fell in love with David Bowie, Sisters of Mercy, and The Cure, as well as EBM and industrial dance acts like VNV Nation, Apop, Icon of Coil, Covenant, etc.
Whom do you listen to now?
MJ: Amulet! I’m usually writing in my head.
SS: I still do have my old favorites on rotation. When I’m not listening to our music, it’s usually some harsh EBM or aggrotech acts like Alien Vampires, Suicide Commando, Nachtmar, etc. I am really obsessed with Faderhead’s new release Years of the Serpent right now.
What is in the future for Amulet?
MJ: A lot in store! We are building out our live show and beginning to gig regionally in our area. We are also working on two new album concepts: A sequencer and synth-based electronic direction for one (this may turn into a side project) and a more Amulet-style rock album. And who knows, we might write another dark lounge track (yes we did that! Secrets + Lies on Bandcamp). We are also currently working on a remix album for House of Black + White with other collaborators (so far, we are working with unitcode:machine, Red This Ever, and Grendel).
SS: All that, but we are also visual artists! We have several music videos coming up and we will be filming more soon. We also have a catalog of art photography that we’d like to showcase and make available to our fans. I am a graphic designer by day and have a degree in fashion design, so there are a lot of ways I can see expanding Amulet into a wide-reaching artistic endeavor beyond just music.
Check us out on Instagram and Facebook (@amulettheband), we are constantly posting our photography and often I will write poetry as well. Our website is amuletheband.com, we’d love to have you join our mailing list and follow us for updates! Thanks so much for reaching out to us.
Thank you for the music and we hope to hear more music from you soon!
Just when you thought is was safe to get back into mother nature, a single is carelessly discarded by the lads in DECOMMISSIONED FORESTS and low it was called “Drop Brick“. It was released in January, on the 14th of 2022, ahead of the soon to be unleashed Industry album. I, your humble reviewer decided to cheekily nick this description from their bio…..
Formed around the creative axis of Howard Gardner (Non-Bio,Pillars Of Golden Misery), Max Rael (History Of Guns, Spucktute, Raelism), and Daniel Vincent (The Resonance Association), DECOMMISSIONED FORESTS create music that is dark in outlook and electronic in nature.
Not going to lie, the keys from the beginning bring forth memories of Tubular Bells, but the vocals of MaxRael save us. For the initiated, Rael very well could be channeling Coil’s John Balance, it is truly uncanny and very lucky that Coil is a band that the group are very much into. On much more serious note “Drop Brick” is empathising with a monster. The thoughts that they might go through, pain, loss, anger, loneliness and the hunger to have to what is kept from them. In the end there is no end and only the exhaustion of reality. The synths peal over and over again, cementing the ground hog perception and you feel the heaviness of wanting to pass away.
The more murky sounding “I Can Stop The Noise” is kind of the b-side, filled with a story told in a matter of fact way about a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, whom hates her husband and plans something diabolical. The electronics are so low, you strain to hear them as they dwindle to a slowing heartbeat.
There are no less than four remixes of “Drop Brick” and one deconstructed mix which I think I can safely say where done by all the band mates. The Pillars Of Golden Misery is is all prickly and angry while the Safety Deposit Box version feels like a much more lighter version with it’s cute electronics, that is until the sped up vocals join in like that mantra. The Raelism remix is like a lads night down the pub with the boys that gets thrown into the Twilight Zone. Talking about the weird and wonderful is The DOMH Deconstructed version, giving you Twin Peaks vibes with the vocals running backwards, the swell of electronics in the background that just seem out of reach yet full of promise to swallow you in the noise. The Non-Bio remix is full of the noise and cacophony of buzzing electronics trying to crawl under your skin, as they are pushed to the limit and we wouldn’t expect anything less.
The guys have also included the original demo version of the song which was originally named “Halt Program“. It is a far more keyboard friendly version, the bare bones so to speak, without the vocals but it is still a very compelling piece of music and it is interesting to see how it developed into “Drop Brick”. DECOMMISSIONED FORESTS manage to find the quirk in things and bring them to the fore. The ability to make you listen to what is almost most there or the subtle yet sudden change in direction that takes on a completely different journey. Call it experimental post-industrial or dark electro-ambient or whatever but in the end it is about that journey you take with them and in that process, the visions they can bestow.
Dima Ilyin is one of the people trying to make industrial great again. You may have heard this Russian’s name connected to the project Nova State Machine with Australian Craig Saunders (NOVAkILL) however his original solo act, that has been around since 2009, ULTIMATE SOLDIER, dropped a new album in January of 2022 called Konstruktor (and you don’t get much more industrial sounding than that!)..
The album’s title is also the first song and you will be hit by the waves of static and the female over-voice saying “Konstruktor“. The fusion of bleeps with rhythm that brings you to the angry vocals as the Konsruktor (Ilyin), konstrukts and creates konstruktion. “Control” is success or is it? From the electronic whirs comes the synths and Ilyin’s vocals, stealthily subverting you. A comfortable pace that never lets up nor ever feels out of control…..
The beginning of “Power” almost feels overwhelming in its verbosity. A cyber techno sound with a big ground swell on an industrial level. The more laid back “Lies” is a far more insidious affair as it crawls into your ears, unlike the “Selfdestruction” which is more like a drill to the head with those sharp beats. It is still bristling with angst but “U Gonna Die” is a smooth piece with those synths breaking through like futuristic sunshine.
There is a retro feel to the track “Reload“, as if the sparkling synths had come from the early 80s but the vocals growl over the top to remind you that not is all as it seems in the cyber world. It was Edward Teller who created the hydrogen bomb, who also wished to create a “10 000 Megaton” nuclear bomb which would have yielded 166 666 times more explosive power than the one dropped on Hiroshima. The track is a slightly trap influenced bleak soundscape instrumental, that travels outwards from point zero.
Love from the beginning “Cold Connected” as it is so clean and bright next to the fuzz and vocals. The techno waves within it are easy on the ears and extend to the primal. The space like “Final Mission” is a thing of beauty. Synths layer like falling stars in this bridging, short instrumental before we hit the final track, “Futuresoldier“. This is a great dance track from the ULTIMATE SOLDIER as it races ahead with no fear and no surrender to embrace the oncoming apocalyptic world order.
“Reload” and “Power” were released together, middle of last year as a remix package, which I highly suggest you check out as well. The track “Selfdestruction” reminds me a little of HOSTILE ARCHITECT and I started imagining the whole ULTIMATE SOLDIER vs HOSTILE ARCHITECT de-Konstruktor style…. I can dream! Konstruktor is gritty and grating, yet the keyboards also give this album that beautiful polish and make it fly. A mixture of cyber-industrial with the futuristic synth and techno to offset it, creating the nightmarish new world order.
New Zealand seems a long way from anywhere and maybe this is why they have developed their own rich musical tapestry. Singer Justine Ó Gadhra-Sharp, around 20 years ago, went into a recording studio in Auckland, with collaborator Iva Treskon, laid down some tracks and there they remained until another musicians, Bryan Tabuteau and Josh Wood bringing them back to attention. The tracks were given a new lease of life and the EP called Sidhe, the Gaelic pronunciation ‘Shee‘, was created with Wood (The Mercy Cage) in the engineering/production seat.
The opening track is “Charmer“, about that person that has a silver tongue and worms their way into your affections but never should have. Some songs just make your jaw drop at the pure elegance of the music and the vocals. “Stanley’s Only Hope” is one of those songs. A duet between Ó Gadhra-Sharp and Michel Rowland (Disjecta Membra) done in the broken carnival style I like to think Nick Cave pioneered. The vocals fence with each other before joining in a beautiful spiral, Rowland with his deep and smooth baritone complimenting Ó Gadhra-Sharp.
“Red Room” is the single and deservedly so. An electronic turn of the aloof, sexual kind with a catchy chorus that will stick with you for quite a while. There is a whirlwind of guitar and piano in “Hypnosis“, as if there is something unstable going on in her racing mind. Completely on a different plane is the mellow “Walking OnAir“, a minimalist piece that wanders it’s own path before the last track, a remix version of “Red Room“. TheMercy Cage are another New Zealand group who give this mix a cyber-industrial tickle.
Yes, my favourite is “Stanley’s Only Hope” because of the finesse of the vocals and the drama involved and “Red Room” will be a crowd pleaser. Her vocals are just smokey seduction and with the help of other members of the New Zealand gothic and industrial community, Ó Gadhra-Sharp has brought out an eclectic, dark electronica and cabaret style offering in Sidhe.
I was warned that this was coming by Craig Saunders, one half of Sydney’s NOVAkILL. What you may ask? Why the EP Therapy I: Aversion. Saunders with Warren Bones have been doing their post-punk inspired, synth thing since around 2003 with their first album, Hard Tech For A Hard World. Don’t expect anything new on this four track EP but rather there are two re-recordings of older NOVAkILL songs and two covers.
Still back and get your socks knocked off with the reworked “Deliverance 2022“. Those synths are just magical and deliciously meaty. Bones’ vocals rip into you and you happily bounce away to the waves of beats and synths. If you are old enough to remember. Simple Minds had released quite a few albums before people discovered “Don’t You Forget About Me“. NOVAkILL cover the wonderful “I Travel“. They take this little gem and give it teeth. A dark and brooding maelstrom of post-punk synth which is still every bit relevant today.
The baleful air of the beginning of “SHOkNOVA” culminates into a buzz of noise, beats and glorious keyboards. Hell yes we need to be set free with the powering rhythms of “SHOkNOVA“. The last track is a cover of a track that is close to my heart. The luminous “Underpass” that was originally written and performed by John Foxx, has been taken to hand and the crux of the song is very much present in those sparkling synth lines but Bones has not tried to emulate Foxx but rather stayed true to his vocals, giving this a far more gritty sound along with more modern electronics. I like this version very much.
Okay, my suggestion is to go to Bandcamp and download this. It is name your price and it is well worth paying a little something for. It will make you want to dance and wonder at how brilliantly skilled these guys are at what they do. It will be nostalgic for some hearing the new versions of NOVAkILL songs or for others, the 80s classics. Saunders has this magic touch where everything becomes just so damn tasty. With TherapyI: Aversion under their belts, let us see what next gets the treatment.