Due to lockdowns and the like over 20/21, the Berlin based band X-Vivo decided to take a few tracks from their 2017 concept album Petrichor and remix them for an EP to be fully released on the 18th of March. The added bonus was having Nico from BIINDS also helping in the remixing, bringing in yet another style.

Aphelion” kicks off and I get a real Deathstars feel when these guys are in full flight. This mix by aleX-Vivo is verbose and yet there is something reflective with the angst. Also mixed by aleX-Vivo is the huge sounding “Hail The King“. This is definitely the track you will want to turn up. Both metallic and cold as it speeds along at full throttle, throwing you into false lulls before taking off again. The next remix is done by BIINDS is “Echo Of The Unseen” which has a far more gentle mood than the original which was tending to be more glitch tech, while this version is full of small beats and rhythms that bear it along.

The Waves Of The Ocean Are Gone” again is a BIINDS version where the original piano has been replaced with a far more electronic accompaniment and I perceive a male voice in this version. It reminds me of early Within Temptation. “Perihelion” has been changed into two tracks, Part 1 appears to be the culmination of female vocals which extend forth, as if in a dream. Wherein Part 2 is the male vocals like distant thunder rolling across the empty hills. These were created by aleX-Vivo.

Most remix releases normally follow the course of bringing on the big beats especially when it comes to industrial bands. X-Vivo seem to be bucking that trend. The lower and slower tracks are treated with reverence and great care to hold onto the key components that give them such refined delicacy. “Hail The King” is a banger of a tune but sometimes it isn’t always about the loudest tracks but rather the whole composition.

https://x-vivo.bandcamp.com/album/petrichor-remixed

X-Vivo | Facebook

BIINDS | Facebook

From the dark depths of merry old London town, there is a project by the name of VHS¥DEATH. What is this all about you might ask and I shall reply Natalie Wardle is VHS¥DEATH and along with Cruel Nature Records are releasing the EP, Corrupted Geisha on limited tape format as of March 11th, 2022.

So we start off with “Space Bankers See You, The End Is Near” and the title alone is intriguing enough. Hip hop beats with broken pieces of conversation, singing and maybe a little Southern soul, that is until a man is telling how things are in the real world to a sweet stream of relaxation music. “Falsehood Of Man (Dystopian Mix)” is a whirlwind of soliloquy angst and breakbeats before “666 Pounds of Zero Gravity” with its electronic vocalizations. The connections between the demonic, the angelic and creation.

The dour organ plays sickly to Wardle’s distorted utterances for “Snakes In The Grass“. Like a possession gone wrong, this is part disturbing and part cute with the drum and bass tapping along nicely, Guitar distortion and multi layering are almost to the point of overwhelming in “What Is Your Worth, Vampire?“. Underneath all is this lovely guitar jangle and vocals that eventually comes to the fore.

If you are into industrial music and you don’t know the original “Everyday Is Halloween” then you should go sit in the corner and contemplate what you are doing with your life. The Ministry track is given a synth makeover, making it even more electronic, if that is possible. Wardle definitely can sing and does a sterling job in this sensuous ode to being a weirdo in a weird world.

This is experimental industrial music and it is not going to be everyone’s taste. The best way I can describe VHS¥DEATH is chaos with a zen centre. A sponge taking in all around them and then trying to make sense of so much information in order to find balance. The fusion of hip hop, drum & bass with synths and a smattering of guitar can be challenging and yet also pleasing to the ear. Well worth the listen and maybe your curiosity to listen to the Ministry cover might pull you in.

Corrupted Geisha EP | VHS¥DEATH | Cruel Nature Records (bandcamp.com)

Cruel Nature Records | Facebook

From Fort Lauderdale in the US, electro-goth pop princess, Miss FD has released her latest EP, As Above, So Below as of the 11th of February, on Quantum Release Records. She has taken inspiration from the archaeological exploration of  Göbekli Tepe, a Neolithic settlement in South Eastern Anatolia, Turkey and some spirituality as well.

There is a delightful Middle Eastern influence in the “Summoning” mixed with the electronics and perhaps conjure an ancient angel or djinn to find solace in the desert night air. “The Veil” is thought to be the barrier between the living and the dead. Only the dead may pass though and at certain times of the year, Day of the Dead/Halloween the veil is at it’s thinnest. It pulses with life and beats while wishing to dalliance with the ethereal to meet with lost loves. A bit darker and oh so alluring is the title track, “As Above, So Below” with that great driving rhythm and the alluring vocals of Miss FD sweep you away to the dichotomy that is the earthly and the mystical.

The term as above, so below is used as a reference in the belief that what we do on this earthly plane, will also be played out in the spiritual world. Through all three tracks, you can hear the references to the other worldly, intangible and karmic. The music curls around your ears, like the smoke from the hookah the Caterpillar smoked in Alice In Wonderland, permeating your being just as a drug would and Miss FD’s vocals coo and call you to the other side like a siren. Maybe time to contemplate your mortality because As Above, So Below.

As Above, So Below – EP | Miss FD (bandcamp.com)

Miss FD | Facebook

Phobos Reactor are a two person electronic group from Germany while HCH and TFG are from the Finnish band TONTTU. TONTTU normally perform songs about the evils of gnomes roaming around in the wild plotting against the human race but they have teamed up with Phobos Reactor to create an EP that is not about gnomes. It dropped on the 22nd of February on PANICMACHINE.

The clinical female voice over the electronic beats of “Subject” is broken up with the demonic grows below questioning. “Shadow” has the TONTTU vocals all over it, like Davros, the leader of the dalek from Dr Who, pondering existence and the futility of life, all to a serpentine dance rhythm and synths. The darkness and loathing within causes “Hatred” but it is good to hate to these sublime beats. “Confusion (Part 2: Nice Things)” is an interesting soliloquy about how they can’t have nice things because other people are just plain annoying. The last track is “Square” which has that rhythm that actually feels like it is doing right turns, needing to be constantly in motion with the vocal angst consuming the light. Though don’t take that too seriously.

This is a pretty fun EP. Phobos Reactor bringing the serious EBM mixed with the gutteral rantings of the Fins and the sleek female vocals. Apparently the lyrics were originally written in Finnish for another project, Dødsrige, but I think it suits this very well, translated into English. This is not the first time these two acts have teamed up and hopefully not the last either. Might not be about gnomes but remember there are other dark things that are waiting just for you…. like humans.

PANICMACHINE

Phobos Reactor | Facebook

TONTTU | Facebook

Panicmachine | Facebook

From Stockholm, Sweden, comes the synthpop EP, -ISH by NEONPOCALYPSE, released on January the 14th on the label Swiss Dark Nights. This is the solo project for Alex Svenson whom is also the leads singer for the band Then Comes Silence.

It is a smooth start with “Broken Circles” and throws us back to the 80s where I was near banging my head on anything because there was something about it that was prickling my memories. It reminds me of the late Steve Strange’sThe Damned Don’t Cry“… a song that I love. So there is plenty to love about this single and I really like the bottle noises….something organic amongst the electronics that become more ominous as the track proceeds to it’s end. The heavier beats herald in something a little darker. It is written on the headstone, game over is definitely about the death of another though done with a dance beat makes this a nice way to go with “Game Over“. I am going to take a long shot and say “The Light” could almost be a tribute to Fad Gadget especially to the reference of tarred and feathered. There is a nice heavy bass sound in this and the quirkiness is very endearing with Svenson’s commanding vocals careening over all. “Lips” is a little slower and lower and sexier. The last two tracks are remixes, the first is by Italians, Ash Code with their re imagining of “Broken Circles” and you can hear their darkwave fingers sliding all over this giving it a slightly more minimalist feel and even smoother in texture. The last is by fellow Italian, Kurs with their far more modern interpretation of “The Light”, introducing a more bass and drums influence, while they had me thinking Nine Inch NailsBroken” in a building climax to the end.

This -ISH EP is an extremely likeable. For those of us that grew up on or still play music from the early 80s, we appreciate this new wave style and I think it will draw many others into the fantastic dance rhythms and synth lines. Alex Svenson really does have the most sensuous and sonorous voice which is liquid perfection as he croons away. True to the name of NEONPOCALYPSE, the bright synth pop music is the facade for a much darker world.

https://neonpocalypse.bandcamp.com/

Neonpocalypse | Facebook

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/ish

Swiss Dark Nights | Facebook

Ash Code | Facebook

Kurs | Facebook

Jay Taylor is a live band member with Tactical Sekt, Tyske Ludder and Harmjoy and he has played drums since he was around 16 or 17 years of age in the industrial scene. His own project is j:dead and 18th of February is the release date for the EP, Visions Of Time out on Infacted Recordings.

Now if you purchase the EP off Bandcamp, there are 6 tracks available. So the EP kicks off with with the single “I’ll Wait” and if you don’t find this lighting a fire under you, you might have no pulse. The whispered I touch your skin you will be mine was a little creepy in the beginning of “Whole“, and the further we go on, I still feel that way. Is this a stalker song or a very intense one sided affair?! Harsh vocals mixed with the clean is such a juxtaposition. “Hold Tight” and wait for me is the message for this bitter sweet track full of longing. The keyboards are surprising light and skyward bound and maybe that is where hope lays.There is a powerful amount of need to protect one’s self due to being “Afraid” and it is a banger of a track throttling along at high speed. There is a beautiful piano line from the beginning in “Evil In A Bottle” that evolves into synth and it is utterly delightful. “A Little Time” builds in volume and there is explosion of electronics as Taylor exposes his heart in this final anguished expression of passion.

Let’s talk about the CD. If you purchase it, not only do you have something tangible, but also there are bonus remixes. When “I’ll Wait” came out, there were the mixes by Lights Of Euphoria, (who never seems to ever do a bad remix) which was given the techno/electro work over and TeknoVore mix, which is going to mega tear up some dance floors with it’s brilliance. There is Nature Of Wires with their version of “Afraid” that has quieter reflective moments, only to swing back in anger and Life Cried have taken the creepy stalker role with “Whole” and turned it into a rhythmic noise extravaganza. There is not one remix of “Hold Tight” and not even two but rather three remixes. The ever wonderful Rotersand put in all the slick production and lovely harmonies, The Saint Paul summermix really is as cool as a breeze on a summer’s day while Station Echo holds onto the heart felt painful cries like a ghost in the machine.

This EP and those that are set to follow were all written in the time of the global lockdowns and all the challenges that come with that. This new j:dead EP has passion, powerful vocals and really great electronic music that will get you moving and you will be moved by. He started off a drummer but the boy can sing! The remixes are by some hard hitters in the industrial scene and well worth owning. Which ever format you choose, you still get to hear these well crafted songs of j:dead’s Vision Of Time.

https://jdeadband.bandcamp.com/album/vision-of-time-digital-and-physical-release

J:dead | Facebook

Infacted Recordings | Facebook

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 On Air“, a minimalist piece that wanders it’s own path before the last track, a remix version of “Red Room“. The Mercy 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.

https://justinesidhe.bandcamp.com/releases

Justine Ó Gadhra-Sharp | Facebook

Disjecta Membra | Facebook

The Mercy Cage | Facebook

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 Therapy I: Aversion under their belts, let us see what next gets the treatment.

https://novakill.bandcamp.com/album/therapy-i-aversion-ep

𝙉𝙊𝙑𝘼𝙠𝙄𝙇𝙇 | Facebook

Those that know the US act, Strap On Halo, will know of their singer, Layla Reyna and if you don’t then you are in for something a bit special. After relocating to Seattle and finding Strap On Halo on a hiatus, Reyna created Licorice Chamber for herself and in doing so, released the EP, “The Taste Of Falling“. This is a project that she not only does the vocals for, but apart from the guitar work, impressively, everything else is her including writing the music. Four of the five tracks, feature Michel Rowland of New Zealand bands Disjecta Membra and Dreams Are Like Water on guitar and as you will find out, he was not the only guest.

If “As The World Breathes” is any indication of what this album is going to be like, then this is going to be a treat. A mixture of electronic beats, melancholy guitar, and Layla’s vocals just flowing seamlessly into your ears. What catches my attention is the heavy down notes of piano and guitar. The beautiful, “This Love Is Dark” is mesmerizing and this it the Codename:Lola remix. Codename:Lola is the project for UK artist Lee Meadows. Full of lament and longing of wanting a little bit longer. The synths are just wonderful, along with the jangle of guitar make it a truly haunting number that gets under your skin.

The sliding notes of the guitar again are spine tingling in “Just Like The Horror Movies” as Rowland out does himself. Reyna makes horror movies so far appealing with those sensual vocals, luring you into a gorgeous nightmare. “It’s An Illusion” just floats and while it has a Siouxsie Sioux vibe, it is definitely all Reyna. New Zealander, Blair Wotton (Columns Of Sand, Froithead, The Flickering) provides the fuzzing guitar that fits in perfectly with the electronics. The final track is the original version of “This Love Is Dark” which is far more stripped back than the remix yet it does not detract as you hear all the nuances that make up this shadowy fantasy.

There is something inextricably deep and sensuous about “The Taste Of Falling“. It could be the composition or the beautiful singing. Maybe the guitar work that harkens back to albums like Pornography that give you goosebumps. Whatever it is, Licorice Chamber has it in spades. There is a palpable texture of velvet and satin to lay your fevered brain and rest as the quality of the recording, mixing and mastering is perfect. Just for good measure, it was mastered by Gordon Young of Children On Stun fame. This is a cracker of an EP and I am left craving more………..

Music | Licorice Chamber

Licorice Chamber | Facebook

Music | Disjecta Membra (bandcamp.com)

Head Damage EP | Column of Sand (bandcamp.com)

Head Damage EP | Column of Sand (bandcamp.com)

Children on Stun Official Website

From Darlington, in the north of England, Ian Hanratty and Lee Teasdale are Analogue Blood and their latest EP dropped on January 14th. Equinox is the fourth EP to be released since 2019, as they continue crafting their industrial dance floor music.

So kicking off with “Celestial Equator“, you are going to smashed with the high energy from the start, between the pumping guitar and enslaught of beats. Ooh a female vocal can be heard within the frenetic mix, sometimes sweet, on occasion robotic and often other worldly for the title track “Equinox“.

The male vocals by Teasdale are a nice balance for “Invisable” as it builds in strength with the guitar fuzzing behind and the synths wandering with tendrils of feathery lightness.

Let’s Keep On Dancing” is probably my pick of all the tracks. With its eastern inspired vocals married with a techno style and industrial sensibility. The female vocals somewhat remind me of the late 80s/early 90s Eurodance style.

Final track, “Hypnotise” allows the guitarist more free reign but it melds perfectly with the electronic side. The female vocalist is the siren catching your attention amidst the tempest.

Analogue Blood seem to be getting better with each new release as they hone their style. It can be fast and furious, with a vocal eye of the storm that anchors you to a point from being blown away.

https://analogueblood.bandcamp.com/album/equinox

https://www.facebook.com/analogueblood