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 Max Rael 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.

https://decommissionedforests.bandcamp.com/album/drop-brick-2

Decommissioned Forests | Facebook

If you drive west of Brisbane, through the beautiful countryside, you can reach Mount Nebo on the land of the indigenous Jinibara people. This is also the home of Ghostwoods, a new project by musician James Lees. Lees is better known in the scene for the more rock’n’roll style bands he drums with but he has found this didn’t quite feed his soul.

“During lockdown last year, I lost most of my work, so I had a lot of time and was pretty much isolated here at
my place in Mt Nebo so the seclusion and influence of the environment throughout the winter was really
strong. I had made a start on the project prior to this, but the lockdown made me turn back to the music for
solace. Another element of the project is for me to do some music with my partner Karl who plays bass and
some acoustic guitar – he also loves playing super-dark spooky music, so he agreed to this pretty readily!”
– James Lees

JAMES LEES – GHOSTWOODS

There is the magical tinkling of chimes that heralds the dark tones of the slow, deep piano and cymbal that is “Dark Moon“. It might be a flute that mournfully cries like a storm bird in the night. Soon joined by an electric guitar that languidly plays as if it is somewhere on a grim bayou. Anticipation fills the air and dissipates again with chimes like the frost in the heat of a new day. There is something austere and aloof about “Spiral Up” and yet a sadness pervades throughout, until the saxophone invades to bring a sense of longing. All the while the synths swirl of pulsate beneath, a creature wanting to escape. The recording of parrots crying out at the beginning and end of the Panoptique Electrical remix of “Dark Moon” is so utterly Australian. The mix by Jason Sweeney, is such a powerful noise inspired soundscape that almost is on the edge of becoming overwhelming and yet does not. You could swear it was trying to consume the light and air around it as it becomes a vortex, circling. Final track is “Spiral Down” and this is a much more electronic in feel than “Spiral Up“, however oddly the flute in the back ground gives it an unearthly feel in combination. The morose tones of the blues sax in juxtaposition with the ground swell of electronic noise .

Though this is James Lees’ project where he played piano/synths/drums/percussion, he fortunate enough to collaborated with Mark Angel on electric guitars, Karl O’Shea on bass guitar/ acoustic guitar and who is also in the band Daylight Ghosts, as well as Andrew Saragossi playing flute/clarinet/saxophone. These are very emotive pieces created in a time of uncertainty, in a remote and timeless landscape and a lot of that seeps into music.The Ghostwoods are mysterious and once you go in, you might not come out the same way…….

https://ghostwoodsau.bandcamp.com/album/dark-moon

Ghostwoods | Facebook

Industrial music actually covers a lot of scope, from heavy dance music to experimental, ambient noise and this is where we introduce British band, Decommissioned Forests. So far there have only been singles released by the three men behind the project, though the latest single, “Ants Part 1” will be on their debut album Industry.

DECOMMISSIONED FORESTS

From the start you can hear the undeniable homage to Coil in their spoken word phase and Rael’s utterances are uncannily like the late John Balance. Ants Part 1 (Our Last Supper) is just over nine minutes long and is like a dissonant journey that seems pleasant, yet the lyrics are the disembodied oddities of strange and disturbing sequences. The one running thread is the ants running riot over the picnic as they transcend the existence of this plane it seems. The band agreed the track “Functional Programming For Humans” was their favourite to play in the studio.The low tones almost could the far off church organ while the quirky sounds could be firing synapses while the commentary is how not feel any emotion like an automaton unless it is turned on. Grand soundscape with cold barren wept vistas. The last song is “Base” and the first bars start like a droning sea shanty though this drone is sinister and full of loathing as the piano enforces it’s disappointment.

Decommissioned Forests (is) the result of friendships going back to the beginnings of this century and a shared love of the darker post-industrial world of Coil, Current 93, Cabaret Voltaire and Nurse With Wound. In this collaboration, Daniel Vincent (of cult space rockers The Resonance Association) handles the music, ably abetted by Howard Gardner (the multi-media artist behind Non-Bio, Pillars of Golden Misery and Down With Freedom), whilst the vocals are channeled by Max Rael (the lynch pin of post-industrial noiseniks History of Guns) – Decommissioned Forests bio says it better than I can. You can hear those influences so clearly in the music these guys create and there is definitely a passion for the genre. There is a timelessness in a way to Decommissioned Forests, not only the themes but expressions of love, loss, life and always the ants.

https://decommissionedforests.bandcamp.com/album/ants-part-1

Decommissioned Forests | Facebook

IDM or intelligent dance music can sometimes be a confusing title for some. It often isn’t really danceable but rather electronic music that experiments with electronic rhythm by creating all the noise within the structure called music. For more than decade, Tapage from Hilversum in the Netherlands, has been creating electronic ambient music and May saw the release of his new album Recover, out on the label, Point Source Electronic Arts.

The first piece is “Test“, a low tonal number that tentatively reaches out towards you before the clicks begin. Like a radio, with someone flicking through without any discernible channels, just spurts of static that chirp away. “114120A11” even though electronic, makes me think of a dark, tranquil forest in prehistoric times, where insects talk to each other and large bird like creatures call out in the canopy, filled with the beat of life.

A darker turn with “Begin“, deep and ringing with those clicks and snaps that Tapage has in spades. Next could be mistaken as a performance piece on harp, that has gone horribly wrong, warped chimes flood your senses. “We Will Become” has an apocalyptic, horror ambience….. possibly otherworldly.

Almost like stars blinking in and out in the night sky comes “Prolog“. It does give the impression aliens are trying to control us and then transmission just stops. “Peepsqueek” is a multitude of squeaks that culminate in a rhythm vortex, perhaps inferring to drum and bass.

A dreamscape of space. Not so much out of space but the general term when it comes to “Able To NSet“. There are the clicks and whirs but also a lightness and expanse. The eighth track is “Ancient Tiger Proton” and it features Access To Arasaka, who fit in perfectly, also known for dark experimental ambient, that compliments Tapage’s. This feels epic and austere in a way, like you are walking the halls of the gods.

The last three tracks are remixes. Experimental artist, Klunks, re-imagines “We All Became“, that burbles along like a cosmic stream. “Able To NSet” is broken down by The Fellow Passenger, to a wandering, ethereal quality. The last remix is by Tapage, of the track “Test“, which has developed wings it seems, elevated from the drone, though that aspect it still present.

I’m never going to say I’m an expert at electronic music but in essence it’s the visceral reaction that counts. This is technically good but it’s also touching you at another level, with how it makes you feel without words to paint a picture and that’s always very special. Recover isn’t going to be for everyone but I’m also very sure Tapage know this as well and sometimes it is worth going out of your comfort zone to experience something that will take you unexpected places.

https://tapage.bandcamp.com/album/recover

https://www.facebook.com/tapage.sound/

https://www.facebook.com/accesstoarasaka/

https://www.facebook.com/thefellowpassenger.music/

https://www.facebook.com/pointsourcearts/