Non-Bio is the most excellent industrial project of the rather busy Howard Gardner, whom is based in London and is also in the projects Pillars of Golden Misery and Decommissioned Forests. Halloween was the release date for his latest album, Monkey Feather.
The first track is also the first single/video, “Island In A Lake Of Spinal Fluid“, and the electronic reverberations are already tingling under your skin. Low and intense with Gardner’s voice adding to the noise, the screaming metal sounds, causing ripples to send those tingles down your back. Rhythmic noise is the order of the day, so with that in mind “Monkey Feather” will not disappoint. The crunchy beats fall over each other with sharp agitation, the vocals almost inconsequential in the scheme of things, as all that matters is the pile driver pushing into your head.
Primal is one way to describe “The Melting Man“, not only with the beats but with what sounds like horns bellowing, before the ancient warriors storm the palisades of their foe. “Pressure” is a slower beast, like an iron lung life support, giving the needed air to a patient who cannot fend for themselves. Inhale and exhale with the pressure of accumulated shadows, death is waiting as the life stutters under the heavy odds. It is almost like a chopped up classical piece, gurgling in the background at times.
The grinding electronics vibrate and buzz, consuming the human you are. This is “Amputate Product“, as each bit of the body is replaced by cybernetics… bringing you closer to being part of the machine. The screeching beats chomp away incessantly. Down in “The God Factory” they are busy, twiddling knobs and generating those miracles of life. Making things to keep you alive for longer, glitching and oscillating, usurping the laws of natural order.
Now one is more cyborg than man, here comes the “Imbalance“. The memories of a life lived different or seemingly flashbacks of another person’s previous existence, which is surely not yours. The synapse pulse within the electrical stream trying to reconcile the loss of what was so readily given up. A sharpness and a metal tinged pain. The last track is an absolute treat. When you get two very capable artists of rhythmic noise….well hold onto your pants. “Amputate Product” the STAHSCHLAG remix, has Sebastian Sünkler taking an already heavy track, winding it up and amping up the existential dread. A monster lurks below the surface wanting to escape.
Yep. I hate to tell you but I think this might be the best Non-Bio album to date. It fair pummels the senses, raw and brooding with Howard’s discombobulated vocals filtering through, a comment on the desire to enhance the body and live longer, though, then is it truly considered living? A Monkey Feather is an incongruous thing when talking of playing God but damn it, so good when Non-Bio pushes that electronic noise.
Looking for something cyber industrial with quirky edges? Neon Shudder might be the ticket. Based in Philadelphia, their full length album, Welcome To The NET, was released on October the 7th.
This is a project purely instrumental and from the first track, you can tell the mind behind it all, draws their inspiration from a lot of different electronic styles. “Welcome To The NET” has this speeding trap style with flowing synths. The “Tiger Drive 86” start has a very Nintendo game feel and then launches into full flight…..I swear I can hear the occasional plane engine. The music sparkles and yet there is a urgency. Something sinister this way comes, stalking and persistent in the single “Something Darker“, with the graduating keyboard work creating an air of foreboding.
Things have sped up again through the cyber highways and the sun is merrily shining on the “IO Pathways“. “DReaMCuBE//SYSTEM MENU MUSIC” is an ambient piece, star struck and meandering, possibly waiting for the gamer to press play, leading into the “inter(NET)mission“, which is literally a bridging track of very cute burbles. There is something a bit special about “Brain Drive” with its languid swells below the piano styled keys, holding a promise of something else. The else is a build up of wavering electronics entrancing the senses.
“Ｒａｎｓｏｍｗａｒｅ コンピュータウイルス“…….no one likes ransomeware, unless they created it. Police sirens before we launch into a drum & bass inspired cyber-menace with storyline attached. There is a nice flow into the heavier and noisier “TECH BRUT!“. Here we find some gorgeous synth lines in this track and experimentation with the time signatures. Finally, “A Port in a Storm” both beautifully swirling and dominating at the same time, waiting out the inclement weather.
This really does drag me back into the early period of the 80s, with gaming consoles, where we were excited if we had a few snakes to whack or aliens to blip off the face of the black screen and the fantasy/science fiction movies that embraced synth music, that caught our imaginations. Even though this holds that elemental sound, this is far too modern to be from that time, the advancement in technology creates some scintillating and smoother music that indulges those childhood memories. Welcome To The NET for this is Neon Shudder.
When things go bump in the night, you are sure to get music to remind you not all is known or seen. October 31st or All Hallows Eve, saw the new EP, Avernus, be unleashed by In Tenebris, upon the world while the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. This is the more ambient product of German electronic musician, Sebastian Sünkler, whom is better know for his power noise project, STAHLSCHLAG.
Something unnatural this way comes, in the form of an ancient “Relic“. The synths waver in high pitch warning and the clash of tones signal there is something that feeds on the darkness, an aberration has become unbound. Sinister electronic overtones, coalesce with slow rhythmic beats… a heartbeat from a demonic being, in the cathodic noise, casting a foreboding shadow for this is the “Dynastic Cult“.
The beginning of “Traits” is almost transcendental, though almost immediately drenched in a claustrophobic pall of dank noises. The ringing, instead of being enlightening, joins the overbearing build up of portent. The final track is “Iconoclast” and the beast waits, no longer in torpor, as the music oozes with sharp edges, stalking so that you can almost feel the fetid breath on the back of your neck, though nothing can be seen through the mists. How long do you have?
Avernus strikes a chord somewhere in your brain that stores your animal ability to sense danger. Something dark and threatening lurks within, nothing like us and with evil intent. The music conjures a myriad of feelings and visions, like a good horror movie, never showing you the monster but rather letting your imagination run away with the subtle suggestion simply in the tone or noises within each track. And each listen will reveal more than you previously heard. Sünkler’s famous crunch is bleeding through a little into this EP, giving the ambient tracks a rather delightful texture and most definitely increasing the menace.
Is it worth revisiting a relationship to see if it can be rekindled? Harlow Syndrome actually exists and is about craving either the attention never received as a child or spark lost, the subject matter touched by Denver duo, A Shoreline Dream in their latest single, “Harlow Syndrome“. This is the third single off the Loveblind album, released on October the 18th on LatenightWeeknight Records.
And it is straight into the track. No mucking about, you are thrown into the swirling dirge of heady reverb with drums and the vocals echo angelically, through the layers of electronic haze. It touches your senses and caresses your ears with the suggestion of Cocteau Twins.
There is that robust wall of sonics and yet, with the singing, this track feels as delicate and fragile as glass, which could break if the wrong note is hit….though it never comes to that. A perfect mixture of shoegaze and darkwave together is A Shoreline Dream and their “Harlow Syndrome“.
Who is Andrei Rikichi? Hmm, even with the bio, we think he might be a bit dodgy. A multi-instrumentalist son of a Japanese diplomat, working between Switzerland and Belgium. Seems legit. His album, “Caged BirdsThink Flying Is A Sickness” was released on the Scottish label, Bearsuit Records on August the 31st
From the first track, “Theme From The Butcher’s Parade“, the first salvos are fired, giving one an insight to the unbound lunacy and charm within this very short album, the whole thing weighing in at just over 26 minutes, for fourteen tracks. Tastes of hurdy gurdy classical music, warbled operatic singing and crazed hazed guitar barrelling through. Some tracks are like sitting inside someone’s head while they trip out on acid, glitching electronics binding it all together.
“Whatever Happened To Whitney Wallace” assaults your senses, “This” literally being a 10 second noise, which amused me to no end, and “They Hide In The Dark Forest,” is kind of like Laibach on mind altering drugs married to elevator music. The title track, “Caged Birds Think Flying Is A Sickness” is slightly more winsome and thoughtful, similarly for “Death Of A Postmaster” in a wandering, ambient way.
We have no pictures of Rikichi and some say he only comes out at night to hunt for food and record. Who honestly knows and unless you are willing to set bear traps to find out……. probably no point in losing sleep about it. For some reason, I fully believe the fellows from Monty Python’s Flying Circus would have found it all rather inspirational, due to the psychotropic qualities, which may well have you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what could happen next.
UNFEELING is one of Derek Rush’s projects, a New York electronic artist who has recently been on the road touring. His latest ambient album, VERTICAL SLEEP, is out on the CHTHONIC STREAMS label, created between June to October 2022, on the previously mentioned US tour.
Ever been so tired that you drag yourself around while everything and everyone is conspiring against your ability to shut down? This is the premise behind VERTICAL SLEEP, where one’s sleep cycle is so contaminated, nothing seems real. The music is slow like being caught in a nightmare, every movement laboured.
Even the names of the tracks conveys the near death like state of the subject due to the trauma of not being able to rest. There is “PAROXYSMAL” which is at such a low level of noise, that when there is a change it actually seems like a big deal, to “BAROTRAUMA” slowly pulsates and grows in seeming pressure, from the void, that slowly dissolves into the state of near nothingness.
The burbling and twittering of “SURRENDER” definitely conveys the loss of one’s senses, as the conscious stream goes for a wander due to the inability to turn off, or in other words that unhinged feeling and spacing out. The whole point of this electronic quest is to express how the mind reacts once it has passed the limits of regular sleep patterns, into the realms of mental torture and numbness. UNFEELING might be not as unfeeling as they pass into VERTICAL SLEEP.
James Lees’ project, Ghostwoods, began in the Covid lockdowns of 2020, gaining members and releasing an EP. Based just outside of Brisbane, Ghostwoods is back with a new single, “Terminal Bliss” and with the rather exciting news, that they have been signed to the label 4000 Records. Lees provides drums, MarkAngel on electric guitar, Karl O’Shea on bass, Andrew Garton & Andrew Saragossi sharing the duties with saxophone/clarinet/flute and James Halloran & Rohan Seekers tickling the keys/synths.
There is a finality to “Terminal Bliss“…. it could be slow and steady beats or the saxophone that wails its discontent with the world. The guitar strums its way gently through the demonstrative sax, courting the piano along the way, wending until its ultimate demise.
In contrast, “Brighter Soon” is a more ethereal affair, creeping beautiful darkness, echoing in pulsating loops of electronics that caress your ears, luring you into another plane of existence. The piano hypnotically runs up and down, keeping you rooted in the here and now.
Dark electronics, fused with jazz sensibilities, makes up “Terminal Bliss“, while “Brighter Soon” is a sophisticated track, that catches you off guard with a certain degree of crystal clarity. As always, Ghostwoods paints emotion filled pictures without words or boundaries. The best bit is that in the new year, a new album should be ready.
I’ll be the first to admit…. I am not a gamer. The PS4 is there to confuse me but I have heard of Call Of Duty. Prototype KB is a French experimental electronic project for Khalil Boughali, whom has sampled this video game, fusing it with ambient electronics. The EP is called Warzone and has three tracks.
“Warzone I” has the obligatory bursts of automatic gunfire, the gasps of the dying and chatter of command. It almost surreal in comparison to the transcendental soundtrack meandering below. The muffled sounds of pounding shells welcomes you to the interim, “Gulag“. Sirens and mass destruction return to greet you in “Warzone II“. More rapid fire, cocking of weapons, which ends with the beating of chopper propeller blades and fading into silence.
I could see this being popular with RPG table top miniature wargamers or people that love the Call Of Duty franchise as it would bring back fond memories. I was so fixated on the music, the sounds of war eventually no longer registered (trust me, it is a talent learnt over the years). Truthfully, this is not for me but for hardcore gamers, I can see the appeal in Warzone.
Machina ad Noctem are a fairly new label and their area of expertise lay in electronic music. With this in mind, as of the 11th of July, their first release ever, was in the form of a compilation, titled Dreams Out Of Joint: A Tribute To Philip K. Dick, Yes, this is 26 tracks, inspired by the science fiction genius of Philip K. Dick, who penned many classics including Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, which of course became the movie Bladerunner, that has been a huge catalyst of inspiration for many electronic/industrial musicians. Of special note is the fact that the first half is dedicated to Dick’s short stories and the second to the novels.
With so many tracks, we thought maybe we could give you a taste of this. Edge of Decipher with their track “Frolix 8“, is a cyber journey through realms of space and light, mysterious and a constantly evolving adventure or Chrono 87 doing “2 Weeks On Mars“, light, delicate and with changing rhythm signatures. There is “A.M.O.D” by beepeater with tis tortured experimental electronics, Ran Kirlian unveiling the ambient track “Time Out Of Joint” which is like the final cooling death of a star or ∑V∑RYTHING with “Ubik OpeningCredits” that has a wonderful soundtrack feel to it that suddenly falters in the middle to then pick itself up again.
There are tracks that play for nearly thirty minutes, tracks with beeps and whistles to give you the impression aliens are trying to communicate and other tracks with music so quiet, nearly imperceptible at first until you start to really listen. Soundscapes and beats and everything in between. If you enjoy experimental ambient music or just love old fashion sci fi movies to the more modern, then I think Dreams Out Of Joint might just feed your imagination. The beauty is not always human and we dream of Philip K. Dick.
Autumn Tears is a name from the 90s, synonymous with gothic music inspired by classical/traditional styles and they have married a split album, Widowing/Possessing, with the newer dark folk project, Zeresh. TedTringo is the man who has continuously been at the helm of the US band, Autumn Tears since 1995, which has picked up steam in the creation of new music in the last few years. Zeresh is Israeli musician, Tamar Singer, who also sings for Autumn Tears, so it seems quite natural for these two projects to share a split album. Windowing is the Autumn Tears half and it has pulled together musicians who play traditional instruments and vocalists of such a high caliber, so the tracks are rich, ethereal and romantically dark. Possessing is of course Zeresh, and it weighs more in your heart, an overwhelming sadness and torment. The instruments are often far more modern in this production but just as eerie and beautiful as Widowing. You can hear the Singer’s homeland influencing the undercurrent of the songs and the sound of the music.
So, we bring to you an interview in two acts. We we very luck to interview Ted and Tamar about their respective bands, their influences and above all the split album. If you love Dead Can Dance or remember the 90s, when Arcana, Lycia and Autumn Tears were the medieval babes of the scene, you should indulge in this offering of Widowing/Possessing and read on!
ACT 1 – AUTUMN TEARS
Greetings to Onyx’s dark side of life and the winter garden, Ted Tringo of Autumn Tears.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate the opportunity 🙂
Autumn Tears has been around in different forms since 1995, with you as the permanent founding member. Did you think Autumn Tears would still be around, creating music and the and still this popular, more than quarter of a century later?
Honestly I had always planned on it as once I began Autumn Tears in 1995, I envisioned it being around for decades. What I had not anticipated was the long 11 year hiatus that I took from 2007 until 2018. Thankfully that is in the past and I don’t plan on ever stopping again.
You released the albums “Colors Hidden Within The Gray” (2019), “The Air Below The Water” (2020) and “The Glow of Desperation” (2021) in very quick succession. Each of these were very highly involved albums as far as people contributing their talents and orchestration. What prompted this surge of creativity?
I think most of it stems from the bottled up creativity I had stored from the 11 years which I was not active. I had a lot of time to reflect and to study music, that in the event of a comeback, I would be more than prepared with ideas and the musical knowledge to give Autumn Tears all that I could.
It was the 2020 album, “The Air Below The Water”, that first saw you collaborating with Tamar Singer. How did you first come into contact Singer?
I first discovered Tamar and Zeresh when I was asked to take part in the ‘At Sea Compilations’ – “Snowflakes”. We both shared songs on the comp and as soon as I heard Zeresh, I knew Tamar had a very unique and special sound which I felt would be a wonderful addition to the Autumn Tears ever evolving sound.
Singer also performs under the name of Zeresh and this year, Autumn Tears and Zeresh released a split album together. What was the thinking behind this and who first suggested this joint operation?
I actually suggested this to Tamar a few years back. I was completely taken with Zeresh upon my first listen and have become a fan ever since. I felt a split release would be a great way to share our collective works with our respective fans and let them experience music from both of our projects. I’v always enjoyed split releases so this was a great experience to be able to be a part of one together with another music project that I love.
Autumn Tears is on the first half and it is called “Widowing” which is also the seventh track on the split, that features Singer. Why did you choose this as the title track and does it have any particular significance for you?
The significance of the title ‘Widowing” is about loss and acceptance, and I felt that having Tamar sing on the title track was important as It not only bridges the gap between the two releases, being the last song on the Autumn Tears EP, but also it flows right into the first Zeresh track having Tamar be the lead singer on both songs back to back.
You have access to all these gorgeous female and male vocals. How do you ever choose who sings what and how lucky do you feel having access to such talent?
Some of them I sought out and some I was already familiar with. Caroline and Darren Clarke from the acoustic opera duo Trovatori I discovered on Fiverr and they have been permanent members ever since, of which I am very grateful for. I also discovered Ffion Elisa on Fiverr as well. Dawn I have known for over 20 years having been the lead singer for Rain Fell Within who were signed to my label back then so my appreciation for her is a given. Of course Agnete from Madder Mortem and Ann-Mari from ex The Third and the Mortal were both long time favorites of mine so I am very thankful for their appearances.
Again, there has been many musicians you have collaborated with to create “Widowing”. I was wondering about how you ended up recording this album, as I can imagine Covid would have played havoc with your plans?
Well like many musicians nowadays, thankfully Autumn Tears has also benefited from the power of the internet and of remote recording. It of course makes everything possible with all of the different members living all over the world.
There are very heavy accents of middle eastern influence, like in “Of Sun, Sky and Rain”. Is this a style of music you particularly enjoy or find enhances the exotic flavour of your music?
It’’s actually both. I have always enjoyed Middle Eastern music, and having Soroush Abedi as a member of Autumn Tears, he is very skilled in many musical styles and able to authentically incorporate the Middle Eastern and instruments into the Autumn Tears style to create a very unique fusion which I think only helps to enhance our overall sound and diversity.
For me, “Bringer Of Balance” is just spine tingling with the entwined male and female vocals in an almost baroque style. Do you have a favourite track off this album?
Thank you so much! I am sure lead singer Darren will be very happy to read this. It is hard for me to pick a favorite as I enjoy them all very much, but I think I may still have a soft spot for the title track ‘Widowing’ as it encompasses the feel of the album as a whole. Of course if you ask me tomorrow, I may have a different favorite ;).
Even though bands like Dead Can Dance had started in the 80s, it was really in the 90s that medieval/classical gothic styled music really took off. You are still producing that style today, however to my ears, it is much more refined and cohesive. Do you feel this way about your music now as compared to the original albums?
That was always my goal with Autumn Tears. I will always appreciate the early sound we developed back in the 90s, however it was always my goal to mature Autumn Tears with real classical instruments and musical style to hopefully one day try and carve out our own sound. Hopefully we are aa little closer to doing so now 27 years later. 🙂
I am curious as to who were your inspirations in music when you first started and if there are any newer loves you have now?
Back in the 90s when I began, my influences ranged from DCD, to Stoa, Anchorage and Arcana, (Arcana’s – ‘The Song of Mourning’ actually helped to kick start my desire to write Autumn Tears music) and now I think I am more influenced by modern and traditional classical music as well as cinematic score and soundtracks. I think I will keep evolving the styles while still retaining our core sound.
If you could choose any musician to record with (alive or expired) for the next album, whom would you desire and why?
There are so many I admire that I would love to work with but if I had to choose one, I would have loved to collaborate with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. I actually dedicated the 2019 album ‘Colors Hidden Within the Gray’ to him.
What is next for yourself and Autumn Tears?
We are currently working on our next full length album which hopefully will be ready by the end of the year.
Thank you for the enchanting and haunting music, as well as your time Ted.
My absolute pleasure, thank you!
ACT 2 – ZERESH
Zeresh is your project and I believe it came into being around 2017/18? Also what prompted you to create Zeresh?
The name “Zeresh” came to be around 2017 but the idea and many of the songs existed long before that and were waiting for me to be able to give them some kind of an output.
In June 2017 I did my first solo concert and that’s when the need for a name became obvious.
My debut EP ‘Sigh For Sigh’ was already recorded at the time yet I struggled hard with mixing it since I had zero knowledge or experience of how to do it.. but once it was completed I embraced the name Zeresh for this project.
The name Zeresh seems highly symbolic. In Persian it means gold, in the old Testament Zeresh is a wife, as well as being linked to meaning strange or misery. Why did you choose this name?
First of all I liked how it sounds – yet it seemed a bit too “black metal” for my project.. It didn’t feel right for this purpose but I loved the name so much that I’ve decided to name my beautiful black cat ‘Zeresh’. After doing this, I got “jealous” and stole the name for my project too.
I also liked the fact that in the biblical story, even though she was a side character (Hamann’s wife) she was the smartest and most evil figure.
If you don’t mind me asking, what is the dark/gothic/metal scene like in Israel?
I’m glad you asked because I love the Israeli scene – we have a lot of wonderful bands and musicians over here. Some of them are very very special.
The local Gothic scene is tiny, almost nonexistent but the general dark scene here has some wonderful projects.
Also, our metal scene is pretty rich and ever changing. Israel has some bigger mainstream-ish metal bands and some very ‘strange fruits’ (which are usually my favorites);.
I’m probably forgetting many other great projects but here are some of the ones (which are still active) that I love the most from the local scene:
There is also the doom project Cruel Wonders. What drew you into the realms of neo-classical/neo-dark folk?
I’m into dark music of all different genres and kinds, both as a listener as well as a musician.
You have not only collaborated with Autumn Tears but also you did the split album with them. What was this like for you as an artist?
Amazing! Working on the split album has been an honor and also very special to me because I tried to take my songs to be’ more romantic’ while Ted took his songs to a darker place this time, so they would fit well together.
Also, Ted is really wonderful to work with, both artistically and personally.
Your half of the album is called Possessing. Could I please ask about the concept behind Possessing and how you feel it couples up with Widowing?
My half of the album is about obsession; holding on to a relationship that’s not there, not being able to get another person out of your head or to let go.
The way I see it ‘Widowing’ (the part by Autumn Tears) is about loss; but from a “healthier” perspective – sort of the other side of the same coin.
Which do you feel is your favourite track off this album and why?
I can’t really say too much about Possessing but even though it’s hard to choose – my favorite song from Widowing is “Unmaker of worlds”, simply because it’s absolutely perfect!
It’s dark, heavy and intense musically and lyrically. Plus, I just love Caroline Joy Clarke’s vocals there.
I actually admire all the other Autumn Tears singers and musicians and I still can’t believe I’m sharing music with those extremely talented professional musicians.
If given the opportunity to do another split album, would you do it again and are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?
I’m actually working on a short split collaboration for a local label as we speak and I would love to do more in the future.
I would gladly collaborate again with everyone I’ve worked with before so far.
The list of musicians I’d be thrilled to work with for the first time is endless but I’ll try to sum it up somehow:
Rïcïnn, Kim Larsen (Of The Wand And The Moon), King Dude, Darkher, Darkwood, None, Les Days, Liturgy, Leya, Natural snow buildings, Ungfel, The Drows, The Devil’s Trade, A. A. Wiliams…
It really is a Never-ending list so I’ll randomly stop here.
What musicians/bands or type of music first dragged you into the scene and what ignites your soul now?
I’m not sure which scene I should refer to, but if we’re talking about ‘non-standard’ folk, the first ones I listened to as a teenager were: Current 93, Death In June and some other similar and related projects.
Nowadays I still listen to a lot of different types of neofolk, dark folk, industrial and also just plain beautiful folk.
I love it when folk music manages to somehow fit in nicely with industrial.
Anyhow, here are some examples of things I love in particular:
Of The Wand And The Moon, Sangre De Muerdago, Laura Marling, Rome, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Darkher, Aggaloch, Hasta LA Victoria, Nebelung, Darkwood and many more.
I also listen to other genres – from black metal to classical music, experimental, drone and lots of other things.
Taking possession completely off the tracks here but if you could be possessed by one deceased musician for a day, to let them record one more track, who would you let use your body?
The obvious answer would be Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith, so I’ll go with that.
What is in the future for Zeresh?
The next Zeresh album is almost 100% written but I have to produce it. It is going to be darker than anything I’ve done so far.
Nowadays I’m actually working as Zeresh on a short split collaboration for a local label. It’s a project I’m doing with one of my favorite Israeli bands – ‘Ketoret’.
Besides that, I’ve already recorded a song for the next ‘Autumn Tears’ album and we shall start writing the third ‘Cruel Wonders’ album pretty soon.
I’m also involved in a new project with my husband who is the other half of ‘Necromishka’ (and mostly known as ‘Kadaver’) plus another of my favorite local musicians – Shay Mizrahi, of ‘Choshech’. I’m not sure if it’ll be a 3-way collaboration or whether it’ll have its own name.
And lastly – we’ve been producing a split album between ‘Necromishka & Agnivolok’.