Today I added a new tag to my list. Industrial space music.…. I’m pretty chuffed about that. The reason behind the new tag is the debut EP from Perth ambient electronic/industrial project, Open Mirror, called Contact Void, out on Western Australian label, Lightarmour Editions. Grant Slee is the human component of OpenMirror, as they windup for the release of the full length album, Contact Mortis.
The three track EP starts with “Contact Void” with its vast tendrils of sound and synth wavering out into the reaches of unknown universe, amongst the stars, quasars and heavenly bodies. Expansive and glittering. Somewhere in the back of my head, “Oxygene Pt 4” by Jean-Michel Jarre is prickling at my concious, because it reminds me very much of the space sound scapes created by the electronic French genius. The next track is “Contact Void” revisited as the Liminal mix, longer than the original. Brusque, more drawn out, as if this wasn’t the shiny and smooth trip expected. There is hesitation in the music as it plucks up the courage to sail forth. Those brighter synths are there but also an underlying ground swell of harsh noise creeping into the rhythm. Maybe contact with aliens beings, in the transmissions.
Sequentially, the tracks keep getting longer, with “The Dead Hotline“, clocking in at 13 minutes and 40 seconds. This is the Signal Extended mix, a different concept in some ways as it is not space related. There is a sadness in the music and the harsh noise is making its presence felt now, like the static on the radio, unable to find a channel. The music is now a spirit box, a conduit for the voice of the dead. A very Australia voice asks the aether questions, with the hope of a rely.
Though one is Earth bound and the other about space, there is a common theme… discovering what is it, there in the dark, or rather who. Well played OpenMirror because not only is this EP thought provoking, it’s genuinely both fascinating to listen to and very enjoyable. So how will you ContactVoid?
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’.
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
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.
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.
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.
What sort of music do you get if you mix David Wolfenden aka Wolfie of Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry and Caroline Blind? A band called Voidant and perhaps a style you were not expecting. With an illustrious roll call of contributing artists, on baritone guitars RichWitherspoon (TheWake), bass guitars SimonDingArcher (RedLorryYellowLorry, 1919) and AdeClark (BlackChapel) and pianist DavidGregory.
The first track, “Heart/Feather” has a tribal taste to it and the reference is rooted in Egyptian mythology. When you die, your heart that holds your sins, will be weighed against the feather that is Maat (goddess of truth and justice), watched by Anubis and if found unworthy, eaten by Ammit the Devourer. Hence there is an Eastern flare in the guitar work.
The single “La Loba” is an ode to the wolf. An implored request for the wolf to finish the remains after Blind has sung that she could not continue and succumbed to the snow. A slow love song to be one with the wilderness.
Whispers and an insistent synth line that wanders through your head in “PhantomEx“. The shadow of a previous relationship, that took a toll on someone whom you dearly want to see you as a potential healing lover. “Ghosted” has a great incongruity between the piano lines and guitar work, giving a slightly unhinged atmosphere.
“SGTruth” has a trip hop feel fused with a modern jazz sensibility. It keeps you off balance as it weaves it’s way. Dreams of the “Summer ‘78“, of Irish migrants fleeing across the sea, which for some would be their last journey. A story of memories perhaps stored in your DNA and like all good stories it is sung in a tone to lure you in and feels as delicate as a woven spiderweb.
There are two cover on this album and they sit side by side. “7 And 7 Is” was originally performed by Love in 1966 and also covered by Alice Cooper in 1981 and The Ramones in 1993. There is this wonderful juxtoposition of Blind’s punk vocals and the surreal electronics. It’s a great cover of this proto-punk classic.
In 1964, Buffy Saint Marie wrote and released “Universal Soldier“, which later became a hit for both Donovan and Glenn Campbell. A song about seeing things from another perspective and ultimately an anti-war piece. This is so tranquil with Blind near singing a cappella, if it wasn’t for the percussion and low grade whirring beneath.
“Vortex” is the last track and it is a little transcendental with the hypnotic beat and guitar transitioning from a bit country, then a bit funky and then wailing. It is a rather groovy way to finish the album because as we all know, the eye of the storm is the calmest place to be.
Recorded between Leeds in the UK and New Jersey, USA, this is not the normal gothic fare but rather a darker form of storytelling which is sometimes trance inducing in its beats and minimalism. Some things can be better felt in the spaces that aren’t filled in. Voidant do this so well as well as also breathing new life into classics and I encourage you to have a listen.
Long The Night is the project of UK based, multi instrumentalist, DerrickStembridge, who released his album, Illusion, in the beginning of April. Stembridge is most well known for his main act, Drifting In Silence.
“Divided Souls” is a sonorous blanket of sound, unwavering and deep like an ocean, bereft of a spark to ignite a soul torn asunder. The beginning of “UntoldMind” is in a similar vein, however distinguishes itself, with a generic buzzing, that belies the calm as it slowly builds in strength. The introduction of Gregorian style monks chanting is a sublime touch.
An unearthly sense to “Divine Symmetry” as it almost hovers, imperceptibly, at a distance, while “Transparent” is smooth and, for the want of a better word, breathy, like air being inhaled and exhaled at an ever so slow rate.
A sombre darkness from “Through Blind Eyes” and through the ambient drone, it almost seems as if there is much going on, in an near overwhelming nature. Then there is “A Forgotten Time“, where the electronics gradually swirl to conjour a dream like memory.
But is it real and are these monks luring you into the piece. “Altered State Of Conciousness“? It vibrates under the skin until it reaches the point of calm. The longest track is “The Myth Of Now“. It sounds like an electronic orchestra, warming up at first, with fingers of ethereal tendrils wriggling between, growing and stretching.
‘Immaculate Perception” does feel like you are sitting in a cathedral with an organ playing, where something heinous may have occurred. Last track to grace us, is “Illusion“, that growls in its being restricted, trying to push at its confines and yet, like an illusion, cannot be touched, ephemeral as a phantasm.
This is an evocative album of musical sounds describing the dark without words and yet there can be no darkness without some light that gives depth. Really love the Gregorian styled monks which make this even more special. This is the first release under the moniker Long The Night, on the label Kalpamantra and if you love electronic droning sounds that evoke your mind’s eye then I highly recommend Illusion.
Sally Wolfdreamer is a fairly new band, but even so they have been very busy. In December, last year, they released their maiden EP and now in April, they have brought us their second EP, titled Dissected.
James Mitchell is from the East Midlands in the UK and may or may not have stolen the name SallyWolfdreamer from a local communicator of the dead. Originally starting out in the music industry as a drummer, who has always had an interest in electronic music.
Like a caress, “Lobo” fills your ears, growing and expanding, an introduction to the EP that feels like it only just started and ended far too quickly… even though it was just under two minutes.
The beginning of “Black Phillip” does not give you an inkling of what depth this track truly holds. The intro is so diminutive and then explodes with bass filled goodness you just didn’t expect. Black Phillip is the goat from the movie, The Witch, who turns out to be Lucifer in disguise.
The next piece, “Buried Alive“, has a science fiction feel to it. A future that has no future, with a disconnected female voice and a rhythm that starts to unravel, so to speak.
A few years back, there was a manga created called Snowpiercer, (later a movie), about the last survivors on Earth, all packed into a train, after a failed attempt to terra form the ruined planet. A dark tale of lies and decit, where the drug of choice is “Krenole“, a suspension substrate that is also highly explosive. The notion of being on that train and moving through an eerily dead world is all pervasive. A sense of urgency with the clicks and whirls.
Final track, “Kunicki“, could be a reference to the Polish revolutionary, Stanislaw Kunicki, who was hung for his convictions at the tender age of twenty-five. The take off is slow and this piece picks up speed, growing an expansive soundscape that cannot be pulled back in. The sounds of the wind of change?…
Themes of sin, revolution and the road to a maybe apocalyptic future, saturate these dark-electro ambient instrumental pieces. This is really enjoyable to listen to music that has more going on under the water than just above, yes reference to the cover art. You are invited to “Dissected” Sally Wolfdreamer.
If you are looking for some experimental ambient music, then possibly we know of the EP you need to hear. Spectrograph released at the end November, their EP, A Giant Leap Of Faith, on Depth Records.
This project began in 2012, combining the talents of multi instrumentalist and vocalist Virginia Bones with Phiorio who is a producer of electronic/dance music, as well as a DJ. They describe their style as post industrial/electro.
The tones are low and seemingly, almost basic but the more one delves into “Dmbt“, the more complex and convoluted it becomes with its revolving beats and tonal injections for this instrumental piece.
The single, “Dead Kittens“, is a dark affair. Slow and foreboding with fuzzy electronic pulses and synth keys that at times feel like they are wandering randomly within a space that has been forgotten.
Minimal clicks and whirs in a loop present “A Giant Leap Of Faith“, and there begins a layering effect of sounds. An occasional cymbal, electronically altered vocals of Bones and two notes of a piano creep across this piece, only to be joined by other noises. Strangely enough it never feels overwhelming or crowded and yet there is a claustrophobic ambience.
Last track, “If You Think You Can Fly” seems to convey the most urgency, like it needs to be on the move on a midnight jaunt to who knows where. It is bleak, metallic and wonderful with those odd noises.
Well constructed and rather interesting to say the least. If you don’t get electronic music then this won’t be for you but if you love electronica that push music limits with intelligence, then you should most definitely have a listen to Spectrograph’sA Giant Leap Of Faith.
Black Needle Noise is the project of one John Fryer and for those not so well acquainted with his name, should be with his other band from the 80’s, the highly influential, This Moral Coil, who are forever entwined with the wonderful, 4AD.
Fryer has collaborated with the Australian/Croatian, classical vocalist, Helena Mamich, to create the new electronic and ambient single, “Nocturnal“.
“Nocturnal” starts off slow, with Mamich’s vocals ghosting ephemerally above all. The gradual build up is metered out carefully, with hints of beats and swelling synth cords.
The soprano crescendo, hauntingly draws you in and almost eerily, there are in the background, the sounds of crows and other such creatures. This is almost a cadenza featuring Helena’s smooth and beautiful vocable.
In the music industry, John Fryer is synonymous with being one of the hardest working musicians around, highly sought out for his production skills and this shines through the track.
The beautifully created noises, feel like they might occupy the dark spaces of forgotten, magical places of the “Nocturnal“. This is a delicate balance of classical with ambient, electro industrial, brought to you by the master craftsman, John Fryer aka Black NeedleNoise and Helena Mamich, which is nameyour price on Bandcamp and most worthy of your time.