Ever since the Shiv-r first album, Hold My Hand, came out on Infacted Records/Metropolis in 2010, they have gone from strength to greater heights. Members, Pete Crane and Ben Bulig are Australian lads who have taken their sound to the rest of the world, playing some of the biggest EBM festivals. They have lived abroad but now call Sydney home once more. In that time Pete started up the music label, Blind Mice Productions and through this label, have self released their fifth album, Kill God Ascend.

PETE CRANE OF SHIV-R

From the first chords of the title track, “Kill God Ascend“, you know Shiv-r is taking no prisoners. It races over you like a wave, to then retreat and hit you again with karmatic insight. You cannot attain enlightenment until you no longer hold onto anything and kill the god like ego.

Borne From Hate” is a banger of a track that powers away and makes you wish you were on a dance floor at the time. Beautifully harsh and electronically cold which suits the title completely.

With an infectious chorus, “Spark” is a jewel of industrial pop. All it takes is that spark to ignite a revolution. It rolls along at a danceable beat and surely is going to be a single at some point.

There is the slow burn of “Promises Of Armageddon“, which won’t disappoint with its ideology that nothing will kill you faster than boredom.

Blue Turns To Black” feels thoughtful and peppered in yearning. The vocals low and hushed with the near reverent music, an ode to the fact that we can eventually find the light in even the darkest situations.

Emotions are simmering and the tension high in “Empire“. Don’t ask me to fight your meaningless endeavours rings so true of these times. This is one of two numbers on the album written solely by Crane, the other being “Borne From Hate“. It’s a cracking number as well, with harsh vocals and sparkling synths.

Yet another stonkling brilliant tune is “Stone And Skin“. This is possibly the Bulig/Crane version of a love song wrapped in a dance rhythm. Holy crap, the chorus with that fabulous synth line, combined with Crane’s softened timbre, just makes this fly.

2020 for all intents and purposes, was really a stressful year, dealing with a pandemic, race riots and far right leaning governments around the globe. This is reflected in “World Ends Tonight” with its course, crunchy textures and bleak, confronting lyrics.

Doom, doom, doom, in the “Valley Of Death“. It is like moving through sludge, slow and trudging until the chorus which lifts up its broken wings to escape the mire.

BLIND MICE PRODUCTIONS

Turpentine” is the last track, about the lies and things we accept in relationships in order to stay together. Crane voices his melancholic misgivings and the music Interlude is almost like impromptu jazz.

So much exploration going on in this album. Life, death, morals and spirituality. A blurring of good versus evil…. the beautiful imagery of angels and demons being one in the same, a reflection of humans. If you are looking for a EBM dance album, this isn’t it. Yes, there are great danceable tracks, and there are slower numbers, but all are thought provoking and will touch your soul. The production is flawless and a reflection of the music created by Shiv-r. Crane and Bulig are glorious, blackened angels and Kill God Ascend their opus.

https://blindmiceproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kill-god-ascend

https://www.facebook.com/shiverindustrial

https://www.facebook.com/blindmiceproductions/

https://www.instagram.com/PeteCraneMusic/

The 90s saw the resurgence of goth rock, with bands such as Nosferatu and Rosetta Stone at the helm. Vocalist Caroline Blind, in 1991, lent her name to what would become, the New York band, Sunshine Blind. They released all up three official albums but there was also material that wasn’t made public, other than through live performances. The single, “Tribe” is one of these tracks that Blind has re-recorded and was on the 2020 album, The Spell Between.

CAROLINE BLIND

There are three remix versions, the album track and also an original recording, live in 1992. The live version is hardly perfect and there is feedback from the guitar but holy crap, doesn’t it prove what a set of vocal chords Caroline Blind has on her. She is front and centre, crystal clear.

The album version, shows the progression of this track. It’s tight and just rings out joyously. You can’t help and smile about the wonderful guitar in the beginning that hasn’t changed from the original and was typical of the 90s in a way. It really kicks arse and Blind hasn’t lost any of that amazing range either.

Of the three remixes, the first is the extended She-Devil mix by Mark Gemini Thwaite (MGT) and Ashley Bad. MGT is an exceptional guitarist, featuring in such influential bands as The Mission and Theatre Of Tradgey plus currently in Lords Of Acid, where Ashley Bad is a band mate of sorts, the latex burlesque queen on stage and MGT’s other half. There is a much more electronic edge to this version which has made it feel like a harsher mistress to the ears. Most delightful.

Andee Blacksugar of KMFDM and Black Sugar Transmission fame, is responsible for the second remix. It feels like a phantasmagorical, drug induced dream of whimsical eddies and near maniacal pursuit.

The last track goes for a far more guitar based production. Which makes complete sense with Ben Christo creating this remix who has been with the iconic, Sisters Of Mercy since 2006 as the lead guitarist. A great mixture of both acoustic and electric guitar.

The word that comes to mind is powerful. This is a link to the past and yet it exists in the here and now, sounding pretty perfect. I don’t blame Blind for resurrecting this track as it is very deserving of the revamp it has had, if not simply because we would have missed out hearing it and that would have been a great shame. “Tribe” was written in a time when they wanted to connect to others of the same ilk, to create community. That hasn’t changed and just as pertinent as ever. This is “Tribe” by Caroline Blind.

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/album/tribe-the-remixes

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004792457922

http://www.sunshineblind.com/

https://www.facebook.com/blacksugartransmission/

While we wait for the release of the much anticipated Attrition album, The Black Maria, Martin Bowes has given us a second single to immerse ourselves in called “The Alibi“, which was recorded, mixed and mastered at The Cage Studios in Coventry.

A child’s musical, wind-up toy, plinks away the warbly wedding march of “Here Comes The Bride“, by Wagner. The ensemble warms up before we are plunged into the warped electro world of Attrition, accompanied by violins, piano, guitar and cello. The ladies sound like angels and Bowes forever is the devil, gutterally vocalising in your left ear. A mix of soprano and spoken word with maybe some gypsy inspiration that drive home the chorus.

Cannot help but think that a woman who might not be the perfect bride but the perfect alibi, possibly is a major temptress. Bowes is always pushing his art, combining elements that clash and grate, yet also end up complimenting each other. As we await the new album from the avant-garde electro-industrial juggernaut that is Attrition, taste the forbidden fruits of “The Alibi“.

https://attritionuk.bandcamp.com/album/the-alibi

https://www.facebook.com/ATTRITIONMUSIC

Long The Night is the project of UK based, multi instrumentalist, Derrick Stembridge, 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 “Untold Mind” 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.

https://kalpamantra.bandcamp.com/album/illusion

https://www.facebook.com/longthenight/

December 2020, saw the album release for StereoTYP by Canadian artist, JHNN. Based from Calgary, JHNN said ‘Basically the album was made from 2016-2020 and it’s about my biggest pet peeve of society which is the existence of StereoTYPs“.

JHNN

Kicking it off with with the soundscape science fiction plains of “Children Are The Future“. My first foray into JHNN’s style and it’s smooth strangely, almost hypnotic with his voice drifting above the electronics as he explains that children don’t see skin colour or disabilities like adults do. They see another human.

East Hastings” is a very stripped back piece with a machine gun style beat. The lyrics are literally ‘Remember, When you said, Never again‘ with the never again said a hundred and fifty- one times. It does build to a climax that reminds me a little of Boy Harsher.

I can hear the techno and house influence in “Again“. There is the ever pervasive synth line throughout with others layering over and around it. It feels slightly haunting, trying to survive the after effects of a traumatic relationship.

The lyrics alone for “The Takeaway” made me instantly think of the David Bowie single, “I’m Afraid Of Americans“. Maybe the format and purpose are similar as this was Bowie and Brian Eno’s industrial phase. However JHNN does far more slow burn electronic, that harkens back to a more European flavour.

From the sing song beginning, “The Warning” is claustrophobic. The tale of how a person wants to control everything around him to stop him losing control and yet he knows he can’t control anything, least of all himself. The bursts of static style noise and wandering plucked notes keeps you on edge.

The Warfare” is a follow on from “The Takeaway” and “The Warning“, a trilogy of mental health breaking down. You feels his growing tension and anxiety with the nervous beats growing with JHNN’s vocals making you wonder when he might explode.

Addiction…. explaining that anything that you invest too much of yourself into and get lost in, is almost as bad as an addiction to “Heroin“. It can be self destructive. This music starts like a drug induced stupor where everything feels great and there is nothing outside of this. Towards the end, it seems like a free fall with JHNN’S breathy vocals.

Is someone into you due to an ideal or because you look like someone else? Do they see the person below the surface skin colour? “Fetish” asks these questions. There is a slight disjointed nature to the music, like the vocals don’t quite gel with the music, which is entirely on purpose to put you at unease.

The Lie” starts like is being played backwards. It launches a great synth line with layers of electronics added and diminished throughout. It’s a heavy subject. Is religion the greatest lie ever told? If you believe, does it mean you need all the indoctrination to believe in a God?

For a moment I don’t hear anything, before a simple few notes register for “Crisis“. This is a instrumental, a graduation of textures, that then wends its way, then seemingly falling into the pit of despair.

Track number eleven is the final on the album. “Darkness Will Always Be There” could be a downer but oddly, this is light and free, a type of acceptance. There are sparkling synths accompanying the harsher ones.

This is a starkly personal album. It’s about struggling with mental health, personal relationships, the struggle of not being defined by your colour or being held to account by systems you can’t believe in, especially if they inhibit the person you are.

JHNN has taken you on a journey that includes anxiety and occasionally hopelessness but in the end there is also the realisation that unless you love the darkness within, then then you can’t live with yourself. This is an electronic saga that uses subtly to great effect. StereoTYP is a more laid back type of electro/darkwave that touches on the field of industrial and it is very powerful with its sentiment. Check out JHNN

https://jhnn.bandcamp.com/album/stereotyp

https://www.facebook.com/JHNNbook/

Deine Lakaien have been gracing our ears for 35 years and are now giving us their 10th studio album, Dual. These maestros of the experimental electronic – classical hybrid, have released a double album, with the first being all new music and the second showcasing covers that influenced vocalist Alexander Veljanov and composer/multi instrumentalist Ernst Horn.

ERNST HORN & ALEXANDER VELJANOV

The medieval flavour of “Because Of Because“, is a stately start. The classical overtones are simple and mix beautifully with the electronic components, Veljanov’s silken crooning, dripping over it all, about finding one’s piece of mind.

A slight middle eastern touch to “Sick Cinema” and a comment on artists involved in promoting less than reputable causes. The organ swirls and picks up pace. All quite gorgeous.

A ballad in the form of “In Your Eyes“, and it is a perfect piece of Deine Lakaien crystal that reflects a myriad of emotions and colours, of sadness and joy. The pledge of eternal love.

Snow” is as slow as it is beautiful. A tale of another era or a dream of what was. It is facile and warm, as if you can feel the shafts of sunlight that are sung about.

The electronic brilliance comes to the forefront in “Happy Man“, where a smile is enough to lighten a heart. The experimental textures abound and it conjours the mood of a courtly dance.

A near futuristic impression is given with electronic music of “Run“. Whatever happens in life, they ask their ‘braveheart‘ to stay on the move and keep their hopes alive.

Les oiseaux” is French for the birds and the feel is of feathers whirling in flight, going higher and higher with purpose. Maybe you can even hear them crying out to each other.

Sounds like a harpsichord in “Unknown Friend“, with a haphazard rhythm, making your senses spin. The synthesizer witters away in this timeless piece.

What is a qubit? A unit of measurement as seen in the Bible. “Qubit Man” comes with stringed instruments that make it sound off kilter, while the vocals seem near monastic.

The last song for the first album is “Someone To Come Home To“. A reflective piece about loss and longing for that person that makes you complete. The hurdy gurdy of emotions is keenly felt.

The second half of this album is the tributes to songs or acts that influenced Deine Lakaien but also they have matched to the feel and sound of tracks on the the first album. Starting with the Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen piece, “Because The Night“, “Spoon” by Krautrock group Can, The Cure’s classic, “The Walk“, “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas, Kate Bush’sSuspended In Gaffa“, also surprisingly Soundgarden’sBlack Hole Sun“.

There were for me, some really stood out. “La chanson des vieux amants” was originally performed by Jacques Brel in 1954 and in English is known as the Song Of Old Lovers, which is wonderfully nostalgic. The Cat Steven’s track, “Lady D’Arbanville” is treated like electronic spun satin with golden threads.

The oldest cover is of the Russian, 1879 piece, “Song Of The Flea” by Modest Mussorgsky and lyrics from Goethe’s Faust which has gone from a piano accompanied piece to a cheeky, fun and quirky number with chimes, bleeps and Veljanov giving amazing belly laughs whilst singing in Russian. I admit to never really being into Linkin Park but have a new found respect through Horn’s handling of “My December“. It is delicate, sad and profound with strings making this feel even more compelling.

Ernst Horn has again created the near magical world that is occupied by Deine Lakaien. Classical/medieval traits mixed with the electronic genius we have come to expect. The warm timbre of Alexander Veljanov’s voice is so brilliant and utterly recognisable, the trademark of the band. Dual is the present and the past for Deine Lakaien, in a musical extravaganza which will make you fall in love with them all over again.

https://deinelakaien.bandcamp.com/album/dual

https://www.facebook.com/DeineLakaien

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.

SPECTROGRAPH

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’s A Giant Leap Of Faith.

https://depthsrecords.bandcamp.com/

https://m.facebook.com/spectrographmusic

Australian duo, Dirt Factory have released their second album, “Factory Evolution“, which is out on Viral Records and was mixed in Brisbane by Roger Menso of Dog Machine fame.

Daniel Allen resides in Melbourne while brother, Michael Gillman can be found in Brisbane and they, like many other musicians, have not seen each other all this year but through technology have still been busy creating.

DIRT FACTORY

And so it begins and the first taste is “Binary“, an intro which is literally voices giving you binary code.

Salvation” was the first single from the album with its terminator stalking feel rhythm and Michael’s held cords on keyboard that makes this oppressive and the direct opposite of being saved.

With sci fi creeping doom is “Automation” but not all is as it seems. Electronic vocals with bleak long cords and relaying the degradation of mankind, as we make our way to a ignominious demise. There is an almost Gary Numan feel about this.

The second single lifted is “Violence” and it is an angst ridden view of a world at war with itself. The grating vocals of lost hope for mankind as he had forgotten to be human.

Title track, “Factory Evolution” is about some future where replicants are created to be perfect in exactly the same way, programmed only to do as they are told, which is to wage war. This is understated and it works with the story telling whisper and a touch of 70s funk feel.

Just as it implies, “Interlude” is a short piece, with cut up, female news readers, bringing you the breaking news of a world burning, cowering in fear of a pestilence and riots.

During COVID-19, the world of regular humans watched extremism unleashed in what could be called, “Pandemicamania“. The observation of the panic, dehumanisation and selfishness that had been previously displayed. It creeps along with its disgust of a non cohesive society that has lost its way.

Failed Empires has an imperious feel to it, a with grand swell of keyboards. Carried with oscillating beats travelling through it, Daniel’s ode to countries collapsing internally as he whispers their lessons of destruction.

A call to revolution, to not take the abuse any more, though most will ignore the call to arms in “Deflect“. This doesn’t miss a beat and again there is the marvellous dirty and dark vocals with the clean sparkly synths.

DANIEL AND MICHAEL

The start of “Trash” had me thinking Einstürzende Neubauten in the rawness of the rhythm. ‘White trash‘ are in power, not those that care, those who only have their own interests at heart.

The final song is “Death In Your Eyes” and just when you think this is going to be a quiet number, the boys bring it up a notch. This synth happy piece about inviting your own destruction pulls together the threads of the other tracks of the album. A collimation of – if you let all these things happen then it’s the end.

The influence of what has been the year, 2020, is all over this release. Dirt Factory’s debut album, “Random Songs For The End Of The World“, definitely had higher tempo numbers on it, where as this new album seems sludgier and darker, effecting the general mood following lock downs, heavy restrictions and watching extremists across the globe. Important music is often created in trying times and although this album doesn’t break new ground, it a strong album with gems that will speak to you as the band is Dirt Factory and this is their “Factory Evolution“.

https://dirtfactory.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FactoryOfDirt/

https://viralrecordsau.bandcamp.com/music

http://www.viralrecords.com.au/

https://m.facebook.com/viralrecordsau/

2020 has brought in big changes for many bands and this includes Minneapolis based band, Zwaremachine. After a dalliance with Brutal Resonance Records, releasing their last EP the band has expanded to now include the live crew as fully fledged recording members and released a single/ remix EP.

The single “Conquest 3000” is the first off the soon to be released album and features Zwaremachine stalwart, visionary & lead singer, Mach Fox, Dbot on bass plus vocals and Dein Officer brutalising the drums.

ZWAREMACHINE

The very nature of industrial music lends itself to political protest and the voice of the underdog, so “Conquest 3000” is a prime example. Especially in this currently climate of fear, disease and corporate avarice, angry dissent voices are needed more than ever. This has a cleaner sound compared to Zwaremachine’s previous singles. With a hard hitting electronic and drum rhythm, this powers along and the synth lines created a smooth juxtaposition. Fox’s vocals are the fired salvos destructively hitting their mark.

The “Conquest 3000X1L3 remix is harsher and in a Ministry vein, yet it has this cyber swirling, wonderous feel to it within the brusqueness.

The near disco beat at the beginning made me smile. The Floridians, Batavia, remix of “Conquest 3000“, shows a gossamer touch, air light keyboards and that damn beat that had me wiggling in delight from the beginning.

Final mix is by Australian act, HOSTILE ARCHITECT., Mitch Kenny knows how to push a song into a new realm. Cyber punk, futuristic and high energy, that keeps you guessing where he’ll take it next.

The new members bring a new and exciting dimension to the direction Zwaremachine is heading. The single is great and is pointing to an even greater album, meanwhile all the remixes are noteworthy in their own right and I don’t think I could pick a favourite. Name your price on Bandcamp so there is nothing stopping you checking out Zwaremachine’sConquest 3000“.

https://zwaremachine.bandcamp.com/album/conquest-3000-single-remix-ep

https://www.facebook.com/zwaremachine

https://www.facebook.com/brutalresonance/

https://brutalresonance.com/

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“.

HELENA MAMICH

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.

BLACK NEEDLE NOISE – JOHN FRYER

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 Needle Noise and Helena Mamich, which is name your price on Bandcamp and most worthy of your time.

https://blackneedlenoise.bandcamp.com/track/nocturnal

https://www.blackneedlenoise.com/

http://www.facebook.com/BlackNeedleNoise

https://helenamamic.com/