Post punk duo, The Cold Field, released the album Hollows on August 6th, on the label Cold TransmissionMusic which is famous for their darkwave retinue. Their debut, Black River, was warmly greeted and so Hollows has been much anticipated by fans.
The emphasis is very much on the atmosphere which is created by the echoing vocals, the deep bass plus jangle and buzz of guitar. The album is comprised of ten tracks and notably, two are instrumental pieces for the most part. “RideThe Breeze” is the intro to set up the feel whilst, “FloatingAbove The Wasteland” is filled with gorgeous bass lines and guitar work, whilst the faint ghost like whispers are seemingly unintelligible and beyond deciphering.
“Reaching For Things Things You Cannot Hold” is a great example of the style, with the low echoing vocals, delicate guitar work which is layered in synth. Other stand out tracks are Beauty Expired”, with its rapid pulse and its variance in tone, while “Into The Light” actually does have a slightly more airy feel to the music, a
From the get go, you hear the influence of Joy Division, Lebanon Hanover and Ritual Howls in their music and the common themes in post punk music of isolation, a longing for what is denied and the nature of addiction. There is the ever present spectre of existential dead that pervades all, for this is music that sits on the edge of dusk asking how did this all come to pass.
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.
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“.
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’mAfraid Of Americans“. Maybe the format and purpose are similar as this was Bowie and BrianEno’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 “TheTakeaway” 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
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.
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 DogMachine 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.
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.
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 EndOf 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“.
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.
Electronic Boston band MAN1K1N, made up of singer Johnny Veil and drummer CristianCarver, have released a single in November called, Into The Wounds. Turns out this is, in my eyes, like a double A side of sorts with the songs, “IntoThe Void” and “Wounds:.
Veil’s voice is very reminiscent of MarilynManson’s timbre but that’s where the comparison ends. Darkwave electro is a very apt description with a trip hop influence, making this such an interesting style that is very pleasing to the ears. This is almost a parody of those in the gothic subset that push for an ideal look of beauty but within can be rotten to the core.
“Wounds” is a swirling maelstrom of uplifting electronic synths and beats coupled with brutal, angst ridden lyrics, which works. I can only best describe the feeling as wanting to dance without limits but you know your heart is breaking. This is the remix by Big Time Kill, who have lent their distinctive fingerprints.
“Into The Void” is a good, solid number and the Big Time Kill remix of “Wounds” sounds glorious. You can find Into The Wounds on Bandcamp and it’s name your price, so you should go check out this offering from MAN1K1N.
Released on November 6th, was Neurobash’s single, “Blame 2K2X“, off the Swedes’ album, 2K2X. This single also offers 3 previously unreleased numbers which is a nice addition.
So the single, “Blame (Subsequential)” has the momentum of a freight train, full of rampant beats that hold your attentiona nd the vocals are like silk over the top. It feels like a social commentary on this age of the rising extreme right… ‘what you going to do when they come for you, what you going to do when everybody knows‘.
“Overtime” reminds me a lot of club classic “Hitman” by Tobias Bernstrup mixed with Kraftwerk. It’s new and yet it feels like something good from the past.
We have “Offset A” which is far more slower in tempo and yet more drum inspired while “Offset B” is far more futuristic synth based, no where at heavy feeling as the previous piece and yet it contains a much more crunchy texture. Both numbers are purely instrumental in nature.
I was unable to link the YouTube video of the single because it contains scenes of the band being water tortured and therefore is restricted viewing. Oh my, so you can either listen to the album version here, go listen on Bandcamp or go seek out the offering on Youtube through the Neurobash channel.. Either way, you are bound to enjoy Neuobash’s, “Blame 2K2X“.
October 30th was the release date for the debut album, Abyss by In Tenebris. Power noise extrodinaire, SebastianSünkler of Stahlschlag, is the driving force behind this project, out on the label, Crunch Pod.
And so into the inky Abyss we travel, with the lonely, echoing call of a raven to “Inferis“, otherwise known as the Underworld. This slow build of wind tunnel sound, rings with eerie chimes.
One of the scariest creatures is “Mandkind“. They consume everything, create war and destruction and continue on. A mixture of subtle power noise creeps into this unrelenting march, with possible gun shots and Sünkler’s distorted vocals.
An electrical impulse, that could be a message. It then stops, with the atmosphere becomes murky and oppressive. This is “Interception“, with graduating industrial bangs in the background.
“Hollow Hills” might emit whistles and groans, with an errant wind blowing through them. This feels bleak and forlorn, haunted by ghosts of the unfortunate, as the electronic chimes, twitters and knocks never seem to cease.
“Mandragora” is the drug form of mandrake and this starts off like a bad, tormented trip. The lone piano, followed by struck chords and hazy noise, make this feel other worldly and darkly unrealistic. Mental screeching and lost filaments of lucid thought, drifting away.
The wavering apparition of the “Phantasm” is a very constant electronic echo of things past, making their presence felt. This shadow is what has been and never will be again, reaching out to the living. The finish with heavy breathing makes you apprehensive.
The final track is, “Antinatal“. Maybe this is opposite of birth and a return to the aether, the limbo between life and non existence. This music is like a fog, seemingly feathery and yet heavy and unable to be penetrated by light.
This is very much an album of dark ambient style sound scapes with leanings towards the nightmare realms.
‘I started this side project because of a coincidence. Someone on instagram asked me if I could do a spooky soundtrack for one of his lost places videos. Well, in the end he didn’t like what I did for his video but because of that I discovered how much I enjoy to create dark soundscapes.’, Sünkler explained to me.
With a taste for these dramatic, brooding vistas, one can presume that this is not the last we have heard from In Tenebris and nor should it be. Have a listen to the creeping doom coming from the darkly, delightful Abyss.