June saw the release of the debut single, “Rose+ Crown” for AMMO as a solo artist. AMMO, located in Los Angeles, has previously been in bands such as Black Flamingo and currently with Brass Box, as well as pursuing artistic outlets such as film making and photography.
The title track starts with a lonely guitar which is highly reminicent of start of the New Model Army piece, “Wonderful Way To Go“, though that is as far as the similarity goes. This is light and airy, with jangly guitar within an epic swirling sound scape. AMMO’s voice sits comfortably at the centre, luring you to sit and listen longer. This is shoegaze without the brashness of overt walls of noise.
The ‘b’ side is “TotalRecall“, written originally by Adrian Borland of the legendary 80s British, post punk band, The Sound. It was already a wonderful track and AMMO brings a sweetness to it. A song of longing and being out of time, that is achingly beautiful, especially with the knowledge that Borland suffered mental health issues which eventually lead to his suicide.
Along with drummer, Alex Posell, a former bandmate of Black Flamingo, who helped co-produce and record, AMMO is creating lush sounds that may at first seem bleak, but warm the soul. Mourning Sun Records, which is AMMO’s label, plans to release a future album called, The Great Chaos however the meantime enjoy “Rose + Crown“.
IDM or intelligent dance music can sometimes be a confusing title for some. It often isn’t really danceable but rather electronic music that experiments with electronic rhythm by creating all the noise within the structure called music. For more than decade, Tapage from Hilversum in the Netherlands, has been creating electronic ambient music and May saw the release of his new album Recover, out on the label, PointSource Electronic Arts.
The first piece is “Test“, a low tonal number that tentatively reaches out towards you before the clicks begin. Like a radio, with someone flicking through without any discernible channels, just spurts of static that chirp away. “114120A11” even though electronic, makes me think of a dark, tranquil forest in prehistoric times, where insects talk to each other and large bird like creatures call out in the canopy, filled with the beat of life.
A darker turn with “Begin“, deep and ringing with those clicks and snaps that Tapage has in spades. Next could be mistaken as a performance piece on harp, that has gone horribly wrong, warped chimes flood your senses. “We Will Become” has an apocalyptic, horror ambience….. possibly otherworldly.
Almost like stars blinking in and out in the night sky comes “Prolog“. It does give the impression aliens are trying to control us and then transmission just stops. “Peepsqueek” is a multitude of squeaks that culminate in a rhythm vortex, perhaps inferring to drum and bass.
A dreamscape of space. Not so much out of space but the general term when it comes to “Able To NSet“. There are the clicks and whirs but also a lightness and expanse. The eighth track is “Ancient Tiger Proton” and it features Access To Arasaka, who fit in perfectly, also known for dark experimental ambient, that compliments Tapage’s. This feels epic and austere in a way, like you are walking the halls of the gods.
The last three tracks are remixes. Experimental artist, Klunks, re-imagines “We All Became“, that burbles along like a cosmic stream. “Able ToNSet” is broken down by The Fellow Passenger, to a wandering, ethereal quality. The last remix is by Tapage, of the track “Test“, which has developed wings it seems, elevated from the drone, though that aspect it still present.
I’m never going to say I’m an expert at electronic music but in essence it’s the visceral reaction that counts. This is technically good but it’s also touching you at another level, with how it makes you feel without words to paint a picture and that’s always very special. Recover isn’t going to be for everyone but I’m also very sure Tapage know this as well and sometimes it is worth going out of your comfort zone to experience something that will take you unexpected places.
We are going to go back to December of 2017 to revisit the electronic EP, Wavelets. Released by Secant Prime, a US based artist who’s first release was in 2010 with the Wavelets EP that is made up of 5 tracks ranging in length.
Imagine a sound of impending doom. It could be “Jacobi Elliptic Function“, a sonic dirge of undulating pandemonium of both electronic noise and human. Named after the mathematical equation that describes the swinging of a pendulum and also the design of electronic elliptic filters. There is always this low, one could almost say near feeling of dread and as the piece continues, it develops that crunchy experimental texture before becoming nearly atonal again.
“Dirichlet Convolution” is a mathematical function using binary operation as well as the title of the next track. It is metallic and sharp with no room to be otherwise. The machine in its computations will churn out its screeching answers that it rhythmically hums to itself. You hear a child lost in the noise, maybe a victim of the problem solving.
The next concept is slightly beyond my understanding but ‘Montgomery’s Pair Correlation Conjecture” is about equations that include the possibilities of finding zeros. The music has a sense of being out of touch, much like my understanding of the maths. Echoes, whispers and perhaps the intermittent ticking of a clock, all completely out of sync with a buzzing sonar like beat. At seventeen and a half minutes, this is the EP’s longest track but the lulls and build ups will keep your attention.
“Hankel Transform” is the fourth track and I can’t even describe this therorum but I can tell you the music swirls, as if in a vortex, sucking everything towards it, mixing it all as it flies past. The garbled voices add to the sense of imminent implosion at any moment.
I looked up “Fourier Bessel Series” and saw the words an infinite series expansion on a finite interval…..pursed my lips and exhaled. A slow build up of soundscape and rhythmic nose, more ticking like time is getting away from us and a growing feeling of claustrophobia. Constant, infinite and yet finite
in some ways this is my nightmare music, based on high level maths, however this works for Secant Prime. Maths is clinical and exact, with no grey areas. And many like myself find the idea of working out these therorum terrifying. The music is not comforting, stark and bleak, devoid of human warmth. A clever use of experimental noise to create ambient, nightmarish soundscapes. Wavelet is available on Bandcamp currently for name your price and other forums.
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.
Late December was the release of the single, ‘In My Dreams” by SINthetik Messiah with TheOther LA. “In My Dreams” was originally released by five piece rock band The Other LA, that boasts having Drowning Pool’s C.J. Pierce as part of their contingent. The group asked SINthetik Messiah to put an electronic spin to the number.
SINthetik Messiah are from Louisiana and for the uninitiated, delve into experimental industrial rock/ metal with a heavy accent on the artistic front. Bug Gigabyte is the man behind the project and has done so since 1996.
It is dark and heavy….. so heavy, it almost feels like the noise is weighing on you. The female vocals by ARIA are explosive, buoyed by the dense mix of booming beats and buzzing guitar. The male vocal brings an added level of angst as the music takes flight.
A bombastic piece of engineering by BugGigabyte, the sounds are grating and huge, leaving you wanting more. He has taken TheOther LA song into another realm, becoming its own entity that can devour your soul.
Added bonus points for having mixing and mastering done by, Joe Haze, ex guitarist of Lords Of Acid. Yes it’s good. On that note, you might need to go listen to The Other LA & SINthetik Messiah, “In MyDreams“.
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.
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.
Sebastian Sünkler is the man behind German, industrial, power noise act Stahlschlag and September has seen the release of his 6th studio album, Alive!.
Based in Hamburg, Stahlschlag have a reputation for experimental rhythmic and atmospheric noise and he does not disappoint on this album.
From the start of “Bitterness“, the production on this album is just beautiful. The synths are clear, the beats pound into your brain and there is that hint of static fizzling. The name for this track is almost an anomaly, as it is almost joyous.
The same cannot be said for “Hate“. Grating and metallic, mincing the powerful noise into one angry climaxing beast, broken with a soliloquy from young Arya of Game of Thrones fame, on the hate she feels.
Fabulous beats hail in the smooth synth sounds for “In Tension“. It is driven in its contrasts of heavy beats with delightful, lilting tunes hovering above it.
“Addiction” with its female moans has you wondering what this addiction might be. Could be sexual, chemical or maybe to do with the music as it screeches along on its merry way.
And low, like Thor hamering on iron girders, “Rage Of Fury” is just as the name implies. A whirling cacophony of industrial noise held together with yet more noise.
There is a world of painful electronic distortion in “Wohlstandstrotz” repeatedly slamming into your brain, only broken by voice clips, as it gathers itself together for another onslaught.
You can almost imagine yourself in a jungle with the crickets singing in the humid night air, as the natives beat their drums. This is “Madness” and it almost tastes different.
“Pan” continues the tribal feel but this is far more Germanic and foreboding. This is forceful and moves at a terrifying speed, like a freight train that will not stop for anything.
After the last track, “Disbanded” is almost, positively light… almost. The the keyboards lure you into a state of near bliss before the beats drag you further in.
“Shake ‘Em” is somewhat an interlude which isn’t fully noise but isn’t sitting still either. A rhythmic breather with psychedelic oddities.
Back to German efficiency with extreme power noise in “Whataboutism“. Again this is so god damn crunchy, that you can almost feel it grating your skin.
In “Sui generis“, there is a futuristic vibe as it is cleaner than any other number in the album and yet there is such a undertow of tension.
Any track called “Plague“, is going to be coming from a dark place and the ambience indeed feels grim. Again there are those wonderful static beats that stick out starkly to the ambient tune.
The concluding track is “Aufstand“, a crunchy rhythm piece. It feels tortured and wind swept, as it echoes into the metallic void. This is the uprising.
I am not the world authority on electronic/industrial noise but I know what I like and quite frankly this is a feast for the ears. Sünkler is quite the musician, sinking melodies into distortion and noisy rhythmic sound scapes.
Alive! is tribal in a way, as the music is very motivated by Sünkler’s high energy rhythmic input. You can hear two of the bands that heavily influenced Sebastian, in his musical endeavours, those being XOTOX and NOISUF-X.
Released on Crunch Pod, I can do nothing else but highly recommend that if you have any interest in industrial music, you must check out Alive! for an intelligent and superbly crafted album that might just make you see noise in a whole different way. For the converted, you are going to seriously enjoy this Stahlschlag gem plus he’s a seriously great guy. Get Alive!
The Batavia, in the early 17th Century, was a ship of the Dutch East India Company and in less than a year after her maiden voyage, would find herself wrecked off the West Australian Coast. A tale of murder, mutiny, slavery and abandonment followed.
Batavia are also a goth, industrial rock group, hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, consisting of Terri and Ed Cripps. This is the married couple’s debut E.P., Graveyard, under this moniker and was recorded in isolation. Keys and vocals are from Terri while Ed gives us guitar, programming and backing (spoken) vocals.
The wind swept feel is prominent in “Field Of Gray” as the synths grace their presence and breath into the intro piece while the angelic vocals hover just above the turbulence. Ed speaks to us, as from another time, perhaps as a marooned sailor who dreams of home as his life slips away.
Now for something completely different as far as a cover goes. Not that someone would not cover Duran Duran, but rather the choice of their 1988 single, “All She Wants Is” kind of blew me away. It is raw and pulsating with sexuality and very feminine. Terri’s vocals really capture the fervour whilst being classy and the industrial styling of the guitar work, really lends itself to making this a cover that completely works for them.
“Scab Mask” is grating at the beginning, setting up for the vocals to resolve the disparity. This is the industrial machine, that pounds along and one can’t help but feel that this may be a commentary on the current political turmoil, that their country currently finds itself embroiled in. The anger seems to feed into the slowing, off kilter, loss of hope.
An orchestrated piece with no vocals, “Flyboy” is cuts of air chatter from ground personnel, RichardRussell, which burst through with accelerating urgency as a man losses his sanity while handling a multi million dollar plane. Meanwhile air control tries to talk him around and for historical content, he purposefully crashed in 2018l This is the futile end.
This is a really neat little E.P. and Bartavia are proving themselves to be storytellers, connecting the past to present, even when that past was not so long ago, for as humans, we seem to have short memories.
We need those that write meaningful human tales with good tunes and a rollicking good cover every so often doesn’t hurt either. Get your education and entertainment with the delightful Batavia and open their Graveyard.