Jamie Blacker is ESA, also known as Electronic Substance Abuse, and we are going to talk about the album, Designer Carnage that came out on February 14th of 2022, on Negative Gain Records. But I will digress with a little background information first. ESA is a UK project that was formed in 2002 after Blacker, who had been involved in the black/death metal scene, started to experiment in and became drawn to the sound of harsh, rhythmic industrial noise, which he has in all essence become a relative master of. The first album was released in 2006, Devotion, Discipline and Denial, then releasing albums very regularly ever since.

Straight off the bat, “Laudanum Dance” is like electrodes connected straight into the brain, sparking with glorious fuzz and beats. Like a fever dream, Blacker yells his discontent. Yet, hark it that a harpsichord? Classical piano which is a gorgeous oddity, played at a decent pace to be suddenly broken by the female vocal sample of Konstantina Buhalis and break beats, that descend into the stomach wrenching, bellowing tones. Those beautiful harpsichord keys again trill away, as they and the piano are played by Frederic Scarfone. Frustration and anger are swirling in the charged track “One Missed Called” which is about repression and fear stopping one from getting further in life. It is powerful with the female sample, of again, Konstantina Buhalis, screaming how much she fucking hates the person who puts her down. The rhythms circle and pounds down, enforcing the angst.

The use of noise and techno is near perfect in “I Detach“, when out of nowhere…ragtime music. Yes, weird and yes unexpected, but it works. The ticking of a clock, alien like electronic warbles, the ragtime and Blacker’s voice just culminate into this bizarre, dreamlike world of movement. The title track, “Designer Carnage” exudes electronic smut and grime. Fantastic! The music grinds while samples repeat the title. It speeds up towards the climax like there is no getting off this ride, only to drop you and drag you along again. Bara Hari is the guest vocalist for “Disruption Only” and it just pounds away. as a good, well lubricated industrial machine should. The rhythm is a drug that you can’t get enough of while in the static, you can hear angry voices. Bara Hari joins in and it becomes something otherworldly while those hammered beats carry on regardless, stuck in a groove.

Come And Find Me” again utilises that ragtime sound throughout in a myriad of stomping beats and electronics. A hallucination induced nightmare which translates to smashing yourself on a dancefloor. Curiously addictive and no we cannot get enough as it builds apon itself in a downward spiral. Saxaphone is by Matt ‘Chops’ Thompson and female vocals by Hellsea. For the track “Hyena“, all the vocals are credited to Pee Wee Pimpin, as he goes from cajoling to viciously snarling, the synths cackling as they track you down in your last moments, but what a way to go/ “Whom Then Shall I Fear?” features Pee Wee Pimpin, as he raps which works ever so well with the heavy electronics in the background. In fact, it is almost like listening to Public Enemy’s, “Bring On The Noise” but they were all industrialised and updated. It is an amazingly strong track.

There is something wicked and it comes this way in the track, “Vast Accept“. Off kilter and deranged, on a psychopathic mission only it knows. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security as it awaits to pounce while you are off guard with those techno beats. The final track is “Saturnalia“, which is full of blast beats, raging guitar and the deep, growling Blacker vocals, that start to fritz in and out. There are also these wonderful science fiction sounding synths and classic flamenco guitar by Frederic Scarfone, that lend themselves to a western touch, while Matt ‘Chops’ Thompson gives us that sleazy saxaphone. With wailing female vocals, it all crescendos, only to die away.

I knew this new album had come out but a friend, whom is also an industrial DJ, thrust it under my nose and declared that if I was to review anything this year, it has to be this album, Designer Carnage. In all honesty, he was completely correct. If this is not in people’s top 10 industrial releases for the end of the year, then I am going have to say that your taste might be in your arse. Jamie Blacker is able to experiment with so many different styles and mould them into something cohesive, with lashings of wicked heavy rhythms, filthy grinding electronics, inject music of past eras, whilst screaming near bloody murder at you. Really can’t much better than that other than you can dance to all of it. I dare you not to find yourself bouncing to the beats. You definitely need some Designer Carnage in your life, so let ESA be your dealer.

Designer Carnage | ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) | ESA (bandcamp.com)

ESA: Electronic Substance Abuse | Facebook

Home | ESA (bigcartel.com)

Frédéric Scarfone (bandcamp.com)

Music | BARA HARI (bandcamp.com)

https://www.facebook.com/OriginalChopsSax

Pee Wee (@peeweep713) • Instagram photos and videos

нашим друзям (For Our Friends) based in Hamburg, Germany, have putting together compilations to raise awareness and funds for the people of Ukraine. So far three compilations have been put together by them and we would like to draw your attention to the latest which is For Our Friends Vol III, There are 42 artists in this edition who all fall under the electro/industrial theme.

Of course with 42 acts on one compilation, so I am not going to review every song but I am proud to say I know some of the people that have donated tracks. From my hometown of Brisbane, the wonderful Dirt Factory with their nihilistic cyber industrial track, “Violence” and Roger Menso’s Nyteshayde, whom I have known since I was about 19 with his slow burn, borne of war trauma number, “Whispers And Shouting“.

There is also Dogmachine, who I knew in the 90s, with their fantastic, angst ridden “Headwound” which was often heard at nightclubs, with Kraig Durden as the lead singer, who went onto create Replikant and his track “Anaesthetic” appears, full of wandering synths as if in an induced dream.

But there are bands from all over the world such as the German maestro of crunchy rhythmic power noise, Sebastian Sünkler’s STAHLSCHLAG, with “Shunde Null” along with another big, rhythmic noise act KiEw with “Mariupol, Ukraine“. In other words there are all sorts of goodies here. Transponder featuring Leæther Strip, Sven Phalanx with Miss Kitty and I could go on.

If this was put together as a regular compilation, it would be well worth buying, however what it stands for makes it much more valuable. Not only are you getting music you are going to enjoy and find new artists you never knew about but you are supporting a cause, helping those who, currently, are in dire straits, in the middle of a illogical and terrible war. Remember this is For Our Friends.

For Our Friends, Vol. III: Electro Edition | нашим друзям (bandcamp.com)

John R Mirland has become one of the staple masters of driving, power noise, rhythmic noise mixed with serious techno savvy. We are grateful he took time out to talk to us about the latest Mirland album and all his creative outlets.

Welcome to the weird of Onyx, John R Mirland.

Thank you so very much for showing an interest in my music

Congratulations on Compromise Is Defeat (CID). It is truly a very attention grabbing album. How naturally does it come to you to mix such genres as techno, power noise and harsh noise?

It does come pretty natural the moment I start working on the beat I can immediately hear if this is going in the Mirland-direction or if it’s the groundwork for another project or artist.

I try to be in the studio as much as I can and just work. I’m very focused so I sit down with the keyboard or guitar and just start composing and usually I almost immediately know what the track is suited for:

The hybrid of rhythmic noise and techno/dark trance is a reflection of my own tastes and I wanted to compose evolving yet pounding music. So I’m very conscious about the variations and small details in the mix. The process is very much my own and I’m not particularly dogmatic with regards to what goes where to satisfy genre specific demands.

John, you wrote the album over a period of time and even some of the tracks have been played live. Why did it take nearly four years for CID to come into fruition?

I started working on the album just after the release of the “Antagonist” ep where I felt I’d really hit a spot with my sound. But you know plans sometimes don’t work out.

The gigs I played both around that time and later gave me an opportunity for testing very early demos of some of the new tracks. But at the same time I was composing and producing for Am Tierpark, Emergency Sequence, M73, Negant, Eisenwolf, Bitter Distrust, Mirland/Larsen and later also Gusten and Udpint while producing and remixing other artists too.

I do like to keep busy and have composed around 200 tracks the last 10-15 years of which I believe around 150 or so have been released.

But time went on and I kept working on the side with the sound design for what was to be “Compromise Is Defeat”. I guess at some point I had 30 or 40 demo tracks.

I prefer getting stuff done so I really needed to get this album done. I felt the demo recordings had something but I’d been deep in the process for far too long. So in the late summer of 2021 I finally sat down and dug into the selection and production of what would be “Compromise Is Defeat”. I recorded and mixed the final album over two months and then my dear friend Claus Larsen (Leæther Strip) did the mastering as he’s done for a lot of my releases.

For many, creating music comes from their current situation/politics/beliefs. When you compose music, especially for Mirland, what inspires you to create?

I don’t consciously search for inspiration. My mind is always racing and thinking about new ideas so I keep a lot of notes and record a lot of ideas. When I watch a movie I often make a note of certain interesting quotes or phrases. I believe some of my titles might suggest what lies behind the track but Iike to keep things open for interpretation. I think that’s one of the great things about instrumental music. It’s very much like abstract painting in that regard.

But a small key to the different projects might be: Mirland is often related to space, transhumanism and futurism. In Am Tierpark, Mirland/Larsen and Gusten Claus Larsen writes the lyrics so he defines the content and we never interfere with each other’s ideas. But very often Am Tierpark is about love/the loss of love. In Udpint I write almost entirely about war and in M73 it’s a lot about cold futures and dark erotica. My own lyrics are often written with the intent to create images.

One of your other projects is Eisenwolf… a mix of blackmetal and industrial. Do you think your love of black metal feeds into this use of harsh noise?

Eisenwolf was a side project of the now defunct Negant which also spawned the electro punk band Bitter Distrust with Michael Hillerup of Birmingham 6. I left all three bands a year ago actually.

But yes, I believe my interest in extreme metal in general blends into a lot of my darker stuff. I actually recorded a black metal mini album last year as Udpint and Claus and I released a punk rock album as Gusten.

But my use of noise and experimental sounds also stems from a very early band I was part of called VHS which was a pretty noisy and weird construction. And I’m a sucker for brutal energy whether it’s industrial or metal. But even Eisenwolf had melodic themes as opposed to just a wall of noise.

Mirland is very much a solo thing for you but you do collaborate with many other artists, especially other Danes in the scene for other projects? How do you approach your solo work compared to your collabrotative with say Negant or Eisenwolf?

I try to uncover the potential in any proposed collaboration and then present a few demo recordings for the others involved with the project. When I can’t see any more potential I put the collaboration on hiatus or leave. I don’t like to waste my own or others’ time.

When I work on my own it’s somewhat the same and I’m a firm believer that nothing is supposed to last forever and some projects only last an ep or album. And that’s absolutely fine. I have no problem with leaving a dysfunctional project.

You released on Claus Larsen’s label, Læbel and you have worked with him as Mirland/Larsen as well as producing and mixing each others music. Leæther Strip/Larsen is spoken in near reverance by many in the industrial scene, though those that know him say he is the biggest sweetheart. Did you find it nerve wracking to work with Claus in the beginning and have you found that friendship has grown exponentially, forging something a bit special?

Claus is a very close and dear friend and I consider him family.

When we work together it’s like we have a direct brain-to-brain connection and we’ve never argued even if we may not agree on everything. I’ve learned a ton from Claus. And we’re equally productive and creatively restless.

Which aspect of music making do you think you enjoy the most? As the performer, the producer or the mix master? Or is it a bit of everything that keeps the flame alive?

I love composing and producing and I’m not particularly interested in being a face or a character. I enjoy the stage not for the sake of being the center of attention but for presenting and interpreting my music in a different, loud setting and watching people’s response.

Who were the early musical inspirations that set your pulse running and made you think ‘I want to do that!’?

A: Hmm, that’s a tough one. I’d like to say something cool and leftfield but actually I grew up with a very broad range of music from Pink Floyd to southern blues to classical, constantly playing at my parents apartment. So I’ve always been surrounded by music and I can’t remember a time not wanting to work with music but for many years my main focus was on painting and illustration.

What acts do you listen to now or find their innovation sucks you into their music?

Currently I’m working my way through a big stack of obscure metal releases on vinyl. But I’m also listening to a lot of newer electronic releases. I like the distanced coldness of Julia Bondar and Rue Oberkampf and the energetic techno of Anastacia Kristensen. I enjoy listening to my friend Kri Samadhi who’s a great psytrance producer. Italo Connection’s “Metropolis” album is an extremely well executed album and possibly one of the best synth pop albums in years. And the funky neo disco of Alexander Robotnick always put a smile on my face.

And then I keep coming back to an old release by a short lived doom/black outfit called Woods of Belial. It has this dark, gritty lo-fi sound that I’d never be able to do myself.

What is in store for John Mirland and all his many, many projects?

A: First of I’ll be playing in Copenhagen on March 5th as a double bill with Leæther Strip. It’s been so long! And then I’m currently working on the follow up to “Compromise Is Defeat” which I hope will be out this year. Working title is “Bastard”. There’s a new album from Am Tierpark out this spring which I believe to be the best we’ve done so far and an Italo disco single I wrote for a Danish singer. I’m also working on a new and so far secret space disco project. And maybe something from Gusten too.

Thank you ever so much for taking the time to talk to us!

Thank you!!

Danish musician, composer and producer, John Mirland has released in December of 2021, his newest album Compromise Is Defeat after a hiatus from his solo project of nearly four years, his last album being Mechanic from 2017. That’s not to say that Mirland has been cooling his heels the last few years, finding himself releasing with his bands Negant and Eisenwolf plus collaborating with Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip as Mirland/Larsen. If that wasn’t enough producing and mixing music for a myriad of acts but he was still writing tracks for this album between 2018 and 2021.

JOHN MIRLAND

The slow immersion of static and beats lure you in, then “Another Form” begins to speed up and enveloping you. Before you know it, the fabulous pounding techno rhythm and synths, mixed with power noise, invade your senses. So far, this is boding to be in the realms of other worldly. “Beg For It” is just mega crunchy, ear grating goodness and has a beat like a heart on adrenaline, until the angelic heavens open over a synth-scape dream. It ripples with light, while the static growls below. Electronic bees is the best way to describe the beginning of “Fuel” before the cracking beat. The sublime synths glide effortlessly across the jarring sea of sharp tempo. The wub wub is intense from the single “Defiant“, like a rubber ball bouncing incessantly in your head, compelling you to move and dance. There might be a slight reprieve before giving you a serving of techno goodness.

Rust” is abrasive rhythmic noise that wants to take your breath away with it’s relentlessness. The oscillations push you on… towards what? The oblivion that comes with time maybe as time is forever pushing forward. With it’s raft of a-rhythmic beat signature, this is “Headless” that goes in and out of syncopation, backed up by the less crazed, “Generator“. For a more sedate paced piece, it is brooding and insidious. The electronic vocals are the heralds for an oncoming doom of ancient wrathful gods that then descends into minimal techno torment.The glass like smoothness of “So Cold” is just magic, both ephemeral and distant. The track “Torn” is a perfect example of that techno/industrial mix that I find the Europeans do well. The last track is “Wolf Among Sheep” and it is oppressive and dark as it, trance like, invades your very being.

Wonderfully mastered by Claus Larsen and released on the label, Læbel, this is really an album that should appeal to true connoisseurs of techno, power and rhythmic noise, especially those who adore Xotox. For me, you feel those rhythms deep within you, anchoring your feet to the earth but your soul wants to fly with the synth lines. It really is a remarkable talent. Those that know Mirland are already the converted,,,so get thy self some Compromise Is Defeat.

https://mirland.bandcamp.com/album/compromise-is-defeat

https://www.facebook.com/mirlandofficial/

Mirland – composer producer artist

https://laebel-music.dk/

Laebel | Facebook