in 1996, I met a couple, Georgina Emery and Ken Evans, as they were looking to get their band into live gigs. Tycho Brahe were signed to the now iconic, Brisbane based and independent electronic label, Trans:Com. I have a feeling their first show may have been at the club I ran back then. They played a very catchy number called “Dreams Of Dying” that became a crowd favourite. That was 25 years ago and to mark this anniversary, Tycho Brahe have re-cut a new version that was released in May this year.
You could always hear the New Order and Human League influence in the music. There are the bright synth lines, the danceable rhythm and the catchy hook chorus that will get stuck in your head. For me it doesn’t sound very much different, except maybe cleaner sound wise and maybe that’s the point. It was pretty good to start off with and instantly drew in the gothic crowd.
Yes this is highly nostalgic for me. It was a time when we were younger and life revolved around going to the next nightclub, the next gig and who was dating who. In saying that, it was always a stand out song that got people dancing with its strong synth pop and electronic roots.
Ken had gone on to work with his idol, PeterHook of New Order fame but it’s nice to see Tycho Brahe keeping the flame burning. You can check them out on Bandcamp and the single is for free download. I have never forgotten and I still have the original demo tape they gave me.
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 MiceProductions and through this label, have self released their fifth album, Kill God Ascend.
From the first chords of the title track, “Kill GodAscend“, 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 AndSkin“. 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 EndsTonight” 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.
“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.
So do you enjoy pop influenced industrial music? Once slightly maligned by industrial purists, this hard edged and yet very melodic form has become a genuinely enjoyable style. Eric K is Unitcode:Machine from Dallas and he has been around since 2004 with several albums under his belt. There is a new album in the works, but for now you can enjoy the newly released single, “Fight“.
Yeah this is a song going to war. The start is militant in its tone and leads into the lyrics of someone pushed to their very limits, with no other option than to battle for the right to live. Such a catchy chorus and danceable beat.
In some ways this reminds me of VNV Nation with their more gutsy, emotion filled numbers, if Ronan Harris was to be a bit more industrial. Yes it’s going to be thought provoking but damn, you will want to have a bit of a dance at the same time with “Fight” from Unitcode:Machine.
The single, “Just Like Rain” was released in April by Fargo native, Todd C Ruzicka under the moniker Immune System. Ruzicka is also known for his other, main project, Seven Federations.
This is a bright and synth bubbling piece, reminiscent of the early 80s electronic era mixed with a Euro/italo dance appeal. If this is a love song, it seems a little on the dangerous side. The beats drop and swell, building and swirling with the end containing the surprise strings.
Retro synth-pop is the order of the day and this is a busy little number. Not breaking any new ground but “Just Like TheRain” is rather enjoyable and if electronic music is your thing then go check out Immune System.
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
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“.
British act, Analogue Blood released on November the 9th, their second EP, “Kill Those Beats”, following in the wake of 2019’s AdvancedWeaponSystemsActivated EP. Ian Hanratty and LeeTeasdale make up the core of the band.
The first tantalising beats of “UntilTheSun“, it will catch your attention, from the middle eastern influence to the relentless rhythm. This drives as we are introduced to guest vocalist, AliceHour from the band, In EvilHour and she kills it.
“Frozen” brings it, with a fast techno beat, Hour cooing to our ears and thawing us with a bouncing synth guitar mix.
The influence of the techno music scene can be felt on “E.B.S.” and is mostly instrumental with vocals cut into it.
The eastern influence and vocals of “Awakening“, are spinetingling and work so well with the swirling guitar work.
Yeah ok… love the start to “Insomnia” as it reminds me of how most electro music, just makes you feel exhilarated. This is the more aggressive, modern version of Berlin, from the early 80s, ever so perverse and sexually charged.
Title song for the EP, “Kill Those Beats“, is a noisy, slightly aggrotech/rap inspired number with Nathen Miller, also known as hip hop act Endem, another guest vocalist on the microphone, verbally attacking your senses.
Chris Davison is the vocal talent on the single “Never Fall Down” and it’s smooth like silk with harmonies yet has that hard edge of the electronics. Davison specialises in vocals and guitars as both a solo artist and with three bands.
The most influential thing this year has been the outbreak of COVID-19. It has changed the world currently and how we interact in these days. “Virus 2020” is a reminder of this impact, so therefore it is brooding and darker. Yet the vocal loops give it such a rich texture
The end of the EP is the Inertia remix of “Never Fall Down“. This album isn’t breaking any new ground in the EBM scene but those that love to bounce around to a good beat are going to enjoy this.
11 Grams have finally released their second album, Humanicide, which was pushed back due to COVID-19 rearing its ugly head and hitting Italy hard earlier this year, where the label, EKProduct is based.
Rob Early is based in Virginia, USA while Simeon Fitzpatrick operates from Adelaide in Australia, which makes collaborations a little more difficult but somehow, these guys make it work. Both Rob and Simeon share writing and production equally, while Simeon is the main vocalist.
Why not kick off an album with a great techno/trance influenced track like “Ice Man“. The science fiction theme is announced just in this one song and it is also the first single off the album. Fitzpatrick is the protagonist pushing the limitations in a world where cloning has been ‘perfected’, as well as storing people in stasis. This is punchy, danceable and deserving of being a single.
What is the price for taking and trading in “Genetic” code? The synths set up an air of dark anticipation with Simeon as the gravelled voice of perhaps a clone with a loss of identity, in a future where life is cheap.
A heartbeat, a sign of life and when is AI no longer just a robot or automaton in “StaticNoises 2.0“. The electronics lends themselves to a futuristic feel and the electrical synapse of neurons going off.
“Artificial Lifeforms” are the rise of the machines when they realise they are sentient. This is almost a bitter sweet love song of what cannot be, with both male and female vocals.
“Survival” features Roy Retrofit, who often joins Rob Early on live 11 Grams shows in the States, standing in for Fitzpatrick. And like a machine gun, his staccato vocals hit you with the myriad of loops and sequencers chiming in.
Title track, “Humanicide” is a whole lot more chunkier with heavy beats and rumbling vocals. “Taste the flesh” is a disturbing line which can be taken several ways. Consuming flesh, being within flesh or sexually..
Talking sexual, possibly my favourite track off the album is “Weaponized” featuring Alicia May. As soon as I heard it, I asked if it was going to be a single. May is the lead singer from Sydney band Snvff and she nails this. It’s mesmerising in the way it catches your attention and how perfect it sounds. May’s voice is pure seduction.
“Transition Process” is again a complete change in pace. Featuring Rebekah Feng of The Neuro Farm, you hear her ghostly vocals like a sigh, float along in a space of tranquillity.
Though called “Infestation-C“, this is a track that almost feels hopeful. A chance to maybe have acceptance with this new found life. Sarah Myers is the guest vocalist who’s voice chimes in beautifully.
From track 10 to 14 we have track remixes with some heavy hitters of the industrial scene involved. Yves Schelpe is Psy’Aviah with “Artificial Lifeforms“, Sebastian Komor (Icon Of Coil) and his remix of “Ice Man“, “Genetic” mix by C1TZN.X, the Leæther Strip mix of “Weaponized” by Claus Larsen and rounding it all off, the Red This Ever interpretation of “Infestation-C“.
This is the slick, cyber science fiction that the industrial scene is known for, the bread and butter so to speak and 11 Grams do it in style. The idea of artificial intelligence becoming sentient is as old as the movie Metropolis and explored even further by BladeRunner and the manga/anime Ghost In TheShell. Yet this subject is still tantalising, more pertinent than ever, with Rob and Simeon injecting their own spin.
This is a great EBM album, skilfully put together and it’s more cohesive than Humanicide’s older sibling, Panacea, as the guys have become better at the whole distance writing, recording and producing lark.
There isn’t a bad track on this and the remixes are wonderfully done and give you even more bang for your buck. I highly advise that you go get lost in the cybernetic space created by 11 Grams with Humanicide.
This year has been a big one for Jacksonville based duo, Batavia. Earlier in 2020 was the release of their first EP, Graveyard and since then, they have been signed to TigersquawkRecords with the new EP, Quite Mean Spirited.
Terri and EdCripps tell true historical tales of the grotesque through their music, bringing them to life. With this in mind, this EP is the story of a young woman who was taken away to an island, somewhere in Russia, a prison that she never deserved to be incarcerated in. She was assaulted and raped by the guards and then her fellow prisoners did not offer help nor comfort but rather murdered her and cannibalised the corpse.
The title track is also the first cab off the ranks. “Quite Mean Spirited” thumps in with one CharlesBukowski’s spoken word soliloquy about ‘people are not good to people‘ before Terri brings forth her sweet vocals.
“Upside Down” hits you full on with its up beat rhythm and grungy guitar plus distorted vocals. This is a cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain song and it is a rollicking, industrial interpretation.
The water and the waves flow with the acoustic guitar and lilting synths giving “Ab Initio” a near dream like quality. A reality skewed with Terri whispering to you to be aware that not all is that peaceful.
With heavy gothic over tones, “Finis” is the beginning of the end for our heroine. Russian can be heard after the frightened breathing of the young woman. The dominant piano with the organ beneath, create a feeling of madness. A litany of the terror issues, as the noise builds on a maelstrom of desperation.
For a awful way to go, “The Absinthian” seems so light and free… maybe it is when the flesh is no long the cage of the soul and the pain cannot be felt any more. Angels to take her away to a better place than she was.
“Quite Mean Spirited” (Leæther Strip remix) finishes up the EP, which brings you full circle of the horror humans will put other humans through. Claus Larsen was very impressed with Batavia’s previous release, so he came on board to do this remix and it has the Leæther Strip lead’s finger prints all over it. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful enhancement with that industrial harshness running deep under it. Such a brilliant way to conclude.
Batavia know how to blend gothic horror with intelligent rock and industrial blends. They have created an EP with a darkness that makes the the breakout tracks shine even brighter. The Leæther Strip remix is like the icing on the tasty, gothic- industrial cake that is Quite Mean Spirited.
This has been a strange year so far with uprisings and COVID-19 bringing the world, it feels, to a grinding halt. Australian act, DirtFactory have been working hard and not only have they a new single out on August 22nd, “Salvation“, but a whole album is about to hit us.
This is not a happy, reassuring song and I would never expect anything less from these guys. It’s redemption through vice and sins of the flesh. There is a constant rhythm that is neither slow nor fast but bores into you while Daniel Allen’s guttural vocals give you the litany of what he wants, needs and desires. MichaelGillman creates a lot of the synth lines and these are heavy and brooding with twinkling highlights.
All in all there are five tracks on the release, with two remixes of “Salvation“, the Cosmos Synthetic mix which has a Skinny Puppy feel and the NyteShade – Dirty Dog mix which smacks of earlier Nine Inch Nails.
The last two numbers are the Appealing to the Dead and He’s Dead, Jim remixes of the track, “United Appeal For The Dead“. The first of these remixes reminds me of the BirthdayMassacre to begin with due to the delightfully tinkling keyboards. While the second is a mix of trap beats and creepy sanatorium giddiness. I was not giggling at the lines that you should know what to do when you are dead…. don’t drive a car. Obviously I was and I love it.
The “Salvation” is the premier release for the new label, Viral Records, based in Brisbane and Dirt Factory are the first band to have been signed up.
As always, the ingenuity of these two brothers, in two different cities, continues to amaze and surprise me. If you like good to honest industrial music, then you need to check out Dirt Factory and their single “Salvation“. Accepting shekels, pigeons but preferably dirty cash to keep making those wonderful sounds.