ESA: No-One Will Ever Touch You / False In Tongue EP

Electronic Substance Abuse: No-One Will Ever Touch You / False In Tongue EP (Tympanik) 

Following up the twin release for Themes of Carnal empowerment, ESA is back with a “pay what you want” EP on the Tympanik Bandcamp page! I am always curious to see what Jamie has to offer, especially with his contributions to IVardensphere. I had the great opportunity to see ESA live last time they came through Portland and was very impressed - If you get the chance go and see it - definitely one of the better one-man shows that I have seen. 

The IVardensphere remix for This Is Not Love stands out most for this release. It is a fun club track to get the bodies moving on the floor! It is strikingly apparent that IV has a good hold on how to make people dance. This remix in particular has a seamless blend of tribal and noise elements. 

The Cloud Roots remix of the same song is a very close second favorite, there is a weird ambient glitchy element that I thoroughly enjoy. I am a sucker for glitchy beats over piano movements!

The (partial) title track is nothing short of a great ESA track. It is chaotic, noisy and percussion based - which is exactly what I am looking for when gearing up for a night out or just good old fashion aggression. 

You can pick up No-One Will Ever Touch You/False in Tongue EP directly from Tympanik Audio or just listen to it for free at their bandcamp page: http://tympanikaudio.bandcamp.com/track/this-is-not-love-ivardensphere-remix

Psykkle - Mother Monoxide

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Psykkle - Mother Monoxide (CRL Studios)

"Mother Monoxide" stands as a turning point for Psykkle. Over the last few years I have been keeping tabs on our good Edmontonian freinds Psykkle and watched as mastermind Evan Collingwood shaped the project from a aggrotech background into the atmospheric reality glitch it has become today. 

After the “In the City of Nodes” Single/remix disk and “Back to Paradise: B-Sides and Rarities” releases, it was easy to see that the project was coming fully out of its shell. “Mother Monoxide” brings the tempo down and the clarity up. I was surprised by the quality of the sounds in this release. Swelling tempos and soft pads shape a cyberpunk take on what I can only imagine is a perverse futurescape. The vocals are heavily effected, but I do not think that the songs could be presented the same way if they were not. 

From the first track, “The Colony,” it is very apparent that this is an album with a pretty large scope - not your average Aggro-dance-step-class release. I was also excited that there was not a purely dubstep influence in every track (personally I am tired of the dubstep bleed-over,) but that it was used conservatively and in a unique way.

This is definitely a release for people who like: Encephalon and Comaduster 

You can buy this release directly from the artist’s Bandcamp Page

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Distorted Memory – The Eternal Return

It should be no secret at this point that Distorted Memory is out to change the face of current industrial. ‘The Eternal Return’ is the third full length album from Canadian act Distorted Memory and will serve as the first album released independently by the artist.

A brief history for those of you who have not had the pleasure of what is now Distorted Memory:

The first album released on Noitekk, “Burning Heaven,” was a great album with a lot of fast paced dance floor friendly anti-christian concepts. Distorted vocals, high pitched gates, and great rhythms. The second album, “Swallowing The Sun,” came from a completely different direction – there was a lot of tribal influence and the vocals were very raw and powerful. The whole album felt very other-worldly in the best of ancient ways. “Temple of the Black Star” came shortly after as a stepping stone that greatly prepared us all for what would become another change in sound from Distorted Memory. “Temple of the Black Star” was a single instrumental track presented in nine movements. This is extremely unique not only for the project, but for the scene in general. Each movement was different remix by a popular (at least in my book,) witch house artist. All great. All game changing in my opinion. Very fun.

“The Eternal Return” is nothing short of a great work of art – again. To me it is a really delicate blend of dark dance music and witch house. I know that this album is in no way presented as a witch house album, and I am sure that many witch house fans will scoff at this because the elitism of it all will get to them – but it is true. The whole album feels very creepy, in the best way of course. “In The Heart of Your Fire,” the opening track starts the album off very mellow with a well placed acoustic guitar riff that honestly took me by surprise. The melodies and the atmospheres of this track work so well together. “Lose Control,” the free single and second track on the album is a fun blend of thoughtful lyrics and dance claps, and I imagine that it will do the best in the club scene if any DJ dares to get away from their failsafes. The intro to “Back Away” threw me off because it contains some fairly poppy synth stabs, but the song quickly redeems itself with an old school Ministry or Remission era Skinny Puppy feel.

I will spare the song by song breakdown – the rest of the album is very, very good and will continue its play for many years in my books. “The Eternal Return,” is an eclectic album with some very odd influences that are combined in an extremely original way. Industrial listeners and music makers alike be warned – Distorted Memory is changing everything.

You can listen to the new album in full on Distorted Memory’s Soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/distorted-memory

The Eternal Return comes out on June 28th. You can purchase it through the artists Bandcamp page: http://distortedmemory.bandcamp.com/album/the-eternal-return

Review: reakt[ion] - We Are the Cause of Our Own Despair

React[ion] We Are The Cause of Our Own Despair

I will have to preface this piece by saying that I have been there for a majority of the creation of We Are the Cause of Our Own Despair, because I live with Wes from reakt[ion], and that it has been a pleasure watching this EP come together. WATCOOD is the follow up EP to 2011’s debut EP, Attrition,which brought a hard EBM dance beat down on the Portland crowd with distorted vocals and political undertones. WATCOOD, however, is a step in another direction. Presented at a slower overall tempo, WATCOOD delivers an avid punch in the guy of the human condition with intense breakdowns and just a hint of wobble bass (often found in dubstep.) But make no mistake, this is not a hybrid dubstep project – reakt[ion] manages to bring these elements very clearly to the world of HarshEBM, along the lines of Die Sektor’s Final Electro Solution.

The lyrical content of WATCOOD is something to be mentioned as well. I felt that the content of the first release, while well written, was too politically focused and ignored personal reflection. WATCOOD however is an open wound bleeding out, the words raw and freshly carved out. It is refreshing, to me, to hear such honest, and personal lyrics from this project.  

Buy it now: http://reaktion.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-the-cause-of-our-own-despair

Dead When I Found Her - Over Dinner

Two Nerds Bullshitting Over Dinner:

with Michael from Dead When I Found Her

The rainy season had just started here in Portland, Oregon, which tends to last a majority of the year, and it was a lot colder than I expected it to be. I stopped in the army surplus store, which was conveniently located next to the restaurant, to pick up some fingerless gloves for my freezing hands. Nicholas’s is a small hole in the wall Lebanese restaurant just over the bridge on the Southeast side of Portland. Having been here many times I knew to arrive early, right around the dinner opening, to avoid a seating delay. The small restaurant sat about 30 people total, a true homage to Portland’s small big city ambiance; the half finished ceiling can attest to this. Taking a seat in the back I read over the questions I had prepared for the interview with Michael, knowing however that I would probably not get around to many of them due to the nature of the conversations we had in the past. The industrial scene in Portland is a small and cozy scene in which a lot of musicians are familiar with each other and are often on first name basis. I have spoken to Michael many times throughout my years in the scene and am a big supporter of Dead When I Found Her so this kind of prying into his life and music was nothing new to me; I have often prodded him for advice for my own project and shared similar stories.

After waving Michael over, we ordered promptly and began our discussions, talking first about our day jobs and regular people lives, and then moving then into the music realm. Michael works in a job that I would consider mentally taxing, and I was curious whether or not it went home with him and had in some way found its way into the music, as these things often do. Having experience from my own job, I was able to relate to the amount of disconnection he spoke of when talking about work issues and being able to leave them in that environment. The food arrived in the form of large Mediterranean-style bread and many plates of vegan mezza - a collection of chickpea, caramelized onions, and lentils. Every once and a while I would glance at my questions and try to steer the conversation towards them, but in the end we were just two nerds talking about music.

Skinny Puppy, an obvious factor for the everyday world that both Michael and I live in, came up in traditional nerdcore fashion. Too Dark Park played a large part in shaping the atmosphere of Dead When I Found Her’s new album, Rag Doll Blues, which was apparent and respectable to me. I think that the modern musician should spend more time in the pre-90s Skinny Puppy collection. Michael said that he tries to make the music that still holds strong to him, like Caustic Grip by Frontline Assembly; what he loved about these classic albums was the inventive sampling and atmospheric elements that are lost in today’s music. Rag Doll Blues uses an ensemble of custom shaped samples and horns that were not in the previous release, Harm’s Way. Another noticeable difference is the lack of guitars, which Michael says was not intentional. Up until the very end of the album he had been trying to place guitars in at least one track, but it just never worked out the way he wanted.

Another influence I was curious about was a strange Kate Bush feeling the new album had to me, which I find an infinitely beautiful addition to the sound. This is credited, Michael says, to the horn samples and the differences in timing. Tracks like Doll Parts really set this out from any tracks on the previous album. There is always an inherent fear when following up a debut album; will it sound too much like the last, will it just be a fancier version of the same songs, or will it be so completely different that fans will not like it? I shared my own fear of this, having recently released my debut album, and how I felt that most people in the genre simply just perfected the skills they had used on their first album and did not bother to venture out into different realms. In this respect I felt Rag Doll Blues was a perfect transition from Harm’s Way.

Dead When I Found Her has been labeled “Old School Industrial,” which to me is kind of an off putting label. Michael said that he did not mind this label at all because that is what he likes, old school industrial. He also expressed that he did not care for these subgenre labels and that since he has grown up he did not have the patience to keep up with the Aggros and the EBMs. We also discussed what a lot of people call “horror industrial,” and how the original label was a pretty great representation of the music, which at the time was based around horror movie samples.

I asked Michael if he planned to go out on the road and support the album with touring. He replied that when he was younger, like me, the urgency of leaving town and being on the road was far more abundant, but now as he holds a more permanent job and has had these experiences, the inclination towards a stage show has dwindled. He wished only that he would be able to release studio albums and have people respond well to them, and he said that if some of these shows came up, and he and his partner had time in their work schedules to take off, he would love to play live.

Having recently seen Suicide Commando up in Seattle, I brought up an interesting new implementation that I had observed – an Apple iPad on stage with live filtering and remixing. I asked if Michael had any plans to go out and buy any new hardware any time soon. He stated that he liked the idea of hardware synthesizers, and turning knobs is always fun, but in the end the software equivalent was good enough for his creativity. We discussed Ableton Live 8 and the difference between the DAWs that are out today (I personally favor Logic Pro Studio but understand the need to be comfortable in your creative environment.) We talked about how Ableton Live 9 was a mythical creature and seemed to be never coming out. Ironically, one day later the new features were leaked on the Ableton Forums – it was as if they were there listening to us, secretly stealing our hummus when we weren’t looking. Sneaky bastards.

Artoffact Records has been pushing Rag Doll Blues quite strongly, which is extremely good for Michael and Dead When I Found Her. We spoke about the release and how he had expected it to go versus how it was going now, which if you have not had the chance to check out any of the social media websites has been very well. Artoffact has really made it a point to focus on some of these newer bands and push them as far as they will go right away, to the point where the label executives contact me here directly and ask how it is going and how our dinner went – you can tell they are just huge nerds like the rest of us. Michael said that the reception of the new album has been more than he could hope for, and that all of the promotion around the album’s release took him by surprise at first. There is something to be said about a label that is upfront with you and in frequent contact.

As dinner wrapped up and the conversations centered on the local scene and the frustrations over finding the right MIDI controller, we took to the wet streets and went our separate ways. Reflecting now, I see Dead When I Found Her as not only a local act that has been paving the way here in Portland for band like my own, but has been paving the way worldwide. There are not too many albums that have come out in the last year, that I would consider under the Industrial umbrella, that have moved me emotionally like Rag Doll Blues. There are a lot of nostalgic elements in that record that really hit a chord for my old school nerd love for Horse Rotorvator that I had forgotten about. It is a great album, from start to finish and I encourage you to listen to it if you have not.

Distorted Memory - Temple of the Black Star

Today saw the release of the new Distorted Memory singleTemple of the Black Star. Couple of things about this release: It’s free, it’s a work of pure art, and it is a prime example of what we need from industrial/electronic music in the here and the now. Presented in nine movements, Temple of the Black Star is what Distorted Memory has referred to as a ritual track (a collection of tracks mixed into one strong piece of art.) Needless to say there are lessons to be learned here kids, so go buy yourself some Mackie monitors and blast that shit as loud as you possibly can - it’s the only way to summon the dark souls back to the earth.

In all seriousness though - best thing I have heard in months, it is free and you have no excuse to not get it right now: It was self released

Review: reakt[ion] - Attrition (demo)


reakt[ion] - Attrition (2011)

I have personally known Wes from reakt[ion] for many years now and have had the privilege of watching this project grow from the ground up.Like any project, there are many phases and years of progression, and I am happy to say that reakt[ion]’s first demo ever “Attrition” has been well worth the wait. There are many elements in “Attrition” that are perfect examples of what is to come from reakt[ion] – hard driving bass lines, epic ensembles, and socio-political expression!

The first track “Sinner” has come in and out of the project from the very beginning – the Harbinger Mix however is a much more advanced and developed version. Solid bass driven song, it makes for a good dance floor track. This is one of those tracks that is straight up aggrotech, in a very good way. Samples, stabbing religious statements, and epic string lines that come in and out in waves of intensity.

Following “Sinner” is another hard hitting aggrotech song “Human,” this one however, has a less traditional 4-on-the-floor drum/snare combo – which I like a lot because it still holds a good dancing rhythm. There is definitely a message in reakt[ion]’s music, and I think that is very important to good, meaningful industrial.

The demo as a whole is very satisfying because there is a lot of varying sounds and influences with one central sounds and theme. I believe that the future of reakt[ion] is something to be carefully watched. There is a lot of time and effort put in to the production and recording of the songs and you can definitely tell. When you listen to this demo, keep in mind that his is the first printed demo from reakt[ion]. It’s pretty amazing and I believe it is underrated.

You can listen to the entire EP on the reakt[ion] bandcamp page

Official Website: http://www.reakt-ion.com

C-Lekktor: Japanese Limited Edition

C-Lekktor Announces New CD and Japanese Limited Edition: 

Cop International artist C-Lekktor announce a new CD and an expansive Japanese Limited edition to include a whole hell of a lot of remixes by such artists as Grendel, Cygnosic, Studio-X, Detroit Diesel, God Destruction, Psyense, Alien Vampires, Acylum, Fabrik-c, Antythesys, Preemptive strike 0.1. Terrorkode, Cedigest, Extinction Front, and Scamp Revolver!

Review: Nahtaivel - Midnight Sessions

Midnight Sessions (Wave Records)

Check out Nahtaivel on Facebook or at their Official Website

I received an actual hard copy of this CD in the mail, which is always an awesome thing!

The first thing I will say about Nahtaivel is that it is definitely a very progressive blend of Black Metal strain and current industrial, which is a really good thing in my book. I was a big Black Metal fan when I was younger, so a lot of the influences for Midnight Sessions hit home for me. I like it a lot.

I was a little shell-shocked at first by the lack of “Four on the floor” beats, but I think that is what makes this album so great, is that it is very untraditional in that sense. I hear a wide array of influences from both worlds, and I think that really makes the style stand out from what is being released today. There are a lot of sounds that I haven’t heard used in a long time within the more Terror-y stuff – fat moog synths, detuned chords, vocal styles that change (oh burn!)

Another thing that I like is that there is a different style presented as the album goes on. There is a little bit for everyone who likes spooky music. It reminds me a lot of Alien Vampires at times.

The music itself, on a composition level, is very detailed. A lot of layers, a lot of changing elements that work really well together. There is also a lack of structure that works really well for the style (it’s not verse chorus verse chorus stuff – lots of break downs and goodies in there.)

Then, with tracks like “Audition” I hear a lot of Velvet Acid Christ mixed with some classically awesome robotic vocals (which I sometimes frown upon because it is a little over played now a days – but his tone is really nice – reminds me of Columbine.)

There are also tracks like “The Wheel of Vengeance” that are slow and brutal, a lot of hardcore influence there with the break down beat. I like it a lot. It plays to my interests.

The title track, “Midnight Sessions.” is by far my favorite thought. Right out of the gate there is this super epic saw-synth pattern, which is the foundation of the song, that you hear and go – oh, this is going to be a really good song. “Midnight Sessions” is like if Dimmu Borgir made industrial in the Godless Savage Garden era, really well. I would imagine this song going over really well live. It starts out pretty epic – but as the song builds in itself, it gets more and more brutal. At about the 2:45 mark, it really comes to full force. Very very good.

I would suggest this album for anyone who likes Black Metal, horror industrial, TerroEBM, Aggrotech, Dimmu Borgir, Velvet Acid Christ, etc. If you are like me, and you go dancing a lot, and you’re used to pretty traditional 4-on-the-floor industrial, I would also suggest giving it a second listen to get it to really sink in. YOUR STUCK IN YOUR WAYS GOOD SIR! EXPAND! But for you there is a track that will stroke your techno generation ego - “Bugs” is a solid dance beat.