Music Reviews



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Artist: Hikikomori
Title: Far From The World
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
Evidently, Hikikomori translates to 'pulling away, being confined,' a term coined to describe social recluses. As such, the title of the album seems fitting. More importantly, the music fits with the title and band name. The label describes this album thus: 'To make it short and simple, this is a dark ambient/noise gem.' The packaging is minimal and the album consists of nine unnamed tracks. Hikikomori walks us through a dark industrial wasteland of disconcerting soundscapes. Track 1 is solid dark ambient, but then we quickly move into noisier realms. Track 3 sounds like we are tromping along with the artist through a factory. At times it gets a bit more quiet, only to bring you back into the noise. On track 6 we get an interesting mix of low wailing, digital noises that sound somewhat like a large flock of chirping birds, all crushed beneath a series of drones reminiscent of Lustmord's 'Paradise Disowned.' At times it seems to get a bit repetitive though, as on track 8. However, overall this is solid noisy dark ambient.
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Artist: ][|][
Title: Iter
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
As with the other discs in this package, I had not heard of this band and was somewhat at a loss as to what it even was called. The label explains that 'L'Idiot Du Village now becomes ][|][, and releases its first album under this name, based on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project. His heavy ambient static noise creates a perfect soundtrack where colliding neutrons take you into the hypnotic loop of a tokamak until the world's collapse.' I must say that this disc was not quite up to the level of the others in the package. Although it was interesting drone, the shifts were a bit too subtle for my tastes, seeming like a series of unrelated tonal experiments in which the drones remained somewhat static. Tracks ended abruptly, adding to the feeling of discrete tracks with little to hold them together. It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't nearly as interesting as some of the other recent releases by Steelkraft Manufactory. The album weighs in at around 44 minutes.
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Artist: Thar Mapsal Program (@)
Title: Space
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
The label describes this album as 'uncompromising old-school industrial-plasmical-noise, a gathering of 9 improvised titles recorded on a 2-track recorder between 2005 & 2010, somewhere between early TG and Coil who'd have taken up on electric guitars.' In some ways this is actually pretty accurate. I really didn't know what to make of this album at first. Some songs, such as 'Motherfucking Grace,' do evoke Throbbing Gristle (for example, 'Discipline' and 'Subhuman') with plenty of repetitive screaming that seems to mix TG with power electronics. 'La Poule Canon' also takes a similar track, but others wade into the Coil side of the pool with songs like Vahine evoking 'Stolen and Contaminated Songs era Coil and Fish sounding like it could be an outtake from Musick to Play in the Dark. Then we get a nice blast of harsh noise from 'Transcarnation.' In some ways I think that Thar Mapsal Program is at their best with electronic weirdness rather than the screaming. This is pretty good improv experimental which, according to the liner notes, was recorded in one take with no post-production or overdubs. What that tells me is that this would be a great live show. Worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 53 minutes.
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Artist: Exworks (@)
Title: Monade
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Exworks, but the label describes this album as 'Ritual ambient, hypnotic drones and ambient noise compose this apocalyptic journey to the Source of Everything.' This is the first thing I listened to in the package from Steelkraft Manufactory and all I have to say is that the other four discs have a lot to live up to. This is absolutely amazing noisy dark ambient. I could see this alongside the best works from Malignant Records and Cyclic Law. Hypnotic drones mix with static and noise to create a wonderful soundscape that draws you in. The closest thing I have heard recently is Theologian (Navicon Torture Technologies new project which is a significant departure from his old NTT material). My copy is 39 out of 100. Don't be number 101 ' if you like your dark ambient extra dark this is one to take a chance on. This album weighs in at around 50 minutes.
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Artist: Young Hunting (@)
Title: Night of the Burning
Format: 12"
Label: Blackest Ever Black (@)
Rated: *****
Night of the Burning, the second album from the Scottish duo of Marc Dall and Alex Ander, is a voyage into the darkness; ink-black and without landmark. This place seems pre-historic, archetypal; a dark dream of the id, subconscious, yearning, erotic, irrational, bestial.

Night of the Burning is a train-ride through the post-industrial continuum, bridging the gap from early Throbbing Gristle to latter era Coil, mainly in spirit rather than sonics. Not afraid of chanting, or grinding plasticine beats, this is Moon Musick, pagan music for the modern day, to be enacted in slimy, grimy warehouses, before venturing out into the forest clearing. It is ancient and modern, it is timeless and ritualistic. This ritual invokes strength, bloodlust, a mutant offspring of Boyd Rice's Iron Youth. It is strong, iron-willed, resolute.

Sonically, they never miss a beat, everything recorded in glorious hi-fi. The strings could have come from the Berlin Philharmonic, and the beats could be on a Bjork record. Everything is lovingly, glowingly captured, and expertly etched and packaged by Blackest Ever Black, a label i can't wait to hear more from. The thing which i was most pleasantly surprised to notice is how many miniscule moments there are on Night of the Burning, seamlessly sequenced and segued, sometimes on the same track. Seemingly unrelated moments arise, often undetected, until it is staring you in the face, fully formed. There is dream logic at work here, they have created a world in which to lose one's' self.

This album can be a harrowing listen; the first time found me curled up, clutching my knees, hypnotized into a catatonic gnosis, but unable to sleep. It recalls madness and passion, and the rampant genre disregard means this won't be for everyone, but for those that are beyond boundaries, that dislike boxes and tags, that legitimately want to get off the grid and off the map, then i encourage you to take the plunge. Rare it is to find such adventurous music captured with such clarity and focus, and the fact that this is only their second album, with a third primed to drop sometime this spring, means this is band is hungry. They are fighting, they have something to say.

Night of the Burning is magickal, mighty, dark, and holy.
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