Music Reviews

M. Slagle: The Endangered Consciousness

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Jan 07 2019
Artist: M. Slagle (@)
Title: The Endangered Consciousness
Format: CD
Label: Spent Decibel (@)
Rated: *****
M. Slagle (M for Matt) has been involved over the years with projects such as Side 3, Negativehate, Navicon Torture Technologies, Diathoron, Sullen Rail, Thevetat, Theologian and Dracaris. He's had several releases previously, but this is the second under his own name on the Spent Decibel label. I know that some of the projects he's been involved with are of the dark ambient/noise/power noise genres, but here on 'The Endangered Consciousness' it's electro-industrial all the way. The music (consciously or unconsciously) owes a debt to acts such as Frontline Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Haujobb and the like, while not attempting to imitate them. The thirteen tracks on this album remind me of a time in the 1990s when a whole new crop of electro-industrial artists were entering the scene, such as Index, Fenton Feckler< Gridlock, Battery, Crocodile Shop, Heavy Water Factory, Razed in Black, and too many more to mention. The music is predominantly synth-sequencer driven, full of old-school sounds that are going to take you back a couple of decades. It's the kind of industrial style you just don't hear much of anymore. One of the highlights of the album is a fairly faithful cover of Maryann Faithfull's "Love Hates" from 1995. (Haven't heard that one in a while.) Slagle's vocals are pretty decent in that raspy electro-industrial mode, also adding some atmospheric backing "ah ahh aaahs". Although that isn't the only song with vocals, it would have been nicer if there were more throughout the album. The tracks are certainly short enough to warrant them (none being excessively drawn out instrumentals) and likely would have infused a more human aspect into the synthetic machinery. Even though some of those aforementioned influences spend large chunks of their albums in instrumental impetus and atmosphere, most of their tracks feature vocals. It's the glue that sticks subconsciously in the mind of the listener and deserves a more prominent place in the music. Besides the elaborate synth sequencing, the crunchy beatwork also deserves a mention. 'The Endangered Consciousness' is one of those albums that you may have to listen to more than a couple of times to appreciate, and I know that in this age of instant gratification it may be asking a lot, but still there is some reward here.

Zeni Geva & Steve Albini: Maximum Implosion

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
 Edit (10730)
Nov 25 2018
Artist: Zeni Geva & Steve Albini (@)
Title: Maximum Implosion
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
This double cd collects all pieces between Zeni Geva and Steve Albini: the EP "Nai-Ha" and "All Right, You Little Bastards!" a live recording in Tokyo and Osaka. The contribution of Steve Albini, to the heavy form of rock which is the mark of KK Null, is the clean and dry sound which is typical of his recordings and the insertion of more meditative moments in the assault of the japanese band.
This could easily be heard in the second section of "Autobody" or the first section of "Angel" which features also the guitar of Steve Albini. The other track are based on a vision of heavy metal where hammering rhythm and distortion create a sonic wall that never degrades into noise. As a bonus the two tracks of "Superunit", with Albini on guitar, are included where there's a perceptible shift toward the indie rock form which is typical of Albini's music so it's slower and more varied. The second cd is a live with Albini as a member of Zeni Geva featuring also track from the first cd and where there's a more energy and less sound details with the result that is enthralling in some moment in a peak by the cover of "The Model" by Kraftwerk in which with acuity sounds as a Zeni Geva track while retaining the pop allure of the original.
This is a reissue of material that has never produced a school or a genre but has had various little influences in a wider musical perspective than heavy metal and indie rock. It was never ground breaking but has that kind of personality that from the first notes, the listener knows who are the players. Absolute respect.

Chmcl Str8jckt: s/t

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Sep 24 2018
Artist: Chmcl Str8jckt (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD + Download
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Chmcl Str8jck (Chemical Straightjacket for the phonetically challenged) are the electro-industrial duo of Kevin Snell (keys, programming, vocals) and Mike Cairoli (guitar) from somewhere in northern New Jersey. Hey! I used to be from somewhere in northern New Jersey, but nearly a lifetime ago... Anywho, this self-titled 8-track album (that's an album of 8 tracks, not released on 8-track tape, although that could have been interesting) is their debut , released July 4, 2017. Yeah, I know we're really getting to this one late; it was one of the many that sat at Chain D.L.K. Central (Marc's domain) until enough material piled up that it had to be doled out to us lucky reviewers. So what have we got here? Well, this is pretty basic stuff with some good twists that comes across like a quirky sort of EBM (simple) without trying to be the next dancefloor killer. Effective but nothin' fancy synth programming and beats with str8t-ahead industrial guitar adhere to the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) rule. In the vocal and lyric department Snell co-opts Revco, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Jello Biafra, Skinny Puppy, etc., etc, with a sardonic sense of humor, which makes this thing seem to work better than it ought to. It's a horror-tinged cyber-punky sort of industrial with processed voice that is more spoken than sung, but somehow still works well. I saw the video for "Dressed to Kill" (the song that opens the album) and it's like Devo meet Ministry in Ed Gein's back yard. (No joke!) Some of it was filmed at a pole-dancing club called Platinum Dollz (Passaic, NJ) and although the vibe is uber-creepy misogynistic ritual killer stuff that might turn off some folks, for me it seemed ridiculously over the top enough to be chuckle-worthy. On the other hand, a different YouTube video of the band playing live proved to be somewhat of a yawn. Guess they need to work on their live presentation to kick it up a notch or three. The songs on the album still have a certain strange fascination though, although their next venture could probably use some diversity.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Notes from the Underground. Experimental Sounds Behind the Iron Curtain, 1968–1989
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Edition Iron Curtain Radio
Experimentation and progress doesn’t happen in a vacuum and it would be wrong to assume- as we maybe have- that while the West were experiencing an explosion of experimental composition, particularly electronic composition, that ‘behind the iron curtain’ remained a cut-off world still stuck in accordions, oompah brass bands and folk dancing. Of course nothing could be further from the truth, as this 2LP collection, consolidating no fewer than four different collation projects gathering together experimental music from the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia and East Germany demonstrates.

There’s a broad variety of styles here, all with electronic elements but sometimes only serving as bit players in more traditional band set-ups. There’s raw wave music with angry shouted vocals, courtesy of Der Demokratische Konsum. The track from Vágtázó Halottkémek has more than a shade of prog rock about it, while the catchy vocal proto-pop hook in A. E. Bizottság’s “Pek-Pek” is a proper earworm. Kilhet’s “Extract Of Concert Number 4” has the abstract soundworking, splicing and tape effect energy that sits it nicely alongside 60’s Radiophonic Workshop-style performance sonic mangling, while the short-but-sweet “Live in Petfi Csarnok” from Vágtázó Halottkémek is a bold and theatrical percussive workshop.

But the overriding mood for most of the tracks seems to be frustration, bubbling into genuine anger. In keeping with the underground, subversive nature of the music in its context, a lot of it feels decidedly punky in its make-up (though the notable exception of AG. Geige’s weird-kids-TV-music “Elektrische Banane” has to be mentioned).

Perhaps fittingly then, some of the sound quality is understandably lo-fi. “Krebs ohne Stuhl” and “Untitled” are examples of tracks with a decidedly tape-sourced sonic quality that no amount of high-quality mastering will completely remove.

Other tracks worth making a note of include the deep and sinister rumbling flows of Ziemia Mindel Würm’s ”Untitled” (the one track were sound quality really is a hindrance to overall effect). The industrial-pop of New Composers’ “Max-Industry” stands up well as one of the brighter moments, as does the quite forward-thinking (if oddly named) final track, Ornament & Verbrechen’s ”Der lÄchelnde Chinese”.

To be fair, it’s not without its weak moments too- Praffdata’s “Live in Remont, Warsaw” being an example of a track that perhaps didn’t warrant being exhumed.

It’s a fascinating collection and a great insight- more than a glimpse, a positive 86 minute extravaganza- into experimental sounds with strong connections yet also profound differences to what we Westerners might think of as a experimental music history.
Artist: Sigillum S
Title: The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization And Its Mutation Implications
Format: CD
Label: Transmutation LTD
Rated: *****
Sigillum S two years ago celebrated their 30th anniversary (one year later, because they started in 1985) by releasing three albums printed on CD, LP and tape. That moment was important for them not only because they raised the glasses to salute three decades of sonic terrorism and sound research, they also celebrated a new band member: Bruno Dorella. Bruno, owner of the label Bar La Muerte, is also member of the following bands: Bachi Da Pietra, Lava, OVO, Ronin and Wolfango. He started to play live with them but with the new album "The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization and Its Mutation Implications", it's the first time that we have the chance to check how he helped Eraldo Bernocchi and Paolo Bandera to redefine their sound. As usual, the titles of the new album are recalling to me the works of people who had an impact on visual arts or culture in general: I mean people like Ballard, Burroughs, Cronenberg, etc. We have titles like "Occult Storage For Pan-Dronic Glossolalia", "Wrong Proto - Matter Gravitation", "Genetically-Engineered Insects", "When Comets Become Organic Households", "Through The Endless Streams Of Satellite Euphoria", etc. Musically Sigillum S always evolved and if on their beginning their music could have been defined as ritualistic and industrial, since early 00's they started to include into their music also elements of the sound that they had on their side projects. Eraldo played and collaborated with many people such as Mick Harris, Bill Laswell, Tony Wakeford, to name few and explored different genres from dub to guitar drone (as on his album under the Blackwood moniker). Paolo with Sshe Retina Stimulants, NG5361, Komplet his other projects and collaborations always explored the folders of noise electronic sounds. In my opinion, the album where they started to redefine their sound has been "23/20". It was featuring sound contributions from long time Sigillum S collaborators as well from artists they estimate. People like: Bill Laswell, Toshinori Kondo, Professor Shebab, SH Fernando and WordSound, Martino Nicoletti, Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari, ZU, Xabier Iriondo, Ephel Duath, various members of Crisis , Mark Solotroff, Thomas Fehlmann, Gudrun Gut, Andrea Marutti, Claudio Agostoni and many others. Anyway, let's start to talk about the new album. On this one, we have a sort of orchestral sound effect as we have several kind of sound layers, as well as several influences and I hazard to say that we have also a sort of melodic structure that wasn't really used before. All these layers are dosed in the mix, creating the effect of a whole orchestra using unconventional sounds. The kind of rhythms, ambient sounds, noises, vocals may sound familiar, but they have been used in a different way. Take "Through The Endless Streams Of Satellite Euphoria", for example: we have a dub bass, synth treated bleeps, a semi dub drum (I might be wrong but this is one of the few times that Sigillum S are using a real drum) and then a trumpet like sound. The first time I listened to this track I immediately thought about 23 Skidoo and I don't remember I ever thought about them while listening to Sigillum S. Sigillum S have been ritualistic but they never been "funk" and this has been a great surprise. We have the tracks mostly based on drones and noise and we have the ones where rhythm has an important part and it could be a normal drum, a treated one mixed with synthetic beats, it doesn't matter, because the tracks evolve and change one from the other. This is another thing that I liked a lot: the variety of atmospheres and sounds. A perfect example of what I mean could be the closing track "Celestial Heliocentric Cultures", which is the one that I felt connected to the cover made by Petulia Mattioli, because it gives me the impression of being influenced by Tibetan music but played by a mutant which filtered it with industrial soundscapes. It's like the cover: a Tibetan monk walking on a metallic landscapes made by an unknown species. The album will be out on the 14th of September on CD, LP and tape.

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