Music Reviews



Steel Hook Prostheses: Calm Morbidity

 Posted by Emanuele Ratti (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Jun 08 2017
Artist: Steel Hook Prostheses
Title: Calm Morbidity
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Steel Hook Prostheses (SHP for short) is a (well-known) heavy electronics/dark ambient duo from Texas.
In this specific experimental context bands have usually quite sophisticated concepts and stories behind their musical and graphical aspects. SHP is no exception. As you can read in several interviews here and there in the immense world-wide web, one of SHP’s member thought about such a peculiar name because of the time he spent in a Veteran’s Hospital, where his mom used to work back in the 1970s. Veteran’s hospitals ain’t ordinary hospitals, and this guy had plenty of time to observe atrocities and disfigured people. Therefore, most of SHP discography is really about medical stuff.
‘Calm Morbidity’ is no exception. A quick look at the songs titles prepares the listeners to a full-immersion into freaks (“Cyclopia”), confusion induced by drugs (“Doused with acids”), uncomfortable sensations (“Paresthesia”), etc. In other words, this album is about everything that can go wrong in the medical context. The ‘heavy electronics’ performed by SHP is not particularly original, but I think that in this genre failing in originality is not necessarily a vice. You have to do a lot of chaos, but you have to be good. You have to find a way to drag the listener into your own nightmares: this is the only important aspect of this music. And SHP are damned good. Their music shifts from a power electronics-based structure (“Hand of glory”, “Piss prophet”, “The medics” and in particular “Strangury”) to dark-ambient (“Doused with acid”, “Paresthesia”, “Sulphur Drip”). The dark ambient I’m talking about reminds me some Cold Meat industry-based acts such as Nordvargr or Necrophorus. But there is something more, like Lustmord (in particular “Purifying fire”) or some stuff produced by Aural Hypnox (Arktau Eos and Zoat Aon). The power-electronics parts are, let me say, more ‘modern’ and elaborated than classic projects in this type of music. The voice is distorted and modified way more than usual (take Genocide Organ to the extreme), but there is not a typical ‘noise-wall’, especially because of the dark ambient inserts and in general because it is really ‘synth-based’ (I would say less analog, more digital, but I might be wrong) rather than just grounded in the use of the typical home-made instruments of the noise scene. As I just said, it is not particularly original, but the way they combine different influences is remarkable. ‘Calm Morbidity’ is everything I can ask from an industrial album; violence and mystery at the same time: a perfect combination of power-electronics and dark ambient. Highly recommended.
I have to mention that this album is produced by Malignant Records. It goes without saying, Malignant Records has become one of the most important label for this type of music. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, if you like power electronics, dark ambient or death industrial more in general, then you can buy any Malignant’s release and you won’t be disappointed.

Stolen Light: Voices

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 08 2017
cover
Artist: Stolen Light (@)
Title: Voices
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Inner Demons
Rated: *****
I have been familiar with Brett Lunceford's work as Stolen Light and Goose since the 1990's when I became obsessed with collecting the entire Troniks catalog. I then also began to discover his label Zaftig research which seemed to cease regular activity in about 2003. The label did continue to release its Christmas compilation until 2008, after that the label went quiet as did the projects with the exception of a few releases here and there on labels like Phage Tapes and taalem.

At this point, we come to the year 2017 which seemed fairly hopeless with everything going on in the political landscape. Early in the year though Dan Fox who runs the label Inner Demons announces he will be releasing some new work from some projects who have been dormant for some time. Projects like Fox's own Loss, 15 Degrees Below Zero and Stolen Light were announced in the new release lineup and hope had been restored to the world.

Stolen Light takes advantage of "field" recordings whether it be from television or just being out in an environment where a lot of activity is going on. In previous releases, the sounds surrounding these recordings can either be very noisy or subtle ambiance. With "Voices", Brett has utilized an approach that is somewhere on both spectrums. The first track Paranoia sounds like what a social anxiety attack feels like with the voices being clear in the beginning and the static building as time goes on. The noise at the end does almost fully envelope the voices by but they can still be heard in the background with no clear definition of what is going on.

The second track Communication And Commerce leads in with a much more dense layer of people chattering and talking in a loud restaurant or bar. The added noise on top is much more subtle this time but it works very well with this track. It is difficult to get good recordings in a crowded space with lots of sounds but Brett somehow manages to pull it off and make it interesting to listen to at the same time.

This is a great return of an understated artist in the experimental noise scene. My only complaint is the release is too short but since the label only does releases in the 3" CDr format it makes perfect sense. I hope to see Brett return to more long-form releases and there has been a rumor of resurrecting Zaftig Research, even if only for the Christmas Compilations.
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Artist: Hey Exit (@)
Title: Caudata
Format: Tape
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Be careful if you decide to rise up the volume to catch the words by the disembodied voices, which seem to come out of a encrypted radiophonic transmission, while your mind is maybe getting ready to flow into the lulling stillness in the short opening track "Olm", as Brooklyn-based sound artist Brendan Landis aka Hey Exit will unexpectedly ignite a sonic blast that could let your eardrums bleed on the following "Irises", the harshest part of this excellent release, whose extreme and somehow magnetic virulence seems to be a preparatory storm to fertilize the listening soil for upcoming tunes. Residual electric charges and occasional muffled thunders fade out while the ambient layers, some chimes and a warming rising guitar tone begin to enfold listener in a soothing silent symphony on "But Is Not Consumed", a sort of anaesthetic following the previously described sonic fury. The metallic squeaking of sharpened blades and some scratches on scorched guitar chords are the elements that slightly disturb the static catalepsy of "So They Spoke", the track at the end of side A. The length of the last track I described is the same of "Small Burials", the almost ethereal mist which opens side B, leading to the catchy nostalgic sonorities of "Twin Moss", getting more and more "strangling" and estranging by the final short electric storm. The only moment where the listener can perceive a silent diving line is the one between these two tracks and the last "Lanterns, Chrysanthemum", the longest one where Hey Exit builds a sort of quiet cinematic drone over pulverised occasional resounding entities. In spite of the seasoned nuance of the sound rendered by the hissing of the tape, "Caudata" is a fascinating listening experience, including some field recording that Landis took in the desert of Arizona at the very end.

Zos Kia / Coil: Transparent

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 26 2017
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Artist: Zos Kia / Coil
Title: Transparent
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Now considered as almost a piece of history, "Transparent" documents the first steps of this project as Zos Kia coexisted with Coil as John Balance was a member of both projects and Peter Christopherson was a guest of Zos Kia. The two bands performed together and some critics hinted at this cassette as the first release by Coil arguing that Zos Kia has the same relationship with Coil than eLph i.e., a way to explore slightly different territories by the same band. As Balance and Christopherson were still members of Psychic TV, this material is on the path of the first industrial music where a great part of the work was in research of something which was somewhat disturbing.
The first part of this release, credited to Zos Kia, features the voice of Alisteir Crowley in "Sicktone", the screams of Min in "Poisons" and the voice of Charles Manson in "Truth" as a mean to create an uncomfortable setting as they evidently aim to confront the audience with the deepest fears of our culture. While this first side of the record has is rooted in a noisy musical framework, the second side, credited to Zos Kia / Coil, marks a change of direction as "Sewn Open" is based on the drones that will be the skeleton of the Coil's first releases and the subsequent track more or less continue in this path, denoting a greater attention to sound details with the field recording of Silence and Secrecy (Section) and the loops of "Stealing The Words" until, in "On Balance", there's the introduction of drum and a clean audio that sounds as the introduction to "Scatology".
This reissue features also two bonus tracks credited to Ake which was the project prior to Zos Kia featuring Min Kent, John Gosling, and Matt Cope: "No Mas" and "Rape Live @ Equinox" whose musical framework is based on the impact of noise and the hypnotic voice of Min.
The history of Coil is so important to be a key element in the judgment of this release so now this music represents the first attempts to remove shock tactics from industrial music moving towards more complex musical settlement. History.

Trepaneringsritualen: Deathward, To The Womb

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Mar 12 2017
cover
Artist: Trepaneringsritualen (@)
Title: Deathward, To The Womb
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Cold Spring is the reissue of the first 12" of Trepaneringsritualen which is based upon an invocation of Babalon and a rendition of the black flame, the cataclysm which is the other side of love. Another ritual work done during a winter solstice is present as a bonus track.
The distorted voices of "The Birth Of Babalon" start this release and introduce the listener into a sonic environment where almost almost all sound are below the midrange region and this creates an oppressive effect. "Deathward, To The Womb" is a longer and more defined track where sounds are sparse and emerge from a bass drone. "Osiris, Slain & Risen" returns to the structure of the first track but reveals a better use of the limitations of low-fi while "She Is Flame Of Life" is noisier and more aggressive as it uses higher frequencies while "Sacrament & Crucifixion", with his use of a dull beat, is almost ritualistic in his repetitiveness which develops in "All Hail The Black Flame" where the scream introduces the listener toward the end of the original release. The bonus track of this reissue, "I Remember When I Was God", is better produced and has a clearer sound which enhance the quieter and meditative moments of the track when the distorted voice doesn't appear.
Even if this release is relatively canonical in his musical development, it has an evocative property which take the most out a minimal palette of sound. All fans of classic industrial music will enjoy this release.


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