There may be a decline in sales of new albums vs “catalogue” material, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t new music to discover if you know where to look.
2016 in Review:
248: Tracks (Jan)
In fact, there has been an utter torrent of new music to begin 2016 – so for the second month running this will be a twenty track list (to give you an idea of how much worthwhile stuff there is, I’ve held over ten to next month already in addition to this lot).
Track of the Month
I have to say that I thought SVIIB were pretty much over as soon as it was announced Benjamin Curtis had succumbed to cancer a few years back – but it turns out that his bandmate Alejandra Deheza had chosen to continue working on the songs that they had started on before his death. As it turns out, this was a very good choice, as the new, and last SVIIB album is absolutely exceptional. At times full of love, grief or both, for the most part it is Alejandra celebrating the life that was had, particularly on the frankly fucking amazing opener Ablaze, with multiple tracks of her voice making up part of the core melody, and then at points the surging rhythm just drops out to add devastating emphasis to her lyrics. The title is entirely appropriate – this song absolutely blazes with love and defiance, and it’s testament to how good the rest of the album is that this song doesn’t simply tower over it all.
Let All The World Believe
From their first full album in eleven years – and after the faintly disappointing, by all accounts, Shoot EP last year – this track sees the rejuvenated band roaring back. There is a deceptively gentle electronic intro, before an army of chugging guitars collapse through the ceiling, and Cameron Heacock’s bellowing, snarling vocals are back on point too. Yes, it’s a nod back to The War of Art, and if the rest of the album is following suit, bring it on.
The Sheffield-based industrial/EBM project returns with their first new material of 2016, with a punishing EBM workout and a sarcastic, sneering take on the idea of being a good “citizen”. This is brutal stuff, too – listened to loud, it has an impressive bass depth (and a kick drum effect that leaves your ears ringing on headphones), while the samples once again dovetail perfectly with Meat Cassette’s striking video visuals. They play Resistanz later this month, and if you’ve not seen them yet, make sure you catch them.
Commitment to Complications
After the measured punch of the Anagnorisis 7″ before Christmas (which it turns out will be on the new album), it is perhaps no surprise that Rhys Fulber has produced the entire second album with the band. Transitions is the second track unleashed from the new album, and it’s another level again. The beat is pure hardcore punk, at least for the first half of the track, and Sara’s vocals seem even more raw than before, but given more space in the mix. The breakdown, though, is really impressive – the beat changes tack, with the hammering synths instead controlling the pace for the remainder of the short track. From their beginnings to this, in, what, three years? This is accelerated evolution.
A track from a previous release by this Chicago post-punk band was Track of the Month here a year ago, and this new EP nears those heights once again. The lead song on this EP is a doomy charge, with vocals delivered just on the right side of “cool disinterest” and some lovely guitar FX going to, too.
Torn Realities EP
It’s been a really, really long time since Rotersand last put out new music (aside from their rework of Truth is Fanatic). But happily, their return this week, with a new album to come later in the year, confirms that they have lost none of their knack for great electro-industrial. The lead track to the new EP seems rather understated to begin with, a beat that is almost apologetic, skulking in the background, until everything drops and a chorus bursts from the shadows that harks back to Rotersand of old while still managing to sound fresh.
Drain The Reservoir
Drain The Reservoir 7″
Concrete Lung return for 2016 with a new 7″ (and download) single, one new song and intriguingly a cover of the legendary Swans track Cop. The A-side is an ugly, snarling beast (in a good way, of course), with an unexpectedly catchy chorus, while the take on Cop is exactly as I’d expect it to be – grinding and heavy, like being beaten with a club over the head in slow motion for five minutes.
Noise rock/post-hardcore stylings, apparently, produced by Steve Albini? Count me in. This delivers *exactly* on that description, as it happens – a sweaty, punishing power comes straight out of the speakers at you, with a dirty bassline, drums that are pummelled rather than hit, guitars tuned and fuzzed to destroy. Sounds to me somewhere between Girls Against Boys and Helmet, which needless to say is a sound I clearly needed in my life.
Thanks to Marc Church for the headsup on this one – a Slovakian act heavily influenced by FLA, Puppy, Heavy Water Factory and even newer stuff like DWIFH. So potentially you’d know what to expect from those pointers – dark, atmospheric industrial riddled with samples and vocals that are anything but the focal point. War is also notable for being the latest in a long line of tracks that sample one of the better known Charles Manson speeches (“What do you want to call me a murderer for, I never killed anyone…”), that has included HWF, Demians and others…
More nu-EBM, if you will, with definite nods to other artists. Pontus StÃ¥lberg (Spetsnaz) mastered this belting track that lasts less than three minutes, and never deviates from a strict EBM tempo, complete with sloganeering hooks (“LIVE BREATHE FUCK FEEL”) and a beat to stomp to in the clubs. A full album is coming soon, too.
Human Remains 7″
Hot on the heels of their outstanding album Definite Structures (#2 in amodelofcontrol.com’s albums of 2015, #1 on I Die: You Die’s albums of 2015), HFF return with a new seven-inch that takes the brillance of that albums and continues with the same concepts. After all, why try and alter a winning formula? So, the vocal samples still have this from-old-school-TV quality, the beats and synths have a stabbing, jarring quality to them that makes them sound so, so aggressive, even while Susan Subtract has toned down the vocals here for a more…soulful approach.
After a couple of years of vanishing acts, middling, and chaotic, messy albums, focus appears to have returned. This track has the feel of a riotous bar fight – a sampled punk beat, distorted electronics, MC Ride bellowing over the top, all kinds of effects elbowing their way in from all sides, and by the end, the sense that the danger and thrill of Death Grips in the first place has returned.
Not for the first time with new Deftones material, there has been a significant delay to the new album. Initially expected last autumn, it finally will appear in early April. The first track released from it, too, suggests that the band are continuing on the impressive resurgence since Diamond Eyes six years ago (!), with this track a glowering, spacey wonder that hits hard with metallic breakdowns, and Chino Moreno unleashes nearly every weapon in his vocal armoury along the way. As is often the way, the lyrics are deeply cryptic, but I suspect Chino prefers it this way.
Confessions of a Romance Novelist
I was really not a fan of the early singles from this project – even though “on paper” it appeared to be something that I’d really like. But listening to them as part of a full album, they make much more sense. Catherine Ann Davies (for she is The Anchoress) has an ear for a lovely melody, and a whipsmart tongue used for a litany of clever put-downs and couplets throughout the album, while the co-production of the album with Paul Draper (the vocalist from the much-missed Mansun) definitely assists with the busy arrangements being successful. Appropriately for an artist with a PhD in Literature and Queer Theory, there is a reading list in the liner notes, but they aren’t a pre-requisite to enjoy what is a fascinating, curious album – and this poppy, almost jaunty single (although the lyrics suggest otherwise) is something of a trojan horse to pull you into the rest of the album.
Death Takes A Holiday
Know Where To Run
Knowing Adamson’s back catalogue – a selection of songs where “cinematic” is the obvious description, and indeed most act as soundtracks to imaginary films, not to mention a morbid, pitch-dark sense of humour permeating everything – I thought I knew what to expect when I saw this title on the tracklisting of his latest album (out this past week). But, it turns out, I was very wrong. Rather than embracing death, this jaunty, summery jazz number instead turns out to be Adamson giving death the finger and telling him to fuck off and take a holiday for a few months. A somewhat unexpected turn of events, really – and I’m now curious as to what his gig this week (Thursday, Islington Assembly Halls) will bring… (also worth reading: a short interview in The Guardian the other week…)
Now six years since last album The Edge of Certainty, Yann Faussurier returns at last with a new album, and despite the curious, quasi-orchestral intro track, the signature core of the sound Iszoloscope is still present. Ghostly effects squall through beats that rumble and build and build, while distorted electronics tear through the holes. I’ve always thought that Yann’s take on industrial-influenced, noisy electronics is a unique one, and this album, even after some time away, reinforces that point once again – also, it’s his best album since the masterful Au Seuil Du Néant.
Tracks of Wire
A band there has been a buzz about in London circles for a while now – they are an incendiary live act – makes me surprised that the incoming album is their debut. I’ve previously considered them to be a band of fiery intensity, barely taking a breath, so it’s surprising to find this song to be one born mainly of restraint, but that only makes the kick, when it comes, to hit the ears even harder. There is something of the dry sound of Shellac in particular here, but without the raw hatred being quite so marked.
I really rather loved last album The Sun Comes Out Tonight (their best album in some considerable time), so when I saw Richard Patrick saying to Billboard.com that this new album was going to be “experimental” and bringing a “new industrial”, I was concerned. Especially after Take Me To Heaven was, well, alright, but sure as well wasn’t doing anything that was billed. This track, though, is much more interesting. A single refrain is repeated for a considerable time, building the beat behind, and when you think it’s going to crash in…it wrongfoots you, and doesn’t half sound like NIN when it does kick in. Elsewhere, it takes quiet/loud dynamics to extremes, and certainly shows Patrick playing around with what he can do with his band’s sound. And like that, I’m intrigued with what the album may bring after all.
Thanks for Jacek at Storming The Base for the headsup on this one – a Finnish Black Metal-meets-prog-meets-fuck-knows-what-else band who have released a really, really impressive new album this week. I don’t know a great deal about the band – and can understand even less (Finnish is a language I understand none of) – but what I do know is that they are heading off in uncharted directions. Lengthy songs sinuously move between styles like classical movements, ambient drone, blasting black metal, noodling prog, elegaic post-rock, but all come together to bring to mind the idea of a colossal gathering storm on the horizon, the kind of one where the atmosphere starts to have a certain odd hue, and the air crackles with electricity.
Field Agent Demo
Finally this month, one of the first releases from a new LA act who – from the first couple of tracks I’ve heard – make epic, industrial soundscapes that, I suspect, will sound fucking amazing live. There are military/conspiracy theory samples within the tracks, there are ominous synths, there are groovy dancefloor-bound rhythms. The first act even remotely in the same ballpark that this brings to mind is Feindflug, but there is a very different kind of aerial threat here, and indeed musically Remain Silent may be a better pointer. Anyway, if there is an album coming, I want a copy of this.
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