Yesterday, on 12-February, /amodelofcontrol.com turned twenty years old. It was probably never expected to last too long: but instead, it inspired me to push on and write more, DJ more, and make friends across the world through music.
It’s not all been plain sailing, I’m not going to lie, but I’ve always said that as long as I continue loving doing it, I’ll keep going.
Thanks to you, the reader. The musicians that make music, the DJs that play music I want to here, those that contribute to requests for songs for future /Tuesday Tens. Without all of you, I might not do this.
So to mark that twenty years, here are twenty artists, albums, songs or events that have excited me over that time.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
I didn’t realise I needed “Angry Robot Music” in my life until I was pointed towards this band by the much-missed Music Non Stop, back in 2005. Transhuman, the first Cyanotic album proper, was the rekindling of a love affair with Chicago industrial. This was the new wave, part of the new breed of industrial coming out of the city after WaxTrax! had pretty much ended (and was resurrected later, of course).
Sean Payne’s own music, as well his curating of other music on compilations and other releases through his label Glitch Mode Recordings allowed me to discover a world of underground industrial I otherwise barely knew – and of course, I’ve ended up in Chicago regularly for Cold Waves over the past decade.
/Light It Up
Stromkern have been part of my musical life for this entire twenty-year span (and a bit more before this, too). But it was when the incendiary Light It Up was released, it hit me like a meteor. The worlds of hip-hop and industrial don’t always see eye-to-eye – although the crossover has become more common in recent years, from both sides – and Stromkern remain an unusually powerful example. Light It Up was written during the period post-9/11, where for many of the left, the escalation of Western military might was an appalling overreaction – and indeed the repercussions of this continue to be felt to this day. The album is a searing document of a time that seems so long ago, and there are few better political industrial albums, that’s for sure.
Then there was the live shows. I saw them once lighting up Infest in 2006, and then upon their unexpected return in 2022, at a similarly fiery show at Cold Waves in Chicago, where they were treated like returning heroes, and that was fully deserved.
/Edge of Dawn
/Anything That Gets You Through the Night
I’ve long been on record of my love of pretty much any work Frank Spinath is involved in – particularly his main band Seabound, and yes, I own that sprawling Everything box. Away from Seabound, though, he’s been involved in some fascinating projects – among them the cinematic Ghost & Writer with Jean-Marc Lederman, but most notably Edge of Dawn with Mario Schumacher.
Earlier Edge of Dawn material was good – OK, in the case of Black Heart, exceptional – but on Anything That Gets You Through the Night, it was flat-out brilliant. One of those magical albums where everything just works, both my wife and I adored this album when it came out, and we still do now. Call it Futurepop if you like, either way this kind of sound doesn’t get much better than this.
I can thank my friend Gen for recommending this band to me: sending me a link with a comment that simply said “London’s best live band”. This was back in 2013, and since then, I’ve seen them live eleven times, have bought their entire back-catalogue and interviewed Jimmy from the band for this site. They remain London’s best – and one of the loudest – live band, every time.
They have evolved a lot over that time, too. Broadly described as a psychedelic experimental rock band, that barely scratches the surface of their kosmiche, techno-influenced acid industrial prog-rock, which is as much as home writing space-influenced ambience as it is slamming electronic powerhouses.
Another recommendation came in my early time in Sheffield, even before I met my now wife. At the time, 65dos were a post-rock band who used glitchy electronics and were an awe-inspiring live band when I finally got to see them. Very much a word-of-mouth band in the early days, it wasn’t long before they became much-better known – and even supporting The Cure for a time – and this restless, innovative band quickly pushed their sound forward, at times sounding like an entirely different band, and their embracing of new technologies has seen them soundtracking the game No Man’s Sky, and creating music using algorithmic music and live coding techniques.
Another band recommended to me a year or two before Teeth of the Sea was the shoegazey electronic-rock of Blindness, a group that had one member familiar from past bands (Debbie Smith, of Echobelly and Curve among others), and a sound that pushed a lot of my buttons. That recommendation was of their first single Confessions – a song that eventually topped my /Countdown /2010s/ Tracks wrap of the decade. I never quite put my finger on what it was about Blindness that hooked me: but those forceful, dense songs and emotional turmoil struck a chord in what was a turbulent time in my life, and as is so often the way, music I loved was a welcome escape.
Public Service Broadcasting are one of those bands whose concept I can’t believe that no-one thought of before. Using recordings of the past to tell stories through the medium of music, what seems to be a dry concept initially is transformed by clever use of archive footage and deeply affecting songs. And while their masterwork remains The Race for Space – telling the story of the space race in nine songs (or ten if you include – as you should – the astonishing B-side Korolev), here, I’m going back to where I began with the band. Spitfire is a melancholic, but celebratory piece about the one piece of military hardware that arguably had a bigger hand in defending Britain than any other, and it’s soaring power had me rapt from the first seconds.
/Make Me Feel
Is there anything Janelle Monáe can’t do? An intriguing musician and rapper, a fabulous actor and a model, not to mention something of an LGBTQIA+ and polyamory icon, it’s easy to forget that her songs are quite great. But none of them come close to the hard-edged funk of the lead single to Dirty Computer: a song built on a rhythm of tongue-clicks and panting lust, and one that owes more than a bit to a certain Purple One. Before this song, Monáe was interesting. After the four minutes of the ravishing video, I was converted to the cause.
/Compensation for the Sound of Silence
This criminally overlooked album was released right at the tail end of 2009, and to this day I’ve still no idea how it wasn’t a bigger thing. Intricate, elegant electronic-based songs – I’d hesitate to call it synthpop, exactly – that had Richard Duggan’s rich vocals and thoughtful lyrics providing a counterpoint. There were twelve songs, at least half of which were utterly, utterly perfect, that depicted someone unsure of their place in the world and at points, rather sad. But it was beautiful music, that has remained a regular listen on my stereo. I know every word, because it’s one of those albums that speaks to me. I’ve felt those feelings, and it resonates so strongly. I just wish more people had heard it.
Like so many artists, I was late to Frank Turner. His earlier material – and his ceaseless live shows – I’d long heard about, but it wasn’t until England Keep My Bones that my attention was fully grabbed, and it never left me. England Keep My Bones is about his, and my, home country, and how it shapes us. It’s not really a critique, aside from of self, but what it is is an important set of songs about trying to make your own way, accepting your mistakes, and making things better for you and others.
Then there are the raucous live shows, where I get to sing my heart out with a crowd of like-minded people, to songs that make me laugh, smile and cry, and at the end of each show, I want to go back and do it again.
Like Turner, I’m a Wessex Boy by birth, but it’s the closing lines of Eulogy that sticks with me every single day:
“But on the day I die, I’ll say at least I fucking tried / That’s the only eulogy I need”
Another band I was really late to was Leeds band I LIKE TRAINS. A number of friends I’ve known for a long time are big fans, and quite why I never went and listened to them more I don’t know. But then, sometime around the beginning of lockdown, I heard A Steady Hand on BBC 6 Music. And something just clicked. This ominous, calm rage of David Martin’s vocal delivery, and the droning synths that coil like a mist around the squalling guitars and thumping drums. The album that followed, KOMPROMAT, was Martin’s disgust at the failures of the Western world over the past decade – of political inaction, of privilege, and misinformation, and it was enthralling. Live, too, they were fabulous.
A rare artist that both my wife and I adore is Seeming. Alex Reed – a modern music academic and literally the writer of the book on industrial – creates astounding songs that have something to say and transcend the idea of genre, instead using the tools relevant to the task. This site has awarded Seeming two tracks of the year, one album of the year (and a perfect 10 review) and that same album was then album of the past decade. A towering talent that sounds like no-one else and is exploring realms most nominally industrial artists apparently don’t know exist.
I’ve been listening to Swans since the mid-90s, and was rather overjoyed when Michael Gira unexpectedly reactivated the band not long after I moved back to London. Thus, I’ve been able to enjoy/endure multiple live Swans shows since – which are every bit as loud, powerful and gruelling as the legend always said they were, although my first one remains the best.
I’m well aware Swans are not for everyone, but there are parts of their discography that are among my most cherished records of all (particularly the bleak majesty of White Light From The Mouth of Infinity), and while my interest waned a bit last year (The Beggar was mostly OK, and the Chicago gig I saw last year was just dull, somehow), they remain a band I’ll continue to return to.
There are a number of artists that have returned to activity over the past twenty years from my youth, and one particular return inspired a few things. Clock DVA – the shadowy, experimental industrial group from Sheffield that wrote one of the first songs about the nascent internet (the stabbing nastiness of The Hacker), and came from a scene that also spawned Cabaret Voltaire, the Human League and Heaven 17 – were one of my obsessions when I first discovered industrial music, and when a handful of live shows were announced out of nowhere in 2011, I headed over to Antwerp for my first BIMFest, purely to see Clock DVA. That turned into regular visits to Antwerp and later Sint-Niklaas for the festival – I’ve now attended seven of them – and created a love of the region.
Clock DVA continue their experimental furrow, and recent album NOESIS is their best in ages.
The elegant cyberpunk/electronic/industrial of mind.in.a.box – telling a story that has now spanned seven albums, but with a heartwrenching emotional core unmatched by any of their peers – have had many admirers over the years, but their live shows literally left our jaws on the floor. Having retooled their entire sound to perform live – something they originally never intended to do – we first experienced it at Infest 2011, where they stole the show and our hearts with an awesome show that had us in tears at the sheer beauty of it. I’ve seen them since, too, but that first time…gosh.
I have my dad to thank for my love of Kraftwerk, and their austere, groundbreaking electronics. Even fifty years on from Autobahn (it is fifty later this year), the band’s imperial phase until the early eighties is unmatched for the way it helped push electronic music from a curio to being the centre of pop music.
So when they began doing their 3D shows, and announced a set of shows in Düsseldorf in early 2013, we decided to head over to Germany for just one night, to do the show. Travelling there might have been a trial, but it was worth all the stress and expense to see two hours of everything I’d ever wanted to hear/see live. The show was, naturally, perfection, and I still marvel that I was privileged to see it in their home town, eleven years on.
Cubanate are the only band to have reformed in recent times where I saw both their final show the first time around, and their first show post reformation. That last show was at the LA2 in December 1999, that first back being Cold Waves in Chicago in 2016. Cubanate were one of those industrial bands that really got me interested in the heavier side of the genre, where thundering bass-heavy beats supercharged the sound and made them sound amazing in clubs – as a DJ, dropping Oxyacetalene as the dancefloor goes nuts is a thrill that never gets old.
The most unexpected of all of the reformations, though, has been the recent reactivation of Brainiac. They rewired my brain when I first heard them – and experienced their astonishing live show – back in 1996, when I was not even at university, as they made sounds and songs I didn’t even know was possible. And, if you’ve known me any length of time, I’ll have played them at you at some point or another.
The death of Tim Taylor just year later stopped the band in it’s tracks, and they became something of a forgotten band, until a group of fans crowd-funded a documentary celebrating their trail-blazing music, and suddenly interest was rekindled, with pretty much the entire back-catalogue at last remastered and reissued.
Then, Mogwai coaxed the remaining, reunited members out on tour, and Brainiac added a London show to it – which turned into a raucous celebration of the past and present, with a wild show that had old fans alongside curious younger people, and the feeling at the end was of an entire rooms minds blown once again.
Over the years my DJing has occasionally taken me across the country – and indeed to Canada, too, when I DJed at Festival Kinetik in 2011. But the place I DJed as a guest more than anywhere else was at Lee Chaos’s night Judder in Cheltenham, which for many years was the most fun club in our scene to go to. The music could be wildly eclectic, the themes resulted in some quite marvellous costumes by the club goers, and there was a genuine sense of fun and adventure that most other clubs lacked.
One moment, though, sticks in the mind – when I first dropped The Salmon Dance by The Chemical Brothers in a set there, to find the entire dancefloor doing the salmon dance described in the song.
…and finally, there’s the festival that has been a constant in my life this entire 20 years – and a few more years before it, too, as my first one was in 2000. A perfectly-sized electronic music festival in Bradford, West Yorkshire, it has long maintained a balance of larger, legacy bands and new bands to discover, alongside DJs and other shenanigans (and there often are shenanigans!).
As well as my annual coverage of the festival, I’ve also DJed three times there – twice in person, and once doing a live set as part of the “Stay In-Fest” during the lockdown in 2020. The first of my sets, in 2008, was quite something – I had about four days notice that I was doing it, and the main set was straight after Front 242 (only one of my favourite bands of all). I think it worked out alright…