Another month, ten more songs to hear. You know the drill by now, right?
Track of the Month
I was, I have to admit, late to the party with The xx, but once I finally heard their striking debut album, I was hooked. Sparse, sensual music for dark nights, many of their songs shimmered with a quite uncanny beauty and, frankly, an otherworldly nature that really didn’t sound like anything else around at the time, and the first glimpse of the new album suggests not a great deal has changed in the following three years. Still, it wasn’t broken, and in fact this first new track suggests a honing of their style even more. Described by a friend as “exquisite”, I can’t disagree – a short song of such yearning and utter beauty that it is frankly hard to describe, or to do it justice, other than to suggest you should go and listen to it now.
It is perhaps a remarkable six years or so – maybe even a bit more than that – since I first heard Skullfuck begin it’s journey to slaying industrial club dancefloors all over the place, and remaining as a cast-iron floorfiller ever since. But with, at last, the release of the first new material since debut album Detonation, there is ample evidence here that there are songs to replace it in the heart of the dancefloor. In fact, both of the lead tracks were unleashed at gigs last year (their debut at Kinetik last year, in particular, sticks in the memory), and despite being unknown saw the crowds go utterly batshit for them. It isn’t hard to see why – and while lead single Robots, with cheeky Daft Punk stylings that are not even attempted to be disguised, is a stomping monster of a track, for me it is Boombox that really takes the honours. A rampaging, surging track, *this* this how you merge industrial and hands-in-the-air dance music, by providing a “chorus” that is simply one massive build each time, urged on by the “are you ready” sample that proves once again Geoff Lee is a master of controlling the dancefloor.
Science and Sound
I’ve always considered C_137’s output to be somewhat lightweight, trance-pop-influenced “industrial” – and with little variance in their style – but the new album finally sees some effort to branch out somewhat. This track is by far the best example of this – a beefed up, hard-hitting rhythm underpins it with a much harsher-toned vocal style than usual, too. Here is hoping that there is more of this to come.
There Will Be Blood
I’ve mentioned one of the leading exponents of the recent burst of top-quality Swedish EBM before, I’m sure, but here they are again with another stonking release. This new mini-album takes the blueprint from previous releases and sharpens the edges that little bit more, continuing their apparent quest of perfection in merging tough, 80s EBM with more cutting-edge techno. Pick of an extremely strong EP, though, is this – a meeting of minds with similarly forward looking //TENSE// that glowers through the storm of beats.
After my album of the year 2006, and track of the year 2010, Germany’s – and the world’s – finest darkwave band return again with another glorious single, but one that harks back to their past, perhaps. No sign of Antje Schultz’s wonderfully sweet vocals here, instead a chorus in Russian (yet another language they’ve used!) by Nina de Lianin (herself Serbian) that is an upbeat counterpart to the pitch-dark verses by Denis Ostermann, and the contrast is really quite striking. The full version of this track on the EP, by the way, is an epic eleven minutes – used here is the single version, only a third of the length…
The title might be crap, but the song itself is a welcome return from a much-missed band – evidence of just how missed was shown by the ecstatic reaction to their Resistanz show in April. They didn’t play any new stuff at that show, and there was still a question mark at the time as to whether anything more was going to be forthcoming after all. Here is the evidence that there is – and it is the sound of the band returning, pretty much, to where they left off, with sleek, melodic industrial dancefloor music, full of hooks as well as ample evidence of Andy La Plegua’s way with a chorus. Pretty much instantly better than anything by Combichrist in the past five or six years, too…
Years on from his time in Emperor (aside from the brief reunion that didn’t see any further releases, anyway), even so it is kind of remarkable that Ihsahn is now on his fourth solo album – and that creative spark is nowhere close to having left him yet. While it in parts harks back to the extremities of his past, in others it is a world apart (saxophones feature prominently at parts!), as in here – a proggy, near power metal sound instead, and his vocals have adjusted to match. But somehow, this works brilliantly.
Urban Techno Commando
For a “band” taking the piss in a big way – albeit also having been one of the most fun Infest acts ever – some might say that Keef and Nik have absolutely no right making an album this fun…and good. Every single pisstake, of which there are many, hit the mark, skewering industrial fashions and musical styles brilliantly, and turning their ire on a few other areas too. But back to the industrial pisstaking, and this track in particular does little other than drench the vocals in all the industrial effects possible, and makes it sound exactly like the bands they are aiming it at. Job done.
(no longer available)
Something of a 90s throwback, to something I don’t even remember from the time – and thanks to Dead When I Found Her, I now have discovered this. Greg Reely produced – and so clearly so, with that clean, sparse and rhythmic industrial production that characterised all of his work (most of all for Front Line Assembly, of course) – and this track is about as good as industrial of the early nineties got. Temptation was the single, apparently, but I prefer this.
Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition
Of the mass of retro, anniversary releases, it could be argued that only a handful of albums truly deserve expanded and remastered releases, those that really did make a difference, be that musical or social. This album, perhaps, managed both, with the still-not-finished arguments over the political background to it, but the musical impact is the one that really can’t be understated. Probably the album that unleashed so-called world music to a mass audience, that Simon managed to weave the South African music into his shimmering pop songs so seamlessly is frankly a work of genius. It also helped that the songs themselves were possibly the best he ever wrote as a solo artist, and the title track is at the peak of this. But not any particular part of it, the whole damned thing.