A day earlier than usual, here’s my usual roundup of tracks new and old that I really like right now:
Track Of The Month
Electronic (New Version)
My Cat Loves String Theory
A band whom I’ve heard a whole lot of buzz about this year, and it took until a plea online on a friend’s Facebook page that I could get a link to their material. Just try googling the band’s name! Anyway, now I’ve actually heard them, I can tell you something about it. An unusual, experimental electronic-industrial project, seemingly entirely unafraid to throw in influences from just about everywhere, this EP starts with the near hip-hop stylings in this track, to the delicate acoustic stylings of Fiona. It’s not quite as straightforward, though, in their sound. Vocals are heavily distorted, beats chop and change into new rhythms, and there is layer after layer of synths. A cleverly constructed sound, and a few cracking tunes, too. I’d be really interested to see these guys live, too – although I’m not sure getting to Glasgow to do so is going to be possible anytime soon, sadly. Oh, and you can download a couple of EPs, including this one, from bandcamp for free.
Faith And Reason Part Company
I’m guiltily including this rather later than I should – I got a promo copy of this album some time ago, and somehow it didn’t get listened to for a month or two. More fool me, so it turns out, as this is marvellously accomplished gothic rock. I’d long since given up being bothered trying to hunt out new “goth” bands, simply as far too many are just poor pastiches of what’s gone before (all too often this “scene” seems doomed to repeat the same handful of bands and songs for eternity). So it’s something of a surprise to find an entire album as polished, and as full of great songs, as this. Pick of the bunch is this track, a growling, slow-burn of a track that is memorable, interesting, and while it clearly owes a debt to the “classics” it is at least trying to do something new with it.
European Super State
The new KJ album is something of a monster – it’s really fucking heavy for the most part, and not for the first time in their last few years of activity, it makes me wonder just how heavy and massive their early, classic material would sound if only they’d had the production levels of this to back them up (the “Ultimate” version of Wardance a few years back, with Dave Grohl on drums, sounded utterly enormous). This heaviness also makes this track stand out all the more – a mechanic, electronic pulse runs through the track, with that being the emphasis rather jagged riffs and Jaz bellowing over the top (his vocals are toned down somewhat here too). I wasn’t a huge fan of the last album (Hosannas… did nothing for me), so to hear something as good again as this makes me very happy.
Destroy Improve Rebuild (Club Mix)
After appearing from seemingly nowhere, and becoming a big scene name on the back of the sleek-electro-sleaze of FH2, personally I thought Faderhead took a few steps in the wrong direction on FH3 and then in particular on the turgid ballads that made up the Horizon Born EP. Perhaps he was just fucking with everybody, and weedling out the people who only wanted to hear endless rehashes of Dirtygrrrls / Dirtybois – but to me he just went too far. FH2 was always far more than that one song, and his big, brash dancefloor tracks were generally the better ones. So it’s a relief to hear the lead track from the new album (pointedly not titled FH4, as might have been expected) to be another one of those. It’s nothing too clever, but I’m pretty certain that it’ll deliver the goods on the dancefloor.
As many of my readers will well know by now, I’m heartily sick of getting requests for Combichrist – and the same old songs – every time I DJ anywhere. I’ve managed not to play any in my sets for the past couple of months at Autonomy, and it’s given me a chance to listen to the new album, but conversely not a chance to try and introduce something new. Sadly, anyway, there isn’t a lot to recommend on the new album – too much of it passes in the background, some feat for an act that is meant to be so confrontational, and that nasty misogynistic streak has reared it’s ugly head again, too. The one real killer track is the storming lead single, which has more reserved verses that make a great job of making the stomping, pounding chorus sound all the more huge. Otherwise, we have another album to wait before Combichrist make any steps forward with their sound.
Productivism, Economism, Consumerism And Other Fancy Stuff For Destroying The Planet
Great Irony And Politically S.E.X.plosive
(not available online)
Somehow, despite having various tracks on compilations, I’d missed this artist until recently, when an increasing number of requests and mentions of them suggested that I should perhaps play catchup. And not for the first time, I’m now kicking myself for not having done so before. Make no mistake – this is harsh stuff, and it’s not going to appeal to many beyond those already well involved in the industrial noise arena. What …S.E.X. manage so well is walking the tightrope between extremity and accessibility – some of the noise here is absolutely brutal (just check the intro to the track I’ve picked for here), but in the main it never quite overwhelms everything else, instead allowing rhythms and beats to shine through and allow DJs to actually use them on more open-minded dancefloors.
While a promo compilation existed as a “best-of” for some time (RETRO), a proper appraisal of KMFDM’s lengthy career has somehow never happened, until now. Sascha K has done it justice, too, with as many songs as possible crammed in, and without too much of a bias for any particular period, either. Over the 2CD version, I can’t think of a single omission, which suggests a well-chosen tracklist. Upfront, opening the album, as it did on the last tour, is a track that seems to have had something of a rebirth. From the period around the turn of the century where KMFDM were churning out so-so albums, it’s a classic, sloganeering KMFDM number with it being hugely self-referential, anthemic, it features orchestral samples, and rocks like a bastard. If you haven’t listened to the band for a while, or lost touch, this is a good place to reacquaint, it really is.
I’ve long disliked Belle & Sebastian an awful lot. So it’s something of a surprise, perhaps, that I like this pairing so much. But then, Isobel Campbell’s sweet voice works in perfect harmony with Mark Lanegan’s growled, grizzled blues. This isn’t anything different to what Lanegan has done in his solo career so far, to be honest, but why fix something that isn’t broken? He seems to have an endless well of songs to draw from (and no doubt experience), and long may it continue.
Reeling The Liars In
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
No apologies for including another Swans track from the new album in a couple of months, this album is such an extraordinary return that it warrants it. This is the shortest track on the album, an acoustic lament for all of the people Michael Gira appears to want to burn on a fire. It sounds deceptively sweet and bright, until you listen to the lyrics, of course. It’s melody is simply glorious, too. I’m hoping and praying this is played live, as it might well sound fantastic with the accompaniment of the entire crowd!
Cold Dark Matter
This is bad news – I discovered this past week that one of the finest extreme metal bands to come out of Norway in recent times split up earlier this year. A real shame – one of the few bands to successfully merge industrial electronics and atmospheres with black (and death) metal. So to close off this month’s list, let’s revisit this track from their searing album Cold Dark Matter – it opens at a fearsome pace, is heavy as fuck, and even manages a few industrial breakdowns amidst the otherwise black metal feel – sonically it’s the equivalent, I suspect, of putting yourself up against the full force of a wind tunnel. This band will be sadly missed, as there was no-one like them (and they were incredible live, too).