I don’t usually do this, but as I’ve remembered – and there has been a fair amount of stuff to recommend – I’m taking a break from the usual Tuesday Ten subjects to do a rundown of ten albums and ten songs worth hearing from 2009 so far, as we reach the halfway point of the year (already!). They are, it should be added, in no particular order.
Ok, so albums first.
076: 2009 So Far (Tracks)
Depeleted Uranium Weapons
The first new material from SKET in a while, and it’s a belter. A meticulously constructed concept album around the effects and legacy of the titular weapons, it comes in the usual Hards card slipcase with a booklet detailing the background behind some of the tracks and titles, and the whole album has a furious, apocalyptic feel that makes for an unsettling but riveting listen. I would recommend individual tracks but it’s a difficult one with the whole album being so good.
The Giants From Far Away
This one came out right at the start of the year, and despite it’s lofty and pretentious-sounding press prior to release, the album itself turned out to be anything but. A riotous mix of pounding industrial, funky electro and some cracking sample use, nothing is taken too seriously and it’s infectious power has seen it (to me, anyway) gain unexpected fans and become something of a dancefloor smash.
Synapscape are an artist that I’ve had little more than a passing interest in until recently, but all has changed with the release of this. Maybe it’s their extensive use of distorted, scratchy vocals, but something about what this act do simply makes them sound unique. The music is abrasive but catchy, harsh but fun, and it makes for a great album.
The Sea and The Silence
The consistently high quality releases from ESA show no sign of abating with this, the third album in as many years. Evolution is the name of the game rather than revolution, with industrial power featured prominently as before, but with lengthy, slower and calmer sections – the two part (and fourteen minute) title track being a particularly staggering piece of work.
Plague Called HuMANity
Something of change was found with the new album from these guys, with a distinct change for much of the album from the searing industrial of previous album Beyond Repair to a more old-school industrial feel, all wrapped in a loose concept that again actually works. In many respects an album that is a less challenging listen than the previous, but it’s no less good. Also worth getting for the extraordinary cover of Ministry’s You Know What You Are that closes it.
Talking of old-school industrial, another bowing down at the altar of it is this new artist from the US, who, as I wrote in my recent review of this, has done a great job of creating an album of searing nihilism and hate from the base of Puppy-esque beats and FLA-style atmospheres, without being a slave to those influences.
This year marks 25 years of KMFDM, and their latest album is their best in many years. Yeah, it’s not exactly re-inventing the wheel – and if you don’t like KMFDM, this isn’t going to change your mind – but in taking a look back at their past, as well as looking to the future, and evening throwing in a cracking cover of Human League’s Being Boiled, it’s a fast-paced, satisfying album that is an appropriate celebration of their long history.
Journal For Plague Lovers
Talking of history, this album has certainly something of the past about it. Eyebrows were raised when it was revealed the new album was using lyrics left by Richey Edwards, but happily the album is a resounding success. Having the album produced by Steve Albini has helped, too, with it sounding rawer and more heartfelt than they have in a long, long time. It’s no Holy Bible, but it’s not fair to look at it like that. Either way, it’s marvellous, doesn’t waste a second and if you went off the Manics in recent years, this should get you interested again.
Crack The Skye
Can this band do no wrong? A hugely technical metal band with prog-ish tendencies should not be as absorbing a listen as this, and certainly not be able to continue to release such brilliant albums. Anyway, this album is just seven tracks spread over fifty minutes, and despite two tracks of well over ten minutes each, the album never drags at all. Well worth a listen if you have any interest in metal whatsoever.
Monoliths and Dimensions
Finally…something that will only appeal to a small number of people, let’s be honest. Right? Well, apparently not, given the huge amount of coverage this band get. An extraordinary creation based around droning, pitch black doom that brings in choirs, vocals and all manner of unexpected effects. Best listened to really fucking loud.