The first Tracks of the Month of 2018, and really, we’re picking up where we left off before Christmas. Releases are being announced thick and fast at this time of year, as ever, and in the case of this month, it is something of a “catch up” of releases that I haven’t had the chance to feature yet as well.
If you’re new here, hello! A reminder, then, that while the remit of amodelofcontrol.com is to cover the broad church of industrial music first and foremost, my own musical influences and interests go some way further beyond that genre, and the Tuesday Ten series more than anything reflects that.
I’ll be continuing into 2018 as I have done in previous years. At the turn of the month (usually first Tuesday of the Month, but I normally pull it forward a week for the first one of the year), I run down the best tracks I’ve heard recently, and other Tuesday Tens (usually weekly, but there are the occasional breaks) will be on specific subjects – look out for the public posts on my Facebook if you want to get involved when I ask for suggestions for forthcoming posts.
So let’s move on with the new, and there’s some fascinating stuff to discover this week.
Track of the Month
The Mysterious Vanishing Of Electra
I have to admit that I haven’t been as enamoured as a number of my friends have been with Anna von Hausswolf’s material up to now, but perhaps I wasn’t in the right place to “get it”. This first taster for her forthcoming album, though, is extraordinary. There is a brutal, harrowing intensity to this, the Swans-like repetition of the hulking, bass-heavy rhythm, her tremulous vocals reaching depths and peaks few others can, that’s for sure. This is music from the depths of the soul, continuing a lineage of artists, both male and female, who over the decades have scraped the very depths of their psyche to unleash unsettling, difficult music that questions the listener’s very sense of self.
Bury My Heart In A Landfill
Yeah, so there is still that towering shadow of the Skinny Puppy influence, but this is another solid release from this Finnish band who appeared out of nowhere a few years back, and this second album does, to be fair, show a willingess to diversify their sound. On most of the album the pummelling intensity that was at the heart of the best moments of the debut is once again at the core, but things take a striking left turn with the closing track. The pace is slowed to a crawl, for a foot-dragging, bleak lament that sounds absolutely amazing, and it also sounds nothing like the band have done up to now. The soundtrack to a rain-sodden, cyberpunk death onscreen, it is clear that these guys have a heart worth exposing.
Trident Wolf Eclipse
It’s probably not been as long as I think since Watain last released an album, but The Wild Hunt was a bit of an experimental disappointment. So, a return to the searing black metal of old was promised for their new album, and right from the off, this album delivers on all fronts. Nuclear Alchemy is the sound of a band literally firing on all cylinders, three minutes of old-school Black Metal with no frills and all thrash (particularly the astonishing, near-hyperspeed blast that starts the close-out). Watain sound evil again, and needless to say, fucking great.
I was far from the only one wrongfooted by the glorious industrial-EBM of Flesh for the Living, a track that has since become obvious as being an outlier in what they do. Instead this duo are about experimental audio-visual horrors, one of psychological pressure and a sense of limits being pushed in every way. The Chicago duo have now signed with DAIS Records, and the first track from their debut album is one of grinding, ugly industrial power, with wheezing, stuttering piston-like rhythms and huge slabs of sampled guitars, with vocals drawled over these harsh rhythms. To my shame I rather missed the – in retrospect, excellent – Black Flame EP last year, and I won’t be making the same mistake with the album.
I’ve written quite a bit about LOCKS over the past eight months or so, since I stumbled across them supporting deux furieuses last summer, and I’ll keep doing so as long as they release music as good as this. That tolling bell, mind, is straight out of Red Right Hand, but elsewhere this continues the strenuous attempts by the band to forge their own identity amid shanties, folk and murder ballads, with a deceptively jaunty melody helping to disguise the darkness of the lyrics. They are very much a band on the up, too, and a band playing in the kind of venues Independent Venue Week is designed to support this week, and being C-listed on 6Music for the past month will help their ascent no end, I suspect.
The Signal and the Noise
Walk Between Worlds
There has been some interesting debate recently how that there are so many bands from the eighties and nineties around again at the moment that we seem to have stepped back in time a couple of decades. What’s weirder, to me, anyway, is that quite a number of these bands are returning with exceptional new material. One example last year was Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, whose album The Punishment of Luxury was #10 on Countdown: 2017: Albums here, and now it appears to be the turn of Simple Minds, with their first album since 2014. This track has all of the skyscraping glory of old, the reverb kicked up to eleven, but with a modern sound that makes it oh-so “now”. I haven’t bought a Simple Minds album in a great many years, but I’ll be coming back for this, that’s for sure.
Man In A Frame
Men In A Frame
Can these Belgians ever put a foot wrong? Their relentless sense of progress – the forthcoming album is their fourth album of new material in six years, never mind a hefty compilation and a number of EPs, too – sees their intellectual curiousity continue to come up with fascinating concepts and ideas. This time, they’ve taken it beyond the idea of just music with the end product, as the new album concerns links between the composition of music and photography, and has been done in conjunction with Fotografisch Kunstcooperatief, even with an intriguing looking launch night. The music, of course, is still centre-stage here, and this lead single is another striking stab of stark, melodic electronics that follows the Kraftwerk concepts of simplicity and elegance. I can’t wait for their London show in April at Synth Wave Live 2.
I’ve been writing about this still-mysterious Swedish act for around six years or so now, and their swirling, unusual sound still manages to confound. Call them Witch House if you must, but that barely-held-together style long-since splintered into many, many different styles anyway, and the influence of it has appeared all over the place since anyway. Even weirder, this first track from their forthcoming new album, amid the unexpectedly upfront (and untreated) vocals and almost upbeat rhythms, seems to nod to their compatriots in The Knife (that treated vocal melody that you hear first seems, to me, anyway, to come from Na Na Na), and the key to the strange atmosphere of this track comes in the form of a violin sawing its own way across the track (not to mention the subtle fuzziness of the electronics, like the edges had been smudged with a finger). Colour me intrigued for what’s coming.
Rabbit Junk Will Die: Meditations on Mortality
It feels like it’s been ages since the last Rabbit Junk album proper – and indeed I guess it is, with Project Nonagon having been the last full length, in 2010. That said, it isn’t as if JP Anderson and Sum Grrrl have been inactive in the meantime, with a steady stream of impressive tracks and EPs in the meantime, but this new album feels like another milestone. The experimentation continues – RJ was never a band stuck in one style, that’s for sure – but from the off, this feels like the jet-engine blasts of old are back. The whole album is the best since REframe, as far as I’m concerned, and I couldn’t stop smiling when the opener Hunter unleashed the riffs, with Sum Grrrl splitting the vocals with JP Anderson, a bouncing rhythm has elastic guitar riffs firing all over it, and the chorus is classic Rabbit Junk. Welcome the fuck back, guys – the world has needed you.
The Man Who Couldn’t Stop just keeps on going – eight albums, various EPs and singles, collaborations and a number of side-projects, not to mention a homelife with a wife and kids and a job, I genuinely don’t know how Matt Fanale keeps this up. I’m glad he does, though, as he remains a necessary sane voice in the industrial scene that is often willing to say what others won’t. And while he’s dabbled in scene and wider politics in the past in his songs, this album marks the first time where he has gone Full Political, and the reality is that he unleashes his fury in some style.
This is an angry album, and the opening track Purgative sets out the stall nicely, with samples detailing just what makes America “great” (as the sample reminds, it leads the world in things like “most incarcerated citizens per capita”), and the picture is pretty bleak. With Matt being a father of two children, too, I can’t help getting the feeling that part of this rage is at what future is being left – or more to the point, what isn’t – for his children in Trump’s America.
I think I swore to myself some years ago – in fact, about the time of But Listen: 121, where I gave Relapse the finger – that me and Ministry were done. But like an itch I can’t not scratch, I still give each new release one listen. And…you know what, this isn’t bad. Yeah, so it isn’t a patch on The Land of Rape and Honey, or even Psalm 69, but this is solid, chugging industrial metal with a furious political edge – and judging on the Youtube comments (yes, I looked below the line), he’s ruffled the feathers of some of the “edgy” right-wing dickheads, so at least he’s doing something right. As usual, of course, a terrible President gets in, and Al is inspired again…
Throbbing Gristle were never an easy, or nice, band to listen to – that was rather the point – but on occasions they did stumble toward songs that amid the murk and the filth, had something resembling a tune and might have a wider appeal. One of those was the uncomfortable coercion techniques of Convincing People, from the glorious bait-and-switch of Twenty Jazz Funk Greats – which of course had neither twenty tracks nor any jazz funk – and was played somewhat straight, with a slow, lumbering beat and multi-tracked vocals. Fast-forward nearly four decades, and a benefit compilation for Genesis P-Orridge (following confirmation of their severe health issues) is coming next week, of which the highlight is this staggering take on the track by Peaches, where everything is given a glistening, modern sheen, but the dark spirit of the original remains.