Infest 2019 is now already disappearing into the rearview mirror (Full coverage from this site on /Memory of a Festival/033, if you’ve not already seen it), and summer is beginning to vanish with it as the weather starts to cool. So, we’re in September, and here’s this month’s wrap of the best ten tracks I’ve heard recently.
/Tracks of the Month/Aug 2019
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2019
It’s been an interesting month for new material, too, with expected, unexpected and much-anticipated returns, surprisingly political songs, and once again a real mix of styles amid the songs I’ve picked. A reminder that while this site originally was almost exclusively industrial, I’ve by choice widened things out a bit to explore much of where my musical interests take me. There’s still a fair amount of electronic music but by no means all.
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. 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).
/Track of the Month
It’s been some considerable time since we last heard new material from ∆AIMON – while they’ve occasionally played live since, it’s as long ago as 2013 since their last tranche of releases (including their debut EP). Brant Showers, at least, has been busy with other projects since (his solo project SØLVE especially, but it’s great to hear the dark majesty of his main project again. What is notable is that Brant and Nancy Showers feel like they’ve edged back to the bleaker, murkier sound of their earlier releases again – that self-titled album was a bit of a surprise in some respects, as they loosened up their sound somewhat, and made it…brighter and more accessible? This lead track here, then, drags them back into the shadows. It is coated in fuzz and the dirt of frustration, with a thumping, heavy beat underpinning alarms and broken glass samples, delicate pianos buried and blurred in the mix, and both of them providing vocals that only come together in the chorus. In a wider world that feels rather bereft of hope right now, this is the perfect soundtrack.
/Titanium 2 Step
/Juice B Crypts
I’ve long loved Battles – Mirrored was /Countdown/2007/Albums/#1 and /Countdown/2000s/Albums/#3, and the glorious single Atlas was /Countdown/2007/Tracks/#2 and /Countdown/2000s/Tracks/#2 – so it’s great to see them back. Never a particularly prolific group – perhaps understandable with the various other interests the group have – their fourth album is nearly here at last. They’ve undergone yet more change in recent years, with the group now down to the duo of Ian Williams and John Stanier, but judging on this wonderful track, they aren’t lacking in the creative spark.
Like the eye-popping colour of the cover, this is a riot of colourful machines-meet-post-rock-meet-ecstatic-dance-music, it grooves and snakes it’s way around your head in similar ways to the fun of the work on Mirrored, and I’m now intrigued to see what else is to come on the album. The vocalist here, by the way, is Sal Principato, the frontman of Liquid Liquid – a band best known to many for their song Cavern being used by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five as the base for White Lines (Don’t Do It). It could perhaps be said that this is a nod in part to his band…
/In A House Made of Wires
/You May Feel Some Pressure
I first came across Spit Mask when seeing them live earlier in the year (reviewed on /Click Click/006), and I’ve been looking forward to hearing their new material since. This is not subtle stuff – references to sex and BDSM abound, amid the punishing, minimal EBM power on display. Synth hooks ripple through the tracks like classic WaxTrax! era Ministry used to do (think Rape and Honey era), but the rhythms are harsher, nastier things, as if they can’t wait to crack the whip and terrorize you. This is brutal, brilliant electronics, and unusually for this kind of group, easily delivers on record their vicious live assault.
/Working (You Are)
Stephen Mallinder has been a busy man in recent years, with releases as part of Wrangler and also the related Creep Show project (which is Wrangler with John Grant). But this is his first solo release, apparently, in thirty-five years, and it certainly bears the hallmarks of his previous work, but with a number of modern touches. And crucially, the funk is still there. This lead track from the upcoming album is a fabulous, slinky groove of a track, full of burbling electronics and a general loose-limbed feel, with Mallinder’s vocals put through FX to nod back to the Cabs. I wasn’t honestly sure if I was going to enjoy this, but I really do.
/FREEDOM GO TO HELL
Uncomfortable, ugly politics have a nasty habit of inspiring music that befits the time, and London group CREEPIING certainly appear to do so. This newish single is a blast to synapses and eyes (be warned that the video pretty much constantly strobes), and is a great slab of noise-rock that wants to confront and provoke a reaction. It nods to both industrial rock and No Wave, to my ears, a nihilistic four minutes that is surprisingly catchy and melodic, and with a debut album coming, I itching to hear more.
/The New Delta
/From Voodoo To Zen
Post-rock remains a vastly more interesting realm than many sometimes charicature it as – we are a long way nowadays from the navel-gazing, delicate guitars of old. Perhaps Mogwai and others opening their eyes and horizons – and blowing minds live in the process – has helped, but no genre can stay still forever. Which brings me to Tides From Nebula, a band I saw mentioned by a friend and that I’m now captivated by. A Polish band that use synths to add textures to their sound, and have a great line in thundering explosions of noise – and less quiet, reflective sections, frankly – and critically all of the songs I’ve heard so far are fascinating epics in their own right. Especially this track, one of the lead songs from their imminent new album, which rolls and builds to astounding, breathless peaks
There is a lengthy post on the front page of the Refused website at the moment that quotes Everybody Knows by Cohen, and then details their actually-fairly-reasonable political views, and closes with “Blood Red until we are fucking dead“. One thing is clear – Refused Are very much not Fucking Dead. This first track from their second post-reformation album certainly feels a whole lot more focused than the uneven Freedom – which while it had a few notable moments, was frankly not a patch on the incendiary, epoch-changing, open-minded hardcore of The Shape of Punk to Come. It helps that it has a clear direction, the seething vocals and lyrics from Dennis Lyxzén lasering in on current political travails and displaying a clear disgust for the lurch to the right just about everywhere. It would appear that Refused, gloriously, are back to fanning the flames of discontent.
An unexpected happening this week was New Model Army reaching #13 in the UK album chart, their highest chart position in their fortieth year, as well as realising that a number of their fans don’t appear to like the band talking about their politics – they obviously haven’t been paying attention to NMA’s lyrics over the years.
This song, though, is one of the best I’ve heard from them in a long time. A subtly bubbling rage courses through the song, as Justin Sulliivan takes us on a journey into his past while reflecting on the present, and neither the ghosts of the past nor what he sees now appear to impress him particularly, the inference I get from it that nothing changes, nothing gets better, as we don’t allow it to. A particularly bleak outlook, in some respects, but something of a dose of realism. We can’t ever arrive if we don’t address what has happened before, and that’s certainly not happening right now.
It’s been a while since a new album from any band in the alternative sphere has been such an event as the new Tool album has been. A rabid fanbase and a thirteen year wait for it has probably helped, and it is also perhaps not surprising that there have been what might be charitably called unrealistic expections for what was to come – and an awful lot of people suddenly about-turning on their views.
To be fair, it’s another Tool album. I’m not sure what many were expecting, but Tool nailed their sound a long time ago now, and it wasn’t as if I was expecting too much different – sure, elements of this very long album (eighty-six minutes, across just ten songs) sound familiar, but the additional use of synths really helps the textures, and frankly I’m going to need many more listens before I can properly process the whole thing.
The album peaks with the closing track (well, aside from the odd final two minutes), though, 7empest. A searing, sixteen minute monster of a track (the longest track the band have ever released – Disgustipated on Undertow is technically a second longer, but the track itself is only a third of the length) – it is also interesting for seemingly being a direct comment on the politics of today. Laying into unnamed protagonists that will face a day of reckoning for their untruths, Maynard Keenan’s vocals are seething and popping with rage, but just as important is the shifting sands of the musical backing he has. The band chug like a machine at points, and at others allow Adam Jones to drift off into guitar wizardry, but the end result is an astonishing, epic track that pretty much makes the new album worth your time alone.
Margaret Chardiet’s solo project has for a few years now been an automatic go-to on each release, simply for the shocking intensity of her work. Each album has had a theme, and this new one – appropriately right now – is dealing with the self-destructive nature of humanity. Needless to say, this is a release that is utterly pitiless, and also a nasty, brutal listen, and it’s clearly meant to be. This track sees the clank of machinery eventually descend into a squall of squealing, uncomfortable static, as Chardiet continues to pour forth her furious vocals (apparently recorded in one take). Chardiet is one of a number of women working within industrial and related arenas at the moment releasing some of the most vital, questioning music around.