Into July, the lockdown is easing a bit, but there is still the concern of a resurgence. So we wait it out some more, a long-overdue pledge to help fund the arts sector has been made (although there are still concerns, frankly), so with no live events, there is seemingly ever more music to listen to.
/Tuesday Ten/416/Tracks of the Month/Jun-20
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2020
Seriously – the amount of promo e-mails I am getting at the moment is probably at the highest level ever. Although, do I need fifteen songs about how an artist has survived lockdown? The jury is out on that one.
One thing that some readers may have noticed – a gradual increase in the instance of metal songs within these lists again, at least partly driven by my return to DJing in the form of Livestreams, and /Stormblast being part of that resurrection.
But also, being almost entirely at home means that I’ve got more time to listen to music. More time to listen to the music I already love, and more time to discover the next release that I’ll love (of which there have already been quite a few this year). As well, we need to find ways to help artists out while they aren’t touring, be that by sharing new music, buying new music, even streaming new music. So consider this part of my own assistance for the greater good. As many of you may have noticed, I’m uninterested in sticking to particular styles of music. My tastes in music don’t fit into one particular box, and thus what I write about here won’t be confined as such either.
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
/The Birdwatcher’s Guide to Atrocity
I’ve still not run out of things to say about the brilliance of Alex Reed and Aaron Fuleki’s project Seeming. Just recently, Goodnight London, from first album Madness + Extinction, was /Countdown/2010s/Tracks/#02, and follow-up album SOL was /Countdown/2010s/Albums/#01. Those are lofty shoes to fill, particularly in the extraordinary scope of SOL, which seemed at points to be looking at the whole of popular music over the past decade for inspiration (and nailing it, too). So what of the much-anticipated third album?
Our first taste was not this single, it was a number of songs in a tense, all-too-short set online at the Terminus online-festival in early June, that suggested things were going to be different this time. Go Small was interestingly not one of the songs aired but makes sense as a lead single. It makes it clear that the scope this time is more personal, looking inward, but once again aiming for better, aiming to preserve the self amid difficult times. It is a quite lovely song, too, that has a breathless urgency – partly from a frantic beat in the background that is always there, and rarely heard without something else over it – and unorthodox hooks that feel totally natural.
But most of all, it seems to have a message that makes a lot of sense right now. Amid the chaos that surrounds us right now, remember to consider yourself too. It’s ok to do so, it isn’t selfish.
I can’t wait to hear what else they have in store for us.
It’s been quite some time since Gary Zon’s Dismantled released new material – EP The Hero was back in 2016, and the last full-length album was even further back, in 2011 – and in the meantime, there has been the death of one-time keyboardist TZA. But, over the past month or so, the Dismantled machine has cranked into life, with a stated return to the style of the early Dismantled material that captivated so many of us in the first place. The first new track is the excellent No Escape, which has the trademark treated vocals, the atmospheric depths created by layers of synths, and that melancholic melodic feel that so characterised Zon’s earlier songs. A worthy return and further new material is awaited with interest.
/The Colour Temperature
The other work of Passenger S over the past decade – in the Belgian duo Metroland – has long been a favourite of this site, and so their diversion into a new project was always going to be of interest. It bears some similarities to Metroland work – for a start, it has a strict concept, in this case around Colour temperature, the measure of a light’s colour, and naturally, there is a similar approach in terms of sound and sample use, too. But as on most recent single Incandescent, there is a playful feel to the electronics that leave a much lighter touch than the deep, conceptual seriousness of Metroland, and this sets the stage for the rest of the album, that is a satisfying, enjoyable listen.
My initial thought: “Black Metal jazz. Nice.” But it turned out to be much more interesting than that. A band of black-cloaked, gold-masked people from NYC who mix the extremities of Black Metal with the atonality of experimental jazz, and weirdly make it a compelling, impressive listen. There is a distinct feeling of musical mastery here, that of musicians who are extremely talented, but also has an ear for the pitch-dark, not to mention bringing in Tomas Haake from none other than Meshuggah to assist on Taiko drumming, as you do. 2020 has brought many unwelcome surprises, but this is very much a welcome one.
I’m sure my more learned friends who know their Old Norse will be able to tell me more about Lyfjaberg (the “healing mountain” in the title of this epic track that, it appears, is where Eir sat), but in the meantime, this is an extraordinary track. The drum is like a heartbeat pulsing through the entire song, as entwined vocals chant melodies that are soothing, in some ways. Somehow, I’ve never really dug into Wardruna’s work until now, and I’m quickly realising the stately brillance I’ve been missing out on.
/Destruction, Despair, Death
Dutch electronic group tPRoE has been an active force for two decades now, and have been one of a number of such artists that have comfortably straddled the lines between industrial, noise and techno, simply because their sound has always broadly taken elements of all three anyway. Their latest album, the wonderfully titled OK Doomer, has an air of anger and darkness to it, as it absolutely pummels you for fifty-one minutes. Pick of the tracks for me, though, is the jackhammer beats of Destruction, Despair, Death, which raises the power level in stages and leaves anything but the beats in the background, with an eerie, smokey atmosphere making itself known for fleeting seconds behind the brutal barrage.
/The Night We Raise
I was rather late to the excellent debut album by Korine (New Arrangements), hence why it never ended up being covered here. I’m making no such mistake with their follow-up. The basic idea remains – eighties-rooted electronic pop – and the extensive use of floral arrangements in their artwork betrays nods to early New Order, but there is a feeling with the first track from the new album that they are forging their own sound. I particularly love the bright synth flourishes that punctuate the chorus, and indeed that lush chorus is a joy, too. As we all know, synthpop never died, but what I do find astonishing in 2020 is how many new bands are still finding ways to make it sound fresh and interesting.
/IN FIRE AND IN BLOOD
/IN FIRE AND IN BLOOD
The slow-and-steady return of ∆AIMON continues with their second single in a year, and perhaps this one is even better than previous release DEVOTE//DEVOUR. Stately drums and piano provide most of the backing for Brant Showers’ lead vocals (with Nancy Showers providing an excellent vocal foil here), and as ever, there is that edge of malice that cuts through the track like a sharp knife. Also of note is the absolutely outstanding take on Ministry’s classic Scare Crow that makes up the B-side to the release.
/Under A Godless Veil
Another doom band making a notable return this year – and in this case, their first new material in five years or so – are Swedish band Draconian, whose romantic, powerful doom metal has long been a favourite in the home of /amodelofcontrol.com. The first track from their upcoming album Under A Godless Veil, sees the band not trying to fix anything that isn’t broken, and why should they? Anders Jacobsson leads the way with his growled vocals, as Heike Langhans provides the sweetly romantic backing, and the song swells and rolls in an elegant fashion, and now, I can’t wait for the album to come.
/Of Jackal and Demon Born
Partly a group that are existing in the shadows of anonymity (at least, that’s what the press photos would have you believed), it is actually a product of Mick Kenney of Anaal Nathrakh and at least one member of Fukpig, and the lineage is fairly obvious when you listen to this four-minute blast. The few calm moments of synths and choir samples lull you into a false sense of security, one swept away by a tsunami of noise once those blastbeats and savage guitars take over. It is dark, nasty, and fantastic.
/Thoughts and Prayers
The carnage around the collapse of Pledge Music meant the end of the REBus reunion, sadly, but apparently it hasn’t stopped Richard Patrick making music. The latest track from Filter continues his recent political edge, with a thundering industrial-metal track Thoughts and Prayers, railing at the selfishness of the US where only COVID-19 appears to have stopped school shootings, and otherwise apathy reigns where the action is needed. I mean, if you didn’t already like Filter, this is unlikely to convert you, but the brutal riffage of this is music to the ears of those of us that have followed Filter since the nineties.
JP Anderson and Sum Grrl are back with another blast of a single – industrial-punk madness as ever that takes a little while to wind into life, but is an impressive monster of a track when it does. JP Anderson lights a fire, literally, under the duo as they tear into a dazzling, powerful chorus, and there is a growing sense that after a little while of treading water, they have their creative spark back. This can only be a good thing – Rabbit Junk at full throttle is a thing of wonder, as this track is.
/Beneath the Whelm
Seemingly no time at all has passed since the last Statiqbloom album Asphyxia, but it was already a year ago, and it seems that they’ve been investigating new sounds in the meantime. Lead song Alcestis has perhaps less aggression than before, but there is no less malevolence. The entire sound feels buried underneath a haze of static, while the rhythm pattern, in particular, makes me think of Converter – it certainly feels like a homage if not outright borrowing of that noise master’s work. The whole thing – much like the rest of the album – has a distinct feel of muzzled malevolence, fighting to get free.
/Electronic Saviors – Electronic Music To Cure Cancer Vol VI: Reflection
One of the more unexpected tracks on the final, sprawling instalment of the Electronic Saviors series – I have the eight CD (!) Prime edition – is probably the heaviest track I:Scintilla has released. I first featured this Chicago band on /Tuesday Ten/013, way back thirteen years ago, and while they never broke through as I perhaps thought they might do, they’ve happily explored a number of different sonic directions since their debut album Optics, and I must say I wasn’t expecting this thrashing heavy, rock-industrial track that is dominated by savage riffage but never forgets the strong melodic heart that has always been the secret weapon of this excellent band. Needless to say, by the way, there is much to enjoy across this compilation, and I’ll no doubt have other songs to recommend over time as I listen through again!
The excitement around the recent return of Linea Aspera left me mystified, as somehow, they were a band that had entirely bypassed me before. Like, I’m not sure if I’d ever listened to them. Guess this is another group I need to go back and listen to, then, as this first taste of their apparently unexpected second album is really impressive. Shades of minimal-synth and cold electro come through here, in the bass-heavy beats and sharp synths, not to mention the coolly-detached vocals, but imperceptibly the song gathers an impressive power. I like this a lot.