Into September, and back to normal – whatever normal is these days – in the days post-Stay-In-Fest. That online festival was surprisingly great fun, and I stuck around for the whole thing. I DJed early on (my setlist: /DJ/Guest/098), and had a number of interviews with bands broadcast, all of which will be uploaded and transcribed on this site in the coming days – beginning with Seeming, hopefully, tomorrow (there’s a lot of that one to transcribe!).
/Tracks of the Month/Aug-20
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2020
One thing I perhaps did miss a bit from the actual festival was the act of musical discovery, as there are always bands that I didn’t know about that I buy the music of while I’m there. But we can’t have everything, and frankly, the new releases right now are coming so thick and fast that I’m having to feature more than ten new tracks each month to even remotely keep up.
That said, 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.
There is the industrial music that is the core of what /amodelofcontrol.com has always been about, but there is also strays into the alternative and extreme metal spectrums. This rather reflects that I’m, at present, doing three Livestreams on a regular basis (the next ones can always be found here – this Thursday it is /Stormblast/137.
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
For those of you that told me about this lot in the past, and clearly I didn’t pay attention, I’m sorry. Years behind the events – and with a new album out – I’m finally catching up, and what a remarkable place to start. Their detail-heavy lyrics (prior releases have seen them dig into people and events of the past, with much research involved) here see the band get under the skin of politics and life in 2020, and the result is an album laden with weary cynicism. A world where successful politics is down to the medium of the message, and how marketable it is, rather than the actual substance.
This concept is explored at great length on this extraordinary album, one that is in shades of grey and black, the music a synth-laden, doomy post-punk base – exactly the right base for David Martin’s deep, plain-spoken vocals that rarely betray too much emotion. Which makes his occasional bursts of powerful fury all the more striking, and The Truth is an absolutely staggering track as a result. The lengthy track begins with a motorik base, Martin’s calm vocals starting out with facts before beginning to twist and turn statements into untruths and dismissals, and the music becomes ever-more choppy and discordant, culminating in a savage, raging climax.
After what seems like months of teases, finally late in August, the first new track from Deftones in a few years arrived. A band who’ve gained the critical respect that they didn’t always have over their career in more recent years, and after twenty-five years, frankly, they have nothing more to prove. So, that Ohms is a solid Deftones track – complete with ripping riffs from Stephen Carpenter – is more than enough. But as always, there is an enigmatic quality to the lyrics, with what appears at first glance to be a rare tender love song from Chino Moreno, having more than a few hints that things aren’t quite what they seem.
/Shadow of Fear
An unexpected announcement during August was the first new material under the Cabaret Voltaire name since the nineties, although it should be couched that this is not the full band, instead the work of Richard H. Kirk continuing under the Cabs name. In some respects, this has been a long time coming. My wife and I saw Kirk play a very-Cabs esque show in the ballroom of the decaying Grosvenor House Hotel in Sheffield at Sensoria 2008 (/Into the Pit/061), a hotel since demolished, but that was loud, unpleasant and abrasive. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that Vasto is loud, but actually quite great – the intricate synths of the Cabs sound are still there, propelling forward by a groovy, thumping beat. Looking forward to the album, that’s for sure.
Back at the beginning of 2018, the news broke that Jeremy Inkel had passed away, aged just 34. His loss was a profound one to an industrial scene that had been through something of resurrection over the past decade, finding new ways to take the sound forward and inspire anew, and his work in Front Line Assembly, Left Spine Down and with other artists was part of that.
Even so, I was surprised to find that there was unfinished solo work to be released. The first track from that upcoming album is a funky, pounding beast of a track, that nods to trends in techno, but also to groups like Noise Unit that were, of course, other FLA outlets, and is a hugely enjoyable listen – and I await the rest of the album with great interest, as I suspect there are surprises in store. In addition, I was privileged to talk with Chris Peterson about Inkel’s legacy for Stay-In-Fest at the weekend, and if you didn’t see it on the stream, that full interview will be on /amodelofcontrol.com (in both video and text form) later this week.
Like many others, I’ve been following Tom Shear’s work for two decades now, his work a rare model of consistency in a wider scene that can all too often see trends followed down blind alleys. Tom Shear has instead stuck to his guns, making melodic, industrial-futurepop with thoughtful words and striking honesty that has endeared him to many, and sometimes I feel he doesn’t quite get the due that he deserves. In recent years, though, gaps between releases have got longer, and maybe that risks his project drifting from view.
The first A23 album in four years deserves a far better fate than that. At points contemplative, and at others fiery and pulsing with anger, it is a fascinating release that sees Shear looking outside and offering his thoughts on what he sees. Even so, the lead song Welcome, Apocalypse is still a striking reality check. One of those anthemic, glorious uptempo dancefloor tracks that he does so well, the lyrics quickly reveal Shear’s eyes roving across the lockdown landscape and despairing at those not heeding the warnings, as he opens his arms and welcomes the four horsemen to sweep humanity away from their own stupidity.
Thou’s open-minded take on Sludge Metal – particularly through their collaborations with The Body and their dizzying array of covers – has long made them a fascinating band, while despite recommendations from trusted sources, Emma Ruth Rundle’s bleak American folk has eluded me until now. On the evidence of this, that’s going to change fast – their savage, choppy collaboration is a pummelling, riff-filled joy that has a distinctly different feel to the often macho-tastic sludge metal scene, thanks to Rundle’s extraordinary vocal contribution. This album is now immediately on the “to buy” list.
/Say the Name
/Visions of Bodies Being Burned
The fascinating experimental hip-hop group Clipping. have long been a favourite in this house, but for some reason, I didn’t give last years’ There Existed an Addiction to Blood the attention it deserved, but something about this track stopped me dead the first time I listened to it. Sampling and looping the refrain from Geto Boys’ Mind Playing Tricks On Me to great and arresting effect, Daveed Diggs also appears to be riffing on the plot of the brutal Candyman original in his lyrical musings, but there are also nods to the real-life horrors of being black in America right now. A striking, sparse track, those blank spaces make it all the more terrifying and enthralling.
/Into the Fire
Released at the end of July (and just missing the last tracks round-up), this project is the work of Alex Virlios (Blue Images) and Andrew Sega (Iris). While they both come from synthpop bands, this album has a distinctly Goth flavour, one of the incessant bass lines and swirling dry ice, but the production chops of the those involved means that this is no mere throwback, but instead is excellent, modern post-punk that is melodic, catchy, and hugely enjoyable.
/I Know Why You Dance
/The Guild of the Poor Brave Things
A warm welcome back for Graeme Wilkinson, previously of the much-loved-by-this-site The Golden Age Of Nothing. Like his previous band, the striking name had me wondering, and it turns out this time it is named after a real organisation: according to the wiki, The Guild of the Poor Brave Things was formed in 1894 “to provide resources for disabled boys to enable them to make a productive place for themselves in society” – and lasted quite a long time. Onto the music, then, and while there is certainly a similar sound to his previous band, there is perhaps a less cynical, slightly brighter feel here, rather than the relentless, pessimistic gloom of before, and I Know Why You Dance is an elegant, lovely song.
The undisputed stars of Infest 2019, this striking, unusual duo from Scotland take in unusual influences and sound like no-one else. So after breaking through in some style last year thanks to that and other live performances, not to mention some exceptional singles, this is the first taste of their debut album (as far as I understand, due later this year). There has been a bit of a shift in sound, at least based on this – it is harder-edged, heavier, but no less impressive, particularly as Erin’s striking voice remains centre-stage, as she appears to tell a tale of self-flagellation amid clanking samples and synths.
While there aren’t too many positives to Social Media these days – their ability to twist the truth by way of algorithms and human intervention are just stoking the fires of awfulness right now – one absolute positive is the globalisation and democratisation of music consumption. Thanks to friends in, or from, different places around the world, I continue to be exposed to music I would never otherwise hear. Hence Duma, a Nairobi-based duo recommended to me by a friend. It’s a chaotic, exhausting listen – brutal noise rubs shoulders with vicious grindcore, and is the most extreme music I’ve heard in some time – and a reminder that reaching for musical extremities is something not just confined to music made in Europe or North America.
One of those collaborations that I can’t now believe hasn’t happened sooner, this surprise release during August is an exceptional track, and one of our times. A rolling, sleek electronic base provides a perfect foil for both kaRIN and Shikhee’s voices to drape over, and amid the beauty of the song and production, there is a sharper, darker edge. This is a clarion call from two people to powers-that-be that have their hands over their ears, unwilling or unable (or both) to listen to people who demand better – and changes. We can only hope the call is heard in November.
/Children of the Gun
I can’t say that I was expecting BILE to return. It’s been seven years since their last album, and this new track is pretty much what I love about BILE. Grimy, jagged synths, distorted guitars and treated vocals that only add to the malevolence. BILE always felt like outliers – that might have had something to do with their unique sound, and also their reputation for striking, dayglo live shows – and that has perhaps meant that they’ve never quite got their due. This fantastic new single, perhaps, could help start a reappraisal.