Another month of this most strange year done with, then, with no real end in sight to at least partial lockdown, and certainly no chance of live music or clubbing to any normal degree this year either (notwithstanding some of the enterprising experiments in new ways of dealing with that at the moment. Thus, I continue “as was”.
/Tuesday Ten/428/Tracks of the Month/Sep-20
/Tuesday Ten/Tracks of the Month/2020
This means continuing the livestreams that I’m doing (what’s coming up is here), keeping up the livestreams/events calendar (same link), and also continuing to write about the new music that is being released. There’s perhaps more than ever at the moment, or at least it feels that way, and the broadening of my DJing recently has perhaps assisted in me consuming more music, and in more styles.
Thus, the tracks of the month posts continue to cover quite a few genres, not just industrial, and is as ever very much a reflection of my own omnivorous tastes. Hopefully, there’ll be something you like here, and as always, every song has a streaming link somewhere (Bandcamp for preference), with Spotify and YouTube playlists linked in the box above.
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
/Backlash Just Because
/Throes of Joy In The Jaws of Defeatism
The fathers of grindcore, their website proclaims, and it is hard to argue with that. Now on their sixteenth album – although, interestingly, with none of their original members, even if their line-up these days has broadly been stable for the best part of thirty years – and this fantastic blast of power is the most vital they’ve sounded in an age. And sure, there are unexpected, brilliant steps into Killing Joke-esque post-punk on Amoral, and the striking, experimental noise and howl of A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen, which tears into the horrific uncaring of the plight of refugees in this country. But there are also displays of exactly why Napalm Death remain the kings of grindcore, never mind fathers of it, and this vicious track is one of those, which breaks into an absolutely brutal breakdown in its latter half that makes me want to bounce off the walls.
A group long thought to have disbanded – or at least lost interest in a scene that they helped bring to wider attention in the first place – unexpectedly returned over the summer, first with a mixtape and then, at last, released their first new track in nearly a decade during September. Appropriately as storms have ravaged the southern US this summer, the video is a spectacular, bracing storm-chasing tale, while the music is…well, it’s SALEM doing what they’ve always done. Drowsy, deeply strange Witch House that continues to sound out of time, and like basically no contemporary music at all. Apparently, more new music is to follow, although issues between band-members that have been reported suggest that even after all this time, things are not well behind the scenes.
/DISCO4:: PART I
HEALTH have long made a tradition of following-up each album with a remix companion, but the title of DISCO4 suggests that the remix album is still to come – as this is instead pulling together the various collaborations that they’ve been releasing over the past few years, with a few more added in. That said, there is also a brand new song, that sees HEALTH exploring their more melodic side once again, in the dreamy but oh-so-slightly threatening beauty of CYBERPUNK 184.108.40.206., which floats above a rolling drum pattern with squalling, treated guitars and gentle synths. It is perhaps another of the songs inspired directly by this mad, unfathomable year, that contrasts the fragile beauty and the violent chaos that we seem to be experiencing all at once.
One of those artists that prove distance can be no object – Rob Early is based in Washington DC (USA), Simeon Fitzpatrick is in Adelaide (Australia) – is also an artist that seem to only exist because of technology. This is high-tech electro-industrial, with a distinctly modernist/futurist outlook and nods in feel to early-90s Front Line Assembly and late-90s Haujobb, especially with the surprisingly gentle-toned synth hooks, the heavily-treated vocals, and the sheer density of the rhythm patterns and samples. They might seem a bit like a band out of time right now – few other artists are mining this seam of industrial in 2020 – but this track, and the album that it comes from, are well worth exploring.
/I Surrender To The Void As Of Now I Am The Void
One of those bands that resulted from Napalm Death were industrial-metal overlords Godflesh, and as they freely admit, Australian duo No Names certainly know their references, as this track rolls over you like a steamroller (frankly, as does the rest of the excellently titled EP). Here, though, they appear to be guitars, samples and drums, rather than guitar, bass and samples, but the effect is just as bracing, and the louder it gets, the better it sounds. Particularly the chopping riff at the heart of this song, that in full flight sounds like it has some seriously sharp edges. Highly recommended.
/A Journey Through Concern
It’s remarkable to consider the longevity of some of the noisier industrial acts these days. Back in those heady days of the early 2000s, where industrial/rhythmic noise was the thing at festivals and dancefloors, it might have been considered a passing fad, but the major labels in the scene, alongside the artists, have found ways to survive and evolve. So in 2020, many of those same artist continue to release music, but perhaps not with the same sounds as before. synapscape, mind, never really were like their peers anyway, particularly in their use of vocals within a musical style that has so often all-but-erased the human element. That latter part makes Dirty Deal quite a thrill – an elastic rhythm that literally bounces through the track, as tim kniep’s vocals appear in this case to be used as another rhythm intertwining with the beats, and along the way making rhythmic noise almost feel bright and optimistic…
/Decease of Ice-Drones
I remember being enthralled by Hungarian artist andrás gulyás – for he is livingtotem – at BIMFest in Antwerp some years back, his powerful tribal-infused industrial making for a hell of a live set. His sprawling, eighty-minute new album surreal existence continues his fascinating journey, with an iron-clad rhythmic spine proving the base – but somehow never takes the same route twice. This track is an intriguing one, as it takes an off-kilter pattern and gradually builds and accelerates the rhythm, that eventually morphs into a hypnotic groove. Also of note on this album – the final track Cyclone of Haarp, which features the distinctive vocals of a fellow Hungarian, extreme metal legend Attila Csihar.
/Barbed Wire Church
Coming to my attention through a recent Quietus post, this Liverpool act have delved into the nastier edges of industrial. There is the distinct feel of ritualistic horror within this track – even before you get to the brutal visuals of the video – it takes a while to get going, initially little more than a rapid pulse of a heartbeat-esque rhythm behind pitch-shifted vocals. So far, so TG, perhaps, but then the explosion you just know is coming – in short bursts at first, an avalanche of drums and saxophones. Local sources tell me their live show – prior to lockdown – was quite something, too. Consider my interest piqued for more.
Another bracing recommendation from a friend who often better has his ear to the ground of the alternative scene than I do, this is another noise rock band from Austin, TX, but there is something harsher and more malevolent about their sound than many of their peers. Bang is a case in point. Riffs that crash like very tall waves on your ears, drums that are kicking you in the head repeatedly, it doesn’t hang around long. There is something genuinely thrilling about bands that lock into noisy grooves like this and can remain interesting while doing so (many bands don’t). exhalants have absolutely nailed this here.
/Flood of Reflection
Future Sound of London were always a group way ahead of their time. Broadcasting live sets over ISDN (!) to radio-stations back in 1994 was a forerunner of the future norm in 2020 (even if the method of transmission, and bandwidth, has rather improved since), and their intricately-constructed electronic music always, and still does, sound futuristic even now. So you can forgive them for looking back a little, as they’ve returned to the celestial beauty of Cascade – the 1993 single that was the lead track of the outstanding Lifeforms – to see what else they could do with it.
Like that original release (the Cascade single was no less than 36 minutes), it takes original motifs and builds new worlds around them, and to their credit it sounds fresh and new. But as the world around them has darkened in tone and outlook, so has their music again. Flood of Reflection pushes the gentle beauty into the background, with harsher synths and washes of sound that feel like vines coiling around your feet taking over instead. There is a foreboding, at points a savage darkness that shrouds this album, and once again, FSOL are taking us on a sonic trip like no other.