We’ve got one last blast of summer here this week, before we begin the tumble down into the cooler climes of Autumn. Clubs seem to be back in full force – of course with restrictions – while some gigs are happening, others still being postponed. None of which is stopping the continuing flood of new music, even during the usually quieter month of August.
This month, at least in part, seems to be dominated by tracks where industrial has been an influence, if not the core sound. The influence of the genre seems to ripple out further every year, perhaps as technology becomes more and more important than ever, but perhaps also because everyone else is finally catching up.
But either way, as usual, this is an insight into my listening at the moment. A collection of diverse songs and styles, and my almost relentless desire to always be hearing something new. In other words, in terms of music, I get bored easily. Here’s to more music coming my way too.
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).
/I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God
/If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Unusually, I could have featured two (very different) artists outside of the industrial sphere this month that had the involvement of Trent Reznor. And as good as True (his recent collaboration with Danny Elfman) is, I can’t help but feel that his production work (alongside Atticus Ross) on the new Halsey album is rather more worth writing about. I’m not going to lie – I knew little about Halsey and their previous work – other than that they have more alternative leanings in their influences than many perhaps mainstream popstars do. So, maybe, this is a collaboration that is worth paying attention to – and it is. The fingerprints of Reznor and Ross are all over the music, that’s for sure, but what’s interesting is the way that they dial things back. There are occasional blasts of industrial power that make it clear who is involved, but otherwise, they step back and let Halsey do their thing with a subtle industrial clank in the backing and perhaps those latter moments are the best. Such as the towering statement of womanhood that is I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God, where Halsey dares their detractors – and men, mostly men – to take her down.
Oh, and if you think this is a pop star “co-opting” a scene and Halsey isn’t welcome, fuck off. I find it much more fascinating that Reznor now has a seat at the pop table, and on this evidence, I’d love to hear more.
/Arrows In Words From The Sky
I’m all for bands moving on – even if that means that they move on without me – but occasionally, it is nice to see a band return to their roots and origins, even if it is just for one song. Hence my joy at hearing this blast of squalling, squealing guitars of a very particular sound, and Robb Flynn’s bellowed, furious vocals. Oh yes, Machine Head have stopped writing prog-length epics for a few moments and remembered that just for a while, they were the shit-kicking future of metal. Sure, he’s still got a chip on his shoulder, there’s still a dull melodic bit, but for the most part, this is five minutes of the most anthemic metal I’ve heard in 2021 – all the while being the best throwback to 1994 you’ll hear this year too. Either works for me.
To my shame, I missed this when it was released late last year, and only heard it for the first time on the VGN set at Stay-In-Fest at the weekend. I know very little about the artist – other than that they are Birmingham-based at the moment, and clearly have a deep grounding in punchy 80s-EBM. This song is a fucking monster – sharp-edged kicks added to powerful vocals, an abbatoir’s-worth of hooks, and a thrilling charge into a chorus I’ve not been able to shake for days. The only issue I have? Why hasn’t there been more from VRMS yet? I want more!
Album number four is on the near horizon, it seems, for 3TEETH, and what I’m presuming to be the first taste of it is this see-sawing track with their friends in Ho99o9. This subscribes very much to the idea of quietLOUD in extremis, and the use of dynamics in such a way demands that this track is played very loud. When it does kick in, at enough volume it feels like it is sucking the air from your head, and in the quieter moments, it dares you to turn it up to notice the details. Musically, this a case of “if it ain’t broke…”. The industrial still comes with a significant dose of metal, and for some that might be a turn-off. That said, I’m perfectly happy with this.
It’s been the best part of a decade since Left Spine Down were really active – and in the meantime Jeremy Inkel passed away far too young, which seemed to stop the rest of the band in their tracks. But, sparks from the machine have been becoming visible in the past year or so, with a couple of re-releases and things from the archives, and now, there is new music. Well, later this month there is new music, a couple of new tracks and a number of remixes/reworkings. The Fall: Amen, the track released in advance, strips away the guitars of the title track for a fluid breakbeat workout (and that’s what you’ll hear here for now), but the pick of the pair of new tracks is the fuzzy, glitch-punk of Bithead, which kicks the door down, sneers at everyone in the room, and bellows “WE’RE BACK, MOTHERFUCKERS”. Welcome, take a seat. It’s great to have LSD back in our lives.
Seemingly stylised as D:/fe.at (with, needless to say, an issue searching for that, so Defeat it is), they are a band entirely new to me, as far as I can tell, which is perhaps surprising going on how many releases there are on their Bandcamp that have had involvement of bands I do know. Interestingly, though, this appears to be the third such collaborative release, this time with Beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand (or BeinE, for short). Each get a track of their own, and then they remix each other. Loyalty is D:/fe.at’s track, solid EBM-synthpop track that in vocal delivery, reminds me of Portion Control, while musically they are rather less aggressive and more melodic. BeinE offer stormy textural sounds on Not A God, as lightning effects crackle across their traditionally sparse sonic sky, as the vocals tear into the power and sexual dynamics of musicians and fans. Perhaps even more interesting is the way that BeinE deconstruct D:/fe.at, pulling away the beats and leaving the vocals to pretty much fend for themselves. Interestingly, though, I don’t think D:/fe.at’s EBM rework of BeinE – where they shine light on all corners – works as well. BeinE’s whole thing is one of mystery and darkness, this just feels too…bright.
I perhaps got into Senestre too late, but there is no doubting that this French artist is really fucking good at making Industrial Techno fascinating – and more to the point, makes me want to bust down the doors of the nearest club and play it as loud as I fucking can. This new track, the lead release from their upcoming new album, is a monster in every sense of the word. Cut up vocal samples only enhance the ultra-precise, punchy rhythms, while clever production makes the mechanised feel humanised, as if to remind that even techno has a human side to the machines. This is outstanding stuff.
/New Ways to Pray
Also orbiting the realms of industrial techno is Joey Blush, whose Blush Response project is light years – literally – from the early, melodic industrial (with vocals) that first got the name out there. Years on, we are now on a ride into the cosmic with Blush, as fast-paced beats take us streaming into the darkness and unknown of the future, where we can go clubbing again in safety (without worrying about unvaccinated idiots infecting us all again) and listen to loud, repetitive music. Like Crystal Geometry, there’s a feeling of human voices being used to create anew, but here, they seem to be this ghostly choir, hovering on the fringes of the sounds, perhaps providing warnings for our future direction. Or, more simply, they are just the icing on a pretty fucking impressive cake.
This is, perhaps, the last of the Matt Fanale projects than I’d not featured here. This is very much hear on it’s merits, though. grabyourface released the intriguing sea just before Christmas, and they continue their unusual, spoken-word vocal style here, on a bed of minimal synth grooves provided by Matt Fanale that match each other perfectly. Sure, there’s going to be a comparison or two to Boy Harsher – and they can take this as a compliment from me – but there’s a darker, reflective tone here that does set it apart.
/Draven’s Mixtape:1994 Revisited
The Crow remains, perhaps, the best-known and best work by Alex Proyas (although Dark City runs it close), but The Crow’s legacy was perhaps cemented by the extraordinary soundtrack album, of songs that wound through the film and ended up being as important as the actors and story. So, needless to say, there’s been a few covers of songs from it over the years. Distortion Productions, though, wanted to go one step further, and enlisted a whos-who of mostly North American industrial to take on the entire album. My own copy is still in the post somewhere between Pennsylvania, US and Kent, UK, but in the meantime, Cocksure’s take on the iconic Cure track will do nicely.
Perhaps wisely, this isn’t a totally straight-up take. Rather than the humid, gothic darkness of the original, Cocksure rough things up a bit, doing things their way, and so while the spirit of the original remains, this feels very much like Cocksure. In other words, rather how you should do covers. Pay tribute, sure, but don’t be too reverential.