Review: Whatever Makes You Feel Safe is a collaboration between Canadian producer and singer Marie Davidson and Berlin based Ukrainian sound designer Invisible Church. They met in Montreal during Red Bull Music Academy festival and shared the idea of exploring the concept of feeling safe both on a personal level and as a part of society. Quite different from what you'd usually associate with Davidson but still worthy of your attention all the same. Beginning on the A side with "Collage" featuring some chilling drone experiments over textural sound design and field recordings which allow Davidson's haunting vocals to carry the track further into the void. Sounds like a cross between OAKE and Lustmord. Next up "Never Release The Tension" delves further into pitch black territory on this contorted downbeat industrial thriller. Finally on the flip, we've got an epic 10 minutes of haunting esoterica in the form of "Ten Years" and features Theo Parrish on cymbals! The label recommends it as for fans the late Mika Vainio, Black Rain, CTI, and the Bladerunner OST. Pretty on point, if we do say so ourselves!
Review: Pavel Milyakov has largely impressed since making his debut under the Buttechno alias earlier this year, delivering a pair of 12" singles that gather together short, hardware-driven experiments in a variety of dystopian styles. Here, the Russian producer debuts under his given name, once again flitting between dark and spacey dancefloor workouts, bleak broken techno, macabre electro, wonky IDM and panicky ambience. Despite the stylistic shifts, the EP hangs together impressively, thanks in no small part to Milyakov's penchant for industrial textures, tape echo and haunting melodies. If you're into the releases of L.I.E.S and Berceuse Heroique, you need this in your life.
Review: Modal Analysis continues its unrelenting march towards the darkest territory in the electro landscape with this deadly 12" from Morah, which wastes no time in laying waste to the good vibes with the sinister stomp of "Voltage#1". The second track pumps up the rhythm section and lays down a sidewinder of a synth line that smacks of understated rave perfection, and it's that same synth that courses through the marginally more hypnotic "Voltage#3". Vapauteen offers up a remix of "Voltage#3" that slows the original right down and works a kind of mechanical tropicalia into the bones of the original.
Review: Helena Hauff's Return To Disorder label plunges once more into the grimy underworld of electro and wave music, this time guided by dungeon dweller Morah who debuted on the label in 2015 and has since gone on to great things via Lux Rec, Berceuse Heroique, brokntoys and more. "I Saw, Strained Her Eyes Peering Into The Gloom" is a bittersweet dance with distortion as disheveled as it is catchy, while "Dance When Lights Off" pushes even further into the red with scintillating results. "Against Your Beloved" sounds positively shimmering by comparison, even if on its own it's still a truly dirty slice of jacked up electro. "One Shade The Less, One Ray The More" is a strong closing bout that draws from a similar sound bank and applies it to a more techno-minded structure.
Review: Lucerne based Prasens Editionen was founded in 2011 to give home to Zweikommasieben Magazin. Ever since, a bunch of magazines, books, zines, records, tapes and oddities have been published. After digging deep into their vast archive, they found two gems that are particularly striking: a live recording from a collaborative project (on Side A) in the form of the the textural industrial/noise journey by Nilbog entitled "Liverecording 02/11/16". On the flip Mr Pena's "TMC" (The Markt Chronicles) is a three minute gabba onslught. Mr. Pena lets loose, aiming at hardcore dancefloors while balancing between fight-or-flight terror and pacifying joy. Edition of 300.
Review: And just like that, France's Kump label is born. The newly formed crew make for some pretty promising prospects if this debut EP is anything to go by, and they've started flying off our shelves with the same sort of zesty energy found across its five killers! Thankfully, this isn't yet another deep house joint and, one the contrary, it provides us with some seriously fresh strains of house music built for the next decade. Ricco's opener "Gilbert & George" is a punchy, mid-tempo pulser with a subtly acidic flow, and Pletnev's "Thunder" follows beautifully with the same sort of beat, but comparatively tamer harmonies. On the flip, Ju-Ju83 gets all sombre and industrial on "Untimely End", while "Nirvana" by Roe Deers offers a totally different sort of 'sad', and Markus Gibbs's "Dernier Souffle" manages to blend mid-90's acid with something that, well, we can't quite put our finger on...
Zombies Under Stress - "Maan Zal Zijn" (Svengalisghost remix)
Mark Forshaw - "Submission"
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Contort Yourself has once again gathered the best and boldest from past and present for its fourth EP. To begin with we have the grimacing visage of Volition Immanent, an intense live act made up of Parrish Smith and Mark Van de Maat (Knekelhuis). Behind rawkish distortion, splintered beats and acrid bars screams a boiled anger; a track spitting on the divides of punk and electronics. Nastiness is taken up a notch as noise ne'er-do-wells Zombies Under Stress take over. Static is bent and doubled across thick chords and collapsed clap in the 1986 "Maan Zal Zijn" before the raw and raging battery of "In Onze Tijd." L.I.E.S. regular Svengalisghost grapples with "Maan Zal Zijn, channelling the original's rage into a mechanical monster. The 12" is bookended with bite as Mark Forshaw (Tabernacle/Berceuse Heroique) closes with the tortured and torrential thump of "Submission." A callous, caustic and fervently cruel EP.
Review: KUMP's second multi-artist extravaganza - the Lyon-based label's first such exercise for two years -brings together tracks from a quintet of eccentric experimentalists. Clanking, horror-inspired creepiness is provided from the start via Jon The Baptist's lolloping "Hear No Evil", while those looking for some chugging, mid-tempo dancefloor sleaze should make a beeline for Maahrt's "Davardage". Elsewhere, Stove's "Chief of Nine Sisters" is an industrialist's take on tropical music with a suitably pagan twist, and Yssue and Yaws' contributions both sound like contemporary re-inventions of Nitzer Ebb style electronic body music (albeit with a touch more inherent looseness).
Review: Italian "hard noise" specialists Urashima has unearthed something rather significant here: a previously "lost" early recording from Japanese maverick Masonna that was initially slated for release before what became his 1989 debut album, whose explicit title cannot be repeated here. Comprising two lengthy experimental soundscapes created using feedback, white noise and a legion of effects units, both parts of "Bursting Absolute Moods" are abstract in the extreme, offering a cacophonous journey through the artist's intense imagination that will frighten most listeners but delight noise enthusiasts. Of the two parts, it's the second that surprises and intrigues more, with sporadic bursts of activity being joined by screamed vocal textures and short periods of quiet reflection.
Review: For this third release on Los Angeles based imprint Dais, dark ambient maestro Drew McDowall reaches into concept, ritual and immersion in an exercise of unravelling the DNA of hallucination. The Third Helix is a churning descent into emotion, provoking thought and reflection while carving out haunting space only to fill it with baffling and wondrous structures of layered sound. McDowall solidifies himself as an architect who transforms otherworldly materials into something fascinating and challenging in the process. Unnerving, trance-like anthems for nervous meditation and anxious relaxation. Fans of Coil will immediately connect and immerse, while the complex compositions welcome listen for drone and ambient enthusiasts.
Review: If you were looking for a musical representation of the sketchy, out-of-bounds recesses of the dark web, you could do worse than check out this fourth full-length from Philadelphia based electronic explorers Metasplice. Variously paranoid, dark, intense, otherworldly and strangely sparse, the album's eight tracks veer from claustrophobic experiments in freestyle electronic madness (see "Track 5") and overbearingly hostile drone ("Track 7"), to macabre ambience and surprisingly melodious minimalism (see the bubbling electronics of "Track 6"). Despite the duo's desire to push boundaries, Metasplice is actually a rather entertaining set, with the scattergun, left-of-centre approach guaranteeing surprises throughout.
Review: Music On Vinyl's Ministry reissue series continues via this heavyweight re-press of "The Land Of Rape And Honey" on orange and gold vinyl. On its initial release in 1988, the album was seen as something of a departure from the Al Jourgensen-helmed band's previous output, primarily because it mixed their previous EBM, industrial and experimental synth-pop influences with heavier guitar riffs, more stomping beats and the kind of growled vocals more prevalent in heavy metal. Listening back 31 years on, the album has lost none of its luster, with highlights including the low-slung dub-rock chug of "Golden Dawn", the ricocheting drums and dystopian screams of "Destruction", the EBM-rock throb of "You Know What You Are" and the 400 Blows style electro-dub funkiness of "Abortive".
Review: Music On Vinyl continues to serve up essential reissues of classic Ministry albums, with 1989's "The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste" becoming the latest set to get the audiophile-friendly heavy vinyl treatment. The record is a little heavier and fuzzier than some of its predecessors, with greater use of rambunctious, mind-altering heavy metal guitar riffs and less reliance on the Fairlight CMI-driven arpeggio style basslines, oddball samples and bustling EBM rhythms. Of course, Al Jourgensen and company's trusty drum machines are still present and correct, with riff-laden songs being joined by occasional blasts of bass heavy post-punk style weightiness ("Cannibal Song"), rubbery mutant disco (the sample-laden stomp of "So What") and suitably dystopian industrial funk workouts ("Faith Collapsing").