Tuesday Ten: 093: Tracks of the Month (February 2010)

Not having picked up much new music in recent weeks, it has given me a chance at last to try and catch up a little with various promo items and things have that come my way, that I may have missed mentioning at the time or hadn’t got ’round to listening to yet.

Which is why some of this week’s list may not be totally bang up to date, but it still includes some new stuff.


Track of the month

Notes From A War
Electronic Saviors: Industrial Music To Cure Cancer

The first new material from Stromkern in bloody ages, and what a return. An elegant, piano-led track that has a calm, almost resigned air about it to begin with, and is perhaps a little less political on the surface than might be expected from this band. It could be about dealing with illness, it could be about dealing with troubles of the wider world, or it might be both. Either way, it’s a staggering track that if it is a measure of the quality to expect if-and-when the new album comes, we’re going to be blown away. Not to mention, this is one of many brilliant tracks on this compilation – the quality level on it is extraordinary for this many tracks.

Never Say Farewell
Electronic Saviors: Industrial Music To Cure Cancer

Speaking of which…Woah. Soaring, dancefloor-slaying futurepop of the kind that was all the rage ten years ago, with an absolute killer of an uplifting chorus. This is such an unexpected, bolt-from-the-blue of a track that it just left me with a stunned smile the first time, and by the appearance of the second chorus I was singing along. They don’t make ’em like this anymore, or so I thought, but more this good would be very welcome indeed.

Rocket Skates
Diamond Eyes

Ah, the return of perhaps the one band to come out of the nu-metal tag with their dignity and reputation intact. Partly due to their diverse influences, their songcraft, and even Chino Moreno’s voice, that can go from croon to bloodcurdling scream in one breath. And this is the first track made available from their forthcoming album – that replaces the shelved Eros album following bassist Chi Cheng’s serious injury and coma – that much to my surprise sees them return to the melodic and crunching metal hybrid that worked so well on Around The Fur and to a lesser extent White Pony, and not to mention it’s also a return, seemingly, for the dark sexuality and cryptic lyrics that have always made Moreno such a fascinating lyricist. Following the boredom of Saturday Night Wrist, I really have high hopes that this new album will be much better.

Je$us Loves Amerika
Breathe (demo)

I was passed this by Patrick from the band a few months ago among a handful of demos of new material, and a good few listens later it’s certainly this one that is the pick of the bunch. Being a demo, it’s still a little raw, but it’s still powerful enough – a brutal, thunderous beat underpins nagging synth lines, and the hate-fuelled, nihilistic vocals are still present and correct. No idea if/when it will get a proper release, but it certainly deserves one. I’m not in a position to put a sample here, obviously, but think of it if nothing else as a reminder that they are still here, and that the fire remains.

Everything Goes Cold
Bitch Stole My Time Machine
Everything Goes Cold vs General Failure

Mention of this album got a bit lost in the system with it being released so close to Christmas, really, so here’s an attempt to redress the balance a little. From an album that wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped – mainly as most of the best stuff had already appeared on the EP, frustratingly – this is the pick of the other tracks, for sure. The stabbing orchestral synths are a little bit of a surprise in the opening, and one review compared this track to Gravity Kills, and I can see where they are coming from. It’s a very, very dense production, with some unusual touches where the vocals and beats almost get buried by the samples at points, but is surprisingly accessible, too.

Punish Yourself vs Sonic Area
Twisted Thrill Ride

This is, by all accounts, a bloody odd coming-together of minds. I’ve come across Punish Yourself before, an insane French industrial-punk-dayglo soundclash of a band, but not Sonic Area, who appear to be a lot more restrained and experimental on first listen. The album they have collaborated on seems to concentrate on more of the latter, but on this track in particular a monster is unleashed in the form of thunderous beats that are so heavy that they seem to keep advancing and getting louder, before being stripped away to leave an edgy ambience and part sound-collage. I’ve a review to write of the whole album at some point, and I suspect that picking out individual tracks is not going to be the way to approach this one. There is a theme here about the mass media, and it’s going to take a good many listens, I think, over the coming weeks, to fully appreciate this.

Mädchen in Uniform
Mädchen in Uniform EP

Hmm, someone’s been listening to their early-80s EBM of late. In something of an abrupt change in style, the thundering power of much of this project’s releases so far have been jettisoned for this single, a direct nod back to the 80s, even down to the barked vocals and group-vocal – or multitracked, it’s difficult to say – chorus. I’ve already seen this track split opinion, but I think it’s great. Old-school EBM of this style seems to be back in fashion at the moment, so it could just be a cynical move, but then, it could just as much be an affectionate nod to their roots. And finally, perhaps Thomas Rainer isn’t being as serious as I thought he was with this whole military girls thing…

Lucretia My Reflection
Silent World EP

We’re hardly short of Sisters of Mercy covers, I know, but this one had me interested from when I first heard about it – and I’m happy to say that it’s actually a pretty good take. Daniel Myer clearly knows a good song when he hears one – in my eyes, this is one of the very finest Sisters tracks of all – as he hasn’t done a lot with it, in all honesty, other than perhaps toughing up the beats a little for the dancefloor, and so it’s perhaps a little reverential but even so, it’s always nice to hear this again.

Michael Gira
I Am Not Insane

The return, well reactivation, of Swans by Michael Gira seemed to come as something of a surprise. Particularly as the release of this album in a limited quantity, to act as something of a fundraiser to allow the release of the Swans album whenever it is, came very fast. If this – freely available – track is anything to go by (I missed getting hold of a copy of the album, sadly), whatever does come could well be intense. Quite what will be added to what is little more than a sketch so far, of Gira’s rich, deep voice and acoustic guitar, remains to be seen, but I’ll no doubt be buying the album however it eventually results. Although somehow I suspect a return to Swans’ earlier days of vicious volume and savage power is rather unlikely…

Pop Will Eat Itself
Axe of Men
Cure For Sanity

The news of the return of Pop Will Eat Itself – again, but this time involving new material, although who other than Graham Crabb is involved is not exactly clear yet – has been heralded by the final release by VileEvils including a rework of old Poppies track Axe of Men (hear a snippet of the new version here, where you can also purchase it), which from the sounds of things is something of a hefty rework. So in the meantime, let’s return to the original, an early nineties electro groove that like much of their material, was somewhat ahead of it’s time.

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