As I nudge toward Tuesday Ten: 300 next week (a milestone I never thought I’d reach), another month has passed and here we are again with the latest batch of new tracks to catch up on.
299: Tracks of the Month (June 2017)
It’s something of a mix of styles, as ever. We were having a debate on my Facebook page a week or two ago about the best industrial of this century, and not surprisingly what was being deemed industrial varied enormously – and a number of those artists mentioned actually feature here. It’s going to take me a while, but I will be returning to that debate later this year with a top 100 industrial tracks of the 21st century (so far).
In the meantime, let’s look forward, not back with new songs.
Elsewhere on amodelofcontrol.com, I posted on Sunday the results of a long piece of work into the treatment of women at gigs, at clubs and as performers (Repeater: 001.1, 001.2 and 001.3 respectively), and the response has been good. It’s been shared a lot, and appears to have stirred some debate, as I rather hoped it would.
I’ve also returned to DJing in the past month (DJ: Guest: 089), interviewed Douglas McCarthy and DJ Cyrus Rex in the guise of their new project Black Line (Talk Show Host: 033), and offered my thoughts on Ghost Twin’s new album (But Listen: 153).
There has also been a major effort in recent weeks to add as much old content back onto the site as possible. As a result, all live reviews (under Into the Pit), album reviews (But Listen), festival reviews (Memory of a Festival) and Interviews (Talk Show Host) are now back online, numbered in order. The 80s, 90s and 2000s rundowns I did previously will follow as soon as I have the time, as will the rest of my DJ sets (all my Guest appearances, Rivet and Resonance sets are all done – Stormblast and tcf will take a bit longer!).
Track of the Month
The return of Nika Roza Danilova is more than welcome, particularly with a song as exceptional as this. Unlike the perhaps mainstream leanings of the last album (ok, not totally, but it was certainly a tilt at wider acceptance), this song suggests that idea has been jettisoned. This is a dramatic, breathless track that has backing vocals howling into the void, thundering, skittering beats hammering out a tattoo that backs a desperate chorus, and strings stabbing out retribution elsewhere. Apparently life has not been great for Danilova in recent times, and this song bears the hallmark of every frustration she has being wrung out into this astonishing song.
Call the Police
“Call the Cops! Call the Preachers!” Oh yes, James Murphy is back, and hearing this song for the first time reminded me why I loved his band in the first place. Impossibly catchy, danceable and groovy, it steadily builds to an ecstatic explosion of dance rock that is basically Murphy going “move aside, pretenders, the master is back”. But beneath that joyous exterior, like almost all of Murphy’s greatest songs, there is a darkness that is impossible to ignore. His songs are often dealing with escaping the drudgery of life by one means or another, and this is another of those, and for these seven minutes, boring things are forgotten and I’m dancing in my seat to this wonderful song.
HFF return with their second full-length album, after the success of the debut (2015: Albums #2 here, #1 over at ID:YD), and there is the feeling of “if it ain’t broke” here. This is no criticism – Greg and Susan Substract have nailed their sound so perfectly that there is no need to change, and there is clearly a whole lot more that they can explore within what they are doing. Lead single – and opener – Talk About is a case in point, with stuttering drum programming offering a deliberate misstep to the sound, wrongfooting where you think it’s going to go, and the vocals and the synths carry the pace of the (very good) track instead.
The Coital Staircase
In quite the change from the usual Caustic programming, Matt Fanale’s new single is a thoughtful, extended electronic-techno workout that very much has the ghosts of Underworld and Fluke running through it. The swirling synths, and stately build that introduces it, the rolling beat and vague, radio-voice samples, and oh my god, the quasi-orchestral breakdown at just before the five minute mark, before a straight-up, slow-jam techno beat kicks in. Matt has never stayed still, to his great credit, and if this is a pointer to his future direction, I’ll be all over this. Even if it isn’t, the new album will as ever be worth hearing.
The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness
Sleep Well Beast
I never really noticed the National in the past. I’d heard the excellent Bloodbuzz Ohio a good few times, and my wife has said how great they are in the past, but I’d never ventured further than that. What a fool I am. Particularly now having heard the new single, and having had it stuck in my head for weeks. It has a subtle build, with flashes of guitar like bursts of colour on an abstract painting, before a huge, anthemic chorus swells out of nowhere. The lyrics appear especially cryptic, but I guess that’s the point.
What Is Beautiful Never Dies
The breakout star act of Infest 2016, Swedish futurepop-ish act Me The Tiger return with a new album this summer (out on 18-August), and this is the first track from it. Like their previous work, this is on the face of it, featherlight synthpop, but it has claws. Barbed hooks are there in the lyrics, and some harsher effects make this stand out from the crowd somewhat, and after their popularity last year, hopefully this will keep interest in the band nicely.
Naïveté (feat. Jennifer Touch)
I’ve featured this intriguing electro act a couple of times in the past couple of years (243: Tracks (Sep 2015) and 261: Tracks (May 2016)), and now their new album is here, featuring both of the songs I’ve covered, it’s worth another look. There is still the feel of prime, late-80s Depeche Mode, and use of synths that help to perpetuate the sound, too, but what I still find interesting is how S. Smith seems to prefer to bury his vocals into the mix, as if he doesn’t want them to be in the spotlight – and I’d half expect live performances to be similarly shrouded in darkness. What makes this album really worth it, though, is the songcraft. All of the songs stand alone nicely, with dramatic flourishes and unexpected touches abounding (and big, big hooks too). Such as in Naïveté, with pan-pipe samples that don’t sound naff, and multi-tracked backing vocals later on that add in a choir when it is least anticipated, and the hook delivers too.
You Too Must Die
The featuring of this band this month – one I’ve seen mentioned a few times of late – comes thanks to an intriguing review by new blog The Sunken Temple, which looks like it is going to be a blog to read regularly in future, particularly if you like music at the extreme edges. Oddly, though, GOLD aren’t particularly extreme. What they are, though, is rather different. From press photos, there appears to be a lot of them, they use at least three guitarists, and the result is a dense, powerful sound that seems to take in post-metal, post-punk, and judging on the striking opening line “Binge-watching the world collapse“, a hope for some form of post-society. The whole album is great, as it happens, but the first song grabs you by the neck, and squeezes, hard.
It’s been a while since we last heard from Saltillo – in fact even longer than I thought, as I reviewed Monocyte on But Listen: 123 nearly five years ago. His knack for atmospheric, downtempo electronics has been retained, though, as the lead single from this new EP is wonderful. There are striking, attention-grabbing vocal samples, chiming synths and rolling rhythms that bring to mind DJ Shadows greatest moments, but this is darker, somewhat more questioning.
it is also now over five years since I first saw Chelsea Wolfe live (Into the Pit: 126), and while she has experimented with her sound over that time, broadly she still retains the darkness at the heart of all of her work. And on the first taste of her forthcoming album Hiss Spun, she appears to have gone even heavier than Abyss was. Once the chorus hits, this is near full-on doom metal as it grinds through, and the sound suits her well. Whether this is representative of the new album as a whole is another question entirely, but I’ll have no problem if it does.