Post-Infest, pre-Cold Waves, I’ve been hit by the usual late-summer/early-autumn rush of new music, with little time to process it all. For a start, then, there are thirteen tracks here rather than ten to ensure I cover more.
Some of this rush is down to an increasingly late appearance of material online (even teasers), which I guess has good and bad sides. It does make it rather difficult to get the word out, though, if there is nothing to promote.
Happily a great many more ensure that music is available to be heard in some way or another in good time – and this is why this month has a mix of songs from recent past, and near future, including one that I’m a few months behind on (my own fault).
Anyway. The industrial scene – as much of this week’s post fits in that bracket – is clearly in better health than I maybe thought, judging on the quality of releases at present. Here’s to that continuing.
A reminder that the amodelofcontrol.com Infest 2016 coverage is here, and coverage from all three nights of Cold Waves V in a couple of weeks time will follow in due course.
Track of the Month
Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps
One of the longest-lived industrial-related acts – Paul Lemos’ act first appeared in 1978 – return with their first album in a while, and true to form, it is a difficult beast to pin down, as it doesn’t really sound like much they’ve done before – well, actually, it does and it doesn’t, maybe it’s better to say that it takes parts of their sound into new dimensions. The most impressive song on the album, though, for me, is the absolutely pummelling track Carving Song, where the menace of early No-Wave Swans makes friends with Test Dept.’s drumming style – and dissonant saxophones – and results in six minutes of free-jazz, tribal industrial brutality.
The Blinding Dark
Apparently about the current refugee crisis and European uncertainty – that gloomy outlook has inspired the best song from Covenant since Northern Light. It has the kind of thundering, rolling rhythm that all of the best dancefloor-bound material from the band has always had, and it is coupled with the kind of skyscraping, dramatic chorus that only Covenant could ever get away with. I can only hope that the forthcoming album is even half as good as this.
No apologies for featuring 3Teeth again, but this song is so good that needs featuring. By a distance the best song the band have released, it builds on the blueprint laid down by NIHIL – slow build, explosive chorus – but they’ve sure-as-hell upgraded the weaponry involved. Production is harder, cleaner and so much more intense, but the kicker is the monstrous, bass-heavy chorus with a processed guitar riff that sounds like about six guitarists are playing it in unison. Needless to say, this absolutely destroys live.
So, any worries that Run The Jewels might struggle to follow up RTJ2 has been instantly dispelled by the vitality of this. DJ Shadow’s fingerprints are certainly all over the music – snippets of film soundtracks, old blues and jazz feature at various moments – but El-P and Killer Mike absolutely own this track with their humorous, quickfire rapping. It is also worth catching the exceptional video, which sees various “politicians” in a round-room meeting having a heated discussion that quickly escalates, their words being the raps.
Stephen Mallinder’s new project Wranger return this month with their second album (their first, LA Spark, is well worth hearing too), and while the ghost of his old band Cabaret Voltaire still looms in the background, this is very much the sound of Mallinder and his new bandmates striking out and twisting their noise into new shapes. Analog synths bleep and squelch, aiding a strident, lurching rhythm, while Mallinder’s vocals are pitch-shifted to make him sound quite, quite different. Where’s the Cabs influence, then, you say? The funk undertones, for a start, and that uncanny knack of making what could be quite an uncompromising sound really quite catchy. The video – filmed on the Romney Marshes in Kent – is quite a strange four minutes, too.
Demons / Seeing Stars EP
After a couple of exceptional EPs in 2014, followed up with a remix EP last year, this young synthpop band have returned with this new song, the lead track from the new EP out on Friday. The good news is that the time between has been put to good use. This is yet another swooning tale of doomed love and downbeat synthpop that the group do so, so well, with a tear-jerking chorus that really is something else. Many, many bands have concentrated on the more upbeat side of the genre – Empathy Test have explored the darker, slower-paced corners of the genre to quite brilliant effect and imbue a rare emotional intensity to every single song they write. They play an album launch show on Friday that I may struggle to make, but on this evidence it’s worth a try.
Amnistia are one of those German industrial bands that (perhaps unfairly) seem to rather fly under the radar, at least over here. I’ve seen them live on the one time I’m aware of that they did come to the UK (supporting [:SITD:]), and their very nineties-esque take on electro-industrial certainly appealed to me. Now quite a few albums in, their new album Dawn suggests that, in particular, they’ve been revisting Caustic Grip. Especially on the straight-up FLA reverence of Money, which is an exceptional piece of hero worship, and a great song generally. Just check those synths, and the sweeping chorus for exhibits A and B…
In the three years since the exceptional Push The Sky Away, Cave and his band have toured extensively, and in more personal circumstances, Cave’s teenage son died in a tragic accident. With a film One More Time With Feeling accompanying this album – and documenting the making of it – it was perhaps inevitable that this was going to be a difficult album, and the first song to be released from it certainly backs this up. Jesus Alone is near funereal, the music little more than shuffles of brushes, stately piano and squalls of violin, with Cave’s questioning of higher beings and people now gone taking centre stage, and the result is six minutes of moving, emotional brilliance.
Thanks to Jairus for this one (one of the first new music recommendations on the recently introduced I Die: You Die Slack channel), this was a band who I’d not come across before. From Toronto, this single actually misrepresents the breadth of styles that the band encompass. While the album takes in industrial, noise rock, and searing post-punk (among other styles), this song is a straight-up industrial stomper, with howling backing vocals and stabbing, robotic samples that invoke a dystopian future that the unsettling, stylish video makes all the more overt.
Another stellar album from the EK label in Italy that brought us the astonishing Cardinal Noire album last year (2015: Albums), and this is nearly as impressive. A very different sound, though – a modern take on nineties electro-industrial for the dancefloor. This is the opening track to the album, and it takes off like an electronic whirlwind, before settling into a melodic, bass-heavy chorus (that bass drone on the chorus is fantastic) and thumping, DJ-friendly rhythm. There is something of early :wumpscut: to the sound, not to mention some noisy electronics from the Ant-Zen stable elbowing their way in at points, too. An impressive debut.
The Diamond Sinners / Found in Filth
The Lord of Lard, Raymond Watts, returns with his long-running project, for his first “solo” release in some years (other <PIG> releases in the past couple of years have all been split releases, with Marc Heal and Primitive Race), with a new band made of old and new collaborators. The first single The Diamond Sinners is a gospel-influenced, industrial blues song (completing with tolling bells to indicate just how far towards hell this is slipping), while second single Found In Filth has a sleazier, industrial rock vibe that suggests that Watts has lost none of his offbeat sense of humour, and also his retains his exceptional ear for a catchy tune – remember that he was part of KMFDM at their very best. One of the artists that I am very curious indeed to see live at Cold Waves V in a few weeks time, and album Gospel precedes that appearance (and full tour across the US/Canada) this week.
Ok, so I’m months behind on this one, but the growing buzz over the past couple of months has intrigued me enough to check out this new artist, and this single is not the half of it – as there are a few songs on the album Sonic Erotica that are potentially better than this. Anyway, this Canadian synth duo appear to be taking punk to synths in some respects, with Nostalgia having a distinctly punk-ish attitude to the vocals, but with an absolutely belting hook, and a song (and rather NSFW video!) that comes across as an almighty fuck you to an ex-lover, the message to me being make good use of the time you have, don’t waste it wondering what never was. Good advice, and a great song.
In addition, with the duo now having signed to Negative Gain, I’m presuming Sonic Erotica will now get a full release at some point – certainly it has vanished from Bandcamp before I could get hold of it (as I’m sure it was there before).
Finally this week, comes a song that I was sent unsoliticited, by e-mail. I have no problem with this – I just can’t promise that I will listen to everything I get sent, never mind feature it (please send any such promo material to adam@amodelofcontrol[dot]com, by the way, for consideration). But certain e-mails catch my eyes and ears, and this was one of them.
It’s something of a curiosity, for a start. There is something – keeping with a retro theme in this week’s roundup – of a nineties industrial feel to this, but in the electronics that permeate the song there is very much a feel of early nineties techno and rave, too, suggesting that this is not something from the usual sources. Either way, well worth a listen, and I’ll be keeping an eye on this artist in the future.