Ghost Miner – Shadow Factory (C25, Out-Of-Body Records)

darkwave, EBM, Industrial, Music, Noise, Review

Ghost Miner is Nick Cabrera (also of harsh noise project Ascites), and he joins the canon of other great releases on Out-Of-Body Records with this C25 titled “Shadow Factory.” A factory is correct – of loops, that is, because the eleven tracks on this cassette are full of repetitive minimal tracks with heavy beats and drum tracks. It’s a lot different from the expected assault of Ascites, and a nice change of pace at that.

The first side is filled with seven quick cuts, the second with four longer offerings. These tracks are filled with beat-driven noise that compiles synth layers and drum machine programs, softly alternating their rhythms with minimal texturing changes. The A-side really flies through its 12 minutes without stopping, and it’s often difficult to tell the shift from one track to the next; these are good, but the B-side shines with the longer cuts, allowing Ghost Miner to add more detailed and nuance to the repetitive tracks.

These are moody synth scores in the vein of ’80s industrialized movie soundtracks, and Shadow Factory adds a number of atmospheric songs. “Evasion” is the longest at 5 minutes, operating with an echoey synth and drum duality and adding in ghostly vocals throughout; it’s the sound of a sinister toy-making facility, all off-key and atonal, and it shows how successful Ghost Miner can be with drawn-out pieces.

Shadow Factory is a great release of minimal noise-driven beats, and it’s interesting to hear Ghost Miner’s dark dancework in comparison to Ascites blasts of noise. Like everything Out-Of-Body Records has put out so far, this is material that’s definitely worth picking up.

Arvo Zylo – Falling Tower, Terrible Fountain (C30, Side of the Sun Recordings)

Drone, harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, Review

falling tower, terrible fountainArvo Zylo brings us another excellent tape filled with noise from Side of the Sun Recordings. Falling Tower, Terrible Fountain is, from the artist himself, a personal recording experience based somewhat on the Falling Tower tarot card, and indeed the cassette brings a smattering of different sounds, sometimes minimal and sometimes noisily full, that draws the listener into this experience.

Side A’s full-sided “Falling Tower” is a mass of pulsating textures and rhythms, with Arvo Zylo crafting a heavy droning harsh noise track out of various pieces. Industrial loops of machinery and feedback sporadically whir in the background, while swirls of feedback repeat in the forefront along with a melancholy riff. “Falling Tower” approaches cacophony at times, but Arvo Zylo refrains from letting it reach an overblown climax – instead, he allows that industrial clamor to become a drifting texture that hypnotizes as it blends into the track. The amount of noise happening in the focal point – a bit of bass here, the softly exaggerated whine of circuitry there – forces the listener to observe each alternation in the sound.

Side B is actually two tracks, the titular “Terrible Fountain” and “House of God.” “Terrible Fountain” starts as slab of static in a continual loop that makes it sound segmented. That’s only for a few moments, though, and then Arvo Zylo allows it to linger a bit more, along with an open, airy drone in the background. It’s wall-like in nature but it never quite gets there; while mesmerizing, it doesn’t have the textural hold.

“House of God” is more minimal, a track that adds various electronic manipulations and synth tones. Arvo Zylo explores oscillating movement, and the end finds a synth sustaining a note overtop of the other repeating notes. It’s a short piece, but it works well as a follow-up to “Terrible Fountain.”

Falling Tower, Terrible Fountain is a solid release, and Arvo Zylo has proven time and again that his noise is something much deeper than the simple twist and turn of knobs. This tape is like a void, easily sucking the listener into the whir of noise aberrations, and one should attempt to find this tape by contacting punkferret138 AT yahoo.com (since Side of the Sun doesn’t really have a web presence).

Human Vault – Tears of the Quiet Ones/Souls Inflicted (2xCD-R, Exabyss Records)

dub, EBM, Industrial, Music, Noise, Review

hukman vault

Human Vault is Mortum, an industrial artist whose work has been released on a variety of different lables. Exabyss Records is re-releasing Human Vault’s ouput, and Tears of the Quiet Ones/Souls Inflicted is a combination of two recordings on a 2-CD-R set. Tears of the Quiet Ones is a regular full-length album, and the second disc, Souls Inflicted, is a set of four remixes by Vinnui and Gary. It’s a nice package from Exabyss Records, especially if you missed Human Vault output in the past; the electro death industrial music he puts out isn’t for everyone, but the noisy dance sound is nonetheless done well.

Human Vault often uses a standard repetitive beat for his tracks; programmed drums provide the background beat, while various synth tracks lay out the gothic feel, often dark and haunting but hypnotic as well. Most of the tracks clock in around lengthy four- or five-minute marks, using their repetition to lock into a groove as Human Vault growls or snarls over them.

None of these are too noisy, although they have a semblance of that to them; “Void in Fetus” starts out with crackles of static, only to erupt into a bass-driven jam with squeaky interlaced in the mix. “Stupid Sadistic and Suicidal” is an intro piece that lays down more electronics than beats, with a sound sample late in the track that shows where the title came from.

The snarly vocals are the draw here for me, although I have to say that all of Tears of the Quiet Ones’ beats are catchy. The sounds are compiled well, and all of the tracks generally have one or two moments where the song morphs ever so slightly, like “The Defeat of Creation”‘s subtle synth notes in the background. The final track onTears of the Quiet Ones, the Gary remix “The Defeat of Creation,” slows things down quite nicely for a dreamy outro.

Souls Inflicted is a nice bonus for listeners, especially since some the original tracks aren’t included on this release. It gives a quick look at what other sounds Human Vault has created, and at the same time allows Vinnui and Gary some exposure as well. It’s a short CD-R, but definitely worth a listen.

Exabyss’ package of this Human Vault reissue is really nice, and an avid listener of industrial would feel right at home with this album. With that said, I’m not too knowledgeable with industrial myself, but Tears of the Quiet Ones/Souls Inflicted is definitely a beat-heavy album with a lot of good sounds, worth a check even for those who like more noise than music.

Steel Hook Prostheses – The Empirics Guild (CD, Malignant Records)

Black Noise, death industrial, harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

the empirics guild

Steel Hook Prostheses is the duo J. Stillings and L. Kerr, and their sound sits primarily within the heavy power electronics/death industrial genres. The black metal vocals should give it away immediately on The Empiric Guild, but the combination of intensely atmospheric noise and the penchant for producing eerie textures of makes this a soundtrack for a very gloomy day; or, if it isn’t one, it sure will be after a listen to the screaming electronics.

The Empirics Guild is composed of twelve tracks to make up over an hour of sound. These often run the gamut from lengthy to quite-lengthy, most of them not falling under the four minute mark. Steel Hook Prostheses generally envelope the listener in sound, starting out with windy, escalating drones that are joined with harsh, often manipulated vocals. The thing about The Empirics Guild‘s tracks is that the vocals are rarely the same, often heavily modified; “Leprosaria Dross”‘ demonic incantations sound significantly different from the less-modulated screams on the other tracks, for example.

This means that no two tracks fall into the same sort of sound, which is often a problem with death industrial and power electronics. The vocals are an important technique for Steel Hook Prostheses, and they add an extra layer to the noises that populate this release. Spoken word samples on “Debrided Necrotic Tissue” add a creepy texture to the hushed drones; harsher screams give chilling results. The tracks are meant to unnerve, and they do so at all times.

Some tracks may seem familiar to others doing the same sort of styles, but Steel Hook Prostheses is consistently good. If you’re into this type of death industrial/PE, you’ll have no problem finding multiple tracks to enjoy on The Empirics Guild.

Street Sects – The Morning After the Night We Raped Death (7″, Not On Label)

Industrial, Music, Noise, Noisecore, Review

the morning after the night we raped death

Street Sects is the duo Leo Ashline and Shaun Ringsmuth, performing loop-based noise/grindcore. It’s the sort of thing that works well when paired with the aggressive vocal delivery on this five minute 7″ record. The Morning After the Night We Raped Death is the first in a five-series set of LPs titled “Gentrification: A Serial Album,” and on this vinyl, you get the double-sided singles plus an insert with an essay.

The first track, “Bliss,” hammers away at the listener for just under two minutes. Street Sects define their motif on this track, punctuating moments with blurry, seared vocals. The loops are utilized to their full potential, at times stretched to give a 4/4 time signature while remaining significantly raucous, then switching to considerably faster speeds for a breakneck finish. It’s difficult to tell what is used for each loop; they kind of meld into one another, and some of them may be so damaged as to be indecipherable. But it’s fun to listen to “Bliss” and attempt to figure out what’s being used, whether it be a simple guitar line sped up and chopped or actual songs mangled up to form the basis of a new, noisier track.

Side B, “Fate On Her Knees,” is a little slower, a little less noisy. The first part of the track takes on an industrial march of sorts, the loops toned down to highlight the percussion over the mass of sound. There are a lot of vocal differences here, and I’m not sure if that’s due to manipulation – speeding up and slowing down pre-recorded vocals or something else entirely – but it makes a really interesting listen that, again, makes the audience wonder what’s going on behind what we can actually hear.

Street Sects is a wonderfully interesting project, and their five-part “Gentrification” series is well on its way. At this time, part two is done and up on their Bandcamp. In the meantime, you can check out both of those works here.

recommended

Trepaneringsritualen – The Totality of Death (Programme B) (CD, Silken Tofu)

Black Noise, harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, Review

totality of death b

The Totality of Death (Programme B) is the second disc in a compilation of difficult-to-find tracks from Trepaneringsritualen. It’s another hour of death industrial tracks, released on Silken Tofu in much the same style as Programme A with more flip-out panel artwork in a digipak.

Most of these tracks are similar in quality and tonality to the ones on Programme A, some of them appearing on the same releases. Silken Tofu and Malignant Records split up the tracks instead of having them appear back-to-back as they would have on their corresponding releases, possibly for a better mix and proportion of similar tracks.

There’s lots of banging and pounding akin to the death industrial tribalism; “Sacrament & Crucifixion,” “Champ Sacré,” and “Decoupage de L’Orme,” back to back with each other, all sit fairly comfortably in this zone, driven by the rhythmic pounding with the latter featuring a wind-swept drone punctuated by muffled screaming.

Trepaneringsritualen alternates comfortably between upbeat tracks with prominent black metal vocals and more droning efforts like the opener “Beläten”; some are focused heavily on atmosphere, and others, like the rough “Eucharist of Shit & Piss,” fall nearly into black metal categories. It’s a sweeping testament to genres, but The Totality of Death as a complete set is a wonderful arrangement of the differences in Trepaneringsritualen’s work.

Like most compilations, there are some definite hits and a few misses; some of Trepaneringsritualen’s work tends to drag for too long (“Repeating (Anti-Memory),” “Den Fallne Domaldrs Lik”). But for the most part both programmes are intense and effective, with great packages. You should pick up both for two hours of good material.

Trepaneringsritualen – The Totality of Death (Programme A) (CD, Malignant Records)

Black Noise, harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

the totality of death a

Trepaneringsritualen is Thomas Ekelund, a death industrial/power electronics project that has been around since about 2010. The project itself has amassed quite a number of smaller, hard to find releases on tapes across the noise spectrum (and even a 10″ on Release the Bats, kind of surprising), so in a partnership between Malignant Records and Silken Tofu, Trepaneringsritualen released a two-CD compilation set comprising many (but not all) of his tracks. Thus, one label released Programme A, the other released Programme B.

The tracks aren’t ordered by date of release, so they’re split fairly evenly between the two discs. You’ll get some of Trepaneringsritualen’s old and new stuff on both CDs, so there’s no worry that one disc consists of less quality than the other. It’s interesting how the tracks are structured on Programme A, because some of them seem quite different from his other works.

Opener “Death Reveler” finds a looped, scorched guitar rhythm and some bell-like textures with harsh vocals overtop, while the second track, “Edifice of Nine Sauvastikas,” meanders with an echoing industrial yaw for ten minutes. These moments tend to juxtapose the changes in Trepaneringsritualen’s sound as it evolved, and that’s really what a compilation such as this should be about.

Programme A‘s tracks tend toward the simpler side of things in terms of sonic output; Ekelund is often happy to offer up one pattern of textures throughout an entire track, working with the blackened samples he includes without feeling the need to change the loop. While this often works to his advantage (see “All Hail the Black Flame”), some of the tracks like “The Birth of Babalon” can grow stale. Likewise, the moments where Trepaneringsritualen buries his vocals in the sound, as on “För Svears Väl,” feel like missed opportunities – the atmosphere is there, but the vocals do give the project and tracks an added weight.

The last two tracks on Programme A are considerably lesser in quality, which is fine, because these offerings are quite different from the rest of the output. Drums, guitar, and other instruments combine with his vocals for an amalgam that is hinted at on other tracks but never explored. Trepaneringsritualen even covers Death in June’s “C’est Un Reve.”

Like many compilations, the tracks on The Totality of Death (Programme A) can be hit or miss, but for the most part, Trepaneringsritualen’s output is consistently punishing and worth the lengthy hour listen, especially because the project has been quite varied over the years. The discs from Malignant Records and Silken Tofu come in a six-panel fold-out digipak, too, so the whole package is worth it.

Black Sun Productions and Val Denham – Somewhere Between Desire and Despair (CD, Tourette Records)

Drone, Industrial, Music, Noise, Review, spoken word

black sun productions val denham

Black Sun Productions teams up with vocalist/artist Val Denham for this lengthy, hour-long album of drone cuts, cabaret music, and spoken word poetry. Denham is known in the musical world for her vocal stylings, and Somewhere Between Desire and Despair utilizes her array of singing/howling/speaking in various ways.

Spanning fifteen tracks, there’s no dearth of sound throughout the album. Black Sun Productions provides backdrops and instrumentation in different degrees; there’s the droning of “A Tale of Two Cities,” throbbing away to the spoken word of Denham, or the rap beat of “Stars” to guide the mostly rhythmic track. They know when to emphasize – see “Cobalt Blue” or “We Are the Monsters” – and when to allow Denham room for the manic poetry.

However, these tracks are best when Denham’s vocals are used more for noise and sound than for singing, because she has a tendency to be quite screeching in some tracks that center around her arrangements and poetry. “Emerald Green” is the most egregious offender, Denham’s voice a cacophony of howls and yelps that burns the ears, with “Stars” being a close second. It’s when Denham’s voice is subdued and used as accompanying drone that things play out quite nicely, like the final two tracks “Val Ium” and “Time Uncaptured.”

What we’re left with is a multifaceted album that is sometimes difficult to sit through. Denham’s lyrics about transgenderism and spirituality are certainly interesting, but they work best when her voice is toned down to a dull roar rather than a scream. Black Sun Productions does a good job accompanying her work, though: they’re adept at switching off between noisier output and cabaret, pop sensibility and drone.

Grunt – Someone Is Watching (CD, Force Majeure)

harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

someone is watching

Grunt’s active style of noise is fully present on this reissue CD of Someone Is Watching, originally a C60 back in 1998. The CD emphasizes the paranoia on display in the lyrics and titles of Grunt’s work; an insert features a nine-panel picture of people being viewed through a security camera, as well as a write-up of video surveillance systems.

If Grunt’s recordings aren’t intensely focused on the politics of surveillance then I don’t know what is. His power electronics delivery is one of the most recognizable and violent of all of the acts I’ve heard, and the opening moments of “Watch Your Back” are so devastating thanks to Grunt’s iconic vocals that it’s easy to see what’s in store throughout. He works with loops, crushing static, and heavy synth rhythms for a sound that matches the dissent in politics and world affairs.

The only track that really misses the mark is “You Can’t Hide,” which differentiates itself from the other songs on the disc by using loops of sound samples including, “Where you gonna run? Where you gonna hide? Nowhere.” throughout. It doesn’t have the flair that Grunt’s own screams give to the tracks despite significantly highlighting the paranoia.

Force Majeure’s re-release seems to omit two tracks from the original: “DNA Test” and “Filmed Proof” are missing here although listed on the original cassette, so either those were tracks Grunt did not want included or Force Majeure made an executive decision to leave them off.

If you missed Someone Is Watching when it first released, it’s in your best interest to pick up this re-released edition. These are some violent and heavy tracks from the power electronics king, and you’ll want it in your discography.

Gnawed – Terminal Epoch (CD, Phage Tapes)

harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

terminal epoch

Terminal Epoch is a full-length Gnawed album from Grant Richardson, and he’s become quite the aficionado of the power electronics scene. All of Gnawed’s output is consistently grueling; the devastating recordings are populated with the staples of the PE genre without feeling like the same tracks over and over again. That’s a difficult thing to do with a full-length like Terminal Epoch, with twelve tracks to fill. But the CD, clocking in at over 40 minutes, never repeats the same thing.

It certainly fits into the style of power electronics that Gnawed has been putting out for years, though. Tracks like the opening “Savage Judgment” paired with “Taken As Scorn” would sit well on any cassette Gnawed as put out; they use the vocal manipulations and pounding, slow synth beats that make up traditional PE tracks. But what always amazes me about Gnawed as an artist in the forefront of the field is that his tracks always feel incredibly powerful, mixed with the clanging industrial beats as emphatic as feedback is with harsh noise artists.

Gnawed varies things considerably, however. It’s not all about the methodical rhythmic beats; “Lip Service,” “Retribution,” and “To Crawl” manage to loop industrial rhythms without needing a thudding stomp. “Deconstructed” only sticks around for a minute, while other tracks make use of unusual source sounds like a monotone scrawl of static or a quiet sampled vocals. Gnawed’s signature whorled screams are still present, but they’re muffled occasionally.

The source sounds elevate Terminal Epoch above other PE tracks. Screeching electronics is par for the course, but piecing together specific sounds, like the synth line from the title track, takes a lot more foresight. It makes it well worth the listen.

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