PHALLUS DEI: Black Dawn 2xLP/CD Dark Vinyl
With an extensive musical career behind them and releases stretching back to 1988, you could be forgiven for thinking that a band like this is way past its peak. Far from it, if this new material is anything to go by.
Droning guitars are savage in their approach on opening track, ‘Slewed’. Industrial clatters and Dark Ambient fill out the backdrop of a cavernous production that adds to the brutality. In stark contrast, the Darkwave synths of ‘Starman’ provide their own drones, doubling up in a loop with organic instrumentation. The resulting hypnosis, becomes all the more peculiar once the Jazz lunacy of saxophones, blare out unexpectedly, providing a visceral, apocalyptical backdrop to the proceedings. If anything this was reminiscent of some areas of SWANS’, ‘The Seer’. Great stuff.
The threatening atmospherics of ‘Zauberwald’ provide genuine tension; as layered instrumentation build into a huge monolith of sound, with only the whisperings of lunacy and distortion for company.
With the spacious ambient of ‘Krieger’ providing the only break in the proceedings; it’s worthy of note that this still also manages to belt the listener with hammer-like doom precision, leading up to the guitar noise of the end game that is ‘Stigmata’, that provides its own horrors.
In parts, ‘Black Dawn’ is heavier than a sack of spanners. The true genius lies in Phallus Dei’s attention to harmony amongst a sea of aural bloodshed; providing an intricately layered slab of an album that is as impressive as it is destructive. It could just be the best new album I have heard this year.
IKON: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends LP/CD Dark Vinyl
This is a re-issue of this Melbourne based bands’ 2014 album of the same name, with some added bonus tracks; no matter though, as I didn’t hear it the first time around.
I have heard a few tracks by this Australian four-piece over the years, but they never really hit the mark for me. Whilst banding about terminology such as ‘Post-Punk’ and artists such as Joy Division; simply put, they sound just like a Gothic Rock band, plain and simple, nothing more, with more in common with the Bolshoi than anyone else; with the exception that Tanner & Co deserved more acclaim than the cards they were actually dealt.
Whilst knowing their instruments and having a key sense of verse, chorus, verse, alongside a web of spangle driven guitars; Ikon never really set me alight, even when I was a lot younger and appreciated clubs that smelled of patchouli oil and clove cigarettes.
I am still sure they have a massive following and part of me can see why. They do everything they do well; but have always been a band that plays by the numbers, with nothing really special to latch onto; and in 2017, they bring even less to the table of any relevance.
S S S S: Just Dead Stars for Dead Eyes LP Hallow Ground
Two lengthy tracks make up this album of ambient noise from Swiss producer Samuel Savenburg; produced over a two week long artists residency at Lucerne’s ‘Sudpol’ in the summer of 2015.
‘Pt1’ draws on an engaging array of harmonic, emotive synth and pad structures that rise from a bed of harsh electronics. Mid-way through the blisters soar upward; leaving the listener floating amongst clouds of spatial drifts, that is occasionally interrupted by the storm below.
‘Pt2’ is an altogether noisier affair, more akin to some of the output from PE artists. This does have its moments of tension amongst the oppressive rumbles; with some genuine cinematic interruptions, that are more than welcome once things become a trifle overwhelming (due to the length of the track).
Overall, this is a decent affair that should appeal mainly to fans of genuine Industrial music, Dark Ambient and Power Electronics; showcasing a competent feel for all these genres, with flair.
MENSIMONIS: Clone Fever CD Opa Loka Records
Eclectic is probably too small a word for this duo and their purely improvised album of guitar and electronics.
Radboud Mens and Lukas Simonis, bring a history with them that scales countless workshops, playing to many a secondary school student for what appears to be years. The difficulties for me usually arise on what improvisation brings, or usually doesn’t (as is more often the case) to the table.
Overall, there is no doubt as to the skills both operatives possess as well as the many strings to their proverbial bows. It does take a while for things to get going; and when they do, there is a certain degree of enjoyment that can be attained once things go full guitar-ambient.
‘Clone Fever’ is ultimately a mixed bag. On one hand (as mentioned above), there was a lot to appreciate. But there is far too many interruptions at play, where the duo appear to just be messing around getting a feel for things; and therefor not entirely creating music, with one too many tune-ups for my liking. This isn’t bad, but it could have been so much more.
AGNES HVIZDALEK: Index CD Nakama Records
Hailing from Vienna’s experimental music scene, I am sure there is little that Hvizdalek is doing to actually promote their efforts with this release.
Clocking in at 47 minutes, ‘Index’ is one long track of Agnes’ voice stretched, staggered and torn apart voice. Literally.
It is infuriating, because there are moments here where you can imagine her working with a producer of actual music and coming up trumps with some of the ideas she has utilised. On her own though, it is just a pointless waste of my time, her time, the manufacturing plants machinery; and indeed, the planets resources.
ROUGGE: Cordes DL Rougge Production
Sometimes the best things come in small packages and this is non more evident than on this latest EP from Rougge.
Split into six ‘Fragments’, the opening intro of ‘Fragment 12’ is treated much in the same way as an ensemble’s warm up, to the first song proper, ‘Fragment 53’; providing a beautifully evocative structure, comprising of piano, strings and vocals reminiscent of Antony & the Johnsons. ‘Fragment 45’, follows much in the same vein, albeit at a slower pace; and the rest of the EP follows suit with gusto.
‘Cordes’ is effective in keeping everything concise and compact, with a stunning attention to detail and genuine musicianship. It borders on the criminal that this guy is just releasing this on download and not through some major classical label.
With a precise focus on pace and key, Rougge dances between the sombre and sublime, with an outstanding polished production and grace.
JAIME IRLES: A Region of Eternal Night DL Self-Released
One half of underground Spanish electronic wizards ‘Known Rebel’; Jaime Irles has taken the leap here into producing his own solo work to great effect, capitalising on his strengths and snatching lightly at many an influence with the odd smattering of originality.
Electronically speaking, there are nods to the lighter shades of dance music, treated with skipping, woven vocalisations; the most prominent of which being ‘Getaway’, which smacks ever so slightly, of Blanck Mass.
The beats are well rounded; the pads are warm and carry a necessary bounce. Pacing on the album clever intersects between the frenetic and the ability to slow things down when it is needed most.
As expected, the production values provide clarity and weight, where light reverberations are allowed to wash over the listener as the beats shudder welcomingly. A sense of modernisation that flirts with the 80’s, providing a sense of nostalgia that we all experience when summer nights are long and we have space to reflect.
Overall, this is a welcome release that shines with the abandon of what is expected from an electronic musician nowadays; and will no doubt surprise many, especially in the later stages of listening.