childrenofthedrones2

Horrorscore: Various Artists – Children Of The Drones

childrenofthedrones1Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform yr waking dreams into living nightmares.

For today’s installment, we travel back to the heyday of music blogs and hauntological meanderings, via this compilation from 2007 from the Cottage Of Electric Hell blog.

Children Of The Drones is a wonderful illustration of why i write about music, and what got me into it in the first place. It’s a wyrd collection of acid-fried psych, horror movie soundtracks (mainly ’60s/’70s British horror), pure hauntology (read: Ghost Box), and spooky folk, with a confusing array of layered samples and abstract post-processing. What is sampled? What is original? What is going on?

I came upon Children Of The Drones on a random hard drive. The track titles and artist information were all unknown, the album labelled only by an anonymous date and time (8.20.07). The music sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Googling only led me to a battery of articles on the horrors of unmanned aircraft.

childrenofthedrones2Obsessive digging finally led to the Cottage Of Electric Hell, where i am a frequent visitor. Their blend of custom soundtracks, tasty mixes, and tasteful design is an example of the kind of art that have spurred me beyond random, bullshit blogging, merely posting hyperbole and the same links as everybody else. This level of care and deep knowledge of obscure subjects is what makes me want to GO FURTHER, try harder, to do something meaningful with the knowledge that swarms around us.

Because you can be a leading authority on whatever slice of culture that floats yr boat. Due to a series of random happenstance, perhaps even genetic disposition, i just so happened to end up as a lifelong fanatic of horror and the occult. That’s my PERSONAL preference, it’s my angle, the lens through which i view the world. But you can apply the same thoroughness and fervor to any subject, and along the way, you begin to know yrself, yr own particular soul and Holy Guardian Angel, through the sounds and images that we gravitate towards.

As i was unearthing the origins of this special spectral mix, it led me down a wormhole of some of yesteryear’s finest blogs, Weird Brother and The Active Listener, whom i have started writing for since they initially posted a link. Not only is the music contained a weird collection spanning decades and multiple genres, but when you take into account the people talking about and sharing this mix, it expands even further. Bizarro Radiophonic records rub shoulders with gritty blues field recordings, and the most cutting-edge avant garde electronic music. When taken as a whole, Children Of The Drones is an electron microscope to view the hauntological continuum, it’s roots and scintillating atomization.

This compilation is like listening to the past 7 years of my life, condensed into an hour. The artists and songs have gone past being friends and acquaintances, to become more like family and trusted confidants, so wholly have i been effected by this school of art/thought. It’s guided my listening, reading, viewing and ultimately my thinking. These 28 songs have become part of my DNA, as i have gone further and further into the Netherworld, in search of Wyrd Britannia. I am both delighted and ashamed to acknowledge that i can now identify Acanthus’ “Les Frissons De Vampire” and samples from Black Christmas immediately, and can spot The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water and Power Station PSAs from 100 yards. I recognized the themes to Tomb Of The Blind Dead and Guardians Of The Abyss without looking up. I have sampled at least 3 of these songs, and written about probably half-a-dozen of the featured artists.

Children Of The Drones just goes to show that hauntology isn’t dead, it has just gone underground and mutated. Artificial soundtracks, horror re-issues, and music that either references, samples, or replicates aged horrorscores abound. In addition, interest in old psych/library music and vintage electronics has never been higher.

Let this serve as a battlecry, to know thyself, to investigate yr obsession to their fullest. Make the past work FOR and WITH you, rather than oppress you. Let’s build a future we want to live in, beginning with a better past.

Download: Children Of The Drones

Cottage Of Electric Hell (not as active as it once was, but still a source of much amazement)
More hauntological thoughts, on the nature of half-memory, from Island Of Terror


 

 

galactus

Various Artists – Bourgeouis Kerb Stomp (Herhalen)

herhalen1Two sides of tape scuzz, detailing the activities of The Ex-Servicemen, Glasgow’s only dub power trio.

I’ve not yet heard The Ex-Servicemen, but judging from what we hear on this tasty bumblebee yellow missive, they must be one of the strangest bands on the planet. Mournful, sprawling piano dirges, courtesy of Splashy The Blame-Shifter, meet white-hot sheets of sound, via Lenina, and stark and surreal slice of stream-of-consciousness, via Ship Canal, our favorite purveyors of budget dole noise.

Things start off with Splashy’s “Gas Station Homophobe”, a beautiful and plaintiff piano ballad, with rickety embellishments of tape head percussion. Like Library Tapes recording on The Mountain Goats’ 4-track. The reverie doesn’t last long, however, as you are sucked into Lenina’s white-light-white-heat-from-beyond-infinity witches cradle of droning static and feedback, on “Below Me Lay The Wide Waters”. Could this be the power electronics version of Fahey’s “God Moves On The Water”. Like watching Galactus rise over the ocean. There is a sudden and extreme jump in volume, between tracks, which leads me to believe this power trio’s goal is not to seduce, lull, or comfort. As subtle as a sock full of pennies.

galactusThis unease continues on Ship Canal’s first outing, “The Stigma Of Drinking Alone”, a dense and rolling fog of croaking voices, detuned electronics, fifes, electric guitars, rain, rhythms, and Turkish mysticism. This drunken debaucherous room is full of voices and ancient wisdom. Do they seek to help and enlighten? Or do they masquerade, in an extended campaign of progressive entrapment, like Captain Howdy or David from Witchboard? Also sounds like a group of hashishin jamming on Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor.
 

 

These first three tracks set the pace and tone for the rest of the album, where harsh power electronics give way to darkened drones, and abstract collage soundscapes, leading you further and further down Shiva’s tunnel, approaching the event horizon of that final blink. It can also be read as an attack or a condemnation on Late Capitalism, in all its smugness and its premature victory lap. This is what it might sound like if the Morlocks were to get their hand on a couple of oscillators and distortion units, holding subterranean rituals deep in the night, while the Eloi huddle in the dark.

You can ignore us, but we will never go away. The Ex-Servicemen adopt the tools of production and communication, to strangle the status quo with telegraph lines, ramming jammed fax signals down their throats like so much rotten chum and cheap bread that we are forced to subside on. In the dark, in the underground, we grow mighty and disaffected, sharpening our razors and our minds, spurred on by hunger and isolation.

A particular highlight of Bourgeois Kerb Stomp is Ship Canal’s “Communicating Directly With The Restaurant”, which might be the sound of gray data, or if Yelp were to develop an artificial consciousness and start constructing artsy ambient soundscapes. Reminds me of Dolly Dolly’s surreal and sinister commentaries on British bleakness, but even more stripped of humor and magick. This is the sound of receipts and wrappers, fading back into pulp and mud, in the gutters of decaying cityscapes, that themselves are fading back into the earth.

Mud. Degradation. Signal. Noise. Transmission. Communication. Spirits. Madness. Ritual. Emptiness.

All contained on 2 sides of cheap yellow tape, available for a fiver, and labelled like a dollar store’s going out of business sale. Each tape comes with original screen-printed artwork by Vickie McDonald, a unique, hand-numbered Polaroid photograph by Victoria Stevenson, and a hand-stamped cardboard outer sleeve.

Strong stuff, here, reminding us to not go gentle into good night. Stand up and fight. Fight the machine, with misinformation. Jam the lines, with busted signals. Turning a feedback loop on the smug bastards, until they choke on their banal data and marketing algorithms.

Herhalen looks to be a label to watch, with 3 quality tapes coming out in the last 4 months Expect to hear more, so watch this space, and their bandcamp.
 

 
HERHALEN fb
@Herhalen
soundcloud
bandcamp

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Emma Tricca – Relic (Bird Records)

Emma Tricca - Relic coverMeet The Giallo Princess

On Relic, Emma Tricca combines Nick Drake pastoralism with ghostly flourishes of classic album making.

Emma Tricca is an anomaly. On one hand, she is as pure folk as they come, encouraged by the likes of Odetta and John Renbourn to pursue her craft, writing sparse, bare-boned acoustic sketches of the world that she was living in. Unlike the first (or even second wave) of American folk artists, Tricca did not grow up in the Appalachians or the Ozarks or even a village, for that matter. Instead, she split her time between London and Rome, and her gentle folks song are influenced by “Giallo Comic books, whistling Morricone film scores, vibrant religious imagery and expensive furniture design”, as well as naturalistic influences like the sound of bells, tolling on the breeze, or the play of light and shadow on a hillside or a living room wall.

Superficially, Emma Tricca’s music resembled the like of Vashti Bunyan, like some gypsy troubadour, transplanted from 1796 in a wooden-shingled caravan. While i have a great fondness for Ms. Bunyan, and every other purveyor of the folk tradition for the most part, Tricca’s music is an update and an adaptation on those rustic roots, as you might guess from the fact that Relic is out on Bird Records, the female-fronted subsidiary of British obscureniks Finders Keepers Records. FKR & Devon Folklore affiliate Sam McLoughlin, of Sam And The Plants and N. Racker, who supplies “some Northern rural radiophonics to this ROMANtic relic.”
 

 
It is in these flourishes that Relic reveals itself for what it is, what it could be, and how it deserves to be perceived, with thin slivers of mercurial organ, like on album opener “Golden Chimes (intro)”, to the lush, Disney-esque stacked vocal harmonies of “Sunday Reverie”, my personal favorite, a timeless classic that is like walking around the insides of a Swiss clock on a village green.

Relic is rife with vibes, quite literally. Mallet instruments abound on the record, as do wheezing organs, thin buzzing electric pianos, horns, and the occasional string section. These are mere textures and shading, to add shadow and depth to Tricca’s clean, precise, bell-like guitar playing and weatherbeaten voice, that are Relic‘s true centerpiece.

The production on Relic is magnificent. Emma Tricca has created a truly ageless classic. She is using technology to accentuate the natural, with modern precision meeting classic sensibilities. Relic is an exercise in restraint, a model of good taste.

For those that feel that Joe Boyd’s heavy-handed production on the first couple of Nick Drake records, Relic provides an alternative, an alternate timeline to explore. Also, for fans of Jane Weaver’s Watchbird Alluminate, which Tricca was involved with, and bears a great sonic similarity, you will find much to love.

And mostly, Relic is a folk song for people that get down with tradition AND horror comics, Italian soundtracks and mandolins. Explore the slipstream, and exercise good taste!

Very much recommended!

Emma Tricca: Relic

Emma Tricca FB
@emmatricca
homepage
Bird Records @ Finders Keepers

Vincent Price as Roderick Usher

Horrorscores: Les Baxter – The House Of Usher OST

maf7136booklet1.indd

Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform yr waking dreams into living nightmares.

Today, we will transform this beautiful sunny summer day into a cobweb riddled crypt, via Les Baxter’s score for The House Of Usher, directed by Roger Corman in 1960.

Les Baxter is best known for creating tropical drink sipping, easy swinging hammock exotica for the discerning armchair tourist, most famously in the case of the oft-covered “Quiet Village”. Baxter made about every style of music under the heavens during his long career, which featured over 100 soundtracks.

Three of those soundtracks were for Roger Corman’s adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories: The Raven, The Pit And The Pendulum, and The House Of Usher. The House Of Usher was first.

Vincent Price in The House Of Usher

Vincent Price as Roderick Usher

The House Of Usher, also known as The Fall Of The House Of Usher, starring Vincent Price and Myrna Fahey, tells the story of Philip Winthrop (played by Mark Damon), who goes to the gothic House Of Usher, a desolate mansion surrounded by a murky swamp, to meet his fiancée Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey). The union is opposed by Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price), who believes their bloodline is afflicted by a cursed bloodline which has driven all their ancestors to madness.

 

Myrna Fahey in The House Of Usher

Myrna Fahey as Madeline Usher

During a heated argument with her brother, Madeline suddenly dies and is laid to rest in the family crypt beneath the house. As Philip is preparing to leave following the entombment, the butler, Bristol (Harry Ellerbe), lets slip that Madeline suffered from catalepsy, a condition which can make its sufferers appear dead.

Winthrop tears open the coffin to find it empty, as Madeline wanders the corridors of the family crypt, now quite mad. She evades him and takes her revenge on Roderick, who knowingly buried her alive. Both die, as a fire breaks out, “”…and the deep and dank tarn closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the ‘House of Usher'”.

The House Of Usher plays upon such classic terrors as madness, decadent aristocracy, and being buried alive, and are here chilling orchestrated by Baxter’s orchestral score. The feeling of romance is summoned with swooning violin leads, which is underscored with tension and insanity, courtesy of tense pizzicato strings (a la Bernard Hermann), and spectral choirs, which gives an eerie, otherworldly psychotropic quality to the soundtrack.

The adventure and romance are achieved with lovely, melodic, emotive strings, which are quite classic and memorable, while the feeling of unsettlement are evoked with an atonal orchestral foundation, that bring to mind the avant-garde modernism of Morton Feldman. Flourishes of percussion punctuate the goings-on, with xylophones sneaking through mildewed corridors, and tympani rumble like cursed blood. This mixture of the classic and the avant-garde is a nice summation of the realm inhabited by Edgar Allan Poe.

Most of The House Of Usher was scored, so there is a theme for every occasion. Roderick and Madeline both get one, as do the family crypt, and the premature internment. Perfect fodder for yr next Buried Alive mixtape, or Gothic haunted house.

buried aliveWhile Baxter may have composed soundtracks for over 100 films, only a handful have survived. Archival was just not a priority at the time. Baxter frequently worked with small orchestras, 30 or less, and had less than two weeks to complete a score, with the actual recording typically done in 4 – 6 hours. Feeling was valued over technical perfection, creating a perfect atmosphere of tense dread than could teach sterile modern perfectionists a thing or two. Intrada has performed a great public service, making these grooves available to the public again.

You can hear echoes of Baxter’s score, and this kind of classic orchestral horror, in Broadcast‘s soundtrack for Berberian Sound Studio, particularly the ghostly choirs, my particular favorite aspect of this record.

I personally haven’t seen any of Corman’s Poe adaptations yet, which i now plan on rectifying immediately, but Baxter’s score makes for a superb soundtrack for reading Poe, or other Gothic, imaginative fiction, or as a soundtrack for an evening drinking wine or absinthe (or blood), with yr hand on a skull.

Yet another indication of horror’s continuing emergence, rising from the underground, from the fertile mud of the id, as people continue to pay attention and pick over the archives, giving more legitimacy to classic works. More Please!

Get a copy: House of Usher (Reissue)

You can hear most of The House Of Usher OST on Spotify:

Les Baxter Official Homepage
Intrada homepage
Intrada facebook
@intradaCDs

 

transhuman

Parlous – Parlous

Parlous album coverHere we have a lovely limited edition cassette object from Portland’s Parlous. He got in touch via a mutual adoration for Tobacco and Moon Wiring Club, and was kind enough to send me a copy of this luxurious tape, complete with ornate scrolled logy to. I also had the unique opportunity to meet Parlous in person, as we live in the same city. He had an extra ticket to see Com Truise at Rotture, and i had a chance to meet the man behind the music, as we bonded over gear, songwriting, and old horror movies.

Parlous’ debut outing is a poignantly short EP of retroactive electronics, equally inspired by early ’80s soundtracks, as well as their recreationists. Blurred melodies meet growling basslines, as haunting arpeggiators enter a world of echoes, to evoke a feeling of subterranean and underwater worlds, as dawn breaks over some glittering city skyline. On all 5 tracks, there is a feeling of ADVENTURE, of potential, of rushing into the future at 60 mph.

Things start off with “Himalayan Peaks”, the most Tobacco-indebted track on here, as Parlous uses a similar template of tapemelt synthesizers and muscular breakbeats. “Himalayan Peaks” is FUN… the kind of music you want to listen to while eating popsicles in a kiddy pool. That may or may not be full of slime or gelatin. “Softcore” is not as pornographic as the name would suggest, more Brian De Palma than Linda Lovelace. But as an electro-breakdance thriller, it is top notch, with a simple drum machine boom-bap beat, while starburst synths meet rubber basslines. “Turn the lights down low,” as Bob Marley commands.


The jauntiness subsides on “Summer Eclipsed”, my personal favorite on here, as it is the moodiest and most mysterious. A truly beautiful electric piano drifts like windchimes, against a backdrop of rippling shadows, with a very sparse but effective beat. The shadow of the summertime, full of romance and regret and anticipation; music for after the sun has set, for the long, warm summer nights.


The bottom drops out further still with “Dawn Machine”, which is like that hour of cold blue dawn, right before the sun breaks over the horizon and the birds start up for the day. This could be the incidental music for some Jacques Coustea documentary, as yr world seems to transform into a dimly lit barrier reef. Dream with the fishes…

And lastly, “Tjeodn”, perhaps the most ominous outing, with its glitched out rhythms and backwards melodies, fuzzy warble basslines and a haunting lead, that sounds somewhere between a gypsy violin and a theremin. This could be the soundtrack for a version of Dracula, filmed in 1979.

Parlous’ music, and his personality, reveal something important about inspiration. About the past, about technology and our relation to it.

If i recall correctly, this is Parlous’ first attempt at making music, after getting interested in the music of Tobacco, Moon Wiring Club, Boards Of Canada, and various other sundry hauntologists. Most of the sounds on his debut were sourced from cheap iPad apps, and then hacked and prodded into place. He was inspired by stumbling upon the community of Bandcamp musicians, with the ease and availability of putting out music yrself.

You can tell Parlous’ influences; he makes no secret of hiding them, and quite simply, if you like Tobacco/Black Moth Super Rainbow, Moon Wiring Club, Vangelis, or old ’80s VHS soundtracks, you will adore these ferric grooves. But, more than that, superseding influences, Parlous has an arranger’s ear and an incredible palate for tasty and memorable melodies. It is these melodies, stacked and layered, quickly giving way to another, that shows that Parlous is a true musician, and would have stumbled his way into making and releasing music, one way or the other.

Parlous is a technological man. He has gadgets and gizmos aplenty; he’s got whozit and whatsit’s galore. During the time we hung out, i noticed a GPS, an iPhone, satellite radio. He described himself (and i hope it’s okay to divulge this) as a “self-diagnosed Aspergers”, which is a form of autism that “can lead to difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and clumsiness.” When we went to the show, he offered to buy me a beer, to discover the fact that i don’t drink, which is kind of rare and weird in this rock ‘n roll world we dwell in. It is an awkward situation for almost anybody – he seemed non-plussed for a moment, then asked if i would like something else instead, and if it would bother me if he drank. That is pretty much the most reasonable, logical, considerate reaction one could hope for, and i was able to tell him i didn’t mind at all if he imbibed, i just don’t partake myself. Here is a man who is describing himself as an “Aspy” (someone with Asperger’s), who is actually entirely smooth, competely genteel; someone who is both mental and emotional.

I submit, for the record, that Parlous processes his emotions through his intellect (which is how i am), and, similarly, he conjures his music with technology. He is using technology emotionally, and i think he would’ve done the same with whatever tool happened to catch his fancy, whether that be jazz or classical piano, or violin, or tape-collage. We like what we like, and there is little accounting for what ignites that initial spark of interest.

This is noteworthy, as Parlous’ music may be digital in origin, but is leagues away from the clinical austerity of Vaporwave, which i perceive as the REAL sound of Asperger’s. Parlous’ music is full of excitement, passion, and adventure. It will light you up, and inspire you, as he was inspired.

To me, this is the best way to use technology; it is the heart and mind working together. Using technology to CONNECT, rather than isolate. To more fully express yr emotions, with greater control and detail, rather than disassociating or escaping. And using technology to dive in and express yrself!

This is the kind of bold audaciousness i applaud. Don’t wait for permission; do yr thing, and likeminded people will find you. I mean, Forestpunk is about as raw and ragged as they come, and i’m sure there have been some embarrassing moments in the last 2 years, as i’ve been learning and figuring things out. But fuck it, this is my thing, and i’m putting it out there, and i’ve met tons and tons of like minds, sympathetic souls, kindred spirits, and partners-in-crime like Parlous, along the way.

Very much recommended, and the cassette is super sweet, which i recommend nabbing while there are still copies.

You can watch a video for TJEODN here.
And another for Softcore, which should be considered NSFW

@parlousPDX
par70u5

a dying star

The Poetics Of Space: Alessandro Cortini – Sonno (Hospital Productions)

cortini-sonno-hospitalA sense of place is becoming increasingly important in these disassociated times, as is lovingly illustrated in Boomkat‘s exceptional 14tracks compilation Psychoacoustic Cartography. These seems to be true of every style and genre, but is triply compounded in the realm of electronic music, which all-too-often never emerges from the claustrophobic confines of motherboards and processors. Electronic musicians seem to be drawing a line in the sand, falling into one of two camps. On one hand, you’ve got the hyper clean and precise alien grime eskibeat sculptures favored by James Ferraro and lashed together into spastic contraptions, via juke and footwork. And on the other hand, you’ve got, what i rather lamentably label “industrial techno“, (there has got to be a better name. Any takers? Industrial techno makes me think of, and often leads me, mid ’90s hardcore/gabber, which is similar, but not the same), with musicians channeling dancefloor miasma from antiquated gear, packed in styrofoam and white noise. Post-industrial techno is more like it, as it definitely often sounds like music made for decrepit warehouses on shitty, broken equipment in a bunker,somewhere between Wim Wenders‘ Berlin in Wings Of Desire, and The Zone, in Tarkovsky‘s Stalker.

stalkerSonno entirely corrects this uncanny dislocation, as a symphony of tones, pulsing drones, fathomless bass, and coruscating echoes were entirely recorded in hotel rooms, with Corsini walking around the room like a water witch with a field recorder, picking up the sine waves, as they weave, dive, and dodge, creating unique, interesting, and lush phasing that is damn near impossible to replicate digitally.

Alessandro Cortini is best known as the live electronics performer in Nine Inch Nails. It shows, as many moments on Sonno bring to mind NIN’s Ghosts I – IV, so for those who have worn out those records’ 8 sides shall rejoice, with a new sound installation to lose yrself in for days, weeks, and months at a time, transforming yr house or office into a version of La Monte Young‘s dream house.

dream house

Cortini is also known as a master of the Buchla synth (did you even know there WAS such a thing), although in this case, Sonno was conceived with a much more rudimentary setup, Roland MC 202 through a delay pedal, recorded direct, sometimes into a small portable speaker system. Yes, that’s right, he even used speakers as microphones, further contributing to Sonno‘s distant, ruined fidelity, something like the sound of a dying star, its light reaching us 230 years after its demise. Or like macroscopic photography of tearing lace.

a dying star

Even though Roland is best known for their beatmaking apparati, Sonno is a beatless affair, as in “devoid of percussion”, as Marc Weidenbaum recently noted in his 33 1/3 Book on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II, every sound has a beat, as they are comprised of sine waves, which rise and fall. This is an apt connection, as Sonno is definitely in the same spirit as SAW II, as well as ambient classics like Music For Airports or Discreet Music by Eno, and is easily as good as any of them, and i don’t say that lightly.

Sonno works as a whole, although each individual track is beautiful and stands up on its own. Some highlights are album opener “Ravina”, with its warm swells of organ-like bass drone, or the lonesome haunted drift of “Voltaggio Solitario” that sounds like Leyland Kirby smearing “1/1″. “Di Passagio”, posted above, is the undisputed champion for this gentle scribe, however, with an intimation of a bassline that makes me think of underwater minimalist techno, watching a meteor shower from the Dead Sea.

There is not a bad moment or bunk note on Sonno; i’ve been hypnotized and mesmerized from hearing the opening strains a week ago, and have become irrevocably obsessed. Cortini has had two successful albums recently on Important Records, Forse 1, and Forse Two, that i can’t wait to hear, so expect to hear more about this.

This is a modern ambient classic, one of the best i’ve heard in a minute, further situation Hospital Productions at the peak of the interesting electronic music pyramid. At this point, you might as well buy anything by them that you can get yr hands on, as its bound to be interesting.

I cannot recommend this album highly enough.

You can get mp3s and FLAC from Boomkat now: mp3 and flac
And pre-order CD and vinyl, out 7.22: Sonno

Sonoio FB
@blindoldfreak
Hospital Productions

streetsects2

Street Sects – Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings

streetsects

The hole that I came screaming out of was wet and dark, and I want to go back.
Do I ever fantasize about the violence of my youth?
No.
I fantasize about going home.

- Excerpt from Gentrification: A Serial Album

Leo Ashline is a nasty piece of work. Or, rather, Street SectsGentrification serial album is. When we first met Street Sects, earlier this year, i described part 1 of the Gentrification series, The Night After We Raped Death, as “music for the pit, whether mosh or infernal,” going on to describe Street Sects as “Rough and tumble. Raw and real. Polished black metal cybergrind, shining like obsidian, pools of dark blood beneath the streetlights.”

Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings follows the same template as the Night After… 3 tracks of short, sharp, digitally enhanced grindcore. First time around i compared Street Sects to Canadian post-apocalyptics Skinny Puppy, the brash digital hardcore punk rock of Mindless Self Indulgence, with the noisy abrasion of Death Grips. All of these comparisons stand, although Street Sects are in no way as fun as MSI. Sickly detuned vocals, meet spastic and intricate beats, courtesy of Shaun Ringsmuth, the evil music genius behind Street Sects, who creates a dense wall of chop ‘n paste glitch dada spew, white noise and air raid sirens, that sets yr little mouse nervous system into a panic. Where’s the hawk? Where’s the owl? It is a fine, corrupt setting for Ashline’s tales of self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, angst, ennui, boredom, and psychosis.

Along with the digital download, (which will be transferred to vinyl at some point), comes a short and brutal story, straight from a teenager’s id. It tells the story of the narrator’s first encounters with sex, via a mother who is less than wholesome. It bends and warps the narrator’s sex drive, fusing it with violence and confusion. The story should be regarded as a Trigger Warning, in the extreme, involving sexual abuse, pig masks, and sweaty tank tops.

All in all, Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings could be seen as Charles Bukowski penning lyrics for James Plotkin‘s Old Lady Driver (OLD) project. Speaking of James Plotkin, he mastered Broken Windows, which as any fan of heavy music will know, is synonymous with unrelenting brutality.
 

 
That is what is so striking about Street Sects – how well planned and well executed it is. This is pure primal fury, about some of the darkest stuff that life has to offer, but expertly mastered, and packaged in slick, sharp, and clean graphic design. This is no GG Allin, spraying gray matter all over record grooves. Rather, this is thought out, planned and schemed to the utmost. Even the format of a “serial album” requires foresight, follow-through, and careful planning.

This mixture of violence, darkness, and careful planning, is noteworthy. This is not the work of some street thug. More like the work of some criminal mastermind, an evil genius. It’s a good thing that Leo Ashline has a creative outlet.

And that’s the heart of the matter, for all of us who walk in the dark side. We do not turn away from unpleasantness. We are forced to look at it. For anyone with an interest in horror movies, pulp novels, who spends any time in the subculture underworld, we are confronted with violence and nastiness constantly. It’s just as much of a danger to repress that stuff, as it is to act on every impulse.
 

 

Easily 80% of the people i know are fucked up and crazy beyond life. We’d probably all be dangerous, if not for art.

My own life, and nearly every person i know and especially the ladies, has been decimated by sexual abuse. My own introduction to the world of sex was less than wholesome, and i’ve had to actively work, nearly every day for the last 23 years, to not be fucked up, jaded, skewed, or bitter. It’s a major trigger for me, that sets my teeth on edge, and curls my fingers into fists (hard to type that way). Does that mean i think people shouldn’t talk about this stuff? Absolutely not. If anything, i get the feeling that Street Sects are using the fuel of VERY EXTREME IMAGERY to portray their anger at the status quo, using it as a commentary on gentrification, and the increasing power of the system. Much like David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet, Street Sects are here to remind you, it’s not as wholesome as it seems.

So A+ for musical quality and delivery, and any fan of extreme angry music will flip shit over Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings. And much like any other grind-related activity, you can’t understand many of the vocals, anyway, as they’re delivered in a hoarse strangulated gargle, and you’d never know the concept, just by listening, although the feelings come across. Those that are easily offended should stay the hell away from Street Sects, however, (and you probably won’t like a lot of what else i have to say), so consider yrself forewarned.
 

 
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Horrorscores: People Eaters – Disincarnate (Aetheric Records)

People Eaters - Disincarnate album cover

artwork design by slowthaw & Crow Versus Crow.

8 Threnodies For A Late Father.

Welcome to another edition of Horrorscores, where we transform yr waking dreams into a living nightmare.

It is our trembling pleasure and shivering delight to introduce Disincarnate, the first proper LP from Fiji horror drone mesmerist People Eaters, the spectral figurehead behind Aetheric Records.

We often ask ourselves, both personally as well as universally, what makes a person obsessed with horror? This is more like a zen koan, rather than investigative journalism, as each wayward soul has their own path and reasons for wandering into the shadowed realms. Like some ship of lost souls, each has their own tale to tale.

Disincarnate hit close to home, and conjures some fierce sympathetic resonance, with its 8 threnodies for People Eaters’ father, who passed away in 2013.

Let us look, first, at what exactly is a threnody.

A threnody is a song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word threnoidia, from threnos “wailing” and oide “ode”; ultimately, from the Proto-Indo-European root *wed- (“to speak”) that is also the precursor of such words as “ode”, “tragedy”, “comedy”, “parody”, “melody” and “rhapsody”.
Synonyms include “dirge”, “coronach”, “lament” and “elegy”. The Epitaphios Threnos is the lamentation chanted in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday. John Dryden commemorated the death of Charles II of England in the long poem Threnodia Augustalis, and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a “Threnody” in memory of his son.

- wikipedia

From the whisper-quiet lamentation of Emerson’s resignation, at his son’s passing, to the screaming nuclear blast of Penderecki’s Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima, another famous Horrorscore, for its inclusion on The Shining soundtrack, that sounds like nothing so much as the peace of the 20th Century psyche ripped to shreds by 1000 hungry ghosts, threnodies remind us there are as many ways to mourn as there are people.

Disincarnate is largely made up of ominous cello swoons, and bilious clouds of static electronics, that congeal in the air like ectoplasm, only to turn into a plague of locusts and sandstorms. The 8 tracks work as a cohesive whole, a nocturnal journey, although there are individual moments that stand out. Disincarnate sounds like a seance held in a subterranean laboratory. Its what the soundtrack to Flatliners might’ve sounded like, if they had turned to black magick to exorcise Billy Mahoney. They entire proceedings is suffused in a sickly green phosphorescence, like walking at the bottom of the sea.


Most of Disincarnate is subtle, instrumental, and atmospheric, casting a mood, a long-shadow reverie, and leaving the listener to draw their own conclusions.

An incantation emerges on “Me Mokutu Vakamatea” that acts as manifesto for Disincarnate as well as THIS horror fanatic.

Buried/lying open mouthed/beneath the shadow/of the black sun/forever lost in the silent void of the final dream/an end to the body/a new heathen earth/gives birth/to godland/in the desolate half light/of their rotting temples/the nearly alive kneel before their false idols/afraid/their blood turns to powder as they eat HIS flesh and swallow HIS lies/a feast of forgiveness.

When seeking to deal with grief and make sense of the world around us, sometimes Christianity’s “Golly Gee, I hope i’ll see them again some day in some better place”, feels a little weak, and is a cold comfort in the face of losing a parent. For some of us, waiting around for the afterlife is not going to cut it, and we fly into a pagan rage at the vastness and mystery of life, and our powerlessness. Can a (wo)man be blamed, for wanting to conquer death?

These heretical vocals, written by Slowthaw and delivered by Joshua Levesque, are delivered in a disaffected drawl, but containing all the fury of black metal. It is subdued, to become an event horizon of human emotions that you suspect could rend the veil, once and for all.

I have come to suspect that, at the lowest level of psychological motivation, that my own interest in horror, fantasy, and the supernatural stems from the fact that my own dad died when i was little. Horror and the occult were my only hope of seeing him again, with my eyes, rather than in my dreams. It is a shattering psychological wound, that i don’t think there’s any coming back from. Just coming to grips with, and learning to live.

All of these revelations, of course, come long after the fact, and is still largely guesswork, even though it seems silly i don’t know the shadows and corners of my own mind. The obsession started because it started, and i have always been obsessed with the dark side. From this simple fissure, this root compulsion, has built a complex world of associations, thoughts, observations, aesthetics. Horror is as useful as a lens for analyzing the world around us as any, frequently revealing people’s hidden fears and motivations. It is the symbolic language of the unconscious; where nothing stays hidden, and nothing is as it seems.

Like Hamlet can tell you, a father’s ghost is something serious to contend with. One wonders what People Eaters’ relationships with his/her/their father was? Was he supportive of the label, of PE making musick? Or did they have to fight tooth and nail to go their own way? Were they supported or repressed? Is this a benevolent ancestor or a vengeful demon?

The ghosts of my family inform everything that i do. They’re wonderful people, loving and compassionate, but rather stuck in the American midwestern protestant work ethic. Yr job is yr life, and you are yr job. End of story. Unfortunately, no one bothered to inform them that the industrial revolution is over, and there is little place for a dual-brained, ghostly, androgynous man, so i’ve been forced to go my own way. I recently lost one of my closest relatives, who had been with me through the hard, dark years, and seen me return to light. She was incredibly lovely and supportive, but wished i would “settle down and get a real job”, right to the end. Sorry, Auntie, as much as i was looking forward to a bright and shining future in service industry slavery/whoredom, i’m afraid i must decline. I’m a bit busy this century.

This mixture of emotions: the sadness of loss, the regret of not having been more successful while they were alive to see, the excitement of FINALLY inheriting adulthood and the freedom to go away, are just an example of some of the dense tapestry that lie, like a school of barracuda, beneath the obfuscating surface of Disincarnation.

Aetheric Records are some of the finest purveyors of spectral drone, dark ambiance, and harsh noise. There is a QUALITY, some dark inner light, on each of their releases, that is difficult to quantify but impossible to ignore. And Disincarnate is one of their finest releases yet.

If yr not yet familiar with the label, (or if you are), AR made us an introductory mix for their label. Check it here.

Enter the haunted laboratory:

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Laica – ID Situation (Phatic Musk)

Laica ID Situation coverIf Burial‘s Untrue was the psychic ghost life of London, circa 1994 through 2001, ID Situation could be seen as the soundtrack to everything that has happened since.

Untrue was a particularly timely document, heralding and commenting on the death of the second wave of British rave, and the onset of postmodern isolation. It was a perfect accompaniment for wandering city streets, lost in yr own mind, drowning in swarming echoes between yr headphones.

ID Situation, the newest EP from Dave Fleet, better known as Laica, scores those very same streets, but fast-forwarded 13 years. It says a lot about where we’ve come from, and hazards some guesses about where we’re going.

ID Situation is dedicated to “the millions of unknown faces caught on hours of grainy CCTV images every day, to all the footage that will be stored away and never looked at again, the boxes full of old VHS tapes of empty streets and hard drives loaded up with hidden shop corners.” ID Situation would the closed-circuit surveillance of ActressGhettoville; people wander with no purpose and nowhere to go; the shadows seem to breathe and pulse with malignant intent, as B-boys throw down next to trash can fires and iPod docks.

The best news is that, the English collective unconscious seems to agree that rave has made a come back, as Burial’s hollowed-out nocturnal miasma is superseded by polished chrome breakbeats on ID Situation. Fleet employs the hypermodern precision of information overload drum ‘n bass to simulate the sound of a tracer trail of digital identity, as past, present, and future blur together in the all-encompassing hard-drive. These burned out, bombed out storefronts and derelict warehouses have been used for PARTIES, (and maybe some black magick). While Untrue was the sound of nostalgia for a life you didn’t experience, call it the ghost of rave, Dave Fleet’s music is very much grounded IN the club, IN the warehouses.

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This has much to do with Fleet’s time in the trenches doing the Numbers Broadcast radio show, playing real techno for real heads, as well as writing for the excellent Darkfloor website. Going back through the NB’s playlists illustrates the fact that we and Dave Fleet have almost the same listening habits and cultural concerns, from rhythmic noise to industrial techno to polished chrome beat science, meaning we were primed off the bat to flip shit for this short and tasty black-wrapped missive. You will find elements of all 3, on ID Situation.

 

While a lot has been said about this generation’s inability to produce anything new, Laica’s beats and immersive environments show that there’s a lot of optimism, in this hyper-precise rearrangement of sound. Yes, we may be re-organizing tiny slivers of what has come before, in ever more complex and convoluted arabesques, but isn’t that what music has basically been doing all along? Whether you’re manipulating a symphony, via notes on a written page, or hallucinogenic fragments of yr record collection and sounds from daily life, to create something unique and personal, what’s the difference?

It also massages some of the paranoia and fear we have over this digital meta-data. On one hand, we are trapped and confined in the virtual grid, and it’s very, very hard to break free, making us easy prey for marketers, on the other hand, we can use this meta-data to streamline our lives, our habits, our tastes. If Google uses some complex algorithm to suggest British horror movies i’ve never seen, where is the harm in that? I’d rather see ads for DJ mixes, remix software, and old weird television, than for brake pads or fried chicken, or some other shit i couldn’t care less about.

rhizomeI’m imagining a world where complex HD cameras could analyze yr movements, like yr training to be a samurai, and training software could point out the weaknesses in yr style. Possibly even correct these mistakes with some sort of sensory suit, giving a gentle nudge, to tuck in an elbow or bend a knee. I’m imagining a world where you could download the neural impulses of a top-flight violinists, and have them implanted into yr nervous system. Using these tools to free ourselves, rather than be enslaved.

Technology is a genie in a bottle, and there’s no putting the stopper back in. Like Atomic Power, the world will never be the same. Our minds, our lives, our art, will be irrevocably altered. What i’d most like to see would be a combination of the unlimited potential of futurism, with classical technique. With every resource at our disposal, shouldn’t we at least ASPIRE to be Beethoven, or Walter Benjamin, or The Wright Brothers, or Jacqueline DuPre?

Laica is straddling the gap between both worlds. ID Situation has the imaginative sound design and immersive psychoacoustics to be well and truly experimental, while the beats are tight and focused, constantly shifting like some alien mecha angel, mercurial in the moonlight.

ID Situation comes with 2 remixes: one from Decadnids, and one from Production Unit. The Decadnids mix strips the postmodern freneticism from the original, casting it in somber and subdued shadows, like the original city streets, submerged under water for 200 years. Burial meets Drexciya? Production Unit’s mix cranks the alarm, ratcheting the tension and excitement up to 11, as warning signals spiral around yr head. This is the sound of a race of space scorpions, descending on an earth city at the height of midday. Are they here to help or harm?

Laica has proven himself, over and over, to be a restless and inventive producer. When last we met him, he was creating dark ambient environments for Alrealon Musique, while this release sounds right in time and in line with the postmodern beatmakers, from Stones Throw to Fatima Al Qadiri.

The limited edition vinyl comes wrapped in sharp black bubble wrap, so act quick, while some remain!

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Hecq – Conversions (Ad Noiseam)

Hecq - Conversions album coverElectronic music is famously forward moving. Until recently, once a style/movement was 5 minutes out of fashion, it was dead. Nothing cleared dancefloors faster than seeming old and uncool.

Recent times have found a resurgence of interest in classic styles, as we attempt to make sense of the mess of information that swarms around us every second; as we seek to contend with inspiration and the limitations of no limits.

The time is right to receive Conversions, 11 reinterpretations of material that has been personally significant in the development of Ben Lukas Boysen, the man behind Hecq. The remixes, working with source material as far back as 1996 and as wide ranging as string quartets and neo-classical, to laser keen drum ‘n bass, investigates a few styles that have fallen out of mass fascination, mainly the music formerly known as dubstep, as well as muscular, precise glitch-hop, that have been much maligned but have a lot to offer.

We have always loved aggressive dance music, here at Forestpunk HQ. There is nothing finer than the endocrine system panic shutdown of cerebral activity, as the body responds to microtuned endorphin injections via drum n bass meltdown. The mind is literally BEAT into submission, as the body twitches, writhes and wails. It’s a similar high to the E-glide smooth sailing of a microhouse set, but more dystopian – a different kind of buzz. This is music for concrete warehouses and underground dance parties. For people who like to dance in black clothes.

Hecq is no hardcore thug, however, no brash and brutish d ‘n b drillhead. Yes, some of the material on Conversions is converted into finely wrought machinations of destruction, like on The Outside Agency‘s “Godspeed”, which removes the creeping insinuation of the original’s electric harpsichord Hammer ambiance, and comes right out with the broken beat aggression. Or the remix of TechDiff‘s “Thirteen Acres”, which takes the polished chrome of the original and submerges it underwater for 1000 years, until it’s rusted and corroded and covered in barnacles, but no less deadly efficient.

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But there is no default mode on Conversions, which makes it so stand-out. Boysen does whatever is called for in each given situation, refining and bringing out nuances and aspects of the original. Take, for instance, the album opener, “Zum Greifen Nah” by The Bersarrin Quartet, which takes the shooting starfield ambiance of the original and somehow roots it to the Earth, with foreground cello drones that were not previously there. If The Bersarrin Quartett’s version could be seen as the soundtrack of take off, of rushing off to explore the stars, Hecq’s re-envisioning is the sound of looking at constellations from the desert, making up myths to describe the shapes. Or consider one of my personal highlights, a remix of Svarte Greiner‘s “Final Sleep”, the final track from Knive’s essential 2006 album Knive. Hecq’s dub actually manages to be even more haunting and unsettling than the original, stripping it of it’s rustling, knocking foreground recordings, and placing it in eternity. It makes Svarte Greiner sound like Arvo Part, as clouds of heavenly choirs make lament configurations over your kneeling body.

Sometimes, Hecq completely wipes any sense of forward drive or aggression from the originals, as on Lusine ICL‘s “Scheming”, which started out as a hyper-chill headnodding hip-hop beat, and ends up here as a close-up of a Miami sunset, or on. A similar effect is achieved on Anodyne‘s “When The Sky Fell Down,” perhaps the most extreme reworking on here. The original was a fairly common piece of minimalist tech house, which has been plunged into an inky black void of dark ambient eternity, here. It’s as monolithic, empty, and desolate as any Emptyset, Raime, or The Haxan Cloak, and should satisfy any fans who are hungry for new releases from those artists.

And, finally, sometimes Hecq just points out and embellishes upon aspects that were already their in the original, as in D-Saw’s “10:30″, which shows us today’s minimalist analog techno is yesterday’s hardware jam, and some of those obscure/unknown dance records were quite good.

My favorite thing about Conversions, apart from the interstellar beauty of the ambient tracks, is the reappraisal of dubstep, glitch-hop, and breakcore. All of these extreme styles of music had massive implications on what is possible with music, but those ideas got muddled and sullied from imitators and exploiters. Dubstep offers the sheer physicality and power of volume and bassweight. Drum ‘n bass and breakcore offer the most extreme form of quantization, with sound cut up into nanoseconds and wired together into impossibly complex rhythmic constellations. And glitch-hop gives it all a crawling, dragging, swagger, lowdown and keeping it from the streets, in the raves.

Hecq shows himself to be an endlessly inventive sound artificer, creating truly unique and individual mutant worlds of the original.

For those that admit that there’s things about Skrillex that they like. That listened to those first couple of Bassnectar and The Glitch Mob albums A LOT. You will fall in love. And for those that love electronic-inflected classical ambiance, you also will fall.

Similar to what i did with the Soft Pink Truth album a week or so ago, i’ve put together a playlist of the originals, so you can compare and contrast, and give yrself some ideas on how to go about making badass remixes of yr own.

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Conversions