Underground Music For The Masses

Ambient/Ethereal/IDM

Necro Facility- Wintermute review

 

Label: Artoffact  Records

    When a band chooses to make music for the underground, most times they play it safe by sticking to one or two genres and then slowly branching out over several releases. Sweden’s duo of Oscar Holter and Henrik Backstrom (Necro Facility) have always taken a much different approach: You are hit with killer tracks from a half-dozen angles and are left thinking ‘What on Earth was that? But I LOVE it!’

    Debuting in 2005 with The Black Paintings, these two young men made waves in the Stockholm scene with their experimental, part Industrial part New Wave sound but were not taken as seriously as other acts because their experimental leanings were not quite like anything else at the time. 2007 saw the release of The Room, which set underground radio and certain clubs in Europe ablaze but didn’t progress terribly far beyond those connoisseurs already in the know. The fusion of old school Wave with newer genres like Electro, TBM, and Synthpop showed serious promise even as the band simply vanished. Perhaps they were simply ahead of their time and a victim of what was popular in Sweden at that moment. Both men continued working on productions of other bands’ albums and stayed in contact with each other but many scenesters simply forgot about them over time. Late in 2010 they reappeared as Necro Facility and helped Covenant create the smash single “Lightbringer”, reintroducing their odd sounds to the younger, slightly more modern (and certainly more spoiled) club goers worldwide. Recently they have released their third and most triumphant album, Wintermute.

    To say this album is amazing is a bit of a misnomer. This should launch them into serious album of the year discussions and open the door to conquering North and South American clubs for people who didn’t know them before while making good on all their early potential buzz. The whole experience is simply impossible to pigeonhole because of the line-blurring sounds inherent not only over the course of the album, but even within each self-contained and seriously off-kilter track individually. While many bands that take the experimental musical route end up with a beautiful [sounding] mess, Necro Facility have also appropriately shown an inherent production ability that keeps this album tightly contained within itself and true to a core feeling. Wintermute feels as cohesive emotionally as it does foreign sonically.

    “You Want It” opens the album in powerful fashion with a Dark/Harsh Electro track with harmonious vocal hooks, while “Fall Apart” stands out for its Rock influences laced with a nice EBM beat that opens up even more crossover potential. “Waiting For The Snow” slows you way down to an almost Ambient crawl that fans of Displacer and Somatic Responses will drool over, then “Ignite” does just that as it fuses Electro-Rock guitar with melodic Synthpop layering that soars and tops out with grating Metal vocals to create something epic. My personal favorite track, the instant-club legend “Supposed”, finds a way to seamlessly blend TBM, sugary 90’s Wavepop, and modern club Electro in a way rarely heard while showing the duos’ vocal mastery from highest to lowest register. The album closes out with “All That You Take”, a tear-inducing love ballad that recalls early VNV Nation in its emotional complexity.

    The problem for me as a reviewer and as a fan is that no words can do them justice. It isn’t even a matter of whether potential fans will like this or not; No amount of genre comparisons or name dropping accurately reflect any of the nuance and uniqueness that this album actually sounds like. You really have to hear it for yourself and make your own judgments on whether it works for you or not. Wintermute is at one time both harsh and beautiful, club-ready and stereo-friendly, and from what I have been told crushing in their live shows. While being bold and uncomfortable is always a danger, Necro Facility have delivered and if you are a fan of all things Electronica you would be missing out on a must-own if you don’t snag this immediately.

For fans of: Leather Strip, SITD, Rotersand, Covenant, Vomito Negro,Cassandra Complex, Method Cell, Assemblage 23, Ambassador 21, Common Man Down, And One, Aesthetic Perfection, Prometheus Burning, Plasmodivm, Din [A] Tod

Must have tracks: “You Want It” “Do You Feel The Same?” “Fall Apart” “Waiting For The Snow” “Ignite” “Supposed”

Tracklist:

  1. You Want It
  2. Explode
  3. Cuts
  4. Do You Feel The Same?
  5. Fall Apart
  6. Waiting For The Snow
  7. Ignite
  8. Skrik
  9. Supposed
  10. All That You Take
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Plasmodivm – The Post-Modern Prometheus review

Label:  Caustic Records

 

   There are many elements of great music that most people take completely for granted because when these elements are utilized correctly they feed into the background of a solid song. Examples include melody, backing beats, and clean vocals. Add in being able to shatter genres seamlessly and sing fluently in multiple languages while staying true to a core set of Electro principles and you have the recipe for something amazing. Spain’s Plasmodivm accomplished all this and more in his sophomore effort, The Post-Modern Prometheus, available today on Caustic Records.

 

   Sandro Veras, the man who is Plasmodivm, started writing tunes back in 1999. He was able to shop a complete demo around in late 2006, and made a major label debut on Caustic Records with Paradise Under Fire in 2008. This is one of the most interesting albums you have probably never heard and represents a brilliant signing for the label. Adding an emphasis on melody, non-standard song structure and clean bi-lingual vocals, The Post-Modern Prometheus is nothing short of triumphant.

 

   There is nothing to fairly compare this album to since the emphasis on melody within various Dark Electro structures is almost nonexistent in his peers as of late. There is a real sense not only of a handful of club-oriented IDM and Terror EBM tracks but also turns of utter creepy ambience, inwardly leaning hostile reflections in the lyrics, and a vague and haunting sense of technology gone wrong weaved throughout the majority of the album. It is completely post-modern in the most literal definition of the word and proves that any Electro album has the potential to become a solid work of sonic artistry.

 

   The album opens with the statement “I Have Killed a Man”, an EBM-tinged Terror-like track meant to challenge the current shallowness of dance-floors with an unbelievably soaring vocal chorus that drives this into Experimental Industrial territory and sets the stage for the rest of the album.  “Dead Inside” turns “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” into hellish self-reflection and confessions of guilt, while “Post-Modern/Post-Human” is a more recognizable technology-layered club hit that is reminiscent of early Assemblage 23.  The album closes out with “Requiem (Missa Pro Defunctis)”, a powerhouse melody-based track that jumps back and forth between IDM, Terror, and Ambient while leaving you feeling completely disoriented, uncomfortable and eventually downright paranoid. When the experience is over you would be hard-pressed not to throw the album right back in the stereo though.

 

   I find it difficult to think of anything wrong with this album, seeing as it is on such another level artistically from standard club fare. Tracks that club goers will enjoy may not be easy to dance to due to the unusual staccato beat structures, and tracks that are best for a home or party setting may prove too high-brow for an average Electro fan. If anything the most condemning thing I can say is many people just won’t “get it.” This is not like anything you have heard before and it may take a few spins to really appreciate the album as a whole, but you most certainly will be stomping your butt off the whole time and there is enough here for ambitious DJs to rule the turntables with for a long, long time. The Post-Modern Prometheus is a call to the dark and bizarre in all of us and an absolute MUST for any open-minded fan of Electro works.

  

Must have tracks: “I Have Killed a Man”  “Dead Inside”  “Via Negativa”  “Post-Modern/Post-Human”  “High-Speed Collision”   “Smashing White Pills”  “A New Beginning”  “Requiem (Missa Pro Defunctis)”

 

For fans of: Hocico, Prometheus Burning, ESA, Wynardtage, X-Fusion, Decoded Feedback, C-Drone-Defect, Assemblage 23, Any Dark Electro or IDM band

 

Track List:

1.     I Have Killed A Man

2.     Instinto Homicida

3.      Voices

4.     Dead Inside

5.     Via  Negativa

6.     Unbreakable Will

7.     Post-Modern/Post-Human

8.     The Beginning Of My End

9.     The Fear Of Being Alive

10.High-Speed Collision

11.Smashing White Pills

12.A New Beginning

13.Lost Dreams

14.Requiem (Missa Pro Defunctis)


Method Cell -Curse Of A Modern Age review

Label: WTII Records

   Some bands come out of nowhere and feel like they’ve always been around in a particular style even though they are brand new. Such is the case for emerging British Synthpop/Futurepop crossover act Method Cell. The duo debuted first with “Scissors EP” which garnered  a bit of club play in Europe and led to the full-blown album “Curse Of A Modern Age” becoming available in the United States on WTII Records. Blending catchy club hooks, unique electro layers, and downright fierce lyrics this album feels right at home in any Goth/Industrial DJ club or radio program.

 

   The party gets started immediately on the introverted club hit “Push”, reminding us all we can do better than what we are now. I noticed immediately that lyrically this band is head and shoulders above many of their peers in terms of thought-provoking depth, most especially for a club-oriented project.  “Call It Cutting” is another Electro-thumping club number but it goes in the opposite direction lyrically and feels like it’s taking aim at ‘The Scene’.  It also boasts the best earworm on the album that gets you hooked so it would make a great underground radio track. Other notable tracks include the slower Darkwave-infused “Shout Out (The Curse Part II)”, the anti-party dance-floor smash “Scissors”, and the utterly vicious, 4-to-the-floor “Drop Dead.” 

 

   The irony here is that because this debut is so standard, it is almost hard to distinguish this group from more established acts in a club setting. While what is here is well above-average in terms of lyrics and vocals they have yet to find a signature sound in terms of the electronics. Fans of general Electro will call this a must have but it likely won’t bring new fans to the genres who are not already familiar with other bands. I look at this with extreme excitement, however, in that there is a ton of potential for this project and lots of room for experimentation and evolution. DJ types should also make this an instant priority to add some new life to their rotations Stateside. Perhaps the Curse Of A Modern Age is being an introvert?

 

Must have tracks: “Push” “Call It Cutting”  “Shout Out (The Curse Part II)”  “Scissors” “Conviction (RUSH_ v2)” “Drop Dead”   “Curse Of A Modern Age (Coma Mix)”

 

For fans of: VNV Nation, Seabound, Assemblage 23, System Syn, And One, Frozen Plasma, Client, Rotersand, Imperative Reaction, Ashbury Heights

 

Track List:

1.Push

2.Call It Cutting

3.Curse Of A Modern Age

4.Blame Me (The Curse Part I)

5.Shout Out (The Curse Part II)

6.Scissors

7.Believe

8.Conviction (Rush_V2)

9.Drop Dead

10.Your Weakness

11.Call It Cutting (Razorblade Mix)

12.Curse Of A Modern Age (Coma Mix)

 


Prospero – Turning Point review

Label: Artoffact Records

    Novelist, graphic artist and Electronica connoisseur Wade Anderson has been a staple in Toronto, Canada’s Industrial scene for many years but may not be as well-known by casual fans and non-insiders. However, his musical project Prospero has been creating strange soundscapes and pushing aural limits for a while now. Debuting with A Storm Is Coming EP in 2003 it was clear from the get-go that Prospero was not your typical Experimental Industrial project. The use of layered soundscapes, naturally occurring noises and oddly juxtaposed natural melodies was a year or two ahead of its time in terms of mass popularity within a whole subgenre of Ambient music that is possibly not even peaking now.

   2004 saw the release of both Spreading The Infection and Fibonacci  via Sub.Session.Media. The former was a massive 2-CD set that showcased collaborations with and remixes from such big names in Industrial like Displacer, Battery Cage, Xorcist and Manufactura;  While the latter album was Prospero’s first solo venture that was more focused on the Ambient side of electronic layering and musical progression.  Eventually signing to Artoffact Records, Prospero released Folie A Deux (The Elements and The Madness) in 2008. [As a personal side-note the album didn’t get nearly enough love and is a MUST own for anyone interested in Experimental Industrial, if only because of  its use of Tribal rhythms and  folksy melodies matched with hardcore Industrial wasteland noises and the vicious guest turns by Ayria, Battery Cage and Terrorfakt.] This second album showed a unique blending of ancient musical instrumentation and basic melody with a deep cadre of post-Industrial pad work.

   On February 8th 2011, Prospero returns once again on Artoffact Records with Turning Point. This third full-length album is again unlike anything he has put out before and may live up to its billing as a front-runner for most innovative album of the year. Unlike other bands of this style, Prospero focuses heavily on actual music and organic sound-clips and not a standardized prefabricated format.  I cannot accurately describe the difference except to say the whole project feels more alive with coherency and therefore has stronger appeal as an intricate listening experience. Tracks that stand out to me may not stand out to others and vice versa because each track is a completely different world than the last. For the thinking listener there is something for you here, guaranteed.

    “Taiko’s Prophet” combines Oriental-inspired string harmonies with bass-heavy thudding drums and a constantly shifting rhythm scheme that makes this an instant classic that begs to be used in a Hollywood film. “Fallen Angel” and “Hunter” show off some interesting Punk Rock guitar riffs that give the airy ambience and somewhat flat synth work underneath a very dirty Industrial feeling, while “Louisiana Voodoo”  creates a very fog-like nature with the gritty beats and squealing guitar that make it feel like a swampy nightmare. Every single track gets more complex and more bizarre the longer and more often you listen to it. Also of note is “(introduction to my) Discipline”, a re-worked instrumental prequel to Ayria’s guest track “Discipline” off Folie A Deux.

   Besides the outstanding new tracks, the other aspects to this album are the remixes. The infamous (and thought to be defunct!) Industrial powerhouse Xorcist takes the title track and constructs eight-and-a-half minutes of pure Electronic Hell from the point of view of Artificial Intelligence. “Turning Point (Xorcist Remix)” fuses experimental Industrial, Powernoise, pure Ambient, soaring Melodic Rock, and futuristic IDM to create something extremely movie-like and is by far and away my favorite track on this album. The only thing that bothers me is it is probably too long for most underground radio but is too brilliant to be edited in any fair measure.  Another native Toronto band also makes a memorable impression with “Extinct (Mara’s Torment Remix)”, a bubbling, seething Terror track that easily could be used in a horror movie of some kind more for its creepy subtleness and perceived ambience. They set the sounds and the listener fills in the gaps in their own imagination. The album closes out with “Fallen Angel (Guidestone Remix)”, a much more Metal-tinged version of the original.

   The whole album could be summed up with one sentiment: Guitar work. Added to the already intricate Ambience that Prospero is known for there is more emphasis added to guitar chords and simple but effective riffs. Every track has been crafted in such a way that the guitars actually feel more like alien sounds and less like an instrument. The only other artist I can think of that sounds remotely like what Prospero is doing here is Andy Summers, which is high praise indeed for any Electronica project. Prospero has a solid sound that certainly deserves more exposure and the album should be the Turning Point in his popularity. Preorder this now if you need something awesome to listen to this winter and beyond.

Must have tracks: “Taiko’s Prophet” “Hunter”  “Louisiana Voodoo”  “Growth And Decay”  “Taiko’s Prophet (Fractured Remix)” “Turning Point (Xorcist Remix)” “Extinct (Mara’s Torment Remix)”  “Fallen Angel (Guidestone Remix)”

For fans of: ESA, Totakeke, Negative Format, Sebastian Komor, Juno Reactor, Architect, PAL, Empty, Stendeck, Access To Arasaka

Track List:

  1.  Turning Point
  2. Taiko’s Prophet
  3. Fallen Angel
  4. (introduction to my) Discipline
  5. Hunter
  6. Reach
  7. Louisiana Voodoo
  8. Chemical Plague
  9. Growth And Decay
  10. Taiko’s Prophet (Fractured Remix)
  11. Turning Point (Xorcist Remix)
  12. Fallen Angel (Witchmore Mix by V Combust)
  13. Extinct (Mara’s Torment Remix)
  14. Fallen Angel (Guidestone Remix)