Review: Having crept out of the tape undergrowth and respected haunts like Clan Destine and Always Human to earn more civilized recognition on BANK Records NYC and Bliq, Strahinja Arbutina makes the move to Vivod for yet more of that edgy, leftfield techno business that keeps mothers awake at night from worry. The grit, noise and distortion has been faithfully carried through from the cassette-based roots of Arbutina's sound, but these tracks are more than ready to do the damage in the dance (where you're less likely to find a tape deck). Hold on tight as the likes of "Way Ahead" give the sound engineer a fright when they think the system has overloaded.
Review: Moopie's A Colourful Storm label launched earlier this year as an extension of the popular online platform that has hosted a rich and diverse stream of mixes from the likes of Imaginary Softwoods, DJ Nobu, Frak and Rabih Beaini to name a few. Pro-tip: do check that latter live mix from the Morphine boss! It was the archival sounds of Denial and their lost Oz classic cover of "California Dreaming" that heralded the arrival of A Colourful Storm, but this second release on the label switches the focus to more contemporary fare. Power Relations is a two track 12" of bad-mannered, f*cked up club trax from Melbourne's Nerve. The stomping, nocturnal techno of the title track is backed with a Photek-meets-Sunn O))) terror stepper entitled "Heads & Ordinary Concrete". For fans of Regis, Emptyset and Blackest Ever Black.
Review: Hugo Capablanca may be best known for his more disco-minded output from his time on Gomma Records, but increasingly his scattered output and his label have been reaching towards more abrasive material. Nothing will prepare you for the confrontational nature of this daring, 'no label' transmission. The artwork alone is enough to challenge the senses, while the opening track is a metallic drone that gives way to the distended mutant beats of "Top Less". Guy Debord is no less cut throat in delivering a "Disco Punish" remix of "Lap Dance" on the B-side, all deconstructed groove and guttural noise, and then "Dance Less" rounds the record off with another excursion into unsettling, heavily processed noise.
Review: The Poverty Is Violence stable are firmly established now as an essential conductor for rabid, rowdy and downright rasping mechanics from subterranean operators of all shapes and sizes. Anonymous but reportedly veteran Dutch producer XXX previously appeared on the label in 2016 with the wild Noorder Scannen 12", and now returns with a bludgeoning new release. There's a consistent metal grind to the percussion on Westzaan Doelen, while the synth tones in between tend towards the jagged and abrasive, there's space and poise in the arrangement to lift this out of knuckleheaded noise. "Don't Go After Her" reverberates with clamouring intensity while the beefy chassis of "Just The Two Of You" shimmers under an acidic glaze - this is full-tilt deviant music executed with finesse to match the grime.
Review: Helena Hauff's Return To Disorder label plunges once more into the grimy underworld of electro and wave music, this time guided by dungeon dweller Morah who debuted on the label in 2015 and has since gone on to great things via Lux Rec, Berceuse Heroique, brokntoys and more. "I Saw, Strained Her Eyes Peering Into The Gloom" is a bittersweet dance with distortion as disheveled as it is catchy, while "Dance When Lights Off" pushes even further into the red with scintillating results. "Against Your Beloved" sounds positively shimmering by comparison, even if on its own it's still a truly dirty slice of jacked up electro. "One Shade The Less, One Ray The More" is a strong closing bout that draws from a similar sound bank and applies it to a more techno-minded structure.
Review: Having built its name on various artist releases featuring old and new artists, Contort Yourself is branching out with a new series that focuses on one contemporary act per release. In this instance it's Coletivo Vandalismo getting some much-deserved attention. The Portuguese industrial punk outfit have a visceral sound that favours noise and distortion, but most importantly they know how to wield these sonic tools for maximum impact. The snarl of the synths and the crunch of the drums on "Hostages Of Society" could easily be too much in the wrong hands, but here the errant tones find their own space in the mix, making the impact of the track all the more on-point.
Nocturnal Emissions - "Even The Good Times Are Bad (1983)" (4:33)
Innyster - "Todis" (6:08)
Review: Contort Yourself reaches its sixth installment with yet another era spanning gathering of post-punk and industrial oddities for the most deviant of dancefloors to digest. In the contemporary corner we have Penelope's Fiance, a promising industrial artist from Greece. Meanwhile on the B-side, Nigel Ayers as Nocturnal Emissions takes us back to 1983 with the utterly chilling "Demon Circuits Bloodbath" and "Even The Good Times Are Bad". L.I.E.S boss Ron Morelli steps up as U202 to remix "Even The Good Times Are Bad" as a death march of malevolent percussion.
Zombies Under Stress - "Maan Zal Zijn" (Svengalisghost remix)
Mark Forshaw - "Submission"
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Contort Yourself has once again gathered the best and boldest from past and present for its fourth EP. To begin with we have the grimacing visage of Volition Immanent, an intense live act made up of Parrish Smith and Mark Van de Maat (Knekelhuis). Behind rawkish distortion, splintered beats and acrid bars screams a boiled anger; a track spitting on the divides of punk and electronics. Nastiness is taken up a notch as noise ne'er-do-wells Zombies Under Stress take over. Static is bent and doubled across thick chords and collapsed clap in the 1986 "Maan Zal Zijn" before the raw and raging battery of "In Onze Tijd." L.I.E.S. regular Svengalisghost grapples with "Maan Zal Zijn, channelling the original's rage into a mechanical monster. The 12" is bookended with bite as Mark Forshaw (Tabernacle/Berceuse Heroique) closes with the tortured and torrential thump of "Submission." A callous, caustic and fervently cruel EP.
Review: After initial outings from phile and Ptwiggs, the Deep Seeded crew welcome phile member Barking into the fold for another excursion into crooked techno from the outer realm. There's a lingering sense of industrial malaise emanating out of "Singularity" thanks to some dense signal processing, while "Clay Passage" pings off into a strange but utterly accomplished trip into Fourth World techno that packs a serious rhythm without the need for obvious drum lines. "Pathos" matches malevolent beats and tones with dominant ambience to create a proper push 'n' pull of a track, and then "Prone" rounds the EP off with some gutsy analogue demolition for the broken techno and electro crowd to get wild to.
Review: As part of longstanding no wave duo Naked On The Vague, murky girl group Knitted Abyss and extraterrestrial drone project Half High, Lucy Phelan has been a critical force in the Sydney DIY scene for over 10 years. Under the solo veil of Lucy Cliche, she annihilates with these four wavey techno tracks that honour her noise and punk ethos. With pounding drum sequences, draining synths and emotionless vocals echoing Cosey Fanni Tutti, her dark dreams sabotage our calculations of modern dance while demonstrating how physicality and the ethereal can interact.
Review: Bedouin Records enlist Thomas Feriero for some new music from his current industrial period. The former tech house man doesn't shun his roots altogether, laying down functional grooves but haunted by darker and noisier textures and tones. "Onto Duat" is clunking and intense, "Take Nothing With You" is lit up by serrated synths and oversized hi hats tethered to monstrous break beats, while "Change Your Mind" is a sludgy, paranoid cut for marching crowds. "Riot Patrol" is the best of the lot, with slow motion heaviness and a real sense of dystopian atmospherics locking you to the floor.
Review: William J.Youngman's Headless Horseman project has created a new and exciting techno sound that was only an offshoot of EBM and industrial in years past. Stepping out of his own imprint, the dark horseman lands on Tommy Four Seven's excellent 47 label, tearing through the speakers from the get-go thanks to the toxic sounds of "Revelation", and the even nastier sway of "Concussion". Metallic and hard-nosed in absolutely every way, "Locust" follows up on that with a menacing pounce of beats and cavernous bass, while "Gravity" breaks the techno groove for something much more in line with the likes of Powell's Diagonal output. Big boy sounds.
Review: Lucerne based Prasens Editionen was founded in 2011 to give home to Zweikommasieben Magazin. Ever since, a bunch of magazines, books, zines, records, tapes and oddities have been published. After digging deep into their vast archive, they found two gems that are particularly striking: a live recording from a collaborative project (on Side A) in the form of the the textural industrial/noise journey by Nilbog entitled "Liverecording 02/11/16". On the flip Mr Pena's "TMC" (The Markt Chronicles) is a three minute gabba onslught. Mr. Pena lets loose, aiming at hardcore dancefloors while balancing between fight-or-flight terror and pacifying joy. Edition of 300.
Review: Greyscale textural abrasions courtesy of the AnD boys under their Shadows guise, dedicated to their forays into industrial mayhem. Wasting no time getting stuck in with the white knuckled duvet ride of "Leaves In the Wind", it will engulf you in its wall of noise and shock you with its harsh modular blasts. The body bashing pulsations of "What If They Are Watching You" plunders the same depths as Kerridge or Shapednoise; the sound of tremors emerging from the fault line. Some sludgy grindcore metal to be heard on "On A Mad Train" could easily be mistaken for some of J.K. Flesh's more recent works while "Lights Out" closes proceedings with a noisy and nefarious power electronics excursion that'd make even the Posh Isolation crew stand up and notice.
Review: Surface Records has never pulled any punches as one of the UK's toughest techno labels, and The 65D Mavericks have embodied the same spirit with their charged, lyrically provocative approach. After a lengthy hiatus label and artist are back in action, and sounding as fierce as ever. "False Prophets" is not for the faint hearted - an avalanche of thunderous drums and expletive-laden diatribes. "Cosmic Drift" is marginally more meditative, but still positively unhinged in its execution. "You Lost Your Mind" flails around a muddy, punky swamp of deviant sonic behaviour, and "Immovable (dub)" throws one last curveball into the long grass, stripping out the bark without losing the bite of this proudly individual group of techno marauders.
Review: Dead Fader is the alias of one John Cohen, here with a set of remixes of his forthcoming Jenny153 LP on Milanese imprint Parachute. Across nine tracks, it bridged the gap between classical and club music structures, while examining the crossover points between the two disciplines. According to Cohen, his work deals with themes of acceptance and an 'opening up' emotionally. The recordings presented a viewpoint of the potential space that exists on the outer limits of dance music. Here come some stellar remixes from the LP by the current who's who of industrial edged techno music. Birmingham legend Justin Broadrick aka JK Flesh delivers an abrasive and slow burning rendition of "FYI" showcasing his trademark guttural sound. The inimitable Roly Porter of Subtext fame delivers a cinematic and suspense filled sound design epic on "Raw Food" and Scottish beatsmith Kon-Om-Pax (Planet Mu/LuckyMe) serves up some lush and evocative futurism on his rendition of "Life Cycle".
Review: London's Shamos is back on the scene, after a couple of great releases back in 2016 on Funkineven's Apron Records. The brand new Youth imprint was inaugurated by fellow Brit Yard a couple of months ago, and Shamos (pronounced 'Shay-mos' apparently) carries on with the nasty vibes here with these four kick-ass cuts. Starting off with the industrial edged street attitude of of "Found Grace"and the dreamy lo-fi house of 1321313132 on the A side. The flip features the neon lit 80's horror flick aesthetic of TMF and finally the four minute analogue punk groove "Nuws" reminiscent of NYC terrors such as Nick Klein or Enrique.
Review: LA Club Resource's Innsyter helps carry Contort Yourself into this new realm of dedicated solo releases from contemporary artists (their previous form was to split releases between archival and new tracks). The snarling, industrial palette is much the same, and the years of origin are as ambiguous here as they've ever been on the label, making Innsyter the perfect addition to the catalogue. From acid-dipped synth pop to nightmarish wave contortions, this record is certainly not for the faint of heart, but if you already love the dark and deadly world of Contort Yourself then this brilliantly-realised, consistently inventive record can't fail to hit the spot.