Poltergeists is a biweekly feature in which Michael and Wes share tracks that they have had on repeat over the past two weeks.
Sextile - “Visions of You”
You have probably heard me talk about Sextile already if you follow any of the social media stuff. They opened for The Soft Moon here in Portland at The Holocene and were the highlight of the show for me. Their performance and energy really brought the music to a different level. “Visions of You” from their new album A Thousand Hands is the track that easily has the most plays for me - it is classically good. The running bassline, mirrored by the low guitar notes, and the soft droning vocals get the song going in the right direction by any gothic music standards. Then, as if reading my mind, the chorus - erupting in synthesizers and powerful vocals - picks up and bleeds into the rest of the song. The evolution of this track is wonderful.
VALIS - “Cold Hands”
I know I Die: You Die covered the new VALIS EP already! But they picked my second favorite track and I think that this EP is so fucking solid that it deserves doubling up on! VALIS is one of those projects where I am fairly certain I will end up liking anything they put out - it is a project that is taking that old-school box of vinyl you have in the garage (shame on you) and telling you to make some room because this 12” is going right in there with the 242s and TKKs. “Cold Hands” is a track that I will throw right in there with Skinny Puppy’s “Worlock” and Front 242’s “Headhunter” when I talk to people about classic club bangers. It can seriously hold up. The track is haunting, has a nice 80s dance beat and bassline combo, and knows that it makes you move. The vocals are great: I love the duality of them and the way they fit right into the forefront of this track. Other songs on this EP, like “The Cant,” have the vocals more in the background as they’re part of the oddity of the song (which I love), but this song needs them more upfront.
Blac Kolor - “Skele Ton (Schwefelgelb Remix)”
I can’t listen to this album in my chair; it doesn’t work. Inevitably, I end up standing up, kicking my chair out the way, and banging along with the thing. This remix of “Skele Ton” by Schwefelgelb especially gets me moving. Where the original track feels almost meditative in its repetition, Schwefelgelb reworks the track in a way that makes the repetition feel a lot more aggressive. The bass that takes over where the synth used to be drives you forward, the percussion of the remix sounds a little snappier and a little dirtier, and the increased speed completely changes the emotional tone of the track. While the original track invokes a feeling of disquiet or unease, this remix feels like it’s walking you down; it’s on the hunt.
Bernholz - “33”
I would recommend giving this track a listen with headphones. I really enjoy how this song builds. We start out with some sort of synth choir sounds, a low pad and a vibrating synth that feels like it is bouncy between your ears. Slowly, the tones climb, before the vibrating takes a back seat to a softer, pad. Uncomfortable, high pitched squeals break through the calmness of the track, keeping you from fully relaxing into it. It’s hard to describe the emotional resonance of the track; it seems almost hopeful at the beginning, but as the song builds, you feel more and more overwhelmed - not by the number of instruments, or the volume or anything like that, but there does seem to be a certain pressure built into the track. Throw on your headphones, close your eyes, and lean back into this thing.