Poltergeists: Week of March 6, 2017

Michael

Frostreich - “Empty Again”

I have listened to this song about a dozen times this morning. It hits all of the notes that draw me into a metal song. There is a special quality to a song that makes you just lose your mind by yourself at the kitchen table, and it deserves to be written about. There is a hardcore element to the way this song breaks down a few different times that lives within this kind of blackgaze / atmospheric black metal shell and is masked by the first part of the song. But when the chorus kicks in… holy shit, I lost it. Just the small break with only vocals and a few drums - “Empty again!” - and then back into this breakdown where the choir samples kick in and everything comes back. It is emotionally perfect for the theme. Lost and empty. This breakdown is repeated and altered throughout the song, but it has the same effect. The rest of the album is also very good. There are a lot of different influences that are exorcised throughout Join The Wind, but “Empty Again” is the track that I will definitely come back to again and again. It is a tightly constructed song that moves me. This album will appeal to fans of Harakiri for the Sky in the best way.  

Frostreich is an atmospheric black metal band from Germany and you can grab their latest album, Join The Wind, directly from their Bandcamp.

Deadlife - “Aurora”

I am no stranger to outrun. Lazerdiscs Records is a great place to find the newest outrun releases and I usually comb through their catalog every few months to see what is going on in the futurepast-world of 80s synthesizers, hard dance beats, and fast, colorful cars. Sometimes the best part of the music is the story that the artist tells through the concept of the art and content - and when you look to outrun there are plenty of over-the-top fun plots running through neon worlds. Deadlife is a robot that has lost a lover. The lover, and maker, haunts him in a wonderful concept album. Tracks like “Aurora” are classically pulsing with rhythm and plucky synthesizers, a driving bassline, and a great sense of a dance beat. The voice, presumably the maker mentioned before, drifts through the song with a few mournful praises that give the track a sad energy. It is very good. The final track, “For You”, is a wonderful techno track. It reminds me of some Apoptygma Berzerk tracks in the more dance-happy period of albums like Welcome to Earth or 7.

You can pick up the new Deadlife album, Bionic Chrysalis, on the Lazerdiscs Records Bandcamp page.

Wes

Schwefelgelb - “Aus Dem Hals Der Flasche”

I mean you knew this was coming. Of course I was going to write about the new Schwefelgelb release. The whole release is great, but I really love this track. The percussion in “Aus Dem Hals Der Flasche” is heavily compressed and distorted, creating a really full and interesting sound - it’s the sort of thing you might hear a beginner do on accident to poor effect, but when applied on purpose, as it is here, it creates a texture to the beat that fits the motion of the track. The open hats smashing in create a forward momentum that makes you want to bang your head as much as it makes you want to dance. I’ve probably listened to Dahinter Das Gesicht ten or fifteen times since it was released, and this track stands out every single time.

Schwefelgelb is a techno/EBM duo from Berlin Germany. Their latest release, Dahinter Das Gesicht, is available on Bandcamp via aufnahme + wiedergabe..

Drekka - “Like Yesterday”

This is a beautiful, slow, and thoughtful piece. Soft pads blend seamlessly with quiet strings, punctuated by piano. Soft vocalizations create a almost ocean like wash of sound as they come in and out. The instrumentation is very sparse; every note played or sung feels necessary to the life and emotion of the track. It feels like Drekka cut and cut and cut until the only thing that remained was the core idea, the core feeling, that they wanted to create. It’s the type of piece that you just want to close your eyes, put on headphones, and lay back, letting the emotion of the thing carry you away.

Drekka is musician from Bloomington, Indiana. Their latest release, Golden Braid, is available via Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of May 2, 2016

Michael

Hovert - “ACKET (The Ascetic)"

I am always on the hunt for black metal that inspires me to write more symphonically dark industrial sounds. Hovert is a great example of the blend of sounds that I look for when seeking inspiration because there are emotional upturns that build until they can’t exist anymore and then break into softer acoustic moments. The calmer aspects of “ACKET (The Ascetic)” are beautifully orchestrated - the instrumentation and the way the violins come in make the song whole to me. It is very clear that the song would still be well written without the violins and synth elements, but when they come in and the drum pattern shifts to a slightly downtempo beat, it makes the song much more impactful.

Hovert is an atmospheric black metal band from Russia. Their latest EP, The Sickle, can be purchased digitally from their Bandcamp page.  

Swarm Intelligence - “Gulf”

This track is crazy minimal. I love how subtly the sounds weave their way through the mix. What starts out as a pretty basic (but bass-heavy) pattern grows so strangely into an only-slightly different version of itself. The drum and bass element in the forefront of the song stays there through the entire song, but way off in the background there are so many different layers - a lot of which are obscure and wonderfully placed field recordings - that pop up and change the atmosphere of the track. There is something primal about it that works for me, like the track is literally breathing in and out with every hit of the bass drum and moving forward.

 

Swarm Intelligence is a Berlin-based producer who has released on a number of labels but most recently signed to Ad Noiseam to release Rust on LP, CD, and digitally.

Wes

Schwefelgelb - “Balancier Dich”

With the new Schwefelgelb, Wie Die Finger Durch Den Nebel, recently being released, it was probably predictable that I’d be writing about it this week. It’s no secret that these guys have become one of my favorite projects. If in the past, you thought maybe these guys were a little too techno, not enough EBM, this track should help bring you over. In “Balancier Dich”, Schwefelgelb turns up the pressure, with heavy, banging beats overlaid with growling bass lines. Where songs like “Irgendwo Vereint” on Dunkel Vor Den Augen Uns felt like heavy, angry techno, “Balancier Dich” shows how much Schwefelgelb has moved towards EBM over the past three years. There’s definitely some techno feel to the track though; it has a kind of a groove to the way the kick mixes with some plucky little bits of percussion that feels a little more techno, giving it a distinctive feel that I don’t get from a lot of other artists.

 

Schwefelgelb is a Berlin-based duo whose most recent release, Wie Die Finger Durch Den Nebel, is available on their Bandcamp and is the first release from Fleisch Records.


Phase Fatale - “Rot”

 

If you’re thinking “But I really liked the angry techno!” after reading that last review, then I have got a track for you! “Rot” starts us out, slow and brooding; the bass line pops along heavy and intentional. The kick is deep, and little bits of percussion echo around the edges. Soon, though, the techno influence of the track really kicks in - the bassline opens up, hi-hats start hitting on the offbeats, emphasized by the occasional open hats and claps. The track keeps a consistent tone throughout; the bass never really leaves us, and the kick stays roughly the same. However, evolving percussive elements - a faster high hat, a nice tom line - provide enough evolution that the track never gets boring to listen to.

Phase Fatale is the Germany-based project of Hayden Payne. His works have been released through aufnahme + wiedergabe and Avant! Records.

Poltergeists: Week of February 8, 2016

Poltergeists is a biweekly feature in which Michael and Wes share tracks that they have had on repeat over the past two weeks.

Michael

Ulver - “Cromagnosis”

Through the ever-wise guidance of Brant Showers (SØLVE and ∆AIMON), I discovered Ulver this week. I have mixed feelings about the tracks. There are parts that I would not be a fan of if they were on their own (for example: if “Cromagnosis” was only the last two minutes of the track - where all the bongos are crazy and the bass is just super prog-funk-but-fast). But the tracks really draw me in! I get so lost in the calm, Tool-like bass lines and minimalism that I don’t mind that it gets crazy and weird in the end. This song is a good example of how important the background sounds are in a track. The main bass riffs are solid and with the drums and wispy guitar in the background, the track is pretty well rounded - but the strange atmosphere behind all of that is what sells me.

Tigre Dente De Sabre - “B-Side Of A Trucker Man”

I have been a little fascinated with the Sad Rave parties in Brazil: combing through the different bands and pictures and secretly waiting for my phone call to go down to join those beautiful weirdos. Tigre Dente De Sabre is one of the many artists to play Sad Rave and I can definitely see why. This two person group puts out some ridiculously fun music - in one live video I saw there was a drummer and then a person playing bass guitar and keyboard. They both looked like they were having the time of their lives and I think that the music reflects it. “B-Side Of A Trucker Man” is a fun track that hits me in that dance-y place. At just about the end of the song, around 2:50, the song breaks out into an almost completely new rhythm and melody that punctuates this song nicely.

Wes

Deadcrow - “THVGGIN”

I had seen Deadcrow would be working with Saturate, and after hearing their track “BLVCK” I have been looking forward to seeing what that would bring. I gotta say I am not disappointed. In this track we have a beautifully layered song combining influences from future bass and trap, and more classic hip-hop sounds. On the surface level, we’ve got the deep kicks, snappy, rolling snares and trilling hi-hats, layered over this nice sampled track that feels soulful in a way you don’t hear with a lot of trap tracks. Additionally, the way the snare rolls, some of the airy crashes, and the little synth elements that slide in and out of the track give it a distinctly future feel. While the track is not as dark as “BLVCK”, it is still well worth your time.

Schwefelgelb - “Auf Der Anderen Seite Vom Fenster”

Man, I’ve been sleeping on Schwefelgelb. The most stand out features of this track are the mix of that rolling bassline and that hard as kick. The bass morphs and evolves in timbre, but maintains the same rhythm for most of the song. If you think that sounds like that would get to repetitive, allow me to assure you that it does not. It’s more like a sound foundation, where you have these wonderful percussive hits - snappy snares, heavy kicks, and rapid claps; huge toms, woodblocks and stabbing hi-hats - coming in and out to create a constantly changing, constantly driving texture that forces you move. I cannot not move my head when listening to this track.