Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist Luis Vasquez and his solo industrial/darkwave/post-punk recording project The Soft Moon, and as you may recall Vasquez’s latest Soft Moon album, Criminal is arguably one of the most confessional and deeply personal albums he has written and released to date, as the album’s material thematically focuses on a man at war with himself, battling with self-hatred, insecurity and self-entitlement — with an underlying fear that he’s quickly transforming into the type of person he despises. Now, back in March, I wrote about the brooding and starkly atmospheric “Give Something,” a track that Vasquez explained in press note sis about his inability to reciprocate love and tenderness to another person. “Having no control over the constant urge to sabotage all things that are good for me, there is irony and frustration in knowing that in the end, the impossibility of love is what ultimately will save me from myself,” the Oakland-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and multi-instrumentalist says in press notes.
Criminal’s latest single “Like A Father” is centered around an abrasive and murky industrial production that brings Pretty Hate Machine and Downward Spiral-era Nine Inch Nails and Ministry to mind, as it features thumping, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, industrial clang and clatter, thick and arpeggiated synths and strummed guitar chords played through distortion and other effects pedals, and while the song is dance floor friendly, it churns with the inner turmoil of man figuratively — and perhaps at points, even literally — wrestling with himself and his own demons, and losing quite badly.
Directed by Kelsey Henderson, the recently released video for “Like A Father” is comprised of a series of rapid-fire edits that shift from a brooding and angry man looking at himself in a carnival mirror before switching to the same man in a garage bag struggling to break free from his physical (and emotional) confines. Much like the accompanying song, the video is unsettling and leaves a lingering presence.
Luis Vasquez is an Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the critically applauded industrial/dark wave/post-punk recording project The Soft Moon. Vasquez’s latest Soft Moon album, the recently released Criminal is reportedly one of his most confessional albums he has released to date, as the material is written through a stark lens of shame and guilt, in which the material thematically focuses on a man at war with himself, battling with self-hatred, insecurity, self-entitlement paired with the fear of those things transforming him into the type of person he normally despises.
Criminal’s latest single is the broodingly stark and atmospheric “Give Something,” a track that pairs his falsetto with thumping beats, razor sharp synths and industrial clang and clatter. Interestingly, as Vasquez explains in press notes, the track focuses on his inability to reciprocate love and tenderness to another person. “Having no control over the constant urge to sabotage all things that are good for me, there is irony and frustration in knowing that in the end, the impossibility of love is what ultimately will save me from my myself.” It’s a plaintive and gut wrenchingly urgent call for help from a deeply troubled, emotionally damaged yet incredibly self-aware person.
Directed by Kelsey Henderson and featuring video effects and color by Victoria Keddie, the recently released video for “Give Something” focuses on a split screen throughout — one the left, a topless woman with her back to the screen and a couple seemingly in the middle of intense coitus, with the same woman from the left hand side grabbing and scratching the back of her lover with a desperate, painful grip that leaves marks. At points the visuals go through stuttering visual effects that on one level makes it look as though the woman may be abusing herself — or her lover — out of selfish motivations.
Semiotics Department of Heteronyms (SDH) is the new recording project of two key figures in Barcelona‘s synth wave/industrial scene — Andrea P. Latorre and Sergi Algiz, who are co-founders of renowned Spanish label C¯njunt¯ VacÌ¯, as well as members of post-punk act Wind Atlas; however, SDH finds Latorre and Algiz heading towards a decidedly pop-leaning direction sonically while thematically, the duo’s latest project is centered on fiction, make believe and feigned personalities — namely: how fiction is embodied, what fiction really is, and so on.
Interestingly, the Spanish duo’s latest single “Tell Them,” off their recently released digital-release only EP Tell Them while superficially being synth pop finds the duo nodding at cold wave, post-punk, and early house and techno as they pair shimmering yet chilly arpeggiated synths, propulsive, industrial-like drum programming, razor sharp and rousing hooks with Latorre’s sultry and soulful vocals in what may arguably be the most sensual and dance floor friendly single they’ve released to date. Unsurprisingly, with the release of their two previously released singles, the members of SDH have built up quite a bit of buzz as they’ve already opened for artists like Marie Davidson and Merchandise and have played at the Swedish darkwave festival Kalabalik PÂ Tyrolen.
Fittingly shot on grainy VHS tape, the recently released video for “Tell Them” features the duo broodingly walking down dim, late night European streets, emphasizing the song’s murky and ominous air.
Comprised of Bondi, Australia-born, London UK-based Sssh Liguz (vocals) and Zak Starkey, the son of Ringo Starr, a multi-instrumentalist, best known as a touring drummer for The Who and Oasis (guitar), the London-based electro punk duo SSHH received attention with the release of their 2016 debut effort, Issues, which featured the duo collaborating with some of rock’s most renowned rhythm sections, including members of The Sex Pistols, Mott the Hoople, the backing bands of Marilyn Manson and Peter Tosh — to benefit charity.
The propulsive, industrial techno-like single “Rising Tide” which features heavily arpeggiated synths with thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and an infectious hook is the duo’s first bit of new material since Issues and the club banger was born, as Liguz told Earmilk “from a fiery argument” while “driving in a heavy rainstorm.” “I remember being furious beyond belief. Not only because we were having a huge fight, but because even though we were acting like assholes to each other, I couldn’t stop thinking how much I loved him,” Liguz recalled. “Just like I couldn’t stop the rain from falling, or the stars from shining, I just can’t stop loving this man!” Liguz continued, “There is anger in the happiness and a little hate in the love. At the end of the day, passion rules.” And as a result, the song possesses a raw and unbridled tension at its core, influenced by the tempestuous push and pull between love and hate in a fiery and passionate relationship.
BMG released the single globally today, and the single comes with 7 additional remixes and re-workings of the tracks, including re-workings by the likes of YOUTH, Sondrio, Acaddamy, Secret Space, Jevo, and the members of SSHH.
Co-directed by the band and Billy Zammit, the recently released video for the song manages to subtly draw from rave and electronica culture, as well as psych rock, as it features the duo performing the song in strobe lights and projections.
Now, as you may recall, Keep Shelly in Athens is an internationally renowned electronic music production and artist duo that has released dreamy, mid tempo electro pop material through Forest Family Records, Transparent Records, Planet Mu Records, Cascine Records and Friends of Friends Records and others — and building upon a growing internationally recognized profile, the duo have played at some of the world’s largest festivals including — Coachella, Parklife Festival, The Great Escape Festival and Fun Fun Fun Festival. Adding to a steadily growing profile, the act has made official remixes for Tycho, Blood Diamonds and Steve Mason among others.
Philokalia, the Athens, Greece-based electronic music duo’s third full-length album is slated for a Friday, September 29, 2017 release through the duo’s own Athenian Aura Recordings, and the album finds the act featuring their newest vocalist, Aussie Award-winning novelist and poet Jessica Bell. Last month, I wrote about album single “Game Over (Daniel’s Theme),” a track that further cemented their reputation for crafting moody and cinematic, mid-tempeo electro pop as the song featured a production that consisted of shimmering synths, swirling, ambient electronics, a mournful string arrangement and stuttering drum programming paired with Bell’s viscerally earnest and heartfelt vocals — and interestingly enough, the song bristles with the self-flagellation and recrimination of someone who’s been betrayed or lied to in some deeply unforgivable fashion.
“Dark Light” Philokalia‘s latest single is a a bit of decided change in direction for the renowned electronic act as it featured Bell with self-assured and in-your-face vocals paired with what may arguably be their most industrial leaning production featuring wobbling and buzzing synths, industrial clang and clatter, stuttering drum programming and a rousing hook while retaining some elements of the dreamy, ethereal sound that has captured the attention of the blogosphere — namely with the song’s introduction and coda. But interestingly enough, the song possesses a dark, sultry seductive quality reminiscent of Version 2.0-era Garbage and Portishead.
Niko Antonucci is a Prague, Czech Republic-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentliast, singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist, who can trace the origins of her music career to when she received piano lessons when she was 6. As teenager, the Prague-born, Los Angeles-based artist began stealing her father’s guitar as a teen — and when she turned 15, she had cut her first demo and began singing and playing in a number of local bands for a number of years. But at a young age, Antonucci recognized that in order to get the exact sound she wanted, she would need to do it herself and she began producing herself.
With her solo, downtempo/industrial electronica project Resin, Antonucci’s sound is inspired by many of the influences that have been a part of her creative life including Nirvana, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails , The Cure, Chelsea Wolfe, as well as ambient electronica and classic music, while thematically focusing on spirituality, dark magic, being an outsider. and so on. And with “Hoarse,” the first single off her self-produced full-length effort Fidget, Antonucci pairs swirling electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, stuttering drum programming and a soaring hook with her sultry yet achingly vulnerable vocals — and while clearly nodding at Nine Inch Nails and Portishead, the single also manages to remind me of Version 2.0-era Garbage.
If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve come across a handful os post featuring Blanck Mass, the solo side project of Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power. His 2015 Blanck Mass effort Dumb Flesh was written and recorded over the course of the preceding year in several different locations — Power’s Space Mountain Studios, a windowless attic space in Hatch End, North London and Power’s Edinburgh Scotland home. And reportedly, frequently changing recording spaces influenced the album’s dark and sprawling compositions, which possessed elements of tense and abrasive industrial electronica with sensual, hard-hitting, deep house, complete with punishing, tweeter and rocker beats and shimmering synths seemingly bubbling from a hot, molten iron-like surface. Thematically speaking, the material focused on the inherent frailty of the human body — with the material evoking the painful sensation that our poor, dumb flesh couldn’t do more to protect us from certain catastrophe; however, World Eater, Power’s third Blanck Mass album, released earlier this year through Sacred Bones Records was inspired by the our current, ongoing sociopolitical climate full of teeming anger, violence, confusion, frustration, hatred and despair — and as Power has publicly mentioned, the material is meant to evoke a wild, untamed beast chewing and gnawing at civilization, compassion, good, progression and the very bonds that hold us together. As Power explains in press notes, “The title is a reference to both the inner beast inside human beings that when grouped en-masse stops us from moving forward towards good.”
Now, as you may recall, album single “Silent Treatment,” built on the concept of human civilization being mercilessly ripped apart and stomped on, and of impending doom as the song featured chopped up choral and vocal samples, abrasive, industrial clang and clatter, stuttering drum programming, twinkling arpeggio synths and enormous, room rocking boom bap-like beats — and although the song managed to possess a subtly atmospheric feel, it retained the murky and punishing feel of the material on Dumb Flesh. The album’s latest single “The Rat” continues on a similar vein as it features punishing, tweeter and woofer rocking beats cascading down on the listener paired with layers of swirling, shimmering and buzzing synths — and while being one of the more ominous songs I’ve come across this year, there’s a strangely haunting beauty at its core.
Edited by Dan Tombs, the recently released visuals forces the viewer to stare directly into his eyes and take a surreal and nightmarish trip through some of the darker and more foreboding recesses of a fairground, stopping through dancing doll towns, merry-go-rounds and warped flashbacks of maggots and decay. As Power says of the video, “The video itself is a bit of fun and filmed on a family vacation, but somehow I feel it represents discontent within a capitalist regime and a world full of sugar-coated shit.”
Comprised of Detroit-based husband-and-wife multimedia artist duo Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus, ADULT. have received both national and international attention both for their music, which features elements of industrial electronica, house music and punk rock — and for their visual art, which includes sculptures, paintings, photographs, films, videos and installations; in fact, since the act’s founding back in 1998, Miller and Kuperus have strove to blur and intersect the lines between visual art and their music, exhibiting their work at the Austrian Cultural Forum (NY), Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh), Detroit Institute of Arts, MOMAS (Saitama, Japan) and Centre d’ar contemporain de Meymac (France). Their film The Three Grace(s) triptych has been shown at the Anthology Film Archives, Distrital Film Festival, Mexico City and Grey Area for Art and Technology.
The duo’s latest effort Detroit House Guests is largely based on the visual artist residency model, in which Miller and Kuperus invited a varied and impressive array of musicians and artists, including Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas J. McCarthy, Swans’ Michael Gira, Light Aslyum’s Shannon Funchess, Lichens, Austrian thereminist Dorit Chrysler and multidisciplinary artist Lun*na Menoh and others to their studio for a three week period — with the parameter that they all live, work and collaborate together to create an album that also manages to be an anthropological sound experiment.
“We Are a Mirror” is the latest single off Detroit House Guests and it finds Miller and Kuperus collaborating with Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas J. McCarthy. Featuring an glitchy and minimalist yet propulsive production consisting of subtle, industrial clang and clatter, an assortment of bleeps, blips and bloops, stuttering drum programming and club-rocking that manages to seamlessly mesh both artists’ sound while being incredibly brooding and seductive.
Directed by Hazel Hill-McCarthy III, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, whose previous work includes a documentary featuring Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge, the recently released video for “We Are a Mirror” was filmed in Miller and Kuperus’ hometown of Detroit between the hours of 6pm and 6am — and it employs a relatively straightforward concept: the trio of Miller, Kuperus and McCarthy in a sparsely arranged mirrored room with a light display, broodingly posing and performing the song. And while evoking a murky nightclub, the video also feels as though it could be an fashion shoot as it possesses a grungy and glamorous quality.