Tag: Nine Inch Nails

Since the release of their debut EP, Here We Are In The Night, the Winnipeg, MB-based electro pop duo Ghost Twin, comprised of husband and wife duo Karen and Jaimz Asmundson, have received attention for meshing dark, industrial-inspired dance grooves in an immersive audio/visual show that includes edited video being used as percussion; in fact, the duo have played shows across their native Canada, including sets at NXNE, Pop Montreal, BreakOut West and Terminus. Eventually, the EP caught the attention of Austra’s Maya Postepski, a drummer and an electronic music producer known as Princess Century, who approached the band and was recruited to produce and collaborate on the material that would eventually comprise Plastic Heart, the Canadian duo’s full-length debut.

“Plastic Heart,” the album title track and latest single off Ghost Twin’s debut consists of tweeter and woofer-rattling boom bap beats, propulsive, shimmering arpeggio synths, a murky, retro-futuristic, industrial electro pop vibe and a soaring hook paired with ethereal vocals — and while clearly nodding at John Carpenter soundtracks, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Depeche Mode, Moonbabies, Niki and the Dove and others, the song manages to be a slickly produced, club banger with a dark, seductive feel.

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Currently comprised of its Riga, Latvia-born, Brooklyn, NY-base founding duo Kerry Kaleja and Eric Jayk and recent recruits Rebecca Silber (bass) and Luca Bertalgia (drums), the Brooklyn-based glam rock act Astra the 22s can trace their origins back to 2011 when Kaleja and Jayk first met. As the story goes, Kaleja was looking for guitar lessons and stumbled onto Jayk’s Craigslist ad. Interestingly, at the time Jayk was a touring member of Wildstreet.

Three years later, Kaleja and Jayk started collaborating full-time, writing and recording music that drew from an eclectic set of influences including The Kills, Michael Jackson, Nine Inch Nails and Blondie among others. And with the release of their 2014 debut EP Blue Venom, the duo received attention across the Baltic region, playing at Vilnius Music Week, the Gaizin Kalns Festival and the KLANG! Rock Festival, and performed at the Gold Microphone Awards, one of Latvia’s biggest music award shows. Although both Kaleja and Jayk relocated to Williamsburg last year, where they recruited the band’s newest members their debut EP Blue Venom and their forthcoming sophomore EP Paris Love were primarily written while the band’s founding duo were living apart with one member in Riga and the other in Brooklyn; however, the band’s newest material may be the most self-assured and arena rock friendly work they’ve completed to date while the material thematically explores sex, narcissism love, art and war on a personal and global level.

The EP’s latest single, EP title track “Paris Love” is a sensual and swaggering song featuring an enormous, arena rock friendly sound — power chords upon power chords, propulsive and forceful drumming, sultry vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook. Structurally, the song manages to draw from radio friendly, 90s grunge and electro rock — think of Garbage, Nine Inch Nails and others –as quiet verses lead the way for the aforementioned anthemic hooks but with a sleek yet unfussy, contemporary sheen.

 

New Video: Atlanta-born Artist Fusilier Releases Politically Charged Visuals for His Sultry Club Banger “Make You”

Starting his musical career as the bassist for the Boston-based indie rock band RIBS, an act that quickly rose to national prominence and opened for The Joy Formidable and Queens of the Stone Age, the Atlanta-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Blake Fusilier grew up having a similar experience that I did as a child, teenager and young adult — of not quite fitting in with your contemporaries. As a teenager while many of his peers aspired to sign to LaFace Records and SoSoDef Records, Fusilier picked up the violin, dreamt of being the black Itzhak Perlman and was obsessed with the work of Edgar Allen Poe. And of course, like odd teenagers everywhere — especially very odd, black teenagers — Fusilier quickly learned that when you’re a square peg, you can be equally hated and ridiculed. Around that time, the Atlanta-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer had begun writing his own material.

As RIBS started to achieve national attention, someone asked Fusilier about his experience being black and gay, and at the time, the Atlanta-born artist began to realize two very important personal truths — that he had been running away from those questions for most of his adult life, and that the world’s perceptions and assumptions of him and about him were spiritually and emotionally exhausting. And from that point forward, Fusilier decided that he wanted and needed to make music that would not only drain those questions about his experience and those of others of their power, but to also make them permanently irrelevant. As Fusilier explained in press notes, “I have this theory that if people knew who we really were in their minds, we probably would all have a lot more respect for one another. This applies to everyone: friends and acquaintances and bandmates. I think it’s our duty to ourselves to make sure that those around us have a chance to allow others to see our glorious, true selves. I finally feel like I’m beginning to live by those words. The songs I’m wrapping up have been floating around for years. I had been anticipating the moment when people could actually hear even 20 seconds of my potential.”

The early response so far to Fusilier’s work has been wildly positive with one critic describing his sound as being a synthesis of James Brown and Nine Inch Nails — although his latest single “Make You,” immediately brings to mind the work of Prince, Jef Barbara, Boulevards, and Gordon Voidwell as Fusilier pairs his sultry and sensual cooing with a slick, hyper modern production featuring a sinuous and propulsive bass line, tambourine-led percussion bolstered by stuttering drum programming, arpeggio synth chords, a funky brass sample and a deeply infectious hook. And while being a sultry, club banger the song possesses an ironic and withering sociopolitical commentary that ridicules and obliterates racial stereotypes in a fashion similar to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey.”

Certainly, when we have a presidential administration that has emboldened supremacist and racist groups to flourish and be as hateful as they once were, having a wider variety of black voices, frankly discussing their unique experiences — and helping to tear down racist assumptions. But it also should serve as a powerful reminder that pop, dance music and funk have long been full of sociopolitical messages; after all, music, art and comedy are some of the best weapons against autocratic, power hungry governments.

As for the video, the Atlanta-born multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter explains “I look at my body and what little I know of my family’s story and can’t help but think that I am a most American thing. I’m talking about the mixture of marriages and what I can only assume to be rapes amongst oppressors, the enslaved and the original inhabitants that gave me my coarse hair, jawline and skin and this name, ‘Fusilier.’ The ‘Make You’ video is a very public exorcism of my inner turmoil knowing that people will always see in me themselves and the other, friend and enemy, lust and aversion.”

Initially comprised of founding member Al Jourgensen (vocals and guitar), Stephen George (drums), Robert Roberts (keys) and John Davis (keys), the renowned and influential Chicago, IL-based industrial metal/industrial electronic act Ministry began as a New Wave synth pop act that released several 12 inch singles through Wax Trax! Records between 1981-1984. And after a series of lineup changes that included a deeper focus on the band’s founding duo of Jourgensen and George, and a radical change in sonic direction that lead to the aggressive and abrasive sound that later inspired the likes of Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails ,KMFDM and others.

This Friday will mark the limited release of the long-awaited Trax! Rarities double album featuring rare, early tracks and versions of songs from Wax Trax! Records-era Ministry and unreleased material from Al Jourgensen’s related side projects including Revolting Cocks, PTP, Pailhead and 1000 Homo DJs through Cleopatra Records. And we’ve got three tracks from the Trax! Rarities collection — the A Flock of Seagulls meets Roxy Music-like demo version of “The Game Is Over,” which reveals that even with a completely different sound that Jourgensen, his late bandmate George and company had an uncanny ability to write an incredibly anthemic hook paired with shimmering guitars and a propulsive groove;  the mid 80s New Order and Depeche Mode-nodding “I See Red,” which is not only a dance-floor friendly song but manages to be a more conscious move towards something resembling industrial electronic music; and lastly, “Same Old Madness,” which strangely enough, bears an uncanny resemblance to Freedom of Choice-era DEVO. Of course, while the compilation will be a must have for die-hard fans and completetists, it’s a revealing look into how a band’s sound and aesthetic can morph from making them a mere footnote of a particular time into one of the more influential bands of their generation.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Dark Post-Apocalyptic, Industrial Sounds and Visuals of Toronto’s Odonis Odonis

“Needs,” the latest single off Post Plague has the trio pairing layers of undulating synths, howled and shouted vocals, industrial clang and clatter, rapid fire, staccato drum programming, chopped up vocal samples, a rousing, anthemic hook and a propulsive, hypnotic groove in a tense, anxious song that sonically channels early Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and others — but with a contemporary and stark sense of unease, uncertainty and the realization that we’re on the precipice of our own mutually assured self-destruction.

Directed by Scott Cudmore, the recently released video for “Needs” is the first episode of a series of short films, based around the material of Post Plague that blends virtual reality with traditional video to tell a larger, fictional story. And in the case of “Needs,” the video begins with a person transferring their existence into a barely functional AI robot — and are quickly pulled into a post-apocalyptic future that somewhat resembles our own present. As Cudmore explains in press notes, the video is about “Old, entitled, white men and the system of oppression and exploitation that they’ve created to serve their…well…needs, which are usually money and power. I’m looking at this through the lens of science fiction, but I wanted to depict that power structure breaking down finally. Breaking down internally. There’s no linear narrative and you are free to think of that aspect in any way, but each image is a depiction of this breakdown as well as of repression, exploitation and desperation.”

Growing up in Atlanta, Blake Fusilier didn’t quite fit in with his contemporaries — while many of his peers aspired to sign to LaFace Records and SoSoDef Records, as a teenager Fusilier picked up the violin, dreamt of being the black Itzhak Perlman and was obsessed with the work of Edgar Allen Poe. And much like odd teenagers — especially odd black teenagers —  a young Fusilier learned that sometimes when you’re extremely different, you can be hated and ridiculed, and around that time he began writing his own music. By the time, he relocated to Boston for college, Fusilier had learned to play the bass and was a member of moody rock band RIBS, which eventually rose to national prominence; in fact, they’ve opened for The Joy Formidable and Queens of the Stone Age, and have been written about across the blogosphere. 

As the story goes, as the band was achieving quite a bit of success, someone asked Fusilier about being black and gay, and the singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer began to realize that running away from those questions and the world’s perceptions of him was spiritually and emotionally exhausting. From that point forward, he wanted to make music that would not only drain those questions of their power but to make them permanently irrelevant. As Fusilier says in press notes, “I have this theory that if people knew who we really were in their minds, we probably would all have a lot more respect for one another. This applies to everyone: friends and acquaintances and bandmates. I think it’s our duty to ourselves to make sure that those around us have a chance to allow others to see our glorious, true selves. I finally feel like I’m beginning to live by those words. The songs I’m wrapping up have been floating around for years. I had been anticipating the moment when people could actually hear even 20 seconds of my potential.” 

So far the response from the blogosphere and music critics has been wildly positive with one critic in particular describing Fusilier’s sound as being a synthesis of James Brown and Nine Inch Nails — although as soon as I heard his latest single “Make You,” I immediately heard Prince, Jef Barbara, Boulevards, Gordon Voidwell and quite a bit of contemporary electro pop as the former RIBS bassist’s sultry and sensual cooing is paired with a slick, hyper modern production consisting of a sinuous bass line, propulsive drum programming led by finger snaps, layers of buzzing synths and electronics, and an incredibly infectious hook in a club banging song that possess an unresolved sexual tension and a sly and ironic commentary on racial and sexual identity. And it all should be a reminder that you can pair some deeply personal and political messages in dance music — and the most important that music can be one of the most powerful weapons imaginable.