Exclusive Premieres: Paradox Obscur – S/T

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Rhodes is the basis of this project. A duo consisting of Kriistal Ann and Toxic Razor, two nick-names appropriated by Anna Michailidou and a furtherly unknown figure whose real name I haven’t found out about. For the solo-project that is called Kriistal Ann, Anna Michailidou created a release last year for release on Werkstatt Recordings, titled “Refraction” – a solo-project based in and out of goth mixed with dark-wave – showing a whole other side of herself. Even though she’s intimately connected with Paradox Obscur, the difference lies in the approach that the duo has in comparison with her own project. The aforementioned project is based out of dark minimal synths with a cold-wave atmosphere, content at leaving the listener in a dismayed landscape of sound – harnessing a deep inner-feeling – charged with an ambulation of emotional lyrical content. A rather bleak introductory to a sound they’ve been working on since releasing a few tracks here and there, some on their own Soundcloud and one for the Parisian podcast-mixes courtesy of M N M L. After a while, before they even had announced the release of their self-titled debut, I got introduced to their sound for real by Jason of Peripheral Minimal.

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We decided for me to be releasing a track each day, showcasing their sound to a broader audience. So I started to put up a track after another, until I hit the limit of five tracks that I decided would be appropriate. These five tracks, namely “Scourge“, “Creatures“, “Dirty Parades“, “Grieving Days” and “Conviction” – in no particular order. It got warmly received by those interested in their sound since before and those that hadn’t really been introduced to their sound yet. Everyone got a chance to listen to all these tracks, on a day-to-day basis – to form their opinion and/or interest for their self-titled release – by listening to exclusive premieres of tracks from that release. Now that these days have already went by, you get another chance to listen to these tracks, since they’re up indefinitely. Prepare yourself for a wonderfully cold receipt of what can be done with an erratic sound-scape fueled by the desperate and depressive content that Paradox Obscur shows with their passion for music, accompanied by analogue equipment for the best sound. The artwork for the cover was designed by Frantz Schlusselhuber, displaying the elephant man and various other individuals whom you might or might not recognize. However, you should be listening to these five exclusive tracks on Repartiseraren, because each track has its own character. The release will be put out on Peripheral Minimal in the beginning of May. Stream all tracks down below.

Listen: La Fete Triste / The Harrow – Giant / Axis

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Haunting is the first word that comes to mind when La Fete Triste and The Harrow join forces, releasing a split together with the title “Giant / Axis“. The solo-project La Fete Triste is the enigmatic and sorrowful new-wave project by Gabriel Brero, one of the men involved with aufnahme + wiedergabe, based out of Berlin (now in Hamburg). His twisted synthesizer and drum-machine-driven project derive inspiration out of both minimal synth and post-punk, coating his arms with a new-wave overlay that deliver the greatest sadness with melancholia at the middle, together with melodies that will ensnare you imminently. Add to that a guitar with concrete rhythms that adds a touch of your own dismay in the mix. Before this release, he had put out a single called “Lèvres Froides“, and he also did a split-release together with Lebanon Hanover, titled “Lebanon Hanover / La Fete Triste” where four tracks were put out. A lot of people have apparently been longing for new material for quite a while, three years to be exact. Together with The Harrow, he delves into this split-release with the track “Giant“. An at first ballad-esque track which soars through the landscape of sound with a post-punk sound with an almost anthemic touch to it. The mournful and depressive vocals with a German intonation at the end makes it a lot more impressive, because it builds up to a magnificent track because of that. An interesting anecdote is that Justin Stephens (Passion Play) is doing back-up vocals on this track, he’s produced and mixed it as well.

The Harrow, on the other hand, had delivered their first official self-titled debut on the now defunct label Function Operate last year. Even though some of their sound isn’t that emotive for me to begin with, I must say that I am impressed when I hear “Axis“, a track which breathes the otherwise so scarcely atmosphere that had been lacking before. It’s got more warmth than the earlier release of theirs, and to add insult to injury – Vanessa Irena‘s vocals attract you to their post-punk sound even more, as she adds another dimension to an otherwise good track. Making it even greater. The Harrow have been interesting in several ways before, but they haven’t really made anything that have been as great as this. Here, they show their true potential as craftsmen. Bringing their music to a whole other level together with their minimal approach to post-punk, with goth undertones that make you take it in even more. Everything is emotionless, but at the same time very emotive. A good paradox to be written upon their release as it is. Looking forward to hearing more of this kind of sound, in future releases. An interesting sway into the right direction. Stream both tracks down below and wait until you can buy the physical edition on vinyl on the 18th of May on aufnahme+wiedergabe.

Spotlight: Life Is Pain – Born, Suffer, Die…

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Missing out on two years ago is not such a big deal. But once you find something that simply attaches itself into your mind, you want to show it to the world – no matter how many years on its neck it might have. The largely existential project Life Is Pain is the solo endeavor of an unknown character from New York. His influences range from Arthur Schopenhauer‘s stance on suicide, which is that it’s not wrong at all or born out of cowardice, since; “They tell us that Suicide is the greatest piece of Cowardice. That Suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in this world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person“. This project also harkens from the depths of atmospheric dark wave, to the less intriguing blend with melodious cold wave – to the more exciting metamorphosis from experimentalism to post-punk, goth and minimal synth. Even though the more melodic parts make you shy away from the project, the absoluteness of the darkness that can be derived from the absolutely soul-wrecking topics that are brought up make you turn the other cheek and face it towards “Born, Suffer, Die…”, which is the two-tracked release that is talked about above. Featuring the two tracks “Unassailable” and “Sindrome“. Unfortunately, he hasn’t released anything else then this, but this might help spark interest in what he’s been working with before. Stream it down below.

Premiere: Orchidée Noire – Défense de se noyer [Musicvideo]

Xavier Soquet, also known as “Orchidée Noire is a french-based minimal wave (and synth)/cold wave aficionado. His take on this whole ordeal is to be a little more minimalistic then his counterparts. Which is really strange, since the genre itself builds upon the concept of minimalism. Does it even get more minimal? Yes, it obviously does. Some of it actually reminds me of Techno in the start, with a nice utilization of what’s probable analogue equipment. Even though simplicity is the key, there are thoughtful layers that compromise even the smallest part of the song itself. If you’re a strong proponent of everything French, then you’d dig the vocals also. Therefore, we premiere “Défense de se noyer“, over here on Invisible Guy. Some of you might’ve already gotten the taste, but you can get even more of it here. Listen as the outdrawn synthesizers, with excruciating warmth and power in themselves are consumed by a catchy rhythmic baseline. The music-video itself is pleasurable to watch, since it feels like you’re going on your own adventure – accompanied by the song itself. Listen to it down below or watch the music-video, up above.

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Spotlight [SP. ED]: A New Life / Soft Riot!

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Russia wouldn’t be my main vantage point if I think about retro-fantastic synth-pop and minimal synth. Obviously, Los Angeles have been in the headlights for far too long, even though they have some merits to withhold that certain degree of appreciation. However, it seems like the Russian label-boss have been at it, at least if you check out Other Voices Records, whom we’ve interviewed earlier on this blog. Taking influences both from legendary groups such as Human League, and specifically; Soft Cell – there’s a resurgence that simply can’t be ignored. We’ll see if any other label from that particular region of the world are up for the challenge, but it seems like they’re the number one contenders so far. To be noted, the artists themselves aren’t from this region, but the mastermind is the Russian label. In this special edition of Spotlight, I’ll guide you to the two gems “Fright †reasures” and “Your Own Private Underworld“. Courtesy of A New Life and Soft Riot, one Italian-based producer and one UK-based producer of synth-pop music, with the word “retro” in the mainline.

1481648355-1What can possibly be said about A New Life and his newly released cassette titled “Fright †reasures“? Firstly, it’s based off material that was recorded in 2011-2012, by the synth-pop producer Maurizio Pustianaz. Besides the obvious fact that it’s retro all over, there’s also the importance of analogue. Smearing our brains with a current of force, but at the same time also a sincere yearning for times that have past. The music itself strays from synth-pop, to minimal synth and he delves into the 80’s – with good intent. His abysmal fascination for that decade, is preceded by the apparent structure of the songs, whom in their natural state reveal much of the influences. But they are pretty unconventional – and are only matched, when it comes to superiority, by the fast-paced sections of synthesizer goodness. Some of the ambitious hints of melodic content, are sometimes not his strength when it comes to the music. The weird, showcased melodies in the choruses don’t intertwine in a good way, within the context that is intended – of the structured colossus that is his sound. Which at times actually can be turned in his favor, since the music itself relies on the ambitious notion and atmospheric experimentalism that is rarely seen within this decade. Sure, if you’re interested in Soft Cell, their experimentation seem to be a guideline for his music. But when it comes to the regular synth-pop, with 80’s vibes, this is not something for the faint of heart or primitive minds. No, this sounds like an intellectual approach to an otherwise pretty basic genre, at least if you gather up all your synth-pop belongings and heed to the overall quality. Catchy, it is and can be when he lets it form around the strengths that emit throughout the often heartbreaking lyrical content, but not to an extent that is in his favor. Since the vocals are 50/50, they’re just too much in some of the songs, but at the same time add up in the end – which makes this a case of how you’d like the lyricism to be. When he sings from his heart, the music itself is energized and should re-conquer the castle it needs to forcefully re-take. Otherwise, when it comes to the overall picture, it’s a picturesque cassette which needs to be listened to. At least if you compare it to the not-so-stiff competition out there.

1006979070-1As you listen to Soft Riot, which is a moniker for another UK-based producer, who goes by the name of JJD (Jack Duckworth) – there’s an instant appeal to your own monotonic glory. His single-based release “Your Own Private Underworld“, from his forthcoming cassette “Fiction Prediction“, is a fusion between the minimal synth landscape, of dark intentions morphed into a kind of shallow Miami synth-pop sound. There’s a glimmering haze around the general atmosphere of the song, along with almost atonal sounds with monotonic intentions. The contradictions that feed off this sound is astonishing. No cliches are being re-interpreted into the shrewd landscape of ludicrousness, angelic dismay and sincere synthesizers. If anything, this is simply a display of utter originality. Quenching the thirst for some post-punk, by squeezing some influences from that pathway – into an all-out electronic endeavor. At times, the vocals and the interchangeable nature of the music, reminds you all too much about the totally non-electronic band Lebanon Hanover. The kind of dry atmosphere of aridity is utilized as a kind of undertone, which is absurd when blended with the glamor in the overlying parts of the songs structures. It’s odd, but it’s actually one of the better blends of minimal synth, with irregular influences, that has a more static synth-pop ground to stand on – which in the end actually works. Since there’s only two songs, as this is a part of a forthcoming cassette, I am dismayed. Not because anything is bad about it, it’s just because there are only two songs so far – and I want him to get on with it and deliver the rest of them. The urge that simply walks into your brain and make your hands click on the mouse-button, just so you can hear the songs on repeat. Really great songs, original and unique in so many ways. This is a cassette that you simply have to listen to. You should wait until the forthcoming cassette and whole album “Fiction Prediction” comes out, but I urge you to buy the digital download of these two songs – right now!

Spotlight: Peter The Roman – Printer Silicone Machine

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If I could be a Roman for a day, something would change in every way. His name would be designated, I would be elevated and everything would certainly be electronica-related. This man is Peter The Roman and he’s a new man in this world of three-dimensional sounds, equipped with a repetitive and snarky responsiveness, musically. His latest release “Printer Silicone Machine“, could be everything in this world that you’d want to hear. Besides the fact that it’s pretty repetitive, it’s also monolithic to an extent and what I would envision myself doing musically, actually. Not in this shape, maybe, but where the sounds aren’t that predictable – and weigh a heavy amount of tonnes. At times you’ll hear some nostalgic vibes, but it’s original in the manner that the warmth exhilarated from the body of the electronica is sincere at the top, but wondrous “down below“. It might not seek anything below the underground, but he certainly has ambitions at times. However, it’s noticeable that it stems from an experimental waypath that he has embarked upon. Among all the jibberish samples, there’s a little hint of everything that makes electronica what it is. Or, at least – how it should be. I find it odd, but I enjoy it when it doesn’t set me offbeat. The album features ten songs and you can download two of them for free. It was probably released D.I.Y., by himself.

Dreamlight: architecture – diamond mind

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Caress your body, feel your brain floating around. It’s not messy, it’s not careless – rather; dreamy and lush. The duo architecture compose melodies that can be considered clandestine. Furthering our destiny, towards something higher than just the category titled “pop“. Somewhere in between the sincere analogue experience and the digitalis futurism that is blended through the cracks of the music. Faithful, whispering, psychedelic – but also filled with concrete and raw emotions. Downbeat when they have to, upbeat when they see the sun. Albeit gazing through a layer of pouring rain. Rhythmically, they utilize the best they themselves can offer. As the melodies are played, you do heed to the rhythmic notion that they deliver with an utmost arch towards the naive. Don’t look, because it might hit you. Just feel how the music is siphoned from architecture, into your own mind. Wind down, relax a little bit and just take it in. It might be a grandiose experience at large, but you’ll also find pockets where you can breathe. This is their newly released 7¨ titled “diamond mind“, featuring the two songs “diamond mind” and “bb beware“. Released by Notes and Bolts, coming out on the 17th of April in physical format. Also, they will soon release a full-length album.

Thee Showcase [#8.4]: Juventud Juché and Gardland!

379909952-1Well, we’re not even done here, so what am I doing? I’m searching far and wide, collecting some of the bands that needs to be showcased. Time for Thee Showcase, this time finding its way to southern latitudes. The Spaniards from Juventud Juché are featured this time. Their latest 7¨ is estimated to have been released in 2012, but they’ve put it up on bandcamp this year. It’s titled “Discos Walden” and is a messy upbeat, rhythmic annihilation that deserves a slap on the wrist for the most post-punkish thing since the 80’s. It’s probably one of the more fitting releases to have the Spanish language included on a release. Since I haven’t really bothered to listen to any Spanish post-punk, this is as close as I get. The melodies are simply outrageous in their own right. A hint of garage can also be found, in the middle of everything, making the vocalist sound crazy and confronting. In any universe where the baseline and the riffs don’t collide, will make a new planet that is deserving of the name “planet“. Both the rhythmic jig of Juventud Juché is celebratory at best and continuous at worst. The kind of energy they bring to the table is filled with suspense and it will make you rock out in your own bedroom, making a fool out of yourself. It also makes me want to learn Spanish. The crossover between garage-punk and post-punk is simply awesome, garnering the tight baselines of post-punk and the distorted landscape of garage-punk in the one and the same, tight category. Also, the variation of their sound-scape, when it comes to how they lay it out – is simply astonishing. It can go from extremely upbeat, to almost downbeat and annoyingly repetitive. But at least there’s a point to it being that, which is to withhold more of the same and bring out more of the other. Featuring songs ranging from “Gibraltar Español” to “Ainhoa“, originally released in 2012 on Gramaciones Grabofónicas, also put out on bandcamp at the 22nd of February.

1369216745-1My, oh my, do we like analogue over here? Yes we do. Remembering the true days of real shit. No, just kidding, but it is kind of nostalgic. The duo featured here is Gardland, a pair of techno-crazed Australians. He’s currently put up his self-titled debut-EP “Gardlands“. Something that’s great with analog sounds is that you get a deeper, more crisp and broadened sound. It doesn’t sound the least plastic and the dynamics between the booming base drums and the more experimental sounds in the mix sound terrifyingly close. It actually reminds you about a lot of the more classic techno, or at least of that which has seen its years. The chaotic environment, the stable and pumping beat, equipped with the analogue vitality that is Techno – can only go one way, which is the successful way. At least if you think about it in a musical perspective. Everything is connected, through and throughout, with a more subtle change within the sound-scape that totally ridicules everything that’s gone through a filter. Here’s some real stuff that will make you shake, that will make you appreciate the sound. It slowly progresses into an abomination, a rolling ball which you cannot stop and a coherent landscape in which those addicted to the genre, can get their fix. I must admit that I rarely write about this genre, their predecessors or anything related, but I can always appreciate a good round of Techno if I ever feel one. My eardrums aren’t bleeding, but they’re shaken because of the experience. Much of it is thanks to the equipment, but the work with the sound-scape is the key. Now, all I can hear is: “Repetition is the key“, which is a line from the track “1767“. Quickly, you’re focused with all your senses and you feel them activating, just to captivate the experience alone. It might be repetitive, but there are things that keep you listening to it and there are things which you simply can’t let go from. Probably some of the better Techno I’ve heard for a while. Tracks featured on the EP are “Decalogue“, “1767“, “Plague Bearer” and “Haut Mal“. Released by himself on the 28th of February. It seems to be totally D.I.Y.

Review: TSTI – evaluations

Pretty sharp, analogue and complex for being a bedroom project. Like a throwback from the wonderful 80’s. First song “In Loving Memory” is a wonderful example of what could be done with a little bit of synth-pop and dark wave, without a forced etiquette and instead of trying to push a false sense of genuine feelings. This is what happens when you combine the finest elements of both genres, and when you have put so much effort into the music that it stays afloat without doing a thing. There’s a sense of deepness in this song that provokes the most profound feelings from inside. A sense of loneliness and a sense of love, reeks out of the holes from the sound-scape. Unable to keep it in, it spreads throughout and just stays put on the edges as they touch you slowly but with much sincerity. The synths are a huge part of that experience, which goes from angelic to dreamy, back to the darker spheres in no time spent. I cannot grasp how a bedroom project could do such an impact, as I was expecting a much more amateurish and foolish approach to the wonders of those genres he’s involved with.

Needless to say, my expectations met their match, beyond my own grasp of the reality at hand. The slow-paced synths, the bombastic elements and the utter and sheer dedication that can be felt – have moved me inside and I’m not the same again. As for the next track “Queen of Swoons“, I can feel the more industrial-oriented rhythms and controlled environment that enrich the sound even more. A totally different track at hand, but with the same sympathetic vibe noticed within. I have a slight feeling of a totally new thing, but at the same time one or another remnant from times past. If Fad Gadget had combined his ingenuity with the synth-pop serenity of a band like Depeche Mode, put into a time-capsule and moved to the 00’s, their own brainchild would be TSTI. A weird sense of a predecessor being influenced by a progenitor, all mixed down into their counterparts, but also what doesn’t separate them. It’s like everything is falling to place, with immense speed and just leaving it up to me to decide how this wonderful piece of art should be described. Not being able to grasp it fully, not being able to describe it properly. But I surely want do my best. The third track “Pull The Animal’s Teeth Out“, begins with a rather heavy intro and is masked with a nice synth-line.

When I think about it, the vocals of S. Smith are both soothing and entrancing at the same time. The whole mood of the songs feels like something Andrew Eldritch would’ve put together if he was working with S. Smith. With that said, I think the utterly complex structure of the song deepens the mood of the sound-scape as a whole and surely grasps the 80’s melodic content by the balls. No, it’s not being castrated, but it’s being squeezed out and used as a resource for the wonderful path of laying both a concrete and emotional landscape of different harmonies, synths and the wonderfully arranged drums. Fourth track “Love & Truth” is about as minimalistic as its gotten on this album, a much harder edge to both the synths and the sound-scape at hand. Somewhat decorticated to fit the means of the analogue wonders that he is working with. It reminds me of the old-school EBM-styled beats that were prevalent in that genre in the 80’s but also later on in the 90’s. Not only the fixed and repetitive synths with an unorthodox touch to it, but also the more pop-oriented and dreamy synths that works like a wonder when combined with the vocals. As I move on to the fifth track, which is titled “Acquaintance“, the harder beats get even more room in the mix. It feels like a religious experience and it feels like Smith is opening the door for me and welcoming me into his adamant home. Whilst it at the same time feels sinister and include some damn fine synths that together produce this kind of sound-scape that feels like its about to fall down below because of the pressure on it.

The progression of it is totally out of my own realm, its as if he’s got a bunch of different alter-egos that sit with him and compose these songs. One where the darker side of him is allowed entry and one where the “lighter” side is inducing the sound-scape with a refined reality. Even though it very much feels like its a well-produced piece, at the same time it feels like something beyond the borders of music. I can sense a lot of hard and cold nostalgia revealing itself here. Sixth track “Match To Friendship” is enough industrial-influenced to make me spew out nuts and bolts. At times it feels like its borrowed from indie pop, but at the same time, there’s a harsher sense to the sound-scape than that. There are synths in this sound-scape that I wouldn’t hear anywhere else than in a great 80’s song and it feels like its built up by those synths. When I listen through it, again and again, I feel like he’s borrowed a lot of influences from genres that might not be that apparent. I feel like there’s a more commercial vibe to it, but on the other hand, I don’t believe that it would be accepted there. Much because of the hard-knocking beats and severe punishment you get to endure whilst listening to it. But it’s all worth it. However, when the seventh track comes on, there are a lot of things that are about to change. It’s titled “This Damage Is Magic” and it feels more like a knock away from a harsh newstyle EBM song than anything else.

Blend it with the finest you can get in future-pop, add up some nasty elements to it and you’ll have a hybrid of VNV Nation and something else. I’m not really sure what that would be, but it surely would be something angelic. I love how the synths start sounding like dolphins communicating below surface, even though its almost a few seconds. I believe that is the essence of S. Smith, he can both be very complex at hand but when you think about it – he’s also managed to keep a basic edge to what he’s doing. Now things get even more out of hand, as I tune in to the eighth song “Because You Told Me To“, which sounds like something the cat dragged in. I’m confused now, very confused. From a mighty synth-pop and extravagant dark wave album, to a techno-oriented house-hybrid? There’s a lot of 303 in this mix. I feel Acid House, but its not even close. However, he’s close to the 80’s, which is when it had its peak. But I don’t really know, I can’t really dig it. Even though the sound-scape is perfectly fine, the softer side of it is just so malplaced amongst this 303-vibe. Well, enough with this, now its time for the last track: “In Loving Memory (anti-707 mix)“, which is basically the first song but without a 707, which means “no drums for you, sucker“. Personally, I think this song doesn’t really take on the first song, but fine, it sounds pretty good anyway. I feel like there’s something missing and I feel like the drums should be there. However, this is one of the greatest albums of the 00’s (2000’s), that I’ve heard and I’m going to bookmark his bandcamp. Thank you for such a fantastic experience, never stop making art.

You can and should buy his limited edition CD over at bandcamp, but if you don’t want to, you could buy the digital download-only album. Do also listen to his album below.