Review: Identity Theft – Reconnaissance

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Some things change while other things remain the same. The developmental process of Identity Theft have taken some time to get used to, but on his latest endeavor he doesn’t have any qualms with getting rid of the chains of the past – embracing the future and what it holds for him and his project.

Identity Theft is the solo-project of Michael Buchanan, spanning multiple years of experience in other projects and with electronic music in general, and he was kind enough to send me the physical edition of his fifth proper solo-album, which was released in November of 2017 by Treue Um Treue.

With the assistance of Mara Barenbaum (of Group Rhoda / Max + Mara) on three tracks, plus one remix by Arktaion of one of the tracks on this release, this can be considered to be a project mounted by himself, only utilizing the experience of others to enhance it further. I’m thankful that he sent me this physical release for me to share with you, my thoughts on the release in full, a track-by-track in-depth review that has taken a longer time to finish then originally intended.

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The aesthetic aspect of Reconnaissance

When I view the cover from afar, it seems so distant aesthetically that I just want to get a magnifying glass to see what it is that is revealed on the dark exterior of the cover. It is almost an 1980’s-esque vibe that it brings in terms of color, even though it is a more darker and less screechy one that is otherwise found in movies from that era.

There is a certain distance from itself, it is remote and it fits the theme of the process in which the album itself was written – three days of complete isolation from civilization. Even though at first glance the cover might not be something special, it conveys an eerie meaning that in my opinion goes lost within the urbanized centers of the city – there’s something else then you out there, something bigger and more meaningful, something that should be preserved.

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 The musical aspect of Reconnaissance

If you’ve listened to any of Mara Barenbaum’s music, especially Group Rhoda, it becomes clear that their style of music mix very well with Identity Theft’s, the introductory in “Reconnaissance Peak” which is the first song – is at the same time as it is sincere, very forthright about its existence – proclaiming proudly that “I am here, we’re in the moment, but we’re a presence to be reckoned with“. Additional rhythms are perfectly timed and blend in to the general atmosphere, which is forever changing.

Once you let it slip, it will seep out through the rest of the components that build up the songs, from a more hands-on approach to music making into a thoughtful display of ambitiously layered synthesizers that take off into nothingness. You feel so small when you listen to this, it is so graciously laden that once it slips through the cracks of your pathetic being – you just want to hear more of it, playing it over and over again.

Eagle’s Peak” is almost double in length, and has a more subtle tone to it. Even though it can be felt to be much of the same, just in a different pace, it is even more serene and sincere as it plays on the simple notes that go from barely noticeable to a resounding plethora of different synthesizers layered perfectly upon one another – a click away from generating a monstrosity – you feel as if it is about to leap straight into you.

Some of it is too angelic to even fit in, being taken out throughout the back-door by the more sinister themed atmospheres that lurk nearby. Once you feel at ease you get caught off-guard by a sudden blast of noise, it is meant to be enjoyed but it is difficult to be completely on your guard as it is not a song that is foreseeable – you cannot simply categorize it and be aware of all the elements, it is not such a song that leaves you with no lasting impression – it grasps you gently and takes you into it.

It symbolizes perfectly the name it was given, “Eagle’s Peak” is a summary of what you could expect, but you will not know before you enter.

Last Chance Creek” is on the other hand something completely different in terms of atmosphere, it is much more urgent in tone and you get thrown into the mixture directly by the loud base-drum, the soothing percussion and the grandiose synthesizers that blend it into perfect synthesizer-based music that would be a fitting beginning of a movie or the end of the same.

It is by far the most beautiful song on the album yet, and there are many contenders for that throne – but here’s where the king enters and the queen become one. A futuristic blip on a radar that shouldn’t be ignored, an unfathomably great conversion of straight-forward electronic music and the ambiance which is so often ignored – Identity Theft manages to keep control of everything and never slip up.

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My Sentence” is more of an intermission, a placeholder-song that is not bad but it is not equally as great as the other tracks I’ve listened to. There is a place for these kinds of songs on albums, so even though the judgment is quick to come, there’s a certain quirkiness to the sound that can’t be missed out on. You can’t really add much more to the description of this song, it is there but it does not evoke anything, it pumps you up for another song.

Blood Moon” is the next song, it evokes a feeling of hope and that you’re about to be redeemed. There is an underlying sense of belonging, you feel like you’re a part of the atmosphere as you childishly gaze upon the stars and point your finger as to were you’d want to go – the different emotions that are involved range from those described, to some kind of sorrow – that you at the moment don’t have anything of that.

You’re desperate to find a place, but this calms your nerves and make you forget about it for a moment or two, maybe some kind of nostalgic memory is invoked as you travel into the electronic realm, a progressive dream that becomes more and more of a real, tangible kind of matter that you can actually grasp physically and mentally. An ode to the moon, the one that can affect our moods.

What’s coming next is about to stun me, make me fall off my high horses and into the arms of you – whoever is the next to be embraced, to enter my life. The stunningly creative way of making an even more emotionally touching song is just the sheer brilliance of Michael Buchanan, simply marvelous as “Misanthropocene” goes from the meager time it has to be played – into an extended form of electronically charged synthesizer-bliss of a landscape of sound, covering all bases.

How can the sound be so bold? Yet so refreshing, calm and sensitive? There’s a warmth to it but a stone cold outlook in atmosphere of sound, as you float on by, passing your own self by without any reflection – you’re taken aback by the sound as it drives you on, as the motivation of doing rather then listening becomes painfully obvious. At the same time you want to sit still, you want to experience and move with the sound.

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The Unreliable Narrator” is a more unhinged song that move to the left and the right, from the center and to the top, everywhere but within a controlled manner like the last song. Just like the title suggests, it is a more chaotic song with a gloomy mood that fits perfectly between the casual intermission delivered in “My Sentence” and “Blood Moon“.

Though much more repetitive then other songs on this album, there is some kind of progression that can be felt throughout the whole song, the rhythm isn’t that much of an interesting thing – but it hearkens back to older days of Identity Theft – which is reminiscent of some of his first material.

Soft Alibi” is the next one, one of the more experimentally oriented songs on the album so far, clashing between the normal kind of bombastic maximality that virtually all of the songs so far have been attached to, into a monotonous but minimalistic experience that is only alluding to bombastic vibes through the rhythm – which is unusual if you’re trying to create an atmosphere on it alone.

The rhythm is what makes the song enjoyable on itself, but it is clear that it is nowhere near the same infective nature as the more grandiose songs he’s been churning out after one another earlier on the album.

I don’t know what to make of “Lost Frontier“, whether to see it as a genial move away from the more obvious tracks on the album itself, but the baseline packs a real punch and is what drives everything forward in the song itself – after a while it flips out into something out of the ordinary, which is what one can appreciate when listening to this kind of music – the controlled inventiveness of the past songs – and the chaotic nature of the shorter songs.

It latches on well to the next song “Leave No Trace“, which spins from virtually a stale and non-atmospheric mess into a solid, emotive gargantuan that is just waiting to devour you as a whole – the roundness of the synthesizers become more clear the more it develops, as the more sharp nature of the sound in the beginning fades into a whirlwind of magnificent electronica.

The last song, “Prosopagnosia” is not only an outro, it hopefully shows the way to what can be expected from future releases. It is a well-needed break from the more experimental vibes that were delivered in the latter part of the album, it is a firm and shakable landscape of sound that is predictable in its nature but never lets you down. You know what you are getting and you can expect what is around the corner, but it leaves much to be fantasized about.

I don’t consider the remix itself to be the last song, but we’re taking it last as it is a track-by-track review which goes from point A to point B. “Last Chance Creek (Arktaion Remix)” adds a rougher edge to “Last Chance Creek” which couldn’t be felt there, it hypnotizes in a whole different manner then what the original song did, it is crashed into different pieces making it sound like a crossover between the electronica of Identity Theft, spliced into the erratic mood of IDM music.

It is not a bad remix actually, but it makes you wonder what kind of remixes could be done on the other tracks? Maybe there should be a release which features some of the tracks remixed by different artists, that would be a really nice offshoot from the original release itself.

This album is a must-have if you’re interested in the better domains of electronic music, the parts that have not yet been infected by ridiculous clichés. It is a must-have physically for any collector, so I am proud to be in the possession of the review-copy of this album. You should get it yourself, there are only five copies left, you can find it down below.

[17th] December: All Your Sisters – Shame

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Two cassettes in one year. Reverse three years – and you’ve got “Sounds From Friday Evening” – a demo launched directly to Soundcloud by Jordan Morrisson. His project All Your Sisters originated from the dusky Autumn year of 2011, hailing from San Fransisco, it was meant to be much more then a solo-project. From then and on into 2012 things started to brew for real and Mario Armando Ruiz joined in – turning it into a duo. During two years of hard work they had composed what fell into our arms, for our ears, a debut-album recorded between October and November of 2013. It got titled “Modern Failures” and seem to be a statement of how things are in modern society. Romantic words clad in melancholy, with titles such as “A Perfect Body” and “Good Clean Men” cling positively at a first glance—but not for them. Maybe it’s because of the portrayal of how things should be, when they’re not anything remotely close to it. Maybe it’s something else.

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The album have been popular, as seen by how much people seemed to like it, but also because of the number of different labels that had released versions of it, mainly on limited cassettes as Beläten and Young Cubs did. Now Weyrd Son Records are turning it into vinyl, with aesthetically pleasing artwork that in one way or another can be related to All Your Sisters. Their rose was turned into black, on white background. Though the picture of a man’s back seem to suggest what the title “A Perfect Body” did, reflecting on the drapery in front of him – reflecting back on him, for himself to see? Not an unlikely theory. We’re, however, more intrigued about a band that does not wallow in nostalgia—though some of it can actually be pretty darn good. They do make a nice cold-wave themed backdrop associated with post-punk, with a rattly sound-scape and nicely laid vocals that suggest desperation, anger and apathy.

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We’re providing you with a newly produced, unreleased track which they composed for Ljudkalendern. It’s the 17th December and you get to listen to “Shame” – a rather short endeavor; that makes good use of the time they’ve utilized when creating it. There are some fine qualities about it, the long outdrawn riffs that stop before it goes into an intermezzo, sharp and readily available percussion that resounds throughout, a myriad of different baselines, synthesizers and ambitiously entwined riffing which is changed around many times to create a diverse range to it. Listen and stream it exclusively on Repartiseraren.

Listen: Syndicate – Demo

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Entertain the thought of a proto-punk band from California. Namely: Oakland. There, now you’ve got some imagination and a brain to think with. Join the Syndicate now. Syndicate is a trio from Oakland, California—an American band with roots deep into both punk, post-punk and proto-punk. Rats are running rampant through the city while these cyber-surfers make the best of a minimalist sound-scape, overwhelmingly punk and they actually make good use of the obligatory post-punk baseline—trying to make it even more melodic. Most of their music seem to heed to infrastructure, technology and the likes of it but is contrasted by their atmosphere of minimalist chaos. An explanation to this is written in the words that stake out “Demo“, although a romantic thought would be to not refine it further, more than make the vocals more audible and the sound less shaky. James Bond would have an awfully good time with this band, considering his choice of drink is a Martini that’s shaken—not stirred. Exactly how they’re portrayed by me when listening to them.

This whirlpool of different influences are mangled into a punk-sized knock in the face, with more afterthought instead of primitive rage. There’s an intellectual vein running through; a rather ambitiously chiseled, type of music. Frankly, they sound like a non-electronic homage to all the minimal synth and minimal wave, slash cold-wave acts operating out there. Stretch it to an even more plausible theory—and you might end up with synth-punk without a synth. Somewhere and somehow we would like to put them into a melodic punk category, or rogue surf-punk—surfing on nails, bolts and steel through a decaying post-industrial society. Feel the hopelessness but be uplifted and rooted in the sense that they’re playing just for you and your needs, even though your attitude says: “It’s completely different”! Stream and listen closely to their first release, their “Demo“.

Exclusive Premiere: Yves Malone – Cheap Thunder / Abyssoteque!

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The busiest of them all seem to be the label Field Hymns from America, whom have been keen on releasing a booklet with a very special artist. This artist is Yves Malone – the creator of music for himself and to soundtracks for 1980’s independent movies – like Abysscoteque, The ECHO People and Zenith City. A common theme is the 1980’s but also the fact that every movie that he’s created his own music for, perpetuating a soundtrack of his own, are horror movies from this time period. Those kind of horror flicks that you wouldn’t know anything about unless you stumbled upon his creations, or if you were in any way involved in doing them in the 1980’s in America. Well, that might be stepping over the line a little bit, connoisseurs might have their thing and know it – but I sure as hell didn’t until I listened through his albums. These three releases are all a part of the booklet that Field Hymns are organizing to be put out for release, in honor of the already released albums which he put out himself in December of 2012. I’m here exclusively premiering two tracks from each album, but first you’ll get a description of what I think about them. Here you get FH044, FH045 and FH046. Right now, however, you get FH044 – which is “Abysscoteque“.

FH044Abysscoteque. The first release in this series of three releases, all themed after horror flicks. Albeit the fact that Yves Malone has put his sight on the softer but more concentrated side of 1980’s synthwave in this release, it is clear to me when listening to it that his intentions are of creating a soundtrack. Panning into the first few melodies, to hear the static rhythm that pumps up the blood within me, to listen carefully to the basedrum which is stomping its way through the sound-scape in a rather subliminal fashion. The first setting is already here and is placed upon me to decide, as the melodies gradually change from the darker intonations to a more grandiose and melodious; shall I say clearer sound, to which I nod my head to as I get tossed around. I’m waiting with suspense just to hear any form of subtle change in the sound-scape as it moves forward in a lingering fashion, making every synthesizer stab more aggressive, freaked out and non-passive. To then be introduced after the departure of the first, to a rather gloomy entrance of different synthesizers matching the neon colors that glow somewhere in the distance. This does not remind me of a horror flick at all, even though I notice the suspense to be there all the time. A rather doom and gloom sound for synthwave – which always seem to carry an upbeat torch not falling from grace – unlike the sorrowful display of palettes that remind me of awful days. Painting a broader picturesque notion of decay, a city that earlier bloomed has gone astray and you’re alone in the darkness, catching yourself in the monotonous living, the scariness of dark alleyways and people whom you do not recognize. People whose faces are covered. Maybe in masks. The album slowly sinks into the same methodical pattern that make it what it is. Feel what you’d like about it, but it is a masterpiece none the less and the more you get into it, the further you dig – the more melodious, morbid and angelic it gets – yin & yang are present to deliver their verdict. I’m noticing that everything really lies with the overtly grandiose sound-scape, created by layers of differentiating melodies, synthesizers, drums – but mostly synthesizers – far-fetched from any reality that I know of. Abysscoteque is a true soundtrack, no matter if you say its synthwave over and over again, the execution is in the aforementioned style – which is great if you’re interested in cinematography of different sorts. I can drift away into this every day, but it seizes to be music and simply needs a visual element to be paired with. Though I’m not so sure if any of those movies would do for me, since they’re not really my reel of film. Anyhow, it’s a basic introductory to the baby-steps you’re taking when taking in Yves Malone and his music – the sincerity is never lacking. You can buy this release soon, from Field Hymns records. But you will have to wait for a bit before it is fully realized.

Chondritic Spotlight: Jason Lescalleet and Sissy Spacek! [Part I]

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There have been a resurgence in releases lately. Chondritic Sound just put out a whole batch of new releases, featuring Jason Lescalleet, Sissy Spacek, Klinikal Skum and Fejhed. A video-tape and a batch of cassettes is what’s coming and a lot of people might’ve been waiting for the next life-sign of Chondritic. Even though the video-tape was announced some weeks ago, it’s readily available in a VHS-format, once more to be displayed by a proud label-owner. I think many people share his pride and find it positive with such an enthusiasm that he’s got going for his own label, as his supporters are not really few and far in between – but many. Sissy Spacek has a long line of releases that have been put out on this label, the first one being “DDT” in 2008, to “Grisp” and “Vacuum” 2010/2011, to “Billions And Billions” together with “ET Corpse/JFK” – both put out in 2013.  Klinikal Skum on the other hand, gets his first release on Chondritic Sound, ever. A rather joyous moment for aficionados in power electronics. Not to mention Fejhed, a new project birthed through collaborative effort between two known artists, one of them being at the forefront of what is produced on this cassette. Now we’ll get to writing about these releases, so hold your horses. You get Jason Lescalleet and Sissy Spacek in the first part.

lescalleet_vhs_dvdJason Lescalleet. The name might be familiar to those within the US, but also to those outside of it, if we expand his repertoire a bit. He’s been running the label Glistening Examples since 2006 – especially notable for the release “The Pilgrim” – a one-hour release with tracks made by himself, dedicated as a memorial to his late father. Or you might know him from his collaborations with Joachim Nordwall (iDEAL Recordings) with the group Enough!!!, his solo efforts and splits with Nmpering, Joe Colley, John Hudak, Aaron Dilloway – and countless other collaborative efforts signed this multifaceted man. Not only does he make music, but he’s also been directing lately. Since he released his DVD-collection he made as a creator and director, with thirteen different artists – put into thirteen different videos – he’s more than busy. This collection is called “Trophy Tape” and is based on the first CD of “Songs About Nothing“, which was released in 2012 on Erstwhile Records.

Since he with his own label decided to release it on DVD, Chondritic Sound made the effort to release it on VHS, as well. A rather interesting addition to his songs. It’s especially exciting that he’s let these video artists be film directors. The first track “The Beauty Of Independent Music” was done by Aaron Dilloway, the second “Old Theme” by Ellen Frances”, third “Tarnished Copper (Copper Will Never Be Gold)” by Annie Feldmeier Adams, fourth “The Loop” by Justin Meyers, fifth “Euphoric Sting” by Anthony Milton, sixth “Beauty Is A Bowtie (HTDW)” by C. Spencer Yeh, seventh “The Power Of Pussy” by Olivia Block, eight “Escargot” by Adel Soto, ninth “In The Morning, In The Winter Shade, On The First Of March, On The Holiday” by Neil Young Cloaca, tenth “Friday Night In A Catholic Home” by Todd Deal, eleventh “10 Amp Waves” by Jubal Brown, twelve “I Killed Another Day” by Heidi Alasuvanto, thirteenth “In Through The Out Door And Another Whore” by Robert Beatty. Outtakes from VHS/DVD can be seen from his own account, made for the Anthology Film Archives, up above. You can buy it from Chondritic Sound if you want the VHS, for twenty dollars. The DVD version can be bought from Glistening Examples.

a0609453241_10Sissy Spacek. The brainchild of… whomever it was back then, have certainly evolved from their grindcore past, to their noisecore future. Currently the home to Charlie Mumma and John Wiese, so the group has been chopped up and turned into a duo instead. It seems like it happened pretty late, after the split-release with Smegma in 2013 titled “Lipscomb b/w Absentia“, with the first release in 2014 titled “Incomprehensible Dehumanization“. Their first proper album release since back in 2012 with “Wastrel Projection” and “Contretemps” – the aforementioned one being more of a compilation of tracks – or rather a huge number of them. Before getting to the point I must say that I have no idea if Sissy Spacek is in somehow related (symbolically) to the American actress Sissy Spacek, because that’s what turns up when you search for it, other than these two guys. Anyhow, their newly released album (or compilation) is titled “Window Hammer“, featuring one of their old group-members Corydon Ronnau on vocals, since it was recorded in between the 7th May of 2013, whilst the last track on the release was “assembled” on the 9th of June. So that makes sense. The release itself is in a 7¨-format and DVDr – which contains them performing the material on the release – live from their West Coast tour. Twenty minutes of Sissy Spacek, which I’m afraid I haven’t heard of until now, is being launched at you in record speed – mind you, the tracks are really short. A proper blast in the face with a harsh but fast sound. Punk as fuck with an attitude you’d get with just that. The rather spastic vocals of Corydon Ronnau together with the brutal drums make up the atmosphere to be a lot more than it could’ve been, together with the grind kind of noise that the guitar makes. Fast drumming as hell and you won’t settle for anything less after you’ve just been blasted away in fifteen seconds or a little bit more, or less. Can be bought via Chondritic Sound. Stream the release down below, or buy the physical release to get the track “Seven Dwarfs“.

Promo: Believer/Law – Matters of Life and Death

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The long-awaited vinyl-release of “Matters of Life and Death” have appeared on Chondritic Sound just now, on the 4th of March, as I’m writing. Consisting of two songs from earlier releases, and two completely new songs, whom have been premiered at Pitchfork (among others) and Invisible Guy. This eccentric mixture of the best from the world of body, shaped into a dynamite-charge of industrialized evilness – have made a huge impact on those whom have taken Believer/Law for what they are – a pretty damn unique act. Add a little hint of minimal wave and other notable influences such as noise, psychedelia and experimentalism – and you’ll have the final product. The release itself is made up by 600 copies, whereas 100 are on limited white vinyl, 200 on gray and 300 on regular black. The digital album costs 7 dollars and the physical LP costs 15 dollars. A must-have for anyone even remotely interested in their music, and for those whom are interested in the resurgence of new body mixed with industrial elements. The tracks are as follow: “Ashes“, “War Story“, “The Task At Hand” and “Contrition“. Digital release can be bought at the Chondritic Sound-bandcamp, and the physical edition can be bought from the Chondritic Sound-store.

Listen: Corners – Pressure

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I’ve always been interested in the crossover between surf punk, garage and post-punk – but definitely not in that order. Corners is Tracy Bryant, Billy Changer and Rick Mabery from Los Angeles, California. They’ve more or less been around since 2012, when they self-released their first album (and release) “Beyond Way“, which was later on picked up by Lolipop Records and re-released in the same format – namely a cassette, but this time; rather limited. In August last year they released a 7¨ titled “My Baby” which featured the two songs “My Baby” and “Automatic Man“, which were two completely new tracks in their repertoire. Per usual, Lolipop Records released it. Since I didn’t know very much about them until I read more about them, and found them via Bandcamp, they’re actually releasing a new record – which is a split together with Dirt Dress, a band which differs a bit from themselves, but can be counted into the punk-category. They’ve also been around longer. So therefore, I would like to present the track “Pressure” for you, to listen to. There’s both a hollow line between surf punk and its rather energized tempo, and the more callous and dark post-punk, in comparison with the regular garage-rock sounding vocals. Surely, there’s a lot of common ground between the genres, but also uncommon. However, it sounds great and is pretty much what you’d expect with that combination, which makes it worthwhile to listen to. So I urge you to stream the track down below and check Corners out, as well as Dirt Dress.