Spotlight: Kazeria, A.D. Mana, Strucktura, TRAITRS

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In this spotlight we’ve chosen four artists/groups that are different – yet alike in many ways. There will be a lot of darkwave, coldwave and industrial music in this spotlight. Mostly because those are the genres where we find ourselves at home, because there’s immense talent to be found there. We start off with noisy industrial music and end with gloomy post-punk extravaganza.

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Kazeria was unknown to me when I found his music via Gradual Hate Records. It was his latest release, “Nihilist Militant“, that caught my eye. The aesthetics were impressive when it comes to the artwork for this release, but more was to be discovered when pressing play. He’s created very intimate and atmospheric industrial music, coupled with dark ambient overtones. Keep in mind that these songs are totally unedited versions, created between 2003 and 2007 – which is a representation of how it sounded back then.

There’s a great assertiveness in his music, it almost borders to the bombasticism of martial industrial. As stated by the label, this is a “very personal” release, which really shows in the emotions he conveys with his music. It is both harsh and atmospheric, with destructiveness at its core. One is very impressed by the percussive rhythms he produces, which can be heard the clearest in “Evrazia Regnat” – a very disciplined and ambitious track in regards to melodies as well. Even the very short ballad-like song “Irminsul” has a certain grace.

This release is a great way to get into his music and if you pre-order the last copy in the special package – you get a gas mask as well. Can’t get more industrial then that. Listen to the release down below, buy it if it is of interest to you.

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A.D. Mana is a relatively new artist from Berlin. The re-release of his first and only, self-titled EP, on cassette – had me at the first song “Take Hold” – a stern coldwave rendition that catches multiple influences, like synth-pop and darkwave, molding it into a sinister blend together with his voice. The synthesizer stabs are clear but at the same time dark and brooding, a strange combination which at first doesn’t seem to work but as the song progresses it is obvious that it does. “Down The Wire“, another song on the release, almost funnels the post-punk vibes into some odd kind of grungy synth-pop-‘n’-roll.

My favorite song on the release, except the first one, is “Honour“. It adds gracefulness to the messy environment of the songs in general. Even though you’re caught slightly off-guard by his voice – not in a good way – it fits in place after a few moments into the song. There are some great rhythms as well, aptly executed. The melodies are unorthodox, which makes me like it even more. You expect more of the same but get tricked into the wondrous atmospheres, the groovy electronic beats – and the charming ballad-like ending within “Soulware“. A perfect instrumental track and appropriate farewell. You should really check it out, and buy the cassette from sentimental, if it suits you.

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I’ve actually heard about this artist, Strucktura, whilst browsing through the bandcamp-feed. But I never paid much attention to the music. There’s some really solid darkwave-inspired music in his “Statues Also Die” release on Oráculo Records. While the synthesizers and beats are on point in the release, there’s some really cheesy lyrics. In a weird way they go along well with the music, so I will leave that alone. The music seems awfully cheerful but at the same time moody and distraught – which is something that adds character to the songs. Especially in “Val D’Aran“. 

There’s a nice futuristic vibe about each song and it comes out differently, even though most of the rhythm and melodies are alike. As dreary as the atmospheres may be at times – they come out as dreamy – and are filled with nicely laden synthesizer sweeps, alongside well constructed rhythms and melodies. It is a release you should check out, if it is something for you – buy the limited edition vinyl via Oráculo Records.

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Torontian band TRAITRS have created some of the most soothing, coherent post-punk music I’ve heard in a while. The oomph of the baseline resounds throughout in the first song “Witch Trials“. It is really weird how each and every song on the release is anthemic on its own – it is mostly reserved to one or a few songs – but this is catchy, ambitious and on fire from the matchsticks up until the light goes ablaze. It is especially noticeable in “Lya“, one of the more minimalistic songs. The singer gets a certain kind of emotional streak in the chorus which makes you want to sing along to the lyrics.

Not to mention how massive “Gallows” is. Here they’ve really gotten through with the originality of their sound. They both have an edge in the music and somewhere to stand firm – nothing is left to chance, everything is constructed meticulously. When one gets as far as their last song “Heretic“, the percussionism is simply mindblowing. Of all the releases recommended in this spotlight, this is the one I will have to choose myself as the best one. You can get it from the Warsawian label Alchera Visions, buy it here and stream it down below.

 

Listen: …Of Tanz Victims – Fighting False God / Haunting the Empire

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From the current hotbed of synthesizer-based acts, mainly the Canadian city of Montreal, there’s more than a resurgence of artists and groups from the 2000’s. From the depths of dungeons, assembled yet again but in exactly the same shape as before, comes a resurrection for …Of Tanz Victims in a digital format—rather then on vinyl. This Montrealian (Québecian-based) group had their peak during the 1980’s—then associated with the independent label and store (now defunct) Bunker Records—not to be confused with the Netherlands-based “acid-house” label with the same name. It consisted of the members Robert de la Carignan (Robert Mailloux) on guitar, bass and vocals, Denis Wooty (Dany Wauthy) and Roy Batty (Roy Batty) on synthesizers, drum-machine and vocals, with Sat W. Ford (Stefan Figiel/Stephan Faulkner) sampling, percussion and vocals. Everyone in this trio contributed with their voice for the project. Now they’ve put out their first single “Fighting False God“, and their fourth album “Haunting the Empire“—as a digitally buy-able and downloadable item for your consumption.

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Their rather shady description on their Bandcamp-page suggests a contrast in between a real identity and a fake one, all for the purpose of entertaining theories on the origination of the project—but mainly questions about their identity. We don’t really want to find it out. Since their original releases on vinyl seem to have held quite a nice quality, there’s no reason to believe that the music have been re-mastered for this purpose—just digitized. But who really knows. The name of their project is equally ridiculous and fascinating. Not to mention how much more fascinating their music is, which seems to dwell in between an avant-garde take on industrial, electronic body music, noise and electro. Those main influences bring forth assorted non-electronic music with overt electronic ingredients—masterfully utilized in total synergy. We give our warmest recommendation for this group and hope this return bring them back with more interesting material—heads up to any and every re-issuing label out there. Listen to both releases down below.

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Listen: Coarse Language – Definite Hiatus

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There’s a Canadian indie-label that emerged in 2008, that have just put up a forthcoming release for digital streaming. It’s a label called Artificial Records – and their latest addition to their quick growing discography is an album called: “Definite Hiatus“, produced by Coarse Language—an artist (or group) unknown to us. A suitable description for their music would be “deranged electronica“, since the erratic beats and paranoid whispers conjure a prime setting for weirdness. One could also name it experimental minimal wave, but there are so many different influences at play so an umbrella term is hard to set for this kind of music. Not to mention how their melodies swiftly change, with dark baselines that draw out the worst sides of mankind in a musical setting. Multiple personalities, or alter-egos, which make the arrhythmic noise seem more friendly from one track to another — but be on your guard because they’re predators. Sometimes the melodies take the upper-hand but there’s always a minimalistic reminder of how shrouded, clad in spikes, dressed for destruction their environment is — thrashing melodies, relocating sound into bizarre harshness.

We’re not that interested in the psychological aspects of the sound, but rather how it is audio-visually—a thing Coarse Language seem to know how to do. They’re perfect alarmists with a subliminal message, whether it was originally intended for it to be like that, is not something to take into account. But a lot of the complexity in the sound reveal that another more obvious vein shows—a repetitive message (lyrically) which is contrasted by the sheer amount of invention—they seem to possess. If we’re wrong, they might even be playing with illusions to deceive; with their maniacally tedious passages later on in other tracks on the album. Even though it only contains six tracks, it’s a gem that you might not appreciate right away—rather when you’re able to sculpt your own interpretation of them. Listen to their release down below and buy a limited edition cassette (50 units) from Artificial Records — if you want a physical item.

Spotlight: Passion Slaves – Demo 2014

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It’s a nice day for a nip of post-punk. Canada have been boasting with their simmering environment of talents that have been emerging from nothing. One of those seem to be Passion Slaves, which I frankly know nothing about and whose imagery suggest minimalism – to such a degree that I might not even agree. But my weakness for the classic approach to post-punk seem to have tainted me this time around. The only thing which bothers me is the vocal part, but that’s a miniscule objection to their sound as such. They’ve actually recorded their first demo, so that objection might be weak to begin with. One thing I like about the vocalist is her energy when she sings, but there seems to be a show-stopper in their unharnessed energy – because at times it feels like they don’t master it yet. With that in mind, the two demo-tracks “Mortal Coils” and “Shadow Grounds” have an interesting goth rock and post-punk sound. The gloomy melodies resound in my own mind and their boasting sound as a whole give me an impression of them as serious musicians. It feels good to observe that they haven’t submitted themselves to every cliche possible when handling such an environment of genres. The fast riffing, great drumming and overall performance of this group makes me want to hear more of them. It seems like they’ve given much thought to these two songs so I wouldn’t really be hopeful for more in the near future, but who knows. I feel like there’s a mystery within their imagery and the visuals that are put into my head when listening to them. I just hope that the one ingredient, e.g. the vocalist and the lyrics, don’t steep too far down into the unlisteneable fold. Stream their whole release down below and give them some money if you like it.

Spotlight: Vierance – Semblance

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My new favorite album. Vierance from Toronto have created a sublime piece of new-wave oriented synth-pop, together with the dark overtones of electro, unhinged with a techno counterpart. Their latest album “Semblance” came out just two weeks ago on DETH Records – the newly birthed label courtesy of the bass-player in (SINS) ϟ†Nϟ. In comparison to the earlier release by them, the “Vierance EP“, they’ve polished their sound a lot more. There are resemblances with their earlier release, but they’re less heavy on their atmosphere in contrast to their melodies. A vibrant motion, a slick but raw sound is captured with the later tracks on the release, with a rather frightening but erratic sound-scape is unearthed. Ringing in my ears is the harmonious vocals, especially within my favorite track “Mosaic” – heading in the completely right direction with the stalemate of sound, in a forlorn sonic landscape – of mythical proportions. Accordingly, the music always keep you on the edge, it brings you to life. Using their palette to color the world beautiful, with their soft-spoken melodies, yet at the same time – harshly lambasting your eardrums. I just wish that I could’ve found out about their doings earlier, since they seem to have been around for a while by now. If anything, Vierance was in need of getting inspected thoroughly, meaning that I have played this release on and off for the last few days when I came to stumble upon them by accident. Life is weird, but they carry a unique sound paired with a monolithic atmosphere. Stream their whole new release down below and make sure to check out DETH Records, as there will be a whole lot of future releases being put out by them, in the nearest future. Wondrous is a word coming in good company. Purchase the limited edition cassette, limited to 90 copies, from DETH Records.

Exclusive Premiere: The Folk – Subtle Play

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Rock’n’roll or not, that’s out of the question. Canada has fostered The Folk. They’re an unusually interesting rock’n’roll band, at least if you’d enter the premise of “rock‘n’roll” with the ambition of some post-rock and no-waveish influences every now and then. Having released “You Say, I Say” in the midst of Winter in 2011, and the year after that putting out “Say It Again” – both of them being three-tracked releases – they’re now back with their first debut-LP. A full-length album with eleven tracks. Marking their departure from their earlier medium, entering their new self. They’ve just gone out of their shell and are going into the world of the newly-hatched. However, there’s something about their rather mellow rock’n’roll that makes you take another breath, and not huff out the words of “this is some generic rock’n’roll“. It’s solely because of their unique departure into the incomprehensible beauty of their melodies, and their complex rhythm which branches out into a multitude of territories. Mixing both the joyous and rather depressive melodies, with the more upbeat and energetic ones. Accompany that fact with a female vocalist who gives her all. This will certainly be a rather interesting output, into the world of rock’n’roll. Some parts you enjoy, other parts you don’t. That is how it should be.

But we’re more then glad to be giving you a track from their forthcoming album “We All Say“. Which is going to be released on 11th of March for the digital version of the album, and the 15th of March for the LP-version of the album. The track that we’re about to give you is “Subtle Play“, one of their longest tracks on this album. We think it gives a comprehensible representation in sound, and it represents them and what this album is all about. So you can stream this track to your own delight down below, and be sure to check them out and their album. There are other tracks that are available to be played on their album, and they’ll come in handy if you’re getting tired of “Subtle Play“. But we hope you’d rather not, since this is a great track. Stream it as you well please. The Folk is Emma BV, Sara BV, Mark Ferrari, Liam Magahay and Patrick Rody.

Thee Showcase [#8.5]: lié, Joanne Pollock, Wildlife and The Systemaddicts!

1775541042-1Hey, hey, hey! We’re at it again. You’re getting used to the presence of Thee Showcase. If you’re not, I’ll have to hypnotize you into thinking about it. Well, first up this time is the band lié which consists of three people from Vancouver, Canada. I actually chose to cover their “Demo” this time around, since I like it more then their self-released and self-titled cassette on Function Operate. This is the kind of punk we all want, the one that goes by the predecessors whip and conjures a post-punk feeling. Calling it “dark punk“, as it is called may be an apt description. It feels like cold wave and post-punk morphed into a crazy whirlwind of teargassed punk. It’s punk you really can’t have your eyes open to see, it is punk you simply must hear. Dwelling in the concrete dungeons of larger cities, symptomatic of that particular angst. It feels like they’re trying to convey the feeling of aridity. In general, their music is much more gritty, since its from their demo-sessions of the same tracks. At times it also feels like punk has left the building to get to know its replacement. Or, could it simply be a new form of punk? Might just be the aforementioned. Everything isn’t tight as it should be, it’s at times sloppy and draggy, which has a charm in itself. Vocally, outspoken and dangerously cold-hearted, is a new punk formula that might not be a replacement, as said before, but an understatement of the same. Pressurizing, tenderizing and materializing. Three words that can be describable, but might not actually be it. Well, fuck it, this is hard. But it is a great listen all-in-all. The three demo-tracks featured are “Muse“, “Pressure” and “Fossoyear“, released on the 29th of January by lié themselves.

4291335105-1As usual, I almost always miss great things. That’s why my blog sucks so much. Or, yeah, it might not suck – but I’m not always up to date. Time to feature the artist Joanne Pollock from Toronto. She’s released a smaller album with four tracks, which goes by the name of “December“. It is quirky, IDM-driven splendor which fuels my mind with a colorful entrapment. You’re drawn into it by the interesting use of everyday objects, or so it seems, when you listen to it. I might not even know if it is, but it surely sounds like it. This could’ve been featured in a Japanese anime, in any scene that involved a large-eyed youngster seeing his or her first carnival or the likes of it. One thing that is good, is that you simply cannot categorize it, even though you need to at times. It’s a slab of IDM here, a brick of ambient there and an experimental vein that never seems to stop its own flow. Nevertheless, every detail must be remembered and is remembered. That’s the fascinating thing about Pollock and her music, or at least this release. No tone goes unnoticed. It can go from simply minimalistic, to bombastic and grandiose in seconds. The rhythmic and arrhythmic sense of belonging fuels the grace of her music and puts it in a cup for you to drink up. Think of a sensational meal you had, but make it transgress into music and I can assure you that this is what it sounds like. It provokes an emotional reaction that is hard to stray away from, since you bob your head to the music and think: “Ah, that’s where she put it!” when suddenly, out of nowhere, a sound comes out and grazes you with its virtual appearance. Four tracks are featured on this release, ranging from “Home“, “First Night In“, “Quiet Places” and the last track “How Fortunate“. It seems like she released this herself.

1004747893-1Quickly, we must move out of this, right now! It’s time for something completely different. This time the menu features Wildlife, which is a relatively stable and mainstream indie band, also from Canada. Four guys from the land in the north of the US of A. They’ve released a twelve-tracked, full-fledged album, which goes by the name of “…On The Heart“. A pretty fascinating release, since the depth of the music is uncompromising and not on the stick of the indie-elite. Nothing here is underproduced nor lo-fi. It also sounds like it could be featured in a film or something like it, since the width of space they have their chessboard on is so wide. Also, the sincerity of the vocalist is very tell-tale, as he includes you into their story with the first track. Therefore, you’re stuck on a journey now, trying to delve into the most uptight of indie-rock. I don’t mean uptight as in anything negative, simply that they live and thrive of simplicity, where love-songs and the positive humorist approach is dominating. Which re-assures you of a world that isn’t that dark after all, with the colliding drums, the spectrum of different riffs and solos at hand. Something a little bit unconventional, after all, even though it sounds pretty mainstream. This will hopefully take the crown and make sure that they’re ruling hereafter. But, hey, I like it a lot. It is nostalgic at heart, at least for me, since it reminds me of a lot of the earlier posturing of indie-pop and rock – but also bands in that particular genre that sought out the middle. Featuring songs ranging from “If It Breaks” to “Two Hearts Race“, released on the 5th of March on Wax Records.

2095041751-1Last but not least, we feature another even more interesting band. This time, breaking the streak that Canada has had, since this band – called The Systemaddicts, are from Australia. One of the surprises when hunting for music is when you return to the point you’ve been at all the time. Simply not realizing that a new album has been released, which was titled: “Do You Really Want My Love?“. It came out now in the month of March. A strength that you can give them is that they’re a larger group of people making music, which means a lot of instruments are included that are not normally used. An organ, some trumpets and an unconventional approach. Too bad that the singer sounds like he’s off-key with the rest of the band, but I like this voice. That isn’t the focus though, since the music is hell of a lot tighter. Which is what my brain automatically focuses on. It’s melodic, somewhat upbeat and you can’t even think it’s garage-rock, but it is. One thing that is punk, however, is the singer. Because he is breaking the rules and when you hear the pipe he’s got, you’d be surprised. At times it just feels like he’s completely defiant. Somehow he manages to add another color to the sound-scape with his outrageous behavior! Or, yeah, maybe not outrageous – but punk! I like what I’m hearing even though it might not be my favorite thing about them. Though it reminds me a lot of the older bands within the same genre, but maybe a step further away from garage-punk and rock. Yeah, you should simply check it out. Featuring tracks like “Hill and Sea” and “Jam (Secret Track)“, released by themselves, I suppose.

Mini-interview with Clara Engel!

With raving reviews from blogs and poets, comes an all-in-all brighter shining star. Her name is Clara Engel and she is an independent Toronto-based multi-talent and singer. She’s currently signed to the independent label Vox Humana, based in the UK. They released her first EP called Madagascar in November of 2011, which included the three songs: Blind Me, Madagascar and Accompanied By Dreams. She’s currently working on a new album that will be finished in late spring. I took some time to ask her a few questions, about the beginning of her career, up until now and what more she’s got in store for us in the future.

Hello Clara! Tell us more about yourself?
– I am an artist working in the medium of song. I live in Canada. I’ve made seven albums independently. I’ve also had a few releases via independent labels: Vox Humana, Backwards Music, Tapemancy, and the now defunct Corps-Morts Records. Beyond that… I’m a warm blooded human creature who performs and creates. This question is hard for me. I seem to enter a wordless, fractured mental state when I’m put on the spot to describe myself or my work.

What got you into making music and how did you find my blog?
– To answer your second question first: I stumble upon blogs by looking up other artists who I either feel a slight kinship with, or curiosity about. I can’t remember which artist led me to your blog, but I’m glad I stumbled upon it. To answer your first question, I don’t really know. For better or worse I picked up a classical guitar when I was about 12, as if in a trance, and just set about learning to play it, in my own way. I started writing songs a year or two later. I can’t seem to stop. Even when I give up and completely loose faith in my abilities, there’s a deeper and more steel-willed part of me that keeps going. It’s mysterious to me.

I’ve researched a little bit more and found out that you also have an album released called “Secret Beasts”, on cassette, tell me more about the process involved in making that album?
– I first released Secret Beasts myself in 2009, on pressed CDs, then digitally via Bandcamp in 2010. Then, in 2011, I connected with an Italian label, Tapemancy, and they released it on cassette. It was a very limited run, but they did quite a beautiful job. The album was recorded in two days at the very beginning of 2009. I have a very limited budget, so I have very limited chunks of studio-time. I have to go in there and deliver. It is stressful, but I’d say it also brings a certain urgency to all of my recordings.

Where have you been performing since you started and where can we see you in the near future?
– I’m from Toronto, and I only performed here at first, because it’s all I knew. A chance to play my songs for people was a thrill in and of itself. I play fairly often in Montreal, I love playing there. I often tour around the East Coast of the USA. I have another tour there soon, in March, with Valerie Kuehne. I’m really hoping to make it to Europe soon, I’ve been saying that for ages. I just can’t afford airfare at this point.

Why have you been getting more praise from poets rather than music-critics? Could it be because your music is more poetic than most of the music out there today?
– I prefer the company of poets and artists to that of music-critics, so I consider it a good thing. It probably is more poetic. I almost always write words before music, and I wrote poetry before I wrote songs. I read a fair bit of poetry. A lot of music-criticism leans heavily on comparison. I find it boring, reductive, formulaic, and lazy. Writing about music is a very difficult endeavor – the medium defies articulation. It would be better to acknowledge that fact, and then get creative.

– Better to risk being ridiculous or going out on a limb, both are so much more enlivening than being reductive, lazy, and boring. Also, I don’t think what I’m doing is particularly trendy, and contemporary poets are often painted as a dying breed. I relate strongly to that. Much new media I come across favors the byte size, flashy, and ironic, and I’d like to make songs that are more timeless and could move someone from a different era, if they stumbled upon it… because that’s the kind of work I’m most drawn to. I was an isolated kid when I fell in love with music and writing songs, it was a very vital, earnest, no-frills relationship I had to the music I loved. The antithesis of hipster.

Where can we find you in cyberspace?
– You can find me on bandcamp, facebook, twitter, tumblr, myspace (if anyone still uses that one).

Do you have any last words of wisdom?
– I don’t have any wisdom. Actually, my words of wisdom are: withhold your words of wisdom, they make my blood boil. I am getting sick of advice. When people tell me how to go about my life, my ‘career’ and I can’t stand it. My goal is to continue writing and singing, living, loving. Like Otis Redding says: “I can’t do what ten people tell me to do, so I guess I’ll remain the same.” Those are some wise words perhaps. In lieu of wisdom, I would like to let people know I’m working on a new album called Ashes and Tangerines, and they can pre-order a copy if they would like: http://www.kapipal.com/claraengel

Here’s a free sample from her album Secret Beasts, a song called Lick My Fins:

And here’s a clip of Clara performing her song Heaven and Hell:

You can also find her here:

Bandcamp: http://claraengel.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/claraengelmusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/clara_engel

Tumblr: http://claraengelmusic.tumblr.com/

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/claraengel