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“.

Premiere: Maskinåldern – Avsnitt 3 – Gustav Jansson (Sturm Café)

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Det här är ett avsnitt som jag velat göra sedan jag startade denna podcastserie. Egentligen fanns där inga stora förhoppningar om att lyckas med det, men efter mycket om och men så blev en intervjutid bokat för avsnittet med Gustav Jansson från duon Sturm Café. En grupp som inspirerat många andra inom den “nya” svenska bodyscenen som långsamt började växa fram under tidigt 2000-tal – där Sturm Café var mer prominenta nu i efterhand – än vad de visste där och då.

Men egentligen är det helt egalt i sammanhanget. Fokuset låg på hur bra musiken var och vad som varit upphovet till deras musik, inte bara i studion men också i dynamiken hos duon och deras liveframträdanden – egentligen hela det kit som gjorde att denna duo på ett rätt så framgångsrikt vis kunde göra ett avtryck inom elektronisk kroppsmusik – både här, i Tyskland, men också i resten av världen. För att inte glömma att nämna de otaliga sidoprojekten, varav Kommando XY och Working Puppets utgör de mest prominenta – och kanske egentligen de man intresserat sig mest för.

Nu har man gått och väntat länge på att få släppa detta avsnitt, som är mer än två timmar långt och innehåller en djupintervju med Gustav Jansson. Här får man reda på en mängd saker som inte kommit fram i tidigare intervjuer, kanske för att frågorna inte formulerats på detta vis eller att intresset inte funnits. Förutom att avsnittet är så långt så finns där även tre exklusiva och osläppta låtar, som “1632” från det färdiga (men osläppta) albumet “Europa!” av Sturm Café, demoversionen med en annan sångare på låten “Kyss Mig” av KROPP, och en tidig demo av låten “Mozart-Ideal” som förmodligen är en av de mer populära alstren Sturm Café levererat.

Mycket mer kan egentligen sägas och man skulle kunna täppa till så många andra luckor, men jag låter någon annan göra det. Det finns alltid något av intresse. Det är bara så skönt att äntligen kunna leverera det tredje avsnittet av Maskinåldern. Nu tycker jag att vi kör igång maskineriet för fullt.

Innan ni börjar lyssna så vill jag tacka Minmiart för konstverket till avsnittet. Ni kan titta på annat som hon haft för sig genom att besöka: http://minmiart.tumblr.com/

Låtlista:

1. Spartak – Tiden
2. Position Parallele – Silence et grésillement
3. PTP – Show Me Your Spine
4. Sturm Café – Koka Kola Freiheit (Thomas P. Heckmann Remix)
5. Jäger 90 – Immer Dümmer
6. Sturm Café – 1632 (Unreleased)
7. DAF – Ich Will
8. Kommando XY – Manlig Gemenskap
9. Portion Control – Karateka
10. Keine Ahnung – Plastik
11. a;GRUMH… – M.D.A.
12. Kommando XY – Norrland
13. Working Puppets – Monopoly
14. Working Puppets – Welcome
15. Rheingold – Distanz
16. Les Visiteurs Du Soir – Je T`ecris D`un Pays
17. KROPP – Kyss Mig (Demo Version / Other Singer) (Unreleased)
18. Sturm Café – Mozart-Ideal (Demo) (Unreleased)

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.

NO! Spotlight: Dry Socket / Ray Creature! [Part I]

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I found a rather anonymous label which is situated in Terre Haute, Indiana. The American label that I found is called NO! Record Label and is hosting itself on Tumblr, giving off a rather secluded interior for me to find mysterious. All the better, because it leaves much to my own imagination. This mysterious label have released two releases before those that I am going to cover in this spotlight. One of the releases are of Drekka and Assimilation – a kind of live re-work of each others live performances – but also a late introductory for me to Michael Andersons brainchild Drekka. This was actually the first release to be put out on this label. The second release was a compilation featuring the artists Drekka, NOON, John Flannelly, Canid, Assimilation and Agakus. Featured musicians working in the Bloomington, Indiana area, described by the label: “a collection of tracks that represents the loose circle of musicians that play weird electronic music together in basements, coffee houses, and bars“. But the two releases that I’m going to cover here are Dry Socket and in the second part; Ray Creature. The aforementioned a collaboration between Michael Anderson and Dylan Ettinger. I hope you’ll enjoy this write-up.

a0823392091_10Dry Socket. Having recorded a demo back in 2011 that never got released, this release titled “Violator EP” is a re-worked version of that recording. What strikes me at first is that it sounds like some kind of lounge version of industrial, together with the experimental tendencies that a mixture of their spaced out sound together with Michael Andersons vocals. The rhythm is slow-paced and steady, serving as a point of reference when listening, as the synthesizer sounds morph into differentiating sounds all over the place at the same time. When still being caught adrift by the first track, it feels like a combination of the expertise that Dylan Ettinger showed on his split-release with Goldendust on DKA Records and the gruesome experimentalism with his ambient touches. Even though a lot of the ambient heard in Drekka cannot be heard here, it feels like when they’ve joined forces, nothing is impossible. But I must say that when the song is about to end in the last three to four minutes, the windy atmosphere of what Michael Anderson can and have produced makes a turn back into ambient territory. Flaunting the beauty that can be heard through both synthesizers and other instrumentation. Next up is a sense of immediate urgency with the other track, with the outdrawn and melodramatic synthesizers that take each of their turn to whip you into the wonderful atmosphere of the track. Giving it even more of the old-school industrial sound together with screeching and violent vocals that make turbulence a must. The different passages in this song makes it even less vague than the first one, albeit the organic sounds and the synthesizers bounce on each other in a fist full of fury, it is easy to feel when it turns into something else – changing the pathway of the song. But just before the song is about to end, in the three to four minutes as usual, things get out of hand and a stormier landscape of sound can be heard before it dies out completely. The limited cassette of fifty copies can be bought from NO! Record Label. You’re also able to stream the release in full down below.

Listen: The Hammer – Demo 2014

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I’ve been covering some great hardcore the recent years, but there’s been both great hardcore coming out recently and not so great hardcore, but nothing quite like this. At least not when you’re at your demo-stage. The Hammer is a hardcore-band from Gothenburg that released their first demo today, titled “Demo 2014“. We have no idea about the origins of this band or who is behind it, but it sounds very great even though it’s their first demo. That much can’t be said about a lot of bands. It sounds like a crossover in between hardcore, punk and metal, but it’s mainly hardcore and punk. Gothenburg seems to be a stronghold when it comes to certain mind-altering, in a good way, sounds from that particular sphere of genres. What makes it even more interesting is that this crossover blend makes it sound a lot like fastcore and powerviolence, with the fast rhythm, the fast riffs and everything that makes those genres great. The vocalist in particular is absolutely stunning, when you hear his rage and anger between the lines that are riddled with fast-paced hardcore almost all the way. This is certainly one of those demos that you should pay more attention to. You can download this three-tracked release free from their Bandcamp. But I think you should support them with some money if you like what you’re hearing. It was recorded at Fvck Life Studios in Trollhättan, mastered by Fred Hunger. We’re certainly looking forward to future releases by this band.

Free Download: Zoo Books – Why Not Scorpion?

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Getting interesting e-mails is a part of what being a blog-zine is all about. Sometimes you get so many that you can’t sort everything out, and sometimes you get a few of them. Even though I believe this is the fact for many blog-zines, I don’t think that bigger magazines and so-called “alternative” websites take the most interesting out of the bunch. We aim to take both the interesting, and also those that might interest the audience. It’s not always about personal taste, even though it makes up a bit of what you’re doing. You try to stay objective, or at least as those conservative label-guys in the 1960’s, that according to Frank Zappa, said: “…now look at who the executives were in those companies at those times. Not hip young guys. These were cigar-chomping old guys, who looked at the product that came and said: I don’t know, who knows what it is, record it, stick it out – if it sells; alright. We were better off with those guys then we are now with the supposedly ‘hip’, ‘young’ executives, you know, who are making the decisions of what people should see and hear in the marketplace“. I thoroughly agree with that philosophy, and it can also be applied to the “art” of writing about music. I am by no means an artist, but I get the perspective.

Anyway, enough with my babbling. The people whom call themselves Zoo Books, sent me an e-mail in regards to their newly released demo. This trio are playing something in between post-rock and math rock, or so it appears when listening to it. This is also what they categorize themselves as. Don’t worry, their music is way more interesting to listen to than it is repeating their name in my head. The trio is comprised of Matthew Mawhinney on guitar and back-up vocals, Jeremy Link on bass, and Ruben Veguilla on drums and vocals. Their sound is a weird metamorphosis of what was already said, but it also ranges into post-hardcore territory – a genre that I have a hard time grasping, or understanding, the dynamics of. But I know what it sounds like, and there are more then hints of it in this demo. We consulted them ourselves and got them to lend us a hand when it comes to their music, by letting us put up a free download of the last track on this release, namely “Why Not Scorpion?” – a track I think symbolizes what their demo is, as a whole, but also where they might be heading afterwards. You can listen to their demo in its entirety if you wish, down below, but lend them a hand and spread the word. I think they deserve it. Download the track for free and listen to it wherever you please. The artwork for this release was created by Alicia Link.

Some questions for Xiu!

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Xiu is the Russian-born Estonian, but now Milan-based minimal synth artist, whose real name is Oksana Rodinova. Whilst harkening to her dark landscapes and magnificent voice, it gives you a palette of emotions to experience. Hearing her luminescent voice clash within a dark sound-scape of minimalism, is probably one of the most enjoyable things to hear. Since she started her solo-project back in 2010, with the self-released “Dancing Voodoo“, she’s been gaining momentum. Appearing on the German visionary label aufnahme + wiedergabe in 2012, with the self-titled cassette “Xiu“, which sold out very fast. To her collaboration with the interesting act Cold Colors, and their joint release “Loneliness“, where she lent her voice to four unimaginably solid tracks, in 2013. A little bit earlier, she also released the cassette “Possessions” on the increasingly larger (Swedish) Beläten etiquette. Since she’s been interviewed by different outlets, I decided to ask her a bunch of new questions. Mostly about the coming release, but also what her music means to herself, rather than the audience. Therefore, this will be a short Q&A-like “interview”, if you’d like. Hope you enjoy it.

Right now, you’re occupied in making your own debut-album become a reality. You’re also busy filming your first music-video for that particular release. What label have you teamed up with and where does the story begin?

– I would keep the label name in the secret for now.

Since you’ve released a lot of different songs here and there, how does it feel to work with your first “real” release?

– I don’t feel any difference. I mean, its always my own produced songs, it’s just a next step that comes naturally after two EP tapes, different compilations and collaborations.

You’ve also got two demo-tracks which you put up on your own bandcamp. Are these coming to good use in your forthcoming release?

– Well, yes. These tracks will be released but not on the LP. it will be as bonus tracks + some others on forthcoming CD release. Russian label Other Voices Records will release my two tapes (s/t by aufnahme and Possesion by Belaten) and bonus tracks this fall.

Is this album going to be any different from your earlier material in any way? What kind of theme will it have?

– It will be a kind of different but in the same time it will always be an analogue sound. I keep using the same gear that I used before, including some new synths and effects. I can say that debut LP will be more mature and confident.

Your latest release was together with Cold Colors, which was a  collaboration between the two of you. How did it came to be and what could you say about the making of “Loneliness”?

– This might sound weird, but I’ve never met Fred (Cold Colors) in real life. All our collaboration have been “online” through chat on Facebook and Skype. I’m very happy about this work, I’m really in love with that what Fred is doing. Nobody before this have produced music especially for my voice, specifically for me.

What do you think about aufnahme + wiedergabe and Beläten? Since you’ve released stuff on both those labels, how did that came to be in the first place, since your first release “Dancing Voodoo”?

– I tenderly love both labels! I’m proud to be their artist and thankful, especially because I was taking my first steps into the musical “scene” and they’re helped me a lot. Working with them was very enjoyable.

There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding you, and have been since you began to be noticed, it seems. What kind of response have  you gotten through the years?

– Really? I haven’t noticed any hype. I started to produce music two years ago, and less than year ago my debut tape came out, so I don’t think it’s time to speak about any “hype”. Everything have been flowing smoothly.

You’re also going to be featured on a split together with Spatial Relation, which is coming out pretty soon. What can you tell us about this?

– It will be a new song I produced specifically for this release. It will be coming out in September on Peripheral Minimal Records, I’m very excited about it and can’t wait, really! It will be the first Xiu 7” vinyl release.

How would you describe your own music?

– Looking for harmony inside of yourself.

When it comes to the general aesthetics of your own albums, they seem to revolve around yourself. Is there any thought behind – and if there is – then why is that so?

– Do you mean the visual part? Well, that might be because my music is autobiographical. I don’t speak about global problems, politic things, social troubles. I don’t want to change or save a planet, I try to save and understand myself, in my own world. I’m interested in creating something beautiful, fragile, delicate, something about feelings, sensations, sensuality.

Alright, seems like the time’s up. What kind of artists/groups/bands would you recommend here in the end and when will your full-length be out?

– I highly recommend you to pay attention to the small new label based in Italy named Minimal Trend Records. They’re soon releasing their first album on vinyl, a compilation with only Milan-based contemporary electronic artists. So, stay tuned!

Also, the one-woman-project Froe Char going to release her 3rd album, she’s awesome. Again, an Italian project which is unfairly underrated is Spettro Family. They’re soon going to release a new  album. As well, records from Beläten and aufnahme + wiedergabe are always brilliant. Don’t miss out on new releases!

You can find Xiu over at Facebook, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and YouTube. Do also check out her music-video for the track “Possessions” from the Beläten-release. You can also play two demo-tracks from her bandcamp down below. Her much anticipated full-length album will be released in the beginning of 2014. Do also listen to her latest remix of TSTI’s track “Pull The Animal’s Teeth Out“.