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.

Harvesting #6: Are these questions or is it Something Cold?

This time around Harvesting have decided to morph into a fearsome creature. Sending away coded messages to every receiver in town. In this edition of it, I will feature something extraordinary. At least when it comes to the Harvesting that I have had since the beginning of it. The sixth edition features: Something Cold. And if that isn’t enough for you, I’m also going to walk you through their self-released compilation which goes by the same name. In turn, it features the following artists: Autumus, Ze Dark Park, Subtitles, Deastro, YOU., The Present Moment, Further Reductions, Os Ovni and Especially Good. In this edition you’ll get to know more about Something Cold, which is both a social club and a record label, containing some of the most impopular cultural phenomenons of today. I asked Justin Carver, who basically runs it, five questions about his beloved creation. Hope you enjoy this edition of Harvesting and find your way back here after a long nights drunkenness.

Where did the idea for Something Cold come from and what’s your history?

– Something Cold began out of frustration with a lack of diverse, unique nightlife in Detroit. I’ve been a collector of obscure, rare, interesting minimal-synth, industrial, goth, post-punk, etc records for years and I wanted an opportunity to share this music with the rest of the city. Before SC I occasionally spun goth/deathrock/post-punk for friends parties and bars. Since our incarnation at the long since shuttered Trowbridge House of Coffee in Hamtramck, MI we’ve become a “roving” social club so to speak, holding events all over Detroit.

You’ve arranged a lot of stuff since you once started out, which nights have been the most memorable?

– Oh boy. Several, haha. When we were doing parties at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID) we had wild crowds. The CAID sits in the middle of a very desolate area of Detroit – very appropriate soundtrack wise. We had someone piss down the heat vent upstairs on our first night there. That didn’t go over well with the owner. Sexual encounters on the dancefloor became commonplace. Guests often stole the toilet paper from the bathrooms and tossed it around on the dancefloor.

Thugs from the nearby neighborhood crashed several parties, notably Dream Affairs debut Detroit performance. On a less seedy note, our two year anniversary with Martial Canterel (Wierd Records) and Moon Pool & Dead Band (ex-Wolf Eyes) was a big standout. Martial Canterel’s first performance in Detroit really helped inspire me to create a night focusing on minimal electronic music. Being able to bring Sean McBride out to celebrate an anniversary was a proud achievement.

Since you’re both a label and a social club, I was wondering if you could tell me about your label and the releases you’ve put out so far?

– In June we released our first record, the Something Cold LP. Its a compilation featuring friends of ours and artists who have graced our parties over the years. We’ve got a few releases that should be available in early 2013.

What do you think is the best with the “niched” genres like coldwave, minimal-synth, post-punk et cetera?

– The DIY aesthetic and feel is very exciting and appealing. I truly believe that the cold, isolated and fragile sound of minimal-synth and coldwave are also reflection of the time we live in. Because of technology guiding our lives we’re becoming more detached from one another socially. The economy throughout most of the world is very unstable. Day to day life is becoming more abstracted and uncertain for many. There is a definite surge of interest in minimal/coldwave/industrial music right now – perhaps channeling to the isolation we feel in our lives nowadays?

Do you have anything to say here at the end of this questionnaire? Give me your best!

– Thanks for letting me share some insight on Detroit’s coldest social club!

V.A. – Something Cold

The aesthetics of this compilation is absolutely gorgeous, it also instills a little bit of lust. As in sensuality, but also despair, with the colors of it. Musically, the first song “Your Blue Eyes (ft. Xiu)” reminds me of some kind of cold-pop, like a combination of the cold wave influences and the more pop-oriented side of it. I just noticed that one of my favorite musicians, the past month, is featured on this track. She really gives the sound-scape more life, since I didn’t really like the main vocalist. Her angelic voice just rides on the breezy sound-scape, pass by the lo-fi drums and fit perfectly with the lightweight synth. Next song on this album reminds me a lot of future-pop, but with less visible elements of that genre. The only thing that really puts the future-pop in this one is the vocalist. However, the sound-scape is perfectly fitted for that kind of vocals. I don’t really like how the generic future-pop is shaped and this is how it should sound when done right. It also contains some nice melodies and darker rhythms that pulsate through my body.

Ever liked some analog-sounding harshness? Look no further, the third song “Cold Rain” embodies just that. The harshness, but not too harsh. One of the most interesting things in the song besides the main texture of it, is the sampled voice that almost raps over the beat. It’s not conventional rap, but it felt like they put some work into it. I always like to think that they took a sample, chopped it up and matched the different non-matched parts of it to the overall melody of it. It would be insane if they actually did that. Fourth song, titled “Preservation“, carry the darkwave and minimal-synth banner high. A great mix of dark landscapes with soothing synths and speedy drums. Almost bordering on to the 8-bit genre, but staying within the borders of the aforementioned. Don’t like the vocalist as much in this song, it sounds generic and indie-pop angsty. Otherwise, it’s a good song, but the vocals don’t really fit the picture at all. Some rhythms may be off, but they contribute with a uniqueness to it.

Other good songs on this compilation were “Times Like This“, which brings back some of the oldschool EBM sound in one way. The vocalist is pretty good also, even though he doesn’t hassle it. But the rhythm and the beat is extraordinary and make me want to do the body-dance all over again, one step forward, three steps back. It’s got such a simpleness to it, but still instills several nostalgic memories of stomping around. Overall, it’s actually a great compilation.

If you want to buy it, head over to their bandcamp. There’s a digital-only download for 7.99 dollars on their bandcamp and a fully fledged vinyl-edition for 13.99 dollars. Whereas a digital download is included in the latter one, which means that if you add six dollars, you’ll get a nice vinyl and a digital download at that. The compilation hold nine songs and most of them are great. So, there’s not excuse not to buy it. If you get your paycheck anytime soon, you should leave some dollars for this.

Imperative Reaction – Imperative Reaction

Sedan en av deras bättre album As We Fall har de utvecklats i en modernare riktning, med andra ord har de passerat den släta linjen alla moderna industrialakter skall rätta sig efter. Från att ha varit en blandning av känslosam futurepop med specifika industriella inslag, till att bli en karbonkopia av exakt vad som är fel med industrial idag. Dock har jag tur att slippa höra liknelser med Combichrist och andra avarter som borde hållit sig borta från begreppet. Snarare ser jag en viss potential, i och med att sångaren utvecklat konceptet ytterligare. Ju längre jag tar mig igenom albumet desto mer överraskad blir jag, och måste därför revidera min åsikt en aning. Låten “Siphon” övertygar mig om att den cementerade linjen, där hårdhet väger mest, har spruckit. När jag slår över till nästa låt, “Song of the Martyr” så får jag höra de legendariska synthslingorna. Detta, som för övrigt gjort Imperative till vad de är, ackompanjerad med ett otroligt skönt break. När hela arsenalen släpps loss rakt i ansiktet, i ren rebellisk anda, “then you sing the song of the martyr”. Helt klart kan det bli lite tjatigt med det vämjeliga temat som cirkulerar runt, runt och runt. Men det räddas lite grand av signaturmelodin, som kretsar kring djupa och tunga synthslingor. Tänk Acid House, VNV Nation och det senare I:Scintilla blandat med stereotypisk screamo inom vissa partier, och mindre industrial än eljest – men i övrigt bra för klubbdäng och möjligen en ingång till att gå över den cementerade linjen och passera karbonkopiorna.