Spotlight: Roladex – Anthems For The Micro​-​Age

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Two people participatory in retro-futurism. Texans, synth-poppers, VHS-lovers, retro-lovers – a lot in common. The granular imagery from the VHS gives off a mystic visual representation, maybe even a leery introduction for those whom almost have a fetish for technical progress. A current that has been actualized more and more when we entered the 2000’s, a shift that you might’ve noticed but didn’t care too much for. Tyler Jacobsen and Elyssa Dianne have a lot of things in common, their common denominator being; Roladex. It should be so more enticing then the name would ever suggest. Synth-pop with a retro-fantastic touch, infusing lovely melodies with the charming disco-vibes, quickly shifting focus into their lovely rhythm – moving into their minimalistic undertones. Equate that to their latest release “Anthems For The Micro-Age“, which was released on the 13th of February on Medical Records. Harnessing both the qualities of the long-lost, but now re-emerged – minimal synth of yesteryear. This release can also be seen as a compilation of tracks from earlier releases. If you hold a grudge against analog synth-pop, this is probably not the spot for you.

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From 2013 to 2014, Roladex released their first single “Pink Halloween“, with remixes by Police Des Moeurs and Tiger Team being featured on it. The label back then was AMDISCS, and it was released in May of 2013. After that, a Mini-EP titled “Love Surgery EP” was born, featuring contributions from TSTI, Video Look, REDREDRED and Some Ember – released by the label Beko, in June. Then, the notable label Night People got it together and they got their first cassette put out there. The name of that cassette was to become “Cathode Rays“, whereas the name was taken from the first track on that release. Later on, in 2014, as it has been said – they got released by Medical Records, on vinyl. Which birthed the album, and rather compilation, of tracks that would come together under the title of “Anthems For The Micro-Age“. A lot of tracks that had been previously released were also featured here, but as new versions re-done for the release – like “Love Surgery” as A3, and “Scan Lines” as B4 – taken from their release “Love Surgery EP”. Whilst the track “Pink Halloween” appeared as B2, taken from their first single with the same name. The tracks from their cassette-release “Cathode Rays”, the track with the same name being represented as A2, also got featured on this compilation. “Blacklit Disco” is A4, “Empty Streets” is A5, and “Anthem For The Micro-Age” is A1 – and also the track that the album is named after.

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With this, their latest release, only the tracks “Color Channels” on B1, “Single Cell City” on B3, and “Nuke It Out” on B5, could be considered to be new tracks. One could say that the release represents all they’ve done so far, but also how they’re looking into the future a little bit more. They know themselves that there’s a lot in store for them, and as this compilation becomes even more anthemic in both a semantic way – it also represents a slight bit of how anthemic their tracks also can be. This might be their current state, but take it for what it is, because they’re evolving. You will be satisfied with how they are, and you should take them as they are. A duo couldn’t be much more of a perfect match – in fact. If you want to support them, look for their earlier releases, but do also buy the limited edition vinyl-release from Medical Records – if you want a cross-section of what they sound like, and what they are. Buy it down below.

Interview with Austin Rathmell of Hollow Haven Design!

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Austin Rathmell, now who may that be? He’s the front-figure for the solo-project The Way To Light, and he has his own graphic artistry Hollow Haven Design. Having worked with different labels and artists with the latter, and he’s also done splits with his solo-project together with Crawl, Horders and Feral. There isn’t much more that I knew about him at the time of this interview, so therefore there’s a lot of information that you shall receive when reading the interview. I ask him about his graphic artistry, The Way To Light, his discography, and some more things.

What’s known about you is that you are a graphic-designer, under your own brand Hollow Haven Design, and a musician who goes by the name of The Way To Light. But what’s your background besides that and who are you?

– My name is Austin Rathmell. I am and sorta always have been a reclusive introvert. In high school when I wasn’t at a local show I was probably spending time at home alone listening to music. I was one of the only people I enjoyed being with. If that makes sense. I’ve always been somewhat of an artist, but it was only within the past few years that i’ve really begun to push myself and tap into it. After high school I began delving into bands that really changed my perspective on life. Amenra (and all the surrounding side projects), Integrity, Neurosis… to name a few. These influences and my seclusion were the platforms for which Hollow Haven Design and The Way To Light rose from.

What were you doing before, that was in any way related to music or art, before Hollow Haven Design and The Way To Light?

– Before this I played guitar in a band called Botfly. It was a fun ride, but was very dysfunctional and it came to its inevitable end. The end of that band was the beginning of the path I’m now on. I wanted to be able to do everything myself and not work with or have to rely on anyone. And I had some minor roles within Botfly that had to do with art. But it wasn’t until later on that I really began progressing.

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So what was the first “trip” that Hollow Haven Design embarked upon, and was this simultaneously as The Way To Light arose – or simply earlier or later? What were your first concerns with those projects?

– The Way To Light came before Hollow Haven. I started The Way To Light a few months after Botfly disbanded. Hollow Haven was only started recently. There weren’t really any concerns with TWTL, I just wanted to create something different that I wanted to hear. I never cared whether anyone would like the project or not. Hollow Haven of course was different. I had been doing designs for my own projects as well as others for about a year or so. So Starting Hollow Haven was to somewhat put a label on my work as to be able to get in touch with more people in a somewhat professional way.

I know that you’ve created artwork for Die Song, and your own project. But what did you create during that one year, when it comes to other projects and people enlisting you?

– I did work for a small tape label based out of austin called Red River Family, I did a set of patch designs as well as some J-card artwork/layouts. I also did some designs for a band called FALM. To be honest it wasn’t a very busy time for me, I merely did things here and there, but that was the beginning sparks that made me want to dive in as I have.

So, have that created any other opportunities thus far?

– Yes, I’ve been able to get in contact with more people interested in my work. As well as work with Die Song on a few of his releases, and I hope it all continues. I’m hoping to make this year extremely busy for myself, pushing out a ton of art and music.

What kind of graphic artistry influences you when you do your work? Or do you simply have something asked for, and do it within your own means?

– Most of the time I find it works best when someone wants something done that they give me a very rough idea, or simply something they want in the piece, then let me do it my way. When someone comes asking for something very specific, as in they just want to use you as a tool to design the exact image they have in their head, nothing that great comes out of it. I mostly do Photo-manipulations. I love blending images to together to get real obscure forms. So at this point Ive already fallen into the style I love, so that in itself is my influence when creating. My main intent when making an image is creating something that has a strong emotion within it, while still being greatly obscure. Almost as if viewing something completely unattainable .

How do you apply this when working with The Way To Light? You’ve currently released an EP and two splits with other bands. What’s the difference in the method, when you work with your music, as opposed to your graphic artistry?

– I have actually released a tape, a CD-EP, and 3 splits. The Way To Light is an obscure thing to me. Its something completely unattainable, vague,  and entrancing. Whenever I begin a song, there is no formula I go off of. I just build from scratch and let it sort of take its own path in a way. It has become a big part of me. Its a way to express the human experience of life in a way that is truthful. It is enigmatic, as life itself is.  The process for me is essentially the same between the different mediums. Layering different textures respectively, subtly. In most cases there isn’t a final image or sound in my head that I am trying to achieve, I merely start with something small and basic, then begin building upon it. Then a point is reached where I know its done.  In a way, I think both projects reflect each other and give off the same atmosphere. Even though TWTL is done strictly for myself, and Hollow Haven is more directed outward towards others.

So why do you confine yourself within neo-folk and ambient?

– When I first started, this style of music was very foreign to me. But once I had completely immersed myself within it I fell in love with it. There was no turning back. This style I have emerged upon has allowed me to express my work in a way that I don’t think would work well in a different genre. But even then, I don’t consider TWTL “confined” within this sound. I try to do something a little different with each recording. I don’t want to create the same album, the same release over and over. So I never limit myself to what should or shouldn’t be tried. TWTL is an expression of the human experience. So whichever Idea is being presented, the aural side will reflect that. Whether neo-folk, dark ambient, a blend of the two, or something different entirely.

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Could you outline the specifically themes of each album? Since you seem to be doing something new every time, don’t they follow anything?

– I think its best that the releases are to be determined by the listener. I don’t like to describe all that goes into a release, its better that the perceived takes their own explanation and emotions from it. Each release has a slight different feel, a slight shift in the atmospheric texture. Listen, and feel it, each one will speak to you differently.

What would you say, as a listener, gives you a shiver down the spine each time you listen to it?

– When I hear that perfect combination of riffs that sing together, with an eerie voice whispering over it, with the atmospheric moans of drone behind it all. Its a perfect combination in my mind when emphasizing emotions and heart felt experiences.

You’ve done a lot of splits, but could you tell me why you’ve chosen the people you’ve chosen for those splits?

– The first split with Feral and Wrecca, (originally supposed to be only Feral) I decided to do a split with Feral because I had heard his sound already and thought the 2 projects merged well. Feral has strong references to nature and I use a lot of that in my imagery as well.

The Second was with Crawl. This is a local friend of mine whose project is unmatchable. Although both projects are pretty different in sound, it was great to have a split between 2 local solo projects that are very different from what is going on in this city. As well as the 2 songs we used for this release go very well together! Even though one is a very heavy distorted piece of hatred, and the other a slow haunt, the atmosphere is there.

The third was with Horders. I have been a big fan of Give Up and Horders for a long time! So it was great to have a chance to work with him. I think Horders and TWTL are very similar, yet very different as well. So it made a lot of sense to do this split. I think this split is the most “alike” sounding on both sides out of the 3. Even though I wrote heavily in ambient drone, they both just sound good together.

Where are you from and what does this localness mean to you, if we speak about Crawl – for example?

– I am from San Antonio, Texas.

There really is no great local community when it comes to underground music. Only a few projects that I think are truly talented and try pushing themselves creatively. Crawl being one of them. I have always wanted TWTL to be a part of a creative community, but there just isn’t the right people in this city. Or maybe I just haven’t met them yet. Who knows…

What have you got going for you for the next couple of months?

– I will be releasing a full-length album for TWTL very soon. The album is in the mastering process and will be complete very soon. To follow that there may be some live performances. On the Hollow Haven side, I have some new pieces in the works, some personal, some for a few projects!

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Review: Steel Hook Prostheses – The Empirics Guild (CD)

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It wasn’t a long time ago since I heard about these fellows from Texas. Even though I’ve rarely encountered their music anywhere, their artwork and name have been etched into my brain. What I do know now, however, is that this release is their latest album-release since “Atrocitizer” was released, in 2008. John Stillings and Larry Kerr are their names, and I find myself repeating those names in my head, in an almost perfect symbiosis with the scene from Fight Club where they start chanting:”His name is Robert Paulson“. Just replace that name with their name, and you have a totally bizarre coincidence, but a strong incitement to actually start reviewing this monstrous release. Before I go on and do that, I must say that this is another release from the magnificent Malignant Records, from the US of A, which hasn’t let me down so far. So we’ll see how this one goes. Another thing that has to be mentioned, is the fact that this was released on the 29th of March, which is a while ago. It contains material recorded between 2008 and 2012. Hopefully, my earlier lack of inspiration, wordlessness and total apathy – will make this review a much more detailed endeavor.

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Psychlight: Deep Space – Evil Dreams

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Quantum physics? Not exactly. Rather an exploration into our widely unknown universe, in which we’re a tiny fragment of cells in comparison. The band Deep Space are searching with heart and soul, aided with psychedelia and drug-induced hallucinations, the key to the universe and our existence. In their new album “Evil Dreams“, they embark upon a trip that is both callous, but also virtually frictionless and smooth. Inject some of their ambitious adventurousness, in combination with riffs that strike a nice resemblance with their roots, in an overlaying reverberated sphere of musical landscapes. It feels like what you hear is filtered through their influences, which is constantly propped up with Pavlovian reactions that assemble an atmosphere you could only dream of in a harsh, but lucid environment. This is dedication in its purest form. Not to mention their soft-outspokenness, amidst all their psyched out rock’n’roll, which actually helps to make everything more understandable. Because they’re more focused on the general picture, which they aim to deliver to the listener, rather than taking a side. The singer becomes a narrator, as he acts like a guide throughout the music which is constantly present. Like a puppet master, it feels like the atmosphere varies in tone and general abstractness whilst he gets his messages out. Sometimes the rock’n’roll side of things takes over completely, which makes this ensemble feel like they’re rocking it out on some obscure planet. Bring back everything from the past, but make sure you’ll still contain the energy and originality yourselves, because that’s what Deep Space are doing on this release. It feels like these songs could be listened to forever, and ever. This release will be available in physical form on the 2nd of July, as a cassette limited to 175 copies, which will include a “secret” bonus track.

Sweating Tapes release-party and more to come!

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Since the debut-album of the much renowned dark esoteric electronica meets post-punk was sold out, Sweating Tapes are re-releasing Deathday first album “Deathday“, on a limited edition LP. Those of you who are lucky enough to order the first 50 batches, will also receive a limited edition patch and button. We’ve also written about their split with another LA-based band, by the name of Bestial Mouths. It’s still available and you can fetch both releases from their bandcamp, the first one here and the aforementioned split-release here.

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If you’re a resident living in the LA-area, I advise you to come and join the Sweating Tapes Night 001. Which is a party that is to be hosted by Bestial Mouths and Deathday, for their latest split-release titled “A Split Release“. You’ll be able to hear DJ-sets from WMX (Bestial Mouths), Alex Guillén (Deathday) and Remy Marc (Sweating Tapes/VSSL). The party is free and is being put on in Los Angeles, California – in The Lash on 117 Winston st 104, 90013 and it’s 21+. So get in your right gear and head in to California for this night, because it’ll be worth it. But you’d better hurry up, since it’s going to be on the 1st of May – which is today and tonight!

Sweating Tapes are readying up for two more releases, which will be the continuation of the “A Compilation” series. You can listen to Volume 1 and 2 over here, and here. Their current aim for this will be in the bulls-eye of Los Angeles and Texas, as they’re trying to document a section of the North American synth-artists. They will go from city by city, to region by region. So if you’re interested, feel free to hook up with Sweating Tapes by dropping them an e-mail to this address. Also, listen to their currently released volumes down below.


Slowday Showcase [#7.3]: Hungry Soul and Delphine Coma!

224176309-1I remembered, vividly, that I hadn’t included electro yet. I thought it was because of the lack of authentic electro, but I was wrong. First up is the sublime Hungry Soul from Antwerpen, Belgium. His latest endeavor is the release titled “Afterlife Resort“, which gives a rather mushy impression. I’ll explain why. The taciturn yet expressive landscape of both a futuristic time, yet induced and sprinkled with a feeling of nostalgia, has you hooked beneath your kneecaps. Maybe the robots are attacking, but they’re no elites. No, they’re drunken of oil and impaired due to excessive oiling. This could be described further, as they run berserk in your neighboring town, hurting nothing but the infrastructure and themselves.  They do really hate anything even remotely close to them, so they want destruction. It might not be noticeable at first, but the cleanliness and sublime nature of the music arcs into a terribly malevolent situation of electronica and electro joining forces with man instead of machine. Some of it might seem arrhythmic, but it’s really rhythm through and through. That old-school wobble, those analog and those alien. Fearing before caring, locked up in different dimensions, miles apart from each other. Yet something forcefully eradicates your control, which make you a spastic piece of fabric for them to work with. Everything seems remote, but still connected to a centralized authority of electronic(al) magnitude. Actually, the probability of this experimentalism couldn’t be counted on. I was thinking more on the lines of AS1 and instead I got Hungry Soul. But now I know why the soul is hungry, because it wants more of that rhythmic stuff that is delivered through tubes of electro synchronicity. It’s spaced-out, yet confined within its own realms of progression and ambition. Ambiguous at least, ambitious at most – but in between is the only certain thing. Featuring the four tracks “Afterlife Resort“, “Heaven Was High“, “Blunted Beach” and “Jack Lag“. Released on Jack Playmobil Records on the 23rd of February.

1846120871-1Also, it’s been a long time, since I heard anything bombastic within darker genres. Either they limit themselves, pending from bombastic to minimal, or just stay within the confined limits of the minimal genres. Now I’ve found something else, something really special, a duo from Houston, Texas called Delphine Coma. It might not be an actualized release right now, since it was released a month ago, but I had to include it. Their release “Exit Isolation” is anything in between cold wave, minimal synth and darkwave. It’s weird, since it’s only minimalistic in the way the landscape progresses and maybe also the vocals. Everything else about it is monumental and bombastic, utilizing the best of two worlds to withhold the minimalism, but at the same time showcasing both minimalism tendencies with a bombastic core to sit on. The overlaying beauty of the sound-scape is wickedness with melancholic intent, but not to a degree that makes it totally ridiculous. It feels like I’m stuck in a dark vortex, slapping me around and carrying me back each time I take a listen. Everything with it grows on you and the tracks differ in both their attitude towards the listener and the general sense of belonging. They’re inviting you to a world of hurt, but you’re too damn attached to even look away or try to make it out. When you’re sitting on the top of a glacier, looking down on the magical spectacle that is Delphine Coma. It might frighten you at first, but when they’ve got you in their grasp, you’re theirs for the taking. I believe that this is what I think of when recognizing the different genres that influence them. This is exactly how it would turn out, but without me knowing it. There’s a sense of gratitude towards them, at the same time, there’s also an edge to it – which takes you from a non-believers perspective, to a cultist worshiper. Even though some of it could be predicted, their unpredictability and underlying sense of movement makes it such a different experience all-in-all. Transgress and transcend from your own apartment, include yourself or be included. You really have no choice in this matter, because it’s in their hands, which is powerful stuff. Something that isn’t going to be reserved for memory lane, it’s something now a part of you. Featuring the two tracks “Exit Isolation” and “Sothis ▲ Dog Star“, released on the 7th of January, on the label In Aeternum.