Tag Archives: industrial

April’s Swag – Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

April's Swag - bite-sized, but very tempting (and even a bit delicious)

Once again, there’s been so much going on this month that I’ve spared little time to dig up the best bits from the nether regions of the internet. Lucky for us both, I don’t have to look very far to find something worth bringing to your attention – to recap those I already have:

After that, I suggest sinking your teeth into these:

Heinali and Matt Finney – Plainsong
Shoegaze/Drone/Ambient | 15MB – 320 kbps MP3
You may have caught the recent Conjoined review over at [sic], if not, this duo blend heavy shoegaze-drone a la The Angelic Process/Nadja, with spoken word vocals. These guys have got quite a few things in store for this year, with another album set for release later this spring on Paradigms Recordings titled Ain’t No Night – keep your eyes and ears out for more info soon, as there’s some seriously good stuff going on with that. Currently available for free download on Bandcamp right now is their take on The Cure’s Plainsong and Radiohead’s Creep. To top it off, from May 1st, Dreamcatcher – a half-hour soundtrack over two movements (Lucifer 1 and Panopticon), which recently accompanied a photo exhibit – will go up as a ‘name your price’ download, with all funds raised going towards financing another album later this year; some very absorbing work all-round.

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Wild Dogs In Winter – Homba*
Post Rock/Ambient | 120MB – 320 kbps MP3s
Released last year but only just recently brought to my attention, this nicely done 10-track album has more than enough weight to grab – and keep – the attention of Blueneck, I Like Trains, Our Ceasing Voice and Her Name Is Calla fans. Available on Bandcamp as a digital download (or purchase the CD).

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Sleepy Sun – Marina
Psych/Stoner Rock | 14MB – 320 kbps MP3
If you know me, you know I can’t get enough of these guys and their particularly sparkling blend of hazy psych/stoner rock. To celebrate their upcoming US tour, Sleepy Sun have made a live version of the single Marina available for free download, which you can grab here.

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Other Lives – For 12
Folk/Rock | 6MB 192 kbps MP3
It was nice to see this new track go up on RCRD LBL the other day, as I’m quite fond of Other Lives’ self-titled debut. (Not so nice to see RCRD LBL decide to go the same direction as Daytrotter and disallow direct downloads without registering for a user account – they better not introduce a poorly functioning, site-specific “download manager”). Slightly more old-school psych-folk in this track, but very nice indeed – grab it here.

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NeTE – Greatest Non-Hits 1 LP
Industrial/Gothic/Lo-Fi – 73MB 128 kbps MP3s
Some of you may remember my Australian music special from a while back, and briefly mentioning I couldn’t recall any Australian goth bands I was into during the 90’s. Well, while I was trying to jog my memory, I happened upon a site called Shame File Music – a label dedicated to experimental Australian music. Long story slightly shorter, I grabbed this collection of tracks, and while I can’t say I heard them back then, I can say there’s some stuff here worthy of a listen now. Grab them from Internet Archive.

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S4E

*These are available as ‘name your price’ downloads. For Bandcamp releases, you are able to enter any amount, including $0. For Mamaleek’s Kurdaitcha, voluntary donations (via PayPal) to support the artists can be made through the Enemies List download page linked above. As always, though I know times are tough, I encourage sparing a few bucks where and when you can to support the artists making the music you enjoy.

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The Present Moment – The High Road

Some albums really do need to come with a warning. In the case of The High Road by The Present Moment, it would read a little something like: This album may cause withdrawl symptoms from the slightly dizzying effects of strobe lights; the dusty, lung-filling scent produced by smoke machines and the general heart-palpitation-inducing atmosphere of night clubs. It’s true, I’m a few years past the socially acceptable age of clubbing, but I very nearly grabbed my last pair of these and hit the town after listening to this.

Hailing from LA, artist Scott Milton has produced an album that, in terms of musical scope, fairly well epitomises that night club scene, the kind where nary a braindead pop hit is heard and music doesn’t just add to the ambience, it is the ambience – and the people are thriving on it.

The primary forces of The High Road draw on some of the more subversive elements of that scene – namely dark wave, goth and industrial. Opening with the nicely ominous ARRIVAL, an intro glazed with drone, the tone is set for a slightly jaded, occasionally cynical eye to be cast from the observervational point of a dark corner of the room, while those being observed remain completely oblivious as the beat goes on.

Tracks such as No Pieces Fit and the title track itself, The High Road, lean more towards synth numbers with subdued melodies and energetic rhythms, though things do get a little more sinister and occasionally aggresive. From the murky, droning bass in EMILY, to the outright frustration displayed on THE DAMAGE IS LOVED, where the frantic industrial core drives it to the point vehement despair.

The High Road, at the very least, should be played loud – much louder than is necessary to annoy the neighbours so that you can’t hear them knocking on the door. But for my money, it needs to be heard in that other place – the place where darkness and light coexist in the flash of a bulb, curls of smoke obscure and frame the dance floor, and where the energy isn’t just directed by the music, it’s responsible for creating it.

The High Road is available in a limited edition of 100 phsyical copies, which you can purchase via Desire Records; or you can download the album from Bandcamp.

S4E


Random but Likely Suspects

About a week ago  saw  the demise of Amie Street, and if you read my previous post on the matter, you’ll know that I had numerous difficulties in spending the remaining credit I had. This was resolved, albeit intermittently (i.e. I managed to complete the epic Mount Eerie album, Song Islands vol 2, but since I had no idea what to spend the rest on, I left it at that until I could think of something else. Not the wisest of moves – long story short, this resulted in a desperately timed 11th hour email to customer service to pretty please allow me to complete my last purchase. Their response: keep trying, it should work eventually. Oh, and I received that email after I finally achieved success.

There was little method in the choosing of my final purchase.  In a move somewhat contradictory to my previous post, I simply went through all my current Last.fm recommendations, searched for them on Amie Street and grabbed the first one that was available. This turned out to be the 2009 album Disconnected by Greymachine.

Yeah, so I’m a year or more late to the party, but I’d never heard the name before, and no I didn’t listen to any of it beforehand – I was feeling wildly adventurous. (That being said, there were some controlled circumstances. The recommendation was based on my listening to Nadja, The Angelic Process, Pyramids, Jesu and Isis; with those first three being objects of my affection of late).

It was, then, an awesomely pleasant surprise to find an album I would have bought anyway without duress (had I known about it and stuff). I’m certainly not a connoisseur of all things metal and/or associated sub-genres; which essentially means that there’s a limited scope to what appeals to me in the long-term, though I do make intermittent attempts to broaden that scope. I mention this because Disconnected is pretty much everything I look for when I want something on the heavier side of things.

Greymachine is the result of Justin Broadrick (Jesu, Godflesh) and Aaron Turner (Isis) teaming up, along with Diarmuid Dalton (also of Jesu, Godflesh) and Dave Cochrane (Head of David); according to my nimble google fingers, anyway, as – to be honest – I’m only familiar with half of those bands, and certainly not extensively. So that tells you the who of that rather mug-shot looking line-up above, the what, however, is a little outside what I’ve heard from Jesu and Isis thus far, but definitely more appealing to me.

I have to say I’ve never quite understood why Jesu garnered variants of metal as genre descriptors (particularly sludge and doom metal). Maybe I’ve listened to the wrong stuff. Who knows, but  to my ears Jesu sounds like cleanly produced pop music compared to Greymachine. It’s noisier, heavier and sludgier by several miles. Perhaps the only aspect that’s common to both, is that in amongst Greymachine’s massively dense wall of doom, sludge, industrial and noise, are some very welcome rhythmic, melodic riffs. For me, it refines the overall sound from being one huge assault on the senses and actually gives me something to get involved with (for lack of a better way of explaining it). Suffice to say, when I listen to something on the heavy side of music, I don’t want to come away feeling steamrolled by it, which seems to be the case quite often when it comes to doom / sludge / drone projects where I’m not given anything to grab onto as it rolls on by. (Or over, as the case may be).

I guess the point that’s really worth making here is that while my knowledge is limited, Greymachine is unlike anything I would have expected from the artists involved if I’d known beforehand who they were. Disconnected does, however, fit in quite nicely with the Angelic Process and Nadja RiYL, so definitely seek it out if you’re keen on the sound of either /or with a sludgier, industrial edge.

Greymachine @MySpace

Buy the CD @Hydra Head

Oh, and MetalSucks has a free download of Vultures Descend, posted all the way back in 2008.

S4E


Interview: Helena Thompson from Purest Spiritual Pigs

Recently, I introduced S4E readers to Purest Spiritual Pigs, a collective of artists involved in a number of audio / visual projects and spearheaded by Helena Thompson. While I previously concentrated on the music side of things with the darkly seething album Body Misses, with such a vast array of contributing artists and projects to its credit, I definitely thought it was worth investigating a little further into the world of PSP.

Helena was kind enough to grant S4E the following  interview so that I could learn more about how the project came about, where it’s going and everything in between.

Helena Thompson : Photo by Jaime Carrera

S4E: Can you tell us a bit about your background, when you first started playing music and what (or who) inspired you to become involved in music?

Helena: I began really listening to music as early as the age of 5. It would take me to another place and, at times, would help me to fully feel where I was. I’d find a song that I really liked and play the record over and over, singing and sometimes acting it out. It was something I did alone. The school I went to as a kid didn’t have music classes and nobody in my family played an instrument, so it took a long time for me to realize that I could actually make music myself. I started to see it as a possibility around the age of 14. I bumbled my way around trying to understand music and different instruments. I started out thinking I’d play guitar, but became more interested in drumming. I didn’t really start performing until I was about 20. I was doing a solo thing called One Human. I’d play all these different instruments and sing. I used visuals too (projections, props etc.).

S4E: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote – what was it about and do you ever still play it?

Helena: I was 15 when I wrote it. It was a bit new wave, and about not getting what I wanted out of a relationship, so saying, well piss off then. Believe, me you wouldn’t really want to hear it now.

S4E: How have your experiences with other projects (such as Her Majesty The Baby*) affected the way you work now?

Helena: Spending several years in different bands helped me to understand different ways of composing and helped me hone my skills as a drummer. Now, when I begin writing a new song for Purest Spiritual Pigs, more often than not, I start from the drums up, then add melody. I think writing that way has an influence on the outcome of the sound.

S4E: On Body Misses, you take on a variety of roles, including vocals and percussion, do you favor any one in particular, and are there any other instruments you’d like to learn / master?

Helena: Drums are my obsession and I’ll always work at furthering my skills as a drummer. Singing is very satisfying to me. It’s very cathartic. I’m still discovering what I can do with my voice. I don’t feel like I have a single voice. I feel more like the song content manifests it’s own voice. As far as my guitar and bass playing, it’s more of a tool for me to write. I don’t consider myself a bassist or guitarist by any means, and often use effects on them to turn them into something different. On Blood-let, I put the bass on my lap and played it with a stick. I’ll continue to mess around with them, but when it comes to playing them with any depth, I’d rather leave it to the other “pigs” that have more to offer. As far as wanting to learn or master any other instruments, there’s always an intrigue, but I’ve had to ignore it, because I’ve learned that spreading myself too thin makes it hard to complete any one thing.

S4E: I’m intrigued by the concept of different voices. Do you find that each voice is unique and distinct from song to song, or are there certain voices that you recognise reappearing for other songs?

Helena: In the beginning stages of writing the vocals melodies, it’s more stream of conciousness. Once I really start to structure the song, then I may fine tune the vocals. To answer your question, I do think there are ways that I express myself vocally that will reappear from song to song, but it does feel pretty unconcious. It usually begins with a melody in my head, either triggered by a thought, if I’m out roaming around, or triggered by something I’m musically working on in the studio. I’ll start singing it out loud, and that’s when the tones and inflections appear. As that forms, the character of voice will manifest. At one point, when I was practicing the vocal part to record DAMN, I felt like I was a singer in a gospel choir.  I had no idea where it came from.  That’s not in my background.  I even questioned if I should go with it or not, but then, I thought “screw it“, that’s what’s coming out, let it go. Looking back, it made sense that the vocal turned out like that. I began writing DAMN while riding alone on my bicycle across the US, through the Cascade mountains in washington. It’s about being overwhelmed by the natural beauty there.

S4E: Where did the name for Purest Spiritual Pigs come from?

Helena: About 15 years ago I was having a conversation with Dorothy (Wang). She was talking about someone and said, “they think they’re the purest spiritual beings”. Initially, I thought she said purest spiritual pigs. I filed that one away. I decided to use it for this project because it has no specific meaning. It vaguely lends itself to many interpretations. It makes me think of a few different things: one being the hypocrisy that exsists in religion, another, the idea that a pig could actually be more evolved than a human.

S4E: PSP encompasses a variety of artistic disciplines, can you tell us a bit about the other projects PSP has been involved with?

Helena: In addition to music, I’m very interested in visual, performing and conceptual art. I started Purest Spiritual Pigs as a means to explore all of them. Back in 2007, we worked on a performance titled SHREDS, In Shreds, I gave one to two minute pieces of music, to a group of choreographers. The music came from remnants of PSP songs. Just the same as a tailor has bits and pieces of fabric left over when making a suit, I had remnants of music. The choreographers then created work to the “shreds” of music and performed them in a theater. I’m also working on a sound intervention titled FOR PEOPLE NOT ON PHONES. The first installation of it took place in Providence, RI.  The process is to record the sounds of a public environment, take them back to the studio, turn them into soundtracks and discreetly place the soundtracks back into their original locations (via a playback device). The volume is set very low, and audible only to those who are present in their environment and not distracted by their gadgets. It’s my response to the oblivion created by the use of portable technology, i.e. cell phones etc. The plan is to do this in multiple cities around the country and eventually in other countries.

S4E: What does a full-blown PSP show involve?

Helena: The show we’re working on right now involves some of the different genres that PSP works in. It will bring in: live performance of the songs from Body Misses (performed by me and Natasha Hassett), the second installment of SHREDS (which in addition to choreography will involve video as well), improvised soundtrack to video, and some performance art.

S4E: Do you have any pre-show rituals to prepare yourself for going on stage?

Helena: It depends, usually some drum rudiments and vocal exercises. I like to do something that’s physically exhausting too, if I can, like run around the block, or do a bunch of pull-ups. That helps take the edge off the adrenaline.

Photo by Jaime Carrera

S4E: Does the visual side of PSP play an important role in the music, and / or do they inspire one another?

Helena: It really depends on the piece.  Sometimes the visual aspect can be more of a textual backdrop. Other times it can be an improvisational tool, like the piece that Dorothy, Anita (Bowen) and I did in San Francisco at Black and Blue Tattoo. I took Anita’s photos, blended them with some of my video, and Dorothy and I played a live improvised soundtrack to the video. I’ve also started working with Sarah (Gordon) to work some choreography into my own performance. In this case, the visual of my movement would be used to fuse the audience with the content of the song.

S4E: The bio mentions that ultimately, the goal is to amass many artists with which to collaborate, how did that idea develop?

Helena: I wanted to have a project that I could work on all the time, no matter what. This project enables me to collaborate with other artists and work alone. I love both, and this makes it possible.

S4E: What would you say are the main benefits as well as drawbacks (if any) for working with different artists on different songs?

Helena: I love the new energy that comes with working with multiple artists. You never run out of fuel to feed the fire.  There are lots of great artists that for different reasons, usually financial, don’t have the means to get a lot of their work out there. I love being able to expose that. I also learn a lot working with different people. As far as drawbacks, In terms of music, the only thing that could potentially be a drawback is the songs all sounding like different bands. I’ve tried to counter that by inviting artists who have some common threads. I also think that vocals are the first thing that most people recognize, so I’ve made it a point to be the main vocalist. On Shenti (Body Misses) N.G. (Yrizarry) does a back up vocal in the intro and from the last chorus on. I love what he does and wanted to have him even more present on the song, but I think at least at this point, I need to keep that consistency. I’ve also done that with the drums. I do all the drumming on the CDs.

S4E: Do the ideas – for songs or otherwise – develop first, or do you find someone to collaborate with and let things evolve from there?

Helena: On Body Misses, Lenny (Gonzalez) and I wrote UNSTEADY and YOU INSPIRE ME. I’d sent him a drum file, he’d mash it up into a sample, or work up some magic on his guitar, I’d stamp it with some vocals and send it back, he’d chew it up a bit, spit it back, I’d mess with the structure, he’d mess with the structure and eventually we had two songs. That was the first time I wrote any of this material with anyone else. It was great. I love working with Lenny. He’s a brilliant artist. I know I can always trust what he’s going to do. With the other material on Body Misses, I had already written the songs.  Dorothy, Natasha (Hassett), N.G., and Cody (Bourdot) added their parts later. The next album will have more collaborative song writing. I’ve written with both Dorothy and N.G. in former bands and have been working with Natasha on live stuff.  They’re all strongly creative, so I’m looking forward to writing with them too.

S4E: Is there anyone in particular you would really like to work with given the chance, and / or do you have a concept (musical or otherwise) you’d like to bring to fruition if you found the right artist?

Helena: Why, do you have an in? If so, the list is going to get very long. Any members of: Neubauten, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Legendary Pink Dots, Skinny Puppy, Swans, Patti Smith, Type O Negative, Marianne Faithfull, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Echo And The Bunnymen, Psychic TV. That’s just a few and doesn’t even include the visual performing and conceptual artists.

S4E: Do you have a favourite cover song to play live?

Helena: As of yet, PSP hasn’t done any covers. I’ve been thinking about it though.

S4E: PSP is descibed as being on the dark side of rock, and lyrically Body Misses takes a look at some dark subject matter, is it a conscious decision to highlight those sort of things?

Helena: It’s more that those are things that make me want to write. To a large degree it’s a therapeutic outlet. I tend to write about things that really move me emotionally.

S4E: Do you think women in rock have anything left to prove?

Helena: I definitely think that women have proven to be just as competent in this arena. I think the numbers are imbalanced, but I see that as a societal problem, not a matter of there not being able women. The mainsteam media doesn’t like to see pretty women spilling their guts and thrashing about stage. They want them to pose like models and sex kittens. The media has a lot of impact on what boys and girls grow up like. As an 11 year old, I was lucky enough to have caught one of the few moments in mainstream media where they portrayed a woman as something other than a toy. I happened to see Patti Smith on Saturday Night Live doing songs from Horses. I know that had a huge effect on the way I was able to eventually perceive myself.

S4E: You mentioned Patti Smith, who is noted for poetry and visual art as well as music, as someone you’d like to work with; would that be in any particular capacity?

Helena: Any capacity, I’m more familiar with her literature and music. Thus far, I’ve done all of the lyrical writing in PSP, but I’d love to see what would come out of me singing words that she wrote. Or doubling up on vocals on a song. I guess I could break my own rule about being the main voice if she wanted to sing with me.

S4E: Can you tell us anything about what the future might hold for PSP?

Helena: To be the largest band ever! But seriously…  Ideally I’d like to work with a record company and or distributor.  I’ve been doing all aspects of releasing this CD and the last EP.  Although it’s an interesting process, I’d much rather leave that to the professionals, so I can focus on new material. In addition, now that Natasha and I are starting to play songs live, that will open the doors for touring.  European’s seem to be responding well to this project, so I’d like to bring it there as well.

S4E: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know, about yourself, PSP or otherwise?

Helena: Because of the scope of Purest Spiritual Pigs and all the people involved, sometimes it’s difficult to give a thorough idea of every artist’s contribution. I’d like to be clear that although I direct the thrust of this project, that it is the way it is, because of every collaborator. I’ve asked them to work in this project because I love what they do and I know that what they will contribute will make this a better thing. You can find detailed information about the other “pigs” on the Purest Spiritual Pigs web site and on the liner notes of the CDs.

On that note, S4E extends particular kudos to the following artists who contributed to the album Body Misses, linked to respective websites where available. Find out more about all artists involved in various aspects of PSP here. You can also check out a number of performance videos here.

Lenny Gonzalez • Umberto Crenca • Dorothy Wang • Natasha Hassett
Cody BourdotN.G. Yrizarry • Susan Clausen

I’d also like to thank Helena Thompson for granting this interview and taking the time to give such extensive insight to her work with PSP and beyond.

The album Body Misses can be purchased on CD or in digital format at:

CDBaby
iTunes

S4E

All images are used by kind permission and are subject to ©

*Her Majesty The Baby were a popular San Francisco rock band in the 90’s. They worked with producer Lenny Kaye (former guitarist of The Patti Smith Group), played SXSW, SF Battle OF The Bands and opened for several major acts such as PJ Harvey, Fugazi, The Pixies, and Throwing Muses.


Purest Spiritual Pigs – Body Misses

 

Allow me a moment to put you in a different place of the world…

In one of the darker corners in the heart of this little city I call home,  there used to be a nifty little club. To get there, you generally had to run the gauntlet down a street well known for being the centre of bubbling nightlife. Lined with myriad clubs thumping generic beats and  guarded by bouncers who, if they lowered themselves enough to look at you twice, it was only so that they could look away again. You’d have to make it past the ‘gentlemen’ who felt a wolf whistle and a slurred “oy! come-o’er-ere” was a charming enough pick-up line and became indignant when informed it wasn’t; break through the walls of girls locked in arms, trying to hold up drunken friends with one elbow and down their skirts with the other so that they could stagger to the next club and – presumably – maintain an air of dignity about the proceedings. Finally, you’d have to hurdle the odd character that wouldn’t so much mind about their public image and simply flash you a polite smile before diving into the bin next to you to look for discarded cigarette butts to smoke. A quick exit stage left and you would arrive at The Proscenium – sanctuary!

That’s a bit of a history lesson; here’s a little etymology.

The proscenium is the arch that separates the stage from the auditorium (thus, also commonly known as the proscenium arch). The word itself has Latin / Greek origins, and in simplest terms referred to an entrance. The Proscenium that was the club couldn’t have been more aptly named. It was indeed something of a line, an encompassing arc and a threshold for a variety of sub-cultures. It was a dark, smoky place with velvet lounges in one corner, steel columns punctuating the dancefloor and a variety of gadgetry, gizmos and toys peppered elsewhere. In the dividing line between performer and audience, few social lines existed and the goths, ravers, punks and forbears of modern hipster culture all danced to the same music – music just like Purset Spiritual Pigs create.

I’ll start with the basics… PSP is a music project that encompasses a variety of artistic disciplines. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to concentrate on the musical side of things here and now; more specifically, the album Body Misses. The album itself is partly collaborative – six of the album’s eleven tracks feature the talents of a variety of contributors, while the remaining five are the solo work of Minneapolis resident Helena Thompson.

Having a variety of resources, insight and creativity to draw from,  Body Misses dabbles in a similarly vast array of ideas and styles, from punk to post-punk, rock, industrial, grunge and new wave. Occasionally infused with subtle touches of other influences, like the tribal percussion heard on Blood-Let, you might think it all sounds like a bit of a haphazard mixed bag. Rather than being a case of “too many cooks”, though, what’s on offer is a cohesive body of work that by no means misses its mark. PSP very much bring danceable rock to the arena, with a dark, gothic and industrial edge. For an immediate visual and musical reference, think The Crow having a little tryst with Run Lola Run.

At the forefront and tying it all together is the somewhat diffident and occasionally deadpan delivery of the vocals by Helena Thompson. Oh, and I don’t mean the shy version of diffidence, either. While musically exploring a variety of genres and concepts, the perspective is consummately maintained lyrically and vocally. There is a an air of reserved disenchantment within the world view of Purest Spiritual Pigs, one seeming to be well-earned and perhaps the end-result of a few battle wounds.

At the start, I mentioned a “different” place, but that city street is the kind of place that exists in prominence the world over. I always thought it was strange that the place I liked – my world – was the subset to that, it was the darker place, a swept-away secret on the fringes of society. I get the impression PSP knows both of these worlds quite well. If not, they certainly are fluent in their respective languages, with subject matter on Body Misses delving into the corners of them both. There are a number of dark stories here from behind the curtains; stories that speak of the kind of stagnancy that exists in these worlds and the frustrations that result. There is also an underlying awareness and implication that it isn’t all there is, that these windows will have their blinds pulled at any moment – which might not necessarily be up, either.  Purest Spiritual Pigs seem well aware that sometimes the darker corners are the ones you need to move out from, other times they’re hiding the better alternatives.

You can look, listen to and learn more about Purest Spritual Pigs in the following places:

PSP Website
MySpace

You can also buy Body Misses in CD or digital format:
CD Universe
CD Baby

 S4E


Tragic Fixation – Dancing Bones, Cannibals & A Mysterious Watermelon Man

I have to admit I visit Amie Street only on the odd occasion, usually just to check up on the latest releases for anything that might take my fancy (the rec system leaves a bit to be desired – I have no idea why, when it’s based on my previous purchases as well as the top 50 artists in my Last.fm library, I keep getting rec’d Patsy Cline, and today, for some reason Pavarotti is up there on my home page. No disrespect intended for either of those two artists, but they’re just not my style…)

Anyway, the point is the above artist – Tragic Fixation – caught both my eye and subsequently my fancy. I don’t really need much more encouragement to download a few songs when they’re tagged industrial & gothic rock (or industrial devil music, according to the artist bio) – the fact that they’re practically being given away right now just makes it a bunch easier. Having had a few listens I think there’s some nuances of punk/post-punk in there, too.

Three tracks are currently available to download via Amie Street – Alchemist’s Broth, Oversized and Cannibals Anonymous – which are all pretty nifty and worth the effort to go grab (you need an account as well as either a credit card or PayPal account to add a minimum of US$5.00 to it before you can start purchasing, but at least it’s rather quick and painless and there’s no reason for begrudging the current price of $0.31).

Just for a frame of reference, at various points I was reminded in part of one or all of the following, to varying degrees: Big Black, Public Image Limited, The Sisters of Mercy, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies; as well as somewhere in the realm of the influences listed over on their MySpace: Nine Inch Nails, Lacuna Coil, Bauhaus… eh, stuff it, better to just let the music speak for itself, methinks. Take a listen to Oversized.

Thanks to that song, I now have an overwhelming urge to find out the name of the watermelon man. (Herbie Hancock doesn’t know, just seems to be a little hot an bothered by it all, The Gun Club don’t seem to know much at all except “he no dead“,  Dick Curless claims to be the son of a watermelon man named Dan, but it’s another name for The Night the Sun Came Out, according to Answers Encyclopedia… Stupid mysteries – I’m now on a quest for a definitive answer).

Oh, and click here to go get Tragic Fixation’s tunes from Amie Street.

S4E


Spotlight on Android Lust & The Human Animal

When it comes to attempts to succinctly convey the tone of Android Lust‘s particular brand of electro-industrial music, there are a few common ones; like Female NIN, gothic, dark, aggressive, moody, seething, rawHR Giger even gets the odd mention, more than likely owing to the erotic overtones of the mechanical/android/alien aesthetic that’s prevalent in both the imagery and sound. I make no arguments to any of those (I’ve used them myself), but they don’t really do full justice to music that can sometimes be really quite haunting and beautiful.

Shikhee, the woman behind the moniker, has a fantastic knack for combining incisive lyrics that highlight some of the darker recesses of human nature – the ones a lot of us think or feel but would rarely, if ever, openly admit to – with music that somehow makes it not only ok to sing along with them, but to agree wholeheartedly with them as well. Stained, for example, from 2002’s The Dividing, takes a look at some fairly hateful thoughts – “I know not how to cease this feeling of hate in me / I just want to see you bleed  / I know what I want / I want to stop seeing red / I know what I want / I just want to see you dead“. Whether you interpret those words as being directed inward or outward, the purity of loathing is made pretty simple, yet the song itself is almost ghostly. The main vocals are strong and smooth, delivered with a sense of mild disdain, but there is no venom in them and ultimately the prespective takes on shades of a fragile hurt. The implication is made that the protagonist has simply become resolved to the desire, but it also seems to make clear that the anger is coming from a deeper, less accessable pain.


Fair warning: This video contains images not recommended for the squeamish

Of course, there are times when subject matter and music are more closely related and forthright. Sex and Mutilation, also from The Dividing, is a manic, glitchy and hyper-kinetic track where the title words are half-screamed with an edge of desperation, while Kingdom of One (and in particular, the remix from 2004’s Stripped & Stitched) is probably the only song I’ve ever heard that uses the normally preternatural sounding and “offensive” C-word in a pointed and derisive manner and yet keep it from actually feeling crude – i.e., it completely avoids the “shock factor”. It certainly puts it beyond merely interesting listening and right into intriguing.

One of the words I neglected to mention in those common descriptors is cold. There’s a couple of reasons for that – firstly, it happens to be one I don’t really agree with. Yes, electronica is rarely ‘organic’, and yes industrial elements tend to lend themselves well to the ‘coldness’ inherent in the mechanical; two things that can often see music of the genre feel cold. The other reason I point that out is that even if there are some older AL tracks that can earn that tag, there is no way possible I would apply it to The Human Animal.

The latest album arrives four years after previous album, Devour, Rise and Take Flight – those four years seem to have been quite well spent. According to the Android Lust website, The Human Animal is “a journey through the psyche of man, as man realizes the futility of living in the grips of ego and surrenders to seek answers within.” Even if you don’t get a good grasp on that concept, you’re unlikely to feel like the album is over your head – in a nutshell, The Human Animal is a very well executed, consistent and accessable album.

Taking a slightly different approach this time around, Shikhee spent some time on the streets and subways of New York, recording sounds that have been incorporated as “rhythmic and melodic elements“. More importantly, though, is the inclusion of live musicians during the recording process for the first time. Losing none of the trademark hard metallic edge, the entire album feels like a deeper, richer experience than much of what has come before it.

From the first few moments of the opening track, Intimate Stranger, you know you’re listening to an Android Lust album – Shikhee’s voice is unmistakable – but the sound has taken on some dirtier, grungier blues tones, which maintains the aforementioned gothic moodiness but also gives it a more prominent and wickedly seductive edge. (You know you’re hooked if you feel the urge to to sing a song like Rub Me Raw when out and about – it would be an interesting experiment to see how well other bus passengers would take to my vocal renditions of “Won’t you smother me ’til I’m sick of you / Crush me ’til I scream for you / Rub me ’til I bleed for you / Rub me raw“. I’m sticking to humming it for now).

There really isn’t a song on here that won’t get under your skin in a similar fashion. At times a little sinister (The Return), other times darkly bluesy with a cat-like fluidity (A New Heaven), and there is yet still moments that are murky and haunting (Flow (of Impermanence)). Android Lust really knows how to get into your head and seduce your darker side out to play, and The Human Animal will stalk you with every track in such a way as to make it impossible to resist.

But of course, why would you resist? In the words of Android Lust herself, it’s a sin not to want things.

You can listen to The Human Animal here, with option to purchase a digital copy, or better yet, buy a CD version here (a very nice deluxe package is also available).

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