Lines In Wax

TWELVE YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: March 2020

猫 シ Corp. & t e l e p a t h – Building a Better World (2019)

猫 シ Corp. & t e l e p a t h – Building a Better World (2019)

Pulsing, gorgeous, ethereal soundscapes are the order of the day. I’d barely say that this even fits into the genre of vaporwave, having more in common with ambient or even the trippier side of the psytrance movement. A million miles from invoking nostalgia, Building A Better World instead seems to look forward to the future in all its dreamy, hazy synth meandering. A fantastic collaboration and recommended to any fan of electronic music.

PrismCorp Virtual Enterprises ‎– Home™ (2013)

PrismCorp Virtual Enterprises ‎– Home™ (2013)

With a name like PrismCorp (is that a Watchmen reference maybe?) Virtual Enterprises, and of course the artwork displayed above, one surely could not be accused too harshly of heavily assuming what kind of tunes that are in store on Home(TM)? Think 80s television mixed with The Sims or that weird upbeat music you’d get over porno on VHS, and you’re on the right track. Home(TM) meanders in its own way, sometimes to jazz, sometimes to the most obtuse, blocky 80s synthesizer music, all without losing that overarching vaporwave aesthetic that we know and love so much. 

Diskette Park – Stray (2018)

Diskette Park – Stray (2018)

Just look at that art! Despite the heavy nostalgic tones, Diskette Park instead wallows in oceanic waves of moody, melancholic synth work, rather than your more [ t y p i c a l ] vaporwave. In fact, as time goes on, and whilst I agree that the genre does have its own solid base, I find that these days it is more of a marker for a starting point; a pointer as to the possible aesthetic or thematic intention of the artist. This is such a beautiful electronic record, and I fear marking it entirely as vaporwave would maybe turn off listeners who are not so heavily into that genre. 

Dead Raven Choir – Wine, Women and Wolves (2003)

Dead Raven Choir – Wine, Women and Wolves (2003)

Beautiful, glorious, dreadfully obtuse acoustic guitar strummery, wallowing in the depths of the avant-garde and the straight-up pretentious. But hey, its okay, because you surely must know that going in to this record or you wouldn’t be here in the first place. This record offers 13 rituals of dark, atmospheric musings using the acoustic guitar partly as a conjurer of atmosphere, and secondly as a weapon. For fans of the strange and the occult, I cannot recommend this enough.

Bow Gamelan Ensemble ‎– Great Noises That Fill The Air (1988)

Bow Gamelan Ensemble ‎– Great Noises That Fill The Air (1988)

I suppose this could be categorised as true industrial music? I am instantly reminded of the group called Stomp that we used to watch videos of as a kid. All sorts of machinery and noises are utilised to create bizarre mechanical soundscapes. Fireworks (I think? Ha!) and the scrape of metal on metal is the order of the day, resulting in the beauteous song of the furnace at work. Good stuff. 

HOME – Odyssey (2014)

HOME – Odyssey (2014)

Odyssey is… well… a near 50 minute odyssey (I can only apologise) through vaporwave style and gorgeous electronic production. HOME doesn’t seem to fall as hard into the trappings of the genre, for better or worse, and the music just sounds more original and inspired, rather than “hey, this is just slowed down 80s infomercials!”. I was building my home work rig (an overstatement if I ever wrote one) whilst listening to this and I have to say it was the perfect soundtrack to do so.

Coil – The Unreleased Themes For Hellraiser (1987)

Coil – The Unreleased Themes For Hellraiser (1987)

The Hellraiser movie is more than disturbing enough without having to think about all the juicy goodies that were scrapped before the final product was released. Among many changes made to Hellraiser as it went along was possibly the greatest casualty of the lot – the original score by Coil. There seems to be a confusing array of formats and releases for these tunes, which thankfully saw the light of day eventually. But, I’m pretty certain that I’ve heard them all now. I don’t want to state the obvious but this soundtrack would have give Hellraiser a completely different vibe. The hellish industrial-tinged soundscapes are far cry from what ended up in the movie (not that I want to throw shade at the OST), and I can’t help but feel that this is the soundtrack that Hellraiser needed, aurally and aesthetically.

Edward Snowden – Permanent Record (2019)

Edward Snowden – Permanent Record (2019)

I’ve always had a lot of respect for Ed Snowden, and this account, not only of how the powers that be are watching us all, but of the personal journey through his entire life leading up to the point where he decided to spill the US Government’s secrets to us all, echoes that aching question that has always been in the back of my mind when it comes to Snowden. If in the same position as him, and faced with the same dilemma, would you have the guts to come forward? Ed is a natural teacher. He takes pleasure in explaining impossibly technical systems in layman’s terms, and if you’ve spent any time at all watching his webcasts or online appearances, you will read this book and hear his voice in your head as you go along. Permanent Record is a terrifying book. Googling some of the stuff talked about here will get put you on a list, so the man himself says. I wanted to pay for the book in cash at a bricks and mortar store, but my girlfriend bought this for me as a gift. In reality however, Permanent Record doesn’t tell us anything new or revolutionary about the surveillance systems that Snowden made public in 2013. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this autobiographical work, and I hope the years are kinder to Mr. Snowden than they are to a lot of other whistleblowers.

Mayhem – A Grand Declaration Of War (2018)

Mayhem – A Grand Declaration Of War (2018)

Well, I absolutely snoozed on this, that much I can tell you. Imagine my shock then, when chucking this on and thinking “oh, cracking, a remaster should even out the rougher, more heavily compressed edges of A Grand Declaration…” – the difference here is staggering. It sounds as if the record has been completely re-recorded. I half expected Attila to crop up and do some throat-singing. The immediate notice is the absence of the overblown drum triggers. The sound is warmer and more organic and natural, and I suppose you could also say this – to lesser degrees – about the vocals and guitars too. Maniac’s insane ramblings are much less dense and aren’t dripping with reverb or effects. Perhaps the most welcomed change of all is that Necrobutcher’s bass is now audible, and drenched in a lovely fuzz. Dare I actually say it, but A Grand Declaration actually sounds like a proper black metal record here. The trouble is, is that it is kind of crap. Its absolutely lifeless. It has that warm, treble heavy, treated and loud production that almost every metal record has these days, and whilst I absolutely agree that the sound on the original release of this album was polarizing, this remaster has completely and utterly missed the point of the original record. Gone are the cold, barren, punishing industrial-tinged mechanical hellscapes that puzzled us so. The electronic passages are almost completely removed, which is just poppycock. Poppycock I say! A Grand Declaration Of War might have been weird, obtuse, or even, truly, up its own arse, but I think it was light years ahead of its time and its probably my favourite Mayhem record. As interesting as it is for the first couple of tracks, this complete overhaul and reworking to fit the band’s current sound and aesthetic was absolutely unnecessary.

Aborym – With No Human Intervention (2003)

Aborym – With No Human Intervention (2003)

Lightening fast black metal a la Thorns meets the more blockier, Matrix-influenced techno of the late 90s. Where Thorns has that cold air to it all, Aborym has the energy and vibrancy of the soundtrack to something you’d hear in an exclusive sex club full of vampires wearing PVC, or something. That is, at least, when the electronics are playing. When the group focus on things more black metal-ly, one must admit that the scale of the songwriting borders on epic. This is best summed up in the title track. The black metal blurred with the industrial sides is best summed up in the hideously titled “Does Not Compute”. All in all, a strong record but a bit dodgy in places.

Boards Of Canada – Geodaddi (2002)

Boards Of Canada – Geodaddi (2002)

Lush, gorgeous, unfolding electronics and ambient soundscapes driven forward by pulsing and catchy beats. Oh, and you’ve got the Salad Fingers music in there too, just to shit you up out of the blue if you associate that tune with Dai Firth’s menacing creations. I’ve never been one for the hipster hype train of Boards Of Canada but it is hard to deny their genius, and Geodaddi cements that.

Jeff VanderMeer – The Southern Reach Trilogy I: Annihilation (2014)

Jeff VanderMeer – The Southern Reach Trilogy I: Annihilation (2014)

I picked up Annihilation because the film struck something of a chord with me. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was about the movie, but something about it had me wanting more, wanting to peel back more layers, or more-like, consult the source material in the search for answers to this intriguing puzzle. In book one of the Southern Reach trilogy however, there are no answers. Or, no significant ones. Where the movie channeled Lynch and Kubrick into super-glossy sci-fi New Weird, the novel revels in the smaller details, with intense, skin-crawling biological descriptions and first hand accounts from the unreliable narrator that serves to only deepen this visceral mystery. Once more, as with the movie, I have absolutely no fucking clue as to what the absolute fuck is going on, but this time I don’t find that I mind so much. Haunting, unsettling, and just downright bizarre in all the right ways, I would recommend Annihilation to anyone who doesn’t mind their sci-fi or horror being a little more abstract. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation (2018)

I’m not entirely sure what it was that made me watch Annihilation for the first time. It might have been Alex Garland’s work with Ex Machina, which I really enjoyed. I didn’t really know what to expect going in to Annihilation, other than mostly everyone I knew that had watched it had hated it. And I suppose, I can see why. Annihilation isn’t a bad movie per se, its just that I had no fucking clue what was going on. I’m usually pretty alright with this, and to be honest I probably mostly was, but I had the sneaking suspicion that I was missing some sort of deeper meaning or message that was being lost from the novels. The visuals are stunning and the cast are fantastic. The effort of everyone involved is commendable, but unfortunately, the big Hollywood adaption of this bizarre tale does slightly miss the mark.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

There have been many retellings of the Dracula tale since the classic silent-era Nosferatu (1922). Not all of them have been particularly amazing, and I suppose you can count 1992’s big Hollywood stab at the tale in that camp. This movie hits the mark about half of the time. The atmosphere, the imposing danger and creepiness, and most importantly, the casting in these timeless and crucial roles. Hopkins as Van Helsing is fantastic, as is Gary Oldman as the titular vampire, who hams it up to no end whilst playing the legendary undead gentleman. Also, I might be somewhat biased, but Winona Ryder is the perfect Mina. Oh, and an honourable mention to Tom Waits as Renfield. Keanu Reeves as Harker, though? Monica Bellucci dropping in as one of Dracula’s brides? Don’t get me wrong, Monica Belluci is hot as balls, but its stuff like this where the movie kinda trails off, and it becomes apparent you are watching a Hollywood movie, and not the gripping terror of Dracula. Its still absolutely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet, and are a fan of gothic horror, but just be aware of some of the downsides if you do! Ah, the children of the night!

Basket Case (1982)

Basket Case (1982)

Basket Case is a bizarre low budget horror movie from the beginning of the sleazy 80s. I’m not sure if this would count as body horror (probably not), but the little monster in the basket (spoiler alert) has a very Cronenberg kinda feel to it, if just a little tackier. This movie seems infamous, and I suppose it is – with good reason – but I can’t help but point out my issues with pacing in the first half of the movie. All in all, it was an enjoyable chucklefest of b-movie madness, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of the series.

Hedge Wizard – More True Than Time Thought (2014)

Hedge Wizard – More True Than Time Thought (2014)

This Hedge Wizard record is probably one of my favourite dungeon synth records of recent times. It’s not necessarily the tunes themselves, as there are many projects out there producing quality compositions of varying intricacy, but Hedge Wizard has that special magic ingredient in spades: atmosphere. From the minute I press play, to the completion of the run time, I am cast back into a world of 90s DOS role playing games and hokey high fantasy novels. Mission accomplished! 

Napalm Death – Utilitarian (2012)

Napalm Death – Utilitarian (2012)

Utilitarian is a solid later-career effort from Napalm Death, with experimental variations on the group’s usual ferocious grindcore template. We’ve got clean singing (I’m getting an 80s industrial vibe) and a saxophonist guesting on one track, which is just all kinds of horrible and lovely at the same time.