Lines In Wax

TWELVE YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

electronic

Dan Forden – Mortal Kombat Trilogy OST (1996)

Not sure if enjoy this soundtrack for what it is on its base electronic compositions, or whether because I played MK Trilogy religiously when I was a kid. The OST for the game, which shared a lot of tunes with MK3 and Ultimate MK3 if I’m not mistaken, hardly breaks new ground, but the dirty new urban sound the MK tunes got given for this era of the franchise seemed to really get the blood pumping, to really get the craving for a death match or six into your head. Whatever the reason for my occasional spin of this thing, the effect the soundtrack has for me is unmistakable. For that reason it will always hold a special place in my heart (lol). Tooooooasssstyyy

Barrington Pheloung – Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror OST (1997 / 2010)

Barrington’s soundtrack for the original Broken Sword haunts me in my dreams, and the sequel is a continuation of that excellence. However, it should be said that the follow up is far more ethereal and atmospheric, with only a recurring leitmotif holding the whole thing together. Aside from that, breathy synths are the order of the day, with stabs of instrumental punctuation reserved for important plot or gameplay points. There’s a collection of “worldly” music as well as some tracks that were supposed to be diegetic sources in-game, but otherwise this near 2 hour experience flies by. One thing I will say, is that Barrington’s music is synonymous with the feeling that Broken Sword conjured up. Good times.

Bassnectar – Cozza Frenzy (2009)

Cozza Frenzy is a long-ass album. I didn’t really notice at first, listening with earphones at work, but when I went for a round two I found my attention slipping fairly easily. Frenzy has it’s highlights, but also a series of low points too. I guess you just gotta take the rough with the smooth. The production is huge, crystal clear and very, very tidy – to the point perhaps of being somewhat homogeneous, but I can’t fault someone for consistent and great production skills, that would just be idiotic, even for my rambling ass.

Bassnectar – Timestretch (2010)

Starts off good but loses me towards the second half, which is stuffed with pointless filler and shitty remixes, taking this “EP” to over 45 minutes long. Timestretch, indeed, my dude(s). Taken on the first 4 tracks alone, or even just “Basshead” (by far the strongest here), this is pretty cool, but as I said the rest drags it down.

Borgore – Delicious (2011)

I’ve thusfar defended Borgore releases on here but today that stops (lmao). Production is great but the songs are pretty poor tbh, with Borgore’s terrrribbbblllle rapping taking center stage. When the highlight of your record is a song about taking a girl who is so ugly to a gloryhole so you can happily fuck her face without worrying about her looks (but not in a sleazy way, in a cheeky chappy bro its a joke LOL kinda way, which is even worse tbh), well, then there’s problems. Lads lads lads brostep bullshit. If he OWNED the filth rather than just passing it off as a lads bants kinda vibe, at least there would be some integrity here. But without that this is just vapid, useless bullshit. The shtick is wearing so thin at this point that Borgore just comes across like that drunk asshole at a house party high on coke just talking about shit to anyone who will still listen. Yes mate, I know, you fuck supermodels, you’ve already said. Now go away.

Bratkilla – Methamphetamine (2009)

This was my jam in 2010. Back when I first had Spotify (crazy to think I’ve had it for around 15 years now) I would make playlists of all the underground dubstep shit that I could find. Bratkilla’s “Methamphetamine” is not exactly the most inspired thing in the world, and the Family Guy samples are pretty cringe, but the bass on this is so fucking nasty I still play it fairly regularly 14 years after first discovering it (this also makes me feel old as fuck I won’t lie). The B-Side isn’t up to much, but the first track is one of my favourites in this style.

Flux Pavilion – Lines In Wax (2010)

You may recognise the name of this EP. Yes it is the name I “borrowed” for my blog, YouTube channel and eventual RYM profile. It also made SEO for the first two things on that list absolutely impossible lmao, but there we go, you live and learn. Lines In Wax is a four track EP that is stacked with bangers, in all fairness. I guess this falls into the whole brostep / dubstep thing, but tbh it just seems like bad dance music that belongs in the 2010s. I love it for what it is, but whether it will be remembered so fondly but the average electronic music is debatable.

Borgore – Ruined Dubstep Vol. 2 (2010)

Like part 1, but improved. Again, lots of asinine lyrics but the programming has improved tenfold. Tracks like “Money” and the excellent “Broken Rulz” (with metal drumming, no less – do I smell a Drumkit From Hell VST plugin!? Ha!) are pretty fucking experimental, I’ll give the man his due. Despite this, Borgore seems universally hated and this EP will no doubt never win any lifetime awards, but Vol 2 (along with Vol 1) are important to me because of a time and a place in my life when this shit was the bomb.

Borgore – Ruined Dubstep Vol. 1 (2010)

This has aged pretty poorly, but I’m going to try and briefly review it from the mindset I had in 2010. The mainstream dubstep craze was in full effect. Radio 1 after 10pm was full of this shit. However, Borgore, who’d turned some heads with his unique “gorestep” style, dropped his first full EP proper with Borgore Ruins Dubstep Vol. 1. For the kind of stinky drops that we all listened to in my mate’s garage passaging tulip-sized joints, this seemed pretty fucking good at the time. I listened to it again recently at the gym (seemed fitting hahaha) and whilst the lyrics are purile I gotta admit I still enjoyed the beats and bass.

Kovenant – S.E.T.I. (2003)

Not sure what happened here, because Animatronic, whilst divisive, appeared to come off as a successful experiment. I guess what SETI does is double down on the style of that previous album, but maybe the band pushed too far with this one. SETI is like, what, 80 minutes long? 80 minutes of mediocre industrial metal is enough to drive anyone to absolute madness, regardless of quality, but SETI fails to deliver the instant satisfaction of Animatronic; none of the songs are remotely as memorable, there are no hooks or passages that stick with you, and the vocals are decidedly toned down too. The guitar and drums give way for the synthesizers to lead the songs, but when every time all they offer is the same formless bubbling techno stepper sounds, this gets old very fast. You could probably shave nearly half of the songs away from this thing and the album would just be stronger for it. Thankfully, the production is enormous (although there’s no saving that snare sound), and the album starts to correct its course from around the half-way point, with tracks like “Acid Theatre”, “The Perfect End”, “Pantomine” and “Industrial Twilight” really shining the most.

Jarboe – Mahakali (2008)

I first bought the Mahakali album in 2010 or 2011 and despite being massively into Swans and even some of the guest players here (Atilla for example), the album didn’t really resonate with me. I found it slow, frustrating and directionless. I’m not sure what has changed, but coming back to it thirteen years later and I am immediately blown away by this thing. I listened to the whole thing through for the first time in one sitting and I loved every second of it; in fact I didn’t want it to end. Mahakali is a dark record, and whilst it is – for the most part anyway – devoid of structured songs with involved lyrics, it is full of incredible passages of sinister atmosphere and creeping danger. It feels like a soundtrack to the end of the world, and Jarboe feels like the voice that mocks us for our poor life choices as we descend to what could be described as hell. Tribal drums and deep, droning electric guitar are used frequently, as are of course synthesisers and other unusual instruments. There are some songs where a bass guitar tuned to some unfathomable low rumble and it’s left to just ring out and create an earth shattering racket. Beautiful.

Venetian Snares – Winnipeg Is A Frozen Shithole Vol. 1 (2005)

I don’t want to say the first few tracks from the Winnipeg… sessions are “calmer” than the latter, but they definitely do not descend quite as far down the staircase of pure electronic fuckery and madness as tracks like “Die Winnipeg Die Die Die Fuckers Die” or “Winnipeg as Mandatory Scat Feed” from the Vol. 2 but they are still a test of patience for those who are not initiated into the world of breakcore (lol). The locked grooves on Side A are kinda cool, but I have to admit I had the vinyl for about ten years before I realised they were even there (lmao). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this EP but you’re honestly better off just getting the full album that contains both 12″ sessions as well as a few extra tracks too.

Venetian Snares – Winnipeg Is A Frozen Shithole (2005)

Bosh bosh bosh! “Album” which compiles both the Winnipeg 12″ singles, as well as a bunch of new tracks from the same session, into one super mega awesome 45 minute breakcore fuckfest. …Frozen Shithole seems to be one of those albums that gets more and more brutal as it goes on, just pounding you into the shitty, frozen dirt with each passing track. This is something which I do not doubt was a purposeful decision by its creator. The album finishes with the SKM-ETR remix of the aptly-titled “Die Winnipeg Die Die Die Fuckers Die” which more less transcends breakcore, techno, all of that, and basically just becomes harsh noise. Lovely.

New Order – True Faith (1987)

Another one of my absolute favourite songs of all time. I am, at heart, an album guy, but when it comes to strong singles there are a core few which have been with me for my whole life. “True Faith”, not so much it’s b-side “1963”, is one of these incredible songs. The cold, mechanical drum machines and synthesisers mesh with soft vocals and odd bass leads, making a concoction which shouldn’t really work but is just absolute musical bliss.

New Order – Blue Monday (1983)

One of the greatest singles of all time, which probably needs little to no introduction, let alone a review from me. I remember falling in love with this song as a kid, hearing it on the radio but having no idea who sang it. I loved the drum machines, the synths, the vocal delivery. It all felt so futuristic, so new, so fresh, yet also rather dark at the same time. Just absolutely brilliant.

Mick Harris – Hednod Session 02 (2000)

More upbeat and driving than the first in the series. Proper get shit done kinda music, but with the usual unsettling underbelly that lurks beneath the surface of most of Mick’s music, like a great big fat fucker of a fish lurking barely visible beneath the surface of muddy, algae-filled pond water. Grimy!

Quoit – Properties (2001)

Mick gives Aaron Funk a run for his money here in this sophomore record under the Quoit moniker (how even the fuck do you say that name anyways? hah). With tracks averaging around the 7 minute mark, Properties can be a punishing listen, but rewarding in its own way for disciples of the fractured, scattered beats in the drum and bass / breakbeat worlds.

Jesu – Sun Down / Sun Rise (2007)

How this was released the same year as the cumbersome Conqueror is anyone’s guess; this EP brings out the absolute best in Jesu. Broadrick’s hazy, dream-like songwriting can unfurl in its full glory and really soar. I had this on vinyl for many years, I must have sold it because I can’t find it anywhere, which is a shame as it’s really grown on me in my old age (ha).

Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect (2008)

The first few tracks here originally appeared one year earlier on the split with Eluvium, only here they come with a few additional alternate takes to fill out the run time. I can’t help but notice the original split art was a photograph of either the Menkaure pyramid at Giza or perhaps one of the smaller satellite pyramids, yet this EP release has a photograph of the much larger and imposing Khafre pyramid. As someone with an interest in the pyramids of Egypt, and I know how many others invest much spiritual and cosmic meaning into these structures, one does wonder why they were chosen for the covers of these releases. Surely there is more to it than “wow, such pyramid, such wonder”? Anyway, I love this little EP from Jesu. It’s a million miles away from the recent full-length release of Conqueror, with dream-like electronics and soaring shoegazey moments. I find this kind of stuff far better fits the palette of Jesu rather than the more guitar-based stuff, but hey, that’s just me. Don’t take my word for this, have a go. This is a great little release and a good entry point into the project.

Jesu – Conqueror (2007)

Y’know, it’s real sad boy hours when one of the lads throws on Conqueror. That’s the end of the party vibes, my friend. But that’s okay, because generally, Jesu is a very good project. Conqueror, despite hailed as Jesu’s masterpiece in some circles, is a transitional record for the band, as Broadrick led the project from the super-heavy style of the debut through to the lighter, more synth-reliant gazey songwriting that would come. This transition does make Conqueror a bit clumsy in places, but it’s more than made up for by classic tracks such as “Old Year” or the excellent “Medicine”.

Muslimgauze – Iran (1988)

This is like the Muslimgauze version of Scorn’s Deliverance. The whole thing is just folded over on itself over and over and over and reworked into different sounds (at least, that’s how it feels). It’s easy to lose yourself in this half hour of sheer atmosphere, which is really quite sinister.

No Bra – Love & Power (2019)

Fractured, bizarre, overtly sexual and kinda like a bad acid trip taking place in a seedy Village nightclub. I’m sure there’s a higher purpose to all of this that’s going right over my head but the songs were entertaining despite what can only be a deliberately nonchalant vocal delivery. The electronics are the highlight here, scattered all over the place with little thought or care to continuinity, smoothness or the desire to relisten after surviving the first aural attack. Nevertheless, a good, hard listen (lol) will indicate that every seemingly random piece of sound was in fact very much deliberate, and Love & Power is clearly the work of some mad genius at work. I think.

The Prodigy – Experience (1992)

I was three years old when this came out so I won’t pretend to understand the cultural impact that The Prodigy Experience had upon its release. I do however, remember just how much of an institution The Prodigy were by the latter end of the 90s, I vividly remember “Firestarter” coming out and being on the TV and so on, but Prodigy’s deeper electronic roots always interested me more, even as a kid. Experience is just one of those albums that is absolutely flawless all the way through. There’s not many albums like that, even from my very favourite artists, but everything about Experience is just perfect. The only downside is, is that I don’t really feel like raving 24/7 so I don’t come to this all that often. When we strip back the layers of the onion around The Prodigy and find Liam Howlett sat at its core (lol) its easy to see that the moniker “The Prodigy” is so easily earned. Not to detract from Maxim et al, but the production, the programming, the sound design, the sheer brilliance of the whole concoction is enough to have me sitting there with my mouth agape at the fact that a single human being can make such a beautiful and energetic series of sounds using what is essentially just computers. I get the same feeling from early Aphex Twin. Like we staring into the future. Stand-out tracks: fucking all of them.

Fear Factory – Remanufacture (1997)

A surprisingly solid and consistent collection of remixes, from a time period where remix albums are usually a death knell for creativity and are not exactly conducive to a good time during playback either (lol). Remanufacture however, genuinely does rework the original songs into something completely and utterly new. Its well worth giving it a go, unless you have some sort of allergy to 90s electronics. This thing is so 90s that wearing one of the fake looking leather trench coats whilst listening to it should be considered mandatory.

Godflesh – Purge (2023)

It took me a while to get my head around Purge. I think it’s because my head really has to be in a certain space to fully embrace a Godflesh record. I can admire the beats and wailing guitars at any time, but to fully allow the absolute claustrophobia of their music to envelope me, well that takes a special kind of headspace, I guess. With all the pieces aligned, I can finally make my way through this entire full length without feeling like I’m suffocating, and I can safely say that it has been worth the wait for another Godflesh full length. The band’s last offering, Post Self, was something of a second wind, revisiting a forgotten era of the band (Us & Them) and perfecting the mission statement once and for all. Post Self was definitely a highlight of the group’s career. Purge on the other hand seems to rise from the smouldering ashes of the dense beatwork of Post Self and instead takes that framework, combining it with the kind of dark, dense heaviness we saw on Decline & Fall and even A World Lit Only By Fire. Honestly, the fact that these guys still release music as Godflesh is such a fucking incredible gift in of itself, I’ll be grateful even for a thousand more dub albums, let alone another full length. But yeah, this shit fucking rules. Long live the new (old?) flesh.

God – The Anatomy Of Addiction (1994)

It would perhaps be slightly derivative of me to compare God to the spacey, dub-style Godflesh tracks that bounced around a lot in the mid 90s, or to the second half of the excellent Vae Solis by Scorn, another project to feature the guitar work of Justin Broadrick. But, without going on a mad trip that would involve shoving a trumpet up my ass and putting a beret on my head to adequately convey the smorgasbord of genres on display here, that is probably the easiest way I can convey the sound of God to you, at least on their second album, The Anatomy Of Addiction. It would also be easy to accuse God of being directionless on this CD, especially with it’s 80 minute runtime (not to mention it’s 18 minute closing track), but I think with it’s fairly treacle-like pace it’s actually easier to just nod along and led God take you where they are going to take you. For as heavy and abstract as this gets, it is often a tribal beat or slowed-down drum and bass loop that holds the tracks together, which helps you just sail along with the racket that the band makes. Personally, I think this might be better when accompanied by a medicinal cigarette, if you are so inclined to partake in such things.

Klaus Schulze – Kontinuum (2007)

I have returned to this particular Klaus Schulze work many times over the past few years. It all started when YouTube’s algorhythm seemed hell-bent on recommending it to me, and I eventually gave in, due to the artwork being cool as hell and due to Schulze’s link to Tangerine Dream. I know very little about Schulze’s other works, but Kontinuum has become a go-to for “get shit done on the computer” kind of music, be that personal work, writing for my channels, or computing shit for my actual job, Kontinuum is the perfect accompaniment for the glow of a screen. That is not to boil this work down to just being background music, however. Kontiuum is three gargantuan electronic pieces that move with such fluidity it is hard to imagine them coming from electronic instruments. A powerful, evocative collection of works, and one that I would strongly recommend to all fans of electronic music.

Avitronic – Enophophilia (2018)

I thoroughly enjoyed this journey through the ages of electronic music. I was sitting here vibing, thinking, “damn, this thing covers some bases!”, from the deeper Berlin School origins to the bubblier “acid” approach of the 90s. When the beat kicked in during “Life Making Its Way” I was sold on Enophophilia and went to read the description on the Bandcamp, where the artist admits to wanting to create a hybrid electronic sound that encompasses “electronic music from the 70s to the most contemporary forms”. I’d say that they have hit the nail on the head, fair play. Cheers to auditory_cortex for the recommendation. (Stand-outs for me are “Life Making Its Way” and closing track “LUCA”)

Jim Kirkwood – Master Of Dragons (1991)

One of my favourite pieces of “dungeon synth”. It, of course, pre-dates the formation of such a genre by a considerable margin, and perhaps owes more to the worlds of Berlin School or film sountracks than it does Mortiis and other dark dungeon dwelling maniacs. There is a purity to Kirkwood’s releases that keeps it out of the mystery fjords and onto the rolling hills, the battlefields, the craggy cliffs etc. of far-off fantasy lands. Speaking of Mortiis, I hear a lot of what he did towards the end of The Stargate here (it’s all in the drums, kids!). I’ve written quite a few Jim Kirkwood reviews now and it gets to the point where it can be difficult to say things about these records without repeating myself. Kirkwood is eerily consistent across several eras of musical production, and couple that with a slightly confusing habit of re-issueing old releases with new artwork, it can sometimes feel like you’ve already been here before.

Yuzo Koshiro – Streets Of Rage II (Bare Knuckle II) (1993)

Koshiro’s genius is (of course) ever-present on the SOR sequel as it was on the original. My one complaint is perhaps the lack of variety here when paired up with the OST for the first game, what we get is essentially more of the same kinda compositions. Now, in a world where such smoooooooooth fuckin’ pieces of work can be composed for the Sega fucking Genesis console there is the very real argument that if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. That definitely applies here! What we get here is another 55 minutes or so of solid video game techno music. The 90s really were a special time!

Björk – Utopia (2017)

I’ve struggled with reviewing this album for seven years. I just keep putting it off and off and off, and today, after one more listen, I feel exactly the same way. For as lush and as dense as Utopia’s production is, I cannot shake the feeling that this is a listless, rudderless voyage through a sea of magnolia coloured clouds. Every so often, a huge piece of glass or crystal is visible through the mist, which refracts light beautiful. But then the horror hits me: what if our rudderless ship collides with one of these huge pieces of glass? Our vessel would be torn asunder and we’d be doomed to float amongst this artsy, ethereal music for an eternity, akin to some sort of hipster paradise purgatory. Honestly, this trip is about an hour long but feels like four. As we get further into the rabbit hole of Bjork’s career, more and more of her records succumb to this seemingly directionless formulae of songwriting, but Utopia is borderline unlistenable in its approach.

Spencer Nilsen – Ecco: The Tides Of Time OST (1994)

This shit haunts the absolute fuck out of me. I could never really get very far in Ecco 2 (The Tides of Time), my little child brain couldn’t work out the abstract puzzles, concepts and messages that were on display. I used to just swim around eating fish and doing jumps out of the water, and that’s about it. I did end up using passwords that I got out of some cheat book to see some of the crazier higher levels however, and what really always stuck with me about the Ecco sequel was the soundtrack, which is equal parts laid back / chill and also moving / anxiety inducing. Pulling this soundtrack up on YouTube or whatever instantly beams me back to the mid 90s, to the sounds, smells and mystery that was life as a young child. It feels so long ago, yet only yesterday. The people I was always around back then, grandparents etc., are long dead. The console I played this game on is now a forgotten, dusty relic, consigned to the attic of my own parents, who are now the age of the people who watched over me as I sat in my own world, lost to the music and fathomless depths of Ecco’s adventure. I’ve got my own son now, who’s probably a year or two younger than I was when I played Ecco and fell in love with this music. I’d can’t imagine he’d be much into Ecco, he’d probably give it a cursory glance and wonder wtf is this old dolphin game lol The cyclical, pulsing nature of Nilsen’s fantastic OST really helps deliver the vibe of the game, where time and life and death are just abstract concepts. I can’t help but apply that to my own life as I sit here, seemingly in the middle of the circle myself, remembering the people who are now gone, and appreciating the generation that are now coming up behind me. Soon enough I’ll have looped around the circle myself, but that’s OK. We’re all on the same track here. Is it future? Or is it past? Does it even matter?

Aphex Twin – Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 (2023)

Aphex Twin – Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 (2023)

I’ve listened to this countless times since it dropped last summer all with the mind of writing about it here but as enjoyable as it is, I’ve had no real inspiriation to come and talk about it. One has to ask why that is the case. There is nothing particularily wrong with the songs on this EP, in fact they are actually rather pleasant and whilst I don’t feel they really push the envelope in any way, they are examples of Aphex Twin’s twisted genius. Tidy.

Michael Hoenig – Baldur’s Gate OST (2001)

Michael Hoenig – Baldur’s Gate OST (2001)

(It’s worth mentioning the OST originally came out with the game it featured in back in 1998, but wasn’t realised as a stand-alone OST until 2001) Easily one of the best game OSTs of all time, but there is always the risk that I am heavily biased, having played this game to death when I was 9 to 10 years old. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. Hoenig’s soundtrack is a million miles away from his original Berlin School work, instead meandering between pompous fantasy bombast (the Baldur’s Gate theme is just so perfect for this) and well as super chill and relaxing tunes, such as the ones that play when you are walking through wilderness. Honest to fucking God, these “forest ambience” tracks still play in my mind when I’m walking through woods today with my dogs. That shit has stuck there forever. But yeah – this is up there with the best of them regarding fantasy game OSTs, with Eric Herberling’s Daggerfall and Jeremy Soule’s Morrowind.

Michael Hoenig – Departure From The Northern Wasteland (1978)

Michael Hoenig – Departure From The Northern Wasteland (1978)

I learnt recently that the composer for the Baldurs Gate 1 & 2 soundtracks was a member of Tangerine Dream and also released solo albums such as this. Hence then, the inevitable “working backwards” excercise in which I have now had the pleasure of hearing this lovely, well-made synthesizer record. Utilising, perhaps obviously, the spacey ambience of the Berlin School style, Hoenig presents to us a series of compositions that excellent detail other astral worlds and the exciting prospects of possibly one day being able to explore them. There is a sense of wonder in the compositions, but they remain grounded and are not too fancifull or “out there”, if that makes any sense. I really enjoyed this one!

Mortiis – The Shadow Of The Tower (2021)

Mortiis – The Shadow Of The Tower (2021)

Archival, looping ambient drones from multi-faceted electronic genius Mortiis. The Shadow Of The Tower is purely for the die-hard collector, however. There is nothing really of merit here for the new listener, unless you are stumbling into this Mortiis release blind from the drone / ambient world, then by all means tuck in. The Shadow Of The Tower is one single 30+ minute piece of repetitive droning atmosphere. It does not invoke a sense of dread or unease, nor on the other hand does it irritate or provide any real boredom. It kind of “just is”.

Jean-Luc Ponty – Mystical Adventures (1982)

Jean-Luc Ponty – Mystical Adventures (1982)

I took a chance on this after falling in love with the cover art. My previous experience with Ponty goes no further than the Aurora album, something which I found to be a touch underwhelming, in all honesty. Hopes were not high for Mystical Adventures, then. I am pleased to report however, that the record blew all previous conceptions that I may have held well and truly out of the water. Mystical Adventures does not sit squarely in the prog and jazz fusion worlds, at least not in its general vibe and delivery. There are a fantastical invocations of far-off worlds (mystical or otherwise!) and almost a medieval vibe underneath the pristine and modern (for the time) instrumentation. I have found Mystical Adventures a blissful escapism record as of late. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, but would perhaps stop short of rating it as some of the greatest music of all time. I do however, now have a renewed interest in the work of Jean-Luc Ponty. Tidy!

Libido Airbag / Cock And Ball Torture – Split CD (2000)

Libido Airbag / Cock And Ball Torture – Split CD (2000)

Libido Airbag has a dank fucking sound at the best of times, but the few minutes on offer here seem extra sleazy for some reason. Maybe it is the artwork and archaic format (the CD is super fucking easy to lose as its so thin – glad to see there’s a digipak version now available). CBT of course do what CBT does best, with their bludgeoning, dry-heaving gore clashing horribly (in the best possible way) with the toilet bowl sloshing that is the vocals. “Tapir Tits” (like… what?) is one of my favourite songs from the band too.

Beherit – Electric Doom Synthesis (1996)

Beherit – Electric Doom Synthesis (1996)

Pardon me for being tride in offering the plain fact that this is just more or less H418ov21.C Part II. There are slight differences, for example Holocaust’s production skill has come along a little bit and it therefore isn’t as spare perhaps as it’s predecessor, but for the most part, if you like sparse, ambient electronics with a slightly spooky cyber feel, you’ll be right at home here.

Vangelis – See You Later (1980)

Vangelis – See You Later (1980)

An interesting effort from the legendary Vangelis, with the trademark dreamy atmosphere. Here the tones are a lot lighter and airy, giving the whole record a nonchalant feel. I couldn’t resist the album at only £3 for the 12″ vinyl, but after owning this for about a decade I have only played it a handful of times. The end of side A and the side B track “Suffocation” are probably my favourite. Unfortunately, my copy is scratched as the record transitions into the title track, but what are you gonna do.

Miles Davis – Decoy (1984)

Miles Davis – Decoy (1984)

I’ve fallen through the screen and into some rainy noir TV show set in LA or New York (probably the latter, let’s be honest). Next minute, I’m on the set of a very bad lesbian porno, with cheap tights, suspenders and hairy bushes galore. The next, beamed onto some windy beach where some buff dudes are running out into the waves, boards in hand, desperate to catch some waves. I keep falling, song by song, through all the terrible shit that I remember being on my tube TV as a kid. The reason for these vivid visions (lol) is that the music here is atrociously dated, but also rather entertaining in a strange way. Giving me a sense of nostalgia that I guess I tend to only get from listening to vaporwave. As far as Miles Davis goes however, this has to be one of the weakest entries in his massive discography.

Barn Owl – Lost In The Glare (2011)

Barn Owl – Lost In The Glare (2011)

I first heard Barn Owl when they were announced for (I think) Roadburn 2012. I’ve been in love with Lost In The Glare ever since. Combining smoky, laid back rock with soul-gazing atmospheric drones, the album is an instrumental journey that is at times low-key and at other times all-encompassing atmosphere. Comparisons to Earth are apt, but Barn Owl really are their own interesting beast and one that I would heavily recommend checking out.

Zheani – The Spiritual Meat Grinder (2023)

Zheani – The Spiritual Meat Grinder (2023)

I have absolutely no fucking idea how I stumbled onto Zheani’s music, but Spiritual Meat Grinder is something of an aural palate cleanser. Insane, headache-inducing electronics meet absolutely manic vocal performances from sweet singing, yelping, growling to auto-tuned warbling. It’s like witnessing some sort of aural overdose of sugar. 19 minutes later and I’m sat here like “WTF was that?” but for some reason I want to listen to it again.

Nmesh – Welcome To Warp Zone! (2014)

Nmesh – Welcome To Warp Zone! (2014)

I was searching RYM on the off-chance it had a listing already in place for Sam Powell’s work on the Sega Genesis Jurassic Park soundtrack when this DJ session came back in the search results (it samples one of the tracks from the Sega JP OST). What a happy little coincidence then, because this opened up an impromptu 4 hour journey that I listened to over the course of the rest of the day whilst working from home. Welcome To The Warp Zone mixes all sorts of things together but primarily consists of snippets of old video game music mixed with that kind of “far away” sampling you get in nostalgic vaporwave albums. Towards the end, the pattern fractures more and more, allowing more ambient / moody pieces of music to take over. This works really well as you get a bit sleepy, and perhaps lose track of time. “How long have I been listening to this thing!?” That is until a sample from the end of Mr. Bungle’s California album snaps you out of your trance lol All in all, I really enjoyed this mix. Great stuff.

Flying Lotus – Reset (2008)

Flying Lotus – Reset (2008)

The first couple of tracks on this are phenomenal, but with repeated listens I continue to trail off as the EP goes on, which isn’t a good sign as it’s under 20 minutes long in total. I thought initially this was a symptom of my own concentration but after several attempts I’ll have to admit defeat. Not bad by any means, because when it hits it hits hard (the production on the opening track makes me feel like I’m stoned).

Lustmord – Heresy (1990)

Lustmord – Heresy (1990)

Ah, now this is more like it! Previous forays with the works of Lustmord have left me wanting, but I should have started with the classics from the start. What a brooding, horrible noise! Such spooky, such creepy, wow. I decided to listen to this with headphones at night whilst in bed but admittedly it was infinitely better blasting out of my stereo the next morning at incredible volume. Embrace the all-encompassing noise!

Boy Harsher – Yr Body Is Nothing (2016)

Boy Harsher – Yr Body Is Nothing (2016)

I went through a phase where I was super into this duo, but I kinda let that obsession fall to the wayside. Returning to Yr Body Is Nothing (the title reminds me of Swans, “Yr Property” etc) was long, long overdue then. As soon as this record starts thumping out of the speakers I’m wondering to myself why it is I let listening to this pair slide in the first place. This album is fantastic. I love the mix of nostalgiac tape wobble, an almost VHS treacle-like vibe to the synthesizers used here, all the while the tunes almost fall into the whole trance-inducing body techno movement, but not quite so. Instead, Yr Body… sits somewhere in between in the visceral darkened margins of each genre. I suppose one could call it darkwave, but it almost feels like more than that. Either way, I don’t think there’s a single bad song on this album, and I highly recommend it to fans of dark electronic music.

The Prodigy – Fat Of The Land (1997)

The Prodigy – Fat Of The Land (1997)

Oi Oi Oi – let’s have a little dance then, shall we? If you want one of the fastest hours of your life to pass you by, throw this thing on. It has wall-to-wall bangers (some of which, as I’m sure most of you know, ended up as enormous chart-topping singles in their own right) and a stunning big sound. Not sure what sure I can say that hasn’t already been said, and I’m no scholar of the big beat movement in the UK although I remember it vividly, even though I was really young at the time. Easily, this is one of those albums that everyone should hear at least once.

Vond – Green Eyed Demon (1998)

Vond – Green Eyed Demon (1998)

What the actual fuck is this? Off the strength of basically every single Mortiis side project (including earlier Vond), I got myself a copy of this on cassette. It’s a recent re-issue, but still. I wish I hadn’t bothered. This is easily the shittiest thing I’ve come across that’s got Havard’s name on it. Totally fucking pointless sound collages and minimal synths. It sounds like there has been absolutely minimal effort put into making this. Whilst I appreciate that assembling such types of music was perhaps far more difficult in 1998 than it is now with an installation of Reaper and the infinite library of sound that is the internet, I can’t help but feel massively disappointed by this cassette. On top of that, the copy I have is excruciatingly quiet with a super high noise floor, which just adds insult to injury. This album sucks, and this pressing is fucking dogshit. Avoid.

Shygirl – Cruel Practice (2018)

Shygirl – Cruel Practice (2018)

Feel like I’m on a different planet to the rest of the folks hearing this. Beats are interesting at best, irritating at worst, and the flow is just…. shit. Feels like she’s rapping at me over the tanoy system at one of those giant Tesco Extra supermarkets at 3 in the morning when all I’m trying to do is cop a Monster energy drink and a cheese sandwich and get back to the rest of my night shift. Final track is the only one that’s any good. Either way, get in the bin, tanoy witch. Edit: OK the final track is actually a straight banger haha but the rest of this is dreadful.

The Bug – Fire (2021)

The Bug – Fire (2021)

Man, I love London Zoo, and Angels & Devils, so imagine my surprise when I found out that I’d slept on this thing coming out two years ago. I won’t tell you its straight fire, because as always with this kind of thing, its impossible not to be a bit hit and miss. Some of the collabs are a bit, err, not so great, to be honest, but the ones that are (I’m looking at you, Flowdan) elevate this thing up there with the best of the best Bug. Speaking of The Bug, man himself is on his usual heavy industrial vibe thing, mixing dense atmospherics with huge bass (still got some of that “dubstep” sound) and killer beats. Generally things be oppressive, depressing, dystopian, – you know the score by now. Also, considering how much I love Kevin Martin / Roger Robinson as King Midas Sound, the opening track to this is easily the worst thing The Bug has ever put the moniker to. Leave the COVID bullshit in the past where it belongs guys, fuck that shit. (The closing track “The Missing” is much more on point). Fuck Off.

Tourette Syndrom – Gabbergrind (2005)

Tourette Syndrom – Gabbergrind (2005)

Hard to digest, jarring “gabbergrind” from QNZ (the guy who would go on to run Rotten Roll Rex) and some other folks, all wearing silly masks and costumes, as par for the course. Coming on like a mix between NHC666 / Libido Airbag grade sleaze and the more bottom-of-the-barrel bedroom goregrind projects one saw explode during the late 2000s (I’m looking at you, MySpace). Lots of ridiculous samples, song titles, vocals and drum programming, with some chuggy guitar over the top of it all.

Scott Hull – Requiem (2008)

Scott Hull – Requiem (2008)

Requiem, I believe, was a soundtrack that Scott did for a film. Now, I can’t remember if this film ever came out or if it was just an imaginary film which existed in order for such a soundtrack to be composed around, but you’ll notice some pressings of this release will have “The motion picture soundtrack” written above the word Requiem. Either way, this was the beginning of a short experimental series of releases from Scott, which are far, far from the usual Pig Destroyer and/or Agoraphobic Nosebleed aural destruction. Requiem is a score that encompasses classical elements, as well as ambient and drone aspects. The entire thing, I think, again I’m recalling from snippets of memories from 15 years ago, is made more or less entirely using VSTs, which is pretty amazing because this sounds fantastic. Some of the fully instrumented passages shamble a bit clumsily, but otherwise this is a beautiful record. Closing track “In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli” gives you a taste of what was to come with the Audiofilm CD series.

Death in June – Take Care and Control (1998)

Death in June – Take Care and Control (1998)

I have disparaged all of the Death in June sound collage stuff over the last few years. Operating Hummingbird, and parts of albums like the latter half of All Pigs Must Die literally do nothing for me. I was surprised then, when returning to Take Care And Control, to find that it was incredibly listenable, enjoyable and of a high production quality. Now, I know Albin Julius did all the music here (this should have been titled as a collab, I think), but he did the same for Operation Hummingbird and that is not quite near as good as this. There are a variety of electronic music flavours across this thing, as well as classical elements and much sampling work, often – of course – slanting towards certain periods of German history which shall remain nameless here. Actually a very interesting listen now that I’ve spent more time with it, Take Care And Control is different but a good album. If you want Douglas and his sparkly 12 string guitar however, this is not the album for you.

Voivod – Kronik (1998)

Voivod – Kronik (1998)

A bit of a mixed bag, but such is the way of compilation albums. The first half – or two thirds – of this thing is fairly solid. Granted, danceable industrial metal is not the reason why most people come and listen to Voivod but if you enjoyed the E-Force albums then this is a natural next step. Some of this is very similar to Godflesh, at least their more drum’n’bass-focussed stuff. The record rounds out with a bunch of filler live tracks that are no doubt of interest to Voivod purists but not much use to basically anyone else on the whole planet (or entire universe).

Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy (1997)

Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy (1997)

Come To Daddy is quite possibly my favourite Aphex Twin release. Perhaps there is some coincidence there with it also being my first purchase of one of his releases, but this thing is almost completely flawless. Over the years I must have heard this EP about 500 million times (slightly overstating it there), but I have never gotten sick or tired of any of the songs here. Speaking of which, they are all fantastic. From the title track and the various different takes on such, to the more chilled out “Flim” or “IZ-US” the one about the bouncing ball, which was my favourite Aphex Twin tune for a long, long time – you just can’t go wrong here. Personally, I think this might be the best place to start with the Aphex Twin discography.

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)

I have a lot of nostalgia around Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I spent many an hour staring at the CD insert trying to figure out what each of the song titles meant, knowing full well that it was what, 2003 or 2004 at this point and I could have easily just looked it up on the internet. Going back to SAWV2 though, for the purposes of this review, I attributed my feelings of love and nostalgia towards it to the first few tracks, some of which appear rather frequently in certain online animations and also on BBC programs and documentaries. Outside of this however, I found by tracks 5 or so onwards, that I had no real love or attachment to these songs. They are fantastic, excellent, introspective pieces of work, and I think they are brilliant, but I was surprised that my personal attachment to this thing did not extend past about half of disc 1. Therefore, I must admit, I think I prefer the first volume, which has much more “go” in it, and the later studio albums from RDJ. That is not to say of course, that this is in any way a terrible release.

MegaSphere – Master Levels for Doom II – 25th Anniversary MIDI Pack (2021)

MegaSphere – Master Levels for Doom II – 25th Anniversary MIDI Pack (2021)

Avid players of Doom’s original run of games will know, that the “expansion” to Doom II entitled “Master Levels for Doom II” never had any original music. As a player, one had to load the maps individually, before the existence of a map orderer or sequencer, and therefore one was subjected to Map 1 music over and over and over again for the duration of the Master Levels, which is a bit shit because the Master Levels can be a lot of fun. Enter MegaSphere then, who has done a lot of work for the Doom community and is generally an excellent composer. Here we have an album of MIDI-style compositions in the style of OG Doom to honour the 25th anniversary of the Master Levels, and if you were going to play them in 2023 I would do so with this soundtrack in the background. It only gets a 3/5 from me as personally I’m not a huge fan of “trap” style beats and hi hat rushes, and some of the melodies are far too jaunty and upbeat for Doom, but this is just my own personal preference speaking here. Give me the creepy atmosphere and the misery! LOL

Tycho – Dive (2011)

Tycho – Dive (2011)

Clean, tidy and precise electronic music that is very nice as background music but perhaps a little “too nice” for the kind of thing that I’m looking for. This is entirely a personal preference however, so if perfectly composed and precision-tight, chilled-out electronics are your thing, then you’d do no wrong in checking out Dive. I can’t shake the feeling however that sometimes during this album I feel like I’m watching some transitional B-roll on a YouTube documentary and this is the soundtrack.

DJ Speedsick – Nothing Lasts (2019)

DJ Speedsick – Nothing Lasts (2019)

Very nasty, which is just lovely. Definitely on the grimier end of industrial techno. Doesn’t hit as hard as say, gabber techno, but still pushes sound to a fairly dark and brutal level, I’m sure that much can be gleaned from the artwork and song titles before even pressing play. Speaking of which, that artwork is very cool. Is it Pinhead smoking some harsh substance out of a bottle bong? I’m not sure. Either way, it sets the tone perfectly.

Blakk Harbor – Petite Mort (2021)

Blakk Harbor – Petite Mort (2021)

Very dark, dense electonic music that’s upbeat enough for you to dance to. Not as hard and punishing as other forms of “industrial techno” but enough to keep you on your toes, for sure, and also hypnotic enough to keep you hooked. I get some 90s vibes from this but for the most part it’s a very modern sound and a very clean production. The art is killer too.

The Weakener – What Do You Know About It (1998)

The Weakener – What Do You Know About It (1998)

A class Mick Harris / Scorn spin off project with the same level of quality paranoid beats, minimal yet spooky atmospheres and dense moods. Expect swirling, dark background noise with prominent and involving beats. They aren’t great big bass-wobbling stonkers, but they keep your attention just as well. Closing track “Silent Dust” is probably my favourite, but the entire album is best taken whole for the best kind of journey.

Black Magick SS – Burning Bridges (2023)

Black Magick SS – Burning Bridges (2023)

An interesting but perhaps natural evolution for the band, Burning Bridges sees the once kvlt-as-fvk esoteric black metal band now plunge headfirst into synth pop and/or rock. Comparing this to something like Panzerwitch and the change is surprising, but put it up against something as recent as Rainbow Nights and the gradual change makes much more sense. That being said, I think Burning Bridges perhaps strays too far from what makes Black Magick SS such a good band. There has always been a cheeky balance, but here the scales are tipped, and too far in the synth pop direction. That’s not to say there aren’t some great songs here (“Dinosaurs” is great), but for me, the spooky magic of BMSS is missing from the record, what with the cleaner, brighter direction of both the music and the production. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this is a bad album, there’s clearly been a lot of thought and talent that’s gone into making it, but this is just not the kind of thing that I come to this band for. There is an interesting “secret track” at the end that seems to send the band full circle back to their original demo style, which is pretty cool, but generally this album is just not for me, as well made as it may be.

Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks (1990)

Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks (1990)

Twin Peaks possesses one of the most magical and captivating soundtracks of all time. It is impossible, in my mind, to separate Twin Peaks the show from Twin Peaks the music. This is part of the reason I think, why Season 3 was so jarring to me at first, as Badalamenti’s score is used far less there. I now love Season 3, and Badalamenti’s contributions there are now some of my favourites, but not having the whole thing soaked in these gorgeous synthesiser compositions and jazz beats was a bit strange. Nothing however captures a feeling (usually of melodrama), a time and place, and an uncanny sense of dread quite like Angelo Badalamenti did for Twin Peaks. Truly, it is stunning. I cannot heap enough praise on this thing. It has been life-changing for me, in regards to my musical journey. I’ll see you in the trees.

Gorillaz – 19 / 2000 (2001)

Gorillaz – 19 / 2000 (2001)

I had this CD single as a kid. I thought that the artwork was absolutely killer and way better than the actual album. I don’t really know why I bought this, as I already had the full album and I didn’t really like the sped-up remix by Soulchild. Still, I played this thing to death over the 2001 summer holidays and Left Hand Suzuki Method is still burned into my brain 22 years later. I’ve no idea where this CD is now, but it will also be important to me in memory.

Ice – Bad Blood (1998)

Ice – Bad Blood (1998)

Personally, I really didn’t feel the second Ice record. I probably need to listen to it a few more times, but the dreamy, moody dub-like atmosphere of the first release is long gone, instead replaced with big stinky beats (not a bad thing) and a ton of guest vocalists ranging from Blixa Bargeld to EL-P, which makes this worth listening to if only for the strange cross-section of styles and voices. Bad Blood almost feels like a completely different project / band than Under The Skin, but fretting over which moniker Martin / Broadrick release their stuff under is pointless. I won’t call this a miss, but it’s not for me.

Black Magick SS – Rainbow Nights (2020)

Black Magick SS – Rainbow Nights (2020)

I’ve been struggling to find the words to review this one for a while. It is also worth mentioning that Rainbow Nights has been in my regular rotation for a while now as well. There is just something so perfect about the balance of sounds here. I’ve never really been one much for 60s/70s rock or the recent occult rock revival movement, but this thing builds off of those two elements brilliantly, as well as adding lots of 80s style synthesizers and hard rock / hair metal style melodies. Add that to the usual Black Magick SS roots of psychedelic black metal and all of this on paper should be a complete disaster, but honestly, this is slowly becoming one of my favourite albums. I love all of the songs, but the title track’s chorus is a highlight of the record, as is the track “Mother’s Lullaby” which really comes out of left-field and ups the electronic elements in such a bizarre and also rather moving way. The production on Rainbow Nights is also a considerable step up from the previous works from the band, and some listeners may not be too happy with the stripping back of the “black metal” elements, there are less growly vocals here than ever before, for example. As for the elephant in the room, we’re not exactly dealing with NSBM here but there is an element to the esotericism that BMSS put forward that has an obvious undertone to it that may not exactly enthuse some people. I’m still developing my thoughts on it, having only recently deciding in the last year or so to always listen to something objectively regardless of its political / personal alignments – keeping that switch on would have caused me to miss out on this beautiful music – but if you have somehow missed the subtle nods inside BMSS’ music and artwork, just be aware of what lurks just below the surface.

Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)

Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)

I’m not an expert on this kind of music so it’s hard to find the right words to describe it. In these cases I tend to just leave the review but I find myself coming back to Daft Punk over and over so I have to give it a go. It is also hard for me to not view this album through the lense of nostalgia. I was a kid when “One More Time” dropped, and whilst I didn’t really understand the style of music, I loved the music video and I loved how the plot of the video continued over the following singles. “Aerodynamic” is one of the first songs that got me into guitar music. Admittedly I do fall off towards the end of the album. I don’t think Discovery is perfect, but it is pretty fucking impressive in general. The final track, “Too Long”, sums up my feelings towards the final third of this project, to be honest, but I do find myself spinning Discovery a lot when I’m working; when I need to be in the zone for an hour or so. Oh, and “Crescendolls” is far catchy than it deserves to be. The first time I heard it I was irritated by the melody but now it just gets stuck in my head for days at a time. Either way, with the ups and downs, Discovery has gotta be a solid 4/5 from me.

Fret – Only For The Weak (2022)

Fret – Only For The Weak (2022)

Pulsing, throbbing (Oo er), constantly changing and endlessly brutal, Only For The Weak is the second full length from the Mick Harris project Fret. Experimental, hard-hitting techno is the order of the day, with less than a brutalising industrial slant than its predecessor. Only For The Weak moves around a bit more, and therefore more hypnotic and involving, rather than blunt and caustic. I thought the cover art was a pile of bullets, until I had a good look at it online and realised that it was fish. How did I not see that coming?

Grausame Töchter – Vagina Dentata (2016)

Grausame Töchter – Vagina Dentata (2016)

Stale, repetitive, uninspiring in just about every possible way. I’m sure there are people out there that listen to this stuff, and I suppose the production quality is pretty good, but my god it’s so bland I can’t even find the words to write about it. I just wish I could get the time back that I spent with this. Oh well. Live and learn.

The Body Lovers / The Body Haters – Compilation CD (1998/1999/2005)

The Body Lovers / The Body Haters – Compilation CD (1998/1999/2005)

I’ve had this CD for donkey’s years but broke it out recently after the annoucement of the track listing for the new 2022 Swans album, The Beggar. The CD version of this album contains the apparent third part of the Body Lovers’ trilogy (part 2 being the “Look At Me Go” suite on disc 2 of My Father… from 2010 – which I also need to revisit). I’ve never been that hot on The Body Haters disc, although there is nothing really at fault here, but it doesn’t jump out and grab me like The Body Lovers does. On the surface of it, The Body Lovers is more of the enormously moving and beautiful yet terrifying drones that we got a taste of on Swans’ Soundtracks For The Blind. As The Body Lovers doesn’t really break into “music” (except for a short refrain of the 1990s version of “I Crawled”), and it certainly doesn’t have any vocals or lyrics, the more visceral element of these droning beasts can be truly appreciated. As I’ve kind of already said, it is as touching as it is horrifying, and I would recommend this as listening to any Swans fan, particularily of the Soundtracks… era. Listening to this thing on full pelt again for the purposes of this review I am struck by how much of this sounds like a soundtrack to a film that never was. Anyone who follows Michael Gira will know of his deep love of film and literature, and it immediately struck me as odd that the man has never worked on some sort of soundtrack or score. Records like this or Soundtracks (or To Be Kind or Glowing Man haha) prove that he is more than capable to do so, so I have started to wonder why it hasn’t happened. Anyway – TLDR – if you’ve not heard this thing, please try it out. It will reward your attention enormously, like most Swans or Gira work.

Mortiis – Perfectly Defect (2010)

Mortiis – Perfectly Defect (2010)

The 6 year gap between The Grudge and Perfectly Defect had me completely checked out from the world of Mortiis. Granted, through the MySpace days I kept up to date on the hefty touring he was doing with his full band, and I even saw them myself in I think 2005, and they were great. The Grudge wasn’t my favourite thing in the world, but I really enjoyed the remixes on Some Kind Of Heroin. So when Perfectly Defect dropped, after I found out only from randomly checking the man’s website, it felt like a half-arsed, half-finished project, that was well, an afterthought of an album, only being available as a download. CDs came not long after, but these were super limited, at least initially (I’m not sure if that is still the case). I didn’t hate this thing, but the fact that only half the songs had vocals on them, just gave me the impression that the record was unfinished. Instrumental tracks aren’t a problem – this is Mortiis we are talking about – but moreso that the industrial metal style makes it feel like the songs needed vocals and they were just left unfinished. Anyway, I’ve come back to this thing recently with a pair of fresh eyes (and ears) and I’ve enjoyed it more than I did initially. The streaming version has extra songs compared to the initial release, which I remember being much shorter. “Closer To The End” and the excellent “Sensation Of Guilt” are some of the best songs that Mortiis has done in this style / era, that’s for sure. So, in hindsight I definitely feel that this fits nicely into the era 3 of Mortiis, I just wasn’t ready or willing for this at the time, and couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed after the 6 year gap. But, if you love industrial, you really cannot go wrong with this.

AFX – Analogue Bubblebath (1991)

AFX – Analogue Bubblebath (1991)

The opening track (coincidentally the title track) of AFX’s now legendary first entry in his Analogue Bubblebath series, will always live rent free in my head. It is, in my humble opinion, one of those tunes that just possesses a permanent timelessness quality. Yeah, sure, you can tell that this thing was recorded in the early 90s, as it smacks of those vibes, but that aside, I hope they will play this shit in museums in the future. It is, for me, whilst not objectively the best stuff that Richard has done (under any moniker), it is one of the most memorable of his tunes. The rest of the EP isn’t half bad too, if not hitting significantly harder than the first track, with pummelling electronic beats and dirty stabs of acid-style synth sounds. Lovely jubbly!

Stephen Rippy, Chris Rippy, David Rippy & Kevin McMullan – Age Of Empires OST (1997)

Stephen Rippy, Chris Rippy, David Rippy & Kevin McMullan – Age Of Empires OST (1997)

This has to be one of the greatest game soundtracks of all time (I probably say that about every game soundtrack to be honest). It is very difficult for me to not look back at stuff like this with rose-tinted glasses on. These games were a huge part of a childhood that was perhaps misspent playing silly games instead of being outside playing (although to be fair I did a good amount of both, I wasn’t a complete bedroom dweller). Therefore I suppose these kinds of soundtracks remind me of better times when the world seemed like a less terrifying place and times where I had no real cares or worries. But of course, I didn’t know that at the time.  Anyway, I gave this soundtrack another listen recently for old time’s sake and I still really enjoyed it. There’s a strange mix of styles here, where the Rippy brothers (I assume they are brothers or cousins?) use a mix of new vs. old to give a really cool and interesting OST. 

Goblin – Greatest Hits (1979)

Goblin – Greatest Hits (1979)

I feel like I’ve heard multiple different iterations of this “best of” collection over the years, but it doesn’t really matter because everyone knows what tracks are always going to be on these things. Whether you’ve seen the movies that these tracks appear in or not, Goblin are such an unique band that listening to these compositions is always an enjoyable experience. The atmosphere is tangible, the instrumentation weird and tense. I mean, I guess it’s why Goblin are so revered in the horror world. Legendary stuff.

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead (2014)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead (2014)

I really enjoyed Cosmogramma and its odd mix of jazz tropes and disconnected electronic elements. It was a refreshing mix of styles (not to mention a mix of styles that has failed to mix well in the past). I appreciate that in the dense world of electronic music (and jazz, for that matter), FlyLo is able to give himself an unique, stand-out sound. But, there is something about You’re Dead that just does not gel with me. It certainly seems to meander more; there are fragments of songs leading everywhere, and it seems that vibes are over before they have been fully given chance to begin. You’re Dead is an enjoyable listen, it just appears to lack focus.

Orbital – Orbital (1993)

Orbital – Orbital (1993)

An album that defines the sound of the 90s for me. I was just a kid, but fuck me, these sounds are just forever burned into my head. It’s the closing epic “Halcyon + On + On” which for me just absolutely blows my mind apart every time I hear it, taking me back to the times where the world seemed like a less scary place (of course it wasn’t, I was just ignorant to the facts), where I could play my Sega Megadrive over and over or watch the Mortal Kombat movie and eat chicken dippers. Now I’ve got my own little boy it absolutely fucking spins me out to think back to what I was like at that age. Anyway, I’m getting all lost in nostalgia, but fuck, does that not speak for the power of music and for the power of these songs? I didn’t really know the rest of this album when I was younger, it was something that I became more familiar with as I got older, but the pulsing techno blasts are really great fun. It’s not my music, and it’s not my scene, but I really enjoy listening to this Orbital record all the same. And then the last track as always just leaves me in a stupor.

Phantogram – Voices (2014)

Phantogram – Voices (2014)

I fell in love with Sarah Barthel after hearing the Big Grams album (a collab project between Phantogram and Big Boi from Outkast). The problem I have with Phantogram themselves however is a similar ailment that strikes me when I listen to The Chromatics (although perhaps not so much there, the problem is worse here with Phantogram). And the problem that I am talking about is… well, I could be listening to just about absolutely anyone. There is no identity here, nothing unique that is pulling me back and keeping me here. Is the music absolutely lovely? Yes. Are Sarah’s vocals fantastic? Yes. But Phantogram, specifically on Voices, do not jump out and grab me. This is all shades of generic, despite being well made, and that is just really, really sad. Oh, and the songs with the dude singing on them are dreadful, I’m sorry.

Ice – Under The Skin (1993)

Ice – Under The Skin (1993)

I’ll listen to anything by Kevin Martin or Justin Broadrick, so put them together we are absolutely cooking on gas. Having thusfar made it to 2023 without ever hearing Ice, my first layman’s impression of them is that the vibe and sound here is very similar to the latter Bullen-era Scorn; spacey, acid-head dirges consisting of sub-bass, electronic beats and wailing guitars, all lead by dead-pan, haunting vocals. This record is a monster; all the songs are monsters and the total runtime is a monster too. I’d highly recommend strapping yourself in for a session though, bringing along whichever your choice of drug is (or just listen to it at 3am for that desired lucid-yet-sleepy effect). I listened to this whole thing in one go with no breaks and its been a lot to digest so I don’t have any favourite tracks per say to report, at least not just yet.

John Harrison – Creepshow OST (1982)

John Harrison – Creepshow OST (1982)

Admittedly, at the time of writing I’ve not actually seen Creepshow. However, through a combination of Waxworks releases being really awesome to look at, and John Harrison doing the blinder of an OST for Day Of The Dead, I ended up checking this out anyway. If anything, it’ll be a sweet little primer for when I finally do get around to watching the film. I was going to say that perhaps this isn’t as iconic as the Day Of The Dead tunage, but I realised immediately its perhaps my bias is speaking having not seen Creepshow itself, and not being able to tie emotionally this music to any events or lief motifs, as it were. So, for the purpose of this entry, I’ll just say I really enjoyed this soundtrack. Nice one, John.

Lustmord – The Word As Power (2013)

Lustmord – The Word As Power (2013)

So this is the first time I’ve sat down with a Lustmord record. Honestly, I got bored very quickly. This was nowhere near as crushing or as oppressive in its weight as I was expecting. Then again, what was I expecting? I don’t think I know and perhaps this is part of the problem. This record just came across like a standard movie soundtrack with nothing that really stood out. I guess if I return the legend that Lustmord I’d be better off starting at the beginning.

Shpongle – Codex VI (2017)

Shpongle – Codex VI (2017)

Every now and then I check in on Shpongle and am blown away that they are still making records. On top of that, the records are of the same consistent quality, with the same kind of brain-tweaking production. I don’t know how the duo continue to cook up such beautiful explorative compositions, but they have definitely found their place in the world of music and I really hope that they continue to release music. I always look forward to a new Shpongle recording.

Aghast – Hexerei Im Zwielicht Der Finsternis (1995)

Aghast – Hexerei Im Zwielicht Der Finsternis (1995)

This is a project that involves Andrea Meyer who performed mainly as Nebelhexe and also appeared on the first Cradle Of Filth record. Unfortunately, as I was really looking forward to this one, this is pretty boring to me. It kinda goes nowhere, and whilst there are a few moments of pizazz in this evil atmospheric pieces, most of the record’s run time does nothing for me. It works as cool spooky background music, but that’s about it. A shame! Nevertheless, RIP Andrea Meyer.

William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops (2002)

William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops (2002)

When you wake up in a empty house and the weather outside stops you from going anywhere, and you’re trapped staring at the dull light of your work-issued laptop… its time for a listen of something as heavy and as involving as William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops. Or in this case, part 1 of the 4 part series. Getting stuck into this is a massive undertaking, but not as massive as say, The Caretaker and his ambient expose on dementia. The Disintegration Loops were created when William discovered that old analogue tapes he had recorded on in the 90s had deteriorated. Instead of stopping them from playing, he instead recorded the ever-disintegrating tapes as they played back. The result, is a haunting and somewhat repetitive piece of ambient music that invokes deep thought as much as it allows your mind to wander. The album was finished on the morning of 11th September, 2001. The album sleeve is a photo taken from the roof of Basinski’s apartment, where he spent the whole day with friends watching the spectacle unfold. The project is dedicated to the victims of the Sept 11th terror attacks. I look forward to hearing the following three parts.

Psychic TV – Cathedral Engine (1994)

Psychic TV – Cathedral Engine (1994)

I’ve listened to this many times over the years where instead perhaps I should have branched out a bit more into other Psychic TV stuff (there’s so much of it!). This is a fantastic piece of work, though; a very thorough exercise in sinister and brooding atmospheric music. Not quite on the knife-edge of noise, Cathedral Engine definitely uses a “less is more” approach compared to some of the other projects by those involved, but it’s restraint (and creepy organs sounds – what is that!?) really allows it to pay off in the long run.

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 (2011)

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 (2011)

I can’t remember where | picked this up or how this record entered my sphere of vision as it were, but I’ve had this thing knocking about and have been meaning to write about it since 2014. Being a droney, ambient affair, my listens of it usually accompany some sort of other activity such as working or writing and I never get around to writing about the record itself. Until today, finally, let’s address the record I have heard countless times but know little-to-nothing about.  What I love about Ravedeath 1972 is the mix of electronic and acoustic instruments, often mashed together to create drones that are both uplifting yet also rather ominous. Hecker produces a strange mix of vibes, tracks like “The Piano Drop” have their own glitched-out sci-fi vibe whereas something like “Hatred Of Music II” sounds like you are taking the night bus through a bustling modern European city, or like you have fallen directly into a modern neo-noir TV drama at a crucial point.  I’m sure all of the above makes for some frankly ridiculous reading, but I hope if anything it does inspire someone to check this piece of work out.