Sunday, 22 September 2019
Pervert Wasp. Castle Ruins III closing party. The King Billy Pub. Nottingham. 21/09/19.
I’ve always felt a pang of guilt where Pervert Wasp are concerned, back in 2017 they played Rammel Club. I couldn’t go as I got back from London too late and was too tired to see them. I’d heard that this gig was amazing. I then met one of the players in the band some years later and felt guilty when he said he was a member and I remembered who they were as you don’t forget a name like Pervert Wasp.
One of the members Martin Rayment was the catalogue designer and key organisers of an excellent group show ‘Castle Ruins 3’ at the King Billy in Nottingham and Pervert Wasp were playing as part of the closing party.
When they started playing it was an almost delicate beginning dependent on the subtle dynamics between percussion (2), bass (1) and guitarists (2). It crossed the line between ritual occult psychedelic and fractured Jazz, but in an odd territory. The saxophone player Alasdair Ambrose switched between warped vocals, bongos and sax, which I liked. The rhythm section was subtle, the slightest changes in intensity felt massive and could pull back instantly. There were moments were the nearest comparisons I could draw were early Chrome and the more warped aspects of SMEGMA and the Virgin Prunes and abstractly it was just somewhere else at the same time. The balance between structure and abstraction was delicate. The guest on main percussion was impressive in his ability to maintain the punishing, repetition of the rhythm throughout the performance.
The sense of ritual to the performance was intense, there were laser lights, dry ice and the vocals were chanted. When the saxophone came in, it cut through everything like lone voice, wailing painfully. The rhythm never changed as guitars conversed around it, the vocals switched between Alasdair Ambrose and Ruby Rosetta who did a performance piece with the band playing, she played the part of her missing cat throughout the show, this was equal parts enchanting, frightening and heartfelt as she crawled across the stage and through the audience as a cat. She was dressed in Orange, to represent the ginger colouring of her cat. The use of performance and visuals beyond the usual of just having video or visuals in the background was immense.
This was an amazing performance that built up through powerful dynamics, weirdness and ritual. Listening to what’s on the Bandcamp, this was a lot more out there in comparison. I’ve seen some local bands do epic performances that build up over a few songs, but this was something else as it built up as one continuous jam and worked perfectly.
Nevis Cretini 2019.
Saturday, 21 September 2019
Label: Hamfuggi Records
Catalogue no: N/A
Let me start out by putting my cards on the table here – this is one of the most incredibly restful, uplifting, and gorgeous pieces of meditative ritual drone ambient I have heard in a very long time. As I explained in my review of Modern Bön’s Rechaka compilation, Bön is the indigenous religion of Tibet, predating the introduction of Buddhism from India and, although the latter philosophy supplanted the earlier beliefs (and even absorbed some of its practises into its own framework) it’s never quite managed to supersede it entirely, and it’s still prevalent in the northern and eastern parts of the Himalayan country. A single track lasting just over 23 minutes, it’s a glacially-slow, incrementally evolving piece, consisting entirely of a drone that is simultaneously resonating from the depths and the heights, interspersed with resonating timbres of shimmering bells.
Imagine, then, finding yourself in some hidden monastery deep in the heart of Tibet, in a quiet temple, with silent monks sitting in the lotus position in dim light, wordlessly contemplating the inner mysteries, incense burning and giving off sweet clouds of smoke, while occasionally a priest strikes a singing bowl. At some point your body separates into two components – your physical body which remains in this world, and your astral body which floats above it. Now you are free to roam wherever you will, whether it’s somewhere a mere continent away, or to the farthest edges of the known universe. More than that, you are witness to something which is denied to your normal senses – the true spirit behind reality, the essence that drives existence and life itself. You can see the dance of atoms and molecules, observe the formation (and death) of stars, the birth (and destruction) of solar systems, and the moment when the hunger of black holes is satiated by the swallowing of a smaller star that’s swung too close. The flowering of nebulae bloom right before your inner eye, the catastrophic detonation of a supernova pops off soundlessly in the vacuum of deep space. Galaxies revolve endlessly, and sometimes crash into each other with astonishing results. You can also feel life forming on distant planets, or going extinct, with civilisations rising and waning in an eternal cycle.
Yes, all this and more is contained within just 23 minutes of drone. I felt every note, every subtle inflection, being absorbed into every cell of my body, generating tingles and shivers. This is one of those rare moments when music really does speak to some deep part of one’s being, sparking off feelings and emotions that one has no words for, where you seem to be on the verge of understanding the very foundations of existence itself, but it’s just out of reach of one’s comprehension. This flows in one seamless stream, the bells small emphases and highlights, perhaps meant to draw one’s attention to something that one might miss. In all, Bön is a slow unfolding of beautiful mysteries, of secrets that are not only contained in the macrocosm but also buried within the microscosm.
Of all the Hamfuggi releases I’ve heard so far, this has affected me the most, and on a fundamental level at that. Highly recommended appears to be such a lame phrase in the context of this magnificent piece of ritual drone ambient: it is so much more than just the sounds created by the musician – it feels like the key to everything is contained within each subtle vibration and resonance.
Available from the Hamfuggi Records Bandcamp page as a download:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Album: Modern Bön III: Rechaka [Exhalation)
Label: Modern Bön
Catalogue no: MB///0003
1. Nastika – A Place Among Them
2. The Nent – Vacuum (Vu Remix)
3. Restive Plaggona – Normal is Perverse
4. Skrei – Akos (E. I. N. remix)
5. Korse – Tengu
6. Holotrop – Liquid Slow Dream
7. IlSantoBevitore – Rosso Ocra
8. SR60 – 25 Days
Bön, for those not in the know or who haven’t encountered the word before, is the original indigenous religion of Tibet before Buddhism entered the country from India at some point in the 8th century AD, where the latter absorbed many of Bön’s particular traditions, giving rise to a distinct form of Buddhism. Modern Bön is a series of compilations, three so far, which have encompassed the phases of Puraka [Inhalation], Kumbhaka [Contemplation], and this one, Rechaka [Exhalation]. As far as I am aware, there will also be a fourth phase, Nirvana [Eternal Grace], to complete what is effectively a ritual. You will find reviews of both previous volumes on this site as well.
This differs somewhat from either of the foregoing entries, in that here we have a selection in which rhythmic elements appear in some of the pieces, indicative of the incoming Pranayama, the pure energy which moves and animates life. As such then, its vitality needs to be received, absorbed, and understood on a fundamental level, and rhythm, the essential beat of life, must necessarily become part of the music of this particular stage. However, Nastika’s ‘A Place Among Them’ continues on where the last volume left off, in that here we once again experience the higher planes as vast carpets of drones and emanations, a slow massing of energies that threaten to overwhelm but somehow manage to be contained. ‘Vacuum’ by The Nent is the first to introduce a rhythmic element, a huge pulsing backbeat playing host to short stabs of drone and a repetitive electronic figure. The energy is gradually coming through, circuits are being established, conduits being created, and the spiritual arteries spider-web into every part of body and mind.
Dimitris Doukas’ Restive Plaggona (I reviewed his Matriarchy Roots début some days ago), is up next with ‘Normal is Perverse’ and again we are treated to strong, insistent rhythms that evolve and build constantly during the track’s running time, as the energies released radiate and fuel the adherent. The pulse is quickening and the mind is opening to the full panoply of the reality behind Maya, the illusion of the world we live in, and perceptions are being sharpened as a result – ‘normality’ is perverse, in that it hides truth and blinds us to it.
Skrei’s ‘Akos’ (E. I. N. remix) returns to more ambient beatless territory, sending us instead on a drone and noise high, as full realisation dawns and the whole of creation stretches out before us in all its multi-dimensional and technicolour glory. It’s all here, every molecule and every conceivable nuance that ordinarily would remain imperceptible and hidden. The beat returns, pulsing with life and vivacity, on Korse’s ambient ‘Tengu’, a syncopated beat set against drones and shimmering sheets of sound. It’s a purified kind of whirling dance being performed here, an alchemised and spiritual paean to the underlying pulse of life and all being, the incarnation of the highest essence into the material plane. Holotrop’s drone immensity, ‘Liquid Slow Dream’, descends like a physical manifestation, accompanied by thunder and lightning, a harbinger of something vast and all-encompassing until another syncopated beat fades in along with an electronic bass sequence. Of all the tracks so far, I think this is the one that has hooked me completely, an unstoppable monolithic force intent on breaking falseness and deception.
IlSantoBevitore’s ‘Rosso Ocra’ (Red Ochre) starts with a sub-bass drone before complex rhythms, tribalistic in tone and execution, impose themselves upon the bass backdrop. It’s a short piece, but somehow bringing the energies of the higher realms down to a human level – a necessary reducing mechanism to transform those powers into something useable. SR60’s ‘25 Days’, perhaps an indication of how long the ritual has lasted, begins with a drone which oscillates along with more rhythmical percussive punctuations, as the adherent fully absorbs and transmutes the spiritual energies into elements that he can infuse into his own body. His body, while still composed of flesh, has perhaps itself transformed into something beyond human and crass, invested with powers that have taken off the edge of his flesh’s coarseness and refined his mind a little. He still has a way to go, but his feet are already firmly on the path.
This is a shorter album than the other two compilations, but in some respects that is descriptive of the quickening of life and perception consequent upon the dawning of enlightenment. The energies are boundless, limitless, and will not be constrained. As I said, this is different from Volumes I & II, an upbeat mirroring of the adherent’s new-found state. If you have I & II, then three is an essential addition, a completion of the process started on Puraka and continued on Kumbhaka: however, it is itself only a prelude to Nirvana [Eternal Grace], the endpoint of a monk’s spiritual and esoteric practises. I find myself pondering what wonders the next release will bring us – but patience, like in meditation, will be a requisite.
Available from Modern Bön’s Bandcamp page:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Album: Inter-Dimensional Interference
Catalogue no: N/A
1. Demonic Possession
3. Erratic EMF Fluctuations
4. Esotericism (featuring Atmospheric Research)
5. Hillcrest Sanatorium
6. Imaginary Friends
7. Increased Kinetic Activity
8. Perceptual Isolation
9. Physical and Emotional Disorientation
10. Seeking Forgiveness
11. The Black Hen Planchette
12. The DOPler Effect
13. Waverly Hills
14. Residual Haunting (featuring Atmospheric Research)
Judging from this album and SINIUS’ previous release The Ossuary, British photographer and composer Daljit Kundi really likes his creepy, dank, and deeply occult atmospheres. While The Ossuary was inspired by the mysteries surrounding the Paris Catacombs, this one is based around various paranormal occurrences experienced in abandoned places. And you know what, whether you believe in such phenomena or not is irrelevant: I am a sceptic but when I once walked into an abandoned hospital in my hometown I have to say that it was the creepiest experience I’ve ever had, even in broad daylight. The sense that in that place people had been born (like I had been), had suffered illness (some terminal), and died, gave the place a decidedly eerie, cold, and depressing atmosphere. The same can also be said of this set of fourteen tracks: whatever occurred at the locations in question doesn’t really matter, it’s the atmospheres elicited by the music that’s most important.
And SINIUS heaps them up in huge ladles on Inter-Dimensional Interference. Deep bass drones, sweeping winds that appear to blow from some unknown source, strange noises emanating from walls and empty rooms, and cold whisperings and susurrations all converge into a singularity of infinite loneliness and sadness. These are all the memories that have been left behind, remnants of a life that for one reason or another refused to let go and remain earthbound, perhaps searching for that one thing that will give them peace: that someone will remember them. Perhaps they died alone and afraid, or that they had no one who cared about them. Perhaps they suffered terrible deaths at the hands of terrible people. Whatever happened, it was enough for them to be trapped by the gravity of the life they were torn from.
I can say with absolutely certainty that SINIUS has a knack of creating dense creepy atmospheres without resorting to clichés or time-worn stereotypical sound-effects in composing any of these pieces. Going back to my one and only eerie experience in the abandoned hospital, the drones employed by this project immediately bring to mind the shivery frigidity and oppression I felt while walking down dark, silent, empty corridors, my quiet footsteps still managing to echo hollowly. Sounds, no matter how minute, were amplified tenfold, and even innocent sounds like scratching animals, or birds, were automatically invested with a sense of dread unease. All the sounds you expect – voices, the noise of continuous activity, and shoes on tiles – were loud in their absence. Is it any wonder then that people claim to experience paranormal phenomena in such locations, as well as the feelings of physical dislocation and disorientation?
All fourteen compositions are finely layered and yet complex in what they describe. As mentioned, the palette used is composed mainly of subtle, sweeping drones, upon which more drones are sometimes layered, while at other times they’re interspersed with sounds that are strangely familiar yet, because they lack a proper context, take on an aura of the supernatural and otherworldly. Perhaps this is why some have taken the idea that the Afterlife is a variation of the life we lead now, with very much the same attributes – any communications from the ‘other side’ have a ring of comforting familiarity about them, and thus we are reassured. Thankfully though, as noted above, we are saved from samples of voices purporting to be those of the dead or of knocking recorded at séances, which I think would have cheapened this release had they been included. Instead we are treated to some wonderful spine-tingling atmospherics, some deliciously shivery moments, and some sonically descriptive passages that delineate that curiosity that most of us feel when we hear about such things – are they real experiences, or just wild imaginings sparked off by weird atmospheres?
There’s so much here to imbibe: this is what I would categorise as a pure noise/drone ambient album, and the lushness displayed is absolutely on the nail. I don’t have any hesitation in declaring that all tracks are recommended, so I suggest that you listen to this on a quiet evening while just letting yourself wallow in the ghostly textures and spectral atmospherics on show. However, I recommend that you don’t do so while prowling around any abandoned buildings – that’s one paranormal experience you might want to miss.
Available as a download from SINIUS’ Bandcamp site:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Album: Homo Sapiens Parasitus
Artist: Blitzkrieg Baby
Label: Neuropa Records
Catalogue no: NRP 69
1. Hip Hip Hooray
2. Apocalypse to Go
3. Boys will be Boys
4. The March of Human Progress I
5. The March of Human Progress II
6. Praise the Pig
7. A Child Soldier with the Eyes of a Clown
8. Filth Load
9. Boo Fucking Hoo
10. Pre-Cum of the Apocalypse
11. Homo Sapiens Parasitus & the Countdown to Extinction
This is Blitzkrieg Baby’s second album on the Neuropa label, the first album Porcus Norvegicus (NRP 35) being released in 2012, and subsequently followed up by a trilogy of EPs on Thomas Ekelund’s (Trepanerungsritualen) label Beläten. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered Kim Sølve’s work, as many years ago I reviewed a Swarms release for another music site. The latter project was very much in dark ambient territory, but Blitzkrieg Baby is something else entirely, being a mixture of song and instrumental pieces that present as a series of menacing, nihilistic, vituperative slices of industrial/martial/noise/death & dark ambient ranting that’s as black as it gets.
Just a glance at the album and song titles will clue you in to the general tenor of BB’s thesis – that mankind is a parasite and should be removed from this planet, and I have a sneaking suspicion that those who will like this the most won’t need any persuading on that score. These eleven pieces stalk and glower, a gargantuan sun-blotting hulk of a beast, an anti-body intent on ridding the Earth of its most troublesome virus: us. It refuses to pull any punches, combining sharp lyrics, pounding militaristic drums relentless in their power, drones, samples, and whatever other tools and weapons that are needed to get the point across. It’s a completely misanthropic and lightless album, allowing for no excuses or any get-out-of-jail-free cards for mankind – the message is that homo sapiens has to go if the world is to survive.
If you really wrap that message around your head, it becomes an uncomfortable listen, but who is to say that there isn’t an element of truth contained here? It’s a precise, razor-sharp, and laser-accurate indictment of humanity’s collective behaviour and ignorance – a reality-check on the real state of the world. We’re not covering ourselves with glory, that’s for sure, and the picture this paints doesn’t give any hope that we’ll turn over a new leaf and change our behaviour any time soon. Action is needed now, not at some hypothetical future point: but we know all too well that that is never going to happen.
Homo Sapiens Parasitus is, in spite of its premise and darkness, quite an accessible album, but definitely not a good old singalong either, certainly engaging however and not without flashes of humour (there’s a very brief outro of someone singing one-hit wonder Europe’s famous refrain from their ‘The Final Countdown’ at the very end of the album – let’s all laugh while the apocalypse rages around us). The sentiments expressed here are very critical of the way we conduct ourselves, a situation that we hear about or witness on a daily basis. It’s too trite to say ‘Well, we’ve always been like that’ as if that’s an excuse, a whitewashing and a shrugging of the shoulders as if to say there’s nothing we can do about it. What this album is saying is yes, there is a solution: maybe an asteroid with our name on it is already on its way for a date with earth. At that point the choice will be taken away from us.
Thoroughly recommended, and available on 12” vinyl in an edition of 150 – some in black vinyl, some in white vinyl, and the rest in grey vinyl. Order from here:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Thursday, 19 September 2019
prd – LEGO Amy Hair – Inner Demons Records – 2018 – 3”CDR – IND030-
1. LEGO Amy Hair.
prd – Tines Down – Inner Demons Records – 3”CDR – 2019 -IND058 –
1. Tines Down.
Prd is the Oakland based project of Dave Oleksy, both Eps were recorded live in the studio with no overdubs and released on Inner Demons Records. We have LEGO Amy Hair from 2018 and Tines Down that was released this year.
LEGO Amy Hair is a baffling title, but don’t be fooled, distant, pulsating ambient electronica builds gradually. This is a subtle piece that engages in good atmospherics. Noise enters the sound as if water running at speed through a pipe, this is at times replaced with the space like sounds that started the recording. LEGO Amy Hair is like dream music, the soundtrack to deep sleep and the vast landscapes of the mind. This is a gorgeous work.
There are no repeating past sounds for Tines Down, this is a more aggressive release by far. The sound appears to rev itself up at the start – a digital acceleration. Certain frequencies rise and gain prominence as the accelerations happen around them. LEGO was stayed with the same sounds throughout, this does too, but the prominences of different sounds are prevalent at different times, making for an impressive, aggressive, part PE/noise recording.
Both prd recordings are good albums and I’d recommend them both. Keep up the good work.
Choppy Noodles 2019.
Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Artist: Musique Moléculaire
Catalogue no: N/A
2. Angle Mort
I have to admit, for all that I like (and prefer) dark, loud, and often unlistenable music, there are occasions (like today, for instance) that I just want to be soothed by the strains of calming drones and soaring chord progressions rather than have my brains pummelled repeatedly by a metaphorical 2,500 ton forging press. I make no apologies for that. And this is exactly what I get from this album from Quebécois project Musique Moléculaire: a sonically diverse set of semi-improvised texturally-nuanced and descriptive pieces, set far above the madding crowd and in the subterranean deeps by turns. This is music one can melt into, and music which can induce shivers – and it deserves a broader audience, hence the review.
‘Non-lieu’ (Dismissal) is the permission granted for you to leave your physical body behind, and to let the astral construct whizz around the four-dimensional space that is the multiverse. Grand chords and drones lift the spirit, sending it flying upwards into the thermosphere and beyond, ejecting us from the prison of gravity and breaking the shackle binding us to earth. Once beyond our home planet’s grasp, the vista opens out, simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying, reducing the human scale to the ridiculous and infinitesimally small. ‘Angle Mort’ (Blind Spot) opens with drones that fan out in all directions, accompanied by a sweet refrain that genuinely sent shivers up and down my spine: now we’re in the regions where nebulae, dust clouds, and other assorted celestial oddities live, a boiling, roiling, and coiling riot of activity that can only be perceived on timescales far longer and bigger than we lowly humans can even conceive of. When one star blinks out, another star ignites into existence, and so it goes on.
‘Funérailles’ (Funeral) begins in elegiac style, composed of both hope and grief, a small light limning a dark horizon, before a thick pall of darkness descends, a stifling black essence snuffing out whatever light there is and diluting its brilliance. Death is a finality, a state of non-being from which no one can ever return, the mystery that awaits us all at the end of life. The vision presented is airless and lightless, a suffocating blanket of terrifying loneliness and distance, a chasm of separation that is unbridgeable. ‘Autopsie’ (Autopsie), follows on naturally – a reflection of the human desire to understand, to have things explained. It’s a sundering of the wholeness of the body, necessary perhaps, but for all that still a cutting of flesh to exhume a story and a reason, a forced ripping of soul from matter. It is not done for the dead person’s sake – it is entirely for those of us who still live. Death doesn’t matter to the dead.
‘Arcane’ is, perhaps, another logical follow-on – the unveiling of the ultimate mystery itself that exists beyond death, the secret puzzle that only the dead are allowed to witness. It’s a mystery that pervades all matter, from the lowliest component of matter to the vast conglomerations that coalesce as galaxies from myriad quantum complexities. ‘Subterfuge’ pulses in on metallic swellings and whines, before settling into plangent drones and reverberations, constantly twining and coiling, endlessly moving and sparking, and letting off energy in the form of a sequenced bass rhythm, which almost but not quite veers into EDM territory (I bear no shame in admitting I was nodding my head along with it at this point – no hip-shuffling though).
‘Exogamique’ (Exogamic) brings the album to a close, a series of reverberating notes fighting with both themselves and each other. It forms a curious but very mild atonality, setting the competing noises tumbling and cascading, to form strange waterfalls of noise. (Exogamy is the practice of marrying outside one’s group, tribe, or extended family relationships). The last few bars bring us almost full circle to a flavour of the beginning, the reverberations returning us to earth and the body. The circle is complete.
While this is in many ways closer to ambient than the dark variety don’t dismiss it on those grounds because there are streaks of darkness here aplenty. It’s a very literate form of music, the kind that plays with textures and moods to good effect, follows a well-plotted path with logical connections, and in the process forms narratives and stories, as well as painting vivid scenes and vignettes. It does so without superfluity or unnecessary flourishes, instead using a deft economy of less being more. This is one to which I will return, particularly because it shies away from the norms of conventional ambient and strays and wanders wherever it feels like going. I think the semi-improvisational nature helped enormously in helping to draw out the moods expatiated here, those dispositions ranging from cosmic soaring to plumbing the stygian depths. Like a good book, this has everything, and comes to a satisfying conclusion.
Available as a download from:
Psymon Marshall 2019.
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Album: Changing Habits
Artist: Matriarchy Roots
Label: Strange Therapy
Catalogue no: ST008
1. Where is your Toughness Now (No Forgiveness)
2. More More More More (Courting Insanity)
3. Breasts in Sight (Demand a Choice)
4. Lifestyle (After the Rise comes the Fall)
5. Monogamy Rules (Not Belonging to Anyone)
6. Masculine Norms (The Many Faces of Manhood)
Patriarchy has been the dominant norm for most societies over the last couple of thousand years or more, leading to the suppression of women and their sovereign rights. This has pertained until relatively recent times - after all, it was only in the 20th century that women were granted the right to vote, and even today, in the first quarter of the 21st century, there are still some countries where women are not allowed to drive, for instance, or where control of their own bodies is an ideological battleground. On a personal note, this has never sat really well with me and, certainly going by this release from Amsterdam’s Strange Therapy label, Matriarchy Roots also reckon that this situation is nonsensical.
This particular project is the industrial facet of Dimitris Doukas, who is better known as the man behind as Restive Plaggona, and here he rails against the prevailing paradigm where women are still considered second-class citizens. You would, perhaps be forgiven for thinking that here we’ll encounter bludgeoning industrial noise and metrics, but what we actually get is far more refined than that. There are elements of noise but also classic industrial rhythms, dark ambient, and experimentalism, as well as cut-ups, distorted and twisted voices, deep bass drones, and massive percussive concussions. It’s a heady mix, often reminiscent of some of the classic industrial music of the early nineties – a time when the scene was expanding in all manner of directions, and experimentation and boundary-pushing was a given.
Track 1, ‘Where is Your Toughness Now (No Forgiveness)’, brings us crunching metal and scrapes, all of which echo around a huge chamber, as if to underscore the general feeling that at the heart of sexism and misogyny is fear, and that such behaviour is all a hollow pretense. It’s an insidious fear, dressing itself up as ‘correct behaviour’, ‘the natural order’, ‘tradition’ or, most heinously, a means of justifying the situation by averring that it’s ‘ordained by religious authority’, solely derived from spurious ‘higher powers’. ‘More More More More (Courting Insanity)’ crackles into view along with cut-up voices, until massive stabs of drone, accompanied by heavy percussion, puncture through, a behemothic beast glowering and stalking. ‘Breasts in View (Demand a Choice)’ perhaps highlights the most ridiculous and prudish taboo of them all: the obsession that female breasts not be exposed in public while men can bare their chests without censure. This is essayed through a pounding backbeat and massed voices piling on top of one another, until it too takes on a monolithic life of its own, stomping indiscriminately where it will. Perhaps this is exactly what we need as a species in order to free us from such restrictive and outdated notions, a matriarchal behemoth that destroys the social ‘norms’ instilled by men and replaces them with saner and more sensible ones.
‘Lifestyle (After the Rise comes the Fall)’ is classic industrial crunch ‘n’ rhythm, yet another beast of a track that’s quite possibly my favourite on this album (if I can be allowed such a luxury). High-pitched wailing and exhalations of released steam, and the caterwaul of sirens introduce us to the penultimate track, ‘Monogamy Rules (Not Belonging to Anyone)’ reminds me of another bone of contention that men have created: the idea that women who have many sexual partners are sluts, whilst men in a similar situation are considered studs. It’s a tactic of dominance, a vessel of control over women. But, it appears that women have had enough, and this track is warning the male of the species that it’s none of their business who or how many people they have sex with.
The final track, ‘Masculine Norms (The Many Faces of Manhood)’, begins with a horn blast before glitches and cut-ups intervene, with sound effects and voices. It’s confused and chaotic, only being held together by a deep drone that constantly fades in, and a stately drum beat. Everything else appears to be battling for dominance, in just the way men have been doing for so long, in other words a way of saying that men are men and boys will be boys – just two pernicious and lame excuses and justifications that should have gone the way of the dodo decades ago.
The medium is the message, or so said Marshall McLuhan – and in this particularly industrial medium the message is quite clear. Sexism and gender discrimination is an affront to the natural order, and that inequality between the sexes is a stain on civilised societies. One can approach this from a couple of angles: either as a direct challenge against the ‘norms’ that have prevailed for centuries or as a satirical look at men’s fragile ego-driven responses to what they see as threats – this album works both ways, but I tend to the former approach.
Leaving aside the underlying message and concentrating on the music, there’s a lot here to recommend it, especially for someone like me who has invested quite a great deal of time and energy to these genres of music (since the late eighties/early nineties). It displays its precedents eagerly, but also adds its own twist and stamps its own authority and style on the music. As the title suggests, we really do need to change our habits as a species, and while we’re doing that this would be a good soundtrack to create a new paradigm to.
Available from September 26th 2019 as a download, a 12” vinyl limited edition record, and a limited edition cassette. Pre-order on the link below:
Psymon Marshall 2019.