Various Artists – Beside You in Strength – Chthonic Streams – Digital Download – 2021
1. Purgist – There’s Been an Accident.
2. Lkerr – Hollowed.
3. Like Weeds – Operative.
4. Wilt – The Place of Dead Roads.
5. T.E.F – Subsurface Survival Refiner.
6. Subklinik – Deadend.
7. Hollow Earth – A Bleeding, Eyeless Socket.
8. En Nihil – Untitled.
9. Auditor – This Hex Upon Our Heads.
10. Envenomist – Phantasmagoria.
11. Theologian – The Uninvited.
12. Sistrenatus – Greyness Clinging.
13. The Vomit Arsonist – Why Have You Come For Me?
14. Filth – The Mind’s Eye.
15. Vitriol Gauge – Collapsing New Creature.
16. Xiphoid Dementia – Corridor Fatigue.
17. Murderous Vision – Strike the Body Electric.
18. Compactor – Rage Restrained.
19. Gruntsplatter – On a Tuesday.
20. Swollen Organs – Amygdala Throbbing.
21. Gnawed – Volution.
22. The [Law – Rah] Collective – Bound and Rebound.
23. Sickness – I’m Not Waving, I’m Drowning.
24. Hive Mind – Cold Smoke.
25. Iszoloscope – What Occurs at the Boundaries of Two Aeons.
26. Thoabath – Honeycomb.
27. Cock E.S.P. -Facepalm Death.
28. Straight Panic – Dog Ear’d (For TG).
In the field of Power Electronics and related genres, Thomas Garrison's CONTROL project exemplifies the upper echelon in terms of sound, quality of output, and respect. In August 2021, Thomas was diagnosed with Stage 2 Prostate Cancer. Anyone familiar with the state of the US healthcare system knows that any serious illness is massively expensive. Although a charity drive was launched immediately by our mutual friend Marcus LaBonté (Cloister Recordings), donations have predictably waned. Thankfully, due to the aforementioned respect, many of Thomas' peers were ready to show their support, not just monetarily, but also by creating exclusive tracks for this compilation.
This is not music full of sweetness and light. The artists here have not shied away from expressing negative feelings related to Thomas' situation or echoing their own experiences with other loved ones who have had to bear similar burdens. But this makes perfect sense while showing support, admiration, and love for a peer who unflinchingly exorcises his own demons on record and stage.
Label Statement 2021.
I’d first heard the work of Control on The California 10 LP Box Set 15 years ago in 2006. I was impressed, years later a friend sold me a bundle of Control albums and I reviewed a few recent releases here as I have been hooked on his work ever since. Control has been releasing albums since 1999 with a strong series of live and studio albums. From emails between myself and Thomas Garrison, I got to know a lot more about the project and I like his outlook on life on a strong personal level. This massive compilation is 28 tracks by different artists - for Mathematical reasons, I will review 7 tracks per paragraph.
Beside You in Strength opens with lush transient synthesizer drones of Purgist, before all hell breaks loose and a chaotic Harsh assault explodes everywhere, running in fast paced shifts of electronic sound that screams and shouts at me. The synth drones return to break through the chaos like rays of sunlight through a sudden storm – There’s Been an Accident is a beautiful, powerful track. Deep, powerful, rumbling drones that flex their depth form Hollowed by Lkerr. This track has the feel of sounding like it came off an old Death Odors compilation (I just had to check in case it did) and it’s that good. Changing the direction, Like Weeds uses hostile beats and noise as a sound assault. I like how this feels like someone conducting a Science Experiment; it is cold, precise, clinical and I can see why they would relate to Control. Operative has a slow sound that continually mutates around its own axis. Those Death Odor vibes return with powerful ambient rumblings through Wilt’s Place of Dead Roads, I am keen to check out more work by Wilt in the future. The album continually changes style yet tracks frequently tie into each other as demonstrated by T.E.F.’s contribution which does a similar thing to the Purgist, truly battering the eardrums with a loaded high-speed attack of noise and evocative, percussive instrumentation. Subklinik’s sickened, hostile ambient really resonates nausea, impressive work bolstered even more so by looking at Chad Davies’ Bandcamp – he looks as bleak as his work sounds, so I give a big thumbs up for that. Subklink makes me realise how I am very aware of the quality of Death Ambient bleakness on this compilation as does the project’s impressive release history. This feeling continues when I hear Hollow Earth’s Bleeding, Eyeless Socket. The sound here is layered and massive, noises play out alongside the deep pulsating bass whilst a rich beauty runs alongside the darkness.
EN Nihil delivers a powerful performance of throbbing electronics – the sound on this one is huge. Their Untitled track is a dominant Synth riff, repeated over explosive electronics. This bold track echoes the amazing production that Control frequently delivers. Auditor gives a strong delivery of spite via This Hex Upon Our Heads, the whistling electronics are ugly, whilst the back drones are rich, with a classical feel. The spoken vocal rises to a shout at times, this truly controls the track’s tension through a precarious balance of elements. Ominous ambient drones induce anxiety on Envenomist’s Phantasmagoria. This gem is typical of the bleak ambient qualities continually demonstrated on this album; the atmosphere is made up of rich instrumental, abstract sounds that play off each other as the echo away. I like the initial early weirdo Industrial vibes of Theologian, the repetitive loops and keyboards build an amazing, luscious sound. In the past I have been dismissive of Theologian’s work – today The Uninvited leaves me seriously revising that opinion the more it intensifies and builds up. This is one of several amazing demonstrations of ‘use a big sound to its full extent’ on this album. Sistrenatus truly pulls things to raw on Greyness Clinging, they do a raw harsh noise thing that is bolstered by explosive PE drones and shards of Metal abuse. Greyness Clinging juggles elements well to make a strong whole. Thick, rumbling drones with a feedback sidekick build until clanging and roaring distorted vocals form The Vomit Arsonist’s contribution - Why Have You Come For Me. This is further dense atmospherics that seem to compete against each other for greatness a stand-off of sound buried within the album. It almost serves as a long intro for Filth’s The Mind’s Eye which is urgent and explosive. I like how they rip the sound down to allow the vocal to burst through. The up tempo beat that suddenly appears throws the noise in other directions which is ace. The Minds Eye seems to evolve several times from noise to dance and into a hybrid of the two.
Vitriol Gauge manage to truly demonstrate a commitment to slow, dragging sound on their track Collapsing New Creature. I admire the concentration of filling the sound with a variety of sonic details, this is really good work that open Death Industrial vibes that continue on Xiphoid Dementia’s Corridor Fatigue – this is an accomplished modern day Death Industrial that is pushed to a futuristic sound that lies elsewhere – amazing work. Corridor Fatigue is a dramatic soundtrack that forces itself into overdrive, never melting down, just going to new limits. The screwy bleakness of Murderous Vision becomes apparent on Strike the Body Electric, the creeped-out tinkering’s are effective and nightmarish. The croaking, voice like sounds odd adding other worldly presence to the work. Things feel digitally intense on Compactor’s Rage Restrained, a cut up vocal plays over the top of the repetitive loops, this is effective and nauseous. Echoing noise cuts into the work, shifting it considerably. I know of Gruntsplatter, but this is my first time really listening to the project. I have talked about massive sounds a lot on this review and Gruntsplatter seems expert at that. On a Tuesday is a mournful, pulsating track that subtly increases in sound as it progresses – there is something very expert about this track, I like it. Swollen Organs is busy Power Electronics that moves at a fast pace whilst crashing drones provide a back rhythm that keeps the track grounded whilst the electronics shoot off. The vocals enter as the track enters a high speed; they have a strong shriek that cuts through the noise. Hellish Nightmares in Surround Sound return with Gnawed; Volution is like a hallucinogenic soundtrack to a long descent to hell. The sound forms and moves slowly, operating on its’ own timescale. Strings, drones and slow, crunching distortion combine to form the sound.
A clinical Death Industrial bleakness radiates from the [Law – Rah] Collective’s Bound and Rebound. Subtle details enter the sound and move it along without affecting the slow pace. Sickness accelerates the pace with rapid shifts of noise, the crunch is thick and the sharp sounds are ear splitting. I got an album by this project off the back of the Noisextra podcast, the work is impressive due to the clarity of sound and attention to detail. Ambient sounds go off and sound like they are happening in a tunnel on Hive Mind’s Cold Smoke, the Synth throb is intense as it pulsates in the background, gradually shifting to the foreground. Asif in competition for Death Industrial clarity Izoloscope really build tension on What Occurs at the Boundaries of Two Aeons. I like how the project holds onto the tension in the track and really plays with it, manipulating and increasing its force. Nastiness returns a plenty as Thoabath kicks off, unsettling, raw loops and blasts of vocal really go off, this is a well delivered explosion that becomes a massive sound. Full on greatness. Cock E.S.P. is having none of it and kicks off with choppy chaos that restrains certain elements whilst others seem to have free rain. Facepalm Death is short and sweet. Last but not least, the great Straight Panic makes an entrance, like a diamond diva ending the show. Straight Panics allows vocals to be delivered through samples, there may be actual vocals in there too, this plays off from the drones and crackle that form the body of Dog Ear’d. As you’d expect from this modern-day master it is an excellent, finale – I couldn’t ask for better.
Works tie into each other through some similarities of approach. I have loads to go of new names to check out. This is an amazing compilation in its’ own right – a brilliant show of support for a great artist. Well worthy of purchase, I hope this sees a physical release due to how amazing it really is. Great work.
Coventry Soul 2021.