Various artists

Category: Noise
Album: Revelation

This review is a long time coming. It’s not so much because the CD was hard to listen to or that I was being completely lazy. I felt I had to read the booklet while I listened to the CD.

Some might see that as a bit neurotic, but that’s the point of this particular album. You see, it’s an experimental noise soundtrack to accompany the short story in the booklet, written by Bugs Crawling Out Of People label founder Squid. So, in a way, this had to be both an album and a literary review.

First, the written aspect: one could try to claim that in the realm of experimental and industrial music that there is room for a variety of writing styles and the more strange and daring the better. But this array of tiny text that I followed along to the music with seems nothing more than a mish-mash of hallucinatory ramblings. It seems to center on the writer reaching a waking of his true consciousness, allowing him to see in the true reality that lies behind our daily lives, something arcane and horrible that borrows easily from Lovecraft and filters it through the modern crustiness of Clive Barker. At the same time, though, the long diatribe has no purpose. It claims “short story” status while delivering no story whatsoever. It explains that the drugs the storyteller has taken has awoken them to the power to see beyond the ken of normality into truth. The mind has warped and reality has fragmented, allowing our protagonist to see into the darker aspects of what surrounds us. He fills page after page with description of vague leviathan horrors and our oozing, tentacled true selves that seem to writhe, spurt, and lurch in every way imaginable, seemingly for the sake of providing even more adjectives to the reader. But it never surpasses the fact that it provides nothing more than a catalog of the ramblings of a drug-frenzied madman. It reads like the mutterings of a deranged homeless man sitting next to you on the bus. It does provide a few minor mentions of a “fight”, some kind of mythical war that our storyteller will take place in outside of his corporeal form, some apocalyptic struggle of wills. But this seems nothing more than a superhero fantasy in the midst of the alleged “revelation” which we are to behold. Once, the character nearly leaps from a balcony railing in his drug-addled stupor, but he never follows through. I can’t help but wonder if this 6-page fantasy wouldn’t have been brought to a more satisfying conclusion if the addict had indeed leapt and, instead of continuing to reveal our reality as meaningless and such things as leaping to one’s demise as irrelevant fantasies of our lie-chained minds, ended up dying on asphalt. The shockingly dense pamphlet ends and you’re left feeling that this writer has spent far too much time reading the randomized clippings of Burroughs while under the influence, because the imitation seems lackluster.

As for the music, that is a bit more noteworthy. Prospero starts the album with the unfortunate theme of clips of the text being read by someone with an annoying nasal voice and no sense of presentation. This revelation of terrible dread and revulsion is read as if the man is giving directions to the local Dairy Queen. What could have been an interesting trope of using clips of grim vocal description is made dull and irritating. Prospero also begins the theme of droning, atmospheric noises, left to ambiently wander around the track, often without a sense of purpose. This theme is continued by Legion Ultra’s heavily filtered meanderings, Asphalt Leash’s dark noise, and Cold Flesh Colony and Iszoloscope’s comparable uses of “the voice,” which Iszoloscope does in a better manner, using good beat structures that are, unfortunately, a bit too buried in their distortion. Casual Coincidence, Nitrous Flesh, and NöRV do more justice to the concept by providing elegantly dark, cinematic background drones and noise, with occasional rhythmic sounds that add well to one’s reading of the passages, if it took you more than the first two tracks to get through. bETON bARRAGE makes the only good use of the vocal samples by distorting them to static and providing other static noise in accompaniment, giving a much better sense of the deluded and incoherent mind than much of the dark atmosphere. Pneumatic Detach and Scrap.edx show why I’ve heard their names before by providing decently danceable and rhythmic powernoise structures with less distortion than one would imagine and a good usage of electronic sounds. Sedarka goes totally against the grain and gives the listener nothing more than analogue squelches.

All in all, it is an interesting experiment in crossbreeding experimental music with experimental literature and there are merits in the idea of thematic compilations that allow musicians to add to the artistic interpretations of a writer, but this lacks the character that it will take to revolutionize the idea. Maybe someday we’ll have a dark and taut horror novel with accompanying experimental/noise soundtrack or cyberpunk literature with an appropriate electro-industrial soundtrack. For now, we’ll have to leave soundtrack accompaniment to film.


from ReGen Magazine (~5/2005)

Concept 7

Category: Electronica
Album: Extract E.P.


Concept 7 desperately wants to be The Prodigy.

Really. With a touch of Pitchshifter, minus the intelligence and social relevance.

Concept 7 seems to think that by throwing very techno dance beats along, some guitar-like synth cords, and tweaky noises in with bad Prodigy-like vocals that are just random phrases thrown out together that we’ll enjoy this crap. Sure, it sounds like something playing in a generic dance club within an action movie. But it’s really not all that impressive and the vocals are fucking bothersome.

Allow me to demonstrate.

Read. Read my review. Read. Read my review. Read. Read my review. Read it. Read it. I want you to read it. Read my review. I want you to read it. Read my review. I want you to read it. Read my review. Silicon electrode packet transmission.

Now, if you can announce those lyrics over a club-friendly electronica beat of, say, 140 bpm, then you’ve just created a project comparable to Concept 7.

The fact that it’s trying to co-opt industrial tones ires me. And the fact that this has better production quality that many mainstream industrial albums is a damned shame.

At least if you ever need to license music for your action movie’s generic club scene where everyone is writing in slow-motion (and likely water or perspiration, as well), then you know who to call.


from ReGen Magazine (~5/2005)


Category: Industrial
Album: Love

I had quite a bit of expectation about the latest Foetus album. The last album, Flow, is undoubtedly one of the best albums of all time, in my estimation, and I knew it would be a hard act to follow. Knowing the rather strange nature of Foetus’ output since the late 80’s, I kind of assumed that this album might take a turn for the worse and be pretty bad.

When I heard that Flow was coming out, I had my reservations. The previous album, Gash, had been, for the most part, a disappointment, only to be followed by live albums like Boil and experimental noodling/spoken word like Foetus Symphony Orchestra’s York. So I didn’t expect much. I think the fact that the album was so good was something of a fluke. I’d like to think that it had more to do with Jim Thirlwell’s return to excellent songwriting, but, looking back, it might have just been the fact that Foetus had been pent-up for over half a decade.

I kept my doubts, especially after hearing that much of Love would feature songs written with harpsichord. Nothing against the harpsichord, but it doesn’t really lend itself to the Foetus sound.

My doubts were quickly quelled by the (not adam) EP which came out in the Fall. While the remixes of “Time Marches On” and “Miracle” left something to be desired, the tone of “Not In Yr Hands”, a non-album track that feels like a darker take on Flow‘s “Chirrosis Of The Heart”, was excellent and the single, “(not adam)”, is probably one of the greatest Foetus tracks I’ve ever heard. It ranks easily amongst the tracks featured on Flow.

So I raised my hopes. And I feel like that was something of a mistake. Because Love is a very mixed bag.

The album starts with “(not adam)”, so that only stands to reinforce your hope that this will be another Foetus album to be reckoned with. It is quickly chased, though, by “Mon Agonie Douche”, a French-language track that seems nothing more than ballad-y 60’s love song treacle, though my opinion may be too harsh, fueled by my disappointment in the Foetus that I’ve come to crave.

That kind of sound is better represented in the tolerable “Aladdin Reverse” and “How To Vibrate” (which sounds far too much like certain moments of last album’s “Kreibabe” to feel new). “Blessed Evening” stands out as an interesting track, though I’m not sure if I really put it in the same realm as “(not adam)”. “Time Marches On” also manages to wedge in a bit more of what I was looking for out of Foetus’ latest, though none of the tracks except “(not adam)” seem to offer the depth of his previous work. Most of them seem fairly shallow and unimpressive in the scheme of his exceptional discography.

I also was not pleased by Thirlwell’s surrender of vocals on “Thrush” to Jennifer Charles. I don’t know if I’m right in feeling like this, but with the rare event that a new Foetus album has become, I want as much of Thrilwell’s voice as I can get. Call me greedy, but it’s a Foetus album. And guest vocalists are not a trait of Foetus. Foetus is a one-man band and I like it that way.

All in all, the mood is a bit dreary and dreamy, and the lyrics seem to be a shallow repetition of Thrilwell’s usual style. It lacks the drive, humor, and substance of his previous work, as well as its grit. It’s still better than 90% of what will come out this year, but, after the bar has been set so high, I’m a bit underwhelmed.

This release also features a DVD of video content.


from ReGen Magazine (~4/2005)

Varioius artists

Category: Compilations
Album: DElecTROnIcT v3

I used to think that Detroit was a town that had plenty of local talent, something my locale of Atlanta never has, and that it was the type of place where you could get behind the bands that came out of the scene.

Maybe I’m being a bit critical because I’m an industrial listener and much of this is very electronica-oriented. But I can’t help but think that much of this sucks. Sure, that’s generally the case with local bands. But, at the same time, I hoped that there would be some gems amongst the shit.

To try to point out the positive, Entluften’s “Broken Mold” isn’t quite up to snuff in some capacities of production, but manages to, nevertheless, be an enjoyable track. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to enjoy Venereal Injection’s lo-fi “S & M”, but I do in a way reminiscent to my love for the grit of Prick’s The Wreckard, only with more distortion. Silverchord manages to interest me, despite the fact that the track is nothing exceptional, but something about the track is soothing in a cold, dark way. Crash Site 68 offers a journeyman dance track of no particular import.

Verzerren’s 4 tracks might actually be the most interesting out of the CD. And they’re all 15 second-long noise tracks. In fact, I’d love to actually listen to a full CD of longer versions of this stuff… I hate experimental/noise music, but something about the sound structures that Verzerren manages are compelling. Sadly, they may be the most recommended thing on the whole CD, despite severe brevity and lack of real content.

In less-honorable mention, I would like to request 4FR, AprAxiA, and Doc Raymond to stop. Now. And please don’t start again. Mutual Hate Society needs to either change their name or make better music. I know CEOXiME has some talent, but this track doesn’t show it. Humachine provides something that isn’t quite up to par, but interesting in an experimental kind of way, which is echoed in The Morning Star’s track.

I should mention again that AprAxiA should stop. If you have any instruments, sell them. Give them to charity. Promise me this will never happen again.

In between those two extremes are some twitchy experimental tracks that didn’t really get me interested in either direction, which, in the end, isn’t that bad for them. Toybreaker seems interesting enough, but I’m not into that whole noise-y type thing. Voltage Controlled Ficus works in the same vain, but manages to be both shrill and annoying in the execution of its track. Digital Terror Netwerk does a fair job with quite a few loops that I have on my computer.

All in all, the compilation does offer quite a bit of variety, but much of it isn’t the kind of variety you would want. There are good moments in there, but nothing seems terribly cohesive. One doesn’t have to be a slave to a single tone or genre, but this is a bit too schizophrenic for my liking.


from ReGen Magazine (~4/2005)

Skinny Puppy

Category: Industrial
Album: The Greater Wrong Of The Right

Almost everything than can be said about Skinny Puppy’s latest album has been said. It’s been said and re-said. It’s been folded, spindled, and mutilated. It’s be hashed and re-hashed. And you still have one opinion or another: it’s fantastic or it’s crap that’s not suited to carry the Skinny Puppy name.

The naysayers make the point that too much has changed, the tone is all wrong and that it’s not the same band anymore. “They never should have dishonored Dwayne’s memory by going on,” they lament. Well, to tell you the truth, I didn’t hear anyone complain that Skinny Puppy changed when Bill Leeb left. The band is as it ever was, Ogre and cEvin Key doing what they do best: making the music that they enjoy.

Give it a rest. Ten years have passed. Much has changed. The technology is new and different. Music has come a long way since Nirvana, Bush, and Hootie & The Blowfish. This is a new day, a new age, a new sound and a new message. And maybe we ought to accept it and give it a try before throwing it out as not sounding like “Dig It” or “Testure” or “Worlock” or whatever was your favorite Skinny Puppy track. Because, to tell you the truth, I don’t want to hear the same Skinny Puppy album four or five more times.

The lyrical content this go-round is a new variation on the usual Skinny Puppy repertoire. No more are the days of harping on animal rights or detailing the internal struggle of Ogre as drug user. More astute and topical than usual, though still sprinkled throughout Ogre’s jagged thoughts, are diatribes belittling the social condition of a country under the thumb of George W.’s intense rhetoric. While his message might not be the most clear, it’s sure to say that his disapproval of our condition, our leaders, our war, our society is at its peak, generating ire currently with conservative groups across the country, filling their forums with thinly-veiled and totally-unveiled threats and pleas to shoot this “traitor to America” on sight. For Skinny Puppy, the thoughts and message of this album may be their most pertinent to date and deserve some consideration by their fans.

Musically, this album brings you things in a new light. It’s the same old Skinny Puppy structures, some of the same sounds, keys, and pads, just with a new rhythm, a new attitude, and a faster beat. It’s as much an evolution and extension of The Process as anything. Songs like “I’mmortal” and “d0wnsizer” deliver many of the earmarks of older Skinny Puppy with new tones. Other tracks show more of Ogre’s evolution to actual singing in their similarity to OhGr’s albums. “Pro-test” comes off as a bitter, driving Prodigy song, while “Past Present” takes the electronica of “Blue Serge” and pounds it into a new shape.

I would say that many of the tracks, like “Use Less” and “DaddyuWarbash” stand up as some of Skinny Puppy’s best, if not nearly their most experimental. And thousands would disagree with me. But the point is: isn’t it just nice to have something new, different, inventive, and with a verifiable message to listen to?

So, lose the chip on your shoulder, give it a try, and just enjoy it, without all that nasty baggage. And maybe you’ll find a CD that you can really enjoy, even if it isn’t your father’s Skinny Puppy.


from ReGen Magazine (~4/2005)

Girls Under Glass

Category: Electro-Pop
Album: Zyklus

I’ll admit that I’m a bit surprised. I always figured, from the snippets I had heard, that Girls Under Glass was some whining dark moping goth bitchfest, likely full of cello and crap. But, surprisingly, it’s not.

What I seem to have here is a very German electro act that is balanced by moments of full on industrial-rock goodness. The balance is very strange, because one moment you’re in the midst of Germanic EBM-pop and, the next thing you know, you’ve got some good guitar in there, which has its moments where it takes on an 80’s radio-rock tone (ala Journey, minus Steve Perry). Then it’s straight into synthpop. It’s an odd assortment.

Undoubtedly, this is not a CD for someone who’s only going to want to pin down one genre or another. It might be a little too eccentric for the EBM-listener and it’s definitely not sufficiently upbeat and hard for the industrial-rock enthusiast. But the album does make for interesting listening if you’re someone of a very varied taste, because this album has everything from the saccharine ballad to the dancefloor track and back again.

At least every bit of it is done with an admirable sense of style and very sufficient quality. It is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, most likely not even my own, but it’s good to yet again see Metropolis embracing diversification in their sound and hopefully this will lead back to the days of a more diverse sound in the scene and more open minds.


from ReGen Magazine (~4/2005)


Category: Industrial
Album: Los Angeles Synthetic

Despite trying my best to always be impartial and fair, I’m going to be a bit negative in this one. I’m going to skip journalistic integrity and just tell you what I think. Bear with me.

I’ve heard of System Syn. I’m not sure why. From what little I’ve heard, it’s not overly impressive and I really don’t know why their name existed in my mind even before I bothered listening to their music, despite the fact that I can’t remember anyone ever mentioning them before.

FAKE is the side-project of System Syn, in case you’re wondering about the segue here. And I can’t say that FAKE is really much more impressive.

The album starts off well enough with “Non Event”, which sounds like a totally generic rip-off of a Suicide Commando track, which is fine by me, as it’s a well-done rip-off and is actually pretty goon on its own. Then the album takes a nosedive into inanity. “To This Land” is one of those songs where the lyrics make you wonder about what kind of person is making the music. It’s the type of silly, juvenile sentiments that you hear and are then forced to wonder how someone could even commit them to paper. I’m not even going into the idea of then taking this crap and recording it on purpose. And many of the other songs aren’t much better, though, as Nick would tell you, “Money To Kill For” isn’t that bad.

And that seems to be the fatal flaw of FAKE. Clint Carney is a pretty decent musician, but he strays out into that territory where he feels comfortable in putting those cliché and wretched lyrics that everyone pumps out at a bad point in their life into the public eye. And I’m personally embarrassed for him. He’s trying to take on some serious sentiments in some of the songs, our social conditions, the state of human greed, and our lust to be that ideal that we are told we should be. All are admirable topics, but are all handled in a heavy-handed and, frankly, dumb way. You just kind of get sucked into these repetitive A-A-B-B rhyme schemes and shallow notions and you’re left wondering why this album couldn’t be more.

It’s really too bad that it isn’t better, as Clint seems to have many good qualities, but something has to be done about the state of his lyrical work. Usually my gripe is in the vocal department, but his vocals aren’t really that awful. In fact, “Whatever Makes You Happy” sounds pretty good and even manages to be enjoyable, despite the silliness of the lyrics. If he could let himself go and put something interesting alongside the pretty diverse mix of harsh EBM, industrial, and electro elements on a regular basis, it’d be something worth checking out. But, as it stands, it just leaves me wondering why.


from ReGen Magazine (~4/2005)

The Damage Manual

Category: Industrial
Album: Limited Edition


I have to say that I’m not really a tremendous fan of Martin Atkins. I seem to buy all the CD’s he’s involved with, I enjoy several of the bands he works with, but there’s a certain tone to all his music that’s a bit… off.

Pigface has always possessed a certain experimental grit that has left me wanting something more. For every “Asphole” you’ve got 14 “Hagseed”s that fuck up the whole mix. Or at least bore me to tears. When you can narrow down the tracks you really like to a greatest-hits-style format, it tends to leave you a little wary.

The same kind of residue of Pigface seemed to linger on the first 2 Damage Manual CD’s, though they sounded great and the songwriting was pretty good. But none of it grabbed me at all.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with addition of Hate Dept.’s Steven Seibold as Atkins’ production partner or his co-writing of the album with Connelly and Atkins, but this CD is a large step up for the Martin Atkins discography. All those unfinished edges that stuck out in his other numerous projects and all those tracks that bored me have been beaten into submission and are made into a totally new creature. The Damage Manual has involved into some genuinely good industrial-rock tracks. The tracks are fun, catchy, and have a certain pop sensibility that actually allows you to enjoy them as well as appreciate them.

Sure, tracks like “I Am War Again” and “Driven Menace” still manage to throw down that chant-y Pigface gauntlet and then stomp all over it, but everything is handled with great sincerity and simplicity. It just wants to rock you. It’s not trying to be anything but what it is and it’s fun to boot.

So I tip my hat to the Connelly/Atkins/Seibold team for making me a believer on an endeavor that could have easily left me very cold and disinterested. Thank you for writing songs that you can sing along to and feel good about.


from ReGen Magazine (~4/2005)

S. Sturgis

Category: Noise
Album: In A Haze

For those not “in the know,” Scott Sturgis is the mind behind Pain Station and Converter, as well as other projects, such as this one.

This is a CD of a live performance recorded early last year. It speaks more so to the electronic side of Mr. Sturgis’ work, forgoing the experimental side of Converter in favor of a more loopy electronic soundscape of glitchy noise, drums, and droning squeals of sound, providing an excellent internal soundtrack. It is not a catchy or fun listen, by any means, but rather interesting and complex way in which Mr. Sturgis goes about his creations leave you interested in the proceedings without it blurring into a monotonous haze.

Over the six tracks, you are led quickly through a world of ever-changing, engrossing material. This is suitable background music that tantalizes the mind instead of just providing noise to fill the empty space.

Sturgis would be best served to segue his musical abilities into the film industry, where his style and way with cutting notes would find a great home in the cinematic realm.

Regardless, with the exception of Pain Station, which was never a good stylistic fit, Scott Sturgis seems to set the bar in most areas he places his creative foot into. With the ingenuity of this project as well as the one-upping of powernoise by Converter, you are left to wonder what will spring next from his mind.


from ReGen Magazine (~2/2005)


Category: Electro-pop
Album: Truth Is Fanatic

I’ve wracked my brain for weeks trying to figure out why someone would like this CD. And, after all that time, I don’t think I’m really capable of figuring it out.

Rotersand, which apparently features members of 1AM and The Fair Sex, seems to be less than the sum of its parts. On the surface, they deliver just another variety of generic synthpop tracks, tarted up with the latest pounding drums. But, from the word on the street, I figured there’d have to be more than that. I’d listen again and again to the same tracks droning on endlessly, trying to figure out what someone would find interesting about these same tired electronic pop clichés laid over static noise and strange sounds. For the life of me, I can’t see it. It seems like so much recycled Covenant and VNV Nation to me. Though tracks like “Merging Oceans”, “Lifelight”, and “Electronic World Transmission” seem like decent enough club singles, there’s nothing new or relevant to them.

Never do the tracks really move far outside the realm of synthpop or rave-sounding club pop. But, when it does, it ends up seeming disconcerting rather than being a relief. Tracks like “One Level Down” come off as strange and misplaced and “Hush” seems to be nothing more than vapid treacle, fit only for easy-listening radio stations, and physically painful to listen to.

Some songs move past the simple generic nature of the music and become truly offensive. “Social Distortion”, featuring Sina Hübner of Pzycho Bitch “fame”, has to be one of the most rancid pieces of shit I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Her wretched, moaning, desperately “come-hither” spoken-word “vocals” tear at my brain with every listen, making me wince and fidget in a room by myself. I’d be embarrassed to be caught listening to such juvenile trash publicly. It makes me wonder how this trollop still has a career and why anyone would employ her to work on their album in any capacity.

All in all, I have no basis to really recommend or even discourage one from listening to this album, except for the case of “Social Distortion” and “Hush”. There is nothing pertinent here to listen to, despite claims by some that this is an album of merit. I am hard-pressed to find anything even memorable after several listens, despite trying desperately. And I can’t imagine mine will be the only case of feeling like this.


from ReGen Magazine (~2/2005)