Released in November of 2022 Venetian Veil `s six song EP The Lands Of The Living And The Dead is a lush, ethereal take on post-punk that drips with melancholy and nostalgic flair.
From the opening notes of intro track Asleep In The Land Of The Living through third track The Lamb we`re given mid-tempo percussion, reverberating guitar melodies that carry a certain sombre twang to them all topped off with an exchange of vocals between the two members throughout the EP. Awake In The Land Of The Dead coming in as track four creates the sense of a real SIde-A, Side-B situation which makes the release come off more conceptual and thematic, a true body of work if you will as opposed to a collection of songs.
This is the perfect soundtrack for night drives, be it solitary ones or in the company of friends, lovers and all that may exist inbetween. I can easily envision myself playing this during the twilight hours and wishing to stay in that state forever, washed to the proverbial sea by the soundwaves of Venetian Veil.
Described as a dark electronic folk band Hem Netjer recently released their debut album The Song Of Trees
I`m always intrigued by artists who blend spiritual ideas into their art, be it music or otherwise. Hem Netjer spent the lockdowns of the not-too-distant past doing exactly this. With their debut album The Song Of Trees they`ve crafted a journey through the elements in the form of seven songs that could be just as fitting as a soundtrack to guided meditation sessions.
The dark electronic folk music description certainly piqued my interest as often folk music projects rely more on traditional and older, unsual instruments to evoke a certain aura that electronics might seem to contradict but I would argue that this release has a perfect blend and balance that masterfully serves the intended purpose.
Void is the opening track, the state of nothingness from which creation springs forth, a fitting introduction that sets the mood and is continued with Salt & Tears which introduces slightly heavier electronic elements but still manages to keep the mood and ambiance right where it should be. What appears to be throat singing is pumping away throughout the track and I`d be interested to know if this is a sample or something performed by one of the groups members, either way it works wonderfully and is quite fitting.
Note: Upon further inspection the throat singing is performed by Jesse Elyt
Production wise its sleek and clean but not sterile or overpolished. A little snooping on the groups Bandcamp site lets me know the release is recorded at Jacknife Sound operated by none othen than Jason Corbett of ACTORS with production duties handled by iVardensphere`s Scott Fox
Track number 3, Eldur, features soaring, beautiful vocal work fit for riding into battle, in this case of course the battle takes place within as we dive deeper into our Selves and work through each stage of our journey.
Some may say the woods of Norway is the perfect setting for music of this particular style, while I could see the point in such a statement I take a look at what I myself tend to listen to in my daily life, the music I myself create and I find my surroundings have very little influence and therefore I believe there is no such limitatiions on what setting or enviorment best suits this music, it would be just as effective for someone living in a busy city and perhaps have even stronger of an effect in what could be perceived as a contrast of settings.
It appears the album has been truly crafted as one piece, a journey, a continual aural adventure. This is definetly one of those albums that require you to listen from start to end for maximum effect. The way each track blends into the next and the stage it represents going from the opening track all the way to the middle sections with Freedom and Connect leading into the end stages of Elemental Cry and Otherworld I urge any potential listener to give up the just over 30 miinutes of playtime to be able to fully appreciate this as the body of work it clearly was intended to be.
Each element ranging from the synth and strings to percussion and vocals blend perfectly together where nothing feels out of place or as if it doesn`t belong, everything is there for a reason and works in unison to birth a complete and whole picture.
If you wish to explore Hem Netjer further our wonderful overlord, Ken, The Duchess conducted an interview with them a while back which you can view here:
Rising from the ashes of 900RPM, the German noise extraordinaire David Munster presents a new dark vision with [gelöscht] releasing March 8th via Colorado based label Produkt 42.
Being a fan of the more experimental and avant garde corners of the music scene can be both a joy and a pain, trudging through oceans of what can only be described as distorted microwave drones and noise for the sake of noise with little to no substance. Verführervergelter however does not fall into this category, with [gelöscht] run time of just under 40 minutes across 9 tracks it managed to keep my attention with its grinding mechanical ambiance gently pierced with the sound of air-raid sirens throughout. The release plays like a movie score and while one might be tempted to envision this style of music in the context of horror I think this release could fit well in a broader spectrum than the obvious.
Each track seemingly flows in and out of eachother creating a cohesive listening experience, uninterrupted by one track ending and another beginning which I feel really adds some depth and dimension to a release of this particular style. Terms like power electronics and death industrial is usually the first one wants to grab for when describing what is offered here but having spent a fair amount of time exploring these subgenres [and sub-sub genres] I`d rather you listen with as little guidance as possible, sometimes going in as blind as you can is a rewarding experience that is perhaps a little lost in todays world of hashtags and microcosms.
What initally caught my attention about this release was actually the album artwork, simple yet stylish. The short description given to me further piqued my interest by mentioning a variety of artists Ive long been a fan of, moral of the story being dont underestimate the power of good visuals for your releases. In a subgenre overflowing with black and white BDSM photos or vintage crime scene and often misogynistic imagery this release stands out with an air of individuality that goes against the grain in a scene that has seemingly long lost touch with any redeeming quality or substance it ever contained.
That being said let me be clear, this is most certainly still an experimental release in line with what youd expect from the early era of industrial music with the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Current 93 , Coil and so on however it feels more thought out and more purposeful than the aforementioned microwave droning you often come across in this area.
This is a release rich with texture and rhythmic glitching from start to end with moments of lush almost choral sounding synth work woven into the controlled chaos.
Pre-Order [gelöscht] via Produkt 42 : produkt42.bandcamp.com/album/gel-scht
Towards the end of last year Philadelphia based musician Ian Staer bestowed upon us his latest release, Equilibrium. Mixed by none other than Chris Vrenna [Nine Inch Nails/Tweaker] and mastered by Eric Oehler
This latest offering is made up of two 16 minute instrumental pieces that from the moment I hit play bathed me in warmth and nostalgia of an era I`ve never experienced, not because it sounds retro or carries traces of any immediately obvious time period but rather that was the initial emotional response to the first few seconds of `Coriolis`. It`s an inviting, intriguin and at times a little melancholic sound that makes its runtime feel much shorter than what one initially expects. 16 minutes felt like 16 seconds and begs for you to hit the replay.
Staer masterfully paints an aural landscape you want to get lost in and explore, the release being entirely instrumental allows for the listener to project their own fantasy unto the canvas of abstract sonic paintings, such is the beauty and endless possibility of instrumental music. Futhermore, what the listener does project unto it all is open to change as they return to the release in time, resulting in a sort of musical rorschac test.
The second piece Manifold trickles in seamlessly, in fact you may not even notice one track ending and another beginning, a small detail perhaps but wether its done purposefully or not it does add to the immersive aspect of the listening experience and its a detail I greatly appreciate. I cant resist returning to the idea of warmth, the sound of the songs themselves as well as the production quality conjures forth this specific phrase, speaking of the production it brings words such as sleek to mind. About half-way into the second track I take notices of some nice yet subtle panning of the melodies that I`m sure will add new depths and dimensions to listening via headphones particularly.
The release is graced with an ocean image, red evening sky and what appears to be the moon or at least a moon, which galaxy it might belong to will be up to the listener to decide as they explore the approximately half hour runtime of Equilibrum which they may do via the Bandcamp site which is linked below.
Out of Portland, Oregon comes Luscious Apparatus. Founded as a studio project by Jack Norton in the great plague of 2020 he picked up Sandi Leeper, Daniel Henderson and Catherine Hukle and off they went! Their debut single “Infiltrate” found its way to my ears a while back when I requested new music I should be aware of and it has haunted my mind ever since. Of course then, I was quite excited to learn a second single was on the way. So much so, that rather than simply including the single in a compilation review I wanted to use the opportunity to help out this new great act and let them speak.
Below you will find a review of the second single “Bricks & Bones” along with an interview with the band, enjoy!
The song kicks off with plucked, effect laden guitars that carries an air of nostalgia and melancholy. Sublte synths creep in along with pounding dramatic drums, heralding the coming of something or other. Sandis vocals are the perfect mixture of determined yet soft, like an iron fist in a velvet glove. Quickly were in the midst of it all with serpentine guitars slithering through, waltzing with synths and pads melted together perfectly to create something that for whatever reason I keep wanting to describe as seductive. Both singles released so far have quite a cinematic feel to them in terms of sound as well as structure. Theres a drama and the feeling of a story being told through sound. If one day Luscious Apparatus ends up with a song or two featured in a movie my only reaction will be “About time”. With only two songs available they sure know how to leave you wanting more and their short output carries such vast amounts of potential and intigue that we can do nothing but foam at the mouth like the starved beasts we are as we await the next feast.
Why don`t we start off with introducing the readers to the band, who are Luscious Apparatus and what brought you all together?
Luscious Apparatus are Jack, Sandi, Cate, & Daniel – that’s also the chronology that each member joined the band. It was a studio project until 2020 – that’s when Jack floated a bunch of demos by Sandi, and she happened to like them. She cut them up, then rearranged them to fit her lyrics, added some instrumentation, and just like that they sounded like real songs. Finding Cate was pure luck; Jack ran a Craigslist ad for a shoegaze guitarist just as Cate was getting ready to move from Seattle back to Portland, and as it happened, she was looking for a band to play in. For the record, that shoegaze influence, those walls of sound are deliberate – this wouldn’t be the same band without them. Daniel was the last to join – not from lack of interest, but because of his own musical commitments, and COVID. Daniel (under his solo project Newphasemusic) had just released The Precedents of the United States of America, and Jack did a Luscious Apparatus remix of “So Much to Lose.” Shortly after that, Daniel joined Luscious Apparatus as the drummer.
Luscious Apparatus as a term seems quite fitting with the singles released thus far, what were the ideas and thoughts that lead to choosing the name?
I love that the name sounds intentional, and we’re 100% happy with the way it fits our sound. Obviously, it’s a direct reference to Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode, and his other band, Recoil. The truth is, though, the name for the band was picked many years ago when Jack was working as a part-time promoter in Dallas. As the story goes, Jack was known at the time for throwing extravagant scene parties in his downtown eighth-floor loft apartment. One of the smaller parties was for his birthday, and involved a close friend who was a DJ, and some undisclosed quantity of psychedelic substances. At some point the Recoil song, Luscious Apparatus, was played, and the story of Carla, Jack, and their doomed relationship at the mayonnaise factory was permanently imprinted in Jack’s subconscious. At that moment, Jack decided if he ever formed a band, it would be named Luscious Apparatus.
The song notes for Brick & Bones talk about a woman and her journey to control her rage. Something about the overall concept of the song instantly reminded me of Jungian psychoanalasys ideas like Shadow work, particularly the idea that one must control and integrate certain parts of oneself to avoid its negative affects. Is the song based pure fiction or is there any real life events or perhaps even experiences that served as inspiration?
Sandi: I haven’t studied enough of Jung’s work, so I don’t think I can really speak on that. Perhaps it’s less like integrating that stuff and more like accepting that it’s there and learning how to work around it. I don’t know if that still counts as shadow work or not. It’s not fiction, it’s about a lovely feature of certain mental disorders/neurodiverse tendencies that triggers outbursts and meltdowns. It’s almost like a form of seizure, where something gets tripped and the neurons start firing rapidly, causing emotional dysregulation and loss of control. It’s an embarrassing symptom to have, and it’s kind of like how a bite from a baby rattlesnake is far more deadly than one from an adult because they have not yet learned how to regulate the amount of venom released. (That’s why I wore a snake shirt in the photos, teehee.) The song is about disclosing the fact that this problem is there, for one. That second verse is about recognizing the signs and offer/suggest something to literally cool the head before the wire trips to maintain control of the self to thwart burning bridges and destroying interpersonal relationships, job status, a stable home, scaring the cats, etc. I mean, I personally wouldn’t burn any places down but everybody’s different.
What`s the creative process like? Is there a dedicated writer or composer that brings the first few building blocks?
Because of COVID, and the challenges brought about by the lockdown, we’ve had to develop a brand-new creative process from scratch. Typically, someone will create a demo (we have stacks of material waiting to be mined), and that demo is turned over to Sandi, who will arrange it to fit her lyrics. Often a demo will incorporate all instruments, sometimes made by chopping up samples and rebuilding them in a studio environment. From there, everyone is responsible for developing their own parts – Jack with synths and programming, Sandi with VOX, bass, and additional synths, Cate with guitars, and Daniel with drums. As we build the parts, we’re reimagining them with own textures and flavors. When the song is reassembled, it still sounds like the demo, but it is uniquely ours, as a group. And it’s all done remotely – we’ve only recently started getting together, in the same room at the same time, and that’s in preparation for our live shows.
Personally I loved your debut single Infiltrate, how do you feel it`s been received overall?
We’re very excited by the warm reception Infiltrate has seen. It has taken off and has been played internationally in clubs and on Internet playlists. I think there is a natural crossover between electronic music and shoegaze, and the response we’ve seen from casual listeners and industry insiders seems to bear that out.
Are there any plans for an album or EP, when might we see something like that?
Yes! We do have plans to release an EP, probably later this summer. We had hoped to get it out there before our live shows in July, but it just takes us longer to perfect our recordings.
Youre scheduled to play the Coffin Cub in Portland with Curse Mackey as well as the Star Theater, whats the live scene like where you are and especially now in these plague days? Have you been able to get out and play much at all?
The live music scene is alive and well in Portland!
Now, is COVID still a threat? Absolutely! But I think we’re all feeling like we’ve done everything we can to minimize its effect – vaccinations, boosters, and masks. And for better or worse there is some degree of fatigue associated with COVID. We’ve seen close friends come down with it, even though they’re vaxxed and boosted, so it’s not over. But for those who are vaxxed and boosted, it feels like – at least anecdotally – their symptoms are not as severe. As far as Luscious Apparatus live performances, we have two scheduled for July. The first is July 2nd at the Coffin Club, with Curse Mackey and Puerta Negra; it’s also the 10th anniversary party for Songs from Under The Floorboard. The second show is July 24th at The Star Theater, with Stariana (Eugene) and Photona. That’s our entire summer show schedule, as we’ll then retreat into the shadows to finish recording the EP and prepare for more shows in the fall.