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.
Brant Showers is a sonic pilgrim whos creations, be they under the ∆AIMON moniker, SØLVE or his role in Bestial Mouths, have long interested, fascinated and in many ways, spoken to me. For that reason, when I came to find that hes about to release his second SØLVE album I reached out to inquire about any possibilties for a review/interview as much of his work features references to alchemy and other parts of occultism that I myself utilizie heavily in my own music. Below you will find my review of EARTH INFERNO alongside an interview with the man behind it all.
SØLVE is the solo project of Brant Showers (of the band ∆AIMON) and serves as a means to explore difficult personal concepts of self-reflection, anima/desire, and ritualism. With roots in industrial, witch house, and dark atmospheric sound design, SØLVE uses occult themes to form the basis of his intense yet introspective output. Since the release of his first EP, ‘svovel | salt | kvikksølv,’ in 2013, SØLVE has quickly garnered attention in the dark electronic scene through remixes, shows, and festival performances – as well as through his numerous releases – including his newest full-length, ‘EARTH INFERNO,’ to be released on June 7th through Re:Mission Entertainment.
I believe we have talked about this before in private but let`s go over it once more for the readers; What is the meaning of the name SØLVE and is there any signficance to our useage of the letter Ø as opposed to the English O?
Well, in 2013 I started SØLVE as a way to work through some personal issues without having it reflected in any of the other projects I’m involved with. I wanted the focus of it to be ritualistic (and especially Jungian, Kabbalah, and alchemy themed), so I felt using the first part of the SOLVE ET COAGULA process was appropriate – the dissolution and breaking down before rebuilding. This project has continued to operate from that perspective – as a practical exercise in breaking down everything from a psychoanalytical and spiritual angle. I like to joke about always breaking and never building, but that’s actually very accurate. I suppose SØLVE will change if I ever make it to the next step in the process, but in the meantime I’m thankful to have this project for the important purpose it serves me. The choice to use the letter Ø was mostly rooted in wanting to honor my Nordic heritage and add a personal touch since it’s a solo project so closely tied to my identity and individual self. A lot of the songs play around with double meanings in language as well, so I appreciate that both the Latin and Norse variations have their own specific definition (with the Nordic translating to ‘silver’ – an element also important in the alchemical direction of the project).
Many things about EARTH INFERNO stood out to me immedietly, beyond the title which we`ll get to in a second one of the things I noticed was the number of tracks. 13 being a number of significance in a variety of spiritual traditions around the world combined with your obvious occult/alchemy references does make one wonder wether this was done on purpose?
May as well cut right to the core of the album. When I first started production on EARTH INFERNO in 2019 I was in a bad place feeling incredibly lost and adrift – hitting my 40s with no real career path or direction, and feeling further and further isolated away from the music scenes that I grew up in. It’s all stuff I’m still very much working through, but was at its worst around the time the pandemic started hitting everywhere. Then civil unrest, insurrection, and BLM protests became an important part of our daily lives and it just seemed that everything was coming to a boiling point all at once. Originally I intended for EARTH INFERNO to be an EP centered around this theme, but a lot happened in the following two years, most significantly my family suffered an incredible loss that completely changed everything for everyone. At this time (literally the day of the funeral) my wife and I learned we were pregnant with our first child – and so we were confronted with the enormity of celebrating extreme joy while also deeply grieving someone so important to us. It’s a profound feeling that I can’t begin to describe, but has impacted every facet of my life and my outlook ever since – especially after I began to realize just how interwoven the two experiences are. As the album developed from this overwhelming mix of emotions, it only made sense for the track number to reflect it. As most know, the Death card in tarot represents both physical death as well as a metaphorical catalyst of change and the spiritual immortality that comes from it. I always work numerology and divination references into my production, so it was an obvious choice given how the final theme of the album came about.
SØLVE releases always has such excellent artwork, for this album youve got a piece from CVSPE, was this made specifically for the album or was it a pre-existing piece of theirs? If the latter, what was it about it that spoke to you and felt like itd be a fitting representation, or if it was commisioned, what ideas and perhaps visual references were brought up in its creation?
Thank you. For this album I commissioned art specifically for the album cover from CVSPE after seeing their work on instagram. Their style fit perfectly with what I had in mind so I tried to avoid interfering too much with their visual process. I mostly just pointed out some of their own previous work that suited the themes and sent over some of the demo tracks so they would have an understanding of the direction of the music. They were immediately inspired to create the art that you now see on the cover and I am absolutely pleased with the result.
Lets talk about the title: EARTH INFERNO. Id imagine the majority of the S&S community may recall the Fields Of The Nephilim release by the same name which of course brings us to your common source for it: Austin Osman Spare. How would you say A.O.S, chaos magick or generally the occult influences your work or perhaps even the manner in which you work?
This was an instance where I knew what the title of the album was going to be from the first day of recording, so even though I came across the FOTN album during my research, I still had to see it through. Plus, I have enough respect for FOTN to feel fine about our shared influence. That said, where previous SØLVE releases have dealt more with shadow work and my personal path towards awakening, with EARTH INFERNO I wanted to focus on the profane and temporal human experience. Of course, my beliefs and occult interests still inform my perspective, but I didn’t want to minimize any of the hardships of existence by trying to elevate them to some form of allegory. Likewise, Austin Osman Spare’s work is deeply critical of the human experience, he himself notorious for being incredibly antisocial. In EARTH INFERNO he especially concerns himself with the concept of blindness – oblivious to our condition and the illusion of truth – in what he refers to as Life’s Nightmare. This outlook was an important influence and permeates throughout the mood and framework of the album as a whole.
While not written by A.O.S Id say its fair to have books like the Liber Null (Peter J. Carroll) come to mind when talking about this particular section of the occult world. If you`re familiar with the idea of the Psychonaut, are these practices and methods something you work with or maybe incorporate in the creative stages of a song or even complete album?
Oh definitely. My first serious interest in Magick began in high school when I was drawn to counterculture aspects of the occult (especially through Grant Morrison’s ‘The Invisibles’ and the Disinfo books edited by Richard Metzger), so Chaos Magick was a perfect fit for my angsty teen self rebelling against dogma and societal structures. As I’ve grown older, for whatever reason, my path has taken me deeper into older traditions like Kabbalah, Hermeticism, and neoplatonic philosophies, but there’s still a lot from the works of A.O.S., Carroll, and Phil Hines that have stuck with me to this day. My first album, ‘the negative,’ was especially steeped in the idea of presenting the music itself as a type of sigil, a charged intention – that is very much in line with Spare’s methods. I don’t do as much sigil work these days, but you could argue my fixation on track number is already a big indicator of its influence on my album crafting. Another important teaching of Chaos Magick that I take to heart is that basically any chosen system’s efficacy is entirely determined by how well its symbology speaks to your particular subconscious. So all systems are equally valid as long as they work for you. These days, my life experiences have made me more open to the influence of outer forces, but I still prefer to view everything through that same psychoanalytic lens as elaborated on by Spare and Chaos Magick.
Three of the tracks bear “Inferno” as its subtitle. A reference to Dante Allegheri and the circles of Hell or is this something else?
The use of the Inferno subtitle for those particular tracks is my way of denoting album versions from previously released mixes of the tracks (two songs were released as singles and two appeared on compilations). I liked the term Inferno as it ensures an understanding that these versions are in line with the album’s tone. I brought out the frayed and rougher elements in the mixes and added appropriate noise textures, etc. (re-recording drums and vocals as well), to lean into the idea of “Inferno” as this hellish landscape – unforgiving and uncompromising. The allusion to Dante is definitely appropriate for what I’m hoping to convey.
Switching over to the material realm for a moment ; How is your creative process as far gear and such is concerned? Do you have a dedicated method , specific tools be they software or hardware or is it depending more on the time, place and specific song perhaps?
The intention with this release was to work quickly and efficiently so as to avoid overthinking anything. I wanted it to reflect an immediacy throughout and so it was important to streamline the recording process. I also wanted everything to have a sonic consistency and evoke the feeling that it was all recorded in the same studio session, so I mapped out a template of sounds – mostly the main drum kit, as well as guitar and bass tones, and a few synths that carry throughout each track. Normally I’d mix up the palette more between songs, but the continuity of the shared sounds really adds to the cohesive quality I was after. To keep everything as intuitive as possible I wrote and recorded all the rhythms and melodies with guitar first, then played the drums “live” with an electronic Alesis mesh kit. This is a totally different way of working for me, as I usually do much more programming (for both synths and drums), but I really enjoyed the performance element of recording this way – and especially get a lot of joy out of playing behind a drum kit. This process gave the album a bit more of a “rock” direction than I think people would normally expect from me, but it’s what felt natural for this release. I also used this opportunity to play around with some outside-the-box hardware, so the textures and noise elements come from handmade instruments as well as the MakeNoise 0-Coast, the Korg Volca Modular, and the Korg Nu:tekt NTS-1. They’re all perfect for adding the proper level of drone, static, and unpredictability.
Recently you took to Facebook explaining your feelings towards getting ever so closer to the release of this album. You spoke of anxiety and a sense of restlessness regarding having spent such a big chunk of time on its creation and the anticipation of sharing it with the world, a feeling I`m sure all creative spirits will relate to. What do you think are some of the main themes of the album, what parts of your Self are we being presented here?
Indeed, I’m sure it’s a very common feeling for anyone putting themselves out there through art and creativity. It’s not easy to be so vulnerable in a craft where you’re purposely drawing attention to yourself. With this album I aimed to present the most insecure parts of myself. I happen to be in an incredible relationship surrounded by strong and supportive people that I love, and yet I can’t help but find ways to constantly feel lost and insignificant. A lot of that probably comes from that same artistic temperament and need for validation, while other fears can be attributed to recently losing a loved one or being a new father – what mistakes will I make as a dad and how much of my mental health issues will I pass on to her? Not to mention the concerns about the world she’s inheriting from us. It’s all a lot of anxiety already – and still growing. So that’s the Self being presented. As for the main theme of the album, I touched on it a little earlier – specifically the intense connection between love and devastation. They’re not separate ideas, they are two necessary sides of the same coin – but that doesn’t make it any less cruel and unfair. Life is full of absolute beauty and passion experienced through the sincere connections we share with others, but we pay heavily for that joy. Trying to come to terms with such a profound range of highs and lows has significantly impacted my perspective on day-to-day interactions and the weight of our role in others people’s lives. It’s something I will never take for granted ever again.
On perhaps a less personal note, you mentioned how this album doesnt cater to any particular elements associated with the industrial genre, specifying the lack of "easy club accessibility". Im sure you`re well aware of the evolution of the genre and how different it is today from the eary days of Coil, Throbbing Gristle and so on. The common denominator between you and them being the total disregard of genre as well as the involvement of esoteric ideas, do you feel any kind of kinship to the early pioneers of industrial at all, if so how do you think they may have influenced your approach?
This one’s a little tough to answer for those who aren’t aware of my long and conflicted history with industrial music. I’ve been listening to the genre since I was 12 years old, starting with the obvious gateway bands and eventually working my way back through its history – becoming incredibly obsessed with all things TG, PTV, and COIL along the way. It may just be depression, but honestly my taste for music in general comes and goes, so that I often can’t listen to anything other than just ambient or noise for long periods at a time. Thankfully there’s always Throbbing Gristle and the more esoteric COIL releases to fall back on when I can’t stomach anything else. So to answer your question, I’ve always identified strongly with those artists and am profoundly attracted to their perspective on music. When I started studying audio engineering, the interest came from a long-standing fascination with emotional responses to sound – the way that certain tones will build anxiety, certain phrases bring about paresthesia, and all the other instinctual reactions we have. It’s my understanding from interviews that Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson were also interested in experimenting with ways to evoke different experiences through their music as well – so I definitely feel a kinship in that regard (as well as what you’ve already stated in terms of genre and esoteric ideas). Relating to their influence on my approach, that’s harder to point to. Again the esoteric principles are a huge influence, and stylistically it’s evident, but I’m a complete Virgo in my methods – which seems very disparate from the stories I’ve read about their recording sessions…
To close things off why don`t you give us some reccomendations of music, books or whatever you want to share as well as info of any coming events for people to look out for.
Thanks for the amazing conversation, I greatly appreciate this level of detail and discussion. Listening to music is often a struggle for me, but right now I mostly put on Haunted Horses and Witch Fever (who both have new albums coming out later this year), as well as HEALTH, the new Executioner’s Mask LP, and the hundred different releases that grabyourface has been involved in lately. For books, keeping it relevant – everyone should obviously read Earth Inferno and The Focus of Life by Austin Osman Spare if they haven’t already, as well as The Tree of Life by Israel Regardie. In terms of works that have influenced SØLVE in one way or another, I’d also recommend: Demian by Herman Hesse, literally anything by Cormac McCarthy, Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones, and Art Sex Music by Cosey Fanni Tutti. A movie that completely floored me recently was POSSUM. And I guess I should let everyone know that they can join me on Matt Fanale/Caustic’s twitch channel (twitch.tv/causticmf) on June 13th for a listening party where everyone is welcome to ask any questions or talk about whatever they’d like in the chat with us. Thanks again!
EARTH INFERNO opens up with the short intstrumental piece “”LAMPBLACK” fading into existence and exploding into a dark and grungey form of controlled chaos complete with almost melancholic melodies that act as your welcome into this journey through the mind of Brant Showers. This is how you open an album, this is how you write an intro. Immediatly we`re plunged into the single “NEVER+ENOUGH” , an upbeat dark yet danceable lamentations of the failure to live up to the expectations of oneself or another. Sound design wise SØLVE always hits the nail on the head as it were, crafting and shaping things into something of his own that gives it all a sense of being nstantly recognizeable and not easily mistaken for the work of any other artist. A rare achievement indeed.
It may be worth noting the repeated line towards the end: ” I`m digging my way down ” which is exactly what it feels like as the we arrive at the gates of the track number three. WASHED IN THE BLOOD feels like descension. tribal like ritualistic percussion over gentle yet threatening synths screech along morphing into a melody accompanied by the mid paced drums and trip-hop esque hihat..well..triplets.
Vocally this track feels commanding, there are no doubts as to the conviction in Brants voice as he warns, or perhaps threatens to salt the earth behind him, to burn bridges and what Ill interpret as an incoming rebirth of sorts perhaps?
RELEASEonce again showcases great sound design of SØLVE in it`s opening seconds featuring what reminds me of lead synths constructed from feedback.Something about the atmosphere of this tracks has me thinking of albums such as The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails.
WRITTEN IN THE STARS both sounds and feels grand and large. Musically it gives off the feeling of slowly falling towards the ground, or perhaps the seemingly never ending moment we find ourselves existing in upon receiving some particularly bad news, now, misunderstand me correctly; Its not simply a somber tune, theres anger, resentment and despair aplenty here but presented from what might perhaps be a more hopeless angle.
LOST IN THE DARKis the perfect balance between angst and determination. Both lyrically and musically it drips with a fuck you attitude, a refusal to give in and let yourself fall into the maw of despair. The track can truly be summed up in one word with that word being: Grandiose.
NOTHING PUREcontinues the angst filled lyrics with Brants insistence on the lack of purity, worth and fairness in the world. A seniment I think we all have felt at certain points throughout life and given the events that influenced this album and the themes explored here its quite fitting and understandable that one might arrive at such a standpoint. Musically its a cacophonous decay that features the buzzing of flies perhaps feeding on the carcass of hope. It`s frentic and yet it has a sense of control.
SVNT LACRIMÆ RERVMis an instrumental piece that seems to perfectly express the emotional spectrum suggested by the title without the need of lyrics. Something that may be easier said than done. Im not surprised to find instrumentals throughout the album as Im sure many of the emotions that went into this can often seem to be beyond what something as limited as words could ever describe. Often sound alone is the only way to convey certain states of being. Clocking at four minutes and twnety one seconds it`s an ever evolving journey that keeps you at the edge of your seat awaiting the next twist and turn.
BLACK SILK STONEwas recently released accompanied by a video (see above) and this song has played in my mind ever since. As can be said about the majority of this album its a song with fairly short and direct lyrics that doesnt hold back or make you guess as to their meaning while at the same time being fairly open to interpretation, paradoxically enough. The song sounds almost like a chant or a mantra of sorts, like a choir of self declared sinners asking for redemption through their hymnals.The melancholic piano melody contrasted by the aggression of the drums and synth work makes for an interesting push and pull dynamic.
HARM//HEALslithers its way towards you with a dark and seductive rhythm as the chant like vocals speaks to the idea of remaining fearless and weathering the storm. There seems to be some orchestral elements in here that really adds to the feeling of this song acting like waves in the ocean that sway from big all consuming to smaller more manageable ones but still enough to keep you cautious of your surroundings, not letting you fully believe you`re all good and fine.
VOID-OF-COURSEclanks and scrapes as mangled and broken sound plays just beneath the surface before march like drums carry us over the fire and places us back at the clanking and scraping for a moment, letting us catch our breath for just a moment before Brant asks us to keep the faith and dont give up on him in a monotone yet sincere manner.
FOUR SWORDScomes in as second to last track of the album with static crackles and distant swelling synths that morph into a piano playing its morose melody just floating over the static and noise. This is ne of those songs you get lost it. It ends and it feels abrupt, not because it necesarily is but because you could so easily have it go on endlessly.
We arrive at the end of the inferno and we`re greeted by the wordsI MYSELF AM HEAVEN AND HELL.
Lyrically it reads like a chant, like a channeling to charge an aural spell. hectic hats click their merry way for a couple bars as broken sound waltzes with screeching synths all while a simple piano plays in between it all really taking the idea of the title into sonic shape.
All in all this a well put together album, well produced, interesting sound design and manages to combine the experimental with catchy moments that stick in your brain and makes you run to the replay button. I know as time goes by I will make more observations as I peel back the layers of each song, this review is only scratching the surfaces of it all. I urge you all to pick it up, give it your full attention, really focus and sit with it. This is not background music.
Purchase/Stream EARTH INFERNO and follow SØLVE via the following links:
Wether he`s composing ambient pieces, industrial onslaughts or engaging in sound design and production work, Colin Cameron is truly a man of many talents with various aspects of it seemingly being constantly conjured up from within the walls of The Cell Studio.
My first exposure to Colin was through the release of the Slighter album ” V O I D ” , from there I began digging into more of his work and eventually as my own musical journey lead me to sound design we naturally came into conversation about everything and nothing.
An S&S interview with Colin is long overdue given his experience and the different facets to his work, we`ve featured him in other articles before such as the recent promotonal guide written by our grand overlord, The Duchess.
You have several one man projects operating in different areas of the electronic music scene, Heatsync and Slighter to mention a few.Why did you feel the need to establish separate projects and is there any deeper reasoning or meaning behind each projects name and perhaps how it relates to the music?
Well I think it’s sort of part of being in electronic music. A lot of artists in it know that genre’s are very much something you can get ‘stuck’ in. So to have a alias to go off and do something different is a nice thing to have. However I originally approached Slighter as a project for my post-dance floor work, and to which I will explore a lot of different styles with, this can some days feel like the reason I don’t resonate with a core scene… So with Heatsync, I wanted to give myself a more laser focus on what Slighter is doing lately and move the experimental beats and Drum and Bass ideas over there to Heatsync
As far as a deeper meaning, not really. Heatsync is just a play on the heatsink on your computer’s mother board. I liked the sound of it, and flipped it a bit to make it unique. Slighter is sort of the same, I just liked the way it looked in typography, and that I was flipping an adjective into a proper noun, again unique.
You have many years of experience in the field of production, how did you get started with this and what is it about it that keeps you going for as long as you have?
I’ve just always been interested in technology and music, so I sort of naturally gravitated to the combination of the two. I remember reading liner notes on CDs and wanting to know what a ‘mix eningeer’and a ‘producer’ are… So when I started making songs myself as a kid, I was very aware of the production side of it being important. I learned a lot by trial and error early on, and then while working for Appleas a Logic Pro trainer I got a lot of on the job knowledge from there, and being in Los Angeles the pros there who via Apple I was in contact with. I soaked a lot of knowledge up whenever possible. Well it’s not been 20 years yet! So I think I’m still getting the hang of it! Haha. I just genuinely love being involved in audio and sound projects. Writing songs is one thing, but doing productionand sound design is a real fun challenge now too. So it’s just keeping myself challenged that keeps me going.
Some of your music can be found in popular mainstream TV shows such as CBS Elementary & HBO TrueBlood, how did that happen and was there any major difference or difficulties with composing for TV as opposed to your own albums?
Well firstly the music that gets used on shows is from my albums. TV shows, like films, have composers for the series. They handle all the cues you hear that resemble a modern soundtrack you’re used to.I’m not involved in that, the actual score of it. But the other side of TV soundtracks is the music that music supervisors pick from artists like me, that they want to use to emphasize a scene, or make a scene or montage relatable to an audience on the musical level. So they will license music, as a placement. For example with Elementary, they had a scene in the final season where the main character has to find a clue inside a video game. The music in the game, is Cyanotic and I’s “Turmoil”. The ‘Blank Mix’ I made. How it happens really, is like anything else in the music business, luck and being at the right place and time. So for me, being in LA I was working with people who knew the music supervisors at True Blood.They heard a song we had just reworked and asked to put it in a Fangtasia scene. Once I had that placement, I got to hook up with a music placement manager who took over pitching my albums to music supervisors there in LA.
All your music is released through your own label Confusion Inc. What do you feel are the benefits and possibly downsides to releasing in this manner?
Well, I started Confusion Inc. after a string of bad luck with labels I had been working with. I felt like, atthis late stage of the remaining music business world why do I even need a label?I’m publishing my own work now, it’s going off to LA for placement pitching. I have those connections, I have a few fans… And I like having a place I can throw all my side projects and not have to worry. The benefits obviously are full creative control, and the downsides is there’s no one ‘pumping you up’ to DJs and magazines and doing all that PR stuff. Or the clout of being signed to say, Metropolis would get you in more physical unit, merch sales and such.
Your most recent endevour is the Abstrakted “Ambient Confessions” series that ended with the song “Dripping”, what exactly are you confessing through these pieces?
Ah, my love for hardware synths! Haha! As sort of a coping mechanism for getting through the pandemic,I just started doing these live hardware synth jams at the studio when I had some free time.They turned out to be sort of meditative for me, and I thought they were cool so I started recording them into Logic. Just using Logic like a tape machine really. Everything in the Ambient Confessions is just long takes of me Having a go with the TB-03, Moog Phatty, Blofeld, Prophet 12, MicroFreak. I relied on the Earthquaker Afterneath pedal for a lot of the big washes too, very expressive pedal to ‘play’ as an instrument.
Two weeks into 2022 you’ve already managed to put out two releases, the aforementioned “Dripping” and a collaboration with Moris Blak on “The Hunt”. Are there any plans for the year that you’re able to share?
I really want to make this year about collaboration with Slighter, so starting off with the remake of Brian and I’s The Hunt, I’m also working with James at Static Logic on a split 2-track EP.Tara at Morgue Witch and I plan on doing a 4 track split EP as well, and if we can get it together I, Craig and Chris up in Ohmelectronic should be doing something as well.
Beyond several musical projects and your role as a producer you engage in quite a bit of sound design related work, creating sample packs and the like, what would you say to someone thinking about getting started in this field? Any advice or recommended methods, gear and so on?
I would say, have a good healthy love of technology. And a ear and eye for the methodical. It’s a lot of fun to create sounds from scratch, but your time at work isn’t just doing that aspect. So if you’re looking at sample pack work, that’s upwards of a 100 or more files you’re responsible for making sure they are engineered correctly so the end user experience is 100%. And that’s tedious, and not glamorous at all!
Gear wise, you can do a lot with less these days, and really a portfolio shines more than a CV. Do a lot of projects yourself and use that as your resume. Networking is paramount, connect with people and be a niceperson to be around, no one wants to hire an ego centric show off. Be nice and position yourself well, things will happen!
As Slighter you employ a more industrial sound palette, are you a big fan of the genre and might you have some favourites be them older or newer artists?
You know, as we’ve talked about this, I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘industrial’ label, as I’m not even sure what it means in whole big picture of what’s going on now. But for sure there are correlations to elements of my style that are there in my music because when I was young and impressionable I listened to KMFDM albums as well as Underworld albums – Thanks to WaxTrax! – so I embrace the subversion of mainstream that sort of comes with what ‘Industrial’ is or was...
So when I think about Industrial that I dig these days, it’s the Author and Punisher shit, or Ho99o9 shit, it’sraw and pushes things creatively, and that to me is the ethos I felt made the genre originally what it is. Youth Code is great too, oh and loved those Cocksure records.
Given that you’re the sole member of Heatsync, Sligher, Abtrakted, and princepal song writer at GR^VE do you ever have issues deciding which songs goes where? How do you differentiate it to yourself? Do you approach the creative stage with the idea of writing a Slighter song perhaps
If you would have asked me this question say, a few years or so ago I would have answered it very differently! Because then, Slighter was just a place where everything went. If I was feeling upset and wanted to write something hard, I would. Or if I was introspective and wanted to do some Ambient I would. Now I’m very much placing things into compartments in my creativity. As alluded to briefly before, I feel that possibly my ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach to Slighter alienated people looking for a bit of continuity with Slighter. And also as a growth perspective, I think Slighter has really grown into a style of its own now. I do have sort of a ‘work ethic’ now with it, I know what I want to get out of it when I sit down to do a Slighter session. So yes, methodical here with creative sessions now. I don’t find myself much needing to just ‘noodle’ and go wherever in a session when I’m working on Slighter material. I think the dedication over the years of doing my own music pushed out all that sort of desire. I like knowing what I want, and how I will get there. It also gets more work done! If you know where you need to end up, it’s easier to know when you’ve arrived at the end. So partly with Heatsync it was – if I feel like making weird shit, Drum and Bass, etc. where can I go and do that when I’m not focused on Slighter? And it’s not that Slighter is stagnating in exploration, it’s just exploring things in a less-is-more challenging aspect for me personally. Give me less to work with, and I’m finding more interesting things happening creatively. GR^VE is a different mindset as well, it’s not rooted in anything that Slighter is influenced by. I grew up playing guitar as a kid, doing bands with friends, so my first real musical experiences were that. When I did the track as Slighter called “Over”I explored returning to a guitar based track, playing all the guitar and bass parts, and doing all the drums acoustically. Was really rewarding, a different experience than the years of programming synths you know? So I love that tune. But, releasing it, was sort of a ‘flop’. Not a lot of people were keen on a Post Punk song just stuck between some heavy electronic beats on that EP! Haha. So when I started talking with Christy about vocals and she’s doing “Walls” on my Automata record, I just said fuck it and asked if She wanted to start a band with me! Haha. Thus now I have yet another project to divide my attention under my umbrella of Confusion Incorporated.
Lastly, as you know Sounds & Shadows is all about supporting smaller and newer artists, with that in mind do you have any reccomandations you`d like for people to check out?
There’s so much good stuff happening, it’s truly hard to keep up – esp when you are off making your own music. I’ve heard a lot of great stuff in passing through the S&S group, I met you for example and really enjoyed the Carrion stuff, Mike Nolen makes cool music, Adrian Halo has come into his own with his new band too. Ian Staer’s Ambient is a treat. Ghost Youth is also something unique I dig. I’m sure I’m missing some, truly no shortage of good stuff out there.
Keep up with all of Colin`s endevours via the links below
Throughout 2021 I was busy writing/recording the Carrion album, working on sound design jobs and so on, unfortunatly there wasn`t much time for reviews/interviews but now that things are out and done with I requested upcoming releases in the Sounds & Shadows Facebook group and you all delivered great and varied stuff!
Ephemeral Form – Light With Shallow Disguise
First one out is Ephemeral Form with the single ” Light With Shallow Disguise” for which they have also published a music video in late December 2021. I was immediatly mesmerized by this, both the song itself and the accompanying video. Theres a strong urge to compare the song to the Reptile House EP by you-know-who to give you an idea of what to expect. Its a slow paced, atmosphere heavy track, barritone vocals and sparse guitars that crawl and slither like serpents throughout the four minutes of run time that ends up feeling too short. You may wanna loop this song and just let it devour you as if you`re the tail of ouroboros.
The black and white video conjures experimental avant garde noir films, a great fit for the song really.
The song is taken off their first EP, produced by Jim Walker of Push Button Press, released January 7th indepently via Bandcamp with a sister EP to come during the summertime.
Released in October of 2021 “Vampyre” is the latest offering from Washingtons The Neuro Farm. A concept album pulling its inspiration from vampires through the ages going back to biblical times.
A plot summary written by the band follows:
“Vampyrism is a curse dating back to biblical times. Our titular heroine, lured by the promise of immortality, is given this curse by the egomaniacal leader of a vampyric cult. But within the cult there is a growing sense of disillusion, and she builds her own following. Eventually, she spurns her maker, rebelling against him and his decaying institution. She says a final farewell to her mortal husband, turning away from humanity and embracing her new nature. She slays her former master in the “midnight massacre” and declares herself queen.“
Concept albums can go either way and vampires are certainly not a new theme within our scene so it`s easy to go into this with certain preconceived ideas. Luckily, The Neuro Farm seems to rise ot the occasion. Confession is track number five so we find ourselves right in the middle of our tale. Reversed vocals layered over tribal drum patterns and bass that give off a a near middle eastern vibe immediatly grabs you and pulls you in. Highly melodic vocals with a dark allure and almost operatic sections make for an interesting listening experience as gutiars make themselves known in short bursts throughout.
A full album review may follow at a later date but for now I`ll just urge you to click below and hear for yourself.
Following their debut in March 2021, Australias Sea Lungs brings us the single "Piss Up A Rope" with vocals that immediatly makes one wonder if Rozz Williams is alive after all. While it could be seen as a quite standard deathrock track that`s too easy and too lazy. The guitar work is interesting and varied, each section flows together seemlessly as the slow paced drums drive ever on underneath. Their Bandcamp page has this statement along with the single “Sea Lungs are sending a strongly worded suggestion to the narcissistic billionaires who are strangling the joy out of this world…..” given the connections between goth/punk/deathrock whatever name you prefer it is certainly nice to see music in this vein managing to be more than just fantasy horror stories. Towards the end we even get an almost industrial section where it seems the machinery is about to come to a full halt before pulling itself back out and wrapping up.
Luscious Apparatus is a four-piece act from Portland, Oregon with a self-described tendency for cimeatic soundscapes and textured synth work. Infiltrate is the debut single released January 6th 2022 along with a fittingly atmospheric artwork that alone should be enough to intrigue you and pull you in.
Described as the bastard child of Garbage and Nine Inch Nails, the moment you hit play this becomes clear however at the same time Im not sure if I want to give anyone any ideas on what to expect, go into this with a blank slate and simply let it be what it is; and it is good.
Infiltrate perfeclty balances the twilight areas of gentle atmospheres and lush guitars that punch you in slow motion like an iron fist in a velvet glove. I can only speak for myself but I cant wait to see what else this group will come up with as time goes on, definetly up to a fantastic start, its is truly a sin and a shame that this is all we have at the moment but hopefully something will follow soon to sate our ever hungry maws.
Anti-Social Club reimagines their 2008 song ” Fight To The Death” with their latest single released December 20th 2021 and the result is a synth and guitar driven “bop” as the kids may call it. Catchy vocal lines acccompanying funky synth lines and intermissions of spoken word makes for a mixed bag that throughout the 4 minute run never feels boring or as if too much is going on at once, a reimagination well done and the quote abrupt end grabs you by the neck and pulls yo back out leaving you no choice bu to play it all over again.
Industrial act System 6 kicks off the year with a cover of the Faith No More song “Epic”, while never a big fan of Faith No More myself System 6 has put together a quite enjoyable rendition of the song that if nothing else checks all the points for what youd want in industrial music without accusing them of pandering or sounding too alike anything else. Stomping drums, fuzzy distorted guitars and affected vocals run rampant throughout the 4 minutes and 37 seconds with a chorus section that is catchy enough to warrant a replay or two for sure however seen as this is a cover one cant fully credit the band with this I suppose. Nevertheless its worth checking out wether youre a fan of the original or you`re a fan of industrial music. Speaking for myself, having heard the original I believe I prefer System 6 take on it.
Modal Citizan – Balls
Hot on the heels of their 2021 EP Idolatry, Modal Citizan is back with the single ” Balls ” and I feel as if Ive entered a time machine and landed in a NIne Inch Nails rehearsal room sometime in the 90s. While alot of industrial music these days seem to consist of a far more club oriented style with harsh synth work, distorted vocals via the Boss SE-50/70 and Ministry styled chugging guitars Modal Citizan is capturing a different aspect to the genre and its quite refreshing despite the above NIN comment which could really only be a compliment. Throughout the song you`ll be met with a few interesting tempo changes and the last few seconds sound like a cassette player getting stuck, all compositional choices that prevent the song from feeling too repetetive and shows that Modal Citizan is an act to keep your eyes, or rather ears, on this year to see where they take things next.
Taken from their just released album ” Tales From The Algorithm”, Serenity Of The Meatgrinder is an over eight miute long atmospheric dirge full of ambiance, cinematic texture and industrial styled sound design that creeps, crawls and evolves , the title is indeed a perfect description of what you`ll get here but at the same time given the tropes of certain words and machinery related terms within industrials more experimental corners one could just as easily be mistaken and expect something much harsher and leaning more towards noise. The avant garde and experimental sides of industrial , or the roots of the genre rather is what originally intrigued me about it and pulled me in so I for one am quite happy with being sent new music that manages to capture that essence without simply being 10 minutes of distorted microwave sounds. This is a clearly well crafted piece of music and piques my interest enough to leave myself a mental note to check out the full release and add it to the list of album reviews to get done this year.
Dear friends, foes, living and dead, we have arrived at the final Bandcamp Day of the year 2021 and the Holidays are approaching. Ken and I, hope you will consider perhaps purchasing some of the many great releases we will recommend below or perhaps a piece of merchandise, either for yourself, as a gift or simply to support some of your favorite artists.
For this article you will receive recommendation from both myself (Hide) and Ken, I`m sure the result will be a great and varied one that explores several of the many corners within the broader alternative music scene.
Confession from Ken: Hide had his portion ready to go, and I was late on completion. So my part was written after Bandcamp Day, but these are all artists I picked up and loved. I hope you find something that speaks to you.
LONG AFTER MIDNIGHT – FALLING AWAY
The latest single fromLong After Midnightis a wonderful piece of melodic industrial rock chock full of interesting and intriguing sections throughout the 4 minutes and 10 second run that at one point even features a saxophone. LAM previously released their “Painkiller” EP in April and this single is the perfect follow-up.
Those who know me may be a bit surprised at this one but if you were under the assumption of that Im only capable of enjoying some sort of avant garde noise music you are gravely mistaken. Softcult came to life during the 2020 lockdown and has produced an EP as well as several singles that are all worth checking out since then. Perfect Blue is the latest offering and quite honestly , at least for me, their best one yet. This one has been on endless repeat all day long and each time it ends Im left wishing it went on for just a little longer. The instrumentation is addictive and beautiful and melancholic all at once, the lyrics contain feelings Im sure we can all relate to at various points in life in different ways. Im not sure how to sell you on this or what to say here, just hit the goddamn play button.
Extinction is the debut album from -ii- and it is wonderful. Following an EP and handful of single releases this album is a perfect continuation and progression that builds on the strengths of the previous outputs. Each song flowing beautifully while retaining their identities as individual compositions with haunting dark electronics and fantastic post-punk esque guitar moments such as the intro to second track“The Rings Of Saturn”. If you listen to only one of my reccomendations I hope it`s this one.
DHI came out of hibernation, breaking 22 years of silence to bring out this politically aware, dirty, gritty little EP. Absoloutely the right decision if you ask me. The EP features three songs with an additonal three offering alternate versions and mixes. This one is definetly right up the alley of anyone pining for grinding industrial beats with something to say.
Divine Shade crafts a seamless blend of industrial and post punk, ethereal synth sections clashing with hard and distorted sound design with big booming vocals is the first thing to greet you here, the final track offering a nice contrast n the form of an almost americana sounding duet featuringScampi. Beyond the EP I`d also want to point out the recent double single release featuring two remixes by Chris Vrenna [NIN, Manson etc].
Released on Black Friday, Siren Song offers social commentary regarding our material world where our obsession with purchasing endlessly is likened to being lured to certain death by a siren taking the shape of sale signs and discounts. On top of that it`s also a great piece of industrial rock with a well executed aesthetic identity overall, though I suppose that should come as no surprise given that band leader Giovanni Bucci is an award-winning visual director.
Taking their cues from the likes of Killing Joke, Ministry and Godflesh, the French industrial duo known as Crown brings a bit of a surprise with their second album The End Of All Things, presenting a much more melodic side than the heavier, screamed vocals of 2016s Natron. Now, misunderstand me correctly, Im not saying this is not a heavy or atmospheric album. It`s more so a different shade of black if you will.
For my final entry I present to you the latest EP from friends of S&S : Decent News – Televisual. Consisting of two new tracks and three covers, the title track being one such cover originally by Танцы На’s ‘Телевизионный Снег the EP brings all the weirdness and humor and heavy guitars we`ve come to love about this ridiculous group of guys, they are indeed my favorite boyband.
Before I let Ken take over I d just like to add one little thing for you to consider: While the concept of Bandcamp Day is great and all intent of the audience as well as Bandcamp itself seems good willed, artists will not be upset with you for purchasing their music and/or merchandise on other days, artists require all the same things that you do everyday be that support or extra cash. A great amount of releases are available as “Pay What You Want” or feature the option to pay more than the initial asking price, if you`re able to throw a few extra dollars in there regardless of the day and date it will always be appreciated and will always help out immensely.
Angelspit – Diesel Priest – Well this new Angelspit album is not pulling any punches sonically or politically. Zoog Von Rock has returned with an army of cyborg technicians of revolutionary destruction. Stomping machines of punk rock anti establishment zealots rolling on tank tread speed. It always leaves me stunned how something so fueled by chaos can fit in such a tight refined space. With every building track you never know where the creature will go next or who will be brought down in the explosion. I think the greatest power here is how the lyrics effect 16 year old me as long as 44 year old me with both the passion and intelligence. This album is an experience that hits on so many levels.
Composition, Production, Lyrics and Vocals: Zoog Von Rock; Additional Vocals: Brian Graupner (Gasoline Invertebrate), Imogen (Miss Ballistic), May May Graves; Melody Lynn (Queen of the Static Opera); Additional Vocals: Roxy Von Rock and Tiger Kitty Hell (Miss Ballistic); Queen of the Static Opera’s vocal engineer: Disraeli Davis; Mastering: David Walker @ Stepford Audio Mastering; Guitars: George Bikos and Graeme Charles Kent; Computer Construction: Brett Welsh, Sean Moriarty and Michael Stults; E-MU TRAINERS: Trevor Brown, Thomas Horst, Geoff Raye, Larry Kleinke; Additional Samples and Loops: Adam Newman (lab4), Paul Segovich, L. McDonald of Worgor, Cassie Owens.
Favorite Track:Stand In Line – So smooth and sharp the cutting drums and furious cadence. Spinning Zamboni blades of death sliding across the ice. Throwing barbs at the interest elite system holding down any chance of equality. There are songs that musically hit harder, but something about the lyrical delivery and clean angles absolutely captured me.
Slighter – The Void – I continue to be impressed by LA song crafter Colin Cameron. He takes an approach to music akin to graphic design. Every weighted aspect seems to bring contrast and focus to both the positive and negative space within a sound wave. This track is the perfect journey track to travel the stars on an extended tour of the universe. A hit of peace, a hint of madness, drifting into the beyond behind the hum of subspace engines.
SØLVE – the negative – Reissue of Brant Showers amazing 1st album on Re:Mission Entertainment. An introspective internal electronic prayer of slow creeping thought puzzle twisting through the miasma of the ether. A sensory impression of journey and calibration with textured vocals and emotional discourse.
Favorite Track: For Worse – A crackling transmission floating through times with ringing bell chimes, dissonant dark tones. Great use of rise and fall to pave your way through an artists mind.
HAEX – Aethyr Abyss Void – Pre Order release due out 12/18/2021 this is one of the meanest chaos cannon grimy warehouse fireballs I have heard in a long time. A forceful ritual of madness and terror pop sensuality. This is the soundtrack to your next Hellrazer Barker themed dance party. Inspired wall smashing guitar work and apocalypse chant vocals. I want more and want it now.
Immune System – I Predict – Our friend in South Dakota Todd Ruzicka brings this blazing cover of the Sparks classic. It has that same electropunk disco feel but with sharper edges, harder hits, and dance floor ready morningstar swing. I love when a cover is a great homage while making it their own.