IAMX & Visceral Sexual Universal Unspeakable Love 

By Jen Wilson (Ladyspythenight)

IAMX at Crucible Madison, WI, June 18, 2023

Chris Corner, the singer, writer, and producer known as IAMX, is a force of nature. Having started out by forming popular trip-hop band The Sneaker Pimps in the 1990s, Corner has since evolved into one of the most exciting artists in dark electronic music. But before continuing my review of IAMX’s most recent album, Fault Lines1 and a stop on the Fault Lines1 tour, I must give full disclosure that Corner is my favorite artist and that I’m part of the IAMX Patreon group (who call themselves the Tribe or the Cult). Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to be able to include his answers to some interview questions so that you can also hear about the album and tour directly from the man himself.

The Fault Linesalbum


Fault Lines1 exudes raw emotion. Its unique beauty within the IAMX discography lies in the increased urgency of that emotion, reflected in the kinetic sounds and explosive voice. Combined, they show an artist deeply disappointed by human beings while staunchly refusing to giving up on them. He seems to be communicating his deepest concerns about what becomes of us once we give in to the darker thoughts that fuel our division. The beats are harder, the synths more frantic… and although the lyrics are damning of the “fanatics” Corner mentions, there are still passionate pleas not to give into our darker impulses of division in an age where we are too often being forced to think of those we disagree with as “the enemy” the media around us.

Corner relies on confessional lyrics that are often highly introspective and self-reflective. After commenting that this album feels like a raw response to the world since 2020, I asked Corner how changes in life since then have affected his writing. 

“Covid changed us all. It felt like a pivotal historical turning point in many ways for western culture. Yet personally I felt very comfortable leaning into the quiet and reclusion that covid brought. I’m a very selectively social person anyway so lockdown was just a more intense version of my life. But it did give me more time to be obsessively observant and being exposed to all the world’s issues every second of every day just confirmed what I’ve always seen in humanity. The ignorance, the self-destruction, the fracture and division. Unfortunately, the modern media and hunger for car crash sensationalism just amplifies everything into a grotesque caricature. The scum keeps floating to the top and even more so in a culture yearning for cheap dopamine hits and echo chamber affirmation. What happens out there has to become a catalyst or motivator for the opposite. I feel the pushback will increase. The altruism, deep self-love, need for peace and balance and openness. This record is a tiptoe into calling out the horrors and signaling the need for change and personal growth.”

Disciple, the hard-hitting opener, throws us into the harder edges of IAMX world. The higher notes of his chorus are more raw than any in the past, soaring urgently, yet backing off just at the last moment as if to rein in his growing desperation. We move onto the first of a few direct social commentaries in Fault Lines. IAMX offers a dizzying dance between exhaustion at the ridiculousness of the times we live in and pushback against the fait accompli of our immovable division in this world. As we enter the softer pulsing synths in the next track, In Bondage, we see a submission to the flesh “in the dark arts” as being the only answer. It leaves us with a haunting mantra, “Nothing changes but my blood flow,” slowing down the song to an increasingly halting heartbeat. The X IDmoves on to ask the listener to find self-love and revel in the basic fact of our existence with a rousing and emotive chorus and bridge, screaming through distorted vocals…  


I am alive/I am alive/Oh say it to yourself say it to yourself!

IAMX then slides gently into Radical Self-Love, showing us the delicacy and beauty with which he can touch on some of the darkest questions the times are forcing us to ask ourselves. This song is a ballad in the vein of This Will Make you Love Again and Alive in New Light, sliding between tenuous to fierce piano and soaring vocals that softly question before climbing towards a call to action on taking one’s own mental health seriously. The choruses are written with a call and response, internal dialogue that depicts the conflict we have when trying not to hate those who are doing so much to harm us and the wider society we are trying to exist in.

Breathe slow with me/When our darkness turns us into total enemies/Find your mercy/When the anger grows and it overwhelms me

Show me your, show me your/Radical self-love

He asks further how we are meant to function in this state of mind:

Conflict junkies/Our judgment kills the feeling there’s a you and me/Find your mercy/When the anger grows and it overwhelms me

All of these questions feel urgent, heartfelt, and so very relatable.

The title of a favorite later track, Thanatos, uses the Greek word for ‘death.’ But, in classic Freudian psychology, it is also the drive within and among individuals between Eros, the positive drives of life, love, creativity, sexuality, self-satisfaction and species preservation, and the opposite drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death. I read this in the lyrics and sound, feeling an undeniable sense of watching our progress towards Thanatos with a growing sense of horror. The screaming chorus: Do you bury your dreams in apathy? seems to me a clarion call to action. This is paired with the most urgent, driving beat and synths of the album. Starting out menacing but muted, they rise toward a climax of frustration at allowing ourselves to be so overwhelmed that we choose to do nothing.

These questions and pleas to give a damn and look after our mental health are no surprise to those familiar with IAMX’s work, deeply informed by his own battles with mental illness and insomnia. He is a passionate supporter of The You Rock Foundation, which works with musicians who have struggled with their own mental health challenges, and has often held mental health gatherings recent tours, this tour included. This album feels like an acknowledgement of our shared mental struggles against the increasing darkness we’ve faced since 2020. 

Fault Lines1 tour stop at Crucible, in Madison, WI

After I Speak Machine had to bow out as opener after a few shows in on the tour, Madison’s own Carrallee stepped into the opening spot. Her show highlighted her lovely, sensual vocals that slide over dreamily distorted synths. She is a welcome and rising force in the darkwave scene, after having been a folk singer/songwriter. I look forward to dancing to her noir-informed beats on songs such as Morning Sun and Heaven or Hell.

The large crowd grew in its excitement as the time approached for IAMX to take the stage. The energy as they burst onstage was electric. All three masked, the slow lead into The X ID was punctuated by Chris asking the audience, “How do you feel?” through distortion that he would use off and on throughout the set. The song was a gorgeous way to start the show, setting the tone for a high octane experience. Launching into the luscious Sailor, Janine Gezang, longtime IAMX band member, collaborator, and Queen, amped up the energy as only she can, stepping in front of her keyboard to do a shimmy in her body suit and mask. The vampish interactions between Chris and Janine began in earnest and the crowd ate it up. Dramatic builds and pauses leading up to a chorus would prove to be a regular feature throughout the set. The final chorus ended with Chris releasing all his vocal prowess into I wanna be a sailor screams.

Photo courtesy of Fe Gaffney

I had asked Chris about the trials of looking after your voice on tour. 

“It’s not easy to find a solution to truly feel secure with vocals on tour. It’s often a source of anxiety and pressure since really the whole thing pivots on the relatively fragile muscle in my throat. Not just how practiced or fit it is but the shit that goes in there night after night. The stage fog, the unclean public venues, the screaming sweating audience throwing billions of bacteria into my face! It’s amazing that it survives one show when you think about it. But fun aside I try to rest a lot, retreat a lot, hope a lot, and warm up like crazy. Somehow I get through.” 

Photo courtesy of Victoria Jayne

Shortly into the set, the masks came off, and the visuals suddenly came into focus. Two video screens strategically placed at either side of the stage showed off a mix of natural elements and phenomenon that so often show up in IAMX  videos as well as clips of the band and BDSM imagery. These added to the drama and energy of the show, and are so appreciated by a visual nerd like myself when so many bands I see live do so little in that area.

I was thrilled to hear them do Screams. This song is beautiful and delicate storytelling and, with a lovely extended build to the chorus. At the end, before the last chorus, he hugged a fan at the front and let the song end with delicate drums and piano. There were other hugs and shouts out to the very dedicated fans, and the gratitude from the band was tangible.

Next was a major highlight, starting with Janine’s menacing German nursery- rhyme-style vocals that weave their way through I Come with Knives. This song really allowed live bandmate Jon Siren to show off his incredible drumming skills with a heavier focus on the beat. The energy between Chris, Janine, and the audience was electric. 

An excerpt of I Come With Knives courtesy of Jen Wilson

Speaking of Janine, her constant enthusiasm and musicianship is such an integral part of the IAMX experience. Whether she’s doing really cool stuff like her muted bass beat to lead in Exit, to her constant dancing, she’s a joy onstage.

Photo courtesy of Victoria Jayne

Chris donned an Elizabethan ruff, offered by a tech, to launch into his cabaret-style, waltz-beat work, including President and Bernadette. The chorus of President was joyful and cathartic. 

Happiness and No Maker Made Me seethed with defiance and rage, especially in their choruses. For me, they proved exceptionally cathartic. Whenever Chris screamed, “Liar!” or “No maker made me!” repeatedly, it felt like so many moments of rage I’d felt in recent years were being summoned… and expelled, if only for that moment.  

The band took on a softer tone for the final song of the night with This Will Make You Love Again

An excerpt from No Maker Made Me courtesy of Jen Wilson

As any musician will tell you, touring since Covid is such a different beast. But IAMX had a surprising response when I asked how it feels in 2023.

“Oddly It feels settled for the first time. During Covid I experimented with faceless electronic modular synth tracks and managed to do a few solo shows. Just me and my modular. Back to the roots of early IAMX. This laid the template for the new record and the edited band performance. I feel I have more control over my sound and leaning out the band elements has somehow created more power. It all feels like streamlined IAMX on steroids. Similar but smarter and meaner. I admit that Covid really fucked with us as an independent project. There are new financial and practical challenges in our industry and specifically the alternative scene. But on a more positive note I’m very happy with the shows and I sense the hunger growing out there again in my beautiful people.” 

Courtesy of Jen Wilson

As the last notes of the show were played, I looked at my fiancée, feeling thrilled, refreshed, and so grateful to finally have seen my favorite artist, with her, in my home away from home, Crucible. No other artist has moved me so deeply, and sharing in that live experience after such a long wait meant the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know another one of The Tribe, Fe Gaffney, who had driven hours to get to the show. I asked her to share what her favorite thing is about seeing IAMX live.

“My favorite thing about any IAMX show, next to seeing the band and hearing my favorite music, is seeing familiar faces. The fans feel so deeply for his words and music, we all have this near tangible connection to each other, this overt belonging. I’ve never quite felt a connection to an artist so strongly as IAMX, and this is an overwhelming sensation being in a room with so many others feeling the same way. Over the years, so many familiar faces have connected and contributed to this online community, forming a tribe. Chris and Janine recognize this incredible collection of fans and have more than shown their respect for their fans over the last few albums.”

The head and the heart are constantly challenged by IAMX’s work. This translates beautifully to the live experience, creating an invigorating exchange of energy. I asked Chris what he gets back from the audience each night.

“It’s difficult to put into words the intensity of the emotional exchange we feel. It’s the superpower source of the purpose of IAMX. It’s visceral sexual universal unspeakable love. It makes me feel accepted, understood and hopeful for humanity.”

Look out for a second album to pair with Fault Lines1, set to come out later in 2023…

You can see IAMX live in North American again this year at Cold Waves, Chicago, on Friday, Sept 22. They will then embark on the European leg of the tour (dates below).

A link to the You Rock Foundation can be found here.

The new IAMX album can be purchased here on Bandcamp.
Carrallee’s debut album, Scale of Dreams, can be purchased here on Bandcamp.

Crucible Madison setlist: 

The X ID
After Every Party I Die
Fault Lines
I Come with Knives
No Maker Made Me
This Will Make You Love Again

Remaining North America and European 2023 Tour Dates (link here for tickets):

22 September Cold Waves Festival XI, Chicago, IL

26 September         Bratislava, SK
28 September         Prague, CZ
29 September         Budapest, HU
30 September         Graz, AT
01 October              Vienna, AT
03 October              Sankt Gallen, CH
04 October              Munich, DE
06 October              Barcelona, ES
07 October              Madrid, ES
09 October              Brussels, BE
10 October              Paris, FR
11 October              Cologne, DE
13 October              Leipzig, DE
14 October              Hamburg, DE
15 October              Copenhangen, DK
17 October              Utrecht, NL
18 October              Frankfurt, DE
21 October              Berlin, DE
22 October              Warsaw, PL
24 October              Wroclaw, PL
25 October              Brno, CZ
27 October              Stockholm, SE
28 October              Gothenburg, SE
30 October              London, UK

Al1ce with Bellhead and I.X.XI, June 27, 2022, The Crubicle, Madison

by Jenny Wilson


This was an incredible night at the Crucible. It’s the first time I’ve been tasked (I say task, but it was a joy) with doing short interviews with the artists before their performances. Everyone was lovely and so forthcoming with their answers. And the shows were stellar. So first off, I want to give a big thank you
to all the artists for their time.

The evening’s performances started off with Madison, Wisconsin’s I.X.XI, (who performs anonymously). I.X.XI started his project in 2012, shortly after his sister’s passing. He said that it is a project he initially thought would never see the light of day. But he wanted to finish the album, and being able to perform it would “help close a chapter he’d been leaving open for 10 years.” 

When asked about the themes and style we’d hear, I.X.XI. explains: 

“It’s about processing loss, survivor’s guilt, and other themes in time… the cyclical nature of life and death, but not in a reincarnation sense… I’m inspired by sci fi, samples of Battlestar Galactica and Westworld show up… and a feeling of dehumanization. The upcoming album starts with epic strings and pianos and then feels like it’s breaking down into something very mechanical, kind of like being an automaton is the only way you can get up in the morning. It was my grief journey, and then as it continues, you build your way back, to find creativity, beauty, and meaning in things again.”

Clad in a hooded cloak and mask, I.X.XI. began his set with the chilling, slowly driving beat of Eremite. Sporting two mics for differently distorted vocals, he ends the song with painful murmurs. He makes a point of immediately launching into each song without gaps. As he says, “I like having people feel uneasy. Everything brick walls… as soon as you think you know what you’re feeling, you’re feeling something else.” The next song, Gone, is painfully beautiful. Darkly cinematic waves ripple throughout, from this song to the next. As he moves through the song, Deep, the vocals become more intelligible, and incredibly moving. By the time we reach Breathing, we’ve moved into a cinematic dance song, with the devastating, repeated line, “Is it enough to say that I’m breathing?” This mantra, along with other moments in the I.X.XI set, brought me to tears. 

Being a longtime member of Sensuous Enemy and now also a member of Lorelei Dreaming, I.X.XI is relishing the opportunity to connect the music of I.X.XI directly to his own lyrics. As he says, on his other projects, he’s used to the disconnect between the music he writes and the lyrics written to them. Now he is able to say 100% of what he’s trying to say. He’s saying a lot, and it’s amazing to witness such deeply personal and touching moments in one man’s journey through grief. His set was a beautiful and thought-provoking experience.

Set list: Eremite, Gone, Fractal, Deep Guilt, Breathing, Don’t

I.X.XI’s first album is out soon, with mixing and production by Brant Showers of Bestial Mouths and Sølve.



Bellhead’s website tagline reads: Post-punk male-female duo band. Two basses and a drum machine. No Guitar, No BS. MADE IN CHICAGO. This description fits them to a T, but there is so much more to discover with this band. Bellhead has a sound that bursts from the stage with incredible energy, all led by a down and dirty grunginess that is both refreshing and grounding. Add to all this a lyrical and vocal playful seriousness and you’ve got something very special indeed.

Having both been in the scene and playing in multiple other bands for years (even in the same band at different times), Karen Righeimer-Schock and Ivan Russia decided to start Bellhead three years ago after getting drunk over some chicken shawarma during a snowstorm.

Their doubling of the bass works beautifully as the core of their sound. As Karen explains, she takes care of the low end, while Ivan takes care of frills and chords, sometimes acting like a guitar or synth (though Ivan took issue with such a slanderous notion). She continues by saying that while she handles the lead component, Ivan handles the rhythm. These factors were on full display during their incredible set. 

Karen and Ivan of Bellhead

Early in, they ripped into Mercy, a sexy throbber anchored by heavy riffs. Karen says that they encourage people to bring their own ideas to the songs, and this one shows off their more serious lyrical side.

Hold back my dreams/I don’t want to wake up/Trade in tomorrow for yesterday/Ain’t got a prayer left to say

These hit you later, as you absorb the fact that the words are just as intense as the gorgeous and grinding music.

There are moments of levity and fun as they engage in brief and playful bass interactions onstage. Their general playfulness with lyrics comes into full view on their hit, Unicorn Bones, which, to my mind, is an instant classic (and a lot of press agrees). A menacing romp, it is an incredibly danceable song while boasting lyrics that keep you wondering what is happening long after the song is done.

Though Ivan says he tries not to think about it too much while writing them, their lyrics are clever and very different. Throughout the song, they play with things or ideas that together mean nothing, as the title itself shows so well. 

Bring me the necromancer, the alchemist, the topless dancer/with the bones of a unicorn, you’ll never be alone/… on deaf emotions hands resist me/she feels the spirit, yet the spirit doesn’t move me/like good intentions with broken glass/she turned from pale to blue as death came so fast…”

Their set is thrilling—with a sound so comforting to any lover of 90s alternative—yet so totally unique and perfect for this era. As Ivan explains, “We come from rock and roll, the programming element comes last.” Bellhead are an exciting mix of rock and roll and post-punk at its very best.

Setlist: Mercy, Fire Control, Bad Taste, Frankenstein, Sidewinder, Snuff Film 1974, Into the Deep, Runaway, Apathy, Nothing as it Seems, Unicorn Bones



Seeing L.A.’s Al1ce live is a study in joy. Not just a band, but also a self-described tribe, Al1ce brings together six incredible musicians to create a world all their own. On this tour, they’re featuring songs from their upcoming two-part album, As Above (due out 10/22, with As Below following after). 

From the moment they began with End of Times, they exuded a combination of gratitude and elegance that I’ve never seen in a band. You also immediately notice their striking visual aesthetic, all draped in stylish versions of apocalyptic garb, faces painted in signature battle paint, all created by band member Sasha Travis. As she explains, they want to present not just as a musical but a visual unit as well.

Singers Tash Cox and Sasha Travis weave soft and beautiful vocals throughout the songs, sharing leads and harmonizing. With the incredibly talented Gordon Bash on bass, keys, and vocals, Steve Kefalas on drums and percussion, Scott Landes on guitar, and Carl Garcia on keys, the band creates an aural and visual experience that incorporates all the dark and light that post-punk can offer. 

Tash Cox

A band in the traditional sense first and foremost, they began with Tash and Gordon at the Musicians’ Institute in Los Angeles, and have morphed and grown in the years since then. Having been unable to perform during lockdowns, they switched to regular streaming of live performances and used the opportunity to “fill out the songs” as Scott explains. And full, and lush, they are. This is on display most strikingly in Breathe. A darkly seductive and soothing song, Tash, Sasha, and Gordon add Middle Eastern improvisation to their vocals and the luxuriant melodies and throbbing beat. The song builds toward a joyful celebration of unconditional love. 

And the celebration continued, with Sasha at one point jumping from the stage to ask the audience to join in a communal bashing of a cymbal, all to a throbbing industrial beat. It was a cathartic and extremely fun moment.

But Al1ce are not all dreamy and joyful… They can pivot to righteous anger on their cover of Björk’s 
Army of Me, followed later by the exciting For Dead. Led by Tash’s soft berating of an antagonist, the chorus explodes with rage and Scott’s powerful guitar riffs. The song shows off everything that Al1ce
is capable of.

Sasha Travis and Tash Cox

Ending the set with the hopeful Love is Forever, the band has shown why they’ve got a thriving and loyal following among their Mad Hatter Army. This band loves what it’s doing, and really understands how to build a world and leave a lasting impression on an audience. Most importantly, they understand how precious live performance opportunities are. 

Gordon Bash

As Tash explains while thinking on the lockdowns bands have had to endure, “I’m continually grateful, how amazing it is to play live… it’s something we’ll never take for granted.” In a musical scene that favors regular displays of angst and cynicism, Al1ce are a charming breath of fresh air. This photo sums up their general vibe quite well. 

The members of Al1ce stand outside The Crucible.



Patriarchy and Pixel Grip: The Spring Smackdown Tour, Crucible, Madison, WI

By Jenny Wilson

The power of a fierce front woman of a darker bent is a sight to see and a joy to hear. To be able to see two in one night, backed by amazing bandmates, is a rare treat. That’s what occurred at Crucible, in Madison, WI, on a recent spring night in April 2022. Pixel Grip and Patriarchy dueled it out with full sets, supported by the lovely Previsions.


Patriarchy (bandcamp.com)

From the moment Patriarchy’s Actually Huizenga stepped on to the stage, a huge American flag hanging upside down behind her and bandmates, something very special began. Actually’s stage presence is incredibly self-assured… she exudes the sensual confidence of a prowling cat surveying its prey. Actually and her bandmates, The Drummer and The Guitarist, presented a collection of delicious fever dream songs focusing around their album, Asking for It, which was co-written by Actually and Andrew Neams
of 3Teeth.

Their sound is a mad trip through heavy darkwave industrial melodies led by industrial drumming and guitar riffs. At the helm is Actually, a once wailing then airily purring siren with a gorgeous mezzo soprano voice that gives her full control over the room.

Actually Huizenga of Patriarchy

Actually clearly doesn’t suffer fools… and her lyrics show a woman fed up with the system and the dehumanizing moments we are still forced to navigate as women, and human beings, in the 21st century. Their set was sexy, knowing, while carried by a refreshingly feminist bent harnessing the anger and frustration of women who exist, struggle, and flourish within and despite of the basic tragedies of our world. Songs like the titular Asking for It and Sweet Piece of Meat showcase all the dark sexual energy one could ask for. The song, Don’t Fuck the Drummer, was a moment of great fun. The following videos, clips from Sweet Piece of Meat and new single, Lockjaw, show the capture the energy of the Patriarchy experience.

A moment from Sweet Piece of Meat
A moment with the Lockjaw chorus

Pixel Grip

Headlining were Pixel Grip, a fast-rising trio from Chicago. The band is made up of Rita Lukea on vocals, Tyler Ommen on drums, and Jonathon Freund on keys. A vocal improvisationalist, Rita commands a voice so uniquely beautiful it is hard to think of exactly how to describe it. Having been classically trained, Rita takes her voice in and out of tones and characters with extreme confidence, all the while presenting a playful, at times even jazz-scatting, flair. This was the second visit to Crucible to support their second album, Arena, since the reopening of venues began in summer of 2021. They describe their style as a collection of “avant pop, EBM, and minimal wave” (pixelgrip.com). The various genres melt together beautifully and, just like the previous year’s visit, made the crowd extremely eager to get their bodies moving.

Pixel Grip (bandcamp.com)

Rita Lukea of Pixel Grip

Rita is a powerhouse onstage, cutting a commanding figure while expressing a muted rage couched in cool tension. This was especially true on Alphapussy, a royal reclaiming of femme power. She works the stage with an expressive knowing that embraces all the weirdos convening to escape the realities of the world. They know that she, and Pixel Grip, will tell it like it is.

Pixel Grip kept the bodies moving with massive club hits like Demon Chaser and Soft Peaks, as well as the powerfully touching Double Vision. Few bands today can produce such incredible club ragers and delicate ballads on the same album. But then few bands are Pixel Grip.

A moment from Dancing on Your Grave

If you are lucky enough to have either band come to do a show anywhere vaguely near you, get tickets immediately. Neither band should ever be missed.