Review of Klack: Introducing The 1984 Renault LeCar

Artist: Klack

Members: Matt Fanale, Eric Oehler

Hometown: Madison WI

Mixed and Mastered: Submersible Studios

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/introducing-the-1984-renault-lecar

https://www.facebook.com/klackmusik/

This is an exciting review to do. It was actually released in Jan 2019 and somehow it slipped through the cracks of my reviews so I will rectify that today. Matt Fanale is fairly well known in the scene through his Industrial project Caustic. Eric Oehler of Null Device. I’m always really impressed when artists have the ability to work at a high level in multiple genres. This dancier , sample infused, Front 242 style aspect really captures something I love about all of Matt’s productions. 1) It is extremely well done 2) It doesn’t take itself overly seriously 3) It makes me want to shake my large hairy form all over a dance floor.

EDM isn’t always my cup of cocoa, so what does Klack do so well? Blending, keeping a driving vamp dance beat and flowing the proper elements in and out to hold your attention. Doing that is a tightrope walk on a razor wire. This record consistently finds that sweet spot. they use samples taken from Star wars to an advertisement from a 1984 Renault automobile. Then they are seamlessly integrated with thought provoking growled out vocals and intricate beat changes. I think a lot of dance music is about causing the listener to become lost in the texture of the beat. Klack achieves this but takes it one step further to keep your mind revolving while you shake that ass. I also really enjoy the variety of tone and speed they use on this EP. Each song has the feel of being made by a different artist so it never feels like repetition.

This album is also an homage. It isn’t just the cover art or concept. The feel of these songs have a wonderful Kraftwork ,retro computer, grainy screens flickering in a ground control station feel. I think that creates this wonderful underground revolutionary feel which i found entrancing.

Lets talk favorite tracks. The EP has 6 and they are all good. However here were my stand outs.

Flowers for Ravers – Incredible opening intro of a young lady talking about the culture of drugs and dance culture. A dark and slithering keyboard line. The layers build and the vocals have this dusky chant building to the chorus “Flowers for Ravers put them in their hair” I grew up in the 90’s rave scene in Detroit and this track is such a nostalgic memory trigger.

Le Car – First track is a burner out the gate. I love the use of the sample and concept of the relationship between humanity and machines. Rapier flick synth swipes and this wonderful trance style beat. Klack the Planet.

Lost Without You – This song really grabbed me for it’s contrast. It’s beautiful with an almost Information Society quality. Really highlighted the singers and shows the talent risen from the mud of electronics and striding to the front naked and unafraid. The melody is a hook that sinks in you deep. This was stuck in my head for days.

Overall this is a wonderfully done EP with a diverse feel, powerful concepts, and seamless transitions. I felt like it really hits on all the things I love most about dance music and inspired memories in my mind like a smell. Treat yourself to this record.

As an added bonus I got to do an interview with Matt about Klack and Eric and his process.

Ken: So you do several projects I love Caustic/Klack/daddybear. I’ve always thought it was cool that you have so many voices you want to express in different musical styles. So tell me how you started the project of Klack in particular and why it was a voice and style you needed to express?

Matt: Klack was really more of a fluke than anything.  My better half in Klack is Eric Oehler of (Null Device). We’d collaborated on things before, but he did a ND remix for the Gothsicles in an old school 242 style and asked me if I wanted to try out a track in that style.  I was totally down and he tossed me 3 or 4 short track ideas, I chose one, came up with some samples and some other sounds to add to it, and Synthesizer came out.  Eric mainly handles the music and production side and I handle samples, lyrics, and “other sounds” for it. It’s the quickest workflow for us, as we get to be “lazy” and only do stuff that’s easier (for lack of a better word) for us.

We honestly did it for our own amusement and knew some of our friends would get a kick out of it, but people really took to it so we started building on some of the other demos and the Do You Klack? EP was the result of that.

Our influences and “voice” were apparent from the get go, as we had the same references– Microchip League, early 242 and Depeche Mode, A Split Second, etc. Eric is ridiculously good at identifying sounds and how to build them, so we went from there and it’s been surprisingly successful.

Ken: : I find when a scene (especially in a smaller city) starts to really take on life it often has someone in a band who is working to drive that. I really see Madison as a place where you are helping something special happen. Tell me about why that city is special for this scene and what advice would you give to people who want to grow the scene in their cities?

Matt: Thanks. I appreciate that.  We had a lot more vibrant scene in the early to mid 2000s when I was booking shows and bands like Stromkern were big, but we’ve definitely been building up again. The club we used to hang out at closed a few years back but a new one, Crucible, opened on New Years Eve, and that’s been a really exciting place for us to all come together again. I like thinking I’m a helpful part of it, but I’m just one person trying to convince people to come out and support this stuff.  If it wasn’t for Stromkern and some of the other bands I wouldn’t have even thought my music could get heard elsewhere, so I hope I can inspire new artists the way Stromkern influenced me to make music

Ken:
What is the next step for Klack? What are you working on and will any French automobiles be advertised by you in the future?

Matt: We’re working on new music presently and will be debuting a new track at Cold Waves in September.  Then we’re opening for Boy Harsher in Madison on October 10th and playing Los Angeles at the Substance Festival (coincidentally with them as a co-headliner) in early November.

As for new stuff we hold our cards close on that, so you’ll know it when we announce it.  No more french car promotion though.  We’re loyal to the Renault LeCar through and through.  Screw Peugeot.

Ken: Q: The alarm rings, missiles are locked on your studio. You have 5 minutes to escape, enough time to get out with one armload of gear. What are you saving?

Matt: I’ll just grab my laptop and Novation Kontrol and Launchpad.  I keep it simple, as I’ve always been more DAW-centric and not a hardware guy.  I don’t have that kind of money to blow.

Ken: You have such quirky and outside the stream song concepts. Tell me about your song writing process, where do you find the ideas you write about and how do you turn that into music?

Matt: I work a few ways when it comes to Klack, since Eric is responsible for the music. Sometimes lyrics just jump into my head, a la DMF off our first EP.  I had the title (which was the name of a goth/industrial night on campus when Eric and I were at UW Madison) but the lyrics popped when I actually locked down on the demo.  Other times, like for With Precision off Le Car, I had a bunch of lyrics but was waiting for the right music.  It all depends.  I’m working off a few other demo ideas right now and lyrics for both came to me when listening to the tracks.

My pools of inspiration for lyrics are different for Klack than Caustic or any of my other projects.  I have very specific lyrical references for Klack, but for Caustic it’s what can fit for the song– I don’t have restraints for Caustic.  I can’t think of a track where I debated “is this a Caustic lyric or a Klack lyric?”  They’re very purposefully different, as the projects have different voices.  I like writing for as many voices as possible, whether that be for Erica in Beauty Queen Autopsy or Eric for Klack.  It’s fun pushing my creativity that way.

Ken: If you could do a music video for any of your Klack songs. You had an unlimited budget. What song would you pick and what would that video look like?

Matt: Oh hell, I’d just hire Anton Corbijn to do a video for Discipline, one of our new tracks. He’s done videos for 242 and Depeche Mode, so he’s hitting our major touchstones.  We might as well stop pretending to be those bands and just use their guy straight off.

Ken: Give me one piece of Klack “Industrial Gossip” which my reader don’t know about?

Matt: Eric has a pouch like a kangaroo and he hides beef jerky in it.  

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Review of Night Nail: LA Demons

Band: Night Nail

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Brandon Robert – Vox/Guitar
Michael Carpenter – Guitar
Justin Regele – Synths/Keys/Programming
Bryan Panzeri – Drums​ Members: Brandon Robert, Justin Regele,

Home Base: Berlin Germany

https://music.nightnail.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/nightnailmusic/about/?ref=page_internal

So I had the extreme pleasure of meeting and interviewing this band while I was in Berlin. I am really excited for the footage we got and can’t wait to include it in this review. I feel like it gave a great background to these songs. As I am still working on editing, I didn’t want to put off this review any longer. So be prepared for it to expand.

This album is a narrative. A journey both emotionally and physically. To travel from LA to Berlin, two cities of such different flavor. It’s not a record to throw on in the background and do something else. It pulls you in, and demands your attention. Right away I am struck by the effective use of so many guitar tones. Some have a percussive almost bell like quality. The attention to detail in how they blend together give the texture integrity. A strength from the core of the sound.

Brandon has a deep rich voice that adds resonance to every song. It’s warm and dripping with anguish. The clarity of it really lets every word drift to you across the misty streets of the music. The way it sits so well on top brings the full range of feelings from the poetic lyrics. Sometimes with a gentle whisper, sometimes from the bottom of a well each word finds it’s way to you.

Now we speak of the saxophone. I miss the use of a muted, sexy sax in rock music so much. Night Nail uses the perfect amount to add texture and movement and complete that feeling of wet cold streets in an empty city. The bass guitar is thick and swelling. Not driving as is popular in post punk but a constant wide buzz that holds each song up. The lovely synth pads add the final piece of the puzzle. Varied, emotional, and never detracting. I keep getting drawn back to the idea of perfect construction. The time, thought, and stability of this lovely obelisk standing against a bleak landscape.

Some favorite tracks

Never Dream – Starting off strong with one of the more upbeat pacing songs. That gentle sawing guitar lead is the perfect smooth progression to set up Brandon’s deep echoing croon. The weight of the verse, given a beautiful uplift shift in the chorus. Wonderful effect.

LA Demons- The title track is an absolute simmering scorcher. This slow slinking bass riff with 90s flare right out of The Crow soundtrack. The sax in this song has this cool Pulp “This is Hardcore” sex appeal. This song has so much to unpack. Each time I listen it’s something new.

Shadow Song – This track has such a foreboding build with snapping snares that feel like they are in another room but snap like whips. The vocals are a gentle ghostly whisper with a harmony that makes everything sound ethereal and dangerous. Then that saxophone comes back to build. The drums start crashing like a funeral march and everything charges at you at once. This is song writing done right.

Overall Night Nail has me so excited. I feel like they have a beautiful and unique sound, but also the attention to detail and commitment that really takes a band to the next level. I’m extremely excited to complete the interview I had with them which gives even more background and insight into an already stand out album. Make your night better with this record.

Review of Ashes Fallen: Ashes Fallen

Band: Ashes Fallen

Label: Self release

Members: James Perry , Jason Shaw, Michelle Perry. Giorgi Khokhobashvili: violin on “I Will Let You Go” and “Little Vampire”
Erie Loch: backing vocals on “Little Vampire” 

https://ashesfallenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/ashes-fallen

http://www.ashesfallenmusic.com/?fbclid=IwAR3TA1OEO_AcpPsLnff3ouyeiE8_Fxp-zJ3SQWVVhJhJgT33F-g7N955q88

One of the major changes in dark music I have seen and loved lately is that the genres keep getting more diverse and expansive to include non-traditional ones that now fall under the umbrella of “Goth/Industrial”. Here comes Ashes Fallen from Sacramento CA, putting the rock back in gothic rock. The lyrics are dark and intense but James Perry is a freaking guitar wizard and really lets that shine in a classic guitar heavy style. His voice is punchy with a bit of gutter growl and has more Judas Priest than it does Fields of the Nephilim. Yet you still hearing lines like “Crown of Ashes” while being lashed by the whip of blistering finger burning guitar solos.

Speaking of rock sounds, no electronic drums here. Nice clean driving snare snaps and toms booming like thunder. It’s something you just don’t hear as much of these days and it really gives a fresh feel that adds a lot of motion. I think this album creates such a big potential for crossover between standard rock fans and goth fans to find that place in the middle. It’s not an easy feat to ride that line but James and company have stayed on the crest of the wave and the effect is powerful.

So the album has 11 tracks and a bonus, lets talk about some standouts.

Blood Moon – The single track is so fierce in its frantic tempo and crunchy guitar riffs. The vocals have a really nice blend of rock cadence and chorus-rich goth sound. I love how it jumps around with those tiny touch finger tap riff that keep a heavy buzz.

Never Again – This track has this southern twang acoustic with a ferocious emotion in the vocals. It drips with regret until this sky splitter chorus change and pop hook. It puts me in mind of great rock ballads like Faster Pussycat with a lot of Nick Cave spit and vinegar. “I’ve gotta move on now no more tears”

Little Vampire – Subtle tiny notes on this lovely guitar riff. I love the swelling symphony strings. Look their is so much hard rock on this album but these ballads are what really hooked me in. James opens up his voice here into the high range and shows the beauty of his singing to match the guitar wizardry. Goth girls need love songs written about them too, and I am here for this.

Overall I feel like this record was something lost and made relevant. Because all gothic rock music was an offshoot of rock first. I love how much Ashes Fallen just leans into this and owns it. It has a lot of the raw feelings exposed in the lyrics, but a throwback feeling to big sounds and Marshall stack mentality that I think sometimes bands in this genre secretly like but shy away from embracing. Go listen and embrace it with them.

Review of IRIS: Six

Band : IRIS

Album: Six

Label: Dependent records

Members: Reagan Jones / Andrew Sega

Hometown: Austin Tx

https://www.facebook.com/pg/iris.radiant/about/?ref=page_internal

https://iris-us.bandcamp.com/album/six

So IRIS is a band I was a little late to the game on. Their first album was “Awakening” back in 2004. However my dear friend Sunil Khanna at Darkest Before Dawn in Austin told me I needed to check this out, and he hasn’t been wrong yet. This album was no exception.

So what jumps out at me right away. Multiple pedal Shoegaze guitar slush…check. Beautifully produced shake your body 80’s fuzed Synthwave dance beats…check. Place in the blender at medium speed and seamlessly swirl to that place where textural beauty meets pop sensibility. This album covers a lot of ground with a lot of different sounds. Yet, when it’s at its best is when these two elements come together in glorious synthesis. Reagan Jones has this wonderful warm Curt Smith (Tears For Fears) quality to his vocals that captivate and ring with clarity but don’t steal from the sizzling back beat of the music. Maybe that is the other piece that reminds me of well done Shoegaze. Just when he has you in a lull sinking into the warm memorizing music, he cuts to the front and belts a laser beam note that reminds you of the power of his voice.

This band took a fairly long hiatus from 2014-2019 and the maturity of these songs really shows in the smooth even production. It doesn’t have a lot of edge but makes up for that with a genuine and spiritual wisdom. I feel like it can be a hard thing to find in the modern era of beep boop synth pop. It’s that refinement that made this record stand out in the landscape. It also made me really hope to see this band live because I feel like the extra ferocity of a stage performance would add another level of dynamic.

Lets talk about some stand out tracks because while the record didn’t have enormous stylistic dynamic, it definitely changed the flavor in subtle ways from song to song.

Joy Kill – A nice medium tempo Lo-Fi creeper which jumps up for the chorus with a great pop hook. Definitely one where Jones hits another gear in his range then steps back to an easy cadence that lets the swirling synth lines take center stage. Beautiful and expressive.

Pure White Snow – This song really made that synthesis of buzzing slush and clean tone dance beat come together. The imagery was great as well. “Blood Moon so soon, do you hear my cry in vain” I love the subtle computerized effect on the voice which makes it feel very modern while the music was so New Wave.

Take The Pain – They cranked up the drive for this one. Bass way to the front and let the vocals echo off the back. This song speaks to the duality of what they are achieving and sings a concept easy to relate to. It’s a song with enough bass umph to drive folk to the dance floor, but enough depth to make you listen once you get home from the club.

Overall I really enjoyed this album for the blending and the professional quality. It makes me want to dig back into their catalog. I don’t feel like this album was reinventing the wheel but not all of them need to. Sometimes it’s about taking elements you love and honing them together then adding a level of clarity which make that synthesis sound like it was always meant to be together. That’s what IRIS has done with this album and it is an effect I’m glad I gave the attention to.

Review of Corlyx: In2 the Skin

Band: Corlyx

Album: In2 the Skin

Label: Independent

Members: Caitlin Stokes: Singer/Songwriter
Brandon Ashley: DJ/Singer/Songwriter

https://corlyx.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CORLYXOFFICIAL/

Sounds and Shadows interview with Colyx!!

Confession time, I am a total sucker for 90’s down and dirty female singer dark grunge. I consider Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” one of the top 3 grunge albums of all time. I don’t care how many cool points that costs me. So when I put on this album for the first time and that sordid LA sludge came flowing into my ears lacing over a disco drive early Ministry drum beat I was hooked hard. This record is ripe with the same over the top imagery of hot clubs, leather, glitter, and broken dreams dragging themselves off the floor and forcing you to see that darkness in all it’s glory. It grabs hold of you and wins you over. The songs are wide and varied but have the oily residue in every sensually charged line that ties them together with perfect continuity. Guilty pleasure delicious.

The production levels of these songs are anything but rough and raw. The album instead achieved it with Lyrics, concept, and delivery. The mix is done with such needle sharp clarity and humming dissonance. Stokes has a voice rich with hazy dripping desire. She sings with force and malice without losing that cold detached crystal creation of LA and London. They are songs for dancing, but not club bangers. Instead, those other dance songs that happen slow and deliberate in the smoke and darkness and leave you burning like a flickering candle. This scene is longing for the sensual sting of dark music and Corlyx has delivered again.

Lets talk about favorite tracks a bit because this record is full of sinful singles

Twist like an Animal – Let’s start off with the first single and video track. Opening to a pig squealing! Vibrating drive guitar straight out of Prick. Crisp snapping snare slaps. Then Caitlin starts unleashing that smolder and I start crawling along the ceiling while the keyboards are popping. I love every aspect of this song and it belongs on your dance floor now.

Guys Like You – Powerful imagery with that repeating keyboard hook line. At 52 seconds everything jumps up and Caitlin’s cadence intensifies. This record has huge pop appeal simultaneously with a lot of depth happening. The quick but drastic transitions of this song really keep a frantic motion that makes it sear both your sides. “Guys like you, they always get what they want. Ladies don’t come to me when it happens”

One of the Used – Good gods the Courtney Love floor of a hotel in smeared make up feels are so real on this song. It’s shattered and understated and worms it’s way in your ear. That slushy 90’s shoegaze guitar is the perfect contrast to the other sounds on the album. “You’re just one of the used, broke up, battered and bruised” Sample sounds at 2:30 are a great breaker to let the vocals whisper back in. A good ballad makes you spin and that is what this song achieves.

Overall I have been rocking this album non stop the last two weeks. I love the filth, i love the hooks, I love her voice. Dj’s get this record on your dance floor immediately.