May began with some really heavy blows to out scene. A tragic car accident. An unexpected health scare. It seems like the Chicago Industrial scene is weighted down with tragedy. This is also a time when we remember and appreciate how much we mean to each other. So please tell the people who matter how much you love and appreciate them. if that takes the form of an artist or song, then turn it up, sing it loud, and share it with others. Here are some artists which are currently touching my heart and I appreciate.
Hail Your Highness – Winter – Let us begin in my own backyard of Grand Rapids Michigan with two sisters playing Sega Dreamcast bleep bloop against rain-streaked windows. Fading memories of dewy blades of grass and sadpop drizzle. Honesty and clarity ripple on a still pond. Each track feels close to home. I look forward to reading the well worn paper back pages.
Chiasm – Relapse (Reissue) – A re-release of the 2005 electronica spider crawl synth from Michigan artist Emileah Rohn flawlessly remastered by composer and contributor Jean-Marc Lederman. Hearing an artist you know well from their delicately polished and precise recent material through the darker rawer lens of their early voice is a shocking beautiful realization.
Favorite Track: Delay – The gnashing teeth to the vocal delivery here is a fresh dynamic to the familiar imagery of Chiasm’s poetry and digital complexity. Falling in even rotation through a bottomless dark void.
This remaster feels like seeing a familiar friend in a virtual reality home movie to a history you have heard as a story but never seen with your eyes until now.
BELLHEAD – Good Intentions – New EP from Chicago double bass indie grime band Bellhead. In the 90’s when Avant Gard indie rock was happening, I listened to it. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated it. Maybe I didn’t yet have thick Buddy Holly glasses, maybe my pallet hadn’t refined. whatever the reason when I hear the bone shaking bass lines and tennis technique volley vocals in 2023 it just hits different. A blend of stalking menace and luring sweet hooks. You keep on the ride for the familiar feelings, the longer you stay the more you realize this is something you haven’t heard yet. Ivan Russia has a stalking wolf voice that is breathing hot death on the back of your neck. The lyrics have this hard line Frank Miller pulp narrative. Karen volleys back with the perfect energy and accent to make the picture complete.
Favorite Track: Into The Deep – Ivan goes full beatnick Ginsberg on this bopping funeral surf ceremony through hell. This is Frank Black and Nick Caves boiling seaside vacation to hell.
MOЯIS BLAK – BURIAL + VOID [remixed] – Boston based CyberApocolypse artist Moris Blak has been pumping out thrumming electronic bass grenades. With this new remix album featuring Rabbit Junk, Syzgyx, and GenCab features a reflective subtlety that I feel deep for. Spotlights to the sky on a rooftop rave. See them on tour now with Danny Blu and Eva X.
Antipole & Paris Alexander – Crystalline – I have been a huge Antipole fan since the beginning of Sounds and Shadows. Karl’s attention to detail in perfecting the post punk guitar sound is a level of mastery akin to a Rennaissance painter worthy of naming a ninja turtle after. So when I say this is my favorite release to date by the Norwegian songcrafter it is a statement of weight. With frequent collaborator Paris Alexander and Eirene on vocals this record is an exploration of cold biting beauty and haunting memories. One of those albums which fits well as a pairing to any activity. A long solitary walk, a soundtrack to an intimate dinner party, a delicate thrum in a crowded club. I was really impressed with how much Paris vocals stand to the front in a way I haven’t heard as much on previous releases. A raspy whisper full of danger and sensuality. This is an early contender for my top albums of the year.
Favorite Track: I really loved each one for different reasons. Track 4 Disjointed left me mesmerized and haunted. The guitar riff hung like a bridge of ice as you slowly make your way across an endless gap. Paris voice is a haunting poetry. This was a New Order Movement track that never got made before this moment.
Dogtablet – Black Space Dust & Memories – Martin King of the legendary Test Dept and Roberto Soavel have gathered an epic ensemble of talent to weave a wet aired electro jazz fantasy on the edge of comfort. Each track is a destination well outside of civilization and teeming with sharp teeth and claws.
Guest vocalists: Track 2: Steven Archer (Stoneburner/Ego Likeness)
Track 4 and 9: Coral Scere
Track 6: Jared Louche (Chemlab)
Track 7: Daz Sharp
Track 10: Melodywhore
Track 11: Cat Hall (Dissonance)
Track 12: Franke Nardiello (My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult)
Roger Ebner – Sax on Diamonds
Phil Moseley – Guitars on Ashes
Artwork and Layout by Greg Rolfes
Trying to pick a Fav track is too big an ask here. There is so much variety and ground covered. An airship of adventurers each with a role to fill. On track 4 Whispers Coral Scere gives such a tragic and soulful delivery I felt my eyes welling up. Track 7 Tar Pit featuring Daz Sharp was another level of vocal craftsmanship by stretching each phrase through thick murky ink. Layne Staley was looking down smiling. Track 12 The Oversight featuring Franke Nardiello is a snake charmer doing a flickering flame dance surrounded on all sides. The opening track Diamonds was rich and heavy with swaying Tom Waits swagger and the shimmering sax of Roger tied around each limb and stretching us to our limits. This record is an adventure.
Grey Gallows – Strangers – Patra Greece darkwave artist with a new full length album. I found them through Cold Transmission and was hooked in right away. A sinister batcave thrum blended with modern darkwave club beats. Konstantin has an expressive range and a showman’s inflection on vocals. The basslines are tight and weighty like a bowling ball down castle stone stairs. Track 3 “Spirits” featuring Kriistal Ann was a lovely standout. Giant sweeping synth pads and her operatic grace accented with cymbal accents. I really need to dig through the back catalog of this band. This album is keeping old school goth alive in 2023.
Favorite Track: The Night In Me – The tempo drop and pageantry of this song put it heavy in my rotation. The vocals drip like hot wax on a cathedral candle. The reverb heavy rhythm guitar crated perfect anticipation between verses.