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.


Review of Klack 2400bps 8-N-1

Members: Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device)

Hometown: Madison WI

Label: Self Release

Industrial super band Klack have done it again. This time shining a light on 80s BBS modem culture with their new release 2400bps 8-N-1. A further step forward from previously reviewed Introducing The 1984 Renault LeCar (2019). A bit cleaner, a bit meaner Klack is putting the ass shaking chanting cadence back into industrial music. This EP again brings that 80’s old school sample heavy drive. I think what struck me right away is how accessible it is. Sometimes Industrial can get lost in metal roots and grinding crunch. Klack has focused on energetic dance beats and crystal clear emphasis on the back and forth vocals of Matt’s guttural ferocity and Eric’s beautiful melody lines. It’s inspiring and affirming making you focus on the energy of light dancing around you while the world crashes down around you.

Currently shooting to the top of the band camp charts as a self release Klack is firing out hits to a world hungry for nostalgic industrial played through a modern thinking persons lens. The lyrics are clever and thought provoking. Sometimes art really reflects the personal relationship of it’s artists and Matt/Eric have a friendship that bleeds through into their music. The elements flow together seamlessly into a powerful construction which stands out in the landscape. Their live stage show is crowd charging. If you get the chance to witness it I highly recommend.

Top tracks include:

Discipline – The heavy sample ridden opener has a ferocious chant that brings Industrial intensity into a Jane Fonda 80s workout video. The synth pads strike with precision to ramp up the energy.

The Games We Play – I love the War Games reference. The vocals are softer and have a gentle whispered melodic aspect. The song has a political and philosophic edge. I think this one really captured me the most and left me playing it over and over. I true bomb track.

Check the Spreadsheet – Beep Boop Bop dance until you drop. A mid tempo dance hall driver. I love the distorted slash synths with the early Microsoft sampled commercials. It’s clever, it’s dancy, it puts you on the floor from cell A1 – ZZ and makes you want to create a pivot table.

There is a reason this album got off to such a strong start. It’s fun, it’s intelligent, and it’s relevant in it’s focus on the past in the modern era. Klack yourself today !

Review of Klack: Introducing The 1984 Renault LeCar

Artist: Klack

Members: Matt Fanale, Eric Oehler

Hometown: Madison WI

Mixed and Mastered: Submersible Studios

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

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.