Electronic Substance Abuse Roll Out Opulent New Record ‘Designer Carnage’

Electronic Substance Abuse (ESA) are among a short list of modern industrial acts that are consistently great, particularly with their most recent releases Burial 10, Eat Their Young / The Scorn EP, and the single “I Detach” coming within the last two years. Between the concussive snares, the powerful production, and the wide range of vocals – whether they’re provided by mastermind Jamie Blacker or by guests such as Caitlin Stokes of Corlyx – ESA is a project that rarely, if ever, misses. 

It is with this sort of reputation that the project sets forth its most recent studio effort, Designer Carnage, released on Negative Gain Productions on Valentine’s Day. Using buzzwords and phrases such as “modern decadence” and “be the envy of your peers,” the marketing for this album is on-the-nose anticonsumerism done ESA style. As part of the pre-orders for the record, they offered ESANCE, a line of cosmetics and wellness products that will shock your system and lead you into the new year looking and feeling your best, price tags be damned.

ESA might best be described as “progressive industrial,” insofar as the influences and the backbone of the album may change from track to track, or even multiple times within a track. This album’s opener, “Laudanum Dance,” is a prime example of this. It starts off with a build towards an aggressive, “sweep the premises” tone. The first half of this eight-minute saga feels like a nod to The Prodigy and the grungiest of UK house, before giving way to a dizzying piano solo by Frederic Scarfone. By minute six, we get a marching, stomping beat that lets the power this opening track has carry on through the ending.

We then get a dance floor destroyer in “One Missed Call,” whose first round of vocals come from a sampled voicemail from a very disgruntled woman. On one hand, there is something to be said here about “anything you say can and will be used against you,” particularly with the lines:

This is a message to stop you from getting far

Because no-one knows what I know and you’ll never be a star.

It’s a damn fun track, and it’s no secret why it was one of the tracks released ahead of the full record.

Then we get to the powerful, wub-heavy “I Detach,” which we got as a single last May. The jazzy little interlude might be a bit of whiplash for those unprepared, but it does help break things up with this limb-ripper of a track. The title track comes next, and if Jamie doesn’t play “I Detach” followed by this, I don’t know what he’s doing. These two songs are the perfect one-two punch and compliment each other so well. 

“Disruption Only” stands out for a few reasons, namely the symphonic and orchestral elements. The tempo gets turned up, but the three-note melody keeps things in EBM territory, albeit with a twist. It is a simple number, but it makes seven minutes (6:49, to be exact) feel like nothing. During the next song, “Come and Find Me,” I came to realize why there were so many big band, jazz-type moments in this album. Designer Carnage has a theme of advertisement, of unabashed entrepreneurship, and back in the day, commercials, especially radio or television, were whimsical while also a bit insidious. It is in this aggressive marketing (the industrial/EBM elements), paired with the whimsy (the big band interludes) where we get the duality of advertising.

Or maybe Jamie just makes good goddamn music and I’m reading into things too much. 

“Hyena” is classic ESA, with aggressive percussive elements and an overall tone that will turn a ravegoer’s brain to mush in the most fun way possible. This is perhaps the most club-friendly song on the record next to “I Detach.” “Whom Then Shall I Fear?” features the lyrical flow of Pee Wee Pimpin, and man, does his voice do something for this track. His flow is smooth, the low voice almost chanting over the production. It’s swagger but not to the point of self-parody. It’s aggressive to the point of believability. Burial 10 had its share of industrial hip-hop moments, but Designer Carnage has a hell of one with this track.

“Vast Accept” is purely hypnotic, the kind of track to put on and lose oneself to. The staccato strings and the glimmering synths over a pounding bass make for a dream of a song. The album’s closer “Saturnalia” may divide some folks, as it leans back on Blacker’s roots in the extreme metal scene. If you like the idea of industrial black metal (and lord knows I do), you’re going to love it. The first minute plus is blast beat o’clock, while things go in a more electro direction as the track progresses, all the way to an acoustic interlude around the halfway mark. We circle back to the black metal beginnings of the track as the curtain falls on this epic, spanning closer.

Is this Jamie throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks? If so, very little is falling off.
Surround thyself in only the finest of Designer Carnage by streaming and/or purchasing the album:

Astari Nite Unveil NITE’s Pixie Remix of “All Else is a Curse”

The muted energy and drab majesty of post-punk is still very much alive, and Miami’s Astari Nite are at its forefront. A relatively new act, the band’s first album Here Lies, released in May of 2020, was a stirring exercise in gothic rock, headed up by its singles “Dearly Beloved” and “Capulet Loves Montague.” While the band’s sophomore full-length has yet to be announced, 2021 began with a new single in “All Else Is A Curse,” followed by “Pocket Full of Posies” this summer. To cap off this calendar year, Astari Nite have given us a remix of the former, with the help of NITE.

Where the original mix of the song is more guitar-driven, letting open strings ring out, the NITE remix is a club track through and through, with more synth passages, a slightly quickened pace, and more prominent percussion. The kick drum comes through to drive the chorus forward, giving more of a bounce to this haunting and contemplative track. All told, it is a solid remix, and definitely something I could see filling a dance floor, though with a bit more energy than the old standard that is the goth two-step.

Best of all, the remix is available for free on Bandcamp (or pay what you want), so stream and/or download the Pixie remix of “All Else is a Curse” by Astari Nite and NITE here:


And if you haven’t heard the original mix from earlier this year, stream that here:

Altar of Progress by Gencab

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With the final Negative Gain Productions release of the year, Philadelphia’s GENCAB has a winner on its hands. Altar of Progress has all the makings of a club DJ staple: a catchy, well-produced banger with lush keyboard melodies. The lyrics have that certain singalong quality that makes a song memorable, although the vocals are buried so deep in the mix of single version (from the forthcoming GENCAB album, Thoughts Beyond Words), I almost couldn’t make them out at first.

As I type this I’m on my third listen. The sound is so layered that I make out new things each time I listen. There’s a lot going on here. And the tempo changes break up the song nicely. It never stays in one place long enough to get tedious. I especially love the warm synth tone during the breakdowns.

And if that weren’t sexy enough, Aesthetic Perfection provides a remix that’s so hard-hitting, it’s easy to imagine a dancefloor full of rivetheads stomping away blissfully to the beat. It’s more straightforward than the single version, but don’t confuse straightforward with pedestrian. The keyboard lushness is stripped away in favor of rhythmic loops, a driving bass thump and a clever interplay of vocal effects.

If Altar Of Progress isn’t getting played by DJs looking to pump up the club with a new sound, it would be a criminal oversight.

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https://gencab.bandcamp.com/album/altar-of-progress

https://ngpofficial.bandcamp.com/

https://aestheticperfection.bandcamp.com/

Brand New Video from Grabyourface “Rob the Bank”

Brand new video from French Coldtrance artist Grabyourface on Negative Gain Productions. A tip toe grinding electronic sermon of post capitalism dystopia and rebellion. The video features this wonderful Mad Max tractor pull aesthetic. Join in the heist

https://grabyourfacengp.bandcamp.com/

Music and lyrics by grabyourface
Mixing and mastering by Gom Pilote (Unspkble, Between the Zones, Londead, Animal)

Interview with a Komrad

Komrads: The one man industrial crusade led by Zachary Burnett hailing from Rochester,NY recently signed to Negative Gain Productions and is not wasting any time. August 20th will see the release of the album “The Wolf”, the follow-up to 2018`s self-released “Resistor”.

I`ve trudged through the debris of broken analog synthesizers, drum machines and ash to find front-man/leader of the revolution, Zachary Burnett and interrogate him about his latest collection of machine-driven hymns and the Komrads agenda.

Let`s start off with something fairly simple, what is the origin of the name Komrads

I picked the name for a couple reasons.  The main inspiration was Waynes World 2 when Wayne holds a fundraiser at a Soviet Union themed club called Comrades to raise money for Waynestock.  I changed the spelling because if Korn could do it then why can’t I?  Also it’s a gender neutral pronoun, an all inclusive term.  When you’re at a Komrads show, we’re all comrades.

You started out as a full band and eventually ended up as a solo project which seems to be the opposite of how things go in this scene with bands often started as a solo thing and evolving into a full band later on, how do you think you`ve benefited from this move?

The main reason I went solo was because of the relentless touring schedule I was working up toMy previous band members, Jesse Halstead and Joe Sexton, we’re great sports and I couldn’t have gotten this project rolling without them.  But life happens and spending months on the road with an unsteady income is less than appealing to most sane people understandably.  The biggest benefit of being solo is I have little to no overhead cost and if I wanna pull over and go to Starbucks for the third time that day there’s no one to argue with.

Your new album “The Wolf” shows great musical range, opening track “Crossfire” setting the tone with it`s doomsday sound design, “Exile” showcasing the rock/metal influence and “The Cure” seemingly living in between post punk and industrial. To what do you attribute this seamless slithering between the worlds?

It’s mostly to keep things interesting for myself.  I’m a fan of all genres within the “Goth” realm and I love to pick elements of each and mash them together.  Sometimes it turns out great, other times not so much.  I started this project without really picking a direction to point myself fully at.  It’s definitely been an experimental journey trying to figure out exactly what Komrads is to me.  With this album I’ve found a lot more confidence in what I want this project to sound like.

This is your first time operating within the industrial borders [or lack-thereof] what made you wanna go this route? What about the industrial concept so to speak was it that attracted you to it?

What really pushed me into this territory was the fun factor.  Maybe not a whole lot of people think of the word “fun” when they hear industrial.  I’ve been drifting back and forth between the post punk/darkwave and industrial realms for a few years.  After touring with Skold and opening for Pigface, Suicide Commando, and Psyclon Nine I found myself enjoying the energy output at those shows more and more.  It seems more fitting for me to pursue that route given I already instinctively have an angsty, aggressive approach when I produce electronic music.  So diving deeper into Industrial just seemed like the next logical step for me.

Komrads – The Wolf

The wolf as a symbol is found throughout time in nearly every culture, which interpretation, if any, influenced the album to the point of choosing it as its title?

I chose to name the album after the track I had titled The Wolf.  It was the last song I had written for the album and it’s deeply personal about my resentment and outright hatred for someone close to my immediate family.  I won’t go into details about this specific person but due to a series of events over the course of many years, this persons involvement within my family has left me sort of cast out, a lone wolf you might say.  

Who is responseable for the albums artwork and what was the idea behind it?

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed as I often do and I came across this outrageously badass drawing of my favorite Pokémon (Haunter). I immediately followed Keith West/HangxFang after checking out the rest of their work. I asked if they could draw up something for me with a Wolf as the focal point in a cemetery of sorts and barely a week later I’m looking at what would become my album cover. I’m planning on working with this artist again and I highly recommend them. Very friendly and fast turnaround for quality work.

The music of Komrads is largely built on hardware equipment and heavy use of sampling, was this a conscious decision? Why not simply open Fruity Loops and program up a beat or two?

I guess you could say it was a conscious decision to use hardware instruments as opposed to software.  I played guitar in punk and metal bands for years, some drums too so having a hands on approach just made more sense to me.  I want to physically feel the instruments I’m playing, twist the knobs and push the pads myself.  Maybe my performance will be less precise and limited but that brings me back to the fun factor.  Physically hammering on MPC pads and dialing in the synths and drums as they’re looping brings me a lot of joy that I don’t feel when just sitting in front of a computer screen.  My DAW is largely just a means to record the outputs of my gear.

On the topic of equipment, which piece of gear would you say was essential to the creation of this album and why?

I couldn’t have made this record without my Akai MPC 2500.  That is the key to all of my operations for this project.  I’ve compiled tons of samples on it and I love the workflow.  Aside from that I heavily used a Roland SE-02 and Korg Minilogue and often ran them through an Industrialectric Incinerator silicon fuzz pedal.  I practically made those synths scream and chug like guitars.

You`ve played a fair amount of shows and tours, opened for several well known acts within the scene and have a tour of your own coming up in October. Being a solo act how do you go about translating the music for the stage? Do you have a live line-up with you and if so, who does it consist of currently?

As of right now I perform solo live as well.  I used to bring all of my gear with me and that became a massive headache.  Now I have a minimalist rig put together so I can get on and off of stage in less than five minutes to make way for the other acts.  I run backing tracks, several pedals I process my vocals through, and a synth or two for some extra flair and performance.  I also supply and operate my own lighting rig.  I’ve spent countless hours dialing in lights that bring a lot of movement and life to my stage performance.

Having a consistent flow of releases whether it be stand alone singles, EP`s or whatever else, what do you have planned after the album drops?

I have a couple things in the early stages of planning but nothing set in stone.  I am planning on releasing remixes off of this album in one form or another.  I also have plans to collaborate with a few other artists but I won’t be divulging any further information on that at this time.  I’m lending my vocals for a few features that will be out late this year or early next year as well.

Blind [Single from The Wolf]

As you know, Sounds & Shadows is all about supporting smaller artists/bands from around the globe. Who are some of the current underground acts you`re into these days that you`d want our readers to check out?

STCLVR (pronounced Street Cleaver) is easily one of my favorite underground acts in the scene right now.  They’re a solo industrial artist based out of Jamestown, NY.  They slam out releases quickly one after another lately and each one blows me away.  I highly recommend checking them out if you’re into harsh industrial.  Some other favorites I highly recommend are 6th Circle, Bustie‘, and The Russian White.  All three of those acts vastly differ from each other but they’re all among my favorites that I think deserve a little more credit

When industrial was but a foetus [pun intended ; ) ] there was various political as well as spiritual and occult ideologies tied in to the music whether that be in terms of the creators outlook or the methods and equipment used to record said music, while this seems to have taken the back-seat in the modern era in favour of the more club-friendly interpretations of the genre I`d wanna know if the ways of old has any influence on how you create, think about and execute your art?

I think a lot of the original and older acts in the Industrial genre had no intentions of receiving club play.  I don’t set out to write music with a political agenda but sometimes, and more so especially on this record, that’s exactly what happens.  When I’m not yelling about my personal feelings my anger/grief usually finds itself pointed at political issues.  I do appreciate when my music is played in clubs and I do strive to write hooks now and then but I’m writing this music to build a connection with an audience.  I’m of course influenced by the likes of Skinny Puppy, NIN and Ministry, but I want to take that influence and combine it with everything else that makes me who I am, and put it out there as something new and fresh.

Find Komrads on the following pages

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/komradsofficial

Bandcamp: https://komrads.bandcamp.com/

Negative Gain Productions: https://negativegain.com/

New album ” The Wolf ” out August 20th 2021