Individual Totem – “Electrostatic” (2018)

I got an email the other day from Toronto’s Artoffact Records touting the upcoming release  by the German electro-wizards Individual Totem, a band whose last album was described as an “industrial space opera”.  I was, needless to say, intrigued.  I’d never heard of Individual Totem before, but this sounded like something I needed to check out.

Everything’s just perfect when you’re near me…
— “Perfect” 


Electrostatic opens with “Perfect”, a near perfect blend of percussive beats, 80s-style synths, and dejected vocals that seem to set the stage for a somewhat goth, somewhat post-punk style album.  But then the vocals kicked in on the second song, “Pure”, and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Things take a turn toward the dark side, a hard lurch to the depths of someplace with an undercurrent of danger.  The positive vibe of Everything’s just perfect when you’re near me shifted to an I want you, I need you that sounds more like a threat than a compliment, approaching the feel of being locked in a damp basement lit by just a single dim bulb hanging from the ceiling by a wire and awaiting your inevitable and certain to be unpleasant fate.

By the third song, “Warriors Of The Sun”, it’s becoming clear that Individual Totem have no intention of letting the listener get into a groove with Electrostatic.  This is their train.  They’re at the controls, and we’re just along for the ride, heading into the corners at speeds that well exceed what is safe.  And in case you were still harboring any thoughts that things might start moving in a more or less linear fashion you get “Lullaby In A Snowstorm”, a slow and morose journey that derives its beauty from sadness.  Nothing danceable here, leaving you instead just swaying as the music wraps itself around you in a thick blanket.

My life is a nightmare,
I’m burning in hell.
I’m dreaming of angels,
But it doesn’t help.
— “Dreaming Of Angels”

The next track is always an adventure on Electrostatic.  What will it be?  Industrial?  IDM?  Something in between, or something entirely different?  There’s a sense of anticipation as each song starts that makes Electrostatic a joy to listen to, and it doesn’t go away even after playing it a half dozen times.  Creating something with an overall feel to it while still keeping each and every track fresh and unique is not an easy thing to do, but Individual Totems make it happen on Electrostatic.

Electrostatic is due out September 7.  You can sample some tracks on the Individual Totem Bandcamp page HERE, and make sure to head back next week if you want to pick up a copy, whether that be the digital download or the CD put out by Artoffact.

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