Bad News – “No End” (2012)

badnewsnoend2This is my second dip into the Chondritic Sounds pool, and so far the label is two-for-two. Unlike the previously reviewed JFK, however, Bad News’ No End provides plenty of sonic structure, a nightmarish brand of IDM with lo-fi vocals and multi-layered beats.  “Typical Illusion” truly takes the term industrial to heart, with metallic, factory-like blasts of sound overlaid on top of the bass, the pace increasing like a runaway locomotive before Bad News bring it back in check to start the process over again.  By the time the song peaked a second time I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen the turntable itself picking up speed, sparks and smoke flying from where the stylus touched the vinyl.  The label makes some general comparisons of Bad News to late 1980s era Skinny Puppy, and I can’t argue with that.

My only complaint whatsoever with No End is that it left me wanting more – at four songs and about 25 minutes, I could have used one or two more tracks.  But better to have felt it too short than too long, because I can easily flip it over and play it again.  As for you, you can listen to all four songs on Bandcamp HERE and buy the digital version for just four bucks if you like what you hear.

JFK – “Nganga” (2017)

I just started reading Fight Your Own War: Power Electronics and Noise Culture, and it’s a complete coincidence that one of the first artists I came across in the book was Ramleh, a project that includes one Anthony DiFranco, who also happens to be the solo mastermind behind JFK and who’s album Nganga has been on my To Listen To shelf now for a few weeks.  Sometimes it’s a very small world.

jfknganga

While I enjoy industrial, I admittedly lean towards the more musically structured (and dare I say commercial) artists.  JFK is not that.  At all.  JFK is tearing the paint off the walls of the room that is your consciousness, that little safe place you hide deep within your ego.  JFK kicks in the door, hoses the place down with turpentine, and throws a road flare in on his way back out.  I can’t get into all of it, but “Machinen” and “Nganga” may have altered my consciousness in such a way that I’m no longer entirely sure what constitutes “music”.  My favorite track is “Zarathustra”, which sounds like Vangelis working with Tangerine Dream while the whole lot of them are tripping on ayahuasca, spacey and with the electronic buzz of high-voltage power lines right above your head and the occasional beats that will make you think the Hueys are coming in for another pass at Charlie’s beach.

This was one of the titles I picked up recently from the label Chondritic Sound, and if it’s any indication of what I’m in for, it should be an interesting ride.  You can listen to all six tracks on the JFK Bandcamp page HERE, as well as purchase the vinyl, which is also available directly from the label HERE.

Ho99o9 – “United States of Horror” (2017)

Ho99o9 (pronounced “Horror”) were on my short list of bands to see at Iceland Airwaves 2015, but unfortunately the closest I got to experiencing them was seeing the guys in the crowd at the Reykjavíkurdætur show at NASA, which they appeared to be enjoying quite a bit.  I’m still pissed I didn’t catch them, and looking back at the schedule I can only guess that the reason was I just called it a night, as their one on-venue show was at 1:20AM.  I’m getting soft in my old age.

ho99o9

What is not soft, however, is Ho99o9’s sound, a blend of hip hip and hardcore (check out “Sub-Zero”) with a splash of industrial (“Bleed War”) thrown in for good measure.  The lyrics, whether about being hard on the streets or critiquing the socio-political order, are dark and violent.  Personally I’m not a big lyrics guy, instead more focused on the sound and flow.  That being said, it’s hard in this day and age to be shocked by anything.  The idea of something like “Cop Killer” even being a blip on the radar seems almost impossible, though back in 1992 you’d have thought Ice-T should have been thrown in prison for writing a song given the outrage it caused.  Today?  That’s just par for the course.  Stifle a yawn and click on the next YouTube clip.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  So while Ho99o9 are at times quite aggressive, it doesn’t feel particularly outrageous.

I like the sound, though.  The distinctly different vocal styles of theOGM and Eaddy offer a lot of possibilities, and the duo explore them all, blending styles on the fly (there’s even some rockabilly on “City Rejects”) and holding it all together effortlessly.

Holz – “Demo I” Cassette (2018)

I went over to my little local used joint Vortex the other day to get some store credit out of our recent DVD purge.  As Darren was going through the half dozen records I was going to take in trade, I saw this demo tape sitting on a shelf next to the register.  “What’s the story with this?”, I asked.  “Oh, they’re a local band,” Darren replied, “from Des Moines.”  I asked about the style.  “Well.  They’re sort of…. they’re sort of industrial.  Yeah, I guess that’s the best word for it.”

Sold.

Des Moines is about 20 minutes south of Seattle, much of it bordering Puget Sound and offering some amazing views.  It’s also right in the flight pattern of nearby Seatac Airport, meaning that a lot of the property values aren’t so hot because of the noise – if your approach takes you south to north, you fly right over a lot of Des Moines neighborhoods at really low altitude, which has to suck if you live down there.  Should we expect power industrial to come out of Des Moines?  Perhaps.

holz1

Demo I sounds like it’s primarily played on instruments as opposed to electronics.  While I love me some electro-industrial, sometimes it comes across as overly clean-sounding and sterile despite its best attempts to get down and dirty.  That’s not a problem for Holz.  It’s thick and grimy with that used motor oil viscosity, the kind that has some metal shavings in it from the motor friction, thickly slick yet still abrasive.  The guitars are raw and unforgiving, gear-grinding like part of some giant motor.  Percussion alternates between deep bass and snappy snares (especially on “Hollow”), leaving the bass guitar to push the flow and provide the foundation for the tracks.  The vocals have an almost black metal growl to them, low and raspy.  This is some killer stuff.  If it reminds me of anything, it’s like an edgier version of early Tad.  And coming from me, that’s high praise.

You should definitely go listen to these guys on their Bandcamp page HERE.  These four tracks are a bargain at twice the price.  The cassette release is super-limited in a hand-numbered edition of 15 copies, so not sure how you’ll be able to track one of those down – maybe reach out to the band via email.  As for me, I’m bookmarking that page, because I need to keep tabs on what these guys are up to next.

Kingdom Scum / Ene – “To Cause A Fracas / The Mad Stretch” (1996)

kingdomscumThis is an interesting split release.  The Kingdom Scum side places heavy emphasis on percussion of all types and BPMs, overlaying the beats with various screams, spoken samples, and some vocals that sound like they’re straight off of a Skinny Puppy album.  “Two Claws, A Caucus” is particularly intriguing, the beats seemingly changing at random intervals and the whole thing having a quasi-industrial feel to it.  Ene brings an entirely different vibe.  The beats are still the driving force, but there’s a heavy dose of dub here.  It’s often high velocity and captures the mechanical sounding aspects of industrial.  I’m not entirely sure what’s happening a lot of the time… but I like it.