Diving back into the breach in a foolhardy attempt to catch up with netlabel Aural Sects‘ breakneck pace. Since Vol. 1 (in what now seems will be an interminable series), Aural Sects has released no fewer than three (3) new albums. (Witchboy – Le Universe Perverse, Flexdragon – U Thirsty Bro?, Astral Goth – Drowning the Colossus)
To answer your unasked but presumptuous question: NO. NO I HAVE FUCKING NOT LISTENED TO THEM. YET. I’m still running through the back catalog which, may I remind you, is not a completely insignificant effort, thxverymuch, and the difficulty curve only seems to be getting steeper because for some maddening reason, the order of the albums RANDOMLY REARRANGES ITSELF.
Not that I don’t want to hear the NEW STUFF, it’s just that there’s so much old stuff that’s still new to me and once I say I’m going to do something, I usually find every reason in the world to NOT follow through and believe me, whatever algorithmic device is in charge of keeping the albums lined up in roughly the same arrangement I saw last time has apparently decided that the internet just doesn’t fuck with self-imposed OCDists/completists ENOUGH and has rectified the situation by shuffling the deck at odd intervals. If I shut the speakers off, I swear to Jesus Harrison Christ that I can hear mocking electronic laughter and I CANNOT be 100% SURE that it isn’t just my own leaking sanity reflecting off the 21″ LCD.
To the music. Apologies in advance for factual errors, random misspellings, odd tangents, Unicode translations issues, abuse of the word “atmospheric,” abuse of the word “dark,” abuse of the word “rad” and for anyone whose albums might have been overlooked in the shuffle. Keep in mind this is not the last volume of Aural Sects: Netlabel As Wormhole.
[I was wrong. It's four (4) albums: VS//YOUTHCLUB - WAVES. This is being said with about 80% certainty. It could be more, but there's no way to sort by "ALREADY LISTENED TO."]
Many people regard the Midwest is the ne plus ultra of normality WHERE NOTHING EVER HAPPENS and if anything strange does happen, it’s usually something outrageously fucked up, like serial killing brought on by an overly-tight Bible Belt. In all honesty, the Midwest harbors a much worse sort of banality: stasis. Things are the same forever because that’s the way things have always been. Consequently, many of the denizens operate on a zombie-esque level of existence, not quite alive but not dead enough to auction off the various vehicles decorating the yard and the stamp collection full of mid-70s commons.
But. The best thing about the Midwest is that NOBODY expects weird shit to pop up musically. It happens, more frequently than anyone would suspect [see also: Umberto] and yet, it’s always a bit of pleasant surprise. Darkwave duo Spell Hound call Kansas City, MO home and put together the sort of VNV Nation-via-EPROM (the chip, not the musician [although maybe...]) that NO ONE expects to come winding its way down I-70, which is exactly why so many people end up victimized by serial killers. Trust in the same old continuing to be the same old. No alarms and no surprises.
Circling rolls in on a bassline that splits the difference between the Killing Joke and early Cure, while the vocals split the difference between Curve and Siouxie Sioux. Julia Holter’s electronica picks up the tip and everyone heads back to the house to spin records long into the night, quite possibly from the artists listed above.
Texture, much like pretty much everyone on the AS roster, can’t be limited to one album. Instead, he has doubled up. Of the two, I prefer Thrown Room (see below), but they both have their moments. SigilKids, from which Rohrschach is taken, is a handful of mushrooms and the damage done. Leaning more towards slowly unwinding electro-psychedelia, SigilKids is the kind of head trip that has just enough dark moments to make you reconsider spending every moment of downtime under the influence but still pleasant enough to make you reconsider your earlier reconsideration and consequently, spend the next several hours under the influence of hallucinogenics and whatever’s on Cartoon Network.
Rohrschach itself gradually fades into view like a Mad Professor vs. session, sending echoing drum beats and cascading synth tones tumbling down a long aural stairwell. It’s not until the 6-minute mark that Texture drops in the darkness, replacing aimless buzzing with slamming-home-the-deadbolt paranoia.
Based Goth (translated for the Unicode-impaired and lazy typists like myself) shows just how much damage a handful of pitch-shifted and mutated loops can do in the right hands. There’s nothing overtly violent about the track, but it still exudes the sort of just-under-the-surface tension that gives the relentless swirl of loops a sonic texture not unlike rabbit-punching SALEM’s frontman several times in mid-rap, thus slowing his speech permanently. A severe pitch up arrives towards the end, turning a snippet of effed-with vocals into the derisive sound of misanthropic angels.
Somewhat unexpectedly, considering the raw assemblage of throttled-and-beaten noises in between the opening track and this one, The Breeze is a rather beautiful cover of Sonic Youth’s Cross the Breeze. Texture shows some great range with this track, playing up the lighter tones that Sonic Youth hastily shed in their original, while also pinning it down with some impeccable drum programming.
This is sort of a cheat here, as I’m posting the entire EP. Pray 4 Luv is a small collection of previously unreleased tracks, which isn’t a sign of someone being out of ideas. Far from it. If you head to Trash’s Bandcamp page, you’ll see he’s got plenty more to choose from. And that doesn’t include contributions to other compilations and labels.
But I feel compelled to post the whole EP, not just because each track is so solid, but because I’ve been a fan for a long time and really haven’t given Party Trash his dues. My first (and so far, only) piece dealing with one of his tracks appeared way the hell back near the beginning of 2011, featuring his work with Raw Moans — a delightful piece of slightly-off blisspop titled Drunk Dial. When not exercising his screwhop-informed malevolence under the Party Trash name, he also makes gorgeous slabs of sighing white noise as Police Academy 6, as unlikely a name to grace something worth listening to since the Revolting Cocks. In the music business, this is know as ambidexterity.*
*Ed.: This is simply not true at all. More likely it’s known as “having range” or “multi-talented,” or over-exuberantly, “a Renaissance man.”
While Crazy is a stuttering slipstream of rising electronics and unholy choir arrangements, Die gives you all you need to know in the three-letter title. From spiritual life (Crazy) into crushed-by-atmospheric-pressure death, but metaphorically, Die is the sound of dying on the outside from dying on the inside. This is the sort of track you play when you know you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed and you want to do nothing more than either a.) go the fuck back to bed or b.) get wrecked and look for trouble. It’s like Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing with the lyrics aborted and the emphasis strongly on the last two syllables.
And Pray 4 Luv, god bless its twisted little heart, is diva dance as threnody. The vocals aim to soar while the music aims to demolish everything in its path. Some early synth tones might give you the idea that this diva wants only the best for you, but the foreboding bass thump and following doom synths let you know what’s really going down. Pray 4 Luv, sure, but you’d also had better pray 4 more life. Fucker.
Combine the words “DJ” and “Deathray” and you’re halfway there. Club-ready beats combined with an alien sonic weapon. The 4/4 is geared for the dancefloor, but the kickdrums distort and the accompanying tones warp around the wreckage like light around a black hole. DJ Deathray is the heavy rotation of the Cool Kids of Death. The bass rattles like shitty-subs-in-a-trunk, giving the track the breezy outdoor feeling of drivebys on the main drag and designer drug kiddies riding shotgun with psychedelic warlords. DJ Deathray sounds like the visual shorthand for “bad trip,” blurred lines in slo-mo, neon squiggles stuck in a perpetual jumpcut.
Witchboy hits a particular sweet spot with me. His cocksure industrial strut reminds me of music I discovered during my musical formative years, the point where I realized, thanks to music passed to me by others ahead of the curve, that the radio WAS NOT my friend.
Top 40 radio was suddenly annoyingly lightweight. Rock radio was only slightly heftier, but prone to focusing on hits at the expense of albums and next-big-thing repetition. Radio was dead to me. In its place were several new bands, none of which sounded remotely like the crass populism of the airwaves.
In particular, Witchboy sounds like my first brushes with industrial music, specifically Wax Trax! brand of industrial music, miles away from the clinical joylessness of a million German producers. Wax Trax! industrial had swagger. An infinite amount of cool. A willingness to explore genre boundaries and a disarming sense of fun. The Thrill Kill Kult. Ministry. RevCo. Laibach. Witchboy is mainly the first one, with his vocals reaching the same half-sneering, half-leering pitch of TKK frontman Groovie Mann.
Taking the mantra of “sex, drugs and rock and roll” to its illogical and illicit extremes and then selling off the last part to purchase more sex and drugs, TKK and other roster artists acted like industrial music’s own red light district, pushing a new brand of rock and roll, rephrased as “sex, drugs and Satan.”
Like the Thrill Kill Kult (and countless other artists), Witchboy has an obsession with Hollywood. And why not. Hollywood’s draw has always been its portrayal of itself as a mythmaker and creator of cultural icons, but underneath the thin veneer of glamour lies a decades-thick sludge-like layer of sleaze. Casting couches. Arranged marriages. Racism. Sexism. Gay leading men married to lesbian leading ladies. Blowjobs for bit parts. Greyhound buses full of Midwestern teens swiftly having their dreams of stardom converted into starring roles for local pimps. And despite years and years of this, Hollywood still attracts.
Making Movies is about the biz, but don’t go casting about for profundities. Just enjoy the crashing hi-hats, the down-the-fuck-low “making movies” vocal sample, the bleeping, incongruous “melody” line, and the backsass-as-frontmouth back-and-forth of the vocals.
Seriously, just go pick up the entire album. (Link below.) And check out his latest release, mentioned about 1,700 words ago, but linked again right here: Le Universe Perverse.
Man, nothing gets my blood flowing like the words “remix compilation.” This is not me being facetious. I love remixes. People with tiny minds spout big words about “originality” and “creativity” and endlessly besmirch remixers and mashup artists as “copycats” and “button-pushers” with no talent of their own. As a gas-huffing sociopath with kidnapping on his rap sheet and some serious mommy issues once said in regards to imported beer: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.
A great remix is its own thing, one that grows and lives and breathes as an entity both within and without the original. Take Armand Van Helden’s storming remix/remake of Tori Amos’ Professional Widow, which converted a damaged pianist with a headful of bad living into a peak time house diva. Check out Alan Braxe and Fred Falke’s remix of the Test Icicles’ What’s Your Damage?, which recasts the Icicle’s masculine rawk as perhaps the best track to never make the Miami Vice soundtrack. I’ve got a million of them. Fatboy Slim’s devastation of Mike and Charlie’s I Get Live, which saw Underworld’s blistering Born Slippy racket and said “I raise you a million (bpm).”
Fuck, for that matter, check out the remix package for Pictureplane’s Thee Physical. The remixes for the track Body Mod acknowledge Pictureplane’s lifting of some vox from Dub Be Good to Me by Beats International (an early Norman Cook [aka Fatboy Slim] project) by throwing in their “own” two cents worth — Extreme Animals throws in some of the Twin Peaks soundtrack along with Moby’s Go and Teams tosses in a complete nod-and-wink by bringing in samples from one of Fatboy Slim’s most famous remixes, Renegade Master by Wildchild. Everyone stealing. Everyone building. To quote Jim Jarmusch:
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination… Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.
This is all a very long-winded way of saying I love remixes and that those with high-minded ideals about originality are welcome to GTFO and erase this URL from their internet history.
As for this remix package, it goes all over the place, taking Marie Dior’s ADULT.-at-a-rave-with-Add-N-to-(X)-DJing original and doing nasty, but presumably pleasurable (and consensual) things to it. As heard above, the previously-raved-about Witchboy adds his own gutter-thump to it, adding filthy lyrics and a full-throttle pump, taking the track over the top, erecting a ladder, climbing up to the “DO NOT USE” step and hurling the whole works over the new “top.” Sometimes subtlety is a virtue. Other times it’s as much fun as a designated driver who needs to be home by 9:30 pm. This is one of the latter.
The Aparition remix, on the other hand, takes Fast Legs on a tense stroll through his own particularly worrisome neighborhood. The beat doesn’t do much propulsion, seeing as it tends to get waylaid by cantankerous buzzing noises of ill repute and for some reason, the whole ‘hood is darkened, dead-end alleyways all the way down. (If this sounds like your cup of abrasive tea, be sure to check out Aparition’s full-length album as well as his Bandcamp page.) Elements of the original remain, but I’m pretty sure they’re making panicked phone calls to the outside while Aparition hastily cuts all the outbound lines.
Volume 2 Complete. Achievement Unlocked: INTERNET OUROBOUROS.
Until next time…