Light a candle. Draw the required sigils. Now, raise your arms above your head and slowly, gently, exhale your soul. You won’t need it here. This is Audioccult, and it’s time to get low. Illustration: SHALTMIRA
It feels weird to think about music when there’s so many utterly fucked things happening in the US right now. I debated writing about them instead for this week’s Audioccult, but I decided that others are doing a much better job at it, and they probably don’t have the urge to interject with some humorous music babbling. This holiday season, I suggest that you interrupt all family gatherings by loudly placing your laptop on the dining room table and opening it slowly to this article.
Anyway…Because EB isn’t doing a Best Of 2014 list, and because this column rarely focuses primarily on music these days, I feel compelled to mention my aural loves from the past year on a smaller scale by compiling my 20 favorite tracks in no particular order. Each of these songs move me in different ways at different times, and so I’m not interested in ranking them—they’re all great. Next week, I’ll cover 20 more, and the week after this column will just feature pictures of dogs I like.
Ballet School – “YAOI (LP Version )” [Bella Union]
The penultimate cut from debut album The Dew Lasts An Hour by Berlin-via-Scotland shoegazers Ballet School ramps up the original version with powerful vocals and perfect pop hooks that are pinned down by glistening, driving guitars reminiscent of the sort of 4AD-style post-punk I worshipped as a kid.
3TEETH – “Dust” [Artoffact Records]
I could go on about these guys for ages, so suffice to say that if you love industrial music, this song (and LP, and the remix LP) need to be in your collection. Grinding riffs, obliterating beats, and pure vocal carnage make this one a dance floor destroyer.
Croatian Amor – “Tonic Water Bridge” [Sleeperhold Publications]
While Caviar Glowing flows like a single track, it’s the first movement—all pulsating, twinkling ambiance sliding slowly into a quicksand of techno rhythms—that grabbed me the most from this beautiful little EP.
Rind – “Understudy” [Rotted Tooth Recordings]
The sound of Lee Relvas rests comfortably between early No Wave experimentalism and the mutant, electronic punk that gave us angelic weirdos like Lauren Bousfield. Foreboding piano plays tag with bursts of static noise, jagged guitar, and Relvas’ commanding voice. The entire thing is available to download for free on her website, too!
The Soft Pink Truth – “Satanic Black Devotion” [Thrill Jockey]
Why Do The Heathen Rage? is possibly one of the best records, ever. Queer, shattered electronic interpretations of black metal classics like this Sargeist cover are equally terrifying and orgiastically delightful. If your face doesn’t light up in a smile when that Snap! sample hits, you’re 2 Brvtal 4 Lyfe.
Azar Swan – “And Blow Us A Kiss” [Zoo Music]
This fantastic track, a beautiful mixture of tribal drums, industrial-grade synthpop, and Zohra Atash’s confident vocal coos, prefaces Azar Swan’s sophomore LP of the same name. It’s a stirring opener which made me smile so hard that a nearby cat became angry and attacked me. Zohra also recently penned a great essay on influence, which you should check out here.
The Devil ft. Johnny Cash, Pesci, Converge, Alley Boy, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Cocaine & The Grim Reaper – “KILL RADIO KILL / THE RIDE” (Self-Released)
Of all the “dark” hip-hop mixtapes I’ve heard this year, Violence is undoubtedly the most raw, nihilistic, and straight-up weird of them all. Packed with bleak samples and multi-genre bursts of other musicians (like the insane selection above), it’s an essential listen for anyone who loves noise and rap in equal measure—or as the perfect WTF closer to a DJ set. Grab it for free at livemixtapes.
Vashti Bunyan – “Holy Smoke” [Fat Cat Records]
Somewhere between regal maturity and ageless innocence, Bunyan’s final album Heartleap is a stunningly lovely Autumn portrait of one of folk music’s greatest hearts.
Mondkopf – “Hadés III” [In Paradisum]
When trying to engage people who enjoy industrial music but aren’t really into techno (of which I am one, sort of) there’s a few albums I have found that can change their minds. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve added the monolithic Hadés to that list. The majestic closer, “Hadés III,” with its rising ambient synths and harsh, trumpeting denouement, is a case in point.
M.E.S.H. – “Captivated” [PAN]
Despite the fact that Jamie Whipple is one of my favorite Berlin DJs, his musical output doesn’t always translate to the dance floor. That’s fine with me, as the excellent Scythians EP operates on the dance floor of the brain. Let his beats do the talking while your lobes do the walkin’.
Trust – “Capitol” [Arts & Crafts]
I’ll admit that, at first, I wasn’t convinced by this sophomore album. I’m still more into the first Trust album, because I’m a dour fuck. However, after repeated listens, it has grown a lot on me, and this particular slice of joyful synthpop deliciousness more than the rest. This is perfect headphones music for knocking your goth ass up a few notches towards positivity.
The Bug – “Fat Mac” [Ninja Tune]
The Bug’s massive performance at Unsound Festival remains one of my favorite live shows ever, thanks in part due to how much I played his new LP Angels & Devils during the month leading up to his appearance. The lurching, lurking viciousness embedded above is a highlight in an album full of highlights, with Flowdan’s growling verses sounding meaner than ever.
Gazelle Twin – “Human Touch” [Last Gang/Anti-Ghost Moon Ray]
Gazelle Twin’s meaty new LP, Unflesh, feels almost like the poppier offspring of the classic Matmos surgical-sample album A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure (though the word “pop” is used very loosely here). “Human Touch” pulses with a stuttering, after-dark synth and slightly dehumanized vocals, which makes for a delightfully weird and woozy experience.
Ariel Pink – “Not Enough Violence” [4AD]
Whatever you think about his public persona, there’s no denying that Pom Pom is Pink’s best work in years. Shedding many of the dull trappings of AM radio-rock, he’s returned triumphantly to the stranger, cartoonish aspects of his work. “Not Enough Violence” is an infinitely catchy, washed-out, mock-goth sleaze anthem that makes me want to buy a black Ferrari and crash it into a wall, for sex reasons. “I recommend it.” – Daniel Jones.
Jabu – “Empty Days” [Ramp]
The Bristol-based crew Young Echo has some insanely talented members, and you’ll see more of them in the next edition. The duo known as Jabu is probably the most unexpectedly delicate act in the pack: soft-spoken word poetry with sparse, melancholic instrumentals. The pairing of guest vocalist M.S Harris with Alex Rendall’s stark flow makes this a perfect tune for heartbreak, introspection, or just vibing out.
Crow and seagull attack the Pope’s peace dove [Life]
Even though the current Pope is actually pretty chill (you know, for a Pope) this still counts as a major musical moment in my life. When those two flying fucklords dropped down on the symbolic emissary of peace, I heard a choir of angels scream. Currently working on the remix.
The Body – “Hail To Thee, Everlasting Pain” [RVNG Intl.]
The Body’s Haxan Cloak-produced I Shall Die Here is an exquisitely-crafted slab of hate. I don’t think a week has gone by without me playing at least one track, and the above more than them all. It’s pure, howling evil with low-end that makes you feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole.
Marissa Nadler – “We Are Coming Back” [Sacred Bones]
Rather than showcasing the standard attitude that so many albums about lost love portray (which oscillates between “Fuck you forever,” or, “I’m lost without you,”) Nadler’s July acknowledges the truest nature of these situations. We don’t always want what’s best for us. Sometimes, we simply want.
Sewn Leather – “Unclear War” [Hundebiss]
Sewn Leather (now Skull Katalog) doesn’t just make some of the scuzziest synthpunk in the game; he also puts on an insane live show. I chipped my tooth slamdancing to this one, which isn’t a big deal, really. The first time I saw this dude play, he broke his nose in the first minute of the show. 45 minutes later, he was still going strong. Hardcore.
Fugazi – “Merchandise (Version)” [Dischord]
Speaking of, when I heard these demos were coming out, I did a high five with my friend and our feet lifted off the ground. Ascent into heaven? This is the music of skate angels.
Scott O))) – “Brando” (4AD)
The only bad thing I can say about Soused is: now that they’ve made the Perfect Album, where the hell can either of these bands go from here?
Stay tuned for Part II of our Top Tracks of 2014 — coming next Thursday!
Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates more as a music information source. We want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re hearing, what’s reverberating our cochleas and sending broader vibrations throughout our bodies, and by extension our audio-addled souls. Down with that? Welcome to Editor’s Choice.
Michael Aniser (Contributing Editor)
Primitive Art – “Problems”
I listened to this track a lot last week and still can’t quite figure out where to put it. It’s definitely one of the most exciting things to come out on Hundebiss lately.
Lisa Blanning (Online Editor)
Young Thug feat. Gucci Mane – “Jungle” Produced by C4
The new Young Thug mixtape 1017 is a pretty consistently good listen, not least because he’s using some really great producers. This one by relative Atlanta unknown C4 takes us on a post-Mike WiLL trip of arpeggiated synths and big low end.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Catching Flies – “Stay Forever”
This track by London producer Catching Flies has shades of the excellent Gayngs in its use of negative space to conjure late night dejection. If you could weed out the overdone pitch-shifted vocals it would be unstoppable. I mean, it has a sax solo, c’mon.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
THE-DRUM – “Switch”
While waiting for their acclaimed debut album to drop later this month, here’s the the second delicious appetizer, entitled “Switch”.
Forest Swords – “Thor’s Stone”
Matthew Barnes’ project Forest Swords is back with a Tri Angle release, which is his first release in two years. So if you missed out on the hypnagogic/chillwave lesson, you can try again above.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
Rell The Soundbender – “Diablo”
Fast, hard-hitting trappy bounce isn’t the kind of thing I can really sit around listening to in my free time, but as a DJ I find it essential. Rell The Soundbender’s productions are generally amongst the hardest when it comes to this sort of thing, raw edits that are jaggedly danceable without being too poppy.
Tropic of Cancer – “The One Left” (Von Haze Remix)
As much flack as trap tends to get from people for being perceived as overly bro-ish, I find minimal techno far more offensive in its bland straightforwardness and its habit of attracting the most casual and vanilla of music fans. It’s a testament Von Haze’s skills (and to how good the original track is as well) that they’ve managed to drop a similar sort of vibe onto “The One Left” and still make it not only engaging, but beautiful.
Read previous editions of Editor’s Choice here: http://www.electronicbeats.net/category/columns/editors-choice/
Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates as a music information source. One of the things about being incorrigible music geeks is that we need our enablers—we want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re into and to spread the boundless enthusiasm for new music that bounces off the walls of EBHQ. Welcome, then, to Editor’s Choice.
Michael Aniser (Online Contributing Editor)
DJ Richard – Nailed to the Floor
This is probably one of the sickest tracks I’ve heard this year! I just can’t stop putting that track off again, tatatatatata. You should keep an eye on DJ Richard and his label White Material where simple house structures transform into something entirely new—think L.I.E.S.
Delroy Edwards – Drop Dead
That’s what I mean. I think this is the time, I’ve officially started to like house again.
Dasha Rush – Interception of Arts
This doesn’t really need a comment.
Lisa Blanning (Online Editor)
DJ Q – “Trust Again” featuring Louise Williams
This single actually dropped last month, but I’m including it now because I didn’t mention it at the time, and I think DJ Q is severely underrated. Although he came up in bassline, his recent work with more garage flavor is just the right amount of skippy swing and pop sweetness.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Sega Bodega – Konerak
Glaswegian artist Sega Bodega overlays reticent piano across a percolating and glassy synth motif. What makes this track so splendid is its incessant build and release (accompanied by illustrative “whoooooosh” sound). These dynamics, to ears adjusted to the now, recall the adrenalin bulged, neck-vein-poppin’ dance pop filling up the charts. If this is a good or bad thing depends on what side of the feedback loop you’re on.
Mount Kimbie – Made to Stray
I heard this on Hessle Audio’s Rinse FM show on Thursday. It sounds a little like Foals—or perhaps more accurately, Friendly Fires—crushing on Plastikman. Now there’s a fanfic I’d like to read (I wouldn’t).
Daniel Jones (Online Contributing Editor)
Zebra Katz – Y I Do
Y? Because we like u! *ahem* As with most of the blog-concious web on Wednesday, I was all over Zebra Katz’s new video, projecting it on my walls, disturbing my neighbors with horrible vogue attempts (forgive me, Willi Ninja) and making loads of gifs. Fuck an album; Katz needs to release a DVD.
Hundebiss 4 Babylon Mixtape
Hundebiss label boss Simone Trabucchi recently put together this amazing mixtape for the Italian radio station Babylon packed full of rare, unreleased and classic cuts from (amongst others) Sewn Leather, Angels In America, and Stargate. There’s even a skit! More mixes need skits.
Michael Lutz (Magazine Duty Editor)
VED – Spectra
Did I ever mention my devotion to psyched-out static jamming? Here’s VED, a promising five-member band from Malmö, Sweden, who apply themselves to a vintage sound design and lull you in like sweet smoke. The 30+ minute mini-LP Spectra is out just now via Adrian Recordings on vinyl only, and here’s your chance to grab it.
Light a candle. Draw the required sigils. Now, raise your arms above your head and slowly, gently, exhale your soul. You won’t need it here. This is Audioccult, and it’s time to get low.
As a professional journalist, it’s my duty to look and act the part. This is why, over the weekend, I tattooed 93 on my index finger and then got OD blunted with Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx. My blatant disregard for the other journalists involved most likely made me look fairly fucking cool, especially when I fell down from backstage vodka. Pics didn’t happen, and unfortunately therefore this scenario didn’t happen. Makes you think, about nothing, because thoughts are not photos and don’t exist. My three-day (and counting) hangover, however, does. You don’t just get this giant PRESS card to stick in your hat brim; you gotta earn it.
The only thing I’ve found to be a sure-fire cure for the DTs in ya head is some EQs in the red. Thankfully I have a plethora of weirdos to pump perverse bass into my skull and gross guts. Hard to believe it’s been more than a year since White Ring dropped their Chaind Vol. 1 mixtape, packed with remixes of NIN, Cocteau Twins, Lil B, Rick Ross, and more. Now they’re gearing up for Vol. 2, and the first peek is an evil Waka Flocka trap remix. Yes, we’re (at least a little) sick of all the trap remixes too, but this one is worth your time if you’re on that ghetto-goth vibe like me. Umberto takes it to an even heavier realm of after-dark, car-rattling horror. ‘The Investigation’ is a Dario Argento-flavored Swisher Sweet that rides heavier than we’ve ever heard this kid go before; his upcoming LP Night Has A Thousand Screams is likely going to be soundtracking my autumn.
Chris Brown: yuck. Regardless of Rihanna‘s feelings on the subject, if seeing this dude’s name on a track doesn’t make your genitals suck up inside your body (similar to how a new Weeknd track might affect you) then you’re probably Chris Brown, so eat chain. Still, the fact that it’s a MADDEN remix made me overcome my natural aversion to complete tools because, like all MADDEN cuts, it bangs hard. Not half as hard, however, as Craxxxmurf‘s bass-heavy bullet ‘M16 DR☯P’. Played this out; the amount of booties popped that night: ludicrous. Now that we’ve saturated the ‘bass tracks that sound like guns‘, how about ones that sound like knives? Facebook recommended both knives and partying recently, and now I have a blade fetish that can’t be cucked. My hands are trembling. “You should quit smoking” my reflection said to me this morning. “I can’t feel my limbs, and now I’m crazy.” I said. “I know, but don’t let anyone else know.” I said. I’m not trustworthy either.
Massacooraman‘s ‘Dead Long Time‘ is a fantastic track (even more so when remixed by Nguzunguzu) so it was a pleasure to see his new Fade To Mind mix in my feed. For anyone needing a taste of future bass/space reggaeton/post-dancehall/juking off, this is the place. Also, Lil Ugly Mane is remastering and re-releasing his Mista Thug Isolation LP on Hundebiss, which is cool. “You should quit smoking” my brain says as I inhale once more, eagerly anticipating the completion of this article so that I can smoke more and feel like an emotional void. Did you know that I’m a grown up man? I sit in my empty, monochromatic room and make Diamanda Galas and Vatican Shadow mashups. Because of this and other things, I get money. I’m never really sure what to think of this. Cup fulla Beetlejuice. Goodbye.
Hundebiss Records always delivers the heavy black beats we love to hear, from the synthcrust of Sewn Leather to the space-age soundtrip of STARGATE. You feel us by now: it’s our audio nihilism leaking out, and when it comes to nihilsynthesis we’re happy to have Jaws soundtracking our souls. His video interpretations of the Stress Test LP cuts always satisfy our need, so it’s a real pleasure for us to give you the premiere of ‘Covered In White’. Burning money and blood, soapy lather and skin, electronic wails from hell….all here for your pleasure, sir. Step into the V O I D when he makes his Berlin premiere in August for the legendary deathrave party PURGE. Until then, dissolve in to bleak bliss. It’s as easy as clicking play.