“That’s not reggae, it’s imitation” to misquote Dr. Blair. There’s a giant carnival shaped hole that was filled with Spit ‘n’ Static! sludge over at 1020 Radio today, the synthpunk intrusion garbling with weird reggae, alien dub, and the noxious fumes of The Thin Blue Slime in flames! 🐖 ☢️ 📡 👽 👌
Before the millennials came of age, nostalgia looked like film. The brief moments of colour in Scorsese’s black and white opus Raging Bull depict La Motta’s facade of cosy domesticity in intimate 16mm, the very grain of each frame in the celluloid reel prodding the wistful sentimentality of prior generations. For kids of the 90s, warm reminiscence is a rather noisy media buzz of worn VHS’s, queasy DV digital grit and crowded Geocities World Wide Web clamour. Could the video horrorshow of The Memory Hole have ever gained traction outside the distorted humour and inexplicable acerbity of the 2010s?
Irreverent and idiosyncratic penchants for the crude aesthetics of tawdry infomercials and ‘edutainment’ dross ooze all over San Francisco spank rockers Juicebumps. Audio clips of slasher turkey Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, dated internet demonstrations and the like saturate debut album Hello Pinky!, a record that feels perpetually tuning itself between differing stations. Recruiting Spencer Owings for synth duties, Juicebumps advance from the jerky garage rock of prior EP Jelly and delve deeper into their eccentric art-punk playfulness.
The sticky yolk of eggpunk secretes all over their self-described ‘spookwave’ yet avoids the genres characteristic lo-fi style in favour of a bright and confident production, each riff and beat striding with satisfying clarity. This skewed radiance is deftly exemplified on the catchy as hell ‘Hairy World’, a feverish indie number with echoes of Devo, frontman Parker Richard exploring the pungent world for a ‘hairy friend’ while jumping between frantic gusto and angular, nasal whine. Second track but first proper song ‘Wet Leather’ infuses their brash virtuosity with a steady dose of motorik beat that paces alongside offbeat keys and explosive guitar attacks and smattered with garbled audiotape effects, parading their dexterous handling of keen musicianship and avant-garde proclivities.
The expanded palette of sounds yielded by producer Spencer Hartling’s studio expertise shine on the warped synthpop of ‘c0mput3r_p30pl3’, a disorienting stew of fizzy drum machines and atonal guitar scoring the themes of societies hopeless tie to technology expertly, the line “people work, computers think” bristling with particular pertinence. Subtle rockabilly twangs on the contorted ‘Wet Boi’, while the arrangement and tempo of ‘Trash Crimes’ point to ELO at their pomp. Album closer ‘Asphalt Kiss’ is all groove, a nimble swagger of strutting bass wading through a marsh of muggy synths and preset sounding percussion, the gurgling electronics finally enveloping as you sink completely in its analogue murk.
Imbued with the best of their San Fran art-punk predecessors, Juicebumps delivers an urgent debut that takes intriguing mixtures of disparate styles and unexpected detours in composition, demanding constant attention throughout its 36 minutes. Hello Pinky! firmly places the band as one of the most exciting acts in California right now.
Remember XX Teens, an art-punk, alt-disco band of sorts from the tail-end of the 2000s whose Google results would yield a world of accidental hardcore? Searching for San Clemente’s Sex 2 are wrought with similar pitfalls but spiked with a queasy dose of contemporary, political rot: ‘ANTIHERO949‘ advertising his alleged ‘lingual prowess’ in local hook-ups site confounds against alt-right slime clogging some forum with their transphobia dressed-up as ‘defending the pillars of society’. Unwittingly no doubt, but Sex 2 in their own irreverent way lifted the lid on American society and exposed the fester of desperation and insecurity that lurks underneath.
Sex 2’s scuzzy splurge of lo-fi, punk thrash feels inexorably linked to the polluted waters of Doheny Beach, one can imagine their self-titled EP landing on the table of White Glove Records soaked and clammy with seaweed and used condoms. A garbled phone call from an irate customer opens the first track ‘Doheny State Beach Visitor Center’ before plunging into a satisfying dirge of Bleach style grunge and shout-along vocals. Sluggish stoner sludge clobbers on the oozing ‘Sex 2 On The Beach’, the vocalist spitting “I do whatever the fuck I want, this is my beach” as he takes a piss all over the surf culture of sunny OC.
The band make further public nuisances of themselves on ‘Biking Under The Influence’, crashing headfirst over the handlebars into the strung-out psych-blast of ‘Take So Long’ containing an electric, LSD soaked solo while you nurse a broken nose and scour the pavement for your bag of MDMA. A brief moment of echoing contemplation veils the obscured monologue of penultimate track ‘Fuck Sex 2’ before launching into the pummeler ‘Ashley Wants a New Porsche’, a furious charge of DC hardcore that ends with the opening drum beat from what sounds like Devo’s ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and a pastiche of Dr. Dre G-funk reminding us that tongues (perhaps ANTIHERO949’s) are firmly in cheek.
Authentically conjuring the proud punk heritage of California and injecting a sardonic bite that feels vigorously current, Sex 2 is an adrenaline shot of derisive snot which gets you through another day in the upside-down sump of the Trumpian landscape.
Was a pleasure to guest on VHS¥DEATH‘s debut show Viral Nights for London’s Threads Radio, a show for all things post-punk, goth and cold-wave! Taking thematic guidance from the ‘isolation’ angle, I’ve contributed a cheeky 45 mins of instrospective rumination to round off the mix, enjoy!
“I don’t believe in safe spaces” singer and artist Alli Logout scoffs in an interview with OMG.Blog. The danger that hung in the air of post-punk acts like Throbbing Gristle or Suicide was only reflective of a sick world consumed with violence and the thin, veneer of civilisation society deludes itself with. Throw in nationalist fervour and virulent entitlement from an enraged white demographic who would sooner see concentration camps than equal social standing for all citizens, then ‘safety’ increasingly becomes the preserve of the privileged few. When toxic prejudice sneers confidently in paramilitary garb and an AR-15, navigating the dystopian Trumpscape as a minority of any kind is inherently wrought with threat. If Logout doesn’t feel safe in the hostile cesspool of 2020, why should you?
All eyes are on New Orleans right now, the historic cultural melting-pot witnessing a unique and new wave of murky synth acts such as Static Static, Pscience, and Tuffy. Rising from the Mississippi backwaters and spearheading the city’s electro-underground is Special Interest, a synthpunk glam quartet spiked with no-wave nihilism and industrial venom. Named after the s̶e̶e̶d̶y̶ fun corners of old VHS stores where one would find cult movies, horror and porno, their namesake spirit of transgression and provocation fuel frontwoman Logout’s volatile performance style and the bands abrasive anarcho assault. Dropping second album The Passion Of, Special Interest invites us to make sense of the confusing miasma of rapacious capital and a world in flames.
The corrosive potency first unleashed on prior LP Spiraling still burns with acidic ferocity. The thematic centrepiece of the record ‘Homogenized Milk’ brutally attacks the necrotic agents of gentrification with a pummeling beat-down of discordant squall and fuzzy drum machines succinctly illustrating the gaping, slavering maw of market greed. Maria Elena’s guitar cuts thrillingly through the cavernous cynicism of ‘With Love’, instilling an urgency that propels the end sentiment of one’s pursuit of happiness at all costs. Cheap hedonism to stave off the grinding, gnawing boredom is both celebrated and commiserated on the adrenaline jolt of ‘Disco III’, a sordid and defiant embrace of debauchery and unapologetic pleasure yet touches the void which “sodomy and LSD” perhaps tries to fill.
There’s a beguiling groove beneath their caustic onslaught. The club swagger of ‘All Tomorrow’s Carry’ belies the acerbic observations of malignant urban planning, Ruth Mascelli conjuring the spirit of Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’ with her steady, processed beat and eerie keys, while Logout shows just how raw and soulful her vocals can be on the electrifying ‘A Depravity Such As This…’. The albums secret weapon is its penultimate track ‘Street Pulse Beat’, a radiant moment of euphoric respite which hypnotically soars above the post-punk smog with stirring synth choirs and delicate, chiming timbres scoring the dark heartbeat of a city filled with lost souls seeking sexual or chemical escape.
Special Interest has synthesised the acidic bite of abrasive noise-rock with the bombast of glam to produce a synthpunk beast entirely their own. The Passion Of is a thrilling sophomore effort which forges new sonic territory for the band and explores the claustrophobic terror of the modern age with savage precision.
Don’t you realise the fiery inferno that awaits??!!!! Spit ‘n’ Static! isn’t just a synthpunk signal hijack from unknown sources, it’s also your alien saviour! Catch up with the garbled, sermon of righteousness brought to you by TBN and 1020 Radio and get whacked with a giant temperance spoon and rid your soul of beastial urges and immoral thoughts! 🥄 🧠 ✝️ 📡 👽 👌
‘Witchcraft’ is a term historically defined by Western colonists and labelled on to any custom or culture which didn’t adhere to Christian dogma. Forced to dilute their potent African spirituality to please their British oppressors, the Chewa and Tumbuka people of Southern-Central Africa have co-opted elements of Protestantism in their centuries-old Gule Wamkulu, a ritual dance performed by initiated men of the Nyau brotherhood. Originally celebrating the integration of the communities young men into adulthood, the many masks and costumes that represent evil spirits, wild animals or immoral temptation are slowly losing their original purpose and played out for the entertainment of boring, white tourists.
“I think you mad cos you lost control, you want me to fall in line on the X’s and O’s” spits Backxwash on the condemning ‘Black Sheep’, a painful denunciation of family betrayal during their non-binary discovery. Sampling the Gule Wamkulu practice, Zambian born Ashanti Mutinta performs their own ritual of catharsis and grapples with one of the key recurring themes of their work: the demons that gnaw inside members of the trans community on their arduous road to embracing their identity. Now based in Montreal, Backxwash has been cutting a unique brand of horrorcore hip hop full of hypnotic beats and warped production that’s both aggressive yet introspective. Releasing their second album proper via the queer label Grimalkin Records, Mutinta channels church choir music and televangelical sermons from their youth to reach further into the heart of the haunted wood, and themselves.
God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It (derived from a line in Spanish horror film Verónica) is a white hot flame of cavernous bombast and hellish evocations, sharing similarities with Ministry’s Psalm: 69 both with artwork and heretical aura, establishing the dark tone of the record. Ozzy Osbourne’s wail of doom from ‘Black Sabbath’ circles around echoing drums and whispering incantations illustrating Backxwash’s spiritual conflict, the deep desire to sin against those who’ve sinned you. MallDate lends their vocals to the bowel-churning ‘Into The Void’, Nine Inch Nails’s ‘Reptile’ grinds and scrapes against a massive droning guitar attack capturing the songs visceral examination of paranoia and vulnerability when navigating a world where every street corner lurks prejudice with a knife. Backxwash breathes new life into a sample as ubiquitous to hip hop as Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’, John Bonham’s famous heavy percussion colliding with eerie keyboards scoring Mutinta’s moving letter to their younger bother, detailing their fears and anxieties in the starkly intimate ‘Adolescence’.
Backxwash’s expert production remain as fresh and creative as prior releases Black Sailor Moon and Deviancy. The brittle beats of ‘Spells’ are devilishly seductive, Devi McCallion‘s raspy guest vocals are stretched and elasticated, imbued with occult-like, midnight howls. Mutinta’s love for Missy Elliot’s chunky rhythmic sonics shine on the furious ‘Amen’, a spiky stab of venom at religious greed and corruption. Inviting fatherfake and Skunk Anansie’s Skin to produce the respective Heaven and Hell interludes provide welcome shifts in mood, the latter utilising ‘The Lady in the Radiator’ from Eraserhead to chilling effect, and Will Owen Bennett’s studio contributions end the album on a note of faded, gospel contemplation, a wounded but defiant hope both personally and for the fucked-up world we’re all in, summed-up beautifully with the exclamation “feel like you lost a son but you gained a daughter”.
Backxwash’s sophomore effort achieves an extraordinary double feat of instilling further density and ethereal intensity to their volatile sound yet still maintaining a punchy, punk urgency. God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It is a fantastic and fascinating mesh of Gothic murk and industrial might which explores the themes of ‘forgiveness’ and facing ones torments with guttural yet poetic insight.
Berlin’s grip on the cutting-edge of post-punk and electronic music never seems to ebb, from Bowie’s Kraftwerk inspired Hansa records, the alienated clangour of the Neue Deutsche Welle, to the hedonistic techno Mecca of The Berghain, the city’s innovative energy continuing to inspire. With no sign of the old Prussian capital resting on its laurels, Detriti Records has spent the last decade releasing numerous synth and coldwave tapes, establishing itself as one of the leading champions of “beautiful, interesting and sexy music”, to quote label founder Davide Lace.
The latest addition to the Detriti roster is Danish EBM act Albert Severin. A solo project from former MOTH member and Melting Walkmen frontman Patrick Ringsborg (and possibly named after a distinguished French soldier of WW1), the new beat Copenhagener has released a string of tapes exploring a penchant for acid techno. New tape Athletics sees Ringsborg pursue a tougher, more industrial direction, including three songs from debut tape Severin’ Heads re-recorded with harsher potency.
The very first second of the opening track ‘B.R.I.A.N.’ establishes the attitude promptly: Lean, muscular and groovy. A thick bassline stomps alongside punchy drum machines with brass presets straight out of classic Wax Trax! so infectious it’ll make any committed rivethead proud. Ballardian car crash fascination pervades the dramatic ‘Impact’ warped audio samples of crash PSA’s haunt the strong shimmering melody like a spiritual successor to Front 242’s ‘Don’t Crash’. The enlightened serenity of the tape cover radiates on ‘Sugarfang’, a beguiling tranquillity of ethereal keys behind the frenzied percussion before ‘Modem’ jumps headfirst into Ringsborg’s love of squelchy acid house without totally abandoning that special industrial grit. Final track ‘Albert’s Song About the inherent Flaws and Fatal Consequences of Late Stage Capitalism’ says it all, leaving you pondering the neoliberal nightmare we’re subjected to with one last crunch of programmed abrasion and a welcome introduction of Gothic piano.
Albert Severin has managed to distil a wide range of sub-genres into a cohesive kick of an EP while always maintaining its terse minimalism. Athletics is tough as fucking nails yet never loses its eye on making you dance.
“If I wanna fucking rush you, you’ll get rushed” confesses rapper and frontman Bob Vylan on the acidic ‘England’s Ending’. To navigate life with a spotless moral record is a privilege rarely afforded to the disenfranchised and oppressed, moral scruples no currency to those surviving a world of austerity assault and community erosion. For the working class who has no stake in society and marginalised communities cast further aside by the rabid demands of white-centric capital, what reason is there to adhere to the principles dictated by your enemy?
This burning seethe boiling across both sides of the Atlantic has fueled the London duo Bob Vylan. A punk/rap/grime hydra whose politically-charged assault has seen them winning support slots in America and being included in NME’s ‘100 New Essential Artists for 2020‘, have dropped second album We Live Here entirely independently and amid a backdrop of turmoil, protest, and a world teetering on the brink. Switching targets from Dread‘s savagery of gentrification to the death throes of English exceptionalism, the roses, lions and blackletter font which adorns the cover point to an ugly nation mired with imperial hangover, diminishing status and eating itself in its nativist confusion.
We Live Here blasts through its near 18 minutes with ephemeral potency, every riff, beat, and lyric urgent and essential. The title track is an explosive punk blast of rage against the racist rot festering under the St. George’s flag. Opening with the resentful quip of a neighbour nostalgic of the time before “you lot got here”, Bobb13 Vylan’s steady drums pace along with Bobby’s savage revelations of the racial abuse experienced in childhood and dissecting prejudice masquerading as ‘patriotism’. Fever 333‘s Jason Aalon Butler lends his vocal skills to the groove metal fierce of ‘Pulled Pork’, an indignant scream against every greasy, cop intoxicated with their power and excited by their licensed violence. Slyly referencing Body Count’s Cop Killer, Vylan’s correction of Ice-T’s original lyric to “n****r killer killer” is a powerful condemnation of every minority murdered by law enforcement, be it Tottenham or Minnesota. Vylan’s love of MDC rears its head on pummeler ‘Save Yourself’, ferocious percussion and DC style hardcore defiantly imploring you to believe in yourself in a world that perhaps doesn’t believe in you.
A courageous vulnerability characterises this record on a greater level than prior records. The intro track is a naked stream-of-consciousness, an exorcism of trauma, transgressions, and demons that gnaw and haunt. It’s starkly intimate, almost voyeuristic, Vylan dropping names of those that racially abused him and friends tragically lost, you can hear pain bristling underneath his flow. If the title track is arguably the thematic centerpiece of the album, the intro is its tortured soul. ‘Northern Line’ reaches for a more universal study of anguish, the terrible introspective battle one can have with commercial parasites, tabloid hate-mongering and commuter paranoia in a despondent capital city, like ‘Going Underground’ for the Brexit generation. Perhaps the album’s most significant moment is also its simplest, a final track of pure silence which forces you to both reflect on the beating you’ve just taken but also how you may have complacently been part of the problem.
As the world grows coarser and more pitiless, the fight against the stagnant and corrupt system combats with greater resolve and determination. We Live Here articulates with furious insight the daily war against white supremacy many have no choice but to fight and dares to lift the lid on the misguided, blue-collar army who swears allegiance to a flag that has done nothing for them.