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!
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.
The most exciting thing in the American Midwest right now is Chicago Research. As much an alliance of post-punk antagonists as it is a label, it sits with Bristol’s Avon Terror Corps as one of the leading purveyors in the absolute cutting-edge of electronic mayhem and all manner of industrial racket.
Enter Ariel Motto. In addition to fronting the synth-pop project Death Valley, Motto has been decking herself in paramilitary garb and cutting some of the leanest and crunchiest EBM since the heady days of the cities Wax Trax!. Last years two E.P’s established the Club Music sound: martial basslines, cold resonance, murky vocals, a taut exercise in acrid techno and caustic grooves.
Like the foot of the T-800 crushing a human skull in the future dystopic wasteland, in smash Club Music’s first album proper Beyond New Beat. Still harnessing a laconic punch with its 22 minute length, Motto further distils her penchant for combative electronics and terse, focused production. The creeping presence of our ever ascending fascist state breathes down your neck on the icy ‘KO’, machine hit-hats and thick synths chug against screams and police sirens like some John Carpenter movie, each key omitting the sinister throb pressed with relish. Cavernous disquiet churns on the eerie ‘Mind Trader’, crisp beats puncturing weird turntable scratching and fat, slimy arpeggios.
There’s an honest to god love for sounds and textures which trigger our nostalgia for dance music of yesteryear without appearing contrived or ‘retro’, such as the orchestral stabs that jab confidently like early 90s Eurodance on the title track. You’d also be forgiven for thinking that the plinky ‘Binaural Beach 008’ wasn’t some old Warp Records compilation contribution, the frenetic ‘Battery Acid’ also feeling like the more aggressive end of IDM.
Ice-cool, muscular and razor sharp. Club Music’s debut Beyond New Beat is the prescient soundtrack to our collective hellscape that burns greater day by day, its industrial brood utterly infectious but its spirit of menace all too contemporary.
Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf was an 18th-century industrialist, born in Germany but eventually becoming a naturalised citizen of France. His pioneering production of printed cotton won him the mayoralty of the Parisian commune Jouy-en-Josas, and his legacy is celebrated in the many commemorative place names within the capital’s 11th arrondissement, including the street Rue Oberkampf.
‘Franco-German industrialists’ is an apt tag for the Munich based, Parisian affectionate, cold-wave trio. Formed in 2016 and comprising former DJs Michael Maier, Damien De-Vir, and Julia de Jouy, Rue Oberkampf have confidently established themselves swiftly as one of minimal-synths signature acts, their punchy studio output and thrilling audio/visual live sets praised in equal measure. De Jouy’s cool French vocals atop icy jagged synths struck a chord of subtle menace on last years Waveclash EP, but their penchant for club aggression has been fully explored on debut LP Christophe-Philippe, out via Young & Cold Records.
While chilly analogue production is still present, there’s a greater techno-driven kineticism that aims for dancefloor sweat. Pumped EBM beats pound with chunky sequencer thuds on the primed ‘Glycine’, a propulsive electro-banger which swells to momentous heights with waves of expertly twisting arpeggios and bass lines. Furious club pummeling hits even harder on second track ‘La Course’ (meaning ‘The Race’ in English), an electric six minutes of unrelenting tempos, frosty synth washes and hi-hat claps so lightening charged you could almost mistake it for a Blanck Mass production.
Rue Oberkampf’s minimal-wave shards still cut with satisfaction, but the EBM bite that lurks round the corner lends the record a greater dimension and urgency. Christophe-Philippe is a confident and bold debut statement that stands as one of the best examples of the cold wave scene.