Synthpunk

Special Interest ‘The Passion Of’

“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.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #15

‘Jonele, Jonele, Jonele, Jneloe I’m beiggng of you psaele d’not tkae my man. ſouǝlǝ’ ſouǝlǝ’ ſouǝlǝ’ ſuǝloǝ Ԁsɐǝlǝ p,uoʇ ʇʞɐǝ ɥᴉɯ ɾsnʇ qǝnɐɔsǝ ʎon ɔɐu. uɹǝǝƃ plǝɹɐɯǝ ɟo sʎǝǝ puɐ uʞᴉs ʎʌoɹᴉ ɥᴉʇM ɹɐᴉɥ unqnɹɐ ɟo soɔʞl ƃuɐɯᴉlɟ ɥᴉʇM ǝɹɯdɐoɔ pǝʎouq sᴉ ʎǝɐnʇq ɹon⅄’

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! 🥄 🧠 ✝️ 📡 👽 👌

Sinful filth by Fuzzy Ghost

BIG THANKS TO BOREDOM V. CREEPERSON!!!!

Armitage Shanks ‘Casual Employment’

Does any other brand have greater ubiquity in the British cultural landscape than Armitage Shanks? Usually lost under a film of days old piss, green lime build-up and a sprinkling of old pubes for good measure, its flourish logo has an unrivalled corporate authority and near-monopoly on our most base needs. It’s fitting too. The capitalist pretence that market reward is there for the taking should you have sufficient tenacity and drive is a cruel joke to every overworked and underpaid worker expected to give maximum labour for minimal wage. We all feel it, that the world is broken and geared to serve billionaire wealth hoarders, and that society is slowly swirling down a toilet of creeping fascism, environmental catastrophe and grotesque wealth disparity. If Tory, austerity Britain has a sponsor, it’d be the U.K.’s leading bog manufacturer.

“I’d have a hard time caring on minimum wage so I certainly won’t do it for free!” yelps Maisie Gilchrist on the rallying ‘I’m Not Here For Small Talk (I’m Here For A Latte)’. Armed with Marxist resolve, Gen Z defiance and a cheap synthesizer, Aussie ‘Trotpop’ duo Armitage Shanks scores their yearning for class war with spoken-word style poetry and minimalist electronics attacking the miasma of neoliberal stagnation we’re all forced to participate in. The title of their debut tape Casual Employment states firmly where their solidarity lies and whose in the firing line of their cutting satire.

The bite that lurks within the observational jest across the 7 tracks (final track ‘School Boycott’ a bonus for fee-paying supporters) stings with familiarity. The choking busyness of the modern age, liberal hypocrisy, exploitative bosses, customer meltdowns, and the yearning for some basic fucking infrastructure all deeply felt and experienced symptoms of the failing social experiment which Gilchrist and fellow keyboardist Angus Clarke explore succinctly and savagely. Their lyrical attack is at their most hilarious and pugnacious on the piquant ‘I Hate Every Vegan Except Myself’, tearing apart the feeble futility of ‘green capitalism’ aided by Sleaford Mods style languid bass and hazy keys, Gilchrist’s sneering opine “if only you cared about refugees as much as vegan cheese” dripping with acidic accuracy. The aforementioned ‘I’m Not Here For Small Talk…’ is a paean to every stressed hospitality employee navigating a quagmire of low-pay, ‘low-skill’ attitudes and nearing explosion, the rising blood pressure spurred by punchy, tight drum machines.

Occasional detours into surreal eccentricity provide different avenues to explore their progressive musings. The politics of space and the questionable judgments of what is ‘problematic’ within it are explored on the contemplative ‘The Pigeon Song’, muffled, buoyant synths jump and dart against an account of a pigeon’s extermination due to the fickle criteria of ‘public nuisance’. Their catchiest track, ‘Bug Beat 02’, is also their most puzzling: a curious declaration of affection for ones pet stick insects atop cool drum breaks and a simple yet infectious synth melody. These beguiling diversions create moments of evocations that stimulate the cerebral side while still retaining their sharp humour.

Novara Media‘s Ash Sarkar lamented the ‘dour cultishness and pomposity’ that plagued the public perception of the left for years, and that the road to communism needn’t be dominated by Soviet-style authoritarianism and grey edifices of bureaucracy, but that liberating people from the material and psychological shackles of rabid capitalism can and should be ‘joyful and exuberant’. Armitage Shanks’s Casual Employment tape demonstrates this perfectly: that Marxist rigour and class struggle can be colourful, freeing, and most importantly, fun.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #14

‘Sexual freedoms turned into corporate schemes!! Viruses plaguing your thoughts, plaguing your souls!!!’⠀⠀⠀⠀

The acrid, stinging fuzz of Spit ‘n’ Static! corrupted the 1020 Radio studio today, the usual synthpunk splatter we all know and love knotted and twisted with a little alien sleeeeeeze for good measure! Careful…this one bites! 🦠📡👽👌⠀⠀⠀⠀

Electro-spectral entities by Paloma Kop

I Know I’m An Alien ‘Chair of Cola’

It’s not just the dwindling economic opportunity, climate inaction and the greatest disparity of wealth in human history which makes late-stage capitalism the unrelenting black hole of hope it most definitely is. It’s the fucking mediocrity man. The inexorable descent into a hellscape of focus-grouped music and recycled film franchises wrung of every shred of creative potential and risk by the necrotic death grip of market research. Wading through a toxic miasma of a town infested with property developers, you pass the 17th Tesco Metro before enduring another pointless meeting in a pointless job in a boardroom of office middle-manager types so fucking vanilla and tepid you have an out of body experience, your soul screaming at you with condemnation: “THERE HAS TO BE A WAY OUT!!!” The only way out appears to be the one open window of the fifth floor you’re on. Just one jump, and it’s over…

“We live in a world where there is more and more information and less and less meaning,” wrote Jean Baudrillard in his seminal Simulacra and Simulation. The nagging feeling that culture and society is dictated by capital instead of ideas is a recurring theme in the string of releases by I Know I’m An Alien. An art-punk outfit from London with a keen socialist rigour in their synthpunk mischief, the dadaist trio have been taking a flamethrower to the bloated vacuum of neoliberalism with a fizzy mix of Residents surrealism and Devo subversion while sporting oversized, paper collage masks. Changing pace from their prior avant-pop offerings, new record Chair of Cola introduces Lumpy Gravy style tape collage experimentation to explore the modern day alienation of the overworked and underpaid.

Chair of Cola is the aural noise that lurks in the psyche of every confused millennial. A congealed slop of shit Saturday morning cartoons, the same fucking Boston song aggressively sold to you by a boring rock ‘heritage industry’, PlayStation start-up jingles, daytime commercial slime, smartphone interruptions, warbling 90s Disney VHS’s cynically vying for your nostalgia. A cudgel of media noise breaking your face and brutally reminding you that you ain’t no generation, you’re a target demographic. Is it any wonder that the opening track is called ‘Breathing Challenge’, cos we’re fucking suffocating.

“No apologies to the artists whose songs we ruined!” the band exclaim gleefully on their Instagram. Their puckish sense of fun keeps the album from being a draining endurance for the listener. Sudden goofy moments, like the Nokia Gran Vals tune chiming in or the sped-up desecration of Dolly Parten’s Jolene, tells you that their elongated, alien tongue is firmly in the cheek. The occasional detour into eerie lo-fi makes intriguing diversions from the otherwise busy record. ‘Wedding of the Anything’ is a weathered and muffled chiller of white noise and analogue tape decay, and the finale ‘Let’s Make a Living in Music!’ is the last word on biting self-deprecation: a track consisting of nearly two minutes of laughter. With the arts sector and creative industries facing great uncertainty in the face of Covid-19, the guffawing mirth stings with acidity.

When Alan Clarke began to tackle the issue of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland for his 1989 BBC short Elephant, he decided that instead of some trite, moralistic posturing or po-faced lecture on the enormity of the subject, he instead simply showed the violence, nothing more, nothing less, appealing to the gut and our visceral senses over intellectual pondering. Chair of Cola similarly presents to us a soundtrack to the troubled navigation of a world geared by untrammelled free-market dogma and shows us exactly how it is: mad, unrelenting, and seemingly impervious.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #13

Bristol’s 1020 Radio got wrecked with the 13th dose of synthpunk sludge that is Spit ‘n’ Static! ‘Catch the wave’ same slime same face for another hour of garbled alien interruptions and slimy dead channel fuzz!! Don’t fight it, you gotta ride it out!!! 👽 👌

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #11

The loyal devotees of the Spit ‘n’ Static! cult dunked their head in the 11th dose and ‘Ascended’ outta this topsy-turvy world just as their glorious leader ordered them too!! Check out the death tape from this infamous incident, and ‘catch the wave’ at the new schedule of every third Thursday of the month, same slime same face, at Bristol’s 1020 Radio. REJOICE!!!!!

Isotope Soap ‘An Artifact of Insects’

Apparently, the source of the signal hijack known as Isotope Soap hails from Stockholm, although you’d have to take the band’s word for it. Surely this is some top-secret, extraterrestrial invasion, corrupting your speakers like the Max Headroom incident static puking into your mind fuzzy detuned images of alien encounters, psychic warfare, and Japanese office employees overworking to death. It’s hard to decipher in their garbled message whether they’re warning or mocking humanity. It’s likely both.

Mixing hardcore and the synth alienation of Chrome and The Screamers, long-time Swedish punk legend Peter Swedenhammar’s new bastard birthed project Isotope Soap is the corrosive face of the synthpunk renaissance alongside Leeches, POW!, and the roster of artists on scuzzy Sydney label Warttmann Inc. Donning radioactive PPE and black boiler suits, the band strike a truly warped impression when witnessed live, and their string of brilliantly septic singles and E.P.’s have garnered them a horde of misfits salivating for a proper debut album.

Despite clocking in at only 14 minutes, An Artifact of Insects slithers around a wide array of styles and murk. Tracks like ‘Fragile Dream’ and ‘T-T-T-Telepathic’ are quintessential synthpunk, glorious punk rock urgency rushing apace with fizzy analogues that thrust you straight into the heady era of San Fran art-punk from the late ’70s. Eerie, caustic electronics throb and pulse on stingers like ‘Hey, Karoshi!’ and ‘Zanfretta’, the latter a haunting trip of spiky sinewaves and sonic dissonance conjuring the green creatures of the Torriglia 1984 case. The disparate turns the record makes are all held together by expert vocoder and voice effects, Swedenhammar’s electronically treated vocals forever contorting to a high-pitched squeal or buzzing Dalek angst, often at the same time.

Subterranean and acrid, An Artifact of Insects is a fantastic psych-slurry of twisted electro and punk delinquency, the kinda music Nero would have fiddled while Rome burned were he an LSD soaked robot from the future.

Concentration ‘I’m Not What I Was’

Testosterone hangs in the air with such clammy fetor you taste it on your lips. America teetering on the edge of war with Iran over desperate displays of military virility, a victim of gang rape is convicted of ‘causing public mischief’ as the alleged attackers sing ”the Brit is a whore” after being released without charge, and the grim figures of femicide continue to climb in cartel-ravaged Mexico. The more masculinity is dissected and scrutinised whether through art, academia or activism, the greater the ferocity of the agents of patriarchy is in violently silencing any such discourse, and the world is more dangerous for it.

Building a reputation as the Bristolian vanguard of cutting edge underground music, sonic agitators Avon Terror Corps (an amalgamation of musical misfits including Schwet, Bokeh Versions, Bad Tracking among a host of others) have extended their slimy tentacles beyond the South West with new label subsidiary Global Terror Corps in a mission to deliver uncompromising, genre-defying acts from the dankest corners of planet Earth. The first release under this moniker is EP I’m Not What I Was by Aussie/German trio Concentration, a visceral powerhouse act of industrial smut comprised of artists Zachariah Kupferminc, Matt Sativa and Thrush twisting heads clean off with their live sets of hellish volatility.

The scraping electro-punk as heard on prior album Premature still grinds unmercifully but with greater ephemeral potency across four tracks of distilled fury. EP opener ‘Circumcision’ is a squealing vomit of naked runtish neuroticism impotently wailing against the rabbi’s knife amid crushing pummeling drums coming close to the power electronics of Whitehouse were it not for the steady hypnotic tempo of the percussion. The stream of consciousness lyrics revealing the layers of pent-up Jewish dysmorphia take terrifying turns, sexual humiliation congeals to trans-generational holocaust trauma with tortured confusion, yet Zupferminc’s nasal whine, references to ‘fucking Guardian articles’ and skewed klezmer pieces trigger a nervous hilarity to the nightmare.

Stuttering glitchy beats palpitate on ‘Jihadi Dole Bludger’, a cavernous momentum drives the track around points of eerie terse quiet and warped vocals, before the synth heavy ‘Spiderfuck’ pierces with Wax Trax! throb, arpeggios and drum machines creating a subtle groove beneath the noxious miasma. Last track ‘Dead Men Don’t Rape’ honours the scathing defiance against male entitlement and sludgy-grunge delivery of 7 Year Bitch’s original but adds further layers of haunted discord and collages of reverb drenched suffering.

The testosterone that clung stubbornly on your lips is replaced with blood, pre-cum, and testicular viscera. I’m Not What I Was is a horribly fascinating putrid dry-retch of disgust against poisonous machismo, as powerful as a sledgehammer to your face but revealing the deeply insecure and fearful heart of toxic masculinity with surgical precision.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #10

Your eyeballs become swollen, clammy palpitations take over, then you awaken several hours later with the echoing sounds of unintelligible alien gibberish ringing in your ears. You’ve been exposed to Spit ‘n’ Static!, a raw signal of all things synthpunk and mutoid from sources unknown. Get yer eleventh hit, same slime same face, at Bristol’s 1020 Radio on the 13th Feb! 👽 👌