New Dark Age – Last Day of March 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 31, 2020 @ 3:24 pm

Ghost VI : Locusts

Over the years, Trent Reznor and NIN have scored or contributed tracks to at least seven motion pictures and – in collaboration with Atticus Ross – many, many more. This 15–track sequel to the series “Ghosts I – IV” (2008) is said by Mr. Reznor to address the anxiety associated the current age – and helping us “get through” the current situation, presumably the Coronavirus pandemic. It certainly doesn’t offer anything resembling consolation. Instead it resembles nothing so much a a catalogue of motion picture sound track elements for sale to the movie industry.

Addressing anxiety certainly isn’t a new m.o. for NIN, but it doesn’t seem that this long, largely formless opus is geared to that at all. What it does represent is a more or less total abandonment of NIN’s traditional industrial dance music characterized by anger and iconoclasm, to say nothing of NIN’s reputation for catchy hooks, striking melodies and enigmatic lyrics full of non-sequiturs.

With this new album, NIN has left behind completely the industrial dance genre and continued with another wordless sound collage into the business of movie music.

It starts with “The Cursed Clock,” seven minutes of ominous, creepy chimes that tick like a clock that resemble the soundtrack to a 1990s slasher movie. From there it takes off into 10 and 11-minute dirges with deranged piano arpeggios, sometimes meandering, melody-less fingering of the piano’s lower keys (or higher keys, too). “The Worriment Waltz” doesn’t seem to have anything resembling the 2/3 timing that defines a waltz, and many of the tracks have no discernible cadence at all. There are a lot of staticky, percusssive sounds throughout the album. Whirling wind sounds, repetitious arpeggios against formless synthesizer noise, and the clunking noise of assembly-line machinery are the best way to typify much of this opus as well as tracks with names like “TURN THIS OFF” (in all capital letters) and “So Tired.”

There are couple of ultra-short ( two or three minute) tracks, one of which, “When It Happens Don’t Mind Me,” features the metallic, xylophone-like sounds of an Indonesian gamelan.
The sixth track, “Another Crashed Car” is dominated by the sounds made by an unmanned windshield wiper, continuing – one must assume, following a fatal car crash.

Die-hard NIN fans will stick by Trent Reznor’s endeavor as he pursues this, his 21st century business. Industrial music fans may have difficulty doing so. It’s not the kind of album to which a fan of Rock – in any sense – will want to sit and listen unless his or her preferences have been softened (or heightened) by drugs. It might best serve as background noise – that’s not intended as a term if disparagement (for it mostly is loosely structured noise) – while reading a book or social distancing.

“Corpus Christi”
Starring Bartosz Bielenia

Written by Mateusz Pacewicz
directed by Jan Komasa

This 2019 Polish-language release with English subtitles has a unique and fascinating premise. In modern day Poland, religious devotion and daily religious ritual saturates institutional and everyday life. When violence-prone, juvenile detainee Daniel is released, having served in an altar boy capacity at the detention center, expresses an absurd and untenable interest in applying to a seminary, the idea quickly discouraged and dismissed by the priest charged with counseling and releasing him.

But before reporting to the rehabilitation-labor camp to which he assigned, he stops by a neighboring church where he whimsically makes the false claim to be a priest, perhaps to impress a cute teenage girl whom he encounters praying inside. Despite appearances, she is taken in by his claim and arranges for him to stand in for the parish vicar, who ,as fate would have it,is about to undergo a medical collapse the next day.

The imposter, posing as his replacement, finds himself in a maelstrom of situations both predictable and unforeseeable. Reading up on liturgy and employing some of the unconventional tactics to which he was subjected in the detention center, “winging it” with situational ethics and dodging his unforgivable past history make for a story that is heart-breaking, uplifting, joyful, terrifying and riddled with conflicts, contradictions and dishonesty.

No spoilers here: This magnificent motion picture has to be seen and digested in all its humor, pathos, ambivalence, tragedy and triumph before deciding where one stands on the moral, philosophical and existential issues it inflicts upon the viewer.

New Dark Age – Late March 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 24, 2020 @ 2:30 pm

Released March 27, 2020

Abolition of the Royal Family
The Orb
Cooking Vinyl

The Orb is a fluid collective – founded in 1988 – the brainchild of English deejay and musician Alex Paterson who has, over the years, worked with a long list of various techno artists. A former roadie for Killing Joke, his influences also include Kraftwerk and Brian Eno. Famous for ambient industrial and psychedelic club music and now – in collaboration with a large ensemble of associates – The Orb has produced its seventeenth album. Mastery of synthesizer-based, computerized enhancement, mixing and reinterpretation is evident throughout this 12 track work which delves in multiple styles, from R & B to World Music, from Reggae to Trip Hop; from ambient to sci-fi/and post-apocalyptic sounds.

It starts with a couple of R & B tracks featuring mesmerizing, complex, racing rhythms and sweeping strings. It achieves a very pleasant electronic, groovy sound that could be a mix of Barry White and Sade – a kind of techno-soul. There’s a track called “Hawk Kings” that overlaps a repetitive, nervous, Angst-ridden piece with a disturbing voice-over featuring the once-familiar mechanical voice associated with Stephen Hawking, narrating Stephen Hawking’s theories on the origins of the universe and other arcane matters.

The Orb has been noted for frequent references to drugs, especially psychedelics. Accordingly there’s an ethereal, ultra-spacey track, its title, “Pervitin,” referring to the amphetamine-like substance reportedly said to have fueled the Nazi blitzkrieg. All kinds of recording aural effects are too be heard, coupled with R & B riffs, sci-fi-sounds, New Age lullabies, cool jazz and, on several tracks, reggae. There all kinds of voice samples and never before-heard synthetizer sounds.

As a finale. there’s even a menacing announcement from an authoritarian, 1984-like police state in some future, dystopian USA, declaring a list of draconian regulations, which is paradoxically paired with dreamy, flowing pleasant ambient music. The outrageous restrictions and penalties being proclaimed by the dictatorial voice are eerily analogous to the restrictions currently imposed around the country and the world to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

If you are a fan of any or all of the foregoing list of musical styles included in this album, you will find Abolition of the Royal Family a special gem. It could only have been put together by a mature genius for this kind of music, a group that has come to its finest level of achievement at the pinnacle of their career.

March 2020 New Dark Age

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 15, 2020 @ 2:28 pm

Occulture Feb 28, 2020

New Dark Age had the pleasure of a visit to the landmark shrine of postpunk nightlife,downstairs at the Pyramid on Ave A in lower Manhattan.

We were there at the invitation of Giselle DJNegrarose, who was serving once again as guest deejay. The relatively-new dance night, Occulture has been going strong every 4th Friday since last June, successful mainly on the skills and repertoire of Resident DJ Zvetschka, whose deep background in dance soundscaping goes back to 2002 when she acquired fame for spinning pouty post-punk, wicked wave and darkly danceable industrial at famous club night Contempt (1998 — 2003).

DJ Negrarose – Aimee Grasic – Dina Verbena

In 2019, founders Aimee Grasic and Dina Verbena set about to organize a dance party night that would both serve the present and yet evoke the glory days of the New York underground music scene with heavy emphasis on the electronic sounds of EBM, Dark Techno, Freestyle and House.

DJ Zvetschka’s command of rapid-fire, simultaneous multi-track cueing and thoughtful layering fit the bill perfectly.
Noting that all three ground-floor participants were of the feminine persuasion, they decided to basically keep it that way. Thus, even guest deejays are chosen from the fair sex both to support and boost the presence of women in the position and maintain a level of consistency in Occulture’s trademark brand. They are, however, considering if and when to have male disc jockeys on a guest-basis from time to time.

On the final Friday of February, before the virus quarantine hit the scene, we had the pleasure of listening to DJ Negrarose alternate spinning with the famous Zvetschka, and took particular satisfaction when she added a beloved track from New Dark Age’s ideal list of favorites, namely the inimitable Skinny Puppy’s “Assimilate.” And the consistently feminine atmosphere – including mixologist Nette Moreno – was a decidedly pleasant touch for those of us admirers of the female gender.

“How Do You Feel Today”
Metropolis Records

This is the sixth studio album for futurepop German electronic band, Rotersand, founded in 2002. Lead singer Rasc (Rascal Nikov) is backed by fellow-founding members, Gun (Gunther Gerl) and Krischan (Krischan Jan-Eric Wesenberg). This album, consisting of eleven tracks is outstanding on its own, yet is typical of their exceptional body of work, noted for clear emotionally moving lyrics, gripping, articulate themes and irresistible rhythms. Oh, and did I mention lush, affecting melodies? Yet with this said, the album holds some welcome surprises.

Starting with a melodious, deeply musical first track, “Who We Are Now,” that employs dance rhythms only sparingly, the album moves next into the bizarre, album version of the 2019 hit single, “You Know Nothing.” This delightfully obsessive and furious song is reminiscent of the 1966 novelty classic, “They’re Coming to Take Me Away,” popularized in 2005 by fellow futurepop-sters Neuroticfish, but instead being jocular it is industrial-strength angry.

The third track, “Silence’” is a pleasant, electronic piece with has an intimate, restrained sound until about three-quarters into it when it becomes an emotionally-wrenching entreaty. Next up comes “Blind Vision” which features (as do many other tracks on the album) strong, plaintive vocals combined with hypnotic, exciting rhythms and featuring the kind of mechanized, EBM beat that denizens of dance floors adore, enhanced with interesting synthesizer sounds and powerfully sung, delightfully dismal lyrics. A similar description applies to the equally danceable fifth track, “Whatever.”

But the sixth track, “Elements,’ is a passionate ballad that brings out another side of Rotersand, although I doubt the crowd would have trouble dancing to it. And the seventh track zooms along on the mesmerizing monotony, interrupted by ethereal wailing vocals that mingle with it and definitely enhance it. It may be the most seductively delicious track on the album. For the sake of brevity, all I will say about the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh tracks is that each and every one of them is – in its own way – a superb entry into the oeuvre of electronic music with creative as well as genre-specific standard sound, instrumentation and enchanting vocals.

Genesis P-Orridge (1950 – 2020)

This month saw the passing of Genesis P-Orridge, lead vocalist of the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle. P-Orridge, born Neil Megson in Manchester, the U.K. in 1950, founded the confrontational, transgressive and subversive artistic collective COUM Transmissions (1969 – 1976) along with Cosey Fanni Tutti and numerous others, all of whom were influenced by Dada. In 1975, s/he (P-Orridge’s preferred gender pronoun) founded Throbbing Gristle along with Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and Chris Carter.

In 1981, s/he founded Psychic TV along with Alex Fergusson, but eventually some twenty or so collaborators had joined the experimental video art and music group. In 1995 P-Orridge married h/er second wife, Jacqueline (Lady Jaye) Mary Breyer, with whom s/he engaged in a bizarre project of what they termed “Pandrogeny” in which they underwent body modification surgery in an attempt to “unite” as a single entity, resembling each other. Lady Jaye died in 2007.Throbbing Gristle disbanded in 1981 but re-formed in 2004. S/he had two daughters by h/er first wife, musician Paula P-Orridge (nee Paula Brooking).

On March 14, 2020 the “Godparent of Industrial” and icon of the avant-garde/underground, counter culture movement died after a long struggle with leukemia.