Review: Emptyset have been innovating in the world of electronic music for over a decade now. James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas' music is challenging yet poignant, artful yet immersive and fuses sound design with raw audio synthesis. "Blossoms", the new record for Thrill Jockey was developed by a process of "seeding a software model with a sonic knowledge base of material to learn and predict from". That base material was then embellished with 10 hours of improvised recordings using sources such as wood, drum skins and metal, giving rise to this bleakly beguiling album of drone, industrial and audio experimentation.
Review: Trailed as a direct sequel to his previous solo album, 2017's "Avanti", "Volume Massimo" sees Nine Inch Nails member Alessandro Cortini offer up another immersive trip through droning guitar textures, repetitive synthesizer motifs, exotic sitar parts and fuzzy electronics. It's effectively a series of "maximal" instrumental soundscapes with sounds so large and layered they rise above the "meditative" tag pushed by Mute's PR team. This is no criticism, though, just a reflection that while contemplative at times, one of the most joyous things about the album is Cortini's ability to build thrilling walls of sound.
Review: "Sonic Citadel" marks Brians Gibson and Chippendale's seventh studio album and it is one that finds them revealing a little more of themselves than before. "Blow To The Head" is an intense opener with caustic texture, dense layers and scuzzy noise that soundtracks a manic episode, while elsewhere there are much more angular and punk influenced rhythm tracks with deathly vocals mired in gauzy riffs engulfed in dirt, grit and sandpaper sonics. Standout track "Halloween 3" is a suitably horror fuelled track of high energy, lo fi fuzz that will keep any demons away.
Review: Throbbing Gristle's second studio album is an essential work that conjures some of the most harsh and nauseating music you can imagine (not a surprise given "Hamburger Lady" is a piece about a patient burned from the waist up and forever contained in a hospital). It was pioneering in texture and technique, and mixes both live and studio recordings into one of the band's most stylistically varied works. Creeping and haunting, confrontational and challenging from front to back, the spoken word samples from children and mutated voices will probably haunt your dreams forever, so listen with caution.
Review: After slowly building his career over the last few years via well-received singles on Rave Or Die, Khemina Records and, most recently, Perc Trax, Guillaume Labadie delivers his hotly anticipated debut album. It's something of a beast, too, with 12 lengthy tracks spread across two CDs. After scene-setting via a constantly-building blast of symphonic synth strings, new wave style guitars and crashing drum rolls ("The Beginning of the End"), Labadie sprints through bombastic, mind-altering stompers ("Crossing The Mirror"), dark and twisted soundscapes ("Impossible Love"), distorted techno thumpers ("The Night Is Our Kingdom", "You Are Not Alone"), redlined downtempo soundscapes (the filthy "Partner In Crime"), industrial strength insanity ("Romantic Pyscho") and pitch-black throb-jobs ("Eternity Is Burning").
Review: The 1980s was a breakthrough time for underground electronic music. Before restrictive genre definitions saw different modes of expression streamlined, the options were wide open in the lawless surge of post punk and industrial culture. This finely curated compilation from PIAS provides an excellent overview of some of the deadliest operators from this wildly creative time - the names involved are integral to the development of electronic music in the 80s. Throbbing Gristle, DAF, Cabaret Voltaire, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Meat Beat Manifesto - just some of the legendary names shown in their best light on this essential collection.
Review: Canadian sonic experimentalist Tim Hecker has long been a celebrated exponent of the ambient art form. Since the mid 1990s, he's released a series of acclaimed albums that blur the boundaries between art, music and experimentation, concocting stunning soundscapes through the use of simple melodies, dense, FX-laden instrumentation and alien chord sequences. On the oddly-titled "Ravedeath, 1972", he continues his one-man journey into the echo-laden heart of soundscape electronica. His compositions are at times quiet and fragile ("No Drums"), at others bold and queasily discordant (the two-part "Hatred Of Music"), but they're rarely less than breathlessly beautiful. The three-part "In The Air" is, in particular, quite stunning.
Review: Margaret Chardiet's semi-regular album outings as Pharmakon are always worth a listen, if only to recoil at the intensity of her unsettling blends of buzzing industrial noise, paranoid vocal screams, throbbing aural textures, forthright mangled guitar riffs and rusty, razor-sharp power electronics. "Devour" is the artist's fourth album for Sacred Bones and her first new set for two years. It explores similar sonic territory to its predecessors, offering claustrophobic, mind-mangling soundscapes that are creepy, disturbed, awe-inspiring and sonically challenging in equal measures. In some ways, calling out individual tracks as highlights seems pointless: this is a singular, ever-changing work that sees Chardiet escort us on a nightmarish journey through experimental extremes.
Review: Given his prolific nature, we were rather surprised to find that "Shadows of Death & Desire" is actually John Juan Mendez AKA Silent Servant's second album for six years. It's an impressive set, with Mendez offering up a stony-faced, steel-eyed shuffle through industrial-fired machine chug ("Illusion"), mind-altering EBM workouts ("Damage", "Harm In Hand", the throbbing "24 Hours"), icy electronic soundscapes (the vintage Autechre style dancefloor IDM of "Loss Response"), early '80s style Cabaret Voltaire industrial funk (the brilliant "Glass Veil"), and moody compositions where razor-sharp guitars and foreboding electronics envelop particularly skittish electro drums (closing cut "Optimistic Decay").
Review: Chicago-based experimentalists HIDE built their reputation on a handful of releases - including an inspired debut album - built around densely layered sound collages, intense rhythmic snapshots and manipulated electronic noise. On new album "Hell Is Here", the American duo has opted to pursue a slightly different sound, with intense, screamed and - in one bizarre instance - vomited vocals rising above distorted, brain-melting sub-bass, mangled percussion, Nine Inch Nails style guitars and unsettling redlined electronics. It makes for intense listening, but there's little doubt the pair has produced a thrilling piece of work that should find favour with all those of a punky, leftfield disposition.
Review: Over the last few years, the occasional studio collaborations between Factory Floor's Nik Void and Throbbing Gristle heavyweights Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti have proved to be faultless exercises in industrial music/techno fusion. They're at it again on third album "Triumvirate", a collection of dark, intense and mind-altering concoctions that veers from ricocheting, delay-laden alien funk ("T3.4") and surging, club-ready hypnotism ("T3.2", "T3.3"), to raw, Surgeon-esque assaults on the senses ("T3.5") and clanking, concrete-clad fare that recalls the best of Carter and Tutti's early '80s TG work ("T3.1", "T3.6"). There are few surprises, just a series of angry, on-point instrumental excursions that should delight all of those of an industrial persuasion.