The Local Live & Underground list is back! This time around with a few changes including a tweak in the name, and its change from annual to bi-annual frequency – a necessary change given the volume of underground works Discipline Mag has happened upon.
The Local Live & Underground list serves to make sense out of the fog of internet noise that plagues our underground. A document of off-radar releases that may have been overlooked, or never found at all.
So, without further ado, enjoy this bludgeoning and uplifting collection of goth, ambient, noise, post-punk, industrial, metal and…
SUPPORT THE UNDERGROUND!!!!
Having formed in 1993, Jude is among the more senior entries on this list. Hailing from Poland’s industrialised heartland of Łódź, this setting both inspires, and finds itself sonically reproduced through Jude’s unrelenting brand of guitar based industrial music.
An interesting take on Jude comes from industrialart.eu (the website of Wroclaw Industrial Festival), who characterise them as follows:
“The attempt to categorise the group within established genres is pointless – Jude play fierce music of instincts and impulses, overloaded with emotions that might conventionally be described using such terms as industrial-hardcore-punk-noise.”
While Industrial Art do concede a handful of genres, the sentiment remains – Jude is a band who defy your usual musical tags. Their relation to industrial comes from their tendency of mechanical repetition that is expressed through a wall of guitar, bass, drums, and screamed vocals.
These traits take only seconds to hit the listener and seldom take a back seat throughout the album’s 10 tracks. Broken Pillar delivers a cohesive pounding of down tuned bass and clangy guitar, guuided by tom drums and a pervasive and harsh vocal delivery.
Their formula of constant dredge makes identifying individual tracks somewhat frivolous. However, like Industrial Art’s conceded genres above, we concede the consecutive tracks – “Say ABC Say XYZ”, “Manhunt”, and “Arrow Left Arrow Right” – as memorable demonstrations of Jude’s methodology.
To place Jude in more recognisable terms, Broken Pillar sounds like what Neurosis is to sludge metal, or what Shellac is to noise rock – inspirants on the peripherals that lack in more suitable classification. While dipping into aspects of these bands’ sounds,
Jude undergoes a similar conundrum of classification, albeit from their industrialised vantage point.
Delirium Tremens: The Best Of Chthonic Force
Resulting from a union between Vadge Mooore (of punk band, Dwarves) and Wendy Van Dusen (of neofolk band, Neither/Neither World), Chthonic Force’s Delirium Tremens: The Best Of Chthonic Force compiles choice cuts from the group’s only two albums from the 2000s.
Upon first glance, the group’s occult-like power electronics sound seems a long distance from Moore’s background in Dwarves – a band affiliated with 90s punk rock rather than the experimental underground. Dig a little deeper, and his and Van Dusen’s work on 90s counter-cultural/outsider publication, Primal Chaos, as well as their occasional collaborations on Neither/Neither World contextualise the experimental nature of Chthonic Force and Moore’s contributions to this space.
The work they produce as Chthonic Force is far less ferocious than their common press shot of Vadge’s clenched teeth and microphone death grip would imply. This is power electronics that flow and don’t explode. It leans more toward dark industrial atmospheres than it does noise, but with more than enough esotericism and depravity to prevent it from feeling diluted.
Van Dusen’s neofolk heritage is an unmissable contribution to the sounds here. The tracks are littered with repetitive whispers, sometimes resembling narration, other times antagonistic nursery rhymes. A quality not unlike Rose McDowall’s contributions to various groups and collaborations throughout the 80s and 90s.
Supporting the duo is an all-star cast of esteemed industrialists that include Monte Cazazza (of Industrial Records & occasional Throbbing Gristle contributor), Boyd Rice (Non), Thomas Thorn (The Electric Hellfire Club), and Peter Sotos (Whitehouse). Despite all tracks being at least 17 years old and the current status of the group being unknown, this work is highly recommended for anybody interested in occult-inspired industrial music, spoken word, and any of the guest contributors.
Follow this link for Vadge Moore’s personal website
Horror in Clay
Live from Toad Hall
The works of New Zealand’s Casey James Latimer give great utility to the famous Hunter S. Thompson quote: “Too weird to live, and too rare to die”. Both Horror in Clay and previous band, Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing, take an outsider approach to their music. Latimer’s signature guitar sound, reprehensible lyrical content, and graphic visuals create a unique sound and art world, blending smut and esotericism into a vision that is wholly the artist’s own.
With GPOGP fizzling out due to member relocations, this vision is now realised via the medium of Horror in Clay. Horror In Clay might be one step closer to being mentioned on the radio, but the grisly spirit and aesthetic of GPOGP remains. Latimer’s accompanying paintings have carried over to Horror in Clay, depicting ghastly scenes of ritual sex and fetish – the kind of stuff you’d absolutely want to hide from your mother.
Inevitable comparisons to GPOGP aside, from a musical standpoint, Horror in Clay carves out a niche of its own. The recurring tag is “post-punk”, though this seems a bit reductive as the spirit of these sounds blossom to art rock, doom punk, industrial, and shoegaze. Grimier than England’s neofolk/industrial/esoteric underground and more thematically inclined than New York’s no wave scene.
This gamut of sounds are explored across the six sodomy stained tracks that populate this release. The tracks “T.U.X”, “Last Of The Summer Whining”, and “Burnt Hands” take the mangled razor sound of Latimer’s guitar and fuse these with chants and screams, both his own and those of Aki Crummer (also of GPOGP).
“Bring Out Your Dead” is a notable track for its full-blown excursion into dream pop territory. The track brings shimmering synths and harmonised dual vocals of Latimer and Crummer to new heights. These highs with ample space to be exploited to disorientating effect in a live setting.
Overall, this is unsettling and depraved music for the truly deranged – you have been warned.
(Bonus recommendation: Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing’s excellent 2017 double album, Songs of Sodomy and The Compost of Aethyr)
The Kenyan duo of Duma has already left a great impression on Discipline Mag, having taken the top spot on the podium for last year’s “20 Albums of 2020” list. Here, they once again bless Discipline Mag with their presence, this time in the form of a two track single.
In a bittersweet move, Duma has outgrown the grass roots African experimental label of Nyege Nyege. This move is confirmed with the conspicuous Sub Pop emblem tagged to the top right of the cover art, likely suggesting an album for their new label can be expected sometime this year.
On the topic of accompanying visuals, this cover depicts a handful of men covered in paint, possibly in the middle of a traditional Kenyan ritual. A small bit of continuity from their self-titled debut that depicts a carcass and bright red cloak, spotlighting sights that are commonplace to Africa, but entirely new and misunderstood to non-African audiences. Apt for a duo producing an anomalous style of full throttle electronic grindcore.
The opening title track brings a schizophrenic techno energy to its mix of growls, static, and drum machine percussion. Vocalist, Martin Kanja, stretches his voice from screams to deep gutterals atop scattered and glitchy electronics in a sound not far removed from the most unhinged moments of a retro video game.
The second and longer track, “Mbukinya”, sounds both ritualistic and manic. With a percussion that teeters on tribalistic, seemingly random electronic beeps and noises permeate the track. If you were on board for Duma’s debut, then you’ll appreciate this little bit of sweetener on top.
Tone Generator and the Body Without Organs
Normalisation of Response
The latest work from early SPK member, Dom Guerin aka Tone Generator is spaced out, incredibly synthy, and in some ways, feels like a thematic carryover from SPK’s seminal Leichenschrei album.
A full review of Normalisation of Response can be found via the link.
Another release that has a full review live on Discipline Mag. Sajjra was discovered by Discipline Mag at the Jogja Noise Bombing Fest 2020 and was documented in the subsequent film on the event. On this release, Sajjra explores a grim and overlooked piece of Peruvian history, and does so through the dramatic lens of measured, yet confronting, noise.
Catch Sajjra‘s set from JNBF2020 above.
The second Polish entry on this list, Whalesong, is a multi-faceted group, occasionally moving from despondent post-sludge on one track, to an acoustic apocalyptic folk sound the next. Genre hopping aside, further quirks of the band include their use of 8 and 12 stringed guitars and their propensity for long releases.
On the topic of long releases, it should be noted that this “EP” clocks in at over 50 minutes across six tracks. Opening with the title track, “Helpless” drags its dirge of sludge for 10 minutes of self-deprecation across its repetitive lead riff. Track two then takes a major left turn, utilising an acoustic guitar and background synths alongside a death obsessed narration. Whatever sonic differences occur throughout Helpless, the consistency of sentiment is a key factor in keeping these elements cohesive and distinctively Whalesong.
Middle track, “Not the Same”, takes a post-metal approach for it’s roughly four minutes of runtime. While final track, “Corrosion”, carries processed vocals and synth noise for 24 minutes, doing a good job at validating Whalesong’s industrial tag in the process.
To address the elephant in the room, the influence of Swans on Whalesong is unmistakable. This comparison is alluded to further with an EP named Filth and track titles like “Slave”, “Consumer”, and “A Wound In The Sky”, and the ability to diverge through decades worth of Swans sounds in a single release. Whalesong wear their influences on their sleeves and demonstrate their technical proficiency in the process (band leader Michał ‘Neithan’ Kiełbasa doubles as a guitar tech for the likes of Mayhem, MGLA, and Decapitated, so go figure). Catch them alongside Kollaps at this year’s Wroclaw Industrial Festival in September.
Lay in the Salt of the Soil
Lonesaw is a grinding industrial swamp of a band. They are adept at creating chaos and noise, and their use of the tag “post-punk” sees them guilty of adding more and more ambiguity to that term. Although Lonesaw have only a live EP and this studio EP to their name, they are smack bang at the start of their fertile early stage as a band. Their future surely promises a bountiful harvest of work that’s destined to find its way to the avant-curious.
On Lay in the Salt of the Soil, Lonesaw manages to squeeze electronics, guttural screams, and supposedly two saxophones into their sound. While it wouldn’t be wrong to immediately make comparisons to Naked City (or any other John Zorn project), Lonesaw takes a slightly different methodology to cacophonous mayhem. Instead of Zorn’s rogue free jazz assault, Lonesaw demonstrates an ability to freak out and remain tight without the addition of improv (though I daresay the live show is a different story).
The closing track, “Barbed Wire Church”, does a good job of exactly that. The sparse opening carries ominous vocals and a fast throbbing electronic beat. The track’s path is set, but is marred by erratic detours, before swiftly returning back on course. Tracks one and two, on the other-hand, take a page out of The Body’s more unforgiving electronic moments while “What does it mean, to be a man in a burning world?” exploits its repetitive synthetic percussion for all it’s worth.
Across these five tracks and approximately 20 minutes of runtime, Lonesaw creates music that, when it’s not assaulting you, sounds like it’s simply preparing to do so. With Britain’s “Freedom Day” now upon Old Blighty, it would be a good time to catch these Scousers and their infamous live set if the chance arises.
The Destructive Character
It’s probably without debate that Totvm has the greatest aesthetic of any group on this list. The Danish two piece consists of girl/boy duo, Trine and Christoffer, who carry their contrasting red and icy white hair atop of thin figures and dazzling goth aura. A literal dream for any photographer.
On The Destructive Character, Totvm takes a step toward pulsating darkwave and a club friendly ethos. The recurring theme of existentialism pervades this release, dealing with a Matrix-like dilemma of false realities and questions of sanity.
Many of these tracks embrace a verse chorus approach, repeating memorable hooks in the chorus between tales of cynicism and identity crisis. All the while, leaving ample space for atmospheric synth leads and expansive breakdowns.
Proceeds from this release are going to fund Christoffer’s soon-to-be record label, so supporting the band could have some satisfyingly tangible outcomes. Recommended for those who frequent goth clubs and fans of EBM & industrial music’s electro inclined artists.
Bonus mention for Trine’s impressive synth work.
A Blessing Withdrawn
Previous interviewee and friend of the zine, Pterygium, has released a new 7” EP on Spanish label, Cønjuntø Vacíø. It features two tracks that harness the dark ambient angle of Pterygium’s sound, both clocking in slightly under five minutes and marking the first time it’s work has been committed to vinyl.
On A Blessing Withdrawn the religious themes are more pronounced than they have been on previous releases. Tracks like “House Of Prayers” (from Concealing The Past) and “If God Was Capable” (from Stoic Ubiquity) teased an interest in such themes. However, A Blessing Withdrawn pivots to a full-blown embrace of a religious theme.
Track one, “My Son, Keep Your Father’s Commandments”, does this with a sense of foreboding throughout. Opening with a pervasive crackle and drone, the track then layers synth and light pedal noises. This is accompanied by a sample of a Catholic sermon, read in Latin.
Track two, “The Lord Is My Shepherd”, takes a similar approach. Droning synth becomes slightly more pronounced, and a sample of female vocals is softly repeated before being responded to with a muffled male voice. Further proof of Pterygium’s ability to balance between the delicate, overlapping spaces between post-industrial, dark ambient, and power electronics.
No stranger to Discipline Mag’s Local Live & Underground showcases, Cementation Anxiety now appears for the second time. This time, it’s with a five track, 22 minute EP named Liminal Instability.
From the first track, the scene is set for much of this release – a deep and atmospheric blend of heady ambient tunes. Themes of the natural world, particularly it’s colder assets, have melted over from previous releases. The feeling of iciness pervades, often feeling like an accompanying soundtrack to being lost in vast and icy nothingness.
Ambient music is an interesting and polarising genre. Get it wrong, and maybe silence is preferable to whatever cheap synth tones are playing. However, get it right, and it’s the auditory equivalent to finding shapes in the clouds. Cementation Anxiety hangs strongly to the latter end of that scale – a mesmerising and therapeutic journey.
Revelations in Dust
We’ve all seen the 9/11 footage of people running from huge clouds of dust after the Twin Towers collapsed – this is the soundtrack for those who tripped, and were swallowed by that dust.
Earthflesh is the Swiss solo project of Bruno Silvestre Favez. For anyone unfamiliar, their lifting of Sunn O)))’s euphemism for audial destruction, “Maximum yields maximum results”, gives some indication of what angle they are approaching music from.
This release is one 38 minute track that opens quietly before building into what can only be described as a thick wall of overwhelming sound. There is a density to the noise created where it seems both opaque but rife with activity. The thick fog of droning noise ebbs and flows, but by and large, intensity is the name of the game.
Accompanied by the album art of scorched red earth and suggestive album title, these elements give thematic context to the work. The release sounds (and feels) like an extraterrestrial ship hovering over earth and decimating the earth on an industrial scale. A void that leaves only death and destruction in its wake.
Revelations in Dust is the only release I have so far listened to from Earthflesh, but its professionalism is hard to miss. Despite being “raw, unpolished, [and] live”, the production is clear, yet conducive to the hazy cloud of noise that characterises this release. Recommended for fans of Sunn O))), Merzbow, and sonic-fucking-intensity.
Synth nerds, eat your heart out – Ehsan Gelsi, a music educator and synth enthusiast with two decades of bending electronics behind him, has created something of a magnum opus with his 2021 album, Ephemera.
Before its public release, Gelsi was afforded the liberty of presenting Ephemera to the masses in a live setting at the Melbourne Town Hall, taking the venue’s resident 10,000 pipe organ along for the ride. The result? A triumphant and futuristic analogue electronic experiment that pumps a cosmic synth sound with a thousands of cubic metres of helium.
Over two tracks that span roughly 40 minutes total, Ephemera takes a large format Moog on a journey to the outer limits of rational use. Amplified further with the accompanying, behemoth-sized organ, this work creates major highs, epic builds, and an intergalactic sound narrative that gives the likes of Tangerine Dream a run for their money.
A new project out of Melbourne, Chief Whip is the brainchild of Sean Hinds, the man ordinarily in charge of guitar for the formidable, Whitehorse. Here, Hinds creates a kind of atmospheric industrial doom.
On Aurora Apparatus, Chief Whip demonstrates some of the grimier tendencies of heavy guitar based industrial music, but subtly embraces the kind of high points we could expect from, say, Jesu‘s dynamic range of sounds. The adhesive that binds these elements together being the mechanical overtone of darkness.
The album opens with “One Hundred Hands”, an 8 minute track that begins with an ominous rattle and bell that sounds fresh from the morning prayer of a Tibetan monastery. As this is phased out around the two minute point and the sounds become dissociated from the track, it’s interesting the opening segment wasn’t a standalone piece. Following our monasterial opening is a marching rhythm of synthetic percussion, deep dark and heavy guitars, and the processed snarls that identify as the release’s vocal style.
The second track, “Titanomæchy”, again alludes to an epic form of industrial heaviness. However, on this track the guitars are more inclined toward Dracula approved black metal riffs. The track rides out in a glory of hazy shredding, adequate for the thick and acrid air of any crypt.
The light keys that open “Hyperion” serve as an interlude moment in the middle of the album. However, in a similar sonic dichotomy as found in the opener, “Hyperion” too breaks away from its delicate beginnings into some of the sludgiest moments of of the album. Following this is the title track, “Aurora Apparatus”, that utilises the Chief Whip pillar sound of industrial doom via its memorable and mechanical riff.
The far flung digital presence, lines of merch, possible new music, and search for bandmates to assist with the live arena all appear to assert Chief Whip as a project with a scope that lies far beyond its first release.
There are few things worse than the Western phenomenon of middle-class rich kids exploiting a faux-victimhood narrative to compensate for their lack of creativity. So, knowing that Vazum come from Detroit, a city literally at rock-bottom due to its obsolete industry based economy and rampant crime, is a comforting piece of authenticity to accompany their tales of domestic violence and lack of stability.
The two-piece feature female & male vocals, your usual guitar/bass/drums/synth and their self-declared deathgaze sound. What this translates into is a blend of goth & deathrock that enjoys the technical support of a psych-rock pedal set-up. The sounds take the shining deathrock high notes that sound in constant struggle with a downward gravitational pull (think Christian Death’s “Romeo’s Distress”) and blends it with an appropriate measure of fuzz.
This quality is effectively conveyed on the tracks “Salem” and “Haunted House”, tracks which glisten but mope. The psychedelic angle holds a continual presence and is wholeheartedly embraced on “Psychonaut”, a track indebted to chemical encouragement of the hallucinogenic variety.
Vazum’s pairing of genres may not seem an immediate fit, but the sounds on this record manage to create a sense of logic and compatibility between them.
By the skin of its teeth, the late entry of Jagatai has made its way into the Local Live & Underground list. What they do is create a lo-fi noise rock sound with a sprinkling of industrial noise, and a big measure of parody.
“Special thanks to Matt LeBlanc. Without you existence means nothing” declares the cover, a message supported by a child shot of the sitcom actor. If this isn’t the last time a group sneaks a reference to Joey Tribbianni on Discipline Mag, I’ll be very surprised.
The tracks bring a lot of speed and muffled lo-fi vocals to the mix. When audible, the lyrics seem to detail blunders with doctors and general life chaos that’s made worse by a perpetual inability to do anything right. Self-deprecation aside, there are some relatively coherent musical ideas to this release – like the pounding intensity of “Ascend”, the shredding of “Fatal Insomnia”, and piano based outro of “Escitalopram”.
Who said painful music doesn’t have a lighter side, eh?