Over the past 10 years synthwave has transformed from a small niche genre that raised eye brows in Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film Drive to record labels such as Blood Music pulling millions of views on YouTube and fans of the smash-hit Netflix show Stranger Things clamoring for a soundtrack vinyl treatment. Heavily inspired by new wave, 1980′s films, soundtracks, and video games, the genre developed a retro-futuristic aesthetic found in projects such as Perturbator (Black Flame Interview), Carpenter Brut, Power Glove, Com Truise, and more. Among these artists a ghost haunts the genre, pulling more heavily from classic slasher films, Satanic literature, and bass rich contemporary electronic music. His upcoming album, “Non Paradisi”, is described as “a loose musical adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost,” concerning Lucifer’s fall from Heaven and ensuing ascent from the Lake of Fire”. At the end of the month Gost will launch an international tour in the United State and Europe, with shows already selling out. I’ve had the pleasure to talk to the man behind this infernal project and discuss some of his influences, Satanism & the Church of Satan, horror films and the throw-back horror trend, Stranger Things, his new album, and his brand new music video, all from a Satanic perspective. Enjoy!
I first heard Perturbator almost exactly a year ago while editing a highly rated review for Dangerous Days at Heathen Harvest. The writer described a faux-retro synthwave album that melds cyberpunk aesthetics with the neon-cool atmosphere of Drive, with an evil supercomputer named “Satan” thrown in the mix. Being a long-time fan of electronic music, cyberpunk, and the films of Nicolas Winding Refn, I couldn’t help be feel like someone formed an album specifically for me.
Keeping my solipsism in check wasn’t hard. It turned out that Perturbator was doing quite well in the underground electronic dance scene. The project was getting excellent coverage in digital and print magazines, and had tracks included in popular indie video games Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. In many ways this reminded me of the faults of having musical blinders on. Being so focused on specific obscure genres of music almost had me missing out on what would become one of my favorite projects in recent years.
When people first discover neofolk, they’re quick to come across the work of Death in June, Current 93, and Sol Invictus, if indeed the work of these founders isn’t what led them there in the first place. However, it usually isn’t long before the work of Michael Cashmore comes into focus, who has arguably been every bit as important to the development of the genre. This long-time Current 93 collaborator has long been considered a legend through his work as Nature and Organisation, releasing one of the most unique and instantly distinguishable albums that the genre has to offer in 1994 with Beauty Reaps the Blood of Solitude before allowing the project to grow dormant several years later after the release of the unfinished album, Death in a Snow Leopard Winter.
After many years of silence, however, Trisol—likely known to our readership for recent releases ranging from Rome’s A Passage to Rhodesia to Sopor Aeternus’s Mitternacht—has convinced Cashmore to finally reissue both of Nature and Organisation’s albums, along with two bonus tracks, under the banner of Snow Leopard Messiah. Michael was kind enough to grant us an interview to speak about the project’s past, the reason for bringing these albums back to print for his fans, and his need to evolve as a person today.
It was 1998, in an underground—literally, it was in the basement of an apartment building—NYC book and magazine shop called See Hear where my interest in both Satanism and Abrahamsson’s work emerged. As a voracious reader of the occult and counter-culture, I devoured everything the shop had to offer and settled on two prevailing interests, industrial music and Satanism. One day I was picking out some fanzines featuring Psychic TV and Throbbing Gristle along with the Anton LaVey Memorial Issue of The Black Flame when another patron noticed the intersection of interests. He pointed out that The Black Flame issue contained an article by a member of Psychic TV who had his own industrial band called White Stains (a reference to Crowley’s collection of poetry). And yes, the issue contained a touching memorial of LaVey by Mr. Carl Abrahamsson, the Satanist of Letters. That same night I went to one of the local record stores and, lo-and-behold, a used copy of Why Not For Ever? was waiting for me in the bin where all the out-of-print industrial/experimental records were held. That album and other White Stains releases would provide me with a soundtrack through many forbidden late-night excursions and remain a lasting influence in my taste for experimental rhythmic music (the tracks ‘Time, Gentleman‘ and ‘Soft Explosion‘ in particular).
Sutekh Hexen first popped up on my radar when going through the lineup for the Stella Natura festival in 2012. They were easily one of my dark horse favorites from the event, and over the years I’ve made sure to keep up with their unearthly brew of black metal, cacophonous noise, and occult ambiance. This past June I was able to catch an intimate performance in Los Angeles as they toured up the US West Coast and bore witness to a moving sonic ritual. Shortly afterwards I had the pleasure to catch up with the band’s mastermind, Kevin Gan Yuen, and talk about the tour, collaborations, the convergence between extreme metal and noise scenes, tapes, ritualistic performances, and upcoming plans.
The first time I saw Death in June live was in 2002 at the Walker Stage in New York City. The duo of Douglas Pearce and John Murphy commanded an intimate acoustic performance to a small but dedicated audience. Almost twelve years later, as this latest performance wrapped up, I thought back to my first DIJ experience and recounted how much things have both changed and stayed the same. The audience is larger, but just as dedicated. The band itself remains Douglas P. and John Murphy, but the momentary addition of Miro Snejdr (Herr Lounge Corps) added a fresh element to their classic line-up. The venue itself was an evolutionary step up from old punk bars, with a top-of-the-line audio system that delivered every note, beat, and sample without fail. Complex, situated right outside of the city of Los Angeles in Glendale, has grown to be the premiere venue for Industrial/Noise events in the area. Which should not be all that surprising when considering the long history that their staff, headed by the Rev. John, has had promoting the underground music scene in Los Angeles. Partnered with the event collective Church of the 8th Day, the team comfortably packed the venue with passionate fans and proved that they can deliver a more traditional act. The merchandise table was extensive, ranging from reissues of classic albums to brand new shirt designs and tour keepsakes, and as any event promoter should know, the life blood of any gig you book is the bar — which was staffed by courteous professionals who kept my whiskey flowing throughout the night.
The second day of the Tesco festival starts off with conspiratorial ambient electronics from Galerie Schallschutz. Two projection screens flank the stage, displaying acts of enhanced interrogation techniques, explorations of secret government bunkers, and various surveillance equipment. Sky busting super-weapons and extraterrestrial communication round out the overarching themes over the past 10 years of this project’s existence. On stage are a duo of performers on two tables decked out with various digital and analog equipment, including electronic percussion. Their mid-tempo ambient electronics is made eerier with distorted and reverberated vocals, a welcomed harsh element to their hypnotic sound. I couldn’t recall specific tracks, mainly because I was focused on the visuals, but video elements indicate material from “HAARP” (“Angels don’t Play this HA(A)RP”, in specific), and the recently released KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation. The grittier, Industrial material very much sounds like Teddybear, potentially “Electrical Nerve Gas”. This was one of the better sounding Galerie Schallschutz performances, but I would have liked to have seen some of their more theatrical actions from past shows.
There’s always been a number of shared aesthetic elements between the grittier variants of Black Metal and Death Industrial, as we see with Deathstench. Whenever you attend a concert showcasing either genre, you could see the cross pollination in the crowd. The common disregard for polished production, use of feedback as an instrument, and nihilistic or adversarial themes have led to a few cross-over artists, mostly notably being early Cold Meat Industry veterans MZ. 412, all the way up to the more recent Gnaw their Tongues. It’s also worth noting that Relapse Records recognized something similar in the Death/Grindcore Metal and Power Electronics genres via their Release Entertainment sublabel. While there’s always been a fair number of success in the Grindcore/Power Electronics mix, in the early years I was disappointed with how few of the Black Metal/Industrial acts bring anything worthwhile to the table, with the successful ones taking a more drone/ambient approach. For the most part, you were left with a hodgepodge of stereotypical caricatures of each genre (sorry, Mysticum), which I believe was a byproduct of a misguided yearning to remain elite or true to a hardcore base. This has changed over the past few years, I’ve noticed, with bands such as Gnaw their Tongues gaining much acclaim and Sunn O))) hitting critical mass.
While initially unfamiliar with Mind & Flesh, I immediately took notice of the Force Majeure label imprint (division of the legendary Nuit et Brouillard). It has been about 10 years since I heard anything from them, the last of which was the self-titled Maison Close CD. The only other projects on Force Majeure included Grunt and Slogun, so Mind & Flesh would be in good company. I also noticed that one track, “Purgatorium”, credits Atrax Morgue (the late great Marco Corbelli). After obtaining some promotional info, I realized that the man behind Mind & Flesh is Anders B., formally of the project Babyflesh, which had their debut album released on Corbelli’s Slaughter Productions. All the while I’m listening to this album, piecing together the puzzle of who this guy is, and realizing I’ve stumbled upon one of the most overlooked releases of 2012. Martyr Generation is an amalgam of old school Industrial cadence and cold Nordic ambience, creating a unique flavor of Death Industrial.