INTERVIEW: Bone White Glory – Michael Cashmore of Nature and Organisation

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.

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INTERVIEW: Architects of the Abyss – Sutekh Hexen

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.

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ARTICLE: Death in June – Death of the West MkII Tour LA Live Report

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.

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INTERVIEW: Infernal Affairs with Henrik Nordvargr Björkk of Mz.412

One of the significant crystallizing moments in my teenage life was the first time I encountered the work of Mz.412. It was the Summer of 1998 when I was regularly tuning into the local college radio stations in the NYC area searching for local metal programs. One night I picked up a program airing nothing but bizarre ambient music, with layers of ritualistic drums and obscure samples. I quickly grabbed a cassette tape and recorded the whole program. Unfortunately the host couldn’t be bothered to name the artists and tracks he played, only mentioning that his selections came from a Swedish record label called “Cold Meat Industry”. For the next few weeks, I would play the tape over and over, enthralled by these occult sounds. During one of my aimless travels around the Greenwich Village, I stumbled upon Bleecker Bob’s Records, a place that I had heard much about from fellow metalheads but couldn’t pinpoint. It was in here where I played my tape and was handed a copy of Descent Magazine, Volume III. The editor was journalist and up-and-coming musician Stephen F. O’Malley. Knowing my familiarity with metal, I was told to read the interview with this band called Mz.412, then and there, while the clerk pulled out a record featuring a brightly burning church titled Burning the Temple of God. As “Deklaration of Holy War” played throughout the shop something in me lit up. This is what I’d been looking for, not just musically, but aesthetically and metaphysically. It was from there on out that I devoured everything I could from Mz.412, Cold Meat Industry, and the Post-Industrial genre in general. Over the next two decades this music and art has held an important role in my life and inspired me to contribute through my own endeavors. So it is with a sense of respect and honor that I present this interview with Henrik Nordvargr Björkk, the mastermind behind Mz.412.

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ARTICLE: Tesco 25th Anniversary Festival Live Action Report — Day II

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.

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REVIEW: Deathstench – Massed in Black Shadow

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.

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REVIEW: Mind & Flesh – Martyr Generation

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.

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ARTICLE: Tesco 25th Anniversary Festival Live Action Report — Day I

Established in 1987 by Wilhelm Herich and Doc M. Riot of Genocide Organ, Tesco Organisation has become synonymous with Post-Industrial music and an embodiment of Industrial culture. While the over 85 releases throughout the years vary in form and presentation, from the brutal German Industrial/Power Electronics of Genocide Organ, to the hypnotic ambience of Galerie Schallschutz, and the pagan ritual sounds of Apoptose, the one common element is a commitment to integrity and the spirit of Industrial. Based out of Mannheim, Germany,  Tesco Organisation expanded label operations with their archival Functional division (dedicated to reissuing out of print classics), an international Tesco Distribution network, and an American division in Tesco USA/North American Tesco Organisation (NATO, of which I was accompanied by for this event).

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REVIEW: Brighter Death Now – Very Little Fun

What is it about self-destruction that draws a crowd? While standing in the audience at a 2011 Brighter Death Now concert in Germany, I picked up a sense of schadenfreude in the air. On stage was Roger Karmanik, obviously in an intoxicated state, laughing to himself while producing his signature haunting drones and harsh electronics. For a moment I caught his eye. There was something in his stare that unnerved me. I’ve seen this look before. Over the years I’ve worked with a number of individuals who have struggled through depression, through self-destruction. Some survived, others did not. Here was a man on the brink. Who else in the crowd could recognize it? Some are cheering him on, others nod sullenly in accordance.

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REVIEW: Treha Sektori – Endessiah + Sorieh

Endessiah comes three years after Treha Sektori was unveiled through its debut full-length Sorieh – a mind-blowing sound experiment, which brought me on the verge of schizophrenia with its fragmented, chaotic and eclectic approach to sound. The second conceptual entity which Dehn Sora (also in Sembler Deah, Church of Ra) created is far more accomplished, thorough and accessible. Endessiah means letting go of everything, conceptually the record represents a mindset in a decline of the physical world and this is exactly how it sounds. The symbiosis between the ideas and their realization music-wise is clear and logical, which makes the record far easier to swallow than Sorieh, but sufficiently deep, if let to completely unfold in your mind.

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