We’re journeying to rainy old Manchester, England today, where a pair of brothers, Peter and Edward Simpson, are channeling early ’80s post-punk/darkwave/synth-rock gloom under the name Circuit Breaker. For fans of Suicide or any Joy Division song that isn’t “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” their stuff isn’t super-weird, but it does take some unexpected twists and turns, especially on “Worm 7,” an almost black-metal-like dirge from their most recent release, a five-song EP called TV12.
We were catching up over the weekend on some old shows by our friend Bepi Crespan, CiTR-FM Vancouver’s leading weird music deejay, and were immediately intrigued by the playful electronic soundscapes of Moebius Neumeier Engler, an improvised collaboration between pioneering German/Swiss electronic music composer Dieter Moebius, jazz/krautrock drummer Mani Neumeier and industrial rock icon Jürgen Engler of Die Krupps. Unfortunately, you can only hear snippets online of their brand-new album, Another Other Places, but its 1996 predecessor, Other Places, has a few tracks streaming on YouTube. Here’s one of the more ominous numbers, a mix of industrial stomp and swarm-of-bees synths called “Anabolica”:
For more on Moebius Neumeier Engler, visit their label site, Bureau B.
Did you know that Finland apparently has a huge gnome problem? Not that the gnomes are huge. The gnomes there are tiny, just like they are everywhere else. Finland has a huge problem with tiny gnomes, is what we’re saying. And don’t let those Travelocity commercials fool you. They’re evil little fuckers hellbent on the destruction of all we hold dear.
Fortunately, one band is spreading the truth about gnomes and working day and night to wipe these pointy-hatted little shitbeards off the face of the earth once and for all. They’re called Tonttu and they were the runner-up in our last Weird Band Poll. Why didn’t they win? Fuckin’ gnomes, man. They’re everywhere. They’re even skewing our poll results! Holy shit, that must mean they’re on the Internet now. We’ve got a huge hacker gnome problem. Not that the hacker gnomes are huge…wait, I explained this already, didn’t I?
Anyway, yeah, Tonttu. They’re led by a guy who calls himself the Tonttufindergeneral Hanz-Baal, with the help of another guy who calls himself Großinquisitor Rudolf Von Deer. They call their music “anti-gnomemartialindustrialneofolkmetal.” Most of it is basically just anti-gnome public service announcements delivered in Finnish over music that makes the Schindler’s List soundtrack sound like Katy Perry, although some of it also features maniacal laughter, which I guess is supposed to be what the gnomes sound like when they get together to talk about their plans to murder us all while we sleep. And one track kinda sounds like a Finnish Rammstein, which is pretty cool.
We don’t speak Finnish, but TFG Hanz was nice enough to give us some of the lyrics in English. Here’s a sample:
The most mythical leader of Gnomes, the lump of lard rising up to the sky, the drooling blasphemer Yog-Sothoth
Highest of High Gnomes, in his creepy disguise
The great deception of Christmas flying in the sky,
Dressed in white beard, red jacket
No one should be deceived by that fake beard anymore
Flying in the glow of Fireballs,
Flying from the depths of Mushroom clouds,
Flying in the shadow of deceit,
Taking instead of giving
So yeah, basically, the gnomes are up to some serious Lovecraft shit. We’ve all been deceived. We are victims of a vast gnome conspiracy. Trust no one. Even David fuckin’ Bowie is in on it.
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure your best defense against gnomes is to download one or more of Tonttu’s anti-gnome albums and play them on full blast 24/7. You can buy their two albums, Nekrognomekon and Anti-Gnomen Divisionen 4 (Mastering the fine art of gnome eradication), here and here. Or, if you want start eradicating gnomes for the low price of FREE, email us at email@example.com. The first five people to do so will get free download codes from Anti-Gnomen Divisionen 4. That’s how much Tonttu want to protect you from the gnome menace.
We’ll leave you “Pääruoka,” which features that maniacal gnome laughter we mentioned earlier. Sweet dreams! Hope you don’t have one of those stupid little gnome night-lights. You may as well hang a sign on your bedroom door that says, “Kill me now with your tiny, tiny knives and feed me to your tiny, tiny reindeer.”
Many readers, most recently a fellow named Timmey, have tried to turn us on to the German band Knorkator over the years. They’re a satirical rock band and, unfortunately, a lot of their humor gets lost in translation. But their industrial/Neue Deutsche Härte parody “Buchstabe” works in any language, I think, and is a fun way to start the work week. It’s like Yo Gabba Gabba! meets Rammstein.
We’re starting off the week with a flashback to 1984. While I was listening to The Cars and trying to grow my hair into a New Wave mullet, an experimental British musician who recorded under the name Fad Gadget was working on his latest album Gag in Berlin, continuing his attempts to combine pop and New Wave with industrial music. This time around, he was able to enlist some pretty cool collaborators: German industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten. He was so appreciative of their contributions to one track that he named the song “Collapsing New People,” a nod to the English translation of their name, “Collapsing New Buildings.”
According to Dangerous Minds, this video is from a performance of “Collapsing New People” on a show called TV Playback in 1984. Fad Gadget was famous for dramatic, self-abusive stage antics like ripping out his own pubic hairs and tossing them into the audience. Since this was television, I guess he decided to settle for getting tarred and feathered instead.
The world was a different place back in 2006, the last time Slovenia’s Laibach released a new studio album. The iPhone didn’t exist yet, most folks still had MySpace accounts, and Barack Obama was still just some senator from Illinois with a funny name. Into that more innocent era, Laibach unleashed a mindfuck of a record called Volk, which featured grimly Laibach-ian reinventions of national anthems from American, England, China and other global superpowers. For a band that could make even “The Final Countdown” sound like nationalist propaganda to record actual nationalist propaganda was unnerving, to say the least.
Now Laibach’s back with what sounds like another politically charged record: Spectre, an album of original songs about everything from Edward Snowden and Julian Assange (“The Whistleblowers”) to the Arab Spring (“Koran”). It also contains a song, “No History,” that includes “a mini-‘manifesto’ about the album itself, its sonic expression, and the position of the group in relation to its own history,” according to a press release. So for anyone who’s still not sure whether Laibach is actually a bunch of fascists, or just pretending to a be a bunch of fascists, or appropriating fascist iconography to deliver an anti-fascist message…well, you’ll all probably go on arguing about it, anyway.
Spectre will arrive March 3rd in several different packages, including one that includes a 32-page “Party Book” outlining Laibach’s plans to “form an international Party in order to create a possibility for an organised and synchronised international movement, helping to change the world.” You know, typical fan club stuff. The book and CD and/or vinyl also comes with a Spectre logo sticker bearing the slogan, “Fight for Your Right to Party for Your Right to Fight.” We can only hope this means that a Laibach Beastie Boys cover is not far behind.
Speaking of covers…Spectre includes at least two, available only on the CD version of the album. One is Laibach’s take on “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” a blues standard by Blind Lemon Jefferson. The other is their whips-and-chains rendition of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Love On the Beat,” which we include here (in a bootlegged live version) for your listening pleasure. Industrial is so sexy.
Oh and did we mention tour dates? Of course there are tour dates. Check ’em out after the clip.
The Spectre of Laibach European Tour:
Mar 06, 2014 CH Luzern – Schüür
Mar 07, 2014 DE Weinheim – Cafe Central
Mar 08, 2014 FR Paris – Trabendo
Mar 10, 2014 BE Leuven – Het Depot
Mar 12, 2014 UK London – Koko
Mar 13, 2014 NL Amsterdam – Melkweg
Mar 14, 2014 DE Köln – Stollwerck
Mar 15, 2014 DE Schorndorf – Manufaktur
Mar 16, 2014 DE München – Technikum
Mar 22, 2014 CN Hong Kong – The Vine
Apr 02, 2014 IT Rome – Orion Club
Apr 03, 2014 IT Trezzo (Milan) – Live Club
Apr 04, 2014 DE Frankfurt am Main – Mousonturm
Apr 05, 2014 DE Dresden -Reithalle
Apr 07, 2014 DE Berlin – Volksbühne
Apr 08, 2014 DE Hamburg- Uebel & Gefährlich
Apr 10, 2014 SE Malmö – Babel
Apr 11, 2014 DE Rostock – Zwischenbau
Apr 12, 2014 PL Poznan – C.K. Zamek
Apr 13, 2014 PL Gdansk – B90
Apr 15, 2014 AT Wien – Arena
Apr 16, 2014 HU Budapest – A38
Apr 17, 2014 CZ Olomouc – Šantovka
Apr 18, 2014 CZ Praha – Archa Theatre
May 09, 2014 HR Zagreb – Tvornica kulture
May 16, 2014 SI Ljubljana – Križanke
In our dystopian future, when the machines take over and we humans are forced to live in abandoned subway tunnels, our new cyborg overlords are gonna have massive raves in ruined sports arenas, where they’ll blast Author & Punisher out of speaker stacks mounted atop piles of human skulls. This is ambient/industrial drone metal for Terminators, played on machines that appear to be just a few microchips away from bidding us “Hasta la vista, baby” and cranking the bass up till our internal organs turn to jelly.
Under his Author & Punisher nom de drone, Tristan Shone records and performs music made entirely on homemade instruments that look like a steampunk fusion of exercise equipment and a B-movie mad scientist’s lab. Percussion emanates from a massive side-mounted piston made of cranks and tank treads; vocals echo forth from gas masks and lunatic asylum neck restraints. Even an otherwise traditional set of keyboards gets mounted to a Tim Burtonesque set of pipes and levers that Shone maneuvers into place with the grim yet frantic determination of an axe murderer trying to drag a body down the basement stairs. It’s sort of like watching the Willy Wonka of industrial music; every song reveals a new mind-boggling toy, an Everlasting Gobstopper of skin-crawling noise and organ-liquefying bass.
At first it all seems a bit gimmicky, but there’s a raw, visceral quality to Shone’s music that transcends the machinery. He’s especially compelling at coming up with cool new ways to manipulate his voice. At one point, he appeared to be just throwing his head back and making angry faces while twisting the knobs of a handheld device that emitted a series of guttural roars; then it became clear that the device was attached to some kind of microphone or vibration sensor strapped to his throat, and those guttural roars were coming from him. At the end of the song, he thanked the whooping crowd, except it came out sounding more like a caveman grunt: “Hhhunku.” High-tech machinery aside, the components of Shone’s music are primitive: grinding drones, pounding beats, an anguished human voice.
We saw Author & Punisher this past Sunday night at the Echoplex here in Los Angeles. To see the rest of his January tour dates, click here.