Dispatches from the Industrial-goth Resistance

Featuring : Pharaohs

International Feel continues to bring us the island jams.  Your particular physical or metaphorical island is entirely your choice of course.  But regardless of the location you place them, these musical capsules manage to contain entire ecosystems within their digital boundaries.  We have the Balearic jams of label boss Mark Barrott, so utterly drenched in a sense of place.  And today we have Pharoahs with a record partly inspired by a Hawaiian surf memoir but reaching into so many touchstones of 80s world music it’s dizzying.

Pharoahs –  Oelan Gunda

We begin with looping synth rhythms which are quickly supplements with what sounds like wood blocks.  Which could be the kicking off point for some deep house or an extended abstract jam.  Instead we kinda get both.  The Knife pulled a similar trick all over Silent Shout but their destination was darker and more towards the banging side of house. Here we’re more afrobeat and chill.

And that’s because we gravitate away from the synths and towards West African vibes.  Beautiful guitar loops over some call and response vocals that float atop strung out bass.  It’s a release from a more synthetic beginning that wasn’t exactly Industrial-goth to begin with.  Yet one of the song’s achievements is that this all still sounds so blissful in comparison.

Oelan Gunda is taken from Pharoahs’ mini-album, In Oeland.  Which is out on International Feel today.  You can get it right here (and at other good record shops).

“What year is it?”

Featuring : Byron Westbrook

We’ve lost count of what year of the synth revival we’re now on.  Which is appropriate.  It was timeless music then and it’s timeless music now.  Which for something indelibly linked with technology is a somewhat ironic.  It’s not like it didn’t leave traces on pop-consciouness.  From The Who jacking Terry Riley to basically all of Synth-pop, abstract electronic music has had plenty of opportunities to anchor itself to a period and be dragged down to the depths with it.

But wherever it resides, it’s certainly not the depths.

Perhaps this is so eternal because it removes the mushy, ageing component of human interaction.  We’re left instead with something so perfectly modern, a human expression divorced from some authenticating physical effort.

Byron Westbrook’s Dance in Free Fall is exhilarating, honestly titled and utterly, utterly human.  It manages to pull off the wonderful feeling of moving at different speeds, tempos overlapping and occasionally meshing; a sense of vertiginous speed and geological time.

Byron Westbrook – Dance in Free Fall

It begins with what initially sounds like a surf guitar solo via dial-up modem.  It’s an exuberant, joyful expression, a headlong rush into a world of infinite points of light.  Next comes the bass: stately; an expression of scale; a world for the light to inhabit.  Together they manage to create something at both chaotic and utterly precise, that contradiction phasing in and out over the length of the song.  Ultimately, crafting the most accurately named song I can think of.  Indeed I’m questioning whether to delete this post and just post the title 72 times.

You can get this on the album Body Consonance which is out on October 13th.  You can pre-order it from Hands in the Dark, right here.

Angelic Mush pop

You’ll Never Get To Heaven’s Images is a soft shell we pick from the ground of the terminal beach, we suspect it was forged in the primeval chaos of some shoegaze storm but aeons of time and erosion have smoothed over all its textures, leaving us something that is lightness incarnate. Inside its spiral of sound we hear holographic echoes of our own romantic pasts, like a gentle, C-86 Solaris.

Formally, it is perfect, which would be good enough. But what takes it to the next level is its lack of retromania, self-aware 1980s goopy cheese or backward-looking escapism. It is nostalgic alright, but not for previous cultural episodes. It longs for days that only survive in faded away photos and the memories of those who were there. It would have been equally at home in Ariel Pink’s ectoplasmic radio-station, in an early September 20JFG reverie, or in the informational overload of some Bladerunner agora.

This makes it timeless, and it makes us happy.

You’ll Never Get to Heaven – Images

Get it on digital format from their bandcamp and in vinyl from Yellow K Records.

Liminal House

At 20JFG we construct elaborate worlds in order to better describe the sounds we hear.  But every now and again we hear something that does such an exceptional job on its own that our words should really be as minimal as possible.

So here goes.

The Underground Sound of Rome’s 1991 release, Secret Doctrine, is a House record.  It is also a weird and laid back mutant Bosa Nova record.  It’s also kinda’ Balearic (that’s probably the water and bird sounds that open it).  Oh and there’s some digital pan pipes to begin with so throw New Age into the mix too.

We really begin with Jamie Principal-y synth washes though.  Before moving onto a blissfully simple melody that could only survive in Southern European climes at the height of summer.  The whole thing is achingly evocative of some liminal space between the more freeform, New Age elements of Disco and  the harder approach to House that would come to dominate.  A space between worlds where bodies pulse, rather than pound, to the drums.

The True Underground Sounds of Rome – Secret Doctrine

This was re-released last year in a run of 475 copies and is now very much out of print.  Sadly.  Although new copies are still floating about for non-silly prices.

I found out about this from the excellent compilation La Torre Ibiza Vol.2 (partly curated by friend-of-the-blog Mark Barrott).  I came across that while looking for 80s Japanese Dreampop records.  Because genre is weird.

Memoirs of Hadrian (Arthur Baker’s Extended Edit)

Featuring : Youndewan

Youandewan’s exceptional There is No Right Time is another of those albums that passed us by when it came out last year.  No matter. You already know that time and space dissolve in 20JFG, removing the noise of the now and clearing our vision, allowing us to see eternal, beautiful patterns that recur over the ages and their artefacts.

In Youndewan’s enlightened, pluralistic house, we detect subtle hints of Gatto Fritto’s exquisite psyche-balearica, blasts of Jan Hammer primary chroma projected over the stark walls of a dead-tech condo, Isolée’s formal perfection doing naughty bumps in the periphery of a Costa del Sol chiringuito.

It induces in us these and many other Clarendon-filtered flashbacks of a hedonistic Med-tour of duty we were  too geeky to join, but with subtle shifts in the emotional gradient. The base animalism at the heart of such capers is replaced with the purity of an epic, philosophical quest for self-knowledge and illumination that can be found in the dance of light, colours, smells and feelings of dawn at a secret hellenic beach, last July or a July two millennia ago.

Some scenes never change and this is one, Youndewan’s classicist bangers live inside it.

Youndewan – Be Good To Me Poly

Get Youndewan’s There Is No Right Time from his bandcamp.

4AM Internal

Featuring : Songs for Gods

Today we bring you excellent dance music from (relatively) new label Potions Music NYC.  They’ve put out a split featuring previous 20JFG postees Chandeliers and the subject of today’s post, Songs for Gods.

Boss has that synth + mournful vocal + techy funk thing that Jessy Lanza absolutely fucking nailed on last year’s Oh No.  Which is, of course, a great thing.  Although here we’re more ghettotech than Shangaan.

This is empty streets in light industrial quarters at 4am dance music (probably our favourite kind).  Super minimal production with occasional stratospheric midnight-synth washes.  Not to mention Emma Yohanan’s lightly reverb’d internal rebuke to an unheard lover.

Songs for Gods – BOSS

You can get a digital copy from Bandcamp right here.  It was also released on 7″ but that’s getting the inflationary Discogs pricing treatment right now.

Dance Before the Fire and Fury

Featuring : Assell

As the world tries to reboot the show Nuclear Armageddon (which we hoped had been put on hiatus in the early 90s) we can’t help but search out some sort of anaesthetising soundtrack. Yet where once we found glorious escape in the brutal — a voyeur to imaginary catastrophe — now it feels like prepping.

The DIY dance music we’ve posted over the years has always had an uncanny quality. As if the hedonism is half remembered. The drums feel generations old and there’s scant attention paid to the more commercial and functional elements that help reinforce the genre’s endless categorisation. This, so often, feels like music from the rubble, music for survivors.

So our approach Assell’s new record on Where To Now? is markedly different to our days of only imagining the end of the world. Which is perhaps unfair and yet, music has a way of picking up on the future. Not with tangible predictions (we’ll leave that to Sci-fi and, ok, Neil Young) but with feeling. Whether it knows it or not Assell’s, brutal, Barbecue Stains is being released into this dark timeline we’re living. I think it knows.

Beginning with a scraped hissing sample and drums like distant flak cannons is a strong start. And that unnerving combo is quickly joined by drums and drums and drums. Drums from Techno, drums from 2-Step, drums crashing into each other. Unstable, like two rooms from two clubs being layered on top of each other. Forced to merge, fused into a new shape. The tortured vocal sample, completely unintelligible, only adds to the feeling that we’ve slipped into a world at a right angle to this one and can’t come back.

Assell – Barbecue Stains

Barbecue Stains is taken from the album This Will Not Stand, which is out today on Where To Now?. You can get it right here.