Akwalek - "Teder Verdorven"
A very short four song release from Xtraplex Records, where only one of the tracks exceeds 3 minutes in length. This release is a mashup of churning, analog-ish ambient soundscapes & fx, IDM, and breakcore. The first track is a pretty interesting complex, futuristic, ambient piece, somewhat similar to Richard Devine's Aleamapper, which fires up into face-paced breakcore towards the end. The second track is similar, but almost exclusively ambient. The third track is straight up high tempo IDM/breakcore with glitchy beats and pleasant melodic elements. This track is definitely recommended for fans of Lucidstatic or Human Error. The final track is all over the place; it's a chaotic blend of futuristic atmospheric sounds, bizarre chunks of percussive shrapnel, distorted hits, pads buried in there somewhere, and melodic synths. This one is too fast for me, but honestly all the elements sound pretty good. Toward the halfway point, once a steady beat is introduced, this kind of reminds me of Tarmvred. Overall a short but interesting collection of music. I really like the ambient stuff Akwalek does and it would be great to see him put out some stuff with less percussion and/or at slower tempos. The percussive parts are really good, though a little too upbeat for me personally. Either way, definitely something worth checking out for fans of Tarmvred, Somatic Responses, Lucidstatic, etc.
X.A.O.S - "Psychomachy"
After a number of years, canadian industrial artist X.A.O.S has released his second album. Firstly, I want to say that the packaging on this release is quite neat - the jewel case in wrapped in butcher paper (which contains all the lyrics on the inside), sealed with a sticker, and tied. The music itself is very industrial, as in when industrial was still industrial. Honestly this sound is kind of dated - it carries a rather distinct early 90s vibe, but I doubt that would be a serious complaint to any fan of the genre. The tracks are generally heavy, distorted, abrasive, and they lean toward the "experimental" side of the spectrum. Definitely hints of Skinny Puppy, FLA, Coil, and so forth. The weird, contorted, and highly effected vocals will immediately bring to mind early SP. There is a lot of variety on this record and each track has it's own distinct sound. "A Higher Purpose" and "Walking Dead" are 90s experimental electro-industrial; "Now Is The Time" is more of an old school industrial dance track; "Utopiate" is a mechanical, tribal piece; towards the end "Hyperthesis" is heavy, experimental noise/brap/chaos; and the album closes with "I Am Not" which is a subdued, ambient/soundtrack-y, ritual-y song. My biggest complaint with the record is that it was mastered way too loud and is super limited/compressed to the point of being fatiguing and sapping all the dynamics. It would be so much better if this were not the case and there was more space in the mix - for example there is a nice interlude in "Walking Dead" where the loud shit drops out and there is just a dark Yelworc-y melody, basic beat and vocals and it sounds quite spacious and atmospheric. Overall, this is nothing terrible unique, but I'm quite sure that my friends who like old school experimental, artsy industrial (you know, actual industrial) would dig this. Glad to hear that someone continues to work in this style.