Saturday, February 29, 2020

Skinflint - "Iklwa" [2010]

Artist: Skinflint
Title: Iklwa
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Botswana
Release date: 2010

Track List:
  1. Intro
  2. Iron Pierced King
  3. Mbube the Great
  4. Burning the Soul with Diesel
  5. Iklwa
  6. The Fallen
  7. Profit Making Funeral
  8. When You Die, You Die!
  9. Army of the Dead (Bonus)
  10. Gauna (Live)
Botswana is a relatively developed and stable country (by African measures, that is) bordering South Africa, known for its significant metal scene (probably the biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa after SAR, even if it isn't saying much since most SSA countries don't have any metal bands at all) with a pecular love for cowboy stage outfits. The first rock bands appeared in Botswana during the 70s, and the first Botswanian metal band most likely was Metal Orizon, formed in 1990. I personally found out about metal scene in Botswana in late 2000s after stumbling upon a death metal band from there (if memory serves, it was Crackdust), but it was hard to find any further information about such an obscure scene back then.

Out of all metal bands from Botswana, Skinflint is one of the best known ones internationally, yet most of their albums are quite hard to find. So far I have listened only to their sophomore release "Iklwa", and judging from the reviews, it's not their best work, but it turned out to better than I expected. Essentially, it's somewhat repetitive heavy metal / hard rock with galloping riffs, clearly influenced by Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath yet having enough "African" flavour to it. The lyrics are most based on African mythology and were intended to be scary, but in the end turning out to be funny like a bad horror movie. All in all, I should agree with the critics that "Iklwa" would be a weak album if it was released by an European band in 2010, but considering the place of its release, it has the same appeal that poorly recorded yet honest classic metal albums from early 1980s. Get it here.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Krummholz - "Rooted in Despair" [2018]

Artist: Krummholz
Title: Rooted in Despair
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: Uganda / USA / Ghana
Release date: 2018

Track List:
  1. A Morning in the Autumn Forest
  2. To Father Worlds in the Bones of Ancient Solitude
This one would be a fairly typical nature-inspired black metal EP, if not for the fact that it was recorded by an international projects whose members come from the US, Ghana (or according to other sources, Kenya) and Uganda of all places. The EP consists of an ambient/new age intro with nature sounds, and one long atmospheric/post-black metal track  While I didn't notice anything particularly "African" about its sound, it's quite good for a debut release and makes me insterested in what Krummholz may put out in the future.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Don Zilla - "From the Cave to the World" [2019]

Artist: Don Zilla
Title: From the Cave to the World
Genre: Techno, Dark Ambient
Country: Uganda
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. From the Cave
  2. Inside Me
Another interesting release from Hakuna Kulala - the debut 2-track EP by an Ugandan producer known as Don Zilla. The first track is techno/D&B, while the second, longer one is much closer to dark ambient:
"Following up his remixes of STILL’s ‘I’ album cuts in 2018, Don Zilla bares his teef in both parts of ‘From The Cave to the World’, first churning up a viscous groove full of shadow-boxing drums and gutter bass distortion on the cusp of dubstep rave and halfstep D&B with ‘From The Cave’, before opening up a stargate like portal in his studio with 12 minutes of plunging beatless depth and unheimlich terra forming in ‘Inside Me’, and in a way recalling early Emptyset or stare-out Prurient piece"

Slikback - "Tomo" [2019]

Artist: Slikback
Title: Tomo
Genre: Techno, Rhythmic Noise
Country: Kenya
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. Sonshitsu
  2. Gemini
  3. Kyokai
  4. Karum
  5. Zuhura
  6. Rage
Speaking of underground electronic music labels, one of my most interesting recent discoveries is Hakuna Kulala, coming from Uganda of all places. Yes, East Africa actually has a thriving electronic scene, and Hakuna Kulala is specialized in club explorations from the Kenyan, Ugandan and Congolese electronic underground and beyond. All (or nearly all) Hakuna Kulala releases have a distinctive cover art style of geometric patterns on black backgound.

"Tomo" is a 6-track EP by Slikback (real name: Freddy M Njau), an electronic producer from Nairobi, Kenya. Out of all releases on Hakuna Kulala, this one fits the spirit of my blog the most, becoming progressively more experimental towards the end, and even stepping on the territory of rhythmic noise in the last track:
"At the vanguard of a vital East African electronic music scene, Slikback combines local rhythmic heritage with sheer, abstract electronics in ways that utterly fascinate bodies on the ‘floor. Stepping ahead from his debut EP in 2018, he offers twice as much material and amps up the energy and noise in ’Tomo’, surely setting the benchmark for anything to follow in its wake in 2019.

Between the Nostrofmo-like atmosphere and mutant footwork-like percussive intensity of ‘SONSHITSU’, thru the dissonant dancehall swagger of ‘Gemini’ and the hyperhall push of ‘Kyokai’, to the polymetric fizz and parry of ‘Karuym’, and the pelting hardcore of ‘Zuhura’, Slikback’s music will leave nobody wanting on the ‘floor. But if you’re the insatiable type, then the inferno of his parting shot ‘Rage’, switching from full frontal rhythmic noise to industrial swagger and back, will polish you the fuck off"

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

V/A - "The Virus Has Been Spread / A D-Trash Records Tribute to Atari Teenage Riot" [2007]

Label: D-Trash Records
Title: The Virus Has Been Spread / A D-Trash Records Tribute to Atari Teenage Riot
Genre: Breakcore, Digital Hardcore
Release date: 2007

Track List:
  1. RABBIT JUNK - Start The Riot
  2. HOWARD ROARK - No Remorse (I Wanna Die)
  3. ZYMOTIC - Into The Death
  4. UNITUS - Death Star
  5. CTRLER - Deuthschland (Has Got To Die!)
  6. HANSEL - Ghostchase
  7. 64REVOLT - You Can't Hold Us Back
  8. noCore - U.S. Fade Out
  9. DHC MEINHOF - Revolution Action
  11. PHALLUS UBER ALLES - Heatwave
  12. EVESTUS - Delete Yourself
  13. HERCKLEKOT - Fuck All!
  14. CYANOTIC - Your Uniform (Does Not Impress Me)
  15. THE PHOERON - The Virus Has Been Spread
  16. SCHIZOID - The Future Of War

The amount of contributions to the digital hardcore scene by the Canadian label D-Trash Records can't be overestimated. They were releasing obscure breakcore, digital hardcore, noise, industrial, dark ambient, IDM and all other sorts of sci-fi/cyberpunk-themed underground electronic music since late 90s, and the best of all - all their releases are freely available online, and they were at least since the mid-2000s. It was very difficult for me to find such music back then, so their site was truly a blessing at the time.

Here's a tribute to the seminal band in the whole digital hardcore genre - Atari Teenage Riot - made by various D-Trash artists in 2007, keeping all the tracks as close to the spirit of original ones as possible. My personal highlighs are the rather unusual interpretation of "Death Star" (my favourite noise ballad of all times!) by Unitus, and the surprisingly danceable cover of "You Can't Hold Us Back" by 64Revolt. If you're not familiar with D-Trash Records yet, I hope this compilation will make you to explore the rest of their releases (and they have LOTS of great but little-known stuff for all lovers of extreme electronic music with a DIY spirit).

P.S. In a retrospective, it's quite ironic that I've posted a compilation named "The Virus Has Been Spread" right in the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic. Who would believe now that it was completely unintentional?..

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Alec Empire - "Futurist" [2004]

Artist: Alec Empire
Title: Futurist
Genre: Digital Hardcore
Country: Germany
Release date: 2004

Track List:
  1. Kiss Of Death
  2. Uproar
  3. Night Of Violence
  4. Vertigo
  5. Overdose
  6. Make Em Bleed
  7. Gotta Get Out
  8. Point Of No Return
  9. Hunt You Down
  10. In Disguise
  11. Terror Alert High
  12. XXV3
I think Alec Empire needs no introduction to anyone who knows what digital hardcore is, and I'm honestly not sure why I haven't posted anything related to Atari Teenage Riot on here yet. While ATR was the band that introduced me (and not only me) to digital hardcore, I'd rather post one of the finest solo works of Alec Empire, entitled "Futurist" ("For a man so certain that there isn't a future, he looks like one of its most confident architects" - from a review of Alec Empire's previous album "Intelligence & Sacrifice" in NME 2002). 

While "Futurist" is a logical sequel to "Intelligence & Sacrifice", it's probably more influenced by punk, metal and aggro-industrial than any other release in Alec Empire's discography (but not forgetting the electronics, of course!), and it's brutal and chaotic just like any other his work. There were even attempts to get this album on, although I personally don't think it counts as metal (and the moderators of MA most likely think so too). If anything, "Futurist" would be best described as "cyberpunk", if only it was a proper music genre.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Yunclas / Leila - "Voluntary Punishment ​/ ​Ziyara" [2019]

Artist: Yunclas / Leila
Title: Voluntary Punishment ​/ ​Ziyara
Genre: Ambient, Techno
Country: Spain / Brazil
Release date: 2019

Track List:
  1. Voluntary Punisment
  2. Ziyara
A few months ago I made a post about Pierre Noir, which is a very unorthodox "blackened techno" project linked to Yunclas, and here's another experimental project which is a collaboration between Yunclas (Asturias, Spain) and Leila (Brazil). This release is best described as ambient/techno with Arabic reminiscences (even if the cover art looks more suitable for a noise album), and reminds me of some releases by Cracked Core and other Muslimgauze-influenced electronic projects I've posted on here before.