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Ant-Zen

Trepaneringsritualen / Distel ‎– A Knife In Sound (12″ 2018)

I have shaped vinyl, even a square, flexible one, but I do not believe I ever saw vinyl which has the music on the outside and the shape on the inside. As you can see on the image that I got from Discogs, there is no material surrounding the arrows. A nice little joke.

Distel usually ends his shows with a Coil cover, but I must say that I am not sure if that is the track that he put on this Coil inspired split 12″. Distel took a stab at “Solar Lodge” and Trepaneringsritualen (on side A by the way) at “A Cold Cell”.

Both tracks are alright, but in my opinion not the best material of either project. The Distel track is ‘wild’ within his discography, the TxRxP track is fairly tranquil within his.

Links: Trepaneringsritualen, Distel, Ant-Zen, Raubbau

Michael Idehall ‎– Prophecies Of The Storm (2018)

When I reviewed “Machine Spirit Transmission” earlier this month, I said that an album on Ant-Zen was forthcoming. Well, here it is! That other album has Idehall’s wonderful dark ritualistic style, but also the more soundscapish side of the project that is not entirely my thing. “Prophecies Of The Storm” opens somewhat uncommon, a bit IDM-ish. That is not too strange though, since Idehall used to make IDM-like music and elements of this style can be found in his music every now and then. The opening track goes over in a more recognisable approach, but not too typical and pretty damn good. The second track is even greater. It is again a developed Idehall track with the known elements of Michael’s voice, a defining rhythm and repetition, but the details on the background and the noisy tones in this track make it another great one.

“Prophecies Of The Storm” contains but small surprises. It is a logical development of Idehall’s style that I like most. The repetitive lyrics are there, the simple yet effective rhythms, together giving a ritualistic feel to the relatively soft industrial. Even though I find Idehall’s music quite unique, my girlfriend asked if I was playing Coph Nia. The link is not too weird. Both projects come from Sweden and have an occultist / ritualistic approach to industrial music. Coph Nia mostly leans towards the dark ambient side (but with industrial elements) and Idehall to a more rhythmical approach with ambient elements (and soundscapes in ‘the other style’), but both projects have clearly different sounds.

The newest album is not as dark in sound as the opening tracks of “Machine Spirit Transmissions”, but perhaps it is fairer to say that “Prophecies Of The Storm” sounds dark in another way. It is another great album and this time there are no tracks in the style that I like less. So, if you like albums suc as “Deep Code”, “Sol” and (to a slightly lesser extend) “Solar Symmetries”, you will not go bad with Idehall’s latest.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen

Michael Idehall * Solar Symmetries (2016)

This album showed up in my Deezer “hear this”. It appeared to be a remix album and now I see that there is no physical version of this release. That is not too bad, because even though “Solar Symmetries” is nice, it is not a ‘must-buy’.

Remixes by known and new (to me) projects, a couple of doubles in chosen tracks and usually the remixes come nowhere near the original versions, a few exceptions notwithstanding, the tracks of Hadewych and Alvar.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen

Thorofon * Roots (cd 2016)

Celebrating their 20th aniverary Thorofon reworked some old material. However I thought I was quite familiar with this German industrial project, I do not recognise a whole lot of tracks.

As you can expect the sound on “Roots” is a bit more old-style, more industrial than the recent ‘industrial disco’ type of releases. Recent releases do seem to have more extremities between harsch industrial and more ‘disco’ tracks than “Roots” though. This new album is fairly consistantly industrial, but in the Thorofon style of course.

A nice release from Ant-Zen.

Links: Thorofon, Ant-Zen

Michael Idehall * No Man’s Land (cd 2016)

A new Idehall. Would it be a ritualistic soundscape or more in the vein of “Sol” and “Deep Code”? Since it is released by Ant-Zen (in collaboration with Beläten), who also released the two named releases together on one disc, I had hopes for the latter. This is not entirely true though.

“No Man’s Land” in one way holds the middle between the soundscape style and the other style of Idehall, but it actually presents something new as well, a development of style, because the music is still recognisable as coming from Michael Idehall. The sound is still ritualistic and somewhat dark, but it got more of a dirty, industrial touch with squaks, noises and rhythm. Sometimes the music is downright noisy. This new sound is good too.

The album opens with a ‘noisescape’ type of track, but the second track “Yoni” has more of the “Sol”/”Deep Code” style with Idehall’s mantra-like singing and a repetative rhythm. What follows next sounds a bit like a very dark IDM track with an odd rhythm, a very interesting track. The title track is a bit like the previous, again relatively tranquil. Then follows a bit of a dark space ambient track with a ‘spacey rhythm’ and ‘spacey sounds’. The next track is actually called “Deep Code” and is again a somewhat softer track with echoing voices and a bit of a spacey ambient sound. Next up is the highlight of the album. “Nightmare” is a brilliant industrial and noisey track with a bit more tempo and distorted vocals. The next tracks are mostly industrial ambient type of tracks with the Idehall-style ritualistic darkness. There are two more rhythmical tracks. Compared to the first half, the second seems a bit less dark.

I think this album may appeal to people who like ritualistic dark ambient with an industrial and noisy edge, perhaps it is not unfair to drop the name of Coph Nia who also uses a ritualistic and magical dark ambient style, but the result is different from Idehall though and Coph Nia rarely gets as dirty as Idehall on this album. When you like Idehall’s previous releases, you should certainly listen to this new one. Be warned that it is a little different though. Personally I still prefer “Deep Code”, but I also enjoy this new album quite a bit. It has a couple of great tracks and a bunch of good ones.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen, Beläten

Distel * Zand (cd 2015)

The new Distel is “a compilation of rarities and remixes”. “Zand” (‘sand’) includes the both tracks of the 7″ Mrok/Regn, but in alternative versions, a cover of Suicide and 6 remixes that Distel made for other projects.

What you get is the ‘old style’ Distel, more recently sounding tunes and new sounds. I particularly like the old angstpop sound of the beginning of “Nothing To Mend”, but Distel’s slow and dark dance music in general belongs my preferred sound.

There are a few tracks with female vocals (from the original tracks). Peter’s own vocals are only far on the background of one track. That is a bit of a difference with earlier releases that have the highly distorted vocals. Inspite a large part of the album consisting of remixes, the sound is very much Distel (he really turned other people’s music into his own). So if you (like me) like this Dutch project, “Zand” will not let you down.

Links: Distel, Ant-Zen

Michael Idehall ‎* Deep Code Sol (cd 2015)

All material has been reviewed before, but this of Idehall is so good that I want to bring it under your attention again now that Ant-Zen put both Beläten tapes on one very nicely packaged cd.

The “Sol” tape has been rereleased before with two extra tracks. These are (unfortunately) not included on this Ant-Zen release. The cd starts with the 2014 tape “Deep Code” and then follows the 2012 tape “Sol”. Idehall also makes ritualistic soundscapes which are too minimalistic for my taste, but the music he recorded for Beläten is about the best music I have heard in quite a while. The sound is somewhere between the “angstpop” sound of other Beläten releases and more ritualistic music. Idehall uses his voice a lot, making an impression like that of the earlier material of Coph Nia; dark, chanting, haunting: brilliant!

Should you have missed the Beläten tapes, the Bandcamp versions or the “Sol” rerelease on cd, make sure to get this beautiful version of Ant-Zen.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen

Control * Transgression (cd 2013)

In a couple of weeks I am finally going to see Thorofon live. Thorofon is not the main project of the show I am going to though, Control is. I did not really know Control. The name did not really ring a bell and it is hardly distinctive enough to look for music. When I noticed that Ant-Zen releases material of this American power electronics project, I had found out that it is a pretty brutal noise act. “Transgression” starts with a pretty dark piece of electronics, “noisescapes” so to say. There are more of these ‘resting points’ on the album, which is for the better, because when Thomas Garrison lets go, he makes an extremely brutal heap of noise with extraordinary harsch and distorted vocals. The more ambient tracks are good and moody, the brutal parts are a bit too unstructured for me, but also moody in a way sometimes (but I know better ‘wall of sound’ types of noise).
I wonder what Control is like, bearable or ear-cracking. I will know in a few weeks time.
Links: Control, Ant-Zen

Näo * Näo (cd 2011)

I might have never heard of Näo had they not played at this year’s Summer Darkness festival. Not that I saw them, but when I was checking the schedule to see what I missed, the Soundcloud tracks of this project sounded interesting enough to get myself the whole second album. This album certainly is interesting! It sounds like almost nothing I know, perhaps the closest comparison would be Hadewych. Näo makes ambient music with a lot of IDM influences, strange beat-experimentations and after a while things go over in something that I think is best described as psychedelic rock, sometimes soft and 70’ies, often closer to drone doom metal or something, always instrumental by the way. Carefully built up tracks with tons of ideas and a unique sound. Not my usual kind of music (but what is usual with the ever growing width of my musical taste?) and perhaps not (always) sublime, but certainly very refreshing and interesting. I need to play me that Hadewych album again some time soon too!
Links: Näo, Ant-Zen

Thorofon * Targets (12″ 2012)

The new Thorofon is certainly a new step is the development of their sound, but unfortunately I do not like it as before. Still “Targets” is an interesting album, with extremities to both sides. There are almost synthpop tracks, but also brutal noisy industrial. Most tracks are nice, but not as good as most tracks on the last cd. One side has four tracks, side B two. Two of the A side tracks are light, the others darker. The B-side tracks are more varried, but not very extreme. The lp comes in a poster and with a card to download the tracks for the poor bastards who no longer have a record player. Better than much that comes out, but no rising curve in the projects discography.
Links: Thorofon, Ant-Zen