Snuttock: An introduction of Rituals

Photograph by Laurie A Smith

Allow us to introduce you to Snuttock, a band from Baltimore in Maryland consisting of Bryan Lee, a classically trained musician, and Christopher Lee Simmonds, the latter also a founding member of Michigan progressive metallers Thought Industry. There the background to the pair and Snuttock ends though the fun and real discovery of the electro outfit is through their music. Some might pin it down as synth pop and certainly that is its breeding but with sonic and emotion cast shadows, a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures, and more twists and curves than a descending slinky, it makes for a proposition which never leaves ears and imagination lost for adventure.

Formed in 2003, Snuttock released debut album Straight Jacket Life two years later. It was the first insight to the pair’s blossoming fusion of industrial rapacity with the instinctive allure of synth pop; a blend shaping Carved and Sutured in 2008 and its collection of new tracks and dance-floor friendly remixes. Where we come in and cast a glimpse into, thanks to Lee and Simmonds themselves, is with the band’s last two releases, Endless Rituals and Rituals Redux. The first is in a way the duo’s proper second album, though it seems to be classed as the third, and was released in 2013. Its successor came out last year and sees a host of artists presenting remixes of its predecessor’s tracks, the album acting like a companion piece to the originals bringing new sides and personas to their already captivating characters.

What Endless Rituals quickly establishes is the diversity across the sound and creative enterprise of Lee and Simmonds; songs ranging from simply synth pop to industrial, dark electro, ambient and much more.  As expectations and assumptions of what comes next arise they are quickly shot down and left floundering as song by song the release persistently presents a new facet to its swiftly captivating presence. For all its twists and new sides though, there is a coherency to it all which links it all as something truly individual to Snuttock.

From opener Attention, intrigue is an eager response, the opening shadows of the track rich in suggestion and invitation before the track breaks into a vibrant stroll. That vibrancy is soon a flood across hungrily catchy endeavour, grabbing body and ears with zeal and infectious energy. There is a feel of early Mute Records bands to the song, The Normal coming to mind most and the laying down of the first compelling moment in the album’s landscape.

The dark wave scented, robotically natured Single Cell Antenna is the first twist in the emprise of sound within the album, its dance dexterity and pop glow managing to also cast a dystopian shadow over the affair. New turns flow through ears from thereon in, the emotional reflection and melancholic sharing of the Depeche Mode like People Too, the reserved but open funk of We Learn with its BEF air, and the dark ambience of Nameless straight away expanding the broad terrains honed by Snuttock. The last of the three is like a flight across cosmopolitan lands, its instrumental blossoming in adventure and suggestion with something akin to a merger of Kraftwerk, Thomas Dolby, and pre-split Human League.

It is fair to say that every track within Endless Rituals stirs the senses; the outstanding and dark, almost predacious presence of Crawl invading the psyche with a prowess reminding of UK band Defeat giving one particular favourite moment though with its thought romancing, dark atmospherics One Day and Spitting Into The Wind with its Blancmange meets Artery like emotive theatre leave their magnetic mark. Even throwing a handful plus of references to give a hint of the songs on offer, the uniqueness of Snuttock is the driving force and continues to captivate across remaining tracks like the haunting post rock/electro ambience of Ghost and the irresistible electro punk popper Advice.

Endless Rituals is a treat, even more so if you can get the deluxe edition with an additional four tracks, which newcomers to Snuttock should make their entry point though Rituals Redux certainly makes for a potent invitation too. Even after years of taking them on board, we have yet to get our personal heads around the appeal and maybe even purpose of remixes especially when the originals are so impressive and dominate. We can equally understand their popularity and in turn demand for others though, even more so after listening to Rituals Redux. Whether it was because we heard it first and numerous times before Endless Rituals, the album like a film or TV show hinting at the majesty of a source book, or simply the quality of the tracks on offer, the mix of all maybe, it certainly awoke an appetite for the Snuttock enterprise and a fun in imagining their originals.

First the only ‘negative’ with the album and that is its radio show skits and bumpers. Whether they are taken from a real show or are simply cast to suggest that surrounding they do niggle personal tastes, especially when coming back to back. It is a minor thing of course and certainly once the music descends and remixes from the likes of Psy’Aviah, Marsheaux, [:SITD:], TweakerRay, and Sebastian Komor, is forgotten as feet quickly leap and the spirit jumps opening track and a sparkling take on Advice by Leæther Strip. Each track takes the core essence and heart of the original songs and casts them in a fresh landscape of imagination or shadow of dark suggestiveness. Major highlights for personal tastes include Sebastian Komor’s fizzy take on We Learn and indeed Marsheaux’s warmly seductive version, The Metroland Protocol’s hypnotic twist on Single Cell Antennae, the noir lit take of the same song by The Rorschach Garden, and Psy’Aviah’s haunting at times senses stalking remix of Spitting Into The Wind.

As we said though, and maybe surprisingly, considering its 2 CD, eighteen track length, Rituals Redux hits the perfect  spot with artists such as [:SITD:], Amarta Project, Statik SeKt, Retrogramme, Red This Ever, TweakerRay, Guilt Trip, L’Avenir, Diskodiktator, and Deutsche Bank Machine equally lighting ears and enjoyment with provocative interpretation and craft.

So that is Snuttock, a band which if synth pop and broad electronic adventure is your appetite should make for a highly pleasing new exploration.

Check them out more @ http://www.snuttock.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Snuttock/  and their music @ http://www.snuttock.com/store.html

Pete RingMaster 31/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Defeat – Rise

A handful of weeks short of two years since the eagerly welcomed release of their EP, You Know What You Are, British electro industrial/synth pop duo Defeat return with new album, Rise. This too, such the highly enjoyable offerings from the band before, has been a keenly anticipated encounter since news of its coming; enthusiasm rewarded with the pair’s most accessible yet creatively imaginative and skilfully accomplished proposal yet.

The successor to debut album [Seek Help] of 2013, Rise is a collection of anthems to dark thoughts, corrupted emotions, and invasive shadows. They are tracks which unleash the most virulent hooks and infectious escapades laced with menace and creative threat like a twisted twenty first century Fad Gadget; indeed there are times where you just feel that if Defeat were emerging in the eighties, Mute Records would have had them snapped up.

With inspirations from the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, NIN, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, and Skinny Puppy teasing their own ever potent and individual sound, the twosome of vocalist/lyricist Anthony Matthews and keyboardist/programmer Gary Walker have taken the evolution and promise of You Know What You Are and pulled it into another realm of craft and maturity, challenging their songwriting and imaginations along the way.

Rise opens up with The Phoenix; its sound elevating from the breath and ashes of an emotional wasteland. Melancholy honed melodies soon surround a rhythmic throb; the menacing and almost frustrated air becoming a hypnotic stroll jut as swiftly with a swagger and character as much a threat as a defiant realisation and action to its initial corrosive state. With catchy electronic flirtation and salaciously dancing shadows, the song is an easy to succumb to trap, Matthews’s words and tone a compelling mix of challenge and resurging hope.

The following Rage starts as an irritated emotional and physical ember which flickers and flames into an EBM nurtured blaze and again washed with defiance. It never becomes a furnace but instead wonderfully nags at the senses and imagination, stroking and provoking both with its relentless catchiness before The Hurt grows in ears. Its opening lure is almost predatory, laying dark electro seeds which swiftly bloom into another niggling refusing to be ignored temptation. Matthews echoes its shadows with his inimitable vocal prowess and presence; the drama within all aspects blossoming and immersing song and thoughts in contagious theatre.

Dirty/Sick crawls and trespasses the listener next, Matthews’s introspective guise a festering depravity surrounded by the deceitfully tempting sounds and invention of Walker, his melodies licking at ears with a relish almost matching the lustful threat of each trespassing syllable. The track is a grievous seduction and just irresistible while its successor and the album’s title track shares a toxic serenade invading and suffocating the senses with its envenomed mist; an ambush which should not be welcomed and embraced such its sinister intent but surely is.

Following track, The Fatalists sees Walker take lead vocals for the only time within the album. With pulsating electronics and shimmering harmonies, the song shuffles and glides through ears, vocals shaping its honest heart and melodies colouring its electro pop scented landscape. As with all tracks, shadows and light embrace and collude; often challenging each other or as here uniting in solemn and rousing beauty.

Even more galvanic and masterful is Nothing You, a lead single if ever we heard one. As its creative kindling smoulders, there is an air of excited intrigue and magnetic compulsion awoken; anticipation swiftly fed with a kinetic canter of creative virulence. With voracious hooks and grooves woven into one deliciously persuasion, the outstanding song is one virulence driven adventure unafraid to change gait and energy on a twist of a note as it pounds, pulses, and provokes the passions with irrepressible majesty.

The album closes with the melodic croon of Live Your Life, a gentle and darkly tender but still shadow wrapped incitement and reminder to find the strength and believe in being yourself. It is a fine smouldering and seductive end to Defeat’s most impressive and enjoyable encounter yet. All of the potential of their previous releases has been realised within Rise creating something deserving of the richest attention.

Rise will be released April 14th digitally and Ltd Ed CD with pre-ordering available now @ https://defeatmusic.bandcamp.com/album/rise

https://www.facebook.com/Defeatmusic     https://twitter.com/defeatmusic   https://defeatmusic.blogspot.co.uk/

Pete RingMaster 06/04/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Gary Numan – Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)

Gary Numan 4

Little introduction is needed for Gary Numan, a man who has easily been one of the most influential artists to musicians, bands, and a wide range of genres over the thirty five years or so since emerging in 1978. Admittedly the media has not always been in the same place towards him as fans but his inspirational influence is undeniable as the likes of The Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails to Queens Of The Stone Age, Fear Factory and Marilyn Manson to Kanye West, as well as a vast array of other industrial, electronic, and gothic rock bands constantly show and admit. With early and impacting pinnacles coming from Replicas (as Tubeway Army), The Pleasure Principle, and Telekon, Numan’s twenty albums have ebbed and flowed in success and quality, but for the most they have stretched to varying effect his and music’s walls and inventive nature. New and twenty first album Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) is no exception certainly, a thrilling and inventive provocateur definitely, and an album which we would suggest recaptures the strongest influential heights of the man’s unique style of potent imagination.

Produced by long standing collaborator Ade Fenton and featuring guitarist Robin Finck, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) is the follow up to 2006 album Jagged, though there has been the  2011‘straight-to-the-fanbase’ release Dead Son Rising in between. The album is soaked in shadows and suggested demons, the release coming from what the Los Angeles based Numan has admitted has been a dark period for him; equally though it crafts and sculpts a web of infectious and irresistibly magnetic pop bred persuasion which leaves extremes of thought and textures a compelling emotive landscape. Mentioned earlier was the fact that Nine Inch Nails has taken inspirations of Numan into its creative expanses and upon the new album it shows it has been a two-way street as essences of Trent Reznor’s sounds can be heard as an instigator upon Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). The album is not breaking in new ground or pastures for industrial and electronic rock it is fair to say, but undeniably presents itself as one of the best electronically bred, atmospherically spawned albums for a few years and Gary Numan striding back to his best.

The Mortal Records album opens with the outstanding I Am Dust. Big imposing electro beats and strokes flex their sinews from the splinter-522b6d4638e7aopening seconds, their intimidation wrapped in intrigue and even greater enticement once those uniquely recognisable tones of Numan begin the song’s narrative. Commanding and riveting, the industrial smouldering soon has imagination and passion recruited to its drama whilst the evolving synth dance toys with and ignites a contagion which in turn sparks a predacious hunger for what is to come. The melodic breath of the track has an eighties swagger which recalls the likes of Blancmange whilst that starker shadowed presence taunts senses and thoughts to even greater temptation.

From the outstanding start Here In The Black draws on darker intensive shadows to create another mouthwatering pinnacle to continue the immense beginning. Darkly whispered vocals prey upon the climactic build of the track, its heart inspired by its creators struggle with depression and its sounds a constantly consuming and intensive weave of unsettling provocation and delicious melodic toxicity. The crescendos of energy and fully flighted enterprise comes with a virulent seduction coated in a pop catchiness which lies within the intense presence of the song but makes a sirenesque call which is open and irrepressible addictive.

The following Everything Comes Down also has its seeds in a darker rapacious premise and sound, its slowly breeding atmosphere and intent a continually shifting and engaging provocateur which is matched and developed by the pulsating and emotively driven music. The melodic soaring across the infectious chorus takes thought back to those previously mentioned early albums whilst the chilled almost suffocating creative wash feels NIN cultured. The song equals its predecessor to accelerate the appetite further and deepen already the thrilled pleasure.

Both The Calling and Splinter drift into deeper challenging depths, the first entwining its electro tendrils around a cavernous ambience whilst its cinematic epically honed atmosphere floats across the imagination, both danger and beauty willing instigators to dramatic scenery. It is a track easy to submerge within, to reflect upon and script one’s own testament, a tale which constantly colours the artist’s canvas or its recipient’s own thoughts and captures the imagination fully if failing to ignite all the flames inside which the previous tracks stoked up. Its successor is equally impacting and inventive within its absorbing presence and in its ability to coax out individual visions and saga within the listener. Sultry Eastern textured female vocals and stringed chants lay down initial bait within the exotic climate before Numan works his persuasive alchemy vocally and sonically. The song smoulders and seduces from start to finish and with each listen leaving a stronger and longer lingering influence and enslavement. The sweltering climes of the song are tempered by the melodic grandeur and synth cast beauty but ultimately the song is a wash of heat which again shows that Numan is still a master to be inspired and spurned on by.

Lost is another simmering burn of an encounter which transfixes ears and thoughts, though the ballad is pale against the song before and next Up Love Hurt Bleed. The first single from the album, the track is industrial electro pop which throbs and stays within the ear with unbridled virulence though as always shadows are not far from the surface. There is a familiarity to it which makes it wholly accessible if lacking surprises but as a temptress into the album it is an epidemic of allurement before which voice and body cannot resist adding their support.

Numan pushes his vocals pleasingly in the heavy reflection that is A Shadow Falls On Me and the threatening yet enchanting Where I Can Never Be. It is not a dramatic move but a gentle emotive exploration and expelling of nuances which enriches attention and matches the fiery adventure within the songs. Both tracks take their time in making their declarations, the second of the pair a blend of suffocating intensity and mesmerising melodic mystique, and though neither forge the grip of other tracks both leave a irrefutable passion for album and more.

The album is completed by We’re The Unforgiven, a track crafting an industrial emotional wasteland, the brilliant Who Are You, and the closing ballad My Last Day. The penultimate song is one to exhaust the dance-floor even with its mid paced gait. With more twists and swerves than a bat at night and as dark, it is a magnificent reminder of the different styles Numan can employ into his electronic invention whilst the closing emotional caress basks in potently hued atmospheres and a prowling ambience which reveals more of its writer and inner thoughts.

Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) is an outstanding album, not one loaded with instant slices of addiction causing contagion but a release superbly and instinctively textured to take the listener on a rich imagination fuelling journey through the craft and emotional ingenuity of Gary Numan as well as levels of intensive enjoyment presumed lost since those early days of his impressive career. An unexpected  triumph in many ways, this is an album destined to be devoured very greedily over coming weeks and beyond.

http://www.numan.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 13/10/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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IIOIOIOII – Rising Sky

IIOIOIOII

With more than a passing nod to eighties synth pop, the Rising Sky EP from US industrial/electro project IIOIOIOII is a delicious major introduction to an artist which combines evocative atmospherics with seductive melodic embraces and teasing testing invention. Consisting of four magnetic tracks which without stretching boundaries explore fresher pastures than most within a well-worn genre over the years, the Juggernaut Media released Rising Sky is an engaging and captivating proposition from a potently emerging talent in Christopher Gurney.

Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Gurney with his solo project creates an absorbing web of sound and textures around strong vocals and open emotive narratives. IIOIOIOII (pronounced I.O.) takes thoughts at times back to early Mute Records days with its minimalistic breath within a feisty enterprise. The EP also occasionally triggers comparisons to the John Foxx, Modern English, and once or twice the new wave/synth pop beginnings of Ministry, yet despite that it has an individuality and character which brings those flavours into something refreshing and invigorating as well as different to most current bands. It is a mesmeric treat and the instigator to great anticipation to Gurney’s forthcoming debut album.

The AA side of Rising Sky consists of the title track and Stardust , the opener immediately laying down a seduction which breeds IIOIOIOII - Rising Sky - coverattention and hunger for its persuasion. The first track ambles in with electro splinters of encouragement and a more sinew cast industrial predation which though equally inviting is wrapped in shadows and intrigue. The vocals of Gurney make a clean and open provocateur though you sense a snarl on the edge of every syllable waiting for its moment but the song’s restraint holds court throughout. The track has a reflective pace to its narrative and gait which holds both the magnetic elegance of the melodies and preying darker edge of the shadows in an easy union whilst the infection laced chorus has the virulent lure which marked the aforementioned songs of Modern English.

Next up Stardust like the first song, appears on the upcoming album Sun, and equally makes a compelling teaser for the full length. The slower evocative stroll of the track instantly weaves the pop charms of Paul Haig in with the thick ambiences of Nine Inch Nails, though the song ultimately steps mainly through the synth pop scenery of the potent landscape. It is an absorbing flight which bewitches imagination and passions within a celestial mesmerism veined by the melancholic breath of vocals and lyrical expression.

The B-side brings Could Have Been, an exclusive track to the EP, and Good Night a re-mastered version of a track first found on the projects first demo. Both continue the compelling call of the release, the first with a darker shade to its emotional hues and aural colour. It again offers essences of Trent Reznor as well as Gary Numan whilst within its vibrant stroll over the senses its suggesting blacker shadows carry a Frank Tovey touch. May be less impacting than the previous pair of songs it is still an encounter which leaves ears and thought absorbed and appetite greedier for what the release and IIOIOIOII has to offer. The closing track is a starker, darker industrial prowl; its fizzing, corrosive surface accentuated by the acrid lilt to the vocals. It is only half of the story though because like all songs it allows extremes and opposites to embrace and here Gurney weaves an OMD like melodic exploration with excellent vocal suasion to the cloud, menacing evocative heart of the track. It is a sinister thrilling conclusion to a masterful release.

If Rising Sky is any indication of the album it is going to be one of the most highly anticipated and striking synth pop/ electro industrial releases of recent times. Roll on its arrival as it is very easy to be confident that IIOIOIOII has something special in wait for us.

https://www.facebook.com/IioIndustrial

http://juggernautservices.bandcamp.com/album/rising-sky

8.5/10

RingMaster 11/10/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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