CD Review

V/A - T.I.A.M.P. "Tactics of Infiltration"

By Marcus Pan

Tactics of InfiltrationHave any pent up emotion? Anguish preferably, but if you just have a bit of melancholy and sadness you don’t know what to do with T.I.A.M.P. will help you transform this into the needed emotional turmoil. “Tactics of Infiltration” is electronic and occasionally aggressive industrial. It has a good mix of aggressive, angry songs and electronic torment. Texas has one hell of an industrial scene. A lot of damn good bands are from there and this entire compilation holds the work of fifteen of them. One of my new favorites is on here as well – Puncture takes track four with “Christian Rat Attack.” And a bonus – this track isn’t on their Immune album which I already have, so it’s an extra track to me and a great one at that!

The compilation is writ to the dedication of ‘Christine’ at the Impala. Whether this is a person, a club night at the Impala or something else I know not. Because T.I.A.M.P. is a compilation that covers a lot of bands, it’s best to discuss each track with a bit more detail to give you the idea of what these bands can do. I’ve provided contact information along with each of them as well. There are a lot of credits and thanks listed on the CD, but there isn’t anyone that it claims you can contact to find the compilation itself other than the address information for the individual bands. Strange, indeed. On to the tracks…

Of One Mind – “Streams”
"Streams" is a very good name for this song. It is made up mostly of streams of noise effects strung together – a background explosive rolling, the occasional strumming of an electronic guitar. The few spoken words seem more like samples than lyrics and are very low and hard to hear, lending to my not knowing which of the two it could be. I could have done without this track, although it does admittedly set a nice mood to lead into the anguish of the rest of Tactics. It’s reminiscent of bands like Skinny Puppy – more noise than music. For the most part not my thing, but it fits on T.I.A.M.P. as a decent opening.

Of One Mind – c/o The Matrix, P.O. Box 171904, Arlington, TX, 76003-1904

Audio Paradox – “Parasite”
Audio Paradox use danceable drum & bass loops, the right amount of samples and scratching guitar riffs that will occasionally rip in where they don’t belong. Leather Strip, Klute or similarly influenced, “Parasite” scratches it’s way into you. It’s nothing too new in this genre of music, but it takes proven ideas and puts them down in a well-done track.

Audio Paradox – 921 Goodwin, Plano, TX, 75023

October Karnival – “Communicable”
This group uses multiple drum tracks surrounded by a soundscape of synthetic, almost-human voices. It leans more to the experimental side of the industrial vein without falling into that “What the hell is THAT supposed to be?” trap that some experimental bands and tracks are apt to do on occasion. Vocals are enhanced to sound metallic and grating with a spoken, not sung, style. The extensive echoing of these vocals make it somewhat distracting.

October Carnival – 1430 Whitney Dr., Garland, TX, 75050

Puncture w/Bobby Sox – “Christian Rat Attack”
Hardcore, thrashing and obnoxiously loud with blaring guitars and Bobby’s screaming vocals. This song has so much pent up aggression and hatred that by the time you’re done listening to it you’ve been skull-slammed with enough noise that you’re too numb to have anything left to release. Very well crafted and one of the highlights of this compilation.

Puncture – P.O. Box 172248, Arlington, TX, 76003-2248

Hard Sector Error – “In My Hand”
HSE has a hard act to follow in coming after Puncture’s previous track. But they do extremely well, I must say. Combining late Ministry style guitar riffs with only slightly voxed vocals that make them sound like they’re at a distance; it adds a nother-world feel to the song. Synthetic strings barely heard in the background increase this feeling. The occasional samples are well-placed and appropriate. “Oh, son! Did you by any chance murder a boy at school today?” is one that set me on a giggling spree for a while. Another highlight of T.I.A.M.P.

Hard Sector Error – Hickory St., Grand Prairie, TX, 75050

Gropius – “Covet the Senseless”
Kicking in with a tribal sounding drum track that is increased by the low, flowing bass and violin-like electronic strings, “Covet the Senseless” is a slow, droning song that washes over you. The vocals sound somewhat female, but are masked by vox usage so I can’t tell for sure. The slow movement of the track combined with the droning bass/drum combination lends itself to near-monotony by the track’s end, but the rising and falling vocals do help stifle that – but only slightly.

Gropius – 2306 Greenhill Dr., Carrollton, TX, 75006

TIAMPThe Syphon Experience – “Nymphomaniac”
Very electronic in makeup with a techno, Kraftwerk feel to it, The Syphon Experience’s contribution to this album is industrial dance. The lyrics are straight forward and hover between loud and scream, but they are subdued in this mix by the surrounding multiple beat, bass and drum tracks. The song tends to get same-same after halfway or so through; the drums and surrounding electronica doesn’t change much throughout its run.

The Syphon Experience – 327 S. Rogers, Apt. C., Irving, TX, 75060

Apparatus – “Weakened”
Apparatus is one of the few bands on this compilation that don’t go for the vox style quite as much – the vocals are understandable and human. The song has a pop-like feel to it, but with a darker mood – lent to by the surrounding synthesizers and windy sounds that flow behind the bouncy bassline and drums. This track keeps itself form becoming monotonous like some of the others by breaking it up fairly often with increased melodies and samples.

Apparatus – 1321 Baxter Dr., Plano, TX, 75025

Solemn Assembly – “Leatherbound”
A tight drum track defines Solemn Assembly’s contribution to Tactics. Vocals here are more human than machine and sliding melodies are used extensively to add a computeresque feel to the song.

Solemn Assembly – 9794 Forest Ln., Ste. 599, Dallas, TX, 75243

Skarlett Fever – “Vaccination”
“Vaccination” is very heavy on the loud banging drumbeats. Add in a bit of background samples and the occasional scream and you have a decent recipe for an aggressively moving track. Skarlett Fever adds very little in the way of melodies or electronica, instead concentrating on a strong drum score and samples. By halfway through the song you’ll be able to predict accurately where all the screams will occur. Whether or not this sense of control is a blessing or a curse I leave up to you.

Skarlett Fever – 9794 Forest Ln., Ste. 599, Dallas, TX, 75243

Species – “Naked Snake”
Very electronic in nature, Species’ “Naked Snake” has a fast moving bass track with dance-style backing beats. The melodies created here are very techno. It’s meant to be danced to; there are no vocals and few samples. You’re meant to step with the beats – or at least this is my guess. It’s a rather well done mix, although you won’t find anything fresh or new that you haven’t heard in the club scene already.

Species – 2208 Woodsong Tr., Arlington, TX, 76016

Push – “Writhe”
Very moody and droning, “Writhe” moves forth with a deep bass sound. It’s a slower song with metallic synthesizers and moody, poetic vocals that fade off at the end of the stanzas. The guitars are there but subdued – it reminds me of work by Needulhed or Psychopomps, albeit their less aggressive songs. You can feel the anguish when Push’s vocals drop to a growling state. Wonderful background music to games like Hexen or Heretic. Sincerely dark and evil in its soundscape.

Push – 9794 Forest Ln., Ste. 599, Dallas, TX, 75243

Drone – “Terrorfarm”
Terrorfarm is extremely different – and wonderfully so – than all the other tracks. It starts off with an almost cartoon-like bouncing melody, but then suddenly goes into a thrashing, awesomely aggressive black metal style. It reminds me of some of Megadeth’s more garage-days sound in their youth (we’re going back a LONG way with that one, kids), but has a darker aspect to it. A definite highlight on the T.I.A.M.P. CD. Have any unvented emotion? Put this one on and set it to repeat…

Drone – 9794 Forest Ln., Ste. 599, Dallas, TX, 75243

Brainscrape – “Techno Hippie”
Muted and lushly layered, Brainscrape’s contribution of “Techno Hippie” leans on a guitar-driven experimental side of the spectrum. Feedback is the general rule here. It’s interesting, but one I could have done without. The vocals are a kind of metallic whining sound, like robotic cats in heat. You can hear mentions of “Ronald Reagan” (snicker) in the occasional samples. The drums pound away behind the feedback-driven guitar loops. The song is longer than most – 5:17. It didn’t have to be.

Brainscrape – P.O. Box 253, Denton, TX, 76202

Vampire Cathedral – “Puppy Beats Man”
Put your insulting vampire cliché references away. Listen to this track first. The name of the song, “Puppy Beats Man,” is appealing enough. What you’ll hear is a strong scraping-style industrial track laden with track upon track of complicated imagery. It’s somewhat experimental, but keeps from falling into the aforementioned “What the HELL?” problems with a strong bass/drum combination that keeps the song moving at a quick pace. There are a lot of sudden changes and manipulations to the sounds and beat, making this track far from monotonous. Very well done – especially considering I don’t get into the Skinny Puppy style experimental/noise type of thing too often. They’d make good work of game music backgrounds I think.

Vampire Cathedral – 9794 Forest Ln., Ste. 599, Dallas, TX, 75243