V/A - "Distention"
By Marcus Pan
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is trying to build
around themselves a strong electronica/industrial scene. While they haven't yet
reached the point that the Detroit Electronica Coalition have achieved, they
are rallying behind new label AlterCulture Records. Chris Sevanick's small
label operation has come a long way since '95 and the days of The
Silence, first release by Mindless Faith and Chris' own product. Since then
they've picked up other bands; including his solo project Vivid Liquid and
Gears Slowly Grinding, another of Mindless Faith's recording projects. Their
latest release is Distention, a label sampler holding five bands on the
The release is very professional with excellent production,
good packaging and even a CD-ROM track on the disc that holds band info and a
pre-release of Mindless Faith's Contaminated video in MOV format. I must admit
I still like MPGs better
but that's just quibbling. The CD-ROM track and
information could have been laid out better - they don't touch the layout,
style and information contained on the Interstellar Harmony release. But
just the fact that it's there should be a lesson to all the other labels. Us
goth-geeks LIKE this shit!
Bands included are Mindless Faith, Raudive Voices, Gears
Slowly Grinding, The Unquiet Void and Vivid Liquid. The music here ranges from
mediocre to rather good. Mindless Faith seem to be the headliner, and rightly
so, with the most tracks. Let's take a look at the bands on the AlterCulture
label, shall we?
Records, 360 Meyran Ave., 1st Fl., Pittsburgh, PA, 15213 Phone: (412) 802-0160
Just shy of a
half-decade ago in 1995, brothers Chris and Jasin Sevanick lit the flame that
was to become the band Mindless Faith. AlterCulture was formed in 1996
presumably - the release of MF's debut cassette, The Silence. Since then
they've appeared on a number of compilations, including Nod's Tacklebox O'
Fun with their cover of Prince & The Revolution's When Doves
Cry. I reviewed that recently, writing "I was also told by Jasin that he
even had a cold at the time of recording...looking forward to hearing him
without it." Well, he does sound much better without it. :)
All songs on the sampler CD here are set to appear on their
Manifest Destiny release due in the beginning of 2000. Strangely enough,
Contaminated didn't appear - I found that unusual because this is the
video that appears on the CD-ROM track of the disc. They are said to be very
aggressive and outright stomping during live shows - a tribute to the brothers'
punk background. Jim Semonik handles their stage show lights and fog, creating
a scene nearly out of Bladerunner from what I could see on their
Contaminated and All These Years videos - the latter of which I
have on a VHS tape locked away in a safe somewhere (hey, this thing might be
worth money someday!). Also, live-member Paul Green handles the drum work
turning the duo to a trio in their live performances.
MF do an industrial-tinged EBM thing. Their first track
here, Rat Race, is an excellent song to start up any rivet-head dance
floor. Next comes Strained, a slow and moody song that picks up later.
It's a song characterized by dark windy synths and bell-like keyboards. The
vocals and bass are windy and deep, giving the song a very "I'm lost" feel to
it. They follow this one up with All These Years, another slow-starter
with the windy feel. The song then goes into a more industro-stomp dancefloor
number. The rhythms that MF use are quite infectious. Finally there's
Prodigy, another good song that clearly shows that Mindless Faith are
the best AlterCulture has to offer. It's harder-edged than their previous
songs, closing their section of the CD off well and making them a tough act to
follow - whether they be on stage or on disc.
Faith, 360 Meyran Ave., 1st Fl., Pittsburgh, PA, 15213
Raudive Voices is
a project by Jason Moyer designed as an experimental studio project. It is an
experiment to create a musical form of the work by Konstantin Raudive, a
parapsychologist. Konstantine was trying to find a way to use magnetic reel to
reel tapes as a means of communications with deceased spirits - truly a
mind-boggling thing. This is important to understand, as RV's music is quite
esoteric. Knowing the drive behind the musical endeavors of Moyer has made it
much more enjoyable to me.
Debut CD Re: Cycles is due to hit the streets this
coming December, 1999. On this debut CD by Raudive Voices is older material
from them, re-mastered and placed here with five new tracks. They have three
tracks here on Distention from this upcoming release; Flicker,
Accused and Dessau #. All three have a clearly Skinny Puppy sound
with metallic wind, voxed up vocals and interesting rhythms. Ghostly voices lie
in the background of Flicker, which makes it an interesting piece. I
feel it should have been sped up a more, though, because it's very slow and
tends to drag. The other two tracks are more upbeat. All have that circa-80's
Gears Slowly Grinding
Brand new and still cooking in the proverbial pot, Gears Slowly Grinding is
a Mindless Faith side-project. This time the brothers are attempting to create
a darker, more-ambient background. The MF stompable EBM rhythms are gone and
replaced by a moodier synth background and, yes again, windy sounds. A few
samples lurk in the background of GSG's first track, Induce, giving it
an off-world fear and probably accomplishing the ghost-like thing more than
Raudive Voices were able to (with the exception of Flicker I think).
They also contribute Delusion as well. Again, like Induce, it is
a slow and droning song. Also like their previous track, Delusion is a
whispering song - Raudive Voices and Gears Slowly Grinding are very similar -
although RV will sometimes add in a more moving rhythm beat.
The Unquiet Void
Jason Wallach began the project that is now known as The Unquiet Void. An
ethereal/ambient electronic style, reminiscent of Firmament or a space-age
Kraftwerk, The Unquiet Void provide three tracks on Distention
originally from their Scorpio release. Rat Bastard of the Legends review
staff is currently assigned Scorpio; it should have already printed by
the time you're reading this one. So I'll leave it mostly up to him.
Scorpio will also be found in a cult film from Phantom Productions as
well, incorporating the work of Jason's Unquiet Void project as a soundtrack.
Included here are Breathing Liquid Breath, The Cube of Bondage and A
Constant Looming Uncertainty.
Post: Jason Wallach
/ The Unquiet Void, PO Box 770951, Coral Springs, FL, 33077
The AlterCulture CD
sampler closes with the work of Vivid Liquid. This is Chris Sevanick's solo
project, but it's not his best work I think. Vivid Liquid kicks off The
Tear with an interesting enough arrangement of space-scape style sonic
metal scrapes. The synths are pop-sounding and don't seem to mesh well with the
vibrational scraping. The final track that closes not only the work by Vivid
Liquid, but Distention itself, is Neronaut. This one is beatless
and relies on the listener's internal rhythm - but it's too experimental for me
to enjoy. I prefer Mindless Faith's more-accessible style to something like
this. I think it's again the keyboards-that-don't-fit versus the background
scape that is grating me.