Tipping the wrist. Favouring the grape. Enjoying a snifter of port around the holidays. The ID:UD staff likes to drink. As it happens, the fetching of a sixer to fuel the writing of our weekly features is as much a part of this site as Kirlian Camera worship (wait for it) or making fun of terror EBM band names. As gentlemen of refined tastes, we’re as opinionated about our potent potables as we are the state of Our Thing. Given that, we thought we’d offer a primer on pairing particular beverages with well-matched LPs, ensuring that you, the ID:UD reader, have a suitable soundtrack to getting your Saturday night swerve on. We don’t recommend trying all of these match-ups in one sitting: ID:UD advocate responsible tippling alongside tasteful listening. Pop a cork, crack a tab, and join us for the first I Die: You Die Pairings.
Skinny Puppy & Phillips' Amnesiac Double IPA
Bruce: Skinny Puppy, Too Dark Park & Phillips Amnesiac Double IPA
India Pale Ales are my go-to beer. I love ’em. The middle-weight body, the hops, the extra tinge of alcohol which adds some warmth to the refreshment. Thankfully, I live in Cascadia, a verdant region renowned the world over for its distinct, brassy, and super-hoppy IPAs. I can indulge in my brew of choice AND support local industry. Huzzah! Fortuitously, Vancouver is also post-industrial’s spiritual home, meaning that when I discovered Skinny Puppy as a teenager, I could connect the dots between their history and the city I was also exploring with equal vigor. Phillips’ Amnesiac (while technically not from Vancouver proper) is my British Columbian IPA of choice, and a great introduction to everything an IPA (or even beer on the whole) can be: it’s a double, meaning that it punches well above the weight of most beers at 9%, and while its hoppiness (I’d ballpark it at 100 IBUs) lends it an aggressive bite of bitter, the fact that Cascadian hops are used means that there’s a zesty, citrus flavour to the whole affair which lends it an impressionistic sense of fun without ever curtailing its aggression. Puppy’s 1990 LP Too Dark Park is certainly one of their angriest, but it’s also one of their most layered and florid, a sample-happy wonderland which works both as a “great anytime” record and a perfect representation of Vancouver’s brand of dark electronic experimentation. It’s difficult to strike a balance between being representative of the style your operate in while having a character all your own, but this beer and this record do just that.
Leaether Strip & Tuborg Gold
Alex: Leaether Strip, Underneath the Laughter & Tuborg Gold
What’s big, Danish and never fails to make me smile? I couldn’t even begin to enumerate the number of happy memories associated with Claus Larsen’s music, or the number of amazingly good nights that got kickstarted by a tall can of Tuborg. Like it says on the can, it’s perfectly balanced; sweet and light with just the slight bit of metallic tang. Those descriptors don’t even come close to applying to the music on Underneath the Laughter which is the accepted blueprint for all of endzeit electro, but as an accompaniment to songs like the triumphant “Don’t Tame Your Soul” or “Turn to Stone” you’re getting a beer that’ll go the distance, maintain its quality throughout and leave you ready for more. Come to think of it, both the record and the beer are stuff I associate with the beginning of an evening, in that I’ll be savoring them while I prep myself for a night on the town. Hey Claus, this Tube’s for you, buddy!
Kirlian Camera & Brora 30 Year
Bruce: Kirlian Camera, Still Air & Brora 30 Year Old
When I picked up Kirlian Camera’s 2000 album, I was familiar with its component parts: elegant female vocals, minimally sequenced leads, icy washes. What I’d never heard was those elements arranged with such precision, and certainly not with the depth “Still Air” offered. This album doesn’t just create atmosphere, it smothers you in a blanket of fog, liberating you of all sense of direction before leading you out to sea with its rhythmic psychopomps. Similarly, I’d had plenty of super-peaty Islay single malt scotches by the time some friends bought me a dram of the Brora 30 (for my 30th birthday, as it happens – thanks again, Michelle & Paul!) and thought I knew what I was getting into: deep, smokey material which needed to be savoured. The Brora is that, but presents itself with a gravity which will shatter your points of reference: It contains fathomless depths, is delicious, somewhat terrifying, and is the best scotch I’ve ever tasted. Like Still Air, it also has a distinctly nautical flavour which only adds to its solemnity: notes of brine and seaweed accent the peat and ash, making you profoundly aware that you are ingesting something older than you are. To pour yourself the Brora or play Still Air is to give yourself over, to pay the ferryman his coin and begin a journey over which you have no control.
[X]-Rx & Pabst Blue Ribbon
Alex: [X]-Rx, Stage 2 & Pabst Blue Ribbon
Look, I can’t always be listening to some incredibly complex layered IDM, just in the same way I’m not always in the mood to sit around Bruce’s apartment pretending to understand when he gets talking about scotch and stuff. Seriously, I was pretty sure “Islay” was some kind of oblique regional slang for weed until like three months ago. Truth is, sometimes I want something that’s gonna do the job, and that job is to get me amped up for some shenanigans, good taste and subtlety need not apply. Enter [X]-Rx’s triumph of enjoyably stupid rave EBM Stage 2 and the hedonism-on-a-budget of Pabst’s Blue Ribbon winner at the World’s Expo 1893. Yes, that is where PBR’s name comes from. Neither are what I would objectively call “good” (hell, I’d barely call either of them “decent”), but I sure enjoy the shit out of them. They’ve both got broad, shameless appeal, they get asses on the dancefloor and there is a pretty good chance that in large enough quantities they could get you laid if you aren’t that picky. And hey, good news: if you’re partaking in PBR and [X]-Rx, picky probably isn’t on the party agenda. Shit, I’m drinking a can of Blue Ribbon and listening to [X]-Rx’s “Homofurst” right now, and the look of disgust on Bruce’s face from across the room is 100% worth it.
Coil & Highland Park 18 Year
Bruce: Coil, Horse Rotovator & Highland Park 18 Year
This pairing isn’t so much about the harmonization of an album and a drink as it is about the similarities in what these two things represent and impart. Iconoclastic but hugely influential. An outlier which is perfectly balanced. Refined but ultimately earthen. Horse Rotovator and Highland Park’s most balanced expression are each all of these things. Highland Park often earns nods as the best distillery in Scotland, not on the basis of having one particular bottling which is unequivocally heralded, but for both offering an almost indescribable set of characteristics common to everything they produce, and also succeeding admirably at every endeavor they embark upon by the standards of those endeavors themselves. Put simply: if it’s Highland Park, you can tell. If it’s Highland Park, it’ll be good, no matter what its particulars. Coil is much the same. Every Coil album is unique, yet united by a common thread, their relentless experimentation, their craft, their ability to communicate the sublime and the abject simultaneously. While Coil remain possibly the most influential touchstone in the last few decades of industrial and experimental music, no one really tries to copy them, for the things which make Coil truly Coil can’t be replicated through mere sound waves.
Horse Rotovator is quintessentially what Coil is about. Its creepy, exotic landscape twists samples and synthesized elements into something both fundamentally and tragically human and beautifully alien. It wouldn’t simply serve well as an introduction to Coil, but to the world of industrial music as a whole. The HP 18, similarly, isn’t just the distillery’s most balanced expression, but the most balanced single malt I know of, offering almost every aspect of scotch I can conceive of in a single bottle, and without any cacophony or elements canceling each other out: sweetness, peat, heather, honey, and an incredible oaken finish which never ends. Whenever a guileless friend who’s never tasted scotch before (rendering moot the common “do you like peat?” question which can at least help the neophyte divide the malt world into two vague camps) asks where they should start, the Highland Park 18 is where I direct them.
Are there better Highland Park scotches or Coil records? Perhaps, but to pick one would be to venture into unevenly subjective territory. If it is the exemplar, the paragon, the highest common denominator you’re looking for, Horse Rotovator and the Highland Park 18 are what you seek.
Venetian Snares & King Cobra Premium Malt Liquor
Alex: Venetian Snares + Speedranch, Making Orange Things & King Cobra Premium Malt Liquor
I don’t actually enjoy either of these things, they just keep happening to me. VS & Speedranch’s Making Orange Things is an unappealing blend of spastic feedback and ridiculous Snares-style cut and paste rhythms. King Cobra is an unappealing blend of malt, something that tastes like Budweiser and a hard kick in the jubblies. The worst thing about both of them is that they’re perversely enjoyable at first, like “Hey, this feels trashy and fun” and then like half an hour later you’ve got a bloody nose and you lost your keys and all your friends are really mad at you for some reason. If either of them has an upside, it’s that it’s real easy to get rid of the aftertaste provided you move on to something else and for god’s sake don’t take it out for another spin around the block. See, I know all these things objectively, and yet I guarantee I will listen to this record and sip on this cheap bodega swill probably a dozen more times in my life. If I ever get arrested, chances are both will be involved.
If you have any album/beverage combinations you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section! Skål!