A lot’s happened in dark electronics since Kontravoid’s last major release. The combination of darkwave and minimal wave sounds put forth on the Toronto producer’s 2012 LP put him ahead of the curve at that point, but the embracing of industrial and noisier textures in the broader electronic world in the interim has been significant. That Undone, the project’s first sustained release since 2013 (presaged by stand-alone 2017 track “So It Seems”) has been released by the razor sharp Fleisch collective out of Berlin speaks to how Kontravoid’s responded to that change. And yes, a marked EBM influence is apparent right from the start on Undone to be sure. It’s never been too far from hand in Kontravoid’s previous work, but tunes like “Hold Nothing” and “Not Your Dream” are kick-forward EBM bangers from start to finish. That said, Kontravoid hasn’t rushed into a wholly generic EBM template in seeking to update his sound. Plenty of the quirks of his original sound design and synth-work remain, offering fuzzy and bendy fun even as the rhythms remain strict. The combination of oddball synth squalls alongside new-school EBM fascination ends up being somewhat reminiscent of //TENSE//’s trailblazing work, but is also clearly in line with the more synthpop-oriented tracks on Kontravoid’s early releases.
Despite listening to the band for about five years, we’re still pretty much at a loss when it comes to describing Swedish trio Vanligt Folk. While their earliest recordings suggested a link to EBM, every subsequent release has pushed their oddball mix of sounds further and further afield. Settling into a striking combination of sounds that prominently includes IDM and dub, new release Svenskbotten still has the wry sense of humour of their earlier synthpunk material, but perhaps a little more laidback. “Kall Mat” pairs a springy, tropical electro vibe with punch vocals, the whole track revolving around a plain cymbal groove. “Kastas I Soborna” is reminiscent of The Bug or Kode 9, with a springy bassline that comes across as sinister, especially when peaky synth pads and and breathy hits elbow their way into the mix. Bookended with tracks that take distinctly opposite approaches: “Köad” is all whirring vocal cut ups and syncopated kick-snare patterns, “Lik Null” is filled with lush reverbs and rich keyboard sounds. It’s another distinctly WTF release from a band who consistently walk the walk of experimentalism, never settling for what they’ve done before. At this point it’d be foolish to expect anything else.