Is it officially spooky season yet? Maybe, depending on whether you start hitting up the Spirit Halloween store the moment Fall officially starts or wait ’til October starts in earnest, but either way it feels firmly like we’ve entered 2023 endgame time and need to start taking stock of the year it’s been and what’s still to come. This is of course a lead in to our annual plea to let us know what albums and releases we’ve not covered yet that you think we should be writing up or podcasting about. We’re just two people, and there’s always stuff that slips past us because of that, but you folks have traditionally done a great job of giving us solid recommendations and we’re always up to expand our horizons, or deep digger into the ones we explore already. Drop us a comment if you feel moved to do so, and then give this week’s Tracks a listen.

Moon 17

Moon 17 throwing hex in Kansas City. Photo by @vertig0s_net.

Pixel Grip, “Bet You Do”
Seeing Pixel Grip return to the stage after nearly a year away at Purple City in August, we were struck again by the things that make the Chicago trio special: their seamless blending of their hometown’s electronic musical traditions from house to industrial, with an emphasis on fat basslines and singer Rita Lukea’s considerable vocal charisma. New single “Bet You Do” is the first new track we’ve heard from them in recorded form in a minute and it fits very nicely with our expectations while also amping them up considerably via some very hot dancefloor ready arrangment choices and excellent production – you can drop this at the disco or the goth club and you’ll get a response in both.

Moon 17, “Bersicker”
We pointed you to the debut track of Kansas City’s Moon 17 a month back and pointed out how their reads on body music and darkwave run against the grains of both of those genres’ current overarching trends. Follow-up track “Bersicker” picks up right where “Jellyfish” left off, deking around common expectations we’d have when it comes to arrangement and programming in stuff this pugnacious and, yes, dancefloor friendly despite its unexpected bursts of aggression. Taken together, these two tracks point to an act approaching the stuff we love in a very different way and who are definitely worth putting on your radar.

Male Tears, “You Are Your Posts”
Okay, so “Your Are Your Posts” comes hot on the heels of Male Tears’ excellent LP KRYPT and is easily on par with anything on that record, as were preceding non-album releases “Sad Boy, Paint My Nails” and “In This House”. Even leaving aside the stuff we think makes Male Tears such an interesting quantity (their ability to situate goth and darkwave alongside pop and mainstream dance music markers with ease), it’s a track that actually speaks to a real phenomenon, namely the way that life on the internet allows us to disassociate, and the ways that that might not be the best thing for an already anxious and prone to panic generation.

Ex-Hyena, “In Slow Motion”
Coming out of Boston, Ex-Hyena are bringing some serious drama to the dancefloor this fall with this lead single from their forthcoming third LP A Kiss Of The Mind. Simple but solid programming casts blacklight beams across the darker side of electropop, while the undertow of the beat keeps drawing you in. A nice combination of emotive maximalism and compositional minimalism which bodes well for the rest of the record.

XTR Human, “I Want More”
We’ve been taken with Johannes Stabel’s work as XTR Human ever since the project went from post-punk and darkwave over to full on electro and body music a few years back. Stabel’s own work and that of his label Wie Ein Gott displays a solid understanding of how to execute music that doesn’t veer to far away from clubbability and dancefloor appeal while still injecting some solid songwriting ideas and choices. New cut “I Want More” puts us in mind of comparable material from Arnaud Rebotini if that helps situate it for you.

SØLVE, “kvikks​ø​lv (CENOTYPE REMIX)”
It’s been a full ten years since Brant Showers started his SØLVE project, bringing together his tastes for cinematic, dark ambient, industrial, and witch house production styles with the flair for the dramatic and symbolic which he brought to ∆AIMON. In celebration of a decade of that work, the project’s first single svovel | salt | kvikksølv has been remastered and reissued with a slew of extras, including new mixes from the likes of Harsh R and Red Meat. This mix from Cenotype does a wonderful job of linking Showers’ own tastes for ritual industrial to Cenotype’s linking of that style to classic powernoise, while also keeping the high-def soundscaping of the project in full focus.