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BOY HARSHER + LORD NARF w/ Cube, Pyramid Club, Sequoyah, Pamela_and her sons & Ian Deaton at 529

  • 529 529 Flat Shoals Avenue Southeast Atlanta, GA, 30316 United States (map)

Boy Harsher
"The mesmerizing debut LP from the Northampton, MA-based cold wave duo Boy Harsher is a terrible kind of beauty. Highly danceable fantasy narratives of desire and nuanced discomfort manifest in the ten dark tracks on Yr Body is Nothing. Originally formed under the moniker Teen Dreamz, Jae Matthews (vocals) and Augustus Muller (synths, programming) emerge from live-scored literary performance to the foggy, dim lit black lace and leather studded dance floor. The album commences with the enigmatic “Intro,” then lurches into the cinematic and dancey “A Realness.” Matthews’ breathy vocals on the saturnine title track “Yr Body is Nothing” occupy the euphoric spree in between the dead of night and cock’s crow while Muller fashions delightful synth sequences over new wave drum beats, invoking a cryptic revelry only initiated after dark. The pleasure seeking testimony of “Morphine” pipes airy synths over pulsating bass lines and drum machine beats as Matthews’ euphoric voice heavily pants “It’s like heaven”– a deviant Shangri-la, indeed. “Save Me” is an evocative track from the witching hour. The song features Matthews’ vocal range at its strongest, shifting from deep androgynous rhapsody to siren-like calls, while Muller creates synth pop club rhythms. The shift in the album comes with the droning pandemonium in the closer “Cry Fest.” Muller’s throbbing modulations emerge from midnight dungeons while Matthews croons closemouthed verse just tender enough to leave the body yearning for more. Boy Harsher is goth in mind but sure as hell EBM in soul, with an obvious attention to drone — a ripe fit for the Atlanta-based synth wave label DKA. Yr Body is Nothing was recorded at Dollhouse Studios in Savannah, Georgia and was mixed by producer/engineer Peter Mavrogeorgis of the post-punk band Bellmer Dolls. The duo originally formed in Savannah, Georgia and in 2014 produced the severely moody EP, Lesser Man (2014) cassette for the Soft Science label (and re-released by Night-People last April). 2015 also saw a limited edition 12” EP, Pain, via Oráculo Records, a Spanish label specializing in synth-based darkwave. The progression of their post-industrial sound surfaces in Yr Body is Nothing’s more polished song production, where pop enshrouds harsh creeping tones and distant vocals arrive at close quarters with the intention to bring the unfamiliar home. Boy Harsher conjures up perils of youthful seduction, of introspective discomfort, and gritty, sweltering nights where sweat rolls off the skin and jubilation releases the tension. Yr Body is Nothing brings the darkness and all its loveliness to light."

Lord Narf
"Lord Narf of AWFUL RECORDS."

"Even before the label had broke ground with their first release, San Francisco's own Left Hand Path earned a feature in The Wire. The article highlighted their activities in hosting the infamous Surface Tension underground parties of jet-black techno and blistered EBM, and it also touched on the work of Cube, the pseudonym for Oakland's Adam Keith who received the honor for that first release on Left Hand Path. All of this is certainly a testament to Left Hand Path's Nihar Bhatt and Chris Zaldua in their steadfast dedication to Surface Tension, which has jumped from venue to venue in San Francisco as so many venues have been closed down. Just as Surface Tension celebrates a caustic marriage of techno, noise, minimal-wave and industrial rhythms, Cube's pressurized synth-punk is a thrilling recombinant of style. Strange lo-fi tape ruminations flicker in the throbbing sequences and chiseled rhythms, giving the aura of something that may have been uncovered from the vaults of early Severed Heads or Chris Watson-era Cabaret Voltaire crossed with some the tactile grit of Le Syndicat. The album is brimming with discordantly angular tracks, displayed on the throttled march of "Emblem" and the lurchingly elephantine "Safe World." The hypnotic, infectuous "Auto / Composite Face" is a downright killer track of reductive, noise-encrusted techno that wouldn't be out of place on Hospital alongside Exotico Continent and Vatican Shadow. Cube's aggregated electronics fit very nicely alongside the contemporary cadre of West Coast noisenik / techno chimeras (e.g. Oil Thief, LFA, Bonus Beast, Pure Ground, Inhalt, etc.). A great debut release from what has already proven to be a noble ambassador of San Francisco's current electronic music scene."

Pyramid Club
"In music, darkness often devours itself. Those who nosedive down into synthpop’s more perverted forms — industrial, coldwave, darkwave, and all subgenres in between — tend to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the shadows. But that’s precisely what draws devotees in, both the machinists and their audience. The deconstruction of humanity into objective parts, autonomous beats, vocals smeared into alien sneers — these were the tools that proto-industrial types like Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle employed to separate themselves from the punk rock ego, the explosion of self. Even in that light, Pyramid Club aren’t just followers of this self-negating cult. Indeed, both members of the clandestine duo have helmed their own projects — Chris Daresta with the cold techno of Anticipation, Matt Weiner with the chrome-clad but buoyant TWINS — and together they run DKA Records, international purveyors of murk. So while “Stay Behind” oozes with all the subversive sludge that devotees to the dark might expect, the Pyramid Club machine burbles and pulses in an uncommonly Technicolor display. The suave gear shift in the middle affirms the expert engineering at work here; Daresta and Weiner may be taking cues from their muses, but they’re clearly spiraling down a tunnel of their own design." -Immersive Atlanta

"Creativity demands solitude. Virginia Woolf figured that out decades ago, and wrote a whole essay arguing for women’s independence in A Room of Her Own; Henry James wrote a clever short story about an author who worked in private while his body double confronted the public. But even the hardiest introvert shivers in time with the chill of loneliness, even as the metaphorical forge (the canvas, the typewriter, the laptop, whatever) burns white hot. How does a creative soul cope with the chill? Sequoyah can’t speak for everyone, but they can raise a fist against the cold. Bless them, and praise “Betta!” With rainmakers and buoyant synths, Sequoyah channels the pure pop fire of so many synthpop greats — the sauciness of Yaz, the levity of Shamir, the gravitas of the Eurythmics — to light their way through darkness. “I wrote this track at a time when I needed to feel uplifted, when I needed to feel comfortable being alone with myself,” Sequoyah wrote on their SoundCloud page. “This song affirms that negative feelings are temporary.” Indeed! And neither can any listener harbor such sadness when “Betta” rolls in. It’s also a testament to Sequoyah’s utterly eclectic songwriting, which has pulled in everything from acid jazz to downtempo grunge to complement that otherworldly voice. Hopefully, this victory lap around solitude promises more unstoppable jams from this bedroom-based sorcerer in the not-too-distant future." -Immersive Atlanta

Pamela_and her sons
"Y’know, I was about to start this review with some kooky conceit about chopped salads and chopped vocals. And I woulda gotten away with it, because this latest smorgasbord from Alessandra Hoshor, a.k.a. Pamela_ and her sons, could seem a baffling tossed mess to the uninitiated. But listen closer, and the blueprints for Hurt Plaza slowly fade into view, like invisible ink over neon green paper. We’re not talking about Autechre-level austerity, nor the alien designs of Nicolas Jaar, but something more akin to the super-textured, crazy kinetic scrapbook approach of Actress. In other words — bizarre but deliberate, and definitely not leafy. If Hurt Plaza were indeed a plaza, then Hoshor’s effervescent vocals would spring forth from the central fountain. Like the L.A.-based sound architect Katie Gately, Hoshor forges breathing landscapes out of artificial babble, with several layers stacked and slanted into a precarious Janga tower. “All Out” perhaps spins into the dizziest round, with bubbles of synthesized “ohs” blending in with Hoshor’s own warped voices; “Sad Laugh,” too, beguiles with a dizzying array of laughs that pop like pistons. Whispers and murmurs lend texture to the walls, like in the 5 a.m. factory after-party of “Rush” and the clattering “Almost!” Those weird loops are what make Hurt Plaza so alien, even when the tiles on the floor look like the same damn tiles in other plazas. But where Gately throws in everything and the kitchen sink into her 3-D pop mazes, a Pamela piece doesn’t need many twists or props to turn yr head in loops. Lead single “Green Light” drifts on little more than a staggered cymbal; “Fantasy” ping-pongs phantom calls through a stuttering vacuum. It’s an economy that you won’t catch at a casual glance, thanks to the bustling pace — and that’s both fascinating and frustrating. For, despite Hoshor’s cunning in the layout, there’s still a flatness here that leaves the listener hungry still. “Xx Restless xX,” in particular, seems unfinished, an electro temple run intended only to bridge “All Out” with “Bom Bom Bop.” Still, even if some areas of Hurt Plaza seem undeveloped, Hoshur at least knows how to keep guests on their toes. The songs here land all over the map: “Citybridgefucker” pulses with the moldy industrial shade of Front 242; “Bom Bom Bop” traipses downward into the frost of UK grime; “Down the Hall” shuffles like sidewinding footwork into a flurry of topsy-turvy piano. Given the aforementioned economy, though, the “variety” here is really more like a selection between snacks at a vending machine than, say, a spread of food joints in a mall plaza. But, eh — Hoshor probably isn’t planning to build a food court, anyway. All told, Hurt Plaza may not be the artsiest installment ever, and definitely not the most original design in the vast strip mall of the internet. But on the local block, Pamela_ and her sons stands apart from the pack — and shoppers should hang around a while, if only to marvel at the pretzel-shaped layout." -Immersive Atlanta

Ian Deaton