Monthly Archives: April 2015

Album Review: Hands of Industry – Killing the Yes Men

killing yesHailing from Leeds, West Yorkshire, Hands of Industry have been playing live since 2013 and by taking influences from both 80s and 90s electronic acts are providing another welcome alternative to the myriad guitar bands. Unlike many electronic acts, H.O.I. opt to have live drummer rather than drum machine to give the more emotive human element that can often be missing from electronic music. It’s an effective choice and really will help them stand out.

This is their debut album release and we have to remark on the effective nature of the artwork; a superb striking image that really can help the album stand out. Inner artwork also compliments the whole atmosphere with bleak, stark images of decay and desolation along with choice lyrical quotes. So far so good but you may be wanting to know how the music stacks up and what it’s like right?

They describe themselves as falling somewhere around Depeche Mode mixed with The Sisters of Mercy and while to some extent we can see the Depeche Mode thing we don’t really feel much of The Sisters. If they must be compared to other bands then we would suggest there is a bit of a Numan thing going off, what with the live drums and the fondness for string synth sounds. Another band that springs to mind is Joy Division; the bleakness of the atmospheres involved and vocal tonality certainly bring Ian Curtis to mind.

hoiinner

There’s many a vocal hook on here that sticks in the mind long after you’ve finished listening and it’s a pleasure to hear some music that isn’t full of your typical arpeggios. There’s a lot of synth music that sounds rather like Erasure and while we’re big fans of Erasure here we don’t need 500 more Erasures. We always admire and appreciate something that does things a little different and H.O.I. please us immensely by not being just another copycat band.

While perhaps we could have used a little bit more variety in tone on the album it’s still not one that ever gets boring despite the tracks mostly being around the 5 minutes mark. Two tracks in particular that stick out are “It’s Not a Dream” and “It’s Not That Hard” which take a slower pace and have just that bit extra to stand out from the crowd, the latter certainly bringing Joy Division‘s Amosphere to mind. “Power in Silence” is probably the star track of the more upbeat songs with excellently timed vocal phrasing punctuating the music. If indeed you can truly call any of the album upbeat when we’re largely dealing upset most of the time.

You can buy “Killing the Yes Men” on itunes or on Compact Disc

Visit them on facebook and Twitter

Live dates at time of writing:

03 May 2015 MELLOR STOCK charity music festival

09 May 2015 THE CRESCENT PUB, Salford, supporting the impressive A.A.A.K ( As Able As Kane)

22 May 2015 THE DUBLIN CASTLE, Camden, London

29 May 2015 THE BLACK SWAN, Bradford, support from FACTORY ACTS (Salford) and DJ MARK M ( Mark Musolf)

Watch a live video of “Power in Silence” below:

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Hypernoise 30XX Mode (yeh!)

Before I continue, you must agree that the title got you intrigued, right? Hypernoise 30xx mode! Read on, and all will be revealed.

During a recent conversation with a certain Mr Williams, it was suggested to me that I write on here about my synthesizers. What I didn’t want to do was write yet another synth review on each that I own, as the t’interweb is awash with such articles. So I wanted to either reminisce about buying synths, or talk about their aesthetics, or how they sit in my setup; give a user’s perspective rather than just a rundown of their specs.

I’m quite sure DAW (Derek) wasn’t expecting this post. I think he was rather hoping to read about some 30 year old analog monster, but I’m going to rant about a recent addition to my family instead :) (I’ll save the analog monsters for another time)

The Nebulophone.

neb

Designed at Bleep Labs in Austin, Texas early 2010, the Nebulophone has been described as a “Stylophone on crack.” Indeed, a stylus is used to play, but sound-wise, it leaves the Stylophone dead in the water. It’s an Arduino (Even I don’t know that one. I presume it’s this – Ed) based synth that is the size of a credit card, yet it sounds massive. It comes in kit form and costs around £50.

For something so cheap, and so small, its features are impressive; 8 waveforms, 6 arpeggio modes, adjustable portamento, adjustable decay (How long a sound takes to return to its initial level – Synth Explaining Ed), a light-controlled analog low-pass filter (LPF) (used to cut higher frequencies from sounds. It’s how you get those weeeownnng sounds; reducing it to zero – Synth Explaining Ed). with 5 adjustable LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator – used primarily for making cyclic modifications on things, like say vibrato or making the brightness of a sound vary up and down over time – Synth explaining Ed) modes, perfect tuning over 6 octaves, and keyboard mapping (To make it play notes when you press them on a keyboard – Synth Explaining Ed).  What’s more, you’re able to program sequences of up to 32 steps, control the arpeggios, sequence and LFO via infra-red (from similar devices) and it’s also possible to sync with the Korg Monotribe and the Korg Volcas (which are recent ‘pocket’ sized synthesisers – Synth Explaining Ed). Oh, and then of course there is hypernoise 30xx mode, which adds distortion and bit-crushing effects.

Example here:

Admittedly, its not the easiest of ‘keyboards’ to play, being so small and played with a stylus, but this does not make it any less usable. I’ve had mine a couple of months now, and have had it synced to the Volcas, with some very impressive and usable results. I’ve also had it fed in to the MoPho and had the Neb’s light controlled LPF modulated with the Curtis filter (A type of Analogue Synth Filter Chip made by Curtis Electronics that became abundant in the early 80s. Found in such as the SH-101 among many many more. More info here if here if you’re interested – Synth Explaining Ed).  Again, some very interesting results.

The Nebulophone may not be to everyone’s taste; you’re not going to get warm pads, or dual oscillator fatness (unless you sync with another), but for the money it’s a very welcome addition, certainly to my studio. At a time when I’m composing for my “Analog Punk” album, this beast has certainly paid for its keep; it looks the part and sounds fantastic. Think Atari Punk Console with far more scope. Search “Nebulophone” at YouTube and soundcloud> for more examples (or by clicking the links I’ve now added – Ed).

Where’s your soldering iron?

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