Crash Course in Science & Psyche :: Double review (Dark Entries)

I sadly missed Dark Entries label boss Josh Cheon on his recent visit to Madrid. We made the plans, but they fell through; the best laid ones of… Despite this brief holiday respite the label has been busier than ever digging out some well-known pioneers of the Industrial scene.

crash-course_psyche_dblCrash Course in Science need little introduction, but I’m going to anyway. CCIS formed in 1979. The Philadelphia act pioneered their own brand of factory inspired synth art, fusing Throbbing Gristle’s anger with a post punk playfulness. DE is reviving CCIS’ second 12” of 1981, Signals From Pier Thirteen. One of the group’s hits, “Cardboard Lamb”, open the 12”s. Cutting through fuzz, bleeps, static and bass comes a rasping beat. The track is quirk-pickled experimentation, lyrics making sense but little thereof. A track with something of The Sparks, a touch of Devo and a snifter of DAF. That steady 4/4 drum machine crack follows into “Crashing Song”, radio interference blurred by radar pings and knob wrenching. “Flying Turns” is a nerve-racking work. Worried beats are further harangued by harassed melodies and uncertain vocals. The finale is the most bruised and brutalised of the 12”. Feedback dominates, as strings, rhythm and human voice are drowned in needle spikes.

In the same year that Signals From Pier Thirteen was released other music happenings were afoot North of the border. In Edmonton, Canada Psyche were forming. The group have enjoyed some thirty years of success, but for Dark Entries there is a specific time focus. Darin Huss, his brother Stephen and Dwayne Goettel were the original band members with Goettel leaving in the early years. Re-membering Dwayne brings together tracks from this three piece partnership. Goettel went on to work with the likes of Skinny Puppy before sadly dying of an overdose in the mid 90s.

Burning rifts and high speed synth-lines are met by machine gun beats for the scorching tyre squeal of “Torture.” The pace is reduced for the warbling “Kreig” before the horror show stalking of “Eye of the Hurricane.” Psyche were one of the first minimal synth bands to come out of Western Canada, but their ability and style is anything but novice. Clinical beats are met by dissociated synth and estranged melodies for a disparate sound. “Screaming Fire” is a nightmarish collage of resonance and reverb, an interlude to the darkened den of “The Crawler.” Dissonance and din bleed into a harsh and harrowing report on humanity.

These latest two from DE are amongst the best known artists to have graced the San Fran label. The four tracks from CCIS are all superb pieces of drum driven social abstraction. Psyche are a more leaden being, these youthful musings perhaps inspired by the perpetual Winters of Northern Alberta. Eclipsed and mechanical from these two North American outfits.

Both releases are available on Dark Entries.

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