In the summer of 2019, I attended an in store performance at a famous record store in West Seattle. The artist was someone who had deep roots in the early 80’s Seattle punk scene but eventually made his name with a notorious hard rock band out of Los Angeles, CA. This artist once again was living in West Seattle and had become sort of a prodigal son when he wasn’t on the road reunited with the band who had made him famous. It was cool to meet Duff McKagan. The show had a country vibe with a few Guns N Roses classics in the setlist. But one of my takeaways from that evening was how cool his collaborator was. Shooter Jennings was like talking to an old friend. Personable, nice, and in pre-COVID days, willing to shake my hand. I also forgot to get a picture with Shooter – a big regret. Shooter Jennings – you may have heard – is a performer, co-writer, and producer on Marilyn Manson’s new album, We Are Chaos.
Straight up – I’m not a huge Marilyn Manson fan. The early albums felt like unfocused rage to me. A brief dalliance with a Bowie allegiance caught my ears – indeed, I still listen to 1998’s Mechanical Animals 22 years later. After that? It is very hit or miss for me. My interest was triggered in recent years by his cover of God’s Gonna Cut You Down – a posthumous song released by Johnny Cash. The new Marilyn Manson songs seemed seeped in country and blues, yet still had that old rage. When I heard Shooter Jennings was involved with the new album, I knew I had to have a copy. It doesn’t disappoint – this is easily my favorite Marilyn Manson album. Your mileage may vary, to be sure. But what I like about it is that it takes just about every sound he has explored over the last 25+ years and blends it into an intoxicating brew. Industrial, new wave, country, blues – there is even some crooning on this record.
Black Needle Noise is one of John Fryer’s many projects, with a focus on collaborating with different vocalists and embracing an “anything goes” philosophy. Fryer, of course, was 1/2 of This Mortal Coil – a band who employed a similar approach with regards to guest vocalists. As a producer, he has made his mark with Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Wire, Stabbing Westward, and many, many more. If there is a “John Fryer Sound” it’d have to mine both ethereal & angst, rage & beauty. His collaborator on A Shiver Of Want is Bill Leeb. An early member of Skinny Puppy who found worldwide success with Delerium and Front Line Assembly. Most of my readers have probably heard the Delerium song Silence featuring Lilith Fair founder Sarah McLachlan on vocals – a stunning slice of trance melancholy (in its original form). Which means that this Black Needle Noise / Bill Leeb collaboration should be a match made in heaven – and it is, I am pleased to say.
A Shiver of Want starts out with moody instrumentation shifting into a hymn like spoken verse. A slow build, if you will. Musically, it combines a menacing atmosphere with wholesale industrial aggression. Perfect, in other words. The chorus positively explodes, providing a catharsis of sorts. Lyrically, this is dark stuff. “you bring me down / you tear apart in me / the light you see / pours out of me”. The final 90 seconds or so of the song are perfectly sublime – a perfect meeting of angst, sadness, and hopelessness. “into the night / we fall away / our shadows becoming thin”. Unsettling. Masterful.
You can follow Black Needle Noise on The Social Network here and pick up the track here. An absolute gem, it deserves to be in your collection.
For Fans of: Nine Inch Nails, Delerium, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, Portishead, Wire, Lush
About 3 years ago or so I was sent the debut album by Death Threat Cassette, a 1 man band based out of North Yorkshire, England. I was instantly blown away by the originality on display – a perfect meshing of violence & beauty, 90’s inspired yet modern. It was one of my favorite albums of 2013, and I’ve been patiently waiting for a follow-up ever since. Dial M for Masham arrives unheralded yet once again makes a case for being album of the year. It will feel instantly familiar to those who have heard the 1st album, yet mixes it up enough to rope in new listeners. Lee Pecqueur aka Death Threat Cassette disproves the theory of the “sophomore slump”.
2013 is proving to be an amazing year for the return of artists who first rose to fame in previous decades. For electronic tinged music, this is especially so. Earlier this year we saw the unexpected return of David Bowie, with a strong album that brought to mind his “Berlin Trilogy” musically and visually (that cropped cover of the Heroes album is a conversation starter). The Pet Shop Boys followed suit a few months later by delivering their strongest album in years, a hard-hitting, beat heavy masterpiece. It only figures that with the 70’s and 80’s represented this year, the final part of the trilogy would be filled with a band who really took off in the 90’s, Nine Inch Nails.