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FreakAnimalFinland
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« on: December 11, 2009, 11:44:51 AM »

CONTRASTATE
I got introduced to this project in mid 90's when Tesco / Functional released their work. It sounded strange. Not very noisy compared to all the other stuff label had to offer. I liked what I heard, but it took me some more years to become "obsessed" to the degree I needed all their stuff. It wasn't until quite recently when I finally decided to invest money to buy original 1st & 2nd LP. I would say were about the best 30 euro/each investment I had paid for this year!

Reviews welcomed. It's not long ago since I listened the 2xpic LP and the 12" on tesco. 7" reviews previously posted on noisefanatics.com

We know Segerhuva is doing Mort Aux Vaches on LP soon. Impatient for it,  since never got the CD. How is the last cd from 2006?


Discography

Seven Hands Seek Nine Fingers (LP, Ltd)   Black Rose Recordings 1989
 Seven Hands Seek Nine Fingers (CD)   Fin De Siècle Media 2005

Album starts in great way. Short introduction piece in experimental sounds layered on top of eachother is in couple minutes transformed into minimal metal banging loop. Just short like 1 second long "clang clong", "clang clong", "clang clong", "clang clong" keeps repeating so long that first time I listened this I wondered did it end up in lock groove?? Little by little they start to tranform the mood to add subtle drones on the back, the further you go, little scraping and carving sounds rise from behind. Like dragging knives, or some tools on metal, wood, floor or whatever. Suddenly in exactly middle of the side, the rhythm loop stops. Machine like music transforms into experimental dark sound. Multi layered humming, sounds that remind you of axe or knife being sharpened, synthesizer drones. It is just hard to descibe how natural and amazing the flow is. It is not like they'd just throw shit over eachother. And it's not like things would just start and stop. All transitions seems planned, all sounds seem blending eachother. You can't really know what to expect to happen in next 2-3 minutes. There can continue in route you thought, or they will make totally unexpected thing. Before end of the side, suddenly rises tones of organs and commanding voice almost like Führer ranting from the balcony. It last just few seconds, before more abstract approach goes on. And it doesn't sound misplaced. It doesn't sound like pasted on, but just something what needed to be there. In end of track level of noisiness grows. Very organic sound instead of metal junk or something.
On b-side gloomy tones of keyboards with spoken word on the top. Very simple piece goes on for long time. Tones of keyboard has strange slow vibration what makes it almost out of tune, and the impact of each chord is nearly percussive. I would really like to know how they made it. What was used to make this sounding tones. Track ends to industrial noise loops.  2nd track on b-side starts with ethereal keyboards with physical sounds layered under. Water, some kind of throwing things around. This is the way it also ends, but between was unexpected noisier moments.
CD had bonus? I think so. (MA)


A Thousand Badgers In Labour (LP, Ltd)   Black Rose Recordings 1990
 A Thousand Badgers In Labour (CD)   Black Rose Recordings 1995

Great 2nd LP. Eerie exprerimental drones, very naturally shifting, occasionally goes to moods what I'd say could be there English "world serpent'sih" thing, with simple chords of acoustic guitar with out of tune male voice. Not really "folk", just highly echoed distant music.
A-side is filled with tones of organs, heartbeat like pulse on the back, side ending with spoken word over similar atmospheres like album started. B-side is darker. Experimental droning sound with something that sounds almost like processed sounds of wind and low end hum of keyboards, then transfers into very obscure echoing sounds slowly shifts into sampled laughter rising over sound. While track proceeds forward, it becomes darker and darker. Distant screams, howls, whispers, multilayered noisy (but not noise) sound craftmanship. The very last track of LP is almost pure industrial noise. It sounds as if something like old school clock was being contact mic'ed, but multiple layers of feedback noise on the top. So many layers are applied, that it sounds more like the infamous screeching sound of Ferial Confine for example. It has slight rhythm, but sounds as if not clock, but actually loops of banging piece of metal pipe. Very distant lo-fi & distorted choir sounds become audible only in very last moments of song. Otherwise they blended perfectly in mix. Making you not really hear them, but FEEL that there is more in this track that what appears to be.
Maybe not their best album, but like all their work: essential. I guess CD has couple bonus tracks? I just have the LP. Any comments on bonus?? (MA)

 I (Cass)   Direction Music 1991
 I (CD, Album)   Functional Organisation 1993

 A Live Coal Under The Ashes (CD + LP, S/Sided)   Tesco Organisation 1992
 A Live Coal Under The Ashes (CD, Album, RE)   Tesco Organisation 2008

I Am A Clown Collecting Moments (And Other Chocolates) (7", Ltd)   Dying Earth Records 1993
Band that is quite hard to put in category. While they have this name, which gives very industrial feeling, they have releases on such labels as Tesco Organization (this 7" happens to be out between "A Live Coal Under The Ashes" (tesco) "i" (functional) and Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater (vinyl: Tesco & cd: Functional), they are very obscure. Somewhere in experimental soundcollage. They may present you moments of impressive industrial echoes and sonic obscurities, but soon buried under clip of old jazz, spoken word or something. I first played the other side on wrong speed (33 instead of 45) and the jazz clips sounded haunting and dark, it was kind of unfortunate to realize that while track otherwise improved with correct speed, some moments would have been better if slowed down...
One of the Contrastate guys was running Black Rose Recordings responsible for Coil/Vortex Campaign/TNB cd, releases of Z'ev, Francisco Lopez, RLW, Band of Pain,...... basically tastes of the label show the direction of Contrastate as project. It's hard to say whether you could file it under innovative industrial or merely sound art collages. But whatever it is, it is good. Old release from 1993, but hardly a collectors trophy. Therefore possible to find for very tolerable costs.

 English Embers (EP) ◄ (2 versions)   Drone Records ... 1994
 English Embers (7", Ltd, Pin)   Drone Records 1994
 English Embers (CD, EP)   Dirter Promotions 1996

 Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater (Album) ◄ (2 versions)   Tesco Organisation ... 1995
 Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater (LP, Ltd, Pic + 12", Ltd, Pic)   Tesco Organisation 1995
 Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater (CD, Album)   Functional Organisation 1995

 Mort Aux Vaches (CD, Album, Ltd)   Mort Aux Vaches 1996

 Goodbye Great Nation (CD, EP)   Black Rose Recordings 1997

 Under The Line Laying North (7", Ltd)   Fourth Dimension Records 1997

 Todesmelodie (CD, Album)   Noise Museum 1999

Extract No. 10 (7", Ltd)   Outsider Records 2000
While ago reviewed another 7" of them. It's equally good, although different. After 3 rotations today, I can say this is great. First side starts with relaxing looped "melody", which is soon driven over by short loop of bassy pulse and other sounds, which makes it sound almost like eching distant train (which it isn't). In half of the track sound has been stripped down merely consisting this looped "beat". And that's when the track finally really starts. Great panning on spoken word samples, slowly approaching synth tone... experimental industrial atmosphere, which doesn't rely on distortion or roughness, but machine like repetation with enough control & artistic touch with good skills of composition.
B-side is darker. Slow sweeping synth waves, low pulsating sounds (which this time could be a distant train!) and heavily echoing deep voiced speeches and even distant orchestral fragments on the back. There is abundance of subtle details and ongoing layers on all levels. Song slowly evolves and flows towards end of it's short 4 minutes playing time. Never noisy, but just amazingly well put together, without becoming "real music", or "keyboard ambient", nor "art music" (in negative sense).
It's another great release of Contrastate, and dates back to 2000, which means this must be their last materials they recorded? 2 CD's after that is just collections of old rarities. Even if cover says 45rpm, this plays at 33. In case you get copy without the later added sticker.

 False Fangs For Old Werewolves (CD)   Fin De Siècle Media 2005

 Handbags & DADA (CD)   Fin De Siècle Media 2006
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bogskaggmannen
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2009, 01:21:55 PM »

I have been excited about this group ever since I got the "Throwing out the baby with the bathwater" vinyl set in 1996. They have a rare sense of "story-telling" atmosphere and often I think the music would fit very well to both theatre plays and dancing shows. A very special sounding group with music that just is not made these days. The themes are very often quite political, though not in a very clear way - actually the "Mort aux vaches" CD perhaps has the most straightforward politically charged vocals ever during their existance.

The last album is "Todesmelodie" from 1999 - the "Handbags and dada" CD from 2006 is made up of the material from the "Festival Karlsruhe" tape set on Tesco plus a extra long live track recorded years later. I can write something about "Todesmelodie" this weekend as I accidentally had it in my Discman today!
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2009, 10:54:51 AM »

Todesmelodie (CD, Album)   Noise Museum 1999

I'm assuming the title refers to being the last album of Contrastate - but it also serves as the end of the line in regards to their ordinary subjects of the decline of England etc. I wouldn't necessarily call this album complex but it has a stranger structure to it than most other Contrastate albums. The main thing here is that it lacks a bit of engaging sounds and natural evolution for album.

Starts out with long, slow organ (?) tone with incoming accordion tones, followed by delayed female ululating and eventually a bit cheesy rhythm. Spoken words with guitar comes into the rhythm and makes interesting composition. Second track background rhythm with additional sounds on top - strange choirs, cut-up vocals and film samples. End goes on for too long but otherwise good. Third track "Cutting the cancer" is again more "folky" with simple guitar lines and double vocals in the beginning, transforms into rhythm and loops then back to same style as beginning of track, then forth and back again. Last track is very long, like 25 minutes. Starts with a bit delayed choir, evolves into psychedelic synthline loop then to slow percussion, simple piano into harbour/trainstation sounds (the title "The suitcase or the coffin" is right on target here). My guess is the idea was to make a track which should show the feeling of being lost between countries - not feeling at home anywhere and the pain of leaving and entering something uncertain.

Not bad at all but I think this album is very "studio made" in the sense that the live feeling and progression is lost - maybe the vocals "I'm tired of fighting, I want to come in. It is time for human warmth." on track three sums it up pretty well - the gentlemen are old and tired, time for the youngsters to take over? But of course no one did...or maybe I am unable to see or hear anything like Contrastate in the years after?
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Jaakko V.
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2009, 03:56:02 AM »

I really adore Contrastate. Listening to Perhaps It Comes Out of the Black Sea from A Thousand Badgers in Labour I simply cannot avoid the thought that the whole of Coil's Astral Disaster is based on this. Or maybe it's just a coincidence.
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Steve
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2009, 10:54:30 AM »

I was living at the house of Outsider Records in Lincoln when they released the final Contrastate record "Extract No. 10". Unfortumately on release Meixner and co disowned the release saying that tey did not like the pressing, even though they had approved the test pressings. This left Mick of Outsider Records with boxes full of records that he found hard to shift. Contrastate were advising people not to buy the 7". Mick probably still has boxes in storage somewhere in Lincoln. I have the single and a test pressing, not the finest Contrastate release by a long chalk but certainly a worthy document from one of the best projects of the 1990's. 
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2010, 07:30:12 PM »

Bought some of the missings CD's.
Been listening "Goodbye Great Nation" mCD ( Black Rose Recordings 1997) today few times. Little below 21 minutes would perhaps make perfect side of LP? Maybe getting this much bass would be hard? Well, whatever I say, would be probably repeating myself. Contrastate is unique, and this one is another great blend of industrial, experimental collage of loops, haunting deep voices, calmy spoken vocals with... but since this is actually not just Contrastate recording, but collaboration with The Tiger Lillies, in about 12 minutes you will be probably taken over by surprise when suddenly everything transforms into kind of nostalogic musical entertainment with band instruments and female vocals with lyrics fitting the title. They do blend in the experimental / industrial amazingly well. One could wonder if some could be achieved by Grunt featuring Jari Sillanpää with folky approach? Perhaps not! But here, the masters do it. They can switch the atmosphere into music, and get it back to reverb drenched colossally crashing industrial sounds. Recommended for slightly openminded listeners!
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2010, 08:36:13 PM »

...not just Contrastate recording, but collaboration with The Tiger Lillies... with band instruments and female vocals with lyrics fitting the title.
If it's the regular Tiger Lillies vocalist, it's a guy singing. Haven't heard this collaboration, but heard plenty of Tiger Lillies on their own. It's an acquired taste, but I've grown to like them.
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2010, 09:49:24 PM »

...not just Contrastate recording, but collaboration with The Tiger Lillies... with band instruments and female vocals with lyrics fitting the title.
If it's the regular Tiger Lillies vocalist, it's a guy singing. Haven't heard this collaboration, but heard plenty of Tiger Lillies on their own. It's an acquired taste, but I've grown to like them.

It is their regular singer. I did not like that record at all first but since then I've come to really like it. I've been listening a lot to Contrastate and (srmeixner) in the last couple of weeks and they are as Mikkos said masters. Being invovled in the reiusse of Mort aux Vaches is a dream come true.

Black Rose Recordings still have copies of Goodbye Great Nation (I just love that title... so British it hurts...) so it is pretty easy to get.
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2010, 10:19:08 PM »

Todesmelodie (CD, Album)   Noise Museum 1999
Not bad at all but I think this album is very "studio made" in the sense that the live feeling and progression is lost - maybe the vocals "I'm tired of fighting, I want to come in. It is time for human warmth." on track three sums it up pretty well - the gentlemen are old and tired, time for the youngsters to take over? But of course no one did...or maybe I am unable to see or hear anything like Contrastate in the years after?

Just listened this one too, and have to say Bogskaggmannen nailed it all. Don't have to say anything, than agree with all descriptions and especially this conclusion. I think that the lack of "live progression", kind of feeling of hand tweaked live effects etc is a loss. There are a lot of great moments and a lot of great sounds, but too many of clean drum machine loops  clean electronics sounding as if they were merely loops edited on computer screen... Still most definitely recommended if one likes the band.

Goodbye Great Nation (I just love that title... so British it hurts...) so it is pretty easy to get.

Oh yes. I can't fully capture what all is being said there, but you pick up the british accent, disappointment and failures of great nations and what's the thing about skinheads they keep repeating? Whatever it is, adds good wibe on the release.
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 11:05:08 PM »

Contrastate would likely make my top 10 all-time experimental acts.  I can't really add much to the conversation.  I've managed to leave my unbridled adoration as just that.  I haven't given great thought into why, or how, I enjoy them to the great level I do.  I just do, and I allow myself that great luxury.  Maybe that's it right there:  they ARE luxurious in nearly every way experimentalism can be; yet they are obviously not just candy or shallow.  If you want to experience them as fine silk or plush velvet, you can.  If you find that headspace to be moved into emotions or profoundness, they deliver on subterranean plains as well.  I suppose that doesn't seem entirely unusual...until you've listened to a couple of their albums in a row one afternoon, and they've managed to reshape your thinking for a few following days.  I personally don't find that with too many groups.

The Tiger Lillies thing worked well, but I haven't found any value in the other Tiger Lillies material I've heard.

The English Embers CDEP of the Drone 7" has a bonus 9-minute track on it, and I don't believe it is available elsewhere.  Note to the completists.

Wish I had that live track from Handbags & DADA right now.  I'm in the mood for something from them that I haven't heard.

I've always wondered what a Militia/Contrastate live collaboration would be like.  They're all bright enough and skilled enough to avoid the train wreck and create something extraordinary beyond their own signatures.
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2010, 11:28:49 AM »

I (Cass)   Direction Music 1991
I (CD, Album)   Functional Organisation 1993


The overall theme of this third Contrastate album is based around the birth of the self and is for the most part pretty calm ambient material. First track "I Just Am", which occupies side A of the cassette is comprised of backwards guitar and synthesizer drones and choirs which fades into other parts birds noise and other reverbed sounds. Here it's evident that much of Contrastate's strength lies in the melding together of different atmospheres and structures. One may think that parts of the sounds used feel a bit dated now, but I have no problem with that as long as the overall production holds great value. Second side starts with more ancient feel, like invocation of spirit and strength, with drums/percussion elements coupled with Jonathan's chanting, then comes again synthloop and reverbed guitar/harmonica on top and added deep choir sounds eventually. Track two on side B is perhaps the most challenging experience here, based only around clear voice of Mark J. Hamilton, going from both very high frequencies to deeper ones in very traditional British "song" layered as a full scale choir. I'm sure most here would hate it, but the structure of the piece is nonetheless intriguing and a welcome break from the albums otherwise pretty non-intense feel. Last track on the tape "Locked Inside A Dying Horse" is perhaps more standard dark ambient with a lot of echoing, almost new agey at times in a elemental way. The CD has two extra tracks. The first one being a pretty simple one with its delayed acoustic (?) guitar strummings and growing background guitardrone, more in soundscape way. Second one more into calmer, darker drone, much like early Mirror or such. A good album overall, while not their best.
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 08:49:14 AM »

There is a new Contrastate CD I got couple weeks ago, but not yet time to listen. Meanwhile have been rotating over and over again

SRMeixner / Band of Pain split 7".
Not sure if SRMeixner should have topic of it's own, but he's one member of Contrastate. I was very much into his CD on Segerhuva. Somehow unique concept and take to whole sound crafting.

This 7" is not that different. Blending tasty sonic elements together, with some tonal musical elements. Including electronic, acoustic and animal sounds (frogs at end of track!?).
Band Of Pain also some of their best stuff for my ears. No sax, no soundtrack music, more experimental.

7" sounds great. 45rpm. Even if tracks are less than 5 minutes each, they have such a great composition style, it always feels like proper (and much longer) piece, not just out-takes of something longer. Ltd 250 some years ago, color vinyl, printed transparent cover, but you can still grab it for decent price.
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 07:05:33 PM »

I haven't heard any of those SRMeixner CDs.  I'd forgotten about them.  So, there is now a 4th?
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 08:08:53 PM »

Contrastate
2012-11-17
Mannheim, 7er Club
25th anniversary of Tesco Germany - Day 2
total time:   41:26

I'm listening to this recording now (shared at the Dime tracker).  It's quite nice, both in content and fidelity.
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2013, 03:35:19 PM »

Contrastate
2012-11-17
Mannheim, 7er Club
25th anniversary of Tesco Germany - Day 2
total time:   41:26

I'm listening to this recording now (shared at the Dime tracker).  It's quite nice, both in content and fidelity.

Don't know what a Dime Tracker is, where is thi avaible, since its exactly what i want from Contrastate, since the Concert was Fantastic, but the Recordings aren't as good as the Concert
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