The Flaming Fish/Velvet Empire Page!

Updated 05/02/99


“A Living Death” (13 Tracks. 53:01. Flaming Fish) available from Flaming Fish

With so many hybrid “industrial” groups out today it is refreshing to hear one that plays a more pure form. This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate those others, or that Autovoice is totally non-commercial. But some of you will remember the early days of Nine Inch Nails and other such groups where the heavy distorted sounds were the vocals and keyboards. There were no guitars. And though I like heavy Metal and am partial to guitars, I think the music on this disc is better without them. Perhaps it would help to describe Autovoice as a subdued X-Propagation.
Autovoice is made up of three guys with pseudonyms. Two of them provide synth and voice and then the other provides effects and manipulations. The vocals are occasionally clean but often distorted. Lyrically their songs seem to be shouting Jeremiads at the ills of society (though this is hard to tell without a lyric sheet). Anyway, it is quite a good listen.


“The Birth of Future” (12 Tracks. Flaming Fish) available from Cybershadow

Interestingly, this disc came out after the next disc reviewed. Cybershadow’s The Birth of Future, as I understand it, is the Darkwave/techno brainchild of Jess Macintyre. Some of the music is sinister and brooding Darkwave, the trimester pieces are somewhat ambient, but the bulk of the music has a retro techno feel. An example is the cut, “Civilian Tank Department” and “Don’t Fear Your Future”. These and other tracks like them are somewhat commercial and very dance oriented. Then the song, “Social Conditioning” is more Industrial flavored and has several remixes on the next disc reviewed.
The whole album is set up as an epic set in three “trimesters”. I find this an interesting way to conceptualize. The overall message of this album is a bit like the message of “Metropolis” reviewed above. One interesting exception is the song “Universal Love” which talks of the sacrifice two lovers from different worlds make in order to be together. Call it a cosmic tragedy in the Shakespearean style, but the message of self sacrifice is neat.


“Social Conditioning” (8 Tracks. 47:22. Flaming Fish) available from Flaming Fish

I mentioned above that there are several remixes of the song “Social Conditioning” on this disc. Of the 8 tracks, 5 are remixes, but they may as well be counted as 5 separate songs. Each remix is done by a different person/persons. The remixes are done by Pivot Clawj, Audio Paradox, and Delayed Shock Reaction. Each remix is a total reinterpretation and frankly, I listened to this disc before looking at the tracks and didn’t realize I was listening to the same song. The other three tracks are interesting as well. The first of them is called “Incubation (Trimesters Revisited)” and the last one is “Their Christmas Angel”. Both are atmospheric Darkwave songs and are very enjoyable, especially “Their Christmas Angel”. The other track is a great industrial flavored song, “Adrenaline Rush”, originally written by Claus Larsen of Leather Strip. Both Cybershadow discs are a great listen.

Contact Cybershadow at:

Coming Soon!


“Open-Eyed Ascension” (9 Tracks. 65:06. Velvet Empire & Flaming Fish) USA available from Flaming Fish and Velvet Empire

I liked this CD before I even heard it because of two things. The first thing is the neat artwork, an almost parchment like insert with tissue cover. It contains ancient paintings and diagrams of the universe from scholastic thinkers and renaissance thinkers. The second thing is the quotations from such minds as Dante and Pascal. It’s the sort of thing that invites thought that the music further inspires. In other words, this disc was put together by a thinker for thinkers. The music itself is ambient and one of the tracks was featured on the Awaiting The Dawn compilation from the same labels (reviewed in Issue 5). So, here’s another great soundtrack for meditation.

Coming Soon!


”HypercriteP” (6 Tracks. 28:16) Flaming Fish.

I don’t have GWS first album but remember that when it came out I was not all that familiar with Industrial music. That is a shame because I almost missed out on a truly gifted group. This EP, while it is short, is one of the best electronic CD’s I have ever heard. There is, for one thing, a great deal of variety on the songs. The opening track, “Cardboard Box” starts out with a funky, laid back intro that suddenly bleeds into a driving, pulsing dance tune with chanting vocals and some great rhythm guitar. It talks about idolatry. In contrast is song two, a static tinged, syncopated, understated song about hypocrisy—no doubt this is where the CD’s title comes from. Track three picks up the tempo again with a groovy number called, “Dissent”. I really like this song, not just because of the catchy music, but because of the message. It talks about how many Christians bicker over the millenial views of the book of Revelation. There is a great line in this song which goes like this, “while you argue, the world is dying.” I hope church members will get the message. Next up is another treat, a two song treatment of themes from C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” (a profound book). The first of these tracks, “Life and Works”, is rather ambient and the words are spoken but it bleeds into another groovy, guitar driven number called “Fountain” which is my favorite track on the disc. Finally, the EP ends with another ambient-like reading. This time the subject is Psalm 61 and the track is simply called, “LXII”.

It is refreshing to find a Christian release this theologically astute, socially conscious, and musically relevant. I hope that this EP is a sign of more to come from GWS.


“Devil’s Advocate” (13 Tracks. 54:25). Dark Industrial flavored music.

No doubt Dan Levler gets lots of comparisons to Circle of Dust. I get the impression from the credits on his track for Flaming Fish’s Lethal Injection CD that he wouldn’t mind the comparison. It makes me think of the movie Multiplicity where each clone of Michael Keeton emphasizes a slightly different aspect of his personality. One is tempted to ask if Level and Klank are merely clones of Circle of Dust. Actually, while the musical similarities are immediately obvious, a careful listening will reveal a much more eclectic sound. Present are the heavy, thrash style guitars appear on many songs like “Backslide”, “Best Way Out”, and “Devil’s Advocate”. Dan Levler plays guitar as well as Klay Scott for sure. Other songs, however, have a more Argyle Park feel like “Hero Zero”, “Caught Sick”, “Just Like You” and so on. The mixture of styles cover such things as darkwave, techno, drum and bass (thumping music), and occasionally hints almost at pop. There’s even an almost gangsta rap musical style from time to time. One might even imagine a fan of Metallica’s recent post-industrial style getting into this. The song writing is very balanced to boot. Perhaps the greatest area of similarity to Circle of Dust and Klank is that the lyrics are very dark and focus on betrayal and social evils, though not to the degree that Klank does. Most of all, Levler’s voice sounds a lot like Klay Scott. To finalize, this is a very, very good disc. It is going to be in my CD player a lot.

Nova Sphere

“Solar Energy” (10 Tracks. 54:30. Velvet Empire & Flaming Fish) USA available from Flaming Fish and Velvet Empire

I don’t have the highly praised EnGrave disc but this one is done by the same guy: Nathan Morris. Apparently this one is of a slightly different style. So, I’ll have to critique this one without the benefit of having heard Polaris.
This album is an instrumental disc that further explores the possibilities of electronic music. The keyboard textures are smooth and ambient but fast and are set to danceable beats. The beats, however, are minimal and do not throb and boom through your speakers like say Blackhouse. So, is this Dance Ambient? I guess that term has already been coined but perhaps doesn’t give a clear description after all.
To get a better clue as to the sound one must see the artwork and pay attention to the title and name. This is Nova Sphere doing Solar Energy. The pictures on the front are of astronauts in space; therefore, I think it is most appropriate to call this space music. How does it sound? How about this: minimalistic dance beats bathed in ambient sounds and effects. It would make a better soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey imo.

Pivot Clowj

“It’s not as if it were the end of the world . . . that was yesterday” (14 Tracks. 63:45. Flaming Fish). USA

From what I understand this CD has been a long time coming (PC formed in 1993). I first learned about Pivot Clowj when I saw other artists’ tracks remixed by these guys (e.g.,Cybershadow). I was wondering how a band with no CD out would become so well known and respected enough to be asked to remix tracks for so many groups. Now I can see—or hear—why. These guys are incredibly creative.

I found out that many of the synths and other instruments used on this CD are homemade. One such instrument is called an “electric piece of elastic” which must be the strange sounding instrument used on track two, “Holy Water”. Pivot Clowj are probably the first band to actually create pop music with an industrial approach. Think of Mental Destruction playing a song by Simple Minds. Many bands today are mistakenly called Industrial today because they use programming in their songs. This is a misnomer. But in the case of Pivot Clowj, I believe I am correct to call them pop and Industrial at the same time. It is so weird and yet very appealing. Another word to that accurately describes their music is “experimental”.

Another bonus about this particular CD is that it contains five great bonus tracks. Some of the are remixes from tracks featured on various compilations. Others, like “Doubting” and “Mind On A String” first appeared on their demo tape “The Fish Who Could Swallow the Sea “(above). The best of these is the live version of “Mind On A String” which is done only on piano with Jon’s melancholic vocals. You imagine him singing in a smoke filled bar at 3:00 in the morning. What a cool way to end such a diverse CD.

In my opinion Pivot Clowj stand out as a band of bands (note the superlative). Maybe it’s charisma or maybe it’s creativity but whatever it is, it’s fun to listen to.

To contact Flaming Fish or Velvet Empire see the page for music labels
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Various Artists

“Awaiting The Dawn” (14 Tracks. 73:45. Flaming Fish & Velvet Empire) available from Flaming Fish

If you are prone to rise before the dawn to pray and meditate you may enjoy listening to this music when you do. Awaiting The Dawn is a Darkwave collection of 14 ambient, soulful pieces by such artists as: Caul, EnGrave, Cradle->Grave, Bonescan, Firmament, Thymikon, Cadence, The Reclusive Cypher (Jess Macintyre of Cybershadow), In A Lonely Place, Steve Scott, True Color of Blood, CultofJester, and Frolic. This CD epitomizes the spiritual value of ambient music. Most of the tracks are just quiet sound manipulations, most of which are minimalistic. One exception is “The Mystic Mother” by Thymikon. It has more instrumentation and has a reading which undoubtedly comes from an Eastern Orthodox mystic source. So, grab your Bible, a hot cup of tea, put on this disc and watch the sun rise.


”Lethal Injection” (16 Tracks. 72:24). Available from Flaming Fish Records

Perhaps Lethal is a good descriptive word as this compilation is filled with some fast moving, upbeat, industrial tinged music. Whereas the other compilations reviewed cover more somber or trance-like styles, this one is full on. The first two bands, LEVEL’S and A Different Kind of Cop immediately call to mind Circle of Dust and Klank. This is especially true of LEVEL’S who was produced by Klay Scott himself but has cooler vocals than COD imo. If the song “What If?” is any indication of what LEVEL’S will sound like I am very anxious for a full release. Audio Paradox come on strong with “Transgression”, an aggressive song with an Eastern flare. Another highlight is Pivot Clawj’s “So Gullible” which is rather pleasant and unique sounding. “Funkatron” by Cult of Jester is in the middle of the CD and is a really fun tune as the title would suggest. Another highlight is a new track by Cybershadow which has Jess MacIntyre’s trademark old wave (imo) sound. I am much more impressed with the new globalwavesystem than I was with the old and their track here, “Wheel” is really cool, as is their new E.P. “Hypercrit”. The CD is finished out with a really neat track called “My Life is My Infinity” by Cradle>Grave, the alter-ego of Kohllapse’s drummer. Also featured on this CD is Audio Paradox, The Way Sect Bloom, Tempestuous All, Lotus:07, Human Knot Farm, and Autovoice; all of which have really good tracks too.

This CD is not reflective or meditative like Awaiting The Dawn—with the possible exception of Autovoice’s “Non-Expressive”-- it is a “rockin’” collection of some really fun and “groovin” tracks.

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