IN THE NEWS AND REVIEWS
The Gothsicles, “Animal Songs”
- I Die: You Die, March 3, 2021
It’s March Bandcamp Day! Let The People Rejoice!
- Sound + Shadows, March 4, 2021
"New track by The Gothsicles unveiled to celebrate couple’s engagement"
- ReGen Magazine, April 16, 2016
"The Gothsicles achieve Kickstarter goal within three hours"
- ReGen Magazine, August 28, 2014
PODCAST AND RADIO APPEARANCESnot current, there's a million of these now
- Appearance on 90.9 FM CJSW, Calgary, August 13, 2017
http://cjsw.com/program/nightmare-delirium-2/ to listen directly from the webpage (choose the August 13 episode)
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/nightmare-delirium/id1106595453?mt=2 (August 13 episode)
- We Have A Technical, August 10, 2017
- Space Radio, February 1, 2017
- The DJ Moose Show, January 20, 2017
- The DJ Moose Show, January 06, 2017
- The DJ Moose Show, December 31, 2016
- The DJ Moose Show, January 30, 2015
- Radio Free Nowhere, April 11, 2014
- The Requiem Podcast, July 31, 2013
ReGen Magazine, June 19, 2015
The Gothsicles – Squid Icarus
Posted In ReViews
Category: EBM / Industrial
Album: Squid Icarus
Blurb: Probably the defining Gothsicles album, with a wash of great songs and beats from start to finish and more insider secrets than you will ever decipher.
I think about aliens a lot.
Some of it is unnecessary, I know. There is virtually no chance that people from another planet will be taking American jobs from us anytime soon. And I probably won’t get to start my sex toy company modeling dildos from alien species all over the galaxy; because we don’t live completely in the future yet.
But we live far enough in the future to have this… and I think the aliens would love it.
A first look at Squid Icarus, the fourth full-length album by The Gothsicles suggests it’s an exercise in excess. The brilliant cover mash-up melds the design aesthetics of Angelspit and hyperreal photographer Emily Gualdoni to turn Gothsicles lead, Brian Graupner into the videogame superhero he was born to be. And the album is full of pretty seamless integrations, from producers like Assemblage 23, Faderhead, Rotersand, Angelspit, Cyferdyne, Christ Analogue, and Haujobb.
If anything on that list excites you, it’s likely that you will get a lot out of this sound.
The sound itself? The Gothsicles here have crafted exactly what it would sound like if EBM and chiptune got angry naked drunk at a Prodigy concert inside a videogame convention and fucked over the sleeping body of Bob Moog while reading a comic boo… and then kept the baby. But I promise you that somewhere in the middle of the first song, you’ll be glad they did.
And that first song is “Super Scary Action Figure (I Want to Eat Your Brain).” If you aren’t a Gothsicles fan at the start of this, you may be surprised originally by Graupner’s “hold nothing back” vocal delivery, but it’s meant to brutalize your senses and remind you that he means this shit. None of it is just some half-assed casual hobby; this is pure investment, and it’s an immediate rebuke to anyone who insists that electronic music has no soul. In a way, as well, it’s a rebuke to anyone who thinks that these things, the things he sings about powerfully, don’t matter. I’m reminded of a friend who showed me his entire room dedicated to action figures. “It’s not a joke; it’s my life.”
Powered by a high school sitcom sample and a deeply catchy chiptune lead, “Drop Dead, Squid Face!” is a stomping club song that wouldn’t be out of place at a D.A.F. show. In fact, I dare anyone to watch the many YouTube videos of the band performing this track and not walk away feeling the D.A.F. reference strongly, in case we forgot that there was a time in history when stages were wrecked by punk and EBM colliding over analog synths in dirty half-legal clubs.
The third track, “Ultrasweaty” is probably the runaway hit of the album, with a unique (to The Gothsicles) robotic lead chorus and a passionate rhythm that feels like a good bet for just about any dance floor. This is another song that promotes excess, and to sit in the front row of one of the band’s shows and watch the fans dance, it’s clear that the message comes through loudly.
By this point, it should be clear what kind of glove we’re talking about in “I Sniffed the Glove,” even if Cyferdyne infuses the classic Gothsicles sound with blasts of guitar and a second vocal. And the production on “Give Me One More Chance to Get the Hi-Score, Then We Can Go” and “Moon Knight is Cool” lets you forget easily that both are a complete lie. No way is he going after hitting the high score and Moon Knight hasn’t been cool since…
Oh, fuck it! The Warren Ellis Moon Knight has always been cool.
“Chip Replacement Surgery” and “Slime-Half” are both pure chiptune short sonnets that provide a needed break in the constant dance floor throb of the album, while a high point in the album is the cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Black T-Shirt” from the controversial Strobelight album. Like most great cover songs, you can hear the original in there, swimming hard, hoping to catch up, but in the end, Graupner’s expression of the song hits on all cylinders, both on the album and when performed live.
“Sword Cane” is an elegy to the classy and cultured art of swordcaneage advanced by such experts as Zatoichi, and the heavier, bulky groove of “Cthulhu Fhartwagon” describes perfectly what every artist ever goes through in the tour vehicle.
But nowhere on the album does Graupner reveal his aesthetic as much as on “Bloodlust Software Was Awesome,” an homage to… well, Bloodlust Software, a videogame company that rebelled against the prevalent hyper-serious ultra-violent videogame reigning culture with a tongue-in-cheek sort of cartoon violence that often included killer lawnmowers, cannibalism, transvestite furries, and other absurd adventures into pixelated battle.
Angelspit joins Graupner for “This Club is Closed,” whose classic two-fingered EBM bass line is already a favorite of club managers and bouncers all over. Is it a cheap shot at being played every night? Yes. Will it work? I have no doubt.
The hidden track, “Riding Roller Coasters with Peter Spilles” is another short and ambient track that rounds off the album, reminding us that if you have a chance to talk to the Project Pitchfork vocalist about something dumb, you probably should take it. It’s all roller coasters, death, life, everything.
When the aliens do come, I want to be able to hand them over some amazing music and say, “This is what we do, we humans. We pull together our friends and write catchy songs that are about things that make us smile and we celebrate our fucking lives so hard that we can’t walk anymore. This is how we have Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. This is how we have Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys. This is how we have that one Prince record that no one will give me back after they borrow it. And this is how we have Squid Icarus. Now, take this and don’t blow up the planet.”
“The electronic part of this work is absolutely remarkable and sometimes magic.”
Side-Line Music Magazine, February 23, 2015
Genre/Influences: EBM, cross-over, cyber-rock.
Content: The Gothsicles have signed to Negative Gain Productions after having released their previous two full lengths on WTII Records. This band powered by Brian Graupner can look back at a respectable discography featuring multiple sampler contributions. The band never gained a major reputation here in Europe, but working with a new label might be an opportunity to increase their popularity.
“Squid Icarus” is a damned weird, but fascinating experience in sound, which takes off with the brilliant “Super Scary Action Figure (I Want To Eat Your Brain)”. This song sounds a bit punkish while acid filtered bleeps run through the song. The enraged format reminds me a bit of The Prodigy so you can imagine my excitement after this opener. The song is not representative of the entire album, The Gothsicles rapidly appear to be a real open-minded formation experimenting with multiple influences.
The electronic part of this work is absolutely remarkable and sometimes magic. The EBM element is absolutely impressive, but I also have to mention great, melodic loops and overwhelming synth lines. The synth parts are really alluring and a bit 80s inspired. But “Squid Icarus” also reveals a punkish touch, which especially comes through in the vocals production. The main vocal parts are produced a heavy screaming style, which takes some time to get used to. Speaking for myself I prefer the somewhat robotic effect running through a few of the other cuts. “Moon Knight Is Cool” and the more clubby-minded “Sword Cane” both are great pieces in the genre. “Ultrasweaty” is another similar ‘robotic’-minded piece and still the biggest potential hit of this work. This song is more conceived in the typical EBM vein, but here again The Gothsicles left me stupefied by their overwhelming sound treatments.
Another particular and noticeable song is a cover version of NIN’s “Black T-Shirt”. Brian Graupner also asked a few guests to achieve some songs. Cyferdyne joined hands on “I Sniffed The Glove” while Angelspit was featured on “This Club Is Closed”.
Conclusion: This album sounds like pure fun, but behind this totally weird production also shelters great electronic arrangements.
Best songs: “Ultrasweaty”, “I Sniffed The Glove vs. Cyferdyne”, “Sword Cane”, “Black T-Shirt”, “Bloodlust Software Was Awesome”.
“This release has some of the sickest EBM beats out there right now…”
Slug Magazine, February 5,2015
Negative Gain Productions
The Gothsicles = Bobcat Goldthwait + Caustic + Modulate
This release has some of the sickest EBM beats out there right now, and they have the added bonus of every gamer’s auditory delight: chiptune. Brian Graupner’s voice, on the other hand, is something like caviar, anchovies or escargot—a little rich and pungent at first, but then you grow to love it. It most certainly is an acquired taste. Some of the contributing industrial minds on this geek fest were Haujobb, Assemblage 23 and Rotersand. As the promotional material looked like it was straight out of a gaming guide, I envisioned them rolling their 20-sided die to see which beats they were going to use and where they were going to be placed. The hysterical closing anthem, “This Club is Closed,” featuring Angelspit, will be shutting down the bars nightly in the industrial community everywhere. I loved the music and its hilarious tales of the octopi. –Mistress Nancy
“These Americans make Industrial, EBM with the swagger of The Prodigy.”
Peek-A-Boo, January 22, 2015
These Americans make Industrial, EBM with the swagger of The Prodigy. Guys with a big mouth and ditto music. Wondering if among those testosterone there is some music to. In any case, the 15 band members appear to be less dangerous than you might think at first hearing.
In terms of rhythm and voice, I always think of The Prodigy, especially opener Super Scary Action Figure clearly radiates some of their attitude. In many songs they use beeps and voice distortions, but they are not as mainstream as the aforementioned example. Quite a few songs are created together with others and that sometimes leads to beautiful results. On I sniffed at The Glove they work together with Cyferdyne, a beautiful EBM in which they laugh with themselves and with Arnold Schwarzenegger.At the end they sing the chorus to the melody of I Kissed The Girl by Kate Perry. Hilarious.
This Club is Closed is a collaboration with Angelspit, with a rhythm section that reminds me of Run DMC or even The Black Eyed Peas. Black T Shirt is a cover of NIN. The singer sings a bit in the Beastie Boys style. You have to love it, but it works nicely. Bloodlust Software Was Awesome is almost house, and would do well on the dance floor. Valve Slime resembles music of the era of the arcade computer games, with a familiar sounding melody.
Ironical, over the top and cartoonish are adjectives that apply to this band. Musically everything is okay.
“Co więcej można powiedzieć o tym albumie? W zasadzie to samo, co przy każdym albumie The Gothsicles: FUCKIN’ AWESOMENESS!”
Jeszcze tego nie słyszałeś, January 24, 2015
Czasem tak mam, że zaczynam szukać czegoś, co zainteresuje mój spaczony już gust (nie tylko muzyczny). I tak oto czasem znajduję coś nietypowego i jedynego w swoim rodzaju. No bo ileż można słuchać tych wszystkich perfekcyjnie dopracowanych w pocie czoła, szlachetnie brzmiących utworów reprezentujących znane nazwiska/projekty? Można w nieskończoność, ale ja jednak tak nie potrafię i tu z odsieczą przybywają – jak to sam określiłem – lolbandy. Mamy niby Mindless Self Indulgence, Scootera czy Pentallikę, ale po jakimś czasie I WANT MOAR. I tak oto w blasku chwały, z zakątków najodleglejszej galaktyki, z odsieczą przybywają pogromcy industrialu. Przed Wami, moi drodzy – The Gothsicles.
But who da fuck is The Gothsicles you may ask, my padawans, right? The Gothsicles to zespół dowodzony przez uzbrojonego w Power Glove’a Briana Graupnera na 69 lvlu, którego głównym skillem jest rozprzestrzenianie zwariowanych, geekowskich pieśni swego ludu po naszym nudnym świecie. Na swoim koncie mają aktualnie 4 pełnoprawne krążki i dziś zajmiemy się tym ostatnim, sprzed mniej więcej miesiąca, „Squid Icarus”.
O ile poprzednie płyty stawiały głównie na jazdę po jajach przy akompaniamencie dość prostych beatów i 8-bitowych dźwięków, tak już przy pierwszym kawałku „Super Scary Action Figure (I Want To Eat Your Brain)” czujemy, że mamy do czynienia z tworem, który dostał +10 do produkcji i zajebistości. Prawdopodobnie jest to zasługa Kickstarterowej akcji, dzięki której tenże album ujrzał światło dzienne. No i jak to z tym (s)tworem jest? Nie od dziś wiadomo, że większa część (s)tworów Kickstarterowych została okrzyknięta failowymi crapami, ale w tym przypadku myślę, iż byłoby wielkim nieporozumieniem przyklejenie tego typu nalepki do tego albumu, zwłaszcza że w razie czego może się sam bronić mackami. Mackami? Tak, mackami moi drodzy, ponieważ Brian postanowił przesycić teksty nawiązaniami do Lovecrafta, które możemy zauważyć już po takich tytułach jak „Cthulhu Fharwagon” czy „Drop Dead, Squid Face!”. Następną dość zabawną rzeczą, jaka rzuca nam się w oczy (i uszy), jest cover Nine Inch Nails, „Black T-Shirt” który… tak naprawdę nigdy się nie ukazał i był tylko primaaprilisowym żartem Reznora – tak więc mamy kolejny żart naszego warriora. Co dalej? Album promował utwór „Ultrasweaty”, który budził trochę moje obawy ze względu na zastosowanie w nim… vocodera. Tak, tak, wiem, że brzmi to bardzo, ale to BARDZO dziwnie, że nagle ja – ten, który lubi zabawy z dźwiękiem i głosem – nagle ma jakieś WTF. No ale #takbyło, bo IMHO „krzykliwy” wokal Graupnera to swego rodzaju wizytówka, której nie trzeba w żaden sposób zmieniać.
Oczywiście nie mogło tu zabraknąć nawiązań do 8-bitowych gier – zarówno w tekstach jak i samplach, które usłyszymy np. w „Give Me One More Chance to Get the Hi-Score, Then We Can Go” czy „Moon Knight is Cool”. Oprócz tego mamy okazję usłyszeć gościnny udział Cyferdyne w „I Sniffed the Glove (vs. Cyferdyne)” oraz Anglespit w „This Club Is Closed”. Na albumie znajdziemy też dwa 8-bitowe fillery w postaci „Chip Replacement Surgery” i „Slime-Half”. Mam wrażenie, że Brian po prostu chciał przybliżyć swoim wyznawcom swój mniej znany projekt chiptune’owy DINOSAUR TANK. Jak już jestem przy innych projektach, to wspomnę o „Bloodlust Software Was Awesome”, który dość mocno wzoruje się na utworze „A Case For Hate Speech” The Causticles (czyli połączenie Graupner + Caustic).
Co więcej można powiedzieć o tym albumie? W zasadzie to samo, co przy każdym albumie The Gothsicles: FUCKIN’ AWESOMENESS! Zwłaszcza dla osób, które lubią dobre EBM-owe granie z chiptune’owymi wstawkami i nerdowskimi tekstami przesyconymi dość sporą dawką humoru. Jeśli nie znaliście, to czas na zmiany i… w klubach też.
A, no i zapomniałbym! Pierwszym progiem Kickstarterowego wsparcia było nagranie przez nich coveru innego zespołu, który otrzyma najwyższą liczbę głosów w głosowaniu. Głosowanie wygrał Falco i jego Rock Me Amadeus.
– See more at: http://jeszczenie.pl/gothsicles-squid-icarus/#sthash.W9XukYEc.dpuf
…lives up to the standards of humor and cleverness we’ve come to expect from the ‘sicles.”
The Spill Magazine, February 6, 2015
The Gothsicles’ fourth album Squid Icarus, released in December of last year by Negative Gain Productions, lives up to the standards of humor and cleverness we’ve come to expect from the ‘sicles. The added treat with this Lovecraftian geek culture dance party (as it’s been referred to by the folks over at Negative Gain) is all of the big-name producers who had a hand in the album. Faderhead, Christ Analogue, Rotersand, Assemblage 23, Haujobb, the Dark Clan; and collaborators including Zoog von Rock of Angelspit and Peter Spilles of Project Pitchfork all contributed.
This album has a little bit of something for pretty much anyone who even remotely likes anything resembling industrial music and/or has a sense of humor. Even if you can’t necessarily relate to the songs, you’re likely to appreciate them. Brian “dark_NES” (NES from Nintendo Entertainment System) Graupner, founder and core member of this self-described ultra sweaty industrial dance dorkstorm, does all programming and vocals for the band. Graupner, it seems, is brilliant and an aficionado of all things geek-culture, as is evidenced by both the music and lyrics. My educated guess is that titling the album Squid Icarus is a nod to the online game Guns of Icarus (Squid is a ship in that game). Although to be fair, it could be a nod to the Icarus, son of Daedalus of Greek mythology. I’m placing my bet on the game.
Graupner doesn’t take himself too seriously. Included in the 14-track album is “Black T-shirt” (listed as a NIN cover, and produced and mixed by Josh from CNTRLSHFT), for example, is about the plethora of black T-shirts one sees in the industrial crowd (“the cornerstone of all industrial merch”, Graupner says) – sometimes with a slight variation (he mentions both V-necks or sleeveless shirts, for example). Imparting sage advice for finding a good deal (“I’ll stock up on the three-packs from Calvin Klein too ‘cause three for under 30 is a good value”) as well as what might be the logic behind wearing them (“it always looks clean ‘cause you can’t see the dirt”), the lyrics are undeniably honest.
A close second in the silliness category is “Cthulhu Fhartwagon”, produced and mixed by Dan Clark of the Dark Clan, Stromkern, Siv, and formerly of Null Device, among others, reminding us all to never let Graupner borrow our vehicle, even in the direst of straights. Relating his experience while using his brother’s van to transport the band’s equipment to a show and polluting it with the “hella bad gas (they get) from drinking beer by the buttload” while finding all kinds of weird things strewn about the vehicle (such as “a glass with the inscription ‘all-American sports fan’, colouring books, and six bucks in change”), the song also manages to (imperfectly) rhyme the word “malady”, a feat that is noteworthy all by itself.
Angelspit’s Zoog von Rock appeared musically and vocally on “This Club Is Closed,” and the track was produced and mixed by Krischan Wesenberg of Rotersand. This one is an upbeat electronic track telling people to get the hell out in numerous ways from the perspective of someone trying to clear a dance club. The 11 additional songs include “Ultrasweaty” (again mixed and produced by Krischan), which tells a little bit about the experience of seeing the Gothsicles live (they “get ultrasweaty”) and instrumentals “Chip Replacement Surgery” and “Slime-Half.” Introducing the album is “Super Scary Action Figure (I Want to Eat Your Brain)”, which is mixed and produced by Tom Shear of Assemblage 23 and pays homage to a talking Venom action figure that Graupner came across at Powers Comics in Green Bay after it had been recalled due to being a bit too scary for kids and promises to stick in your head forever after you hear it once. Another highlight is “Give Me One More Chance to get the High Score, then We Can Go,” produced and mixed by Wade Alin of Christ Analogue, likely relatable for die-hard video game fans. “Bloodlust Software Was Awesome,” produced and mixed by Mangadrive, gives props to Bloodlust, a video game development company founded by two high school students.
The album ends with super-secret hidden track “Riding Roller Coasters with Peter Spilles,” which has nothing to do with roller coasters and is half in German. The title refers to an event that apparently did actually happen according to Graupner’s Facebook post from July 2012 about riding roller coasters with the Project Pitchfork frontman. The music for all numbers is entirely electronic, and some of them sound like they could be backing tracks for video games, which is absolutely appropriate.
All told, this album is definitely worth a listen. As a side note, its production was funded by a kickstarter campaign that came in well over its goal, leading me to believe the Gothsicles are onto something that many people appreciate.
– Kathy Nichols
“This definitely feels like the best transference of the band’s live energy over to record we’ve yet heard…”
I Die: You Die, December 11, 2014
In Conversation is a feature in which the senior staff talk about a record we’ve been listening to. Not exactly a review, it’s pretty much exactly what it says on the tin: two music nerds having a conversation about an album with all the tangential nonsense, philosophical wanking, and hopefully insightful commentary that implies. This time we saddle up for another blast of Lovecraft and fart jokes with industrial’s lovable and Rev-ed up scamps, The Gothsicles.
Alex: Man, have you ever tried to explain the Gothsicles to someone who isn’t steeped in Our Thing? I mean I feel like the video game and general nerd stuff has always been easy enough to get, but there’s something special about how the ‘Sicles (aka Brian Graupner if you don’t know) address our clubs, our music, our culture in their songs. It’s always gonna be one of the reasons I love them as much as I do, but I feel like the new record Squid Icarus is the most broadly appealing and least marginalized record they’ve ever put out.
The reasons for that are manifold, but I think the key one is that Brian is really tapping into a wider vein of geek interest this time around. Songs about video games, comics, all your key nerd demos aren’t anything new for this band, but this record is really putting ‘em out there up front. That sort of thing can be really pandering and cloying, but in this case the stuff works mostly because it does sound like Brian is singing about stuff he likes. You got “Super Scary Action Figure” as the lead track for goodness sake, a reference to a semi-obscure controversy over a talking Venom action figure: not exactly your run of the mill nerd bait. Does any of that match up to your impressions of the record?
Bruce: Somewhat. I normally find myself having to google more than a couple of Brian’s esoteric geek references (a MagiQuest holler?), but even a comics agnostic like me was able to roll with the Venom and Moon Knight references pretty easily, so make of that what you will. Obviously the Cthulhu nods were completely my jam, but yeah, this does feel about as easy to get into as the Gothsicles are ever gonna be. Explaining the project’s ethos to people outside of the context of modern industrial club culture is still a bit tricky due to its sheer self-referentiality, but I think that’s also what lets Brian basically steal the show at nearly every festival which has a ‘Sicles set. People are already being deep-fried in all of the scene’s tropes and foibles, and along comes this manic screech of hilarity pointing out just how ridiculous the whole thing is.
Anyway, back to yr point about broad appeal. This definitely feels like the best transference of the band’s live energy over to record we’ve yet heard; I feel like you could play “Ultrasweaty” or “Black T-Shirt” (super obscure “Kids In The Hall” sample aside) for just about anyone with an interest in modern industrial and they’d actually be getting a pretty good sense of what the band’s about, not just in terms of fart and Lovecraft jokes (which Squid Icarus has in spades), but in terms of musical energy. Leaving aside geeky themes for a moment, what feels different musically this time around?
<a href=”http://ngpofficial.bandcamp.com/album/squid-icarus”>Squid Icarus by The Gothsicles</a>
Alex: Production is stepped up certainly, with lots of contributions from various quarters. I don’t feel like the Gothsicles have ever suffered from really poor recording or programming in the past, but you can hear a major upgrade from their last record Industrialites & Magic to this one. You get guys like Tom Shear, Sami, Daniel Myer, Krischan from Rotersand, all of whom are experts on making industrial club records, and you’re gonna reap the benefits. That’s not to minimize Brian’s efforts at all: obviously the personality of the project comes from him and is what makes this sound like a Gothsicles record and not like a compilation of all those other guys’ bands.
I think the other thing that might help the album get over with a few people who maybe haven’t been fans in the past is the way Brian’s vocals are massaged throughout. Now you and I are both huge fans of his insane warble, but I know some people have just never been able to get into the band for that reason (oftentimes these are the same people who claim they can’t take the band seriously, as if solemnity is some sort of prerequisite to enjoying something). There’s still plenty of his vox where they count, on the storytelling jams like the Cyferdyne collab “I Sniffed the Glove” or “Cthulhu Fhartwagon”, but there’s other spots like “Drop Dead, Squidface!” or “Ultrasweaty” where they’re processed or mixed differently than we’ve heard in the past. It’s not so obvious a change that it’ll put off the established fans, but might be the branch that helps some holdouts come across. I dunno, what do you think of that assessment?
Bruce: Yeah, there’s a wider range of production on the vocals, and not just the addition of vocoder to “Moon Knight Is Still Cool” and “Ultrasweaty”. I’ll admit that on my first couple passes on speakers, some of the vocals sounded completely separated from the instrumentation, but I can’t replicate that experience on headphones, so who knows. Regardless, I think the real change-up in terms of both vocals and instrumentation has to be “Give Me One More Chance To Get The High Score, Then We Can Go” which has a millennial synthpop much more in keeping with Soviet than the ‘Sicles usual steez. Sure, it’s about a timeless topic Brian’s dealt with before (mucho sympathy to anyone else who ever bothered to grind all the way through “Rampage” only to experience one of gaming’s most unsatisfying “endings”), but it’s super fun to hear it taken up with a totally fresh musical coat of paint. “Sword Cane” also feels like it’s a change of pace, opting for a positively restrained garage feel.
That’s not to bury the lede: there’s a much stronger emphasis on club jams, many of which I feel would stand on their own even if you don’t “get” them. Sure, we’ve gotten mileage from “Nine Dudes” and “Save Dat Mermaid” in the past, but “Squidface”, “Ultrasweaty”, and of course the hella ironic yet literal “This Club Is Closed” seem consciously designed for the club floor rather than stumbling onto it by random (or by aping “Maps Of Reality”). It might seem like Brian’s tying one hand behind his back by sticking with references as obscure as Bloodlust Software and Half-Dragon, but that weird mix of the arcane and the immediate’s part of what’s always worked about Gothsicles releases.
On that note and back to your point about broad appeal, I wonder if we (and others) have overlooked the potential for The Gothsicles’ crossover potential to folks outside of the scene. Generally when we talk about crossover acts we’re referring to how part of a band’s aesthetic or sound isn’t wholly part and parcel of modern industrial, but while The Gothsicles are loaded with intra-scene refs and gags, I wonder if the fact that they’re not darkly howling about post-nuclear wastelands or their inner torment with po-faced solemnity might cause, say, the roommates of scene folks (or general people of the Internet) to prick their ears up when normally they might scoff at “death disco music”. Thoughts?
Alex: That’s interesting you bring that up, because I always feel like the whole culture of industrial club music probably looks kind of ridiculous from outside, but none of us can really gauge exactly how ridiculous because we’re so steeped in it. The Gothsicles sort of confront that head on by being like “Yeah, this whole thing is kind of silly, but that’s cool, we’re here to have a good time right?”. It’s not making fun of anyone or anything (although I think you get hint of self-deprecation in “Black T-Shirt”), but so few artists in the genre ever try to be funny that it’s always gonna stand out when someone is brave enough to go that route. Like we’ve alluded to it’s their greatest draw and the thing that will put some people off always. That’s just how a lot of gothicky people are calibrated I guess; not able to tell the difference between a band that has jokes, and a band that is a joke.
“With ‘Squid Icarus’ The Gothsicles have reached their potential and cast off the “joke band” tag. The album is an outright club assault that has plenty of potential dance-floor fillers.”
Intravenous Magazine, February 12, 2014
The Gothsicles return with their fourth love letter to geek culture in ‘Squid Icarus’. The result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Brian Graupner and his band of reprobates embark on their most club-friendly and well-rounded outing to date. The classic Gothsicle elements are all present such as Graupner’s bat-shit crazy vocals, the 8-bit leads, and of course more nerdy nods than anyone would rightly admit to getting.
With production talents from the likes of Assemblage 23, Faderhead, Rotersand, Christ Analogue, and Haujobb and collaborations with Cyferdyne and Angelspit the album is essentially an ebm wet dream.
Songs such as ‘Drop Dead, Squid Face!’, ‘Ultrasweaty’, ‘I Sniffed The Glove’, ‘Moon Knight Is Cool’, ‘Black T-Shirt’, ‘Cthulhu Fhartwagon’, and ‘This Club Is Closed’ prove to be some of the strongest yet to emerge out of the band’s maniacal discography so far. It’s just as crazy and experimental as ever but it has that ever-present club-friendly leaning and most importantly it captures the infectious energy that they bring to their live shows.
As mentioned before, with a list of names like that, the production is going to be spot on. Even with all the different elements flailing about in the mix it keeps its composure and keeps everything accessible. In fact, everything, from the high-fashion album cover, to the song writing and production is the best it has been yet.
There will still be the usual complaints. Graupner’s vocals are a matter of taste and if you don’t like chiptune elements then this is really best to avoid. But if you’re adventurous, up on your Lovecraft, or just a bit wrong in the head, then this album is definitely worth your time.
With ‘Squid Icarus’ The Gothsicles have reached their potential and cast off the “joke band” tag. The album is an outright club assault that has plenty of potential dance-floor fillers. It’s going to be interesting then to see how they can top this.
“But, with all that said, there’s only one question left to answer: “How is the music?” And the answer is, “Brilliant.” ”
Brutal Resonance, November 28, 2014
Aside from listening to their collaborative effort with Santa Hates You on the track Watch Out Motherfucker, I Know Karate, I have never listened to The Gothsicles. But, with a lot of hype built around their fourth album, Squid Icarus, and also receiving praise from various other well known artists, I decided to give them a full listen.
And, from the outside looking in, this is a pretty impressive package. Thirteen tracks are wrapped up in a neat little present for all to listen to, and was worked upon from top producers such as Assemblage 23, Faderhead, Rotersand, Christ Analogue, and Haujobb, which rightly explains why the quality and sound is so fucking good. Aside from that, both Angelspit and Cyferdyne appear on the album in unity with The Gothsicles.
But, pushing the album even further, the stellar artwork was crafted through the help of Angelspit, while fashion photographer Emily Gualdoni committed straight to the photoshoot. The result is a crazy awesome album cover that is both intriguing and amusing at the same time. But, with all that said, there’s only one question left to answer: “How is the music?” And the answer is, “Brilliant.”
Now, in all honesty, when I read that this act was fairly well into the EBM scene, I got a little scared at first, for I listened to one too many EBM acts claiming to do something different only to fall flat on their faces. But, this was not the case by far for Brian Graupner and his merry band. From the get go, the mixture of older-industrial aesthetics with a love for video game sounds and influences were notable with Super Scary Action Figure (I Want To Eat Your Brain). While the vocals may turn some off, I absolutely applauded the psycho-vocals this man presented. The geeky minded soul behind this music just isn’t afraid to be himself by far, and I find that a beauty to behold.
Again, with tracks such as Drop Dead, Squid Face! and Ultrasweaty, the recognition to create music that is just traditional and sweeping four-on-the-floor dance grooves is met, but with such a fantastic chiptune influence and pulsing life that it breathes a fresh air.
Cyferdyne invaded I Sniffed The Glove in this versus song. Adding in some guitar loops and adding in dual vocals was cute. Not as synth oriented this time around, with the vocals coming forth over the music, the track did justice.
Perhaps one of the songs that most anyone enthusiastic video gamer that visited arcades often, Give Me One Chance to Get the Hi-Score, The We Can Go was a complete nostalgia trip. Beautiful underlying synths and a simple rhythm mixed with more chiptune sounds, with lyrical content that cracks down perfectly on the title of the song. It was wonderful.
Moon Knight Is Cool was the first song to really play with the vocals; with the usual seductive shouting came along robotic, soft vocals as well as completely distorted chords. Without fault, these guys know how to change up their album to keep the experience engaging. Perhaps serving as an intermission, Chip Replacement Surgery played with chiptune sounds, and only chiptune sounds. Only lasting a little over a minute, a NIN cover titled Black T-Shirt came next. I’ve never really dived into NIN’s discography, so I don’t really know what the original sounds like, but this song was fun and humorous nonetheless.
The next three songs were all astounding, as well. From the distorted whispers in Sword Cane, to the heavier clashing of Cthulhu Fharwagon, straight down to Bloodlust Software Was Awesome‘s riveting beat, each one of these next songs made me sit down and continue through the album with a happy smile. This Club Is Closed featured Angelspit, and definitely cracked down on that club feeling, and the final track Slime-Half was a final ode to the overall album, sending us out with a final chiptune overture.
Now, as I said before, this was only my first time checking out The Gothsicles But, God damn, I had a huge fucking blast getting through this album. Not only do they pump out completely stellar music that absolutely floored me, but they’re able to stay true to their nerdy heart in both song titles and lyrical content. Graupner’s voice may not be the best in the world, and should he ever enter American Idol, they’d probably only allow him on the show as a goof. But, his vocals work perfectly in each song that they’re presented in.
And, because of his uncaring attitude as to the opinions of others around him, he’s able to collect a very loyal following of fans. This guy and the people he surrounds himself with are doing what they love, and there is absolutely no better way to live than that. Keep it going; I’m really loving your style and all that you do.