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Friday, 26 August 2016


We are all dying, just at different speeds.

Musician and producer John Congleton continues to earn a place as one of my favourite lyricists with his, technically first, solo album UNTIL THE HORROR GOES. First, in that he's using his own name along with 'and the Nighty Nite', though his name may already be familiar to some from his days fronting discordant indie band THE PAPER CHASE.

Congleton has produced a wide mix of artists from the exuberant hip hop of Missy Elliott to the bludgeoning metal of Tombs, and it is this eclecticism that informs the actual sound of UNTIL THE HORROR GOES. Battering drums and squealing synths give way to distorted beatbox-style percussion and swathes of ethereal keyboards, whereas some songs (such as 'Who Could Love you Lucille?') are almost anti-genre, being as they are almost completely devoid of any coherent, recognisable style other than 'John Congleton being weird'. That is not a criticism. 

Congleton has stated in interviews that this album is very much about "the human condition", and luckily for us it's a suitably fatalist view:

"to me the human condition (the water in which my music tends to swim) is in some ways the slow realization magic does not exist. the idealizations one has as a child are chipped away by the lubrication of life; we slowly discover there is no santa claus, no salvation as we were promised. until the horror goes is in some ways the musical manifestation of that screaming child rejecting the intimacy and connection for which it cries; the endless quest for the sublime uncovering only the inane. the feeling of aloneness in the universe while connecting with everyone else feeling alone and laughing at the simple irony we all feel alone together." 

(taken from HERE).

It's bleak, but that aforementioned musical eclecticism saves it from being a dirge: 'Animal Rites' starts the album by kicking the door in with pounding drums before throwing up mental keyboards that sound like an old computer game playing freeform sax solos. 'The White Powerless' follows with the suggestion of grinding synths before quickly morphing into a demented 1950s ballad interspersed with blocks of filth. It's like Mr. Bungle have returned and it's glorious. 

Following in the footsteps of The Paper Chase's own wilful chaos, I was concerned The Nighty Nite would see John Congleton abandon the skronk (the use of discordance and dissonance to create rhythm) of that band for something more palatable, but thankfully UNTIL THE HORROR GOES presents a different kind of noise. The nightmare orchestral passages from The Paper Chase reappear here but in much smaller, refined doses, as does the dramatic-yet-haunting pianowork. The guitar gymnastics of the past have been replaced by barrages of synth, though there are still guitars used to give certain songs an extra kick or punch.

The biggest difference though, is in tone. Whereas The Paper Chase traded on creeping horror and paranoid menace - threat, in other words - The Nighty Nite is all about the immediate terror and quick realisation of an impending death. There is a LOT of death on this album, and murder. Some of it is explicit, such as in the aforementioned 'Lucille' with Congleton's desperate cry of "Death to everyone!"; other times it's more implied, such as in the haunting closing track 'You Are Facing The Wrong Way' with its refrain of "I require a body bag". 

This track in particular deserves to reach the heady heights of the strangely similar 'Hurt' by NIN - a somber lament about losing someone/thing that should never have been lost. "You could have had it all / We held it right in our hands / It's the truth that will slip through your fingers / It's the beauty we could have had" Congleton sings, his voice layered with a fuzzy, warped version of itself. The main difference between Trent Reznor's industrial angst and Congleton's subtle rage, however, is Congleton has this (seemingly) effortless ability to take the theme and content of his songs to an exceptionally bitter place, but one wrapped up in fantastically dark humour. "Some day this could all be yours / But you chose to remain on all fours / An enlightenment that never lingers / An existence without poetry" he continues, sticking a great big middle finger up at the (former?) object of his affections. "Enjoy being alone and miserable" he appears to say, "as you realise things could have been so much better for you."

Sometimes you can even picture him smiling as he sings lines like "You deserve to be eaten / So I hope something eats you" and "The storm is the bastard / Your face is the face it's slapping" as if he's secretly saying "You know what I'm talking about, don't you?" I could spend all day quoting John Congleton lyrics, to be honest, because they're singularly marvellous. 

If all this death sounds a tad too dark, a tad too relentless, I suppose it depends on your frame of mind. UNTIL THE HORROR GOES isn't party music, but it still holds a pleasing sing-a-long quality within many of its songs and the playful, unexpected, inclusion of unusual audio textures/production. It's like the severely underrated and unknown Meow Meow, who also excelled in writing perfect indie-pop music that they then purposefully ruined. 

"Just stay with me," Congleton sings on the album's title track, "until the horror goes." Except it never ends, does it? Can any of us find someone to stay by our side forever? UNTIL THE HORROR GOES suggests the best way to make sure this happens is if that person becomes a corpse. The body is dead but the memory lives on.

Thursday, 11 August 2016


There are a whole bunch of wildly different things I'm going to post about, including my thoughts on STRANGER THINGS (I loved it!) and MONSTER TOYS (I love them!) but for now, here's a quick bit of guff about WHITEDAY: A LABYRINTH NAMED SCHOOL (I love that title!).


It's a Korean survival horror computery game from 2001 that was never released. So how did I get my hands on it? C'mon, this is the internet; you can get ANYTHING on here. A new version of this is currently being worked on, but for now those with the gumption can (pretty easily, to be fair) find the original.


You're a Korean schoolboy (I called my character Jimmy Jimjams) who pops to his school at 10pm with the intention of returning a diary belonging to a girl he fancies (she drops it near him in the intro cutscene). And also to plant chocolates in her locker or on her desk or something. White Day is March 14th, and is basically a second Valentines Day, which explains the chocolates, but not why little Jimmy Jimjams is doing all this at night time like a mini Korean Cadbury's Milk Tray Man.

The instant Jimmy steps into the school, someone OR SOMETHING WOOOAAAHHH locks him in! But, levelheaded and realising things will probably get quite weird pretty quickly, I sent Jimjams into the toilets to open all the stall doors. Maybe someone would have left something useful in one of them, because video games. But no, all I found was flatly painted floor-toilets:

Shortly after this, I bumped into two female classmates having a giggle. Why were they in the school after hours? I do not know. They didn't seem very impressed by Jimmy's presence though, especially when he started asking them about the girl he fancies. However, all this was cut short by the sudden blare of the fire alarm. One girl legged it, the other hid by a vending machine and covered her ears. I don't think Korean schools have the most effective fire evacuation plans. Being the incomparable Jimmy Jimjams, I used a stepladder and wirecutters to enter the air vent in the ladies bathroom, through which I crawled like Tom Cruise in all the Mission: Impossibles until I reached the room with the fusebox. Which was full of scrap and looked all rusty until I turned the alarm off, then it magically turned spacious and neat. UH OH SPOOKY STUFF.

Oh yeah, and when Jimmy was in the vents he saw the janitor beat the shit out of a man and drag him into the stairwell. STRANGER DANGER.

Jimmy rightly felt like a hero and the girl by the vending machine...didn't really treat him like one. Nevertheless, she did tell him how to get out of the school and gave him a key to aid in his utterly ridiculous quest. But terror reared its bald head! The janitor reappeared and chased Jimmy! Luckily, the girl who'd legged it grabbed Jimjams and pulled him into a hiding spot. Once the coast was clear, the girl did what she did best and ran off again. I was all alone. Jimmy was all alone. We were all alone.

I explored a few rooms and found a few ominous notes concerning ghost stories tied to the school. Ten minutes into the game and I'm already convinced this place is more haunted than every castle in England combined. The sound design also does a good job of giving you the willies, as it's all non-musical eerie effects and whooshy low-pitched loops. But I, and Jimmy Jimjams, will soldier on and brave this creepy, near-empty building in the name of...infatuation? Slightly creepy junior love? Misguided romance? Yeah, let's go with that. 

However, the next thing standing in little Jimmy's way is this suspiciously dark hallway:

I just know there's going to be a spooky noise at some random point along here. I just know it. 

Until next time, here's this: