Interview with Bryan Black May 1997
a look through the noise
Since their early demo and debut CD, Tension Filter, Haloblack have been makingvwaves on the underground electronic scene. After tours with the likes of Virus 23 and 16 Volt, they went on to record and release their latest album, Funkyhell. Now main man, Bryan Black, tells what's on the horizon for him and Haloblack.
Gair: What drove you to begin creating music and to start Haloblack?
Brian Black: I wanted to make music that no one else was, something that I wanted to hear but didn't get through all the major players in the industrial scene. I guess I was really excited about technology and it's expansion in music.
Gair: What is your outlook on music, and it's relation to your life? Where does Haloblack fall in the grand spectrum of Bryan Barton?
Brian: I make music almost everyday. Either making sounds, loops or complete songs. Haloblack was my first musical endeavor. It is the most elaborate project I'm involved in. It fills in the experimental, electronic, hard, minimal side of my tastes. The new record, Funkyhell, is the record I always wanted to make for Haloblack. Right now, Haloblack is on the side burner until I get re-situated and find a new label, band, etc.
Gair: Who is officially in Haloblack now?
Brian: Myself, obviously, with Levi, Servo, Krayge Tyler, Ned Wahl, and Joel Allard all helping out in the studio. I don't have a touring band, only because there aren't any decent tours to go out on, unfortunately.
Gair: When do you plan to tour?
Brian: As soon as something solid comes along. Probably after I get a new label everything in the last two years has fallen apart at the last minute.
Gair: How would you describe a Haloblack live performance and the kind of stage presence you wish to exude?
Brian: It's a good mix of electronics and guitars/drums/bass. We usually go for the mid-tempo, seductive, spine-chilling, electro-funk vibe, rather than the I hate your fucking guts and we rock harder than you vibe'.
Gair: What do you see as the differences between Tension Filter and Funkyhell?
Brian: A further exploration of funky, electronic lo-fi and different song contructs.
Gair: Do you like one better than another?
Brian: I like Funkyhell the best of anything I've done, Hellbent included, because it does what I always wanted to do with guitars and electronics.
Gair: Wasn't Jared (of Chemlab) supposed to do backing vocals on a song from Funkyhell? What happened with this?
Brian: He did them on a song called Heliophobe,' which was never released because of it's satanic dribblings. Maybe someday.
Gair: How is the new Hellbent coming along?
Brian: It's sloooowly coming together. After 16 Volt and Chemlab finish some tours and recording, we'll get together maybe next fall or winter.
Gair: You have another project in the works, can you explain this?
Brian: It's called Regulator, and it's mad, electro-minimal techno. Right now, I'm shopping it to the DJ vinyl labels. It's all I do right now, and it's really hip.
Gair: Have you begun the next Haloblack?
Brian: Yeah, I'll probably flesh out some of the regulator grooves for Haloblack, which I will finish in the fall of 97 when I'm in London.
Gair: What direction do you feel it will take?
Brian: Techno, maybe, but in a tasteful sense.
Gair: What are some of the bands you currently listen to?
Brian: I've always dug Autechre, Aphex Twin, Surgeon (DJ Vinyl) basically alot of vinyl releases. Mostly techno, some jungle. I sorta fell out of the industrial groove a little while ago.
Gair: Do you feel that the current trend of electronic music leaning towards industrial dance music and techno tendencies has or will affect Haloblack?
Brian: I don't care. Industrial music is losing any life it had to electronica/ techno, which doesn't matter since I do both. I don't see Haloblack as a major MTV commercial success, so it doesn't phase me.
Gair: What do you think of the current wave of jungle bands?
Brian: I really like a lot of techno right now, but a lot of it is complete shit. Music by numbers. The Prodigy and Future Sound of London seem to sample too much for my tastes. A lot of MTV's vision of techno is boring, contrived. It's not a surprise. Hopefully, everything will continue to grow and expand until dance music is finally accepted, and guitar rock will just be boring like it always has been.
Gair: You've done some film/animation type work in the past. Do you still dabble in any of this, or was it just a prior interest of yours?
Brian: I'm getting back into anime/3d stuff, and someday I will make films.
Gair: What do you ultimately wish to achieve with your music? What is the ultimate sound and/or song that you wish to create?
Brian: I'm trying to keep moving and exploring all the areas that interest me. I did a lot with Haloblack, now it's Regulator.
Courtesy of Black
Tension Filter Review
Funky Hell Review
Infectiousunease Funky Hell Review
Gaven Space Hellbent Review
Stark Views Review Hellbent
Sonic-Boom Hellbent Review
Charles Levi, Eric Powell, Bryan Barton
Bryan Barton strikes with Haloblack's first official release - and like the sticker on the back of my car reads, "there's no way in hell to survive." The ingredients on this include electrocuted guitar (often times supplied by Virus 23's Krayge Tyler), mechanically generated drums, and distorted effected vocals. Sure, that's pretty common nowadays, but what Barton does and the tricks that lie around every corner are what make this disc so damn good. "Everything Inside" and "Bo Chance Control" are pure gutter tech slammers. Oh yeah, did I mention this was recorded at Warzone with the help of Jim Marcus? Kill for this one.
- Saint / Issue #5
provided by Crossover
HALOBLACK - Funkyhell (CD, Fifth Colvmn, Electronic)
Members of Thrill Kill Kult, Chlemlab, and 16Volt merge to create Haloblack.
This CD consists of eerie, experimental electronic soundscapes to bend your
mind and spirit. "Distractor," the opening track, is worth the price of admission
alone. This is not pretty music. At times it may make you feel
uncomfortable...but that's probably the whole idea. At one point, the music
becomes simply an annoying crackling noise...which makes me think some of
this was recorded just to test the listener. Peculiar and esoteric, Haloblack
is an experiment into the darker side of electronics. (Rating: 4)
Album: "Tension Filter" (1994)
Label: Fifth Column Records
Style: Electro industrial
This album has an extremely amateur sound to it. Every song on this album sounds
exactly the same. The beats are stale, and the singing slow paced. This album is just
flat out dull. I caught myself yawning a few times while listening to it. Where's the
energy? This is very basic and generic industrial music created with electronics,
samples, and drum programming. There is nothing new presented here whatsoever.
wrapped in wire review
reviewed in issue #126, 1/13/97
I love "dirty" electronic music albums. Bryan Black (aka Haloblack) has crafted a fine set of experimental industrial tunes. Black hails from Minneapolis, and so its not surprising that his interpretation of "funk" has more than a little to do with the impressions of the great purple one. This revelation came to me while listening to "Nympho" (no, the title wasn't the key here...), and it did color much of the rest of my listening. Now, I'm not saying Black stole from anyone, but his funk features greasy (and highly manipulated) guitar licks, which ties him into that whole Paisley thing. No complaints, of course, Now I've really done it. Haloblack sounds nothing like Prince (if you don't believe me, plunk down the cash and listen for yourself). I was merely making... no, if I try to explain more it just gets more fucked up. Leave the dog lying about. Now, before I got so rudely interrupted by myself, I was about to mention the really nice sound Black got on this album. A nasty sort of funk, one that has little to do with the real world. Cyberfunk, or something like that. You know, the more I try to compliment Haloblack, the more I fuck up. I'm stopping now.
- Haloblack brings out a great, new sound for industrial music.
Haloblack - Tension Filter, is an album to hear. They have an awesome coldwave
sound, but there is a darkwave feel to it. 'Decay' is a song that really
sticks in your head. I find myself switching the words at times throughout
the day. For example, DQ(Dairy Queen) would easily go into the beat. The
song that Jim Marcus of Die Warzau showed up for, You Bleed Me, was much
different than the rest, but it was certainly a good addition to an already
This is the sophomore release from Haloblack, otherwise known as Bryan Black
(Barton), and is a marked improvement from their debut. Both the production
and songwriting have improved, making this a pretty cool listen. There's
an undercurrent of noise going on in the songs which adds a nice texture
and works to help Haloblack define a sound for themselves. Style-wise this
release is very much like a combination of the first Haloblack album and
HellBent (a side project of Bryan's with Eric Powell, Levi, etc). My favorite
tracks are Bounded, which is a cool minimal track with some good noise (too
short though...), and the more full on Fragment. There are a few filler tracks
which drag the album down, but my biggest complaint is the seeming fetish
for nearly every song to have a pitchshifted spoken sample of the song's
title reoccur over and over. Krayge Tyler (Virus 23, Chemlab, 16 Volt), Levi
(TKK, Pigface, etc.), Ned Wahl (16 Volt, Chemlab), and a number of others
perform on this release. Haloblack is a rising band that still have a lot
of creases to work out, but are definitely working towards finding a formidable
niche of their own. (gair)
Album: "Tension Filter" (1994)
Label: Fifth Column Records
Style: Electro industrial
This album has an extremely amateur sound to it. Every song on this album sounds exactly the same. The beats are stale, and the singing slow paced. This album is just flat out dull. I caught myself yawning a few times while listening to it. Where's the energy? This is very basic and generic industrial music created with electronics, samples, and drum programming. There is nothing new presented here whatsoever.
Wrapped In Wire
Sonic-Boom Hellbent Review
Stark Hellbent 0.01 review
Album: "Helium" (1998)
Label: Re-Constriction Records
Style: Electro industrial
This project contains members of CHEMLAB, HALOBLACK, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL
KILL KULT and 16 VOLT. Now before you get all excited thinking that this
is something great due to so many talented musicians contributing to it,
let me warn you that it's nothing that spectacular. The music is actually
quite basic and repetitive. The vocals are heavily distorted and sing in
a whisper. Five of the tracks are just short experimental filler pieces.
The seven tracks with vocals all sound alike. What you are given is your
basic run of the mill medium paced electro industrial music. It's not bad,
but it's really nothing great. It's just standard. There's nothing here that
you haven't heard before. The music is kind of a techno/drum & bass style
that just isn't that interesting. The vocals are more like soft talking than
singing. There is the occasional use of guitar and bass, but the music still
sounds empty as if it's missing something. This isn't a bad release overall,
but I feel that it could have been so much better. If all of the short
experimental filler pieces were replaced by a couple of more tracks with
vocals this album would have been a lot better. As it is now this album just
doesn't deliver enough quality songs to make it stand out. If you're looking
for a techno/drum & bass style electro industrial experience combined
with distorted vocals that sing in a soft whisper, you will like what this
album has to offer. If not, I would suggest that you try before you buy.
Band: HELLBENT Album: "0.01" (1996)
Label: Fifth Column Records Style: Electro industrial
Songs: 9 Rating: F
This band is a collaboration between Chemlab, 16 Volt, Haloblack, and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. You would expect to hear something quite unique featuring all of these bands working together. I sure did. But I was wrong. This has got to be the biggest piece of crap that I have ever heard. It's extremely slow. There is no energy found on this album anywhere. Chemlab and 16 Volt should be ashamed of themselves. They are two of the biggest names in hard-core guitar driven energy packed cyber music. None of their influences can be found here. This is basically a new Haloblack album, and nothing more. But even Haloblack "Tension Filter" is better than this crap.
Wrapped in Wire
Hellbent 0.01 Review
I am somewhat wary of these 'supergroup' collaborations (especially after that awful Vampire Rodents album), but Hellbent is a very impressive project in its own right. From what I gather, Bryan Black (HALOBLACK) contributes the majority of the music, while Eric Powell (16 VOLT) handles a lot of the vocals. Others include: Jared, Charles Levi, Jordan Nogood, and numerous others. Most of the nine songs are in a similar vein. They find a good bassline, fall into the groove and pull you along for the ride. The vocals vary from whispered to sung to half-rapped and fit very well into the sparse arrangements. This isn't a really energetic album, but it's not meant to be. The name Hellbent and the people involved made me think it would be harsher, more urgent record, but I was pleasantly surprised by how it actually sounded. It's solid album and a nice change from the usual electro-industrial rage.
[Daniel Hinds] The Plague
reviewed in issue #103, 3/18/96
A side project containing Bryan Black of Haloblack, Eric Powell of 16 Volt, Jared Hendrickson and Dylan Thomas of Chemlab and Charles Levi of MLWTTKK (knowhutimeen?). A nice pedigree, indeed. A very sterile sound, complete with half-spoken vocals, a spare drum machine and the odd techno warblings in the background. And the usual wandering bass. The whole proceedings are quite reserved, considering where these guys come from. But it's precisely that restraint that gives the impression all hell is about the break loose, bringing wonderful tension that adds immensely to the appeal. The thing is, the expected pain never arrives. Obviously the concept was laid out before the creation of the music, and the boys never wandered out of the parameters. Not what you would expect from this crew, but such things result from a successful side venture. No, this isn't the catchy guitar-driven sound of the guys' regular gigs. But the departure is not only refreshing, it's quite satisfying in its own right. Hellbent has that technopop thing down rather well.