• Review

Album Review: Black Signal Parallels

Cincinnati has quietly (or not so quietly, depending on your perspective) assembled a nice electronic music scene - one that I am happily discovering little by little. By its nature, the genre not only allows but demands that the envelope be pushed. Sometimes that includes a band known for their LED-lit helmets releasing an EP on a bottle of hot sauce.

Such is the case with Cincinnati’s Black Signal, as they prepare to release Parallels, their EP of new versions of their classic tracks, on bottles of their own habañero and ghost pepper hot sauces.

Yes, hot sauce.

Fans in attendance at the CD release show, May 31st at Southgate House Revival, will be able to purchase bottles of the sauce, with a download code for the new EP printed on the label. According to Matt Ogden, originator of Black Signal, "There's a lot to the hot sauce. The simple answer is: we wanted to release on vinyl but it’s a 5 song EP. The cost of vinyl didn't add up, so we had to get creative. But that’s what Black Signal is. It’s always been more than just the music.”

Parallels, and its unorthodox release medium, is not just a gimmick, though - the EP is legitimately good. Black Signal has evolved over the years, adding new members and instrumentation, and Parallels reflects that, revisiting early songs, reinterpreted through the lens of the current lineup. The result is a recording that sounds as comfortable and effortless as a story you’ve heard a million times, but told in a completely crisp, fresh way. Ogden’s synth creates a brilliant atmosphere through which Joe Thompson’s guitar and Patrick Apfelbeck’s drums can move, fleshing out the band’s sound.

The EP starts with “CNTRL,” with a swelling, menacing synth which would be just as at home behind invading aliens, setting the stage for Von Claire’s plaintive, yet ethereal vocals. The track builds, getting heavier until a sudden ending, with the last beats echoing away. “WNDBRKR 83” follows, one of two instrumental tracks that would play nicely in an old German industrial club. “Wax Heart” begins with a synth wail like a siren and a disorienting beat, surrounding an empyrean vocal turn from Jess Lamb. “AVARIA,” the other instrumental, has a sinister feel, like a movie soundtrack, in the best way possible. The EP closes with “BLONDE DOG,” taking that sinister feel, and expanding it into a solid foundation for Eugenius’ intense vocals.

Like a keen, modern Edgar Froese record, Parallelsis the kind of EP that leaves you wanting more, and until Black Signal comes out with a new full-length, it would seem we have no choice but to sate ourselves at their live shows.


  1. CNTRL
  2. WNDBRKR 83