PHAL:ANGST is an Industrial band mixed with notes of Experimental, Ambient, and Post Rock with vague hints of Black Metal from Vienna, Austria that formed in 2006. They are a merger of two bands, one being a rough, experimental DIY band called PHAL with band members, Philip and Alfred. And PROJEKT ANGST, which translates into “Project Fear”, is the other band that PHAL merged with, hence PHAL:ANGST. Philipp, who goes by “PH” is the vocalist, xylophonist, and harpist of PHAL:ANGST, and Alfred, who goes by “AL” is the guitarist and vocalist. Dion, who goes by ANGST, is the synthesizer and electronics part of the band. The colon in the middle of the band name signifies their bass player, Julia, who joined the band in 2015, and is also known as The Bassenger.
Vienna is a very beautiful city in Austria that is full of hand painted, centuries-old buildings with elaborate architecture and has a quaint Music scene, mainly famous for having Classical Artists, with people dressing up exquisitely to attend these shows. And then, there are the charming smaller venues where PHAL:ANGST plays in, that hold about two-hundred people, where you can still smell whiffs of the musty decades old cigarette smoke mixed with old beer and wine, puke and sweat from past shows.
PHAL:ANGST’s sound is very melancholic and gray, with atmospheric and Industrial tones all throughout. Julia feels their sound is a very good type of Music to watch and listen to when you’re on a train, a bus, in a car and driving through a grayish post-apocalyptic landscape, industrial waters, or a city like Detroit, “I think it is the soundtrack of a bleak vision of the future perhaps, partly of the present. I mean, if you look at the wars, the destruction.”
Whiteout is PHAL:ANGST’s newest album, released on Friday, January 13th of 2023. It is the second record Julia has been part of, that follows up to their PHASE IV album, released on October 27th of 2018. It is also their fifth full-length album all together. The band spent five years creating Whiteout, maturing it as if it were like whiskey in a barrel. During the creation process, the electronic parts of the songs were purposely made to sound empty and unfinished, as Dion deliberately never finishes a track. The rest of the band listens to what Dion comes up with, then jams along with it, where Alfred comes in on the guitar. “The most important thing is these two elements merge into a fertilized egg that will grow and eventually be born into the song. This is like the conception on it, Alfred and Dion have found a vibe together. This is the most important part.“
Later in the process, Julia came in with her bass, merging the electronics with the analog and Post Rock guitar, by using sounds that are somewhere in the middle of that with digital effects, “On the one hand, you have the sound of the strings, you have the sound of a real instrument, the analogue instrument. On the other hand, you have my energy and my vibes, and Philipp is the one who raises it again on a completely different level with his vocals, with his metallophone and extra beats. It’s so beautiful. And I think it’s really the cherry on top because our whole sound is kind of grayish, darkish, low frequencies, middle frequencies. And what he does is he makes those brilliant little dots that make it shine against the backdrop of this grayness.”
The album cover was photographed by Kurt Prinz and it is about dismantled architecture. It depicts the destruction of an old building to create a new big shiny train station with a lone figure walking into the snow with his back turned, merging into the fog. “Now that the album’s finished and so on, I like to think that everything is basically a dream. The person who is freezing to Death. So, at the beginning, it’s my personal interpretation. I’m not sure if the other band members agree with me, but this is my personal take to the whole thing, to the whole concept of the album. Yeah, at the beginning someone goes into the snow to get lost and then, well, freezing, hallucinations, memories, things that come up.”
The photo was taken at the building site of the finished “Main Train Station” in Vienna. “The first association is destruction and post-apocalyptic. There is a hint to that on the cover where it was taken from. If you look at the city, you’ll find the reference and if you look it up you will see there is destruction, but it is there to enable something new to grow, as other things are being born, in this case a very Lovely train station.”
On December 2nd of 2022, PHAL:ANGST released a Music video for their title track, Whiteout. The video captures the dark mood of depression, where you’re drowning in your own mind and take substances and alcohol to numb your senses, which we are aware how that can lead us into an even darker path, that some may not make it out of alive. The video for Whiteout was Alfred’s idea and it is the third video in a row of a series.
Before Julia was in PHAL:ANGST, the band published the first video in the series for the song Hardwired, from their third full-length album, Black Country, released on November 14th of 2014. The video shows people sitting in a Viennese cafe house, which Austria is quite famous for. The people are seen in slow motion, with a slowly evolving storyline, where at the end it shows the band.
On their previous album, PHASE IV, they released a video for the song “On The Run” where we see a young man attempting suicide, and before he tries, he’s watching the video for Hardwire. It is the second video in the series. The series ties it all together in the video for Whiteout, where the characters are also watching Hardwire and On The Run on their TV screens. The characters in both of those videos are friends of Julia and Alfred.
“It’s like it has a certain irony to it that, well, we have published it now in January, which is actually the best time. I mean, I don’t know what it’s like in the US, but around here more or less winter snow does fall from the sky occasionally, but most of the time we have this kind of winter that where you just don’t feel like going out and just want to stay indoors and you force yourself to go out, like, “okay, come on, you need a little bit of exercise, come on, get out of the house.”
The band released a Music video on March 3rd of 2023 for the last track on the album, titled, “What A Time To Be Alive”. The song has German samples that translate into “This is what it’s like to die.”
“For me, this is a bit of a reference to Neil Gaiman, who is an author I like very much, and he once wrote a book, a graphic novel called Signal to Noise. I like to think that Life is a signal, and when it’s over, or when it’s ending, the noise becomes louder and louder. And eventually there’s just noise and no more signal left. And this is also a nice metaphor for dementia, which I experience secondhand from my mother.”
Whiteout also features two bonus, remixed tracks. One being for their second track, Severance, which was remixed into A Tale Of Severance by Jarboe, and also their fifth track on the album, titled Unhinged, remixed by Lustmord. “It’s brilliant, and that means something. Because he has created a completely different bassline than mine, but he has taken the atmosphere and I really Love what he did. It evokes strong visuals in my head, I think Lustmord’s version is amazing. I also Love Jarboe’s because I like this kind of dreamy, nightmarish take to it. It’s a bit more discreet, it’s not so obviously different. He did a great job, and he took some elements and it’s amazing, I’m very proud and very happy about these remixes.”