One of the most productive offshoots of Canadian industrial legends Skinny Puppy, Download explored a free-form electronic style which often drew from experimental techno, IDM/glitch, and ambient. Originally founded by Puppy members cEvin Key and Dwayne Goettel in 1994, the majority of the project's recordings were helmed by Key and Phil Western, with artists such as Mark Spybey and Genesis P-Orridge contributing heavily to early releases such as Furnace (1995) and The Eyes of Stanley Pain (1996). While those releases were generally more aggressive and industrial-leaning, incorporating distorted vocals along with samples, the group went in a more melodic, fully instrumental direction starting with 1997's III. Since then, Download (down to just Key and Western) sporadically resurfaced with studio albums including HElicopTEr (2009) and Unknown Room (2019).
Originating from a series of jam sessions between Key and Goettel, Download began in 1994. Mark Spybey (Dead Voices on Air, :zoviet*france:), techno producer Phil Western, and Anthony Valcic were also among the project's revolving cast of contributors. Download's debut, the tense, noisy Furnace, was issued shortly after Goettel tragically died from a heroin overdose in 1995. The album featured vocals by Spybey as well as guest Genesis P-Orridge, and was released by the group's SubConscious Communications, distributed by Cleopatra in America. Microscopic, an EP featuring a remix by Biosphere, appeared in early 1996, with another EP, Sidewinder, following on Nettwerk soon after. Charlie's Family, a more atmospheric release written for a film about Charles Manson that was eventually completed several years later, was given a limited release in 1996 (Metropolis reissued it the following year). The significantly more accessible The Eyes of Stanley Pain, produced by Key and Ken "Hiwatt" Marshall, was also released in 1996, and became one of the group's most acclaimed releases.
After Spybey left Download, the group shifted to an instrumental sound and released III (produced by Key, Western, and Valcic) in 1997. Around the same time, the group initiated a druggy techno offshoot called platEAU, which debuted with 1997's Music for Grass Bars. Effector, the first Download album to be produced solely by Key and Western, appeared in 2000, marking the project's final release through Nettwerk. Two albums of archival Download material were released as part of SubConscious Communications' From The Vault series in 2002. III Steps Forward contained material dating back to the sessions for III, while Inception consisted of some of the group's initial jam sessions.
Download returned in 2007 with FiXeR, a studio album featuring guest appearances by Spybey and Otto von Schirach. The group also released Furnace Re:Dux, a reissue of their debut containing a disc of previously unreleased jam sessions. HElicopTEr, focusing on material created using analog equipment, was given a limited release in 2009. After the edition sold out, Metropolis gave it an expanded release in 2011, titled HElicopTEr + Wookie Wall (incorporating material from an EP which never materialized). LingAM, taking inspiration from Hindu scripture, appeared in 2013. Following the album's release, Toronto-based label Artoffact began reissuing the band's back catalog on vinyl. The label issued studio album Unknown Room in March 2019; sadly, however, Western passed away a month before the album's release. ~ Paul Simpson
HOMETOWNVancouver, British Columbia, Cana