CD, Ant-Zen, 2010
There’s a certain point when the more generic Ant-Zen/Hands/rhythm’n’noise releases merge into an indistinguishable continuum. Too many artists follow the same tried and trusted formulas and seem tasteful rather than incendiary. “Fritter Away” occasionally comes close to falling into this trap but there is something more interesting going on here. Bipol’s work sometimes comes across as an uglier, more fucked-up version of Ahnst Anders’ sound, veering between vocal-heavy and more processed extremes and as a result this album seems more like a compilation than a coherent unit. I actually appreciate the fact that it’s ugly and tense and that I can’t instantly or wholly relate to it.
“Too Much” sets the tone with a prowling, muscular bass intro and is followed by “My Challenge” which features the harshly processed vocal textures which along with the general air of tension are the album’s least generic elements. The vocals and heavy drums make it sound quite ‘rock’ at times and although this almost puts me off it does maintain an interesting, tense contrast with the electronics. The album sometimes feels like a colder, digital update of the better end of the industrial rock spectrum but at other times the vocals are too intrusive. “Talk About My Scream” makes me want to paraphrase Graham Chapman’s Monty Python officer character and say “now stop that, it’s silly, very silly indeed.” It tries too hard to sound evil and as a result it’s impossible to take it seriously. It would have made a great instrumental though.
The vocal works much better on the next track “Contest Of Devotion”, this is because it’s recessed, processed and kept in check, without any self-conscious melodramatics. The intriguingly-titled “In The Name Of The Workers” features heavily processed vocal samples with occasional metallic elements and works well. Another well-titled and impressive track is “The Menacing Kiss”, which revels in its own unresolved tension. “Confusion” is a very uneasy and dynamic mass of contradictory rhythms which almost edges towards Autechre-style disjointedness.
The album closes with “Manipulation Now”, a brooding, ugly closer featuring sickly whistles and bleak textures, leaving a nasty hangover. “Fritter Away” is very mixed and doesn’t always succeed but at its best is excellent and certainly worth investigating.
— Alexei Monroe