CD, Hive Records, 2005
Expectations were high for Pneumatic Detach’s long-awaited release of their last album on Hive Records. Only knowing them from a couple of tracks in compilations, I can’t compare this album with their previous work or evaluate the progression of their music. In any case, “[vis.cer.a]” is an excellent release and a showcase of accomplished musicianship in rhythmic noise genre. It also has one of the best covers I’ve seen.
Distorted beats and rhythmic noise of any kind can easily become boring and predictable, with pretty much anyone being able to put out a rhythmic noise/distorted beats track. Given the intrinsic limitations of this musical genre, it takes someone that knows what they are doing to actually succeed in creating a solid, coherent and engaging album that isn’t just a pile-up of beats and a crescendo of “faster-harder-louder”.
Distinct hard, pounding beats of many kinds layered on top of each other, with liberal use of sound effects as respite and the occasional spark of underlying melody for added variety may sound like a simple recipe. Simple in theory but, in practice, it’s surely hard to achieve a final result even remotely like Pneumatic Detach’s “[vis.cer.a]”. He excels at the creation of compositions made almost entirely out of beats, skillfully plays around with them, structuring, shaping and giving them meaning and ultimately making the rhythmic structures into something extremely organic.
The care put into the music in this album extends into track choice and placement as well as the actual flow of the music, which is seamless. Despite the quality of its individual tracks, “[vis.cer.a]” is definitely more interesting as a global album experience, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. The duration of the album seems to be just ideal as well, for music as intense as this, a longer duration could prove tiring for the listener.
Picking stand-out tracks in “[vis.cer.a]” is a difficult feat since the album flows remarkably well, without interruption, from beginning to end. Or at least until track eleven, “Mindless Brutal Apparatus (w/ It-Clings)”, which stands out for having vocals: spoken word by It-Clings layered on the beats, a strange combination but it works quite well and is a nice ending touch to a great album. As are the two remix tracks by C2 and O2 at the end. Nevertheless, “Embers” comes across as a particularly intense track and I find the metallic nature of part of the beats in “Relentless” fascinating. For some reason, “Putrescence” also clicked something in my mind.
Brutal and visceral like its title suggests, “[vis.cer.a]” is a very interesting album, showing great creativity and which never becomes tiring, despite its constant over-the-top intensity.
— Miguel de Sousa