CD, Thisco/Fonoteca Municipal de Lisboa, 2005
I like the format of this CD. It contains five tracks each from these three Portugese post-industrial outfits, interspersed and segued into each other, and with one opportunity each to remix a track for one of the other bands. It works because they’re from the same label and ‘stable’ — I’m guessing they know each other and might even have collaborated before — giving them a cohesion that leaves the album sounding like a concerted effort rather than three EPs on one disc. Their shared sound contains plenty of familiar elements; clangy drum loops that don’t quite sound like dance music ought to, dialogue and music samples from movies and television, heavily filtered synth parts swooshing in and out of audibility, sinister ambient interludes, and some rude electro basslines. But it all hangs together in a refreshingly original manner.
None of the artists are afraid of cranking up the tempo and the bass and knocking out some savage rhythms, but there’s enough funk in their influences to avoid the kind of 4/4 repetitiveness that many noisebeat bands are prone to. You can hear the influence of the likes of Meat Beat Manifesto and Future Sound Of London on tracks like “Rinse” by Sciencia or “On A Nervous Fringe” by Shhh…, and the latter’s “The Thief” sounds like Metalheadz-style drum’n’bass in parts, although the track as a whole refuses to stay comfortably under that or any other easy label.
All three bands avoid the use of vocals by and large, sticking to spoken-word samples by preference, but Mikroben Krieg experiment with their own vocals on “Integrity”. These are delivered sotto voce, rather like This Morn Omina’s, and work very well. It has to be said that on occasion, the dialog samples sound like they’ve been allowed to ramble on over the music without much regard for dramatic timing, especially on Sciencia’s “Corroted Copernic Theory” and “Loverdose”. A much tighter approach is demonstrated on “At The Gate”, where individual syllables are pulled out and used as percussion.
While it’s not without its flaws, there’s a lot to recommend about this CD, not least its novelty and the fact that it will keep surprising you. While it’s probably fair to say that if you like such things as Black Lung, Cdatakill and early Download, you’ll like at least a couple of these bands, that’s not because they sound like any of those, more because of a (somewhat nebulous) shared attitude. Give them a try.
— Andrew Clegg