download-only, Electric Fantastic Sound, 2006
Neurobash, founded in 2004, is a quite recent addition to the established milieu of Scandinavian synthpop and EBM acts. “Soundtrack: Ladonian Incidents” is the newest in a list of several releases over the past two years that includes mini-EP’s, singles and compilation contributions. Fifteen tracks in length (71 minutes), the album contains almost half of the material Neurobash wrote specifically for its role in celebrating the tenth anniversary of the micronation Ladonia (July 2006). It is meticulous in production and fluid in presentation, yet typical to a fault. Both accessible and oddly appealing in some respects, the music is reminiscent of an apparently not yet bygone age when blended electro and pop sensibilities dominated the gothic/EBM scene.
For those unaware, Ladonia is located in southern Sweden and proclaimed its independence in 1996, after years of court battles between artist Lars Vilks and local authorities over two sculptures he constructed there. The album, which is essentially instrumental, is assembled as a timeline of Ladonian history (1980 – present), each track dated with a year and titled to commemorate a notable event of the time. “1980: The Beginning” is full of pulsing optimism and airy synths, driven by percussive hammers that recall the nailing of driftwood that commenced the Ladonian saga. “1985: Seemingly Lost” is more introspective, combining an undulating bassline with bracing hi-hats and succulent atmospherics, while a vast cathedral organ and pseudo-angelic voices in all their glory salute “1996: The Founding.”
“Ladonian Incidents” equates to a sort of neo-disco, with random tangents of influence from its synthpop and EBM forefathers. The bleepy, sing-song computer chic of “2002: Hammer-Banana Transfiguration” backfires in this respect, being too happy-go-lucky for its own good, and the inspirational tawdriness of “2006: Anniversary” is way over the top. Neurobash is saved, in part, from total cheese oblivion by a few doses of rhythmic funk, as in “2000: Ashes of Nelson,” and the towering, industrial-esque synths that drive such tracks as “1999: Kronofogden.” Also worthy of mention are some well-textured ambient interludes, like “1998: Break a Leg!” and “1999: Storms,” that portray another, more thoughtful side of Neurobash’s artistry. In summation, while several of the “Ladonian Incidents” are memorable as refreshing and energetic dance-floor fodder, for the most part the album is a national disservice.
— Dutton Hauhart