Saturday, April 11, 2009

Techno Animal - The Brotherhood of the Bomb

Techno Animal were: Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu, Final, Ice, etc.) and Kevin Martin (God, The Bug, Ice, EAR, etc.).

"The biggest addition on Brotherhood are a cadre of underground hip hop MCs, from favorites like El-P, Vast Aire, and Antipop Consortium to hyper-obscure rhymesmiths Rubberoom and Sonic Sum. Rapping adds a crucial dimension to the Techno Animal sound (which can be somewhat static), and the group handles the addition well (Martin and Broadrick worked with many of the guests on other projects).

But what
Brotherhood really reveals is how far Techno Animal has come in the realm of production. Martin and Broadrick cull the pieces of their compositions from a variety of places, but then layer on the effects processing so the source sounds are completely unrecognizable. The sounds become electronic drones, otherworldly howls, pulverizing static, and then are melded into harsh industrial soundscapes. These soundscapes are incredibly evocative and meticulously designed – it’s almost a wonder that the duo decides to obscure them with overdriven bass and distorted drum loops. Of course, if I want industrial-ambient flows, I can pop in some Future Sound of London. Techno Animal cares little for any desire for delicacy and subtlety, instead trading in the currency of aggression and intensity.

“Cruise Mode 101” cashes in on these quite well. A big, rumbling beat joins with a wobbly bass line so overdriven it sounds on the verge of collapse. Chicago rappers Rubberoom provide high-speed flows that match the production flawlessly (Techno Animal never fails to effectively back up the variety of rapping styles on the album). Drones, squeals, and some effective CD skipping effects (Oval influenced, no doubt) combine to make an incredibly driving song about – well, driving (incidentally, the song is an excellent one for the highway). Martin and Broadrick immediately slow things down for “Glass Prism Enclosure,” a more textured piece, with a shuffling, syncopated beat, dissonant string chords, and abstract rapping from Antipop Consortium.

The instrumental tracks often pale in comparison to the tracks with MCs, but contain wonderful intricacies as well. “Hypertension” and “Monoscopic” travel down paths of malevolent dub (similar to Scorn), the latter sounding like a wonderfully fucked Pole track.

But the instrumentals are easily overshadowed by explosive numbers such as “Piranha,” with Toastie Taylor blasting ragga-styled flows over a propulsive beat. The result is violent, almost primal, and one of the most stirring pieces on the album. “We Can Build You” comes across as a bit of a let-down – El-P and Vast Aire provide immaculate stylings as usual, but the track is a slower, come down piece. I would have liked to see the Def Jux crew spit over something a bit more visceral.

“Hell,” The final track makes up for any lack of intensity, featuring the criminally-underrated Dalek. A dark subdued beat and some metallic drones assist Dalek’s monotone rapping. The beat drops off for the breakdown, and Dalek’s rap is dual tracked – he verbally battles himself. The cacophony grows – swirling static, sirens, and atmospherics. The rapping slow burns into a fury, and the beat comes back in with full force, assisted by rollicking waves of bass, pitting Dalek squarely against the storm of noise. The hurricane subsides quickly and suddenly, perfectly ending the album." - G. Mueller


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