Angst - Tar Ner Skylten
Old School EBM, EBM You can always trust Swedish musicians with synthesisers. Be it synthpop, EBM, dance music or whatever-you-call-that-stuff-Cold Meat Industry-used-to-put-out, Sweden has always been a go-to nation for those with a taste for synthetic aural texture (oh, and Brutal Resonance originates from there, too!). And one of the countries most creative exponents is Henrik Björkk, known to me for MZ-412 and Pouppée Fabrikk, possibly known to you for one of his numerous other projects, but known to all of us for the next few paragraphs as Angst. Mathias Pettersson forms the drumming half of the project, but I can't tell you what bands he's been in as this is a far-from-uncommon Nordic name!

Whilst it would be easy to describe this project as 'REALLY old school EBM', that is more a reflection of the artists musical background and likely end audience than a precise musical definition. Whilst not totally dissimilar to the DAF wannabes of the world (hi there, Jaeger 90!) with the predominantly one synth-one drumkit-one voice approach, this project also has aesthetic similarity with the synthier works of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazzazza. And that surprised me. I once said anyone that tried to replicate the style of the industrial pioneers would end up stuck in one of the more contemporary subgenres that emerged. Wrong again!

Oh, and just to really give the project an esoteric edge, the vocals are in Swedish. This wouldn't seem so unusual if it wasn't so common for Swedish bands to use the English language. I'm not saying that's a bad a bad thing - it makes the music more accessible to a wider audience, and most Swedish musicians know the language well enough to write good lyrics. But it's nice to see their national tongue get some love, too. OK, to me, the lingustically-ignorant Englishman, it's all sounds like Norse code, but this is not a style of music where deep lyrical insights are necessary. A few key phrases you can drag through Google translate and you get the idea. The tone of the Swedish language definitely fits this style of music, and that's what matters most here.

The album kicks of with "Välj", a rough synth line, drum stop and spoken-word Swedish essentially distilling the roots of classic EBM down to their most basic form and recreating them here, setting the tone for the album as a whole. The texture don't get any smother on "Klasskamp", the grating electronics almost purposely painful to listen to. Have to admit to skipping over this one after the first few listens.

"Konstant" is reliant (some may say too reliant) on the urgent drumming driving the song through it's sub-3 minute duration, whilst "Dumma Saker" adds new levels of 'nothing at all' to the minimal synth genre and "DDR" meanders more than seems possible for songs built on such basic principles. Anyone worrying that an initially-promising project may be losing direction need only wait for (or skip to) "Underbar". Detuned synth pulses, uptempo drums and a vocal delivery that nails the 'Gabi Delgado's Swedish cousin' vibe they've been aiming for since track 1.

And dancefloors may remain filled for "Vin Blod Sex Mod", built as it is on similar principles, before things get esoteric again for "Krav". It's another stripped-down affair, appealing as much to those people who buy those 'Electronic Pioneer' compilations as the old-school EBMers who are ten times more likely to know this project even exists.

A raucous "Sanning" keeps the interest level high, and whilst "Rädda Barn" never really comes together, the album still delivers one final highlight with "Står Still". A slow, steady drum stomp, big on the ride cymbals links well with the synth sequence and vocals, proving that sometimes it's best not to get too indulgent with sonic experimentation when there's a decent tune in the offing. That only leave "Utfärd", a noisy outro for those who "like a bit of rough" in the analog synth department.

And so ends what is either a nostalgic revival of old sounds for old EBM-heads, or a history lesson for the late arrivals to the scene as to where industrial and EBM music were at least partially rooted. Co-incidentally, the album title sits alphabetically next to Nitzer Ebb's 'That Total Age' on my iPod, and I immediately switched to this album as a kind of 'EBM History - Lesson 2'. For now though, it's a good debut album for the project, occasionally self-conciously or self-indulgently too experimental for it's own good, but solid for the balance of it's duration.
4
Brutal Resonance

Angst - Tar Ner Skylten

You can always trust Swedish musicians with synthesisers. Be it synthpop, EBM, dance music or whatever-you-call-that-stuff-Cold Meat Industry-used-to-put-out, Sweden has always been a go-to nation for those with a taste for synthetic aural texture (oh, and Brutal Resonance originates from there, too!). And one of the countries most creative exponents is Henrik Björkk, known to me for MZ-412 and Pouppée Fabrikk, possibly known to you for one of his numerous other projects, but known to all of us for the next few paragraphs as Angst. Mathias Pettersson forms the drumming half of the project, but I can't tell you what bands he's been in as this is a far-from-uncommon Nordic name!

Whilst it would be easy to describe this project as 'REALLY old school EBM', that is more a reflection of the artists musical background and likely end audience than a precise musical definition. Whilst not totally dissimilar to the DAF wannabes of the world (hi there, Jaeger 90!) with the predominantly one synth-one drumkit-one voice approach, this project also has aesthetic similarity with the synthier works of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazzazza. And that surprised me. I once said anyone that tried to replicate the style of the industrial pioneers would end up stuck in one of the more contemporary subgenres that emerged. Wrong again!

Oh, and just to really give the project an esoteric edge, the vocals are in Swedish. This wouldn't seem so unusual if it wasn't so common for Swedish bands to use the English language. I'm not saying that's a bad a bad thing - it makes the music more accessible to a wider audience, and most Swedish musicians know the language well enough to write good lyrics. But it's nice to see their national tongue get some love, too. OK, to me, the lingustically-ignorant Englishman, it's all sounds like Norse code, but this is not a style of music where deep lyrical insights are necessary. A few key phrases you can drag through Google translate and you get the idea. The tone of the Swedish language definitely fits this style of music, and that's what matters most here.

The album kicks of with "Välj", a rough synth line, drum stop and spoken-word Swedish essentially distilling the roots of classic EBM down to their most basic form and recreating them here, setting the tone for the album as a whole. The texture don't get any smother on "Klasskamp", the grating electronics almost purposely painful to listen to. Have to admit to skipping over this one after the first few listens.

"Konstant" is reliant (some may say too reliant) on the urgent drumming driving the song through it's sub-3 minute duration, whilst "Dumma Saker" adds new levels of 'nothing at all' to the minimal synth genre and "DDR" meanders more than seems possible for songs built on such basic principles. Anyone worrying that an initially-promising project may be losing direction need only wait for (or skip to) "Underbar". Detuned synth pulses, uptempo drums and a vocal delivery that nails the 'Gabi Delgado's Swedish cousin' vibe they've been aiming for since track 1.

And dancefloors may remain filled for "Vin Blod Sex Mod", built as it is on similar principles, before things get esoteric again for "Krav". It's another stripped-down affair, appealing as much to those people who buy those 'Electronic Pioneer' compilations as the old-school EBMers who are ten times more likely to know this project even exists.

A raucous "Sanning" keeps the interest level high, and whilst "Rädda Barn" never really comes together, the album still delivers one final highlight with "Står Still". A slow, steady drum stomp, big on the ride cymbals links well with the synth sequence and vocals, proving that sometimes it's best not to get too indulgent with sonic experimentation when there's a decent tune in the offing. That only leave "Utfärd", a noisy outro for those who "like a bit of rough" in the analog synth department.

And so ends what is either a nostalgic revival of old sounds for old EBM-heads, or a history lesson for the late arrivals to the scene as to where industrial and EBM music were at least partially rooted. Co-incidentally, the album title sits alphabetically next to Nitzer Ebb's 'That Total Age' on my iPod, and I immediately switched to this album as a kind of 'EBM History - Lesson 2'. For now though, it's a good debut album for the project, occasionally self-conciously or self-indulgently too experimental for it's own good, but solid for the balance of it's duration. Sep 23 2014

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

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