Consumer Junk - Product
Electro-Industrial, EBM There are a lot of things that can be said about contemporary 'four to the floor' industrial music. Much of what can be said depends on the path you've taken through music to come to the point where you'd hear it; it's like that old joke about the rivethead, the cyberkid and the goth in the nightclub. Regardless of any misgivings you or I might have about the genre though, it's undeniably here to stay in clubs and gigs the world over.

Consumer Junk, from Holland - a country known for producing industrial artists with a leaning to the harder side of electronica - are symptomatic of both the good and bad sides of the genre. Their first album 'Product' has a lot of things going for it; there are however a number of downsides to it.

Before diving in to the actual musical content of the album, there's another aspect to it - and Consumer Junk as a whole - that I found interesting. Upon first finding out about the band, the information I was passed went like this;

'Consumer Junk shows how hopelessly addicted society has become in trying to satisfy every imaginable demand. It's about the poison the corporations feed us to make profit and their lies that make us believe we have to spend money to achieve happiness. '

My initial response to this went something like 'Oh ye gods, not another group of malcontent textbook-leftist hippies with some super serious message about the evils of global capitalism'. Much to my Orwellian delight, it turns out that this isn't really the case; or at least, it isn't if you don't want it to be.

Like their fellow countrymen The People's Republic of Europe (I use this comparison only in the sense of their background; not in terms of music because the two are totally different), Consumer Junk's lyrical content and background material are an exercise in doublethink, depending on your own views. If you want, you can take it as a cynical attack on the corporate-controlled economy; equally though, you can choose to see it as supporting such a system, a call to those who feel enfranchised rather than downtrodden by the capitalist system ? a group I count myself among - to also be proud of what they believe in.

Perhaps I'm reading something into the album that isn't there - the band almost certainly intend their material to be anti-capitalist - but perhaps the subliminal point here is that we are still free to interpret our own meanings in music and art. So, does the actual music on offer here match up to the expectations created by Consumer Junks political statement?

The short answer is "no" with a but; the long answer is "yes" with an if.

The opening track, 'Consume', sets the feel and the tempo for everything to follow. Starting off with a statement of intent - again the political slant of Consumer Junk comes to the fore - it almost immediately goes into the main beat, which is punchy and certainly makes you want to dance to it. The sounds in use aren't terribly imaginative - everything feels a little preset-y - but there's a lot to be said for the sheer energy of the almost hardstyle-esque synths of the chorus.

The rest of the tunes on the album pretty much follow this standard pattern of low-key backing synths, higher pitched forekeys, and the omnipresent 'four to the floor' drum patterns of snare, kick and hi-hat. Vocals other than the use of recorded samples from what sounds like news or documenatary sources are rare, except for some voceded vox on 'Be My Valentine' and 'Buy'.

There are some tunes that stand out a bit more, breaking up the near-constant 145 BPM assault; 'Buy' has a throatier, more EBM feel with the use of a low-key, throbbing bass and more imaginative drum patterns than the others on offer, and 'World Economy' nicely rounds off the album with a mournful outro that makes heavy use of martial drum rolls and melodies. Again the political slant is brought to your attention; almost as if the point here is that all the energy of consumerism eventually ends in something much more morbid.

Consumer Junk are almost like a throwback to the pseudo-trance and hardcore of the mid-90's people my age remember from childhood. When you consider it from a technical point of view, from the stance of evaluating it's actual musical worth, you feel like you shouldn't be listening to it; you almost feel embarrassed by how cheesy and simplistic sounding it is. However, if you listen to it the way you listened to your first experiences with electronic music - before things got clouded as you learned more about the genre and it's technical intricacies - it's an excellent piece of work, and an absolute joy to listen to with it's infectious energy. It's like 'Sandstorm' by Darude, or 'Children' by Robert Miles; you don't feel good about yourself when you realise just how much you enjoy it, but you damn well do and to hell with musical snobbery.

So, in a nutshell, Product is a good album; it just isn't really pushing any boundaries. Perhaps this is another way in which Consumer Junk's political message has evolved beyond their ability to control it; perhaps they themselves have become a victim of mass consumerism, the need for conformity, the desire to own recognisable brands. Maybe it's self-satire, in that Consumer Junk are deliberately not creating something more unique in order to demonstrate a point. The one thing I can say for sure is that any album or band who can create this sort of doublethink scenario, and allow for such interpretation of their work, has to be worth listening to. There's certainly better stuff out there to satisfy your inner music critic, but when you just want to have some fun music on, it's this sort of thing you play.
4
Brutal Resonance

Consumer Junk - Product

7.0
"Good"
N/A
Electroracle
Released off label 2011
There are a lot of things that can be said about contemporary 'four to the floor' industrial music. Much of what can be said depends on the path you've taken through music to come to the point where you'd hear it; it's like that old joke about the rivethead, the cyberkid and the goth in the nightclub. Regardless of any misgivings you or I might have about the genre though, it's undeniably here to stay in clubs and gigs the world over.

Consumer Junk, from Holland - a country known for producing industrial artists with a leaning to the harder side of electronica - are symptomatic of both the good and bad sides of the genre. Their first album 'Product' has a lot of things going for it; there are however a number of downsides to it.

Before diving in to the actual musical content of the album, there's another aspect to it - and Consumer Junk as a whole - that I found interesting. Upon first finding out about the band, the information I was passed went like this;

'Consumer Junk shows how hopelessly addicted society has become in trying to satisfy every imaginable demand. It's about the poison the corporations feed us to make profit and their lies that make us believe we have to spend money to achieve happiness. '

My initial response to this went something like 'Oh ye gods, not another group of malcontent textbook-leftist hippies with some super serious message about the evils of global capitalism'. Much to my Orwellian delight, it turns out that this isn't really the case; or at least, it isn't if you don't want it to be.

Like their fellow countrymen The People's Republic of Europe (I use this comparison only in the sense of their background; not in terms of music because the two are totally different), Consumer Junk's lyrical content and background material are an exercise in doublethink, depending on your own views. If you want, you can take it as a cynical attack on the corporate-controlled economy; equally though, you can choose to see it as supporting such a system, a call to those who feel enfranchised rather than downtrodden by the capitalist system ? a group I count myself among - to also be proud of what they believe in.

Perhaps I'm reading something into the album that isn't there - the band almost certainly intend their material to be anti-capitalist - but perhaps the subliminal point here is that we are still free to interpret our own meanings in music and art. So, does the actual music on offer here match up to the expectations created by Consumer Junks political statement?

The short answer is "no" with a but; the long answer is "yes" with an if.

The opening track, 'Consume', sets the feel and the tempo for everything to follow. Starting off with a statement of intent - again the political slant of Consumer Junk comes to the fore - it almost immediately goes into the main beat, which is punchy and certainly makes you want to dance to it. The sounds in use aren't terribly imaginative - everything feels a little preset-y - but there's a lot to be said for the sheer energy of the almost hardstyle-esque synths of the chorus.

The rest of the tunes on the album pretty much follow this standard pattern of low-key backing synths, higher pitched forekeys, and the omnipresent 'four to the floor' drum patterns of snare, kick and hi-hat. Vocals other than the use of recorded samples from what sounds like news or documenatary sources are rare, except for some voceded vox on 'Be My Valentine' and 'Buy'.

There are some tunes that stand out a bit more, breaking up the near-constant 145 BPM assault; 'Buy' has a throatier, more EBM feel with the use of a low-key, throbbing bass and more imaginative drum patterns than the others on offer, and 'World Economy' nicely rounds off the album with a mournful outro that makes heavy use of martial drum rolls and melodies. Again the political slant is brought to your attention; almost as if the point here is that all the energy of consumerism eventually ends in something much more morbid.

Consumer Junk are almost like a throwback to the pseudo-trance and hardcore of the mid-90's people my age remember from childhood. When you consider it from a technical point of view, from the stance of evaluating it's actual musical worth, you feel like you shouldn't be listening to it; you almost feel embarrassed by how cheesy and simplistic sounding it is. However, if you listen to it the way you listened to your first experiences with electronic music - before things got clouded as you learned more about the genre and it's technical intricacies - it's an excellent piece of work, and an absolute joy to listen to with it's infectious energy. It's like 'Sandstorm' by Darude, or 'Children' by Robert Miles; you don't feel good about yourself when you realise just how much you enjoy it, but you damn well do and to hell with musical snobbery.

So, in a nutshell, Product is a good album; it just isn't really pushing any boundaries. Perhaps this is another way in which Consumer Junk's political message has evolved beyond their ability to control it; perhaps they themselves have become a victim of mass consumerism, the need for conformity, the desire to own recognisable brands. Maybe it's self-satire, in that Consumer Junk are deliberately not creating something more unique in order to demonstrate a point. The one thing I can say for sure is that any album or band who can create this sort of doublethink scenario, and allow for such interpretation of their work, has to be worth listening to. There's certainly better stuff out there to satisfy your inner music critic, but when you just want to have some fun music on, it's this sort of thing you play.
Jul 30 2011

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Thomas Gass

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.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

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