Under Your Carbon Constellation
Complete Control Productions
Belgian duo Organic are something of an anomaly on Complete Control Productions. Far from the nuanced body music and electro-industrial the label normally deals in, their debut album Under Your Carbon Constellation deals in a more unprecedented sound for the young Swedish label, specifically a blend of post-punk and synth programming that lands somewhere in the vicinity of Agent Side Grinder’s first couple of records, or more classically some of the punkier moments from their forebears and countrymen Neon Judgment. Bass riffage set against electronics is a simple enough formula with plenty of leeway to mess around which Organic mostly seem content to do, trying on a variety of configurations rather than locking in on one in particular.
The omnipresent and definitive feature of Under Your Carbon Constellation is most definitely the electric bass provided by Joris Oster; whether used as a growly rhythm generator or a lead instrument, there’s scarcely a moment on the LP where it isn’t front and center or conspicuous by its absence, as if the programmed drums and keys are anxiously waiting for it to kick in the door so they can get down to business. Some of the songs are in fact so bass-centric that almost nothing else has room to exist; I’ve listened to lo-fi plod of “Disturbing Street” at least five or six times, and aside from a little synth buzz and a couple of blasts of controlled feedback nothing else has a chance to register. Mercifully, it and “Day of the Locust” are the only two tracks that feel too low-end heavy, with the rest of the album tastefully balancing atmosphere and rhythm.
As noted earlier Organic do plenty of different things within their remit, all executed ably enough. The electro groove that pushes “Johnny Craque” has an ultra-modern and enveloping sound, with walls of bass synths rising on either side of the mix and the reverbed and distorted four-string pushed right down the middle until it takes over rhythmic duties in a clever late-song switcheroo. “Ordinary World” and first single “Waves Are Running” walk the line between the minimalism of European coldwave and the big stage ambitions of first-wave goth rock, invoking tried and true tactics like chorus pedals and high-pitched synthesizer squeals in a tasteful fashion. Ten-minute long closer “Waiting” even does the post-rock build and bust thing, never quite as grand as it would need to be to really succeed but at the very least pushing the genre boundaries of the LP.
I like Under Your Carbon Constellation well enough. While I think it lacks any absolute killer songs it’s proven to be a good accompaniment for some mid-autumn rumination. As I get older I find more and more to enjoy in records that have some utility to them, LPs I can put on with some mood and texture for reading or writing or what have you, an accompaniment rather than an ends in and of themselves. The key is of course in being notable enough to be worth revisiting, and while only time will tell, I can certainly see myself throwing Organic on when I need something with some bite and backbone for a late night writing session or bus ride. It keeps out of the way while not disappearing into the background entirely, a pleasant companion with charms enough to be worth inviting back.