Replicas is the handle we use to write about reissues, offering some thoughts on the original release, and whether or not there’s enough goodies to warrant a repurchase if you own a previous version of the album. In today’s column we have a listen to a vinyl reissue of a seminal electro-industrial record whose influence can still be heard today…
What is it? Lassigue Bendthaus was the industrial alias of Uwe Schmidt, who would go on to broader acclaim for his techno material as Atom™ and his high-camp electronic samba covers as Señor Coconut. First released in 1991, Matter is widely regarded as an important bridge between the sensibility of ’80s EBM and the emergence of complex and atmospheric variations of electro-industrial in the ’90s. Whether acknowledged as an influence or not, it’s not unreasonable to claim that the LP and its follow-ups Cloned and Render presage the work of luminaries like Haujobb and Forma Tadre and many of the so-called “technoid” projects that sought to weave together the signifiers of IDM, techno and industrial.
Matter is still a fascinating release nearly a quarter century on, especially given historical context. Interviews and promo copy from the era find Schmidt discussing futurism and emphasizing the idea of a hermetic album where each track references the LP as a whole, with those heady ideas reflected in the complex synth and drum programming. Songs like “Automotive” and “Velocity Life” mirror their lyrical concern with machinery and motion by way of intricate sequencing that functions like a motor, each musical element acting as part of a larger whole and driving the song forward. While the individual motifs are frequently simple, the way they interact with one another suggests the larger themes of the album, including the mechanization of labour and its relationship on modern life.
The rapidly cycling body music sequences bookmarked by ambient passages on “Transitory” are telling; Matter is an attempt to break out of genre moulds and ideas while adhering to a strict doctrine of construction and rhythm. Even its more languid moments, like the Die Form-esque “lanternslide” and the soundtrack-esque “Rotation Mécanique” are possessed of a global purpose larger than themselves, and act as parts of a whole experience.
What’s on this reissue? The Dark Entries LP reissue has all 8 tracks from the original release, and includes a bonus 7″ with non-album tracks “Inured (Pink Elln Mix)” and “Relate” that have never appeared on vinyl previously. Additionally a two-sided insert with vintage press and promo clippings add to the feeling of this being an important document of a specific era of industrial music. The pressing sounds wonderful and as always Dark Entries do a bang-up job with the art direction and design, delivering a package that feels as sleek and retro-futuristic as the music contained within.
Who should buy it? It’s worth mentioning that Uwe Schmidt released a completely remastered version of Matter including various bonus materials on Bandcamp last year. Those solely interested in the music and not fussed about format would be better served snagging that version directly, while collectors and vinyl enthusiasts should have no worries regarding the purchase of the Dark Entries LP.
Fans of smart, electro-industrial and EBM from an era when the borders of each style were dissolving and reforming into new configurations should take note; it’s nearly a quarter of a century later and Matter still has the feeling of something ahead of its time. As a document of Uwe Schmidt’s early work it’s interesting, as a harbinger for any number of excellent genre records to come, it’s invaluable. Recommended.