Underground Industrial Records
It’s always exciting to hear an artist field test ideas before happening upon a combination of sounds which can hold a long-form release together. It’s doubly so when said artist hasn’t had to compromise any of the raw strangeness which made their initial work so intriguing. On the third Kangarot LP, Josh Reed has marshalled both his interest in kosmische and his talent for raw electro-industrial sequencing into a tight and violent package.
There was a noted shift away from Kangarot’s first LP Nursery Of New Stars‘ space truckin’ pads on Rejecting Mammalian Humanism. The latter swapped out some of the former’s softer sounds for a squelchier and grimier vibe, and on Wholly Hex that’s been augmented with a bracing and perpetual percussive insistence which runs an electric wire through these seven tracks.
“Communist Workers’ International” has the familiar stabbing sequencers and pitch bends Reed’s used to tie Kangarot to electro-industrial’s past, as well as the odd freeform space synth line skipping upwards into trippier territory. But the whole track is presented with such solid state, blocky rhythms that the take-away is the tight and economical pummeling it delivers. Reed’s harmonic strengths and experimental whimsy are still there under the hood, but it might take newcomers a minute to ferret out. The recurring bricked-out percussion might be a by-product of Reed’s dedication to vintage hardware, but it also gives Wholly Hex a distinct character which it lives up to throughout.
Wholly Hex‘s strict BPM approach also brings Reed’s canny knack for bringing reinvigorated electro-industrial sounds to the front. Reed certainly isn’t alone in wishing to coat the mechanized brutality of the past with new vitriol; “XM Comedy” doesn’t sit so far away from what Statiqbloom’s been dishing out, and the misanthropic vent of its lyrics matches up as well. But on “Villa Belvoir” he’s well off on his own island, juggling pinched synth solos and distorted toms and braps without missing a beat, and “Cutting On Action” may be the first time I’ve ever caught dub vibes from a track which’d otherwise make me think of Dive.
Kangarot’s been a fun and engaging project to track from day one: even in his more indulgent moments Reed was cycling through sounds and moods in an engaging way. But on Wholly Hex he sounds more focused than before, fusing both the calmest and the most densely disharmonic sounds that Kangarot’s tapped into on previous releases with fresh aggression. Recommended.