Observer: Word Made Flesh & Human Performance Lab

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written by I Die You Die
November 3, 2017 | Category: Album Reviews, Observer

Word Made Flesh
self-titled
self-released

Word Made Flesh, the new collaboration between Phil Barry and Keef Baker draws equally from each artist’s repertoire of musical trademarks; from Barry, the churning guitar work and sharp programming of Be My Enemy and Cubanate, set against Baker’s bass-heavy dub and muscular electronics. It’s a combination that yields some seriously menacing tunes, like opener “Art Brut” where swirling distortion and halting rhythm programming drag their way up the side of the song’s mountainous arrangement, human screams emerging and fading back into the static. Elsewhere, “Black Mirror” introduces a 16th note bass synth that builds a wall of tension before a buzzsaw of processed guitar cleaves it in half. Even in its more straight moments the atmosphere of peril is real: “The Butterfly Dream” rides a pale horse of a bass and drum groove towards an uncertain conclusion, and industrial rock stomper “Heretic” has a dry and combustible mix that always seems on the verge of bursting into flames. It’s not all the threat of violence though, the gentle piano of “Waters of Sleep” and the extended ambient bridge that follows the wheat thresher synth programming on “The Process” serve as valuable counterpoints, not gentle but valuable moments of reprieve. For a record that works with such a defined palette it certainly doesn’t lack for variety, even closer “The Forest” brings some new ideas in the form of dissonant noiserock freakouts. It’s a bracing a often perturbing listen of a record from two artists whose combined powers are exactly as complimentary as you might imagine. Recommended.

Human Performance Lab - Armed Vision

Human Performance Lab
Armed Vision
Aufnahme + Wiedergabe

Now with several years of familiarity with his catalog under our belts, we’re able to make some distinctions between the various projects of Emad Dabiri. His solo work as SARIN works to strike pinched dark techno/EBM nerves, while Konkurs, his collaboration with Joey of Blush Response, aims for noisier rhythmic clatter amidst the programming. His third modus operandi, the Human Performance Lab project done in concert with Matthew Cangiano of Vierance, keeps basslines front and center, passing them through all manner of filters and rhythms, bringing hints of funk and house to the EBM party. New EP Armed Vision keeps things in the 120 BPM range, and keeps an even groove going throughout even as tunes like “80 Gigs” and “Phantom” are swarmed over with down-pitched movie samples. The even tempo makes for a remarkably smooth stand-alone listen (and of course makes club play a snap), and brings the specific shadings and timbres which are added to said basslines right into the limelight. There’s a healthy helping of swing to just about each of the pieces here, which adds verve and flair to what’s often been presented as a uniformly cold and aggressive style in recent years. Even when things veer in a more decidedly rigid fashion, as on closer “Unity”, the squelchy tone on the synth-bass has more than enough throw-back appeal to be as fun as it is punchy; makes sense for a record which hollers at Johnny Mnemonic.

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