Much of the body music renaissance has rested either on a punk-inspired embracing of the genre’s rawer and more unrefined sounds, or a reappraisal of the more diverse rhythms which were often lost in the palimpsest-like rewriting of post-industrial history around the turn of the millennium. Despite their relatively recent arrival on the scene, Edmonton duo Visitor are able to pick up both of these threads and carry them ably on a moody debut LP of dark electro and related sounds which is by turns morose and funky, and sometimes both.
The squared-off programming and simple leads which populate Expat will likely have most greying rivetheads drawing comparisons to the likes of Psychic Force, early :wumpscut:, and yes, even the ur-source of that mean but eminently danceable sound, The Klinik. And while those comparisons are certainly invited by the programming (and lightly distorted vocals), Visitor have learned from the likes of more recent acts like Minimal Man, Forces, and possibly even early VALIS. To wit, there are great rewards to be gained by adding a lithe sense of swing and head-nodding funk to this this side of the broader EBM revival.
Visitor prove themselves quite adept at crossing the various traditional streams from which they’re drawing influence. Plenty of mid-90s records which perhaps weren’t so far from the staccato bleeps of “Imp” would trot through similar dark electro instrumentation, but Visitor find ways of bringing 80s synth-funk swing back into the mix, as they also do on the bridge of the opening titular number. As much as they play with rhythm to good results, they don’t get bogged down either in overproduction or forced aggression; tracks are kept relatively clean and minimal in their construction, allowing the appeal of the rhythms and alternately rubbery and crunchy synths to stand out. A tune like “Celebrate Death” has an immediate punch but isn’t trying to blow the listener out of the frame; you’re instead invited to hang and move with the proceedings.
Visitor sit quite far afield from the rest of their peers in Edmonton, but regardless of their geographic origin they’re positioned quite well in the contemporary throwback body music field. Tasteful but not wholly demure, they’re showing off clear instincts for rhythm and distinct synth sounds on Expat.