Seekers Of The Void
The distinctions between powernoise motifs and earlier and broader noise stylings can be difficult to distinguish, especially now some twenty years after the former’s emergence. Powernoise’s emergence spoke to twin desires to return to industrial music’s roots and break away from a perceived softening of post-industrial aesthetics, while still giving primacy to rhythm (suited both to club floors and solitary misanthropy). That same drive has certainly run through LA-based Romanian producer Alexandra Atnif’s work to date, and is amplified on her latest release to punishing effect.
Atnif caught our attention with an arresting live performance at Das Bunker 20, and after some compilation releases, it’s a pleasure to have a full-length of new material to dig into. And make no mistake, Seekers Of The Void is a full-length and then some, punching in at over seventy minutes. That’s a lot of metallic noise to be digested, but each of the record’s thirteen tracks is given enough time to establish its own rhythmic and timbral palettes and then have those twisted about.
It’s in those mutations that much of Atnif’s skill as a composer, not just as a sound designer, emerges. The big and wormy detuned passes which sit at the center of “Devourer” as the rhythmic structure of the tracks melts down into lo-fi burbles feel like a sardonic nod to the notion of the record’s club potential – the edifices of danceability disintegrate into grey goo over the song’s course. At other points, as on “Hyperaware Beings Moving Too Fast To Be Spotted”, clean and almost austere programming emerges from the morass of metallic sludge, lending melodic grace. Atnif also finds power in minimalism on the record’s second half, weaving in breaks and minimal synth styles and allowing them to maintain or degrade, or plunging them into deep-bass abysses on “Scorned” (which I have to interpret as a Mick Harris nod).
That Seekers Of The Void has found release on Crunch Pod (a label responsible for plenty of original stateside powernoise records) just as the influence of powernoise on Atnif’s own work is on the rise may be no coincidence. That said, the ranging textures Atnif applied to her more arrythmic and classically noisy material in the past are well suited to the beat-heavy tracks on her new record, and also to the record’s more techno-indebted second side. While powernoise aficcionados may appreciate the parallels to Manufactura and Imminent Starvation which can be gleaned from the record, perspectives from broader techno and noise terrains will likely produce different reads. Regardless of tradition and lineage, it’s a weighty and satisfying piece of work which should bring Atnif’s work to new audiences.