Mechanisms of Faith
Electro Aggression Records
Andreas Malik’s output as Object occupies a fairly niche part of Our Thing. As a producer of what Electro Aggression Records head and old school purist Nader Moumneh has dubbed “authentic dark electro”, Malik is creating music in a style that peaked in popularity some 15-20 years ago (think the heyday of Zoth Ommog and Celtic Circle Productions), a corollary of sorts to the fully realized new old-school electronic body music movement. While it’s fair to say that his fourth full length record Mechanisms of Faith isn’t aimed at innovating the genre, there’s definitely an appeal to this specific sort of throwback, especially for those of us who have a great deal of affection for the era it evokes.
In dissecting Mechanisms of Faith I’m reminded of a fairly basic equation: [post-industrial] + [EBM] = dark electro. Object leans more towards the former sonically, especially in the basslines and vocal processing, which have the distinct markers of ubiquitous electro-industrial progenitors like Skinny Puppy. Shot through with the metronomic beat of body music, songs like the title track and “Blind Obedience” bear the formula out, movie samples and chiming synths weaving in and out of the mix in a precisely measured fashion. Elsewhere, the slow sweep of synths that ebb and crest on “Dream Collector” tap into the emotional foundations of the genre; although Malik flirts with agression in the sharp drum patterns of “Neural Explosions” and “Blind Obedience”, he favors a more measured and melodic feel throughout most of the record. Dark isn’t synonymous with angry, the climax of “Empires in Peril” comes when it plays the tightly arppegiated synths against some warm reverbed pads to good effect.
One of the defining things about Object’s approach is not only the layering of sounds, but the amount of movement within his tracks. More than collections of loops, every track on Mechanisms of Faith is made up of numerous synth and rhythm patterns, often appearing only briefly in a breakdown or as a counterpoint to a previously established element before retreating back into the mix. Sometimes this works against the songs, as on “Under Zero Halo”, where two or three promising melodic motifs appear in rapidfire series, none given enough room to really achieve their potential. Malik clearly has plenty of ideas, and the album benefits when he allows them more room to develop rather than jamming them together in close succession. Album closer “Each Slow Turn”, for example, has more than a few changes in form and focus over the course of its four and a half minutes, but it works because each new configuration flows organically from what preceded it.
Much like I am with Anhalt and New-Old School, I find myself really charmed by Mechanisms of Faith‘s dogged attachment to a specific time and sound. Especially while listening to the full length companion disk of remixes and demos Old School Conspiracy, it’s fun to imagine that there are clubs in some corners of Europe where bands like Object and his conspirators (in the form of Controlled Fusion, Abscess, Brain Leisure and other dark electro acts) are still played to the dark electro faithful. That sort of day-dreaming aside, I can recommend Mechanisms of Faith to those who crave a taste of something classic on occasion: Object finds some virtue in creating music free from the influence of current trends and servicing his own interest in a specific period of post-industrial’s ever expanding history.