As you may recall from Bruce’s review of Elsewhen, Nexus Kenosis is the quirky EBM project of Swedish industrialist Henrik Björkk, a return to more danceable if no less challenging waters from the man who brought you Mz.412 and Folkstorm. Or is it? With his most famous project Pouppée Fabrikk also having released an album in 2013, it seems that Henrik has at least somewhat exorcised his yen for dirt-caked, muscular body music, and consequently the new EP from Nexus Kenosis Further is a more experimental affair. It’s intriguing (especially arriving so hot on the heels of the project’s debut) to see the direction Björkk has elected to take Nexus Kenosis in, one which is actually pretty unexpected.
“Unexpected? Like how?” you might ask. Well, for one think Henrikk has completely removed his voice from the NK musical equation, ceding vocal duties to internet icon Labanna Babalon. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, do a search on Youtube, you’re just as likely to find her on a drug-fuelled stream of consciousness rant as twerking in a Riff Raff or Brooke Candy video. Here she’s kind of a mumbly non-entity who drifts in and out of the mix, occasionally sounding like a petulant teenager as on the glitchy “Guide Me” or “U.N.A.O.”, where she recites some vaguely prophetic something or other over a deep gurgling synth and breakbeat. I’m not really sold on her contribution to the actual music on Further – more than anything else she seems like she’s really high or really bored, maybe both – although I do find her mildly charming in the context of “Power”, where a lighter, more peppy rhythm and arrangement of synths lend her the air of a disaffected pop star in an unguarded moment.
As for the music itself…well, it’s odd to be certain. There are no real concessions to danceability here, although opener “Contact/Download” comes within hailing distance via its metallic-sounding percussion before it ramps down into a cloud of buzzing synth textures. There’s moments where the record flirts with a rubbery dub sound (“Touch”) and ones where it goes all droney (“Epilogue: Trance State”) but it never really holds still long enough to develop any of the sounds. I can buy that it’s supposed to be an accompaniment to Babalon’s quixotic performance, although with her frequently ducking out to smoke a bowl, the music ends up being what you focus on more than anything else. As experimental stuff goes it’s not bad, certainly professionally executed in the recording department, although I’m not altogether sure if that helps or hinders it.
I’ve listened to Further about four times now, and I’m not any closer to finding a real route of ingress to divine its inner workings. I don’t entirely hate it, but I don’t know if I could say I like it all that much either; as a listening exercise it falls squarely into the category of “difficult music”, ID:UD’s pet term for conceptual projects where the examination is frequently more fun than the actual listening. I don’t begrudge Henrikk Björkk a vehicle for venturing far afield, although I daresay even those who got on board with the weirder side of Nexus Kenosis’ debut probably weren’t expecting the follow-up to sound like this. If nothing else it’s a reminder that even with Björkk’s return to his roots with Pouppée Fabrikk, he’s still a guy who’s taken industrial in a lot of weird directions in his day. Consider this EP one more for the purposes of that legacy.