Joey Blush’s work as Blush Response has always had a changeable, protean quality to it. His output under the project has stemmed from rock-tinged electro-industrial, deeply designed modular synthesis experiments and explorations of drone and techno. His latest LP – and probably not coincidentally, his first for Ant-Zen – dives deep into rhythmic noise territory, applying sounds and ideas from previous iterations to some very crunchy new songs.
The techno-influenced material Blush was working with on his Future Tyrants 12″ for [aufnahme + wiedergabe] is probably the best touchstone for the material on Reshaper. In fact, some tracks like “Alloy” with its busy cymbals and chirpy acid workout “Immolation” might well have been birthed from the same sessions. They’re good, but where the record really shows its colours is in the interpretation of trad rhythmic noise aesthetics. Check out the whirring percussion sequence that drives the title track, giving rise to a shredding metallic siren and subtly shifting background textures, or the rubbery bassline that plays beneath fuzzed out kick and snare patterns on “Screaming Fist”. You could be forgiven for thinking they were birthed in the late 90s heyday of the power noise movement, but for their deceptively modern sounding production. The clean transparent mix is what allows the rougher elements of each track to cut and bludgeon as necessary, and lets the distinctive sound design that has defined Blush’s work shine.
The modernizing distinction may be a bit lost in an age when so much music isn’t listened to in ideal circumstances, either on cheap earbuds, through laptop speakers or via choppy streaming audio, but the more closely you listen to Reshaper, the more important it becomes. Even on the super classic sounding “Pain Process” it feels like an evolution of a specific sound, the application of new ideas and techniques to existing forms. You could term what Blush Response is doing here as an homage, but update is probably more accurate; in applying his own style and aesthetic to a well-established set of ideas, Blush finds new wrinkles to work through and a bold new take on the familiar.