Basic Unit Productions
It’s difficult to listen to the first full-length from Michael Renfield’s R010R without taking into account Renfield’s proclivities as a fan predating the project. Perhaps more than anyone within the post-industrial milieu, Renfield was preternaturally quick at connecting the dots between the explosion of post-witch house sounds happening in 2011 and the extant history of Our Thing. A digital cratedigger after our own heart, he was constantly flagging tracks new and old on forums and in threads which found common ground in woozy gurgles and strict rhythms. The topos of dark electronic music has, of course, shifted in the interceding five or so years (as Unyielding demonstrates), but that affinity for welding new and old serves as an apt guiding spirit when listening to R010R’s first LP.
Unyielding, and the R010R tracks which preceded it, is perfectly suited to Haujobb’s Basic Unit Productions. Rife with dry and heated programming, the unease which has permeated that label’s clutch of industrial/techno crossover releases is on full display in Unyielding‘s slabs of slithering bass and sharply chopped beats (Dejan Samardzic’s DSX seems like the closest relative in that regard). But if you pay too close attention to its component parts’ modern aesthetic, you’ll miss its larger classic structure, which is where the record really shines.
A large portion of Unyielding feels like a classic electro-industrial album that’s been fused together from a variety of the sounds currently floating about the aether, with close-up production to match. The hissing gasps of “Citizen” and its soft yet high-def synth sounds feel right up to date, but taking a step back the actual arrangement and interplay of melody and rhythm in the program feels like the icier side of European industrial circa 1997. The ebb and flow of reverbed bass and klaxons on “Mortality” might not sound so far off from prime-era X Marks The Pedwalk or Steril if it wasn’t for the almost trap-like skittishness of the track. Renfield’s sharp yet restrained vocals, often dealing with abstracted accounts of power, also Unyielding‘s sound from being pinioned to one era.
Whether Unyielding‘s ahistorical style will lend it a depth that’ll still be rewarding when its current markers are as long in the tooth as its classic ones is a question for future listeners, and shouldn’t affect matters in the here and now. Whether the swing on a tune like “Precipice” makes you think of Mentallo or M‡ЯC▲LL▲ may say more about your age than the album itself, but either way it’s still a corker.