Berlin // Crater V2
In 2013 Android Lust’s Shikhee released Crater Vol. 1, an LP that had a marked move away from the song-based industrial of her earlier efforts towards soundtrack-style composition. While technically impressive and perfectly defensible on its own merits, one couldn’t help but miss the Android Lust of old; Shikhee’s distinctive personality as a vocalist and songwriter is what has made her records endure since the project’s 1997 debut. New LP Berlin // Crater V2 is nominally a thematic sequel to its predecessor, although the juncture between finely sculpted sound design and the classic Android Lust style is more balanced and developed here.
The moody and intense feeling of the record is achieved through Shikhee’s excellent grasp of release and tension, not just in structure but in the literal design of the sounds she applies in her work. First proper song “Eclipse II” makes excellent use of a subbass tone beneath an obscured vocal sample, slowly building to a parade of buzzing synths and a jangling guitar figure, each of which follows naturally from the preceding element. At the other end of the spectrum “Insects” builds a clanging percussion track before stripping it down to kicks as a haunting bit of piano and a sneering whispered vocal take sneak to the front of the mix. It’s a timely reminder that for all the emphasis on Android Lust’s songwriting, her production work has always been razor sharp.
That said, there are a couple of very well-crafted songs here, numbers that take full advantage of the project’s considerable toolkit. “Daughters of Dawn” makes use of a plain bass arpeggio as a foundation for doubled and reverbed vocals and an ever evolving drum track, never resolving into a simple verse/chorus structure but artfully rotating through numerous configurations before returning to where it began. Less immediate but equally captivating is “Heart Tunnel”, which takes it’s time building up a wailing wall of sound to act as a backdrop for a particularly fraught sounding Shikhee to self-exorcise. Their construction is interesting to examine, but listening to them in the moment it’s hard not to be swept along with their emotion and ardor.
Considering Android Lust’s track record it shouldn’t be a surprise that Berlin // Crater V2 is good: the project has long-enjoyed a position of esteem amongst deep scene industrial heads for the quality of its work. Still, the chorused bass guitar that leads “Crawl” or the fitful techno-tinged “Plaza Steps” are useful indicators that for all Shikhee’s achievements as a cult artist she isn’t done growing, expanding and applying her ideas in new and engaging ways. Some twenty years in and Android Lust still sounds uniquely ahead of the curve. Recommended.