Ritual Body Music
One of the failings of the EBM revival of the mid-to-late aughts was certainly the narrow focus on a specific, eighties iteration of the sound. While certainly not universal, that adherence to the muscle n’ hate template had an air of the reactionary about it, a rejection of any stylistic developments, and specifically any that were seen as a dilution of pure, true school EBM. Consequently a lot of the colorful and interesting sounds of the genre’s early 90s period were overlooked by the neo-oldschool crowd, leaving them ripe to be picked up by enterprising acts seeking to expand the palette available to classically minded body music producers.
Enter Colombian act Struck 9, whose 2018 sophomore album Ritual Body Music certainly has some post-80s flair in terms of sound design and arrangement. While songs like the opening title track definitely rely on the classic punchy, syncopated basslines of trad-EBM, the energy and bounce with which they’re executed here is more reminiscent of early 90s output of acts like Orange Sector or Paranoid than say, DAF or Nitzer Ebb. At least some of that is also due to the sleek, digital texture of the programming, which emphasizes smoothly interlocked sequences of notes, allowing the uptempo synthlines of “Execute” and “Bodytemple” to push simple melodies along in tempo with the rhythm section.
It’s a formula that works well for Struck 9, but at times betrays some creative inertia. While no individual track has much of an issue in a vacuum, Ritual Body Music does suffer from some sameyness in style throughout, with songs that blur a bit in execution. This might be a function of the plain vocals, which while perfectly serviceable don’t offer many memorable hooks for the listener to latch onto. That said, when the band bring in some other stylistic elements the results are notable, as with the electro-industrial tropes that inform “Zero Day”, or the And One-esque electropop touches on political number “No Fracking U.S.A.”.
With the boom of retro-EBM in the rearview mirror, it’s pleasant to uncover an act like Struck 9 taking up the style in a way that doesn’t feel like the same old school ideas being regurgitated. When listened to in a single sitting not every second of Ritual Body Music will necessarily standout, but there are enough moments like the fist-pumping arrangement of “999mb” to mitigate those lulls. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the mood for some throwback sounds that aren’t just more of the same old.