Instruments of Discipline

Antechamber is the new project from Mahk Rumbae, and trades in many of the same ideas as his main outlet Codex Empire. Like the latter project, the music on the EP explores the now familiar ground between techno and industrial sounds, with a variation in execution to distinguish them. Where Codex Empire creates pulsing dancefloor ready numbers with a veneer of rusted metal and cold atmosphere, Antechamber delves deeper into mechanical rhythms and textures. Tracks like “Destruction and Hope” still have a tempo and and sense of momentum, but arranged beneath layers of noise, wheezing samples and washes of static that give it a feel somewhere between dub techno and the bleakness of power electronics. Elsewhere “Primitive Forces” arranges its kick drums in distinctly non-standard arrangements to give them a halting feel. Once ornamented with numerous other percussion elements, a keening high pitched drone, and distant vocal recordings, the track becomes a particularly heavy ritual industrial number. The EP’s real gem is the heady “Smoke and Sycamore” where drum elements are placed in such close proximity to one another that they start to blur, becoming part of the track’s broader dark ambient scope. That seems like a good lens to view the entirety of Antechamber through: a producer who understands rhythm as a compositional element finds new and different ways to apply it.

Autopsie d'une ombre - Alive Somewhere
Autopsie d’une ombre
Alive Somewhere

One-man French darkwave project Autopsie d’une ombre certainly knows how to conjure atmosphere. S├ębastien Espi’s doom-laden baritone and the deep and monolithic bass thrums which run through his second LP conjure some of the mood (if not actual sound) of martial industrial, and the alternately grimy and booming production of Alive Somewhere‘s ten tracks matches the cold and impassive tone of such sounds. But the more one tracks what’s carrying the songs through, the more the distorted and simple synth leads which take the spotlight away from those heavier elements gain a melodic and distinctly hooky feel. After a few tracks, Alive Somewhere‘s comparisons to Cold Meat austerity begin to fade, and the combination of dark production and melody begins to recall the goth-garage of The Horrors or even She Wants Revenge. This clear pop impulse dressed in the most stoic of vestments reaches a peak with the mid-album title track. Part “Goodbye Horses”, part Jerome Reuter in balladeer mode, part Interpol deep cut, it makes the most of its simple and plaintively repeating refrain. That impulse perhaps goes awry on some of the other numbers, which tack on an unnecessary minute or two by simply repeating their choruses until the clock runs out, but on the whole Espi fuses light and darkness with canny swagger.