Visitor being tapped for their debut by Detriti Records, a label on the other side of the planet from their home base of Edmonton, before us punters next door in BC had even caught wind of them should have let us know something was up. Sure, there was healthy amount of classically catchy EBM and grimy dark electo on Expat, but the way that new beat and throwback techno sounds were used to make lateral stylistic moves rather than just repeat industrial tropes indicated that Visitor were likely to break from the lo-fi throwback playbook. Second LP Technofossil puts those idiosyncrasies front and center, offering a fresh take on industrial, funk, and pop sounds.
At a cursory glance, Phil Traikovski and Veronica Stefanuik aren’t shifting too far from the construction and core elements of the style showcased on Expat, but Technofossil buffs out the lo-fi crackle, adds percussive fills, keeps the high-end in check, and sweetens the low. These changes to arrangement and production make a huge difference – the rattles, klaxons, and orch hits of lead single “Hand To Man” turn what could be an EBM by numbers tune into an Art Of Noise-esque bricolage with a far richer and, yes, brighter style. The dark electro programming of “Moss Covered Ruin” is given a smooth and florid execution connoting the “hi-def” of a now long-past age, in much the same way as latter-era Gatekeeper. The record’s design – part Armani, part Dune throwback (or hell, maybe even the Macintosh port of Prince Of Persia) has a similar aesthetic.
Look further into the artistic decisions shaping Technofossil and the instrumentation matches the LP’s overarching design. Dig the combo of swampy horns and programmed tabla which ushers listeners in via “Chipping Away At The Technofossil”, for instance: factor in the almost comically low backing vocals and it’s akin to a funky combo of Foetus and Oingo Boingo. It’s ironic that a record so outlandish in its sounds ends up cinching the experiences of alienation in post-industrial consumer society far better than plenty of records with similar aims but more commonly ‘industrial’ instrumentation. The slap-bass funk of “Digital Game” somehow manages to perfectly sell the sense of wasting your life farting around online (“you’ve had nothing to eat today,” Traikovski laughs with leering mockery).
There are few contemporary acts pushing EBM and industrial into the same quirky territory Visitor are exploring on Technofossil. Multiple Man will likely be the handiest point of comparison for many listeners, but Visitor’s deep dives into wobbling bass and uncanny vocal distortion go far beyond the dignified restraint for which the former have been celebrated. Instead, it’s the nearly entirely unblazed trail pointed to by the defunct and nearly forgotten White Car which seems the sole precedent for Traikovski and Stefanuik’s weird journey. There aren’t any clear maps for these terrains, but Visitor seem to be growing more powerful and more comfortable the further they roam into the strange. Recommended.