Absolute Body Control
A New Dawn
Absolute Body Control’s 2007 reformation came in the form of two-releases: Vinyl-On-Demands’ comprehensive Tapes 81-89 and Wind:Rewind, the latter of which found the duo of Dirk Ivens and Eric Van Wonterghem revisiting and rerecording selections from their influential but still somewhat obscure catalogue. That they chose to do so is probably not a coincidence; while minimal synth was having a moment in the mid-to-late aughts, Ivens and Von Wonterghem who (who went on to work together numerous times after ABC’s dissolution in the mid-eighties) have always had an interest in adding to that group’s legacy. A New Dawn is their first release since 2010’s excellent revival LP Shattered Illusion, and like that record shows the duo exploring their classic sound without modern stylistic concessions.
Instrumentally, the six song EP makes use of the traditional Absolute Body Control toolset; buzzing analogue synths, simple patterns programmed on vintage drum machines, and Ivens singing in a more melodic style removed from the forceful desperation and anger of his work in The Klinik and Dive. Opening songs “Waving Goodbye” and “Earth Takes a Break” show some of the variety that can be drawn from that simple template – the former is almost all kick-snare, a simple two-note synth bassline and a distant lead on the chorus, while for latter speeds things up and adds loads of springy synth lines to the proceedings. Both tracks sound as though they could have been classic ABC numbers, albeit with a bit more clarity in the recording and mix.
Interestingly the EP shows some of Absolute Body Control’s rarely heard sentimental side. “Empty Cities” has Ivens sounding positively wistful as he sings about waiting for something new to happen in the titular barren world, a simple arrangement of synths and a rattling rhythm pattern filling out the plaintive arrangement. Follow-up “Seven” is an instrumental that touches on light Kraftwerkian electro-pop, complete with robotic melancholy baked into its hopeful melody. When the band revert to their more sinister and plodding sound on “Invisible Touch” (not a cover sadly), and finish on the noisy, Klinik-esque paranoia of “Thundering Silence”, one really does feel like the EP is sequenced to comment on the band’s character and evolution. Now close to 40 years removed from their original run and recognized as a formative act in their genre, Ivens and Van Wonterghem show that they can still inhabit this particular instance of their musical partnership.