Since 2010, Cory Gorski’s Volt 9000 has been putting out mutant industrial records, evolving from the 16 bit weirdness of 2010’s Retrogenesis to the inscrutable biopunk of 2017’s Deformer, the project’s most recent LP. The appeal of Volt 9000 has always been both in how profoundly weird and unpredictable their material has always been, while also integrating melodic hooks, as twisted around and chopped as they might be. New release Primer finds Gorski revisiting a selection of tracks from across the project’s history in freshly mixed, remixed and rearranged versions, acting as a literal primer on the cult act’s strange appeal.
The decision to revisit the material is a solid one, especially for a free release like this; for those already familiar with the songs it offers slightly juiced up and extended versions, without unnecessarily compromising their appeal for new listeners. Even someone who is intimately familiar with the band’s early standout tracks like “American Machine” and “How to Start a War” might be hard-pressed to identify the specific ways Gorski has warped them – the addition of glitches, tweaky synth sequences and bit-crushing and vocal manipulations mostly serves to make them more Volt 9000-like. Their undulled quirkiness aside, it’s nice to hear them sounding clear and impactful.
Early Volt 9000 was indebted to ohGr’s brand of bizarre post-industrial, although the project moved further away from that sound through the 2010’s, when Gorski was joined by synthesist Andrew Dobbels, releasing the thoughtful and underrated Conopoly and Timeshift albums. Primer‘s greatest value might be a reminder of how good those records were, with “Echnodrone” and “Toybox” from the former working less manic mid-tempo grooves and wry political commentary, where “Glitch in Time” from the latter shows a penchant for complex arrangement and themes. It’s all still very recognizable the same act, just with a different and often wider scope.
There’s no real reason for any industrial fan not to download a free compilation like Primer. Since they first came to our attention the project has been one that has fascinated us, for the undiluted eccentricity of the music but also for the immense depth that is often masked behind it. If you’ve never spent much time with the albums you could do far worse than to grab this one, and let it usher you into the bleepy, torn-apart-and-reconstituted discography of one the most underrated acts in the contemporary post-industrial music landscape.