“Stop listening to my music in clubs! it’s supposed to be listened to the way that I make it alone crying eating 3 bags of fritos“. Cameron Findlay tweeted that self-deprecating missive just before everything went to shit and ensured that no one would be listening to Kontravoid (or anything else) in clubs for a long, long time. Few records have made club experiences of music feel as necessary yet as far away as Faceless, an EP which feels like a cask-strength distillation of everything that just works about the Toronto producer’s mix of EBM, synthpop, and techno.
Nothing on Faceless will come as a massive surprise to anyone who’s been tracking Kontravoid at least since 2018’s Undone EP, when the project’s synthpunk origins were given a state of the art techno upgrade. After 2019’s Too Deep, which played with new means of connecting those heavier sounds to earlier melodies, Faceless is a tour de force victory lap. Findlay’s latched onto a specific combination of his preferred sounds and is now tweaking their arrangements to best suit the melodies he’s picking up with apparent ease. A tune like “Judgment”, which brings Jim Steinman orch hits and choral pads for high gothic cred while the dead simple Cabs-styled rhythm programming bops along, is a masterclass in squeezing both minimalism and excess for all they’re worth.
Even if you haven’t been tracking Kontravoid as a project, Faceless is such an approachable and winsome listen that you’re bound to find some entryway into it. Depending on how you’re approaching it, “Nitrous” might sound like that weird period in the late 90s when mixes for scene acts like Pitchfork and Apop were ripping off Underworld, or a more funky take on Berlin TBM…or the Pump Panel “Confusion” mix…or maybe just vintage Die Form. In any event, it’s an absolute dancefloor killer which requires no introduction or pre-existing knowledge.
To be honest, writing reviews about records like Faceless is incredibly easy, as their charms are so apparent and engaging, yet that same immediacy also makes the exercise feel a bit superfluous. Anyone with even the remotest interest in music of this style is going to be swept up by any number of its cuts without needing these sorts of cross-genre analyses, and likely already has been if they keep an eye on solid Bandcamp feeds or DJ streams. Crack a bag of Fritos, enjoy, and look forward to a time when you’ll be able to hear Faceless in clubs, even against Findlay’s wishes. Highly recommended.