Author & Punisher
I was listening to Krüller, the sixth LP from Author & Punisher, on my commute and didn’t notice until a song faded from my headphones that no, that one pummeling beat wasn’t coming from Tristan Shone’s mammoth percussive programming, but rather from a piledriver at the construction site I was riding past. It’s a fun enough anecdote which lines up with the project’s reputation for merciless rhythmic punishment, as well as the industrial cred of Shone’s now legendary home-built gear. But to focus just on the pure noise and density of Krüller would be to ignore its real significance – Shone’s conscious use of the melodic side of doom metal to craft some of the most emotional and vulnerable work we’ve yet heard from Author & Punisher.
Doom metal remains one of (if not the) primary pillars of Author & Punisher’s work as it has since 2007, but here the steady increase in Shone’s prowess at layering discrete but compounding swathes of industrial noise finds itself in a dialectic with the softer, melodic side of doom. From Shine’s moody, Ulver-esque croon and the elegiac pads of opener “Drone Carrying Dread” it’s apparent that extremity for its own sake isn’t Krüller‘s end. Despite the cover art’s fantastic explosion of military techno-fetishism (bringing to mind a Voivod concept record written by William Gibson), the bludgeoning industrial side of Author & Punisher’s work is used to add weight and portent to deeply sad but also pretty tunes.
Both in composition and production, Krüller finds a range of ways to maintain that mood while keeping the sounds fresh and distinct. The psych-heavy haze the vocals of “Maiden Star” bleeds into both its spacey drift of synths and brightly smeared guitar, with mortar shells of percussion punching through the cosmic fabric of the piece. It field tests a range of other approaches, from the gothic lament of the organ in “Misery” to the almost Diamond Dogs style downward lilt in Shone’s vocals on the closing title track, to reach that same emotional core. With all of this weary, beautiful sadness in mind the cover of Portishead’s “Glorybox” reaches beyond the kinship between trip-hop and Shone’s own work (both using radically repurposed electronics, be they samples or engineered controllers) and taps into the plain-spoken yearning of the song itself.
If previous LP Beastland was an attempt to reach the interzone between industrial and doom in as few moves as possible, using tightly controlled bursts of noise, Krüller is far more sprawling and excessive, with each second stretched and distorted to reveal all of the blood and wire keeping the engines churning. Still one of the most unique crossover entities to tread into industrial territory, Author & Punisher fire on all cylinders, but also leave space for contemplation as the exhaust drifts and dissipates into the stars.