Curses’ take on body music has never fit in with broader cliches or staunch traditions concerning EBM. An ear for classic disco and giallo sounds has resulted in a style that’s as funky as it is heavy, and much more interested in the chiaroscuro shades of new beat rather than overt rivet culture markers. That shadowy and blurred at the edges approach serves Luca Venezia well on new LP Incardines, which taps deeper into post-punk and darkwave sounds than any previous work from Curses.
On its own, the darker rock instrumentation which is integrated into Curses’ sound isn’t especially shocking. Neither the bass which acts as the foundation for opener “Miriam” nor its chiming guitar progression are anything post-punk fans haven’t heard dozens of times before. But the lithe synth arpeggios which begin to brighten the corners of the track towards the end, along with some airborne pads, show how Venezia views the different elements he’s bringing together as sitting on a gradient. Penultimate track “Ghost Of Arms” more thoroughly envelops the rock instrumentation in luxurious synth beds and ethereal vocals, effectively landing upon classic darkwave (perhaps with some M83 tossed in) as a mid-point between Curses existing electronic pedigree and new rock ambitions.
If you got on board with Curses for the sake of Venezia’s dancefloor productions, though, don’t worry: Incardine isn’t such a radical departure that the ear for body music elements that first earned him acclaim have been forgotten. The combo of stuttering rhythms, samples, and hypnotically catchy guitar on low-key highlight “Smoke” reminds me of Nagamatzu’s Igniting The Corpse, but your mileage will likely vary in terms of historical comparison. The mid-tempo slowburn of “Blood Oath” feels like a tour through much of European EBM’s past and present, connecting classic Belgian pulses with new Berlin darkness.
Somewhat like Mt. Sims Happily Ever After or Ascii Disko’s Black Orchid project, Incardine‘s framing of familiar goth and post-punk sounds benefits from the electronic legacy its creator had already established. There’s novelty in hearing nodding, moody rocker “Coma” just before you’re thrown into the electro-funk breakdowns of “Déjà-vu, Inc.”. Incarnadine offers everything the established listener would want from a Curses release, alongside the sort of forays into different territory the LP format can afford, giving each of Venezia’s tracks the chance to stand out.