Once and For All is the first official LP from Sweden’s The Operating Tracks, the EBM project of Carl Nilsson of Lucifer’s Aid and Andreas Jismark. The majority of the songs on the album were previously released in one form or other over the last 7 years, which may account for the variety of styles on display; despite the obvious nod to genre godfathers Front 242 in their name, there’s more than one flavour of body music being plied here.
The more more contemporary tracks for example have some of the same density and focus on melody as Nilsson’s work in Lucifer’s Aid; lead-off track “Poison ID” (released as a standalone single in 2021) features busy bass and cymbal sequencing and snatches of distorted lead synth, with Nilsson and guest Emma Anitchka trading off vocals to good and dynamic effect. “A Dysfuctional Personality” (one of two previously unreleased songs) is a more cleanly programmed number that resembles some of C-Tec’s more pop-friendly moments, a feeling aided in part by the crooned stylings of guest vocalist Ghostheart.
Digging into the older songs yields a few different, and specifically identifiable influences as well. “1000 Ways to Die” and the complimentary “1001” trade in a distorted minimalism that recalls Ivens and Vomito Negro, a sound that gets spiked with sing-songy melody and hurdy-gurdy (?!) solo on “Daniel”. The band’s most well known track “Testify”, a solid mid-tempo head-nodder that invokes the 242 fuzzy vocal-sample and plucky lead (as does instrumental album closer “Human Blood), is one of the moments where the age of the track feels apparent: guest vocalist Rein has developed so much in terms of personality and delivery since it first appeared in 2015 that her slightly flatter delivery becomes conspicuous.
Really though, most of this material will be brand new to the average listener and the patchwork nature of the record actually adds a touch of intrigue to the listening experience as you trainspot individual influences and ideas throughout. Having now cleared the deck, should they choose to continue the project there’s certainly no shortage of potential directions The Operating Tracks could undertake.