The Los Angeles-based duo of Matt Francini and Troy Woodhall make a strong case for their work as Fuedal on their debut LP Unit 1. Over the records’ six tracks and two remixes, they thread modern and classic body music sounds and more melodic wave sounds, all supported by throbbing bass and busy drum programming. It’s a sound that fits nicely between both more strictly-defined EBM acts, and the current wave of dark alternative danceclub-ready music made by the likes of Sextile or Night Sins.
Fuedal have a succinctness that serves them in good stead, keeping tempos lively and tracks to a length that suits them. The album’s standout club-contender “Movin” is just over two and a half minutes long, but that gives a special urgency to the thudding kicks and syncopated cymbals that punch through its low, rumbling bass, a nice counterpoint to Woodhall’s blasé vocals. On the other hand, the more complex arrangement of squelching synths, metallic percussion and punctuating shouts of “NHTS” get a little more room to play out in deference to the track’s tense-build. That number and “Old World” actually put is in mind of circa 2010s neo-old school EBM acts like NTRSN and The Pain Machinery, both in terms of their efficient production and their deployment of industrial-dance tropes.
The more melody-driven songs get across just as well through slight adjustments to the record’s sonic palette. “Cold Caller” starts with the same kind of deep-pocket electronic rhythm programming as earlier cuts, but veers into a smooth hook that switches the vibe from sinister to laidback and groovy. “Call Me Soft” plays down the attack of the synths and drums so that Woodhall can stretch himself out a bit, deploying a light croon that fits with the electric bass and little synth trills that flow out through the mix.
While the remixes that cap off Unit 1 (a proper techno-body edit by Semantix, and a more minimal and glitchy version by Anticipation) are nice inclusion, Fuedal’s six originals do an impressive job of providing some variety for the listener within some well-defined musical boundaries. It serves as a great introduction to an act who have dialed-in their sound to maximum effectiveness before delivering it cleanly and effectively. Recommended.