Mark Trueman certainly isn’t making the question of how to cross-index his work as Choke Chain within the post-industrial cataloging system any easier. The elements of dark electro and EBM which he brings to bear on the caustic and misanthropic series of releases that solo project has released over the past four years have always intermingled in unexpected ways yet have never obfuscated the seething anger and misanthropy which fuels Choke Chain. That tension grows even tauter with new record Mortality.
That Mortality opens with the funereal instrumental “Sorrow” is the first hint that Trueman’s added an extra layer to his sound. Taking a cue from the more mournful, cleaner, and yes, melodic strains of dark electro, the record places some new, moody ambiance in contrast to its still pummelling rhythms. The clean chimes which bob and weave through the kicks of “Living This Death” suggest the softer side of :wumpscut: or Leaether Strip’s symphonic ambitions, while the heavily flanged string flourishes which close out “Despair” hearken back to vintage Antler Subway fare.
If there’s some intriguing nuance to Mortality‘s specific musical influences and moods, no such ambiguity can be found in its lyrics. Even by the bleak standards of Choke Chain’s extant discography, Mortality is an exercise in pure miserablism, with the meaningless of life, the horrid intractability of death, and the inevitability of suffering in the interim being recurring themes. The closing message of “Cruel”, “What you do in life means nothing in death”, is a rather representative example.
If that extreme degree of nihilism could perhaps be credited to Trueman’s affection for Rudimentary Peni and other similarly bleak punk, the that he’s embracing the more florid side of his dark electro collection at the same time keeps Mortality from ever becoming monotone or feeling rote. It’s a subtle but real step forward for one of the most promising rising figures in dark electronics. We’re all gonna die: may as well listen to some Choke Chain first. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. Recommended.