Not to sound like a broken record, or perhaps one of the loops on the new Sonar record, but we can’t help but repeat ourselves when we sit down to write about a new record from Dirk Ivens, or in this case one from Ivens and longtime collaborator Eric Van Wonterghem. In short, we are compelled to reiterate just how many genres Ivens has had a hand in codifying or outright creating. In the case of Sonar, while Ivens’ work as Dive might have opened up whole new vistas of industrial noise, with the earliest Sonar records Ivens (along with fellow pioneer Patrick Stevens of Hypnoskull) effectively established the powernoise template which would go on to hold tremendous sway in the post-industrial world for years to come. Future Cries, the first new Sonar record in nearly a decade, returns the project to its most minimal and uncompromising roots in both sound and form.
For all of the talk about dark techno overlapping with if not outright swiping powernoise sounds and styles over the past decade, a few minutes of listening to Future Cries will blast away any presumptions about contemporary crossovers or updating of Sonar’s sound. The oversampled distortion and feedback which make up the majority of “So Real” flies completely in the face of both modern techno as well as the expansive ambitions of rhythmic noise producers who would go on to hybridize the genre with dark ambient or even more symphonic styles (Iszoloscope), or cut it with Ritalin-starved breakcore (Tarmvred). You’re getting pure, undiltuted powernoise for its own sake on Future Cries, love it or leave it.
This isn’t to say that Futures Cries‘ pieces take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to loops or composition. The sudden addition of a polyrhythmic squeak halfway through the title track jerks the listener out of the groove they’d just begun to settle into, and is a reminder that the rhythms this genre is built upon don’t have to be hypnotic or metronomic. Something like the comparatively sedate deep basement scuttle of “Not So Fragile”, effectively a pure first wave industrial track, puts the more traditionally aggressive tracks in relief while still holding to the textural template of the overall record.
You’ll likely know within the first thirty seconds of Future Cries whether it’s the sort of record you’re in the mood for or will even have a prayer of enjoying. Ivens and Van Wonterghem, between all of their projects solo or collaborative, have changed the shape of post-industrial music a handful of times, and if they’re in the mood to settle back into one particular moment within their histories, that’s an indulgence plenty of us will enjoy.