Data Void
Strategies of Dissent
Metropolis Records

The return of Don Gordon’s storied industrial project Numb in 2019 was certainly a surprise, albeit not an unwelcome one; Mortal Geometry reasserted the classic electro-industrial style that defined the peak Numb years and illustrated that despite the two decade hiatus, Gordon was still capable of hitting the balance between considered programming and production and the project’s trademark rancor. 2024 finds Gordon collaborating with James Mendez of cult US act Jihad, an artist who had a similarly period of relative inactivity before returning to the industrial genre in 2020. It’s probably not a surprise then that their collaborative work as Data Void cleaves close to the 90s electro-industrial template as practiced by both acts in their heyday; Strategies of Dissent is something a of a stylistic throwback, but thankfully a rather enjoyable one.

There’s a definite priority on momentum and energy in the Data Void material, with atmospherics kept largely to supporting the layers of bass, leads and drum programming that make up the LP. A cut like “So Alien” has plenty of texture and mood to be certain, but so much of its desolate feeling comes from the contrast between its alternating 16th note and half-time bass and evolving drum parts that the pads that accent the chorus are more punctuation than anything else. Similarly the manic energy of opener “Nothing Changes” charges straight ahead with breaksy kick-snare patterns and huge droning synths that get cut to the quick by spiky leads for a maximally tense atmosphere that emerges from arrangement and structure.

None of which is to suggest the record is without nuance; for all of its emphasis on hitting hard, there are plenty of production details and creative choices that add depth and complexity to the proceedings. “Seven Seconds”‘ most notable element might be a chugging chords and dramatic strings, but the little glitches that dart around the edges of the stereo spectrum fill out its mid-tempo groove without ever fully emerging into the spotlight. The way in which Mendez’ vocals are kept entirely comprehensible and clear despite their processing (classic pitch shifting, doubling, and reverse reverbs are all in effect at various points) is one of Data Void’s smartest moves; a track like “Crash, Burn & Resurrect” works each bitten-off syllable’s placement against the song’s rhythm in a way that prioritizes the lyrics without needing to bump Mendez up in the mix.

The appeal of a record like Strategies of Dissent is obviously rooted in hearing two standard-bearers for gritty electro-industrial work together, although that also opens it up to potentially unfavourable comparisons to Gordon and Mendez’ individual catalogues. That it can withstand those expectations and still come across as something new and fresh while staying true to the legacy of its creators is impressive. Best-in-class material that reminds us of what made those caustic, unnerving and exhilarating sounds so appealing in the first place. Recommended.

Buy it.