MVTANT - Electronic Body Horror

Electronic Body Horror

Joseph Anger’s MVTANT project hasn’t been the most prolific entity since the resurgence of North American EBM began in earnest more than a decade ago. Up until now, the paired Gore and Mirrorshades EPs, dating back to 2019, have effectively been MVTANT’s total corpus beyond an odds and sods comp. Still, a regular touring schedule, not to mention the enduring appeal of those EPs, has kept MVTANT in the EBM conversation and has led to a not inconsiderable amount of interest in Electronic Body Horror, formally the project’s first LP. Thankfully it measures up to those expectations, being a record that makes the most of a minimalist toolkit and a classic approach to post-industrial soundscapes and structures.

If you’re new to MVTANT, some of the more overt stylistic moves of the record establish the sort of vibe Anger is aiming at with Electronic Body Horror: melt movie allusions in “As My Body Is Decomposing” and the DOOM sampling of “Disintegration” and “Kanashibari”. In that context the album title feels like a mission statement as much the name of the band’s latest. Digging beyond that though, you’ll find moody and pulsing EBM which draws upon the earliest industrial forays into dancefloors. Whether those take the form of the cramped heat of “Pretty Flesh” or the dreamy nightmare chills of “Mechaphilia”, there’s an effective minimalism to the affair.

None of the songs on Electronic Body Horror are especially far removed from MVTANT’s extant discography; it’s really in the details of arrangement and sequencing that it stands as a step forward for the project. The muffled bells, loping industrial beat, and smeared, wormy pads on “In Dreams” aren’t especially complex or innovative in and of themselves, but the interplay between them ends up being quite evocative and engrossing. That follow-up track “Burst Boy” isn’t terribly distinct from it in terms of instrumentation or pace but finds a whole different register thanks to different timbral juxtapositions shows how much time and thought Anger has put into nominally “rough” or “low-fi” pieces.

It’s easy to hear the first records to put the “post” in post-industrial on Electronic Body Horror, and the spectre of Cabaret Voltaire never looms too far away from the record (though for my money the hushed vocals, stuttering percussion and grimy funk of “Kanashibari” owes more to the criminally underappreciated White Car than the band from whom they took their name). That said, the personality and bounce which threads through the record in both its aggressive and chiller moments has a unity and mood which Anger has wrought on his own and which should keep MVTANT’s name on the rise. Recommended.

Buy it.