Fear Konstruktor/Defektro Split (C39, Phage Tapes)

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It’s the attack of the killer “K”‘s on this split between Fear Konstruktor and Defektro. Four tracks of dynamic power electronics from Fear Konstruktor round out side A while Defektro kicks in with some harsh noise drones on side B. The two also unite on a rather sprawling track.

Fear Konstruktor contributes some relatively standard drones/ rhythmic power electronics. Despite the negative connotations of that statement, there’s no shame in contributing a standard but good set of power electronics tracks; it means the noise is strong with an aggressive undertone, and Fear Konstruktor does this without the need for excruciating, throat-tearing vocals. Instead, his noise ebbs and flows, as on opener “Stumbling Block”, which builds from a static-laced alarum piece to a louder, thudding crescendo. It’s a similar scenario with “Zoned Out”, which, like its name, is a very droning piece, with rhythmic shudders of static and bass and a nice recurring sharp feedback tone. It’s got some depth to it, and it’s hypnotic without being harsh. “Rusty Spots” is also a churning mix of pitch oscillating tones with a deep rumble layered underneath, which is quite dark at times; that said, it’s not the most affecting.

The collaboration with Defektro on Side A, titled “The Depth”, is a shining moment on this split. A watery swirl mixes with the subtle clang of metal throughout; it simply adds some harsh feedback at low volume, amps it up over time, and creates a chillingly bleak space.

Side B features five songs from Defektro (although I must say that the split on this doesn’t seem very equal for Fear Konstruktor). “Flashback” opens Defektro’s contribution with a static spray which nicely patterns into a rhythmic industrial clatter, with a metal clang, chain rattles, and some sizzling, atonal guitar-like noise. “Be Born” has a piercing feedback squeal with fluttering blips and a rhythmic bell tone not unlike the first track – then they layer in oscillating, scrambled noise that sounds like a manipulated sample. The track’s very subtle – there’s no overt harshness to it, but the feedback is quite high and demanding of the listener.

“Pressure Gauge” carries this feedback over, with a bubbling of sound underneath and a ticking that reminds of a car engine settling. I like the industrial tendencies of Defektro paired with the rhythms of their noise; it works well, and when the subtle sounds switch over to the harsh rhythmics of scrap electronics, it feels all the more forceful. “Reckless Machine”, too, is much noisier than the previous tracks, more of an all-out industrial clatter that feels distant but sharp at the same time. It is perhaps a bit too distant; I’d like those peaks of noise to be a little clearer, to feel closer to the listener than if Defektro was performing in the room next to the listener. We peter out with “Sink Down”, a similar track to “Be Born” which is somewhat underwhelming at the end of this split – its placement means it is overshadowed by the builds in the previous tracks.

But overall the tape is an impressive split between Fear Konstruktor and Defektro. They’re both in that area that links drone and power electronics together, not so harsh as to warrant volume restrictions for fear of deafness but not as hypnotic and rhythmless as drone tends to be. Instead, they’re in a threshold between, and it’s often hypnotic enough to surprise the listener as the sound shifts toward a louder, harsher spectrum.

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