Brandkommando – NOW! (C56, Phage Tapes)

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Brandkommando plays power electronics, and on NOW! he takes an obvious political stance thanks to the imagery of soldiers armed with riot shields and gas masks. Brandkommando’s sounds are deeply rooted to repetitious noise, often using martial rhythms along with more sprawling noises and vocals not shouted but filtered through distortion and echoed as though being carried through a loudspeaker or bullhorn.

NOW! is often surprisingly less tense than other power electronics, the noise carried by the repeating rhythms. Brandkommando often uses the same sort of formula for each of his tracks, and that means that a lot of these tracks tend to blend together – if not listening thoroughly, they can often sound entirely the same, simply a shuffling beat mixed with small strands of high-pitched feedback as in “Sold Privacy” or the title track “NOW!”

Brandkommando does step out of the norms at times though, especially on the aggressive “Too Much Information,” which features a guitar-focused rhythm along with sprawling lines of noise mixed with the regular vocalizing from Brandkommando. The same is true of “Idols” on Side B, which again combines a stronger rhythm section that gives the blurry vocal spiels some context, and even the final track “Consumption,” with a ringing synth pulse and unwavering feedback.

So NOW! works best when its noise backgrounds match the darkness of its political undertones, when Brandkommando has a chance to allow the subtleties of his rhythms menace and threaten the clean repetition of the tracks. In general, NOW! is a typical power electronics release, but there are moments where Brandkommando breaks away from the formulaic in order to craft some really dark noise.

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