Mad Tyrant – The Execution of William Kemmler (CD, Must Die Records)

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william kemmler

Mad Tyrant’s The Execution of William Kemmler is a themed release based on the murderer William Kemmler, who was the first lucky user of the electric chair. Noise itself often resembles an electric chair, very much based on the wavering soundwaves of static and electricity, and so Mad Tyrant’s inspiration is fitting on this album. The Execution of William Kemmler is a short disc, and originally it was much shorter still; the CD from Must Die Records includes a bonus track that wasn’t on the original release.

First up is “The War of Currents,” and the track is set up exactly how the title would suggest. Mad Tyrant punctuates every blast of static with a single current that breaks up the track. This goes on for the entire length of the track, but it works well because it’s pretty random when Mad Tyrant will strike. This track sums up The Execution of William Kemmler rather well – Mad Tyrant’s swirls of static and the randomness of the analog knob twists become the statement for the rest of the album.

That becomes a problem during the next track, though; “Westinghousing” uses the same static burst to break up the knob twists, and the track feels more like an extension of “The War of Currents” than it does a new idea. It wouldn’t be bad, but bonus track “Electric Earthquake” features the same ADD knob flicking. It’s sometimes frustrating that Mad Tyrant doesn’t allow some of the tones to play out for longer; “Made Low By Thunder” comes close with a more bass-driven static texturing, but it too allows for a lot of chaotic interplay.

But that means there are two really good tracks on here (“The War of Currents,” “Made Low By Thunder”) coupled with two that aren’t that effective. Mad Tyrant definitely has some potential here, and the short offering on The Execution of William Kemmler makes it worth taking the time to listen to the disc at least once. Next time, though, Mad Tyrant could try to take some time with textures instead of twiddling through them.

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