Grunt – Someone Is Watching (CD, Force Majeure)

harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

someone is watching

Grunt’s active style of noise is fully present on this reissue CD of Someone Is Watching, originally a C60 back in 1998. The CD emphasizes the paranoia on display in the lyrics and titles of Grunt’s work; an insert features a nine-panel picture of people being viewed through a security camera, as well as a write-up of video surveillance systems.

If Grunt’s recordings aren’t intensely focused on the politics of surveillance then I don’t know what is. His power electronics delivery is one of the most recognizable and violent of all of the acts I’ve heard, and the opening moments of “Watch Your Back” are so devastating thanks to Grunt’s iconic vocals that it’s easy to see what’s in store throughout. He works with loops, crushing static, and heavy synth rhythms for a sound that matches the dissent in politics and world affairs.

The only track that really misses the mark is “You Can’t Hide,” which differentiates itself from the other songs on the disc by using loops of sound samples including, “Where you gonna run? Where you gonna hide? Nowhere.” throughout. It doesn’t have the flair that Grunt’s own screams give to the tracks despite significantly highlighting the paranoia.

Force Majeure’s re-release seems to omit two tracks from the original: “DNA Test” and “Filmed Proof” are missing here although listed on the original cassette, so either those were tracks Grunt did not want included or Force Majeure made an executive decision to leave them off.

If you missed Someone Is Watching when it first released, it’s in your best interest to pick up this re-released edition. These are some violent and heavy tracks from the power electronics king, and you’ll want it in your discography.

Grunt – Europe After Storm (CD, Force Majeure)

harsh noise, Industrial, power electronics, Review

europe after storm

Grunt’s Europe After Storm was originally released in 1998 as a C30 on the label Spite, but many people probably missed out considering it was a limited run of only 50 copies. Force Majeure has re-released the original four tracks on CD, along with three unreleased tracks and four live versions of Grunt’s output. It’s a nice-looking release from Force Majeure, and the record is over an hour of Grunt doing what the project does best.

The first four tracks are the original release, and they’re great examples of power electronics done right. They’re similar to what Grunt has released over the years, but they’re still at the forefront of the genre in regards to power and destruction. “Project Eden”, the first cut, is driven by a heavy bass beat – fairly normal for the genre, but overtop of the noise is Grunt’s vocals. They are the focal point of most of these tracks, and the rage in those words is notable. “N-Force” is a track with more ethereal qualities, slightly different from the other output on this release; there’s a synth texture here that makes it feel more uplifting than the others.

“Europe After Storm” is a powerful mix of different tones of feedback. It feels cut-up in its approach, where everything is shifting and crunching around in an amalgamation of destructive properties; what’s interesting is that in this track, Grunt’s vocals are shifted to the background, as though the noise is simply too overblown.

The next three tracks encompass the unreleased material; they’re definitely not as good as the originals from Europe After Storm, but they certainly add value to this album. “Hitler Klinton” has a devastating feedback loop that slices through nearly everything, while “Peacekeepers” maintains a fairly generic PE sound. Besides the original tracks from Europe After Storm, the live tracks are the other reason to check out this re-release. Grunt does things a little differently live, and if you haven’t had a chance to see a show, these tracks give good insight into what you might encounter. The live version of “Ethnic Cleaning” keeps the beat with static, while the studio version features a drum track. While it’s not much of a difference, it’s interesting to note the necessary changes when performing in front of an audience.

Force Majeure’s re-release of Europe After Storm is an excellent example of how to put out old material. It adds over half an hour of extras, and anything from Grunt is well worth a listen. This was released in a collection of 489 hand-numbered CDs, so try to find one soon.

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Mind & Flesh – Martyr Generation (CD, Force Majeure)

Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

martyr generation

Mind & Flesh is the industrial noise project of Anders B. from Oslo, Norway. Martyr Generation is his first release under the moniker, out on Force Majeure (an imprint of Nuit Et Brouillard) as a CD in a sleek, glossy digipak. This CD hits all of the major notes of death industrial and power electronics: sharp and pummeling rhythms, repetitive beats, and harsh vocals. While it’s not really much of a surprising release per the genre, it is a great addition to a form of noise that’s very difficult to evolve.

Mind & Flesh mainly works with a formula on its tracks. They open with a steady, plodding beat, not too vigorous but enough to feel like a progressive march. Some are instrumental, and most of the second half of Martyr Generation features the industrial rhythms alone. The opening half is where Mind & Flesh puts the vocals on prominent display. They’re a whiny sort of growl (not a bad thing, just a characteristic) that often dialogue despicable events or strange characters, like on opener “Walking Target”, where Anders proclaims “You won’t be harmed/As long as you play my game.”

As with many industrial pieces, some of Martyr Generation‘s tracks work well while others fall short. “Walking Target” and “From Cradle to the Grave” are a nice one-two punch, while the instrumental tracks “Blodskam” and “How to Punish”, sandwiched in the middle of the disc, feel too repetitive to keep the momentum going into the second half. Still, “Destroyers” manages to bring some of that energy back, even without vocals, and “Learning to Hate You”, a collaboration with Kim Solve, is one of the best tracks on the album with a significant synth line.

Still, Martyr Generation is a bit uneven in terms of quality tracks, and the disc often makes one hope that Mind & Flesh will branch out from his normal plan of attack for some variety. It’s an album with some good industrial rhythms, but it also fits snugly within the confines of other artists within the same genre.

Maison Close – Maison Close (CD, Force Majeure)

harsh noise, Industrial, Noise, power electronics, Review

maison close

Maison Close’s self-titled release was recorded back in 1998-1999, but Force Majeure has reissued it in a wide pressing for those who didn’t get to hear it back then. This disc is influenced by the film Johnny Got His Gun, which was before that an anti-war novel from author Dalton Trumbo. Many tracks sample dialogue or sounds from that film; in addition, Maison Close works in tracks that dabble in power electronics and industrial.

This thing is jam-packed with noise, with twelve tracks spread out over an hour of sound. Maison Close starts out somewhat slow; its opening track, “Vent D’est – Vent D’ouest”, is a nice mix of industrial drones and churning noise,  but the next couple of tracks kind of waver – “Most of Them Never Come Back” makes Maison Close’s theme known, but it’s also just a track full of dialogue.

It’s not until the later tracks that Maison Close really hits its stride. “Ton – Nihil – Rec” is the turning point; it’s a heavy power electronics track with lots of rhythmic destruction along with the first sign of vocals from M. Kopfringl. He’s got a tribal, incantation-like delivery, howling along to the noise at random intervals. This is copied again on some later tracks, but it works best initially.

The other two great tracks come sandwiched between, with “Pain” and “Interferences”. As their titles suggest, these tracks are the ones that deliver the biggest sonic onslaught – a high-pitched feedback in “Pain” carries over into “Interferences”, which is driven mostly by this loud and painful screech. It works wonders.

There have been numerous releases since this album in a similar vein, but it’s important to remember that Maison Close was recorded back in the late ’90s and released more than 10 years ago. The album holds up well, and is a release that noise fans should feel privelaged to have.