Barrikad – We Make Nihilists Smile Again (CD, Phage Tapes)

dark ambient, Drone, harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

We Make Nihilists Smile Again is a set of three collaboration tracks featuring Barrikad and a different artist. Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat, Fear Konstruktor, and Government Alpha lend a helping hand, infusing Barrikad’s sound with distinctive differences. This CD from Phage Tapes comes with pull-out liner notes that feature five different excerpts from philospher Giorgio Agamben’s book The Coming Community.

“Black Hammers”, the collab with Kriminaaliset Metsänhaltijat, features a long-running drone of distant bass pulsings, along with a closer whir of electronics and perhaps either tape manipulations or actually sound recordings of monkeys chirping and yowling in the jungle. Needless to say “Black Hammers” takes on the aura of a dark jungle full of unrest, and the distance of the recording, which feels like the mastering is pushed way back, causes the listener to really pay attention to the sounds that oscillate within this track.

The second track, “Governmentality”, features Fear Konstruktor, and again seems to play off of the less-is-more approach with a slight buzzing and pulsing of electronics with background clicks and taps, offset by surging static deep beneath it all. It’s another drone piece, a hypnotic display of the effects of simple whirs and and taps on the human mind and the ability to focus intently on such minimal sounds. At some point garbled vocal samples play overtop of the drone, and this repetition is very effective to the mood of “Governmentality”; it makes one wonder, after reading the philosophies of Agamben, what speech the vocals once delivered.

The two drone pieces make up the meat of We Make Nihilists Smile Again; Government Alpha’s collab “Destroy, Destroy, Destroy” kicks in with its harsh noise collision, but despite the influential and long-running GA appearance, the track never really elevates above substandard hits of static and peals of noise. It’s not a bad track, but it’s entirely expected from Government Alpha and rather mundane compared to the stellar collaborations before it.

These collaborations are fairly well-done, but I will say that, being new to Barrikad’s sound, I could never really pinpoint a time where I could pick out Barrikad’s own contribution to the mixes. The tracks all seemed to sound like noise from the guest contributors, and while that’s not entirely abnormal for a set of collaborations, I found myself wishing that I could get just the hint of what Barrikad sounds like solo.