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Stromstad, "New Devoted Human"

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cover imageNorway's Kristoffer Oustad and the Finnish duo of (Jasse Tuukki and Toni Myöhänen) are no stranger to dreary, aggressive electronic music, so a collaboration between the two comes as no surprise.  I have some familiarity with both artists and I have been a fan of everything I have heard from them so far, but it was rarely surprising or unexpected in sound.  With these two projects coming together, however, the final product stands out even more uniquely than their solo material.  New Devoted Human is richer, more complex, and more fully fleshed out than I expected, and has an impressive amount of depth and complexity that is strong and memorable on all fronts.


Of course the album is jam packed with distorted static and bleak passages of funereal drones, but the trio's use of more conventional song structures and instrumentation is what gives this record its distinctive sound and overall song to song diversity.  Opener "Inherent Resurrection" is at first the expected overdriven synthesizers and menacing hum, but once the big, multilayered rhythms come in, the feel shifts more to a heavily distorted, noise laden take on EBM.  Nothing here would be appropriate for a goth club of course, but it has a great, memorable sense of structure and rhythm.

"Fever Wave Dream Function" sees the trio retaining some of this mood but within a slower tempo.  Melodic synth pads creep from the background, but explosive drums and bass heavy  sequences take center stage.  A wide array of styles appear throughout the title song as well:  power electronics style yelled vocals are blended with big, industrial drums and rhythms, but all augmented by some at times beautiful ambient synthesizer works.  The standard ranting, screaming and aggression does take more of the focus throughout the album, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  For "Blood Consciousness", the angry and malicious vocals  are hard to fully decipher are mixed with harsher, brittle passages of noise and distortion.  Even within all this chaotic violence, however, there is a clear sense of structure and organization.  Similar styled vocals appear throughout "Reluctant Traveller" (by guest vocalist Grutle Kjellson), but within a diverse mix of crashing rhythms, jarring noise, and at times what almost sounds like a guitar appearing occasionally.

The less harsh moments of New Devoted Human are also memorable as a bit of pleasantness in this otherwise swirling maelstrom of chaos.  Symphonic touches appear throughout "Nattsvermer," with the heavy drama enhanced by some unconventional programmed rhythms.  The piece never goes into overtly aggressive territories, and actually has a rather pretty conclusion.  Album closer "Kosto" also sees the trio working in some neo-classical bombast and structures, but its final moments finish the album on a rather light, almost uplifting note.

Extra kudos should be given to the Malignant label for issuing New Devoted Human on both CD and vinyl.  Besides the latter's more luxurious presentation, the analog mastering gives an even more pronounced depth and richness to the album, elevating it as the strong artistic statement it is.  Oustad,  Tuukki, and Myöhänen may not have intended to create an album with any sort of human warmth to it, but it is there, lurking beneath the cacophonous rhythms and ranting vocals, and that edge makes for quite a standout piece of intentionally ugly music.



Last Updated on Sunday, 18 February 2018 23:00  


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