Chaos is Come Again

Contrastate
A Breeding Ground for Flies
UK DIRTER PROMOTIONS DPROMCD91 CD (2011)

Contrastate is back! The well known British band was hitting the ground since the late 80s with a row of essential albums released by Tesco Org. and their own Black Rose Recordings, delivering outstanding post-industrial music penetrated by the cold atmosphere of England and social depravity causing the deepest melancholy and disaster in minds. Their epic works like A Thousand Badgers In Labour and A Live Coal Under The Ashes were absolute masterpieces of doomed, grotesque and sinister electronic music which remain incomparable with anything else. After the fabulous Todesmelodie, released by the now-defunct Noise Museum label at the turn of the millennium, it was pretty quiet in the Contrastate corner, and only a few re-editions appeared over the next decade. Rumours said that they were disbanded, confirmed by a few solo albums by former Contrastate member Stephen Meixner who was still running Black Rose Recordings but moving in another musical direction, dealing more with installation/soundtrack works. For me, this new Contrastate album was a true surprise, an unexpected but (now I can say) long awaited comeback. And without the shadow of a doubt, the glorious one! A Breeding Ground For Flies was released in 2012 by the ever-evolving Dirter Promotions label delivering the best underground works of post-industrial music masters like Ramleh, Andrew Liles and Con Demek. It features all new material recorded with the full lineup of Grieve/Pomeroy/Meixner. But since a lot of time passed by, the Contrastate sound has changed. No more abandoned industrial area sounds, no gloomy songs accompanied by guitar, and no theatrical spoken word nightmares. Cold as steel, intrinsic and dehumanised, minimalist electronic sonorities raised from the frozen land of sorrow and chaos. Paralysed by fear, you will listen to this mechanized symphony and forget about your neighbourhood, personal disdain and everyday struggle. This is the sound of overall sickness, claustrophobia and hopelessness. Without relying much on scary noises, pounding rhythms and grave vocals, Contrastate build another kind of horror reality, creepy and dull, merciless and uncompromising. As I’ve said already, no comparisons are possible – you should just hear it with own ears and feel the difference. If you are a long-time follower just like me – you will not be disappointed. If you never heard about Contrastate, this is your chance! And of course I need to mention the great packaging design conceived and carefully realised by the label – the CD housed in a massive cardboard box with the booklet inside the oversized slipcase, with the great and deep coloured artwork all around. More than just “recommended”!

T.A.C.
Chaosphere
ITALY OLD EUROPA CAFE OECD 170 CD [2013]

Another band with a history, T.A.C. defines the epoch. From the early 80s, the ingenious Italian band (with Simon Balestrazzi as mastermind and many other luminaries involved) created many albums of a totally different nature, starting from the jazz/funk influenced self-titled debut in 1983, to the chamber rock music of Ouvrez Vos Auditifs Canaux (1985) and the prog elements of Il Teatro della Crudelta (1987), going further to industrial/ambient/goth obscurity in the classic A Circle Of Limbs (1992) and dark folk, neoclassic and experimental electronics hybrids in Hypnotischer Eden and Apotropaismo. After the T.A.C. trilogy for the Italian Smallvoices label released in 2002-04, there were years of total silence. Some T.A.C. classics were reissued recently, but this album is also not that brand new stuff you may suggest. Yes, it was released in 2013 but actually recorded in 1998. As the label says, the masters were lost and damaged, so the material needed to be restored. Well, now we can say – it was worthwhile to complete this job, because the music looks fresh and up to date, still retaining this “lost in time” attitude. Chaosphere is much influenced by our favorite Tarkovsky films, and you can hear some samples from the cult Solaris movie behind the clouds of analogue synths and sparse arrangements. Looks like Simon Balestrazzi recorded the music alone, so this is the exception in the row of multiple albums featuring many other musicians at their best, with many instruments and techniques presented. However, I can’t say that the music is minimalist or totally different from other T.A.C. works. It keeps the same spirit of adventurous experiment, and the sincere austerity you can feel from the start to the end. The vintage sound of the VCS3 synthesizer is the main driving force behind the tracks, but the clever use of samples makes the music more vivid and reflective. For me, this album also announces the powerful return for the one of the best Italian underground projects, so let’s look forward to see more new music coming out from Simon’s NeuroHabitat studio!

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