Tagged: Power Electronics

I will Never Have the Right: minimalist power electronics album masks anger and frustration at world

Iron Fist of the Sun, I will Never Have the Right, Finland, Freak Animal Records, CD (2011)

Iron Fist of the Sun (IFOTS) is the solo project of musician Lee Howard who hails from Birmingham, UK, and as far as I can find out, “I will Never Have the Right” is IFOTS’s second proper album release. Most of the music was recorded at Crushing Obelisk studios in Birmingham and I am guessing that like his debut “Behavioural Decline” which was released by Cold Spring Records, “I will Never …” was recorded in real time with much of the music done in one take. I like the style of power electronics on this album: it has a very steely edge and seems quite minimal and streamlined yet it brims with compressed intensity as if all the problems of the world were shoved into Howard’s brain and it’s almost bursting under the pressure of what it is forced to repress. Blunt-force tones and noises drone on and on blandly while Howard’s distorted and processed vocals, set back far beneath the blurry noise and quivering textures, squawk in frustration.

Apart from the last track, most songs are fairly short and consist of continuous drones, noise textures, constant pulsing and passages of sometimes blaring sound with Howard’s indecipherable lyrics squeaking under a layer of hiss. Repetition and looping to some extent help build structure and each track actually has a limited range of tones, textures and sounds so the album as a whole isn’t at all chaotic. An early outstanding example is “The Lady from behind the Hedge” which is very loud and noisy and features several very monotonous drones, all jarring and hissy, and other strange industrial noises: it seems a weird mix of Merzbow high-pressure spray-hose froth and early Whitehouse (I suspect I’ll be making those comparisons a lot in future reviews of IFOTS albums) but it’s very powerful and sterling stuff to hear. “Drink My Eye” is another good track held together by Howard’s tortured stuttering vocals and equally choppy frizzly electronic sounds.

There is tremendous anger behind the songs on offer here and a sense of helplessness and futility. Lee Howard is known to have an obsession with Diana Spencer the former Princess of Wales (in an abstract way and for what she represents to him) and an image of her appears on the CD sleeve’s front with part of her face obscured. That’s perhaps appropriate for a person whom we all think we know but in reality know very little about once the media image is stripped from her. There is a nihilist attitude expressed as well.

Contact: Freak Animal Records

Solus Patior: power electronics meets black metal in tirade against modern capitalism

NRIII, Solus Patior, Neon Doom Records, CD (2011)

It had to happen one day: an album where Whitehouse-styled power electronics meets black metal. I wasn’t all that surprised on coming across this recording. Somehow I felt that my primitive unconscious mind had sent a message into the ether ages ago, saying when is there gonna be a power electronics / black metal record? and somebody answered the call. This someone turned out to be a duo, NRIII, who have combined their love of both power electronics noise and grim black metal into a tirade against modern capitalist society, how it enslaves people and turns them into soulless robots whose lives are ruled by the demands of technology and of our political / social / economic elites. Solus Patior is not a very long album but it is highly oppressive and claustrophobic, full of repressed fury and tension; it has the creepy, compressed feel of a very early Whitehouse album I used to have years ago, New Britain I think it was.

The music throughout the CD is clearly power electronics noise, often no more than strips of rhythm or chaotic keyboard or electronics effects laid one over the other while a crabby black metal voice rages through a thick layer of distortion. The opener “Delicious” is the longest: lines of deranged pointillist electronic tone effects dominate the piece up to about halfway through, after which a shower of fine dust takes over the rest of the track. Track 8 “Occupation” is notable for its skronky crazy jazz saxophone melody (or non-melody as it were) laid over noise drones and a trumpet-like grind in the background. Most tracks are full-on noise oppression but a few like “Factory” and “Underground” are quietly grim as though brimming with repressed anger or desolation and these might suggest anomie – an extreme feeling of being atomised and cut off from others - felt by workers in capitalist society.

All tracks are quite good though some appear unfinished or underdone and might benefit from a longer playing time in which the rhythms and any potentially repetitive elements could get a work-out and give the music a more rounded, less one-dimensional presence. Particular noises and drones could have been stretched to their sonic extreme. As it is though, Solus Patior is a good introduction to a new act and a new form of black metal fusion.

Contact: Neon Doom Records