Tuesday Smash

Fine bit of uncategorisable underground European noise can be thine through purchase of this ratty cassette by Art & Technique, called 071617182018 (DA! HEARD IT RECORDS D!HR-39) and recorded in a horrible cellar some place in France in 2018. Art & Technique have a bit of respectable history we must note, mainly the efforts of prime weirdo Bernard Filipetti. Working with Mathieu Habig and Xavier Roux, he made two releases as Art & Technique in the early 1980s for Hi-Tec Records in France, Clima-X and Diabolus In Mecanica, both regarded as examples of hi-grade electronic industrial or some such (I never heard them). Filipetti was also a member of Camizole with the great Dominique Grimaud, and Prime Time Victim Show…we’ve only heard his work on one track on one of those superb Zut-O-Pistes compilations from 2007, though I think Clima-X has been reissued by Spalax…

None of this quite prepares us for the raw bludgeoing that’s on offer here on today’s cassette. Original drummer Habig is present to help propel the evil synth drawls and roars that leap out from Filipetti’s set-up, and we also have the bass playing of Ravi Shardja who is known to us from his Grün ist grau solo turn and the rather fine Couloir Gang album (which reminds us of his GOL associations). The combination of the three means 071617182018 is a pretty heavy, dense and thick-set piece of thuggery, relentlessly pouring out the smash-em-up rhythms and dour, black bass throbs, the better to advance the ambiguous and pessimistic world-view as filtered through the decaying circuits of Bernard Filipetti’s sociopathic synths. I’m happy to say that the music is not “nostalgic” for the early 1980s in any way (though I’m not quite sure how that would be possible), yet the main A&T guys play as though all the musical advances – if we can call them that – of the last 30 years have simply not taken place, and they assume their rightful place behind the helm of the good battleship without blinking either eye on their naval captain’s headpiece. It’s great guns and full steam ahoy…all guns blazing and gun turrets a-swivel…anchors aweigh for this naval trespass down the Odessa steps.

According to label hype – the press release alone ought to win some kind of literary award for its fanciful prose – the band are “reinventing” themselves (always a bad sign) with “tribal rhythms, obstinate bass lines wrapped in a dense, psychedelic, and perpetually boiling electronic”, all of which is accurate and hard to dispute. Although “tribal” suggests some kind of techno dance thing which I don’t dig, I do enjoy the remorseless and obsessive nature of this monotonous, pounding swirl, that sucks you into a sweaty void where you’re only to happy to succumb to its powerful force. You can certainly feel the sweat on the walls where this monster was recorded. Also really like the line drawings on the artworks, drawn by Pia-Mélissa Laroche. Her work here, depicting instruments with a life of their own and no humans to interfere as the drum sticks pound away of their own accord, reminds me of George Hardie’s crisp line work which used to appear on many a Hipgnosis cover in the 1970s. Fine cassette…available to play on YouTube and the Free Music Archive in entirety. Grand. From 7th February 2019.