Recreational Bodybuilding

Solo record from Spaniard Julio Tornero on the lovely Spanish label Verlag System…this particular electronica genius first came our way as one half of Polígono Hindú Astral on the 2015 album 00110010, which won us over with its pared-down update on all things kosmische and krautrock. However, Tornero has a large number of other alias names and collaborative side projects on the boil, including Madrelarva, Zotal, Antiguo Regimen, Tornisches, and Sequences Binaire, not that we ever heard any of them, but we are assured he touches a number of bases and genres, including industrial, ambient, techno and what-not.

Today’s album Palingenisia (VERLAG SYSTEM VS026) may have some connection with the concept of Palingenesis, a term which has been used in many contexts both religious and scientific to express the idea of “rebirth”, and since there’s evidence it was in use by the Stoics the term may even have pre-dated the New Testament, in whose pages you would most expect to find it. However, this rebirth thing is just the starting point for the workings of Tornero’s schemes, and as he works his way through the theme in his stern all-instrumental manner, only his titles give us any clues as to his ultimate aim: intriguingly, two of them ‘Malkuth’ and ‘Kether’ touch on the same wellspring of cabbalistic knowledge which Bowie flirted with on Station To Station. There’s also a track called ‘Biomecanismos’, hinting at images which should resonate with all the David Cronenburg fans. However, I think the larger part of Julio Tornero’s inspiration comes direct from his industrial and avant-techno forebears, including Muslimgauze and Chris & Cosey, while the photographs on the cover and insert of a bare human torso (sometimes in bondage) feel like something drawn from the world of Coil, except there is no discernible homo-erotic subtext.

So far, I feel like I’m already 90 miles out of my usual comfort zone, but still find there’s much to admire in the very focused and determined manner in which our man delivers himself of these clipped, no-nonsense episodes, usually in tight packages lasting 3-4 mins at a time, with no time wasted on speculation, recriminations, half-measures, or other distractions. Indeed every aspect of his musical form reflects this; having a made a decision (rhythm pattern, tonal centre, mood) he does not depart from it under any circumstances, plays it out right up until its ruthless conclusion, and refuses any sort of modulation or change along the way. This unblinking stance might have made for a “samey” listen, but on the contrary the total effect of this album is very bracing, almost quite severe. He’s a man of stone, Miguel A Garcia with beats. White vinyl pressing too! From 24th March 2021.