Review of MA/PE/FU Vol. 1 on Rock! Shock! Pop!
About four hundred years ago, a bunch of losers left England because their religion wasn’t strict enough. Instead of doing a massive group castration and subsequent suicide (why live without the batteries to your funmobile?), they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, they settled in Massachusetts, and this place still holds a lot of the same ideals that existed many years ago. However, not everyone follows this tacit puritanism and quite a few seek something outside the norm. Whether it’s gay sex on the Cape or OD’ing in Weymouth, Massachusetts is a hotbed of sub rosa activity. Luckily for many (umm… some?), there’s a thriving underground experimental music community.
Ok, ok, experimental is a shitty blanket term. I could be talking about Stockhausen, Sun Ra, Merzbow, John Cage, or even Agrippa! So, let’s just look at the POWER ELECTRONICS, ok? Mass has a great scene, and Existence Establishment wants to document it for the rest of the world. EE is run by Egan Budd (Xiphoid Dementia…check it out!) and has put out a few cd and cd-r releases. MA/PE/FU is the first vinyl release by Existence Establishment. This slab here is volume one of three. Each volume will capture two prominent Boston PE artists…one act a side, dildies. I’d tell you what the other volumes will be, but that’d make it less fun for you (and me)…(I only know the next one…the 3rd’s a mystery).
LET’S GET ON WITH IT!!!
MA/PE/FU – Vol.1 F/I/T/H and Bereft
Fire In The Head is the power electronics project of ex NYC punk Michael Page. PE is a pretty expansive genre, and F/I/T/H generally works in the harsher end. This split, though, tends to rest in a darker, industrial realm before bringing in the harshness. All the normal industrial sounds are here (boiler room drums, clanging metal pipes, Full Metal Jacket samples, etc), but their arrangement is less than typical. What starts out sounding like normal Einsturzende Neubauten factory maintenance slowly turns into a foundry run amok. Low, growling synths and noise grow oppressive and all consuming. This workplace disaster doesn’t last for too long, unfortunately, but the buzzing electronics that follow help keep your mind off of your fallen co-workers and lava filled lunchbox. We’re treated to slowly oscillating buzzy rumbles with scratchy, distorted vocals on top. I don’t know what he’s singing about. Maybe about the turkey sandwich that was in the lunchbox. RIP, lunch. The next section has the Full Metal Jacket samples. R. Lee Ermey quotes get looped (“You will be faithful”) with vocals on top (“My right, your wrong”). Quick section, but pretty good. The electronics are looped as well, but what can you do. The album hits a low, slow, droning bit before hitting some rough, static filled electronics. Let that rock for a minute or so and then the album side ends. All in all, very enjoyable. It hits a few different styles, which I normally wouldn’t like. However, they work together pretty seemlessly, and I’m down with that.
This is the last release from F/I/T/H, and is one fifteen minute track (technically five tracks, but they kinda run together and I’m too lazy to go through and cut up my mp3).
Bereft is a two piece consisting of Peter (Force of Nature label) and Andy (The Vomit Arsonist). Peter, like Mike above, has a background in hardcore. I once read something describing power electronics as something “punk kids” did once they found their older brothers’ Whitehouse albums. Two punks, two PE bands…NO WHITEHOUSE (I’ve got nothing against Whitehouse, though). Bereft’s style of power electronics kinda reminds me of the Napalm Death song “Evolved As One;” sparse, but powerful. Like many power electronics acts, Bereft have very political lyrics. What kind of hardcore guy would ditch his beliefs just because he switched genres? Bereft’s side is two tracks, both about seven minutes. The first, “You Don’t Represent Me” is comprised of low, distorted synthy drones, booming boiler room drums, and angry vocals. Yeah, all well and good, but then shrieky feedback is added to the mix. Ah, now we’re here. It’s uncomfortable and angry…everything you want. The second track, “I Will Not Assimilate” is more of the same, maybe with a little more focus on the synth drone and pedal work. These tracks would make for a great live PE set.
The first 50 LPs come with a bonus dvd. This dvd has the F/I/T/H and Bereft performances from the 2009 Northeast Noise and Power Electronics Festival and their show at PA’s Lounge on 7/03/10 (F/I/T/H’s last show). I only flipped through the disc, but maybe you’ll see me as I was at both. Decent chance on the Bereft PA’s Lounge show. I’m the handsome guy that’s there with his handsome good looks.
All in all, this is a solid power electronics release from two great acts. The packaging is superb as well. I can’t wait until volume 2.