Sister Machine Gun
Category: Coldwave / Industrial / Rock
Album: The Future Unformed
Blurb: While lacking in a certain punch and vigor that one might expect, this newest EP after an absence of nearly eight years is a welcome return for one of the coldwave scene’s most celebrated acts.
Since the band’s debut album in 1992, Sister Machine Gun has come to be synonymous with the coldwave sound of the ‘90s – merging together an alt. rock sensibility of acerbic lyricism and endearing melody with the grating dissonance of industrial and hard electronics while infusing elements of everything from jazz to blues to dance. After the dissolution of WaxTrax! in the latter part of the decade, SMG front man Chris Randall took the band’s destiny into his own hands, forming his own Positron! Records label and carrying on with numerous releases, the last of which was 2003’s Influence, heralded by many fans as a return to the band’s former glory. Having laid the name of Sister Machine Gun to rest in 2007, Randall then embarked on a varied and quietly productive career, releasing a blues album, several electronic albums, and creating a series of music software plug-ins and synthesizers with Audio Damage. In 2014, the unthinkable happened and Randall announced the return of Sister Machine Gun, culminating in this, The Future Unformed.
We begin with the opening loops of mechanical squelches of “Insect,” erupting into a stomping if rather simple bit of industrialized rock. Randall’s vocal hiss snarling “I am an insect, I am a parasite, I am a goddamn big shot archetype,” the song confidently announces Sister Machine Gun’s return as if the past eight years never happened. In a similar fashion, “Protest” marches with a strident and infectious synth and percussion loop, the swells of ambient pads in the chorus characteristic of SMG’s more electronic excursions on such albums as [R]evolution or 6.0, but still bearing that identifiably bluesy nihilism that Randall has cultivated since Sins of the Flesh in ’92. There’s a certainly primitive vibe with The Future Unformed that belies the more produced efforts of the past, with “Subgod” being an especially restrained track, the vocals taking a backseat and almost fading into the background as the relentless synth throb brings to this writer’s mind the sort of thing one might hear on the soundtrack to a movie like Drive or a video game like Hotline Miami, and while “Coldstar” is a particularly striking and signature Sister Machine Gun song with its thrums of bluesy guitar and sweeping pads atop a bouncy beat and bass line, its also rather monotonous and lacking in a certain punch that one would expect from SMG. The EP ends with the appropriately titled “Closure,” although like “Subgod,” the vocals seem buried in the mix as the synth seethes and bellows over a catchy but unimaginative breakbeat; it hints at something perhaps more animalistic, but it never takes the opportunity to show its fangs.
All in all, The Future Unformed is a welcome if somewhat underwhelming return from one of the genre’s most celebrated acts, and one that hopefully is but a teaser for bigger and better things to come. This writer can’t help but feel that the EP shows too much moderation in its approach, as if Randall is uncertain of SMG’s place in today’s scene and held back to test the waters before plunging in with a more aggressive and vigorous display that audiences have seen him more than capable of in the past. On the other hand, given Randall’s explorations in more minimal styles of electronica and IDM in recent years, The Future Unformed is perhaps a more telling title indicating an intentional reversion to a more primitive and underdeveloped style, free to pursue more adventurous and unexpected territory from here on out. Who can say? In either case, The Future Unformed is at the very least a long-awaited reentry into the annals of coldwave from one of the genre’s progenitors. You’ve been missed, Sister Machine Gun; welcome back!
Sister Machine Gun Website http://www.sistermachinegun.com
Sister Machine Gun MySpace http://www.myspace.com/sistermachinegun
Sister Machine Gun Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sistermachinegun
Sister Machine Gun Twitter https://twitter.com/SisterMachinGun
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Storming the Base CD
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)