Blurb: Two of the underground music scene’s most celebrated and creative impresarios join forces to lead the charge in the post-industrial era with an album of coldly mechanical atmospheres and very human emotional textures.
Whether named after the antagonist of the seminal cyberpunk Manga series AKIRA or the title of Shinya Tsukamoto’s equally influential and surreal masterpiece Tetsuo: The Iron Man – a connection this writer feels to be more likely… or at the very least, more appropriate given the album’s harshly metallic textures and virulently percussive ambience – this debut from Vampyre Anvil is one of the most aggressively anticipated releases of the year. Formulated from the minds of Cracknation’s Jason Novak and Glitch Mode’s Sean Payne, this album is but the latest culmination of these two sonic post-industrial deconstructionists; following almost a decade of consistently supporting each other’s musical endeavors, Tetsuo represents the full breadth of their collective talents taken to an extreme that the underground music scene has been waiting for.
Never ones to stray from or skimp on their predilections for the ongoing conflict between man and machine, filtered through their longstanding fascination with sci-fi cinema and literature, Novak and Payne waste no time in launching their all-out assault as “Million Mutant March” begins the proceedings with a thunderous rhythm and overdriven riff befitting the song’s title. With such phrases as “Gyrate to the end times” and “Chaos at the controls,” the track sets the stage for the onslaught of post-industrial mayhem the listener is about to endure; from the pounding breakbeats and caustic bass warbles of “Stupid Is As Stupid Is” to the infectiously bouncy hip-hop-esque cadence and scratchy vocal melodies of “Prune That Dirty Stamen” to the skittering drum & bass beats and juxtaposition of glitchy and atonal electronics in “Carry a Knife to a Gunfight,” Tetsuo plunges listeners into a mire of apocalyptic atmosphere in which the glimmers of humanity are gradually chipped away… but there are the glimmers. For example, “The Heart Is an Underwater Tomb” is a standout track for Novak’s impassioned yet harrowing vocals crooning amid sparse and dreamily effected piano recalling some of his more heartbreaking moments from Fawn, while “Eclipse” resonates with an instantly catchy vintage synth refrain that will remind many of the classic synthesizer scores of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the steely haze and intricately programmed beats playing out a marvelous soundtrack to the machine’s shadow blocking out the beloved sun of mankind, leading into the slow menace of echoes voices, swells of symphonic grandeur, and seething electronic hisses on “This Way Out.”
As if Vampyre Anvil was not content to wait for the requisite remix album, the duo has provided a special addition for buyers of the digital edition in the form of the Psychotropic Remix LP version of “Tetsuo” – a remixed medley of the entire album. Some may find the addition of such a track to be superfluous and self serving, while more longtime fans will likely enjoy being given the most bang for their buck with an additional half hour of music; while this writer admits to being in the latter category, it is worth nothing that the Psychotropic Remix LP track allows for a fuller experience of Tetsuo’s sonic qualities as different elements of the music are emphasized, not the least of which is the pairing of Payne’s deathly growl and Novak’s shrill, scathing yell, rearranged and rebalanced to call greater attention to the duo’s vocal synergy. As well, longtime fans will undoubtedly be more than pleased as Tetsuo simply overflowing with all of the hallmarks of two of the underground scene’s best and most creative entities – so much so that it may prove a tad asphyxiating for some to listen from beginning to end in a single sitting… but that’s hardly a detriment as each run through of the album yields previously unheard snippets of audio wonder. The war between man and machine always results in a stalemate with warriors like Jason Novak and Sean Payne leading the charge, evidencing a more symbiotic relationship between the synthetic and organic elements to create something very… other, even in this day and age of technological overload, making Tetsuo very much an outstanding example of the post-industrial era.
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Glitch Mode Recordings
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Bandcamp (Vampyre Anvil/Cracknation)
Bandcamp (Glitch Mode Recordings)
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)