Matt Bauer certainly made a strong showing with the Ligature debut of his Pressure Vessel project, showcasing an effective blend of primal EBM and industrialized techno. With several new tracks and remixes appearing on Marks, this later release acts as a true companion piece, expanding on the sounds presented on the first album, and while the combined title and cover imagery may seem more erotically charged than the general ambience of Pressure Vessel’s sound, this is not to say the music would be unwelcome in any secret pleasure chamber.
For instance, “Vein By Vein,” with its moaning bass drone and whiplash drumbeats augmented by barely audible whispers and darkly layered semi-spoken vocals, could easily be the soundtrack to a vampiric harem. On the other hand, the menacing bass progressions and howling pads of “Cut This From Me” and “Thresholds,” the overdriven synths and forceful thrust of the Irradiated version of “Venerate” and Blush Response’s acerbic remix of “Shedded Skin,” and the pumping rhythms and stuttering arpeggios of “Flesh to Marble” have a more classic EBM flair that many are sure to liken to early Front 242 or the steelier production values of Front Line Assembly. Most notable on Marks is the presence of Danny Hyde as he transposes the drones of “This Rancid Heart” into a harrowing and dreadful display of melodic pads that evoke Eastern throat singing, discordant samples, and even bursts of what sounds like trumpet for an oddly film noir vibe, while mangling the pulsating EBM of “Oblivion” into a mélange of breakbeats, samples decrying flat-earthers, and distorted electronics that recall his finest moments with the legendary COIL. Similarly, the Folpon remix of “Addiction” tones down the aggression of the original into a cinematic romp of almost jazzy keyboards and bass lines, just as the shorter tracks like “Depatterned Subject” and “Everything Turning to Ash” emphasize the sound design and tonal qualities of Pressure Vessel’s sound.
As was the case on Ligature, the newer tracks on Marks do tend to adhere to the same approach of tension and release, which also befits the erotic subtext, but also is something of a shortcoming as it simply doesn’t feel as adventurous as one might hope; loops and repeated patterns work well enough, but run the risk of monotony if not for the brisk pace each tracks runs at, which helps to make for an enjoyable listen. Hopefully, Matt Bauer may take a few more chances with arrangement and construction on future releases, as he seems perfectly capable. As well, one can certainly imagine that a deluxe edition of this and the previous album would make for quite a nice package to leave a few Ligature Marks on the listeners’ psyches… or at least their ear drums.