tue 15/06/2021

CD: Diamond Version - CI | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Diamond Version - CI

CD: Diamond Version - CI

Mute electronics with a sense of history

CI: threateningly elegant

Electronic music, it seems, is finally being seen broadly as something with heritage.

Perhaps it's the alienating qualities of sounds that don't emanate from any easily graspable human action, perhaps it's the association with either academia or the subcultures of psychedelia, industrial culture and rave, perhaps it's just that people are naturally conservative, but there has long been a sense in the mainstream that electronic sound-making had to do just with novelty and modernity rather than being part of any deeper cultural flow.

If any label can prove otherwise, it's Mute, the label that more than other ushered in dark experimental electronics to pop culture as the 1970s ebbed away. Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai are founders of the legendary Raster-Noton label that has bought dizzying finesse to electronic soundmaking and design since 1996, and here they connect into Mute's history with a take on classic industrial-electronic grooves that sounds both classic – the direct descEndent of Mute founder Danil Miller's first releases as The Normal – and very, very 21st century indeed.

The obvious draw here is Neil Tennant's utterly deranged gospel turn, but there are also drawled and hissed poetics from guest vocalists Leslie Winer and Kyoka. But they are just elements in a palette, more shapes to be arranged into the mind-frying tessellations of Bender and Nicolai's archly fearsome parallel universe pop. This is probably what Nine Inch Nails and Marylin Manson imagine they sound like in their wildest dreams but don't have the subtlety or wit to achieve. Its dark avenues won't be for all, but for those who like their electronics very grown up and threateningly elegant, it's a must.

Overleaf: hear "Were you There?" with Neil Tennant


It's the direct descndent of Mute founder Danil Miller's first releases as The Normal

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