Contrastate/various, "Your Reality is Broken"

Sunday, 04 March 2018 21:12 Creaig Dunton Reviews - Albums and Singles

cover imageEver since their inception in the late 1980s, this UK project has simultaneously dabbled both in the worlds of musique concret and harsh electronics; two styles that are undeniably similar but have very few in the way of crossover artists, all with a distinct sense of irreverence.  Active again after a lengthy hiatus in the early part of the 21st century, Your Reality is Broken is another piece of work that successfully blurs unnecessary lines; in this case if it is a tribute album to them, a remix collection, or a compilation of collaborations.  In truth, it is all of these things at once, and it is excellent.

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There are only five artists who were invited to participate in this release, each providing one piece that is either a reworking of Contrastate material, a collaboration with them, or in the case of the opening piece, Contrastate covering themselves.  The remainder of Your Reality is Broken are artists that also work between those two aforementioned stylistic poles:  RLW, Troum, Genocide Organ, Band of Pain, and État D'Urgence.

Contrastate’s self-reflexive contribution, "The People Who Control the Information," is built upon a different piece that was previously only performed live in 1997, "The People Who Read the Books."  In its opening moments it is largely a spoken word performance, with ringing electronics filling the otherwise wide open spaces around the vocals.  Sharp, grinding electronics tear through and hints of rhythm appear, which eventually solidify into an almost reggae like beat.  By the time it all comes together, it is a bizarre combination of noisy electronics, spoken word, and dancehall beats; a strange combination no doubt, but also one that works very well.

Troum's "An End Marked, as Time Began" is constructed by the legendary drone act from three existing Contrastate works plus their own cover of "An End Marked By Pessimism."  Besides the aforementioned song, this is pretty much the other most musical piece here.  Troum blend the existing recordings into a sustained wall of cavernous sound, making for a murky and somewhat oppressive sonic feel.  With snatches of voice peppered throughout and swirling strings later introduced, it comes together in a surprisingly melodic and classical-tinged form.

"Son of Sam" is a reworking of the same titled composition from the band's 2012 A Breeding Ground for Flies album that is credited to both Genocide Organ and Contrastate on the sleeve, so I am not sure if it is a collaboration or a reworking, but it is distinctly GO in sound.  This is the modern day form of the legendary band, which is less about intentionally lo-fi noise and more atmospherically bleak.  The treated and flanged vocals are of course there, as is the droning, abrasive Korg MS-10 synth, but the whole piece is very clean and well refined, more depressive than aggressive.  Steve Pittis' Band of Pain uses material from English Embers and In Absentia to build "Re-establishing Beams (#9)":  a mélange of echoing thuds and jarring, drill-like electronics that are at first right in line with old school noise sensibilities but eventually goes in to more restrained, subtle places.

Ralf Wehowsky (as RLW) and État D’Urgence each supply the more disturbing, discomforting tributes on this record.  The former's "Goodbye Great Nation 2016" is a pairing of churning sub bass and piercing high frequencies that, while somewhat minimal at first, convey a splendidly sinister mood.  Fragments of voice and chimes are weaved in, and with the random voices and mangled piano, it is an entirely disorienting and uncomfortable sounding composition.  The latter’s "Assassinate En Arrière-Plan" is another where vocals are up front and demonically processed, making for the most sinister and horror-esque moments of this record.

Your Reality is Broken is a bit of an odd compilation, but one that is undoubtedly Contrastate, and the artists selected all reflect this idiosyncratic approach just as well.  All of the artists contribute excellent reworkings or inspired pieces, but I also appreciate the classic compilation feel to the record.  The mix of artists, the presentation, the style, it all reminded me of classic albums like the Rising from the Red Sands series or albums put out by RRRecords a few decades ago.  It simply hits all the right buttons from beginning to end.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:12