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Musically, “A Means By Which To Break The Surface Of The Real” moves along a narrow space — it equally distances itself from the rock-centered approach to industrial music, as it does; power electronics. The former is denied because there is too little of the percussive aspect to the entire record, and that even those driblets which do employ the beat – which happens to be more on the electronic side than industrial – do not take place as a direct result of the drum patterns, and remain overly unaffected.
On the other hand, Theologian, decidedly or not, is reluctant to thoroughly enter the domain of the lo-fi and/or the improvised, may it be purely soundscape or power electronics. But where does such a project lead, or, what does this musical limbo, this apparently limited space provide the composer/listener with?
There exist a number of possibilities. Coalescing into other areas of music is one — no, not the Lustmord way, more thinking of the likes of Z’EV — which doesn’t appear to be the case of Theologian at this point, or at least not with this particular release, as 2012’s James-Plotkin-mastered “Finding Comfort In Overwhelming Negativity” did benefit from extended sections of drone, but then again, that album was way too reliant on the so-called rhythmic noise, which is, within industrial music, quite as irrelevant as IDM is to electronic music. Additionally, another possibility is that it can help emphasize on the basics and contribute to the ordinariness.
Playing it safe, “A Means By Which To Break The Surface Of The Real” barely does anything de novo, and since it’s not as extreme, it ultimately falls short of the momentary, emotional impact most contemporary renditions of the genre offer — speaking of the same renditions that would still get crushed when compared to landmark releases from the 80’s, e.g. NON’s “Physical Evidence.” But is it not solid enough to fill a few days’ ear-meal — it most certainly is, and chances are a newcomer to the genre will embrace the very shortcomings, which could make sense, considering the record’s been targeted at the ‘metal’ community. Still and all, this is industrial music; music with roots deeply embedded in the avant-garde, and it would be, at the very least, a missed opportunity for anyone involved, not to fly in teeth of the standards.
Written by Ari Wilson