V/A & Phooka :: Double review (Love Blast)

These are sounds of real anguish, where economic migration is the reality and the price of bread on the table means a family member missing from the meal.

V/A & Phooka :: Double review (Love Blast)

The gloom of the economic downturn appears to be lifting, at least through the data we’re reported. I’m not sure if I can with hand on heart say that I felt the effects of the slump. I did what most Irish people did when our toxic banks developed gangrene and turned infectious, when the IMF arrived in Dublin; I left. Actually I had already gone. I left the islands of Britain and Ireland and went for mainland Europe. I don’t know if that was any better a choice but there you go. Anyway, before I get too autobiographical, something happened to techno as deposit accounts dried up and the last crumbs of current accounts were consumed; it became darker. There was always a blackened aspect to the metal cladding of Berlin but the hopefulness of both the UK and Detroit seems to have been overrun by the bitter realism of hammer and pound. Some might say it’s the influence of the likes of Surgeon and the Birmingham sound, but I think that takes away from what is happening.

I’ve mentioned Love Blast a number of times now, covering releases from Lunar Lodge, Assalti Industriali and more. The Italian label is one of the most despairing of modern techno imprints I can think of. Drone, noise, ambient and industrial are all boiled in their rusted pot. Their forlorn 4/4 compositions are not just part of the fiscal famine that sailed across Europe as the US housing market collapsed, their musical ache was forged in the stern austerity that has dogged the so-called PIGS nations. That distress is present throughout the Love Blast catalog and continues into their latest, Ad Rvina Imperi.

Slow churning rhythms bubble as Fire At Work introduce the melting “Spartacus.” Pressures are applied, 303 curves and dirtied toms are squeezed in the vice-like atmosphere of this weighty work. The steady hands of Somatic Responses deliver the shaked-up industrial brutality of “Dark Eruption.” The boundaries of ambient, IDM and techno are blurred as the brothers produce a punishing soundscape of glitched percussion and rumbling backdrop. The flip is given over to head of state, or label boss, Luciano Lamanna. The Lux Rec veteran is in bangin’ form. “Giammai, Per Sempre” is a beat driven track, drums pounding and overlapping as a soft tremble haunts. A slow burner, the lolling clicks and snaps become almost hypnotic as bass lines pile-drive.

Alongside Ad Rvina Imperii comes a single-sided release. I’ve been on here many a time with a bee in the bonnet about single-sided vinyl but I’m going to put the prejudices A-side. Poor puns aside, Throwing Techniques is by a new name Phooka. “Armspin” struts into being, 4/4 hammering against a line of static. Metallic echoes and electric wind spiral to form the bones of a melody. The track, like so much of Love Blast’s material, pulls you in. The steady reverberations, the cycles over cycles, draw the listener further and further into the murky world of this new comer. The inchoate “Floating Drops” follows. Coming from the realm of dark atmospherics, the final piece is a more reduced work. Bare and undecorated, eclipsed and sullen, a brooding last installment .

The Love Blast project, with its medley of like-minded musicians, has continued where the experimentalists in industrial and drone left off in the 1980s. The pain streaked growl of Esplendor Geometrico is present, as is the distemper and distrust of Throbbing Gristle. And just like those forerunners, artists like Phooka, Fire At Work and Luciano Lamana are not seeking apologies for their internal and external plight. Theirs is a belligerent and raw statement, one constructed with a distrust for political promises and a comment on the greater world. Grexit. Brexit. Tax it. Forget it. These are sounds of real anguish, where economic migration is the reality and the price of bread on the table means a family member missing from the meal.

Both releases are available on Love Blast.

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