Uncodifed / Wertham – Vindicta II CD Old Europa Café / Elettronica Radicale Edizioni 2014
Uncodifed – Hardcore Methodology CD Old Europa Café / Elettronica Radicale Edizioni 2014
As should be clearly apparent from the title, this is the second instalment in the ‘Vindicta’ series and again focuses on aspects of Sardinian criminal history and culture. For this instalment: “The concept slightly moves from the blood-feud/knife obsessive themes of the first work, toward the aftermath of the war between families that lead the protagonist of our tale to turn into a feral life style on impenetrable mountains, ‘living like boars and sleeping like foxes’, until his capture and subsequent confinement in the notorious Boncammino’s jail. The solitude of the forced mountain life meets the despair of 30 years of life in a cage of the notorious legal larger.”
As with the first collaboration the individual sound and direction of both Uncodified and Wertham are clearly complimentary and again deliver a strong and focused amalgam of their styles. Essentially ‘Vindicta II’ encompasses a collection of tracks where the bulk of proceedings are marked by various combinations burrowing atonal synth lines, shuddering industrial clamor, static fried frequencies and echo treated spoken/ shouted vocals. As such the album is one which expertly combines grinding industrial noise and shuddering yet muted power electronic structures. The sound of the album also differs from ‘Vindicta I’ in that it is far less sonically invasive in tone, where ‘Vindicta II’ also achieves a controlled and restrained feel to its outwardly aggressive elements. With the sound frequencies generally sitting at the mid to lower range, this is also a clear differentiating point from the first instalment which contained many tracks with prominent elements of mid to high pitched tinnitus inducing noise. Also whilst being clearly aggressive the production of ‘Vindicta II’ is one which is also low key and sweepingly atmospheric. Noting its sonorous consistency this is an album best appreciated in its totality; as an overarching block of sound, rather than singling out specific pieces; where a tone of general noise squalor and an atmosphere of tense oppression and confinement prevail, thus suitably reflecting the album’s thematic focus. Yet given the strong coherence of the bulk of the album the final track deviates quite markedly from the balance of the album as it encompasses the later era of Haus Arafna styled piece of subdued atonal rhythmic power-electronics.
Essentially the second instalment in the ‘Vindicta’ series is faithful to the sound and concept of the first, yet also achieves a differing tonal approach which sets it apart. With a third CD in the trilogy planned to round out the concept, which based on the strength of the first two is a release on the horizon to look out for.
Released at the same time as ‘Vindicta II’, ‘Hardcore Methodology’ is the new album from Uncodifed and whilst technically a solo outing, 8 of the 15 tracks feature collaborations with other artists, including: Gianlica Favaron, Bologna Violenta, Caligula 031, Sshe Retina Stimulants and Simon Balestrazzi. Tonally ‘Hardcore Methodology’ presents a varied recording which spans many aspects of harsher underground experimental sounds and encapsulates fractures synth textures, sparse loose rhythmic elements, atonal synth drones, grinding bass tonality etc. The album displays a sharp and loud production with a certain sonic crispness to the tone and as stated by the promo sheet the album encompasses “abrasive post-industrial experimentation”.
Generally more abstract and varied in tone and approach that ‘Vindicta II’, the overarching feel of the album is as a collection of sonic experimentations rather than being structured around a strong central theme. Evidently the album’s title does make some conceptual reference to the obsessive methodologies employed by directors of Hardcore movies, however exactly what such methodologies are and how they relate to this album is not clear (…perhaps the album is abstract homage to ‘obsessiveness’, but here focused on experimental industrial sounds?).
Although there are many strong brooding segments (such as ‘(L) Hotel’) and other tracks with excellent tonal qualities (such as the sonically invasive ‘Collection of Clothes’) which are spread throughout the album, I can’t shake the feeling that the album plays out as a collection of sporadic tracks which lacks an element of coherence due to the track’s being on the shorter side (between 0.16 seconds at the shortest and the longest at 4.10 minutes). A clear misstep is also evident on ‘Anterooms’ where the sullen mood is jarringly interrupted by the inclusion of a pre-set rhythm from a cheap casio keyboard (?). But countering this, late album tracks ‘Cotton Pads’ and ‘Methodology 3 (end of report)’ each contain a fierce higher range tonal spectrum which would not be out of place on the ‘Vindicta I’ album, sans the aggressive vocalisations.
Although ‘Hardcore Methodology’ constitutes an interesting listen with some excellent sonic moments, to this ear it also suffers from a bit of a scattergun approach and lack of thematic focus. Whilst this presents somewhat of an issue for this reviewer, for others not who prefer straight sonic experiments for their own sake, this could fit the bill perfectly. But when placing ‘Hardcore Methodology’ in direct comparison with ‘Vindicta II’, the later wins out in style, focus and finesse.