Death Pact International – Australian Units CD L.White Records 2014
Here is another instalment in the Death Pact International (DPI) conceptual ‘cultural terrorist manifesto’ experiment, where the following statement provides important context: “A moniker devised in 1985 by members of what are now The Grey Wolves. Anyone may use the DPI name to release music, publish printed material, or perform at live events. Such material has no copyright and is the property of everyone. It may be reused or reprinted by any person in any manner, provided that the DPI name is retained”.
This time around DPI constitutes a loose collective of Australian artists which should have already been self-evident from the album’s title. Although identifying individual contributions to this album is really missing the point, nevertheless ‘Australian Units’ has been developed with the inputs of both recognized and obscured projects, including: Bonsai Kitten, Burden of Administration, Chrysalis, Die Like A God, Ebola Disco, Isomer, Michael J Ellingford, Screwtape and Streicher. Sitting at the more scuzzy end of industrial and combined with unrefined power electronics, some pieces also veer towards a dark ambient and/ or noise vein, which collectively span a whopping 75 minutes. Yet without attempting to match tracks to contributors, some impressions and highlights of the 16 tracks are outlined below.
‘Intro’ leads off the album being a relatively subdued and short piece of industrial noise built with shuddering tape loops, junk metal abuse and looped sample, before the 2nd ‘untitled’ track launches into a full power electronics barrage of loosely layered and distortion blizzard focused angst, including partially buried barked vocals. Both pieces are crude, aggressive and certainly hit the mark. On the other hand the 4th track ‘Void’ is focused on chaotic distortion blasts and choppy noise cut ups where its intensity is emphasized due the sporadic gaps of almost silence. The 5th piece ‘Degenerated Blood’ then features a militant orchestral underpinning (mangled samples perhaps?) counterpointing its rough industrial noise, building to cascading intensity over its length. ‘Sins of Memory’ stands out from the bulk of material by virtue of being more industrial tinged dark ambience with its maudlin sub-orchestral synth textures and looped Australian accent inflected sample, as an agonised voice screams somewhere off in the depths of some cavernous space. The 9th ‘untitled’ track then marks its approach with shuddering industrial noise and semi-buried vocals, with an underpinning sustained quasi-orchestral drone for solid effect. The 12th (again) ‘untitled’ piece provides some respite from the sonic chaos of preceding pieces, where it is built around cavernous factory basement drones (…as machines slowly grind on the levels above…), with the whispered vocalisations providing an unnerving element. Late album cut ‘You’ is a short track embodying an atmosphere of urgency, driven by harsh cyclic distortion, squalling noise and unintelligible treated vocalisations, being focused and absolutely to the point. ‘Wall of Spiders’ then forms the last official track (a 16th unlisted is featured), being chaotic and barely structured tempest of mid toned noise.
Intriguingly the final unlisted track features a prominent sample of an aggressive and psychologically unhinged phone conversation with a call centre operator (which itself is echo treated and mixed with a sweeping industrial noise backing). Thus this sample along with a number of other excellent samples scattered throughout the album functions to collectively illustrate the harshness of the Australian accent, as well the psyche of certain aggressive and antagonistic character types, and provides a positive degree of local flavour to this particular DPI unit. In an overarching sense ‘Australian Units’ is sprawling in feel which clearly can be put down to the multiple sources of sonic input. Yet at the same time a general degree of coherence is provided by the generally unrefined, brutal and loose approach to its mix of power electronics and industrial, meaning the album does not feel like a collection of disparate tracks on an unfocused compilation. For its presentation a slick ‘slim line’ DVD case with printed DPI manifesto completes the well rounded package.