Kulmhof – Morality’s Simulacra MC Major Carew 2015
Over the last few years the influence and dare I say it cult of Streicher seems to have been perceptibly rising, thanks in part to the re-release campaign spearheaded by the Freak Animal side label Industrial Recollections, but most importantly due to the distinctive sound that Ulex Xane cultivated as part of his power electronics aka ‘Oi! Noise’ project. Although Industrial Recollections previously issued a compilation CD in 2009 with all of the ‘Annihilism’ tracks (in addition to other rare pieces), here Old Captain has re-issued ‘Annihilism’ as a 20th anniversary edition, with revised and updated artwork courtesy of Marco Deplano.
The music itself comes from the early recording period (1989 to 1991 but not released until 1995), with the philosophy of the project neatly wrapped up in the “Annihilism” title. Yet if the implied meaning of the album title was somehow missed, the opening spoken word piece leaves no opportunity for confusion about what the group stands for (…and surely the heavily accented spoken female voice only adds to the strange allure of Streicher for non-Australians). It is then of interest that Streicher’s ongoing legacy and influence can be distinctly heard on tracks such as: ‘Rectify or Cease’, ‘Mutilation Victim’, ‘Decomposed Whore’ and ‘Destroy You Motherfuckers’. Noting that time and age have not wearied the force of these pieces, direct linage can be drawn from muffled mechanical churn, chaotic distortion and general industrial unease of these tracks to the likes of Alfarmania and similar ilk. Equally tracks such as ‘Nothing Has Any Meaning’ and ‘I Don’t Give a Fuck’ function to deliver a hammer blow of Streicher’s crude power electronics complete with the harsh and growled vocal barrage of Ulex, although comparatively speaking these pieces do not stand up as well today and perhaps now lack the direct impact they may have had some decades ago. ‘Nullify/ Obit’ stands out substantially from the rest, given it is a spoken word passage read over a classical music backing, whilst the album concludes with the short but excellent ‘Parade Fascisti’; a sullen track of stoic rolling martial drums which fade into silence before one last vocal barrage attack.
Given that it is great to have ‘Annihilism’ more widely available again, it is a shame that the label has chosen to press the digi-pack in rather flimsy cardboard stock which is prone to easy denting and marking. Although a minor gripe this re-release deserved better.
Not to be one to rest on legacy alone, Ulex Xane over the years has issued a large volume of material under a variety of guises. Kulmhof appears to be the latest adopted moniker which functions in general Streicher territory, albeit featuring a slightly updated, louder and less muffled sound. With this being the debut release, although uncredited to an actual label it has been released by ‘Major Carew’ – a pseudonym of a UK underground artist.
‘Sterilization of Species’ is the first piece: an instrumental track of granulated distortion, buzzing tonality and vaguely agitated mechanised loops/ rhythms, with a sound that the rough and suitably loud. Sitting squarely on the power electronics/ industrial rather than harsh noise side of the fence and with little to no variation or evolution, this track is caustic and invasive in the best way possible. ‘Mémoires Retards’ on Side B is a differing affair, based on a subdued, slightly fractured pulsing/ rhythmic loop where added layers push into churning distorted territory over its length, yet still remain subdued compared to Side A.
With a total run time of nearly 20 minutes, Kulmhof is a clear display of the fact that time has not cowed Ulex from producing harsh and direct power electronics/ industrial material. The pro-duplicated tape and colour cover appear to be intentionally lurid in design (fluro green tape) with quote on the cover from Jean Baudrillard giving a hint at thematic preoccupations (perception of reality and its ‘reproduction’), despite being entirely instrumental. An obscurity worth tracking down, with further details for ordering available via: firstname.lastname@example.org