Institution D.O.L. – 17 Shameless Years CD Klanggalerie 2015
Although being previously aware of the project by name, this is my first introduction to their actual music and with this album representing the project’s reactivation, it is a good a time to become acquainted. In then taking a cursory overview of their back catalogue, 5 earlier albums were released between 2000 and 2007: however when contemplating their chosen titles, they hardly fill me with confidence as to what type of material and attitude they might encompass (i.e ‘(Cultural) Death By Consumism / Die Macht’, ‘Diskotheka Dekadenza’, ‘With Her I Had Some Tropical Feelings’, ‘Eleven Anticlerical Supersongs’ and ‘Instructions For Modern Weakniks’). Yet given this review is not about focusing on the past, at least ’17 Shameless Years’ seems to displays a degree of seriousness not previously evident. From a further interrogation of the liner notes it also revels this not a brand new album rather constitutes a collection of 6 new tracks which are interspersed between radically reworked versions of 11 older pieces, whilst highlighting that main member Barbie B Dot has been assisted by MK Vermin (whom herself is part of Magadan).
To cut straight to the chase: this is an album which will specifically attract fans of an archetype European power electronic to industrial and heavy electronics sound, whilst also displaying a few experimental quirks and sporadic appearances of neo-classical, dark ambient and martial percussive elements. Although in the most part the music is sonically loud, harsh and abrasive, there is also a ‘cleanness’ to the tonal palate and a meticulous layering of sound elements (as opposed to being crude and loose in delivery). To then throw in a comparative marker of where this album socially sits, later day Ex.Order certainly comes to mind during more than a few moments.
‘With Burning Heart’ functions as the opening track and bodes rather well for a solid album, being bleakly oppressive in the best way possible. Here a short choir chant introduces the piece before the sound hones in on a direct and focused buzzing heavy electronics attack built around a militant rhythmic underpinning and apathetic, distortion treated vocals courtesy of MK Vermin. Despite the rather appalling track title of ‘Very Vicious’ (which is only excused as it is contextually derived from the utilized sample), it is actually an excellent ‘classic’ toned industrial/ power electronics track. Here nauseous oscillating distortion, scolding static blasts and semi-buried religious focused sample function in a simple, direct and absolutely effective manner. Noting that selected tracks skirt dark ambient territory (such as ‘Moral Conflagration’ with sparse soundscape, thudding beat, choir samples and whispered/ agonised vocals); yet others are more left-field experimental offerings (such as ‘Plastic Society’ with its sparse glitchy rhythms and treated spoken ‘industrialised’ vocals). Late album cut ‘Daydreams All Ablaze’ is a further step apart with its martial industrial/ neo-classical type song format, featuring rousing orchestral synth pads, air-raid sirens and ‘call to arms’ type speech sample. However apart from these singularly placed compositional diversions, the album’s broader attention is squarely focused on industrial/ power electronics / heavy electronics sounds. This is clearly evidenced through tracks like ‘Unforeseen Annihilation’ which feature a focused bout heavy electronics, whilst ‘The Deceased Mind’ ramps up into barely restrained power electronics violence. Following a similar stylistic pattern the album concludes with a pair of tracks ‘Universal Peace’ and ‘The Last Rearing Up’ which focus on direct power electronics and sweeping heavy electronics respectively.
Given the degree of stylistic divergences between tracks, the album comes across as a collection of individual songs, which is obviously the byproduct of the methods in which the album was constructed (i.e. reworked older material in combination with new material). Although this results in a slight lack of overall coherence, this is only a small gripe given ’17 Shameless Years’ represents an enjoyable collection of industrial/ heavy electronics/ power electronics focused material. Given that it is understood that a new album is already the works, it will be interesting to see how it plays out in terms of theme, scope and overall coherence, but in the meantime this is an agreeable album in its chosen styles.