Blood Ov Thee Christ – Filthy Criminals CD Old Captain 2016
Kristian Olsson – Att Vara Där Jag Var Innan Jag Var Jag CD Old Captain 2016
For a quick historic recap, Blood Ov Thee Christ was (is?) the project of Harri Honkaniemmi – one of the first Swedish power electronics/ industrial noise projects. A sole cassette ‘Master Control’ was issued way back in 1987 before the project disappeared into obscurity. To fast forward almost two decades, ‘Master Control’ was dug up and reissued on CD in 2005 (reviewed here), whilst around the same time Harri was coaxed out of hiding through the perseverance of Kristian Olsson (aka Survival Unit & Alfarmania) to reestablish the project, with Kristian joining as a second member. ‘Filthy Criminals’ was then one of the first releases from the newly active project in 2006 and issued via cassette on Kristian’s own Styggelse imprint. Having been long sold out it has now been reissued on CD in a digipack edition of 250 copies with grim artwork also courtesy of Kristian.
‘Filthy Criminals’ features a mere two tracks, but each spanning 30 minutes which is reflective of the original cassette format. From the opening segment of the title track, cascading waves of shuddering mechanized analog filth and distortion drenched vocals are metaphorically vomited into a rubbish strewn street and although no lyrics are discernible, the angst and aggression is palpable. Loose and chaotic there remains degree of intent behind these crude compositions, thus the impression is not one of result of mere improvisation, particularly as variety of dialogue and vocal samples are strategically force-feed into the swampy tonal soup. The pacing of the Side A track is not urgent or fast paced, rather the composition lurches forward in a general negative haze akin to that generated alcohol or drugs (or both?) – but given the length of the track in the later half the vocals and whipping static seek pushes towards greater frenzy. The second track ‘Hatemaster’ gives some momentary respite through the use of an introductory sample which quite appropriately references religious devotion through heroin addiction. Yet after a couple of minutes when the sample has run its course the track launches into a more direct mid ranged pulsing static attack. Although a slow lurching undercurrent remains, the forefront elements of layered distortion, buzzing static and barked agonized vocals provide more chaotic force than the first track. Mid track some hefty dual vocals and spitting metallic loops ramp things up further, although the piece concludes with a section of muted sonics and bizarrely half crooned vocals.
Being positioned at the rough end of crude industrial noise/ power electronics, this is sonically hard, grim and unrelenting. It is the sort of album which preaches to the converted and as such will only appeal to connoisseur of such audial analog filth. Is that you? No doubt you will already know the answer to that.
Kristian Olsson in solo guise is not too far removed from the sonic world of Alfarmania, but there is a much greater degree of restraint, elevated experimentation and a mood of ritual atmospherics. As for ‘Att Vara Där Jag Var Innan Jag Var Jag’, it is a CD reissue of a 2010 limited vinyl pressing of 275 copies.
Sonically speaking the album captures morbid ritualized soundscapes which feature a myriad of tonal elements including: murky atonal drones; metallic chimes; atmospheric scrap/ junk sounds; scraping metal on concrete textures, creaking metal hinges; and distant wailed voices which flesh out the sound. These collections of sounds are then combined into grim grey toned and soot infused soundscapes which articulate cavernous, muck and grime strewn abandoned spaces. Of interest on its original vinyl pressing, the tracks effectively bled into longer single LP sided tracks, but here given the 10 individual tracks are individually indexed, it provides greater focus on the individual piece, which themselves range from around 2 to 9 minutes each. The title track appears late in the play order (track 8) stands out to a greater degree given it is sonically sharper and forceful, but still maintaining a comparable sonic palate to the rest.
To specifically compare these two albums, while they do certainly seek different listening moods and experiences, from my own perspective it is Kristian Olsson’s works which I find myself returning too on a more regular basis (…but could equally be the opposite on your own preferences). But regardless of personal preferences they are both shining examples of Old Captain’s agenda to resurrect and given additional exposure to various underground obscurities.