Ke/Hil – Syndrome / Antidrome

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Ke/Hil – Syndrome / Antidrome LP Tesco Organisation 2017

Following on from the excellent second album ‘Zone 0’ (reviewed here), the third Ke/Hil album ‘Syndrome / Antidrome’ has recently been issued (…recorded through 2016 and issued in the first month of 2017).  In then referencing the broad commentary of the first two albums regarding the failings of contemporary social engineering, there were also a variety of ‘clues’ presented in the artwork (…i.e. images, text and maps), which referenced the German city of Mannheim (…the original home town of at least one project member). On ‘Syndrome / Antidrome’ this established concept has been further expanded to focus on global urban trends – and to quote from the promo-blurb: “All indicators point in one direction. Starting at “Hellstation” towards “Zone 0”, passing buildings whose true purpose is less based on functionality than on degeneration. To degenerate the population, painting them pictures of would could but never will be. Concrete ravines, which are not made to live in, much more to delineate. The cries of the “Prekariat” drowned with the play and song of the theatres. A city as you find it everywhere, marked by the pleasures of the people, covered by wishful thinking, yet full of Babylonian arrogance”.  As for the musical content ‘Syndrome/ Antidrome’ is a colder and more clinical beast and more of an industrial soundscape style, thus perhaps slightly less immediate in impact when compared to heavy electronics focused ‘Zone O’. Yet equally the general sense of alienated despair remains steadfast, if not here being entirely amplified.

‘When Comes Such Another’ opens proceedings with a static hum and burrowing invasive drones, while a slow rhythmic thrum throbs beneath and sporadic mechanized voices swirl off in the distance. The following ‘Farmed Flesh’ then constitutes a disorientating assemblage of static fissures, wailing alarms, layered radio chatter and detached observational styled vocals, while ‘The Trite of Life’ follows a similar style but is slightly more subdued fashion. On  ‘My Soul Is Dead’ the excellent musical base features dynamic structures of buzzing static and stuttering mechanized loops, while W.Herich’s deadpan spoken and echo treated vocals are of note, given they broadly mirror those used on Genocide Organ’s ‘Conditio Humana’ from ‘In-Konflkts’. ‘Designed Poverty’ then features a tightly wound coil of slow grinding rhythmic throb and heavy bass reverb, while ‘Men to Drone’ with its treated ‘TV sports commentator’ samples, dour minor keyed synth layers, wonky rhythm and sermon like spoken vocals very much achieves a dystopian “big brother is watching” tone.

Given the noted shift away from a focused track orientated ‘heavy electronics’ sound (as was captured on ‘Zone 0’), ‘Syndrome / Antidrome’ sees Ke/Hil further diversifying their approach, without loosing the core essence of what can now be recognized from the project. Yet then seemingly in defiance of the muted material which precedes it, the final album track ‘Clear Sight On No Land’ explodes from the speakers with the most direct track of the album with wavering invasive tones, pounding atonal beats and driving/ grinding distortion to concludes the album on a hard and heavy note.  Despite this deviation, ‘Syndrome / Antidrome’ is an album focused on industrial soundscapes as a backdrop to deadpan lyrical observations of the greater ills, isolation and alienation of modern urban living.  In noting the general roughness in tone, the cold and clinical soundscapes are also meticulous constructed for sonic complexity, where a sporadic and off kilter chaotic edge is used for maximum unsettling effect. The overarching result is that ‘Syndrome / Antidrome’ is one of few albums that really nails that particular atmosphere of darkly hallucinogenic industrial which SPK first evoked on ‘Information Overload Unit’ some 36 years ago now (..and is clearly not a comparison to be made flippantly). Released in an addition of 500 vinyl copies (…2 marginally different covers of 250 each) and cassette edition, this is another mandatory release from the project.

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