Test Dept.

Test Dept.

Beating A Retreat

Thirsty Ear

“Is it progress if a cannibal uses a knife and fork?” A very good question to keep in mind while listening to this re-issue. With their somewhat recent signing to Invisible Records, Test Dept. has progressed into a more “techno” arena while still maintaining the percussion onslaught of their early days. Beating A Retreat will remind (or expose) listeners to “the early years.” Their tribal drumming dances across objects society regards as junk (metal, oil drums, chain saws) in patterns thick enough to smog a small city. “Fall From Light” and “Inheritance” paint an orchestrated horror soundtrack. Violins and strange rhythms abound. “Sweet Sedation” begins with a trancy violin and bass that rises into a head-numbing beat. “Kick To Kill” and “Spring Into Action” find comparison in fast, heavy rhythmic progressions. Where “Kick To Kill” leaves in its death march mentality, “Spring Into Action” leaps forward to walk the line between chaos and control. Never quite falling into total chaos, the listener stays on the edge waiting for its downfall. “Cold Witness” utilizes machines (heavy machinery) to create the tempo. The rest of the drums clink, clank, and pound in orchestrated chaos. Only “Plastic” hints at today’s sound in it’s almost dub nature. Test Dept. does not require “a knife and fork” to demonstrate progress. Always ahead of their time, modern contemporaries can learn a thing or two from Beating A Retreat. Thirsty Ear Recordings, 274 Madison Ave., Suite 804, New York, NY 10016

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