The Horror of Amusement
The Horror of Amusement is a strange little homebrewed delight. Sole Nerve Exhibit-er Johnny Nero’s vocals are pure Skinny Puppy, with hints of Leatherstrip’s Klaus Larsen thrown in for seasoning. The electronics are indebted to Skinny Puppy and other early terror electronic acts (Swamp Terrorists, Chemlab, Xorcist), but due to the self-produced nature of this EP, the overall sound is enjoyably spare and lo-fi, harkening back to early new wave, electro and house music.
“Sky Ripped Blue” is propelled along by a strange pulsebeat bass-synth, pinging beats and all manner of white noise diversion. Johnny Nero’s vocals are basically that of a less tormented and haunted Nivek Ogre, though he does have that slur on the last word of each phrase down pat. “Choke” is more elegiac in format and seems sorta like early electro at points or a pocketwatch’s (not snarky, I prefer the demo quality) rendition of NIN’s The Downward Spiral. “Taste For Futility” is a fabulous clash between oddly relaxed and bubbly (yet insistent) electronics and a wide-eyed vocal exorcism, reminding me of a simultaneously manic/depressive X Marks The Pedwalk. “Warmth” is a downbeat, almost ambient instrumental. Promising. “The Blue Below” is Nerve Exhibit’s stab at the “Killing Game,” complete with piano and elliptical vocal lines. Period.
The Horror of Amusement reminds me almost as much of The Normal and Pete Shelley’s solo work and early dark electro as it does industrial music. Hopefully, this is as much a matter of aesthetics as economy. The sound is minimal, but effectively so. That is to say, Nerve Exhibit doesn’t seem necessarily hamstrung by a lack of big budget electroniques. In fact, if I may be so bold, I’d suggest that Nero strip his sound down and muddy it up even further. I get strong flashes of Alan Vega and Martin Rev’s Suicide at numerous points during The Horror of Amusement, and I think that one could do worse than take inspiration from one of the most forward thinking and confrontational pre-punk synth duos ever. At the very least, it would add a fascinating and visceral element to an already intriguing sound.
Nerve Exhibit: www.nerve-exhibit.com