Chemlab

Chemlab

Chemlab

Oxidizer

Invisible Records

This is not the original Chemlab; Jared Louche just might have to go you one better with Oxidizer, cowboy.

Opening intro/moodsetter “pinksuture” starts off strong, slow-burning and atmospheric. It reminds me of Bladerunner for some strange reason — a good omen. “Monkey God” begins with the rumbling of an army of voodoo percussion before exploding with glam-gutted guitar n’ noise over which Chemlab mainstay Louche casually holds court like some demented Sunset Strip crackhouse Kurtz (“Let it loose/Get your neck out of my noose”). Ditto with “Scornocopia” — survivor Louche turning violently against young fashion-victim no-hoper nihilists with this little John Denver idyll moment, no less; kitchen sink, meet studio — yes! Fuck the kids, I say.

“White Room Black Eye” has an electro backbeat/spine that sounds like the Knight Rider theme pumped up to the nth degree, augmented like armor with muscular distorted guitar loops while Jared does the surrealist/nihilist lounge-lizard schtick, sidling up to a sweet young thang and then delivering the definitive bitchy slapdown: “Where will you be when the makeup smears up/Where will you be when the drugs wear off.” It’s totally Lou Reed. The lost art of the queen bitch. Love the distorted punkass “Fuck off” threat at the very end of the song. Now, I generally have grown weary of the guitars-in-industrial music aesthetic — it seems an overly-steroidal dead-end — but Louche uses them almost post-ironically, like decoration, mascara, masks to use and manipulate to create his own realities. Think of it as the same way a geisha uses her fans to entice, to deflect and then ensnare.

“Black Snake Voodoo Hiss” strips the sound back to the whole slithering, sleazy electro beating-blackhearted-core; the programming is brilliant, like snake coils, and the guitar takes on less obviously metallic characteristics, more like a solid sheet of rain. Kinda NIN, or is that the other way around? Lotta cool vocal trickery and twistery. I dig the one that makes him sound like Jarboe the most. Louche comes over all Bowie during the verses of “Atomic Automatic,” and the driving four-to-the-floor drums collaged with white noise addendums is gonna make for some great dance music down at the ol’ killing field (“nothing so clean it can’t be fucked up”). Some sort of how-to-manual for sociopaths who can’t figure out when it’s time to cut and run.

“Force Quit” is kind of an abrupt volte face — that punch the air, ascending ever higher (yet still mired in darkness) electro rock that was done to the hilt on Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion. Or U2, circa Achtung Baby (especially on the Batman Forever soundtrack) — no man, I am making that comparison totally lucidly, thank you very much. “Megahurts” is a mile-high tower of electronic spires that pulse and buzz, almost as if the very walls are alive. It may be my favorite on the whole record. “Queen of Despair (Ode To Diode)” is kinda on the Covenant/Young Gods “baroque Euro cold electronics” trip; there’s more Kraftwerk and old Nu(man) wave than blood in this one, and I dig it a fucking ton. It’s awesome lo-fi that’s headed straight to the heart of the futuresun. I love the gritty hopeless romanticism of “We’ll make a lovely desperate pair.” G’night Mickey, G’night Mallory.

To continue the obsession with all things medical and amputated, there are three “sutures” that hold the whole album together, so things don’t get all bloody and messy: the first is an interlude into horror electronics at their finest (sounds of the abattoir), the second begins with a tightly programmed metalloid riff loop that gradually decays into its base elements, the third is a frankly terrifying surrealist spoken word piece, disembodied and floating, buoyed aloft by sheets of bright white noise electronics (like that Martin Ware, Vincent Clark collaboration crossed with Whitehouse). No comfort, up till the very end.

The capper is a super-cool hidden track of ’80s-tastic New Wave/New Romantic instrumentals, perfect for sipping your cocktail to, after you’ve adjusted your eyeliner in the cold glint of the shaker.

Invisible Records: www.invisiblerecords.com

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