Published by Alessandro Violante on April 3, 2016
Alloy. A word that sums up what is happening in these last two years thanks to the encounter between techno and industrial music, of which less recent forerunners can be found in the lucky experiments made by musicians such as Regis, Adam X and, later on, Perc, to the lessons of Ancient Methods, Samuel Kerridge and Blush Response. And he’s him, Joey Blush, an american musician who grown up with bread and synthesizers that, after his early steps with the important label Basic Unit Productions, both thanks to Wollenhaupt ‘s (among the others) music and after having moved to Berlin (universally recognized as the captal of techno), discovered the rhythmic-based post-industrial music sound, hugely influenced by techno as well as by early industrial music prophets, from Esplendor Geometrico to the so called rhythmic industrial, to EBM. Starting from this fascination, supported by his songwriting intuitions and by his accurate work of sonic creation and selection, also thanks to the interest shown by a young but promising label as Aufnahme+Wiedergabe and thanks to Philippe Strobel, his name began to be increasingly known in new, different scenarios, those of techno music and of a certain kind of club culture, and also in the italian one, in which he will play for the first time on 16th April in Milan together with his label mate Phase Fatale.
This wind of change has reached the ears of a pioneering label dedicated to a certain kind of sound, Stefan Alt‘s Ant-Zen, a legendary label always open to new post-industrial flows coming from the underground (having often contributed in creating them), and Reshaper, Blush’s first album released by the hard-working ant, a work that is going to be released on 8th April, is the immediate result. The German label’s choice to support him is a sign of the undoubtful quality in front of which, here, our ears stand. Reshaper isn’t a techno-industrial album, even if sometimes it sounds in a similar way. On the contrary, it’s an album that, quoting its title, reshape the post-industrial beat, intelligently mering techno-industrial rhythms, powerful and alienating EBM basslines (Blush is a fan of the cyperpunk-dystopic imagination), noisy bombardments and freezing rhythmic industrial-influenced ballets. Not only alloy, but also, as said above, particular care for the sounds used. Joey Blush personifies a new generation of artists that keep a particular eye on the instruments used to create the music, and not only on the final result, ideally linking to the idea of the musician conceived as the maker of his sound, an idea that gradually, also due to the digital revolution and to an always more standardised and “fast” market, gradually disappeared.
It’s not easy to label the songs included in Reshaper, as well as it’s not easy to clearly recognise the influence of this or that sound thanks to his analogic approach to music, but there’s something of a more techno version of Synapscape in Pain process, of the early Ant-Zen sound in Alloy, of Ancient Methods (the one of Turn ice realities into fire dreams) in Newacid, of Fausten remixed by Ontal in Wearing thinner (both in the rhythm used as well as in the use of some particular sounds) and, obviously, of the more properly techno-industrial artists in the more four-on-the-floor and fast techno episodes such as Screaming fist, a stabbing cybernetic-techno assault, as the dry and hammering Immolation, as in the techno-EBM of Fractured. Particularly good is also the ballet of Reclaimer, in which a pronounced sense of groove, an EBM bassline and a techno rhythm work together astonishingly, as well as is the opener Reshaper, in which a synthetic-analogic flow connects with a not regular and broken superstructure, this last one put over a minimalist techno beat, and almost seems to scream, releasing enormous energy. It’s the same flow that spreads itself in the already mentioned syncopated ballet of Pain process, which roars in the background until it raises itself showing in all its majesty. The closing song is Trascendence, alraedy chosen as a preview of the album, in which, once again, an overwhelming groove echoes, a techno-derived engaging rhythm and an annihilating synthetic flow.
Difficult is, as well, drawing conclusions on a much peculiar album, a new reference point for similar artists, a perfect point of convergence between techno and post-industrial music. Reshaper has really succeeded in achieving its goal: reshape the genre rules, in a perfect coexistence between past and preset. Read once again the past to create the present: this seems to be the leitmotif of an album that can be listened in several ways, and that will be enjoyed by both the passionated fan and by the neophyte of a certain kind of sound. Listening section after listening section, Reshaper seems to chance its skin revealing new, apparently not so apparent, details, stimulating dystopic fantasies that recall the golden years of Gibson. Everyone will have its interpretation, but a thing is clear: this is only the beginning, a thrilling beginning.
Rating: 8, 5