Published by Alessandro Violante on July 26, 2017
The last DIVE album, entitled Behind the sun, was released already thirteen years ago, the result of the collaboration between Dirk Ivens and Rafael M. Espinosa (best known as Geistform), by Daft Records. In the meanwhile, post-industrial music changed a lot. Despite this, Belgian muscian Dirk Ivens demonstrated to be able to withstand the crisis faced by electro-industrial music in the last years, confronting the techno industrial revival and keeping on releasing convincing albums just like the last The Klinik release Eat you heart out, released four years ago.
After having continuously changed its skin during 90s and 2000s, the istrionic artist comes back into the scene with his new album Underneath, releasing a collection of songs clearly linked to his many music projects, such as Absolute Body Control, The Klinik and, of course, DIVE itself. Let’s look shortly at his career to better contextualize his new album: as documented by Sir Alexander Reed in his book Assimilate: A critical history of industrial music and, above all, in the Belgian 1997 documentary Industrial in Belgium (that can be found on Youtube), during the late 80s Ivens started DIVE after his experiences with his other projects, releasing First Album in 1990, one of his most important albums so far.
The Belgian musician aimed at “reaching the maximum expressive result, using a limited set of sounds”, inspired by Esplendor Geométrico (with which he often toured), and in a bigger extent by his surrounding. Belgium, a country famous for its plenty of mines and for the importance of its industries, offered Ivens everything he needed: metal slubs and pipes, to which he added synthesizers and sequencers. His first album was nothing more than the transformation of dull sounds emitted hitting these materials, plus his lacerating screams, amplified by the use of a megaphone. The results were minimalist dark-flavoured, more or less danceable, numbers. After this first phase, his subsequent releases reinterpreted the same modus operandi with different results. This idea developed, transforming his early energetic sketches into more structured songs.
Although Underneath, his first album released by Out Of Line, lacks the same expressive urge of his previous albums, that distinctive sound defined by the Belgian musician (which would have found its most minimalistic formula in the first Sonar album) is still there, although its harshness was left along his career. His typical noisy sound isn’t emphasized enough here, because of a too much clean production. The rhythm of the opener Underneath is emblematic, while being at the same time an example of what is defined as the “Belgian sound” later developed by Sonar, Eisengrau and Hypnoskull.
Underneath is the result of another collaboration with Geistform, now an appreciated musician of the HANDS roster, and with Ivan Iusco, mananger of the historic Italian label Minus Habens, who already collaborated with him during the 90’s in Concrete Jungle, Dive’s sophomore album. The influence of the latter one is not so strong here, while the rhythmic imprint of Espinosa is very present in songs such as Sacred skin, Howling ground and in the final I want you. With the release of his Tension E.P. and later on his most recent album Transmitter by HANDS, the Spanish musician has enclosed his rhythmic noise-derived rhythms into techno industrial structures, and the same modus operandi can be found in this work, giving to these songs an updated sound.
If the songs made with Geistform recall his other collaboration, the album Behind the sun, Far away is linked to True lies as well as to Absolute Body Control’s sound, and the same thing could be said for From behind and A man came, while Something and Melt sound closer to The Klinik, even if the lack of Mastbooms and Verhaegen, the minds behind the project, can be clearly heard. Anyway, for sure Something has interesting modern and engaging beats, being a track of its time and place.
Dirk Ivens has made a more than average album, which lacks the will to rewrite the rules of its formula, something always happening in the past. This was an important element which put him in the top of EBM / electro-industrial hall of fame, but we can say that Underneath is a concise sum of a large part of Ivens career, an album refusing his minimalist trademark. It’s an hybrid of several expressive forms, more strictly and clearly linked to “body music”, something quite different, that will be appreciated by his long time fans, but surely not his best album to start with.
Label: Out Of Line