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To Hell and Back, and Back into Hell...,
This review is from: Intelligence And Sacrifice (Audio CD)
Intense feelings of suicide and depression swamped the production of this album. The result is Alec Empire's self-confessed "diary". With it, the longly anticipated fusion of the two worlds of Empire's talent; the hypnotic dance and the politically bled world that existed, most predominately, in the shattered landscape of "The Destroyer".
The sharp connotations of the phrase "Welcome to a lifestyle that you can't buy into" in "Path of Destruction" see a return to form of Empire, a snarling, intense and dark figure that has remixed Primal Scream and Bjork amonst others, and has been equally influenced on and by the legendary Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The provocatively named "Everything Starts with a F**k" sets the record along the lines of extremism, with the euphoric "Ride" being the dark trance that could be expected in clubs, and the first single "Addicted to You", that is just amazing. The most striking song is the painful "... And Never Be Found", a blistering track that sees Empire whispering over the harrowing noise of a subway background. The most surreal is the second part of "New World Order", the last minutes are an unending fury of the sound of the Digital Hardcore mixing desk in flames! the sound of metal skin being torn inside your stereo and into your ears. It leaves you feeling that nothing, nothing could be so intense, so vital, so passionate.
And then you get the CD2 of the package, what Empire has himself described as "a trip through hell". A garden of channels of noise are defaced here to something that shows the extreme of extreme, the evidence of a talented genius in extreme pain. 2641998, reprised and bookended at the end of the album, extends to half its duration, a loop of repeated clashes and surreal rises and falls. It shelves and closely guards seven intense tracks, the lowest being "Alec's Ladder". The first thing that strikes you is that the absense of words is suffocating, that the freefall of sound is something that allows the tracks to run into and beyond each other. It is not controlled, what would make this seem to be incoherent actually makes it fragile, and all the more powerful. Parallels of the excellent "Limited Editions 1990-1994" album are seem here, especially on the tracks "Parallel Universe" and "Electric Bodyrock". Granting an analogue fusion with bars of intense digital expression, layers of white noise cut and pasted so effectively, the sonics are unreal. It, as always, proves that distorted beats create pain as a voice never could, and yet somehow create the impression of a low, barely auditable scream that drones through the full 72 mintues of the second CD.
Having never been able to favour the "shouty punk" over the "ambient trance", this can be seen as an introduction and an end to what Empire's music is about. Not unlike "The Geist of Alec Empire" for his dance, this seems to unify his work together, as well as, no doubt, his own and unique ways of coming to terms with his pain. the only thing that could make this excellent bodywork more impressive is the intensity in its production by an artist that only gets better and better.