Tested Souls, US
Old-school industrial gets filtered through the depraved grey matter of To Live and Shave in L.A. mastermind Tom Smith. Another recent release on the increasingly intriguing Tested Souls imprint, XN is the debut from X Narrative, the new duo of Blossoming Noise boss and To Live And Shave In L.A. / Exploring Therapeutic Encounter / Cursory / Black Meat member Graham Moore on tapes/electronics, and renowned weirdo Smith on vocals, who besides running the long-running sonic freak show To Live and Shave in L.A. has also abused ears and minds with the likes of Miss High Heel and Ohne (not to mention his stint in an early incarnation of Pussy Galore).
Like the other releases on this burgeoning imprint, XN explores dark regions of the subconscious, opening up with a stretch of murky ambience that could pass for part of a background score to a gialli, deep breathing heaving over a swirling bed of droning synth. That soon moves into the unsettlingly weird "In Sight In An Assumed Body", materializing into a bizarre sort of languid quasi-power electronics, hallucinatory lyrics belted out by Tom Smith's demented lounge singer delivery over a sheet of minimal electronic throb, but nowhere as campy as that description might have you think, as a clipped drum machine rhythm suddenly emerges onto the scene and transforms it into a twisted industrial swagger.
The following tracks follow suit, minimal pulsating rhythms and hushed black drones panning from left to right as those depraved crooning vocals continue to ooze from the speakers, flurries of crackling black static and swarming sine waves swelling beneath the dreamlike blur of voices that occur as the multiple layered tracks of vocals become smeared together. It even approaches a kind of twisted, brain-damaged danceability with the fractured tribal rhythms of the closer "Fully Described", recalling the likes of Throbbing Gristle or SPK for a minute. Great stuff.
Comes on a pro-manufactured cassette in a screen printed Arigato-style case, limited to one hundred copies. (Crucial Blast)