Tuesday, January 14, 2014

HTRK - Work (Ghostly International, 2011)

One of my favorite musical scenes was created by the Mancunian crew of the 90's in Bristol UK. "The Wild Bunch", consisting most importantly of Massive Attack and Tricky, were highly influential with their groovy 80 bpm breaks and blunted rock meets dub aesthetic. Tricky took things down an increasingly darker path with his albums 'Maxinquaye' and one of my favorite albums, 'Pre-Millenium Tension'. The vibe is so spliffed on the latter that paranoia gets the best of the protagonist. Hallucinations or even actual acts of aggression and fear ensue, charting territory that, given his particular musical production, was unparalleled in pitch black narrative.

HTRK is similar to Tricky in many ways. Their delivery system just happens to be narcotic in nature. The dub basslines are there, backed by tastefully subtle 808 beats, various synthesizers and swirling ambient guitar. The concept is an original pastiche of Lynchian imagery, proto-punk and post-industrial.

The now duo (bassist Sean Stewart having committed suicide in 2010), intentionally blur all lines. Jonnine Standish's vocals are subdued, to the point of lyrical irrelevance (which I admire). The music itself is an existential road to nowhere. There aren't even really songs, merely moods of doubt and doom, sensually shared by a deceptively charming junkie siren.

To be quite frank, albums don't matter here. Any place is a good place to start. Again, its all a seductive coldwave psychosis. I'd gladly follow her down into the sea.

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