Tuesday, June 20, 2006

-Troy Southgate Reviews The Casio Action Front-

[Mr. Southgate is an important post-spectrum radical theorist who is one of the main ideological founders of National Anarchism as well as an organizer for the New Right in England. He is also the vocalist for the neoclassical/martial outfit HERR and has also recorded with Survival Unit and Erich Zahn. His review will appear in issue #3 of New Imperium Magazine.]

‘People’s War Hardcore’ by Casio Action Front [self-released]
Available from Autonomania@yahoo.ca
THIS do-it-yourself slab of aural samisdat is the work of Ean Frick, a self-confessed 'multiple-personality' with a keen grasp of revolutionary American politics. He and his various incarnations first began life at the Massachusetts College of Art, where he/they became influenced by Dadaism, Mail Art, Neoism and the Fantômas stories. More significantly, perhaps, he and his friends also have a penchant for both National-Anarchism and the New Right. Emblazened with a masked quartet of comic superheroes, the deliberately crude CD-R insert is about as authentically raw and home-made as a molotov cocktail. And just as effective. 'Gotham Asylum' - another reference to the graphic novel genre - is the first of eighteen killer tracks, its rhymic slams and erratic drumbeats colliding at various levels with rattling chains and celluloid-induced musak. It's a post-industrial collage, stitched together like a heap of Frankensteinian flesh. 'Dragged Kicking Screaming' resembles a Red Army Choir being drowned in a bathful of acid. Experimental shuffles and a chugging Hornby trainset dally with high-pitched synths and the occasional disco whoop. The sudden upbeat shift of 'OPP Tech 9' dies out after several seconds, making way for 'Acid Acid Acid', its watery lapping filled with echoed sneezes, stereophonic squeaks and alternating bursts of harsh Noise. 'Casio Terreur' is like listening to Kraftwerk when they were knee-high to a grasshopper. Sustained swirls of primitive electronics that seem tempted to become a tinny alternative to Psychedelia. It's very endearing in an odd kind of way. The similarly-titled 'Casiocore Horror', on the other hand, is a buzzing flurry of metalesque riffs and fairground-style organ with a nice dose of spatial Ambience thrown in for good measure. It's amost like a tuneful version of TenHornedBeast or Sunn0))) and would even fit in very nicely with the laid-back driving music of Psychic TV's 'Pagan Day'. Meanwhile, 'Russolo's Orchestral Maneuvers' is a direct reference to Luigi Rossolo, a Futurist artist and composer. His 1913 manifesto, 'Art of Noises', announced the birth of 'classical modernism' and the arrival of musical experimentation. Frick's own work reflects those early twentieth-century efforts, in this case with a racy combination of twisted vocal samples and distorted sound. The whole thing is like a cross between the Magick Roundabout theme and an energetic ballet of wasps. Towards the end the artist inserts a dramatic 80s-style soundtrack, complete with grinding guitars and a finale of tinkering bells. 'Einsatzgruppe', which refers to the highly-feared Nazi killing units of the Special Task Forces during the Second World War, opens with a Fairy Queen solo lurking beneath a steady plink-plonk beat. Innocence and purity are juxtaposed with menace and the constant threat of impending venom. It's like going to the theatre with shell-shock. Later on, we hear space-age effects that have been sliced-through with static interference and then substituted completely by peeling churchbells and a hollow ambience. 'Inside' follows almost immediately, assuming the distant strains of a Walt Disney cosy-moment or perhaps even a choratic peak from one of Western culture's infinitely more superior reference-points. Radiophonic crackles disturb the warm glow like a less-than-friendly wolf crouching in a forest idyll. 'Razzamatazz', on the other hand, is like trying to listen to Augustus Pablo playing his melodica in the heart of an LCD-induced landscape. Or at least, that is, until the track becomes more discordant and eclectic. However, some of the imaginative electronic work is outstanding and it's far more layered and textured than the previous efforts. But the secret here is to compliment and tease out, rather than to obscure or swamp completely, and from military marching songs to rough forms of telecommunication and repetitive tones, it's all here in great abundance. 'Hunter' is comparatively minimalist at first, its metallic sweeps of pure Drone sounding like a whining man in a dustbin. But it then combines additional swathes of atmospheric interference with the chugging trainset that made its debut on 'Dragged Kicking Screaming', before losing all inhibitions towards the end and degenerating into a light battery of steel upon steel. 'Let It All Come Down' is slightly Doomy in places and, like the name suggests, tends to specialise in a series of descendent tones that charge imperviously towards the abyss. A briefly-rolled snare drum, some hardcore Noise and slowed effects soon take up the strain. Ean must have dropped something on his/their foot/feet at this point, because the following track is entited 'Oh Fuck'. But we'll let him/them off just this once, especially when this track is one of the best on the album. The stuttering vocal samples are snipped and rearranged throughout, never quite getting off the ground and inevitably being forced to play second fiddle to the accompanying chimes and twangs. There are various influences at work here, but the track is so diverse and complex that you never have enough time to put your finger on it all. At one point I'm reminded of a spaghetti western soundtrack, although it has more to do with a segmented Pink Floyd than with Ennio Morricone. 'Soft Lilly Finger' is just as complex. Not as tangled and inexplicable as the previous offering, but certainly very diversified and variegated. The fruit machine effects at the beginning are smothered by a blur of musical acceleration and then a calm Orientalist interlude. 'Razzamatazz (Core Remix)' promises to elaborate upon what I consider to be the most outstanding track on the whole album, but there are few similarities with the earlier rendition and after slightly more than one minute of unulating chaos it comes to an abrupt halt. The not-quite Techno rhythm of 'Do What Thou Wilt' - another brief excursion and an obvious Crowley reference - seems permeated with falling shards of metal, whilst 'At The Supermarket' is an amusing foray into the zombified environs of your local shopping mall. This is obviously the work of someone who would, just for the sheer hell of it, like to disrupt the safe monotony of an afternoon spent browsing the sheleves and stacks of Goyim Centraal. But when the initial mischievousness subsides, however, the acoustic strumming and liberated synthesiser of this Tangerine Dream-like lull provide a happy ending. 'Nothing To Stop It', the final track, continues in much the same vein, with its beautiful synth-scapes infused with the voice of a young American girl repeating the title over and over again with a sense of certainly and inevitability. Erratic drumbeats and an acoustic guitar turn everything into a jangling folk tune, which, you never can tell, may be a sign of things to come. Somebody find this schitzoid a label. And fast.

For more information, go to http://frickmeistereckhardt.blogspot.com/


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