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Kevin Drumm

Imperial Distortion

Label: Hospital Productions

Format: CDx2

Genre: Electronic

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BACK IN STOCK. Very occasionally a record comes along that we just don't want to review, a record so wondrous that words just seem to fall short. Since we have an urge to persuade anyone who crosses our path to hear 'Imperial Distortion', though, perhaps it's worth a shot nonetheless. Dominick Fernow's Hospital imprint has long impressed us with its output, but never before have we heard anything quite like 'Imperial Distortion' slip out of its ornate iron gates. Those of you in the know will already be aware of the label's noise-laden psychosexual tendencies, and those of you familiar with Kevin Drumm will no doubt be expecting a harsh onslaught of sound to scare your loved ones, but think again. Mego's genre-defining 'Sheer Hellish Miasma' might have set Drumm up as America's premier exponent of grinding noise, but 'Imperial Distortion' is a very different beast indeed and confirms that Drumm is simply one of the most important figures in the American avant garde.
A bumper two CDs of music, this is to my mind the post millennial answer to Aphex Twin's seminal 'Selected Ambient Works II'. Where Richard D. James created a floating world hooked into his lucid dreams (or so he led us to believe), Drumm takes us into the darkest recesses of a broken world, somewhere deep beneath the sea with bombs and guns tearing flesh and concrete overhead. The album is something of an escape; the subtle oscillations and blissful tones thick with guilt and pregnant with disdain for a palsied society, and on headphones leave you totally paralysed. Comparable to the early electronic experiments of French composer Eliane Radigue or the BBC Radiophonic Workshop if they ditched the sci-fi for torture porn, there is a deep and rarely witnessed knowledge of the medium on show here. Drumm is no newcomer to the scene and isn't jumping on or off any bandwagon, rather this is a totally timeless collection of work. If you really need proof check 'Romantic Sores', maybe the softest moment on the album, a track which builds from subtle pad-work into haunting and devastatingly beautiful synthesized notes which phase and pan assuredly, dragging you into a blurry, confused world. At first listen it sounds deceptively simple but each second is painstakingly constructed and the more you play these tracks the more you become drawn into Drumm's imagination, never to return. Like Stephan Mathieu's 'Radioland' or The Caretaker's 'Persistent Repetition of Phrases' earlier this year, 'Imperial Distortion' seems to have slipped out from nowhere and captured our hearts. It is a record that is bound to be fighting for the top spot in many an end-of-year chart, and to put it bluntly you just need to experience it. Highest possible recommendation "Imperial Distortion" really is quite a find. (BOOMKAT)
Details
Cat. number: HOS-134
Year: 2008
Notes:
Recorded at Green Hell Studio 98-08.

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