Architect: The Analysis of Noise Trading
Hymen Records

Hecq: Bad Karma
Hymen Records

In his follow-up to last year's Scatterheart, Benny Boysen's third Hecq album, Bad Karma (Hymen), wends an unsettling path through sixteen disturbed landscapes littered with haunted strings and seizure-gripped pulses. “Cr.blox” spookily rises from its hellish bed like a vengeful phantom while “Into the Unseen” languorously lurches through a graveyard of clanking machinery. In “Lightning Slots,” splintered beats mercilessly writhe and groan before seething breaks bust the doors down—an arresting though not wholly pleasant experience. By largely downplaying beat sculpting this time out, Boysen distances himself from his Lusine-influenced past but, in doing so, the material also loses much of its propulsive quality, and the trip isn't helped by an overlong 74-minute duration. As a result, the tribal rhythms of “Untitled” and towering timbales-tap dance battle in “Scumdrum” impress even more when heard amidst glacial nightmares like “Kold”; a shame, too, that the entire seven minutes of “Lost” highlight pelting water sounds rather than the mournful string themes that struggle vainly to be heard. Bad Karma will be my second choice when the urge for Hecq listening next strikes.

Daniel Myer fares better with The Analysis of Noise Trading, his third Architect full-length issued on Hymen since 1998's Galactic Supermarket. The new album includes as many sepulchral industrial epics as Hecq's (e.g., “Vectorize (Original Manipulation),” “Bolzen Bei Ilse”) but Architect's more coherently sequenced material unfolds with clearer narrative purpose; witness, for example, the surgical precision with which Myer interlays oozing clank-funk, string washes, and sparse piano interjections throughout the stunning grandiose epic “St. Vodka (Mother Russia).” “If Jim Would Jam With Richie” continues the epic style but with increasingly desperate vocal samples rising over pulverizing breaks while “Speed O.J.” ups the apocalyptic ante with its hedonistic call (“The end of the earth is upon us / Pretty soon it'll all turn to dust / So get up, forget the past / Go outside and have a blast”). With spacey electro-grime pierced by gleaming stabs, “Ulverized Substance” impresses too, as does a surprisingly warm, head-nodding 'reconstruction' of “St. Vodka” by Hecq. Like Bad Karma, The Analysis of Noise Trading is a similarly generous 75-minute meal, but Myers' talent for containing chaos and noise within well-conceived compositional structures keeps one listening until the end.

February 2006