Reanimator: Damaged Bads
Community Library

Reanimator would appear to be the perfect choice of moniker for this enigmatic duo project, given how much the music feels like machines coming to life and acquiring sentience. Reanimator is hardly prolific: its sophomore album arrives nine years after the first, Special Powers, and the group's only other release listed at Discogs is a self-titled twelve-inch that surfaced prior to the full-length debut. Issued on vinyl and digital formats, Damaged Bads perpetuates the raw ‘noise techno' concept of the inaugural collection in eight new tracks the duo recorded between 2007 and 2010 in a number of unusual locales, among them an attic in Kansas City, a barn in Belfast, Maine, and a Dusseldorf apartment.

What sounded strange indeed in 2006 sounds a whole lot more normal today, though that has less to do with any adjustment in the Reanimator sound and more to do with changes in the musical landscape that have evolved around it. Put simply, in recent years labels like Gravite and Ostgut Ton have drenched more than their fair share of techno releases in soot and grime, and the typical Reanimator creation registers as a less alien concoction when heard in that broader context. With a pummeling kick drum providing emphatic oomph, “toweler” in particular sounds much like the kind of thing one could just as easily hear on one of those labels as Community Library.

Melody isn't absent on Damaged Bads, but the emphasis is primarily on the bottom-end. Throughout the forty-minute set, jittery, polyrhythmic bass-and-drum patterns offer ample stimulation, which Reanimator amplifies by scattering electronic noise and textures across the base. The duo also maintains interest by stylistically changing things up from one track to the next: after “hdp” opens the recording with a grime-coated funk-techno workout, “kopanitsa” and “the president” flail and fidget as if gripped by seizures, while the icy experimental techno cut “zonneplein” resembles a lost Chain Reaction track from the ‘90s. In addition, “building zombies” offers a a warped riff on acid-house, and the title cut presents a lumbering fusion of dub-techno, ‘80s electro, and hip-hop. As Damaged Bads comes to an alien close, one can't help but wonder whether another nine years will pass before the group's third collection materializes.

September 2015