Somatic Responses: Giauzar

John and Paul Healy's latest Somatic Responses release starts out restrainedly enough with the industrial doomscape “Split,” prompting one to think that Giauzar might be an album filled with brooding cinematic atmospheres—until, that is, one confronts the twelve steamrollers that follow, starting with the futuristic clank and steel-toed slam of “B Boy 3000.” There are moments of subtlety or restraint—the title track and the vocodered “Heliuminum” include their share of both—but the album's overall sound is more accurately represented by the militant “Combined Forces” (though even it manages to weave some doom-laden tones in amongst its hammering goosestep) or the stately snarl of “Disintegration March.” To its credit, Somatic Responses balances intensity with musicality and consequently its material never comes across as gratuitously aggressive. Schizoid ‘scapes like “Germ” and “Mixed Bag,” for instance, writhe like diseased organisms yet retain a discernible compositional grip. Giauzar is therefore less abrasive and monochromatic than one might expect, with multiple styles—throbbing electro-noir (“Nowtro Music”), Drexciya-styled android thrum (“Strangulartk Robot”)—emerging over the course of the album.

July 2006