Sturqen: Piranha

One naturally is first of all struck by the presentation of Piranha, which houses Sturqen's CD within a jagged fold-out sleeve whose points are as razor-sharp as the group's music. On the basis of the dozen tracks issued on this collection by the Ukrain-based label Kvitnu, Portugal duo César Rodrigues and David Arantes specialize in a raw and uncompromising brand of dark electronica tangentially rooted in dance rhythms. Largely bereft of melodic elements, a given Sturqen track writhes for a three-minute interval before the machinery re-sets and a different program of industrial patterns and gritty frequencies kicks into gear.

“Vyk” elastically thumps and wheezes but then surreptitiously settles into a rather straight-ahead funk-techno pulse. “Unbu” mutates its head-banging squelch into the pulsating throb of “Tul,” after which “47” squeals like a butchered pig before turning ever more clangorous in its mix of low-burning frequencies and scabrous beats. Bulbous beats in “K2n” provide the forward thrust while a drilling noise mercilessly subjects the listener to what feels like a trepanning procedure, “Facce” opts for acidy noise convulsions and techno throb, and “Alk” caps the album with a wayward mix of hammering rhythms and granular showers.

Most of the albums of this genre type I've heard are typically in the seventy-minute range. To their credit, Rodrigues and Arantes realize that less is—as it always is—more, and bring Piranha in at an efficient, thirty-nine-minute running time. It must also needs be said that while devotees of harsh industrial-techno and Pan sonic will gravitate in the direction of Sturqen's viral swarms, few listeners not already aficionados of the genre will choose to join them.

January 2010