Reviewed: Strange Therapy – V/A Rough Treatments part 1

Words on contemporary releases. Seeking to offer an honest description of works which manage to exist in their own space and time.

V/A Rough Treatments part 1 – Strange Therapy

Reviewed by Harry Castle

Favourites: OPERANT – Cheekbone Element and Verset Zero – Caro

Strange Therapy was born out of a fundamental desire to dig deeper in to darker sonic soundscapes. This release represents the first on the roster for the label, with the ever so apt title Rough Treatments. The use of sound in therapy, used to settle or cure the mind is no new concept, yet this compilation doesn’t seem to focus on curing any demons. The reality is that most of us don’t feel the need to be cured. We are placid, eager to remain unchecked, unsurprised and wrapped up in our comfort zones. Music that takes its inspiration from industrial sounds has come quite a long way since the days of Throbbing Gristle. Still, it is about raw expression. It is an appreciation for the brutal, the dramatic and a deeply rooted drive to break out of the artistic and emotional shackles that the 21st century man is subjected to. This VA sets out to be a highly ambitious start to the label’s career. Featuring an array of great names in the contemporary industry including Violet Poison with a sequence driven EBM piece as well as  Ontal’s new Katran moniker offering a dusty percussive trip held together by siren-like synths.  The tracks are selected with a good ear and apparent love for the music.

Below we have reviewed OPERANT’s Cheekbone Element and Verset Zero’s Caro.

As the filter opens itself up to the screeching industrial scream, we greet OPERANT’s Cheekbone Element with trepidation. Earlier this year they released their album Zero Knowledge on the infamous “Instruments of Discipline”label. Both the album and their most recent live set at Visions festival were extremely well received and this track is likely to follow suite. The song rises to its cacophonous but anticipated peak. Distorted claps and percussion meld with the bellows of that ominous vocal to create an inescapable premonition of impending ends. Unlike their previous release this piece seems to be more concentrated on building tension through the relentless melody rather than noise focused percussion.

As we move to the B side on this journey, it is fair to say that Rough Treatments is a highly curated piece of work. Each track has its place and builds on the ideas of the last.

Katran’s B-side opening Transformation merges perfectly with Verset Zero’s dismal offering. The beginning of Caro inspires a faint moment of lucidity with its slow, progressively distorting pad that grinds towards the inevitable.  The ambient and comforted beginnings ease us into a false sense of rest. Once this breaks into a slow screeching beat, we are hurled out of our comfort zone, left to fend for ourselves as we are subjected to the onslaught which is to follow. The beat creates a sense that you are being dragged up from below and pushed up against the machine. You are almost left ataraxic until the rhythm makes a drastic change and once again, dark noise focused percussion dominate the cavernous walls of our inner beings.

Rough Treatments is a release that explores the multiple facets of avant-garde industrial music. The cassette has a coherent narrative that transcends pre ordained ideas of structure and genre. A feast for those devoted to a more deviant sound.