Atropine – Assailant | Review by Vox Empirea

by Maxymox | 2016, December 22 | 

An in-depth biographical / record data sheet about the Norwegian duo-act called Atropine is available by connecting to the reviews section of the year 2014 of Vox Empirea, where the interested reader can obtain all information about this project in the space concerning their previous album “Recurring Nightmares”. Alex D. Dahl – ALX – (electronics) and Tomas Kulberg – Cthulberg – (vox) return at the end of 2016 with a spectacular new full-length entitled “Assailant”, published by the label EK Product, as always offering a polyhedric model in which they interact EBM / IBM / dark-electro / industrial elements. Of great visually striking is the sleeve artwork on which is printed the picture “Cercle” – created by the French painter, sculptor and performance artist Olivier De Sagazan – here photographically reinterpreted by Cthulberg; furthermore the album is mastered by Dirk Steyer, a member with Mike Koenigsberger of the famous synthpop / electro-industrial band Accessory. In addition to the sound, the Atropine have conferred a particular importance to the texts, so desecrating and rancorous, pronounced with glacial roughness: their meanings are summarized symbolically in the most representative song of the album, “Exterminism”, which declaration, readable on the inside panel of the digipak sleeve, is written by Demect Heraklit, aka the minister of the Norwegian underground-label Grimtown Records.

The lyrics that support the full tracklist, then, are to be understood as the a personal revisiting of these concepts by Atropine, whose meanings become themes inspired both by the misanthropy and by the ‘disantropy’: they denote a ruthlessly realistic and disenchanted knowledge of modern society, portrayed as a conditioned, vulnerable humanity, consciously succubus of its absurdity and depravity: Atropine describe with great clarity pre-apocalyptic scenarios within which humanity lives controlled and deceived by the political powers, all perpetually on the brink of an imminent, inevitable nuclear catastrophe. The title-track of the album includes fifteen episodes characterized by geometric percussive schematisms combined with bristly vocals, acidly rabid and transfigured by filtrations, completed by dark counterpoint of keyboards, by hyper-processed sounds and symmetrical lines of sequencing.

The opener “Life Leash” is an EBM / IBM / dark-electro track sung through ferocious vocal emissions, poured maliciously on downtempo rhythmics surrounded by murky synths, obsessive noise cycles and straight sequencers. In the next and namesake “Assailant”, Tomas spreads a chant full of bitterness, whose function is solely to make intimidating the electro / EBM atmospheres of the track, created by mechanical midtempo scans alternated with a colorless and effervescent swarm of synthetic punctuations. “Scab Rapture” is totally played by old-school electro / EBM structures, fractionated by a minimalist, a squared percussive midtempo architecture, intercalated with a segmented sequencing, all in a disciplined set of techno-force dominated by the acid, angry tones of the singer. In the following “Hearse Hand” the sound becomes a cold and monochromatic electro / EBM transmission, built through skinny midtempo beats and repetitive sequencing, excoriated by the incessant, corrosive action of vocals. The electro / industrial “Sewercide” is outlined by rhythmic downtempo impulses, which hypnotic cadences, worn down by tonally distorted cusps, they rationally divide the track phases, synchronizing them with the perfidious and scratchy vocals of Tomas. The excellent “Exterminism” generates electro / EBM holograms to dance with tireless dynamism: so the sound is obscured by a caustic fog of synths and sequencers, while aggressive words pour angrily on midtempo drum-programming. “Naked Fear” is a suggestive dark-electro in which the vocals take the form of hissed phrasing and gloomy screams, while the keyboards replicate obsessive harmonies and the drum-machine processes coldly essential downtempo beats. We continue with the following “Vein Cramp” and with its delirious electro / IBM procedures expressed through compact rhythmic downtempo patterns of drum-sequencing, on which they overlapping urticant vocals and alienating synthetic manipulations. “Forfeit” features electro / EBM / IBM trajectories in which they swirl myriad of sequenced pixels and the singing is an excited flow of vocals malevolently hostile, punctuated by basic uptempo bpm’s. “Dream Resection” is introduced by an extended firmament of percussive sub-frequencies, loops, inorganic emissions and reverberated whispers, whose subsequent development generates an electro / EBM / IBM tormented by harsh and thorny vocals, dictated in synchrony with a midtempo drumming and with saturated bass-lines. The solemn opening of keyboard and voice that introduces the next “See Through” – repeated later in the refrain – anticipates a dark electro / IBM context, led by a dense midtempo automatism and surrounded by burning radiations of voice, while further “Blood Sequence” plans a fast electro / EBM perfectly suited for dancefloors, performed by acidic vocal incitements, kinetic uptempo beats and by atmospheric vaporization of synths. “Destroys” is a dark-electro / industrial abysmally spectral, in which core they rising heavy-pads, synthetic noises and hoarse, cruel vocals, all made more sinister by a downtempo drum-programming. The percussiveness of “Ultra Swine” concatenate uniform midtempo beats simultaneously with heavy profusion of synths, desperate vocals and sequenced elaborations, for a disturbing dark-electro / industrial / IBM. A chapter of considerable caliber is also the last of the tracklist, “Sedatives”, an impetuous electro / EBM / IBM composed by fierce voice extensions disseminated among a seething, rippling sequencer and rhythmed by impure midtempo beats. A strident, high-energetic, at times violent, toxic and intransigent musicality, that of Atropine is together an hymn dedicated to the artificial intelligence of machines and a rigorous configuration of sounds with significantly provocative, destabilizing texts.

The project demonstrates an increased ability to capture mentally the listener, transferring his imagination toward depressed, catastrophic landscapes, as visions altered by post-nuclear radioactive mists, all described with the deep, conflictual anger of those ones who declares themselves opposer against the social-policy ‘system’. The album “Assailant” is true electro-evolution, a full-length overflowing of authenticity and experimentation that can be classified as one of the most audacious of the current international techno scene. Epic!