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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Antigen Shift - "Brotherhood"

Artist: Antigen Shift
Album: Brotherhood
Year: 2014
Label: Signifier
Genre: Post-Industrial, Electro, etc
Website: www.signifieronline.com

For a while Antigen Shift was one of my favorite projects. I loved his style of uncompromising power noise on Implicit Structures and even moreso his evolution on the sort of "post-power noise" EP Next To Departed which fused crunch and complexity into industrial strength, darkly atmospheric IDM. I was even quite a big fan of what seemed to be his last hurrah, The Way Of The North, which veered some distance away from what people expected from him and was an experience in illbient and rich atmospheres. I would like to say that his newest creation Brotherhood was something I have been highly anticipating, but instead it's more like Starcraft II: for years I was indeed eagerly awaiting a new release, but as time drew on I stopped caring and accepted the fact that the project would never return. Now, presumably like most who were fans of the now nearly defunct power noise movement and accept it's senescence, I come to this album with a great sense of ambivalence. I hope for the best, but have no real expectations.

The album opens with "Forced" which is a catchy track that is somewhat reminiscent of his Way Of The North album. The steady beats, melancholy pads and accompanying melody are all enjoyable throwbacks to that sound. However, readily apparent is the biggest difference: all the grit and dark edge of the past is gone and the new material sounds ultra clean and digital. The next track is my favorite on the record and it sounds like it could have been a lost track from TWOTN. So far, so good. At this point, the album begins to show it's true face, which is actually a myriad of faces merged together. Nothing else sounds particularly like what you would expect, and there are many (loosely unrelated) styles thrown around on Brotherhood. "Legion" mixed trance-y melodies with a chugging guitar-esque rhythm. "Godkrusher" involves almost Enduser-esque ragga-breakcore and combines it with emotive, melodic breakdowns. "Breakaway" is a nice moody, downtempo interlude with bits of IDM. "Console Nation" is a total chiptune club track, like something Bit Shifter would do. "This is an Exit" is a bit like TWOTN if it was turned up to 180bpm and given machine gun fire drums. "Get Off My Lawn" is a pop-dubstep track with lots of mid-range warbles and wob wobs. "Reborn1130" is a sort of 90s trance/electro hybrid. "Extraction" brings back the chugging guitar sound a bit and lots of cheesy 80s style synths over the traditional Antigen hard-edged rhythmic assault. So basically, the album is comprised of several tracks that harken back to the older post-noise sound (the first two, "Colliding Clusters", "So Much Closer Now", "November") and many tracks influenced by various other electronic genres. There is a cohesive production style here and all the songs do in fact sound like the same band, although I can't say the flow is always graceful.

A very diverse album to be sure. Personally, I enjoyed the stuff that sounds like the material of yore and pretty much skipped everything else. I'm not really sure who the target audience is here, but if you are expecting anything remotely like pre-2006 Antigen (and especially if you were not wowed by The Way Of The North), than skip this one. If you want to hear bits from TWOTN mixed with a whole slew of electronic genres and enjoy crossover / cross genre music than give this one a shot. I think this would be better received if it was released under a new alias and didn't try for the tie in to the Antigen Shift history, but then again some tracks carry an undoubtedly Antigen Shift vibe, so it's a tough call. For me, it reminds me that I should go back and listen to the older material because it was excellent and went above & beyond what other power noise guys were doing at the time.

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