Those Devilish japesters Gridfailure are touting their latest release, Shards In The Wire, as an EP; This lulls you into a false sense of security as a listener, as you think you’ll be a fair chance of surviving two or three doses of GF mastermind Dave Brenner‘s intensely personal representations of Hell on Earth, just by way of a bit of danger before returning to the mundanity of the latest Machine Head album.
However, midway through the eight, nearly nine minute long centrepiece of the album, Panic Azimuth (track four), you realise this isn’t a nice little trip to the outer reaches of decency… You’re heading straight for the dark heart of the beast, and there’s no turning back. It’s like sitting in a car you’ve inadvertently driven into a river and now realise the water levels have risen to a point where you can no longer open the doors. Horrific.
Gridfailure albums – and at thirty one minutes, I’m calling this an album – have a habit of creeping up on you like that and then crushing all hope out of your battered psyche. It’s what Brenner does best, creating quasi-ambient soundscapes so stealthily you forget you’re listening to them before turning on you with the audio equivalent of a lustily-brandished piece of four by two to the back of the legs. Once you’re down and at his mercy he pours on the agony with his creaking, grinding, industro-terror samples threatening your innards in vast waves of pain-inducing menace. Then the drug comedown, skittering, paranoiac jags of sound creep back in, welcomed if only because it’s not the terrifying noise you’ve just been subsumed by. The wrack or the rope?
As postcards from the edge of insanity go, this is one of the most unsettling I’ve heard. But in the world of Gridfailure that’s definitely a good rather than a bad thing, so I’ve no hesitating in recommending this to you if you enjoy music spawned in the sewers of the American dream…
Shards in the Wire releases on November 17th.