Reviewed by Gary Suarez (www.brainwashed.com)
An entire summer passed without me publishing a single album review for Brainwashed, or any other site for that matter. Compact discs and press releases arrived via post regularly, typically finding a home in piles at the far end of my desk, next to a dust-collecting drum machine. Call it a lack of motivation, call it laziness, yet, on this unseasonably warm autumn night, I have returned. It took the best album of 2005 to accomplish that.
Merciless and astounding, Degenerate is a shock to the proverbial system, a savage hate crime against the softened eardrums of wimpy dance rock hipsters and trendy techno fashionistas. The duo behind Vex'd conjure up an unflinching and bleak industrial vision of electronic music, the likes of which havent been seen since Scorn's Greetings from Birmingham. The solitary opening bleeps of "Pop Pop V.I.P." resurrect the elated tones of Sweet Exorcist's pathbreaking classic "Testone" before erupting into a grisly cacophony of neck-snapping snares and stomach-churning rumbles. "Thunder" slashes the tempo right in half, leaving only an eviscerated aural carcass. The twisted uptempo rhythms return on "Angels," a sub-bass monster specked with a particularly ghastly film sample. This dancefloor-accessible style of low-end worship dominates the album, from the dubby inflections of "Venus" and "Fire" to the unstoppable breakbeat monoliths of "Gunman" and "Lion V.I.P." A notable deviation from this effective formula comes on "Cold" with its distant strings and gurgling, groaning synthy squelches, presenting an atmospheric, more pensive and, atypically, beatless version of the now undeniable Vex'd sound. As if an entire album of such power weren't enough, Planet Mu thankfully includes a second disc of bonus tracks culled largely from previously released 12" records. The original version of "Lion," a highlight among this shorter set, digs a distorted bleepy melody out of the crates that might tantalize former ravers longing for the sounds of forgotten warehouse parties.
To approach Degenerate as the product or even a relative of the U.K. dubstep/sublow/grime scenes would do it an immense injustice, as Vex'd truly have compiled a peerless document that speaks to our grim, chaotic, blood-drenched world without hardly saying a word.
- Eskmo - Let Them Sing
- Ikonika - Smuck
- Geiom & Shortstuff - No Hand Signals
- Starkey - OK Luv
- Raffertie - 7th Dimension
- Ceephax Acid Crew - United Acid Emirates
- Kuedo - Dream Sequence E.P.
- Starkey - Ephemeral Exhibits
- Neil Landstrumm - Lord For £39
- Distance - Repercussions
- Last Step - 1961
- Mrs Jynx - The Standoffish Cat
- Venetian Snares - My Downfall (Original Soundtrack)
- Meat Beat Manifesto - Autoimmune
- iTAL tEK - Cyclical
- Mary Anne Hobbs - Evangeline
- Venetian Snares - Miss Balaton
- Various Production & Virus Syndicate - Apollo/Neva Argue
- Sunken Foal - Fermented Condiments
- Sunken Foal - Fallen Arches
- Venetian Snares - Detrimentalist
- The Gasman - Superlife
- Eero Johannes - Eero Johannes
- Virus Syndicate - Sick Pay