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The Skull Defekts
Street Metal Nick Hutchings , December 17th, 2014 11:02

As soon as that discordant note jars during the opening bars of 'Mission' you know the score.  And you know the scordatura. The drop D chord is for doom, the stock in trade of The Skull Defekts.

It's been a busy year for Joachim Nordwall and co. Previously they went into the studio to capture the noisiest album they've ever made and in Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown they emerged with a pop record. Now they've released a 12" for Diagonal that has transpired to be obtuse dance, electronic body music designed for out of body experiences. Despite a change in dimension, there's no denying the DNA of The Defekts.

The rhythmic centerpiece to Street Metal is a tribal re-recording and re-working of 'Holy Drums Are Singing' originally from their first album, Blood Spirits & Drums Are Singing. When I spoke to Nordwall earlier in the year he explained how since the band's songs are monotonous, "it allows a lot of space to happen in them". Over 10 years of playing the same songs live they have fissured and evolved into new formations, and this is no exception.

Now titled merely 'Holy Drums' the drums no longer sing, they positively pulsate. It all starts off fairly benignly, a Neptunes style finger clicking as if imploring the listener to 'Drop It Like Its Hot'. Then the unholiest racket begins. Imagine a middle class house party where the resident hippy has grabbed the bongos and insisted on playing them over some acid jazz. Now what if he was an acid head, and the beats he was pounding were accompanying Glenn Branca style no wave sampled by Richard D James using decks and a food blender. The chattering partygoers in the now swirling room have turned to eye rolling rivet heads. The Timorous Beasties brand wallpaper becomes an incarnate swarm of beastly insects.   Just when the room is infested with flies and an ibuprofen-inducing clamour, the screwdriver on the guitar frets drops to the floor and frees up the tribal tabla, and then the whole shebang drops again to another lower level of insistent insanity with the 10-minute plus banger of 'Holy Drums Dub'.

It's dub in that the off beat drumming and digital echoes of 'Holy Drums' persist, but with no detuned guitar and pure oscillating electronic waves driving it, this is as dance as it gets. Apparently Nordwall has been listening to a lot of Swedish techno act Skudge, but while that has a similar monotony to 'Holy Drums Dub' they have a certain amount of heart, which in The Skull Defekt's case is definitely blacker.

While the core of this record is rooted on the dance floor, it needn't floor you if you are a fan of the FM Einheit style drums and the Casper Brotzmann Massaker guitars that permeate previous albums. The band's resident Svengali, dream-catcher and alchemist Daniel Higgs imparts his wisdom in 'Mammal Combination'. His recipe for a new state of mind reads like a doctor's prescription appealing to the brain's predilection for narcotics and alcohol. Lyrically it's like Queens Of The Stone Age 'Feel Good Hit of The Summer' except it's feeling decidedly queasy.

After the white heat intensity of 'Holy Drums Dub', the comedown is positively funereal. It's eased back in with guitar squalls for a good 4 minutes before the spooky Higgs incantations of 'Saturday Mourning, Sunday Night' come on like calls to bring out your plague ridden dead. But since they have so ably defibrillated and resurrected 'Holy Drums' as a club banger you know there is plenty of life left in The Skull Defekts. 

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