From The Land Of Rape And Honey
, October 14th, 2015 09:50
In the mid-70s, Kraftwerk announced the fusion of the musician with his technological apparatus: The Man-Machine, they called it. As machines infiltrate our lives more and more, our bodies become more and more reliant upon them before the synthetic and organic become indissoluble. Kraftwerk's semi-utopian vision of the musician as man-machine proves an enduring paradigm, influencing all manner of computer-using musicians, from Aphex Twin to Holly Herndon and beyond, who view the computer as an extension of their own (human) bodies. For Chicago producer Jamal Moss, though, the symbiotic man-machine relationship isn't so alluring. Better known as Hieroglyphic Being, Moss assumed the pseudonym I.B.M. on a series of singles from 1995 to 2005, which have been collected on Interdimensional Transmissions' new From The Land Of Rape And Honey (The Suppressed Tapes). I.B.M? Moss is a computer, it seems: an International Business Machine. Actually for Moss, I.B.M. means Insane Black Man — a ferocious and unstable recognition of the artist as a human being, fighting for his race and humankind.
Moss proffers this destabilisation most straightforwardly on the collection's A-side, which has two tracks with evocative and dualistic titles, '2nd Soul Of The First Body' and 'A Madness Shared By 2'. Moss's man-machine, as his moniker and these titles suggest, is not Kraftwerk's seamless fusion; instead, it's one cognizant of its internal split, trying to wrestle out a single soul, a single body. '2nd Soul' in particular provides an apt soundtrack for Moss's wrestling match. A distorted bass thump introduces the piece, giving it an immediate heavy, warehouse throb that rarely lets up—characteristic of Moss's demonstrated local influences, the twisted industrial of Wax Trax! and the (acid) house of Trax. The ensuing eight-plus minutes present a disorienting panoply of jagged machinic sounds, from factorial pulses to early-computer bleeps and blurts. At some point, the original thump starts to sound less like a simple bass rhythm and more like an attempt by Moss to bludgeon his increasingly chaotic technocratic noises into oblivion.
The following three sides play out with similar aggression — minimal four-on-floor stomps where pseudo-melodies fight their surroundings to be heard. There are some slight outliers: 'Bless The Mission And Toil' cribs the timbres of Nitzer Ebb and the groove of Adonis to form a minimal jam comparatively lacking in menace; both the 'Church Of The Red Museum' and 'Ministry' have shorter run times and foreground synthesised noise over percussion. All in all, though, From The Land Of Rape And Honey is percussive and relentless. Many critics have rightly drawn a line from I.B.M.'s singles to subsequent mutant techno releases by labels like L.I.E.S., Spectrum Spools, and Hospital Productions. For good reason too: Moss's understatedly intense-but-funky From The Land Of Rape And Honey wouldn't sound out of place on L.I.E.S. 12" alongside, say, Jahiliyya Fields, and the blown-out jitters on 'Tribal Retribution' undeniably prefigure those by Spectrum Spools artist Container. But where today's acolytes often seem to concern themselves with club and techno politics, Moss's I.B.M. roots itself much firmer in the physical world, never forgetting the living, breathing 'Man' in its name.
In a 2012 interview with the Quietus' Rory Gibb, Moss discusses the "murkiness" of his sound — a quality that describes each of his projects. "I really can't get into the clean sound," he said, "because [my music is] a representation of what's life's supposed to be, and life's not that clean! Life is muddy, life is dirty." Moss clearly accepts the promise of technological innovation; his music wouldn't exist without it. But, as a musical and societal outsider (as discussed in that interview), he's wary of its utopian aspirations. It's telling that one of I.B.M.'s heaviest tracks is called 'Babel'. Moss's sonic world is a biblically-chaotic one, filled with many languages — musical, technological — resisting the assimilating effects of the man-machine or, you know, post-flood Babylon.