The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Diamond Version
CI Matthew Foster , June 13th, 2014 09:42

CI, in case you were wondering, stands for Corporate Identity, and it's a term used by people with real jobs who live real lives. You might have read about them, or seen them through the window of Lobster and Burger, holding knives and forks properly and having girlfriends and thinking about the future and stuff. I was outside the home of some real people the other day, in fact, just having my usual rifle through the bins at 4am, when I found this record, discarded and unloved by the high-flyers inside. I think they might have been misled about the album they were in for.

The song titles are the problem, you see. We're enjoined to 'Feel The Freedom', nudged towards 'Raising The Bar', politely reminded to 'Operate At Your Optimum'. But if you picked up this record hoping it might soundtrack your crushing victory in the Global Race, or boom from your Dr Dre Beats as you smashed down yet another silo in an offering to the gods of Synergy, you're likely to feel short changed. Get 30 seconds into 'This Blank Action' and I guarantee you'll lose all faith in humanity, or your money back.

"I'm sorry for your loss.. I'm sorry for your losses," slurs an increasingly irate Leslie Winer, sounding like a distressed Global Account Manager whose soul has fallen out through her eyes after one line too many. The track puts decadence and depravity hand in hand, a mouth stuffed full of quails' eggs while the eyes roll back in their sockets. The obnoxious siren bass, skittering industrial clatter, squelching bit-crushed noises just off-screen; Winer's delivery might be little more than a whisper, but the cacophony underneath suggests she'll shortly be bludgeoning a homeless man to death outside Spearmint Rhino just to feel something. We've all been there.

Elsewhere, 'Were You There?' pitches Neil Tennant's deadpan delivery of a school assembly fave against a minimalist backdrop of completely dehumanised bleeps and whirrs, springy percussion, and the sounds of the Nostromo's escape pod staunchly refusing to cut you some slack. The vocal stutters on the world "tremble", loops it and throws it around the walls of some ungodly cathedral, suggesting there's bugger all redemptive about this hymn; just a command to kneel down and fear your impending oblivion. 'Connecting People' opens with a dial-tone, walks you down a corridor of super-skinny snares and drones, and then abandons you in a dense maze of automated helplines and barely-there bass. You'll die crushed under a ton of robotic customer service platitudes, sadly never learning the Norton Antivirus activation code that would have made your phone call worthwhile*.

CI's aim is to undermine anything a functioning human being in 2014 might choose to draw comfort from: career success, God, intoxication, even music itself; marrying the total confidence of the slogans with the bleakness of the tracks just underlines their complete absurdity. But you can probably even enjoy CI without being a total nihilist, just for the spectacle of it. It's hyper-charged, cruel, relentlessly anti-melody, dismissive of beauty, and even quite funny in places. Only two very funny men could call 'Feel The Freedom', with its kick drum pounding on the walls of a cell containing Kyoka babbling in terrifying tongues, 'Feel The Freedom'. And the high camp of 'Were You There' works so brilliantly because its unexpected; the insane clash of the dayglo Tennant with an electronic abattoir comes off great.

The record's glassy harshness never stops it from appealing to the feet, either. The basement under the dance floor on 'Access To Excellence' might be making strange noises, but I challenge you not to get sucked in by that Riow Arai-esque beat. There are living people somewhere under all this; improvising, throwing ideas onto a blank canvas, avoiding grid-based monotony in favour of tracks that evolve as they progress. The record sweats, pulses, grinds, and, as mechanical as it always sounds, keeps moving, picking up bits of detail as the songs unfurl. So, lap it up, go on. Soundtrack of the summer. The last summer before a giant fireball engulfs the Earth, destroying everything that ever existed. Now, back to my bins…

  • It's SB-574-831-N by the way, not that it matters now. Not that anything matters now…