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Always Offended Never Ashamed Maria Perevedentseva , February 12th, 2015 10:47

While 2013's A Fallen Empire conjured images of vast, dystopian landscapes, Kerridge's inaugural LP on his own imprint – Contort Records – leaves your senses numb to everything except its writhing tapestries of sound. His music has always been noted for its physicality, but with Always Offended Never Ashamed this trait is amplified to such an extreme that it becomes almost vulnerable, unsure of whether it can, in the end, control its own brute force.

The prevalence of Kerridge's voice throughout the record – with its semantic ambiguity and its Barthesian grain seems to suggest that the artist is well and truly present, and he himself has called this his most personal work to date. This palpable presence is a rare and beautiful quality in electronic music. It enables the listener to identify a human sound source behind the loudspeaker, in this case creating a perverse empathy and a sense of shared responsibility for the sonic purgation that ensues. We are all in this together.

Kerridge's overall sound palette has not changed – Always Offended Never Ashamed serves up another "giant slab" of his signature technoid apocalypse. And yet, the design here feels more complex, more intricate. You can hear influences of Japanoise tabletop convulsions, elements of glitch, booming sands, Emptyset snares, and the razor-sharp guitar wails of early Portion Control, fusing to create a sound that is as contemporary as it is classic, and unmistakably his. In a 2013 interview with the Quietus, Kerridge quipped that he must have been a coal miner in a previous life, and this image gains gravitas when listening to this album. It seems that every sound, every nuance, has been the product of exhaustive manual labour – sonic sculpture with a pickaxe.

The album oscillates between two types of track – the propulsive, kick-oriented 'GOFD', 'DAYT', and the ten-minute epic that is 'WOSN'; and the other four, which seem to focus more on the bastardisation of tension between the beats, beats which still – and without fail – would knock your block off. 'MPH' is especially interesting – a torturous, claustrophobic masterclass in stasis in an album which is, on the whole, curiously spacious and motoric. In 'MPH', Kerridge situates the listener in that classic nightmare scenario where you know you're in too deep but your leaden legs aren't going anywhere, and he lets the instruments of your demise orbit around, slowly but surely attuning your attention to their various timbral constitutions, and heightening your sensitivity to the point of catastrophic over-stimulation.

Once again, this all boils down to physicality – this is bona fide club music, designed to garner a bodily, as well as cerebral, response. Kerridge knows this. Contort Records is a direct offshoot of the Berlin parties he has been co-hosting with his wife Hayley since 2012, and the label would naturally be expected to abide by the same ethos of experimentation and, crucially, a rootedness in live consumption. Always Offended Never Ashamed forms an excellent addition to Kerridge's already distinguished discography, and sets a genuinely exciting and challenging precedent for future Contort releases.