The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Transfer Of Energy [Feelings Of Power] Tayyab Amin , February 18th, 2015 17:42

Of all the releases on Night Slugs, it's A/B Infinity that is arguably the most underrated. Whilst far from perfect, Egyptrixx's 2013 album was ambitious and expansive. David Psutka is fairly candid about the music he makes, as he explained to Juno Plus' Brendan Arnott earlier this month: "Taking the ingredients of club music and giving them experimental, non-musical application. I just don't think I'm very good at it yet… I have specific goals for this project and feel I'm just starting to approach them – for now, I embrace the flaws, I'm cool with it." His latest full-length sees Psutka implementing the same ideologies in a different way. There's no view of tomorrow's horizon on Transfer Of Energy [Feelings Of Power], less room to breathe compared to A/B. Instead, Psutka focuses inwards, arranging music into precise and narrow machinations of mutated industrial techno. Rather than revisit some new potential world, Psutka scrutinises the other side of the coin, ramming the Motor City through a car crusher before sliding the remnants beneath the microscope lens.

Standing out on Transfer Of Energy [Feelings Of Power] are its aesthetic, textures and moods. Psutka's intent seems to be the conveying of these things, as faithfully as possible, using resources taken from club settings. It makes sense then, why the textures are so sharp and vivid, physical and highly tangible; each and every mineral is refined into its rawest essence before being repurposed. We never come into contact with what it is that Psutka is shaping these things into, or at least it doesn't feel as such - rather, Transfer Of Energy [Feelings Of Power] is that process of repurposing itself. Follow the kick drums on this conveyer belt around the plant, stuttering in and hitting their stride on 'Body II Body', slightly loosened for 'Discipline 1982' before hitting with fully-fledged impact on the closer. Witness the ambering, agate synths coat everything  during 'Mirror Etched On Shards Of Amethyst' and bubble up to the surface on 'Not Vital'. Every sound strikes viscerally, full of intent. Psutka never really missteps, imbuing each moment with a weight of dramatic seriousness as well as energy - as the title suggests.

The energies that the record deals with are electrical and kinetic for the most part (after all, something has to power this plant). For me, the interest doesn't lie in that moment voltage is stepped up to spur energy across the grid. Instead, I'm fascinated by the movement and juggling of energy within the album. It oscillates in waves, sometimes washing over completely, cleansing palettes and zeroing meters, whether that's at the start, the end, the middle of 'Body II Body' or 'Mirror Etched On Shards Of Amethyst'. It's those moments that seem wasteful, as despite the atmospherics the album is far from surreal and no further suspension of belief is necessary. Such transitions don't resonate with the main stages of the record. It's as if the reasons we must lose the aspects of tracks we were holding onto come down to a self-imposed resistance towards the environment Psutka attempts to convey. Anxiety is present in this environment that rearranges itself around the ears, often claustrophobic unlike A/B. For all the amperage flowing around the circuit, an intangible store of potential energy looms over everything, acting as a counterweight to the music's hyperreality. Potential energy in the form of a threat, a capacity to go out of control that's never quite unleashed. Constant suppression, ever-present resistance, and my fascination lies with watching Psutka's quivering grip.

Which does of course break any sensation of immersion. In not releasing all this potential energy, in choosing to wipe slates clean so often, Psutka holds us at arm's length. Our visit to the plant is a guided tour, which we're regularly made very aware of. The more we discover and the more we're presented with, then the more questions we have. Transfer Of Energy [Feelings Of Power] serves as an experiment more than anything else, and one that's a thrill to boot. Still, it remains an experiment and without a thorough understanding of the technical jargon, our field of vision is very limited. We can see Psutka building, but as to the whats and the whys, we're none the wiser. Perhaps this exercise in Psutka's R&D applications is an exercise in Psutka himself; the brooding and invariably self-obsessed nature of Transfer Of Energy [Feelings Of Power] hint at an untapped, unexplored reservoir of sociopolitical power. This dynamic flow of energy may parallel an exploration of the psyche - a decidedly masculine one at that.