Perfect World

Uniform is a double-edged moniker – a misnomer that somehow still exemplifies the bracing industrial-fused skree that emanates from within. The duo consists Ben Greenberg (The Men, Hubble, Pygmy Shrews) and Michael Berdan (Drunkdriver, Believer/Law). This collaboration prompts an expulsion of sonic viscera that is deceptively devilish in its delivery, but also bound by the self-imposed "templatising" of using limited gear to produce their brand of noise. Hence the juxtaposition of the name. The same goes for their debut album, Perfect World – their world might be lined by wrack and ruin, but it’s a world that fits them like a studded glove.

The title track opens up, an insistent synth march echoing forth for thirty seconds before dead-eyed drum machine beat and a serrated Greenberg riff sets the tone. Berdan’s snarl is less bile than nihilistic sermonising, each lyric dripping with venom and contempt. "I curse the ground you walk on", Berdan seethes, his eyes bloodshot, his footsteps smouldering underfoot.

‘Indifference’ is intent on being more cynical, the pace more insidious and intent, Berdan’s brimstone howls of ‘There’s nothing left to take, and there’s nothing left to give’, Greenberg’s guitar a burden, a death knell. The clapped out drum machine is perfunctory and flat when held individually next to the power on display, but its metronomes somehow seems fitting, as if a thundering floor tom would invoke too much power. There are other effects here that seem deliberate in their softening the blows – the fade-out of ‘Indifference’ allows the vitriol to continue unabated to the end of time, but also allows a distancing, an echo of humanity. The feverish intensity of ‘Footnote’ evokes metallic disintegration, and in many ways is the most brutal track here. But the duality of this band continues here, for there is an oscillation at the end of ‘Footnote’ that comes across as a warning of impending meltdown levels, time to step out of the reactor – but then the tumult ends and the circular pulse remains, holding out for a full minute…

This is a surreptitious break (however uneasy) in the threshing machine before ‘Buyer’s Remorse’ kicks in – an incessant drumbeat and a punk riff that spikes the heart rate and rapid eye movements. Berdan’s vocal delivery holds the same beat and intensity here as Cobain on the apt ‘Negative Creep’, albeit more bloodcurdling and insane in timbre. This kind of breakneck abandon is often removed from 21st century mainstream punk – Greenberg’s production may make this a futurist maelstrom, but Berdan invokes the sordid spectres of Allin, of Biafra, of Ving, in the sheer maniacal flesh-flaying (as is seen in his hacked laughter and spoken/spat outro here, delivered with bilious brio over a desiccated white noise and distorted implosions). Again the song takes its time leaving the stage, allowing the endorphins to ride back to earth and settle in that state of perpetual unease that Uniform are intent on continually plumbing. 

But it’s the last two songs that take us truly out of the industrial cesspit that purports to be a perfect world, and in essence encapsulates what Perfect World actually is. ‘Lost Causes’ (featuring Coil/Psychic TV’s Drew McDowall) is a slowdance jam in the outer bowels of unreality – Greenberg’s bent guitar lines gliding mournfully over synths like the glut of hair rock titans of the 80s and 90s loved to do; Berdan’s disdainful middle distance stare is replaced by pinpricks of garish emotion, and it’s here that the spotlight is shone back on what has come before, the proleptic irony of the act of self-flagellation, a self-inflicted emotional immolation in the hope of finding retribution. The album kicks against the pricks only because it’s what it is used to, programmed to, expected to do – but underneath the scuzzed squalls are souls filleted by raw emotion, rough circumstance, riled ambiguity and ritualistic hearsay. 

Then there is the brilliant closer ‘Learning To Forget’, the shortest track at just over five minutes, in what is effectively a spoken word eulogy for the self – not necessarily a rebirth, but the end of the vent and the acceptance of the road ahead, for now. Then we return to that Perfect World.

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