CD: Cranial Fracture Recordings Frac004 [2003]

Harsh Reality
Elegant Demise
Intimate Moments
Red Lips
Mass Reduction
Restful Consolation
Guns and Bitches
Womb Beater
Intimate Moments (Frantic Mix by Scalar)

Unlike many of their peers in the industrial-techno business, Neon Womb eschew the overplayed imagery of dehumanising technology and the gloomy iconography of totalitarianism and oppression, in favour of fleshier, more carnal concerns. Not that you would know it immediately from the music alone though. Opener 'Harem' is, despite the name, spikey and mechanical all over, firing off brutal stabs of sound over a semi-automatic rhythm track. A gentler side surfaces from time to time over the course of this long 14-tracker however. 'Seduction' and the symphonic 'Womb Beater' are laced through with soft, almost loungey piano phrases reminiscent of Haujobb/Newt, 'Red Lips' feeds the obligatory porno moaning sounds through a fine metallic mesh, and 'Guns And Bitches' brings in breathy French (?) female vocals for an industrial trip-hop feel.

There is plenty of finely-honed breakbeat savagery here, but strangely, little that would make an ideal weapon in the DJ's armoury. Rather like Download for their first couple of albums, Neon Womb seem mostly incapable or unwilling to sustain a groove for the duration of a track. Of course this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if keeps them from succumbing to the four-to-the-floor tedium that occasionally grips so many promising powernoise/hardbeat outfits. Still, it is somewhat frustrating to hear club-friendly passages broken up by long arrhythmic or ambient sections. Perhaps if I learnt to beatmatch properly it wouldn't be so much of an issue. Also some of the tracks are longer than they need to be, and start to sound short of ideas by the end -- the title track and 'Restful Consolation' particularly. The Scalar remix of 'Intimate Moments' clocks in at less than half the length of the original so apparently Scalar thought so too! A particular highlight for me is the three-minute digital experiment 'Gentleman' - more like this please.


[Neon Womb] / [Cranial Fracture Recordings]

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