Linn Elisabet ~ Fac ut Ardeat/Made To Burn

In the interactive game that accompanies Linn Elisabet’s new record Fac ut Ardeat/Made To Burn, there is an A.I. entity named MIT-Y that guides the user through a conceptual web of how to redefine self-identity. MIT-Y guides the user through lines of code rigidly explaining the social contract, or “The Science of Order and Compliance”. The narrative is framed as a trial in which the user eventually writes in their own response for how we can break through linguistic, cultural, imperial, and philosophical trends and accept the “terms of beyond”. 

The thesis of the project is rooted in compliance, proposing non-compliance as a positive inversion to societal structure. Through MIT-Y, Elisabet asks us to define our own bodies as we also acknowledge the spirit that exists outside of them. Gender, race, and other identification markers become a joyous bodily rebellion against imposed norms. And what could possibly be a better soundtrack to transgressive self-expression than pummeling techno? 

Based out of Berlin but born in Sweden, Elisabet creates industrial dance music for those willing to revel in their noncompliance. Their heady framework of gender expression and subversion informs the ethereal 4/4 pulses, but the music itself is as tangibly enjoyable as it gets. Their use of hard-hitting percussion over dreamy choirs and synthesizers brings to mind the frightening beauty of early Tim Hecker records, but with the important addition of indulgent danceability. The opening title track begins with lulling, washed out loops and a pensive vocal melody that sounds quite reminiscent of the video game soundtrack. It’s circular “DVD menu” music that explodes into a rollercoaster breakdown of snare and bass. From here on out, Fac ut Ardeat relentlessly coasts through the sort of sweaty club music made for windowless warehouse parties that drift into early morning. 

“Our Names Are Acts of Rebellion” slows the tempo and inverts the previous track’s formula, eventually bringing in angelic high-pitched pads over a skittery backbeat. It has a pleasantly sincere optimism for a song about social disruption and reclaimed identity. Elisabet’s terms of beyond begin to come into focus at this crux of cerebral enlightenment and tactile grooviness. At one point in their manifesto, MIT-Y writes about “concretizing the abstract” of the mind, a concept that manifests well in the metaphor of pensive dance music. This is not escapism, per say, but a celebration of body that transcends the material. 

Elsewhere, Elisabet’s focus on rich texture consumes the straightforward production. “Tillit” and “As We Prevail” both center glitchy hi-hat patterns over low end beats, giving counterbalance to the lurking dread. Closer “twifocaywoot.note” best synthesizes the album’s friction between instant gratification and slow-burning revelation with a two part frenzy of breakbeats and glacial vocal modulations. For a record full of self-contained climaxes, it coheres beyond the sum of its parts as a grand statement for collective inclusivity.

Fac ut Ardeat was inevitably recorded for gigantic dancefloors full of hundreds of bodies, so it’s a bit unfortunate to finally see the light of day in a concert-less world. It proposes and even yearns for the radical empowerment of people gathered in a world where “discarded and rejected possibilities” give way to more honest forms of self. The accompanying game ends with an order to return to the body and become part of the rebellion, which would ideally involve the intrinsic spirituality of throbbing live music. For now, we can only accept the terms of beyond that Elisabet encourages through their celebratory recordings and an acknowledgement of our own ever-growing identities. (Josh Hughes)

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