Somatic Responses ~ The Dogma of Function

What should an industrial music label do when good news lands ~ for example, the recent election of an empathetic president or the announcement of two new vaccines?  The answer: wait it out.  There’s still enough apocalyptic news to go around, and sooner or later, it will lift its ugly head.  This being said, it’s a relief to take a turn from the horror of real news to the comfort of science fiction, which is where Welsh brothers John and Paul Healy (Somatic Responses) make their home.  The Dogma of Function is dance music for the dystopian, with a slick robotic sheen.

One can hear why this release was chosen for the Errorgrid imprint, as it shares the pedigree of Olivier Egli (Nundale)’s Staircases: A, hearkening back to the sharp dance floor beats of the late industrial 80s and early 90s.  The two opening tracks are the powerhouses, after which the EP settles down a bit; but two is all one needs, remembering Front Line Assembly’s stellar run of double-A 12″s.  Beginning with the title track, the EP heads straight to the center of the club.  A comfortable 128 BPM lodges the track squarely in the range of its influences, its intricate percussive patterns offset by sharp lasers and clouds of ambience.  With just over a minute remaining, a new pattern kicks the track into an even higher gear.  Time to get those black boots out of the closet.  Then “Visitors” raises the tempo to 144 BPM and goes for broke.  The first half of the track concentrates on percussion, but the second launches with broken gears, light distortion and a feeling of attack.  The last hundred seconds are all-out war.

We’re already satisfied with the release, but there’s more to follow.  Things do slow down a bit, as even robots need oil breaks.  It’s refreshing to see classic sci-fi referenced in “Replicant Detection,” which implies that these non-humans might not be abiding by Asimov’s laws.  There’s even some warmth to this track, reflecting its title: can we really tell the difference between the born and the created?  Closing track “Virtual Faith” ~ the only one without a beat ~ leaves listeners on a note of unease; as so many houses of faith have gone digital this year, might the ghost in the machine finally make itself known?

Only six months into its existence, Errorgrid Records is already proving itself to be a formidable force in instrumental industrial music.  The spirit of Wax Trax! lives on.  (Richard Allen)

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