Monday, August 3, 2020
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Theologian & STROM.ec: Hubrizine

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Artist: Theologian & STROM.ec (@)
Title: Hubrizine
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Collaborations can be a mixed bag. Sometimes they come out sounding like one or the other, making you wonder why they collaborated in the first place. Thankfully, this is not one of those cases. For those unfamiliar with these acts, Finnish band STROM.ec lays down some amazing power electronics and Theologian is the more recent project of New Yorker Lee Bartow who was previously known for Navicon Torture Technologies. He also runs Annihilvs Power Electronix and seems to be one of the hardest working people in the experimental scene. I was familiar with both of these acts, so I was interested to see what they would come up with. This collaboration consists of source material by STROM.ec that has been 'reinterpreted and re-engineered by Theologian in celebration of a shared appreciation for the works of Philip K. Dick.'

'Involuntary Dilation' kicks the album off and it was not what I expected from either of these artists. In fact, it was almost peaceful, with echoing piano and gritty, pulsating drone that becomes almost hypnotic. But then 'EM-19' brings it closer to familiar territory. The swirling ambiance, distorted vocals, crackling static, and some processed guitar added for good measure makes for an interesting juxtaposition to the first track. 'Ubik' keeps it going with distorted vocals, gritty ambiance, and subdued percussion. The mellow music mixed with harsh vocals definitely keeps it interesting. Next up, 'Hubrizine' reminds us that it takes some time for Theologian to build up a good head of steam, and at over 18 minutes, this track delivers the goods. This is the kind of noisy droning that made me fall in love with 'The Further I Get From Your Star, The Less Light I Feel On My Face.' There seems to be vocals here, but they are so distorted and processed that they serve more as another source of noise. Toward the end of the track, it suddenly becomes quiet, like standing outside of a humming factory, before walking in to hear everything in all of its rhythmic glory, complete with angry vocals. 'Exegesis' is an odd track with the typical Power Electronics vocals over music that reminds me a lot of Coil ' like Strom.ec meets 'The Halliwell Hammers' on 'Worship the Glitch.' Interesting. 'World War Terminvs' has an almost mournful ambiance that shifts into a nice synth-based composition. Even without knowing the title you get a sense that everything is really over. Very pretty; like something you would hear on a Cyclic Law release. 'Flow My Tears' brings it to a close with lurching, throbbing analog synth mixed with an angelic choir that makes for an interesting combination, but then again this entire album has been about mixing disparate elements to make something great.

In short, this is one of those occasions where synergy actually happened and you get something unexpected. If you like solid power electronics, this is definitely one to pick up. This album weighs in at 58 minutes.

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