MOSSING ABOUT: STROBER – Strober1 (2016)

Review by: Jonathan Moss

 

I’d been meaning to listen to this album and when I finally did I was really taken by surprise. I was expecting harsh noise and instead I got this very abstract, electronic sounding thing. I loved it immediately. To show my potential bias, I’m friends with the person who made this album, and I was so blown away I sent them a message saying “i didnt know you were a genius”, or something similar. This review won’t be ass kissing though, I do have some criticisms.

Not many though, for the most part this album is great. It opens wonderfully with “Night of the Ridges”, which is this super glitchy, electronic sounding composition. The best comparison I (OR ANYONE ELSE) can think of is Government Plates era Death Grips but this song is a lot more experimental. I’m not exactly sure how to review noise so I’ll just say compositionally its comprised of these harsh, clanging sounds. It gives it a very claustrophobic feel, like being stuck in a NASA space shuttle. Strober told me that Strober1 was meant to sound like the internet and it really comes across in this tune, it sounds so glitchy and cold, I can almost imagine a computer sending out strings of binary to it, because I don’t know how computers work and I’m using Futurama as my reference point. This vibe continues on to the next song, “A Pretend Mutilation”, however, this one is a lot more playful, starting off with these zany high pitched noises. The song has various glitchy sounds in this vein, they spiritually evoke those dodger cars from the funfairs of my youth. It also has a nice melodic keyboard line, or, that’s what it sounds like, at least. It’s Fundustrial! Like a factory that produces children’s toys. And, to use another lazy modern avant-hip hop comparison, the percussion on the track is reminiscent of Shabazz Palaces.

So, to name my main criticism, to me it seems like these first two tracks do give me a good idea of what the internet would sound like, but after that I feel it loses that vibe. This is more of a conceptual criticism though, the next track is still great musically. Unlike “A Pretend Mutilation”, it sounds a lot darker and nihilistic. It opens with this kind of dull droning sound. Then there’s what I can only abstractly describe as a bit that sounds like a dystopian construction site. It has this mournful, almost clinical vibe, with a droning synthesiser playing this melancholic repetitive melody. It’s very ghostlike and ambient. “Untitled” has these clanging industrial noises and buzzing static, along with what sounds like garden shears being snipped to create an IDM beat. It’s probably my least favourite song on the album but I really do enjoy that shear snipping and those blasts of harsh noise. It just doesn’t seem quite as original.

The album ends with two long dark ambient tracks. However, they’re quite different outside of that. “Are You Still Breathing?”, as its bleak title suggests, is a very depressing composition. It has really dissonant, unpleasant noises, like things being flung down an amplified shaft, and then made grainy and distorted. The song is is as slow as a sleepwalker racing against a professional runner as well, making it kind of sinister and unnerving. It gives me the image of a long, dim, grubby corridor in an abandoned hospital. Or its just like a funeral dirge. Either way its depressing. “行くとダメ”, on the other hand is a lot more aggressive, opening with what sounds like wasps. It has a grubby, grimey quality to it and sounds like seem like they could have been sampled from a numbers station. There’s also some sounds that kind of remind me of one of those machines used to to detect nuclear waste, or something, I don’t really know. What I do know is that it has some harsh screeching noises! The song gets nice and varied with a kind of grinding dance beat. These elements combine to make a very eerie, abrasive sounding composition. It even ends with some Merzbowesque blasts of harsh noise!

Overall this is a fantastic album. It’s got a really experimental, abstract quality to it. While I do wish it had kind of continued the electronic glitchy vibe and themes of the first two tracks, the remaining four are all good enough that its a pretty superficial complaint, especially on the strength of the last two dark ambient tracks. Check this shit out, homies! 
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Author: tomymostalas

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