[Reviewed by Iaha Crax]
The early years of Thorofon meant absolute industrial records that would recover in a stylish, highly artistic manner the entire array of musical tentacles from this genre. One may rediscover back in their history the germs of many now achieved bands like Haus Arafna or Brethren, as well as an elitist lineage with pioneers such as SPK and Genocide Organ, Psychic TV and Throbbing Gristle. The German project is to be placed undoubtedly amongst the greatest acts in the scene.
Exkarnation was released through Ant-Zen in 2011, after about 6 years of silence. And it is indeed deeply silenced. From the first track the auditor is deliberately enshrouded in an intriguing display of subliminal vocal messages, subtly waved forth by titillating electronic loops. You can only experience a superficially condensed, immaterial touch with an intent to arouse a questionmark for some potentially unconscious demands. The music (“Controlled Chaos”) literally controls the chaos of thoughts.
“Flesh And Steel” was originally composed by SPK in 1985 and has been a dancefloor hit ever since; at least in my room it is now. It could stand for a modern uptake of a military march song replacing soldier drums, boot paces and coarse voices with a synthpop powerful parade anthem. The absence of war does not mean the absence of warriors.
This synthetic approach structures “Skinmelt” as well and it feels as if Lina Babydoll has been remixed by an angst-pop band. The associated voice of Geneviève Pasquier creates an androgenic impression in this almost sexless ballade. But enough with nice-sounding tracks, as with the next one we are back to the pernicious sensation created by minimal repelling melodies. “Dead Face” brings forth uncomfortable electronics pointing to Galakthorro projects, in particular Karl Runau’s “Beyond Frequencies”. The track connects the music with the cover of the disc, a head radiography and especially with the supposedly anti-ethical perspective from which the album is considered: the artificial and shallow interhuman relations based solely on virtual empathy, a rhetoric pointed out by the motif of the song: “I love your dead face, this absence of life”.
The cult of technology and production has been treated subversively by the industrial movement in an endeavor to demystify the utopia of this Brave New World. As a refraction to the spectrum of this steel cold light penetrating an artificial existence, “Blacklight” illustrates a consequential picture of the new industrial reality. A reality made of established control paradigms to which man reacts instinctively. Likewise the track –a great beat-constructed stage performance – invites you to accept its rhythm despite of a frustrating sense of manipulation.
The register is shifted to a different musical sphere, with experimentation on an ambient spectrum of sounds played on several ranges of components. “Embalmed” exposes the listener to a mysterious cognitive reflection and reflective tone pressure magically interchangeable to Poe’s novel, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”, where a man is put in a hypnotic state precisely at the moment of his death.
“Blacksouls” not only arouses surprise due to its playful and humorous dance-beeps –like a contortionist wrinkling J.M. Jarre – but makes you see how vast the composer’s imagination is, as well as his genius of treating sounds. There is here a harsh glitch trip which effectively confounds schizophrenia, in terms of audio frequency and undetermined joy for the hearing.
Is the title a technical pun on their renouncement of power electronics sounds on this new record and the adoption of a synth-orientated approach, or even a hint to an interior transformation of their personae? The homonym track can reveal only the same care for removing unwanted asperities and keeping only meticulously polished ensembles of sounds, thus creating a solid and comfortable lounge sound area where you can enjoy the sheer splendor of a strong musical ambiance. This powerful and idiosyncratic sensation is finely related to a philosophic concept originating in dramaturgy with Antonin Artaud, by whom I shall deliberately place here a quotation: “When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom.”
On “Flamethrower” it seems that the band is taking a glimpse on their more harsh-electronics past. The tribal noise performance colored by indifferent cynical vocals is cut at intervals by bursts of schizoid shrieks, joyfully reminiscent of Sutcliffe Jügend. “Anonymous” synthesizes a message that every socially aware person has silently uttered against the authorities. It is crude and unmistakable as the contemporary Weltanschauung. “Exkarnation” ends with “Dust”,a track that explodes discontinuously on seemingly free-rhythm drumming, monotonous and hurting electronics and impotent beeps. The atmosphere displayed here traces a distressful involution as it pictures pure flesh in its palpable objectiveness, and marks the failure to continue the disincarnating process “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19).
The return of Thorofon with “Exkarnation” should be considered a landmark for the genre. Their latest record is the craft of some brilliant minds and it has the precision of a crystal which is to be excavated and placed among other jewels from the industrial collection.