Environment by MY DISCORelease date: March 1, 2019
Following their last album, 2015’s appropriately titled Severe, MY DISCO released a couple of remixes from it by two dark lords of electronic sound Lustmord and Regis. This was clearly a meeting of minds as this new one appears on Regis’ Downwards label and finds them turning up the dial on the sort of industrial disquiet for which the label is known. Not the most prolific of bands, Environment is only their second album since 2010. Or maybe they produce a wealth of material but are meticulous about what they eventually choose to release. Their music certainly bears the marks of rigour and consideration, on Environment it gets positively ascetic.
Opener ‘An Intimate Conflict’ starts with a low buzzing pulse and erratic clicks, sounds of preparation. There’s an anticipatory tension in it as you wait for the clicks to form rhythms and new layers to appear. They don’t. The second track ‘Exercise In Sacrifice’ stills that expectation with low ambient drone and soft waves of sound. It calms and prepares you for the relative drama of ‘Act’ a keening electric tone rising to the edge of irritation and the album’s first vocals. A low mantra “Do I Do Enough? Do I Act?”. Vocals resurface on ‘Rival Colour’ but almost sotto voce, sighing along on the softest of bass pulses. There’s a thick space and a sense of dread at the centre of it, a surprising variety of sounds move through the track but everything is distant and separate, turned down as low as possible while still registering. It reminds me of Coil, ‘A Cold Cell In Bangkok’ or ‘Lost Rivers Of London’ but edited down until they were hardly there. ‘Hong Kong 1987’ is almost subterranean.
On Severe MY DISCO reduced their alt rock down to a stark minimalism, dark and spacious but still heavy. Environment takes it further, all but abandoning the last traces of rock in the punishing bass and drums of ‘Careless’ or ‘King Sound’ for a haunted after image. The guitars become drones, the beats an erratic set of industrial metal hand percussions. Recorded in Berlin and looking to channel a little of Einsturzende Neubauten and Pan Sonic the feel is also similar to Dominic Fernow’s Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement project. They have dissolved the structures of their music leaving the dark residue of mood. Sombre rather than threatening, the tracks hardly seem to begin or end but hover indeterminately like smoke. ‘No Permanence’ as the penultimate title has it, a slightly more strident few minutes of industrial drone leading us to the final track.
The title would appear to describe the music here, not a set of songs, not a journey, but a destination, a space. Environment is a cold and empty warehouse, a ghost of industry. A space evoked through the tiniest of sonic details, an intangible presence. The sense of environment referring to the natural world is absent until the final track ‘Forever’ which has the sound of rain running through it. As if to underscore what has gone before the vocals step slightly further out into the foreground and are punctuated by a pleasing wail of feedback, the whole track is that touch more corporeal, as if we’re stepping back out into the grey rain which washes away the final minutes.