Inaugurating rigid frameworks on which to build methods for producing art can have a variety of fiercely differing consequences. One might argue that inspiration, in this scenario, is limited to the confines of a specific strategy, leaving the creator shackled and no longer free to explore the true remits of their artistic potential. Conversely, when creativity is refined to a categorical process, the artist’s focus becomes streamlined, empowering new found capacities that achieve otherwise unimaginable results in a particular field or genre. Examples of handiwork supporting both lines of argumentation can be found in the Dogme 95 back catalog, which saw Danish film lunatics Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg administer their vows of chastity. This produced a mixed-bag of responses from around the globe — Vinterberg’s own Festen (1998) and Harmony Korine’s Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) crystallized the pinnacle of the manifesto’s intent through remarkable storytelling, as opposed to becoming restrained by the rigidity of an abstract doctrine. Both films were received with more critical exaltation, for example, than Daniel H. Byun’s Interview (2000), which became wildly hung up on adhering to the manifesto, as opposed to employing it as an effective tool.
Dave Shettler (former drummer for The Sights) and Nate Young (the mastermind behind Wolf Eyes) grew tired of watching electronic musicians perform discretely in front of a crowd from behind imposing equipment, “checking their email” onstage, and so they decided to formulate a regimented framework of their own under the Moon Pool & Dead Band moniker. What their manifesto centrally adheres to is the utilization of live production methods and improvisation techniques that dismiss the use of superficial overdubbing. Like the Dogme films of the 1990s, adhering to analytical mechanisms had the potential to go either way, but upon releasing their debut LP through Agitated late last year, the Michigan duo’s intentions were made startling clear: their credos was in place to create potential, not hinder it. However, whereas their self-titled December release compiled stocky, industrial-heavy productions à la Einstürzende Neubauten with a techno twist, their latest effort sees Shettler and Young striding confidently in a bold new direction. Oberheim-esque drum machines tangle with early Karplus-Strong-era synths while analogue sequencers are trawled through worn FX units in a seeming attempt to rekindle unadulterated and altogether more exciting forms of industrial techno, just as Vinterberg and von Trier sought to reignite the core of cinematic accomplishment through graphic storytelling and basic production methods.
Story also plays an important role on Human Fly, the crux of which is not only made apparent by the cover art, but also sonically, through rugged textures, gurgled apocalyptic rumblings, and super-tight EBM that mashes 1970s psychobilly with burned-out Chicago bleep and garage music. The sleeve for this highly curious and excellently assembled 12-inch is composed of a Mark Salwowski illustration resurrected from Brian Aldiss’ fantasy novel Cryptozoic, a work that coincidentally tells the tale of a desperate artist obsessed with searching for inspiration through art forms of the past. The characters stand leather-clad, dauntless and composed, as the ground beneath them splits, phlebotomizing liquid magma — alter ego portraits form ghost-like enigmas that peer confidently into the distance while straddling the characters they embody, ready to do battle in a merciless junkyard dance arena.
Shettler and Young curdle a pulsating history of industrial techno discharge here that stretches from Cabaret Voltaire to :wumpscut: before slamming into the album’s namesake — that deliciously grim Mélièsian horror jam by The Cramps. “Human Fly” crawls its way to the fore with rickety bleeps and pulsating drones that gather momentum on the back of mounting percussion, which crumbles and breaks apart just as the bass line pours out from underneath it, like siliceous lava, trapping volatile gasses moments before an eruption. “Jagged Orbit” mangles acidic house with gentle synths and off-kilter percussion dipped in caramelized fuzz before the squelchy disco-funk of “Cyber Rebels” kicks in, making for a wholly gripping example as to the true intent of this dark audio partnership. While “Human Fly” remains an absolute killer of an opening track, brandishing all the hellfire one might expect from an act experimenting with their new manifesto, grit and pace are maintained throughout the entirety. The result is a fiendishly catchy gear-shift in showcasing the artists’ craftsmanship and fearlessness in utilizing their manifesto as a bright and sparkling techno weapon, instead of mawkishly allowing it drag them down into the fiery depths of the molten basalt below.