KABLAM Furiosa

[Janus; 2016]

Styles: hardstyle, Reggaeton, Baile funk, organic/synthetic
Others: Toxe, Jlin, M.E.S.H., Lotic, SHALT, NON Worldwide

“The worst kind of music is the kind that doesn’t affect me at all. I’d rather listen to something really awful — something that makes me feel disgust — than listen to some really plain house music, for instance. I can’t stand that because it’s just like, I don’t feel anything.”
– KABLAM, in an interview with The FADER

In a conversation with Jace Clayton (a.k.a. DJ/rupture), Holly Herndon notes how contemporary experimental electronic music has tended toward sonic maximalism in recent years. KABLAM’s debut release, Furiosa, is an exemplary document of this shift. It’s a dense, at times disorienting listen, saturated with drones, scrapes, clicks, and whirrs. It’s testament to the deftness of KABLAM’s productions that the plenitude of sound never overwhelms, but rather forms a dense, compelling, and fully-formed aesthetic.

Across Furiosa’s five tracks, the SHAPE-affiliated artist returns to a set of sonic themes and signifiers. Over drones and propulsive kicks, intricately layered rhythms are constructed from a combination of organic and non-organic sounds: metal squeaks, door creaks, animal growls. It’s an effect reminiscent of ASMR acoustic triggers, providing the tracks with a queasy, uncanny affect. The introduction of human voices adds melody to these sonic assemblages, the voices always abstracted, emphasizing the form of the utterance over its content. What results is a structural and relentless sound that engenders a distinct affective space for the listener, one that’s dark and unsettling, furiously expanding and unfolding. These are hard-hitting tracks, never pausing for breath, produced for maximum velocity and impact. “Dance, fuck, sing, scream.”

The album’s affective potency forms a backdrop for its most interesting feature: its exploration and deconstruction of the constructed boundaries between the organic and the synthetic. On tracks like “Choking,” animal sounds are twisted and digitized until they resemble artificial simulations. On “Nu Metall,” KABLAM manipulates a series of quasi-somatic sounds to create something that resembles the choking throat of a techno-machinic assemblage. This is posthuman music for the anthropocene: a time when the boundaries between human, animal, and machine wither away and our impact on the planet becomes undeniable. Perhaps this explains the seam of anxiety that runs through these tracks, captured in the tortured exhalations of the humans and non-human animals that appear.

To KABLAM’s credit, the release is not a nihilistic wallowing in despair, but a directed and intentional reading of the mood of the times. When the prevailing response to our financial precarity and impending ecological doom is lethargy, KABLAM chooses to manifest our fears, to make us feel something. With its rhythmic flourishes and textural experimentation, Furiosa refuses to lie down. Rather, it is an album in constant acceleration, using a uniquely digital approach to genre, the natural, and the synthetic to escape the confines of the human and reach for something new. This striving for the new manifests itself in the moments of beauty flecked throughout the album, which emerge in contradistinction to its Sturm und Drang. The contorted posthuman voices that surface in “Nu Metall” float above the beat like heralds, pointing to some as-yet unrealized future. Whatever this future may be, and whatever the human’s place in it, in KABLAM’s hands, it will be charged with feeling, anything but plain.

Links: KABLAM - Janus

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