Pumping out a new album every year or so, Wumpscut's Rudy Ratzinger is one of the EBM scene's most prolific producers as well as one of its most enigmatic. His latest gives more than a few nods to classic Wumpscut styles and classic EBM in general, but after the familiar raspy vocals and wavering keyboards of "Rusty Nails from Hell" and sharp synthesizers and breakbeats of "Oh How It Feels," things start to move into less familiar territory. "Foretold" is slow and pitiless, Ratzinger's signature vocal scowl relaxed to a drawl over plucked violin samples and a deep reverberating rattle that sounds like the mating call of some giant cave insect. "Moloch" is equally dark, but its otherworldly depths evoke the void between the stars, not subterranean caverns. While occasional hints of synthesized harp and violin hint at the Medieval direction Ratzinger explored a few years ago, there's also a faint but definite Middle Eastern vibe in evidence. It's most clearly represented on "Voodoo Void," which, despite a title that hints at Caribbean influences, features Arabic fiddle solos as well as harps, but an interest in the region also presents itself on "Rifki," the album's most catchy and aggressive club track, which borrows its name and several samples from the antagonist in seminal Turkish prison movie Midnight Express. The album's most unexpected delight, however, is "Hard to Bear," an instrumental featuring sweeping ambient pads and gorgeous, albeit distorted, keyboard harmonies that all but abandons Ratzinger's usual cynicism for a mood that, though still melancholy, is undeniably pretty, as well. Schadling isn't a drastic departure from the style Ratzinger has established in recent years, but it's an interesting exploration of the elements he's most known for; while not an instant classic, long-time fans will definitely appreciate the way Ratzinger has subtly played with both their expectations and his own songwriting and production techniques.
Visit Rudy Ratzinger online at www.wumpscut.com.
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