The gun on the cover of this album, LAW’s Mitchell Altum tells us in the liner notes, “is the pistol my younger brother used to commit suicide.” The music itself is scarcely more cheerful or forgiving, but it’s certainly a compelling expression of Altum’s misanthropy. With occasionally recognizable guitar buzzes and snippets of spoken word, it’s pretty clear that the work of Boyd Rice’s project NON is one of LAW’s big inspirations. Atmospheric and minimal but never quite sedate, tracks like “Scars of Isolation” and “100 Degrees” employ various metallic sounds, ranging from crashing cymbals to percussive springs, and a large dose of studio effects to generate a sort of dull pessimism. Despite the intensely personal event that apparently inspired it, this album is less emotive and cathartic than numb and hopeless. Even the sad moans of “Unseen Existence” are produced electronically. Such a bleak response to personal tragedy, however, makes for a fine approach to industrial ambient, and there are some beautiful tracks here. “Forged Motion” is soft and eerily creaking, full of deep feedback and muffled pulsing rhythms, while “Your Body Is Immobilized” and “It Is Beyond Us Now” have more of a martial feel– again, reminiscent of NON’s early work – with its extended brassy drones. The one soft spot in all this unforgiving industrial ambience is “Betrayal of the Flesh,” which begins with soft, almost folksy psychedelic guitar strums. The song itself is a betrayal, however, and turns unexpectedly into an extended noise composition full of high-pitched squeals and distorted percussion. Pitiless music for a pitiless world, LAW is soul music for the sociopath within. Listen with caution.
For more information on Mitchell Altum’s work, visit www.citadel-gate.com
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