C/A/T’s Ben Arp distinguishes himself not only by focusing more on mid-tempo grooves than all-out aural assaults, but also by being perhaps the most politically-oriented musician in the current rhythmic noise scene. Last year’s “World Totalitarian Control” EP was a direct strike on the Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies – all set to surprisingly funky glitch beats – and this full-length album continues in much the same vein, expanding on that theme and incorporating broader elements of conspiracy and dehumanization. There’s a danger of getting too heavy-handed with this kind of material, but though “Global Power Elite” and “Cleared Channel” do start to feel a bit like a university lecture, the distorted rhythms and layered chants make them a pleasure to listen to. Arp also incorporates a number of different sample sources to explore the various ideas contained in this album, and that also helps keep things moving along; beats and Bush samples worked great on the EP, but the fantastic beat-oriented “Unmutual” and hard-hitting power noise of “Number 6” evoke paranoia and oppression via sound clips from the British cult TV series “The Prisoner.” “Liturgy of the Free” is exquisitely sinister, with bits of Gregorian chant set off by intricate breakbeats, while “Fiebre en la Pasarela,” a collaboration with Epidemia, lets the distorted rhythms do the talking. “Chemical Skies” also stands out; a track about government weather control experiments, it’s minimal but funky, pulsing like house music but full of synthesized choral creepiness. While C/A/T might be a little too intellectual for noise fans that prefer earsplitting torture and non-stop dance beats, this is a brilliant exploration of radical politics and cutting-edge sound manipulation, and its mixture of noisiness and abstraction should appeal to both the industrial crowd and the experimental techno scene.
Visit www.crunchpod.com for more information on C/A/T.
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