Berlin-based industrial / noise duo Luna Vassarotti and August Skipper first emerged under their OPERANT alias with 2016’s cassette only ‘ZK-II’ EP, and two years on, this third EP on Vassarotti’s Instruments Of Discipline label ‘Harnessed To Flesh’ sees them offering up five new tracks that manage to cover a diverse range of ground, all of it dark and forbidding.
Opening track ‘Also To The Inorganic World’ apparently reflects the more noise-oriented aspects of the duo’s live show, as treated background metallic clatters gave way to vast contact-miked percussion, the huge reverberating crashes decaying out into digital processing as the sort of dark orchestral synth arrangements you’d associate with an ‘Alien’ movie unfurl and swell to the very edges of the mix.
There’s a sense of barely held-together chaos as what sounds like a seriously distressed guitar squalls against alternating shearing distortion and whining drones, the queasy sub-bass pressure that throbs and undulates beneath suggesting Throbbing Gristle more than anything else.
By contrast, ‘Be A Boy’ builds an entirely different sort of tension, as a wordless female vocal provides the one source of anchor against sudden percussive crashes, dark throbbing electronics and an androgynous robotic voice listing off deadened-sounding lyrics centring around body dysmorphia, only for gabber kickdrums to suddenly disrupt the sense of queasy calm as they hammer out breakcore rhythms.
Elsewhere, ‘Chancellory’ reaches further out into dark yet delicately gauzy ambience as eerie harmonic tones gradually grow more progressively poisoned sounding against a background wash of scraping and rattling found sounds, the kickdrums re-emerging in a throbbing rush that feels more indebted to hardcore rave than anything else, as a haze of digital static lurches and swells in the foreground. Divergent and constantly unpredictable, ‘Harnessed To Flesh’ manages to unite the rarely-traversed terrain that lies between lurking dark ambience and jackhammering gabber.