Houston-based electronic producer Eric Burton has been releasing music under his Rabit alias since 2010, but following his recent appearance as a guest producer on Bjork’s ‘Utopia’ his profile’s grown considerably. While Burton was initially associated with the experimental grime scene, from the release of his 2015 debut album ‘Communion’ on Tri-Angle onwards, he’s increasingly moved in a far more atmospheric and post-industrial direction, something that this third album released on his own Halcyon Veil label ‘Life After Death’ sees continuing.
Perhaps more than anything else, the ghosts of Coil and Skinny Puppy / Download loom largely amongst the twelve tracks collected here. Throughout, there’s an emphasis on dark, occult-sounding atmospheres that drip with languid menace rather than out and out hostility, with the often-oblique manipulated vocal samples adding to the sense of ambiguous dread.
Opening track ‘The Quickening’ certainly evokes the off kilter eeriness of classic Coil as queasy-sounding pitched-down synths slide woozily against contorted hiphop breaks, the background wash of chopped and screwed vocals adding to the poisoned sounding atmospheres, before ‘Spiral’ sends minimalist Exorcist-stye melodic keys flitting against a crushed sounding vocal sample of a woman intoning “Just remember, when you look into the face of evil, evil’s gonna look back at you.”
‘III’ meanwhile sees a phone dial tone giving way to doomy synth orchestration and glitchy electronic distortion, as a spectral operatic female vocal rises to the surface, only to suddenly be overtaken by furious tribal drumming that evokes Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Broken’ EP more than anything else.
Elsewhere, ‘Dream’ vividly captures the icy beauty that occasionally bubbles to the surface here as glittery melodic arrangements float against grinding, digitally contorted beats, before ‘Blue Death’ sends synthetic woodwinds phasing and arcing against what sounds like complete urban collapse as inhuman screams mesh with gunshots, radio chatter and the slow swoop of helicopter blades. Like much of this impressive and intriguing album, there’s an oblique sense of terror at work here, and ‘Life After Death’ is all the better for it.