Album Review MSTRKRFT - Operator

MSTRKRFT - Operator

Canadian electronic music agitators MSTRKRFT’s first album five years is a chaotic and hard-hitting return.

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For their first album in five years, Canadian electronic music agitators MSTRKRFT – composed of Death From Above 1979’s Jeese F. Keeler and producer AI-P – wanted to make a “techno record with a punk aesthetic”.

It’s probably sensible then that Keeler and AI-P recruited a host of punk musicians collaborate with in order to do this. The result is chaotic and hard-hitting enough to be called punk(ish) but it’s really their choice to use vocals on a few tracks that separates it from their last record, 2009’s ‘Fist of God’.

Noise and hardcore pioneer Sonny Kay of 90s punk bands Angel Hair and The VSS features on ‘Priceless’ – a beating, palpitating track punctuated by visceral vocals – and Ian Svenonius (of Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Weird War) lends his speech-like vocals to new single ‘Party Line’, where he preaches “it’s tough, get used to it” throughout, almost a dystopian electronica anthem, before the song fades out into a short piano interlude.

So far, so great. But when the use of vocals is taken into overdrive on final track ‘Go On Without Me’, where Jacob Bannon from hardcore punks Converge offers up his jarring scream, it’s almost on the borderline of becoming too much.

Elsewhere, the deep and dark rumble of the ironically-titled ‘World Peace’ and the pulsating sirens and slippery synth of ‘Little Red Hen’ work well, but ‘Playing With Itself’ is slow and, well, kind of boring. Still, the album as a whole suggests a new direction for MSTRKRFT which seems promising – one that sounds darker than their previous work – and it’s an exciting direction to head in.


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