Friday, July 26, 2013

Mind Distortion System - He Claims To Be Not Human (Original TC Review)

Trishula Records: 2007

(2013 Update:
Well, so much for Trishula, only lasting to the end of 2008 before their output dried up. I don't know if they've completely shut doors, as their website is still up, so I'm assuming you might still find material in their catalog out there if you look hard enough. Might still be worth your while to do so if you find dark forest psy to your liking, as I've yet to hear much that stood out the way some of Trishula's acts did.

As for Mind Distortion System, this remains his only full-length, though he has released a smattering of singles on numerous compilations for other labels since Trishula's end. Dunno if they're worth digging for though. To be honest, I always found his contributions to the Trishula compilations the weaker offerings, and was somewhat surprised his album turned out pretty good. Wait... a psy trance producer, saving his best work for the
album? What a twist.)


IN BRIEF: Crafty rhythms? In psy trance??

Having been associated with Trishula Records for a while now, ol’ Jara Nelson’s been patiently biding his time in the trenches for his kick at the album can. It can be a dangerous game to play, the waiting one - growing disinterest from followers of a project as the months wear on, as but one example why - but the psy scene’s long gestation periods (trends either linger longer or innovative new ones lack) work in favor of those who’s release dates are further along than others.

As Mind Distortion System, Nelson has carved out his own tiny niche in the psy world, but then that can be said of just about any Trishula artist, to be honest. This little label hailing from Deutschland has frequently impressed by skewing far from the norm when psy trance is often guilty of sounding far too similar from label-to-label, act-to-act. With tracks that often challenge the head, Trishula definitely has established themselves as a label worth keeping tabs on for fans of the forest sound. MDS is no different in this regard, so the better question isn’t how he stands against dark psy in general (quick answer: above), but rather amongst Trishula’s roster.

Like most of the producers on this label, Nelson’s tracks don’t reveal themselves to you all at once. However, I found his offerings on this album even more difficult than most. While I didn’t go in expecting something like insta-melodies, an easily recognizable song structure or pattern seemed to be lacking as well. Beats are laid out and various twisted sounds and effects worm their way about for the duration, with something resembling a hook popping up for a brief bits every so often. I can see many non-fans of dark psy dismissing this album very early on.

In fact, I was about ready to too, when something clicked. Rather than focusing on finding hooks or figuring out atmosphere, I did something that isn’t typically thought of with regards to psy: succumbing to rhythm. Sure, some artists are very adept at beats but the genre generally isn’t known for intuitive drum programming. Most of the time it’s there in service of synths and acid, and little else.

And this isn’t to say MDS’ tracks are ultra-funky or something to that effect - in fact, most of his rhythms are still very much stylistically in forward-drive and little else. But whereas other producers - especially in dark psy’s case - settle for monotonous drones, MDS seems to have extra spring to his. It’s as though a kind of giddiness crept in, and it makes Nelson’s rhythms that much more infectious.

So obviously, the tracks on offer here will make far more sense while flailing under a canopy of trees in the middle of night rather than being played in the background as you drink your tea at home. Still, there’s enough going on here to grab your attention should you let the primal portion of your brain dictate your listening habits. Never predictable, yet always with purpose, MDS cleverly keeps his tunes moving and shifting, letting the beats dictate the direction as squiggly sounds, shuffling synths, psychedelic effects, and disconcerting tones effectively provide a worthy trippy support. You most likely won’t be humming any of these later, but they’ll definitely leave an impression and, perhaps most importantly, will draw you back to rediscover some other twist you may have overlooked before.

Individually, these tracks deliver. As a whole though, He Claims To Be Not Human grows samey-sounding in the second half, as MDS tends to stick to the same themes throughout the album (having every track roughly the same BPM doesn’t help in this regard either). There are a few moments that’ll leap out more than the rest though. For instance, final track Gate Of Desire sounds like Nelson borrowed some of the synths of fellow labelmate Olien. Elsewhere, Koshka makes use of some chopped up spacey sounds, lending an almost ethereal tone to an otherwise sinister album. Oh, and remember that sped up sample of Disney’s Whistle Stomp that made a superstar out of a cartoon hamster? It’s back in Cartoon Hunter, but surprisingly given better context here, such that it’s actually kind of amusing to hear instead of fucking annoying like in its previous usage. Mind, it probably helps that it’s immediately followed up by a vocal that asks, “Won’t you fucking shut up for ten seconds,” not to mention the track itself is amongst the darkest brooders on this album.

So in conclusion of my graduate thesis- er, review of this here album, MDS’ role amongst the Trishula roster appears to be the guy that’ll more likely pummel your temporal lobes rather than tickle them with nifty hooks or enveloping soundscapes. Which is totally cool, in my books. Good rhythms are sorely neglected when it comes to dark psy, and to hear an album that provides solid groovy potential amongst the usual twisted atmospherics is a welcomed treat.


ACE TRACKS:
Koshka

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2008. © All rights reserved.

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