Electronic music is weird. And I don’t just mean the langage computer that they talk, I mean in the way it has evolved along the years. Terminal 11 started out making music on Phthalo Records, whose name you have probably never heard, but whose early roster might ring a bell: Dntel, Daedelus, Vladislav Delay, Kevin Blechdom. All weirdos, all talented, all impossible to label.
Terminal 11 was more indebted to label head Phthalocyanine in terms of his sound though: raw techno-logical, brash energy, surgically cut like you’re fast forwarding two CDs skipping in parallel with a milli-second delay. Since the half unfortunate demise of Intelligent Dance Music he has found a new home at Hymen Records, once the figureheads of the genre, now a last bastion of experimental electronic music. Self-Exorcism is his second album for the label, a fearless new assault on everything you fucking know, but somehow a little tamer than his previous outings.
Some of the tracks on this album are actually a little bit groovy, with a regular beat and all! Gruesome Things cleverly articulates all the elements of Terminal 11 in a reasonably paced EBM song that probably lasts a tad too long to be really considered EBM, but still, it’s nice to have something to hold on to when the programming gets so intricate. To be fair, the album does not at all start this way: past the gloomy samples of the intro, Paralysis brings in the slightly brooding auspices of wonky glacial sounds and vocal cut-ups, and Start Over brings on the proper madness, organized around a haunted house melody that gets progressively distorted as it reaches the end of the song.
In its second half though, the album settles into more regular drum machine backbones as the beats become stranger and stranger, constituted out of sloshy and scratchy sounds. Phoenix is the most striking song in this regard, perhaps the soundtrack to Arizona’s capital 10 years ago if people could only see it by night. Driving towards Sky Harbor and Papago Park. You guys know what I’m talking about. While these later songs are not especially bad, they all clock in at 5 minutes plus and kind of beat you into a lull before you can fully enjoy them. I’m positive that Tension and Spanning Time are actually hypnotic, sounding halfway between techno and dementia.
I suppose this is the “self exorcism” announced by the album title; the electronic demons that filled the music machinery of the album (and Termy’s music in general) are progressively liberated and dancing around like the idiots they are with no mad scientist alchemy to reign them in. While I find the less traditional tracks more exciting, I am very intrigued by those attempts to dissociate the means from the medium. Self Exorcism is a solid album for the discerning listener who enjoys a tight narrative that leaves some room for imagination – and artists with no holds barred.- Gnou