Review Summary: The nastiest dance album you'll hear all year - a change of pants is compulsory not optional
While we can all thank Justice for at least providing some alternative to the virginal white listlessness of trance’s insipid 4x4 monotony, Cross
still only came off as aggressive and unruly by comparison. Tracks like the radio-baiting ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ proved that the French electro duo still had their hearts firmly set on at least some level of stability, their buzz saw antics more a clearing of the throat than a true declaration. Stateside, Sonny Moore made his bid for promotion infusing the sound of a thousand dying computers with his own cut and paste attempt at dubstep (there’s a recurring theme of imitation rather than creation here that bears some scrutiny but we’ll save that for another time), but that was nothing more than a nudge towards darker territory, a drawing up of battle plans rather than marching over front lines. And while back in Europe The Bloody Beetroots have managed to defy the odds and find several uses for Steve Aoki they’ve yet to capitalize on the success of Romborama
; ditto SebastiAn, though his problem lies in the fact that he’s never managed to properly capture the ferocity of his live performance, opting instead to balance brawns with brains. But then there’s Aku Raski, born and raised in amidst the Finnish heavy metal scene, a man who initially made music through two reconfigured Game Boys.
That might seem like a rather strange way of introducing him to the greater world, but it shows Aku (as Huoratron) as an artist who treats his music as simple entertainment. Simple, because while he creates an air of muscular claustrophobia, of a pressure so daunting you can hear the creaking and warping of steel as it fights against such an oppressive weight, his music is still predicated on a manageable premise. His attempts to inspire stem only from his desire to do as much damage and destruction as he can; Raski isn’t looking to make fresh-faced dance music, choosing instead to push the proverbial envelope as far and as hard as he possibly can. Electro for him isn’t safe and disposable, it’s a junkyard dog fighting against its restraints, eager to sniff out the blood in the air. Where others have tested the waters by incrementally pushing the boundaries of the genre, Huoratron tips it over the edge. He’s an artist stepping over the line that separates man and machine, alive in the infrastructure, alternating between command and assault. The artwork for the title track’s single release seems to indicate as much, illustrating him as the grand manipulator, stretching hardware beyond breaking point. His army an assortment of industrial servants: emergency sirens, steamrollers and jackhammers. He creates an aura of emergency, of emotional response as real and heart-palpitating as pure adrenaline. The end result: the sound of force of motion encountering brute resistance.
Which all ends up resulting in Cryptocracy
being one of the most intimidating listens you’re ever likely to come across; the violent misfire of lasers in the title track, the Street Fighter and Doom soundbytes of ‘A699F’ and ‘Top 1%’. But what Raski still manages to create amidst all the warfare is an unmistakable penchant for rhythm and groove, something that many of his American contemporaries could sorely learn from. The buzz saw aggression of ‘Force Majeure’, while borderline sociopathic, is a soundtrack to the sweatiest and disturbing night out you’ll ever have. The same goes for ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ that co-opts the jack hammering bass loops with an eerie reappraisal of industrial rave synthesis. This penchant for throwing in as many caustic and sometimes contradictory noises together creates a few issues though; while the tracklist is mercifully reduced to just 10 tracks, Cryptocracy
can be a chore to get through without momentary pauses for concern. There’s also a lack of diversity that while providing a suitable degree of uniformity to the album, shows that Raski isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel anytime soon.
But as an album designed as serotonin replacement it’s hard to find fault with something that achieves that goal after little more than 30 seconds. Even when he misfires with the dubstep-fuelled ‘Sea Of Meat’, you still can’t help but tip your hat to a man who in one fell swoop just rendered the entire American dubstep roster as toothless street panderers, revealing Sonny Moore and company’s success as an example not just of excess but necessity – if not them, then someone else. And with Raski’s punk rock-like aggressive take on dance music, and with audiences constantly looking for the next level of jagged electro hooks, Huoratron is on the brink of finding himself pushed into the spotlight.