Review Summary: Returning from obscurity to remain obscure.
Released exactly three decades after RJF’s first album, “Greater Success in Apprehension and Convictions,” the group returns with a new name (Kommando RJF) and some relentless sounds. “Sweet Slow Suicide” could be called derivative (it is in a very real sense “classic” power electronics) but this album represents the cream of the crop for this style. There are hordes of sub-par power electronics acts world-wide, but only in their wildest dreams could they create an album so cohesive and polished (yes I’m using that word to describe a noise album) as “Sweet Slow Suicide.”
The sound is straightforward: oscillating analog blown out synth attacks, rhythmic rumbling bass, minimalistic, distorted vocals and unsettling spoken word samples. However, the way they take these simple ingredients and arrange them is what sets RJF apart. Most acts don’t exercise any kind of restraint, but RJF shows a penchant for mixing and layering that is usually lost in the attempt to be as abrasive and unexpected as possible. The opening track, “E.C.T.”, sounds fairly straightforward until, in the last third of the song, one can hear a lone strand of feedback standing tall in the background, wavering in reverb. Everything else is so close, but this buried sound seems to pierce through the wall of sound and I am lost in listening to its microtonal oscillations. Other tracks, such as “Maim Incorporated,” follow a very tried and true post-industrial pattern; low wavering fuzzy synths crawl along the bottom of the track, while the vocals are treated with all manner of effects, using the resulting feedback and reverb to make it seem like there is more going on in the track than there really is. “Bring Back Slavery” makes the best use of a strummed bass guitar in a power electronics album since “Fetor” by Pure. “Hell Hotel” quiets down just a little bit, almost as an atmospheric interlude. The treated sounds here are very curious and I wonder about the source material. It sounds to me like car traffic, but I know that isn’t it. The title track might be the best track on here, with what sounds like a sound slowly being detuned over and over, starting in harmony, and then wobbling into a deeper registry. The last two tracks complement each other nicely. “Saint of Heroin (Guilty of Everything)” is a balls out full on classic power electronics song, and “Into Chaos/Into Oblivion (Below)” is a subdued growling minimalistic post-industrial song, with some of the most haunting and echoic vocals to be found on the record.
RJF set a high bar for Swedish industrial music in 1983 and then promptly disappeared. They have returned, amidst the industrial revival in Scandinavia, once again to show everyone how it’s done. If you have heard power electronics before and have become bored with it (like me) this album will revive your interest in the genre and make you think twice about whether or not it really is just a throwaway that’s only fun to see live. If you haven’t heard any of this style before, there is no better starting point.
This was issued on an LP by Posh Isolation; 300 copies were pressed, so you might still be able to grab one before it’s out of print.