Review From Urban Tulsa
September 24-30, 1998
By Joey Zielazinski
SLUGWRENCH - PROLE
This record, very plainly, is just scary. Not much more to say. The music made me leave my closet light on when I went to sleep, it was that frightening. I already have an intense, unfounded fear of slugs. This record magnified that fear, and made me want to skip out on all the gardening I had planned.
But I stuck it out for the duration of the album. The band moniker actually refers to the musical project itself, "an art of sound... that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, and harmony." Hmm. I must've missed those last two. There were, however, enough electronic beats to make up for that loss. Alongside the screaming sounds of industry are, well, screams and industry. We are treated to the pleasing voices of tortured women, crashing vehicles, and all around electronic terror. From the first noise grunted by this hate machine, the songs (more musical constructs than songs, really) take on a nasty form, much like that of a slug.
Wrapped up in all this fright, however, are large chunks of inspiration and musical madness. The band Slugwrench is actually just one guy, Jason Shepherd, and he's constructed this entire mess completely by himself. There're are a few credits to others, but I somehow get the feeling those are just his roomates and his girlfriend. Nope, I have this vision of Shepherd in his basement, keyboards and drum machines strewn about, delicately placing fine-tuned screams or the exact correct amount of distortion on a chorus. The songs are rather complex, and could have easily been thrown together by a crew of technicians rather than just one man with a lot of bad memories.
Although the basic strand of noise stays pretty much consistent throughout the record, details and configurations are altered. An endless batch of ideas are connected and interfaced, each result more frightening and interesting than the last. Standouts are the "Slugwrench Lovesong," with its painful moaning and brilliant piano part, and "Meek," a forceful tune reminiscent of old KMFDM or perhaps Thrill Kill Kult. "Wrapped" is indeed the best of the lot, a song crafted from the same vein as Broken-era Nine Inch Nails. The rest of the record falls in line with electronic death marches and infinitely textured compositions.
Jason Shepherd, whoever you are, you are very sick. And brilliant.
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