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The Pain Machinery – Urban Survival
review from ElektroSkull - in english

The Pain Machinery, a Swedish duo consisting of Anders Karlsson and Jonas Hedberg, has been in existence since 1992. The impetus of the band has been to create music that combines the raw energy of Punk and electronic elements. The band's debut album "The Venom is Going Global" was released in 2003. Since then, two further albums have appeared: Hostile (2005) and "The Chaos Transmissions" (2007). The EP Total Recall was released earlier this spring; the title track is also featured on the new and fourth album: "Urban Survival". As this was the first time I have come across this project I was unsure of what to expect. The closest thing I could think of when listening to "Urban Survival" was the first album by Feindflug, "Feindflug (Vierte Version)" from 1999, another innovative album mixing synth/EBM and still frequently spinning in my CD player. Another thing worth mentioning is that "Urban Survival" is addictive to say the least! Every time I listen to the album I discover something new. Even though I didn't appreciate the tracks dominated by rhythms and distorted vocals that much at first, they have grown on me and now I really like them. I can already say that I will be listening to "Urban Survival" regularly in the years to come. "Urban Survival" starts off with "Paranoise", a musically very minimal track with spoken word monologue by Jared Louche from Chemlab, who has been lending a helping hand to the recording of the album. The piece functions as an introduction and an indicator of things to come. Next up is "Fearless", a fantastic blend of Douglas McCarthy-inspired vocals (where Jonas' voice has been filtered and distorted in a very interesting way), relatively fast-paced rhythm programming, carefully chosen samples, sequences and synth patterns that stick instantly. This is an adequate description of the album as a whole although it is very varied and no two tracks sound the same. Even though the production is pretty raw and hard-edged, it never gets taxing to listen to. My favourite tracks are "I am Night" (once again with vocals by Jared Louche), Total Recall (which actually sounds like the twin of Nitzer Ebb's "Blood Money" with brilliant sequencer patterns and drum programming) and the instrumental, sample-heavy "Internal Bleeding". The latter one is the least distorted and possibly most melodic track. I wouldn't have minded two or three more ones in the same vein. The final track, "Snake Church (Dub)", feels a bit too long and elaborate, clocking in at 7:15 minutes. I would rather have had an alternate version of "Paranoise", but that's merely a side note. The Pain Machinery have succeeded in bringing something new and original to a genre that has sometimes tended to become too predictable. In an earlier interview, Anders has said that he's always been fond of dirty and twisted music that demands some active listening before it sticks - to his mind, that kind of music is more interesting and has greater staying power. I totally agree, and "Urban Survival" does need a few listens to fully sink in.

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