#14: JK Flesh - 'Rise Above'
Listen to the colossal album opener "tunnel"!
Not only is this the best JK Flesh album yet, it is also a classic album from Justin K Broadrick that matches up with the likes of fellow Englishman Mick Harris, aka Scorn, and other noisey proto-dubstep movements such as Meat Beat Manifesto and Muslimgauze. Broadrick has been so prolific and been around long enough that he goes through some ebb and flow in his career; he is back on a peak recently.
As far as a mention of the word dubstep, I find this slower and more noisey proto version of dubstep much more enjoyable than the copycat genre we hear today. It is much more like dub reggae but fused with noise and industrial music. The layering that happens can be endless, but with 'Rise Above' Broadrick goes more minimal. This minimalist aesthetic that is perfectly executed production-wise drives the album. The distorted synth textures and crunchy basslines fuse together and create a gestalt effect, as the layers are in the production of each individual instrument themselves rather than creating layered orchestration.
Since the production is layered upon itself it makes everything pop and each instrument is so dense and immense sounding that it is one of the heaviest electronic music albums I've ever heard. It is also slathered in analog warmth and goodness making it even more captivating since it sounds much less cold than your usual digital production. This is a nice session album when you just want to listen to something on headphones that will let you zone out and think. It is both relaxing and stimulating.
'Rise Above' lacks the vocals of the first JK Flesh album, but it takes what we've heard previously and refines them into something more densely and crushingly effecting. The unique and over the top sounding analog production heard on other JK Flesh releases has finally been honed into something that sounds entirely natural and organic while still sending buzzsaws of distorted noise at you in utmost clarity.
That said, on this release I felt that it could benefit from some vocals even if mixed low or guest vocalists on half the tracks. Or, include even more obvious nods to industrial music with movie or tv samples, or some other transportational layer to coat the relentless beat and grinding bass noises, whatever would make sense. Since it is so minimalistic and repetitive, the album does drag towards the end when it slows down to a near halt on the last two tracks.
That said, I think there is room for improvement and we are about to see some true next level captivating shit next time around, but this is a gigantic step in the right direction. There is not enough of this type of music out there, so it is a most welcome addition to the subgenre, whatever it is. Proto-dubstep? Grime? Industrial noise beats? Noise hop? Whatever it is, it is a fantastically distorted and heavy electronic excursion into an interesting pocket dimension that seems to emanate from England every few years.