Bereft/Fire in the Head – ‘MA/PE/FU Volume 1’ [Review]

Fire in the Head and Bereft are featured as the first two artists on Existence Establishment’s ‘MA/PE/FU’ series.  “MA” is for Massachusetts, where the artists are from; “PE” is for power electronics, the medium in which they work; and “FU” is presumably some sort of salutation to the listener, perhaps playful on paper but entirely belligerent when taken in with the whole package.  The heavy disc comes fortified by symbols which make MA PE so very resonant with its theme: carcinogenic white rage in the cover model, weather-eaten sedans, shit stucco strip malls, and cold-lit boxer dogs guarding this Eden of impotence.  The title is presented in militant hardcore “varsity” font, and with the exception of the Euro-styled label crest, the entire disc is a pitch-perfect representation from the home of Twodeadsluts Onegoodfuck.  Both artists play power electronics in the vein of of Bloodyminded, Bastard Noise, and early Prurient, with Bereft representing more the first, FITH the second, and both inseparably familiar to the last. 

The duo of Bereft (Peter Lee and Andrew Grant) play two tracks of trudging soapbox noise.  Reaching into themes of Cioranian pessimism with an overdrawn fascist delivery, the flatness of Lee’s vocals with their excessive “I” statements make them both the consummate “radio voice” and a complicated comedy next to the deep churn and beautiful machinery of the rhythmic industrialism.  The white pride message of the lyrics is so unmistakable as to be either over-provocative or over-emphatic – a mistake either way – that the very selection of such a pathetic topic ensnares the wrong cast of opponents, whether Bereft are seeking to alienate the minority who venture into their soundscape or smother the genre with buffoonery.

Conversely, the extinct Fire in the Head (Michael Page of Sky Burial and Irukandji) offers five tracks with tastefully-veiled ideology in turns of phrase like “My Right, You’re Wrong” and “Sodom Eyes”, as well as a Death in June Christo-poetics with tracks called “The Great Deceiver” and “In His Garden”.  Less rhythmic and less feeling than his album-mates, Page expels as vaporous noise out of thin, tin feedback and raspy vocals, coupled with masculine samples of soldiering and general assertiveness.  Though backgrounding a sample like Lee Ermey’s rifle speech from ‘Full Metal Jacket’, the surrounding presentation effectively backgrounds this moment with a polysemy of queerness, resent, and malice – the songification of Cobra Commander deconstructed by spores.  By contrast side FITH is a more “artful” and delicate listen, but the two sides together demonstrate the possible variety of this seemingly homogeneous subgenre which Existence is looking to demonstrate.  300 copies with full-color, paste-on covers, full-color insert, and a double-sized poster.   Photos by Chris Latina.

Existence Establishment LP

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