But Listen: 082: Alter der Ruine – The Giants From Far Away

As one of a seemingly great number of promising industrial acts from the US, previous releases from this act have been of such high quality, that it was perhaps a little bit of a worry that expectations seemed to be too high for their new album when it hit at the tail-end of 2008. And on first listen, this appeared to be the case. A quick dash through the album on my iPod didn’t really throw up much in the way of interest for me, but after a few more listens the album began to open up – and the realisation hit that they’ve done it again.


Alter der Ruine

The Giants From Far Away
Label: Crunch Pod
Catalog#: Crunch 059

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The press releases for the album were suggesting a huge mix-up of styles across the album, and even so, the opening is a bit of a surprise – a sweeping, cinematic string-laden intro heralds the arrival of A Pleas For The Dawn / Cries For The Giants From Far Away, about as far away from the sound we’ve come to expect from ADR so far as it is possible to get. And then to switch from that, into a brutal breakcore attack for the last twenty seconds is a move of either madness or genius, and I’m not sure which it is. The brevity of it, though, leaves you no time to think before the breathless, rampaging beats of Demon Missile kick the intro into touch with a few nice effects, like the almost verse-chorus-verse structure, despite it being instrumental (stick with me on this). It’s difficult not to tap your feet to it, either.

Loserstreet‘s bouncing, fun rhythms are introduced by a Chris Morris (yes, from Brasseye) sample, and the complex interweaving of samples within a track that keeps mutating helps to ensure it never gets dull at all. More playful fun is to be had with Perfect Date, with it’s bizarre samples apparently detailing a man with a nakedly biological reasons for finding a woman – and after the slew of industrial tracks in recent years that have sampled porn, this makes a refreshing change – while the track itself morphs between bursts of breakcore and (comparatively!) more pedestrian industrial dancefloor beats.

Dark Cheats, with it’s samples exhorting listeners to dance, is a track destined for the dancefloor – if punters can keep up. At 178BPM it’s a fast paced track, and it’s probably for the best that it is shorter than four minutes long! Relax and Ride It makes a nod to Caustic‘s Industrial Moustache Ride, and is otherwise simply four minutes of stomping dancefloor fun.

Fat Pony is plainly and simply ADR bringing the funk. And in some style, too – the track switches to a new beat and sound at least three times during the course of it, without ever losing the flow, the sparse samples providing the linkage between it all. Batsmasher picks up the pace from the start, again stuffed with very odd samples, while Stuffin’ The Jellyroll Muffin is even wierder. Starting out with a strung-out guitar riff sample – or at least, that’s what it sounds like – the repeated sample through the track seems to be from a Lancastrian voice, suggesting a new to me link between doughnuts and sex. Again the beats bounce around like they are on bungee cords, and like so much of this album isn’t, I suspect, meant to be taken all that seriously.

Sexbomb – thankfully not a cover of that godawful Tom Jones track – is actually a played-pretty-straight dancefloor track with some smart cut’n’paste samples in amongst it all. Closer Get Off Of My Gems (Mother Money) is a great track, that while starting slowly, explodes into life with all manner of effects and ideas all cannoning off each other as the tempo ebbs and flows as samples come and go – before closing with more wisdom from Chris Morris, and leaving you wondering whether you should just start back at track one and listen all over again.

No track sounds the same, there are stacks and stacks of ideas here, and despite the lofty title of the album, the inlay notes that suggest a concept, and the artwork that only seems to re-inforce it, much of this album is more playful, fun and perhaps tongue-in-cheek than could ever have been expected. So a resounding win, then, and an album that will keep up guessing as to what the band’s ever-inventive minds will come up with next.

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