Crawl through the dark spaces and grind out body locking moves with this Dubstep Metal infusion.
Often a record comes around that elicits both excitement and mild contempt. FluiD’s unrestricted new work induced this sort of manic reaction in me. Whilst enjoying it’s dirty beats I also resented it’s strange cohesion, like listening to musical genius through a sheet of cheap plastic.
I want it noted that this album is good, great even. My quarrel is with it’s overzealous and grandiose self-importance. FluiD, aka Christopher G. is a musician and producer from Chicago and has been revving this solo musical vehicle for nearly four years. Duality is the first major incarnation of his work and predicted to be the most influential. Nevertheless I find the album a bit symptomatic of record companies need to give an album ‘a cause’. I don’t want to take this rant too far but my case in point would be the image used for Duality’s artwork; an image of Africa with the American flag emblazoned within it. A loud aesthetic protest perceiving a true global concern, but what has it got to do with the album? The artist, the lyrics and the concept were for the most part unconnected to this statement. Shameless marketing hook? Most likely. Demonstrating that even though music can change the world, musicians shouldn’t have the gall to think they can with cover art alone.
The experience of duality is prominent throughout Duality, constantly traversing borders of sound and intent. The record begins with an industrialised introductory track called ‘DH-1’. Though this was not the crossover experiment that I was lead to expect, I realised that I was being warmed up though. It was tenderising my rave muscles. ‘AIC’ then takes you by the hand and walks you tentatively to a spectacular and Gothic trance. I could have been on a smoke-filled strobe dance floor or in the dankest of Camden basements. Shoulders vibrate with the need to move but the music pins your nerves to the ground.
Shaking things up yet again, FluiD couldn’t leave it at this interesting grindcore noise he’s achieved. He thought to himself “if in doubt, add some experimental hip hop”. Of course it works, even if it was a bit deflated. I wasn’t incredibly impressed by the use of vocals or lyrics on ‘Iron Communique’, both contributed by another Alrealon artist Black Saturn. I could tell there was a message that wanted to be unleashed in this track, but it was left vague and undeveloped. Therefore the sound was rather mundane when compared to other numbers on the record. Again it was this element of overindulgence, ‘we made the beats work, so the meaning will naturally follow’.
‘Dread Futures’ is reggae and ambience and harmony. ‘Refuge’ is classic and creepy. Juxtaposing the two was either a stroke of genius or just a tad lazy. I didn’t find either of them particularly overwhelming or danceable, however they laid the land for ‘Disrupting the Ghost’ very nicely. This haunting track brings you back to the quirky and ethereal dubstep roots that this album was borne from.
Obviously FluiD has been reading up on his mix-tape manuals, as these mellow and softly intense tracks prepare you for the extreme rise that ‘The Absent Present’ delivers. Ghostly sound bites and guilt free use of any and all noise making devices produced intricate and harsh basslines. Often linked to the likes of Scorn and Techno Animal, this track by FluiD illustrates why. However when the orchestral creature that is ‘Sublination in the Zero Hour’ emerges, I began to doubt these comparisons. Cold-wave industrial tones are used repeatedly to prepare you for a shadowy and doom filled beat. I would compare the music to a scary hooded stalker that is taking you down a dark alley, but at least I know what to expect from the stalker. With FluiD I’m not so certain.
A complex distance is made between the listener and the music, which is gradually overcome with a mixture of trepidation and adrenaline-junky enthusiasm. This isn’t just a fusion of musical styles and colours, but a fusion of audience reactions. ‘Froz N II’ is the best example of this and with it’s metal flavouring it is by far my favourite track. Layered with some intense riffs, this slow paced, heavy and throbbing dub number is a march to one’s own ruin.
The finale of the battle of wills between the album’s identity and the listener’s experience is ‘Parallel States’. The psychedelic and spiralling noise ensemble epitomises FluidD’s musical technique. Approaching coalescence with shades of Portishead and the energy of Dälek, once again I am taken to that weird location that is half Gothic dungeon and half skater loft party.
Duality’s prose and aesthetic is anti-corporate, anti-establishment and anti-conformity. This record wants to challenge genres, a noble cause which is close to my heart. Yet the attempt to destroy genres only further imposes them. By blurring the lines and adding so many styles to his work, FluiD has produced amazing music but then increased the need for definitions. Extrapolating the many themes and sounds from within this record is exactly what every music journalist is going to do, as even I have done. Therefore the bonds of gentrification haven’t been destroyed but merely bent and weaved. In of itself, this is a triumph and that’s what the statement of this album should be.
Overall a dark dubstep delight, questioning the boundaries we build around music and answering riddles that have plagued many a musical mad scientist. For example, can doom folk harmonies be used as to produce dissonant rhythms within a mainly electronic industrial trance track? Now we know they can. Bless you FluiD.