Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Institut - Live Like Traitors, Die Like Traitors
I once read a ridiculous analogy written about the Ministry album "Houses Of The Mole". In the (rather clumsily written) review, after simultaneously praising and criticizing the album's production techniques, the reviewer ends with this parting line: "Houses of the Molé isn't really music, it's hard tack -- sustenance for wartime". Not only is this assertion incorrect, but it was obvious that the writer had never listened to a record in which this description could be even remotely appropriate, such as the Institut album "Live Like Traitors, Die Like Traitors". In a strange twist of irony, the Cold Meat Industry promotional text for the album is also poorly described: "Chew stone, fuel for fistfights, instead of your daily falafel" being one of the odder phrases. All of this simply proves the futile inadequecy of textual descriptions of the ravenous auditory siege that is Institut (although I will at least attempt to convey the experience in a semi-decent manner).
Released in 2003, "Live Like Traitors, Die Like Traitors" sees Lirim Cajani shed any 'musical conventions' the group might have ever possessed (such as the fleeting moments of melody evidenced on the album "Great Day To Get Even") along with easily comprehensible vocals (most notable on the controversial, limited 7" "Unto The Last Man") to arrive at an unadultered power electronics / noise industrial experience. Featuring grinding analog electronics, shouted and wailed vocals (which are distorted beyond recognition with the "watery" vocal FX that is a mainstay on many other power electronics albums), and a handful of 'crowd / speech' samples, this album is uncompromising and brutal, in the same manner that the real world in which it operates in is. The closest sonic analogy I can compare this album to would be to various Brighter Death Now albums, though there are several important distinctions which must be made. While both share a penchant for lo-fi, grinding industrial soundscapes with an emphasis on intensity and varying degrees of repetition (or monotony, depending on how critical you are as a listener), Brighter Death Now often falls into the trap of 'repetition for it's own sake', while the aesthetics presented by the band often feel shallow and contrived (after all, the combination of mental illness and death can only be explored for so long before it becomes old hat). Institut, on the other hand, has only one goal in mind: revolution. With recent world events rapidly flushing security and peace down an already crap-filled toilet, Institut continues to become more moving and relevant, especially since the release of "Unto The Last Man" in 2001 (with a telling number of copies released, it's evident whose side they favor).
The first few songs are relatively straightforward, with "Move To Strike" and "New Armour" being among the more notable tracks. "Once A Man", beginning with a brusquely distorted bass squeal, quickly adds several layers of static pulses, along with vocal samples (which I assume are being spoken in either Swedish or Russian). However, an unnerving set of choir and song samples are shot into the mix, where they float deftly in the dense electronic haze of revolution. This steadily increases for several minutes, as the choirs and distortion (free from the constraints of rhythm) swiftly increase in intensity. "Traitors" has an interesting pulsating "klaxon / warning" synth/FX in the song, while the two part "Move Over Once" / "Struggle For Life" ratchets the intensity factor several notches, as high frequency tones, heavily distorted bass sequences, and the impassioned speech of desperate foreign tongues all wage war within the songs (along with movie samples, possibly from "Scarface", although I am not sure as this is the right movie or not).
In short, an excellent movement of revolutionary power electronics. This is 'true punk electronics', from (as described by a fellow band) 'one of the most uncompromising bands on the scene'. If you are at all interested in the slightest in noise and/or power electronics, you should check these guys out.
As you can tell, I have not had any time to update recently. Plus, this very review was subject to several re-writes and revisions (plus maybe a few more if I find mistakes). Am slowly shifting to a new layout (nothing too radical). Several more reviews on the way soon (hopefully).
Cold Meat Industry
Institut Discogs Page
Unrest Productions (Shift / Institut news/mail order)