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The Industrial Gothic Music of Attrition

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A pioneer of dark electronic music, Attrition has been around for over a quarter of a century, producing gritty industrial tuneage laced with gothic edges.

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ATTRITION: Something Stirs (the beginning 1981-1983) (CD on Two Gods Recordings, distributed by Voiceprint)

This CD from 2006 features 47 minutes of dark industrial music culled from ancient compilations and old cassette releases by the band. Included are five previously unreleased tracks, three of them live from the General Wolfe in Coventry in 1981. These selections represent the band's early period.

Attrition is: Martin Bowes, Julia Waller, and Ashley Niblock.

The electronics are sparse but haunting, jarring and dire. Angry diodes screech and gurgle, producing an environment of eerie pulsations seasoned with growling noises of unearthly demeanor. Scraping sounds rise and claw for the audience's faces, while basic synthesizer bellows grumble with contention.

Waller's vocals convey a desperation that rings from the cemetery, rich with ghostly timbre. Her lyrics are concerned with taboo subjects and forbidden affection. Death fuses with emotion as she croons with emphatic determination.

Several tracks feature spooky basslines that generate a thumping undercurrent for the angry electronics. Percussion is present in a number of songs too, establishing mechanical rhythms overlaid with more forceful tempos. Sometimes the beats throb with hollow retorts, as if sounding from deep in a well.

The compositions are melodic, but focused to agitate more than enthrall. The mood evoked by this tuneage is surly and dissident. The live tracks are abrasive and reminiscent of an angrier Joy Division.

This music will appeal to fans who miss Throbbing Gristle and the good old days of Coil.

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ATTRITION: Tearing Arms from Deities (1980-2005) (CD on Two Gods Recordings, distributed by Voiceprint)

This CD from 2006 features 70 minutes of industrial gems selected from the band's long career. All of these tracks have been previously released.

Attrition is: Martin Bowes, Julia Waller, and Ashley Niblock. Joining the band on some tracks are: Franck Dematteis on violas, Rafael on violin, Ned Kirby on additional electronics, Terry Burrows on saxophones, Pete Morris on bass, and Marian Teunissen on vocals.

The tunes on this collection reflect a more refined state of the band. The production values are slicker, the compositions more haunting and disturbing. The raw disposition of the earlier recordings is replaced by a dire perfection that compresses goth with industrial ethics in a superbly polished state.

The electronics growl with eerie quality, blending with dark rhythms to produce soundscapes of absolute angst, the type of despair that sports bloodied talons and deep metallic sensibilities.

Waller's siren vocals croon with operatic scope in conjunction with Bowes' guttural rasp, the latter remarkably disturbing and rivaling the darkest tones from hell.

The percussion resounds with a sepulchral depth, pounding from the abyss wrapped in contaminated gauze. Death knells sound cheery next to the rhythms generated here.

The abundant presence of violins lends the music a vitally ghostly air.

You will find fewer bands who capture a sense of abject darkness and despairing surrender with such discriminating clarity. These melodies combine grating mien with sinuous emancipation.

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