Thursday, 21 November 2013

Panacea - Twisted Designz (1998)

The detail that's always guaranteed to put me off anything is nearly always its fucking stupid fans, and this is particularly so when it comes to music, especially regarding the sort of twat who can barely open his mouth without spawning some new and entirely unnecessary subcategory by which to define how bleeding edge he deems himself, because that's the shit he's like really into right now, yeah?

Take Clownboy - as I shall refer to him for the sake of convenience - denizen of an internet forum I once frequented. Got Djent? he asked in a thread of that title, a fiendishly imaginative play on the got milk? advertising campaign cleverly subverted so as to refer to a new subgenre of heavy metal he'd just discovered. Djent, he explained, is onomatopoeiacally named because they've invented this way of playing guitar with the strings muted to create an almost percussive note. I've now listened to a few supposed djent bands, and I still don't understand why it needs to be considered a whole new movement as opposed to, for example, just a bunch of gurning, hairy men playing guitars with a technique that was old even when every skinny-tie wearing new wave band was doing the same thing back in 1979 but with less grunting. Even more wearying was when Clownboy later invented his own new and completely original style of music. He explained that he didn't have a name for it, and he needed to get together some people who could play instruments in order to actually produce it - he couldn't play anything, presumably regarding himself as more of an ideas man - but it was going to be a cross between djent and dubstep.

Can you imagine that!?

He was really convinced this was going to be the next big thing.

Panacea was probably dubstep before dubstep, aside from the lack of any shitty autotuned pseudo-trance element; or it's drum and bass, digital hardcore, techstep, illbient, except like the work of any musician who isn't a complete tool, it does all of those things and more, working with what sounds appropriate rather than just ticking boxes. My first encounter with Panacea was when my friend Carl lent me the Low Profile Darkness album. I don't think either of us had ever heard anything that sounded quite so pissed off ,and yet which retained some sort of concessionary resemblance to music. We looked at the photograph of Mathis Mootz on the cover, apparently a fifteen year old fat kid from Germany, and we imagined all the usual tattooed buffoons reduced to something that may as well be The Dooleys' greatest hits by this chubby little fucker on a tricycle. Anyway, I've listened to various digital hardcore types thanks to YouTube, and Panacea doesn't quite fit in with them either, because it does more than just one thing.

As may be apparent from previous reviews, I'm no stranger to the grunting, shirty music of folks expressing their displeasure, but Jesus - this stuff really is dark, and probably because it goes for the pure emotional hit rather than wasting time in waving scary ideas in your face - Oooh look, there's a ghost over there, the ghost of a really bad man who robbed a bank, and I'm his BEST FRIEND and so on. The sounds are sharp as knives and perfectly orchestrated, ebbing and flowing like the wax and wane of muscular pains. Twisted Designz pretty much continues from where Low Profile Darkness left off in that it's a lot like dental surgery - you know you're going to be there for an hour or so, and that it's going to be fucking uncomfortable, so you sit tight and get through it because ultimately it's for the best. Whatever brand of supposedly hard and grumpy music you may be like really into right now, yeah?, Panacea makes it sound like a little girl crying over a prematurely melted ice cream cone.

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