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JK Flesh – Nothing Is Free EP


JK Flesh - Nothing Is Free EPAt first listen, Justin Broadrick‘s latest outburst of noisemongering — here incarnate as JK Flesh in industrial electronic style — might just be a assumed to be a bit too content to stick to the tried and tested formula of harsh beats, dubby echo effects and the sound of a machine drum stomping on the human corpus forever (or at least for around an hour or so).

Perhaps yes; but mostly no: there’s more depth to it than that. Much more. Rack up the volume for a start — this isn’t music for quiet contemplation, but for activity, whether mental or especially physical — it’s really going to be best absorbed fully in claustrophobic surroundings punishing and pleasuring every sense at once in a welter of sound, smell taste and touch: imagination required, but not much, maybe, as to how that might be achieved. Work it out; have a go. If in doubt, turn to the ever-evolving sinister prowl of a track like “Pleasurer” and notch up the levels just that little bit more. And a bit more now. Then get some heavy, heavy dub on via “Offering” and feel right inside the sensuous throb of the low end.

Assembled from pieces recorded over the last couple of years, Nothing Is Free (an EP by name, but essentially album length and released online on a pay what thou wilt basis via his own Avalanche Recordings) showcases Broadrick’s command of the drum machine, sequencers and the evillest-sounding of squirming, shuddering bass. The  nine tracks echoing (often, literally and figuratively) his work with Kevin Martin as Techno Animal — in perhaps purer form — while holding far fewer hints of his Godflesh outings and far, far away from the distrait shoegaze drones and scarifications of Jesu. Here is Broadrick celebrating the carnal, his machineries of bodily pleasure setting out new variations on old and well-understood but timelessly efficient rules for the listener to obey (titles like “Boundless Submission” — a multi-layered, crunchy highlight here — giving more than a hint) or to step around as tangentially as they might prefer, because Broadrick certainly can and does.

Let the extra-dense bass thicken up the walls of audio reality tunnels held in train by channelled treble tones splintering away while malevolent synths uncurl their talons; feel the sweat trickle down the spine in concert with those MDMA-tweaking tones. Be at one with the haunted familiarity of the shivery melodies that are in there somewhere, pastiching and repurposing the techno thrills of the dancefloor lift according to the established tyranny of the beat (Broadrick knows that he and “They Own You” in more ways than one) — there is ascension on offer, but it’s only going so far and is rising up from far, far down below.

Supremely confident and knowledgable of how to place beat and bass to best effect, built on rhythms that swagger and swing but rarely with the ego to the fore, Nothing Is Free almost palpably swelters, demands motion, forces the body to change its way of being, to take a chance on total immersion in skilfully structured, blissfully overwhelming noise. Is it too obvious to exclaim “Long live the new JK Flesh!” EP? If so, never mind; Nothing Is Free deserves it (and a probably vinyl release too).


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