Contrastate, "Recorded Evidence II"
Active for over 30 years, with a 10 year break in the middle, Contrastate‚Äôs idiosyncratic take on challenging, industrial tinged music has certainly changed and evolved through the years, as this compilation indicates. What has not changed though, is a dark sarcasm that injects just the right amount of absurdity into their otherwise dour works. Collecting various singles, compilation pieces, and unreleased material onto one CD, it makes for an excellent career overview.
The opening "Taste the Waste for the Human Race," a b-side from 1993, sets the tone for this set of songs pretty well: gently malignant loops meshed with treated guitar and down pitched vocals. There is certainly a conventional music undercurrent here, but bent and twisted into something else entirely. There‚Äôs that same broken music feel to "The People Who Control the Information" from 2017's Your Reality is Broken tribute album, which is an odd combination of erratic synths, protest chant like vocals, and eventually an almost hip-hop rhythm loop constructed from noisy fragments. "The Silent Fish," released in 2018 as part of a Troum tribute/compilation continues the dramatic spoken word and sweeping synthesizers, but with a great bass guitar like distorted passage and subtle percussion beneath it all, it makes for a particular standout.
The droning electronics, spoken word, and crying baby recordings on 1994's "English Embers" captures their more challenging style. Similarly abstract is "True Believer," which is all grandiose piano, voices, and a chaotic low-bit rate sheen to it all. "Revolution Sera la Nom de la Civilisation" almost resembles Contrastate's take on traditional power electronics: pulsating electronics, low end rumble, and guttural vocals (albeit in French). All the elements of that genre are there, but there‚Äôs a cleanliness to the proceedings that make it sound utterly unique. There is a RLW/Ralf Wehowsky treated unreleased piece from 1999, "From the Opened Red Lips," that represents perhaps the most out there piece: a short burst of sputtering vocal treatments and insect buzzing.
I know Recorded Evidence II is a singles/compilation/unreleased material compilation, but it melds together like a traditional album, while still giving an overview of nearly 30 years worth of content. At times difficult, and at times almost catchy, Contrastate covers a bit of everything in their sound, and that black humor component (which is also well reflected in the liner notes, and I cannot find any indication there was ever a Recorded Evidence I) makes for a project that I can never predict what they will sound like next, but I know it will be fascinating no matter what.