It’s been ten years since Atari Teenage Riot handed the world their third and what was to be their final collection of anarchic electronic mayhem.
Continuing directly from where he left off, digital hardcore pioneer and noise guru Alec Empire has continued to make music ever since the demise of ATR. Berlin is well known for its hedonistic club culture, and Empire’s music has always epitomised the no-holds-barred soundtrack that accompanies it. With the creation new label Eat Your Heart Out Records in 2007 came a shift in style. Out are the punk leanings of old, and in is "the new sound of Berlin’, a phrase coined by Empire himself to describe his new label and musical direction.
’Shivers’ is Empire’s latest EP release, and sees him continuing to walk down his newly paved road. ’Control Drug’ is fast paced, fresh-faced and punchy, yet it lacks that edge where previously, his music knew no bounds. It’s no massive step away from his signature sound and it feels like it belongs in 2009, but I came here expecting sonic annihilation and I walk away less than satisfied.
The next two tracks are where things really move away from the more electronic punk leanings of ATR. With the Moby-esque ambience of the title track to the early morning rumblings of a nightclub that never sleeps with ’Baby Skull’, this is a far more reserved collection of music than you’d probably expect. For some, the night has only just begun. For others, especially those looking for more ATR-style noise terrorism, it may well be too far a departure from the Alec Empire of old.
’If You Live Or Die’ is noisy yet equally controlled, a concept that takes a while for me to get my head around considering the artist in question. But that’s just it; ’Shivers’ isn’t a bad EP per se, you just have to approach it without preconceptions. Ending with the forgettable ’1000 Eyes’, a seemingly Nine Inch Nails-influenced number filled with moody electronic ambience (but never really achieving anything), the EP comes to a close and I’m left sitting on the fence. If you can see past what you expect this to sound like, and if you can get over the fact that Alec Empire is no longer creating spiky techno mayhem and screaming "fuck you!!" to all and sundry, then you might just enjoy it. It took me a while, but it’s certainly worth checking out.