United Front - By All Means II (The Fall Of Church And State)" [Malignant Records - 2017]I first discovered Power Electronics genre back in 1996 or 1997. And since then this extreme electronic music has been close to my heart- as I’ve enjoyed the social/political manifestos, the sometimes quite violent and painful subjects of the genre, and of course the noise that surrounds these themes
California based project United Front is none other than the renamed Gordon Mark Lazarus' project U-731. This project has already been released under the old name on the famous American label Malignant Records. The album, entitled "By All Means II (The Fall Of Church And State)" was released both on digipack CD, and in the digital version.
The black and white cover takes in a picture of a table covered in documents, photos, and folders. The photos show fragments of military actions, street riots, as well as the current US president and former presidential candidate shaking hands. Both of them are blindfolded. On one of the folders, there is a large stamp with the name of the project. The album title is printed on the other folder. This cover perfectly displays and complements the Sonics within.
I'm used to evaluating music albums based on my feelings. First of all, I always pay attention to music and sound. As for a genre like Power Electronics, it's always abounded with voice samples or quotes from movies, radio programs, interviews and so on. For me, these voices, as well as the vocals (usually highly distorted) play a secondary, supporting role, although they are often the source of the track atmosphere.
So, the album consists of six tracks, with a total duration of almost 35 minutes. Not much for a full-length album, unfortunately...
The first track, entitled "What Makes Us Great", starts off rather gloomy. The low-pitched synthesizers gradually acquire depth and begin to cause the feeling of anxiety, voice samples, distorted vocals, the siren of air alarm, and the sounds of flying aircraft. In general, the track seemed less intense than I’d hoped, rather playing like a six-minute intro.
The second track is titled "Conflict". It's made in the spirit of the previous track - a fairly calm first part and a rich completion. However, the track is more aggressive and has a sharper sound.
This is followed by the third track "What Is Conflict?", & this seemed a lot more successful and compositionally balanced. Beginning as a dark piano-violin melody against the background of samples from several reports and interviews, the sound grows into a pulsing distorted synth screech, backed up by distorted vocals.
The fourth track, entitled "Church And State" begin with pure female vocals singing a Catholic prayer, or something similar. Then we get atmospheric synthesizers and voice samples. The Synths develop their theme and then military drums enter. Honestly, this track has a rather weak relation to Power Electronics. I would call it Ambient / Martial Industrial. However, the track is saturated but, not distracted from the overall mood/ flow of the album. Rather, this track feels like a little respite, before the next all-out attack
The fifth track, titled "Our War Alone", is a mixture of PE and Industrial, sometimes even moving in the direction of Noise. Metal rhythm, pulsating distorted synthesizer and screaming vocals create an aggressive atmosphere. Of course, throughout there are also dialogue samples. The track ends with a Gregorian chant.
"No Friends, No Enemies" is the sixth and shortest track on the album. It lasts just under three minutes and represents more Death Industrial than PE. This is the most extreme and noisy track of all. The maximally distorted synthesizer and vocals grow into cacophony, which ends with a slowly pulsing rhythmic sound.
The album is not a pure PE, combining several genres of extreme electronic music. Nevertheless, the album works as a focused work- with the different stylistic elements enhancing the concept of the album. I’ve now checked out several previous releases of United Front and I can say that the album follows the chosen line of development of this project, combining not just aggression, but a tangible feeling of emptiness and sadness. "By All Means II (The Fall of Church and State)" made me not only listen to the musical side of the album but also think, to delve into the composition. This is a serious work that goes beyond the PE style.Sergey Pakhomov