Strafe F.R - The Bird Was Stolen [Touch - 2018]Veteran sound creators Strafe F.R ("Strafe Für Rebellion") have existed since 1979, with a sporadic release pattern. Their music exists on the boundary between industrial and musique concrete/avant-garde. The Bird Was Stolen is their first album since Sulphur Spring in 2014. This is my first exposure to the group's music.
The album has the rapid, gestural quality of musique concrete, in the sense that there is a series of sounds in succession rather than any kind of meter. Many brief glimpses appear and quickly go, possessing unique timbres and brief melodic ideas. This fragmentary structure is also used in Nurse With Wound's most haunted classic works, Homotopy to Marie or Spiral Insana, one of the closest comparisons to the sound of this album.
Generally, The Bird Was Stolen feels more live and filled with punky aggression than NWW's solitary studio creations, and denser with sonic activity. While there is no conventional guitar playing per se, grimy swells of amplifier distortion are used to sketch dim nocturnal and subterranean environments. Clearly doom metal influenced tones date this as a current creation amidst the call-backs to vintage industrial music. Several of the tracks feature emphatic, theatrical narrations with heavy effects processing. It is a rare, more ambient flavour of 'power electronics' as created by Coil. It is not unlike some of the more abstract improvisations by Throbbing Gristle (such as "Kreeme Horne"); in the way it will sway and bob in marshy disrepair, movements heat-addled and lazy, only for the calm to be punctured now and again by a distorted wail.
The texture is unmistakably analogue, from the beefy low-mids of the gated noise oscillators in "Pianosmoke", to the various examples of tape looping/manipulation and dub delay. This group has been especially inventive and focused with these vintage techniques and machines. The modular synth work has a particular visionary impact, particularly in the secound half of the album with songs like "Medusa". As a huge fan of Coil and albums like Worship the Glitch, this album feels like a lost work from the past, and it's wonderful to hear quality new music being created in this niche.
This must be one of the best ritual industrial/ambient albums I've ever heard. Attention to detail and fierce, enthusiastic creativity is what sets this album apart from the rest. These are musicians who do not release an unfinished piece of work; every crevice of this album is filled with bio-luminous micro-organisms. Each moment is infused with meaning. Stories and events have been thoroughly layered. This recording is a symbol, a magic talisman, the perpetuation of a kind of holy tradition. A wondrous surprise to hear such an album...