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JK
Flesh: Rise Above (Electric Deluxe)

When
I was younger and first got interested in industrial music and
subsequently noise and power electronics, I used to delight in
recording already harsh tracks (Skinny Puppy et. al) to cassette with
the volume jacked up into the red. It turned even not already
distorted stuff into a thunderous assault, and it took already
aggressive music into a zone that felt transcendent to my fresher
ears. I get much of that same feeling from Rise Above. Justin
Broadrick’s latest as JK Flesh sets the project apart from his
previous effort under the moniker by focusing more obviously on
electronics with far less concern for songs, guitars, or vocals.
While 2012’s Posthuman felt like a natural spin-off from Broadrick’s
original grindcore focal point, Godflesh, Rise Above is a much cooler
and more interesting diversion toward something different. He’s
eschewed much of the downtempo swagger of the rhythm sections of
Posthuman and instead has offered up a series of chugging, writhing,
more overtly electronic arrangements. Absent are the distorted
vocals, dirge-like riffs, and Scorn-esque drum loops. Instead,
Broadrick delivers eight distorted (bordering on mangled) tracks of
plodding grit, infusing his music with more of a techno pulse, but
filtered through industrial distortion and ruthless abrasion. The
album bristles with the coarseness of blown out tweeters, rumbling
and sounding as if one’s PA is about to explode. And yet there are
some more understated elements that enter the fray, often so subtly
that I don’t notice them until they are startlingly clear.

Consider
the looming pads that take “Trinity” from just a grinding, sweaty
jam to something more ethereal; it’s the same contrast that makes the
tail end of opener “Tunnel” so much more palatable, letting his
listeners know that there is more than initially meets the ears here.
But so much of Rise Above isn’t about the ears — it’s about the
body. These are tracks that demand a physical response, whether
that’s in undulating movement or nervous sweat.

“Defector” might
be my favorite, with its techno underpinnings and wall of distortion,
but it’s hard to pick a favorite. Rise Above is perhaps best
experienced on headphones with the volume cranked. It’s an immersive
listening experience that could feel like punishment, but instead
feels almost cathartic in its relentlessness and sheer scale. It’s a
very cool lateral move for Broadrick, migrating the project to
Electric Deluxe, a label run by Speedy J and known for darker,
heavier techno. It sets the project apart from Broadrick’s repertoire
in the coolest of ways, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Highly
recommended for those unafraid of the darker and harsher side of
visceral music.

Buy it: Electric Deluxe Bandcamp