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Bitter Music

Bitter  Music

In case you missed it, politics has become increasingly ugly and uncomfortable over the past few years. Between an EU referendum campaign that saw abysmal levels of political opportunism lead to the death of a sitting MP and the rise of the populist far right across Europe and the US, there hasn’t been much for anybody with so much as a progressive toenail to smile about.

As a musician, how should you respond? In Bitter Music, Ali Wells has apparently sought to create a body of work as dark and disturbing as the void we appear to be tumbling into. Bitter Music builds on the archetypal Perc sound. It’s savage, relentless and austere – techno for our times.

Wells is no stranger to making political comments through his music, nor has his previous output been especially chipper. His previous album, The Power And The Glory, achieved a similar sense of grim foreboding, but this time, for obvious reasons, the political subtext is much more transparent.

Opener ‘Exit’ (no prizes) suffocates the timid voice of David Cameron beneath twisting vines of distorted effects, a neat metaphor for his post-Downing Street irrelevance. Most of the album is based on this lurching sense of dread, and no less club-ready for it. Percussive chuggers ‘Unelected’, ‘Chatter’, ‘Rat Run’ and ‘The Thought That Counts’ belong in the belly of the Berghain just as much as they’re part of a sonic political statement.

However, the apex of the album comes with the hectic and grotesque ‘Spit’. Easily pushing 250bpm, its pacing kicks are accompanied by agonising, blood-curdling screams. To be honest, Bitter Music won’t make you feel good about anything, but that’s probably the point.

Aidan Daly

by Now Then Sheffield