Author & Punisher - _Melk En Honing_
(Housecore Records, 2015)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
One of the great frustrations of my music-obsessed life is not yet having seen Tristan Shone play an Author & Punisher show. I've turned out for countless performances by nondescript dudes hashing it out on drums, guitar, bass and vox, with the occasional keyboard or second guitar to spice up the event. I've even geeked out to the Fantômas setup, in which the stringed instruments are drawn to the back of the stage and drums slid to the fore so that vocalist/electronics whiz Mike Patton and percussion pervertor Dave Lombardo can keep continuous eye contact (and thus hold the colossal headfuck together). But it all gets a little tiresome. I want to see a dude manhandling his growing series of self-constructed sound machines for the express purpose of extracting industrialized doom from his mechanical arsenal. I know the man tours, but somehow we've never crossed paths.

But maybe it's good to have waited this long. If it means getting to see Shone muscle out tracks from _Melk En Honing_, maybe right now is the perfect time to witness that A&P wizardry. _Melk_ is a monster album. If you heard 2012's _Ursus Americanus_ or the following year's _Women & Children_, you know basically what to expect: overdriven bass rape, wheezing foundry-reverb beats, nihilistic Godflesh shouts and semi-tonal singing, accompanied by thirty tons of distortion and grating sonic catastrophes that would each constitute startling experimentation on any other band's album but which come and go on _Melk_ like they're no great feat. If you've never listened to A&P, you're in for a treat. Or your in for recurring bouts of grueling nausea, depending on your physical constitution and musical preferences.

Like Godflesh, A&P's music elevates rhythmic considerations above all else, filling the remaining sonic space with buzzing abominations that hardly qualify as chords, once in a while tossing out a chilling moan or a simple, emotive keyboard line. Songs are protracted treatises on gravelly monotony, not individual pieces so much as welded-joint segments of one vast, intimidating beast. Whether or not you can hang with A&P will depend entirely on your acceptance of such harsh, oil-slicked and rusted-out landscapes. This isn't robot conquest -- this is man enslaving man amidst the ruined factory husks that litter land and sea after we've harvested the last organic compounds from Earth's sterile stone shell. _Melk_ offers no respite, unless you can find hope in the album's final cry: "Void! Null! Alive!"


(article published 12/8/2015)

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