The latest release from purveyors of “post-dubstep” (however that may be described) and industrial landscapes, 3by3 records, is sure to be demanding, and for that reason, ultimately rewarding to ears that are willing to experiment and discover new sounds. From the depths of rural North Wales, given life in the home studio of Justin K Broadrick, JK Flesh will be manna from heaven for devotees of the crushing guitar riffs and tortured vocal of Godflesh. Not to say that this new project is simply a rehashing of the Godflesh template, as “Posthuman” explores how industrial landscapes and inner city anxiety can be explored alongside a re-reading of how dubstep could mature over the next few years.
“Knuckledragger”, which opens with a disconcerting array of dissonant sounds, soon falls into a steady stride of desolate beats, unsettling riffs and heavily twisted vocals. If there was any listener who felt fretful before playing the album, they would be well advised to try again at a later date. “Idle Hands” carries on the theme with a gruelling guitar riff and bleak vocal, whilst “Punchdrunk” makes excellent use of cacophonous electronic sound coming tangentially out of the mix. By this stage, the listener is gripped by how much the guitar, and particularly the industrial guitar riffs, are very much a characteristic of “Posthuman”. Having said that, “Devoured” has all the elements of mutant hip hop, but with that vocal which has been drawn from the psyche of its creator, whilst the title track “Posthuman” seems to rage in the face of the listener from the milieu of industrialised Birmingham.
Deranged cacophony that merely hints at vocals and a pumping bassline feature heavily in “Earthmover” whilst further into the voyage “Dogmatic” continues to explore how far the confines of misshapen hip hop can be pressed, with the familiar sound of urban decay being assaulted with heavily twisted voice samples. “Underfoot”, although slower in tempo, is drenched in a similar feeling of angst that was so apparent on many of the Jesu releases, but with beats that keep a sinister momentum. Closing the album, “Walk Away” has less of the desolation, but more of the cacophony and layering of instrumentation that has been hinted at throughout the album.
The album cover, designed and produced by Ambigraph, perfectly encapsulates the dark and ambiguous mood that seeps through this release. Placing “Posthuman” into context, and considering the body of work that Justin K Broadrick has accumulated over his career, with Techno Animal, Jesu and Kevin Martin (The Bug) in particular, this project appears to be an accumulation of influences and ideas, which have come together to produce music that will push the tolerance of the casual listener, but further ensure that any project that is associated with Justin K Broadrick will be sincere, mature and looking very much to the future. As with any art that is challenging to the hegemony, “Posthuman” demands attention and respect.