Collecting together old and new work from the extensive archives of Kevin Martin and James Broderick, 'Radio Hades' is full of bold experiments from that shadowy borderland between instrumental hip-ho

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PJ Harvey : Is This Desire?

Product:

PJ Harvey : Is This Desire?

COLLECTING TOGETHER OLD and new work from the extensive archives of Kevin Martin and James Broderick, ‘Radio Hades’ is full of bold experiments from that shadowy borderland between instrumental hip-hop and avant-garde noise. Clanking and clanging, booming and blasting, slicing up conversations and eerie piano melodies, Martin and Broderick play the studio like an instrument demanding to be pushed to the limits of its capabilities. A healthy approach which creates some fantastically weird noises.

There are a few doubts, though. With titles like ‘Beheaded’, ‘The Disciples Of Dark’ and ‘Phantom Tribe’, you can’t help suspecting that Techno Animal are more horror movie fans than mental voyagers, wallowing in that romanticised ‘dark side’ of life which suburban goths the world over dream about before growing out of it at, ooh, 19.

Also, there often seems to be no real depth behind a track besides its technical gimmick: a spliced-up vocal, a wildly varying tempo, a riot of synthetic bird song which mutates beyond all recognition. Some of these 14 tunes sound like sonic sketch pads, storing up studio trickery until the right emotional mood arrives. Consequently the effect is like watching a special effects movie: afterwards, you feel dazzled but hollow.

Music clearly flows naturally out of Techno Animal and their side projects. But ultimately we suspect it is these projects, such as Martin’s recent Alec Empire link-up or his Ice collective album, where greater discipline and human interaction produces more focused work. ‘Radio Hades’ feels more like leafing through a private scrapbook with all its in-jokes, self-indulgence and occasional tedium on display.