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Elvis Presley

For the first part of 1998, [a]Alec Empire[/a] used to hang on the Berlin rockabilly scene....

For the first part of 1998, Alec Empire used to hang on the Berlin rockabilly scene. He'd just arrived back from an Atari Teenage Riot tour of the States - the one where he lacerated his arms - and couldn't stand anything to do with noise, breakbeats or anyone who was on that tour. The only way out, he figured, was to try and get his head around Elvis, or at least attempt to understand what all the fuss was about. Prior to that, Elvis meant nothing to Empire.



The next thing he knew, Empire had rented and watched back-to-back all of the King's movies, played a few albums, gone slightly mad and amassed two hours' worth of usable samples. And then he made a record. When his girlfriend heard what he'd done, she burst into tears and left him. Three pressing plants in Europe refused to have anything to do with this "psychological garbage" (Empire's words), largely because if the Presley Foundation discovered who was responsible for this mighty sonic necrophilia, they'd quite happily sue. His own DHR label wisely kept their distance. Perhaps foolishly, Empire pressed up a handful of CD copies for some DJ friends in Australia he was to visit when ATR toured there. One year later, in a New York record store, Empire bought a vinyl copy of the record with a proper sleeve and a label, the dubious El Turco Loco ('The Mad Turk'). He was thrilled.



And rightly so, for 'AE Vs EP' is not only the biggest compliment Empire could pay Elvis, it's also the best Alec Empire-produced album for some time: experimental, totally punk and peppered with black humour. Possibly because there was no overbearing ATR agenda involved - he did it for himself and, hey, if anyone else likes it, how on earth did they get a copy? - Empire has taken the opportunity to go completely loco, smashing Elvis into fragments on 'Jailhouse Cock Rocks The Most' and 'You Ain't Nothing' and filling the gaps with super-trashed drill'n'bass and mangled electronica. Well come on now, what did you expect?



Ironically, what raises this record above postmodern novelty status is that it actually sounds like an updated, crudely remastered Elvis album; however hard Empire tries to destroy and distort The Voice, it remains the one stable reference. Hence when AE drags EP through Hell backwards during 'He's Dead, That's The Way It Is', Elvis is still the epitome of cool.



Other 20th-century icons Alec Empire has similar plans for include Adolf Hitler, Kurt Cobain and - is nothing sacred? - Jan Hammer. Jan Hammer!!?? Jesus, what a sicko.
8 / 10

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