Proton Beast: Digitizer (Muzai)

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Proton Beast: Cimmerians
Proton Beast: Digitizer (Muzai)

The naked light bulb on the cover of this debut album by Auckland's self-described "disco doom" trio is more apt than that mirrorball.

This is sonic density -- mastered by Brad Boatright who has done the deed for Sun O))) among others -- from a band which has supported Boris and Beastwars.

So there you have your visual and aural references for eight tracks (recorded with Ed Castelow aka Dictaphone Blues) which don't have the dynamics of, for example, Jakob but make a powerful impression,  especially the techno-pound of Tetris, third up on the first side of this vinyl version.

That piece leads into the epic grandeur of Cimmerians where Westley Holdsworth's delayed and echoed guitar seems to slip sideways through variable speeds and Stuart Harwood's drums and new bassist Vaughan Williams (formerly D4) make good on the disco doom bottom end. It's the soundtrack to a very disturbed film set in space or in someone's cellar where there are manicles and a rack.

The pure sonic-metal power of Proton Beast - a name suggesting both the scientific and the visceral -- cannons in with Unexpected Error which is all foreground intensity and Holdsworth's heavily processed vocals appearing/disappearing in the mix as just another slice of confrontational noise. It -- and later the equally ear'n'chest-absuing Vis Viva -- is a mighty thing to behear.

Both Grey Noise (pretty much what it says) and the industrial strength Vis Viva do remind you that Proton Beast are in a lineage which runs from Chrome and Pere Ubu through the soundtrack to Eraserhead and bands on the edge of metal (like Sun O))) and others). But at their best -- and the stentorian title track which closes proceedings is to be counted among them -- the material here announces a strong debut from a fully fledged band for whom the word "compromise" is not in its vocabularly.

Available digitally through iTunes or on vinyl at Muzai here

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