Death metal ain’t exactly the most joyful of genres. True, a form of cathartic euphoria may well result from supplication before its bludgeoning brutality. But, apart from the odd outlier – those cats on Twitter, for example, or the satirical hammer blast that is Gaylord – fun is in short supply in these circles. Instead there is dourness, misanthropy and a general miasma of Epic Seriousness.
And that’s fine. The fans are gonna dig what they dig. But it’s still somewhat surprising to find that Keroaän’s ‘Pulsars in Rhombus Form’, which squishes Spanish sci-fi technical death metal outfit Wormed’s 2003 ‘Planisphærium’ album through a digital wringer, is so downright gleeful. The eight cuts on ‘Pulsars in Rhombus Form’ fizz and burp with a madcap energy that’s half chiptune overload, half high-voltage electro-acoustic abstraction. Splintered bursts of electricity twitch and wriggle. Clouds of chirruping aggression swoop like a brigade of videogame assailants. Genre cross-pollination? Cross-contamination more like.
These asymmetrical, polyhedral wedges of sound occasionally recall the shapeshifting abstractions of modular synthesis. But Keroaän – an AI programme created by Ian M Fraser and Reed Evan Rosenberg – produces a variant that is especially unhinged. It works by analysing an audio stream of ‘Planisphærium’ (the blurb talks about identifying drum and vocal parts in particular) before shredding and then remoulding this source material into almost unrecognisable shapes. Gutteral chugs cough up splattered clouds of nano-noise, and grey, fidgeting spurts congregate in bacterial puddles. The combination of conceptual rigour and aggressive output makes for a blistering treat for tech heads and noise addicts alike.
While initial exposure to ‘Pulsars in Rhombus Form’ may emphasis how distinct Keroaän’s remix is from the Wormed original, subsequent immersion does suggest some commonality. The punishing pace and general aural extremity offered up by ‘Planisphærium’ is analogous to the jittering velocity of its remade counterpart, although I don’t miss the weirdly-tuned snare and vocal burbles of the original. And, given Wormed’s penchant for sci-fi stylings across their discography, the thought of their record’s DNA being hacked and scrambled by a computer – Joe Meek rebooted as HAL 9000, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry jacked into the Matrix – must surely fill their dark Iberian hearts with strange bliss. An essential, eccentric hybrid.