NEOLITHIC NATION: Atavism
Release year: 2021
Label: Steinklang Industries
Delving further into long-running industrial label Steinklang Industries‘ recent output, next up is what is apparently the debut release of Russian industrial noise unit Neolithic Nation. This is another interesting package offering a seriously weirded out concept, complemented by disturbing audial torture.
From the cover, featuring antique statues, cogwheels and a gas-masked soldier hung from the rafters, to the text inside the digipak describing how chaos is reduced to a machine via sacrifice and ultimately becomes a new creation, only to dissolve in another sacrifice, to a note that some of the vocals on the album have been recorded during epileptic seizures – there’s definitely enough here to pique the listener’s interest.
And, in a pleasant turn of events, Atavism delivers.
Darkly atmospheric, claustrophobic and harrowing industrial noise is the name of the game here. Positioning itself somewhere between the multitude of directions within post-industrial noise, Neolithic Nation offers a balanced mixture of power electronics, death industrial, field recordings and even moments of dark ambience. The result is an album that doesn’t take any of these strands to their extremes, but still gets the job done.
The atmospheres permeating Atavism are those of existential claustrophobia, post-industrial decay and mental collapse. Especially the tracks Materia I-IV, filled with creaking, clanging metal, are like harrowing soundscapes from some rusting, collapsing industrial complex haunted by memories of old misdeeds. These are to me the absolute high points of the album.
Other tracks go in for more conventional power electronics elements such as sheets of distorted sound, high-pitched squealing electronics and junk metal. Complemented by looped rhythmic elements such as clanging on metal or mainpulated sounds of machinery, Atavism offers a surprisingly accessible experience without diluting the inherent extremeness of noise music. To put it in another way, if someone from a, for example, extreme metal background told me they’d want to get into noise music, I might point them in this direction – the fact that there’s actually prominent rhythmic elements and, as such, even some degree of more “conventional” structure to some of the tracks makes this an album quite easy to get into.
Atavism isn’t any kind of “noise lite”, though. Despite, beside and all around these elements, it’s an album of pure industrial hostility as well: rapidly shifting volume levels, indecipherable vocals, cacophonous textures of pure noise – the full nine yards.
With a good degree of variation, Atavism offers both moments of power electronics aggressivity and moments of pitch-black death industrial atmospherics – and even the odd moment of dark ambience. Effortlessly switching between the slow-paced, eerie creeping layers of distorted humming on If You Desire My Death and the walls of distortion and hackneyed, glitching noises of album opener Die Neue Zeit, Atavism keeps the listener on his or her toes. Ultimately, though, there’s less emphasis on the all-in noise than on slightly more subtle atmospherics.
Atavism is a genuinely intriguing album, a look into that black abyss of mental collapse ever looming somewhere close. In it’s slightly glitchingly rhythmic, industrially atmospheric and noisy approach, Atavism is a peek into the primordial darkness in us all. But a peek the listener will be willing to take.
Summary: A well balanced mix of industrial noise atmosphere and aggression.