Release year: 2022
Label: Steinklang Industries/999 Cuts
The back cover of this CD proclaims that “Mourn is Destruktionsanstalt, Kadaver and Ideal Father“ – in other words, a collaboration between three established names in the industrial noise underground. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Mastema, Mourn’s debut album, does not beat around the bush. And neither will we.
Mastema is a biblical character, the father of all evil and the angel of disaster. This theme of intertwining the religious with the depraved permeate the album: from the classic cut-up collage style covers featuring a disconcerting combination of defiled religious imagery and nudity, to the track titles and to the music itself. In many ways, rather classic territory for vile, noisy industrial.
Musically, Mourn lies somewhere in the broad spectrum of power electronics. Though Mastema veers from time to time into the realm of harsh, chaotic noise, for the most part it is a focused and controlled piece of audial sadism. Vile, abrasive electronics merge into haunting, eerie and ill-foreboding atmospheric moments that almost stray into dark ambient territory. However, these are but brief moments of relative respite: before long, Mourn drags the listener back into the proverbial torture chamber of churning, droning synths, distorted percussion and tortured electronics.
The album heavily uses speech samples from what I surmise are mostly TV documentaries: interviews with serial killers and victims of sexual abuse in the catholic church; news broadcasts detailing grisly crimes; and so on. The gnarly thematics are pretty standard fare within the genre, and like the noise assault, Mourn keep these suitably subdued and controlled. In not utilizing the most over-the-top and graphic, exploitative speech samples, the trio that constitue Mourn find a more disturbing, disconcerting atmosphere.
Mastema is a pretty classic piece of vicious power electronics. A crackling, distorted and dirty sound covers the rumbling and churning synths and electronics under layers of caked blood and grime. Whilst the abrasive audio isn’t the most confrontational and piercing, there’s certainly an unsettling undercurrent running through the album with its controversial themes. And in not going over the top, Mastema never risks inadvertedly becoming a caricature of itself, like some more explicit and graphic albums become.
To reiterate, it’s scarcely surprising that Mourn delivers the goods when you consider the combined history and discography of its members. But surprising or not, good quality is good quality. As such, friends of nasty electronics and industrial noise will doubtlessly want to check this out.