Review: Alexander Johansson and Mattias Fridell – Contention 001

Alexander Johansson and Mattias Fridell have joined forces to launch ‘Destroyka’, with their first release, ‘Contention001’. The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight takes a look at what insight the first release offers of the platform.

Alexander Johansson and Mattias Fridell have joined forces to launch ‘Destroyka’, with their first release, ‘Contention001’. The Waveform Transmitter‘s Ste Knight takes a look at what insight the first release offers of the platform.

Anyone who knows me, knows I like my electronic music with a bit of a darker edge, so you can imagine my delight when I first laid my ears upon the latest sonic concoction offered by Alexander Johansson and Mattias Fridell. The pair are no strangers to collaborating, as they have been producing together for over a decade, now.

Of course, both are well-repected artists in their own right, with Johansson seeing releases on Sweden’s Counter Pulse imprint, among others, while Fridell has seemingly been on the scene for as far back as I can remember, with a swarm of techno releases under his belt.

The sublime tumult that is their latest collaborative venture, Contention001, affords the listener a certain acuity regarding the inner machinations of the two producers. Both tend towards a deeper sound, but this record simply takes the biscuit in terms of the almost Marianic qualities of the productions herein. They contain an almost uncharted depth. They are demonic. Their talons tear at your soul and drag it into a nightmarish ether.

Johansson and Fridell start our descent into Hades with the anguished screams of ‘ett’s synth. Horrifying, distorted bells ring out behind a constantly evolving screech, before apocalyptic horses manifest with the percussion, affording a brief quell in the chaos. The first act plays well with the concept of foreboding, as white noise begins a tribal chant, complementing the kick drum perfectly and teasing the agonised synth back in amidst clashing chains and irons. A formidable start to any record.

‘två’ conducts itself in a similarly harrowing fashion, as Kafkaesque saw waves rip through the mix, with pounding jackhammer kicks crunching away like cataclysmic tectonic movements. A futuristic sample tells of an unrecognised world, although our narrator could well be describing our own Earth in the throes of Armageddon.

With the third track on the EP, ‘tre’, we stick with the post-apocalptic tropes of the previous two tracks, but this time we are plunged into a cybernetic future. Neon peppers the steaming streets down which the driving kicks take us on an Akira-like chase, repetitive acid-synth swells snapping like purple lightning overhead.

By the time the fourth track, ‘fyra’ comes about, it is time for our soul to be rebuilt. Hissing pistons and crackling welding arms send burning hot sparks across the soundscape as huge robotic hammers batter reclaimed metal objects into shape, forging your new robot soul. It may not be the same as the essence you bore prior to this auditory hallucination, but it is the only one you are left with.

This is an accomplished release from Alexander Johansson and Mattias Fridell, and one which serves well the dystopian side of the electronic music sound. Almost Huxley-like in its portrayal of a damning and probably not-too-distant future, the record is a real exercise in pushing sound to its limits.

You can obtain a copy of the release over on the Destroyka bandcamp. In the meantime, take a listen, below.

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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