Android Lust, telling tales without words on Crater Vol 1

crater vol 1Android Lust (US-based Shikhee) knows how to get down and dirty, electronically; she’s been flying my industrial flag since Nine Inch Nails went on hiatus, Trent Reznor heading off to greener, arguably happier places with his new outfit and his soundtrack work for movies and, most recently, a video game.

Now, on Crater Vol 1, AL is following that trajectory and proves just as adept.

I wish I knew the narrative guiding this album — and it is an album, ebbing and flowing across a sonic terrain of synthesisers, keyboards, vocalisations. How interesting, though, to mix up the playing order and seeing how that changes the nature of the tale …

I’m getting a low-fi NIN vibe on ‘I Need to Know’ — probably the most likely candidate for a single and one of only three songs here, AL’s voice restrained amid the fuzz and keys. ‘From the Other Side’ has breathy vocals gliding like morning fog over flowing, bouncing rhythms that echo AL’s previous footprints. On ‘Here and Now’, she again channels previous patterns to set what feels like the sublime point of no return.

Of course, the beauty of the instrumental album isn’t necessarily the story the artist has in their head, but the one it tells inside your own. Here, there is water, grey with clouds; travel, solitude .. there are mountains and perhaps, stark cherry blossoms, yearning, indecision.

‘First Man’, a halfway marker, feels like the closing of a curtain on the first act, the sensation exacerbated by the slow, woodwind and bamboo-style opening of the proceeding piece, ‘When the Rains Came’, building like a spring rainstorm from the first drops to the downpour, all golden from distant, low-slanted sunlight.

Yaakuntik is a one-minute bridge; ‘Precipice’ closes the album with an eight-minute sail through a lapping lake, a place of stillness and quiet beauty, fading into an inky night. Not so much a fall from a precipice as a gentle subsidence, a tender acceptance.

Had the album been named River Styx, it would’ve suited perfectly. Crater — what does it mean? The Pacific rim of fire? A caldera? Dust settling after the moment of impact? Ooh …

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Crater Vol 1 shows an artist making a foray into new terrain, so very smoothly, and provides a most pleasant aural zone where one can trail one’s fingers in another’s dreams and make them one’s own.

Crater Vol. 1 is due to be in general release by the end of the month. I take heart that the name suggests there’s more to come.

Android Lust — the Human Animal

android lust album the human animal

The latest offering from Android Lust, Shikhee’s one-woman outfit fleshed out with a whole bunch of studio and live performance talent, is a slick affair. The edges of in-your-face album The Dividing have been filed off, but there’s plenty of sting in the lyrics and rewarding musicianship to boot.

The Human Animal opens with Intimate Stranger, with a NIN-like build of ominous synths and whispered male vocals, then Shikhee’s trademark siren call kicks in and the song evolves into a synth-laden rocker. The song title is perhaps indicative of what follows: a meditative though not necessarily quiet exploration of the base impulses of the human animal.

There’s an ongoing theme of obsession, lust, self-abasement, love gone awry — nothing new there for this artist — all humming along on the industrial beat with some superb touches: highlights from guitars and violin, heartbeat bass, and some captivating changes of pace.

What gives her music a real edge is her distinctive vocal style — the raw need is obvious, whether in earthy, rasping lows or that soaring, nail-scratching high — and canny phrasing. Saint Over is a good example — fuzz guitar and clever key changes, and a winning lyric: “Tried to show my concern while I thought
About my cat and my laundry”.

It’s not all industrial blur: check the strut and swing of God in the Hole, for instance, and the percussive drive of It’s On You, the quiet keys on the introspective 1minute30 The Return, the jazzy strut and drum break of A New Heaven.

There’s no filler here, each song distinctive within itself, yet fitting the overall feel of the album making it truly cohesive. Suspicions about a remix of God in the Hole closing out the album are laid to rest: it’s a sublime re-imagining, transforming a marching beat to a dirge and putting extra emphasis on the words. Nice.

The Human Animal shows further development, maturation perhaps (it *has* been four years since her last album), of an artist exploring the inner and outer self. It’s an album that triggers the urge to go back and load the stacker with the albums to date — this is the fourth studio LP — to track the ongoing journey of a remarkable talent.