Album review: Author & Punisher – Krüller

Lone-wolf industrial master Author & Punisher wrenches his heart between the gears of outstanding ninth album Krüller…

Album review: Author & Punisher – Krüller
Sam Law

When Author & Punisher first rose to prominence through its compelling mangle of abrasive, robotic electronica in the mid-’00s, few could’ve imagined that the project would still be breaking fresh ground almost two decades down the line.

The metallic-industrial alter-ego of engineer, instrumentalist, vocalist and avant-garde sculptor Tristan Shone, A&P was an undertaking designed to meld man, machine and music with untold levels of intimacy and immersion, replicating the sounds of thrusting pistons and grinding gears via the construction of audacious new audio apparatus. Surely, the intrigue was more to do with the hyper-physical making of strange cyborg sounds rather than the songs themselves. Nine albums down the line, however, Tristan has proven himself an artist with just as many things to say as inventive ways of saying them.

Krüller is his most melodically powerful, atmospherically intriguing record to date. Where recent output like 2015’s Melk En Honing and 2018’s Beastland gave the impression of process overshadowing product, these eight tracks pulsate with purpose and personality. The pounding, dissonant industrial of Godflesh and Scorn is still prevalent in the mix, but now it’s augmented by the eerie Blade Runner synths of Vangelis and vintage Nine Inch Nails’ ability to make inhuman sonic surfaces sweat sex and sleaze. The inclusion of actual electric guitars adds flashes of alt. rock grit and goth-metal swagger. Shone’s increasing vocal investment, too, makes for some overpoweringly emotional moments.

Eight-minute opener Drone Carrying Dread is the epic stand-out, escalating from suffocating unease to soaring relief. Maiden Star strays into almost-vulnerable romanticism, telling a story where ‘Two hearts seek a better start.’ Nightmarish Portishead cover Glorybox rips the original inside-out, twisting it into rumbling, wheezing post apocalyptic soundscape. Hell, Danny Carey and Justin chancellor from recent tourmates Tool even crop up, adding their heft to Misery and Centurion respectively.

Ultimately, though, Krüller is best experienced not in its individual segments but as an overwhelming whole. The meld of muscle and mechanisation still demands that listeners hand themselves over entirely. So stay plugged in through the epic title-track’s spiral down into an inevitable acid ending and you’ll be haunted by the ghosts in this machine.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Nine Inch Nails, Health, Godflesh

Krüller is out now via Relapse

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