The members of End Christian boast an impressive resume of bands past and present between them: Hex Inverter, Dalek, Brutal Truth to name a few, with Justin Broadrick (Jesu, Godflesh), Mike Hill (Tombs), Chris Connolly (Sun Kil Moon) and others also adding their talents to Bach Part One. However, the result of this wide collaboration is not recognisable as hugely similar to any of the mentioned artists. Instead, on their second release, this collection of abstract musical experimenters has pooled their resources to create a cracked and broken soundscape of industrial weirdness, with endless left turns into the dark remaining tethered to clattering electronic beats.
Upon pressing play on Bach Part One’s opening track ‘Hamilton Two’, you’ll be immediately struck with a heavily autotuned voice singing the words ‘I’ve been crushing Alexander Hamilton’s face’ over a simplistic industrial beat, putting you immediately in mind of a horribly depraved pop singer confessing to brutality via a chart-botheringly processed melody. It’s certainly not the opening one might expect, and its only when mangled guitar lines crop up later in the track that more expected elements are recognisable. On the up-tempo ‘Anywhere W/You’, a Nine Inch Nails influence makes its first appearance, which remains just beneath the surface for much of the album. Busy industrial beats patter beneath a plain voice, coming together to make this an almost pop-like, melodic track.
The tag of ‘trip-hop’ could be hung on this album just as readily as others like ‘industrial’, and ‘experimental’, and it’s the dark brooding of ‘Great Escapes’ that first typifies this beautifully executed influence – at least until guitars once again break through and push things in a new direction, this time in the form of distorted chords that have a certain texture about them that suggests a Jesu origin.
By fourth track ‘Certs’, the previously straightforward vocals have been pulled down into the mangled experimentation going on beneath them too, chopped and skewed into weird rhythms, whilst a hard beat akin to Vatican Shadow’s darker works keeps things tied together. Around this point in the playtime, things get quite otherworldly like a fairly unpleasant psychedelic trip, with punching synths and oddly layered vocals permeating ‘Karaoke So’ and the aptly named ‘Salvia’. Still more new elements are thrown into the mix on ‘Workmanlike’, where a buzzing synth drills into your mind in the same way as some of Justin Broadrick’s work with London producer The Bug has in the past. Then, ‘Venison Thaw’ is a seasick swirl of synths that rise and fall, accompanied by vocals that you could easily mistake for Marilyn Manson.
The return of the bizarre Hamilton motif from the beginning of the album somewhat ruins the flow that had been gradually building up, but the truth is there is so much going on throughout Bach Part One that it is quite hard to penetrate even with multiple listens. Many twists and turns are taken and musical elements added and taken way both within and between songs. The jazz-like experimental tendencies of all involved is very tangible for the duration, but sometimes that same tangibility cannot be said of the songs themselves. Sometimes it is the overly plain vocals that drag things down, but other times it is just a failure of things coming completely together. The core of Bach Part One is a brooding, industrial façade, rife for free experimentations to adorn it, and this is a basis which provides plenty of dark, interesting and grooving moments which are undeniably excellent. With perhaps a few different choices at the odder moments, End Christian have a huge potential still to realise.