Review: Forward Strategy Group – Labour Division

‘Labour Division’ is the forthcoming debut Album from Forward Strategy Group (Al Matthew and Patrick Walker) being released under their new home label Perc Trax. The structure of the album pays homage to the early days of electronica coming in strong with hard hitting and dynamic tracks in the first half before submerging beneath the top layer of sound to discuss and explore the intricacies and underpinnings of electronic music. A paragon in the collaboritive catagory, it’s something to be both enjoyed lightheartedly, and meticulously contemplated. As a self-described ‘Jaded Hater’ I found nothing to hate here. Beautifully crafted and mastered, don’t miss the opportunity to get your hands on a copy when they hit the streets. — PD

[ Pre-Order ‘Labour Division’ Here ]

Ident‘ takes it’s first breath, and a pulsing synth instantly washes over the listener. The tone is nostalgic (old soundtrack synths and familiar distortion), but forward moving. Just as it reaches the apex of distortion and harmony calamatously melding into one, it falls leaving you unsure it had happened. the power goes on and the industrial equipment kicks in after that with ‘Mandate‘. Various heavy apparatuses and instruments come to life and fall into a powerful rotary heart beat. The atmosphere is punctured by a massive stab with powerful delay. it hits critical mass swirling around, resonating off of itself before shifting completely, and locking into the rhythm with total precision before leading into ‘Elegant Mistakes‘. Pistons of snare and whalloping bass fire in alternating motions. It’s altogether very assembly-line mechanical but heavily noted with a dirty organic texture. Various layers come into play until suddenly the listener is standing before a full assemblage of percussive elements bearing down ominnously.

After a swift transition, it’s a descent into a massive underground cavern with ‘Industry and Empire‘. Slow delay and massive reverb rippling out into an anomalous abyss. A valve beat steadily pumping steam comes in as the the immensity of the cavern becomes clearer. It’s a slow downward spiral of nervous over-the-shoulder shapes and glances. A paranoid thought creeping into one’s mind at the thought of unwarranted surveillance. A desperate escape into a darkened hallway, to a fate undetermined.

Then, shattering the shroud ‘Labor Division‘ cuts in with off beat metallic thuds that build with grime and crunch, high-hats alternating higher and lower in pitch. Velocity increases as the bass and clap kicks in followed quickly by a an metallic oscillating pitch that drifts eerily over up and down into the lows and highs. The beat shifts bit-wise to the right in a blindsiding manner and the complete set of elements sync in layered cohesion. Contracting back to room-size in an intense head-first rush towards the listener.

From here gears shift, tangentially transitioning into an exploration in percussive sounds that vary in style, scope, and intensity. From the Vacuous resonance of ‘Nihil Novi‘ to ‘Metal Image‘ which pays homage to some of the more classic nuances of early minimalism whilst still managing to explore untouched sonic dimensions and angular rhythm. ‘TTH‘ hits with a crunchy beat that is both voluminous and raw with an early IDM and hardcore metal feel to it. All the while tense drones paint the sky over the rhythmic landscape that changes feel subtly throughout . In perfect style the track ends with ‘Cultivah‘, perhaps the most organic track on the album by nature. A brutally distorted guitar-esque synth floats in juxtaposed against crushing front-heavy beats harkening back to the leadfooted drummers of thrashing metal. Soon the listener is left watching the final waves of distorted guitar drift with locomotive style ending in a reverberated singular drop off. The listener is with the daunting task of discerning where they had just been, and how far they had traveled. A personal recommendation for such cases: listen through again, and again.