Strikkland Expand the Borders of EBM

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(Photo: Krichan Wihlborg)

A British music journalist famously noted of DAF that the duo broke up because they had simply exhausted the possibilities of the 16-step sequencer. Electronic body music can often sound derivative and same-same, precisely because there are mathematical limits to the number of original basslines that can be created within the genre.

It is a pleasure, therefore, to receive the new EP from Strikkland. A Gift of Solitude provides four tracks that escape the rigid confines of the genre while celebrating its muscularity.

The Gothenburg duo of Henrik Johansson and Henric Ceder rely upon some old-school equipment to make their music, including the Alesis Ion, Polivoks-M, Ensoniq SQ1 and Casio CZ-1000. They certainly use it to generate some great sounds.

The set opens with “Kinky Sophisticated Gentleman,” a paen to BDSM. Where Depeche Mode teased about something a lot like love, Strikkland are less coy. Play it loud and dance to the rhythm of the lash.

“Truth Will Unfold” provides a more nuanced experience. There are strings to provide atmosphere, and great patches from the lead, but the duo’s secret weapon is a sense of timing to create dramatic tension. They avoid the four-to-the-floor repetition of much EBM to generate an experience well worth returning to.

It’s all about the bass in EBM, and “Beneath the Towers” has a blinder, full of urgency and tension. The lead line played over it provides a sense of drama, while Johansson’s vocals growl insistently and metal rattles.

“Birds of Prey” is another prime specimen of dark electro. In a world where predators pretend to be peacocks, an understanding of ornithology can be very helpful.

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