Cyborgs On Crack - Industrial Polka Classics
Since its humble beginnings in 2010 as the experimental bedroom project of then-14-year-old Domagoj Kršić, Cyborgs on Crack has matured into a finely-honed force to be reckoned with. A quirky blend of synth pop, acid house, electro-funk, and EBM, the project is simultaneously an homage to bands of the 80s and 90s, and a creative rebellion against over-polished, homogenized contemporary music. Kršić made his live debut last October in Zagreb, and has showed no signs of slowing down since. In just six years, he’s released five COC albums, two singles, a remix album, and now a reworked best-of compilation, Industrial Polka Classics, not to mention four other albums under his side projects Mind Teardown, Midget Sings, and Amputacija Ruke (Arm Amputation). The 13-track compilation, released May 22nd on Werkstatt Recordings, consists of songs recorded between 2012 and 2016, all but two of which were previously released on the albums Drinking Air With Eyes, Tapeworm, and 66D Mutations. Most tracks, however, were tweaked for the new release, giving them a cleaner, crisper sound than their album counterparts.
The compilation begins with “Hypno (Tekno Body Mix),” a high-energy house anthem built around piano samples and snippets of operatic vocals. I can easily imagine this one on the soundtrack of some big-budget video game extravaganza like the Mortal Kombat reboot, if that ever gets off the ground. Next up is the squelchy, psychedelic pop masterpiece, “I’m Dissolving,” which melds clean vocals and melodic hooks à la Severed Heads or New Order.
One of the album’s more intriguing offerings, “Butcher Is a Good Talker,” combines a funky bassline that sounds like it came straight out of a blaxploitation movie with muted spoken vocals, some type of flute, and cartoon noises. The song was inspired by a dream Kršić once had about talking to a Japanese butcher in a white room.
The self-loathing lyrics of “Offendinator (Pineapple Mix)” (“I wonder if I could die/I’d probably fail at death, too”) offer a marked contrast to the song’s gentle, chiming synths. “Sesquipedalophobia (Mix 4)” began life as a song called “Holy Car Engine,” about a tiny church inside a car engine. Kršić scrapped the original music, but used the lyrics in the first version of “Sesquipedalophobia,” from 2014’s Tapeworm. This version nixes the lyrics to showcase the music, which reminds me of the big race scene near the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when Ferris has to beat his parents home so they don’t find out he’s been playing hooky all day.
Clocking in at over a minute longer than the original, “Krankenhaus (Self Surgery Mix)” features distorted vocals growled in a faux-German accent over a 4/4 bass drumbeat, along with samples of Charles Manson raving about a black Jesus in Florida, a voice that sounds like Daffy Duck’s demanding, “Did I ever tell you about my hemorrhoids?” and Porky Pig’s bewildered reply, “Oh, sure!”
The soothing ambient track,“66D Mutations (Edit),” marks the compilation’s midpoint. For me, it evokes a maritime scene with seagulls flying overhead. The album’s most commercial-sounding track, the Britpop-influenced “Dry Mouth,” features vocals by Sputñik’s Žikica Milošević and evokes Pet Shop Boys at their finest. The militant austerity of the minimal techno track “Information (1.9)” gives way to the mutated pop stylings of “Hello There My Name Is Bob,” which skillfully blends operatic samples with static and glitches.
“No Words (Enerrgee Mix)” opens with a static-marred bass drum, adds a house piano melody, and then incorporates Timothy Leary samples from the 1966 album The Transcendental Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The “Say kids, what time is it?” Howdy Doody intro sampled by Coldcut on their 1987 single and Wax Scientists’ “It’s time for house” are thrown in for good measure, and Porky Pig makes another appearance here, as well.
The album is wrapped up by two more experimental offerings, “Death Cult Initiation at Chuckie Cheez,”a six-minute round of percussion, and the ironically-titled “Customer Support Jingle,” an abrasive wash of screeching synth sounds and static. All in all, Industrial Polka Classics offers an eclectic mix of styles, and no two songs tread the same ground, so there’s bound to be something here for almost everyone.
Jun 08 2016
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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Industrial Polka Classics at Werkstatt Recordings