Label: Contort Records
Release Date: 13/02/2015
Samuel Kerridge returns with _Always Offended Never Ashamed _- arguably his most explorative and challenging record to date. Pushing even further forward into realms of unearthly abstract experimentation, it feels as though Kerridge is trying to reimagine the mysterious mood of a half-remembered dream, or warn us with a dystopian depiction of the future. The opening groan of the introductory track ‘GOFD’, for instance, sounds lifted straight from a horror movie, and marks the beginning of an increasingly morbid montage. Or take ‘DAYT’, with its burly, menacing horns that waver like the war cry of a elephant, and the epic ‘WOSN’ that weaves together boundless strings into a rich mesh of shimmering resonances.
Yet, despite this otherworldly territory of Kerridge’s music, to think of it as unstuck from time and place altogether would be a mistake. It has an an undeniable ‘spatial’ quality at its core, and it’s important not to divorce his sound from its live context entirely. Speaking to FACT last week, Kerridge explains, “I really feel this LP catches a particular moment. I wanted to keep a bit more space between things, to let it breathe”. Indeed, having recently co-founded the new Contort imprint that the album is signed to, it’s near impossible to decouple Kerridge’s output from the wide open spaces of Berlin’s abandoned power stations that house the new Contort parties, including their residency at Berlin Atonal festival.
The spirit of Berlin’s factory spaces can also be found in the track names themselves. The tracklist delivers a series of mysterious acronyms: ’TRN5’, ‘NCV’, ‘WIAGW’… Each individual track is a distinct part or product, developed and packaged as if a unit on a factory conveyor belt. Even the album cover itself looks like a modular key or hard disk used to store these unique codes. But that’s not to say that this LP is formulaic. Far from it, the record serves as something of a leap forward in sonic experimentation. Where his 2013 effort Fallen Empire raised a lot of questions around the current state of industrial and dark ambient, Always Offended… seeks to distill those ideas into purer, more articulate forms.