In its original form, Cannibal Mécanique has been around since 2014. Constructed by multimedia artist Victoria Keddie, the piece began life as a data-moshed, psychedelic amalgamation of electronic music, choreography and lo-fi VHS visual manipulations performed at New York’s Museum of Art & Design.
Recently, Angus Tarnawsky’s In Context Music imprint took it upon themselves to issue a reworked version of the audio components of Cannibal Mécanique on a limited series of 7” lathe records. ICM saw a bit of a hiatus cross 2016, so it’s great to see them back in force, releasing five new works of consistently high quality across this year.
This latest offering is littered with buzzing, amp-driven distortions and wild, screeching tape echoes, like a Rrose release only available on a 1960’s TV set. Both sides seem to be alterations on the same theme, stuttered sine-wave techno and de-saturated, Sähkö reminiscent modulations both recurring textures.
Keddie’s a-side sees dusty overdrive resonances tremoloing alongside contorted dial-tones, while the b-side feels like a much subdued, basement-dwelling relative. Grainy beaters and stalled-engine sound design make for a brooding, hypnotic listen, developing slowly to a malfunctioned close.
In its lathe cut form at least, Cannibal Mécanique calls to mind Francis Ford Coppola’s wire-tap thriller, The Conversation for me. Not least for the static-laced, in-and-out-of-focus feel it maintains, but also for the fact both sides build to disconcerting climaxes, leaving the listener unnerved and disoriented.