Author & Punisher
Women & Children
01. Women & Children
02. In Remorse
04. Tame As A Lion
06. Miles From Home
07. Pain Myself
The marriage of metal and electronic music is not a new concept, and often ends up with shoddy or campy results. Industrial metal is one such genre born from this union and even still, results may vary; Bands like Godflesh and Jesu are regarded quite favorably as innovators whereas the likes of Marilyn Manson and Static-X get mixed reception. Recent developments within the genre have lead to wild avant-garde experimentation, where Norway’s SHINING and Californian one-man band Author & Punisher are met with repeated acclaim for their furtherance of industrial music in their own right.
The latter act, Author & Punisher, is a relatively little-known project from mechanical engineer and sculptor Tristan Shone that broke out last year in some ways with his sophomore album Ursus Americanus, which ended up on many critics’ year-end lists of favorites because of its unusual exhibition; Shone makes all of his instruments himself and rigs them in a way that allows him to perform his complex doom and drone inspired compositions entirely by himself. This makes for some highly unique music and performance art that is currently unrivaled in the genre. Only a year after Ursus Americanus wowed privileged listeners, Shone’s third record Women & Children explores Author & Punisher’s dark and twisted sound further and adds some much needed heart into this band of machines.
Despite the short wait between releases, Women & Children is the next logical step in the Author & Punisher evolution. The sonic palette established by Shone is still omnipresent; after a soundscape of crickets and buzzing flies, the opening title track kicks in with downtempo grooving drum machines passed down from Godflesh and massive droning synths churn together in a hypnotic fashion while Shone chants distorted syllables through the track’s dynamic rise and fall. Shone is no stranger to writing heavy and oppressive music, and shows with immediacy that he still loves the feeling of overdriven bass.
However, what makes Women & Children so different from his previous records is its moodiness and diversity. When compared to Ursus Americanus, Women & Children seemingly dials back the machines and instead focuses more on Shone’s range of emotion. For instance, on the album’s second track In Remorse, we hear glimpses of Shone’s clean singing voice, which was previously a bit of a rarity. Later, ‘Tame as a Lion’ almost catches listeners off guard, as we hear Shone at his most vulnerable as he sings quite melodically along to piano in verse-chorus structure, though his voice with his is distant and somewhat shrouded in distortion. The piano and Shone’s singing voice even make a reprisal in the album’s chilling closer ‘Pain Myself.’ While no mere piano ballads, these seemingly out of character tracks show a whole new breadth of character and marks a new direction for Author & Punisher to explore.
Following this trend, Women & Children is much more stripped down in terms of electronics, and the album is largely more atmospheric and pensive than the in-your-face aggression of Ursus Americanus. Previously, it was more often than not that distorted synths would drone longer and louder as well as rhythmically attack in a dubstep sort of fashion as the main event, as in the new track ‘Fearce‘. Now, Shone is seemingly more mindful of his songwriting on Women & Children, with tracks like ‘Melee‘ and ‘Miles From Home’ taking time between spastic vitriol for moments of sober atmosphere and dynamic ebb and flow. As such, Women & Children feels more real and human on some level, as if the tyrannical machines of past had suddenly became sentient and empathetic.
This isn’t to say that his previous work was somehow immature or lacking of emotion, but Shone has transcended what was once thought possible for Author & Punisher’s sound and created a brilliant album with some newfound variance and depth. It’s good to see Author & Punisher material pushing forward into newly emotive territory, even if it does make for more accessible songwriting. Despite this appreciation for atmosphere and melody, Women & Children is still a remarkably bleak and sinister record that explores the depressive and psychedelic in entirely new ways.
Author & Punisher – Women & Children gets…