Helming hand crafted apparatus of machinery and electronics, Tristan Shone has managed to synthesize some of music’s ugliest and least accessible genres under his Author & Punisher moniker. Shone’s perverted marriage of noise, drone, doom and industrial catapults the listener into a cacophony of mechanized damnation. Simultaneously organic and artificial, the listener is drawn into the sounds of the world’s darkest industrial districts reimagined for purveyors of bleaker compositions. Shone has now returned with Melk En Honing, a satisfying addition to Author & Punisher’s catalogue.
As was alluded to above, what Melk En Honing has to offer is a collection of abrasive dirges that play as the soundtracks to machine-related fatalities. Album opener “The Barge” is an appropriately titled track which is comparable to an abandoned ship finally snapping, sinking and scraping against the icebergs below the surface and releasing the moaning spirits of its deceased crew. A more direct romp arrives a couple of tracks later with “Shame,” which boasts a thumping groove with the strength of Godflesh and arena atmosphere of Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson. Of course, lead single “Callous & Hoof” is arguably the strongest offering on the album, a punishing array of sounds fit for a horror film soundtrack. With electronics mimicking chainsaws, tastefully distorted vocals, a swash of tick noise and plinking piano and a chilling sample sounding like grave robbers sawing into a coffin from the perspective of the deceased, this is the conglomeration of sounds that comes to mind when photographs of Shone’s musical contraptions are viewed by virgin eyes.
While “Callous & Hoof” is not truly that long at just under seven minutes, its careful development and detailing dispels an issue with the lengthier tracks on Melk En Honing. Despite the seemingly complex nature of Shone’s musical setup, Author & Punisher’s sound is relatively straightforward: drag out hideous electronics to compose twisted drones of industrial noise. What stalls this somewhat throughout the album is a small but noticeable case of overstaying one’s welcome. “Cauterize” and “Teething” – the album’s shortest tracks at around four minutes each – establish the Author & Punisher mission statement in a succinct package, with the latter track being an album highlight best described as The Knife remixing elements of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre soundtrack. But when tracks like “Disparate” trudge along for almost nine minutes, it puts a damper on the track’s strong composition by overstating what could be conveyed more tersely. Additionally, a distant chorus of clean vocals appear on “Shame” and “Void, Null, Alive,” coming across as a group of campy prog front men singing into a fan. There is certainly room for cleaner passages in Author & Punisher’s music, but these moments end up crowding the mix in “Shame” and provide a lackluster conclusion for the album on “Void, Null, Alive.”
Still, every song on Melk En Honing has something to offer, even if some polishing or trimming may have enhanced them further. Shone’s multifaceted approach should speak to a wide variety of music listeners, and his dedication to both his craft and the crafting of tools to continue his musical endeavors has earned him consideration as an artist worth respecting and considering whenever he releases new material. And whether a music fan spins Melk En Honing, Women & Children or Ursus Americanus, the experience is best described as Shone assuming the role of Jigsaw as he subjects the listener to masochistic sonic enjoyment.
Author & Punisher’s Melk En Honing gets…