Review: Gridfailure ‘Perpendicular To The Living Ones’

Gridfailure aka David Brenner (also of Earsplit PR) has never been workshy as is evident with this, his fourth release of 2022, Perpendicular To The Living Ones. This follows the live Outdoor Improv At Mama Tried Brooklyn set, Harbinger Winds which saw him collaborate with Megalophobe (which I reviewed for The Sleeping Shaman) and Ghoul Bushcraft: Henchpersons Instrumentals II.

Gridfailure 'Perpendicular To The Living Ones'

It will shock no one to learn that the album was mastered by the very brilliant Dan Emery of Black Matter Mastering in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan is the label owner of Anti-Corp whose Magnolia Sessions quite a few of us have been enjoying here at Shaman Towers. The darkly themed artwork by Brenner on all his output has always matched the even more unsettling music within and having had a cursory listen prior to writing this review, this release proves no exception to the rule.

Did I say unsettling? Let’s make that harrowing. Bow Echo starts us off in such a fashion with some truly uncomfortable listening. Rainfall, muffled shouts and shrieks, creepy instrumentation, all the hallmarks of a Gridfailure track are present. Music to paint kitchens to? Not for ordinary people, but then I am anything but, thankfully. Following up this with Suicidal Tendencies’ S/T debut made for aural bliss for me, but not for my poor mother. Sorry mum!

The definition of dysphoria in Aftermath Dysphoria according to reads as a state of dissatisfaction, anxiety or restlessness. Listening to this number it’s obvious that the music isn’t going to appeal to those of a zen like, laissez faire disposition. However, the madness evoked by the harsh noises and dark ambient sounds prove oddly meditative, depending on your brain chemistry of course. This means, in essence, that my brain must be scrambled because I could easily find myself falling into a restful state while listening to this. Maybe I’ve listened to too much Lustmord and Gridfailure over the years, who knows? What’s more worrying is that even sans vocals, Brenner still manages to conjure images of horror and evoke feelings of absolute hopelessness.

Brenner has a knack for turning the disturbing into something truly magical…

The somewhat verbosely titled Molten Nickel Raining Onto Fields Of Flesh imagines an apocalyptic scenario for humankind with a soundtrack that summons the jazz-fusion/experimental-jazz spirit of albums like Bitches Brew. Brenner has a knack for turning the disturbing into something truly magical, like a butterfly emerging from a caterpillar if you will; and this track is a perfect example of this.

Pathogens Coalesce is another instrumental and could refer to the seemingly endless Covid mutations which is precisely what the music evokes. As if the pathogens were being concocted in some evil lab somewhere, the unusually sedate nature of the music make it even more threatening as it slowly, and silently, infiltrates society to cause untold suffering. An outstanding exercise in musical terror.

Controlled Burn is, if you pardon the pun, a raging inferno whose destruction is further highlighted by the sound of a plaintive trumpet and relentless post-industrial clanging, while the concluding track Perpendicular To The Living Ones recalls, both musically and lyrically, the industrial hip-hop of bands such as Dälek with an underlying cool ass groove that helps anchor the track in amongst the abject chaos. Truly fantastic and another personal favourite.

So, there we have it, yet another Gridfailure release to torment and delight enemies and fans respectively. As you may have noticed if you have read my previous Gridfailure reviews, I definitely belong in the latter camp. Approach with extreme caution if you’ve yet to be initiated, otherwise check it out tout suite!

Label: Independent
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills