Schkeuditzer KreuzIsolated And Alone
Bad Habit / Already Broken

- “The simulation you are about to experience is a brief psychotic episode” an impersonal voice informs the listener at the beginning of Isolated And Alone, the new album from electronics mangler Schkeuditzer Kreuz.

Taking the politics and fury of d-beat and anarcho-punk, then blending them with treated vocals, harsh industrial synths and queasy dance-punk rhythms, Isolated And Alone is a terrifying yet enjoyable journey into the darkness of dehumanised, repressive society. Imagine the drum machines from John Foxx’s icy electro classic Metamatic turned up to eleven, combining with the squalling electronics of Throbbing Gristle or early Cabaret Voltaire and you get some idea of the maelstrom that awaits.

The musical outlet for crust/hardcore specialist Kieren Hills, Schkeuditzer Kreuz is electronic punk that details his industrial influences, allowing it to soundtrack post-Covid western society in a manner that reflects our sense of hopelessness and disorientation.

This world, it disappoints/You’re not the first to tire”, Hills intones in Disappointment, reflecting the world’s pandemic fatigue. Elsewhere, the protagonist of Broken is, as the title suggests, a non-functioning figure simply waiting in disturbed limbo for all the anguish and terror to stop. Hills’ vocals are distorted to reflect the shards of guitar and synths that hum throughout the album. Things get truly dystopian in the chaotic State Violence State Control: totalitarian tactics critiqued over malevolent, distorted synths, police sirens, shrill guitar and pounding rhythm.

That said, it’s not as unapproachable as one might think – the electronics and field recordings are often harsh and jarring, yet it is all kept in check by rhythmic precision and even riffs and melodies that resemble some kind of lo-fi Berlin techno. It will never be mistaken for an easy listen – it’s challenging and even nightmarish – but Isolated And Alone sounds emotional and vital despite its synthetic elements.

- Matt Thrower.

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