Review: Statiqbloom – Beneath The Whelm

With their 2019 album barely cold in the ground, Brooklyn post-industrial duo Statiqbloom are back with a follow-up just halfway through 2020.

Asphyxia was an excellent second album, a bleak dive into a dark electro underworld only Fade Kainer and Denman C. Anderson dare to provoke. Going there again so soon is an indication of twisted minds.

There’s even been an album of reimagined Asphyxia tracks in between, but it’s Beneath The Whelm that really bears the full Statiqbloom seal of quality. The pair describe this album as a sharpened progression, boasting “hallucinogenic synths, seething rhythms and grim atmospherics.”

If there’s any single word to summarise this album, grim is it.

Statiqbloom’s stock in trade is harsh, gothic electro that even the clientele of Club Trash would find hard to stomach. Asphyxia was intoxicating, ‘Until Oblivion’ Kainer and Anderson’s mastery writ large on the godforsaken pavements of an imaginary cinematic metropolis.

All of which is to say that Statiqbloom had a lot to live up to with Beneath The Whelm and turning it around in such short order is an impressive show of ambition. The results justify the approach and the duo’s claim that they’ve lurched towards the black is well founded.

‘Alcestis’ and ‘Restless’, the first two songs proper, pack an insistent pulse and offer little respite from the gloom. The latter allows itself to clamp into a rhythm and shows that Statiqbloom have an ear for a hook. They just choose to embed it into your face once they’ve crafted it.

It says plenty about Statiqbloom that ‘Restless’ also features one of the album’s most spacious, least grabbable parts. ‘Ghost Deep’ flows its experimental spirit within and around relentless and repetitive sections, creating Essence of Statiqbloom in an opaque noir bottle.

The sixth track is the sumptuous ‘Black Lava’, a darkly infectious anthem rooted in Hollywood’s underbelly and masterfully given life in Brooklyn. ‘Buried’ is a measured tale of regret underpinned by bursts of drum and bass; the expert contrast between those beats and the steady pace of the song is perhaps the sharpest creative flourish on an album of many.

Beneath The Whelm is an unholy marriage of the mechanical with the corporeal. It teeters on the precipice of becoming the best kind of background music, such is its commitment to the generation of the worst kind of mood. But it remains exactly abrasive enough to prevent any hint of comfort in the sound.

As the last song – deftly entitled ‘Last Song’ – melts away, it seems to take the intensity of the record with it as if it’s finally ready to drift into the ether, finally ready to let you rest. This album is too short, too claustrophobic, to be described as a journey. Yet, at its conclusion, it feels as if you’ve lived it.

If a picture can paint a thousand words then music can sing a thousand pictures. Statiqbloom are the Devil’s artists in residence.

Beneath The Whelm will be released on July 10th on Metropolis Records.

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Chris Nee