The desert-like headland of Dungeness acts as the muse for producer Oliver Ho's latest LP, fittingly titled The English Beach. Recorded while Ho was holed up in an old fog signal building, the 12 tracks on offer here mirror the detritus-ridden shingle beach that covers the area.
Steeped in EBM and industrial noise, Ho's songs pair throbbing synths with pounding bass drums to penetrate the listener's consciousness in a manner akin to aural trepanation; enigmatic vocals and uncanny samples make the baleful atmosphere even more sinister. "Rust Ballad" is a primeval assault of vibrating springs and metallic clanging, a bleak affair that's paired with female vocals, to stunning effect. Opening track "Stray Dogs" plays a droning synth against a disembodied voice that phases out of existence as dogs bark in the direction of a lonely saxophone, while the noisy soundscape of "Concrete Desert" smacks of Emptyset with its abusive bass salvos. The proceedings close out with "Last Signal," in which a stray electrical wire arcs wildly against a voice that echoes to infinity.
The English Beach spends half of its time throwing down dance floor-ready EBM rhythms, but it's the more experimental half of the album that propels the mood into frightening and malignant orbit, while still evoking the barren landscape in which this music took shape. (Long Island Electrical Systems)