Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Man Eat Man Eat Man - Man Eat Man Eat Man

Recorded over a decade ago and rescued from the vaults is this release from Man Eat Man Eat Man. Thankfully so, as this is a superb release of post-punk mannerisms with an added dose of industrial heaviness. Man Eat Man Eat Man combines the talents of Lloyd James, Hunter Barr and Ben McLees who between them at the time of recording were members of Naevus, Antivalium, KnifeLadder, SonVer and This Is Radio Silence. And while it features elements of all those groups Man Eat Man Eat Man doesn't really sound like any of them. This really is a collaboration where the sum is greater than the whole of its parts creating something detailed, dense and charged with a refreshing vitality.

Evidence of how innovative and exciting this collaboration is comes in the form of the opening track, 'The Stomach'. Unfurling from a loose interplay of electronics and noise, crisp programmed drum rhythms kick in with nifty basslines veering between funk stylings and dub based tones. Lloyd's voice, assured and relaxing, stretches out, continually, asking "how much longer?" as electronics dart and bend and mammoth guitar riffs expand out over the fizzing atmospherics and impressive bass tones. Naevus recorded a version of this on their The Division of Labour album, where brooding acoustic strum was swathed in shoegazey guitars but this one merges industrial and post-punk with a burning intensity.

The following track 'Carmarthen' is a rush of hammering rhythms, booming basslines and surging guitars all nestled within a wall of cacophony. The treated vocals are delivered frantically, contrasting countless declamations about not having been to Cologne with vague threats of being sent to the Welsh town referenced in the title. Choppy and chomping, eschewing guitar solos for passages of flickering hi-hats, 'Carmarthen' has more in common with the taut directness of Wire put through an industrial grinder.

'Detail', meanwhile, beats outs something of a merry dance filtered through grating drone and rolling percussive beats and lively rhythmic bass. There's something in the opening moments that reminded me of KnifeLadder, the rhythmic electronic industrial group who featured John Murphy, Andrew Trail and Hunter Barr who features here, but that might just be one reference as with its beating bass tones and flourishes of guitar discord and buzzing atmospheric haze this is immersed in a post-punk dissonance. It contrasts neatly with Lloyd's half-sung, half-spoken delivery which is restrained, couched and repeated in the hypnotic waves of distortion and jiggery basslines.

'Pectin' appears in two forms. The first is more forceful with its booming deep bass tones and battering rhythms enveloped in layers of electronics and wailing guitars. The bass is as solid and heavy as Killing Joke or Godflesh, the guitars as stretched and blurred as Loop or My Bloody Valentine, with vocals spoken speedily and word heavy. Lloyd James's lyrics avoid the obvious for subject matter more ordinary, more mundane. They're clever but not over clever in an off-putting way. It's a combination that works, and this is another worthwhile track. This one was mixed by Lloyd James, but the following alternate version mixed by Hunter Barr goes off in a completely different direction. Here, Lloyd's voice is delivered pensively between pauses, and almost deployed matter of factly. Those lyrics, just like the previous version, read like a cut-up extract from a Wikipedia entry or a dry academic text. The music stripped down and spacious is like an experimental dub mix giving space to the sounds and textures. Rhythms are clipped, the clanging echoed, riddled with ghostly atmospherics formed from spiralling tones and arcing frequencies all underpinned by deep bass rumbles amidst the miasma of free-falling and ricocheting sound elements. It is a rare moment offering restraint and space amidst the heavier, dense, onslaughts of the other noisier post-punk tracks that feature here.

That repetitious intensity continues on the expansive title track aligning the clatter of skittering metallic rhythms with booming bass tones as guitars lock into hypno-monotony while Lloyd James intones a business plan, outlining a corporate takeover familiar to many assembling all those ghastly hollow consultancy mission statements into a depressing lyric. It's hardly surprising that it is punctuated by a background refrain of "man eat man eat man" as it amply illustrates the dog eat dog world where businesses are snaffled up into corporate objectives. With its running time just shy of 12 minutes this allows the band to expand into squalling feedback infused noise rock, more reminiscent of something from the nineties like Splintered or Skullflower, while the lyrics retain a sense of order. As the final words ring out claiming "This is both a tremendous honour and a tremendous responsibility" I think after listening to this countless times they might want to add fun to that, as the whole album is exhilarating and it is really quite refreshing to hear the members who now feature in Naevus, This Is Radio Silence and Oblivion Guest letting loose in this wonderful combination of hypnotic post-punk charged with an experimental and industrial edge.

This will have obvious appeal to fans of Man Eat Man Eat Man's associated projects but I would urge others to give this a listen as this is, as I said earlier, exhilarating and refreshing. Excellent stuff from beginning to end. Co-released by Wooden Lung/Retina II/Disconnected Music, this "lost" album from Man Eat Man Eat Man is available on heavyweight vinyl limited to a mere 100 copies, and digitally from the Wooden Lung bandcamp page.