Krüller by Author & Punisher

Release date: February 11, 2022
Label: Relapse Records

San Diego’s one-man wrecking crew Tristan Shone returns in a weaponised bulldozer of noise with Author & Punisher‘s ninth full-length, Krüller. I’ve always been drawn to harsh music and experimental sounds, there’s something about colossal waves of dread and jarring noise that ticks my boxes. What hellscapes, droning atmospheres and technical wizardry one can create by fiddling with a computer is fascinating in its own way, but when you can upgrade yourself into a fully-mechanised human instrument then that’s in a whole other league.

Shone’s love of engineering and science has elevated his music beyond normal conventions, pushing his unique sound through barricades by becoming the noise himself. His performance is visceral and highly unique and his music is made so much more impactful by the fact he makes a spectacle of it. Watching him perform as part man and part machine co-existing in a contraption that bears some startling resemblance to a trap from the newest Saw movie is truly a sight to be marvelled at. Keys are slammed, vocals spat out through a modified mic and hands thrust back and forth in torturous robotic punching devices, creating a variety of drum beats and violent noise and feedback depending on what switches are engaged.

Newest album Krüller is industrialised mayhem pushed through a time hole and spat out into a cybernetic future where the crushing of bone underfoot is as natural as a bird song once was. That’s not to say this is Shone’s most brutal album, as it isn’t, it still bears the crushing weight of fighting transformers but with a sparkling touch of etherealism.

The anthemic ‘Drone Carrying Dread’ opens the album with a scintillating buzz of nostalgia, warping, crunching distortion and glimmering synths. Shone’s lamenting cleans add even more weight but clear the cobwebs away with their cathartic purge of pained expressiveness. The track is almost blackgaze-like in its spacey euphoria. ‘Incinerator’ returns Shone to a more factory settings sound, immersing you in an industrialised shock-rock blitz of gothic, Manson-esque soundscapes. As does ‘Centurion’ and its defiant metal-clanging repetition and trippy, staticky dissonance. Definitely a track that would amp-up any rebellious dystopian movie.

There’s a layered nuance to his freshest work that proves Shone doesn’t just rely on skull-mashing noise to get the point across. The intro track in particular has a supremely catchy tone to it with its carefully placed percussive hits coupled with the undeniable warmth of its starry synthetics. Tracks like the dreamy ‘Maiden Star’ go to further showcase Shone’s songwriting freedom on Krüller with a vulnerable track sharing vocals with his wife. Shone even makes time to transform the Portishead track ‘Glory Box’ into his own moody monster. Krüller ends perfectly with its title track, a looming, ominous behemoth of crawling, lumbering doom strikes, diesel-powered Frankensteined guitar distortion and dark, atonal siren-like synths. Shone’s vocals again play an integral part in balancing this piece as more than just noise, making this an in-depth and melancholic listen.

Krüller is still so densely heavy it oozes all the traits we know and love about Author & Punisher yet with the Vangelis-like synths and moody, sci-fi intricacies Shone has opened up his music into a vaster world without being overbearingly oppressive.

There’s more than a handful of gems in each of the eight tracks and it certainly did not take several spins to absorb, the spark of connection was instant and appreciated. Krüller is perhaps Shone’s most accessible album to date and part of that familiarity comes with the floods of 80s soundtrack nostalgia we’re bathed in like spot-lights from a hunter droid. We all fear the cyber-uprising, but Shone has taken his death-machine to the next level and evolved it into something truly remarkable. Fantastic listen!

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