Sutcliffe Jügend - The Hunger (2018)
The legendary Sutcliffe Jugend returns in genre-defiance fashion with a new 2CD (3 if you select the special edition) entitled The Hunger on Death Continues Records.
Commonly referred to (or pigeon-holed) as a “noise” or “power electronics” act, Sutcliffe Jugend has long since transcended the arena of noise since the landmark releases, Campaign and We Spit On Their Graves. They’ve evolved into what can only be appropriately described as Sutcliffe Jugend; no labels, no rules, no apologies. Period.
The Hunger continues their trajectory and might actually be one of their most unique, groundbreaking releases yet.
Whereas in many previous SJ releases, any vocals remained in the background, they are in the foreground of this album while the music is layered in the back. The surprising factor and what actually creates the dominant character of The Hunger is Kevin Tomkins’ often fierce but always poignant spoken-word lyrics. His delivery and degree of intensity are as diverse as the sounds in the back. Take “Cause,” for example. For most of this track, the vocals are somewhat subdued and laid against the background of improvisational piano strikes and ambient soundscapes. The majority of Disc 1 maintains similar vibes or moods….ranging from soft and minimal to uncomfortable and disturbing. The words and music work in tandem to this disc’s benefit.
And then comes the chaos that is Disc 2. “The Lost” is an instantly musically chaotic, mangled piece but not overdone so as to ignore the importance of the lyrics. “Author’s Note” is like someone sampled a harpsichord, ran it through effects and proceeded to sonically abuse it. A track like this speaks highly to the uncomfortable nature of the release. “Show Me” is definitely one of my favorites and borders on goosebumps. The background is partially reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine’s iconic shoe-gaze album, Loveless but then becomes a barrage of noise to support the fierce delivery of lyrics.
The special edition of The Hunger comes with a download card where you can grab Disc 3. The disc starts with the somewhat cinematic-sounding, dark “Authors Muse” graced by sporadic piano hits and a gliding soundscape at the base. The disc seems to slowly evolve into the horrifying atmosphere of “Meursault Goes Outside.” Disc 3 might be the most disturbing, haunting as a whole of the 3 discs…perhaps a bit less abrasive sonically for the most part but definitely no less in its degree of intensity.
Sutcliffe Jugend may have really outdone themselves this time. I don’t ever recall hearing an album that so successfully combined a spoken word element with music or sounds that worked with and against each other like this. But then again… this is Sutcliffe Jugend and the only thing that we should expect from them is the unexpected, the ground-breaking and the destruction of any pre-defined rules.
Ltd. 2CD edition as well as 2CD+ digital download card edition available via Death Continues Records.