“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned!" - William Congreve
This often quoted and endlessly misrepresented line from a play in 1697 isn’t just a European sound bite, for many lovelorn souls it’s a warning to live by. Enter Erica Dunham, voice behind the dark electronic projects Stray and Unter Null. She has been dishing gut-level artistic lyrics for several years now but Unter Null’s release this year, Moving On, may be her magnum opus. You’ve been warned.
Unter Null hit the underground Industrial scene hard in 2005 with the Sick Fuck EP and The Failure Epiphany. Showcasing thumping clubby beats and extremely distorted harsh vocals she gained a cult-like following rather quickly and established a niche in the Terror genres. 2006 saw the release of the Absolution and Sacrament EP’s which had both original singles and several solid remixes to keep Unter Null afloat in the club circuit even while Dunham continued to evolve musically behind the scenes. It was a bit of a surprise in 2008, then, when instead of the next Unter Null we were treated to a new project, Stray, and its debut album Abuse By Proxy. Stray is comparably much more Synthpop with cleaner vocals and more complicated piano textures and was a serious departure from the harshness that is Unter Null. Or so fans originally thought.
Earlier this year Moving On debuted on Alfa Matrix to critical acclaim. Taking the raw emotional fury of a hellish breakup and fitting it to a plethora of twisted electronics, this is a testament to the darkness that lies just underneath any polished surface. This go-round shows a fusion of sounds and texturing that Dunham has perfected over the course of both projects. The album opens with “Journey Into Descent,” a darkly ambient Powernoise rambling fusion that twists and turns into a warning of the insanity below it. The title track showcases the merging of Dunham’s two unique sounds and is the litmus test as to whether you will like this album or not. “Broken Heart Cliché” and “I Can’t Be The One” will obliterate any civility on dance-floors for years to come while “The Mercy Seat” fuses a piano-laced orchestral ballad with a Trip-Hop inspired beat structure and Terror vocals to create something unforgettably terrifying.
Not all surprises on the album work out so well for my taste though. “Visceral, Venom Of My Being” sounds just as horribly angry as its title suggests which makes it almost unlistenable, and I ironically found “Obligatory Club Hit To Appease The Masses” the least interesting song on the disc. It is a ‘regular’ sounding, 4-to-the-floor club-fodder track but compared to the other smoothly crafted sonic experimentations it actually felt a bit hollow and forgettable to me. Though upon a second and third listen, perhaps that exact irony is the point of the track, in which case it succeeds.
Like most CDs lately this also came out as a massive box Set. CD 2 is Moved On, a set of excellent bonus tracks and remixes. Unlike other bonus discs this feels ultimately necessary for collectors in my mind since the songs are closer to a standalone set than a b-side sampling. CD 3 is aptly named Mixing On, a collection of some amazing remixes by Wynardtage, Implant, and Freakangel among others. The third disc alone has as many hits as the first two and assures the box sets appeal. The whole package together makes a much more well-rounded club experience and a chance for Dunham to continue to gain fans and collaborate with talent. This CD is one of the few that has been on constant rotation (Read: One of the best of) all year for me and the box set is the ONLY way to go if you are planning on picking this up (if you haven’t already) before Moving On.
Must have tracks: CD 1: “Moving On,” “Broken Heart Cliché,” “Godless,” “I Can’t Be The One,” “Hypocrite And Contradict,” “The Mercy Seat,” “I Can’t Be The One (DE-TOT-COR Remix).” CD2: “Monster,” “Oh, You’ve Come Undone,” “Dig Deeper,” “Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter,” “A Study In Evolution,” “Moving On (Acylum Remix),” “Godless (Neikka RPM Remix),” “I Can’t Be The One (DYM Remix).” CD3: “Godless (Siva Six Remix),” “The Fall (Wynardtage Remix),” “Broken Heart Cliché (Alien Vampires Remix),” “Moving On (Essence Of Mind Remix),” “Moving On (Hex Rx Remix),” “I Can’t Be The One (Xykogen Remix),” “Godless (Fraqtured:Sound Remix),” “Broken Heart Cliché (Freakangel Remix).”
For fans of: Implant, Neikka RPM, C-Drone-Defect, Wynardtage, XP8, God Module, Acylum.