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“I thought as I looked down the huge list of emails I got from the female:pressure mailing list responding to my request for review material. There was a moment when I seriously wondered what I had got myself into. A lot of the women there are doing DJ and/or dance music that is neither much to my taste nor really suitable for an ‘alternative’ journal such as our beloved RFM. The thing I, nearly, regretted was the phrase “I will listen to everything” – a rash addendum if ever there was one.

In retrospect that sentence is the thing I am most pleased I wrote. While not everything I got was suitable for review most of it was and there were frequent surprises at things I now like that initial impressions told me otherwise. This happened a few times, I would listen to the opening of a new download or stream and go ‘umm, maybe not my thing, but I promised I would listen to it all’, and by the end I was onto ‘this is really good’ and adding it to my increasingly terrifying list of things to write about.

One such is this album: entertained by FAKE Mistress. It took me a while to get ‘into’ this release but something kept dragging me back to it, and by the time Bandcamp gave me the nudge that says ‘You’ve been listening to this a lot, perhaps you should buy it’ I realised I was hooked. It was also around this time that it dawned on me what it reminded me of:

Punk. This is a proper 21st century punk album.

Sure, there are no inexpertly strummed guitars, no simple drum beats and no, as far as I am aware from this distance, vomiting. Sid Snot this isn’t. But instead of blaring guitars, we have bursts of noise, instead of drum beats we have industrial sounds (possibly synthesized, possibly recorded – who cares?) and bleepy-bloopy synth tones sticking out where you least expect them. We certainly have the punk wailing here and the vocal stylings are often reminiscent of Holly from The Lovely Eggs, (although the lyrics, where there are such, are less comedic) and there is social commentary too, if I’m hearing the lyrics correctly, which is not guaranteed. See later for disclaimer.

The album is mostly short ‘songs’ of less than four minutes, maybe a bit long for punk. This is where the analogy breaks down perhaps – with one track, ‘Where the wild pussies go’, clocking in at nearly seven minutes. This track is the least punky, and possibly my favourite, though not for that reason. There’s a lovely consistency of material here that’s more than just a drone. The opening drum beat is simple but effective, and the multi-tracked vocals interleave beautifully. There are no lyrics here that I can discern, though a lot of the vocal is reversed and could easily be also in a language I don’t understand, ie. not English. In my notes for this track (probably made around the third or fourth listen) I wrote “slightly, but only slightly, overstays its welcome”, but after a couple more hearings I no longer agree with that. This is a track that repays repeat plays.

Not that the rest of the album is facile in any way. The opening track, ‘Appreciate the moment’s security’, will pull you in with its drama, heavy noise-based beats, spooky voicing and very punkish shouting but you’ll stay for the gentler opening of ‘You better trust’, intrigued by where it’s going. There’s harsh noise in the middle of this track and in lots of places on this album, but it’s never over-used. It’s here as a structural device to take you by surprise and drag you out of your complacency. In ‘You better trust’ it’s there at the apex of the song, the bridge between the mournful opening and the, slightly, more upbeat second half. On ‘Gold’ the noises are a punctuation – explosions that take over the music as it goes on.

‘Gold’ is the one track I find slightly distracting because there’s a synth riff that reminds me far too much of the hotline ringtone from the 60’s spy spoof Our Man Flint. This riff re-appears briefly in ‘Where the wild pussies go’, but seems less intrusive there somehow. I think I’m just showing my age. Or, more likely, my father’s taste in films when I was young. I’m sorry I mentioned it now, I’ve probably spoiled this track for everyone.

I’m not one for reviewing lyrics. There are lyrics on this album and some are even in English and understandable but I won’t even attempt to interpret them – there are albums I’ve been listening to since the 1970s whose lyrics are opaque to me, instruments and textures are my ‘thing’ by far. But where they do poke out of the texture the words here can be very effective. The closing seconds of the album (spoiler alert) are bursts of machine gun fire and the words

This track, ‘My body is a weapon’, is short, powerful and to the point. Contrast that with the seven minutes of the one that is two before it and you can see that she understands how long material should be.

There’s a lot going on in this album and you need to listen to it several times to really get ‘into’ it, at least I did. But it’s only 24 minutes long and I’m convinced it will keep you entertained (see what I did there?) for a long time.”