“Originally released in 1988 on cassette (and under the name Vidna Obmana as the project was styled in those days, rather than the later vidnaObmana), The Face That Must Die is very a much a release redolent of its post-industrial musical era, but still holds an effective and occasionally gruesome fascination thirty years later.
Following an introduction from Trev Ward of The Order Ov Wolves (who also helped release the cassette version), whose slightly portentous but ultimately a somewhat jejune menace is typical of the age (see also the hilariously camp but still strangely unnerving James Havoc‘s Church Of Raism — released on Creation, of all labels), the remastered and expanded CD slips from tape-loop miasma to queasily (re)percussive orchestrations as found on “Sweat Sessions” parts 1 and 2, Dirk Serries deploying a battery of synthesizers, turntables and shortwave radios to often mesmerising and macabre effect. Old Captain have gone to town on the artwork for the new edition too, and where the original tape was housed in what looks like a photocopied sleeve in best cassette culture fashion, the CD gets stark monochrome reproductions of various gruesome woodcuts from European history printed on a four-panel digipak.
Time may not have treated some of the more beat-heavy moments so well, though they stand up fairly by comparison to many black-clad, gloom-laden acts of the late Eighties, but the swirling walls of drone and FX-riding swarms of sound on tracks like “Proto Anguish” retain their hypnotic sense of uncertainty tinged with woozy dread. Listen to a track like “Bring Out Your Dead”, and with its pinging tape loops and heaving bass undertow, and it’s also easy to fast-foward a few decades into the retro lo-fi blasted radiophonic landscapes of the likes of Ekoplekz or Ghost Box releases.
Likewise, the cycling compressed throb of “Bondage Doom To Creator” is possessed of a particular texture and feel that comes only from magnetic tape manipulations, heaving with heavily compressed presence and a slurred smearing of sound that hardware audio engineers might spend thousands reproducing faithfully in the digital realm. Throw in the layers upon layers of more effects, and it’s a seriously mind-melting traipse through the audio underworld at times, bouncing unpleasantries off the speakers like the world’s about to end.
What goes around certainly comes around, and The Face That Must Die is both well worth revisiting or discovering for the first time too.” Freq UK/Antron S Meister – UK
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