Regis and Ancient Methods combine, Voltron like, to form Ugandan Methods. The results so far lean toward the latter: a surprisingly elastic combination of richly detailed lows and tightly controlled feedback that would be bellicose unto caricature — a pre-battle montage of a foundry where red-hot blades are hammered, doused in water, sharpened, thrown into a foreshadowing heap — if it weren’t for that basic suppleness. The fierce attack of their music is further troubled by a certain obliqueness, tracks moving with a crablike sideways scuttle, capturing widescreen panoramas of techno devastation from a certain aestheticized distance. Despite the medievalism of their imagery, the scope of the Ancient and Ugandan Methods projects feels significantly broader than much of the music being released under the industrial techno banner, and A Cold Retreat is another single-minded arrow in their quiver.
Ugandan Methods, Excerpts from A Cold Retreat
This is just the third Ugandan Methods record, and, in the abstract at least, it’s a little strange to see Michael Wollenhaupt, Conrad Protzmann, and Karl O’Connor’s work appear on a label other than Ancient Methods. Regardless, the first release on the Boomkat Editions label spends most of its time adding to Ugandan Methods’ stockpile of club-detonating, tectonic-plate-shifting tracks, but it’s not without an unexpectedly confrontational detour. “Imperium”‘s glowering feedback forms a canopy over a syncopated, tolling beat that reverses its motion in graceful eddies, tugging at the listener’s reptile brain. It’s shot through with barely contained whispers and the savory creepiness of chains slithering over cobblestones, cutting its menace with distant hints of fantasy. The jumble of metallic percussion on “A Cold Retreat” putters along like an alchemical contraption, sitting in contrast to pained synth gasps and an almost epilepsy-inducing battery of claps. “Untitled” rounds out the 12″ with Ugandan Methods’ first foray into straight-up noise. Those deliciously bouncy lows are passed over in favor of high-pitched screeching and gurgling static undertows, like a test of the emergency broadcast system from the imaginary realm described by their music. Schizophrenically, it sounds for a moment like a boombox recording of a black-metal guitar riff being carefully practiced, then like an old, sinisterly new-age Bee Mask tape being played through said busted boombox, swiftly and enigmatically concluding the record.