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Konstruktivists - Dark Odyssey

Konstruktivists - Back To Black

Konstruktivists should be a name familiar to many. Their 1982 release Psycho Genetika is considered a classic of experimental electronics. The following years saw Glen Michael Wallis, the key member of Konstruktivists, take a stint in Whitehouse (contributing to their Great White Death album) and collaborate with Chris and Cosey as CTI. Some further titles issued forth from Konstruktivists including Glennascaul (with Chris Carter producing) before they seemed to disappear. They returned in 1990 with a more techno-pop oriented sound with releases through World Serpent and some titles on Jara Discs (a label set-up by the now defunct Impulse magazine) before slipping away again.

Reemerging in 2000, they forged an alliance with the Austrian label Klangallerie who have been busy handling their reissue program while their own label, Interior Recordings, have been dealing with their new material. The current Konstruktivists line-up features Glen Michael Wallis, Al Shiells, and Bridgette Casesse. Which just about takes us up to these two releases of new recordings.

Those expecting some sort of TG / Whitehouse industrial assault should stop reading here. On the basis of these two titles Konstruktivists are currently dealing with a dark, electronic sound, with a heavy Euro electronic influence with a dash of seventies prog rock for good measure. Their preferred equipment remains analogue with a crisp, minimal sound of cold electronic sequences, propelled by electronic rhythms. Dark Odyssey comprises a number of new tracks, alongside variations of older Konstruktivists tracks. You only need to view the Konstruktivists discography to realise that they have a vast archive of material that's continually being reissued, or reworked depending upon their current line-up.

Deep stabs of electro-sounds, not too far removed from those found on Psycho Genetika pierce the precise electronics of 'Driving' and while the title may allude to Kraftwerk, musically it doesn't resemble them. 'Little Star' does though. 'Berlin', meanwhile, captures a hypnotic groove closer to the melodic electronics of Chris and Cosey. A barrage of electronic noise is set against the shuddering electronics of 'Is Real Life'. For the most part Dark Odyssey is free of industrial styling, with the exception of 'Kandyman', a sinister slice of dark electronics.

When Glen Michael Wallis delivers the lines "Back To Black, the dark soundtrack" over pulsating synths on the title track of the brand new studio album it might as well be a statement of intent. It's a much more polished affair than Dark Odyssey, reworking a number of its tracks, alongside new material and a handful of songs by Yello, Hawkwind, John Lennon and Iggy Pop that are given a Konstruktivists makeover. It's a solid effort offering a variety of styles from the melodic synth patterns and electro rhythms of 'Ascension', the Euro electronics of 'Room' and the ravaging electronics of 'Is Real Life'. The Konstruktivists take on Yello's 'Night Train' injects a John Carpenter feel, giving it a nice horror flick edge. 'Hassan/Red October' has Wallis dropping in references to the Konstruktivists discography in a hyper delivery over deep bass and swirling electronics. It features a nice Eastern vibe, as does the opening minutes of 'Because of You' where varied electronic sequences and sounds are dropped in over the minimal backing. With Wallis's pensive delivery, it's actually quite reminiscent of Sixth Comm.

The real surprises on Back To Black though are the tracks 'Praise' and 'Diagra's Dog'. The former lays down a spoken vocal over melodic synths and dub rhythms, while the latter is a teasing beast of electro-throb that rock's out in quite an unexpected manner. Seventies rock meets Euro electronics, maybe. Elsewhere there's a maudlin electronic version of John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy', a nice take on Iggy Pop's 'Shades' that allows Glen Michael Wallis to lay down a fine David Bowie impersonation with a backing that's largely shorn of the typical Konstruktivists electronic sound. Back To Black closes with a throbbing electronic version of Hawkwind's 'Spirit of the Age'.

The watchwords here are electronics, melodic and dark, so it's no real surprise that Glen Michael Wallis referred to these as being in our style of Gothic music. The attachment to analogue electronics does result in a similar feel throughout both releases but the compositions vary widely. The rhythms also remain relatively primitive and quite dated at times. Though I would suspect that this is purely intentional. Konstruktivists have always preferred to be viewed on their own, and the wealth of material coming out should see them continue to existing in their own universe. Both discs act as a neat reminder of where they came from and where they are now, though I'd opt for Back To Black if I had to choose just one. For more information go to or