Author & Punisher – Women & Children

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Review by Jason Guest

Seventh Rule Recordings

The one-man industrial doom project of Tristan Shone, in the hands of Author & Punisher, those precious gems known as ‘music’ and ‘sound’ become utterly worthless. Whatever associations or meanings once ascribed to melody, harmony or rhythm is menacingly mauled, mangled and brutally battered out of shape and remoulded into gold. But not the good gold of course, oh no. This is gold of a very different sort, that of alchemy, the product of endless hours in some secret basement science lab exploring every extremity of excessive experimentation. The result is a deeply atmospheric, densely layered and abrasively textured piece of work.

Like many an opening track, ‘Women & Children’ begins quietly with an air of the sinister residing in the slow swells and occasional pulse that slowly develop into something monstrous. Already, the electronic soundscape is nightmarish, the experience disconcerting, unsettling, and enigmatically bewildering. Neither ‘In Remorse’ nor the aptly titled ‘Melee’ bring a respite, serving only to drag the listener deeper into this aberrant architect’s ominous edifice. And then, as if demonstrating some sympathy with the listener defeated by three tracks of unremitting perplexity and disquiet, the kind-of-but-not-quite ballad-type-thing that is ‘Tame As A Lion’ slows the pace down, the line ‘Stay strong and true’ offering up a vague semblance of advice for the survival of this whole ordeal. With the angry growl of ‘Fearce’, its title bitterly barked throughout, contrasted with the wired, ambient buzz of ‘Miles From Home’, the serrated edges of the album continue to crumble and its swollen shadows distend. Where Shone’s influences may not be so readily apparent, closing track ‘Pain Myself’ is similar to Nine Inch Nails – particularly the fragile, psychopathic soul-seeking/destroying strains that underpinned The Downward Spiral – but Shone manages to evade easily-spotted references to other artists as his own, unique voice is scratched deep into the surface of the whole work.

Despite being an electronic album, this has an organic feel to it, each track – and indeed the whole album – plotting a natural arc in development and one that continually offers up an array of surprises. Self indulgent? Of course it is. That’s why it’s so fucking good. There are influences there, but whatever they once resembled remains but a distant memory lying burnt out and twitching in the shimmering stains of this electronic desert’s horizon. Women & Children may not be metal but it’s heavy, black, bleak, doom-ridden, and deeper and darker than a wine cellar on Pluto.

Author & Punisher – Women & Children8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Women & Children
  2. In Remorse
  3. Melee
  4. Tame As A Lion
  5. Fearce
  6. Miles From Home
  7. Pain Myself