A Form Constant
Review by Kent Manthie
Remember Jacob Sackett? How ’bout The Finer Points of Sadism? Does that ring a bell? Well, that’s another of Sackett’s projects. …Sadism is a more experimental-sounding, noise-drone outfit, where Partner Artifact is a bit more “accessible” – that is, if you’re prone to squeamishness and hate cacophonous effects.
Partner Artifact is a collaboration between Jacob and Ashley Sackett. Jacob sings, plays guitars, drums, “rhythms” and synthesizers, while Ms. Sackett provides bass, steel guitar (not just for country music anymore!!), she also has her hands on the synthesizers as well as “circuit bent items”, which, for the uninitiated, is basically where you can get some freaky, unique sounds from sources that were never meant to be utilized as such. These include taking apart things like transistor radios, boom boxes, old Casiotone keyboards; the possibilities are as wide as your imagination.
Don’t let the 10 songs on here fool you – the total time of the CD is only 27 minutes, so I don’t know whether to call it a very short LP or an EP with a lot of short songs on it (2-3 minutes). Whatever, it is, you get a taste of Jacob’s Nick Cave/Ian Curtis-like voice, a booming baritone dripping with cynicism and dark humor.
The opening and closing tracks are the longest ones on A Form Constant – #1, “Sus” is 4:17 and #10, “Fishing Spot” is 4:25. Fitting, that these two are bookended by shorter pieces like “Dental Dam Fricative”, which is a slick tune, piqued by a trippy synthesizer groove. “Chemical Cough” starts off with a stiff beat and brings in a riffing guitar; it reminds me of post-punk at its best. One of my favorites, “Epsilon”, is one that sticks in your head well after the CDs over. I say “fitting”, describing the first and last tunes because “Sus” starts the album off with a jagged, distorted guitar cut that is the departure point for A Form Constant, with the guitars going on and on underneath a sea of a sonic poisonous cloud. “Chameleon, Too”, the next tune has I higher level on the vocal track. Some of these songs sound like they could’ve been a lost Joy Division song, if it weren’t for the more modern instrumentation of the music, but the attitude is there.
On and on it goes from there, going down the list of tracks, one by one, never boring, never repetitive or aloof, but a voyage through a sea of toxic madness. Which takes us all the way down to “Fishing Spot”, the closing track, which, instead of just pile driving, is a brilliantly put together song. It has elements of Husker Du as well as Bauhaus in it. Midway through, “Fishing Spot” does a little speed up and goes berserk, then comes back down and rumbles through with some bitchin’ drumming and a sort of “encore” quality to it – as if they know that their listeners are going to be happier going out with a bomber rather a firecracker.
For those of you who like the whole circuit-bending, avant-noise thing and those long, interminable flights of fancy, you should check out the Finer Points of Sadism catalog. FPS does more of the experimental, long-form, tweakage, while Partner Artifact is a nice change up for FPS’s fans’ little brothers, etc. They are all over the internet, but don’t seem to have a website of their own; a “home page” as it were. But you can easily find their stuff on places such as thefinerpointsofsadism1.bandcamp.com/album/full-of-hooks or soundcloud.com/thefinerpointsofsadism, although the latter is more for listening purposes – you can get a lot of their stuff as free downloads via Bandcamp.com, so I’d recommend going there first. Either way, I hope you enjoy the music! -KM.