Denial of Service
Totentanz (Official Bootleg), 2014
Totentanz (Official Bootleg) is the latest live album from Thessaloniki, Greece’s Denial of Service. Denial of Service is a no-nonsense industrial-type outfit which features somewhat dark, mysterious and sometimes ominous soundscapes that are layered and textured with various shades of black. I just came by this album recently, almost by happenstance. It popped up in my email inbox recently, as happens now and then, my email being connected to Independent Review.
I was intrigued by the whole concept and the album cover, plus, their aura just seemed so enticing that I wanted to hear what it sounded like and my curiosity did not let me down.
Actually, what really piqued my interest and made me want to listen was when I saw that the name of the first track on here is “Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch”, which is, of course, the title to one of the late, great, mind-blowingly awesome, Philip K. Dick’s classic novels. Myself, being a huge PKD fan, I saw the song title, which was also the title of PKD’s 1965 dystopian novel that takes place “some time in the 21st century” – which is ironic, in a way, since we are now in the 21st century and, unlike many of the forecasts of the future – the campy, wishful-thinking type to the more intellectually written essays/books that foresaw a much more advanced society. One of the traits these future experts didn’t account for was the unyielding force of greed, which, in so many ways, has kept progress at bay. That is another, long diatribe I could get into at some other time.
One thing about PKD, he was so much more than a typical “Sci-Fi” writer: he was brilliant. Although a lot of his stories and settings took place in the future where space travel has been, if not perfected, at least advanced to a point where we still haven’t reached. Yet, since reading so many of his books, I just don’t think of him as merely a “Science Fiction Writer” – not to denigrate other Sci-Fi authors, but when you get a label such as that, you instantly get stuck in a box from which you are expected to produce a certain oeuvre. Anyone who has also read a great deal of PKD’s work, I’m sure come to a similar conclusion.
Anyway, on to the album at hand: Totentanz (Official Bootleg) is a portrait of denial.of.service’s live work and it emanates, unlike many polished “live” albums, which are edited through and through and which edit out the audience sounds, cuts out the breaks between songs and basically is live album filtered through a studio, afterward, to be mixed, cut-up, arranged in ways to take out the “less interesting” (according to label bigwigs) stuff and fill it up with as much popular, widely known “hits”. Totentanz, on the other hand, leaves in the sound of the audience: the whistling, the hushed banter that takes place between people during the show, leaves in things like breaks between songs, etc. In other words, it gives a kind of snapshot, or, more correctly, a video recording, of raw footage. Samples of what it’d be like to go and see a show yourself.
A few songs that stand out for me include “Nightmare of Judgment”, “Treatment and Rehabilitation”, “Exercising With the Demons” and, of course, the aforementioned “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch”, which is perfect as the opening cut.
Denial.of.service is, at least, so far, keeping a low-profile, staying underground sort of. They have their cult-following, a loyal fan base, but I think that they’re happy with their current surroundings. I (at least would hope) don’t think I see them selling out anytime soon and hooking up with one of the remaining few corporate conglomerates who run the major-label music industry anytime soon (hopefully never!). On their ReverbNation.com page, they list a fellow musician, Dayglo Dave, who, according to his ReverbNation profile, has a sound that one would, no doubt, get into, if they were musical followers of Ariel Pink, The Residents or Can.
One more thing about “Treatment and Rehabilitation” – in the first part of that tune I noticed that it reminded me of Kraftwerk, at least with the first minute or so – something about that set-up that made me think of Kraftwerk’s “Numbers”, from their Computer Worlds album.
This is definitely a great live set – a perfectly tailored sound structure that evokes a concert in a venue, not too big, club-sized or a little higher; a dark, cavernous, place at which they utilize a multitude of high-powered concert speakers, so loud, the etherealness of the atmospheric sound combined with the billowing, booming percussion would make your ears quiver with a tinge of blissful pain. -KM.