Review by: William Dashiell Hammett
Since 1979 The Animal Legal Defense Fund have been fighting for animal rights, domestic and wild, by working to improve and expand laws protecting animals and to help make penalties against animal abusers much tougher. In association with Crunch Pod, the electronic music label founded by Ben Arp, comes the compilation album Justicia Pro Bestia containing 24 previously unreleased songs and/or remixes from an exceptionally diverse group of artists from across the spectrum of electronic music.
Each track on the compilation, stated simply, is good. There is not a solitary song where I found myself hitting the skip button. The artists really put themselves into this compilation offering some of their finest work. Not only are the songs themselves excellent, the flow from one track to the next is almost seamless, while brimming with beats, synth lines and an abundance of Oontzs. However, don’t let that flow fool you into thinking this compilation is a one trick pony. In fact, there is a great deal of variation to the tracks and therefore, props must be given to the person who selected the order in which the tracks appear as they did an excellent job.
The release starts with “Animism” from Manufactura, a highly atmospheric track with some thick militant sounding beats and a harpsichord, or perhaps dulcimer, adding a lightness to the song. Russian Gothic Industrial outfit Nitemare Machine remixed Die Sektor’s track “Accelerant” and while they drastically changed the tempo of the song, they made it sound even nastier then the original. Dark electro act Xiescive comes next with their track “Bloodwork”, a decidedly ominous sounding track regardless of the buoyant, jumping synth line that floats above it. VProjekt’s remix of “Crawl to my Grave” from Lexincrypt is next and holds true to the darkness that has dominated the compilation so far. The 9th Evolution track “Brightness Falls” comes next and with a lesser amount of effects on the vocals provides a more melodic tone that bridges well into “You Think You’re Just So Cool” from Bitch Brigade. The Austrilian industrial outfit’s very impressive track, bursts onto the scene with some high pitched aggressive synths and the first appearance of female vocals on the release. It provided a great change in dynamic from the previous tracks.
“Frail (Fear Crawling Mix)” comes next and begins what I would call the “danceable” part of the compilation. More steady then previous tracks in tempo, with less aggressiveness it also introduces some nice guitar lines. The Cryogen Second remix of System Syn’s “Chemical” is in a single word: groovy. If there is any justice in this world, it must make an appearance on the dance floor. The “Mega Man III Intro (Remix)” is like hearing early electronic music from 70s reborn with modern beats. I couldn’t help but smile during this track as sounds from my youth penetrated my brain (yes I’m old). The replacement of the electro synth sounds that carried the melody with some nice heavy guitars in the Death Proof Mix of Caustic’s “White Knuckle Head Fuck” was really enjoyable. The guitar added a belligerence to the song while retaining its danceability. Uberbyte’s “You’re Wrong” builds quickly to an in your face electro assault with high pitch penetrating synths. Rec|use comes next with “Rendered Bodies” and its mechanical beats and atmospheric synths. More melody is found in this song than that description would indicate, so don’t let the machine beats hide it from you. Beginning with and dominated by some effects laden vocal samples, the Muted Logic remix of Terrorfakt’s “ALF” maintains the dance track feel while projecting a subtle drone that works its way into you and doesn’t let go, resulting in a song that is easy to move to.
Polluted Axis kicks off what I would call the Power Noise section of Justicia Pro Bestia with their track “Disgusted (Part 2)”. Distortions, heavy beats and surprisingly harmonious feedback dominate. Sinsect comes next and relaxes us a bit with “In All Fairness”, a much quieter song then the previous one. More traditional sounding synths dominate with distortion and feedback relegated to the background. A nice instrumental synthpop track comes next from Mangadrive vs. Iammynewt. Entitled “ChAin WhiPz” there are lots of sounds going around accompanied by a steady, understated beat.
I was also impressed by the fantastically melodic track “Ninja” from The Break Up, who have recently been signed by Metropolis Records. The dark, pop like, emotional vocals and soft electronics are an excellent change from the cacophony of heavy electronic dominated tracks that proceed it. The Lucidstatic track “Jacob’s Ladder” remixed by UK ambient musicians Tineidae comes next and begins with a bass drone before introducing some high pitch synths and steady beats reminiscent, to me at least, of Front 242. Another light instrumental track, Cervello Elettronico’s “Techno Science (No Science Remix by Eisdrive)” follows and while maintaining the instrumental theme, is decidedly more aggressive and up-tempo. Even the vocal sample from the Godfather doesn’t slow the track down. The piano sounds in the next track, “Arandisan” by Warpcoil, are exceedingly clean and an impressive dynamic contrast to the machine like beats and synth sounds surrounding it. “The Thaw (feat. Pocaille)” by Aliceffekt, starts with a eerie sounding piano sound before the electronics are introduced by a vocal sample. The uneasiness introduced is maintained, even when the beat picks up and carries you along as it seems to get faster and faster before descending down into distortion and feedback.
The distortion and feedback sounds stay, while losing their eeriness slightly becoming more jumpy with the Mothboy Remix of “Z Crazy Eyes” by Lapsed+nonnon. Torrent Vaccine takes us back to a feeling of trepidation with their track “Tentative Response” starting out with a hesitant sounding synth before becoming a more robust track. Easily the longest track on the compilation, clocking in at almost seven and a half minutes; the Baton Rouge based electronic industrial artist does a damn good job at keeping it fresh and not tedious. And I can’t not mention that the vocal samples from the original The Prisoner in C/A/T’s “Fall Out” are just the awesome! (Of course the music is pretty astounding too!)
There is really a lot to like about this compilation: the variety, the production work, and the sheer breadth of the electronic music spectrum on display. As an omnivore, it my be a bit hypocritical of me to really be hoping for total world domination like success for this compilation and the artists on it; but I genuinely do hope this release helps raise tons of money for the ALDF.
2. Die Sektor-Accelerant (Nitemare Machine remix)
4. Lexincrypt-Crawl to My Grave (vProjekt remix)
5. 9th Evolution-Brightness Falls
6. Bitch Brigade-You think you’re so cool
7. Filament 38-Frail (Fear Crawling Mix)
8. System Syn-Chemical (Labrat mix by Cryogen Second)
9. Mangadrive-Mega Man III Intro (remix)
10. Caustic-White Knuckle Head Fuck (Death Proof Mix Feat. SMP)
11. Uberbyte-You’re Wrong
12. Rec|use-Rendered Bodies
13. Terrorfakt-ALF (Muted Logic remix)
14. Polluted Axis-Disgusted
15. Sinsect-In All Fairness
16. Mangadrive vs Iammynewt-Chain Whips
17. The Break Up-Ninja
18. Lucidstatic-Jacob’s Ladder (remix by Tineidae)
19 Cervello Elettronico-Techno Science (No Science remix by Eisdrive)
21. Aliceffekt feat. Pocaille-The Thaw
22. Lapsed+nonnon-Z Crazy Eyes (Mothboy remix)
23. Torrent Vaccine-Tentative Response
24. C/A/T-Fall Out
Order Justicia Pro Bestia from Bandcamp.