Back in July I wrote about a split cassette we picked up down in Los Angeles that featured Constable Flavour and Alexandra Atnif. We were particularly taken by Atnif’s side, with it’s brutal industrial style of electronic and its repetitive, pounding beats. I checked out a bunch of stuff on her Soundcloud page and was even more excited by what I heard there, and after making a few inquiries got my hands on a couple of more cassettes of her work. Her attention to detail and commitment to vision can even be found in the packaging of these two self-released tapes (more on that later), as well as the photos on her Instagram – cold, stark, linear architectural images in black and white, the kinds of things that would have been considered futuristic or post-modern in the 1960s behind the Iron Curtain. Maybe some of the types of buildings she saw while growing up in Romania? I’m not entirely sure. But the images and music are linked together in powerful, if at times mildly unsettling, ways, using multiple senses to create an emotional impact.
.A:A. Mix.1 is a 90 minute mix of tracks that was originally put out as a super limited number of hand made demos, but Atnif is now making a handful of these available for sale HERE for $10. The entire product is hand-made by her – from the individually painted copper colored cases and cassettes to the hand cut and stamped J card insert. .A:A. Mix.1 is a work of art all the way around – musically, tactilely, visually.
There’s no track list included, but there are 14 songs in total and you’re getting awfully close to a full 90 minutes of music. The beats are throbbing and relentless, each soundscape comprised of a limited number of repeated elements, driving and thumping. While Atnif takes a similar approach to much of the material on .A:A. Mix.1, it doesn’t devolve into repetition – there are enough differing elements to make each song a unique creation that doesn’t sound like the previous one. She does use some distortion, even on the beats, but overall the music is rich, dense, and clean, and despite it’s industrialness you can still groove out to it.
Session.1 just came out a week or two ago, and I was excited to learn that it’s one of the official titles for the upcoming Cassette Store Day on October 17 – so I strongly encourage you to find a local store that’s carrying it HERE and pick up a copy, which will give you the chance to support both the indie musician and the indie music store. If you don’t have a participating store close by, you can order a copy directly from Alexandra HERE for just six bucks.
To my ears Session.1 takes on an even more brutal sound than Atnif’s previous work. The two 20+ minute tracks display more rawness, in a very intentional way, through the use of distortion, with many of the beats sounding as iff they were being played too loudly trough a stereo and coming out of the speakers with that sort of warbaled static distortion all of us heard at one time or another as teens when we played our music way too loud for our systems to handle. There’s a section about half way through the B side (“Session.1 (Filthy Violence Mix)”) that is absolutely some of the most pounding bass I’ve ever heard, with the effects making it feel like it’s literally crackling with raw electricity, buzzing and shooting sparks and threatening to set my brain on fire. It’s definitely the more challenging of the two tapes, and while I prefer .A:A. Mix.1, Holly said that Session.1 was hands down her favorite.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that we bought that first Alexandra Atnif tape, because it opened our ears to a whole different style of sort of tribal-industrial. She’s an amazing talent, one who I think has broader appeal than just the electronica and industrial fans – if you like some of the more aggressive stuff by NIN or Skinny Puppy or even certain types of more extreme metal, I think you owe it to yourself to check out her music – not because it sounds a lot like that stuff, but because its brutalism may appeal to you. She’s got quite a few compositions out there on Bandcamp and Soundcloud that you can hear for free, including this insanely good 90 minute mix for The Brvtalist. And if you like what you hear, show her some love and order a tape or a digital download to support the music.