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¥048 somatic responses. pounded mass. lp. 33rpm. feb2k5.


noggins revenge
dead space
approaching menace
pounded mass
go off
the day idm crawled up it's own arse

for those rubberheads who consider somatic responses to be idm - thanks in part to their melodically brilliant 2002 album for hymen, touching the void - take heart: pounded mass stylistically name checks your idm and experimental electronic icons like aphex twin, squarepusher, and lee norris.

somatic responses’ john healy and paul healy also have a message for these folks: rethink that tag. pounded mass is one acerbic noise assault after another, the kind that will make most fans of twee synth tunes soil

“we've taken a harder stance for this lp, as the title suggests,” says john.“i think that we were categorized as idm for a bit, which we never really understood…so we've applied a few good measures of distortion, et cetera to this release. as far as concepts go, it's more of a ‘machines perceptive’ but with a very heavy dose of humor thrown in. there's much more of a mixed bag in this release, including some turntablism, pure ambient soundscapes, breakcore, hardcore, hip-hop.... and that's just in one song.”

that one song, the tripadelic “bathrobe brawl v1,” infuses the psychotic scratching effervescence of dj spooky with breaks and bass worthy of a depth charge or dj shadow cut. one track later, on “go off,” the welsh brothers healy crank up the somatic responses style of electro-mechano ferocity that would otherwise plant pounded mass firmly in the realm of xanopticon or orphx. then there’s the aptly-titled “the day idm crawled up its own arse,” which john says is “a simple statement of what we think of the elitist and good old-fashioned cock-head idm producers.”

despite their slight disquietude at being pigeon-holed into a myopic genre, one where artists often remain completely disconnected from their audiences, john and paul healy concede that the technoid themes they conjure up make their greatest impact when the listening environment is conducive to, well, listening. dancing, clubbing, and having a high time are fine for a casual
night out, but the sounds of pounded mass demand your full attention - even at 140 db over a premier pa.

“(o)ur music and music that we hear stimulates us on a level outside of‘club land’ so mood, atmosphere and track progression are more important than repetitive beats and sequences,” says paul. “i think to us what a track develops from and into is important…each track is a kind of journey and the road should be interesting with cool landscapes and scenery, not straight and boring!” and hymen is here to assure you that none of those tracks - those journeys - on pounded mass will be straight or boring.


die walisischen elektromechniker fressen wieder zimmermannsnägel zum frühstück. eine ordentliche portion härte kehrte in ihre musik zurück. und das ist kein rückschritt. die tracks wurden wieder geradliniger, metallischer und wuchtiger, ohne die kleinen idm-soundspielereien ganz aussen vor zu lassen. neben dem watsch-klatsch-brachial-beat öffnete man sich aber auch leichten hip-hop-rhythmiken, inklusive scratching. passt super in die dunkle weltraumkälte ihrer sounds, die auch in ambientgefilden stärke zeigen. mit „noggins revenge" gibt’s sogar einen 1a-hit, der simpel aber effektiv der guten alten verzerrung die höheren weihen verleiht. stilistisch stringent, aber nicht dogmatisch scheuklappig, hinterlassen die somatix einen erfreulich modernen eindruck. ich hatte sie nach dem doppelalbum für component schon zu den akten gelegt. zu sehr waren sie in wabernden idm-sphären angekommen und hatten ihren ursprünglichen biss aus den augen verloren. schön, dass sie auch keinen bock mehr drauf hatten. dazu gab’s dann auch den passenden titel auf dem album „the day idm crawled up it’s own arse". immer subtil, die beiden brüder. (tô)

ah! die healy-brüder. wales, grüne wiesen, kiesgruben, viel zeit und hardcore. somatic responses halt. es gibt eigentlich kein produzenten-duo, das über die jahre mehr dicke platten releast und dabei alles massiv überdreht klar gemacht hat. egal, ob tracks, die man heute elektronika nennen würde, breakcore, hiphop, hardcore... you name it. warum sie dabei nie zu massenwirksamen helden wurden ... keine ahnung. ihre melodien sind so gut wie die vom aphex twin. “pounded mass” diversifiziert noch mehr, ist ein werk, dass man nicht in tracks unterteilen darf, in das man eintauchen und sich von den bassdrums befeuern lassen muss. die verzerrte realität ist immer noch die bessere und ruhe findet man in ihr auch. (thaddi)

on previous somatic responses albums there has always been an unmentioned theme running the course of the cd. the brothers healy would get an over riding feeling for an album and stick with it, making the finished work all slot together seamlessly. all very good but they seem to have got bored of producing what is expected and 'pounded mass' is a far more varied affair than anything they have produced in recent years. from disturbing alien soundscapes, harsh industrial breakcore to dislocated instrumental hip hop and beyond idm somatic responses have delivered their strongest collection in a long time. (alex boniwell)

pounded mass is not just another addition to the infinite list of sr releases. it's a solid album that flows from the beginning to the end without losing tension, it mixes various influences with trademark somatics sounds and it's so good, it's hard to believe. the spooky intro prepares you for a couple of smashers; first comes "noggings revenge," a techno breakbeat mutant, and then the industrial armageddon called "dead space." at this point you should be so satisfied that you would be ready for a filler track, but suddenly comes "bathrobe brawl v1," hip-hop revisited and reconstructed by the healy bros. a simple raw break is used as a base for light speed turntablism with industrial distorted samples. i hope at this point of the review you are already drooling on your keyboard. if you are still reading and you are not running to your local music shop yet, let me tell you what else you can find on pounded mass. there are some standard sr tracks, but they sound somewhat better than the previous works, i think it's a kind of alchemy. the title track and the explicit "the day idm crawled up its own arse" are a terrific sonic assault, loads of powerful distortion hit in you in the face, ranging from fractured rhythms to hammering four-to-the-floor beats. if it wasn't enough, just after those two monsters comes "clode d" that is a 200+ bpm drum'n'acid killer. luckily enough, you can relax with another hip-hop influenced track, "spam shandy," a sublime snappy break embedded in an anguishing atmosphere of synths and scratches. apparently, somatics got angry because some people pigeonholed their music with the much-hated idm term. if these are the results, i’m about to send 'em a thousand emails telling they are my favorite idm act, so they'll hopefully get even more angry and release another masterpiece like this. (luca maini)

signal to zero
les frères somatiques ne veulent rien avoir à faire avec le monde de l’idm de salon auquel ils sont parfois affiliés, ce qui visiblement les énerve (" the day idm crawled its own arse " s’intitule un des morceaux). c’est le message de l’album. du coup les structures " electro traditionnelle " sont moins grimées, plus lisibles à travers l’enchèvetrement biomécanique de xenorythmes et de textures metallo-visqueuses obsessionellement fouillées (du genre qu’on s’abstiendrait de toucher si c’était possible). si certains titres comme "dead space" sont du pur somatic responses (nappe ectoplasmique, ferraille, psychédélisme noir), l’ensemble aurait tendance à être plus direct (dansant ?). « bathrobe brawl v1 » surpend. le rythme est hip hop dans le tempo et la structure, d’une part, mais aussi dans la texture, avec cette lourde snare qui sonnerait presque acoustique. des scratches courrent même tout le long du morceau... un début de retour dans notre plan de réalité après tant de disques à rôder dans les bas-fonds du cosmos ? en tout cas on peut y voir une volonté de se démarquer de l’abstraction clinique de l’intelligent-machintronica en empruntant à la musique la plus urbaine et en prise avec le "réel" qui soit (d’autant que le parcours musical des frères healy plonge justement quelques racines dans le vieux rap synthétique et la breakdance) y voir (peut-etre) une nouvelle direction en gestation pour un son qui aussi génial soit-il, devra bien finir un jour par évoluer significativement pour ne pas lasser. en tout cas l’essentiel reste : écouter un morceau des gallois c’est contempler un meta-organisme vivant en croissance rapide. aucun sample, que des matières sonores raffinées et complexes. des tentacules gigeriennes qui s’agitent, se ramifient, s’affrontent et s’enroulent autour d’un axe central, bien plus qu’un simple empilement de pistes. un son dans lequel on s’immerge et qui maîtrise toujours de façon presque inquiétante les mécanismes de la fascination. (dr.venkman)
aggressivi, distorti e claustrofobici beat, poco importa se classificare i somatic response come idm (experimental o altro), i fratelli john e paul healy in questo caso potrebbero tranquillamente fare a meno di suscitare polemiche sull'appartenenza stilistica all'una o all'altra consorteria. l'estrema qualità della loro ultima produzione mette tutti d'accordo: 'pounded mass' è davvero un album eccellente, con costruzioni ritmiche rigorose ed atmosfere oscure, impeccabili, giocate in alternanza fra l'energia percussiva e l'estrema raffinatezza delle parti sintetiche, coordinate dal duo gallese con meticolosa cura nei passaggi, dissonanti o dilatati, ora liquidi oppure scanditi in sequenze urticanti. interessantissima la traccia numero quattro, 'bathrobe brawl v1', dove sono importate elaborazioni 'turntablistiche' di matrice hip hop, riconvertite all'interno di un suono ispido, elettronico e radicale, sovrastante cupi tappeti sonori e subliminali melodie. molte le influenze breakcore, hard, che si succedono in psicotici accordi e soundscapes ambientali, sviluppi sempre molto elaborati, cercando di sfuggire all'eccessiva uniformità delle maniere più tipicamente industrial. (aurelio cianciotta)

i can’t deny that the welsh idm band  somatic responses is one of my favourite idm bands together with gridlock. on the new album “pounded mass” the welsh brother paul & john healy has made a more noisy album than the previous. i have heard from somatic responses that as usual we get a lot of ambient sounds capes mixed with influences from power noise, hip hop, breakcore. thus,  i can’t consider somatic responses as a pure idm, but still the brothers are making some cool music, a sound i won’t compare to any other bands in the genre, as somatic responses has created their own sound since 1999 where the masterstroke album “circumflex” was released on hymen records. somatic responses is still one of the most active bands around with new releases nearly every year including some 12 inches . on “pounded mass” we get 14 new tracks recorded in england/wales and mastered at the excellent studio metarc, so again we get a high quality production from somatic responses. the music is more noisy and with more strange structures than we are used to hearing from somatic responses, it’s not easy listening. we get some weird hip hop & breakcore sounds, but still it fits the music perfectly, i can’t say we get a melodic sound here except for the danceable tracks “moggins revenge”, and “approaching menace”, the harsh tracks “pounded mass” which have some power noise influences and the excellent track “the last laugh” that is very rhythm´ish. i don’t know what it is with somatic responses, i just like the band, they have a lot variation in their music, i never get bored when i’m listen to somatic responses. i really like the album called “circumflex” from 1999, and “pounded mass” is somehow in the vein of that album, it’s a bit more weird, but it’s cool to see that a band can develop, so if you haven’t discovered somatic responses yet, it’s about time…… (brain)

vital weekly, number 471, week 16
what a great album! "pounded mass" is the fourth full-length from welsh brothers, john and paul healy, calling themselves somatic responses. ever since i put my ears to the contribution track "oblique" on the classic hymen-compilation "teknoir" (1999), i have been truly following the musical adventures of somatic responses. and in fact the couple apparently still manage to find new unexplored territories within their certain style of expression. somatic responses works in the areas between industrial, power noise, drum'n'bass and idm, with a few associations back to earlier autechre. the style is unmistakable. their trademark is the complex dislocated and broken beats, distorted intelligent constructions, fascinating sonic structures, force and sweetness intertwined. what separates somatic responses from many other projects from the technoid-scene is the ability to combine harsh sounds and warm ambience into a superb blend. beauty meets ugliness. like floating in landscapes of futuristic decay, the listener gets surrounded by harsh technoid breakbeats that swirl inside dark waves of sonic ambience. sinister as well as beautiful! (nmp)

somatic responses was categorized as an idm act and they didn’t like that. so they decided to make a record that would change the public’s opinion on them about this. pounded mass is that album. to me this is still idm. the music on pounded mass is intelligent electronic music with roots in elektro and industrial. while listening to this record you will be served a diverse dish. the rhythm and the structures get more wild and weird with each track. this results in a varied electronic music album with some heavy, but intelligent, industrial influences. maybe this is not a standard idm release, but it still is an idm record. (mvg)


somatic responses discography on hymen records 02.2005:
circumflex. cd. ¥705. 1999
revula. lp, ¥018. 1999
augmented lines. cd. ¥713. 2001
augmented lines. lp. ¥030. 2001
touching the void. cd. ¥723. 2002
touching the void. lp. ¥039. 2002
pounded mass. cd. ¥741. 2005
pounded mass. lp. ¥048. 2005
please take a look at the s.r. website for a full discography.

somatic responses webpage: