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  • Jack Starr

Author & Punisher – Experimental Metal Noise-Makers Crash Record Junkee

Once upon a time, Sheffield was at the heart of the experimental electronic music scene. Local groups like Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA and even early versions of the Human League once dabbled in the visceral, abrasive genre of industrial music. Though the city is now more associated with more mainstream rock and pop, it seems as though there is still enthusiasm for the unconventional.

Hailing from San Diego, USA, Author & Punisher is the stage-name of one-man-band Tristan Shone, who performs industrial metal with a bizarre setup of different synthesizers and drone machines, apparently custom-designed and built himself from open-source electronic circuitry. As he performs, he slams this bizarre cyber-punk contraption of levers and pedals, and growls into a strange microphone with three separate mouthpieces, all atop a metal table adorned with the stencilled message, ‘THESE MACHINES KILL FASCISTS’.

Other than the live guitar player, Shone performs the entire arrangement himself on these gizmos, and to see it is worth the price of admission alone. It is rare to see such a creative use of tech in music, and to see it performed in person is mesmerising. When the gear was being brought out, it elicited a cheer as if it was a beloved band member, and fans immediately began taking pictures. At various other points, Shone would take out other tools, like a neck-brace-like device, strapped directly to his throat, looking like something out of a sci-fi nightmare.

Record Junkee is an odd venue – by day, it is a store for musical instruments and hi-fi gear, with a record and CD store up on the top floor. However, by night, it transforms into a cramped-yet-stylist alternative venue. The main front doors are closed, and instead you are brought into a side door, up a narrow staircase, and into the record store – only with the records walled-off behind a fence, and the place decked out with neon lights and fog machines. It makes for a small and intimate venue, but one with fantastic acoustics – especially for such a terrifyingly loud act as Author & Punisher.

Having just come off a European tour supporting industrial titans HEALTH and synth-wave pioneer Perturbator, A&P have certainly found their niche in all things dark and alternative. Their set was punctuated by droning synths, digitised death-growls jackhammers of drum machines, and doom-metal guitar riffs. Combined with the lighting effects in Record Junkee’s intimate space, it made for a dazzling experience. This is definitely the kind of music that needs to be heard live.

But what truly completes A&P is the real heart of it – behind all the cold, hard and robotic machines, Shone pours in raw passion. The brutality of the music is an act of catharsis, as the lyrics hit out on serious themes: war, oppression, climate change, the pandemic, and the fascistic elements of Trump’s America. It continues the activist spirit of industrial music – just as acts like Throbbing Gristle or Skinny Puppy once rioted against systems of oppression in the 1970s and 1980s. The heavy mechanical music is underlined by a kind of nostalgic chill with some lighter synths – almost a melancholy for the past, in fear of a post-human world following climate extinction. This was a set that lingered in your mind long after your ears stopped ringing.

Also noteworthy were the supporting act, Zetra – a unique act playing a mix of gothic metal, synth, and shoegaze. Two androgynous figures, clad in gothic makeup and black robes, played either side of a bank of screens, showing distorted and dark psychedelic imagery. Playing synthesiser and guitar over a synth backing track, they countered A&P’s brute-force industrial beats with a dreamy, spaced-out sound, almost like a synth-metal version of My Bloody Valentine.

Author & Punisher are promoting their latest album, Krüller, available now on Relapse Records.


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