One of the more interesting things about the self-titled debut album by Fausten—a new collaborative venture by London-based alchemists Monster-X (Julien Caraz) and Stormfield—is that one of the acts contributing a remix to the project is Stroboscopic Artefacts' Dadub. One doesn't perhaps think of Ad Noiseam and Stroboscopic Artefacts as the most natural of bedfellows, but, in fact, Fausten's material does at times bridge the gaps between the labels. Even if the directions they pursue aren't quite the same, they're both bold experimental imprints that don't let commercial considerations dictate the roads taken.
The hour-long album includes no small amount of disturbing content, from the maggot-infested cover to track titles like “Evisceration” and “Scalpel Song,” and it hardly surprises, then, that the album begins, in “Portal,” by dragging the listener into the dank depths of an underground torture chamber. The Fausten template becomes progressively more defined until it reaches a state of crystal clarity in the third track, “Punishment,” a lurching colossus of pounding, slow-motion beats and nightmarish textural swirl. It's not breakcore (it's too slow for that) and not quite dubstep either (even if a bruising cut such as “Stahlblumen” comes close), and it most assuredly isn't techno. Fausten's music is a disease-ridden swarm that one might describe as hard industrial-dubstep.
A typical track doesn't glide so much as lurch and trudge, the effect akin to a corpse being dragged across the chamber floor to make way for the next victim. Rhythms writhe and throb as if gripped by seizures while clanks and whirrs form an ultra-dense industrial soundtrack. The duo load their tracks with so much Autechre-like detail, the listener feels almost suffocated by the crushing sound design. Raw, misanthropic, merciless, deranged, and brutal are words that come to mind as one subjects oneself to the release. It's only fitting, then, that “Internal Dialogue” would not document the becalmed reflections of a sane person but instead the uncontrollable disorientation experienced by the psychotic.
On the remix tip, Oyaarss's version of “Punishment” isn't designated a remix but instead—quite rightly given the degree to which it pushes Fausten's harrowing sound to an even further extreme—an ‘execution'; for “Punishment & Evisceration,” Dadub surgically conjoins two cuts to create a lumbering force-field that's as thick with detail and as insistently rhythmic as the group's own work. In this context, the title “Abort” suggests less the idea of aborting a mission than of a gruesome fetus-removal operation, and it also makes some kind of perverse sense that the album's last cut would be called “Scalpel Song.”