Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Enhänta Bödlar - Akustisk Böldpest (2007)

Of all the noisy industrial weirdies who ever vanished into obscurity never to be heard from again, Enhänta Bödlar were always at the very top of my comeback wishlist, one of the few acts of whom it could be said with absolute sincerity that just one album and a few tapes really weren't enough. I've held this opinion since they dropped off the radar in about 1985, or at least since they dropped off my radar. I almost had to beg Uddah-Buddah to send me a copy of the first album, Ogreish Guttural Wounds. I was under the impression that he hadn't been particularly pleased with it, and he mentioned something about plans to bury what copies remained out in the forest somewhere. I also gather that it was around this time that he fell out with Roger Karlsson, the other half of Enhänta Bödlar who went on to achieve arguably greater notoriety with Brighter Death Now. Ogreish Guttural Wounds had a fairly crappy home made sleeve - photocopies glued onto the cover of something picked up at a charity shop, and it really was a fucking weird record - mostly chainsaw synth riffs spun from the arpeggiator of a Roland SH101, with Uddah-Buddah delivering what we may as well call sermons over the top. It was very basic and very dry with hardly any effects, but it was like nothing I'd heard before or have heard since. It sounded slightly insane, darkly surreal, brutal in an almost medieval sense, and yet somehow funny - all at the same time. The closest analogy I can think of is that Enhänta Bödlar were at an equivalent tangent to their peers as were the Bonzos in their day. Accordingly I nearly quacked my pants with excitement when I looked on Discogs and saw that I'd missed the memo about this comeback album.

The first major difference, aside from a fancy sleeve, is that it's completely different. Where Ogreish Guttural Wounds was all conveniently in English, most likely as a concession to the anticipated audience, Google translate cautiously identifies this one as a mixture of Swedish, Danish, and Afrikaans. Happily my friend Marianne Mandøe Berlev was on hand to fill in a few blanks regarding the track titles:

Acoustic Boils Plague, Amputate More, Cruel Pilgrims, Talium Tabernacle, Catacomb War, Torture is Freedom, The Edge of the Middle Ages... can't decipher the last one. It's slang, something about court jesters...

The music is likewise very different - at least in sound, possibly not in spirit if the titles are any indication - benefiting from production values and enough of a budget to justify release in an ostentatiously numbered edition. My first thought was, blimey - it sounds like Red Mecca, mainly thanks to whatever they did to the drum machine; but this impression is lost by the second play. Musically it's rhythmic, albeit occasionally double-jointed mutant rhythms with a dose of rickets, electronic, and er...

As with Ogreish Guttural Wounds, it's really not quite like anything else that springs to mind. Some of it sounds like mains hum copied and pasted across a laptop screen, or Saturday Night Fever remade either in hell or by Daleks, because there's a peculiar sort of nightmare disco element to some of these tracks, something almost glam rock, Heironymous Bosch atrocities with a glitter ball. There's a lyric sheet, of which I can follow just enough to appreciate that it's probably not the Beach Boys, lyrically speaking, and of course there's the skull with a big fucking hole in it; and then we have the typographic swastika and a Horten Ho 229 Nazi delta-wing on the cover, but I'm not getting into that fucking argument again.

Language barrier and musical evolution aside, I get very much the same vibe off this one as I did its predecessor. In terms of pretty much everything, Enhänta Bödlar made all those other supposed industrial noise chancers sound like wankers. This is a genuinely amazing album. If you walk past this to get to yet another Throbbing Gristle live reissue, you're an idiot.

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