Malfunctioning synthesizers, concrete, forgotten tech
A dense, subtle moment from one of the most unique artists at the crux of industrial and club music
E-Saggila’s work feels like decay. Mixing industrial’s harsh textures and distortion with granular attention to detail, she pushes piles of sonic detritus into forms that momentarily feel like techno or gabber before they crumble under their own loosely-compacted weight, letting shimmers of light in through the cracks.
A lot of the Toronto-based artist’s music has focused on intensity, like the extreme hardcore on My World My Way and her slower-paced but no less bludgeoning recent EP, Anima Bulldozer, both released on Stockholm’s Northern Electronics. That being said, her newest double LP on Hospital Productions, Corporate Cross, feels like the soft underside to her heavier work’s thorny exterior, unfolding at a methodical pace that opens up the intricacy of her productions and highlights her emotive sound design. If her previous release was a literal bulldozer, Corporate Cross is a vision of the ruins it left in its wake.
Corporate Cross is largely free of beats, and when they do pop up, they’re sparse in comparison to the full-on assault of her dancefloor-focused work. In their place, the intricately-composed ambient scenes and melodic segments that used to bookend E-Saggila’s releases spill over into fully-realized statements. Opener “Redcloud” feels like a modern take on the doom metal dirge, where plodding 808s, arpeggiated metal guitar melodies, and reversed tape loops fight through a bed of lo-fi crackle and noise. Meanwhile on “9 Digest,” a menacing bass-heavy intro suddenly gives way to hopeful trance melodies and spacious, wafting bells.
The first third of the album grows exponentially, adding layers upon layers of broken, stuttering synths and meditative reverb. The atmospheres only seem to get bigger, the soundstage increasingly endless, which makes its first drop into searing industrial techno on “Mouth In Reach” all the more gratifying. It’s lithe, aggressive, and mean, yet it’s delivered with an ambient producer’s touch; its visceral pulse fades into washes of noise like any other organic texture.
As Corporate Cross unfolds, E-Saggila builds sonic scenery that begs to be lived in and explored. Its title track, one of the album’s most enthralling moments, is a grim, futuristic version of New Age grounded with artifact-laden drums that feel like they’ve been crudely stretched by a CDJ’s tempo warping function. Likewise on “For The Butterfly,” she mines the depths of trance, layering blankets of fluttering, euphoric melodies and punctuating them with the most memorable use (that I’ve heard, at least) of that little sound your iPhone makes when it hits 10%.
For all of its moments of elation and contemplation, however, Corporate Cross’ final statement, “Mantis Print,” leaves the listener in serene, dystopic limbo. Its vocal samples crackle like they’re being played through failing, dust covered speakers, and its post-rock guitar line leaves you feeling cold and lonely. It’s a fitting conclusion to E-Saggila’s vision; it’s dark and desolate, but also serves as a reminder that touches of beauty still exist in a twisted world.
Corporate Cross will be released on November 20. Support E-Saggila on the Hospital Productions Bandcamp.
Zach Tippitt is an editor for Electronic Beats. Follow him on Instagram.
Published November 19, 2020. Words by Zach Tippitt.