"The Dirt" (Album, 2013)
“Bring back the ways of old. Bring back the sweat and pain. Bring back the dirt and grit.” - so goes the opening track of Pouppée Fabrikk's seventh album since they first emerged into the EBM scene in the late 1980s. Henrik Björkk is the only remaining original member and, in spite a somewhat stop-start-stop-and-start-again career, it's impressive just how much he can do with so little and yet produce something that has a potent impact.
Pouppée Fabrikk have been around long enough to have picked up the skills (and learned all the tricks) required to achieve their aims, and on The Dirt they turn in another slab of classic, old-school EBM. Thanks in no small part to the fact that this collection of songs and demos was originally written between 1988 and 1990. They've been unearthed, dusted down and reworked. The effect of combining the old material with new insight is fascinating.
The album kicks off with Bring Back The Ways of Old which, on the face of it, is simultaneously backward-looking and wise words from seasoned professionals. Except, of course, that it is around a quarter of a decade old. It sets the tone and mid-tempo pace for all that follows. Björkk understands that force comes less from quantity, rather a concentration of energy the focus of which gives it strength. Plenty of space has been left for the primal, minimlal, looping electronics to make their statement, keeping compositional clutter and modern production fiddling to a bare minimum. Gregorian chants on Death Is Natural are about as unexpected as it gets – and they're so convincing it begs the question why haven't we heard this idea many times before?
Given the origins of the source material, there's little on The Dirt you've not heard in some other guise in the previous thirty-odd years, but the contemporary twist given to it in 2013 delivers pure form that your body will find it hard to resist. 7/10
Rob Dyer (July 2013)