Distant Animals – Everything Is Fucked And We Are All Going To Die

Posted: 27 December 2022 in Albums
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Panurus Productions – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Panurus Productions are renowned for their favouring of pop and jaunty indie on their catalogue, but as the title suggests, they’ve really excelled with the saccharine-sweet, shimmery Christmas bauble stylings on this December release by Distant Animals, the vehicle for Daniel Alexander Hignell.

The accompanying blurb sets the pitch for ‘A scuzzed out synth/noise/punk affair… straddling a range of genres but never settling on any one of them for long, shifting around with an angry, anxious energy directed at our bleak status quo.’

Granted, this does mean it’s nowhere near as abrasive as recent releases from Trauma Bond or as dark as Carnivorous Plants, this is a hybrid form that coalesces to convey the sound of post-industrial nihilism.

The synths drive and dominate the sound, and they’re layered into thick, foggy swirls pitched against grinding, fuzzy-as-fuck sequenced bass and a drum machine that’s largely submerged beneath the swelling squall. The opener, the eight-and-a-half-minute ‘Greetings from the MET Office’ builds and builds into an immense wall of sound, the guitar adding layers off noise and feedback rather than melody. There is a tune in there, somewhere, and vocals, too, buried in a blitzkrieg that sounds like Depeche Mode covered by My Bloody Valentine and then remixed by Jesu or Dr Mix and the Remix.

‘Phase Down and Sweat to Death’ gets dubby, with samples and snippets cut in and out of the mix, and actually finds a murky, echo-drenched groove in places, before veering off on myriad detours.

As titles such as the title track and ‘Panning For Shit In The Shallow End’ intone, this is far from a celebratory collection, with the delicate and brittle-feeling ‘Hegel’s Violin’ sounding like it could have been penned by The Cure circa Seventeen Seconds, and yes, it’s fair to say that there are what some may refer to as ‘gothic’ elements to the brooding sound.

If songs titles like ‘Fondly Remembering When Primark was a Woolworths’ and ‘They Didn’t Have Snowflakes In 76’ might suggest that Hignell’s been gorging on the Memberberries, but on the evidence there is, buried away in trudging industrial sub-zero trudges and stark, oppressive abstraction, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and we can appreciate these compositions as critiques of the multi-billion-pound nostalgia industry and Brexit Britain, where narrow-minded twats get dewy-eyed all over social media reminiscing over false memories of a golden age that never was. ‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to…’ It’s patent bullshit of course, but so many subscribe to this that, well, it must be true that The BBC haven’t screened Monty Python in decades because they’re woke lefties (and nothing to do that after airing it in 2019 for the fiftieth anniversary, the rights were purchased by NetFlix), and Stranger Things is only good because, well, it’s like The Goonies, isn’t it?

‘Panning for Shit’ is sparse, minimal electro that borders on Krautrock, and is the sound of drowning, not waving from our turd-encircled island, and there are many elements of this album which seem to align with the bleak perspectives and sounds of early industrial acts like Throbbing Gristle. But, to be clear, these are simply touchstones, rather than direct comparisons. Everything Is Fucked And We Are All Going To Die may evoke a sense of familiarity and a strange sense of déjà-vu, but ultimately presents a unique view and amalgamation of influences and stylistic references, and herein lies its true strength.

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