HIV+ – Theatre Of Cruelty

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Industrial Complexx joins forces with French label Unknown Pleasures to jointly release the new album by its head of the label. The multidisciplinary artist HIV+ created this label in 2013 to demonstrate that there are alternatives to the globalisation of electronic music and the commercial use it has been given in recent years, as the new gurus have trivialised this artistic discipline in favour of the commercialisation of any musical genre. 

Pedro Peñas (HIV+) is one of the great European bastions in this countercultural field, and has spent a lifetime dedicated to post-punk and all the styles that emerged as a result of this scene. His activism and his perseverance to watch over a musical movement that is clean, neat and consistent with the original ideals is revealed in his music and in his recording project, in which we can appreciate in his catalogue an equal mixture of retrospection and contemporaneity.

Theatre Of Cruelty is a tribute to the French poet, novelist, actor and playwright Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), a critic of conformity and an enemy of convention, he was a true “punk” before his time. Artaud was once a member of the Surrealists, before being definitively excluded by André Breton for political reasons. The Marseille-born Antonin Artaud, trapped by his own madness, left behind an incandescent literary oeuvre of unparalleled verbal and symbolic power.

He redefined the true role of the Theatre (of Cruelty), infused vibrant emotions, visionary philosophical reflection, indomitable verve and savage discourse into each of his texts. His taste for laudanum, cocaine and heroin did not help his psychiatric disorders, but the lucidity with which he described his mental illness and tried to contain his visible delusions through the art therapy he was allowed to experience in the asylum, led him to an atheistic form of Ecstatic Passion. His experience of shamanism among the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico in 1936 (under the influence of peyote) and the multiple electric shocks to which he was subjected throughout his life did not succeed in attenuating the force of his writing, nor the subversive content of his discourses. His ethical and aesthetic stances have made him one of the greatest iconoclasts of the 20th century. Never has a writer documented and witnessed so well the situation of a person suffering from deep depression, depersonalisation and behavioural disorders.

Rereading his complete works during the pandemic, Pedro decided to revive his HIV+ power-noise project and compose a new uncompromising album to pay homage to this immense provocative genius (whom he had already sampled on his first album 20 years ago!). Most of their instrumentals were recorded while in seclusion and only with old Korg synthesizers, industrial sequences and shredded tapes.

A number of artists who have meant a lot to Pedro in his later years, and who have also adored the character of Antonin Artaud, have collaborated with their voices on this album, such as Marc Hurtado, one of the two members, together with his brother Eric, of the cult band Étant Donnés, a multidisciplinary and avant-garde project founded in 1980. Amour and L’Amour Sans Trève are the two tracks in which his heartbreaking voice appears accompanying the sound background created by HIV+, both with an ideal saturation control and an unalterable rhythmic base, however, the first cut is more disturbing and perverse, as the music is blurred under the imposing voice, and in the second the complete opposite happens, in addition to the sensuality of a second female voice.

Barkosina, from Years of Denial, narrates menacingly in Nerfs, a track that although it is sheltered under a saturated sound design, with gritty and volatile layers, exhibits harmonic patterns and a musicality that does not appear in previous works, as well as other itinerant elements.

Phil Von is another of the great collaborators who cooperate with Pedro Peñas on this album, another artist with a long career, with almost four decades working with post-industrial sounds as a member of Von Magnet, although what has most characterised this project is the mixture of electronic music with flamenco, nothing to do with the current fusions of this Spanish style with modern music. Extase is a track in which this French artist offers a more theatrical point of view, with a voiceover full of tragedy and emotion, over a radioactive musical base.

Marc Caro is a stellar signing for this release, the film director is known for films such as Delicatessen, Alien: Resurrection or The City Of The Lost Children, and for forming a film tandem with Jean Pierre Jeunet. His contribution in Theatre Of Cruelty is different from that of his peers, in Injection his voice is totally disintegrated and emerges with a radiophonic filter from the darkness, as previously the music displaces you to an oriental and pentatonic environment, and when Marc Caro’s speech emerges those chords disappear to remain in a state of lethargy. Limbes is the other track in which the filmmaker collaborates, but on this occasion the cut mixes an organic environment, full of life, and what Marc Caro contributes is not his voice, but a whistle filtered in a modular.

Alice Botté is one of the most prestigious guitarists in France. Her role in this album is divided into two solo tracks and a track in which she collaborates with another French guitarist, Emmanuel Hubaut of Les Tétines Noires. Ombilic joins both artists in a disturbing and entangled interpretation, very appropriate for this composition in which the tension is born from the sub-bass beats and a sharp pad. Artaud le Momo is a tribute to the turbulent life of the writer, the roar of an electric guitar in the first bars is eternalised until it is diluted with a hodgepodge of torn textures and other elements that emerge sporadically. Pulsations is the third cut in which Alice Botté participates and with respect to the previous one, it changes its dynamism and a sharper presence of all the textures that are incorporated, even so, it still shows an amalgam of voices and superimposed lines.

All these figures, either because of their names or because they are artists with a great career, have contributed unselfishly to this album, but the merit for their approach and composition belongs to HIV+, who in addition to these collaborations also signs alone Pour en finir avec le jugement de Dieu and Médecine, two dense and penetrating tracks in which we can appreciate an enormous creativity.

Release date: April 2nd, 2021.

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